the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

RC Off the Deep End

Posted by Jeff Id on October 2, 2009

There are two responses by Gavin which were left on RC that I cannot get past.  He is stooping to making up crimes now for Steve McIntyre’s apparently pending trial.  The crime of propagating slander.  Steve McIntyre has them so wound up that they cannot make a scientific argument to discount why his tree rings are incorrect and Briffa’s are.  In the process they’ve created some of the most fantastic irony I’ve ever read in print.

From Gavin Schmidt to a single commentor True skeptic:

I’m sorry but what’s required is specific quotes, with URLs of course, to refute nonsense immediately. Replies like yours just feed nonsense claims of “snark”.

Response: Fair enough, so here goes (a couple of allied quotes as well): 1) “In my opinion, the uniformly high age of the CRU12 relative to the Schweingruber population is suggestive of selection”, 2) “It is highly possible and even probable that the CRU selection is derived from a prior selection of old trees”, 3) “I do not believe that they constitute a complete population of recent cores. As a result, I believe that the archive is suspect.”,4) (Ross McKitrick) “But it appears that they weren’t randomly selected.”, 5) (Anthony Watts) “appears to have been the result of hand selected trees”, – gavin]

From Josh V

Quotes 4) and 5) are not McIntyre’s and are not relevant to your accusations against him.

[Response: Oh sure. He’s just ‘asking questions’ – and yet the innuendo and implication was perfectly clear to his friends and to the greek chorus and no correction of McKitrick’s or Watts’ comments were made. Strange that. At absolute minimum McIntyre is complicit in propagating slander – and if that makes you feel better about this, than good for you. It doesn’t do much for me. – gavin]

How is Steve supposed to control what others say?  Sounds like Dr. Hansen requesting prison for disagreement to me.  However, you may wonder why is it so ironic.

Well ya see……..

from wiki.

In law, defamation–also called calumny, libel (for written words), slander (for spoken words), and vilification–is the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government or nation a negative image.

A negative image!  However, in paleoclimatology the sorting of data for ‘temperature signal’  – while disingenuous in my opinion is actually STANDARD PRACTICE.

Some quotes:

Esper et al 2003:
“However as we mentioned earlier on the subject of biological growth populations, this does not mean that one could not improve a chronology by reducing the number of series used if the purpose of removing samples is to enhance a desired signal. The ability to pick and choose which samples to use is an advantage unique to dendroclimatology.”

Mann 08

Reconstructions were performed based on both the ‘‘full’’ proxy data network and on a ‘‘screened’’ network (Table S1) consisting of only those proxies that pass a screening process for a local surfacetemperature signal.

The same or similar procedures are used in large numbers of hockey stick reconstructions either behind the scenes by choosing which study’s result to include or directly in the studies themselves.  Decentered PCA is in fact a method of choosing which data you want to see and that was used in Mann98.

So the possible sorting of data suggested in the quotes given  — is actually standard practice.

It get’s better though!

Right there in front of our eyes, right on the RC page, a few hundred lines above Gavin’s INSANE accusations are a bunch of graphs.  You might ask yourself how these grahs are made?  Maybe you don’t know yet.

Well here’s gavin’s dirty little secret..

The graphs that gavin promotes are made by sorting the data for curves that show what they wanted to see.


Mann 08 -- 484 of 1209 original proxies which were pre-sorted from 1357 other "more original" proxies

So here’s my question to Gavin, if the mere suggestion by people that the data was potentially sorted is harmful to peoples reputation and propagating SLANDER,,,,,,,

How do you resolve the intent to harm a persons reputation with the fact that you promote the same process?!!

He’s really lost it this time.

37 Responses to “RC Off the Deep End”

  1. None said

    There’s so many problems with what they post at RC and the fact a comment response just either disappears or is heavily butchered it sucks any desire out of me to respond there. However, notice again in that graph that they plug the instrumental record on at the end of the proxy record as if that somehow proves the proxy temperatures are “unprecedented”. Something Hansen said to congress was a “foolish thing to do” and the practice of which he was unaware. Sure. Remove the thick red line of temperature and suddenly the proxy measurements are not so unprecedented.

    It’s also infuriating the way any time a serious criticism is levelled at one study they wheel out ten others to show it doesnt matter, and if you criticise some of those, then they refer to the 10 others (including the first one which was criticised) to show again it does not matter. They have the useless borehole study which does not take into account (because it cant) groundwater problems, the discredited hockey stick etc – they are using discredited studies to back other newly discredited studies.

    Absolutely shameless. It’s like watching the pea move quickly under the cups.

  2. John said

    I think Gavin needs some largactil tea and a lie down.

    What a fool.

    I assume he was not capable of doing what McIntyre has done, or has he just moved on to more ‘robust’ evidence? (Obviously with 10 trees)

  3. joshv said

    Jeff I think you missed the good part of my comment, Gavin quoted HALF of a sentence, in support of his claim that McIntyre is accusing Briffa of intentional cherry picking.

    The half he quoted:
    “In my opinion, the uniformly high age of the CRU12 relative to the Schweingruber population is suggestive of selection” (McIntyre)

    The full sentence:
    “In my opinion, the uniformly high age of the CRU12 relative to the Schweingruber population is suggestive of selection – in this respect, perhaps and even probably by the Russians

    As we see, the rest of the sentence directly contradicts Gavin’s smear tactics – talk about cherry picking. Similarly the rest of the McIntyre quotes Gavin provided, when taken in context, contradict the claim that McIntyre is accusing Briffa of intentionally creating a biased selection.

  4. Jeff Id said

    Nice Josh.

    The half he quoted:
    “In my opinion, the uniformly high age of the CRU12 relative to the Schweingruber population is suggestive of selection” (McIntyre)

    The full sentence:
    “In my opinion, the uniformly high age of the CRU12 relative to the Schweingruber population is suggestive of selection – in this respect, perhaps and even probably by the Russians”

  5. Jeff et al,

    You might like to read this piece by GS, published in Physics World by the Institute of Physics (IOP):


  6. Antonio San said

    Great post by Luis Dias on RC:

    Luis Dias says:
    2 October 2009 at 7:59 AM
    Oh sure. He’s just ‘asking questions’ – and yet the innuendo and implication was perfectly clear to his friends and to the greek chorus and no correction of McKitrick’s or Watts’ comments were made. Strange that. At absolute minimum McIntyre is complicit in propagating slander – and if that makes you feel better about this, than good for you. It doesn’t do much for me. – gavin

    Perhaps I’ll be snipped, but I think this is important. You do realise the difference between imagination on your part and real empirically proven “slander” (didn’t you mean “libel”?)? What McIntyre says is what he says. You accuse him directly of something he did not do, and this is a fact, innuendos aside. If you want to accuse Anthony Watts, that strange newspaper and others of misrepresenting SM, be my guest, release the panters, I’ll enjoy the show personally! But if the quality and rigor of your accusations is of this quality, I do not hope for the best. You are making a disservice to this site, mr Schmidt, specially considering how much you have complained of how bad the press is to misrepresent what scientists are actually doing. In those cases you cautioned everyone against thinking that what goes into blogs and newspapers is a good objective representation of a paper or finding. I hope a less boiled blood will convince you to do the right thing.

    [Response: If there was a paper or a finding, then one would clearly prefer to discuss that. That there isn’t a paper is exactly the point. Sometimes the press does get things wrong – people are misquoted or misrepresented – and in those cases the people (especially if they have a blog) can make that misrepresentation clear. Perhaps this is all just a mistake. Maybe “suspect” means something else in Toronto than elsewhere. I’m happy to acknowledge that McIntryre now claims that he didn’t mean this at all. Great. Maybe all of his supporters can dial it all back too. – gavin]


  7. Jeff Id said

    Thanks Jonathan.

    I’ve got a quote from the briffa version as well.

    (d) We removed any series that was not positively correlated with its “local” temperature observations [taken from the nearest grid box of the HadCRUT2 temperature data set (S9)]. The series used by (S3) were already screened for positive correlations against their local annual temperatures, at the decadal time scale (Table S1). We removed series from (S1) that did not correlate positively with their local annual or summer temperatures (Table S1), or which did not extend into the period with instrumental temperature to allow a correlation to be calculated. The
    series from south-west Canada (named Athabasca) used by (S1) did not correlate positively with local temperature observations, but has been replaced by a new, better-replicated series (S10) that does correlate very highly with summer temperature (Table S1) and has also been RCS-processed to retain all time scales of variability

    The hockey sticks are all the same disingenuous advocate rubbish.

  8. PaulM said

    Jeff, Roger Pielke has gone a bit further than you, and explicitly accused Gavin of lying:

    “Gavin’s outright lie about McIntyre is an obvious attempt to distract attention from the possibility that Steve may have scored another scalp in the Hockey Stick wars. Rather than distract attention from McIntyre, Gavin’s most recent lie simply adds to the list of climate scientists behaving badly. When will these guys learn?”

  9. Jeff Id said

    That’s awesome paul.. You LIE! should have been the title.

  10. Duncan said

    Oh, cut Gavin some slack.

    He’s trying to be witty and entertaining the way Anthony Watts is, but he’s not practiced at it yet. Anthony has also posted things that were beyond his expertise in this Yamal saga, and had to backtrack when McIntyre corrected him.

    Gavin may improve to Anthony’s level some day, but it’s clear he can no longer be compared to serious scientists like McIntyre anymore.

  11. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Jeff ID at Post #7:

    Jeff, that Briffa quote from the 2006 paper is just the evidence fro which I have been contemplating searching to either confirm my suspicions about Briffa and cohorts being oblivious to proper sample selection techniques and the statistical implications or to counter my doubts. I hope that you will post this comment in your Post # 7 over at CA. It is a very cogent and clear point.

    Bender said Briffa was very smart and well informed and I agreed and added that he probably is also morally motivated, but that does not mean that he is aware of the implications of sample selection.

  12. Molon Labe said

    H&S admit that they selected live trees for longevity and sensitivity. That may have been wholly appropriate for the “corridor standardization” analysis they were performing. Steve’s only point about selection is that the H&S criteria may not be appropriate for Briffa’s RCS methodology.

    On its face I can see how long-lived trees may well have a bias toward being fast growing. Fortuitous access to limited resources, competition for sunlight, strucural resistance to heavy snow loads, etc.

  13. Tonyb said

    Joanathan Drake made a link to an article in which Gavin said;

    “All climate models are wrong, but some of them are useful” is a profound observation on modelling, but deserves further discussion.”

    That is the most fantastic piece of hubris!

    When the IPCC say climate models are wrong, and Gavin says climate models ate wrong, why don’t politicians stop trying to change the world on information that its perpetrators admit is wrong?


  14. Duncan said

    Molon Labe, #12

    Older trees may even have had a lot less CO2 available when they were younger. I wonder if root networks are as extensive among trees that grew up during a time of increasing CO2.

  15. Jeff Id said

    #11 – done

  16. FrancisT said

    Jeff @7

    If you read a little further in that link your come across:

    Processing of proxy records: smoothing and normalisation

    The 14 proxy series were each smoothed to remove variations on time scales shorter than
    20 years by the application of a Gaussian-weighted filter that reduces the amplitude of 20-year
    cycles by 50% and shorter cycles by more than this. Smoothed values were obtained up to both
    ends of each record by extending the records with the mean of the adjacent existing values.

    a) Don’t I recall some recent discussion about end point smoothing?

    and perhaps more importantly

    b) I could have sworn there was a basic rule to NOT CORRELATE SMOOTHED data because you end up correlating the smoothing not the underlying data. no?

  17. RomanM said

    #13 Tony B:

    All climate models are wrong, but some of them are useful” is a profound observation on modelling, but deserves further discussion.

    It’s not only hubris, it’s plagiarism.

    If you look at the linkk for George E. Box at you will see that the onlydifference between what George said and what Gavin said is the inclusion of the word “climate”. Was there an attribution such as “To paraphrase the words of George Box,…” Not a hope!

  18. wattsupwiththat said

    #10, Duncan

    Yep, I did get ahead of myself with the H & S data post I made. I had Jeff Id take a look at it before I posted too. I couldn’t understand why it was so flat. Part of that mistake comes from missing McIntyre’s earlier post on why corridor standardization versus RCS methods don’t yield compatible results.

    But I’m learning. Making mistakes is part of learning, if I never made a mistake I’d not learn as much.

  19. Jeff Id said

    #18, Think about what you wrote though in comparison to the team. Skeptics rejecting a math technique which supports their conclusions with a shoulder shrug, compared with known bad math supported to the ends of the earth by the climatologists.


    And the data came from a paper by the experts themselves!! Peer reviewed I might add.

    All Anthony did was report what a bunch of climatologists held out as a temperature reconstruction. And I don’t think the original result was particularly incorrect either, by the way. So please don’t over-apologize for this one. Remember, this data and result matched the tree line portion quite well. While trees are very distant cousins to thermometers, I still believe your post is much closer to reality than the Briffa version.

  20. Peredur said


    Reminds me of Karl Popper’s advice that we make our mistakes, and learn from them, as quickly as possible.

    Mistakes should be instructive. It is stunning that there is a whole industry / politics / fraud out there still being allowed to run on a set of falsified premises for as long as possible.

  21. Jeff Id said

    #20, You’re right but it really wasn’t much of a mistake.

  22. Duncan said

    Wattsupwiththat, #18

    I didn’t mean that as an indictment. I was making the same mistake, but I don’t have a blog to publish it on.

  23. Tilo Reber said


    In response to Gavin’s assertion that everyone gets all the data they need I made this comment; and I asked about the selection process by quoting Briffa’s own response to Steve. Knowing his tendency to delete stuff that embarrassed him I took a screen shot. Here it is:

    Of course he censored my post. Now look at the post above mine that he accepted.

  24. wattsupwiththat said

    Tilo, RC’s suppression of reasonable discussion has been going on for quite some time. Here’s a thread a couple of months ago where they asked readers for ideas to blog about. I made a straightforward request with no snark, no rhetoric, just a suggestion.

    Here it is awaiting moderation:

    And here is the screencap after moderation. See #11

    Gavin was moderating that day, as evidenced by inline comments nearby:

    My only crime was being me. I’ll add that in the same thread, to test the theory that Gavin was censoring me purposely, and it wasn’t machine or network induced, I posted another comment on an entirely different topic using a non de plume from the exact same ip address…and it went through just fine.

  25. Harold Vance said

    #7, can someone please tell me why treemometrists are allowed to engage in sharpshooting? I can’t believe that these guys are using only the cores that match “local” temps, which really means temps from the nearest gridcell, for which there may be no direct or real temperature measurements and even then for only a partial time segment. What a joke.

    Once the criteria are set for selecting the trees to core, that should be the end of the story. The sample ought to be fixed after the trees have been identified in situ and cored. There should be no opportunity now to discard any cards that are dealt by Mother Nature, namely the deuces. The deck has been shuffled and frozen.

    The sample is the sample. This is basic protocol. Studies that do not obey this most basic protocol are no better than horoscopes.

  26. Jeff Id said

    24, I left a single sentence comment asking if they had any specific criticism of the series chosen by SteveM or the methods he used.


    I’ve noticed that not only am I not allowed to post, there is not one single reference to tAV even by the regulars there or on Tamino. This pattern occurred right after the last discussion with Doc Steig. The whole group decided tAV doesn’t exist even though tAV stats keep growing.

  27. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Jeff ID I attempted to post the following observations at CA and it would not click through. I think that failure was a technical issue, but on second thought it is probably better posted here.

    The Briffa and Osborn paper to which Jeff ID extracted the quote of site selection by temperature response (for site and not core selection as Steve M has made clear) is linked at:

    If this paper is off topic here I can understand and will take the discussion elsewhere, but my main take away from the sensitivity testing of Steve M for Briffa is that it puts in question the selection criteria of the those doing reconstructions in a most general and far reaching sense. I suppose that we can conjecture that the authors’ comments only apply to them and only to sites and not cores. On the other hand, we have a peer review process that should winnow out any methodology that is obviously not acceptable, at any level of application, to the reviewers. Beyond that we have processes that allow replies to papers that contain obviously unacceptable methods. It is rather clear that none of these objections have been made in the peer review process and would, in my judgment, indicate a passive acceptance of the selection process as Briffa and Osborn describe in the 2006 SI to their paper.

    In addition, from the link above on page 6, a cross correlation of the sites used by Briffa and Osborn, something in the manner as suggested by Bender for the Kaufmann reconstruction, is shown. Observe the very poor correlations between most of the site pairs, reminiscent of the Kaufman reconstruction. The authors use lack of correlation as evidence of site independence and then turn around and note that the average correlation of 0.15 (which translates to an explanatory R^2 of about 0.02) shows that a signal common to all sites exists. I cannot tell from the SI, but I assume the paper is using some kind of composite of all the sites, as was used in K09, and that that rendition assumes the sites are all responding to the same signal.

    If we have very large localized differences as indicated in this Briffa study and that of K09 would not that imply that either the climates are very local and would in turn require very many sites to obtain a reasonable estimate of an average condition or that we are merely looking at a mish mash of mainly random responses.

    As a near term project I want to compare the Briffa correlations with the same correlations restricted to the instrumental period.

  28. DeWitt Payne said

    RomanM said
    October 2, 2009 at 7:27 pm,

    The concept behind Box’s statement goes back at least to Korzybski’s statement in 1931 that “The map is not the territory.” See:

  29. Paul said

    Kenneth, the sites in that study are from different areas, so a lack of correlation is to be expected.

  30. Tilo Reber said


    Thanks for the link. I badly wanted that as I decided to use Jeff’s version in a post about the selection problem and why it makes tree ring chronologies useless. Here is my post. If anyone sees where I’ve made a mistake or an incorrect assumption, please tell me. I’d like to correct it.

  31. Mark T said

    Paul said
    October 3, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Kenneth, the sites in that study are from different areas, so a lack of correlation is to be expected.

    Only if there is no global signal, which is what these reconstructions are attempting to extract, correct? You are correct that different areas should not be expected to correlate, because in fact, there is no global signal represented by the data. Thanks for pointing that out.


  32. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Kenneth, the sites in that study are from different areas, so a lack of correlation is to be expected


    Paul, the devil is in the details. What kind of correlation should we expect given a global signal. With no global signal one cannot use a composite of sites to get an average global signal and the assumptions of using that kind of reconstruction would be incorrect. Therefore, we have to have a global signal of some distinction, but how much and is it sufficient to use only 14 sites to determine that signal. Further can that signal be expected to be as variable into the distant past as it is in the selected response of current time.

    If the site proxies were giving out random signals that were not related, or related very weakly, to climate, and the sites were chosen for good current response one might expect to see what we are seeing.

    My next step is to look at the instrumental data for site cross correlations to compare with those in the reconstruction.

  33. It looks to me (eyeballing the famous ten trees) as if there is
    * moderate correlation between the five POR specimens,
    * weaker correlation between the five YAD specimens,
    * together with stronger individual YAD fluctuations,
    * even weaker correlation between the average of POR and the average of YAD,
    * the weakest correlation of all between the famous YAD061 and the other four YAD.

  34. MikeN said

    I don’t see that. The correlations look pretty good between the YADs.

  35. kuhnkat said

    Since you are still looking at Briffa’s work as temperature proxy I ask for your interpretation of this line from Briffa’s comment on SteveM’s work:

    “Whether the McIntyre version is any more robust a representation of regional tree growth in Yamal than my original, remains to be established.”

    Is this a Freudian slip??

    How can correlation with a tiny sample mean anything unless supported by a much larger sample or biology and metadata or…??


    you got a problem with MAGNITUDE!!

  36. mack520 said

    Change seems in the air. The rc comment thread is now including not only critical comments,but also rebuttals to critical comments which address the issues (sort of) raised by said critical comments. Starts around page 6. Boy is dhog pissed.

  37. MikeN said

    I suspect there is more than one moderator, and some of the moderators are letting things through more.

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