Climategatekeeping: Schmidt 2009

We’ve seen that Climategate emails provide evidence that Jones, Briffa and Cook took steps to block publication of articles that were perceived as potentially damaging.

The Climategate documents also provide a glimpse of another aspect of Team gatekeeping – acting as peer reviewers of submissions by associates and friends. Phil Jones was a peer reviewer for Schmidt (IJC 2009), which criticized Michaels and McKitrick (2007) and de Laat and Maurelis (2006). Whereas Jones “went to town” as a reviewer of articles criticizing CRU Siberian temperatures, his review of Schmidt 2009 was perfunctory and trifling – a bias that is just as corrosive to the literature.

Jones’ peer review dated June 22, 2008 stated:

This paper is timely as it clearly shows that the results claimed in dML06 and MM07 are almost certainly spurious. It is important that such papers get written and the obvious statistical errors highlighted. Here the problem relates to the original belief that there were many more spatial degrees of freedom. This is a common mistake and it will be good to have another paper to refer to when reviewing any more papers like dML06 and MM07. There is really no excuse for these sorts of mistakes to be made, that lead to erroneous claims about problems with the surface temperature record.

My recommendation is that the paper be accepted subject to minor revisions.

The review continue with a series of minor points and observations. Schmidt submitted his article on 16 May 2008, revised on 2 September 2008 and was accepted on 8 November 2008.

The original McKitrick and Michaels (2007) is here. Schmidt 2009 is online here. A reply to Schmidt 2009 online here was submitted by McKitrick and Nierenberg on April 15, 2009 and does not appear to have been processed as expeditiously as the Schmidt submission.

Online discussion of Schmidt 2009 have taken place at RC here here, at CA here here and by Nicolas Nierenberg here.

The analysis in these papers is statistical. Phil Jones is not a statistician and was either unable or unwilling to review the statistical analysis (see Nicolas Nierenberg’s blog linked above for an earnest effort to review the statistical analysis. All we see in Jones’ review is that he liked the answer and viewed the Schmidt paper as another tool to assist future gatekeeping.

The “peer review” in evidence here is compromised first by the association between Jones and Schmidt (combined with Jones’ prior animosity to the articles being criticized), by the trifling quality of the peer review itself and the overt objective of using the article as a tool for future gatekeeping.


  1. stansvonhorch
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 1:40 PM | Permalink

    i’m excited to see what all the wikipedia literature is going to say a year from now about all this.

    • KevinM
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:07 PM | Permalink

      snip – wrong thread

      • JohnR
        Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 2:15 AM | Permalink

        Wikipedia has only restricted editing to established people – anyone that has contributed to Wiki in the past can go in and edit the pages. They have merely suspended the ability of new people or anonymous people from editing the page until Jan 3, 2010.

        “Note: This page has been semi-protected so that only established users can edit it. ”

        ‘Established users’ simply means anyone that has any past history of editing can do so, you do not need to pass the ‘peer review board’.

        I’ve never edited anything on the climate pages, and in fact have only edited one or two pages ever, but I can edit this page if I choose to – I choose not to as I do not yet consider myself knowledgeable enough in the field to do so.

        John :-#)#

        • KevinM
          Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 2:57 PM | Permalink

          We’re still at the top of the wrong thread here, but: when you read that entry, do you see any bias?

  2. Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 1:44 PM | Permalink

    Who else reviewed the Schmidt paper? What were their comments?

  3. bill-tb
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 1:57 PM | Permalink

    Peer review gatekeeping is the most damaging of all the things exposed in climategate. Keeping opposing publications off the ‘market’ gives a sure fire damaging way to show the skeptics are not credible, since no one will publish them.

    Peer review needs to be replaced by an open system, that allows everyone to publish and the user to sort it out. We cannot allow this control ever again.

  4. bender
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 1:58 PM | Permalink

    tendentious keeping of the gate.

  5. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 2:00 PM | Permalink

    Who else reviewed the Schmidt paper? What were their comments?

    How on earth do you expect me to know that? Ask someone on the editorial board of IJC. Or ask Gavin Schmidt.

    • bstewart
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 3:23 PM | Permalink

      Actually your top post is vague on the source of the quoted review. Wouldn’t it be more in keeping with your policy of full transparency to at least name the document?

      • jeez
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 3:49 PM | Permalink

        Er… it’s the document labeled:


        and it’s the only one dated June 22, 2008.

        It took me at least one second to find it.

        (bender, I got to say Er…)

        Hint, Steve said document not email.

    • Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:57 PM | Permalink

      Well, you seem to be suggesting that the peer review process is broken. That’s a pretty serious accusation especially if you only seem to have part of the story.

      • bender
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 7:01 PM | Permalink

        So when you asked Gavin and IJC who the reviewers were, what did they tell you?

        • Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 7:11 PM | Permalink

          Well, the early pages of Schmidt’s paper thanks several reviewers so it’s pretty clear there was more than one. I don’t have to time to do any more research than that right now. Then again, I’m not the one making the accusations.

  6. dearieme
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 2:02 PM | Permalink

    “Phil Jones is not a statistician”: well neither am I, but at least I have drunk deep of the Draper and Smith stream.

  7. Luke Lea
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 2:07 PM | Permalink

    As a layman, I find Gavin Schmidt’s writings turgid to the point that I am unable to assess to quality of his arguments. With one notable exception: his admirably frank Edge interview THE PHYSICS THAT WE KNOW on 6-29-09, where he clearly identifies the assumptions that go into the kind of climate science he practices.

    Assuming these assumptions are shared by most of his colleagues, I think it would be a real public service if someone who is qualified to evaluate them would go down the list.

    • Luke Lea
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 2:18 PM | Permalink

      Instead of saying that he clearly “identifies” his assumptions I should have said he clearly “reveals” them.

  8. Jon
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 2:08 PM | Permalink

    For this layman, the dismissive arguement used often, “how many skeptical peer-reviewed papers…” has really lost a lot of potency.

  9. kevoka
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 2:29 PM | Permalink

    Thanks Steve, I do not have the background to have put this document into perspective, but the comment “This paper is timely” raised my suspicions.

    Two other review document from the CRU release I wonder about:

    review_mannetal.doc – do not know what paper it is for, but it looks like very lite review. Maybe the paper was that good.

    Review of Wahl&Amman.doc – “This paper is to be thoroughly welcomed and is particularly timely with the next IPCC assessment coming along in 2007.” Ummm, how objective will this review be?

  10. Mac Lorry
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 2:44 PM | Permalink

    I believe what you are seeing with Mann, Jones, Briffa and Cook flows from a systemic issue. I don’t believe these are bad men, just men with all the baggage common among men. You can see in their response to criticism that they truly believe they are right at the macro level and that the criticism amounts to nit picking. Thus, they devise defensive strategies against such criticism rather than accepting the possibility that they are wrong at a more fundamental level. The war continues without defeat or victory so long as its focus is at the detail level, but the paradigm may be changed by what some backyard tinkerers have discovered. Sounds improbable, yet it’s not all that unusual in the annals of science.

    • Mac Lorry
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:23 PM | Permalink

      “bad men” as in acting as they do and answering yes to the following question.

      Could Earth’s atmosphere trap heat if there were no so-called greenhouse gases in it?

      Most likely no one has ever asked them that question in a serious way, and thus, they believe that as CO2 increases so too must temperature. In that case they are not “bad men”, but acting with good intentions limited by human failings. How would you answer the question?

      • Dave Dardinger
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:49 PM | Permalink

        snip – why break blog rules??

    • anon
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:04 PM | Permalink

      snip – OT

    • HotRod
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:18 PM | Permalink

      Lucy, spot on. The UEA website is down at the moment, but the first line of Jones’s main public statement after Climategate broke was:

      “In the frenzy of the past few days, the most vital issue is being overshadowed: we face enormous challenges ahead if we are to continue to live on this planet.”

      That was his first line. I had to read it several times. Essentially the import of Climategate, if it can be distilled down to one thing, was unscientific bias. And in the first line of his best chance to explain / apologise / recover / save his ass / whatever, he chooses to put his bias right out there.

      How can you have someone with such responsibility for global temperature records, matters essentially of fact, so convinced that they must be going up? Putting it politely, it’s not healthy.

    • philh
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:09 PM | Permalink

      It is becoming clear to me that the Team simply did not care that they had no real statistical expertise. Jones could make the statements he did about MM, and Mann could make the mistakes he did, believing, indeed, knowing that they would not be called on them, inasmuch as the Team had the media and the journals (and the balance of the climate science community) sewed up. Whatever their motives, they could operate with impunity. This is why it is so historically significant that Steve and Ross showed up when they did. Think, think, what would be the situation now if that hadn’t happened.

    • Edwin
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 12:23 AM | Permalink

      To be arrogant is one thing, better words would be “dedicated, focused, driven”, some renounced scientists like Newton was just like that. But to influence/manupulate policy that can affect the livelyhood of humanity basing on undecided science is like innoculating with unproven vaccine. Oh the suffering of humanity should we cut 50% carbon emmission before we are ready with alternative source of energy.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 2:53 PM | Permalink

      The split between Mann&Jones vs Cook&BriffaOsborn is clarified in the emails of Sep 3 2003. Watch Bradley slowly shift from one camp to the other. At first Bradley makes Cook ill. Years later, it’s Mann making Bradley ill. Now Mann & Jones make us all ill. (And now “going-to-town-on-Michaels” Santer is trying to get us all to drink the poison that made all those other guys ill.)

  11. Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 2:45 PM | Permalink

    I haven’t read these papers before today. There isn’t much detail in S09 but the comment was strong worded. The reply to S09 was even more interesting than the original paper in that they had a good discussion of the spatial significance in the difference between GISS models and ground according to economic result.

    The approach of sorting economic data into temp records seemed strange and likely to have problems, but from what they report my guesses were wrong. Also, Phil must have had difficulties reviewing the math, he made not one comment about the stats, just the result.

    • Norbert
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 3:13 PM | Permalink

      The Schmidt paper isn’t just maths. As far as one can tell from the excerpt above, he commented as much on the maths as on everything else.

  12. Norbert
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 2:48 PM | Permalink

    I tried to start reading MM07 and didn’t understand this sentence: “If done correctly, temperature trends in climate data should be uncorrelated with socioeconomic variables that determine these extraneous factors.”

    I’d expect socioeconomic variables to be correlated with the (or any) human attribution to global warming. Please explain.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 3:22 PM | Permalink

      *Global* warming due to well-mixed greenhouse gases is *global* in extent and so spatial variations in temperature that match (i.e. correlate with) spatial variations in human population density are above and beyond the temporal effect of well-mixed GHGs on GMT. Capisce?
      Really, you must read these papers to not look foolish.

      • Josh Keeler
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 3:53 PM | Permalink

        Just because some commentators fail to notice nuances that may seem obvious to you in the quoted work does not make them (commentators) foolish, nor justify condescension in responding to them. Norbert is asking for an explaination of something that is contrary to what he believes is to be expected, not an attack on his person.

        Even if you believe Norbert’s question to be a bit troll-like based on your interpretation of some of his other posts, this question deserves a reasoned and informative response devoid of pettiness. The answer could be very informative to any number of readers who haven’t commented, as well as to Norbert himself, and will be much easier to accept as being reasonable if presented in an even tone.

        This is one of the aspects of Steve’s blog that I admire – he rarely resorts to insinuation or comments that could be perceived as rancorous. It is his insistence on the truth and transparency, and attention to detail that has put him on the high road in almost every discussion I’ve seen here. We would do well to honor that spirit in our own comments on his blog.


        • Josh Keeler
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:40 PM | Permalink

          snip – feeding food fight

        • Josh Keeler
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:12 PM | Permalink


          “I tried to start reading MM07 and didn’t understand this sentence: “If done correctly, temperature trends in climate data should be uncorrelated with socioeconomic variables that determine these extraneous factors.”

          I’d expect socioeconomic variables to be correlated with the (or any) human attribution to global warming. Please explain.”


          “*Global* warming due to well-mixed greenhouse gases is *global* in extent and so spatial variations in temperature that match (i.e. correlate with) spatial variations in human population density are above and beyond the temporal effect of well-mixed GHGs on GMT. Capisce?
          Really, you must read these papers to not look foolish.”

          The correct sequence at the time I started commenting was this: He asks, you answer dismissively and condescendingly without elucidating in a manner that the layman can understand. If he didn’t understand the concept in the statement he quoted, your response hardly clears it up, and the last sentence in your comment was what I was politely objecting to.

          At this point I believe it would be pointless for me to continue to debate the issue of tone in your first response so I shall not respond on this issue again.

        • bender
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:17 PM | Permalink

          “pointless to continue” because the debate is over and you have shown that my very first answer was both correct and understandable

        • Norbert
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 9:37 PM | Permalink

          In hindsight, I find that your answer in itself is was a correct statement, but difficult to parse, and it wasn’t clear at all how your statement was related to the original sentence. It sounded like a mostly arbitrary different statement. In fact, I still see it as a quite different statement. It may explain what that sentence might have attempted to say, but it left out the crucial detail that this is something different than it actually does say, and you still skip over that. Besides, your style does, to me, appear impolite if not insulting.

          Given that this sentence is the most important one in the initial formulation of the paper’s hypothesis, I find this noteworthy, and I’d go as far as saying that the reviewers missed asking for a more precise formulation.

        • RomanM
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 9:54 PM | Permalink

          Norbert, stop trolling and cut the crap.

        • Norbert
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 9:59 PM | Permalink

          Would you care to explain how anything expressed here, by me or others, is anything else than topic-related critical thinking?

          RomanM: Your comment was simply nonsense.

          The childish inability of admitting that you were unable to understand the original statement that most other commentators had to explain to you several times was painfully obvious in the that comment. What you wrote is troll stuff, pure and simple.

        • Norbert
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 10:37 PM | Permalink

          It is a fact that I did not originally understand that sentence, however I stand by my claim that it is an incorrect sentence, and that this is worth mentioning.

          I gather you are a moderator, from the inclusion of your message within the box of mine?

        • bender
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 10:40 PM | Permalink

          I showed you why it was not incorrect. You haven’t read the paper, haven’t read the methods, probably just trolled the abstract, therefore you could not understand why the adjective “local” was not necessary. QED. bye.

        • Norbert
          Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 5:00 AM | Permalink

          Interestingly, in the discussion for the RC blog discussing McKitrick and Michaels (2007), “gavin” (I’d assume Gavin Schmidt) writes:

          I think it’s also worth pointing out that their analysis assumes a priori that any correlation with economic activity must perforce be related to a contamination of the surface temperatures by urban heat effects. This is certainly not the the only possibility, and the fact that they have apparently discovered urban heating in the satellite trends as well should have alerted them to this fact.

          (My emphasis)

          May this be correct or not, refuted or not, this sounds similar to the impressions I got from discussing the sentence which I originally didn’t understand.

          On reading some (but by far not the whole) text in all three articles, I got the impression that the crucial point in the response by R. McKitrick to Schmidt (2009) is this point:

          This implies that the GISS-E estimations in S09 should have included a correction for SAC, unlike the observational data, and when this is done the significance of the coefficients disappears, overturning the S09 argument.

          I think it is quite impossible for me to see whether this is valid or not, so I’d be interested in how G.Schmidt will respond to this point (I’d think he will).

          Also interesting that apparently R. McKitrick softened his conclusion by saying that in light of the RSS data, the predictions might be off by just one third, instead of by half the amount.

        • Craig Loehle
          Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 8:27 AM | Permalink

          Norbert–when you take up a huge chunk of bandwidth on a post all by yourself, this is rude. It is like hogging the ball in basketball. In case you were wondering why people were getting peeved. The thousands of people reading this blog are not that interested in your ability to parse 1 sentence.

        • Chris Schoneveld
          Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 10:00 AM | Permalink

          Hear, hear! I’m surprised the moderator didn’t step in.

        • bender
          Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 10:44 AM | Permalink

          Hear hear indeed. Why didn’t you step in in place of me and tell Norbert we has nitpickingly wrong? That also would have cut it off. Or would you prefer to let false statements stand unchallenged?

        • Norbert
          Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 11:29 AM | Permalink

          It may seem to you that way, since there were some lengthy responses to my messages, but if I go through above thread, my own messages are not that numerous and usually not very long. Bender himself has been more active in this thread than me.

        • bender
          Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 11:33 AM | Permalink

          food fight

        • Norbert
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 9:38 PM | Permalink

          This was in response to bender’s message:

          “pointless to continue” because the debate is over and you have shown that my very first answer was both correct and understandable

      • Norbert
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:12 PM | Permalink

        Non capisce. Bender, perhaps you didn’t understand my point. Of course, global greenhouse gases are what is related to global temperature. But the *producers* for GHG are not distributed equally on the globe. This in itself has nothing to do with a proper adjustment or exclusion of UHI temperature measurements.

        The production of CO2 may very well be correlated to local socioeconomic variables, and actually, at this point, that is what I would expect. The reason is that I would expect both to be correlated to industrial and economic growth.

        So such a sentence is not at all self-explanatory, at least not to me.

        I would wonder whether such a sentence is spoken under the pre-assumption that global warming is natural rather than anthropogenic. So far, I haven’t found a better explanation in the article.

        • bender
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:25 PM | Permalink

          I understand your “point”. Did you even read the paper? Your logic is faulty because you appear to be thinking temporally, not spatially. You are not going to pick up the localized effects of a well-mixed GHG in a spatial analysis.

        • Norbert
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:37 PM | Permalink

          It doesn’t sound at all like you understood my point. I’m not talking about localized effects. I’m talking about local *causes* for global effects. And that both these may very well correlate with other local events (having similar causes).

          I see nothing faulty about that logic, it may just be that the sentence I quoted above (in the abstract) has a different meaning, but so far you haven’t done anything to clear up any misunderstanding. I was hoping to get an answer on that before reading all 14 pages, for which I don’t have time right now.

        • bender
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:42 PM | Permalink

          You said:
          “I tried to start reading MM07 and didn’t understand this sentence: “If done correctly, temperature trends in climate data should be uncorrelated with socioeconomic variables that determine these extraneous factors.”

          I’d expect socioeconomic variables to be correlated with the (or any) human attribution to global warming. Please explain.”
          I reply:
          If land-use and UHI effects (positive trends for areas of growth) are correctly removed then there should be no spatial structure in the map of trends attributable to socioeconomic indicators of growth. The fact that there IS such spatial structure indicates that these trends have not effectively been removed.
          Please read.

        • Josh Keeler
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:52 PM | Permalink

          Norbert, if I may take a stab at this: I believe the paper is indicating that the way humans develop the land is known to have localized effects on the temperature trends: i.e. having lots of houses in close proximity with clearcut trees = warmer temperature averages where those houses are, but does not = warmer average temperatures in the forests/plains outside the urbanized areas. Hence while the average temperature in an area may seem to be increasing as more people settle in the area, and make local changes to the land, it could be erroneous to assume that the actual temperature of the area is increasing: if you took out the human settlements and land changes, the global influence on temperature could have remained constant or gone down during the same period. Hence, if a local temperature trend correlates strongly to increased presence of humans around the temperature measuring station, this is much less reliable as an indication of increased global temperatures than a station that is well isolated from the localized effects of human settlement. The fact that these local increasing temperature trends are much more prevalent in close proximity to areas that are experiencing the most economic growth (i.e. building the most buildings and roads and concrete structures) may be indicative of a bias in the record, and may show an increase in temperature that is greater than the actual global increase in temperature over the same period.

          Someone please correct me if my reading of the concepts is flawed.

        • Norbert
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:33 PM | Permalink

          I suppose you are saying the sentence would be more accurate if it said read:

          If done correctly, local temperature trends in climate data should be uncorrelated with socioeconomic variables that determine these extraneous factors.

          [Added the term “local” to the original sentence.]

        • bender
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:35 PM | Permalink

          The adjective is not required. The scale of the analysis and the fact that it was spatial is clear from context. (A reviewer would next challenge you to define “local”.)

        • Norbert
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:35 PM | Permalink

          Which still seems to mean that in its original form, the sentence is incorrect.

        • Norbert
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:41 PM | Permalink

          Even in that modified form/understanding, the sentence is not correct. Because all temperature trends should correlate with socioeconomic variables. It is just that on average, you might not expect temperature trends close to urban/land-use effects to be more affected than others.

        • bender
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:49 PM | Permalink

          “all”? “correlate”? …
          Here, you appear not to understand what a correlation is. A correlation measures a central tendency to vary in similar directions. Deviations are expected. The weaker the correlation, the stronger and more numerous the deviations. So your appeal to “all” is nonsensical. Bye.

        • Norbert
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:03 PM | Permalink

          On average, all.

          You have to admit, it would be funny if the article finds that there is only half the global warming, simply because it tries to remove all the warming from the land-use/urban locations, leaving only the warming in the rural locations.

        • bender
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:05 PM | Permalink

          “If the article finds” …???

          After all this … you mean you haven’t read it!?

    • Ron Cram
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 3:22 PM | Permalink

      I wrote: “However, this possibility was not known at the time the report was written.” I was referring to MM07. Sorry for the poor writing.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 3:28 PM | Permalink

      Norbert, if you are reading these papers then you are on the verge of discovering an important fact about the land surface record. Please keep reading. McKitrick and & Michaels observation is solid – and the establishment’s willfull ignorance and denial telling. “We’ve already corrected for UHI”. Oh yeah, show us the code. FOIA.ZIP. Capisce?

      • Norbert
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:16 PM | Permalink

        See my response above.

        • Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 7:50 PM | Permalink

          I think Bender is right and you are just playing dumb. Josh’s explanation was perfectly understandable and clarifed the sentence you are harping on quite well enough for us non-statistical types to understand. If you find even that level of explanation too difficult, then perhaps you should not be hanging out at this site–no insult intended; the level of math on this site is daunting to even the brightest people. If you DO understand and just disagree, then produce the math to show MM are wrong and you are right. This perseveration on semantics is childish.

        • Norbert
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 9:22 PM | Permalink

          I understood Josh’s explanation very well. He explained the well known UHI (Urban Heat Island) effect.

          However, the sentence appeared to say something different, and in fact I think the sentence is incorrect as is, or at best, far too simplistic. Since if the there is AGW, then temperature trends everywhere, urban or rural, land-use change or not, are likely correlated to socioeconomic factors, since these are likely to be correlated with the increase in CO2 production.

        • TJA
          Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 6:54 AM | Permalink

          I don’t know what to say except read it again.

          And remember that the temperature trends discussed are supposed to be the trends associated with CO2 driven AGW, as separated from the trends due to land use, which are a different issue. The models are not designed to reflect land use issues. They do not claim to, and are not supposed to contain land use information. If they do, it is reasonable to infer that the data on which they have been built is also contaminated by land use issues, or that the models are wrong.

        • TJA
          Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 6:57 AM | Permalink

          I just read your objection again and I think that you are missing the point that the models all assume a “well mixed” distribution of CO2, not a clumpy one gathered around areas of human habitation.

          On the other hand, recent satellite imagery of CO2 distribution shows that the CO2 distribution is not “well mixed”, and maybe both M&M and the modesl are correct? Nahh! Maybe? I don’t know.

    • Josh Keeler
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:11 PM | Permalink

      snip OT

      • Josh Keeler
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:00 PM | Permalink

        snip – feeding Ot

      • bender
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:14 PM | Permalink

        OT: This has nothing to do with Schmidt or with gatekeeping.

        • Josh Keeler
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:27 PM | Permalink

          My apologies – moderators can delete my comments if they desire and I will attempt to refrain from pursuing tangential topics in the future.

    • Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:58 PM | Permalink

      Norbert, for once I think Ron Cram has it wrong and Bender is confusing the issue – though I’m open to correction. MM is IMO an important paper and it’s worth just hanging on until you understand. They are looking at a neglected UHI effect AFAICS, and THIS is the reason they don’t expect to find a correlation between socioecon. whatsit and temperature – if UHI has been properly dealt with. It’s nothing to do with CO2 which, IMO, has pretty well zero effect on the temperature, in its actual range of atmospheric concentrations.

      • Norbert
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 11:22 PM | Permalink

        Lucy, I can’t see the first message anymore, which you refer to. I will probably respond again once (or if) I find the time to read all the various referenced texts. (Though I guess by that time the discussion will have moved on to different topics).

  13. dearieme
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 2:52 PM | Permalink

    Luke, here’s a bit of Gavin Smirk: “We did this 20 years ago and the predictions that we made then have been more or less validated, given both the imperfections we had at the time and the uncertainty in how we thought things would change in the future.” I don’t know whether anyone is qualified to assess such studied vagueness, except to say that it sounds much like “our models didn’t work but it’s not our fault”.

    • Norbert
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 3:05 PM | Permalink

      I don’t think it takes much qualification to find that the correct interpretation is: “The predictions have been validated within the accuracy one could reasonably expect.”

    • Luke Lea
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:04 PM | Permalink

      Schmidt’s snarky personality is a liability to his cause, no doubt. But I am more interested in his approach to climate science.

      For instance, he starts off his essay with the statement: “There is a simple way to produce a perfect model of our climate that will predict the weather with 100% accuracy. First, start with a universe that is exactly like ours; then wait 13 billion years.” [I don’t think Richard Feynman would agree with that statement.]

      Then he says, “But if you want something useful right now, if you want to construct a means of taking the knowledge that we have and use it to predict future climate, you build computer simulations,” in effect assuming what needs to be demonstrated, namely that models can predict.

      Later he says that because of noise in the system it will take 20 years to verify the predictions the first climate models made (about the system as a whole, as opposed to regional predictions, which are more complicated still). But hasn’t it already been 20 years?

      Later on he says, “There are problems that attract a different kind of thinker: really complex problems . . . In order to make progress you need to be the kind of scientist who embraces complexity. This is not a science for certain kinds of physicists who are only interested in aesthetically pleasing problems.” In other words, problems that are too complicated for scientists with I.Q.s of 175 to solve are going to be solved by guys with I.Q.’s of 145.

      After admitting this is terribly ambitious and that the models not only have yet to be verified but don’t agree with each other, he says: “This is a real problem. How do you deal with these models in an intelligent way? Which information from the observational record, either over the 20th century or longer, can you use to test whether the models have any skill in their predictions? This is what I spent all of my time on: trying to find ways to constrain the models to improve the Bayesian subjective probability that they are telling you anything of use. It’s not that we have been working in a complete vacuum for the last 30 years — these models are relatively mature and people have been thinking about these issues ever since the beginning.”

      Is this a valid statistical procedure? Is it science?

      • Ashleigh
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 11:31 PM | Permalink

        It is A procedure.

        A standard method IN ENGINEERING is to build a model and then use an error tracker to see how the model works – and if really clever feed changes back into the model.

        snip – piling on

      • Chris Schoneveld
        Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 6:27 AM | Permalink


  14. Craig Loehle
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 3:12 PM | Permalink

    You can’t just WALK into Mordor! There is a Gate. With Orcs. You have been warmed (er..warned).

  15. pcknappenberger
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 3:29 PM | Permalink

    Here is another good example of what I call “in-bred” reviews:

    Mann asks Jones for a review of Santer&Wigley (Jones of course recommends “to accept the paper subject to minor changes.” (0972415204.txt)

    Then Jones tells Santer that he “just sent back comments to Mike Mann on the paper by Tom and you factoring out ENSO and Volcanoes. Felt like writing red ink all over it, but sent back a short publish suject to minor revision to Mike.” (0972499087.txt)

    What could be easier!?


  16. ZT
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 3:40 PM | Permalink

    I think that scientists are appalled by these reviewing shenanigans. Currently many are afraid to speak out – because they don’t want to be seen as ‘right-wing’, or are waiting for the perpetrators to do the right thing (resign – as recommended by Monbiot), or just don’t have time to find the facts.

    I think as these sorry reviewing actions (throughout the climategate leaked messages) are seen to be dragging down science in general more scientists will realize that the scientific case for AGW is thin.

    This type of reviewing is not typical in any science I have ever seen or heard about before.

    I cannot understand why the climategate protagonists/perpetrators still have jobs as reviewers – or indeed as climatologists.

    Papers should be anonymized prior to review – and after review, the reviewers names should be listed at the end of the article, with their review comments. The resulting indexing of papers by quality of reviewer would be a useful antidote to the current gaming of ‘impact factors’.

    More importantly, in the case of the AGW – if I ever hear the phrase ‘…the peer reviewed literature…’ I know what that means.

  17. bender
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 3:53 PM | Permalink

    Mike Mann fudging data [in a non-scientific context] whereupon 52 becomes 62:

    June 11, 2008: email 1213201481.txt
    Phil Jones to Mike Mann:

    On [point] 1 [i.e. what Mann called ‘N’], this is what people call the H index. I’ve tried working this out and there is software for it on the [W]eb of [S]cience [website]. Problem is my surname. I get a number of 62 if I just use the software, but I have too many papers. I then waded through and deleted those in journals I’d never heard of and got 52. I think this got rid of some biologist from the 1970s/1980s, so go with 52. I don’t have [PDF copie]s of the early papers. I won’t be able to do anything for a few days either. When do you want this in, by the way?

    Mike Mann:

    OK—thanks, I’ll just go w[ith] the H=62. That is an impressive number and almost certainly higher than the vast majority of A[merican] G[eophysical] U[nion] Fellows.

    • Dr Slop
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:58 PM | Permalink

      As I mentioned at the Bishop’s, it’s one thing to try to fool the plebs, quite another to try to fool your own club. On the basis of these shenanigans (the papers Steve’s brought up here, Douglass et al, McKitrick and Michaels, …), I think it’s possible to start drawing up a list of people who are likely never again to serve as journal reviewer or editor, or member of a grant panel: Jones, Mann, Wigley, Osbourne, Santer, Glenn McGregor. Add more names, if you wish. snip

    • DaleC
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:39 PM | Permalink

      Bender – glad to see you noticing the 62 vs 52. I have mentioned this a few times. Frankly, I don’t understand why this alone is not sufficent to have Mann immediately stood down. Perhaps I’m just old-fashioned.

      • bender
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:43 PM | Permalink

        Recall the time when he made 1404 = 1400?

        • DaleC
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 11:48 PM | Permalink


          for some poignant poetic justice. When Mann hits Jones for his quid pro quo (…Hey, I wanna be a fellow too…), they agree to wait until 2010 to allow time for supporters (“the usual suspects”) to “get their ducks in a row”. What chance now, I wonder, for this glittering prize?

  18. bender
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:00 PM | Permalink

    Mick Kelly thinks about hiding a decline of his own:

    October 26, 2008: email 1225026120
    Mick Kelly to Phil Jones:

    Hi Phil[,] Just updated my global temperature trend graphic for a public talk and noted that the level has really been quite stable since 2000 or so and 2008 doesn’t look too hot. Anticipating the sceptics latching on to this soon, if they haven’t done already … Be awkward if we went through a early 1940s type swing!

    Phil Jones:

    Mick, They have noticed for years—mostly w[ith] r[espect] t[o] the warm year of 1998. The recent coolish years [we put] down to La Nina. When I get this question I have 1991-2000 and 2001-2007/8 averages to hand. Last time I did this they were about 0.2 [degrees] different, which is what you’d expect.

    Mick Kelly:

    Yeah, it wasn’t so much 1998 and all that that I was concerned about, [I’m] used to dealing with that, but the possibility that we might be going through a longer—10[-]year—period of relatively stable temperatures beyond what you might expect from La Nina etc. Speculation, but if I see this as a possibility then others might also. Anyway, I’ll maybe cut the last few points off the [graph] before I give the talk again as that’s trending down as a result of the end effects and the recent cold-ish years.
    So Maybe Sarah Palin was onto something!

  19. bender
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:20 PM | Permalink

    No comment.

    October 14, 2009: email 1255523796
    Kevin Trenberth, responding to Tom Wigley’s criticism of his comments:

    How come you do not agree with a statement that says we are no[]where close to knowing where energy is going or whether clouds are changing to make the planet brighter[?] We are not close to balancing the energy budget. The fact that we can not account for what is happening in the climate system makes any consideration of geoengineering quite hopeless as we will never be able to tell if it is successful or not! It is a travesty!

    Mike Mann:

    Kevin, that’s an interesting point. … this raises the interesting question, is there something going on here w[ith] the energy [and] radiation budget which is inconsistent with the … models. I’m not sure that this has been addressed—has it?

    Kevin Trenberth:

    Here are some of the issues as I see them: Saying it is natural variability is not an explanation. What are the physical processes? Where did the heat go? … But the resulting evaporative cooling means the heat goes into atmosphere and should be radiated to space: so we should be able to track it with C[louds and the] E[arth’s] R[adiant] E[nergy] S[ystem] data. Th[at] data are unfortunately w[a]nting and so too are the cloud data. The ocean data are also lacking although some of that may be related to the ocean current changes and burying heat at depth where it is not picked up. If it is sequestered at depth then it comes back to haunt us later and so we should know about it.

    • Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:38 PM | Permalink

      On Oct 14, 2009, at 10:17 AM, Kevin Trenberth wrote:

      Well I have my own article on where the heck is global warming? We are asking that here in Boulder where we have broken records the past two days for the coldest days on record. We had 4 inches of snow. The high the last 2 days was below 30F and the normal is 69F, and it smashed the previous records for these days by 10F. The low was about 18F and also a record low, well below the previous record low. This is January weather see the Rockies baseball playoff game was canceled on saturday and then played last night in below freezing weather).

      • bender
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:47 PM | Permalink

        It’s gone, Kev. Into space? Into the oceans? Why don’t you go ask Gavin Schmidt? Or Ray Pierrehumbert? They know everything.

      • bender
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:53 PM | Permalink

        Ryan, care to comment?

        • Raven
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:20 PM | Permalink


          I vote for into space:

          analyses show contemporaneous and climatologically significant increases in the Earth’s reflectance from the outset of our earthshine measurements beginning in late 1998 roughly until mid- 2000. After that and to date, all three show a roughly constant terrestrial albedo

          http //

        • Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 10:20 PM | Permalink

          The clue is ENSO. Since it can modulate Earth’s temperatures on the order of degrees over several month or year timescales, my vote goes to ocean storage. I find it a travesty that we can’t adequately predict El Nino or La Nina past the April climate barrier.

          SSTs in the warm pool are exceeding 32C currently, very warm.

        • bender
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 10:28 PM | Permalink

          I won’t argue about ENSO. But do cyclones not move massive amounts of heat both upward and poleward and thus act as an efficient conveyor of heat to outer space? Where did the heat from the 1997-98 ENSO go? To say it went to the ocean, isn’t that only half an answer?

        • bender
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 10:32 PM | Permalink

          Please don’t snip this. It has everything to do with Schmidt and gatekeeping.

        • bender
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 10:33 PM | Permalink

          For example, show me where this sentiment of Kevin Trenberth makes it into IPCC reports. Seems to me he thinks something is rather unsettled about this science of radiative balance and moist convection.

  20. Anand Rajan KD
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:34 PM | Permalink

    How can they review each others’ papers? And how is it that the ‘climatology’ community has allowed this to happen, and stayed quiet all the while (with the few honorable exceptions)?

    In medical research for example, *abstracts* submitted for *conferences* are stripped of affiliations before they are judged for acceptance, let alone papers. Competition is fierce enough that everybody agrees to a blinded review process as a compromise for any and every vetting process. Whereas you have here experts blithely reviewing each others’ work all the while when they are acquainted with one another, putting it mildly.

    This only brings to the fore the incestuous nature of scientific enterprise, and the two-faced nature of climate research. At once it is claimed that a vast network of independent scientists is at work when it is revealed that they work together and the network is not very big. They constantly lament that McIntyre and/or other skeptics do not publish but they conspire to keep out submitted skeptical papers.

    They consider themselves as scientists performing groundbreaking research which affect all humanity but at the same time act like little children reluctant to part with candy when someone asks for their data.

    For example Ben Santer consoles Phil Jones with the following about Pat Michaels’ comment on the EPA endangerment finding

    The only reason these guys are going after you is because your work is of crucial importance – it changed the way the world thinks about human effects on climate

    all the same time writing (to Rick Piltz)

    I think most ordinary citizens understand that few among us have preserved every bank statement and every utility bill we’ve received in the last 20 years.

    How can you hold that your research is earth shattering all the while maintaining that the data the research stands on, is as trivial as utility bills?

  21. mikep
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:40 PM | Permalink

    I would be very interested in Ross’s take on this again. But the Schmidt paper seems to be based on a misunderstanding. Here is the relevant quote from the paper

    More importantly however, as previous criticism (Benestad,
    2004) of an earlier version (McKitrick and
    Michaels, 2004) of MM07 pointed out, the significance
    of the correlations is likely over-estimated since spatial
    correlations were not taken into account. Adjacent
    grid boxes in both economic and climate data are not
    independent (Jones et al., 1997), and assuming that they
    are leads to over-estimating the significance of any correlation
    and the potential for over-fitting any statistical

    The assumption seems to be that in a regression if there is (spatial or temporal) autocorrelation in the dependent variable and/or in some of the independent variables, then t statistics will be artificially inflated. But this is wrong. What matters is the correlation pattern of the RESIDUALS of the regression equation. If these are normally distributed there is no bias. Indeed the autocorrelation in the dependent variable is a feature of the data so that if the independent variables do not have some autocorrelation themselves the residuals will necessarily be autocorrelated so there will be problems. There was once a time in econometrics when autocorrelation was “treated” by decomposing the residuals into an autocorrelated component and a normally distributed component. But this really just evades the more important issue. If there is a systematic pattern in the residuals then there is some systematic pattern not accounted for by the “explanatory” variable. I.e. the equation is misspecified. So, oversimplifying, what Mckitrick and Nierenberg show is that that it’s the socio-economic variables which explain the degree of autocorrelation in the dependent variable which is not already accounted for by the satellite measurements and the geographic variables because their equation has residuals which are not autocorrelated. I would have expected competent review to have picked this up in the first place. And I can’t find any reports in SO2009 about the properties of their estimated residuals.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:49 PM | Permalink

      They already responded. Soon to be in the peer-reviewed litchurchur. See Ross’s website.

      • mikep
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:56 PM | Permalink

        If the Ross reply does not appear in the peer reviewed literature there will be something seriously wrong with peer review. But my point was really that the acceptance of SO2009 itself showed something wrong with the peer review process, because it gets basic regression analysis wrong.

        • mikep
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:29 PM | Permalink

          And the Jones comment

          This is a common mistake and it will be good to have another paper to refer to when reviewing any more papers like dML06 and MM07. There is really no excuse for these sorts of mistakes to be made, that lead to erroneous claims about problems with the surface temperature record.

          is itself a mistake, and apparently quite a common one in climate science circles.

  22. Susann
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:55 PM | Permalink

    The “peer review” in evidence here is compromised first by the association between Jones and Schmidt (combined with Jones’ prior animosity to the articles being criticized), by the trifling quality of the peer review itself and the overt objective of using the article as a tool for future gatekeeping.

    I wonder if the peer review process “in evidence here” — as much as the email archive constitutes “evidence” — is a valid representation of the peer review process in climate science or any particular climate science journal?

    If the emails are only a subset of all the emails, how do any of us know that the emails touching on peer review really are representative of all that was written on that subject? One thing appears clear — the emails were selected to make some kind of case. If the “leaker/hacker” was trying to evoke a particular view or conclusion, might they have selected out only those emails that make the principals look a certain way?

    I don’t like what I see when reading the emails. I’ve read about 3 years worth so far. What I have seen is very troubling but I have no idea whether this is BAU for all science or just a very politicized science like that associated with AGW and its critics. I can say that I don’t think what I see is laudable or commendable, in fact quite the opposite, but I really just don’t know for certain what it all means. As I said earlier, I agree with Corcoran. Time, experts, and a thorough investigation is required. The rest is just speculation, to put it nicely.

    I strongly discourage attempts to overgeneralize. I, for one, haven’t made any generalizations to “all science”.

    • boballab
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 12:51 AM | Permalink

      snip – piling on

      • Chris Schoneveld
        Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 6:41 AM | Permalink

        I don’t think the origin of the tainted peer review process in climate science can be attributed to the age of the discipline. Rather it is the ego boosting potential of a discipline that captures the lime light of media and politics.

    • R.S.Brown
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 5:24 AM | Permalink


      I agree with your point that the tainted peer review process revealed in the CRU e-mail release:

      may be unrepresentative of a large block of editor/reviewer/author interactions away from members of
      the “Team” and their extended family of media reporters, seminar participants, grant sponsors, grad students,etc.

      However, no one person, or one Senate Committee, or one Presidential Commission has the staffing capability to send FOI requests or subpeonaes for the records of those who fall under the juridiction of “publically” funded
      activities that might result in journal submissions. No one has the authority to do a survey of ALL the
      possible sources and analyze the mountain range of material it would produc

      The electronic communications parsing capabilities of NSA might dredge up all the emails topically involving journal submissions, comments, responses, and side discussions. Even they don’t have the staff to sift through
      the all sorted stuff for an author’s INTENT to fiddle the review system in each instance.

      Basically, to ask to show that the rest of the folks involved in “climate change” research since the late 1980’s
      are clean, is requesting the attempt to prove a negative.

      The collective taint is one aspect of what the “Team” accomplished that should outrage the many truly virtuous
      researchers remaining in this field.

  23. Richard Saumarez
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:15 PM | Permalink

    The problem also lies with journal editors. If they send submitted papers that challenge orthodoxy to the originators of that orthodoxy for review, the paper gets panned. I have had enough trouble with this in an entirely different field to understand the problem. It sems from the CRUgate e-mails that the team wanted to isolate editors who did not agree with their world-view.

  24. Ed
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:15 PM | Permalink

    Susann – please see Gary Taubes’ book “Good Calories, Bad Calories”, which is an historical account of the history of nutrition science that led to incorrect nutrition recommendations adopted by the USDA for decades. The process of suppression of alternatives that appears in the CRU emails appears back then too – and led to suppression of alternative perspectives.

    Also look at Chapter 2 (section 2.5 onwards specifically) of “Information Retrieval” by Dr. William Hersh. In those sections he looks at problems of the peer review process.

    The problems seem to be known in the scientist community but are shrugged off with an attitude that it is ‘the best we have’, or ‘it works most of the time’, etc.

    Some fields seem more likely than others to suffer from potential interference with peer review process. Some like health care journals, now go to greater lengths to disclose conflicts of interest and other problems.

    My own concern is that the peer review process appears to be a broken one in that is has, historically, in some fields or cases, been manipulated. Unless the process itself is fixed, science itself will suffer a credibility gap.

    • Susann
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:48 PM | Permalink

      Ed, I’ve read parts of Taubes, and that’s a good reference to use, so thanks for reminding me. I’ll have to go back and read more. I do health research and policy for a living and have read about a few problems in research, but it’s rare to see behind the scenes as we are able in this case. It’s eye-opening for sure.

      • Harold
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 9:36 PM | Permalink

        What is seen behind the scene here is completely outside my experience in reviewing and dealing with editors. I don’t know that it is representative of climate science, but I haven’t seen or heard of a single similar instance in my field. A single known instance would be considered a big deal, since it would call into question the treatment of every single other submitted paper and destroy a part of the trust in the process.

        • Susann
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 11:13 PM | Permalink

          I think this is probably outside most people’s experience because this is a highly politicized example. There are other examples of sciences that have been so politicized to draw on.

          I thin that the smaller the particular discipline, the more incestuous the peer review process is. In a highly specialized corner of it, one might have only a few qualified people who could review a paper for publication or a grant proposal. So you might know who could possibly be reviewing your work and as a reviewer, you might recognize the researchers because you’ve heard them talk at conferences about their WIP and projects, etc. So, a totally anonymous process in a very small specialty might be impossible to maintain just by its very nature. That doesn’t excuse some of the behavior that appears to have taken place but it may explain it.

          I think that in principle, we want a rigorous peer review process with anonymous reviewers and we want independent journal editors and granting agencies, but in reality, the world works the same in science as it does in other arenas. Human personality, political persuasion, ideology, and financial issues will influence even the best processes. You have to strive for the ideal and do what is possible to achieve it, but be mindful of the reality that it’s not possible to always achieve the ideal.

          When politics rears its ugly head, all the more opportunity for this process to be subverted.

        • Greg F
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 11:44 PM | Permalink

          In a highly specialized corner of it, one might have only a few qualified people who could review a paper for publication or a grant proposal.

          The situation you describe may be rare to nonexistent at in anything beyond the basic sciences. In my view science that involves multiple disciplines should include multiple disciplines both in the writing of the papers as well as the peer review. For a tree ring study I see no reason the reviews could not include a statistician and a plant physiologist as well as a dendro person. Climate science it seems has taken a cottage industry approach to science where the practitioners do everything with much of it being outside their respective specialty. The computer code being a glaring example.

  25. Rhoda R
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:22 PM | Permalink

    The Lancet used to be a high quality British publication covering medical research. They changed editors and got one with An Agenda! The quality of the publication is deteriorating as a result. I’m sure that what’s going on at Nature is pretty similar.

  26. JEM
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:31 PM | Permalink

    Has anyone yet begun requirements collection on an open, distributed repository for climate data that includes the ability to track changes, annotate, comment, etc. on all raw data, adjustments, analyses, etc. all the way through the hierarchy?

    I’m no climate scientist but do have a substantial history in application and database design and wouldn’t mind contributing to the effort.

  27. Richard
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 7:17 PM | Permalink

    Will the honest scientists come out and speak against this blatant abuse of the peer reviewing process? Why the deafening silence? Are they just too busy in their fields to know whats going on, or are they not bothered by all this?

    • ZT
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 8:29 PM | Permalink

      Realistically, most scientists not in this field simply do not know the details. Often there is a sigmoidal growth curve associated with a new understanding taking root, and we’re at the early stages. It is always hardest to predict the future (as they say) but hopefully as scientists become curious and find resources like this site for untainted information there will be an acceleration and likely a tipping point in understanding. Then condemnation will flow from all scientists.

      However, the silence from most climatologists, who know only to well the details, is indeed deafening.

      It would be interesting to know whether Wegman now wishes he had not tried to be so diplomatic in his report – he knew what was going on.

  28. Richard
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 7:20 PM | Permalink

    rob m – this is not the place for this – go to WUVT annd other sites and do a search for your questions.

  29. MarcH
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 7:53 PM | Permalink

    snip – piling on

  30. Scott Gibson
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 8:25 PM | Permalink

    rob m.

    We don’t know the answer to your questions, and the discussion of why would take books. I suggest reading the articles referenced at the top of this site, and on WUWT and other sites linked to from WUWT if you want to learn more.

  31. TerryMN
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 9:24 PM | Permalink

    Y’all owe Steve for both the propane to run Zamboni, and the carbon credits for having to use it.

  32. Harold
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 9:55 PM | Permalink

    Intentionally polluting the literature like this would be very, very difficult to correct.

  33. Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 9:59 PM | Permalink

    Peer Review Is Not What You Think
    Shannon Love says this nicely [edited]

    “Peer Review” says nothing about conclusions. It is the fate of most scientific papers to be proven completely wrong.

    Peer review protects a journal’s reputation. The journal hires experts to check for basic errors in math or methodology, along with grammar and spelling. It offloads responsibility for publishing bad papers onto anonymous scientists. It is a form of blame-passing that everyone would like to use. It does not confirm or refute experimental or theoretical conclusions.

    Some people will say that a scientific result is true because it appears in a peer reviewed journal. That is the weakest defense possible. It means only that some editor and his reviewers found it to meet their minimum quality standards for publishing. It meets no standards if the editors and peer reviewers are corrupt.

    One reform would be to expect that journals list the papers that they reject for publication, as a matter of scientific integrity. This would hold the journals reponsible for their editorial opinion and their assumed gatekeeper role. They would be more careful and show less bias, with the journal’s reputation on the line.

    It would be fine to go further and give the reviewer’s opinions. This would encourage publishing pro and con views for rejected papers, and posibly for accepted ones also.

    • kevoka
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 11:19 PM | Permalink

      “Some people will say that a scientific result is true because it appears in a peer reviewed journal.”

      And that is the edifice built by the climate scientists (and clung to, even after the CRU Release) and that is the edifice that needs to be torn down.

  34. Tom
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 10:00 PM | Permalink

    As a practicing biochemist and molecular biologist, I would say that indeed the peer review process as revealed in the CRU e-mails is disturbing. Peer review has its problems with regard to publications (grant peer review has even more weaknesses). However, it has been my experience that thoughtful and professional reviews can be and are carried out by both competitors and non-competitors alike. I have performed objective reviews of competitors work and I know the same has been done for mine. I have had to excuse myself for obvious COI (both real and apparent) and have always done so when I was aware of an issue. I have seen ethical transgressions in the peer review process; I cannot say whether they are widespread.

    Although I agree with Susann that the CRU e-mails cannot tell us how wide spread peer review tampering in the Climate Science field may be, what they do say is that several scientists conspired to subvert the process, a practice that I have not encountered in my 30-year research career. It is unacceptable behavior for profession scientists and should not be tolerated.

  35. Norbert
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 10:30 PM | Permalink

    Perhaps my current impression from that single sentence, in a very general sense, corresponds to problems found by Schmidt’s paper:

    the significance of the correlations is likely over-estimated since spatial correlations were not taken into account

    This clearly demonstrates that there are far fewer degrees of freedom in these correlations than they assumed.

    With “in a very general sense”, I mean that there might to be a tendency for [McKitrick-Michaels] to think that things should not be correlated, in cases where there is nothing wrong with such correlations.

    Steve: At my blog, please do not employ the Connolley tactic of indiscriminately using “MM” when there are two quite different combinations.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 10:36 PM | Permalink

      Norbert, cut it out. The Schmidt argument has been refuted. The spatial autocorrelations are so weak that they are not sufficient to account for the spatial patterning in the temperature trend data. That is the point of the latest McKitrick & Michaels manuscript. If you haven’t read it, go read it. You are spreading misinformation.

    • Norbert
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 2:21 AM | Permalink

      Steve, I was under the impression that in the context of this blog entry “MM” would non-ambiguously refer to McKitrick-Michaels, but if you prefer, I’ll always spell out.

  36. EdeF
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 11:23 PM | Permalink

    Kind of bipolar behaviour from Jones, on one hand he is manning the gate with
    concertina wire and the next moment he is fast asleep and the cows have gone
    to pasture. Clearly too much conflict of interest here and not enough objectivity.
    Science was ill-served in both of these cases.

    Michaels and McKittric is a very good report as is the rebuttal to S09.

    If I were designing a methodology to properly find the average temperature over
    the earth, or some part of the earth, I wouldn’t bother with trying to cut out the
    urban heat island effect. Heat is heat. Whether the earth warms due to increased
    CO2 or from increased waste heat is not my immediate concern. These are both man-made, not climate-based. I would much rather
    try to have stations spread out covering both urban and rural areas on a fairly
    even basis. This is the real problem in my estimation. There are far too few
    long-lived, accurate ground stations out there in the hinterlands of northern
    Quebec, NW Territories, Alaska, Siberia, Africa and South America. The average
    temperature plot seems to be really a plot of the the temperature where most
    people live. This is the 800 lb gorilla.

  37. Norbert
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 2:42 AM | Permalink

    The link to RealClimate in the blog post refers to an article written in December 2004, discussing McKitrick and Michaels (2004).

    I suppose that McKitrick and Michaels (2007) is a completely different article. (?)
    It certainly doesn’t discuss Schmidt (2009).

  38. Jimchip
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 4:03 AM | Permalink

    A few comments:

    My latest tactic, using the 2009_Schmidt_3 submission, has been to read who Gavin references in the body of the paper (Bindoff et al., 2007; Lemke et al., 2007; Trenberth et al., 2007) and then search and follow where the threads lead.

    1. Climategatekeeping might equal IPCC-gatekeeping. Perhaps it’s been stated or obvious but it seems that a lot of behaviors occur because of the involvement with IPCC and the desire to reach the hallowed ‘consensus’ for the sake of politicians and other nonscientists. A lot of what the climategatekeepers are doing is not science.

    “The outcome is not a formal approval statement of the presentation. The outcome is to guide the collective subgroup to a *clear* consensus on
    what should be changed before the presentation is passed in to the TSU. If there are things that a majority of the group wants to see changed but others do not, you will have a chairman’s job to do in finding a solution everyone can live with.”

    2. 2009_Schmidt_3 is a critique of other writers who disagree with the consensus but it’s not really ‘new science’– It made it through the peer review process, somehow. Also, discussing another paper,

    “At 20:12 21/05/2008, Michael Mann wrote:

    Hi Phil,
    Gavin and I have been discussing, we think it will be important for us to do something on the Thompson et al paper as soon as it appears, since its likely that naysayers are doing to do their best to put a contrarian slant on this in the blogosphere. Would you mind giving us an advance copy. We promise to fully respect Nature’s embargo (i.e., we wouldn’t post any article until the paper goes public) and we don’t expect to in any way be critical of the paper. We simply want to do our best to help make sure that the right message is emphasized.
    thanks in advance for any help!


    “Mike, Gavin,
    OK – as long as you’re not critical and remember the embargo. I’ll expect Nature will be sending the paper around later today to the press embargoed till the middle of next week. Attached is the pdf.”

    3. The title- “Spurious correlations between recent warming and indices of local economic activity” seems to be a defense of the consensus, ,

    for example, especially .

    4. The reason for critique of any study wrt to local issues might be because of known deficiencies in the models:

    “I would like to submit that the current climate models have such large
    errors in simulating the statistics of regional (climate) that we are
    not ready to provide policymakers a robust scientific basis for “action”
    at regional scale. I am not referring to mitigation, I am strictly
    referring to science based adaptation.

    For example, we can not advise the policymakers about re-building the
    city of New Orleans – or more generally about the habitability of the
    Gulf-Coast – using climate models which have serious deficiencies in
    simulating the strength, frequency and tracks of hurricanes.”


    “All the skeptics look at the land data to explain differences between datasets and say urbanization is responsible for some or all of the warming.” (says Phil)

    Hence, concepts like local economic activity or urban heat or irrigation apparently need to be attacked.

    5. Lastly, Statements in 2009_Schmidt_3 like “Secondly, alternative hypotheses, that the correlations are related to patterns of climate variability, or related to known local forcing agents (such as tropospheric ozone, black carbon etc.) were not considered.” is a classic straw man given one of the more ‘famous’ emails:

    “From: Michael Mann
    To: Kevin Trenberth


    thanks Kevin, yes, it’s a matter of what question one is asking. to argue that the observed global mean temperature anomalies of the past decade falsifies the model projections of global mean temperature change, as contrarians have been fond of claiming, is clearly wrong. but that doesn’t mean we can explain exactly what’s going on.


    Here are some of the issues as I see them:
    Saying it is natural variability is not an explanation. What are the physical processes? Where did the heat go?”

  39. stacey
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 4:58 AM | Permalink

    Reading some of the emails above, October 2009, leads me to the proposition that there is a possible third source that leaked the emails. Could it be that a disaffected member of the Team was responsible?

  40. Norbert
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 4:58 AM | Permalink

    This appears to be the RC blog discussing McKitrick and Michaels (2007):

    The link posted in this blog, above, actually discusses McKitrick and Michaels (2004), as I wrote before.

  41. Stacey
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 7:25 AM | Permalink


  42. Ron Cram
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 8:30 AM | Permalink

    Please snip my comment at 3:22 pm. Since the earlier and substantive comment was inexplicably snipped, it makes no sense to leave in the explanatory comment. BTW, what was so offensive about my pointing out a study which indicates CO2 has been observed to be lumpy when MM07 is based on the view CO2 is well-mixed? The observation CO2 is lumpy does not necessarily make the conclusions of MM07 wrong. Even if it did, it is against ClimateAudit policy to snip substantive comments which show a scientific disagreement. You cannot claim my comment was OT since MM07 was mentioned in the headpost.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 9:42 AM | Permalink

      Maybe it got lost in the foodfight? You have a good point here … and so does Gavin Schmidt (via Norbert), though Gavin spins his the wrong way. If there is fine-scaled spatial structure (not attributable to SA) it could be due to lumpy (i.e. not well-mixed) GHG distributions. But note how Gavin has changed his tune on whether the spatial patterning exists or not. If it’s in the surface data, there is no pattern. If it’s in the satellite data, the pattern is real. No tendentiousness at all. Ah well, at least it’s progress. He’s come out of denial on the issue of spatial patterning and for that we are thankful.

  43. Anand Rajan KD
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 8:41 AM | Permalink

    Intentionally polluting the literature like this would be very, very difficult to correct.

    Isn’t that what the Team thought when they performed their brand of gatekeeping?

    Researchers in all fields worry secretly or openly that their line of thought might turn out to be a dead-end or be proven wrong, or become obsolete. At some point they have to approve of papers and work if the basic methodology is right even if they do not agree with the overall thrust of the paper – something the Team failed to do. The Team in fact, tried to subvert papers based on their social and media ramifications if they were published.

  44. mikep
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 8:46 AM | Permalink

    Let’s try to get back to the subject of the head post – gate-keeping and who is let in and who is kept out. The more I think about this review by Phil Jones and McKitrick and Nierenberg’s devastating reply linked in the post the more I am shocked. Jones missed two big errors in S09. The first was that it never tested for spatial autocorrelation in the residuals (and GLS would normally take care of problems anyway) – indeed didn’t present any analysis of residuals at all. This should have been picked up by a competent reviewer. So it makes me wonder about Jones statistical competence – does he or does he not understand that its autocorrelation of residuals that matters not dependent variables? And the second, which should have been glaringly obvious to a competent reviewer, was that using the model runs instead of actual tropospheric data made the fit between observed temperatures and the (assumed) correct model troposphere worse. S09 should have been rejected. T

  45. t&kbrunner
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 10:21 AM | Permalink

    Could you please post the link to Phil Jones review of Schmidt 2009? It’d be nice to be able to see for ourselves what his minor points and observations were.

    It would also be useful to know who did the peer review (and what the criticisms were) on the two McKitrick papers since your post seems to imply that the peer review those papers received was more reliable than that given to the Schmidt paper.

    Also, since another claim being made above is that the McKitrick papers weren’t reviewed as expeditiously as the Schmidt paper it’d be nice to have that information provided for the latest McKitrick paper. You mention it was submitted April 15, 2009, but I don’t see where that information comes from other than it’s the date the PDF file was created which may or may not be the actual submission date. It’s also interesting to note that McKitrick himself mentions submitting this paper in a December 1st, 2009 blog post ( and doesn’t seem bothered at all by any alleged delays or gate keeping. I imagine there are also other factors that may affect how quickly a paper is reviewed and I’m not sure how those were accounted for before making your claims either…

    • bender
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 11:04 AM | Permalink

      “You mention it was submitted April 15, 2009, but I don’t see where that information comes from”
      IIRC McKitrick posted a related note here some weeks ago, when he linked to the ms.

      • mikep
        Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 11:24 AM | Permalink

        For the Schmidt review see

        It’s quite easy to find under Schmidt.

        • t&kbrunner
          Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 11:42 AM | Permalink

          Here’s the link: It is quite easy to find once I was told where to look.

          Perhaps the comments are minor (I can’t judge), but there are more than a few and they cover multiple pages of the Schmidt paper. What is it that makes this review less rigorous than another? Perhaps Jones simply didn’t find anything more serious to critique. The implication is that he let some errors through due to his association with Schmidt, but where is the evidence of that? You obviously disagree with Schmidt’s conclusions, but he disagrees with McKitrick’s so there you are.

  46. Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 10:52 AM | Permalink

    Jones: “This paper is timely as it clearly shows that the results claimed in dML06 and MM07 are almost certainly spurious.”

    MM07 would be a confusing reference to McK&Mich07, but what is dML06? I don’t see it in the CA Acronym list in the left margin.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 10:54 AM | Permalink

      de Laat and Maurelis. IJC 2006

  47. Micky C
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 12:43 PM | Permalink

    The oomment to S09 by McKitrick and Nierenberg is sufficiently clear to make the excellent point about testing the model and residuals for autocorrelation. This seems to be another elephant in the room about the types of analysis that crops up in a lot of papers about surface trends and spatial trends i.e. there seems to be insufficient effort to improve the dependent model and reduce residual autocorrelation to the point were the model has minimum autocorrelation. This is what bothered me about the whole Santer et al (2008) troposphere paper. It is almost like some authors want more autocorrelation to increase confidence intervals (errors essentially). I was always taught the key to science is to minimise errors to a reasonable degree where possible and to accept them were not.

  48. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 7:32 PM | Permalink

    Ross has written me to say that while the review process for his and Nicolas Nierenberg’s paper is taking longer than expected, he believes the delay is not with the IJC editor but with the referees. Also, in order to avoid creating any problems for them during the refereeing process, I am going to close this thread to any further discussion of the M&N submission.

  49. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 6:43 AM | Permalink

    Bill Illis reported yesterday:

    I noticed that gavin commented today that he is reviewing a comment/paper by Ross McKitrick.

    Not sure if this is sufficiently on topic: R. McKitrick wrote a response to Schmidt(2009), available online, but apparently not published yet. Is there a response available, or upcoming?

    [Response: Actually he co-wrote a new paper which was in effect a comment on Schmidt (2009) but which was not submitted as such. This isn’t so uncommon and can be appropriate if there is enough new material in the submission. I was asked to review it (as I assume other people were) and my review was submitted. I do not know what the current status is. – gavin]

    Comment by Norbert — 23 December 2009 @ 3:15 PM

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