How to Read RC
Posted by Jeff Id on October 1, 2009
Gavin apparently put up a response to Steve McIntyre now as well. I almost never check over at Real Climate but always know what’s happening from other peoples comments. Their post is very silly from a scientific perspective but will read well for their attack dogs. I’m becoming pretty familiar with these reconstructions and methods for an aeronautical engineer and I’m not really interested in defending Steve McIntyre but ya know, sometimes it needs to be said.
So for those who don’t have a year of working code on paleo papers under your belt, this is how the RC post reads to me:
Interesting news this weekend. Apparently everything we’ve done in our entire careers is a “MASSIVE lie” (sic) because all of radiative physics, climate history, the instrumental record, modeling and satellite observations turn out to be based on 12 trees in an obscure part of Siberia. Who knew?
Step 1 – find the most extreme and uninformed conclusions.
More seriously, many of you will have noticed yet more blogarrhea about tree rings this week. The target de jour is a particular compilation of trees (called a chronology in dendro-climatology) that was first put together by two Russians, Hantemirov and Shiyatov, in the late 1990s (and published in 2002)
Step 2 – Shift suddenly to serious sounding discussion with no real substance.
So along comes Steve McIntyre, self-styled slayer of hockey sticks, who declares without any evidence whatsoever that Briffa didn’t just reprocess the data from the Russians, but instead supposedly picked through it to give him the signal he wanted. These allegations have been made without any evidence whatsoever.
Step 3 – Make straw man accusation. Steve never said this IS what happened, and it is actually irrelevant to his post.
McIntyre has based his ‘critique’ on a test conducted by randomly adding in one set of data from another location in Yamal that he found on the internet.
Step 4 – Discredit work by making it seem un-thorough. As though the IRTDB is an improper source for tree ring data, and somehow Steve McIntyre didn’t understand exactly which dataset he used. This was a well understood set of tree rings chosen because they are considered thermometer trees in publication and are actually at the exact same Yamal sight. I found the internet comment particularly amusing considering that the data Steve used was posted by climatologists on the internet and we’re reading the refutation by climatologists on the internet – tongue in cheek disparaging the internet. Irony abounds at RC.
Recent quote from Keith briffa – However, there is clearly a latent and deeply felt wish in some sectors for the whole problem of global warming to be reduced to a statistical quirk or a mistake. This led to some truly death-defying leaping to conclusions when this issue hit the blogosphere.
Step 5 – Shift back to ridiculous extreme statements, implying that Steve McIntyre somehow supports this rubbish.
The timeline for these mini-blogstorms is always similar. An unverified accusation of malfeasance is made based on nothing, and it is instantly ‘telegraphed’ across the denial-o-sphere while being embellished along the way to apply to anything ‘hockey-stick’ shaped and any and all scientists, even those not even tangentially related.
Step 6 – Declare victory by using denialist ad hom’s, and declare the whole thing meaningless. BTW: I verified the work myself boys — DID YOU?!
Step 7 – This is the section which prompted me to post. Present an overwhelming pile of evidence that others have concluded hockey stick temp curves using non-Yamal data. Something SteveMcIntyre describes quite explicitly in his post was exactly which papers were affected and which were not. I’ll show the graphs below and tell you what I see from my year of studying the features of these papers.
The famous original hockey stick (redux), created using decentered PCA and known incorrect methods on very questionable data – Not Yamal data. This has been repeatedly proven incorrect and should be ignored.
Borehole reconstructions, the worst kind of proxy. Completely useless for temperature reconstructions due to water flow through the boreholes.
CO2 concentrations, plotted on a highly shifted scale – a moot point. However I note, no attempt is made in Yamal or anywhere else to correct (reduce) tree growth measurements for increase of CO2 availability.
Arctic temperature reconstruction – no Yamal. Note that without Yamal the blue line becomes warmer in history than in recent times. Also note the HadCRUT curve is used. It’s no coincidence that this dataset with the highest surface temperature trend (bright red) and is clipped at around 2000 to make sure that we don’t see the downward dip in temperatures. Also note that the authors of the dataset source will not release source data or methods for their massive corrections to the temperature record.
This is being presneted here with dishonest intent in my opinion to make the temperature graph appear stronger than it is. – There is no shame in advocacy, just admit you’re doing it.
From Mann08, a graph of northern hemisphere temperatures (again with Hadcrut overlayed obsuring the non-unprecedented endpoints). This hockey stick is created by sorting a thousand series for those which match temperature best and throwing away 60 percent of the data. Highly disingenuous in my opinion.
You get the point. More hockey sticks don’t make the story better.
Steve McIntyre keeps insisting that he should be treated like a professional. But how professional is it to continue to slander scientists with vague insinuations and spin made-up tales of perfidy out of the whole cloth instead of submitting his work for peer-review? He continues to take absolutely no responsibility for the ridiculous fantasies and exaggerations that his supporters broadcast, apparently being happy to bask in their acclaim rather than correct any of the misrepresentations he has engendered.
Now of course this was one of the dumbest comments we’ve read in a while. Basking in the comments of acclaim?! Steve has no control over what people write, he can only snip them but to gavin and the rest — HAVE YOU READ YOUR OWN RC THREADS — EVER!!!
Anyway, this RC post has no real content whatsoever. I mean there’s no criticism of the trees used to replace the Yamal set, there’s no claim of other better data, there’s only false accusations, straw man arguments and presentations of one bad hockey stick result after another.
Me thinks, Steve may have struck a nerve.