the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Wrong is Wrong – A reply to the Real Noise at Real Climate

Posted by Jeff Id on February 7, 2011

UPDATE: This was left in the comment thread at WUWT

GeorgeGr says:
February 7, 2011 at 2:48 pm

The html tags did not work. Here is the post from Realclimate that I was trying to cite:
RE: Vernon at 42 says:

““Why are responses from one of the co-authors not being posted? That seems counter productive.”

Two of the authors RyanO and JeffID are posting at and

Hey Eric – why don’t you go and debate this at At least then we will all know the comments are not being censored.[edit for insulting remarks].

[Response:Know what? I have a day job. And those guys know perfectly well I do not read those sites without a good reason to, and telling me I have ‘explaining to do’ doesn’t rise to that level. If they have scientific points to make, they should make them here.–eric]

To which I reply, I tried several times. Your group simply snipped me – do you have any idea how much less time I have in a day than you guys – for anything including friggin climate science!! It ain’t a close call and neither is the paper. Go back and read the comments/paper carefully, with an open mind you might actually learn something. My points [now in the scrap yard] were completely correct. I also warned that I had had enough of the games, looks like Ryan really had enough.
You did it to yourselves.

I knew this was coming and based on Ryan’s personality that it would be a bit of a rocket.  Actually that knowledge helped me not blog on the RC post.  Steig hasn’t figured out several issues with our work or the fact that his result near Byrd was essentially random.  The post below is long and fun, but more importantly accurate, and contains what should be a nice little surprise for readers.  I’m still ticked that even my small critique wasn’t allowed at RC.   The scientists of RC are unqualified to judge what I write,  the censorship is nonsense and they should read my comments as carefully as anything from their peers.  What happens when you realize that you understand better than the alleged professionals?   —  you get bored — maybe you even quit blogging!

Anyway, Ryan ODonnell is a little tired of it as well and has just added another 14 pages to the unbelievable 88 page review.  Read on and you’ll see what I mean.- Jeff

Steve McIntyre has a duplicate of this at his site.


This post is now updated to remove some of the accusatory language toward Eric Steig per Ryan’s request.

ERIC STEIG’s Critique- By Ryan ODonnell

Some of you may have noticed that Eric Steig has a new post on our paper at RealClimate.  In the past when I have wished to challenge Eric on something, I generally have responded at RealClimate.  In this case, a more detailed response is required, and a simple post at RC would be insufficient.  Based on the content, it would not have made it past moderation anyway.

Lest the following be entirely one-sided, I should note that most of my experiences with Eric in the past have been positive.  He was professional and helpful when I was asking questions about how exactly his reconstruction was performed and how his verification statistics were obtained.  My communication with him following acceptance of our paper was likewise friendly.  While some of the public comments he has made about our paper have fallen far short of being glowing recommendations, Eric has every right to argue his point of view and I do not begrudge his doing so.  I should also note that over the past week I was contacted by an editor from National Geographic, who mentioned in passing that he was referred to me by Eric.  This was quite gracious of Eric, and I honestly appreciated the gesture.

However, once Eric puts on his RealClimate hat, his demeanor is something else entirely.  Again, he has every right to blog about why he feels our paper is something other than how we have characterized it (just as we have every right to disagree).  However, what he does not have the right to do is to defend his point of view by [snip] misrepresenting facts.

In other words, in his latest post, Eric crossed the line.

Let us examine how (with the best, of course, saved for last).


The first salient point is that Eric still doesn’t get it.  The whole purpose of our paper was to demonstrate that if you properly use the data that S09 used, then the answer changes in a significant fashion.  This is different than claiming that this particular method (whereby satellite data and ground station data are used together in RegEM) provides a more accurate representation of the [unknown] truth than other methods.  We have not (and will not) make such a claim.  The only claim we make is – given the data and regression method used by S09 – that the answer is different when the method by which the data are combined is properly employed.  Period.

The question about whether the proper use of the AVHRR and station data sets yield an accurate representation of the temperature history of Antarctica is an entirely separate topic.  To be sure, it is an important one, and it is a legitimate course of scientific inquiry for Eric to argue that our West Antarctic results are incorrect based on independent analyses.  What is entirely, wholly, and completely not legitimate is to use those same arguments to defend the method of his paper, as the former makes no statement on the latter.

Unfortunately, Eric does not seem to understand.  He wishes to continue comparing our results to other methods and data sets (such as NECP, ERA-40, Monaghan’s kriging method, and boreholes).  We did not use those sets or methods, and we make no comment on whether analyses conducted using those sets and methods are more likely to give better results.  Yet Eric insists on using such comparisons to cast doubt on our methodological criticisms of the S09 method.

While such comparisons are, indeed, important for determining what might be the true temperature history of Antarctica, they have absolutely nothing to do with the criticisms advanced in our paper.  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.  Note how Eric has refrained from talking about those criticisms directly.  I can only assume that this is because he has little to say, as the criticisms are spot-on.

Instead, what Eric would prefer to do is look at other products and say, “See!  Our West Antarctic trends at Byrd Station are closer than O’Donnell’s!  We were right!”  While it may be a true statement that the S09 results at Byrd Station prove to be more accurate as better and better analyses are performed, if so, it was sheer luck (as I will demonstrate, yet again).  The S09 analysis does not have the necessary geographic resolution nor the proper calibration method to independently demonstrate this accuracy.

I could write a chapter in the Farmer’s Almanac explaining how the global temperature will drop by 0.5 degrees by 2020 and base my analysis on the alignment of the planets and the decline in popularity of the name “Al”.  If the global temperature drops by 0.5 degrees by 2020, does that validate my method – and, by extension, invalidate the criticisms against my method?  Eric, apparently, would like to think so.

If he wishes to argue that our results are incorrect, that’s fine.  To be quite honest, I would hope that he would do exactly that if he has independent evidence to support his views (and he does, indeed, have some).  But if he wishes to defend his method, then it is time for him to begin advancing mathematically correct arguments why his method was better (or why our criticisms were not accurate).  Otherwise, it is time for Eric to stop playing the carnival prognosticator’s game of using the end result to imply that an inappropriate use of information was somehow “right” because – by chance – the answer was near to the mark.


The second salient point relates to the evidence Eric presents that our reconstruction is less accurate.  When it comes to differences between the reconstruction and ground data, Eric focuses primarily on Byrd station.  While his discussion seems reasonable at first glance, it is quite misleading.  Let us examine Eric’s comments on Byrd in detail.

Eric first presents a plot where he displays a trendline of 0.38 +/- 0.2 Deg C / decade (Raw data) for 1957 – 2006.  He claims that this is the ground data (in annual anomalies) for Byrd station.  While there is not much untrue about this statement, there is certainly a [material] [snip] omission.  To see this [material omission], we only need look at the raw data from Byrd over this period:

Pay close attention to the post-2000 timeframe.  Notice how the winter months are absent?  Now what do we suppose might happen if we fit a trend line to this data?  One might go so far as to say that the conclusion is foregone.

So . . . would Eric Steig really do this?  [snip]

Trend check on the above plot:  0.38 Deg C / decade.


By the way, the trend uncertainty when the trend is calculated this way is +/- 0.32, and, if one corrects for the serial correlation in the residuals, it jumps to +/- 0.86.  But since neither of those tell the right story, I suppose the best option is to simply copy over the +/- 0.2 from the Monaghan reconstruction trend, or the uncertainty from the properly calculated trend.

When calculated properly, the 50-year Byrd trend is 0.25 +/- 0.2 (corrected for serial correlation).  This is still considerably higher than the Byrd location in our reconstruction, and is very close to the trend in the S09 reconstruction.  However, we’ve yet to address the fact that the pre-1980 data comes from an entirely different sensor than the post-1980 data.

Eric notes this fact, and says:

Note that caution is in order in simply splicing these together, because sensor calibration issues could means that the 1°C difference is an overestimate (or an underestimate).

He then proceeds to splice them together anyway.  His justification is that there is about a 1oC difference in the raw temperatures, and then goes on to state that there is independent evidence from a talk given at the AGU conference about a borehole measurement from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide.  This would be quite interesting, except that the first half of the statement is completely untrue.

If you look at the raw temperatures (which was how he computed his trend, so one might assume that he would compare raw temperatures here as well), the manned Byrd station shows a mean of -27.249 Deg C.  The AWS station shows a mean of -27.149 . . . or a 0.1Deg C difference.  Perhaps he missed a decimal point.

However, since computing the trend using the raw data is unacceptable due to an uneven distribution of months for which data is present, computing the difference in temperature using the raw data is likewise unacceptable.  The difference in temperature should be computed using anomalies to remove the annual cycle.  If the calculation is done this (the proper) way, the manned Byrd station shows an average anomaly of -0.28 Deg C and the AWS station shows an average of 0.27 Deg C.  This yields a difference of 0.55 Deg C . . . which is still not 1 Deg C.

Maybe he’s rounding up?

Seriously, Eric . . . are we playing horseshoes?

Of course, of this 0.55 Deg C difference, fully one-third is due to a single year (1980), which occurred 30 years ago:

Without 1980 – which occurs at the very beginning of the AWS record – the difference between the manned station anomalies and the AWS anomalies is 0.37 Deg C.

Furthermore, even if there were a 1 degree difference in the manned station and AWS values, this still doesn’t tell the story Eric wants it to.

The original Byrd station was located at 119 deg 24’ 14” W.  The AWS station is located at 119 deg 32’ W.  Seems like almost the same spot, right?  The difference is only about 2.5 km.  This is the same distance as that between McMurdo (elev. 32m) and Scott Base (elev. 20m).  So if one can willy-nilly splice the Byrd station together, one would expect that the same could be done for McMurdo and Scott Base.  So let’s look at the mean temperatures and trends for those two stations (both of which have nearly complete records).

McMurdo:  -16.899 Deg. C (mean)

Scott Base:  -19.850 Deg. C (mean)

That’s a 3 degree difference for stations at a similar elevation and a linear separation of 2.5 km . . . just like Byrd manned and Byrd AWS.

So what would the trend be if we spliced the first half of Scott Base with the second half of McMurdo?

1.05 +/- 0.19 Deg C / decade.

OMG . . . it is SO much worse than we thought!

Microclimate matters.  Sensor differences matter.  The fact that AWS stations are likely to show a warming bias compared to manned stations (as the distance between the sensor and the snow surface tends to decrease over time, and Antarctica shows a strong temperature gradient between the nominal 3m sensor height and the snow surface) matters.  All of these are ignored by Eric, and he should know better.

Eric goes on to state that this meant we somehow used less available station data than he did:

On top of that, O’Donnell et al. do not appear to have used all of the information available from the weather stations. Byrd is actually composed of two different records, the occupied Byrd Station, which stops in 1980, and the Byrd AWS station which has episodically recorded temperatures at Byrd since then. O’Donnell et al. treat these as two independent data sets, and because their calculations (like ours) remove the mean of each record, O’Donnell et al. have removed information that might be rather important. namely, that the average temperatures in the AWS record (post 1980) are warmer — by about 1 Deg C — than the pre-1980 manned weather station record.

In reality, the situation is quite the opposite of what Eric implies.  We have no a priori knowledge on how the two Byrd stations should be combined.  We used the relationships between the two Byrd stations and the remainder of the Antarctic stations (with Scott Base and McMurdo – which show strong trends of 0.21 and 0.25 Deg C / decade – dominating the regression coefficients) to determine how far the two stations should be offset.  By simply combining the two stations without considering how they relate to any other stations, it was Eric who threw this information away.

With this being said, combining the two station records without regard to how they relate to other stations does change our results.  So if Eric could somehow justify doing so, our West Antarctic trend would increase from 0.10 Deg C / decade to 0.16 Deg C / decade, and the area of statistically significant trends would grow to cover the WAIS divide, yielding statistically significant warming over 56% (instead of 33%) of West Antarctica.  However, to do so, Eric must justify why it is okay to allow RegEM to determine offsets for every other infilled point in Antarctica except Byrd, and furthermore must propose and justify a specific value for the offset.  If RegEM cannot properly combine the Byrd stations via infilling missing values, then what confidence can we have that it can properly infill anything else?  And if we have no confidence in RegEM’s ability to infill, then the entire S09 reconstruction – and, by extension, ours – are nothing more than mathematical artifacts.

However, to guard against this possibility (unlike S09), we used an alternative method to determine offsets as a check against RegEM (credit Jeff Id for this idea and the implementation).  Rather than doing any infilling, we determined how far to offset non-overlapping stations by comparing mean temperatures between stations that were physically close, and using these relationships to provide the offsets.  This method yielded patterns of temperature change that were nearly identical to the RegEM-infilled reconstructions, with a resulting West Antarctic trend of 0.12 Deg C / decade.

Lastly, Eric implies that his use of Byrd as a single station somehow makes his method more accurate.  This is hardly true.  Whether you use Byrd as a single station or two separate stations, the S09 answer changes by a mere 0.01 Deg C / decade in West Antarctica and 0.005 Deg C / decade at the Byrd location.  The characteristic of being entirely impervious to changes in the “most critical” weather station data is a rather odd result for a method that is supposed to better utilize the station data.

Interestingly, if you pre-combine the Byrd data like Eric does and perform the reconstruction exactly like S09, the resulting infilled ground station trend at Byrd is 0.13 Deg C / Decade (fairly close to our gridded result).  The S09 gridded result, however, is 0.25 Deg C / Decade – or almost double the ground station trend from their own RegEM infilling, and closer to our gridded result than to theirs.

(Weird.  Didn’t Eric say their reconstruction better captures the ground station data from Byrd?  Hm.)

Stranger yet, if you add a 0.1 Deg C / decade trend to the Peninsula stations, the S09 West Antarctic trend increases from 0.20 to 0.25 – with most of the increase occurring 2,500 km away from the Peninsula on the Ross Ice Shelf – the East Antarctic trend increases from 0.10 to 0.13 . . . but the Peninsula trend only increases from 0.13 to 0.15.  So changes in trends at the Peninsula stations result in bigger changes in West and East Antarctica than in the Peninsula!  Nor is this an artifact of retaining the satellite data (sorry, Eric, but I’m going to nip that potential arm-flailing argument in the bud).  Using the modeled PCs instead of the raw PCs in the satellite era, the West trend goes from 0.16 to 0.22, East goes from 0.08 to 0.12, and the Peninsula only goes from 0.11 to 0.14.

(Weird.  Didn’t Eric say their reconstruction better captures the ground station data from Byrd?  Hm.)

And (nope, still not done with this game) EVEN STRANGER YET, if you add a whopping 0.5 Deg C / decade trend to Byrd (or five times what we added to the Peninsula), the S09 West Antarctic trend changes by . . . well . . . a mere 0.02 Deg C / decade, and the gridded trend at Byrd station rises massively from 0.25 to . . . well . . . 0.29.  The Byrd station trend used to produce this result, however, clocks in at a rather respectable 0.75 Deg C / decade.  Again, this is not an artifact of retaining the satellite data.  If you use the modeled PCs, the West trend increases by 0.03 and the gridded trend at Byrd increases to only 0.26.

(Weird.  Didn’t Eric say their reconstruction better captures the ground station data from Byrd?  Hm.)

Now, what happens to our reconstruction if you add a 0.1 Deg C / decade trend to the Peninsula stations?  Our East Antarctic trends go from 0.02 to . . . 0.02.  Our West Antarctic trends go from 0.10 to 0.16, with almost all of the increase in Ellsworth Land (adjacent to the Peninsula).  And the Peninsula trend goes from 0.35 to 0.45 . . . or the same 0.1 Deg C / decade we added to the Peninsula stations.

And what happens if you add a 0.5 Deg C / decade trend to Byrd?  Why, the West Antarctic trend increases 160% from 0.10 to 0.26 Deg C / decade, and the gridded trend at Byrd Station increases to 0.59 Deg C / decade . . . with the East Antarctic trends increasing by a mere 0.01  and the Peninsula trends increasing by 0.03.

(Weird.  Didn’t Eric say their reconstruction better captures the ground station data from Byrd?  Hm.)

***  You see, Eric, the nice thing about getting the method right is that if the data changes – or more data becomes available (like, say, a better way to offset Byrd station than using the relationships to other stations), then the answer will change in response.  So if someone uses our method with better data, they will get a better answer.  If someone uses your method with better data, well, they will get the same answer . . . or they will get garbage.  This is why I find this comment by you to be particularly ironic:  ***

At some point, yes. It’s not very inspiring work, since the answer doesn’t change [indeed; your method is peculiarly robust to changes in the data it supposedly represents], but i suppose it has to get done. I had hoped O’Donnell et al. would simply get it right, and we’d be done with the ‘debate’, but unfortunately not.—eric

(emphasis and bracketed text added by me)

Eric’s claims that his reconstruction better captures the information from the station data are wholly and demonstrably false.  With about 30 minutes of effort he could have proven this to himself . . . not only for his reconstruction, but also for ours.  This is likely to be less time than it took him to write that post.  You would think that if he felt strongly enough about something to make a public critique that he would have taken the time to verify whether any of his suppositions were correct.  This is apparently not the case.  On that note, I found this comment by Eric to be particularly infuriating:

If you can get their code to work properly, let me know. It’s not exactly user friendly, as it is all in one file, and it takes some work to separate the modules.

Here’s how you do it, Eric:

  1. Go to CRAN ( and download the latest version of R.
  2. Download our code here:
  3. Open up R.
  4. Open up our code in Notepad.
  5. Put your cursor at the very top of our code.
  6. Go all the way to the end of the code and SHIFT-CLICK.
  7. Press CTRL-C.
  8. Go to R.
  9. Press CTRL-V.
  10. Wait about 17 minutes for the reconstructions to compute.

Easy-peasy.  You didn’t even try.

I am sick of arm-waving arguments, unsubstantiated claims, and uncalled-for snark.  Did you think I wouldn’t check?  I would have thought you would have learned quite the opposite from your experience reviewing our paper.


Did I let something slip?


I mentioned at the beginning that I was planning to save the best for last.

I have known that Eric was, indeed, Reviewer A since early December.  I knew this because I asked him.  When I asked, I promised that I would keep the information in confidence, as I was merely curious if my guess that I had originally posted on tAV had been correct.

Throughout all of the questioning on Climate Audit, tAV, and Andy Revkin’s blog, I kept my mouth shut.  When Dr. Thomas Crowley became interested in this, I kept my mouth shut.  When Eric asked for a copy of our paper (which, of course, he already had) I kept my mouth shut.  I had every intention of keeping my promise . . . and were it not for Eric’s latest post on RC, I would have continued to keep my mouth shut.

However, when someone makes a suggestion during review that we take and then later attempts to use that very same suggestion to disparage our paper, my obligation to keep my mouth shut ends.

(Note to Eric:  unsubstantiated arm-waving may frustrate me, but [snip] is intolerable.)

Part of Eric’s post is spent on the choice to use individual ridge regression (iRidge) instead of TTLS for our main results.  He makes the following comment:

Second, in their main reconstruction, O’Donnell et al. choose to use a routine from Tapio Schneider’s ‘RegEM’ code known as ‘iridge’ (individual ridge regression). This implementation of RegEM has the advantage of having a built-in cross validation function, which is supposed to provide a datapoint-by-datapoint optimization of the truncation parameters used in the least-squares calibrations. Yet at least two independent groups who have tested the performance of RegEM with iridge have found that it is prone to the underestimation of trends, given sparse and noisy data (e.g. Mann et al, 2007a, Mann et al., 2007b, Smerdon and Kaplan, 2007) and this is precisely why more recent work has favored the use of TTLS, rather than iridge, as the regularization method in RegEM in such situations. It is not surprising that O’Donnell et al (2010), by using iridge, do indeed appear to have dramatically underestimated long-term trends—the Byrd comparison leaves no other possible conclusion.

The first – and by far the biggest – problem that I have with this is that our original submission relied on TTLS.  Eric questioned the choice of the truncation parameter, and we presented the work Nic and Jeff had done (using ridge regression, direct RLS with no infilling, and the nearest-station reconstructions) that all gave nearly identical results.

What was Eric’s recommendation during review?

My recommendation is that the editor insist that results showing the ‘mostly [sic] likely’  West Antarctic trends be shown in place of Figure 3.  [the ‘most likely’ results were the ridge regression results] While the written text does acknowledge that the rate of warming in West Antarctica is probably greater than shown, it is the figures that provide the main visual ‘take home message’ that most readers will come away with. I am not suggesting here that kgnd = 5 will necessarily provide the best estimate, as I had thought was implied in the earlier version of the text. Perhaps, as the authors suggest, kgnd should not be used at all, but the results from the ‘iridge’ infilling should be used instead. . . . I recognize that these results are relatively new – since they evidently result from suggestions made in my previous review [uh, no, not really, bud . . . we’d done those months previously . . . but thanks for the vanity check] – but this is not a compelling reason to leave this ‘future work’.

(emphasis and bracketed comments added by me)

And after we replaced the TTLS versions with the iRidge versions (which were virtually identical to the TTLS ones), what was Eric’s response?

The use of the ‘iridge’ procedure makes sense to me, and I suspect it really does give the best results. But O’Donnell et al. do not address the issue with this procedure raised by Mann et al., 2008, which Steig et al. cite as being the reason for using ttls in the regem algorithm. The reason given in Mann et al., is not computational efficiency — as O’Donnell et al state — but rather a bias that results when extrapolating (‘reconstruction’) rather than infilling is done. Mann et al. are very clear that better results are obtained when the data set is first reduced by taking the first M eigenvalues. O’Donnell et al. simply ignore this earlier work. At least a couple of sentences justifying that would seem appropriate.

(emphasis added by me)

So Eric recommends that we replace our TTLS results with the ridge regression ones (which required a major rewrite of both the paper and the SI) and then agrees with us that the iRidge results are likely to be better . . . and promptly attempts to turn his own recommendation against us.

There are not enough vulgar words in the English language to properly articulate my disgust [snip].

The second infuriating aspect of this comment is that he tries to again misrepresent the Mann article to support his claim when he already knew [or ought to have known] otherwise. [snip] In the response to the Third Review, I stated:

We have two topics to discuss here.  First, reducing the data set (in this case, the AVHRR data) to the first M eigenvalues is irrelevant insofar as the choice of infilling algorithm is concerned.  One could just as easily infill the missing portion of the selected PCs using ridge regression as TTLS, though some modifications would need to be made to extract modeled estimates for ridge.  Since S09 did not use modeled estimates anyway, this is certainly not a distinguishing characteristic.

The proper reference for this is Mann et al. (2007), not (2008).  This may seem trivial, but it is important to note that the procedure in the 2008 paper specifically mentions that dimensionality reduction was not performed for the predictors, and states that dimensionality reduction was performed in past studies to guard against collinearity, not – as the reviewer states – out of any claim of improved performance in the absence of collinear predictors.  Of the two algorithms – TTLS and ridge – only ridge regression incorporates an automatic check to ensure against collinearity of predictors.  TTLS relies on the operator to select an appropriate truncation parameter.  Therefore, this would suggest a reason to prefer ridge over TTLS, not the other way around, contrary to the implications of both the reviewer and Mann et al. (2008).

The second topic concerns the bias.  The bias issue (which is also mentioned in the Mann et al. 2007 JGR paper, not the 2008 PNAS paper) is attributed to a personal communication from Dr. Lee (2006) and is not elaborated beyond mentioning that it relates to the standardization method of Mann et al. (2005).  Smerdon and Kaplan (2007) showed that the standardization bias between Rutherford et al. (2005) and Mann et al. (2005) results from sensitivity due to use of precalibration data during standardization.  This is only a concern for pseudoproxy studies or test data studies, as precalibration data is not available in practice (and is certainly unavailable with respect to our reconstruction and S09).

In practice, the standardization sensitivity cannot be a reason for choosing ridge over TTLS unless one has access to the very data one is trying to reconstruct.  This is a separate issue from whether TTLS is more accurate than ridge, which is what the reviewer seems to be implying by the term “bias” – perhaps meaning that the ridge estimator is not a variance-unbiased estimator.  While true, the TTLS estimator is not variance-unbiased either, so this interpretation does not provide a reason for selecting TTLS over ridge.  It should be clear that Mann et al. (2007) was referring to the standardization bias – which, as we have pointed out, depends on precalibration data being available, and is not an indicator of which method is more accurate.

More to [what we believe to be] the reviewer’s point, though Mann et al. (2005) did show  in the Supporting Information where TTLS demonstrated improved performance compared to ridge, this was by example only, and cannot therefore be considered a general result.  By contrast, Christiansen et al. (2009) demonstrated worse performance for TTLS in pseudoproxy studies when stochasticity is considered – confirming that the Mann et al. (2005) result is unlikely to be a general one.  Indeed, our own study shows ridge to outperform TTLS (and to significantly outperform the S09 implementation of TTLS), providing additional confirmation that any general claims of increased TTLS accuracy over ridge is rather suspect.

We therefore chose to mention the only consideration that actually applies in this case, which is computational efficiency.  While the other considerations mentioned in Mann et al. (2007) are certainly interesting, discussing them is extratopical and would require much more space than a single article would allow – certainly more than a few sentences.

Note some curious changes from Eric’s review comment and his RC post.  In his review comment, he refers to Mann 2008.  I correct him, and let him know that the proper reference is Mann 2007.  He also makes no mention of Smerdon’s paper.  I do.  I also took the time to explain, in excruciating detail, that the “bias” referred to in both papers is standardization bias, not variance bias in the predicted values.

So what does Eric do?  Why, he changes the references to the ones I provided (notably, excluding the Christiansen paper) and proceeds to misrepresent them in exactly the same fashion that he tried during the review process!  [SM Update Feb 9- Steig stated by email today that he did not see the Response to Reviewer A’s Third Review; the amendment of the incorrect reference in the Third Review to the correct references provided in the Response to the Third Review was apparently a coincidence.]

And by the way, in case anyone (including Eric) is wondering if I am the one who is misrepresenting, fear not.  Nic and I contacted Jason Smerdon by email to ensure our description was accurate.

But the B.S. piles even deeper.  Eric implies that the reason the Byrd trends are lower is due to variance loss associated with iRidge.  He apparently did not bother to check that his reconstruction shows a 16.5% variance loss (on average) in the pre-satellite era when compared to ours. The reason for choosing the pre-satellite era is that the satellite era in S09 is entirely AVHRR data, and is thus not dependent on the regression method.  We also pointed this out during the review . . . specifically with respect to the Byrd station data. Variance loss due to regularization bias has absolutely NOTHING to do with the lower West Antarctic trends in our reconstruction . . . and [snip].

This knowledge, of course, does not seem to stop him from implying the opposite.

Then Eric moves on to the TTLS reconstructions from the SI, grabs the kgnd = 6 reconstruction, and says, “See?  Overfitting!” without, of course, providing any evidence that this is the case.  He goes on to surmise that the reason for the overfitting is that our cross-validation procedure selected the improper number of modes to retain – yet again without providing any evidence that this is the case (other than it better matches his reconstruction).

So if Eric is right, then using kgnd = 6 should better capture the Byrd trends than kgnd = 7, right?  Let’s see if that happens, shall we?

If we perform our same test as before (combining the two Byrd stations and adding a 0.5 Deg C trend, so an initial Byrd trend of 0.75 Deg C / decade), we get:

Infilled trend (kgnd = 6):  0.45 Deg C / decade

Infilled trend (kgnd = 7):  0.52 Deg C / decade

Weird.  It looks as if the kgnd = 7 option better captures the Byrd trend . . . didn’t Eric say the opposite?  Hm.

These translate into reconstruction trends at the Byrd location of 0.42 and 0.45 Deg C / decade, respectively (you can try other, more reasonable trends if you want . . . it doesn’t matter).  I also note that the TTLS reconstructions do a poorer job of capturing the Byrd ground station trend than the iRidge reconstructions, which is the opposite behavior suggested by Eric (and this was noted during the review process as well).

Perhaps Eric meant that we overfit the “data rich” area of the Peninsula?  Fear not, dear Reader, we also have a test for that!  Let’s add our 0.1 Deg C / decade trend to the Peninsula stations, shall we, and see what results:

Recon trend increase (kgnd = 6):  Peninsula +0.08, West +0.02, East +0.02

Recon trend increase (kgnd = 7):  Peninsula + 0.11, West +0.03, East +0.01

Weird.  It looks as if the kgnd = 7 option better captures the Peninsula trend with a similar effect on the East or West trends . . . didn’t Eric say the opposite?  Hm.

By the way, Eric also fails to note that the kgnd = 5 and 6 Peninsula trends, when compared to the corresponding station trends, are outside the 95% CIs for the stations.  I guess that’s okay, though, since the only station that really matters in all of Antarctica is Byrd (even though his own reconstruction is entirely immune to Byrd).

As far as the other misrepresentations go in his post, I’m done with the games.  These were all brought up by Eric during the review.  Rather than go into detail here, I will shortly make all of the versions of our paper, the reviews, and the responses available at


My final comment is that this is not the first time.

At the end of his post, Eric suggests that the interested Reader see his post “On Overfitting”.  I suggest the interested Reader do exactly that.  In fact, I suggest the interested Reader spend a good deal of time on the “On Overfitting” post to fully absorb what Eric was saying about PC retention.  Following this, I suggest that the interested Reader examine my posts in that thread.

Once this is completed, the interested Reader may find Review A rather . . . well . . . interesting when the Reader comes to the part where Eric talks about PC retention.

Fool me once, shame on you.  But twice isn’t going to happen, bud.

UPDATE:  This was left in the comment thread at WUWT

GeorgeGr says:

The html tags did not work. Here is the post from Realclimate that I was trying to cite:
RE: Vernon at 42 says:

““Why are responses from one of the co-authors not being posted? That seems counter productive.”

Two of the authors RyanO and JeffID are posting at and

Hey Eric – why don’t you go and debate this at At least then we will all know the comments are not being censored.[edit for insulting remarks].

[Response:Know what? I have a day job. And those guys know perfectly well I do not read those sites without a good reason to, and telling me I have ‘explaining to do’ doesn’t rise to that level. If they have scientific points to make, they should make them here.–eric]

To which I reply, I tried several times.  Your group simply snipped me – do you have any idea how much less time I have in a day than you guys – for anything including friggin climate science!!  It ain’t a close call and neither is the paper.  Go back and read the comments/paper carefully, with an open mind you might actually learn something. My points [now in the scrap yard] were completely correct.   I also warned that I had had enough of the games, looks like Ryan really had enough.
You did it to yourselves.

79 Responses to “Wrong is Wrong – A reply to the Real Noise at Real Climate”

  1. plazaeme said


  2. jstults said

    The stats are interesting (and I’m really impressed with all the different methodologies you guys tried), but what’s more interesting is the continued insistence on “big lie”-style propaganda. Why do they persist in it?

  3. Mailman said


    Did Eric confirm your suspicion that he was Reviewer A? Its not clear from the above whether he did or not or who did?



  4. Skip said

    FWIW I’m attempting to follow the instructions, and a couple of notes:

    on the ‘download our code here’ step the file containing the code isn’t identified. I’m assuming it’s RO10 Code.txt.

    the estimated runtime of 17 minutes was about an hour short on this box, which is a fairly fast box, so I’m suspecting for most users it will be well north of that.

    But it did run. I haven’t yet compared the results with the published paper, but don’t suspect they’re any different.

  5. RomanM said

    I ran the code on an older laptop with only 1GB of memory and I ran out of memory at one point requiring a cleanup of the no longer needed variables. The code in the script was great – everything was very well annotated and neatly sewed up in functions. There weren’t any problems.

    You guys did a great job with it, Ryan. Hats off to you!

  6. TomRude said

    Game, set and match!

  7. Layman Lurker said

    Ryan, thanks again for your efforts in the publication and for calmly dealing with what comes off as harassment from Steig. I don’t blame you for being pissed. Enough is enough.

    Seems funny to look back at the comments:
    To wit:

    “Back when Ryan O had written comments at RC, I said something like “I encourage you to submit this work for publication.” I’d glad to see that this work has gone through the peer review process, and I look forward to reading it.(sic)

    “Ryan, if you don’t mind sending me a preprint, and a link to your reconstructed data, I’d appreciate it. I will presumably have more to say after I get a chance to read the paper, but it’ll be a month or more as I’m simply too busy with current projects.”


  8. apl said

    I suggest that Ryan posts this in full at RC. That way they cannot claim they do not have time to browse sceptic sites

  9. Ted said

    Welcome back to the rat race.
    you guys are a searchlight on the facts and science.
    Tonight I’m opening one or two of my premium micro brewed ice cold Co2 charge beers and toasting you. We need people like you who have the width and depth to dive in and get at the truth.
    With great respect, many thanks.

  10. kim said

    Maybe they think there is no such thing as bad publicity.

  11. Layman Lurker said

    Hey Mark T, it appears you have been right all along.

  12. Laws of Nature said

    Dear Jeff,

    good to have you back, even when the reason is sad..
    Ryan’s answer rocks!!

    Cheers and keep up the good work!


  13. apl said

    Eric has already posted on RC that he will not read the article at this site, CA or WUWT because he “has a day job”.
    I suspect he will find the time pretty soon.

  14. kim said

    Yup, he’s fully occupied bringing shame to UDub.

  15. BobN said

    Just quickly looking at some of Reviewer A’s comments (stored climateaudit in link provided in Ryan’s post), it is clear that this reviewer was so intensively and intimately knowledgeable about what was done in SO9 that it had to have been Steig or one of his co-authors. While it seems that he genuinely felt that the paper made a contribution in terms of methods, it is a shame that he is playing games relative to his critiques and a true shame that the journal asked him to be a reviewer.

  16. agw_skeptic99 said

    Also posted at WUWT:

    There were comments # 63 and 64 at RC that referred to my text without quoting it. Here are the comments that were at RC. They weren’t there long, and they initially published my name and IP address, although those were quickly deleted.

    #63cagw_skeptic99 says:
    7 Feb 2011 at 7:02 PM

    [Edit. Resorting to threats of personal intimidation against scientists eh? Was only a matter of time frankly. Thanks for including your name in your email address.–Jim]

    #64 cagw_skeptic99 says:
    7 Feb 2011 at 7:33 PM

    If suggesting that you will have issues testifying under oath is a threat of personal intimidation, why don’t you have the guts to publish what I said? Your house of cards is crumbling, and I am enjoying the process. You wouldn’t have perceived the suggestion that you would need to take the fifth amendment as a threat if you and your cronies weren’t quivering in your boots while waiting for your subpoenas.


    Here is the ‘threatening’ text that they commented on, but didn’t publish, before they deleted the comments altogether:

    Eric, It seems that the authors have both scientific and ethical points that have been very well made on the referenced blog posts. I am one of many who are eagerly awaiting your response, although we have no expectation that you will actually choose to do so. Your “Team” will be changing the subject, creating straw men, ducking and weaving, and hiding behind moderation on this site.
    There is a pretty good chance that you and your Team will get invitations from the new House committees which investigate matters like this. I wonder if your moderation works in front of a CSPAN camera? I wonder if you will speak openly or take the fifth?

  17. Mark T said

    Hehe, thanks for noticing, LL. Really though, are you surprised?


  18. Mark T said

    You should file a formal complaint with JoC. They should publish an apology and admonish that jerk for his behavior… you know, Reviewer A.


  19. Mark T said

    You have to wonder, too, are these Einsteins really so brilliant they simply looked past the possibility that all this would get out?

    I would remind Ryan, btw, that a person’s character is ultimately decided by the worst he does, not the best. I would not be surprised if this is not the worst, either.


  20. stan said


    Re: the big lie

    They are all in. What else are they going to do? They put all their chips on the table a long time go. The bluff got called. They can either turn over their cards and be exposed as losers or they can keep coming up with BS reasons why they shouldn’t have to show their hand.

    Perhaps a different take using that analogy — they’ve been called, they lost. Now their only hope is to argue that two pair beats 3 of a kind, or they were playing with dueces wild, or some other BS hand waving in an effort to hold onto their chips.

    As long as they want to keep playing at the table, they gotta do something.

  21. Bill S said

    While I find this the best blog to go to when I believe my mental capacities are up to it —
    The business about spending more of your time with wife and children is something I cannot forget.
    I did no do so when I should have. I pay now daily.

  22. Anthony Watts said

    Maybe it is time for men and women of character to draft a response on this abuse to the NASA administrator, the chief of Goddard Spaceflight, and a couple of interested Congress folks.

    As Steve McIntyre recently wrote “Nothing ever changes” [with these people].

    We can be the change.

  23. Mark T said

    Yeah, but what to write? Steig is not NASA, though his association with Schmidt is certainly a link to NASA through RC… it does not make them look good.


  24. Layman Lurker said


    You’re right Mark, I’m not surprised. But it was only a hunch, and I tried to give him the benefit of a doubt not knowing for sure.

    I am surprised at the full extent of the run around on ridge regression and TTLS. Unbelievable. When I finally did read the RC post, this really set off my BS detector as Jeff, Steve, and Ryan have been around the block many times wrt variance loss in regression methods. Steig curiously referred to it as ‘underestimation of trends’ in the RC post. The reference struck me as ambiguous. Maybe I’m being cynical but I don’t think anyone at RC would want to draw attention to themselves playing the ‘variance loss’ card to argue against anything.

    are these Einsteins really so brilliant they simply looked past the possibility that all this would get out?

    This is what baffles me more than anything. I can make sense of Steig being protective of his work even as a reviewer. Such is human nature. He just didn’t have the wisdom to know when to stop. Then came the spin….the color legend tinkering….attempting to frame the discussion on OLMC10 as affirming the “findings” of S09, and so on. As if a discredited method shown to produce a reconstruction of spatial and temporal artifacts has “findings” which can be legitimately compared with anything. I did not get the sense that this spin was getting any traction in the blogsphere at all. Why keep pushing and escalating and putting so much at risk when your case has no credible foundation?

  25. Mark T said

    One word: ideology.


  26. rastech said

    Plus of course, criminals never imagine that they will ever get caught.

    Only the ‘little, insignificant people’ get caught and have to put up with a room mate called ‘bubba’ in the greybar hotel.

  27. don’t for get this classic Eric Steig moment below..

    I had asked at RealClimate why not have a blogroll link in other opinions, to Climate Audit, Peilke Jnr and Lucia’s Blackboard, as an example of goodwill

    [Response: Being listed on our blogroll does not constitute endorsement. In general, the sites we do list — whether they are run by scientists or not — tend to get the science right much of the time, and hence are consistent with our mission. Being not-listed could mean that

    a) we haven’t heard of the site,
    b) that it is uninteresting or unimportant, or
    c) that we consider it dishonest or disingenuous with respect to the science.

    Pielke Jr, Blackboard, and ClimateAudit all fall squarely into the latter category.–eric]

    Thus, that comment of mine at RC prompted Eric Steig into calling Climate Audi, Lucia and Peilke dishonest. My following 2 comments defending myself from Ray Ladbury, never appeared at RealClimate

    on the same article, eric steig made the following comment…

    eric [Response: There is, however, no evidence that ‘skeptics’ are being shut out of journals. There is indeed much evidence to the contrary. This is a canard.”

  28. TimTheToolMan said

    Lets also not lose sight of the fact that whilst this is an “attack” on Eric for his dishonest behaviour, the real winner here is science. With this explanation and these tests of the two methods, the O’Donnell paper really has been shown to be a more robust method for determining the temperature trends in Antarctica.

    Also this is a striking example of how the team continue to defend their results (to the detriment of science) in the face of a demonstrably better result that disagrees with their own.

  29. rastech said

    Bear in mind, Con Men are the sort of individuals, that decent, honest people, cheerfully introduce to their sisters,

  30. colliemum said

    Thank you, Jeff, for coming out of retirement (briefly, I hope, gor your sake), and posting your and Ryan’s reply to the gob-smacking stuff by Steig over at RC,

    I think this is going to have at least the same impact as climategate – so here you are again, Jeff, making history on your blog.

    As for Steig’s behaviour – words fail me …

  31. Jeff Id said

    It’s just a great post. I read the whole thing again this morning.

    They did it to themselves.

  32. The front page of Nature got a lot of attention in the press, about ‘global warming’

    Look at the Nature Cover at the time:

    Antartica Warming

    “A new reconstruction of Antarctic surface temperature trends for 1957–2006, reported this week by Steig et al., suggests that overall the continent is warming by about 0.1 °C per decade. The cover illustrates the geographic extent of warming, with the ‘hotspot’ peninsula and West Antarctica shown red against the white ice-covered ocean. [Cover image: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Washington/USGS]”

    Has anybody heard anything from the co0-authors?

    Eric J. Steig1, David P. Schneider2, Scott D. Rutherford3, Michael E. Mann4, Josefino C. Comiso5 & Drew T. Shindell6

  33. Breath of fresh air said

    No wonder Gavin turned down the Lisbon invite 🙂

  34. M. Simon said

    They made an “A” look like a “D” and now the padding has been exposed. I believe surgery is the correct answer. And destroying all the old pictures.

    This is of course important for those closely following the issue. But for the layman this is a bigger blow:

  35. Jon P said

    When are DC and Mashey going to look into Steig’s conduct? Should at least be a 99 page investigation of every word Steig said? YEAH RIGHT!

  36. Pandora P said

    Ryan, how confident are you that Steig was really reviewer A? Is there a possibility that you might have misunderstood each other? For example, his response that he was *a* reviewer seems significant to me. For many journals nowadays, when I act as a reviewer, I don’t know which reviewer I am, unless I make an effort to download the action letter sent to the author to find out. One interpretation of his response might be that it was the same for him and that he just did not bother to check, so he only confirms that he was *a* reviewer.

  37. boballab said

    @ 36

    Pandora you might want to look at this comment by Ryan O at Lucia’s:

    Ryan O (Comment#68428)
    February 8th, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    In that post Ryan showed a portion of an Email to Dr. Steig where he pointed out comments from Reviewer A:

    Part of the reason I believe your thanks to be sincere this is the wording introducing each of what I believe to be (and here comes the very bad form) your three reviews. There are a couple of reasons for this belief:
    1. Some of the wording from the initial review (especially concerning glaciology) is very, very similar to email communication we had prior to submitting the paper
    2. Striking similarity between the eigenvector retention comments and the “On Overfitting” post at RC
    3. The familiarity of the reviewer with the nuances of S09 was exceptional
    4. Within a day or two of our initial submission and every review response, you took the time to drop by tAV and write an encouraging comment to Jeff (the correlation here was perfect!)

    Down at the bottom of the post is Dr. Steig’s Reply:

    Monday, December 6, 2010 11:54 AM
    You are correct that I was a reviewer, but I think it would be quite inappropriate to publish these reviews, nor to mention that you know whom the reviewer was.

    Best wishes,
    Eric Steig

    Right there Dr. Steig is admitting to the comments of Reviewer A. You can read the Review comments here:

    Now when you go there you will notice that only Reviewer A made 3 reviews (just like Ryan sent in his email to Steig about being Reviewer A. Reviewer B and C only had 2 reviews and Reviewer D only had 1. Since Dr. Stieg acknowledged that he reviewed the paper 3 times, he identified himself as Reviewer A.

  38. Pandora P said

    Boballab, yes I read this — this is exactly why I am asking. from the list only point 2 seems to be very specific, and possibly the “three reviews” line. But, if you assume that Steig was a sloppy reader or in a big hurry, he could simply have thought to himself *what the hell is he talking about” and only replied as unspecifically as he could that he was “a reviewer”, but not saying which one he was.

    I am thinking how I respond to emails in between students knocking at my door, and this could be *exactly* a mistake I could have made. In fact, I had answered to a colleague in a very similar manner when he asked whether I was a certain reviewer.

    the main reason I am throwing this out there is that I just cannot believe he would do something like this. not because he is such a honest up guy, but because I cannot believe he would think that this would not come out.

  39. boballab said


    the main reason I am throwing this out there is that I just cannot believe he would do something like this. not because he is such a honest up guy, but because I cannot believe he would think that this would not come out.

    (emphasis mine)

    And that is the reason right there the Team always has gotten away with it. This is not the first time this has happened, it was cataloged in the Climategate emails. In that case Phil Jones was the reviewer of two papers that was critical of CRU’s work. In the email he crowed about how he “went to town on” those papers.

    Also Siberia is one of the worst places to look at homogeneity, as the stations aren’t that close together (as they are in Fennoscandia and most of Canada) and also the temperature varies an awful lot from year to year.

    Recently rejected two papers (one for JGR and for GRL) from people saying CRU has it wrong over Siberia. Went to town in both reviews, hopefully successfully. If either appears I will be very surprised, but you never know with GRL.

    In the end he got the papers killed. So no, it shouldn’t be unbelievable since it is standard operating procedure with the team and they always got away with it in the past.

  40. Pandora P said

    as a psychologist, just can’t stomach this talk of “the team”. suddenly it is plausible to assume that somebody behaved in a certain manner, just because *somebody else* of this individual’s “team” had behaved like this in the future. suddenly a group of individuals becomes this blurry mass of evil people, all act the same and think the same; guilt by association.

    so, no, I don’t think this is a very convincing argument to explain. I would be particularly careful in using it if it was the only way of explaining somebody else incredibly stupid behavior.

    but again, you might be right, I cannot know. and this is possibly my whole point: from the evidence we have so far, we can only make educated guesses. nothing is clear and 100%.

  41. Peter317 said

    I see they’ve re-opened the comments over at RC.

    The thing is, it seems Eric is now flat-out denying having had anything to do with anything.

    For example:
    [Response: I haven’t bothered to go read what is evidently being written about me, but if this is an accurate description um.. you’re kidding right? I’m now being blamed for their writing a lousy paper? Really? If this weren’t so sad it would be hilarious!–eric]

  42. Harry said

    Why bother to take the clowns at RC for serious?
    They are clowns.
    Advocating their case, which is nonexistent.
    Trying to suffocate criticisms.
    Petty little minds.

    Soo sorry for them.

  43. Robert E. Phelan said

    40.Pandora P said @ February 8, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    as a psychologist, just can’t stomach this talk of “the team”. suddenly it is plausible to assume that somebody behaved in a certain manner, just because *somebody else* of this individual’s “team” had behaved like this in the future. suddenly a group of individuals becomes this blurry mass of evil people, all act the same and think the same; guilt by association

    Pandora, there is nothing “sudden” about any of this and “The Team” (their term, not ours) has been working from a unified play book. The politicization and dirty tricks in Climate Science go back at lerast as far as James Hansen’s 1988 testimony before Congress when the air-conditioning in the hearing room was turned off to reinforce Hansen’s warnings of a warming world. The Real Climate Web site is hosted and advised by Fenton Communications, an advocacy public relations firm. I urge you to get a copy of Andrew Monford’s The Hosckey Stick Illusion for an in-depth look at one tiny slice of the corruption in climate science. There is a long-standing pattern of, shall we say, misbehavior involving members of “The Team”. There is nothing “sudden” here at all.

  44. RomanM said

    #48 Pandora P:

    As a “psychologist”, you should be aware that your egocentric failure to share the perspective of others due to your lack of understanding of the history and context of a situation is not a valid argument against their views.

    The “team” does exist – eric is a regular contributor and moderator on the RC web site. These people are co-authors of papers and communicate with each other on a regular basis. There is no “suddenly” about it. We have an ongoing history of such “certain” behaviours documented from a number of sources, and, no, believe it or not, we don’t view an amorphous “mass of evil” constructed in our own minds. We have a reasonably firm grasp of reality.

    I would rephrase your statement:

    but again, you might be right, I cannot do not know. and this is possibly my whole point: from the evidence we I have so far, we I can only make educated guesses. nothing is clear to me and 100%.

    You can remedy that for yourself by reading up on a number of years of background … and a “100%” is usually needed only by children to comprehend the world around them.

  45. Don B said

    Folks, please give poor Eric a break. If the data supported the scary story he wants to tell, he would not be forced to act like the weasel he is. It is not his fault.

  46. Andy L said

    Eric seems to be specifically denying Ryan’s allegations, and has promised a full post on the matter.

    [Response: I’ll have a post later today addressing these points. Forgive me for being annoyed with you for assuming it might actually be true that I am a deceptive duplicitous idiot.–eric]

  47. hunter said

    The consistent pattern in dealing with the AGW promtion players is that they cannot bear up to critical review.
    From their treatment of of you McIntyre and others, to climategate, to the still in progress stonewalling of UV, to now this boorish behavior by Schmidt and Steig, the one constant is their inability to deal in a non-corrupt fashion with a growing list of issues.

  48. hunter said

    Pandora P,
    If you dislike the term ‘team’, then go to the people who declared themselves on a team and tell them to disband.

  49. Carrick said

    Unfortunately, Eric is now outed, by his own behavior, as deceptive, duplicitous and a fool.

    He’s managed to establish beyond any doubt he was Reviewer A (see Lucia’s blog), he has been very deceptive in his responses on this (many of those responses have since been deleted), he’s been duplicitous in pretending to not be a reviewer when he clearly was, and when the error in his methodology (spreading the warming from the Peninsula over the entire continent) was pointed out to him, he should have admitted instead of doubling down on stupid. The last makes him a fool.

    I won’t even go into what I think about the behavior of the RealClimate editors over this. This whole episode is so remote from any connection to normal ethical behavior in science, it’s now clear why it would truly be a waste of time to engage these people.

    None of them has any shred or respectability remaining, after this incident.

  50. Mark T said

    That’s part of their playbook, Carrick. It is somewhat akin to telling a lie so big nobody will believe it is a lie, i.e., “you can’t make this stuff up, it must be true.” Most of the echo chamber that listens to these people are not fluent enough in the science/math to notice the errors, and they are certainly too wrapped up in their own self-worth to think such behavior is ridiculous by any measure.

    Eric is no different than I had ever suspected. His cordial attitude expressed in private emails had a reason, and was likely planned. It was faked.


  51. PaulM said

    # 46, amazingly foolish. How he must be regretting that RC thread – and now he’s planning another one?? It’s quite comical how they never learn from their mistakes!

  52. Robert E. Phelan said

    Eric’s reply is now up:

  53. Carrick said

    Eric’s reply is now up:

    Sweet! Eric follows miner’s rules: When in a hole, keep digging deeper.

    LMAO about a “response” that is carefully and cowardly shielded from any meaningful rebuttal. Eric can go stuff himself at this point.

  54. Kenneth Fritsch said

    I have to second Carrick’s sentiments above. Please contrast how Steig replies with no hard facts and instead attempts to make the advocates case that those opposing the Team are not to be trusted and therefore all their criticism need not be paid any attention. RyanO put a good deal of effort into showing the failures/weaknesses of Steig’s S(09) and his recent critiques of O(10) and for that he gets the following from the Steig reply:

    “Sadly, attacking climate scientists by mis-quoting and mis-representing private correspondences or confidential materials appears now to be the primary modus operandi of climate change deniers. To those that still don’t get this — and who continue to believe that these people can be trusted to present their scientific results honestly, and who continue to speculate that their may be truth in the allegations made over the years against Mike Mann, Ben Santer, Phil Jones, Stephen Schneider, Andrew Weaver, Kevin Trenberth, Keith Briffa, Gavin Schmidt, Darrell Kaufmann, and many many others, just because they ‘read it on a blog somewhere’ — I’d be happy to share with you some of the more, err, ‘colorful’, emails I’ve gotten from O’Donnell and his coauthors.”

    Certainly all sides have people who make over the top statements, but I think the more thoughful and professional ones would not react like Steig has here.

  55. Jeff Id said

    I’m not letting Steig get away with his bullshit. Sorry no cussing at tAV.

    What a joke.

  56. LDLAS said

    Kenneth Fritsch

    Do you think Mr. Steig wrote this all alone?
    Just as he reviewed the O’Donell paper all alone?
    I know he didn’t.

  57. Robert E. Phelan said

    Calmly, Jeff, Calmly. Remember, revenge is a dish best served cold.

  58. Steven Sullivan said

    LOL Id! Go get ’em, you big ol’ tiger you.

    As for ‘no hard facts’, I guess ‘actually, I wasn’t a reviewer for the last draft of the paper’ isn’t hard enough for you?
    Apparently it’s going to enough to draw a retraction from O’Donnell.

  59. Pandora P said

    Roman : “As a “psychologist”, you should be aware that your egocentric failure to share the perspective of others due to your lack of understanding of the history and context of a situation is not a valid argument against their views.”

    I think you must have misunderstood me. I have not made an argument against anyone’s views. I simply wished to state that I don’t think this blame-flinging simply because somebody is seen as part of a team is helpful at all. That’s not a failure of taking somebody’s perspective — its arguing that this perspective may not be very helpful.

    And, of course, nothing is ever 100% — is there really a need to play semantic games? I was only stating that the evidence I’ve seen so far for Steig’s duplicity did not convince me completely, even though it sure looks bad.

  60. RomanM said

    A classic example of playing the victim card

    At this point, he no longer has to defend his original paper because (like my wife – “You yelled at me!” 🙂 ), he has won.

  61. Philemon said

    Sorry, Jeff, it is personal for you because you worked so hard. I know it is provoking, but Steig is just displaying his insecurity with the old “taken out of context” and the “how dare you reveal our dirty laundry” defense. If Steig wants to hang himself, let him have his rope.

  62. Jeff Id said

    Naw guys, I throw fits like that all the time. I know where the blade is.

  63. Jeff Id said

    Steve Sullivan,

    Like the claims which will now be made clear, objects may be closer than they appear.

  64. RomanM said

    Re: Pandora P (Feb 9 19:59),

    The previous comment (#60) was not aimed at you, Pandora. We happened to post simultaneously. I was referring to the comments from #52 ff.

    I meant what I said to you about not being aware of the background situation. We have been dealing with Dr. Steig for two years now in discussions of his original paper and currently with what has transpired in the lengthy travails of Ryan et al. trying to get their paper published.

    What “blame-flinging” has been done was due to the personal behaviour of Steig, not his connection to the misdeeds or “misdoers” that he has associated himself with. The 88 pages of responses to his attempted suppression of the paper is certainly his own actions (although we also suspect others of the group were intimately involved).

    Due to the frustration of dealing with the their arrogance and dismissal of those who may not agree with them on a topic (the term “deniers” is unashamedly used in scientific publications), we may occasionally get a little upset (and I agree with you it may not be “helpful”). I guess at this point, I personally have ceased to be concerned with that aspect. I don’t believe that we are the ones who may need an attitude adjustment.

    However, this is important business, so along with the others, I will continue to look at the statistical analyses behind their science and if there are serious flaws, I will raise these issues. The level of politeness will reflect how my comments are received.

  65. TomRude said

    Steig writes:

    “With respect to O’Donnell’s lengthy discussion of the technical aspects of the difference between our papers, I’m not complaining.”

    That’s the meat.

  66. Philemon said

    At least, wait ’til you see the whites of their eyes, Jeff! {Wink!}

  67. Espen said

    Heh, I see Eric Steig writes in a comment: “In fact, I may not bother with a rebuttal to Journal of Climate, because in a couple years temperatures in West Antarctica will probably have reached such an extreme that none of our ‘reconstructions’ will matter. In fact that may have already happened — see e.g. Record warming in the South Pacific and western Antarctica associated with the strong central‐Pacific El Niño in 2009–10”.

    I’ve saved a screenshot of that comment. Let’s see what he says “in a couple of years”.

  68. sierra117 said

    I have evidence that Real Climate has deleted blog entries that clearly indicate Eric Steig is a liar and that Real Climate are basically fulfilling the role of Winston Smith in George Orwell’s .

    If anyone from TAV here is interested, please get in touch with me and I will forward you the screen shots and supporting material.

  69. kim said

    It is quite amazing the contrast between what comes from Eric Steig’s fingers initially, compared to the slick product later promulgated attempting to shift the onus from him.

    Free Eric Steig. Truly, it is important that these talented climate scientists be unbound from the political and financial chains that choke them. Otherwise, what a waste of mind and effort.

  70. J.Herders said

    It was Mann.
    Not Steig.
    Steig now has been baptized as full member of the team.
    Integrity gone?

  71. Mark F said

    59 – Pandora:
    You’re really Louise, aren’t you?

  72. Kenneth Fritsch said

    “Do you think Mr. Steig wrote this all alone?
    Just as he reviewed the O’Donell paper all alone?
    I know he didn’t.”

    I strongly suspect what you say about Steig might well be true and in fact might explain some of the apparent memory lapses Steig has had about the issues. You are much more aware of what you personally have written or even written for someone else but less so if others might have done the writing. On the other hand, when placing responsibitiy it would not exactly sound proper to say Eric Steig and those others who I know were writing for you – unless of course I truly knew others were writing and who they were.

  73. Frank K. said

    sierra117 said
    February 10, 2011 at 8:46 am

    I have evidence that Real Climate has deleted blog entries that clearly indicate Eric Steig is a liar and that Real Climate are basically fulfilling the role of Winston Smith in George Orwells .

    Please send what you know to Anthony at WUWT. It will get maximum exposure there…

  74. M. Simon said


    If you had followed the science (assuming you are capable – any reasonably competent ME or EE could) you would know that

    1. For sure the subject of CO2/climate is not settled
    2. Likely the “team” is mistaken
    3. Probably they are frauds

    It is hard to arrive at truth when #1 is denied and #3 is operative.

    This is not a psychological enterprise. It is a scientific enterprise. It is not about feelings and motives. It is about does B follow A? Show your thinking, methods, and evidence.

    But the #1 rule in all this is psychological – “the easiest person to fool is yourself”. Which is why cross checking is essential.

    Evidently you do not spend a lot of time with engineers – they are not noted for their social agility. They are noted for building bridges that do not fall down. Mostly.

  75. Crusty the Clown said

    Harry42: As a semi-professional clown, I take umbrage at your insinuation that climatologists have begun to invade my field of expertise. They are not funny, sir, not funny at all. Plus, the last time I tried to cram thirteen climatologists into a VW Beetle (to reduce their carbon footprint, naturally) I was amazed at how incompressible they appeared to be. It seems they are much denser than clowns.

  76. jstults said

    What’s the deal with ‘matters of fact?’

  77. Jeff Id said

    It will be back up shortly with some additions.

  78. LC said

    Crusty – Excellent. More posts like that please 🙂

  79. After reading this blog, I already fall in love with your style of writing!

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