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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Currygate: More unbearably lame comments by Judith Curry on RealClimate, with replies by Gavin Schmidt

Currygate: More unbearably lame comments by Judith Curry on RealClimate, with replies by Gavin Schmidt


Comment #414 by Judith Curry:

  1. Whereas I am through reading these threads (anyone wanting to discuss something, pls email me), I do want to clarify the issue surrounding my statement:

    7. The Mann et al. 2008, which purports to address all the issues raised by MM and produce a range of different reconstructions using different methodologies, still do not include a single reconstruction that is free of questioned tree rings and centered PCA.

    This statement is an inaccurate reflection of what is in Montford’s book.

    [Response: Thanks for clearing that up. It really serves us all well to make sure that the details of claims we make (or repeat) are accurate, because, as you can see, people can waste a lot of time dealing with claims that aren't true. - gavin]

    This statement has been source of much discussion both here and at climateaudit. I append here relevant excerpts from the discussion that clarify this statement and its rebuttal at RC in context of Montford’s book.

    Steve McIntyre: In respect to the published article, Mann et al 2008, it is my view that the published graphics in the original article and SI, including amendments in 2008, did not include a reconstruction showing a hockey stick that did not involve either strip bark bristlecones or contaminated Tiljander sediments. Andrew Montford’s point in HSI – a point previously made at CA – was the bristlecone rebuttal used Tilander sediments (contaminated and upside down); and to show that contamination of Tiljander sediments “didn’t matter”, used strip bark bristlecones. The point in the book was right. Judith’s point is consistent with the book.

    [Response: Logical fail. Making a criticism that is wrong is not 'consistent' with another criticism that might be made and might (or might not) be valid. - gavin]

    Steve McIntyre: Judith’s comment mentioning PCA in connection with Mann et al 2008 was an error that derived from her recollection, not from the book. Her point that there was something wrong with both alternatives in Mann et al 2008 was, I think, “correct in spirit”, but in these sorts of debates, it is important to be correct in letter, as any such missteps are pounced on to divert attention from the beam in the Team’s eye, as happened here.

    [Response: For once, we agree on something - people should strive to be correct. - gavin]

    Phil Clarke: In November 2009, just before Climategate, Mann placed a non-Tiljander non-dendro reconstruction on his website. He did not issue a Corrigendum at PNAS nor did he publish a notice of the new information at realclimate. That Mann did so in late 2009 long after the fact did not refute the claim in respect to Mann et al PNAS 2008.

    [edit - this from SM:] It’s very misleading for Gavin to pretend that a website addition in November 2009 was part of the corpus of Mann et al 2008, that should have been considered in CA commentary on Mann et al 2008 in late 2008 (which was what MOntford was reviewing).

    [Response: Pure spin. The additional graph was posted because of inaccurate claims that there was something wrong with the no-dendro reconstruction because of the inclusion of the already-acknowledged-to-be-problematic Tiljander proxies. The sensitivity studies in the original paper didn't include that the no-dendro/no-Tiljander combination but that does not justify the claims made by Montford that such a combination was impossible or was not included because it undermined the results. Indeed, you can do a no-dendro and no-Tiljander reconstruction with the code that was posted with Mann et al (2008), and that was what was added to the figure I showed. Montford was apparently happy to make up results and conclusions in late 2008 that were just not justified, and for this you give him a pass? Curious. For further information, the no-dendro/no-Tiljander sensitivity test is also part of the SI in Mann et al (2009) (figure S8), where it is noted that it doesn't validate prior to 1500 AD. Of course if you remove all data that is imperfect, you will end up with no results. But as Salzer et al point out, there is likely to be useful climate information in the tree rings so I wouldn't throw them out unnecessarily. - gavin]

    Judith Curry:
 Too bad Tamino’s review was posted during a period when I don’t have much time to put into blogging. I felt obliged to pipe in since I challenged RC to do the review. My mistake has been an unfortunate distraction. Which wouldn’t have been a distraction if this mistake hadn’t been used to mischaracterize and discredit my broader points.
Mistakes happen, and they shouldn’t be a big deal when they are identified, acknowledged, fixed. However, the politics of expertise that is the basis of the consensus demands that the experts be oracles and never admit mistakes. Ravetz’s statements about the “radical implications of the blogosphere” are challenging the power politics of expertise. Here’s hoping that a saner environment for dialogue and argument can evolve in the blogosphere.

    [Response: Your comments here were wrong on a far more broad level than simply mis-remembering Montford's point 7, though I appreciate that you have tried to clear that up. But this has been very illuminating - we've seen exactly how technical issue after technical issue is used to paint a misleading picture of supposed malfeasance (which you appear to have bought into without ever looking into the issue itself). Paleo-reconstructions are not anything special in science - they are simply the result of lots of people trying to see what they can discern of the past through a rather murky lens. Your 'auditors' have decided that any judgement call in doing that must be challenged and insinuate continuously that every issue is being fixed for some ulterior motive. This is not a useful challenge to the science, because it undermines the making of any judgement in the analysis whatsoever. The 'auditors' do not produce alternatives because they too would have to make decisions about how to proceed which would open them up to their own criticisms. That is what needs to change if they are going to make a contribution. For an example of how that 'citizen science' can really work, look at what Ron Broberg and Zeke Hausfeather are doing with the weather station data - they aren't sitting around declaring that 'it can't be done' or that the GISTEMP/CRU/NCDC methods are fixed, they are going into the data, making choices, seeing what impact they have and determining what is robust. Indeed, that is science without the need for the quotes. Would that there would be more of that. - gavin]

    Salamano: Do you think it’s possible that there could be a ‘trading of hostages’ here..?
    Comment by Judith Curry — 28 July 2010 @ 11:29 AM
    Comment #415 by sturat:

  2. Intersting links HR @ 412
    I wonder if JC is aware of this:
    Comment by sturat — 28 July 2010 @ 11:36 AM

    Comment #416 by Chris Colose:

  3. Judith Curry:
    At this point I have no idea how your credentials have carried you this far through everyone’s patience zone. There’s only so much tolerance you can be given for spewing nonsense just because you have expertise in other areas of atmospheric science.
    You have not addressed a single issue raised at RC, and when you post a comment, the responses by gavin have not been rebutted or accepted. Instead, you choose to outline sets of erroneous statements and then fall back on the line that they were not your opinion, you’re just summarizing what you got out of Montford’s book, or just link to what other people are writing. I call B*ll***t. All of your points so far have been ad hominem attacks on RC, and apparently you are not willing to come up with an independent though (which reflects that you actually read the back-and-forths of Mann et al), that you are willing to put up for cross-examination.
    Comment by Chris Colose — 28 July 2010 @ 11:41 AM

    Comment #417 by Matthew L:

  4. Anybody else noticed the interesting developments at Dr Spencer’s blog? He is currently finding himself defending greenhouse gas theory in the face of a tide of Dunning-Kruger zombies. Kudos to the guy, he is tryingvery hard.

    Curry goes out, crossing paths with Spencer coming in!

    Perhaps he is beginning to realise the implications of the steadily warming air temperatures that his satellite data is revealing. I think he still has a way to go (he has commented that the link between CO2 and global warming is “tenuous at best”) but nobody is beyond redemption.
    Comment by Matthew L — 28 July 2010 @ 11:43 AM

    Comment #418 by Judith Curry:

  5. p.s. in the midst of the deluge at RC, it took awhile for me to sort out what might be an actual error/mistake, especially since i don’t have time to read the threads in details (i am mostly relying on emails that point out something I should respond to). I am more than willing to admit and rectify mistakes when I make them, but in doing so I want to make sure that i do not further confuse the issue. The discussion on the climateaudit thread regarding this statement clarifies Montford’s point and McIntyre’s perspective on this issue.
    Comment by Judith Curry — 28 July 2010 @ 12:02 PM

    Comment #419 by Judith Curry:

  6. One more point, in case i haven’t made it over here. It was not the intent of my original posts (on this thread or the one a few months ago) to get involved in a technical debate on issues surrounding the hockey stick. Although I have read fairly widely on this topic, it is not my area of expertise. So if you choose to hang my overall worth as a scientist and my professional credibility on a mistake made in a summary of a book that is outside my field of expertise, well you are certainly entitled to that judgement.
    My main interest in this issue is the way that the conflict has played out, and utter senseless of it all, and this thread just reinforces the concerns that I had when I read Montford’s book. This is a young field, with many uncertainties and contested ideas. The participation of the extended peer community in this field is a good thing. The story told by Montford of this conflict is something everybody should read so that we can all ponder how to avoid such unnecessary conflicts in the future that are causing so much damage to the entire field of climate science. This is the point of Montford’s book, which Tamino missed in his review.
    This situation raises a whole host of issues related to the integrity of science, which is why I made that post that included Gleick’s testimony (I embellished the post at CP; gavin didn’t snip anything). There are other highly uncertain topics such as hurricanes and global warming and cloud/aerosol feedbacks, that are arguably more important for the global warming argument than the paleo reconstructions. And we don’t see this kind of protracted animosity in the other fields, where uncertainties get acknowledged and productive discussion among opponents take place, even though there are occasional flareups.
    So I’ll throw this challenge out there, to figure out how facilitate constructive scientific debate on the topic of paleo reconstructions, so that the field can move forward in a way that makes these reconstructions more useful and credible. I won’t hold my breath tho . . .
    [Response: Paleo-reconstructions are not my field either, but as I indicated above, it is obvious to me that the problem here is excessive personalisation of these issues, the constant insinuations of wrong-doing, and the inability of the critics to ever make a single point cleanly and acknowledge when it is shown to be irrelevant. No scientists can deal with that kind of attack in a constructive way. The practice of science has built up a number of mechanisms to try and ensure that arguments get dealt with constructively, and a big part of that is through the peer-reviewed literature where i's can be dotted, t's can be crossed, and where the snark gets put aside. As Phil Jones said "I wish they'd just publish a paper, I'd know how to deal with that". Papers are important (despite the sneers from McIntyre whenever this is brought up), because they do impose a discipline on the authors that simply doesn't exist on blogs. It forces people to dis-aggregate issues if they are going to get things passed the reviewers. And most of the time it forces people to stop insinuating fraud every time there is a dispute. The literature is where these issues are resolved, not in blogs. If the 'auditors' want to make a contribution, it has to be there. - gavin]
    Comment by Judith Curry — 28 July 2010 @ 12:19 PM

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