The Hockey Stick Peer Review Gauntlet
Posted by Jeff Id on November 24, 2009
One thing I do different than other science blogs is point out some of the issues with very little political correctness. If ya’ keep it bottled up it will make your head explode. There is a subset of the emails dealing with paleo reconstructions that have very strong implications as to the quality of paleo science. A couple of reporters have taken the time now to contact me on my opinions on these emails. My opinions will come out over time but to start with I and others are very unhappy with Michael Mann’s 2008 hockey stick work which as I’ve said for over a year now is absolute rubbish that couldn’t get published in a college lab. It’s been one of the bane’s of this blogger that anyone with a technical background could possibly accept these techniques as reasonable. Links above.
Here is a reply I was working on this morning to a very simple question. How did you get into this?
I’m an Aeronautical engineer by training but work as an optical engineer. I got interested in climate science when I started wondering how bad global warming was going to be. I noticed the different temperature metrics were divergent and started wondering how come we can’t nail down temperatures better than that. After a few questions on that at RC well before the Air Vent, I started reading CA, RC and WUWT more regularly but never left comments. What really got me into blogging on climate issues was Mann08 which is yet another hockey stick. This happened a bit over a year ago so I’m not as experienced with these papers as McIntyre and some of his regulars. What was discussed on tAV and CA about Mann08 is very relevant to the climate discussion in these emails and particularly so to the Jones,”hide the decline” quote, the ousting of editors of GRL and several others.
In particular, a post this post back in October 08 contained this graph – https://noconsensus.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/before-and-after.jpg and some explanation of the angst associated with the ‘hiding of the decline’ which in any reasonable context says exactly what it means. The out of context arguments put forth by scientists have no validity and are simply hopeful remarks such that those without the will to review the detail can wash it from their happy little heads.
This remark is repeated in the computer code in about a dozen Briffa/Osborne files.
; Plots a HovMueller diagram (longitude-time) of meridionally averaged
; growing season reconstructions. Uses “corrected” MXD – but shouldn’t usually
; plot past 1960 because these will be artificially adjusted to look closer to
; the real temperatures.
I don’t know how familiar you are with temp proxies but they start like this.
– Find some physical explanation for how temperature could affect something. i.e. warm means trees grow faster of warm means nearby glacier melts more and therefore more sediment will be found or warm means more life in the sediment found. Those sorts of hypotheses which are reasonable however in all cases, other things affect the proxies i.e. tree growth can be affected by moisture, competition, nutrients and CO2. Just considering trees, (Without getting too deep) these growth affecting factors are impossibly difficult to separate. It simply cannot be done in my opinion but paleo-scientists disagree and simply choose certain types of trees which are declared ‘temperature sensitive’.
Then the only step taken to my knowledge which ‘proves’ these trees (and other proxies) are temperature trees is to check correlation.
Now correlation is a mathematical process which is very dependent on slope. Two signals with high positive slope and lots of unrelated noise give good correlation. Temperature rise has non-zero positive correlation to CO2 but also to population, the number of cars on the road, world wide fish consumption, you get the idea.
So what got me into climate science was the revelation that Mann08, used 1209 initial proxies which were originally assumed to be temperature by the authors that created the proxies.
Of these 1209 the first step in Mann08 was to correlate to CRU temps (the highest trend in the business – good for hockey stick correlation) the low correlation proxies (downslopes) are then thrown away.
Think of it like this – check for upslope since 1850 , if upslope (keep) else if no upslope (throw out).
The remaining information is scaled and averaged one series at a time to fit temperature as well as it possibly can. So is it any wonder he always get’s unprecedented results? Not to us. When they claim that so many independent studies come to the same conclusions, remember, the same data, similar methods, friends reviewing — same result.
In Mann08, some data was chopped off the ‘hide the downslope’ series mentioned above and new fake data was pasted on. This fake data which then had an upslope and high correlation was then accepted as temp and used to make several new hockey sticks.
Since I (and others) are of the strong and certain opinion that this is completely bogus science, we have been questioning peer review for a long time all the while believing what the sad answer must be. The technical detail of the emails reveals clearly that many paleoclimatologists seem to know this too. This means that the consensus of science is in some portion manufactured. At RC in particular there has been constant pressure to force skeptics through peer review only in specific journals. This has now been clearly exposed to be a controlled and disingenuous process. Mann and friends at RC have long lambasted Energy and Environment for accepting MM’s debunking of the hockey stick – now it seems that the GRL is the journal with no credibility.
I’m therefore certain in my opinion that the dishonesty amongst not only Mann but the editors, reviewers and coauthors is far worse than we see in these emails (unless you interpret them in the worst possible way). The boys were very cautious, especially in the later emails in my opinion. These emails just scratch the surface. It’s a strong opinion but it is my own.
It should prompt independent or internal reviews across all the major journals but the media will have to do a lot more raising of consciousness to get it done. While the scientists speak of reason and context in a transparent attempt to obfuscate the truth, this goes far deeper than even these emails and files show.