SKS Behind the Scenes – On Deaf Ears

The below discussion was passed to me by email. It is apparently from the hacked SKS background discussions. I found it revealing to see the kind of thinking which went on behind the scenes during the release of the corrected Antarctic temperature trends.

2011-02-09 04:45:30 Antarctic Temperature Trends
Robert Hey all,There’s a feud going on pertaining to this post on RC by these two by climate audit:’m gonna be honest, this should be a lesson on what NOT to do as a scientist. Steig is refusing to read the criticism of his criticism and is refusing to engage the authors of the paper he is criticizing. In the “Borehole” at RC you can see some examples of comments by the others that are purely technical and include no *snark* that Steig calls snark and put in the Borehole. I know how ravenous the *auditors* can get but this type of non-response is exactly what gives skeptics momentum.
2011-02-09 05:03:09
Julan Sigh, I do not know if i completely agree Robert.  They arebaiting him though– gotta keep those acolytes foaming at the mouth.  It is laughable of McIntyre to accuse Steig of duplicity  Good God is Mcintyre delusional?!  That title alone is reason not to engage– CA are clearly not acting in good faith.I do not blame Eric for not wanting to go to CA, it is a cesspit.  Honestly it is, the mean-spiritedness, vitriol and invective of the posters there is truly something to behold. Also, keep in mind the things that McIntyre have accused mann and Schmidt of– there is good reason for mistrust and a short fuse.That said, the best place to address these technical issues is with the journal with a comments that appear side-by-side– not on blogs, especially not partisan blogs.
2011-02-09 21:06:57 comment
Robert My opinion on the subject is that using grudges as a rationalization is a poor strategy. Non-engagement because in the past Mcintyre and CO have insulted Mann, Steig etc… is not exactly rising above the fray.Pettiness in response to pettiness leaves them both looking like children.No one said that he has to go to CA to engage there, but moderating out some of the comments which were not filled with snark doesn’t make it appear like Steig is ready to have a serious scientific discussion.To be clear in all this, steig is wrong. CA is right in terms of their reconstruction and their subsequent response.They included way too much snark over at CA but that doesn’t detract from them being right statistically.Personally I think that if you are curteous and deal with the guys like Ryan O and Jeff ID properly then they will respect you. I watched the initial response and I remember thinking that some of the comments steig made in response to Ryan O were snarky and belittling. I’m not shocked they fired back, not shocked at all.As scientists aren’t we supposed to take the high ground and just go where the facts lead us?
2011-02-10 06:30:25
Julian “As scientists aren’t we supposed to take the high ground and just go where the facts lead us?”I agree Robert.  That said, one has to keep several things in mind.  In the past, McIntyre et al. have done way more than insult Mann. They have also lied in the past (e.g., concerning the Yamal data). These guys ultimately have no interest in advancing the science– rather, their duty is to cast doubt, fabricate controversy and undermine the scientists’ credibility.  The is likely a no win for Eric– engage them he loses, ignoring them he loses.  They should both take this discussion to the journal and publish comments there, as is the professional thing to do.  These juvenile food fights on blogs are nonsense.As for Eric’s tone, I agree he needs to work on that, and a lot! That said, Eric’s poor people skills do not give permission to McIntyre et al. to engage in slander in a public forum– IMHO, he erred when he wrote his blog post at RC critiquing O’Donnell et al., that was the excuse they were just waiting for.  Then again, Eric has already likely had a cordial exchange and scientific discussion with the authors doing review.  I would also argue that it is not clear yet that the CA crowd have their stats right.  I have had run ins with Condon, and my distinct impression is that he is an ideologue and D-K victim Robert, and plays this game of claiming to be reasonable when he is in fact not.  Read some of his posts on the politics and economics of cutting GHGs….The sad and unfortunate thing about this is that is has all the hallmarks of the HS controversy– a huge debacle over sophisticated statistical techniques, which ultimately do not change the primary conclusion– western Antarctica is warming.  That important fact is what is at risk of being lost here…..and McIntyre et al. know that full well, and will milk this for everything it is worth…mark my words.Eric has promised a response soon…we’ll have to wait and see.
2011-02-10 09:48:54 Comment
Robert Having read Steig’s response I don’t really know what my opinion on the whole matter is. I think realistically both of the children need a time-out.That being said Mcintyre needs to learn to call off the attack dogs. If he wants to work on “bridging” the gap between scientists and skeptics then he has to learn to not act like a child himself. I remembered I had question on something to do with temperature data way back and I sent an email to Gavin Schmidt and one to Steve Mcintyre. I got two responses: One from Gavin with some detailed instructions and two publications to look at and one from Mc stating something like “I’m too busy for this, ask someone else”What I find interesting about that is that if I were steve Mc I would post that exchange on my blog and use it as evidence that the other side was being dismissive… really shows the hypocrisy of it all.Nevertheless I think that O’donnell and Codon and them are probably more right than Steig statistically and I’m a little shocked to learn that Steig et al. made the same principal component mistake that Mann et al 1998 did but nevertheless the statistics in all this aren’t the lesson to be learned.What should be taken from this little issue is that tone is very important. If Steig et al remained curteous (even with the attacks) then for those watching on the sidelines it would be obvious that the science is in good hands. To react somewhat snarky just brings us down to their level. Keep talking the science and stay away from personal stuff and you will win in the hearts and minds.

[edit – my bold and ip removed]

Clearly Robert was understanding what was being said statistically but I don’t get the feeling that even Steig has figured out what was done. Aside from that, Robert is correct about what happened in the discourse.   I don’t miss the meanness of tone which went on publicly during the Steig paper days. In retrospect the tone did move things forward on both sides. In the end, all of the effort still left the climate science community generally confused about the Antarctic because starting with Chladni patterns, the expectation maximization math is too fancy and prone to operator error.  The ZOD and FOD of the IPCC where Steig 09 is still being cited is plenty of evidence to prove that.  One of the engineering-style critiques of the Steig method presented here so often is that if there are simpler methods which do nearly the same thing, those methods are usually better at getting the job done.  In this case, the job was to tell scientists what was actually measured in the Antarctic and for some reason, they still don’t know.

Oddly enough, this conversation from SKS is actually a caricature of the discussion which created the Steig Mess.  Julian, who was apparently unable/unwilling to grock even the Yamal discussion at Climate Audit, refused to express an opinion on the deficiencies of the Steig Antarctic work even after our publication.  When told repeatedly of the S09 statistical errors, instead of addressing the math, he redirected the conversation and referred to me in paraphrase as an incompetent ideologue using my opinions on the fake solutions to GHG presented by the IPCC as an example.  As though it is my fault that biofuels and windmills don’t work!  He even referred to the multiple Yamal problems as ‘lies’,  all the while missing the two points by Robert that Steig09 was wrong and scientists should stay above the fray.  I’m not sure he actually heard one word Robert said.

their duty is to cast doubt, fabricate controversy and undermine the scientists’ credibility.

From the various communications released by these groups, I am regularly astounded that these people think there is some kind of conspiracy or plan to undermine their message.   In 4 years I have had zero communications with other people on what message to send for or against AGW!  Zero.   I have regularly written about the reality of AGW, as well as the fact that Mann’s hockey stick work is a false representation of autocorrelated data.   A scientist with a clearer head will recognize that both situations can exist in the same universe.  Every climate scientist with some objectivity who has taken a serious look at Mann’s work, knows the problems do exist and are in fact severe.  Several recent papers over the past two years have been 100% directed at correcting these variance loss  (non-uniform variance) problems.   Still, to Julian, these issues are a fabrication by the evil skeptics who’s “duty” it is to destroy the scientists credibility.

Errors in a paper don’t destroy credibility guys, it is the denial of those errors in the face of raw facts which does.

84 thoughts on “SKS Behind the Scenes – On Deaf Ears

  1. Jeff:

    Errors in a paper don’t destroy credibility guys, it is the denial of those errors in the face of raw facts which does.

    Which is kind of an issue I was raising. Refusing to admit when there are errors, even if you decide to stop arguing in favor of said error, also tends to undermine one’s credibility.

    Mann’s strategy (and those of his cohorts) seems to be “I didn’t make any mistakes, my friends all replicated my results..what’s the problems, oh and the errors don’t matter, the one’s I discussed anyway.”

    1. Their strategy (more accurately, their all-encompassing mindset) appears to be: Rule 1 — my opponents are evil, their goals are evil, and their methods are evil. Rule 2 — regardless of anything else that is ever said or done, see Rule 1.

  2. “To be clear in all this, steig is wrong. CA is right in terms of their reconstruction and their subsequent response”

    Yet they can’t/won’t admit that in public and continue to support Steig.

    Can you feel the anger that is in these post??
    That’s why it’s almost impossible to have an intelligent,rational discussion or debate with most of them.

  3. Jeff,
    I don’t think you should be publishing their email addresses – I suppose they are out there, but there’s no need to compound it.

    You say
    “I found it revealing to see the kind of thinking which went on behind the scenes”
    A problem with delving into emails irregularly obtained is that you are missing a lot of context. I think all this proves is that it was a fairly diverse forum, and you can’t assume that people writing speak for SkS. I don’t think Robert Way is a prominent writer for SkS – I don’t know about Julian, but he’s not listed on the Team.

  4. The worldview of the website skepticalscience is to propose that every skeptical argument is a ‘myth’, that has a clear explanation. Somewhere along the way, the *people* who run the website actually started believing in this worldview. From then on, the modus operandi is to assume that any skeptical argument is wrong without actually examining it and ‘rebut’ it. This is because the skeptic is only coming up with a myth in order to ‘sow doubt’. Therefore by defintion, the thing the skeptic is arguing about, must actually deeply trouble him psychologically, and therefore it must be correct.

    Robert Way is a regular contributor at skepticalscience, Nick Stokes.

    Here is an example for blind faith that anything a skeptic must be saying, has to be wrong. The following passage is, to assure all parties concerned, from a regular and prominent contributor at This is regarding pre-instrumental data and instriumental series data in Mann’s hockey stick. To a statement from S McIntyre who says: “The splicing of instrumental values before smoothing is proven beyond any doubt.”, the SS contributor says:

    I’m not sure McIntyre knows what ‘splicing’ is. To me it means cutting and joining two ends together. All Mann did was plot instrumental temperatures on the same axes, but he showed the whole record. I don’t really care if he smoothed them at the same time.

    To me, this shows several things. Firstly, the skepticalscience author simply believed the false explanation Mann sold to him. Secondly, he didn’t pause to think whether McIntyre, a guy who has been examining these issues for close to a decade could have the basics of the issue right. Thirdly he didn’t seek out the data to examine whether any ‘cutting and joining two ends’ was indeed carried out. Lastly, by his confident bluster that ‘McIntyre doesn’t even know what splicing means’, encouraged his co-author John Cook to propagate further misinformation on the matter.

    People who don’t know jack about a topic should just keep quiet, instead of writing reams and reams of material and calling it ‘myth rebuttals’.

  5. Cdquarles,
    You are incorrect. Hacked is the proper term. I am by no means an expert on how or what was done but from what I have been told it was a systematic and professional hacking – an IT expert has been able to track some of the hacker’s activities but not all. Whoever it was added in names, email addresses and IP addresses into the final product as well – these things were never part of the forum when we had it (replacing pseudonyms with real names as well). I am not saying this as a representative of SKS but rather as someone who is tired of seeing the absolutely false insinuation that it was some sort of *leak*.

    1. On a side note – I do not enjoy finding out my private correspondence is being sifted through by people when it was illegally obtained. I was 21 or 22 at the time I discussed those points above – I don’t think it is fair for me as an aspiring young scientist to have every private word I say about other scientists picked apart and highlighted in the blogosphere. There are very real ramifications for people sometimes you know. If you are going to discuss what is said – I do not understand why you have to post the names of who said what.

      1. There’e a lesson in there for you Robert. I had my email correspondence with other researchers (selectively) published in a book years after the correspondence took place. I had no idea at the time that this would happen, but you do have to approach email as if it’s public, just like any other correspondence, especially for a large group of SkS “insiders”. I can say that there’s nothing I said that was intemperate or that embarrassed me later. If anything, I think our correspondence was a good illustration of how the scientific process should go forward.

        What I was above was you being fairly cautious in your comments, and I think it speaks well of you.

          1. “Carrick said
            September 16, 2012 at 10:05 pm
            I did. He could have really spoken his mind. 😉 ”

            You might very well think that; I couldn’t possibly comment 😉

        1. Carrick – it is a fair point you make. Certainly as time goes on I have learned to hold my tongue and treat correspondence as being public – however I can say that beginning contributing to the forum at 20 means that there are certainly things that I said at those junctures which I would not say today years later.

          I recognize that once things have hit the airwaves in some sense they are fair game – Jeff nor Steve Mc nor anyone has any obligation to censor my personal details – but I would much appreciate it. Many of my colleagues have received emails which are nasty related to their work on climate change – I am not really interested in having the crowd at WUWT for example getting ahold of some comment I made and emailing me at my university account some nasty things. I think that’s a reasonable fear.

      2. “I do not understand why you have to post the names of who said what.”

        Simply because the file came that way. I can edit the entire thing if you like but your opinions as a young man are accurate and something to be proud of.

      3. Robert, if you don’t want people to read what you post online, don’t post it online. The only “ramifications” you will face are being held accountable for what you actually said. So unless you were lying I do not see the problem.

    2. No, not “hacked”

      “I have no idea how this happened. Several possibilities come to mind. First, I did it by accident when I was screwing around with the database sometime. Someone with admin access (there are about half a dozen SkSers with this access) made the change. Or we were hacked in some way and the hacker changed the levels. None of the options seem likely to me but the most likely is human error on my part although the fact that the admin forum was still set at admin level belies some kind of blanket wiping of all levels.”

      Too many people blame “hacking” when incompetence will do.

      1. Matthew W,

        You are incorrect. I will not further discuss this other than to point out that there is conclusive evidence of a hacking that took place. If you think I am lying to you – then that’s your own imperative – I am not privy to all the details that the IT professional uncovered related to the hacking but from what I understand they have had much success with retracing what was done. The forum details you’re reading there are from immediately after the hack became exposed when there was warranted confusion about what had occurred.

          1. I am my own person. I simply relayed what was said to me in an email after the hack was proven. If you think that I’ve been sent here “on behalf” of SKS or with their “marching orders” then I can’t really help you as nothing I say would convince you – I came here because a colleague of mine emailed me and said that a climate blog had personal information about me posted.

        1. Robert, I accept you think it’s a hack. But I don’t have any faith in John Cook’s honesty at this point and being he was in control of the knobs… any assumption on my part of honesty about anything he says … totally gone. .

          1. Cook could have done any number of dumb ass things to reset the security permissions on the forums.

            Reading their IT idiocy I can suspect how they believe they were hacked. Here is a likely scenario, they had someone competent check their forum admin logs to see when the forum permissions were changed and by whom, which would be an admin account, most likely Cook. They would then check the IP of the account (if logged) and it would probably not be Cook’s home IP but that is meaningless as Cook could have been somewhere else (on a trip, at a wireless hotspot ect…) when he logged in and did it. Cook forgets where he was and paranoia takes over. A competent hacker would scrub the logs and use an Australian proxy IP as close to Cook’s as possible to log in or for fun Cook’s own PC. There would be no need to post the file with any extra information about the forums being wide open.

            The fact that Cook admits to messing around with security settings and immediately suspects himself is very convincing proof that Cook was incompetent and screwed up the forum security permissions. The Hacking story is a nice cover to save face.

    3. No one added anything in, all that information is visible if you are logged into the forum software as an admin and likely a moderator or if you are incompetent like Cook and made it visible. The “real names” are from those accounts where the person entered in their real name. If you notice not every account has a real name associated with it.

      I highly doubt there is conclusive evidence of anything because a competent hacker would sanitize any of the admin logs.

    4. Indeed, it was devious. Searching hard, then finding a backdoor protected with a mighty sign that said “all are welcome,” the hacker next applied every last skill he had and broke in simply by… well, logging on as a guest and getting right in.

      You may be your own person Robert Way, but you are no critical thinker. “I simply relayed what was said to me in an email after the hack was proven.” Without so much as trying to understand what “proof” there was, and whether or not it was legitimate. It seems to me John Cook would be broadcasting this “fact” far and wide were it true. Maybe it is… but that doesn’t change the fact that you didn’t bother to find out. That’s really what differentiates appearance as your “own person.” Blindly believing anything you are toldthat furthers your beliefs is why we “skeptics” hold you “believers” in such low regard.


      1. Give him a break Mark.

        He just hasn’t learned to be skeptical about IT people yet. Especially not particularly competent ones. 😉

        Those of us who are competent and know IT people can smell that peculiar brand of BS from miles away. (By the way it could have been hacked, though in this case that may be a denigration of the word “hack”. I suspect given how John had the forum set up, five minutes of google would have sufficed to teach a total novice what needed to be done to pop it wide open. That’s not a slam against John but the forum software I believe he was using at the time, other than I bet he didn’t practice good “hygiene” and keep his software up to date.)

        1. Aw, c’mon. Cook’s initial “it may have been my fault” is the tipoff. If it wasn’t, he would have known. With the follow-up being some lame “IT professional PROVES a break-in!” as an afterthought headline. People like Robert Way should feel a little insulted that Cook thinks they are that gullible. He’s right, of course…


  6. Jeff Condon – You have removed email addresses, yet left in the names behind internet handles.

    Would you reveal the personal details of posters on your blog? Because that’s exactly what you have done here – the hacker went to some lengths to associate names and IP addresses, information that those correspondents considered private information.

    I consider that behavior reprehensible. You should remove the private information – and in fact should _never_ have posted personal details in the first place.

    1. This information is out there already – with IP’s if you prefer. I simply discussed the details.

      My frustration is with the way details are twisted in the science. I don’t know Robert, but from his replies I would have guessed he was decades older than Julian.

      1. Yes, the information was out.

        The decision to repost it, to publicize private information here? That was yours.

        If you are unhappy with the discussion of the science, discuss the science.

        1. I already have discussed the science. This is about the acceptance of science created by the non-anointed. I have eliminated last names now but it seems your initial critique was over the top.

          1. I have spent the last 20 minutes reading the SKS files in detail for the very first time.

            Holy crap these boys are nuts…..

            Save the jellyfish!! The waves are coming. 😀

          2. I admit I’ve avoided reading it. Not out of deference, but because I was afraid it would screw with my mind. In a sort of David Lynch sort of way.

          3. Poptech,

            I honestly wonder sometimes if the methods and means by which these people operate, and the lengths to which they go, are intentionally this astoundingly silly, because no person in their right mind would thing there is any way it was made up. Almost a sense of plausible deniability.


          4. Pity would seem a more apt term than kindness. Of course, I wonder if their ignorance is more blissful than my own?


          5. Mark,

            WRT Kindness, I’m thinking of a little id style love. You know, a little help to clarify their thinking.

      1. It’s the _names_ that were private information, Jeff. That’s why people use handles. You’ve left in the private details.

          1. I appreciate that you did that – I suppose there is no way for me to edit a comment here to remove my last name as well? I know that if someone really wants to know who Robert is then they can find out by getting the files but I prefer that to having it clearly stated on websites. Once again I appreciate you having taken out the last names.

          2. Robert, suggest you leave your age out if you want anonymity. It was interesting reading your biography. Maybe as a compromise leave it as Robert W? (The cat got out of the bag, scared the horses out of the barn, they broke down the gate, the cows are out and on the highway…. wow such messy metaphors.)

          3. Robert,

            Name edits from your own posts are now finished. Why put your name if you don’t want it read?

            Since this post, I have read your SKS comments as well as those of your friends. Wow….. If you are open to any advice from an engineer, you don’t need to do any of the SKS style sales to promote real science. Just let the math do the work and ignore the rest. We are technical people who know the difference and that is the real problem with the message of CAGW.

          4. “Robert, suggest you leave your age out if you want anonymity.”

            ROFLMAO! No offense but these guys are all really naive. First of all who fills out their real name when trying to use an “anonymous” account. I’ve been online for over 17 years and have never once used my last name.

          5. Hmmm… So, apparently Robert Way doesn’t have a problem with SkS referring to him as Robert Way – he just has a problem when he is referred to as Robert Way at The Air Vent. Weird.

  7. Well, Robert,
    You say (or said) what Jeff Id points out in the passage above, and a great many similar things, that are critical of the consensus and traditional media position – in private.

    How come you never say any one of these things, out in public?

    1. It’s all public at this point right? The cows are out of the barn. What good would that serve?

      Seems like if somebody makes a reasonable request (as opposed to being a flaming asshole), I’d try and honor it, were I Jeff, nonetheless.

    1. Actually in some ways I am a little shocked at how little training you need when you work up there. You do a 1-day course and then that gives you the right to carry a gun and “supposedly” be able to deal with Polar Bears. There’s a reason there was that horrible incident two years ago with the students being killed by a bear – inexperience sadly.

      Now myself personally I grew up in the North and am of Inuit descent so I had a lot of experience with Guns and wildlife – but there were a lot of people there when I was there who I would have worried about if they were on their own.

      Where I did my masters fieldwork was in the Torngat Mountains (northern Labrador) where Polar Bears are quite abundant and we lived in tents at two camps which only were accessible via Satellite Phone and Helicopter. The first year we did not have a bear fence (the 2nd we did) but we did have an Inuk guide who carried a rifle for bears. Now that area is somewhere that will always have a special place in my heart.

      1. I hadn’t heard of the students being killed. That’s very sad. Naivety and inexperience will get you killed in a place like that (there’s just no good way to say that).

        The Torngat Mountains NP is another place I’ve wanted to visit.. We have a project we’re looking for funding on, to monitor the strength of the Greenland Gyre using infrasound. I’m hoping to get up there. Interestingly we are planning on using wind power to power the sensors. (Vertical axis style.)

        And btw, AGW, arctic ice melt and its impact on global circulation patterns plays a role in the justification for this project.

        (Just wish we could have started 10 years ago, so we could have captured some “nominal data.” Alas, the sensor technology…based on the same tech in “smart phones” didn’t exist back then and it would have been several million US dollars just to instrument one station. Now we can do it for just a bit more than the cost of the transportation.)


          Actually it appears only one student was killed but several were attacked. This occurred the day I was on my way up to the Torngats – that was nice headline to read before spending 3 weeks in a tent. – As an aside – we had a meteorological station nearby which had plenty of claw and bite marks into the metal from earlier in the year – not a promising sign…

          That project sounds interesting – actually Greenland is the one place left on my list that I really want to go to. I had an option for my PHD to do work there on ice sheet dynamics but I decided I wanted to stay in Canada for my studies. The Torngats and Western Greenland are very similar – they did afterall used to be one.

          As for the technology piece – yeah its amazing the difference a few years makes with respect to field instrumentation in particular. It used to be you had to set up a rather large (and expensive) installation for to monitor weather conditions consistently on glaciers and in their foregrounds – now we can use these little hobbo loggers with a small shield and a pole at about 1/5th the cost of what had to be done just 5-10 years ago.

          1. We use the hobos too, great inexpensive met systems.

            We have some equipment up north (really our University of Alaska Fairbanks cohort putting them out, but it’s our sensors) and the equipment fairly routinely gets holes chunked in it by bears, especially solar panels. They work around the volcanic peaks in the Aleutian chain and on the Manchurian Peninsula.

            Cows are bad enough (say in Idaho), they flatten equipment if it’s been placed in the middle of what I call a “cow moot” by some city kid from the Netherlands who doesn’t know how to read animal signs. I’ve got the pictures to prove it. Absolutely flattened and crushed solar panels including aluminum frame. Usually they leave stuff alone if it doesn’t cross a path or in a gathering spot though.

            Bears OTH really don’t like it when you put foreign looking objects in their territory. They actively seek them out and leave their mark of disapproval on that equipment. And polar bears, well they just see as us as packed chalk full of meat.

            I assume you guys had somebody awake at “night” to call out of there was a bear approaching? Just curious what your protocol was.

          2. I hope I might be indulged this additional OT observation on territoriality.

            Long ago I was the manager of a lab employing 6 baboons who earned their way counting spots on screens under the influence of substances of interest to the customer. They lived in large soundproof boxes with thick Plexiglas fronts which were stacked on one side of an aisle. The Plexiglas faced a table, a few chairs and a bulletin board across the aisle all of which was visible to the baboons. One of them, a large Hamadryas male, would go into a rage with all manner of threatening gestures if even a pencil was moved on top of the table.

            The dime didn’t drop immediately, but we soon realized that he owned everything he could see which included the stuff on top of the table. He threatened if we added anything to the tabletop or took something away or moved it – even a little.

            It got to be a game for the people in the lab who knew about it. Move the pencil an inch and see all the teeth. These disturbances were never ignored, ever.

            I can readily see how something odd in a relatively simple environment could ignite the local bear. It might be interesting to know if only one bear took offense, other bears, or all the bears. Was your station an insult to bears in general or just the local chief?

            What a great world we live in.

          3. Territoriality (selfishness) seems to be a major impediment to collectively benefitting from the observations made by others, with a few great exceptions – like this conversation between a biologist and a physicist :

        2. One of the funniest stories I have is of caribous actively seeking out permafrost tubes because they liked to chew on the plastic (up in Svalbard). Imagine you hike kilometers and kilometers in the Arctic passing by caribou only to find they probably just came from chewing up your measurement station.

          Working in the Aleutians must be amazing – that’s on my list of places that I want to see and explore while i’m young – now finding a way to afford getting there however…

          As for our protocols regarding bears – I would say there is room for improvement. Year 1 – hope you hear one approaching (that’s a really nice thought when its windy!). We had a bear monitor who was a very experienced inuk guide so the hope is that he would hear it and scare it off with bear bangers. We had a windstorm one night and my tent caved in on me while I was asleep – pretty well the worst fear I ever had.

          Year-2 we had a polar bear fence – these electric fences work well – bear walked right past our campsite and didn’t enter probably because they say that they can feel the electricity (or that’s what the Inuk guide said). I woke up in the middle of the night to hear a bear snorting and walking by – another wonderful wake up in the Torngats 😛

          Nevertheless the protocol is essentially have a bear guard and you should have a fence. If the bear hits the fence it triggers an alarm and the bear guard is the only one who should get out of his tent. Around the camp is usually the safest – it is the long hikes where people get unobservant that are a little more dangerous.

          1. Robert:

            One of the funniest stories I have is of caribous actively seeking out permafrost tubes because they liked to chew on the plastic (up in Svalbard). Imagine you hike kilometers and kilometers in the Arctic passing by caribou only to find they probably just came from chewing up your measurement station.

            We have the same problem with certain types of plastic, I believe the explanation is some plastics contain Bisphenol A (BPA), which is an artificial hormone and that attracts animals and somehow invites gnawing behavior.

            Where we put out equipment, rodents and rabbits are the chief offenders, we use a product called Shake-Away for that, works pretty well. In the US you can usually find it at Ace Hardware Stores (as well as order it on line). It is a combination of coyote (or other predator) urine, cayenne and other noxious chemicals. You have to understand a bit about animal shaping behavior to maximum it’s effect (the instructions for product use interestingly touch on that).

            The other approach is to use teflon, which does not contain BPA, and is safe against any outgassing as long as you don’t bring it to high temperatures. A lot of our wire we’ve been purchasing has been teflon-sheethed once we figured that out.

            [For extra points answer the question “how do they collect coyote urine?”]

            these electric fences work well – bear walked right past our campsite and didn’t enter probably because they say that they can feel the electricity (or that’s what the Inuk guide said).

            Or it might be that they don’t know what the fence is and whether it could hurt them, and stay way on that account. I’m not sure about their electric field detection ability. (OTH, you get magnetostriction from the pulsing of the electric field along the wire, which produces an audible sound,, and that could be a bit … off-putting …. for a bear just looking for a quick bite.)

            Given that those kids were attacked by a bear while in camp just spells out that sleeping is a dangerous time of day. I agree about the problems with hiking, especially in very small groups. In the US, mountain lion attacks aren’t that uncommon for solitary hikers. The mountain lion have the advantage of lots of cover, so probably all you know is you’ve been pinned down and something is munching on you.

            Incidentally I was on the Alaskan Railway (that links Anchorage to Fairbanks), it’s a whistle stop, which is pretty cool because there are houses with lakes scattered along the railway (with no roads in and out, I’m assuming the lake was used to bring materials for the buildings in a seaplane). Anyway, it’s the company’s policy that you can’t get off at a whistle stop unless you are properly armed. (How well this is enforced is a different question.)

          2. Friends went camping while on assignment in Botswana. During the night they were awakened by snuffling noise around the tent. It was a lion. This lion had astonishingly bad breath. So friend lay there pondering whether the bad breath meant he’d eaten recently or not.

            He either had or did not prefer Irishmen.

  8. Carrick,

    I am surprised you do not do your own “met” tools, at least from a micro-controller level. Microchip PIC or Atmel AVR designs are simples these days ;). Granted, for through hole, you only could get it for half of the Hobo, but with a pick and place, toaster oven and SMD…third to a quarter? With a some good old fashion Chinese/Indian emissions, maybe a tenth?

    1. Intrepid, we have a sensor that is instrumented with pressure, temperature, RH (using I2C and a 24-bit PIC to control it).

      Not ready for prime time yet, though.

    2. Also have CO2 sensors, I thought that would be something “fun” to add. If we end with a lot of these sensors in forests, measuring the diurnal CO2 cycle could be a good “value added” project.

  9. Well, apart from the fact that the skepticalscience group were carrying the water for the consensus, (yeah apart from that), they are just like anyone else in private (as opposed to all-knowing jerks and moderators in public). What is more, they had excellent insight and excellent suggestions to make.
    1) about how the secret forum tended to promoted groupthink
    2) about how moderator swarms could spook away neutral visitors
    3) about how ‘Christy’s Crocks and Spencer’s Slip Ups’ were not dignified
    4) about how quote mining whole articles to create skeptical ‘myths’ was not such a good idea
    5) about how continued support for Mann and Jones’ ‘hide the decline’ was not such a good idea
    6) about how continued blind support for dendrochronology was not such a good idea
    7) about how ‘Muller’s misinformation’ was a bad title

    and so forth.

    You can examine the public website. None of these suggestions for improvement were translated to practice.

  10. Just curious – but does anyone know if any of the skeptical blogs that we are told all promote conspiracy theories and all think the moon landing was faked actually have private moderator fora?

    I had assumed that Jeff’s, Lucia’s, both Peilke’s, Judith’s, Jo’s, Steve’s, Lubos’s, Roy’s, the Bish’s, etc. etc. etc. were run by individuals. I know WUWT has a team of mods, but don’t know if they have a private forum where they discuss policy.

    It is looking of late as though the only real conspiracies for which there is hard evidence are at RC, SkS, Lew’s Lunacy, and the like.

    1. no private forum at WUWT
      if you pay Andrew a £5 there is a paid for newsletter section area (you can see the login) but as he is supposed to do a monthly post in it, and hasn’t since June!! I thinking of stopping the payment.

      (also the only person commenting was me, so looks like that funding drive failed!!)
      I think the plan was to archive them publically anyway after a few months.)

    1. Here’s the video transcript of Anthony’s interview on PBS

      He handled himself well, probably because Anthony cannot comprehend that:

      1. Climategate was but the first clearly visible tip of science corruption since 1945;

      2. Earth’s variable climate is controlled by the Sun’s violently unstable pulsar core,

      3. A pulsar that made our elements, gave birth to Earth, and sustains our lives,

      4. A pulsar whose “sphere of influence” is (22 x 10^18)(Earth’s volume) !

      Here’s the rest of the story:

  11. Hi jeff,
    Glad to see you have found some time for posting of late.

    I think Julan is not unusual for climate scientists: part green actvist, part scientist, part politial advocate. He represents exactly what is wrong with climate science; its just politics masquerading as science…. again. Can climate science get past the julans who are corrupting it? I don’t know, but if it is going to happen, it won’t be until the current activist cohort is displaced by a less political group.

    1. I’m equally upset with Muller’s attribution claims. How come he can develop a temp curve which matches everyone else, put an incorrect CI around it and then declare that the warming is 100% human caused. Even the IPCC doesn’t try that nonsense.

      He needs to turn in his mensa card.

  12. “What should be taken from this little issue is that tone is very important. If Steig et al remained curteous (even with the attacks) then for those watching on the sidelines it would be obvious that the science is in good hands. To react somewhat snarky just brings us down to their level. Keep talking the science and stay away from personal stuff and you will win in the hearts and minds.”

    I think this sums up my take away from the hacked/whatever comments. I was very much aware and participating in some of these discussions and I never saw a level of snark that prevented anyone from making rational points. I have not seen in the past or current time where climate scientists, in general, are above the crowd when it comes to avoiding snark or keeping a discussion on reasoned terms. I have said this many times but if one wants to make a rational point at a friendly or not so friendly blog it is rather easy to rise above the fray and do it.

    From the above I get the feeling that some would worry more about the image than the substance. Kind of reminds me of our current presidential race here in the US.

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