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
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:
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).
A couple of observations
- For guys who supposedly represent the consensus science of tens of thousands of scientists, these guys sure have a bunker mentality
- 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?
- 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
- 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.
- 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.