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« BBC attempts to outdo Heartland | Main | Non-hydraulic fracking »
Friday
May112012

RealClimate on Yamal

Gavin Schmidt has issued the official response to the recent excitement over Yamal. I have to say, even on a brief glance through it is a wild piece of writing.

Briffa, as we know, reprocessed data from Hantemirov and Shiyatov in his 2000 paper on Yamal. He used the same data again in his 2008 paper on regional chronologies. Schmidt says:

McIntyre is accusing Briffa of ‘deception’ in stating that he did not ‘consider’ doing a larger more regional reconstruction at that time. However, it is clear from the 2000 paper that the point was to show hemispheric coherence across multiple tree ring records, not to create regional chronologies. Nothing was being ‘deceptively’ hidden and the Yamal curve is only a small part of the paper in any case.

As McIntyre's article is quite clear that the Yamal regional chronology dates back only to 2006 it can of course not be relevant to the 2000 paper. This is something that he makes quite clear in his article.

One of the purposes of Briffa (2000) was clearly to demonstrate the effect of RCS methodology on the Hantemirov and Shiyatov 2002 dataset. I have no objection to CRU claiming this “purpose” for Briffa (2000).

But, by 2008, this was no longer their “purpose”. Indeed, one doubts whether the editors of Phil Trans B would have accepted a 2008 paper with such a mundane purpose. The actual “purpose” of Briffa et al 2008 is stated quite clearly and was entirely different: it introduced and discussed “regional” chronologies.

Schmidt is therefore engaging in some serious disinformation. Unfortunately, this is not the only occasion. For example, he points out that McIntyre had long ago received "the data" from the Russians who originally collated it.

...at the time McIntyre was haranguing Briffa and Osborn, McIntyre had actually had the raw Yamal data for over 2 years (again, unmentioned on Climate Audit), and he had had them for over 5 years when he declared that he had finally got them in 2009 (immediately prior to his accusations (again false) against Briffa of inappropriate selection of trees in his Yamal chronology).

Schmidt suggests that McIntyre should have assumed that the data as used by Briffa were the same as those used by the Russians. This is an interesting line of argument because of course his colleague Michael Mann has argued vociferously in the past that the only correct place to get the data is from the actual author of the paper (see the Hockey Stick Illusion Chapter 4). However, since we know that the Russians' data was not the same as Briffa's (see the core count profiles for the two versions in this article) Schmidt's argument again looks more like disinformation than an attempt to explain the truth.

In a later section of his posting, Schmidt discusses the November 2009 article that Ross McKitrick wrote about Yamal, the last time there was a blog storm over the series. Readers need to remember that at the time the article was written, nobody knew about the Yamal regional chronology. Schmidt quotes Briffa's response to the McKitrick piece, which formed part of his evidence to the Russell inquiry, and notes his claim that the other sites in the area were "never considered at the time". Schmidt then notes Briffa's earlier statement:

...we had intended to explore an integrated Polar Urals/Yamal larch series but it was felt that this work could not be completed in time

The contradiction between this sentence, discussing the preparation of a regional chronology and the earlier one stating that the extra sites were not considered is clear. Schmidt's implication is that Briffa had misspoken and that he had been clear all along that the regional chronology had been prepared. He'd just run out of time, you see.

There are a number of problems with this story though. Firstly, the quote above doesn't actually say that the work on the regional chronology had been performed, so it represents a very thin defence that Briffa had been open with the inquiry. Moreover, Briffa actually mentioned not considering the other data twice. This is the other occasion, from Briffa's response to McIntyre in October 2009:

However, we simply did not consider these data at the time, focussing only on the data used in the companion study by Hantemirov and Shiyatov and supplied to us by them

And moreover, we know that the regional chronology was in place by 2006. Why was Briffa publishing a paper saying there was no evidence of the divergence problem in his boreal forest regional chronologies when he had a Yamal regional chronology in his hand that said that there was such a problem? Why would he choose to go ahead and use the Yamal-only series, with an absurdly small amount of data too back up any statement about the divergence problem, instead?

(Added note on source of other Briffa quote)

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Reader Comments (87)

The ways in which the Gavin Schmidt article conflates different issues and dates, juxtaposing unrelated quotes and problems, makes me wonder if he can be a competent scientist. Seriously, wading through the mental and moral squalor of his RC piece, with its flagrant misrepresentations of basic facts in the chronology of controversy, should make anyone uneasy about his wider output.

btw, As a general proposition, for exactly how many years can data be kept in a special Schmidtian "unpublished" status in order to evade scrutiny while being used to support advocacy of govt policies affecting billions and trillions of dollars? Is there any scientific "statute of limitations" on using Schmidtian evasions of responsibility??

May 11, 2012 at 2:18 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

The whole thing gives an impression of lashing out wildly. This can happen because you are hurting or because you wish to divert attention. It will certainly generate a whole new round of squabbles. I am waiting to see if any of the arguments will stick because the nature of the post will force people to respond.

May 11, 2012 at 2:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterclivere

Following the discovery in 1997 that Antarctic ice core CO2 lagged temperature rise by 800 years, 'the team' had to eliminate the MWP and calibrate c. 3 K CO2 climate sensitivity from post-industrial warming to replace the now failed ice age CO2-GW hypothesis.

The recent Shakur paper in Nature apparently demonstrates that by switching the argument back to ice ages they realise they have lost the tree ring proxy argument as well, albeit at the expense of inventing a time machine - the Southern Ocean warms 800 years before its cause! In reality, the first warming of the deep Southern Ocean starts 2 ky before CO2 rise and the most likely explanation is reduction of cloud albedo.

May 11, 2012 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

If this were all about science Schmidt's response would be farcical. However, as this is all about servicing and advancing a political agenda, no one should be surprised that the spurious methods used by politicians and campaigners are employed by Schmidt in this case.

It remains a futile exercise trying to engage on a scientific basis with people like Mann, Jones, Schmidt etc. Their comments and objections have nothing to do with science. The 'cause' is all and the 'cause' has nothing to do with protecting the planet, it is about controlling people.

May 11, 2012 at 2:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterAutonomous Mind

We might be doing better than I thought. Gavin is beginning to look like Comical Ali, spouting seriously wrong propaganda while the relentless march of scientific investigation by Steve Mc is bringing truth to his door.

May 11, 2012 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Furthermore, all this flailing about is happening within the limited confines of those who closely follow the debate, and not where it counts -- convincing those in political power that impoverishing their people by adopting a Green fantasy will get them kicked into the long grass.

Comrade Gillard (Australia) is facing that inevitable fate next year, and a few more similar results will end this sorry episode and force the Left/Greens back into their bunkers to devise a new line for their agit-prop.

May 11, 2012 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

Worse, McIntyre has claimed in his appeal that the length of time since the Briffa et al (2008) paper implies that the regional Yamal reconstruction has been suppressed for nefarious motives. But I find it a little rich that the instigator of a multitude of FOI requests, appeals, inquiries, appeals about inquires, FOIs about appeals, inquiries into FOI appeals etc. is now using the CRU’s lack of productivity as a reason to support more FOI releases. This is actually quite funny.

i.e., "look the reason CRU are incompetents is because McIntyre's requests for them to be competent are destroying their competence". Pretty laughable.

Also laughable is the Steig paragraph, where he links to ClimateAudit's site where Steig defends himself saying that McIntyre should not have characterized not archiving as "not archiving" (no seriously), and that the dataset hadn't any HS shape at all. Is Gavin really unable to read McIntyre's answer just below it? Probably he just hopes that his readers won't. Probably he's right.

(I am however in the dark regarding this DelD data. Does it or does it not have a HS shape? Eric says no, Steve says yes. I wonder)

McIntyre’s subsequent insta-reconstruction from the list is apparently the ‘smoking gun’ that the results are being withheld because they are inconvenient, but if any actual scientist had produced such a poorly explained, unvalidated, uncalibrated, reconstruction with no error bars or bootstrapping or demonstrations of common signals etc., McIntyre would have been (rightly) scornful. Though apparently, scientists are supposed to accept his reconstruction at face value.

Gavin smears Steve hoping no one is able to distinguish between a proper reviewed study and a proof-of-concept calculation. I also think he's right.

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

The poor chaps. In order to falsify simple paper back calculations, they will have to work amazingly hard. As hard, shall we ask, as their extremely competent colleagues Wahl and Amman, a few years ago? Time will tell.

And in the end, the cherry on top, quoting none other than Mann as a source of truth. It had to end with a joke.

May 11, 2012 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterLuis Dias

The 'cause' is all and the 'cause' has nothing to do with protecting the planet, it is about controlling people.

I take issue with this line. I don't think that these people think this way at all. Their "righteousness" seems very honest and quaint. I know, I've been there. These people see the world "burning" by the hands of the whole mass of people inhabitting this world (and here we can add some anti-capitalistic rants - or not, depends quite a lot of exactly whom we are talking with), and want really to do something about it. They see disaster and want to "save the world". We can argue about the merits of such desires, such methods, such propagandas, such restrictions in the scientific discourse, etc., but the notion that these people just want to bring about "a new world order" and so they use "scares" to do it seems astonishingly false to me.

May 11, 2012 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterLuis Dias

The CG messages show that Mann hassles all concerned at every turn. I'd speculate that the Mann-centric tone of this piece means that Mann has been furiously emailing behind the scenes on this occasion too. The focus should be the CRU deception (or the innocent explanation). Diverting attention from this is clearly of high importance.

...but falling for one of the one wild lashings - I left a comment at Real Climate...

''...he immediately thinks that Michael Mann needs to answer these accusations...' factually, wasn't that Revkin?'

It will be interesting to see if whether there's a response - or editing!.

May 11, 2012 at 3:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

it's been a good week.

May 11, 2012 at 3:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Haseler

Andrew:
I just read Gavin's rather heated post. It would help me if a detailed chronology was actually created that specified what Yamal-related information was created by whom and when. My assumption has been that there was no way of replicating Briffa's work because he used an unspecified subset of the cores provided by hs Russian colleagues and he has declined to provide the information when asked.

May 11, 2012 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterBernie

ZT

lol, yes REVKIN is the one who "immediately" thought that Michael Mann should be asked to comment on the new info in the Yamal controversy.....

Revkin posted first question for Michael Mann on latest Yamal controversy

Yet another way in which Gavin's RC screed is factually challenged and polemically dishonest. In this case it was the Team's not quite reliable journo-pal Andrew Revkin who "immediately" brought Michael Mann into the issue. In fact, why did Revkin think it so clearly relevant to ask Michael Mann to comment on the matter???

May 11, 2012 at 3:19 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

If anyone (especially one of the BH readers with a blog) has some time and patience, the RC screed is in need of a detailed "Fisking" almost line by line. There are distortions and errors of fact throughout. It really is an embarrassment even for RC and The Team. They have stepped in a pile of their own making on this one ....

May 11, 2012 at 3:33 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

I found this particularly amusing:-

"CRU is a pioneer of research into past and possible future climate changes and maintains an international reputation and profile for excellence in climate research. CRU is part of the School of Environmental Sciences at UEA, which was graded 5* (the top grade) in the last Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). Further evidence for the quality of CRU's research are an extensive record of widely-cited publications in top quality scientific journals including those in palaeoclimatology and the analysis of instrumental climate data; the contribution of CRU staff to national and international science co-ordination; the widespread use of CRU data products, and success at securing national and international funding. The project will be managed by Professor Keith Briffa..."

Nothing about his creative talent!

ftp://geo-s15.leeds.ac.uk/geossi/nerc/Case_for_Support_final.doc

May 11, 2012 at 3:35 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Folks - there is a reason why nobody reads RC. They have managed to filter out any reader who doesn't take their Words as The One Truth. And they have done so by posting repeatedly misleading or incorrect information.

I have stopped visiting it myself. There are only so many minutes in one's day, and there is no point in reading information that is bound to be debunked soon after publication.

May 11, 2012 at 3:36 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

If anyone (especially one of the BH readers with a blog) has some time and patience, the RC screed is in need of a detailed "Fisking" almost line by line. There are distortions and errors of fact throughout. It really is an embarrassment even for RC and The Team. They have stepped in a pile of their own making on this one ....

Really? Just seems the usual pile of trash that Gavin regurgitates every time Steve scores a point against the team. Nothing new actually.

May 11, 2012 at 3:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterLuis Dias

BH -- "Schmidt suggests that McIntyre should have assumed that the data as used by Briffa were the same as those used by the Russians."

"Steve these data were produced by Swedish and Russian colleagues – will pass on your message to them
cheers, Keith [Briffa]" (2006)

"Steve has an amnesia. I had sent him these data at February 2, 2004 on his demand." -- Rashit Hanterminov (2006)

May 11, 2012 at 3:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterJ Bowers

J Bowers - are you accusing Briffa of being a liar?

You've missed this bit from the post: the Russians' data was not the same as Briffa's

May 11, 2012 at 4:09 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Luis Dias: ”These people see the world 'burning' by the hands of the whole mass of people inhabitting this world… and want really to do something about it. They see disaster and want to 'save the world'."

Do they want to save the world for people or from people?

May 11, 2012 at 4:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterbiff33

biff33, I'd hope both actually. Ben Pile is good on this issue. They see this as follows: mother Earth is sick. If ME is sick, people will suffer horrible unpredictable things in the future. A terrible "unsustainable" future where pollution kills everything, fisheries are depleted, life in shambles, ozone holes all over the place, thermaggedon, etc. To stop this from happening, people have to be stopped polluting the environment.

Look, it isn't even silly. Even classical economists like Hayek admitted the existence of limits like these to the economy. They just happen to think that CO2 is a very serious problem, and that no one is doing anything remotely looking like a solution to it.

May 11, 2012 at 4:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterLuis Dias

Omnologos,

Examining the validity of the published RCS Yamal tree-ring chronology - Briffa & melvin (2009).

Google it.

May 11, 2012 at 4:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterJ Bowers

J Bowers - either (a) the Bish has lied when he wrote "the Russians' data was not the same as Briffa's" or (b) Briffa has lied when he wrote "these data were produced by Swedish and Russian colleagues" or (c) Briffa's "these data" refers to something completely different, thus irrelevant.

Please clarify which claim you're making.

May 11, 2012 at 4:44 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

... the School of Environmental Sciences at UEA, which was graded 5* (the top grade) in the last Research Assessment Exercise ...

Is there no end to what pal review can do?

May 11, 2012 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

Omnologos, perhaps you need to make a new tinfoil hat and stop throwing the word 'lie' around like confetti?

May 11, 2012 at 4:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterJ Bowers

so much confetti and only one macrophage?

May 11, 2012 at 4:54 PM | Unregistered Commentershub

J Bowers - You're avoiding the issue. Apart from a hint that you might not be fully convinced anybody has actually and provenly lied in this story, your contribution to this exchange remains mysterious.

May 11, 2012 at 4:57 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Heartland billboards will be relevant when the IPCC starts accepting them as submissions. (why did he go there?)

I'm probably not the first to perceive that these responses to Yamal critiques come coloured with forward thinking damage control. I noticed a previous comment was picked up on where it was said Yamal should be "used cautiously" (in what way has it?). The hockey stick -- as it comes in its various guises -- isn't sustainable, there's too many eyes on the fabricators and too much contradictory evidence seeing the light. As hinted, that regional chronology is coming and you can bet your grandmother the blade will be sawed off somewhere near the middle. The middle because if it's hacked right off then the contrast is too stark and serious explaining will be in order, but still reduced enough to be credible.

BTW, towards the end of the piece above I found myself having to re-read certain parts to understand it, perhaps the wording gets a bit out? "...Briffa had misspoken and that he had been clear all along that the regional chronology had been prepared." That doesn't really fit with the two explanations "no time" and "didn't consider" neither of which imply any preparation had been undertaken. (or perhaps it's just me)

May 11, 2012 at 4:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Omnologos

Just read J Bowers comments at RC. It tells you all you need to know!

May 11, 2012 at 5:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Hewitt

Omnologos, Google "have you stopped beating your wife?"

May 11, 2012 at 5:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterJ Bowers

J.Bowers

You are the epitome of a dishonest troll. You are not trying to have an intelligent discussion. You have not even pretended to make an informed and reasoned argument. You stumbled in here* today throwing around insults, and you think that merely by citing the Briffa & Melvin (2009) you are establishing anything?? The new articles by Steve Mcintyre and then Andrew Montford are specifically going behind the rationalizations in Briffa & Melvin (2009) to re-examine the whole set of issues in light of new information from the UEA/CRU about the Yamal data. Thus, to merely demand that readers of the blog "Google it" [Briffa & Melvin (2009)] when it is obvious you have not deigned to read or comprehend the articles by McIntyre and Montford is merely a paltry diversionary tactic. If you can refute anything in the new articles then do so. Merely citing an article they mean to correct or disqualify is not an intelligent argument.

Try reading up on the topic of the thread (even read the thread article itself) and come back when you have something intelligent to contribute.

* "here" meaning BH blog, including the other Josh cartoon thread where you started by maliciously insulting Josh and referring to Gavin's RC rant as some successful "smack down" of someone..... and yes, "rant" is exactly the right word for what Gavin wrote. Google for definitions of "rant" please....

May 11, 2012 at 5:07 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Just go over to SurrealClimate and read the breathless adulations of the believers and you will realise just what an uphill battle to expose the truth it will be.

Also remember that SurrealClimate has a near hotline to the IPCC and hence to Government policymakers.

May 11, 2012 at 5:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

John Hewitt - what's your address? I need it to tell my lawyer to sue you for the emotional distress incurred by me on visiting RC! 8-) (eg Scott Mandia speaks sarcastically of a Grand Conspiracy, then in the same comment proceeds to ask funds against a Grand Conspiracy).

As for J Bowers, I now understand. It's not like he's not explaining himself, he's got nothing to explain. At all.

May 11, 2012 at 5:11 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

McIntyre is accusing Briffa of ‘deception’ in stating that he did not ‘consider’ doing a larger more regional reconstruction at that time. However, it is clear from the 2000 paper that the point was to show hemispheric coherence across multiple tree ring records, not to create regional chronologies.

And then later...

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). In the meantime, they can’t discuss it online or defend themselves because the issue with the FOI appeal is precisely their ability to work on projects prior to publication without being forced to go public before they are finished.

Huh? First Briffa wasn't trying to create a regional chronology (supposedly). But now he has to make one to defend himself? If McIntyre is so off in what he is saying such that he's off-topic, why would Briffa have to do anything other than say, "My purpose was not what you think in that paper." If Briffa wasn't trying to create one, but needed one created to back up his work, then Briffa's original work was incomplete and unworthy of publication in the first place. If Briffa knew his paper was incomplete because of this lacking element, the smartest thing to do would have been to welcome McIntyre's work because it would help properly document this missing piece.

Gavin, you are not a scientist. Exhibit A:

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).

You have already determined a result before doing work. You are not a scientist, you're worse than Dr Venkman.

May 11, 2012 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy

In case someone can save me a visit to the RC echo chamber, did Gavin come up with any justification of why Briffa used less than 20 of ~400 cores ?? I think the 3 different UEA reasons given so far have been that they didn't consider it, then didn't have time, then didn't have the data. Interested if GS selected one of those, something different, or ignored it all together. Thanks!

May 11, 2012 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryMN

Jeremy you touch on a good point and if you look at the first post at RC by user Salamano you'll see it relates to that coming chronology too and makes a similar point. Option A would be the correct way to go about it and likely not different.

May 11, 2012 at 6:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

If you have practice reading through crap - which the climate controversy give ample opportunity for - it becomes clear that Gavin, and by extension Briffa, have no actual answer to the question raised by McIntyre.

And why the heck is Gavin getting into this?

Let CRU answer. Gaven should probably mind his business. Unless his only business is reading and writing blogs, that is.

May 11, 2012 at 6:20 PM | Unregistered Commentershub

Another quote

But I find it a little rich that the instigator of a multitude of FOI requests, appeals, inquiries, appeals about inquires, FOIs about appeals, inquiries into FOI appeals etc. is now using the CRU’s lack of productivity as a reason to support more FOI releases.

It is a pity that Dr Schmidt was not around forty years ago. I am sure that a former US President could have used a similar charge against two young reporters. Their persistence and tenacity were a major distraction, massively reducing the productivity of his administration. On a personal level, the poor man was put under intense personal pressure as a result, very much like the scientists at CRU.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/watergate/

May 11, 2012 at 6:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterManicBeancounter

Let CRU answer. Gaven should probably mind his business. Unless his only business is reading and writing blogs, that is.

Come on, then how would he blame the McIntyre's of this world for putting "so much pressure" and "extra-work" on poor climate scientists? How could he accuse McIntyre of harassment? Just look at that wall of text! A full day's worth of work, just to deal with such bores as Steve! If only 10:10's video was more than fiction...

May 11, 2012 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterLuis Dias

Is this the same Gavin Schmidt who expressed the view that the neither the Hockey Stick or flat lining temps were of any consequence as the science was based on sound physics. Why all the huffing and puffing then ?

One leg left on a stool makes you fall perhaps.

May 11, 2012 at 7:02 PM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

'Schmidt is therefore engaging in some serious disinformation.'

Normal practice for Schmidt who who sold out the idea of truth telling , along with doing the job his actual paid for which is not running PC, ages ago , 'the cause' is all that matters .

J.Bowers is trolling as a member of CIF's hard-core AGW faithful , for this purpose attacks and insults are the standard approach , which after all is what GM and other CIF journalists have taught them. And good luck with the idea of finding CIF actual covering the science which they claim supporters them so well.

May 11, 2012 at 7:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

To be fair, Gavin does make a very good point in his comment on the first post, although it is probably not a point that he will like to be reminded of:

[Response: Actually it won't be that interesting because I guarantee that whatever judgement calls that Briffa et al make (on the level of coherence necessary, significance levels, magnitude of common signal, statistical method etc.) they will still be accused of fudging it to produce a desired result - because that is so easy for the 'critics' to do. Every analysis involves judgement calls - even McIntyre's. And so if people don't like the result, they will attack the judgements - regardless of how they actually impact the final result or how justified they are. If you are already convinced that scientists can't be trusted, then no amount of justification from those scientists will change anything because people see nefarious intent everywhere. It is a perfect epistemic bubble - impervious to any actual contact with reality. - gavin]

The use of the expression "judgement calls" is interesting. My impression is that there needs to be explicit justification for all the judgement calls that you make in a piece of work and that you should be explicit about those judgement calls. Which is clearly not the case in this situation where Briffa seems to be relying on "the dog ate my homework" type reasoning.

May 11, 2012 at 7:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

BoFA

"One leg left on a stool makes you fall perhaps."

Or maybe a one legged stool is necessary when watching over a potentially explosive situation?

"A nitroglycerine plant 100 or so years ago in Australia. An operator had to constantly watch the thermometer during the critical stage of nitration of glycerine to prevent it overheating and exploding. The one-legged stool prevented the operator from becoming drowsy."

http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/motm/nitroglycerine/nitroh.htm

May 11, 2012 at 7:16 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Yet another example of how science advances, one funeral at a time.

May 11, 2012 at 7:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterRB

Judgement calls are fine. Making good judgement calls is one of the things that distinguish 'professionals' from those in clerical or administrative positions.

But when you make such a call you do need to be able to justify it in some way. Schmidt, as ever, seems to be arguing that a 'climatologist' - by virtue only of his supposed expertise - should be immune from any criticism in how they make that judgement. Schmidt, as so often, fall into the trap of believing his - and his colleagues - infallibility and seems to take it as a personal insult that we are not necessarily as convinced as he is..

Bring it into the open, disclose the reasoning, explain the consequences and be prepared to defend the choice you have made. That is the way to handle such criticism. Not to whinge and moan and squeal. Had the climatologists not acted for years in a way that screams 'we have something to hide', but instead had responded maturely and calmly to such questions, then there would likely be a lot fewer who - like me - wouldn't trust them to tell the time without some ulterior motive creeping in.

Schmidt and The Team have only their own arrogance and egos to blame for the unhappy circumstances they find themselves in. Tough s**t.

May 11, 2012 at 7:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

"Just look at that wall of text!"

Heh. All Gavin's doing is saying: "Briffa plans to publish" - if even true.

Also looks the Gavin's struck by Gleick's parenthesitis.

May 11, 2012 at 7:55 PM | Unregistered Commentershub

Looks like Gavin is struck by Gleick parenthesitis.

May 11, 2012 at 7:56 PM | Unregistered Commentershub

Flawed human beings first; scientists waaaay second or 15th. This kind of behavior (by Gavin Schmidt ) is what made me start to believe the global warming scare was based on self serving interest and hot emotion and not on good.solid science. People like Gavin Schmidt and Michael Mann might please their choir but those not in their church find their arrogance disturbing at the very least.

May 11, 2012 at 7:58 PM | Unregistered Commentermbabbitt

Luis Diaz said, "They see disaster and want to "save the world.""

That's Mencken's "messianic delusion." Behind that surface sincerity something else may lurk--the desire to play the role of a comic book hero fighting a super villain, with all the ego-boo attendant upon such Mittyism.

May 11, 2012 at 8:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Knights

Oops--Dias. Sorry.

May 11, 2012 at 8:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Knights

My impression is that there needs to be explicit justification for all the judgement calls that you make in a piece of work and that you should be explicit about those judgement calls. Which is clearly not the case in this situation where Briffa seems to be relying on "the dog ate my homework" type reasoning.

May 11, 2012 at 7:14 PM | diogenes

Diogenes,
Commenting Gavin Schmidt in one of his calmer moments is a good thing. The problem is that his response is not how other areas might respond. For instance, when accounting standards fell short in the 1980s (e.g. with Robert Maxwell), then the response was to radically overhaul those standards. Schmidt's response is to blame the messenger. However, "justifying all judgement calls" is not the best response. Rather, it is to have rigorous testing of results, and reporting them, as in economics papers. For a start, reporting of sample sizes and where the locations were from might help, along with proper archiving of results to allow replication. The problem with your suggestion is that there a huge number of judgement calls need to be made on complex analysis. I think it is the robustness of results, along with getting consistency of results in different areas by different approaches is much more sound method. Otherwise we can end up splitting hairs. However, that would mean aiming for a much more pluralistic approach and in this area would see the medieval warm period re-emerge.

May 11, 2012 at 8:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterManicBeancounter

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