SKS Behind the Scenes – On Deaf Ears
Posted by Jeff Condon on September 16, 2012
The below discussion was passed to me by email. It is apparently from the hacked SKS background discussions. I found it revealing to see the kind of thinking which went on behind the scenes during the release of the corrected Antarctic temperature trends.
|2011-02-09 04:45:30||Antarctic Temperature Trends|
|Robert||Hey all,There’s a feud going on pertaining to this post on RC
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/02/west-antarctica-still-warming-2/comment-page-2/#comment-199872followed by these two by climate audit:http://climateaudit.org/2011/02/07/eric-steigs-duplicity/http://climateaudit.org/2011/02/08/coffin-meet-nail/I’m gonna be honest, this should be a lesson on what NOT to do as a scientist. Steig is refusing to read the criticism of his criticism and is refusing to engage the authors of the paper he is criticizing. In the “Borehole” at RC you can see some examples of comments by the others that are purely technical and include no *snark* that Steig calls snark and put in the Borehole. I know how ravenous the *auditors* can get but this type of non-response is exactly what gives skeptics momentum.
|Julan||Sigh, I do not know if i completely agree Robert. They arebaiting him though– gotta keep those acolytes foaming at the mouth. It is laughable of McIntyre to accuse Steig of duplicity Good God is Mcintyre delusional?! That title alone is reason not to engage– CA are clearly not acting in good faith.I do not blame Eric for not wanting to go to CA, it is a cesspit. Honestly it is, the mean-spiritedness, vitriol and invective of the posters there is truly something to behold. Also, keep in mind the things that McIntyre have accused mann and Schmidt of– there is good reason for mistrust and a short fuse.That said, the best place to address these technical issues is with the journal with a comments that appear side-by-side– not on blogs, especially not partisan blogs.|
|Robert||My opinion on the subject is that using grudges as a rationalization is a poor strategy. Non-engagement because in the past Mcintyre and CO have insulted Mann, Steig etc… is not exactly rising above the fray.Pettiness in response to pettiness leaves them both looking like children.No one said that he has to go to CA to engage there, but moderating out some of the comments which were not filled with snark doesn’t make it appear like Steig is ready to have a serious scientific discussion.To be clear in all this, steig is wrong. CA is right in terms of their reconstruction and their subsequent response.They included way too much snark over at CA but that doesn’t detract from them being right statistically.Personally I think that if you are curteous and deal with the guys like Ryan O and Jeff ID properly then they will respect you. I watched the initial response and I remember thinking that some of the comments steig made in response to Ryan O were snarky and belittling. I’m not shocked they fired back, not shocked at all.As scientists aren’t we supposed to take the high ground and just go where the facts lead us?|
|Julian||“As scientists aren’t we supposed to take the high ground and just go where the facts lead us?”I agree Robert. That said, one has to keep several things in mind. In the past, McIntyre et al. have done way more than insult Mann. They have also lied in the past (e.g., concerning the Yamal data). These guys ultimately have no interest in advancing the science– rather, their duty is to cast doubt, fabricate controversy and undermine the scientists’ credibility. The is likely a no win for Eric– engage them he loses, ignoring them he loses. They should both take this discussion to the journal and publish comments there, as is the professional thing to do. These juvenile food fights on blogs are nonsense.As for Eric’s tone, I agree he needs to work on that, and a lot! That said, Eric’s poor people skills do not give permission to McIntyre et al. to engage in slander in a public forum– IMHO, he erred when he wrote his blog post at RC critiquing O’Donnell et al., that was the excuse they were just waiting for. Then again, Eric has already likely had a cordial exchange and scientific discussion with the authors doing review. I would also argue that it is not clear yet that the CA crowd have their stats right. I have had run ins with Condon, and my distinct impression is that he is an ideologue and D-K victim Robert, and plays this game of claiming to be reasonable when he is in fact not. Read some of his posts on the politics and economics of cutting GHGs….The sad and unfortunate thing about this is that is has all the hallmarks of the HS controversy– a huge debacle over sophisticated statistical techniques, which ultimately do not change the primary conclusion– western Antarctica is warming. That important fact is what is at risk of being lost here…..and McIntyre et al. know that full well, and will milk this for everything it is worth…mark my words.Eric has promised a response soon…we’ll have to wait and see.|
|Robert||Having read Steig’s response I don’t really know what my opinion on the whole matter is. I think realistically both of the children need a time-out.That being said Mcintyre needs to learn to call off the attack dogs. If he wants to work on “bridging” the gap between scientists and skeptics then he has to learn to not act like a child himself. I remembered I had question on something to do with temperature data way back and I sent an email to Gavin Schmidt and one to Steve Mcintyre. I got two responses: One from Gavin with some detailed instructions and two publications to look at and one from Mc stating something like “I’m too busy for this, ask someone else”What I find interesting about that is that if I were steve Mc I would post that exchange on my blog and use it as evidence that the other side was being dismissive… really shows the hypocrisy of it all.Nevertheless I think that O’donnell and Codon and them are probably more right than Steig statistically and I’m a little shocked to learn that Steig et al. made the same principal component mistake that Mann et al 1998 did but nevertheless the statistics in all this aren’t the lesson to be learned.What should be taken from this little issue is that tone is very important. If Steig et al remained curteous (even with the attacks) then for those watching on the sidelines it would be obvious that the science is in good hands. To react somewhat snarky just brings us down to their level. Keep talking the science and stay away from personal stuff and you will win in the hearts and minds.|
[edit - my bold and ip removed]
Clearly Robert was understanding what was being said statistically but I don’t get the feeling that even Steig has figured out what was done. Aside from that, Robert is correct about what happened in the discourse. I don’t miss the meanness of tone which went on publicly during the Steig paper days. In retrospect the tone did move things forward on both sides. In the end, all of the effort still left the climate science community generally confused about the Antarctic because starting with Chladni patterns, the expectation maximization math is too fancy and prone to operator error. The ZOD and FOD of the IPCC where Steig 09 is still being cited is plenty of evidence to prove that. One of the engineering-style critiques of the Steig method presented here so often is that if there are simpler methods which do nearly the same thing, those methods are usually better at getting the job done. In this case, the job was to tell scientists what was actually measured in the Antarctic and for some reason, they still don’t know.
Oddly enough, this conversation from SKS is actually a caricature of the discussion which created the Steig Mess. Julian, who was apparently unable/unwilling to grock even the Yamal discussion at Climate Audit, refused to express an opinion on the deficiencies of the Steig Antarctic work even after our publication. When told repeatedly of the S09 statistical errors, instead of addressing the math, he redirected the conversation and referred to me in paraphrase as an incompetent ideologue using my opinions on the fake solutions to GHG presented by the IPCC as an example. As though it is my fault that biofuels and windmills don’t work! He even referred to the multiple Yamal problems as ‘lies’, all the while missing the two points by Robert that Steig09 was wrong and scientists should stay above the fray. I’m not sure he actually heard one word Robert said.
their duty is to cast doubt, fabricate controversy and undermine the scientists’ credibility.
From the various communications released by these groups, I am regularly astounded that these people think there is some kind of conspiracy or plan to undermine their message. In 4 years I have had zero communications with other people on what message to send for or against AGW! Zero. I have regularly written about the reality of AGW, as well as the fact that Mann’s hockey stick work is a false representation of autocorrelated data. A scientist with a clearer head will recognize that both situations can exist in the same universe. Every climate scientist with some objectivity who has taken a serious look at Mann’s work, knows the problems do exist and are in fact severe. Several recent papers over the past two years have been 100% directed at correcting these variance loss (non-uniform variance) problems. Still, to Julian, these issues are a fabrication by the evil skeptics who’s “duty” it is to destroy the scientists credibility.
Errors in a paper don’t destroy credibility guys, it is the denial of those errors in the face of raw facts which does.