McIntyreGate

My previous post, titled "Steven Mosher: even Fuller of it" was, as the title suggests, focused on a claim by Steven Mosher, made in a comment at the website "Scholars and Rogues" and apparently also in his book about "climategate" co-authored with Tom Fuller. One should be able to tell that the post is about Mosher since I refer to his name 16 times in the article, not to mention the title and tags. The fact that I refer to the IPCC at least 20 times (and AR4 10 times) is an indication that my concern was with content of the IPCC reports and specifically the most recent one, AR4. If Mosher was right, IPCC had made a (not large, but verifiable) error in the latest WG1 report. It turned out Mosher was wrong.

Brian Angliss' article at "Scholars and Rogues" was more about claims made at the website "ClimateAudit" by Steve McIntyre. I have not investigated any of Angliss' claims or found anything presented at ClimateAudit to be wrong, although I frequently find McIntyre's posts quite confusing - the narrative thread at least is hard to follow, and there is a lot of non-scientific "jargon" (like "team") that seems to mean something to him but means nothing to me. Since the background of my post on Mosher was Angliss' article, I mentioned ClimateAudit (5 times) and McIntyre (3 times) while reviewing the context - but in what I considered both positive and neutral terms. I certainly had no intention of claiming that anything at ClimateAudit was wrong, since I had not investigated anything there at that point.

I also have not investigated anything about the tree ring data itself. Whether what Briffa did in truncating his series at 1960 was scientifically valid or not is something that requires some sort of scientific judgment and knowledge of the field, which I certainly do not have. I do know there are occasions where, as a scientist, you just know some of your data is tainted in some way and has to be discarded. This happened to me in one of my earliest publications, where I produced a graph of a theoretical curve regarding behavior of electrons in a quasicrystal, and then realized that the portion of the graph close to zero was meaningless because of an approximation I had made. So that portion is "shaded out" in the published article - I dropped the data because I knew it was not valid. Perhaps what Briffa did with his data was similarly justified, I just don't know enough to comment one way or the other on that.

In any case, perhaps my posts are hard to follow too. McIntyre has now posted something that is indeed very wrong - about me. He refuses to correct his post, despite my repeated clarifications in comments on his site about what he got wrong. Here's the full list of what is wrong with his latest post - so now, I *am* criticizing a post at ClimateAudit by McIntyre. Nevertheless, we appear to agree on the IPCC AR4 graph, which is good news. Mosher was indeed wrong about it.

(1)

Arthur Smith makes strong and untrue allegations against Climate Audit

I did not make any allegations about Climate Audit, strong or not, true or not.

(2)

Smith does not bother to link to the ClimateAudit discussion

I did link to one ClimateAudit discussion discussing the TAR at the appropriate point – but I was never claiming it was wrong, it was a reference point.

(3)

Arthur Smith has gotten a little punch drunk from different versions of tricks from the Team and has incorrectly presumed that I have been wrongfooted by the Team.

The psychological analysis is amusing but completely false. I am perfectly aware of discussion of many different “tricks”. I was investigating a very specific claim of what “the trick” was, as put forth by Steven Mosher. Mosher’s statement was clear, and I was extremely clear-headed in my discussion and analysis of his claim. I did not presume any “wrongfootedness” on the part of McIntyre, nor did I investigate any specific claim or statement by him (until now).

(4)

I haven’t fallen prey to any of the errors alleged by Arthur Smith.

I never alleged McIntyre had fallen prey to an error. Until now.

(5)

With this in mind, let’s turn to spitballs from the confused Arthur Smith.

Again with the psychology. I was, in the quoted paragraph, paraphrasing Angliss with a few side comments. That paragraph was never the central content of my post which was clearly about Mosher and IPCC AR4, not Climate Audit.

(6)

However, the fact that Team supporters are unoffended does not show that any actual Climate Audit statement was unfounded.

I am not a “Team supporter” whatever that is supposed to mean. As I said at the start, I half-expected Mosher to be right and this to uncover a serious (though nitpicky) error by the IPCC. I was very disappointed at the waste of time the effort to verify Mosher turned into. And again, I never said any climate audit statement was unfounded.

(7)

obviously do not agree that Smith has presented any examples or evidence of this occurring at Climate Audit.

I never claimed to be presenting any examples or evidence of it at Climate Audit. The investigation was of the IPCC (and Mosher’s claim regarding those figures), not Climate Audit!!

(8)

He demonstrated precisely nothing about statements made by me at Climate Audit.

And I never intended to!

(9)

Smith’s insinuation that Climate Audit had somehow been associated with “presenting a graph that is specifically stated to be showing one thing, but actually showing another” is totally unjustified.

Once again, I did not insinuate any such thing.

I hope that helps clarify matters!

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Welcome to the CA drama

Welcome to the CA drama club.

Arthur, when I read your

Arthur, when I read your Mosher post, I was confused by the inclusion of the CA/McIntyre references. I kept expecting the references to lead to something more substantive wrt CA's "subtle nonsense". The post (in my mind) is ambiguous on the reason for the CA references and I question whether they added anything at all. It was not until I was all the way through the post that I concluded that you had nothing real to say about CA. Not trying to accuse you of anything - just explaining my impressions as I read through your post initially.

I normally don't care to post

I normally don't care to post on blogs, but after reading this site and Steve McIntyre's site over the last couple days, I feel like I should.

When I first read the earlier topic on this site, it felt very strange. The first thing which struck me was the title. Saying someone is "full of it" seems quite harsh. When I checked the original comments, it hardly seemed fitting. Obviously Mosher made a mistake. He should have corrected the mistake in the comments where he made the mistake. However, it seems strangely harsh to say someone is "full of it" for making a mistake anyone could make. Something like "Steven Mosher gets it wrong" may lack a pun, but it would certainly be more appropriate.

The next thing that struck me was the style of the post. By the time I got through the first two paragraphs, I had no idea where the post was going. They seemed to set the stage for some dark exposé in which horrible deceptions were revealed. The third paragraph then narrowed the focus to ClimateAudit and the book published by Steven Mosher. The fourth paragraph is where things break down, when this is said about the "trick":

"There is nothing scientifically nefarious or 'wrong' about this - the 'divergence problem' has been extensively discussed in the scientific literature including in the text of the most recent IPCC report. If you have reason to believe a particular collection of tree ring data is a good measure of temperature before 1960 but for some still uncertain reason not after that point, then it's perfectly legitimate to create a graph using the data you think is reliable, particularly if these choices are all clearly explained in the surrounding text or caption."

We have a strong, negative title criticizing Steven Mosher. We have two paragraphs discussing horrible things people do. We then have a statement which would seem to exonerate the people criticized in regards to the "trick." The implication created here is Steven Mosher, and the people at ClimateAudit agreeing with him, are full of nonsense.

Of course, if one makes sure to read the post for what is said, it is clear nothing horrible is said in it. The post's point is Steven Mosher made a mistake. However, it is quite easy to lose sight of this point given the tone of the post. If one does so, it is easy to misunderstand things like the third paragraph:

"Brian Angliss has recently put a lot of effort into tracking down the basis of some of the claims regarding "climategate", in particular looking at the implications of malfeasance on the part of the scientists whose emails were stolen. Many of these conclusions were claimed at the website ClimateAudit, and in particular in a book published by Steven Mosher and Tom Fuller. There followed an extensive thread of comment including from Fuller and Mosher, and a response from Steve McIntyre at ClimateAudit that clarified some of the claims."

Taken on its own, this is clearly just a statement of facts. There is nothing wrong with it. It leaves out facts like, "Brian Angliss made criticisms which were horribly wrong, and he had to retract them." Is it necessary to state these facts? No, but it would be helpful. Given the tone of the post, not mentioning facts like that can give a totally different impression of the paragraph. It seems like an intentional slight.

So it seems clear Steve McIntyre was wrong in his interpretation. He took offense at things which were not said in the post. However, given the way the post was made, it understandable he did so. The post seems to make horrible claims about Steven Mosher, defend people from criticisms raised by McIntyre, and mentions McIntyre and his site repeatedly. While he is wrong in his interpretation, it seems Arthur Smith was practically begging to be misinterpreted.

Oh come on. It seems Arthur

Oh come on. It seems Arthur Smith was under the mistaken impression that people actually read blog posts in full, rather than just the first few paragraphs.

And I did not say Steve Mosher was "full of it". I said he was "fuller of it". That is a statement of direction, not content. Perhaps he is generally sparklingly honest in his statements, and I just caught him on one slight mistaken claim used to castigate Brian Angliss for "not knowing about the trick". Or perhaps he is just a normal human, and this is just one addition to his sins.

The purpose of titles and intro sections is to catch attention with some sense of humor and perspective. At least that's the way I do it. If you don't like it, don't come here.

You approached a heated

You approached a heated subject in which one side is used to baseless insults and random smearing. You started with an inflammatory title. You then discussed horrible things people do. Only after this did you discuss the actual topic, and you did so without any clear transition. This seems like a significant style problem.

A lot of people misinterpreted your post. Clearly there is something in it which caused them to do so. You should consider why they thought what they thought. If you understand why they misinterpreted it, and you are content with your post anyway, so be it. Personally, I think the first page of your post was unclear, and I would change it a bit.

As a point of interest, I also posted over at ClimateAudit. While I think your post was stylistically horrible, and practically begging for confusion, I think the behavior over there is reprehensible. There is no excuse for the nonsense in the topic over there. Your opening may have been unclear, but it in no way justifies the reaction it got.

Thanks. Given Steven Mosher's

Thanks. Given Steven Mosher's reasonably clear statement that it was entirely his responsibility (though if his claim was independent of McIntyre, why did he first ask McIntyre if his statement was correct, as he admits?) I will probably update the original post to fix that issue.

But, you know, most of my readers are scientists and friends. I don't write for the ClimateAudit crowd. If they don't understand or like the style here, I really don't see it as a big problem.

Just to add to Eli's

Just to add to Eli's observation the point that someone who titled his book "The CRUTape Letters" is in no position at all to complain about snarky word play by others.

Steve and Arthur, Can you

Steve and Arthur,

Can you please point me to a place where I ever complained about Arthur's title. I have no issue with it whatsoever. Perhaps you will see fit to go correct Eli. You simply do not dare correct him. It's not allowed. I think Arthur's title is clever. I like it. I would grade it an A. I would even say it's brilliant. I know that some people ( say bender) would like to make a case out of the disparity between the title and the crime. I see it differently. Those who are opposed any criticism whatsoever of climate science will see that the title fits the text. It works for that audience. Those who are critics of climate science will see that the title does not fit the text. Or they will say things like " if mosher is full of it, then what about mann" So the whole argument and the entire frame of the argument is merely recapitulated.
The Convinced will see this as another example of skeptics ( I'm not) being wrong and evil, and the Unconvinced will see this as another example of AGWers failing to treat the shortcomings of climate science with the same intensity that they treat the mistakes of others. Hypocrits.

That is a pattern that is tough to break out of. In one way it's kind of ironic. It allows the skeptics to tell their story again and again even when they make mistakes. That is why I like Arthur's cure. Admit your mistakes and promise to do better and actually keep that promise. That's some medicine that might improve the debate.

Of course he would ask Steve

Of course he would ask Steve McIntyre. He knows that Steve is an expert on the subject. Wouldn't surprise me if he knew more off the top of his head about how various graphs were constructed than the authors themselves.

Arthur is is simple. In

Arthur is is simple. In preparation for the book I read CA from start to finish including all the comments. That allowed me to write a chronology that bounced back an forth between the mails and the blog. To discover some little tidbits of influence and priority. As somebody who spent far to many years looking at various versions of texts ( in literature) and the edits etc, getting priority and influence correct is just second nature to me. In writing the book where Steve is a source I quoted him. On Ar4 he was not a source. I'd seen nothing on his site reference the splice WRT AR4 either when I wrote the book or when I made the comment. My mistake was doing the math in my head and concluding that mean padding would point straight down. Since the curve didnt exhbit that behavior I asserted that they did a temperature splice. That assertion was wrong. Since I normally try to cite a source when I make a claim ( being a chronicler) this lack of a primary source bugged me. As I explained I thought it would be a good idea to write a guide to the trick where for once and all it could be laid out in its various versions, or if possible, writing a guide that would distill the trick down into basic elements as I tried to do in the comments. We all saw brian get wrong footed so the idea of a guide seemed like a good idea. I even considered asking Amac to write it up because he goes at these things without any snark. Anyways, the start of the project is to go collect sources. Ask Steve what he has. I know it came as a surprise to Brian, but he and I really don't speak or write that often. I have a handful of mails with him, mostly asking 'do you have any more info on this?"
because basically I know how to read what he has already posted and have read it all.
Now the attempt to tie me to steve is very interesting. people have obviously looked for a source at CA to nail him. Finding no source there, then then switch to the tenuous unfalsifiable assertion that Mcintyre must have confused me. Were that true, and it's not, there would still remain the issue of who was to blame for the confusion. Obviously, in some people's minds, McIntyre would be to blame regardless. What it boils down to is a certain mindset that SteveMc must be responsible, regardless of the facts. In this mindset, if I read the IPCC and came away with the wrong idea of course they would be to blame. And If I wrote the author asking for clarification, then obviously they were the source and cause of my confusion. In short, Steve wasnt a source. You can read his blog to see that he wasnt a source. The lack of any reference there did not cause me confusion, it gave me clarity. This call is mine. I got it wrong. That you would continue to speculate about this when you council others to stick to who said what, is interesting.

My mistake was doing the math

My mistake was doing the math in my head and concluding that mean padding would point straight down. Since the curve didnt exhbit that behavior I asserted that they did a temperature splice. That assertion was wrong. ... As I explained I thought it would be a good idea to write a guide to the trick ... the idea of a guide seemed like a good idea ... I even considered asking Amac to write it up ...

Shorter Mosher: accuse first, verify later -- or get some sucker to do the work for me. Well, some sucker did.

Cute.

Perhaps, just perhaps, you

Perhaps, just perhaps, you might have taken a look at the book that Steve Mosher wrote about the stolen CRU Emails. And doing so, perchance noted that his co-author was Tom Fuller, not exactly a shrinking flower.

Having done your very best Emily Litella, you now look at Arthur and say never mind.

I think the changes go too

I think the changes go too far. It's a blog, not a peer-reviewed paper.

I understand that.

I understand that. Personally, I don't think your post was confusing enough to do anything other than make people read it a second time. I had read it before the ClimateAudit topic was created, and I never expected a reaction like it got. I wound up reading it more times to try to understand what Steve McIntyre was talking about than to understand what you had said, and that includes what you had said about the graphs.

There is a note of dark humor here. Steven Mosher's mistake was rather mild, and it wouldn't have attracted much attention at all. Steve McIntyre's reaction, and the nonsense at ClimateAudit, was extremely severe, and it will attract quite a bit of attention.

Since I have now read your

Since I have now read your bio and realize you should have the ability to analyze what was done here, I would be a lot more comfortable with you if you made some properly critical statements of any of the methods used to 'hide the decline'. Certainly, as a physicist, you never simply deleted data which didn't have the result you wanted - without any physical explanation as to what went wrong with the experiment at least.

We've all taken bad data but certainly when you realize that climatology can only verify this data is actually temperature in any way, by its correlation to temperature, deletion of the inconvenient verification portion to make a historically flat signal is inappropriate- -- right?

Have you ever deleted a portion of a signal without explanation for the problem? The values taken were certainly not outside of reason for tree rings, they just weren't in the increasing trend that climatology prefers. So even if all of what you said about 'extensive' disclosure were true - which it isn't - all of the methods proposed are on their face - bad science - agreed?

I do not agree they are "on

I do not agree they are "on their face - bad science". Scientists make judgment calls all the time. It would take experience in the specific field, which I do not have, to tell whether it was "bad science" or not. People who seem to have more experience in the issue have come down on both sides. In very general terms, from my own experience in science, "on their face", removal of data that is on one side or another of a clear range of parameters (like date) is far less of an issue than removal of data that is otherwise indistinguishable from or in the center of a range.

In any case, this issue of whether the data removal was justified is clearly a matter of *opinion*. Mosher's claim on how smoothing was done, and the statements of how smoothing was done in the IPCC figures, are matters of *fact*. It does not take any special expertise in a field to determine which side is correct on a matter of fact such as that. People would do well to focus on matters of fact - that's how scientists generally try to present everything - and save the matters of opinion for those times when you just want to have fun flaming one another. We can agree on facts; agreeing on opinion is quite another matter.

Some reason for the snip?

Some reason for the snip?

Yes, see the Policy link top

Yes, see the Policy link top right. If you have something to add, think about it and state it clearly before you post, and make sure it's on the topic. I'm not interested in religious wars. Your comment, as I recall, seemed to have serious trouble distinguishing fact from opinion, and I'm not interested in spending my time explaining the difference to you if you don't see it yourself.

Arthur, I just wanted to

Arthur, I just wanted to cross-post for your attention a comment I just made at Collide-a-scape that I suspect won't see the light of day:

"FYI, Keith, I suspect Arthur was reacting at least in part to JohnB's entirely careless discussion of Allen and Sherwood (2008). What JohnB doesn't know is that the reason the observations were thought to be wrong in that instance was because a) there were good physical reasons to think so and b) if the observations were correct, it would overturn something really fundamental regarding our understanding of the atmosphere (and having nothing to do with AGW theory as such.).

"Instead, JohnB undertook a wholly political analysis of the issue, then you featured it, to all appearances believing that it must somehow reasonably contribute to a case for bias by climate scientists.

"If people want to be taken seriously, they need to avoid saying or promoting entirely ridiculous things."

Thanks, but off topic. Maybe

Thanks, but off topic. Maybe I should set up an open thread here...