Defending the Tribe

This is a really interesting email string form the CRU emails, via Steve McIntyre:

June 4, 2003 Briffa to Cook 1054748574
On June 4, 2003, Briffa, apparently acting as editor (presumably for Holocene), contacted his friend Ed Cook of Lamont-Doherty in the U.S. who was acting as a reviewer telling him that “confidentially” he needed a “hard and if required extensive case for rejecting”, in the process advising Cook of the identity and recommendation of the other reviewer. There are obviously many issues involved in the following as an editor instruction:

From: Keith Briffa
To: Edward Cook
Subject: Re: Review- confidential REALLY URGENT
Date: Wed Jun 4 13:42:54 2003

I am really sorry but I have to nag about that review – Confidentially I now need a hard and if required extensive case for rejecting – to support Dave Stahle’s and really as soon as you can. Please
Keith

Cook to Briffa, June 4, 2003
In a reply the same day, Cook told Briffa about a review for Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Sciences of a paper which, if not rejected, could “really do some damage”. Cook goes on to say that it is an “ugly” paper to review because it is “rather mathematical” and it “won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically”. Here is the complete email:

Hi Keith,
Okay, today. Promise! Now something to ask from you. Actually somewhat important too. I got a paper to review (submitted to the Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Sciences), written by a Korean guy and someone from Berkeley, that claims that the method of reconstruction that we use in dendroclimatology (reverse regression) is wrong, biased, lousy, horrible, etc. They use your Tornetrask recon as the main whipping boy. I have a file that you gave me in 1993 that comes from your 1992 paper. Below is part of that file. Is this the right one? Also, is it possible to resurrect the column headings? I would like to play with it in an effort to refute their claims. If published as is, this paper could really do some damage. It is also an ugly paper to review because it is rather mathematical, with a lot of Box-Jenkins stuff in it. It won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically, but it suffers from the classic problem of pointing out theoretical deficiencies, without showing that their improved inverse regression method is actually better in a practical sense. So they do lots of monte carlo stuff that shows the superiority of their method and the deficiencies of our way of doing things, but NEVER actually show how their method would change the Tornetrask reconstruction from what you produced. Your assistance here is greatly appreciated. Otherwise, I will let Tornetrask sink into the melting permafrost of northern Sweden (just kidding of course).
Cheers,
Ed

A couple of observations

  1. For guys who supposedly represent the consensus science of tens of thousands of scientists, these guys sure have a bunker mentality
  2. I would love an explanation of how math can have theoretical deficiencies but be better in a practical sense.  In the practical sense of … giving the answer one wants?
  3. The general whitewash answer to all the FOIA obstructionism is that these are scientists doing important work not to be bothered by nutcases trying to waste their time.  But here is exactly the hypocrisy:  The email author says that some third party’s study is deficient because he can’t demonstrate how his mathematical approach might change the answer the hockey team is getting.  But no third party can do this because the hockey team won’t release the data needed for replication.  This kind of data – to check the mathematical methodologies behind the hockey stick regressions – is exactly what Steve McIntyre et al have been trying to get.  Ed Cook is explaining here, effectively, why release of this data is indeed important
  4. At the very same time these guys are saying to the world not to listen to critics because they are not peer-reviewed, they are working as hard as they can back-channel to keep their critics out of peer-reviewed literature they control.
  5. For years I have said that one problem with the hockey team is not just that the team is insular, but he reviewers of their work are the same guys doing the work.  And now we see that these same guys are asked to review the critics of their work.
  • Wally

    Waldo,

    Seems my first post was eaten by the internet monster, but lets address something here

    “However, there are suggestions that the western
    Himalaya region is showing a different response to
    global warming (Kumar et al. 1994; Yadav et al. 2004),
    with an increase in DTR and a cooling of mean temperature
    in some seasons, possibly as a result of local
    forcing factors.”

    You’re basically referencing Kumar and Yadav here, not this paper.

    For reference: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/266/5185/632
    They basically found sea temps rising from 1982 to 1993. This isn’t disputed by the skeptics, we acknowledge that warming has taken place from ~1850 to present. What we disagree with is the extent of that warming reported by the hockey stick, the causes of that warming as reported in the IPCC reports, and what that warming means for the future (also as found in the IPCC reports). Kumar 1994 doesn’t really deal with any of those issues.

    Yadav 2004 doesn’t address global warming directly, but the Himalayan response to it. The Abstract:
    “Observational records and reconstructions from tree rings reflect premonsoon (March to May) temperature cooling in the western Himalaya during the latter part of the 20th century. A rapid decrease of minimum temperatures at around three times higher rate, as compared to the rate of increase in maximum temperatures found in local climate records is responsible for the cooling trend in mean premonsoon temperature. The increase of the diurnal temperature range is attributed to large scale deforestation and land degradation in the area and shows the higher influence of local forcing factors on climate in contrast to the general trend found in higher latitudes of the northern Hemisphere.”

    Or basically Yadav found something similar to this article, and attribute it to deforestation and other human land use issues. I can’t get the full paper for what ever reason, so I can’t say how they come to that conclusion, but that’s a difficult conclusion to really prove. Maybe they mean it as more of a suggested cause.

  • Wally

    Also:

    “The observed downward trend in summer temperature and runoff is consistent with the observed thickening and expansion of Karakoram glaciers, in contrast to widespread decay and retreat in the eastern Himalayas. This suggests that the western Himalayas are showing a different response to global warming than other parts of the globe.”

    So the western Himalayas are changing differently than the eastern Himalayas, ok, neat. As for the “global warming” part. Pretty much every skeptic you can find agrees there has been global warming from ~1850-present (or at least 1998). So I’m not sure what you point is here.

    What this paper has done is give us an example of how global warming has not caused any “catastrophic” changes in the western Himalayas, and that the western Himalayas are even going against the warming trend. This is a lesson on what global mean temperature changes mean for specific locations. Which I of course explained before and you promptly ignored…

  • Waldo

    Ignored nothing. Read that in Fowler’s paper. Not sure what your point is.

    Again, Wally, again: it is pretty clear what conclusions Folwer & Archer come to. What I wrote earlier, and then was promptly ignored, is that Flower and Archer come to no specific conclusion about “catastrophic” anything. They accept global warming. They wanted to know why this region of the Himalayas is reacting differently to the phenomenon than other regions of the Himalayas. They state seven conclusions at the end of the paper as to why this region is reacting differently. You and Anon. are simply playing semantic games and making inferences about what these scientists “might” have thought to change what they actually wrote.

  • Wally

    Waldo,

    What exactly am I making inferences about?

    I’m pointing out that they both recognize global warming, make no mention of AGW nor catastrophic AGW. Which is the point, there is no catastrophe. If anything, the cooling is worse because it decreases summer run offs. I also point out that this paper illustrates how a global trend may not be taking place in any specific location. Thus, the blanket catastrophe predictions (more hurricanes, droughts, floods, etc.) spouted by the parts of the AGW are meaningless without knowledge of specific areas and how a global warming trend will effect them. Honestly, how is this difficult?

  • Waldo

    “there is no catastrophe. If anything, the cooling is worse because it decreases summer run offs”

    That is an inference, Wally. As is this:

    “This is a lesson on what global mean temperature changes mean for specific locations”

    And so on up the line.

    There is nothing “difficult” about your assertion, Wally. I am simply not convinced. Just because they do not mention the term “catastrophic” does not mean it is not happening.

    Fowler and Archer’s findings are actually a specific explanation for why GW is not present in one place while GW is present in other places. In other words, there may be “catastrophic” climate changes going on in the world, but this particular spot in the Himalayas reacts differently because of very specific factors; therefore, the odd temperature flips are not significant to the overall trend of global warming which is clearly taking place. Is this global warming anthropogenic? Well, our authors cite both the dreaded Mann and the dreaded CRU…but this would be making an inference which the authors do not state.

    And here we are B.S.ing with each other and it is tedious.

  • Wally

    Ah poor Waldo, you still miss the subtleties don’t you?

    Me: “there is no catastrophe. If anything, the cooling is worse because it decreases summer run offs”

    You: That is an inference, Wally.

    Yes its MY inference from the paper it isn’t not, and I quote you, me “making inferences about what these scientists “might” have thought to change what they actually wrote.” See the difference there Waldo? One is me making my own conclusion (inferences), and stating them as such, the other is you pretending I’m putting words into these scientists mouths. Honestly, I don’t know why I try…

    Again:

    “This is a lesson on what global mean temperature changes mean for specific locations”

    >And so on up the line.<

    Yes, my own conclusion about what this paper means relating to the topic at hand. NOT me making inferences about what the authors “might” have thought.

    “Just because they do not mention the term “catastrophic” does not mean it is not happening.”

    Did they describe anything that sounded like a catastrophe to you? I’m not trying to infer on what the authors thought here regarding ‘catastrophe’. I’m making my own conclusion about what the colder temps mean. Get it?

    “Fowler and Archer’s findings are actually a specific explanation for why GW is not present in one place while GW is present in other places.”

    Whaa? That’s science fail right there Waldo. They didn’t offer any evidence for WHY this is happening, they just showed that it was happening. Meaning, they had no “specific explanation for why GW is not present in one place while GW is present in other places,” outside a general guess about some sort of ‘specific conditions’ that is. The paper dealt with reporting what is happening, not why. That is, in part, what we’re discussing.

    “In other words, there may be “catastrophic” climate changes going on in the world, but this particular spot in the Himalayas reacts differently because of very specific factors; therefore, the odd temperature flips are not significant to the overall trend of global warming which is clearly taking place.”

    Now that’s an inference on what Fowler and Archer “might” have been thinking. Remember, they never said anything like “there may be ‘catastrophic’ climate changes going on in the world.”

    “Is this global warming anthropogenic? Well, our authors cite both the dreaded Mann and the dreaded CRU…but this would be making an inference which the authors do not state.”

    Which of course you did in earlier posts anyway, before you condemned me for (supposedly) doing something similar, I might remind you. And yes, of course, merely citing a paper of Mann’s or the CRU data doesn’t mean you agree with anything they said. You could obviously cite a paper’s results only to disagree with it.

    “And here we are B.S.ing with each other and it is tedious.”

    I assure you, you’re the only one BSing. But at least you admit to as much.

  • Waldo

    “One is me making my own conclusion (inferences), and stating them as such, the other is you pretending I’m putting words into these scientists mouths”

    Potato, po-tah-toe. And this argument is now pointless.

    Plus it is B.S. You will simply not admit it, to yourself or anyone else. These are very intelligent people here, Wally, as you are yourself, but it is pretty clear that you and they are reading with a very specific purpose in mind. Nothing else will matter or penetrate. And some of these posters are pure whackjobs, and probably neocon whackjobs at that. I know that skeptics are very sensitive to charges of being unscientific or that they are frustrated because their science is not taken seriously. Look at some of the latest CS posts. But there might be a reason for that.

    You will be sorry to know that I will be traveling so you will be without my company for a short while, but rest assured, I will be around.

    Cheers.

  • hunter

    Wally,
    Put the troll on a diet.

  • ruralcounsel

    Waldo,
    So we disagree on the meaning of the following language…

    “I would like to play with it in an effort to refute their claims. If published as is, this paper could really do some damage. It is also an ugly paper to review because it is rather mathematical, with a lot of Box-Jenkins stuff in it. It won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically, but it suffers from the classic problem of pointing out theoretical deficiencies, without showing that their improved inverse regression method is actually better in a practical sense. So they do lots of monte carlo stuff that shows the superiority of their method and the deficiencies of our way of doing things, but NEVER actually show how their method would change the Tornetrask reconstruction from what you produced. Your assistance here is greatly appreciated. ”

    English can be a very imprecise tool, but I think you argue in bad faith. I’m sure you are aware of the concept of willfull ignorance. Check your biases at the door please.

    What do you suppose is meant by “without showing that their improved inverse regression method is actually better in a practical sense”? When the basic data is in question, how exactly does one show a curve-fitting method is “better” in a “practical sense”? May I suggest that “practical” here is used to mean in a way that supports their theory?

    Note the concern about “deficiencies of our way of doing things.” Also note that is rather difficult to “show how their method would change…what you produced” when the un-manipulated data sets are withheld, and the manipulations are obscured.

    We’ve heard how they cherry-picked data, propagated recording errors, made selective and unsubstantiated adjustments…and here is clear evidence of collusion and conspiracy in trying to subvert the peer-review process. I don’t see how any other rational conclusion can be reached.

    Obfuscation will only buy so much time. It is evident that the core AGW scientists have behaved unethically and with willful intent to further a movement from which they profited. They have perverted the science for their own benefit. (Isn’t that the basis you were using to decide from which journals to accept peer-reviewed articles to consider? Shouldn’t you be consistent?)

    Seems you were anxious to defer to expert opinion earlier, up until it went against your interpretation. Then suddenly it seems you feel the need to question my credentials. Question away, I suppose. I’ll be happy to wager you, through an impartial third party holding the funds in escrow, that I hold the degree I told you (and others as well), if you insist on being silly about it. I could use a boost in my income. What do you say to $10,000? $20,000? Hmmmm?

  • Wally

    Waldo

    “One is me making my own conclusion (inferences), and stating them as such, the other is you pretending I’m putting words into these scientists mouths”

    >Potato, po-tah-toe. And this argument is now pointless. <

    Well it pretty much was ever since you brought it up, and now its been completely trashed, yes you’re right.

    “And some of these posters are pure whackjobs, and probably neocon whackjobs at that.”

    Remember that if you think they are a whackjob, they likely think you are also a whackjob, so who’s right? You, them, both or neither? I’ve seen some, shall I say goofy, posts on this site before, and many of yours are right up there Waldo.

  • Waldo

    Hi kids, just checking in.

    And helllllooooo, Dr. Rural.

    “We’ve heard how they” etc. Where did you hear?

    When you write, “here is clear evidence of collusion and conspiracy in trying to subvert the peer-review process,” you are correct that we disagree. I do not see “clear evidence” but I’ve already responded to this much higher up in the thread and don’t feel like doing it again. So when you write “I don’t see how any other rational conclusion can be reached” I sincerely doubt that you yourself have checked your biases at the door.

    Rural, my friend, the minute you check your biases at the door I’ll check mine. I’ll even wager you leave with a few more claim slips since you obviously predicate your reading – and it is a “reading” in the interpretive sense – on the hard held belief that CRU scientists must be subverting the process and so, I suspect, any objective, rational conclusion is seriously tainted by a pretty vehement a priori conclusion you reached long before.

    Real Climate has a number of responses, as does the NY Times, to CRU charges…but I suppose we automatically disregard them…

    And sure – hire a third party (accounting firms or law firms usually handle this sort of thing, I think); I’ll have my people contact your people. In the mean time, even if what you write is true (and that was such a dorky thing to write I am now willing to believe that you are an engineer), you are an expert in engineering, not a climate scientist. Thus I will defer to you on matters of engineering; on matters of climate I will defer to certain other well know parties.

    But I would honestly be interested in an explanation of this:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/02/dummies-guide-to-the-latest-hockey-stick-controversy/
    Despite itself, it is a complex text and I suspect this is one of the reasons climate scientists are generating such distrust and the blogosphere, which tends to put things in simplistic terms, gains an audience. I actually had someone once say to me, “Well, if the laypeople can’t understand the science, what good is it?” I had no response.

    I’ll check back if I can.

    Keep them cards and letters coming, kids.

  • hunter

    Wally,
    Remember the diet.
    An algorithm that produces the same results, no matter the input, is a piece of junk, only good for troll food and other idiots.

  • ruralcounsel

    Waldo,
    Just in case you thought no one was paying attention, clever rhetoric/writing doesn’t provide a sound basis of analysis. Condescension and belittling tones are a poor substitute for rationality. “Kid.” I guess “troll” was a more appropriate term for you.

    Real Climate? Isn’t that like asking for unbiased political commentary from Firedoglake? You are joking, I’m sure. A site run by an MIT physicist, I might add, not a climate scientist. (Who has been known for his nearly religious fervor for climate catastrophe theory, inability to brook any dissenting discussions, and threats to journalists who dared break ranks. And, I might add, was merely a middle level manager in government DOE programs…hardly a rousing endorsement of his scientific prowess.) And an article from 2005? A lot has been disclosed about data manipulation and selection since then, little man. That has been the entire point behind the East Anglia CRU email fiasco.

    “We’ve heard how they…” More willful ignorance, my child? You have become tiresome in your obstinancy to be educated, or at least pointed in a direction to open your mind to rational scientific concepts which provide counterponts to the AGW theory talking points. Such a waste. Look up the SPPI response to Scientific American in their December 27, 2009 white paper, refuting SA’s feeble attempt to stave off criticism. I don’t have a link, but am sure you could Google it.

    Oh, and did you the enjoy the belittling tone and condescending approach? I thought you’d be more comfortable with it, since it seems to be the only content you can provide. Endearing, in a dorky liberal artsy kind of way.

    Oh, and such graceful and clever backing down on questioning academic credentials. Smooth. Not.

  • Waldo

    My, my, my Dr. Rural, someone is a feisty little pepperpot when stung, aren’t you? I had no idea MIT produced such tough monkeys.

    It is pretty clear that this thread has outgrown any sort of usefulness to anyone, but I did like this phrase of yours, “obstinancy to be educated” (it actually means exactly the opposite of what you meant it to mean [you should have written “obstinancy toward being educated”]) but if you mean I obstinately refuse to buy into your conspiracy theories, amateur pseudo-science, blog cross-postings, and cut-n-pastes from neocon rags and London tabloids, you are right!!

    And didn’t I predict that you would refuse to read Real Climate? The irony of my asking you to read their hockeystick article is that I really was asking for help – you could have used your engineer brain to explain and critique their reasoning. Of course, RC is run by Schmidt, Mann, Ammann, Bradley – and the physicist is Benestad, who does climate physics. Go to the site and see for yourself. Plus their guest bloggers are all the real deal. SPPI has a politician (Ferguson), a former journalist-cum-elitist nutbag (Monckton), and a few scientists with some pretty dubious professional associations (Idso and Carter foremost).

    So sure, eventually I’ll get to SPPI’s article, but I’m in no real hurry to get there. I wouldn’t trust them anymore than I would trust a blog run by a small business owner / wannabe novelist.

    Anyway, this is boring and there really is nothing more to be said here. I don’t believe that you are an MIT trained engineer, Rural – in fact, I rather suspect that you are the same person who logged in earlier as “An Inquirer” or one of the other fine personas on this thread, but don’t bother trying to prove otherwise. It doesn’t matter and I don’t care. You and Bob Lazar, you know.

  • hunter

    As the troll turns, and leaves, fresh air replaces fetid.
    Ciao, babe.

  • I assume the troll has finally moved on (or been decapitated). However, I feel the need to issue an “I told you so”.

    The following information is from http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Himalayan-melting-by-2035-Scientists-just-assumed-so/articleshow/5459848.cms

    This is why we do not believe in the published “science” of Waldo’s experts – “It has also emerged that the New Scientist report was itself based on a short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, an obscure Indian scientist then based at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. Hasnain has since admitted that the claim was “speculation” and not supported by any formal research. ” Of course “Some scientists have questioned how the IPCC could have allowed such a mistake into print. Perhaps the most likely reason was lack of expertise. Lal himself admits he knows little about glaciers. “I am not an expert. The comments in the WWF report were made by a respected Indian scientist and it was reasonable to assume he knew what he was talking about,” he said.”

    Case closed.

    or is it?

    “The IPCC last week refused to comment so it has yet to explain how someone who admits to little expertise on glaciers was overseeing such a report.”

    I guess Waldo’s experts are still sticking by their report, despite the admission that it is totally based on “speculation” by an obscure scientist.

    WOW!!!

  • Waldo

    Well Papa, I can only say that my demise has been prematurely announced rather often on this thread.

    I too read the article you cite. What is interesting to me is that, out of the thousands of pages the IPCC has published, you and the CS crowd have found a single mistake – one that has only been alleged at this point – and clung to it like grim death. It is slightly desperate.

    And if the 2035 date is premature, does that disprove all of AGW science, of which there is a massive amount? Are the Himalayan glaciers not retreating?

    And do you hold up, oh I don’t know, say…a blog run by a small business owner up to the same level of scrutiny? Or do you uncritically accept “science” and “commentary” that has not even met IPCC’s apparently lax(er-than-they-should-be) criteria?