Evasions and Fantasy at Real Climate

Several readers have asked me to respond to recent comments about me at Real Climate: briefly, Osborn has made one misrepresentation after another and made statements with seemingly complete indifference as to whether he has any basis for making the claims.

In respect to Schmidt’s whinge, as Lucia sagely observed a couple of years ago in connection with Schmidt’s defence of upside-down Tiljander, one cannot assume that people actually asked the questions that Schmidt says they asked or that his answers are adequate because he says so:

I might suggest that you are assuming that people asked the questions Gavin says they asked, and that Gavin’s answer to their questions is adequate because Gavin tells us his answer is adequate.

Schmidt and Osborn’s most recent comments were on July 2, the last day that comments were open on the thread, otherwise I would have attempted to respond at Real Climate. Unfortunately it takes more time to respond to their fantasies than it does for them to make them.

CRU’s Failure to Use or Disclose the Shiyatov Dataset

In a recent CA post, I observed that Shiyatov had crossdated 1021 subfossil trees from his 1968 and 1983 transects plus hundreds of living trees, from which the samples sent to Schweingruber were a minute subset. Although Shiyatov’s comprehensive dataset is by far the most imposing dendro work at Polar Urals, Briffa et al 2013 neither used nor reported the extent of the Shiyatov dataset. In a comment at RC, I asked Osborn to explain their failure to use or even disclose the very large Shiyatov dataset as follows:

Why didn’t CRU use this dataset in Briffa et al 2013 instead of the inadequately replicated dataset that it reported on? Did CRU attempt to obtain access to this data and receive a rejection? And why didn’t CRU report the existence of Shiyatov’s crossdated dataset in its review of previous work at Polar Urals?

It appears that Osborn had no valid answer to these questions as his answers were either unresponsive or evasive or attacks on me. First, here is Osborn’s answer as to why they didn’t use the Shiyatov data:

The dendrochronological data from this recent sampling have not yet been published and it is the prerogative of the Ekaterinburg laboratory to publish the first dendroclimatological analysis of the data that they have spent many years and extensive effort in collecting and processing. …

Your question and other commentary at your blog may give readers the false impression that we have published using an inadequate dataset.

Watch the pea.

While no one would object to Shiyatov and his associates (who by the way, are listed as coauthors of B13) being the first to publish their “recent” work, this is irrelevant to data collected in 1983 and 1968. Osborn’s answer misdirects away from this issue. And, in any event, this has nothing to do with CRU’s failure to even disclose the existence of 1021 crossdated subfossil trees from the two early transects. This should have been reported in the article, together with an explanation of why they didn’t use it, letting reviewers and readers decide for themselves whether CRU was justified in using less than 8% of the subfossil data. Had Briffa reported the existence of the large Shiyatov dataset, a reviewer might well have asked Briffa and coauthors why they weren’t using the best available data and perhaps even asked them to carry out the analysis using comprehensive data. This would have led to a more valuable study. CRU should have asked Shiyatov for the right to use the subfossil data from their 1968 and 1983 transects and, if they were refused, this should have been reported as well.

If I gave the “impression” that CRU used an “inadequate” dataset, so be it. CRU did use an inadequate dataset. Their recommended Polar Urals chronology had only two trees during part of the 11th century.

Osborn also implies that I should have raised the inadequacy of their data in previous criticisms and that this is moving the goalposts on them. However, the Shiyatov transects were not described in Briffa et al 1995 either. Indeed, Briffa et al 2013 is the first CRU article that comes even close to providing technical information on the sites. My first appreciation of the comprehensiveness of Shiyatov’s work came from the relatively recent publications, Shiyatov et al 2011 and Mazepa et al 2011, which I consulted as part of my consideration of Briffa et al 2013, though neither was cited by Briffa. Had I previously realized the comprehensiveness of the Shiyatov dataset, I would have raised the issue earlier.

Surely the responsibility for using the most comprehensive available data rests with CRU and the journal reviewers. If they neglect to do so, they deserve criticism. It is ludicrous for Osborn to attack me because they were negligent.

CRU’s False Claims about “Advocacy” and “Heavy Promotion”

Even my most antagonistic critics have nearly always understood that I have not attempted to offer my own reconstruction. Indeed, this annoys many critics e.g. here. On numerous occasions, I’ve explained that reconciliation of inconsistencies between proxies – especially between seemingly like proxies in the same region – is, in my opinion, a prerequisite prior to any reconstruction being anything other than arbitrary. The inconsistency between various lines of evidence in the Yamal-Polar Urals region is a type case of such inconsistency.

Despite my longstanding policy against offering my own reconstruction under current information, CRU alleged that I had “promoted”, “heavily promoted” and “advocated” versions of the Yamal and Polar Urals chronologies, making these untrue claims both in their blog article itself and in Osborn’s inline comments. In a comment at RC, I rejected these allegations, pointing out that CRU had not provided any quotation or link supporting their assertions. Osborn was unable to provide any backup or source for his allegations.

In Figure 2 of the blog article, CRU had displayed two chronology variations, falsely asserting that I had “heavily promoted” these versions as follows:

Figure 2b compares the new Yamalia chronology with two alternative chronologies heavily promoted by McIntyre and others – the so-called Polar Urals “update” chronology and a Yamal chronology using modern samples from the Khadyta River site.

In inline comments (see here and here), Osborn re-iterated their false assertion that I had “advocated” these chronology versions.

The Yamal version that Osborn attacked was shown as a sensitivity analysis in my original Sep 27, 2009 post on Yamal and not cited or “promoted” or “advocated” in any subsequent presentation or even blog post. My issue with Briffa-style regional chronologies had been their sensitivity (non-robustness) to inhomogeneity. Under the statistical model necessary for Briffa-style “regional” standardization, results should not depend on which subpopulation is used. However, this was very much not the case with his influential Yamal chronology. To illustrate the inhomogeneity, I showed three chronology variations (scenarios, if you prefer) in my Sep 27, 2009 blog post: (C) the Yamal-11 only (as in Briffa 2000 and Briffa et al 2008); (B) both the Yamal-11 and Schweingruber’s Khadyta River and (A) Schweingruber’s Khadyta River only. I described the calculations as a “sensitivity” study and did not promote or advocate either Scenario A or Scenario B.

To avoid any potential confusion, I stated this non-advocacy as clearly as I could in a post that took notice of Briffa’s initial response to the Yamal controversy:

I did not propose the results of these sensitivity studies as an “alternative” and “more robust” chronology. I am not arguing that the Yamal versions using the Schweingruber data provide the “correct” climate history for the region. I am arguing that the version constructed by Briffa, and relied on so extensively in the literature since then, is not robust in its late-20th century portion to a small and reasonable inclusion of additional data.

We know from Climategate emails that CRU were reading CA posts at the time. Further, the contemporary responses of Briffa and Melvin first conceded that I had raised a “number of valid points that require further investigation” and then, in their second much more detailed response shortly before Climategate, Briffa and Melvin stated that “it is important to examine the robustness of RCS chronologies, involving the type of sensitivity testing that McIntyre has undertaken”. This latter article repeatedly used the term “sensitivity” to describe my analyses.

So Briffa and Melvin clearly understood at the time that I had not “promoted” or ‘advocated” Scenario A (or Scenario B or Polar Urals for that matter), but had raised “valid questions” and that it was “important” to examine inhomogeneity using the sort of sensitivity analyses that I had carried out.

Subsequent to my original September 27, 2009 post, I never employed or even illustrated Scenario A in any presentation or blog article, other than an incidental use in a May 15, 2012 post where I ironically observed that a Yamal chronology incorporating fresh data from Hantemirov was remarkably similar to Scenario B. My position on Esper’s Polar Urals version has been similar: that the inconsistency between proxies need to be reconciled before either can be relied upon, a position that I expressed in my submission to Muir Russell as follows:

In the absence of any explanation of the substitution [Yamal for Polar Urals], there is reason to be concerned about the reasons for using one series rather than the other

In his inline comment, Osborn conceded that this was a reasonable point, but objected that I had raised this example of potential cherrypicking to a panel whose terms of reference including the examination of potential cherrypicking and which had requested submissions. (Not that the Muir Russell panel adequately investigated the matter, but that’s another story.)

When I challenged) Osborn on his untrue claim that I had “heavily promoted” or “advocated” Scenario A and/or Polar Urals, Osborn implicitly conceded that he had no source. Instead of then endeavouring to locate a source, Osborn stated that he would not search through “hundreds of comments” to try to find support for his assertion – though surely this is something that he should have done before making the comment, rather than after.

I will not search through the hundreds of comments you have made on the subject in multiple venues to find ones that might meet some agreed definition of “promotion”

It’s frustrating that a state-funded academic does not take responsibility for his statements. Unfortunately, this sort of recklessness seems to have increased rather than decreased following the inept Muir Russell.

Osborn then asked why “all of this” had happened if I had not “heavily promoted” and/or “advocated” Scenario A and/or Polar Urals arguing that I had left CA readers with the “impression” that these chronologies were “perhaps more reasonable” because I had “claimed they were based on newer or less biased data”.

Again, Osborn provided no citation or references. I never claimed that the data for Scenario A or Scenario B or Polar Urals was “less biased” – I defy Osborn to locate any support for that suggestion.

Nor do I agree with Osborn’s claim that CA readers have the impression that any of Scenario A, Scenario B or Polar Urals were “more reasonable” chronologies. It is my impression that CA readers are far more negative to tree ring chronologies than I am. And that rather than endorsing Scenario A or Polar Urals, the prevalent attitude is: none of the above. It’s not that these scenarios have been “promoted”, but that specialists have been untroubled by the inconsistencies. Briffa et al 2013 at least concedes the existence of the inconsistencies, but unfortunately, CRU are hopelessly incapable of carrying out the requisite statistical analysis (which is not easy).

In the blog article, CRU made another untrue assertion about Climate Audit with reckless indifference:

Over the years, McIntyre has advanced a number of other criticisms of our tree-ring work in northwestern Eurasia. We note here that these too are also wrong.: 1) the original Polar Urals chronology was not wrongly cross-dated as claimed in a 2005 submission to Nature by McIntyre and McKitrick. When we demonstrated this in our response, Nature decided to publish neither their comment nor our response. It is worth noting that this rejection, nor any acknowledgement of his erroneous conclusions, were ever mentioned by McIntyre on his blog. [my bold]

Their claim that I had never mentioned the rejection of this comment at Climate Audit is simply untrue. Osborn stated that he was unwilling to search through “hundreds of comments” at Climate Audit, but how can CRU pretend to have a basis for claiming that I had never “mentioned” the rejection of the comment at Climate Audit if they haven’t thoroughly examined the thousands of posts and comments. If CRU did not carry out the requisite examination, they should refrain from making claims that can only be made responsibly on the basis of a thorough examination. BTW I was able to locate mentions of this rejection (there’s more than one) in a few minutes, but I had an idea of where to look.

Nor do I agree that CRU’s response demonstrated that the observations about crossdating reported in the comment were “erroneous”. The calculations are what they are and yielded the results that I reported. In any event, it is common ground between us that the 11th century portion of the Briffa et al 1995 chronology did not meet quality control standards for number of cores (which implies, in my opinion, that this portion of the chronology should not have been used in Jones et al 1998, of which Briffa was a coauthor. Nor, for that matter, does the 11th century portion of the recommended Polar Urals version of Briffa et al 2013 – which supports the argument against Briffa’s decision to use an “inadequate” version of the Polar Urals data, rather than the comprehensive Shiyatov dataset.

Radial Inhomogeneity
Osborn also complained that I had insufficiently acknowledged their identification of root collar inhomogeneity at Polar Urals. However, in my first article in the recent sequence, I provided a lengthy exposition of their findings in connection with root collar inhomogeneity, complete with long quotations directly from their text.

Not only did I provide a thorough review of their argument on root collar inhomogeneity, I explicitly stated that their concerns about root collar and radial inhomogeneity seemed “entirely reasonable” to me:

These concerns seem entirely reasonable to me.

In my closing comment, I firmly endorsed Briffa’s stand against the use of radially deformed data.

I very much welcome the strong position taken by Briffa and coauthors against the use of radially deformed tree ring data.

I see no basis for any complaint on Osborn’s part that I had insufficiently acknowledged their concern about root collar inhomogeneity. However, root collar inhomogeneity is hardly the end of the story as inhomogeneity in Briffa’s population is pervasive. The purlasi_sc subpopulation appears as inhomogeneous as the root collar samples, but Briffa seem obtusely unaware of the problem. And while Briffa et al have reported one incident of inhomogeneity, their statistical tools for detecting inhomogeneity are hopelessly inadequate – a serious disappointment given that they’ve been working on this issue for over a decade. I observed (continuing my original criticism):

Inhomogeneity between sample populations are a very serious problem in Briffa’s RCS methodology. B13 asserts that need to test subpopulations for homogeneity, but are completely and irredeemably at sea in actually carrying out statistical tests for homogeneity – procedures on which many statistical specialists could have assisted.

Gavin’s Whinge

In recent comments about Yamal, Gavin Schmidt claimed that he had been misrepresented in my recent post, but, all too characteristically, did not quote the supposed misrepresentation. Or even say explicitly who had made the supposed misrepresentation, though the link to the CA thread implied that I had been responsible.

Here is Schmidt’s complaint:

Unfair” might be misrepresenting my earlier post (criticizing McIntyre’s never-ending accusations of misconduct and his ultimately futile attempts to use FOIA/EIR to get hold of unpublished work) as a criticism of any specific analysis, despite the opening line being “Steve McIntyre is free to do any analysis he wants on any data he can find” and not mentioning his results at all.

“Unfair” might be taking a statement I made in that post (on May 11 2012 – note the date), pointing out that Briffa et al’s results would be different from what McIntyre had put up (on May 6 2012) (as the figure below demonstrates), and then using a calculation made on May 15 2012 to claim I was wrong.

Claiming that my comments were an intemperate response to his results posted 4 days later might, in some circles, also be considered “unfair”.

But when one examines my actual post, it does not contain any statements that contain the assertions about which Schmidt complains. Precisely what Lucia warns against when dealing with Schmidt.

As far as I can tell, the only sentences that have any connection to Schmidt’s complaint are the following:

First here is a comparison from CA in Sep 2009 here of the Briffa 2008 superstick to a version that simply incorporated Schweingruber’s Khadyta River data, applying the method used by Briffa for Taimyr in Briffa et al 2008. Real Climate screeched in fury against this comparison.

In May 2012, I did a quick calculation incorporating more recent Hantemirov data, showing that the resulting modern portion was remarkably similar (TM-climate science) to the green chronology of my September 2009 and had an almost identical discrepancy to the Briffa et al superstick. For reasons that remain unclear, Hantemirov objected to the calculation (see comments within post) and, once again, Real Climate screeched in fury.

The first paragraph seems unarguable to me, though Schmidt would undoubtedly use different words to describe the Real Climate post in September 2009. Eeven Schmidt cannot reasonably dispute that the September 2009 Real Climate post was extremely antagonistic. Indeed, CG-2 clearly demonstrated Schmidt’s intent to be as antagonistic as possible. Even though Briffa recognized that there were substantive technical issues relating to inhomogeneity, on Sep 29, 2009 (CG2-4564), the day before the antagonistic RC post, Schmidt told Jones, Osborn and Mann that the issue was “propaganda”:

This is not a peer review issue – this is a propaganda issue. And right now the good guys have conceded the field.

Schmidt presciently observed that his readers would not “worry about the details”:

The good news is that once something is out there, people will counter with links to that without themselves worrying about the detail.

Even in his most recent whinge, Schmidt does not seriously argue against the strident antagonism of Real Climate’s reaction in September 2009.

The next sentence in my post was the following:

In May 2012, I did a quick calculation incorporating more recent Hantemirov data, showing that the resulting modern portion was remarkably similar (TM-climate science) to the green chronology of my September 2009 and had an almost identical discrepancy to the Briffa et al superstick.

I can’t see anything objectionable in this sentence. I did indeed do the stated calculation (see here.) The calculation involving the Hantemirov data was not the same calculation as the emulation of CRU’s regional chronology that I’d calculated about 10 days earlier (see here) on May 6, 2012. Although Schmidt whinged about the May 6 regional calculation, nowhere is it mentioned in my actual post. Indeed, I haven’t yet commented on the handling of the regional chronology in Briffa et al 2006, though this is an interesting topic that I intend to cover and will discuss briefly in today’s post.

So there is only one remaining sentence in my post to which Schmidt might be objecting:

For reasons that remain unclear, Hantemirov objected to the calculation (see comments within post) and, once again, Real Climate screeched in fury.

Hantemirov’s objection to my calculation was expressed in a threaded comment) to my May 15, 2012, in which Hantemirov complained very angrily about my post as follows:

Steve, I’m horrified by your slipshod work. You did not define what you compare, what dataset used in each case, how data were processed, and what was the reason for that, what limitation there are, what kind of additional information you need to know. Why didn’t you ask me for all the details? You even aren’t ashamed of using information from stolen letters. Do carelessness, grubbiness, dishonourableness are the necessary concomitants of your job? With disrespect…

I disagreed with Hantemirov’s comments in an inline comment. Although this was only a blog article, I provided considerable detail on the calculation, including turnkey code to generate all graphics and results cited in the post. In addition, I have a good record of responding to requests for clarification. So I didn’t and don’t accept Hantemirov’s criticism. That the later Briffa et al 2013 Yamal chronology was similar to my calculation is further support that I had replicated the most important ingredients of their methodology. Be that as it may, the first part of the sentence reported Hantemirov’s intervention and is factually correct.

Hantemirov’s intemperate criticism was immediately seized upon by commenters at Real Climate on the then Yamal thread, first by Steve Metzler here and then by Phil Clarke here. Over the next week or so, RC commenters, abetted by Real Climate moderator Eric Steig, used Hantemirov’s criticism to launched one tirade after another against me: see page 4 and page 5. Comments included the following:

He’s like a delinquent schoolboy who’s left a trail of destruction behind, culminating in burning down the school. And then he’s all defiant, like: “What? What did I do wrong?”

McIntyre doesn’t just use bad (or out of context) data, he also *manufactures his own* if bad data aren’t readily available:

While Real Climate might not characterize their response to Hantemirov’s complaint as “screeching”, it is surely unarguably that Hantemirov’s complaint prompted a large number of furious comments at Real Climate, both by commenters and by moderator Steig.

Thus, I don’t see any factual errors or unfairness in my commentary.

Re-examining Schmidt’s complaint: Schmidt argued that it would be “unfair” to take a statement that he had made on May 11, 2012 “pointing out that Briffa et al’s results would be different from what McIntyre had put up (on May 6 2012) (as the figure below demonstrates), and then using a calculation made on May 15 2012 to claim I was wrong.”

If I had done what Schmidt described, then I would agree that his complaint would be justified. But as Lucia observed, Schmidt saying something is so doesn’t make it so. I did not directly refer to or mention his May 11 criticism of my May 6 emulation of the regional chronology. If Schmidt had directly quoted my words, this would have been evident to RC readers. Nonetheless, in order to avoid any misunderstanding on this point, I added a clarifying sentence to the text of the post itself on July 2 as follows:

the screeching at RC in response to my Hantemirov post occurred in comments (see page 4 on) to their Yamal post of May 11, which chronologically was screeching in fury at my post of May 6 about regional reconstructions.

Although I had not commented on Schmidt’s May 11 criticism of my regional chronology emulation, Schmidt was quoted by a thread commenter here. Again, to avoid any potential misunderstanding, I’ve added a clarifying inline comment to hopefully alleviate Schmidt’s anguish that he might have been misunderstood by a commenter on a thread somewhere on the internet.

This is not to say that I agree with Gavin’s May 11 criticism of my emulation of the regional chronology. Only that I had not raised the issue of the regional chronology, a topic which I had not yet considered in connection with Briffa et al 2013 and which I will now briefly consider.

The Regional Reconstruction

CRU’s 2006 regional chronology has been a longstanding interest at CA and was the topic of a partly successful, partly unsuccessful FOI request. In April 2012, I was successful in obtaining a list of sites used in the unreported 2006 regional chronology. On May 6, I reported the results of my emulation as shown below:

Figure 1. Emulation of CRU regional chronology, as shown in CA post https://climateaudit.org/2012/05/06/yamal-foi-sheds-new-light-on-flawed-data/

In his May 11 article, Schmidt sneered at this “insta-reconstruction” and stated that he could “guarantee” that Briffa’s eventual reconstruction would have different results than my emulation:

The irony is of course that the demonstration that a regional reconstruction is valid takes effort, and needs to be properly documented. That requires a paper in the technical literature and the only way for Briffa et al to now defend themselves against McIntyre’s accusations is to publish that paper (which one can guarantee will have different results to what McIntyre has thrown together).

I was just as confident as Schmidt that CRU’s planned publication would feature a chronology that would be more HS-like than the 2006 regional chronology. After all, CRU had ferociously contested production of their calculation, even under FOI. Osborn argued that release of the 2006 regional chronology would result in:

adverse reputational consequences for the individual scientists involved in this work and the University itself if disclosure had been effected.

On the specific issue of whether the planned chronology of Briffa et al 2013 would differ from the 2006 regional chronology, Schmidt and I could not have been more in agreement.

However, it seems to me that Schmidt’s May 11 post additionally implied that little credence could be given to my emulation of the 2006 CRU regional chronology, which Schmidt described as an “insta-reconstruction” and said that I had “thrown together”. The next graphic compares my insta-reconstruction with information provided in the SI to Briffa et al 2013. Despite Schmidt’s sneering, I think that even my severest critic must concede that there is a very close resemblance between my emulation and the actual 2006 regional chronology.

Figure 2. Top panel – regional chronology as shown in CA post, May 6, 2012; bottom panel- regional chronology shown in Briffa et al 2013 GU1 (yamal raw).

Given the remarkable similarity between my emulation and the actual 2006 regional chronology, one wonders whether CRU might have been better off merely producing the regional chronology. CRU purported to justify its refusal on the grounds that they had been “working” on the regional chronology since 2006 and were still working on it. Schmidt purported to justify their regional chronology work as follows:

Regional reconstructions are generally more worthwhile than reconstructions from a single site because, if there is shared variance, the regional result is likely to be more robust and be more representative – and that makes it more valuable for continental and hemispheric comparisons. The key issues are whether all the trees (or some subset of them) share a common signal (are they mostly temperature sensitive? are some localities anomalous? etc.). It isn’t as simple as just averaging all the trees in a grid box or two. The history of such efforts follows a mostly standard path – local chronologies are put together, different ‘standardisation’ techniques are applied, more data is collected, wider collations are put together, and then regional reconstructions start to appear.

To the extent that Briffa et al 2013 is supposed to deliver on this expectation, it is a complete failure. Supplementary Material 9 is the only discussion of the regional chronology. It begins with a discussion of what appears to be the 2006 regional chronology, though this is not explicitly stated. On the contrary, they introduce the (2006) chronology as having been constructed to illustrate a statistical tradeoff between random sampling error and systematic error:

In many statistical applications, there is a balance between minimising random sampling error and minimising systematic error (i.e. a trade-off between variance and bias). This issue arises in tree-ring chronology construction too, balancing the inclusion of more data to reduce the noise (i.e. the sampling error) against the inclusion of data from too large an area such that the signal becomes ambiguous or even incompatible. In this section we briefly evaluate some of the key aspects associated with this balance, as they apply to the Yamalia chronologies.

We have constructed four different chronologies to illustrate some of the issues associated with chronology sampling error and bias, and to compare these between a single-site chronology and a chronology developed from a much larger region.

Whatever CRU’s original purpose in constructing the 2006 regional chronology, one feels confident that it was not constructed merely as an illustration of the tradeoff between variance and bias. SupMat 9 then more or less concedes that the sites in the 2006 regional chronology meet the common signal test of Briffa et al 2008, but adduce arguments against their inclusion that are nowhere in evidence in Briffa et al 2008:

For the current study of the Yamalia region, the problems of a biased RCS curve and a temporally inconsistent chronology clearly outweigh the benefits of reduced sampling error, and therefore this strategy is not adopted in the main part of this study.

Thus, despite “working” on regional chronology methodology for nearly two decades, CRU is intellectually no further ahead than when they started: arm-waving ad hockery. But that’s a story for another day.


  1. Posted Jul 10, 2013 at 11:43 AM | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Climate Ponderings.

  2. Posted Jul 10, 2013 at 11:44 AM | Permalink


    Indeed, be careful of the time sink some people call the “tar baby” syndrome (from an old tale for children).

    A key is whether or not your efforts will be seen by persons with somewhat open minds – you’ll never convince your opponents.

    Steve: I was very conscious of the tar baby analogy.

    • Nick Darby
      Posted Jul 10, 2013 at 10:22 PM | Permalink

      But Steve seems content enough in the briar patch…

  3. Posted Jul 10, 2013 at 11:53 AM | Permalink

    What is sad about RealClimate’s cost
    Is the once-credibility lost
    They attack in campaigns
    You would think that their brains
    Have been quite insufficiently bossed

    The assertions, no evidence given
    Despite how hard (and how well) you’ve striven
    Are just smoke and PR
    They’d be better by far
    Doing real science work for their livin’

    I appreciate these sad details
    I recall them, but memory pales
    When compared to real quotes:
    All the Gavins and Stoats
    As the Team fights truth fiercely

    And fails.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  4. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Jul 10, 2013 at 11:56 AM | Permalink

    It just goes to show how much RC is about propaganda and the ridiculous egos there.

    Being “right” doesn’t matter. It’s all about discredit to those they oppose and credit to those they agree with.

  5. Posted Jul 10, 2013 at 12:28 PM | Permalink

    thanks Steve for making them show their true colors

  6. Posted Jul 10, 2013 at 12:40 PM | Permalink

    Steve, all praise to you and your work, but you are correct in your assumption about your readers thinking that tree rings and temperatures are a forced marriage with strange offsprigs of little use in climate change analyses. However, ascending and descending tree lines are relevant, so trees should be given their due. Mann and RealClimate remind me of the six blind men of Hindustan who went to “see” the elephant and spent the rest of their lives disputing what the “saw” – though each were partly in the right, all were in the wrong. Gavin and crowd resent you pointing out their errors, and wish you would join their futile quest so they may return the favor. You are wise to not attempt to make something of their nothing.

  7. TeeWee
    Posted Jul 10, 2013 at 12:49 PM | Permalink

    snip – please make political comments elsewhere

  8. KNR
    Posted Jul 10, 2013 at 2:19 PM | Permalink

    Classic smear and run , the idea here is to feed the ‘faithful ‘ what they want to hear and dam the actual facts . But its no surprise, ‘the Team ‘ are experts at this trick and its worth remembering that for them the PR value of any message is far more important than its scientific content.

    • ianl8888
      Posted Jul 11, 2013 at 4:32 AM | Permalink

      … for them the PR value of any message is far more important than its scientific content

      It is their proudest achievement … easily measured by the intensity of their attack on any contra evidence that may appear in the MSM

  9. Posted Jul 10, 2013 at 2:19 PM | Permalink

    Has Hantemirov changed (or reinforced) his position?

  10. John R T
    Posted Jul 10, 2013 at 2:22 PM | Permalink

    Thanks, Steve, for your important work, and also for the detailed and complete response.

    Did you intend ‘included?’
    “,,, a panel whose terms of reference INCLUDING the examination”

  11. pesadia
    Posted Jul 10, 2013 at 2:32 PM | Permalink

    If you take two photographs of (pretty well) anything,one after the other, the two photographs will be very slightly different and can produce a three dimensional effect when placed side by side, a couple of inches apart. The effect is achieved by the viewer looking between the images and squinting. The graphs above are so similar that I was able to view this effect very easily.
    That tells you just how close, these two graphs compare.
    If you want to try this, simply turn your laptop on its side, or copy and paste the graph into a programme that allows to to manipulate the images and simply squit at the graphs. You will innitially see thre images and should be able to focus on the central image and see for yourselves.
    Happy viewing

    • Nick Darby
      Posted Jul 11, 2013 at 8:59 AM | Permalink

      This works better on an iPad, with screen rotation locked. The stereopsis is remarkable, and suggests that the two images are identical. Steve, has there been an editing error?

      Steve: No, they are not identical, just remarkably similar. The correlation is 0.98, not 1. The versions plotted here are uploaded to http://www.climateaudit.info/data/briffa/2013/regional_chronologies.csv.

      • James Smyth
        Posted Jul 11, 2013 at 10:18 AM | Permalink

        The Briffa version has a noticeably larger and more ominous uptick at the end. 🙂

      • pesadia
        Posted Jul 11, 2013 at 2:34 PM | Permalink

        Nick Darby
        Thanks for checking this out.
        I did not intend to imply that the images were identical, sorry if I gave that impression.
        I was, and remain unsure how wellknown the technique of viewing similar images is and had hoped that sothers would try it and express wonder. Epic fail.

    • John Archer
      Posted Jul 19, 2013 at 9:45 PM | Permalink

      I don’t know if this is any use but here goes.

      Rough & ready animated GIF of CA_201205 v Briffa_2103:

      Made from screen shot of CA plot, edited and split into 2 pics with MS Paint, then pics imported into free GIF maker at http://makeagif.com (first one that came up in Google). Two minutes effort, tops.

  12. pesadia
    Posted Jul 10, 2013 at 2:36 PM | Permalink

    When I say squinting, I mean crossing your eyes.

  13. stan
    Posted Jul 10, 2013 at 3:01 PM | Permalink

    Simply quoting Schmidt’s statement that he was making it a propaganda issue is enough to have removed all the wind from his sails.

  14. TerryMN
    Posted Jul 10, 2013 at 6:40 PM | Permalink

    I fully expect Racehorse to redirect the conversation to a meaningless detail, and half expect Mosh to issue a drive-by on why you’re not knowledgeable enough to make “those who matter” listen.

    Sad. Lesson being, never argue math with politicians, I guess.

  15. Posted Jul 10, 2013 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

    Your conclusion arm-waving ad hockery”” characterizes much of what passes for climate science.

  16. pottereaton
    Posted Jul 10, 2013 at 7:00 PM | Permalink

    Steve, you have once again illustrated in this post why you are known as the person “who shall not be named.” The reason is that when they do name you and occasionally venture out to engage you, you shoot them out of the water every time. Virtually everything they say is characterized by deliberately imprecise or vague language and much of it is entirely inaccurate.

    Sometimes reading their posts and comments it seems as if commonly understood words have a different meaning for them.

  17. Posted Jul 10, 2013 at 9:26 PM | Permalink

    Well laid, well thought out, well documented posting!

    The good news, this is the kind of definitive argument that survives the ages when future historians and scientists seek to learn about educated exchanges between scientists about their research.

    However, unlike the letters exchanged between early 20th century physicists only one side of the dendrochronology discussion illustrated above is using real science combined with respect for one’s peers and their work. The whinging other side all come across as small minded play ground bullies trying to protect their turf by bluff, fluff and verbal injury; only adolescent bullies usually do not come across as such bitter mean spirited miscreants. Need I point out what the bad news is? That these pathetic contemptuous utterings of doctors will live on in infamy as their speakers so justly deserve.

    Another possibility for your dedicated effort to thoroughly document all relevant history and exchanges. Perhaps you can appoint a helper to build a claim-counterclaim subsection of CA where your meticulous analysis, postings are arranged complete with supposed critiques and your careful follow-up reviews? As the, ahem, critiques roll in from the mean spirited they can be arrayed in line with your replies.

    Eventually these exchanges become rather long communication and science histories. The simple fact that you are unfailingly polite and respectful even when facing dishonest impolite critics brings home the undercurrent issue where science today is unfairly burdened by emotion, religion and politics.

  18. Posted Jul 10, 2013 at 9:37 PM | Permalink

    Poor Tim Osborn seems to be quite challenged in the reading comprehension and articulation departments. With skill levels such as he’s demonstrated in these matters, he’s not someone I’d want to see reviewing or “assessing” my work – or anyone else’s, for that matter.

    Oh, my! Looks like we’ll need to take “extra” care when reading AR5-WG1-Ch05 because Osborn has been designated as one of the Lead Authors of this “chapter team”.

    As for Gavin, well … I’ve found that he certainly appears to excel in the ever-changing-story department. And if one adds this to Lucia’s caveat, some might think he has a lot to answer for. But I couldn’t possibly comment 😉

  19. johanna
    Posted Jul 10, 2013 at 11:12 PM | Permalink

    The saga of the Shiyatov dataset is very telling. In any other field of research, burying a huge chunk of relevant data, cherry-picking data that suit your claims, and then personally attacking anyone who raises the issue would (or should) lead to instant dismissal and permanent academic disgrace.

    The lame diversionary tactic used in this instance assumes that those watching are really, really stupid. You don’t have to be a scientist or an expert in the field to spot the pea.

    I have no intention of adding to their hit-count and raising my blood pressure by visiting the site. But, can anyone tell me if any contributors over there who are broadly supportive of their views raised a single objection? I ask because there is a vigorous discussion going on at the Bishop’s place and elsewhere about the veracity of Salby’s claims about his treatment by Macquarie University. Commenters are asking questions, and testing his assertions (both scientific and personal) even though most of them are sceptical about CAGW. Many have pointed out that just because someone is “on our side” doesn’t give them a halo.

  20. AntonyIndia
    Posted Jul 11, 2013 at 12:10 AM | Permalink

    Both Shivarov and Hantemirov are mentioned as co-authors of Briffa et al 2013. Alexander V Kirdyanov is also there but no Russian is at at the front of the line up, despite their decades of field work.

    I now speculate that the Climategate I CRU leak came through a Russian with access to the CRU systems. For example Hamitemirov wrote “As to the CRU emails, I do not know that they were “stolen”. Many people believe that they were released by someone within the University” here https://climateaudit.org/2012/05/15/new-data-from-hantemirov/#comment-333857

    Steve: you’re mixed up in the last paragraph: that was an inline comment by me.

  21. EdeF
    Posted Jul 11, 2013 at 12:23 AM | Permalink

    I have read every one of Steve’s articles here at CA since August 2009. He has advocated: higher sample sizes, the use of the R program, archiving of data, and
    of course racqetball and XX. Wow, that’s controversial.

    Steve: squash, though racquetball is meritorious as well.

    • PJB
      Posted Jul 11, 2013 at 8:31 AM | Permalink

      Squash? Racqetball? More like work, those two.
      Now golf…..any activity that you can smoke and drink while doing is worth doing well…. lol

      One of your best posts, SM. Thanks for all the ammo.

      Steve: I played a lot of golf when I was a teenager but haven’t kept it up. I still have the clubs that I bought when I was 15 if you can imagine. One of more memorable recollections was when a future Nobel prizewinner (George Stigler) threw my ball into the woods after I hit it onto the green on a par 5 where he and his friends were putting. I was about 14 at the time. I later played Stigler in the club championships: whipped him 🙂

      • Jeff Norman
        Posted Jul 11, 2013 at 7:24 PM | Permalink

        How about darts?

        Then you could emulate climate science selection processes, unless of course you are any good.

  22. TerryS
    Posted Jul 11, 2013 at 1:13 AM | Permalink


    In the regional Ural reconstructions you have miss-labelled Briffa’s as 2103 instead of 2013.

  23. Stephen
    Posted Jul 11, 2013 at 3:30 AM | Permalink

    Responding to specific points with detailed and to-the-point answers is very welcome.

    The information on CA will help with what I see are the two main issues for future science historians of this field.

    The first is rather general and is the role of blogs in scientific discourse. Ignoring the decent blogs, or distorting the contents of their posts, is a very ineffectual tactic when dealing with folk whose minds aren’t already made up. It is great for those who wish to preach to the converted although this can’t be considered scientific discourse (regardless of what the authors of such attack posts may think). By having available all primary sources, such as e-mails, blog posts, code etc., it is easy to demonstrate that certain folk make claims which are untrue (eg the fabled and falacious excel file and the promotion of various proxies). The current climate (excuse the pun) makes it difficult to criticise the perceived “good guys”. This won’t be case in the future, not least since blogs will become increasingly important (its already happening in a number of fields) as they represent a faster and more efficient way of communicating and criticising than peer reviewed journals. That is not to say that they will displace the journals. Both have important roles to play. However, the argument that a point ought to be ignored since its not in peer reviewed journal will likely be considered ridiculous in the medium term.

    The second issue is the failure of a small scientific community to engage with mainstream statistical thinking and perform research to a standard acceptable for public policy. In his report Wegman covered both the standard of a research in a high profile work and the way in which the community operated. Its unfortunate that the climate prevented his voice being heard. If they had engaged with his criticisms rather than bunkering down they well be producing a credible body of work by now, as they will in the future (research mistakes are always corrected although it takes time).

    Anyway, well done Steve, keep it up

  24. Posted Jul 11, 2013 at 3:53 AM | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Tallbloke's Talkshop and commented:
    Steve McKintyre responds to arm waving and accusations from Gavin and the Real Climate CRU

  25. Posted Jul 11, 2013 at 5:57 AM | Permalink

    This saga reminds me of a period some years ago when I started reading, and later commenting on, ‘over-unity’ sites. These are frequented by people who believe they are very close to creating perpetual motion machines that will solve mankind’s energy problems for ever (Google ‘over-unity’ or ‘v-gate’ if you dare). What was interesting was that, when being informed about conservative physical laws and the impossibility of extracting energy from cleverly-designed magnetic fields etc, the reaction was frequently to angrily respond ‘well, maybe this particular idea won’t work, but at least Chet is *trying* to create free energy instead of just criticising people on the internet – what are *you* doing to help create free energy?’.

    There was a fundamental assumption that it *must* be possible to generate free energy some how, and it was just a matter of searching hard enough. Any attempt to point out the futility of the exercise was met with great hostility. The parallels with attempts to discover ‘the climate signal’, and with Steve’s criticisms of the effort, seem clear.

    Note that I’m not saying that the chances of discovering the climate signal are exactly equal to those of discovering a source of free energy. The former is significantly more likely to be possible than the latter.

  26. TAC
    Posted Jul 11, 2013 at 7:38 AM | Permalink

    Anyone with moderate skill in statistics who spends the time to evaluate the arguments in Climate Audit and Real Climate will have little doubt about where the truth lies. The technical issues are not difficult; I have worked through the arguments myself.

    So what is this about? Are the authors of Real Climate (the “Team”) incompetent? Dishonest? Something else? Every explanation I can think of casts a bad light not only on the Team but also on the entire field of climate science for having tolerated this behavior for far too long.

    • Bob K.
      Posted Jul 11, 2013 at 10:09 AM | Permalink


      It would take a psychologist to answer these questions. My own take is that this community of practitioners (I’m becoming increasingly reluctant to use the word “scientists”) operates in the academic world much like any other. The academic literature is vast and highly variable in quality, despite the impression that some have that its writings are sacred texts of knowledge. All kinds of bodies are buried in it. Under normal circumstances the literature of a community is pretty much a conversation that it has with itself. Auditors from outside, let alone outside of academia, are most unwelcome participants in the conversation. It’s not just climate science, but any area of academia. What makes climate science different is that it has stumbled upon a gold mine with rich veins of government-sponsored research money and an ability to wield a level of influence on economic policy that far outstrips their competence to wield it. The community wants these riches but at the same time feels entitled to the same insularity that they enjoyed when they were a mere academic community. Steve McIntyre blew the whistle on them, and for that he will always be resented.

      • Pat Frank
        Posted Jul 11, 2013 at 11:15 AM | Permalink

        I’ve been in academic science for most of my adult life. No where else have I seen the outright duplicity and hubris-activated incompetence that defines AGW-driven climate science.

        • Mooloo
          Posted Jul 11, 2013 at 3:16 PM | Permalink

          But Bob never said all academia was incompetent: merely that it tended to be a closed circle.

          I’ve tread a few areas of academic theory that show all the incompetence and hubris of climate science. “Education” as a academic study is famous for being written by non-practitioners of the topic. Outsiders, no matter how long they have actually taught, are unwelcome unless they kowtow to the appropriate idols. Some of the work produced is far more outlandishly wrong than anything climate science can produce.

      • Bob K.
        Posted Jul 11, 2013 at 5:01 PM | Permalink

        For the record, our host isn’t the only auditor looking at the quality of published academic work. See a recent article in The Atlantic (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/12/the-data-vigilante/309172/) for an example from psychology. In this case the auditor is someone from the inside (which is refreshing), but his tolerance for shenanigans is as low as McIntyre’s and his reception by peers is no more welcoming. Too bad that the climate science community can’t produce someone of this caliber.

  27. RobertInAz
    Posted Jul 11, 2013 at 9:06 AM | Permalink

    I could extend the analogy to a couple of specific behaviors I find troubling, but Steve might snip it (indeed, he might snip this and I would not be offended).

    snip – Indeed. You used analogies and words prohibited under blog editorial policies.

  28. RobertInAz
    Posted Jul 11, 2013 at 9:22 AM | Permalink

    “So what is this about? Are the authors of Real Climate (the “Team”) incompetent? Dishonest? Something else?”

    Sorry. Let me try again 🙂

    If you take a tour through the alarmist blogosphere, you will learn there are many (many) people whose only information about Steve and Anthony come from what alarmists write about them.

  29. Posted Jul 11, 2013 at 12:30 PM | Permalink

    “While no one would object to Shiyatov and his associates (who by the way, are listed as coauthors of B13) being the first to publish their “recent” work, this is irrelevant to data collected in 1983 and 1968. Osborn’s answer misdirects away from this issue.”

    Mis-direction is a common tactic of evaders, listing irrelevant facts is another as it distracts weak-minded people from the real issues. (“weak-minded” includes poor thinking skills, weak values, and the related true-believer syndrome.)

    The list of reasons why Morton-Thiokol management voted to recommend launch of the space shuttle in temperatures too cold for the o-rings to work correctly contained neat-sounding but irrelevant facts. (Recall senior management took a vote on the recommendation, but only one person in the room had technical qualifications.)

    The list contained what a brave engineer called a “blue sky” statement because it seemed like it was just pulled out of the air. Making statements classifiable as fantasies shows desperation or loss of mental faculties, either way hurts the maker’s reputation.

    I knew a person whose own sibling said he repeated his lies so often he believed them himself.

    Someday I’ll finish my list of tactics used by con artists and other sleazeballs. Get to it Keith S! 😉

    • Posted Jul 11, 2013 at 12:58 PM | Permalink

      – true believers are of course not critical, they just believe
      – taking a vote in tht context is a form of “consenus”, related to “group think” (which omits critical thinking)

  30. bmcburney
    Posted Jul 11, 2013 at 7:04 PM | Permalink

    Schmidt’s comment that “once something is out there, people will counter with links to that without themselves worrying about the detail” is so very, very true. Among many other examples, one still sees hockey fans citing, without any evident embarrassment, to the Penn State “inquiry” or Muir Russel’s as though something remotely resembling an investigation was actually conducted in either case.

    Yet these are obviously intelligent and, at least in some ways, well-informed people. It is as though the fact that a “link” exists is sufficient in and of itself to prove the point. “Yes, the sign of the lake varves ‘signal’ is reversed and maybe it was contaminated as well but as long as the paper was published I can link to it and win the argument.” They can’t expect to convince other informed people and they can’t be convinced themselves (at least not by the things they link to) but that never seems to matter. Strange.

  31. jim2
    Posted Jul 12, 2013 at 10:07 AM | Permalink

    I appreciate your detailed explanations of your work. While my understanding is still imperfect, I understand more about the role of statistics in science due to your posts. Obviously, you have also placed climate science three-card Monte game in sharp relief.

  32. Mickey Reno
    Posted Jul 12, 2013 at 12:24 PM | Permalink

    There’s more integrity in this Steve McIntyre posting than in all the “Real”Climate admins and sycophants put together. So-called scientists misprepresenting and dissembling, in the way Osborn and Schmidt continually do, is disgraceful.

  33. bmcburney
    Posted Jul 12, 2013 at 12:52 PM | Permalink

    Sure, that would be an example. The same old strip bark bcp hockey stick graph over-layed with the same old temp graph plus, now, PAGES 2k (minus 1k). The argument, I guess, is that since PAGES got the same result this validates the original hockey stick. But the hockey stick was bad science from the beginning because it was science done badly. Even if it turned out to be correct, it would still be bad science. You can’t “validate” bad science with more bad science (or even with good science).

  34. john robertson
    Posted Jul 12, 2013 at 3:01 PM | Permalink

    I suspect Real Climate will be true to their MO to the very end.
    I stopped going there after 2010 when it was obvious they had no intention of changing their service as a Team Propaganda Organ, even after being exposed by the Climategate Emails.
    I am curious how much traffic your post will generate at RC.

    • David Young
      Posted Jul 12, 2013 at 8:31 PM | Permalink

      So far, I have seen no traffic at Real Climate on this post because they have cut off the thread. Not surprising because it was about to go in a direction that would destroy their whole case. I gave up on Real Climate after a 2 day attempt to communicate about science there. It became clear very quickly that the purpose of the site was to destroy the opposition by any tactic necessary. The little science that was discussed convinced me that my concern about GCM’s was very serious.

      • MikeN
        Posted Jul 13, 2013 at 11:37 PM | Permalink

        Steve has posted in the past about the comparison between global warming science and the intel leading up the Iraq War. Well RealClimate creates more skeptics than it destroys.

  35. Christian K. Holm
    Posted Jul 14, 2013 at 12:28 AM | Permalink

    @Tac and Bob + others

    I am an associate prof in a totally different field but have followed the climate “science” closely for the last 10 years or so. This is my first post here though.

    What strikes me as being very different from other sciences is this:

    When scientists publish in high impact journals it is often because they have come up with new ideas that challenge or greatly expands on current knowledge. AND they must have made great efforts to disprove themselves and failed.

    This does not mean that they were entirely right. But they have conceived new ideas that will help to drive the research forward. And being wrong in the end this is no tabu for the scientists. If they are proven wrong……well that is likely to have contributed just as much to science as if it had turned out that they were right.
    The key is to be open about it.

    I think the problem lies in the fact that climate scientist in the 90´s were toooo bold and confident (to put it mildly). When they published in high rankt journals they looked at is as a truth, which had to be defended. This was highly catalyzed by their involvement with the mass-media where they, unfortunately, stated that the science was settled.

    Admitting that they, like all other scientists in other fields, are very far from understanding nature is too big a fall from grace. It will never happen.

    I hope it can be a lesson to future climatologists. And to the media.


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