the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Douglass and Christy on Climategate

Posted by Jeff Id on December 20, 2009

This may be the best illustration of the conspiracy (presented to date) to block and minimize papers which don’t support the consensus on the internet. It’s written by Douglass and Christy and puts a long string of the Climategate emails into context. The papers in question are absolutely central to the climate change debate, as they call into question the validity of climate models.

I asked American Thinker for permission to repost this article here and was unfortunately told to excerpt no more than 200 words. The article cannot be summarized in that length, it is technical and requires careful reading. However, it is a must read for everyone, but in particular for the technical CA regulars who know the details in the Santer debate.

Climategate, in context by the victims of those in power, has a whole different flavor – and the revelations will be continuing for some time yet.

h/t Reader Stan

Link to American Thinker is here.

44 Responses to “Douglass and Christy on Climategate”

  1. Sonicfrog said

    Very revealing. Is there any official, non-team tainted disciplinary body Douglass and Christy could submit this complaint to?

  2. David said

    It’s Ammann and Wahl all over again.

  3. yonason said

    Pretty sleazy.

  4. Steve McIntyre said

    It’s a good example, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s the “best” example. There are others where articles were blocked entirely.

    And BTW Ross and my comment on Santer 2008 – showing that key results are reversed when up-to-data is used – has been tied up for nearly a year.

  5. Harold Vance said

    If this is an example of the state of peer review in Climate science, I’ll take blogs and flame wars over “peer review.” Transparency (open source) beats opacity (closed source) any day of the week.

    One thing that we can say is that peer review has become the equivalent of baby seal clubbing. Pity the scientist that tries to publish some facts that run counter to the “consensus.”

  6. Hoi Polloi said

    You know, this is exactly the kind of article I’d expect (and asked for many times) from Climate Audit, but unfortunately until now it seems McSteve et al ain’t reaching further as to some links to other aricles, TV interviews and lite climategatekeeping articles. Too bad…

  7. Jeff Id said

    #4, I meant the best example presented as yet. As #6, says we’re waiting patiently for the next chapter of blocked papers to come out. The emails are difficult to put into context when you don’t know exactly which papers are involved. e.g. the MM mixup.

    I left a comment on American thinker’s thread about the ‘other paper’ being blocked -irrationally. It will be interesting to see if the reviewers and editors change tune when things like this are exposed. My guess is that it will be business as usual – and that will eventually make quite a bit of trouble when that chapter of the saga has been revealed.

  8. stan said

    There are two audiences that count here. The first is the general public (and the politicians who will ultimately be accountable to it). The second, however, is the community of scientists who are not fatally invested in AGW. I would think that they have to be paying very close attention to all this. As the weight of each of these revelations continues to add up, the honest scientists in all disciplines will eventually get fed up, if for no other reason than to protect what’s left of the tattered image of science. The memberships of various scientific organizations will issue new statements reflecting their doubts about AGW. The corrupt journals will be forced to clean up their acts. More scientists will be willing to go public with their doubts.

    When mass hits critical, we’ll get an avalanche. And soon, we’ll have trouble finding anyone who will confess to ever believing.

  9. Viv Evans said

    In a horrible way it is good to have one such example laid out, black on white, chapter and verse.

    What angers me is that those on the receiving end, like Mssr Douglass and Christy, may well have their careers and reputations destroyed by those junk scientists.
    What angers me even more is that there may well be many others, earlier in the life of the AGW ‘science’ timetable, who have indeed lost their jobs, or gave up because they saw it was hopeless to carry on.

    Yes, this is a conspiracy – what else can you call it when a group is out to deny and destroy their perceived opponents?

  10. hpx83 said

    Don’t know if this email is relevant, but I couldn’t find it listed among those at American Thinker. The important line here seems to be

    “I was concerned that if we used the model lag-1 autocorrelations to guide the choice of AR-1 parameter in the synthetic data analysis, Douglass and colleagues would have an easy opening for criticising us (“Aha! Santer et al. are using model results to guide them in their selection of the coefficients for their AR-1 model!”) I felt that it was much more difficult for Douglass et al. to criticize what we’ve done if we used UAH data to dictate our choice of the AR-1 parameter and the “scaling factor” for the amplitude of the temporal variability.”

    Doesn’t this imply that Ben Santer doesn’t GIVE A CRAP about whether or not his criticism is VALID, only that it is as DIFFICULT AS POSSIBLE TO REPLY TO??? Anyone who cannot see the difference between these two doesn’t deserve to be called a scientist. Full email reproduced below, from a minor compilation of the emails I did at the beginning of the debacle.

    From: Ben Santer
    To: Leopold Haimberger
    Subject: Re: Update on response to Douglass et al., Dian, something like this?
    Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 19:07:03 -0800
    Cc: Peter Thorne, Dian Seidel , Tom Wigley , Karl Taylor , Thomas R Karl, John Lanzante , Carl Mears , “David C. Bader” , “‘Francis W. Zwiers’” , Frank Wentz , Melissa Free , “Michael C. MacCracken” , Phil Jones
    , Steve Sherwood , Steve Klein , ‘Susan Solomon’ , Tim Osborn , Gavin Schmidt , “Hack, James J.”
    “Dear Leo,

    Thanks very much for your email. I can easily make the observations a
    bit more prominent in Figure 1. As you can see from today’s
    (voluminous!) email traffic, I’ve received lots of helpful suggestions
    regarding improvements to the Figures. I’ll try to produce revised
    versions of the Figures tomorrow.

    On the autocorrelation issue: The models have a much larger range of
    lag-1 autocorrelation coefficients (0.66 to 0.95 for T2LT, and 0.69 to
    0.95 for T2) than the UAH or RSS data (which range from 0.87 to 0.89). I
    was concerned that if we used the model lag-1 autocorrelations to guide
    the choice of AR-1 parameter in the synthetic data analysis, Douglass
    and colleagues would have an easy opening for criticising us (“Aha!
    Santer et al. are using model results to guide them in their selection
    of the coefficients for their AR-1 model!”) I felt that it was much more
    difficult for Douglass et al. to criticize what we’ve done if we used
    UAH data to dictate our choice of the AR-1 parameter and the “scaling
    factor” for the amplitude of the temporal variability.

    As you know, my personal preference would be to include in our response
    to Douglass et al. something like the Figure 4 that Peter has produced.
    While inclusion of a Figure 4 is not essential for the purpose of
    illuminating the statistical flaws in the Douglass et al. “consistency
    test”, such a Figure would clearly show the (currently large) structural
    uncertainties in radiosonde-based estimates of the vertical profile of
    atmospheric temperature changes. I think this is an important point,
    particularly in view of the fact that Douglass et al. failed to discuss
    versions 1.3 and 1.4 of your RAOBCORE data – even though they had
    information from those datasets in their possession.

    However, I fully agree with Tom’s comment that we don’t want to do
    anything to “steal the thunder” from ongoing efforts to improve
    sonde-based estimates of atmospheric temperature change, and to better
    quantify structural uncertainties in those estimates. Your group,
    together with the groups at the Hadley Centre, Yale, NOAA ARL and NOAA
    GFDL, deserve great credit for making significant progress on a
    difficult, time-consuming, yet important problem.

    I guess the best solution is to leave this decision up to all of you
    (the radiosonde dataset developers). I’m perfectly happy to include a
    version of Figure 4 in our response to Douglass et al. If we do go with
    inclusion of a Figure 4, you, Peter, Dian, Melissa, Steve Sherwood and
    John should decide whether you feel comfortable providing radiosonde
    data for such a Figure. I will gladly abide by your decisions. As you
    note in your email, our use of a Figure 4 would not preclude a more
    detailed and thorough comparison of simulated and observed amplification
    in some later publication.

    Once again, thanks for all your help with this project, Leo.

    With best regards,


  11. Eric Barnes said

    It’s getting real discouraging reading these emails/IPCC TAR/Wegman Report/etc… I mean where is the line for “The Team”? Mann has no scientific integrity and I wouldn’t put anything past him. But, other than him, are there really this many scientists who are this ethically unhinged?

  12. crosspatch said

    He doesn’t know I’m sending this. It isn’t me by the way – nor Tim ! Tim said it was someone who hasn’t contributed to the discussion – which does narrow the possibilities down!

    Oh, good grief. The whole thing sounds like such a petty exercise. It reminds me of middle-school children and not the stuff one would expect from adults. But the whole thing reminds me of a time when I worked with some very smart people and discovered that the petty backstabbing that went on as they each jockeyed for status was absolutely juvenile but careers were made or broken on it. It almost seems that the smarter one is academically, the more their emotional development is retarded.

  13. Mark T said

    Of course. Deep seated (or seeded?) ideological beliefs draw people in to do the work they believe in. They get degrees. They advocate. This does not mean all are this way, or even a significant portion, just that there will always be some, if not many.


  14. crosspatch said

    Mark T:

    For people of many personality types, their conclusions are an extension of themselves. To invalidate or question these conclusions results in an emotional response as if it were aimed at them personally. It is difficult for some to separate defending their conclusions from defending themselves personally. This is exacerbated when predictions are made based on that work and the predictions fail to manifest in observations. Some people can see that things aren’t exactly as they thought they were and modify their position as more information becomes available, others have a more difficult time doing that. When such a person also has control of the data that can validate or invalidate their conclusions, they come under great pressure to rationalize “adjustments” to the observations to fit the conclusions rather than adjusting the conclusion.

    I see it all the time in economic prognosticators and in other lines of work. A recent example was the change in what constitutes an economic recession. Certain economists had been attempting to create a recession for two years by talking as if there actually was one but the economy refused to oblige by meeting the definition of a recession. So a certain private group came up with an “adjusted” definition of recession and those who had been calling one ran with that definition as it validated their conclusions. But now with a change in political leadership, they want to dump that new definition and return to the old one because now the old one validates their prognosis. In both cases it was a matter of adjusting the reality to fit the message rather than adjusting the message to fit the reality. So you have one political leader “creating” a recession by changing the definition of recession, then you have the next political leader “ending” a recession by changing the definition back.

  15. RoyFOMR said

    He who pays the piper calls the tune. With so much funding up for grabs, it’s gratifying to see that Climate Science still has devotees who are prepared to put their careers on the line, rather than toe the party line.
    The focus is very much on dendro-science at the moment. I would love to believe that the putrefaction that permeates this field is a one-off and doesn’t exist elsewhere in Science.
    It is, isn’t it?

  16. Bob B said

    Is there any legal recourse for Douglas and Christy? Weren’t the team’s effort to block or delay the papers potentially affecting someone’s career and income?

  17. Jason said

    The article implies that Santer knew that using the data through 2007 or 2008 would invalidate his results.

    Another interesting comment here is that Santer does “NOT” want to “show the most recent radiosonde [balloon] results” from Hadley Center and Sherwood’s IUK (i.e. withholding data that does not support his view). The reason is likely that these two datasets, extended out in time, provide even stronger evidence in favor of DCPS. The final paper cuts off these datasets in 1999.

    I suspect as much myself.

    If true, this would be proof of the “M” word (at least as defined by NSF) and, in my opinion, a MUCH more serious matter than playing politics with journals (which is almost certainly more common than we would like).

    Is the article’s claim mere speculation, or is there actual proof to this effect?

  18. Climategate has provided substantiation for the claims many, myself included, have made for years regarding a corruption of the peer-review process and of science itself.

    The sad thing is that climate science has not been able to evolve as much as it could have IF all participants had conducted themselves in an ethical and moral manner. In feeding their egos they have cheated science, man, and in reality inappropriately utilized research funding.

    One person I admire is John Christy. He honestly states that what we don’t know about the climate far exceeds what we do know. From my prospective; we could know far more if it were not for those who have corrupted and abandoned the scientific process.

    The guilty, for the most part, are intelligent and skilled. They at some point, however, quit being scientists. Man and science’s knowledge is all the poorer because of that.

  19. [...] Making the rounds of my favorite sites (see my Blog Roll) I found this entry by Jeff Id at The Air Vent. [...]

  20. Clay Barham said

    Even FOX misleads its viewers on Climate Change when they show multiple smokestacks billowing out steam and try to leave the impression it is all carbon dioxide (plant food) laden smoke. Of course, moisture is the biggest greenhouse gas of all, with clouds, rain and snow trapping heat on the earth left by the sun when it is present, a kind of end-of-the-world scenario that sure beats plant food rising above lighter air to trap heat.

  21. Micajah said

    Is there a concise way to explain how the Douglass and Christy findings “call into question the validity of climate models”?

    It would help people like me to understand why it matters that there were shenanigans connected with publication of the original paper alongside a counterargument with no chance for rebuttal. (I know it results in a superficial appearance that Douglass and Christy have had their findings “debunked” almost instantaneously after their publication, but I wonder why I should care that their results may be ignored as a result of the shenanigans.)

    I get the impression from Appendix A at The American Thinker that Douglass and Christy found a meaningful difference between what the climate models project and what is actually observed.

    In that appendix, the authors say: “We posed this question: IF the observations and the models had the same surface temperature trend, do observations and models have the same upper air temperature trends? In other words, do models and observations show the same surface to upper air relationship? The answer, as we demonstrated, was no – significantly no.”

    I would phrase it a little differently: Do observations and models show the same trend at the surface, and, if so, do they show the same trend in the upper air temperatures?

    But, finding out that the first question can be answered “yes” by averaging the model results and then finding out that the upper air model results don’t agree with observations doesn’t tell me what conclusion I ought to draw. I suspect it demonstrates something about the climate models’ ability to project results, and that it isn’t a complimentary something.

    Can you fill in the blank for me?

  22. boballab said

    If I remember right it has to do with the so called “Hotspot”. The models call for the warming to occur in the Troposphere in the tropics that would show up as a “Hotspot” on Satellite and weather balloon (radiosonde) data. What Douglas and Christy found was no Hotspot. That places doubt that the models can accurately model the changes in temperature.

  23. Lady in Red said

    Both Gavin and a commenter at RealClimate have refuted the Douglas and Christy findings, today. I understand
    neither comment.

    Could someone explain — in English — what the issues are, on both sides. Simplicity should be an aspiration.

    Do Douglas and Christy have another paper in the works, explaining problems with Santer et al?

  24. Artifex said

    Ms. Red,

    Could you possibly provide a link ? I find that generally level of cognitive dissonance over at RealClimate tends to spoil my appetite, but I will try to translate if you provide a link.

    I can give you the “simple version of Douglas and Christy”:

    “We have long suspected that entrenched warming interests are colluding and behaving unethically in acting to delay and distort scientific finding contrary to their position. Now that their personal emails are available, it looks like we were right on target.” Note for certain warmers who are a few neurons short of synergy … This is me paraphrasing and not a real quote.

    Now quickly taking off my propeller beanie and placing my swami turban on my head, lets make a few quick (and honestly blind) guesses as to the refutation:

    1. “Nuhhhhh Uhhhhhh”
    2. The paper was poor, so any malfeasance on the part of the team was justified !
    3. It doesn’t matter that dishonesty was involved because it was published anyway !
    4. This argument wasn’t published in a technical journal of our choosing (which of course we have control over) so the argument does not exist !
    5. Even if the folks mentioned were unethical, there are literally thousands of other scientists with the same view point so it doesn’t matter
    6. There are small grammatical errors within the document so it’s arguments are meaningless.
    7. It was directly funded by the oil companies so you couldn’t trust it anyway
    8. This complaint to American Thinker was actually ghostwritten written by someone else and we think Dick Cheney is involved !
    9. Well the other side does it too !
    10. These are not the emails you are looking for. Go about your business !

    My guess is that my translation will involve one of the above.

  25. Jason said


    First I’ll answer your questions directly. Then I’ll include a longer answer for myself and for future readers:

    1. The argument is whether or not the models accurately model upper tropical tropospheric temperatures.

    2. If the models do not model this accurately then there two significant consequences:

    2A. The IPCC has used the supposed agreement between the models and tropospheric temperature as the basis for attributing climate change to anthropogenic emissions and not “internal variability” (AKA natural changes). If the models are wrong, then this attribution must be called into question.

    2B. If the models are wrong on this particular point, it implies that climate feedback is much less positive that the models say it is. That would imply that predictions of global warming have substantially exaggerated the problem.

    Let me try to explain it in terms that don’t assume anything:

    1. As you probably know, climate models attribute most warming to the increased buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases are relatively transparent to the radiation coming from the sun to earth, but relatively opaque to longer wave infrared radiation that is emitted by the earth into space. As the concentration of greenhouse gases increases, the earth is expected to become warmer. Even amongst skeptics, this basic principle is generally accepted.

    2. Most of the warming predicted by climate models does NOT come directly from the greenhouse gases you usually hear about (CO2, Methane, etc.). According to the models, as greenhouse gases warm the earth increased amounts of water vapor will enter the atmosphere. Water vapor is also a greenhouse gas, and a very effective one. This will create a positive feedback. As increased anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations warm the earth, water vapor will amplify that feedback by a factor of 2 to 4.

    3. According to the models, this feedback will be most observable in the warming of the upper tropical troposphere. Chapter 9 of the IPCC AR4 WG1 has a number of colorful graphs illustrating this warming. Steve McIntyre has labeled this warming The Big Red Dog. Chapter 9 includes a discussion of “Optimal Fingerprinting” and concludes given the broad agreement between climate models predictions, and actual observations, observed climate changes can be uniquely attributed to anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases:

    Many observed changes in surface and free atmospheric temperature, ocean temperature and sea ice extent, and some large-scale changes in the atmospheric circulation over the 20th century are distinct from internal variability and consistent with the expected response to anthropogenic forcing.

    4. Douglass et al wrote a paper in which they concluded that observations of temperature in the upper tropical troposphere are not consistent with the predictions of global climate models.

    5. Santer et al wrote a paper saying that Douglass was wrong. They genuinely believe that the Douglass paper was spectacularly flawed. IMNSHO many of their criticisms have merit. But they did something very curious in their analysis: they ignored all data collected after 1999. Most of the model they used were published after 1999. Validating models by comparing their predictions to data collected before the models were published is unsatisfying, to say the least.

    6. Steve McIntyre demonstrated that, using the exact same methodology and data as Santer but extending their results to 2008 [to the best of his ability in the absence of any cooperation on the part of Santer], the models are not consistent with observed tropical tropospheric temperatures.

    If Steve’s analysis holds up, Santer et al (that including Phil Jones, Gavin Schmidt, Tom Wigley and many other friends) may indeed be hoist by their own petard, having defined and validated a methodology which in turn invalidates their own climate modeling efforts; those efforts being the very basis on which the IPCC attributes climate change to anthropogenic emissions.

  26. Brian B said

    Excellent summary Jason.

  27. Jeff Id said

    #25, Yup.

  28. bob said

    Jason #25.
    Thanks for the review and observations. As I remember, the first gripe the team had about the Douglas paper was that they had used an inappropriate statistical method to get their confidence intervals. I don’t remember how this argument came out. Can you expand on this?


    Jeff: Thanks for the link. Without your mention I would have missed the article.

  29. Lady in Red said

    Artifax…..This is RC Gavin’s reponse to a comment from Commenter #25, requesting an opinion on the American Thinker article:

    [Response: DCPS contains a statistical test that is absolutely and fundamentally in error. It is the equivalent of comparing the uncertainty in the average of a finite number of die throws (3.5 +/- some small number) with the range of valid throws of a die (1-6). Their test (as shown in Fig. 5b in Santer et al) would reject perfectly valid realisations more than 60% of the time, when the claimed rejection rate is 5%. That Douglass and Christy still fail to acknowledge this mistake is very telling. The original RC piece is here (and follow-ups here and here). These were not 'unsigned', they were group pieces implying input and support from the whole RC team. There is no 'conspiracy' when multiple authors with interests in the issue discuss how best to proceed in rebutting a bad paper, and indeed going forward in exploring how best to look at the problem. The Santer et al paper was significantly more than a rebuttal to DCPS, even though that is how it was originally conceived. If Douglass and Christy think that there are mistakes in Santer et al, they are at liberty to submit a comment or new paper pointing this out. To date they have not done so (AFAIK). - gavin]

    …and Commenter #54 wrote this:
    Re #25: I actually like to point out that the notion in Douglass et al of using the standard error rather than the standard deviation as the method to characterize the models is in fact “doubly wrong”: As Gavin has noted, it is wrong the first time simply because of the issue that a single realization of the climate system has internal variability in addition to a forced response and thus it is not correct to compare our actual realization of the climate to the models in a way that averages over the internal variability in the models.
    However, even if we ask the question, “Is standard error or standard deviation the correct thing to use as a reasonable estimate of the uncertainty in the forced response?” the answer … at least as implicit in the IPCC report … is that the standard deviation is more appropriate. To see this, for example, one can simply take the equilibrium climate sensitivities (ECS) of the various climate models in the IPCC AR4 report (conveniently given in Table 8.2 of the WG-1 AR4 report) and compute the standard deviation and the standard error and then compare this to the statement that the IPCC makes about the ECS (i.e., that it is likely [66-90%] chance to lie in the range 2.0 to 4.5 C).
    What one finds is that if the IPCC really believed the models could be trusted enough that their standard errors would be a measure of the uncertainty in the forced component of the response, then they had no business giving such a large range for the ECS. In fact, even using standard deviation as a measure of uncertainty, one finds that the IPCC statement on the likely range for the ECS is compatible with the standard deviation only if one assumes that the “likely” range really means there is ~90% chance of it falling in this range and not just the 66% chance.
    I know that technically speaking, the IPCC quoted its likely range of ECS based more on empirical data than on directly what the different climate models give for the ECS. Nonetheless, I think my basic point still stands, namely that if one believes that the standard error in the model predictions is a good measure of the uncertainty in the forced component of the climate response then one is placing way, way more faith in the models than the IPCC is!
    Comment by Joel Shore — 20 December 2009 @ 3:21 PM

    Thank you, Artifax…. A translation, in straightforward English should not be difficult, I would think, and would be most appreciated. “…colluding and behaving unethically..” doesn’t help me understand what is being done to numbers by the opposing parties. …Lady in Red

  30. Jeff Id said

    29, the lady,

    You are making a point indirectly, which is a good one. The Douglass and Christy post has little to do with the methods or their criticisms thereof. RC would like to find a nuance they can criticize, and they did. This is one case where they’ve done a decent job of defense but again it rings hollow to the thinking people who know what actually happened. The peer review process was manipulated to let potentially bad science rebut properly reviewed science in publication — in order to minimize any effect of the properly reviewed science.

    RC then want’s to point to a nuanced problem to rebut the claim.

  31. hswiseman said

    The error bars in Santer are so wide at certain points that the null hypothesis also verifies within the confidence interval. And this tells us exactly what?

  32. denise said

    What ever the rationalization for the deception, these men lied for the power and the money. They were no longer scientists, they were criminals. The director of the IPCC is making billions. What a shame that they placed the reputations of honest scientists on the line for their own greed and egos. It is completely selfish and self-serving. Maybe I take to simplistic view of the matter, but it has been a large loss for the scientific community and the world. Really sad.

  33. Luke Warmer said

    Jeff – off topic – but have you (or any of your readers) got or ever seen a graph of a millenial temperature reconstruction (a la Mann version 2) but converted to anomalies based on the 1961 to 1990 average?

    I know there are real problems with the whole thing but it struck me that I’d never seen one despite years of going through skeptic and non-skeptic sites.

    If you have can you paste a link for me? Thanks

  34. Luke Warmer said

    Doh – scratch that last one – waiting for coffee to kick in!

  35. Luke Warmer said

    Caffeine almost working now – I know the HS is baselined around an anomaly, but I’m looking for a red = hot and blue = cold bar chart version. Got there in the end.

  36. Good find. I don’t believe this is anything new to the game which is peer reviewed literature, I am sure there are many occasions in the past where the establishment has denied a new theory the space to breathe (continental drift being an example that springs to mind). I’m sure there are plenty of real crank papers which do not deserve to be published in addition to the ones which prompt a step-change in understanding. Maybe this shows that in order to find the really interesting science early on, you do need trawl through the bins for the interesting rejects. Hopefully, the newer scientists are still able to do this.
    Maybe the strength of the attempts to block this paper shed some light on the value of the paper. Some ‘contrary’ papers which have been published seem to be easy to discredit post publication, and doing this does seem to discredit the researcher.

  37. stan said


    Realclimate is saying that the corruption and dishonesty by the hockey team is kosher because they know they are right. It’s pretty standard contemporary left-wing politics. The ends justify the means.

  38. Jason said

    I think that there are strong criticisms to be made against the Douglass paper.

    The CRU emails reveal the team’s criticism of Douglass to be genuine and intense. It reminds me of my own reaction to Mann 08. They are certain that the paper is seriously flawed and almost certain that the authors knew it was flawed but chose to publish anyway to advance some ulterior motives.

    I’d rather not defend the decisions in the Douglass paper, which are at the very least debatable.

    It is instead sufficient to note that even if we accept all the decisions made by Santer et al 08 as proper and valid, the climate models are still falsified when presently available data is used.

  39. Steve Fitzpatrick said

    I think four things will likely happen in the next few years:

    1. Someone will publish a paper using the Santer(08) methodology applied to all the available temperature data and prove that the models substantially overstate the upper troposhere warming, and thus reduce the credible range of positive amplification by water vapor to a number well be low 2. (see for example Chad’s work using Santer’s methodology at Trees for the Forrest)

    2. Reduction in the credible range of moisture amplification will be recognized as supporting the conclusions of Klotzbach et al (2009): much of the ground level warming is caused by changes in the depth of the non-turbulent surface air layer, rather than caused by moisture amplified radiative forcing.

    3. The consensus view of likely climate sensitivity will gradually decline until it is near or a little below the lower end of the current IPCC range (1.5C or a little lower per doubling of CO2).

    4. Those involved in the corruption of the peer review process will suffer consequences for their obviously unethical actions WRT Douglass et al. Professional misconduct is not quickly forgotten nor easily excused, even if it is the misconduct of Team members.

  40. Jeff Id said


    I hope your prediction comes true. It seems a reasonable outcome but it would create a lot of difficulty for the political disaster branches of global warming science. Perhaps there will be a stronger shift to acidification disasters since drought and hurricanes are difficult to conjure from 1.5C.

  41. Artifex said

    Ms Red,

    First, you may not be aware that you are asking two very, very different questions. We can put things in generality (i.e. plain english) or we can do the math. If you want to understand what they are doing in detail (without my brilliant and colorful commentary), sadly you need to work some equations. Unfortunately, I just don’t see anyway around this. We use math because it is concise and exact. Translations into plain english lose much of the concise nature and exactitude. I will give my best effort with the rhetoric

    Let’s look at your first section by Gavin:

    Response: DCPS contains a statistical test that is absolutely and fundamentally in error. It is the equivalent of comparing the uncertainty in the average of a finite number of die throws (3.5 +/- some small number) with the range of valid throws of a die (1-6). Their test (as shown in Fig. 5b in Santer et al) would reject perfectly valid realizations more than 60% of the time, when the claimed rejection rate is 5%. That Douglass and Christy still fail to acknowledge this mistake is very telling. The original RC piece is here (and follow-ups here and here). These were not ‘unsigned’, they were group pieces implying input and support from the whole RC team. There is no ‘conspiracy’ when multiple authors with interests in the issue discuss how best to proceed in rebutting a bad paper, and indeed going forward in exploring how best to look at the problem. The Santer et al paper was significantly more than a rebuttal to DCPS, even though that is how it was originally conceived. If Douglass and Christy think that there are mistakes in Santer et al, they are at liberty to submit a comment or new paper pointing this out. To date they have not done so (AFAIK). – gavin]

    Here is my translation:

    “We think the statistical tests used by Douglass and Christy suck. We think they suck because they over-reject perfectly valid cases. We can show this. That they have not acknowledged our superior wisdom shows that they suck. They wouldn’t suck as much if they actually admitted that we were right. If they think we are wrong, they can publish. They haven’t published so they are real losers.”

    Now my take on this: If you just read the meaningful part (the first two sentences) , there is some useful information in here. Gavin is claiming that Douglas and Christy over reject (i.e. throw away things that should be valid). This is nicely mathematical and easily subject to verification. Honestly, that argument has some real teeth and should be examined in greater detail which is no doubt why they wrote the paper. He then quickly drifts into RC spin and out of the valid results.

    Lets also examine some of the non-mathematical rhetoric shall we ?

    There is no ‘conspiracy’ when multiple authors with interests in the issue discuss how best to proceed in rebutting a bad paper, and indeed going forward in exploring how best to look at the problem

    So here, Gavin attempts to make the point that it can’t be “conspiracy”, because it was a uniform action and all of the actors are known. Delaying papers you don’t like and gaming the peer review process to make sure you are set up to field a paper you don’t like is somehow not “conspiracy” because we knew who is involved ?

    Here is another one:

    If Douglass and Christy think that there are mistakes in Santer et al, they are at liberty to submit a comment or new paper pointing this out. To date they have not done so (AFAIK)

    There is a certain chutzpah in working with a group that is holding up papers behind the scenes and then claiming the other side must not have a case because they haven’t presented anything yet. In the American Thinker article didn’t they claim they have been waiting to get this out 11 months ? I tend to think that this sort of thing is utterly unethical, but I admit I am not in the climate community and have a different set of standards than does Gavin.

    Lastly, lets look at another RC tactic. The claim that this error “refutes” Douglass and Christy. In my opinion, the over-reject argument is a good one and needs to be addressed, however to “refute” is going to take a lot more firepower. They definitely started down the right path with Santer et al (i.e. show an alternate method that is “more correct”), but then somehow they decided not to use up to the date data. Hmmmm, I wonder what is shown when up to date data is used ? How refuted is Douglass and Christy then ?

    By using their own logic, if for instance an attack on Scafetta is made by an author who shall remain nameless and the author of the attack utterly botches a simple analysis with a basic wavelet transform then I should then claim that all arguments in addition to the transform stupidity made are utterly worthless ? Somehow, I think this logic fails utterly. The points should be independently examined.

    Final translation: The claim of over rejection has legs, the spin doctoring about refutation less so.

    So Ms Red, this is a top level analysis of the rhetoric. If you really want the guts of the math (and not an analysis of the spin it is packaged with) , I think you have really little alternative but to start with the Santer paper. I could help at that point (and others could probably help better), but I would be doing little more than regurgitating some equations that you would then have to work through.

  42. Artifex said

    Oh, and in terms of my guesses on response. I claim victory with guess #2

    2. The paper was poor, so any malfeasance on the part of the team was justified !

    Where of course any suggestion of conspiracy would just be bizarre because we know everyone who signed off on the response. Easy solution, just redefine any problems with ethics of peer review out of existence.

  43. DeWitt Payne said

    IIRC, the consensus was that D&C’s use of standard error was incorrect as it does, in fact, lead to over rejection. At the limit of an infinite number of model runs, the standard error statistic will result in the rejection of all models when compared to actual measurements, even if they were perfect models. The thought experiment is to have the Magratheans build a lot of duplicate Earths, run them for a few hundred years and average the data. The remaining question is whether to use the standard deviation of the actual measurements or the standard deviation of the model runs as the statistical criterion. There are potential problems with both approaches.

  44. Lady in Red said


    Artifex: Thank you. Ya done good. I guess my mind kinda intuited that, certainly nothing was written
    on RC to further an understanding of climate science by the lay community. Huffing and puffing, I would surmise.
    ….Lady in Red

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