the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Tiny Little Keyholes

Posted by Jeff Id on August 14, 2009

keyholes

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I’m particularly irritated this morning by a post at Real Climate addressing the potential plagiarism by the Steig et al team in a correction first mentioned at a Climate Audit post authored by Dr. Hu McCulloch.  Before beginning Hu is a professor of Economics and Finance at Ohio State University who of all the regular commentators at CA is in my opinion the least critical of RC scientists.  In fact for someone who clearly has a hot head like myself, his calmness in the face of idiocy in science can be well… a little frustrating.  Dr. McCulloch’s web page is located here where he demonstrates his very powerful statistical knowledge in relation to climatology in his own publications.

Recently when Steig et al published a Corrigendum on their recent paper widely discussed in blogland, it was noted here Significance and then elsewhere that the corrections were the same values Hu had calculated and with great politeness emailed to the authors back in February this year.

Here is the email from February which is typical of Dr. McCulloch’s tone.

Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2009 15:51:44 -0500

To: steig, dschneid, srutherford,mann, josefino.c.comiso,Drew.T.Shindell

From: Hu McCulloch

Subject: Comment on serial correlation in Steig et al 2009

Dear Dr. Steig and co-authors,

FYI, I have recently posted a comment on your 2009 paper in Nature

on Climate Audit, at http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=5341 .

While I was able to replicate or virtually replicate the 1957-2006 trends you report

on p 460 for the three regions and the continent as a whole, the 95% Confidence

Intervals you report appear to have taken no account of serial correlation

in the regression errors. When this is done, the CI’s are substantially wider

than you report.

Any reactions, by comments there or by e-mail, would be welcome!

— Hu McCulloch

J. Huston McCulloch

Economics Dept. voice (614) 292-0382

Ohio State Univ. FAX (614) 292-3906, attn. J.H. McCulloch

1945 N. High St.

Columbus, OH 43210

URL:

And HERE is the link to Dr. McCulloch’s presentation including code and all details for the reader to verify the correctness of my statements.  After the corregendum was published, Hu was somewhat offended to notice that he had not been credited with the changes and wrote Nature to request corrections.  We all know the habit of RC to not recognize anyone who posts at CA apparently that also extends to highly respected and too polite professors in other fields.

Now this is the Air Vent, and here we don’t like to mince words too much.  Recently RC actually took the time to report this blog to the editor of nature in reply to a request for data, accusing me of making false claims about data availability.  I’m not happy about that as it is to my knowledge dishonest.  In fact we still have not been given access to the data or code for several aspects of this paper but the point is to show the extreme lack of class RC proprietors can demonstrate in any attempt to save a bad paper.

Therefore I’m already ticked and this morning I decided to check RC for the first time in two weeks to see what was going on and I read this:

Resolving technical issues in science

Where RC claims that they didn’t need to mention Dr. McCulloch because the methods are known.

Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.

I see it right there “Processes” without giving credit.   I’ve put a trace on the Corregendum (linked here) for changes and have checked daily and it still doesn’t mention Dr. McCulloch.  But now we get to the Air Vent part, be prepared to get pissed off, sorry about that it isn’t my fault.

There is however a different way of criticizing scientific papers that is prevalent in blogs like ClimateAudit. This involves challenging, ‘by all means necessary’, any paper whose conclusions are not liked. This can be based on simple typos, basic misunderstandings of the issues and ‘guilt by association’ though there is sometimes the occasional interesting point. Since these claims are rarely assessed to see if there is any actual impact on the main result, the outcome is a series of misleading critiques, regardless of whether any of these criticisms are in fact even valid or salient, that give the impression that every one of these papers is worthless and that all their authors incompetent at best and dishonest at worst. It is the equivalent of claiming to have found spelling errors in a newspaper article. Fun for a while, but basically irrelevant for understanding any issue or judging the worth of the journalist.

While commentary — even quite negative commentary — of papers on blogs is entirely reasonable (after all, we do it here occasionally), claims that a particular paper has been ‘discredited’ or ‘falsified’ that have not withstood (at minimum) the process of peer-review should be viewed with extreme skepticism. So should accusations of dishonesty or misconduct that have not already been conclusively and unequivocally substantiated.

I have seen many papers discredited and falsified in the past year in blogland and can’t for the life of me understand why alleged scientists would still claim with straight faces the hockey sticks are real.  This point by itself calls into question the genuineness of the authors but we’re all familiar with that.  So we need peer reveiw by others with greater authority now to see when plagiarism happens.  Perhaps we need police to see a car accident, or a fireman to see a fire?

This isn’t even the best part though, check out this beauty.

This brings us to the recent claim by Hu McCulloch that a post on ClimateAudit.org, detailing an error in Steig et al’s paper in Nature on Antarctic temperature change, was not given due credit by Steig et al. when they published a Corrigendum earlier this month. In this case, McCulloch’s comment on the paper were perfectly valid, but he chose to avoid the context of normal scientific exchange — instead posting his comments on ClimateAudit.org — and then playing a game of ‘gotcha’ by claiming plagiarism when he wasn’t cited.

First the characterization of gotcha doesn’t make any damn sense because this is right from Hu’s article where he claims some affect but still significant trend.

When the implied standard errors are appropriately corrected, many of the reported trends in Table 1 do remain significant, but only at a greatly reduced level.

We now know that the trends are highly exaggerated (by over 2 times in total)  and a properly done paper would not have significant trends through many of the regions, however Hu’s comments are hardly the work of a gotcha game.  Papers are public information, despite what our leftist RC proprieters would apparently like (had to say it at least once).  They apparently are objecting to people finding errors in a public science blog like CA or tAV no matter how politely they are worded and how professionally they are done.

Then RC makes the claim that somehow Hu accused them of plagiarism but in fact neither Hu, myself or CA claim plagerism on their blogs or posts.  I originally just mentioned non-credit, SteveM presented the definition which is an implication of potential impropriety, however it is not an accusation and Dr McCulloch put his in his letter to Nature.

According to your Editorial Policies, “Plagiarism is when an author attempts to

pass off someone else’s work as his or her own.” There is no submission

date published with the Corrigendum, but if it this was after Feb. 28, I would

submit that this Corrigendum constitutes plagiarism as you define it.

Where Dr. McCulloch points out that if there was notice prior to Feb 28th, it would not be plagiarism.  Not unsurprisingly this is exactly what the team decided to claim.  This paragraph is the key to their real position inside all the noise.

Had Dr. McCulloch been the first person to make Steig et al. aware of the error in the paper, or had he written directly to Nature at any time prior to the submission of the Corrigendum, it would have been appropriate to acknowledge him and the authors would have been happy to do so.

Oddly, they claim to have noticed the error themselves prior to Feb 28th as nobody else is credited so if it was noticed outside the authors, they would be plagiarizing another individual and then decided to delay five months until the end of July to tell anyone.  Why wouldn’t they give a name here?  Dr. Steig noticed in January or Dr. Comiso noticed prior to …. It’s an awkward and slightly more suspicious acknowledgment of prior knowledge when no names are given.

What’s more, why not reply politely in private to Dr. McCulloch’s email back in Feb that they were aware of the issue and intending a correction?  There was no such email, instead we get a five month delay, a republication of the same numbers Dr. McCulloch presented and the claim that they already knew the problem.

So they have found the little keyhole in which their credit can still squeeze.

It is the Air Vent after all, so whereas it may not be necessary to say, I feel it would be remiss of me to not mention that there is another possibility for the direction events took place.  What if Hu’s post really upset them, and really did seem like a gotcha to them as they have stated here in the somewhat emotional RC post.  After the initial shock, they took time to figure out he was right, then they took their sweet time to post changes to let the paper stand as long as possible before publishing the exact same thing with absolutely no credit given to the professor that stung their otherwise obvious perfection.  Planning instead to stand on their paper’s claim of having done the calculations as had been alleged!

There will be no credit to Dr. McCulloch who probably didn’t really care anyway beyond the idiotic rudeness of the RC team.  There will instead be the claim that an unknown individual who is apparently an author noticed the error prior to Dr. McCulloch and it took 5 months to make the corrections known to Nature.

Also, I have to mention that had Steig ‘actually’ released the code as he falsely cliamed was already done back when the paper was released this issue would have been more obvious as the code section would have been noticed missing or he would have a demonstration that it actually existed but wasn’t implemented.  THIS IS THE CODE WE’VE BEEN ASKING FOR!

Finally, I’ll end this long post with one more point.

Lest there be any confusion about this, we note that, as discussed in the Corrigendum, the error has no impact on the main conclusions in the paper.

It would have been amazingly difficult and far less headline worthy to publish a paper with a claim of total warming of 0.12 C/Decade +/- 0.12 C/Decade.  I hate that they always claim ‘no effect on conclusions’ especially when it turns most of the Antarctic into insignificant trends.  It’s been demonstrated on CA by both Ryan and Roman so I won’t bother finding the pictures.

I will also make the suggestion that the verification stats were the key to this paper.  It’s more than a little odd that the verification stats were messed up in this fashion and that was somehow missed during publication and review.  I wonder if they did know the stats weren’t as they claimed but perhaps they knew quite a bit earlier in the publication process.  Just speculating RC, after all  it’s not like you have been open about this.

Would it really have hurt to say thanks to Dr. McCulloch who also noticed the issue?

36 Responses to “Tiny Little Keyholes”

  1. Dean said

    It wouldn’t have hurt to say thanks to Dr. McCulloch. It also wouldn’t have hurt for people – whoever started it – not to accuse Steig of plagiarism. I don’t know who started that, but I first saw that characterization on Pielke Jr’s blog.

    Not having read the original paper, I’d like to know if you disagree with the statement on RC that the missing procedure was mentioned and referred to in the original paper. If so, wouldn’t this have a bearing on the accusation of plagiarism?

    I would also note that Pielke took the opportunity to indulge in guilt by association, essentially accusing the AGW scientific community, or maybe just the RC sponsors (he wasn’t exactly clear on that), of sharing in his alleged guilt. In my opinion, Pielke has suffered from guilt by association from accusations by others, but he seems to not mind using the same tactic himself (and I have posted this on his blog).

    Lastly, regarding your discussion of the possibility that McCulloch did alert them to an error in their part of which they were not yet aware. I assume that this is all conjecture. Is that correct? You are free to indulge in such conjecture it you want, but it certainly puts a taint on a discussion of what the facts are.

    It seems that both “sides” are prepared to see the worst in each other and I can’t think of a better reason at this point for issues like this to go through the journals.

  2. rephelan said

    “Recently RC actually took the time to report this blog to the editor of nature in reply to a request for data”

    Jeff, I don’t remember reading about that one. It’s not l;ike you to keep something like that under your hat. Did I miss the post? If not, will you discuss it? It certainly sounds like a rather high-handed thing for someone to do…

    I hate having to read anything at RC, but I dutifully trudged over and read Dr. Steig’s posting. They never fail to disappoint. Dr. Steig simply side-steps the issue of whether he knew about Dr. McCulloch’s critique: “I was in Antarctica”… “I don’t read Climate Audit”…”The method os already in a text-book” and no mention about whomever noticed the problem in the first place or when it was noticed. The little lesson on publishing criticisms in the peer reviewed literature is a trifle disingenuous since Nature’s own rules would have prevented Dr. McCulloch from commenting there. Dr. Steig has attempted to paint Dr. McCulloch as being in the wrong here and that, frankly, is not very honorable.

  3. cogito said

    “guilt by association” is usually used in conjonction with “denial”. I find it rather telling that RC turns around and puts this term in the mouths of “deniers”.

    The whole post at RC is rather ridiculous and far fetched. If they had found the problem themselves, they could have responded to HU’s email by acknowledging that they were aware of it and in the process of publishing a corrigendum.
    At least in my view, this is what a consider “human relations”.

  4. Jeff Id said

    Dean,

    My words are conjecture on that point as is mentioned to be a possibility.

    I didn’t recall Peilke’s input when I wrote this today but I have gone back to review and he did ‘imply’ plagiarism pretty strongly. He’s got a pretty big and strongly worded back and forth battle going on with the boys on science issues so there is some emotion and history there and IMO Pielke is often the one who has been correct on the science.

    Not that you have here but for the rest please try not to associate others comments with the Air Vent, I make enough mistakes all by myself.

    RC is in the wrong here no matter how it’s sliced. Non-acknowledgment of Dr. McCulloch’s email by all the authors, demonstrates a group decision to not reply. What is Dr. McCulloch supposed to think when they turn around and publish his results five months after the fact without acknowledgment.

    I do have to mention again, their lack of class in how they handled my requests for data and code. It’s pretty obvious now that Dr. Steig was lying in public when he told us all the code was available and the idiot Jeff Id should be taking his Matlab class.

    This is exactly the code we were requesting and he knew it. Why would he lie about it? I knew it was a lie back then but it confused others who don’t have the background to figure it out enough that the thread and others spent a good amount of time mocking me for his lie.

    We would have found this issue right away had the code been released. Since they claim to have been aware of this real issue, is it possible that they were not releasing the code because they knew of this not insignificant issue? Perhaps that’s the real reason for Dr. Steig’s ridiculous lie.

    No class.

  5. Jeff Id said

    #2 It was in a private email so I can’t publish it openly. I’ve emailed my position to the good doc asking where I committed this heinous crime so I could make a public apology. I actually promised I would.

    Unfortunately, it has gone without reply.

  6. Antonio San said

    Here is what I posted on RC after reading their shameful post:

    “In this case, McCulloch’s comment on the paper were perfectly valid, but he chose to avoid the context of normal scientific exchange — instead posting his comments on ClimateAudit.org — and then playing a game of ‘gotcha’ by claiming plagiarism when he wasn’t cited.”

    Of course had he published it on Realclimate, provided he would not have been censored… Indeed you [Steig et al.] guys are a special breed.

    Who said that when the gatekeeper is keeping the gate open for the right guys…

    Time to sue these SOB!

  7. Jeff Id said

    Dr, Steig put this up on RC, he is claiming to have discovered it himself before Hu’s message got through. My own thought is that he’s probably being truthful— this time.

    [Response: McCulloch’s email, which provided no details but pointed me to his post, was sent while I was in the field in Antarctica, and would have received notification that I was in gone, and not receiving email for the next month. McCulloch states very clearly in his letter that he didn’t think his work was important enough to warrant a letter to Nature, and he would have been well aware that I don’t read ClimateAudit. In any case, I had already recognized the error in our paper before I heard anything about McCulloch. –eric]

    It still wouldn’t have hurt to acknowledge Dr. McCulloch or perhaps even respond to his email.

    [edit] Now I wonder exactly when he found the error!

  8. Mark T said

    Dean said
    August 14, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Lastly, regarding your discussion of the possibility that McCulloch did alert them to an error in their part of which they were not yet aware. I assume that this is all conjecture. Is that correct? You are free to indulge in such conjecture it you want, but it certainly puts a taint on a discussion of what the facts are.

    Wake up, Dean, open your eyes: they got caught lying. The definition of faith includes an desire to vehemently defend one’s beliefs even in the presence of overwhelming evidence against them.

    but it confused others who don’t have the background to figure it out

    And those that have the background but refuse to use it critically for fear of upsetting their faith. Right, Dean?

    Mark

  9. Mark T said

    So, Dean, when RC is claiming that Hu called it plagiarism, why aren’t you moderating THOSE claims, eh? They are clearly untrue: Hu never made such a claim. C’mon, Dean, show us you’re really interested in honest debate.

    Mark

  10. Jeff Id said

    Mark,

    If we give Dean a little space he might be more willing to drop by. To be fair, I doubt he has anything to do with the comments inside a post. If he’s openly critical of things he doesn’t like you can imagine what would happen. We already know how well the boys take criticism.

    He’s been pretty brave to step into this rats nest for sure.

  11. Antonio San said

    [Response: McCulloch’s email, which provided no details but pointed me to his post,

    SO NEXT TIME, NO LINKS, NO ATTACHMENTS…

    was sent while I was in the field in Antarctica, and would have received notification that I was in gone, and not receiving email for the next month. McCulloch states very clearly in his letter that he didn’t think his work was important enough to warrant a letter to Nature

    OBVIOUSLY STEIG DID BELIEVE IT WAS IMPORTANT ENOUGH…LOL

    , and he would have been well aware that I don’t read ClimateAudit.

    DO NOT SEND LINKS… LOL

    In any case, I had already recognized the error in our paper before I heard anything about McCulloch. –eric]

    YET IT TOOK 5 MONTHS AND COUNTLESS INTERVIEWS WHERE STEIG DID NOT MENTION ONCE A POSSIBLE ERROR… super Eric!

  12. Mark T said

    I don’t agree, and I sent an email explaining in detail.

    Mark

  13. Mondoman said

    Jeff, the “characterization of gotcha” may very well be wrong, but it DOES make sense from the RC perspective. By “gotcha” game, RC are referring to Hu’s posting notice of the error rather than communicating it (in full) to either the authors or to Nature. They are NOT referring to Hu’s conclusions themselves, just his method(s) of communicating it.

    Personally, if someone wrote me an email about an error in a paper of mine, I’d follow the link rather than ignore it as being a place I didn’t visit online, but maybe that’s just me.

  14. Dean said

    “If we give Dean a little space he might be more willing to drop by. To be fair, I doubt he has anything to do with the comments inside a post.”

    Anything to do with comments? I have nothing to do with RC except as a rare contributor of a comment. Am I misreading in that some think I am a moderator for RC or have some official role?

    I do not own, manage, post articles, or moderate any blog anywhere on the internet. I participate in a handful of blogs by adding comments on occasion.

    And for the record, I remember seeing Steig’s comment about Jeff and Matlab and it was clearly condescending. And don’t worry about what Mark says to me as I am skipping all of his comments. It has no effect on whether I will be visiting again.

    And I do consider RC to be the most valuable climate-related blog on the internet, but that doesn’t mean that I would defend anything that it’s sponsors say or do.

    I will be away for the next week, but hope to stop by later on.

  15. Phillip Bratby said

    Why would anyone finding an error they had made in a paper published in a prestigious journal wait 5 months before notifying the journal or anyone else? It doesn’t make sense. Many other “scientists” in that 5 month period could have based their own work on that paper and cited that erroneous paper. As soon as they discovered the error, they should have notified the journal that they were withdrawing the paper until they could issue a corrigendum. As I say, it doesn’t make sense. It’s not the behaviour you would expect of professionals.

  16. Dean said

    PS – Meant to say:

    but that doesn’t mean that I would defend EVERYthing that it’s sponsors say or do.

  17. Jeff Id said

    Dean,

    I see, when you said contributor to RC at first I thought you must work behind the scenes to help. My bad.

    Either way, it’s good to have a different viewpoint once in a while. I think RC is missing that. They don’t allow strong criticisms through very often. Actually, Ryan’s is the best I know of.

    I hold CA as the most valuable to me, there’s more info there and better QA with the ability to carry discussions basically un-moderated (as long as I remember to vent over here ;) ). Tamino got pissed when I asked Joliffe if he was a reviewer of a SteveM paper, Climate Progress is a soros funded rag and I got kicked out of there for absolutely nothing, Deep Climate moderated me for even suggesting that scientists mess with endpoint filters on a post where he was pointing out that some denier messed around with endpoints and had screwed the endpoints of that analysis himself.

    Before I became critical of RC I bashed Mann’s CPS and didn’t even know he was associated. After that I’ve been pretty well unwelcome there and probably would get snipped for saying the sky is blue at this point. Although, I’ve been noisy about some of what I believe are shenanigans in climate science, I’m not sorry for what I’ve written.

    There are no open AGW blogs I can find. All of the above are advocates and all of the above are politically leftist although they claim they are non-partisan and open minded. The lack of basic honesty on these points combined with the idiotic hubris drives people away IMO.

  18. Mark T said

    And don’t worry about what Mark says to me as I am skipping all of his comments.

    Coward. You can’t handle my challenges to you so you take the easy way out and ignore me. Just can’t stand the fact that I called you on your logical failures and questioned your intent. So typical.

    I do retract #9 since Hu did actually make the accusation in a letter to Nature.

    Mark

  19. Mark T said

    Phillip Bratby said
    August 14, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    It’s not the behaviour you would expect of professionals.

    Your statement implicitly assumes they are professionals.

    Mark

  20. Mark T said

    Jeff Id said
    August 14, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    I see, when you said contributor to RC at first I thought you must work behind the scenes to help. My bad.

    Yep, your post the other day, which Dean replied to, made that implication (since he was the poster you were frustrated with for not understanding the math.)

    Mark

  21. Jeff, if Hu got an automated out-of-office reply, does that necessarily imply that the email was not delivered? OR only that it might be piling up in the Inbox. Are both possibilities?

    If I were away for a month, I’d still go through my back email. It doesn’t seem unreasonable for Hu to have assumed that Steig would go through his email when he got back from Antarctica.

  22. Jeff Id said

    On my automated reply it said there would be a delay, nothing about ‘this email will be deleted’, I’m sure they would just pile up until the box filled and on a University server they probably could just set it to keep filling. Hu, contacted all the authors though and only one was in the Antarctic.

    The non-reply by any of the authors is where the story really breaks down. Why wouldn’t Comiso or Mann reply?

    Whatever.
    ———————————-
    SteveM is carrying a post now on this at CA for those interested. Every time I leave a link here it ends up with a pingback in his comment threads so click on the right to find Climate Audit.

    I left this comment there.

    I think the timing of the realization is important as well. There wasn’t a lot of time between when the paper was released and Dr. McCulloch made his post. So did the paper sit through several months of pre-publication review without the error being noticed and then in the month or so after the release after everything settles down the light bulb goes off right before Doc Hu sends his email? We all know the CA post is the real date of notification as this is Gavin’s second favorite blog.

    I remember some strong reactions by Doc Steig before any real criticisms were made and I also have a good memory of a less than honest comment saying “all of the code has been released” and take my Matlab course despite the fact that this is one of the chunks of code we were requesting. A typcial response would have been enough code is available for a professional to replicate but that’s NOT what was said–AT ALL. He actually took the position the code didn’t exist, how crazy is that.

    Perhaps this known error is the reason the code wasn’t released after all.

    On another point, it seems odd to me that the statistical portion of the paper that is so important to the conclusion, missed using any correction for autocorrelation. This isn’t a minor shoulder shrug detail by any stretch. If it was discovered part way through review, you wouldn’t want to make the call and say um Dear Nature, it looks like our confidence interval on that little um …slope thing, might be well…..a tweak underestimated.. um well…two tweaks actually…

    There would be some pressure to wait and uncover the messup later.

  23. Dean said

    I don’t know what the answer is regarding moderation. If you’ve been around the internet a long time, then you’ve undoubtedly seen many usenet forums back in the day, and other types of forums more recently, that were ruined.

    Otoh, once you go into moderation, it’s hard to do it right. I have no problem with a climate blog blocking the hundredth person who says “what about the ice age you said we were entering in the 1970’s”. Or people who can’t avoid making their points with rudeness and insults. They will of course accuse you of being censors or cowards or whatever, but it is how they operate.

    But in my experience, the ability to be a fair moderator over along period of time (it’s easy to be fair at first, but many get worse over time) is a rare skill. Far more rare than the number of blogs that need a good moderator. If you run a blog on a controversial subject that is unmoderated and not having a problem, then it’s because rude opponents either haven’t found you or have chosen to go elsewhere.

    Yet another reason why I think that blogs are poor venues for these discussions. You can criticize specific moderators for being overbearing, but the problem is so widespread that it is a symptom of a deeper problem with the system.

  24. Jeff Id said

    #21, Steve,

    This is the email I got from Dr. Steig. It seems from this that he likely got the email.

    Hello,

    I am in Antarctica until the middle of March. I will have email access via satellite, but text only is permitted, and 30 kB maximum file size. Please do not write except for essential matters. The email address is posted on my website at the University of Washington. Any issues pertaining to the lab should be directed to Andrew Schauer (contact information at —–). Don Grayson (Archaeology) is acting Chair of the Quaternary Research Center while I’m away.

    Best wishes,

    Eric Steig

    I wiped out the contact info for robot spammers.

  25. Kenneth Fritsch said

    I think this issue should be about an error in a very iconic paper dealing with climate science. It is not about Hu M or any of the other participants directly. Hu M made his findings public, and, after not receiving any acknowledgment, when the error was publically corrected made an effort to publically show that he had independently found it.

    We should be discussing how such an important and widely received paper could contain such a sloppy error as not properly calculating the CIs and reporting that they did. And then why it should take 5 months to publically admit the error. I think we let these climate scientists off the hook by emphasizing the side issues.

  26. Jeff Id said

    Kenneth you may be right. I tried to point out the oddity of missing this not too small a detail at the end. It really is a stunning thing to think they would forget to correct for autocorrelation. It’s not a small point that the paper reads a lot better when they don’t.
    ===========

    I missed this.

    or had he written directly to Nature at any time prior to the submission of the Corrigendum, it would have been appropriate to acknowledge him

    If he had written directly too Nature before the Corrigendum? WTF, he wrote to the friggin authors. Like there’s some kind of secret handshake to get recognized?!!

  27. Jeff Id said

    I left this at RC.

    Dr. Steig,

    This is the email I received as an automated response Feb 6 which seems to indicate email access. Was there some other reason Dr. McCulloch’s email didn’t get received?

    Hello,

    I am in Antarctica until the middle of March. I will have email access via satellite, but text only is permitted, and 30 kB maximum file size. Please do not write except for essential matters. The email address is posted on my website at the University of Washington. Any issues pertaining to the lab should be directed to Andrew Schauer (contact information at —–). Don Grayson (Archaeology) is acting Chair of the Quaternary Research Center while I’m away.

    Best wishes,

    Eric Steig

  28. MikeN said

    He says he’d have thanked McCulloch if he’d seen the e-mail.

    I am curious as to why McCulloch’s numbers are different from Steig’s. Has anyone else tried to reproduce them?

  29. curious said

    Dean at 23 – if you want to see decent interaction on a blog thread with an awkward poster check out “tired and wrong again” in the June 09 archive top left.

    Re: Tiny keyholes – the RC views on this are pretty hard to believe. I wonder if Nature are convinced? I wonder if anybody out there has any emails from ES for the period in question? And I wonder if they’d break ranks if they did? I did a cut and paste of Hu’s text from above into Notepad and it came in at 977bytes. I did the same into Windows Live mail and sent it to myself – 4kB as received. I’d say a major cock up in a Nature cover article would qualify as “essential matters”.

    Ken and Jeff at 25 and 26 – agreed: I wonder if the Corrigendum went out with a press release to the same list as the original paper to make sure that journalists brought the public up to date?

  30. MikeN said

    Steig says there are no more Corrigendums in the pipeline. So any additional errors found will have to be credited.

  31. Antonio San said

    From Real Climate:

    [Response: Unless they had another agenda of course. For his part, McCulloch has acted very professionally and, in response to my letter to him explaining the actual sequence of events, has withdrawn his accusation.–eric]
    So we need to hear from Hu McCulloch here don’t we?

  32. Eric Anderson said

    Any sane person goes through their emails when they get back from vacation or work time out of the office. What, you just grab all 500 emails and press delete? Give me a break. Now, it is certainly possible for something to get caught by a spam filter or to be deleted by accident — happens all the time. However, there were other authors on the email. And the subject line surely would have caught any of their attention.

    Is it possible that Steig is technically correct in what he says happened during his time out of the office? Yes. Is it likely that we are getting the full story? Almost certainly not.

    If Steig is correct about what he claims happened, when it happened, the right thing to do would be to kindly acknowledge Dr. McCulloch’s observation, avoid (incorrectly) claiming that Dr. McCulloch stated Steig plagarized, provide a detailed timeline, etc.

    The whole story about how the corrigendum came about is so unlikely as to strain credulity.

  33. Antonio San said

    Hu, I am afraid you have been very naive in granting Dr. White a letter withdrawing your complaint: at least, White should have requested a proof that Steig or his co-authors or soem one wrote a time stamped document with the calculation prior to Feb. 28, 2009. This is the least an associate editor could do. These people are ruthless.
    As for Steig :

    “There can therefore be no claim on Dr. McCulloch’s part of any originality either for the idea of making such a correction, nor for the methods for doing so, all of which were discussed in our original paper.”

    Of course Eric, but no one argues otherwise except that the “originality” here was just that Hu did it on Feb. 28, 2009 while Steig and his co-authors did not as no proof has been offered except Steig’s word.

    And after this one, your word Eric is worth as much as a Nortel share in Canada!

  34. Antonio San said

    Oh and in my list about Nature’s incestuous relationships, I forgot to mention their blog is part of the Guardian Environmental Network and the Guardian favorite journalist on AGW is… Monbiot. let’s keep it in the family… LOL

  35. Kenneth Fritsch said

    [Response: Unless they had another agenda of course. For his part, McCulloch has acted very professionally and, in response to my letter to him explaining the actual sequence of events, has withdrawn his accusation.–eric]

    So we need to hear from Hu McCulloch here don’t we?

    As far as I am concerned, Hu M has made his point and did it publicly (see my post above) and I would think that he has sufficient other acknowledgments and recognitions that he does not need this one.

    If you guys do not give up the ghost on this one, I threaten to flood you with war stories from my former life. For example, I used to feed ideas to a boss for presentations to the company’s board of directors and often get a reaction from him that he would not dare present that to the board. I would then read an account of the board meeting and see that he did indeed present my ideas. It made me feel good and did not need any further recognition.

  36. Jeff Id said

    I’ve just had a nice conversation with Dr. Steig by email. He’s convinced me that Hu’s emails never got to him or if they did they were deleted without being read.

    He gave good reasons which are up to him to discuss.

    Unfortunately the emails are private but this is a dead issue for me.

    I’m going to close the comments — if I can figure out how.

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