CG3: The Gold Medalist

bolt_mann Last summer during the London Olympics, Josh had some fun with the “Climate Olympics”, with Mann at left in the iconic gold medal pose of Usain Bolt, the famous runner.

Little did we know that during an earlier Olympics, Jones was disappointed at being silver medalist in statistical abuse – to gold medalist Mann. CG3 1093965453:

date: Tue Aug 31 11:17:33 2004
from: Phil Jones

subject: Fwd: On the Role of Statistics in Climate Research, Tim Lambert, Phil Jones et al?
to: Rasmus Benestad

Rasmus and Mike,

In the email below, Mike seems to have won the gold medal for statistical abuse and I have the silver. I seemed to have tried too hard to explain my techniques. I tried really hard to get the gold medal – Mike has a degree in maths/stats ! I’ll have to redeem myself in AR4 and switch the places for the 2008 Olympiad – the AR4 coming out in 2007 should put me well in the lead.

I clearly didn’t allow for the knowledge of the judges – I think I’ll appeal!


The category remains hotly contested, with many new contestants. Jones, whatever his other sins, has tended to use fairly simple methods and I find it hard to picture him maintaining a spot on the podium. Mann, of course, has a repertoire of upside-down techniques that are highly regarded by climate referees and which make it very difficult for new contestants to seize the gold medal.


  1. Posted Mar 15, 2013 at 4:14 PM | Permalink

    What a find! Brilliant. Quite in keeping, though, with poor Phil’s preferred mode of doing “peer-review” … as he told us in CG2, he uses “intuition”.

    So, I guess Jones doomed to cede the Silver and Bronze to Marcott and Gergis?!

  2. Selgovae
    Posted Mar 15, 2013 at 4:26 PM | Permalink

    ” I seemed to have tried too hard to explain my techniques. I tried really hard to get the gold medal …”

    I don’t know the context, but it comes across as an endearing comment, with some humour too. Are we talking science here or personalities? On the personality side, Jones comes across OK. Sorry, Steve. I don’t understand the point of this post.

    Steve: Jones’ comment here is pleasantly self-deprecating. No problem with that. We had some fun with Mann as an Olympic gold medalist and self-proclaimed NObel prizewinner and I though that Josh’s cartoon was delightful. I couldnt resist reviving it. Don’t impute more to this post than that.

    • Posted Mar 15, 2013 at 4:34 PM | Permalink

      Good-natured humour will do fine. But what was Josh drinking when he did that cartoon? Spookily true.

    • Selgovae
      Posted Mar 15, 2013 at 4:55 PM | Permalink

      Thanks for the comment, Steve. And I was perhaps misinterpreting. I seem to have a soft spot for Jones. I don’t know why, but I think my mum would have invited him in for tea. Unlike the other character…

      And now I’m lecturing on the personality thing. I should bow out.

      By the way, what was “the email below”?

      • Skiphil
        Posted Mar 15, 2013 at 5:08 PM | Permalink

        A certain amount of humility and pleasant self-deprecation is healthy, although the context seems to be an arrogant and smug certitude that critics must be wrong and Mann/Jones do not believe they could deserve any such ironic accolades for statistical failings.

        I bow to Steve’s superior knowledge of these issues and exchanges, as virtually all of us must, but I do wonder whether Phil Jones here displays any genuine humility or more of a smirking insider’s certainty that the great unwashed could not correct him or Mann on any of this.

      • Phil Jones' Mum
        Posted Mar 16, 2013 at 7:36 AM | Permalink

        Re: Selgovae (Mar 15 16:55),

        My Phil doesn’t just go round to just anybody’s house for tea. I have to make sure that they are quite respectable and don’t have any ‘sceptic’ or ‘de****’ tendencies. He’s a good boy is my Phil and I don’t want him led astray by Bad People.

        And that nice Mrs. Mann tells me that Steven McIntyre and his gang of renegades and ne’erdowells get up to all sorts of funny things when they’re not supervised. Like checking academic papers and stuff.

        Her dear sweet sensitive and much misunderstood Mikey was quite upset and had to go to bed early with a nice co
        up of cocoa and a copy of Climate Fiction Illustrated (lots of lovley graphs for him to choose from) when he found out. The doctor said he’d had a fit of the vapours. But I think it was just a chill because of the cold weather……

        (as told to LA)

  3. Gerald Machnee
    Posted Mar 15, 2013 at 4:30 PM | Permalink

    Well, there are enough contenders to fill an Olympic team with All-Stars, not just a run of the mill “Hockey Team”.
    There could be a lot of ties for Bronze.

  4. John Hekman
    Posted Mar 15, 2013 at 4:36 PM | Permalink

    It should not be the mathematical sophistication alone that sways the judges in awarding the gold. The nomination for Phil, and the citation in the event he wins, should also make note of the savvy use of chutzpah in seeing that his statistical techniques carry the day in the face of fierce scientific scrutiny.
    Technique-enhancing method number 1: “Why should I give it to you, when all you want to do is to find something wrong with it?”
    Technique-enhancing method number 2: “I lost the original data, but you should still believe me when I say that temperatures are rising in an unprecedented manner.”

    Steve: You’re overstating point 2. Once again, I do not regard Jones as a serious contender for the podium any more.

    • AJ
      Posted Mar 15, 2013 at 6:25 PM | Permalink

      I don’t think there can be a gold medal in climate science. It’s science in slow motion. The Nobel prize in physics requires solid evidence and nature obliges with observable phenomena. Predictions of the future climate will take decades to verify, by definition.

      There could have been a few golds given for studies of the past climate such as identifying ice ages, the various eras such as the Carboniferous, and perhaps highly filtered studies of the Holocene. What we don’t and perhaps can’t have is a high resolution reconstruction of the Holocene which would give us an idea of how exceptional our current climate change is. I think the waters are muddy and we’ll have to live with it.

  5. milodonharlani
    Posted Mar 15, 2013 at 5:07 PM | Permalink

    The Team from Oregon State is clearly the odds-on (so to speak) favorite now.

  6. Posted Mar 15, 2013 at 5:11 PM | Permalink

    Life imitating art. Little did Josh realise at the time.

  7. Posted Mar 15, 2013 at 10:23 PM | Permalink

    I feel that AE Dessler’s correlation coefficient (indistinguishable from zero) deserves wider recognition. Perhaps not an Olympian performance, but he did publish in Science nevertheless.

  8. Posted Mar 16, 2013 at 12:45 AM | Permalink

    LOL, this is cute, I hope that the athlete representing our European Union will ultimately beat your sportsman.

    • AJ
      Posted Mar 16, 2013 at 6:41 AM | Permalink

      One day perhaps your Jamaican sportsman will beat our Jamaican sportsman. Assuming that Jamaica resumes exporting their sportsmen that is.

  9. Phil
    Posted Mar 16, 2013 at 4:34 AM | Permalink

    Steve, a few bloggers won’t be able to read 200,000+ emails–if it takes 5 minutes to read an email, 5 x 200,000 = approx. 16,666 hours = 694 days to read all the emails. This is something that needs to be crowd-sourced. No need to release the password into the public domain. Just place ALL the emails into a MYSQL database and link it to an online search, the way the earlier climategate emails were–the search code automatically redacts the email headers/footers, email addresses and phone numbers, leaving just the body of the email messages, which is where the pertinent info will be.

    • seanbrady
      Posted Mar 16, 2013 at 2:32 PM | Permalink

      I think your suggestion misses Mr. FOIA’s point. He wasn’t just trying to protect people’s email addresses. He was trying to avoid placing personal emails that have nothing to do with the “science” in the public domain, out of an abundance of respect for the personal lives of the “scientists” at UEA and any of their correspondents. The emails you are referring to were first selected by 1 person (Mr. FOIA), then they were crowd sourced.

  10. John R T
    Posted Mar 16, 2013 at 8:08 AM | Permalink

    linked at

    Saturday a.m. traditions: cartoons! and homeopathy?!?!

  11. Green Sand
    Posted Mar 16, 2013 at 9:07 PM | Permalink

    No 1 Blade Runner!

    Not good in relays (timing of baton exchanges)

    Has problems with head winds, especially easterlies!

    Not good over hurdles, tendency to end up upside down

    Runs well on the straight.

    Ok on a left hand track, but cannot cope with a RH turn?

    Intimidating burst speed from ring to ring long gone

    Living on reputation, no longer features in major meetings

    Now in the secondary “tweet” and “face” races

  12. bob denton
    Posted Mar 17, 2013 at 3:39 PM | Permalink

    “Invert to elevate” was a principle first used successfully by Dick Fosbury to win a Gold Medai in the 1968 Olympics. Like he said, “I guess it did look kind of weird at first, but it felt so natural that, like all good ideas, you just wonder why no one had thought of it before me.” In Massachusetts, these words by his hero burned themselves into a young boy’s mind.

  13. Foxx
    Posted Mar 19, 2013 at 11:30 AM | Permalink

    Steve, Jeff Condon just received legal notice about the CG3 password. Please be careful.

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