Spencer and Braswell fundamentally flawed, journal editor resigns

by

Wolfgang Wagner, editor-in-chief of the journal Remote Sensing, resigns over the publication of a fundamentally flawed paper:

[peer review is] supposed to be able to identify fundamental methodological errors or false claims. (…) the paper by Spencer and Braswell that was recently published in Remote Sensing is most likely problematic in both aspects and should therefore not have been published.

Peter Gleick has a good rundown of the story.

Wagner points out that minority views are and should be welcomed in the scientific literature. But he adds that that does not mean that long refuted arguments should be able to keep being published:

The problem is that comparable studies published by other authors have already been refuted in open discussions and to some extend also in the literature, a fact which was ignored by Spencer and Braswell in their paper and, unfortunately, not picked up by the reviewers. In other words, the problem I see with the paper by Spencer and Braswell is not that it declared a minority view (which was later unfortunately much exaggerated by the public media) but that it essentially ignored the scientific arguments of its opponents. This latter point was missed in the review process, explaining why I perceive this paper to be fundamentally flawed and therefore wrongly accepted by the journal.

What Stoat reads this to mean is that

Yes, novel and interesting challenges to the established view should be published – perhaps even get given a slightly easier ride, if they are novel. But No: just saying the same old thing again isn’t any good.

Quite predictably, Roy “Conspiracy” Spencer is complaining about the IPCC gatekeepers trying to silence dissenting geniuses like him.

Update: Dan Satterfield observes that

They ["skeptical" papers such as Spencer's] are not published to further the science, but as a piece of meat to those who find the science very incompatible with their world view.

Dutch translation of this post on my NL klimaatblog.

Update 2: Robert Grumbine reminds us of how Spencer sees his own role:

“I view my job a little like a legislator, supported by the taxpayer, to protect the interests of the taxpayer and to minimize the role of government.”

In the comments, Bob Brand makes several astute observations on the course of events and on Wagner’s apology to Trenberth (and the role of cultural differences therein). Re the apology, I see Wagner’s resignation as an apology to the scientific community and don’t find personal apologies to Trenberth necessary, though BB provides some rationale for this.

William Connolley provides some insights:

people are using short-cuts to try to evaluate who is correct. This is inevitable; if we restricted discussion to those who understood the issues, there would be far less debate.

(…) the obvious explanation for Wagner’s explanation, the one he actually gave: personal morality. He doesn’t want to be associated with this paper, and has used the only means available to free himself.

I would sum up Wagner’s reasons for resigning as follows:

  • the lack of considering (previously published) contradictory evidence.
  • the (in Wagner’s words) problematic issues w.r.t. “fundamental methodological errors or false claims.”
  • Spencer’s exaggerations and over-interpretations of his results (which made Wagner feel that he had been taken for a ride).
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226 Responses to “Spencer and Braswell fundamentally flawed, journal editor resigns”

  1. sharper00 Says:

    Once the “conspiracy!” element is introduced I don’t see how it’s possible to have any kind of rational debate afterwards. Spencer declared even criticism of his paper as first law denialism .

    Conspiracies can’t be disproven so if someone publishes a paper and nothing happens it just shows the conspiracy is scared and is ignoring it. If the paper is criticised the conspiracy is trying to censor opposing viewpoints.

    I find it hard to see how Spencer is “doing” science anymore.

  2. Jeff Id Says:

    Bart,

    Can you tell me what you found was specifically wrong with Spencer’s paper?

  3. Paul Middents Says:

    There have been a number of dissections of this paper. Bart linked to one so a more interesting question might be what JeffID finds compelling about it?

  4. William M. Connolley Says:

    JI: Bart can speak for himself, but the RC critique is outstanding, though hard work: try http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/07/misdiagnosis-of-surface-temperature-feedback/ if you think you’re hard enough.

    On a rather harder note: it won’t do to just play the naive innocent here. There are only two choices: you join Spencer in la-la land, where a vast organised conspiracy exists to suppress his paper – although mysteriously, this vast conspiracy hasn’t managed to get it retracted – or you return to the real world. Which way are you going?

  5. Eli Rabett Says:

    This is a sea change, putting editors on notice that they cannot simply ignore the agenda behind nonsense like Spencer and Braswell that will be trumpeted by the noise machine, and the notice extends well beyond climate science and into just about any public relations office because authors who blow up their results are going to have a very unfriendly reception for the next submission.

  6. Jeff Id Says:

    Paul and William,

    While your own analysis is surely technical, I was hoping to hear from Bart who’s words I always read. References to the RC cheerleading article have little meaning to me as it says very little in the way of content and a lot to do with the politics – typical RC fare. I remember similar reactions to a particular Antarctic warming paper there (having been snipped for several comments on them myself) and was looking to someone who can separate the science from their own opinion which is my impression of Bart.

    I’m curious where his understanding finds problems with the Spencer article.

  7. mick Says:

    “The managing editor of Remote Sensing selected three senior scientists from renowned US universities, each of them having an impressive publication record. Their reviews had an apparently good technical standard and suggested one “major revision”, one “minor revision” and one “accept as is”. The authors revised their paper according to the comments made by the reviewers and,
    consequently, the editorial board member who handled this paper accepted the paper (and could in fact not have done otherwise). Therefore, from a purely formal point of view, there were no errors with the review process.”

    This is a great example of the different between technically correct and politically correct.

  8. muoncounter Says:

    mick,
    It’s difficult to credit your quote, as you don’t show the source. John NG has a vastly different take:

    “Apparently the managing editor wasn’t so much of an expert. So how unlucky was it that he/she happened to select three minority-view reviewers? What are the odds?

    Very high, it turns out. On a hunch, I checked out the information to authors for the journal Remote Sensing. It says:

    Authors should suggest at least 5 potential referees …

    You don’t suppose the managing editor simply chose three referees from the list that Spencer and Braswell provided? Well, I do. I’m speculating here, but it seems likely. After all, what’s the point of asking authors to suggest reviewers unless you normally use some of them?”

    Probably got some really helpful criticism from hand-picked reviewers.

  9. The Spanish Inquisition Says:

    Might a certain Dr.John Christy be among this august company of unprejudiced referees?

  10. troyca Says:

    muoncounter:

    “On a hunch, I checked out the information to authors for the journal Remote Sensing. It says:

    Authors should suggest at least 5 potential referees …”

    FWIW, I believe the suggestion of five reviewers is pretty standard. See, for instance, the AGU author’s guide:

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/authors/manuscript_tools/journals/pdf/AGU_author_guide.pdf

    “Authors are asked to provide the names and contact information of five experts in their area as possible reviewers.”

    I would hope most editors know better than to just farm out the reviews to those experts submitted by the author.

  11. Marco Says:

    Troyca, they would likely choose other reviewers if they have such people in their database, Remote Sensing is new, so is unlikely to have a broad database with sufficient experts in all relevant areas.

    It’s also the direct research area that is of relevance: Editors in relevant AGU journals are likely to have a broad idea of who’s who in climate science, so they’ll be aware if ‘special’ names pop up.

  12. William M. Connolley Says:

    > JI: References to the RC cheerleading article have little meaning to me as it says very little in the way of content

    Err, if you’re capable of saying that, you haven’t read the article. As I said, it isn’t an easy article, being quite technical, but do have a go. But you won’t fool anyone here by trying to pretend it has little content – try Wattsup or CA instead – they’ll lap it up..

  13. Nick Stokes Says:

    muon,
    “You don’t suppose the managing editor simply chose three referees from the list that Spencer and Braswell provided? Well, I do.”
    The question to me is, why is the managing editor choosing referees at all, whoever suggested them. The ME is Mr Elvis Wang, an MDPI office man, and AFAIK not a scientist. It’s unusual for such a person to be overriding the Editor-in-Chief. That seems to me to be a reason for Wagner resigning.

  14. Tom Fuller Says:

    Professor Jonathon Jones at Bishop Hill:
    http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2011/9/2/journal-editor-resigns.html?lastPage=true#comment14976500

    “This is truly bizarre, and just shows how profoundly warped the climate science community has become. I make no judgement here on the correctness of the paper, but editors just don’t resign because of things like this.

    Nobody resigned at Science when they published that utter drivel about bacteria replacing phosphorus with arsenic; they just published seven comments (IIRC) back to back with a rather desperate defence from the original authors.

    Nobody resigned at Phys Rev Lett when I trashed a paper (on the evaluation of Gaussian sums) they had selected as one of the leading papers of the month: indeed nobody has formally ever accepted that I was right, but remarkably all the later papers on this subject follow my line.

    I have been up to my neck for over a year in a huge row with Iannis Kominis about the underlying quantum mechanics of spin sensing chemical reactions, and either his papers or mine (or just possibly both) are complete nonsense: but nobody has resigned over Koniminis’s paper in Phys Rev B or mine in Chem Phys Lett.

    Sure, my two controversies above never hit the popular press, but the arsenic stuff was discussed all over the place, far more than Spencer and Braswell.

    What sort of weird warped world to climate scientists inhabit?

    How have they allowed themselves to move so far from comon sense?

    What is wrong with these guys?

    Sep 2, 2011 at 9:51 PM | Jonathan

  15. muoncounter Says:

    It’s utterly pointless to speculate about Wagner’s motivation for resignation. Unless he will come forth with further explanatory statements, no one but he and the ME will probably ever know the inside story.

    But it is not speculation to utterly reject Spencer and Co.’s suggestion that there is a conspiracy against them. Such buffoonery elevates the discussion to the level of ‘the Apollo landings were faked!’ and ‘what really happened at Roswell?’

    Good luck to Spencer getting his next paper published in any but the most fringe of journals without thorough review. What serious editor can afford to take that risk?

  16. Leonard Weinstein Says:

    I read the S&B paper and it seemed to me to be reasonable, but admits the final conclusion is more like “we don’t know, but neither do you”. I am curious on specific claims where it is in error. If you add the recent evidence on cloud effects from GCR possible due to solar magnetic field variation, the entire remaining claimed evidence for large CO2 effects become unsupportable.

  17. gryposaurus Says:

    I’ve put together a bunch of quotes on this situation on my tumblr

    http://gryposaurus.tumblr.com/post/9749388165/assorted-quotes-from-wagner-resignation-part-1

    http://gryposaurus.tumblr.com/post/9749385659/assorted-quotes-from-wagner-resignation-part-2

    http://gryposaurus.tumblr.com/post/9750771669/assorted-quotes-from-wagner-resignation-part-3

  18. William M. Connolley Says:

    LW: if you’re really curious about what is wrong with S+B, it is pretty odd that you haven’t read http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/07/misdiagnosis-of-surface-temperature-feedback/, already linked in this thread.

  19. Jeff Id Says:

    William,

    The RC article is a circular argument. It’s not a forcing because we said so is not a good answer. Neither is piling on an unexplained error bar on climate models.

  20. William M. Connolley Says:

    JI: I see you still haven’t read it. As I said, it isn’t that easy, so it may take you a while to understand it. But it would be well worth your having a go. Bart: apologies for going round in circles. I’ll give up after this one if nothing new occurs.

  21. Bart Says:

    Leonard,

    The recent Nature article about the CLOUD experiment that you alude is about nucleation of minuscule aerosol particles. It says nothing about GCR effects on climate; there’s many more missing links to that story.

  22. Jeff Id Says:

    Bart,

    I hope you won’t leave me with the crowd for answers. I am curious as to why you are certain of your conclusions.

  23. Jeff Id Says:

    Also, regarding the CLOUD data, you’ll note that my ‘skeptic’ blog has no post on that topic. It is interesting and a very real avenue for an unexpected forcing, but it isn’t a known yet.

  24. Jeff Id Says:

    William,

    I’m not impressed with the ‘you should use this model’ argument either.

  25. TimG Says:

    Dan Satterfield’s comments demonstrate the intellectual bankruptcy of the alarmist cause. The snide arrogance and ignorance on display is disgusting.

    No matter what you may think of Spencer’s work he is trying to expand our understanding of climate.

  26. Bart Verheggen Says:

    Bob Grumbine says it in a more plainspoken and less judgmental way. That may raise your ire less, TimG:

    ( http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2011/09/peer-review-and-wagner-resignation-over.html )

    “[Spencer] says “I view my job a little like a legislator, supported by the taxpayer, to protect the interests of the taxpayer and to minimize the role of government.” Note that — his job. There are scientists who pursue political goals, whether to minimize government, or prevent what they think are bad political decisions — but it’s on their own time, as private citizens — not as their job. The particularly active ones I know have always had a clear distinction between their job and their activities as a private citizen.

    With Spencer, though, he views is job as being to achieve a political end. As such, science takes a back seat. This paper of his, then, is less a matter of trying to advance our understanding of the world, and more (as he views it as his job) a matter of trying to achieve a political result.”

    Also note in Wagner’s resignation letter that Spencer making all kinds of wild exaggerations of his paper’s findings in public was a prime reason (besides problematic aspects wrt “methodological errors or false claims”) for him to resign. He clearly felt that his journal had been abused for political-ideological ends.

  27. Tom Says:

    A blogpost from Roger Pielke Sr. in defense of Spencer and Christy, calling attention to a Trenberth post on Daily Climate News.

    Instead of we in the blogosphere maturing and starting to emulate scientific communication, their communications are degenerating to the worst level of blogospheric mudslinging. And I am referring to Trenberth, Not Pielke.

  28. Tom Says:

    Sorry. Link is here: http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2011/09/04/hatchet-job-on-john-christy-and-roy-spencer-by-kevin-trenberth-john-abraham-and-peter-gleick/

  29. Tom Says:

    And Bart, I think your comment at 21:27 should be accompanied by an analysis of how frequently this happens on both sides of the fence. To accuse Spencer of doing something that everyone is doing is a bit disingenuous.

  30. Roddy Campbell Says:

    Can anyone explain to me, in reasonable terms, why Trenberth has received an apology? As far as I can gather one accusation against S&B is that far from critiquing Trenberth they ignored his papers, which the editor believes should have been picked up by the reviewers – maybe that’s fair enough, but why the apology?

    ‘Kevin Trenberth received a personal note of apology from both the editor-in-chief and the publisher of Remote Sensing.’

    http://wwwp.dailyclimate.org/tdc-newsroom/2011/09/spencer-faulty-science

    In what way is Trenberth needful of an apology from Remote Sensing?

  31. J Bowers Says:

    @ Roddy Campbell, Wagner seems to feel that Trenberth’s paper (cited in Wagner’s hand grenade [7]) should have been discussed in SB11 after being flagged by the reviewers (which they failed to do), and Trenberth should have been cited. The choice of reviewers is down to Remote Sensing in the end, and Wagner does seem to have some sense of what academic standards are.

  32. Roddy Campbell Says:

    @ J Bowers – thanks, I hadn’t realised Wagner had cf’d Trenberth, Fasullo, O’Dell, Wong specifically.

    But even so, does the fact that ‘ … comparable studies published by other authors have already been refuted in open discussions and to some extend (extent?) also in the literature (cf T,F,O’D,W)’ automatically mean that an apology is due those authors? Surely there are many examples of papers which have not taken sufficient or any account of previously published work where the journal has not apologised to those authors?

    If the paper should be retracted there is a process? Why the hyper-sensitivity, with public resignations and letters of apology?

    I must say, Jonathan Jones’s comment quoted above in the comments seems to say it all.

  33. J Bowers Says:

    @ Roddy Campbell, Spencer says all three reviewers are published on the subject (although he claims to know the identity of only one – a bit of a puzzler still). How come none of the other papers were flagged by the reviewers? Perhaps Wagner simply has high standards? He certainly seems capable of holding himself to such. As for the paper being retracted, I thought there has to be demonstrable evidence of academic fraud for that to happen? Anyway, Wagner knows a lot more about what happened than we do.

  34. Bob Brand Says:

    @J Bowers – I think you’re right in your assessment, but if I may add:

    - it is quite unusual for a paper to be retracted, unless it contains fraudulent data or grossly erroneous results;
    - in general the authors would have to retract it…;
    - in case of fraud, the Editor-in-Chief or the Managing Editor may decide to do so;
    - however, the Editor-in-Chief is now ex-officio;
    - and it looks increasingly as though the decision to publish was taken by the Managing Editor in the first place! If so, the ME would be admitting to a grave error of judgement by issuing a retraction. I can’t see the ME staying on, if he were to issue a retraction at this stage.

    It may be that Dr. Wagner actually did argue for a formal retraction with the authors, or (more likely) with the Managing Editor. Once this failed, there were few options open to him.

    @Roddy Campbell,

    Please take into account that Dr. Wagner has effectively been taken for a ride (to put it mildly), by the sum total of:

    - a somewhat shoddy paper with warmed-up findings;
    - outside the area of expertise of his journal;
    - lacking essential references, as well as counter-arguments to already published rebuttals;
    - a review process which had been abused/perverted by the selection of three ‘climate sceptics’ as referees;
    - all three failing to flag (T,F,O’D,W) and the lack of counter-arguments to already published work;

    followed by:

    - a RIDICULOUS and overblown HYPE launched by Spencer, Heartland Intitute and FoxNews, claiming such absurdities as “New NASA data blow gaping hole in global warming alarmism”, and “Does NASA data show global warming lost in space?”;
    - a HUGE ‘climate sceptic’ community, tauting this rather mediocre paper as ‘the deadblow to AGW’;
    - the obvious ideological motivation by Spencer, which must have become apparent once Wagner took a quick look;
    - questions by other scientists why this rather bad paper was published at Remote Sensing at all, while lacking discussion of countervailing work and arguments;
    - and how the referees could have let this happen, without pointing out the essential references?

    At that point the other members of the Editorial Board at Remote Sensing must have chipped in: how could Wagner let this happen, and allow RS’s reputation go to bits? How about the review process at RS, which was apparently insufficiently immune to manipulation?

    Realising how he’d been taken for a ride by Spencer&Braswell, the referees, as well as his Managing Editor… Dr. Wagner did the obvious thing. Good for him, since it sends a clear signal to Spencer & his more extreme allies, as well as saving his honour.

    I think his final editorial speaks for itself: http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/3/9/2002/pdf

  35. neverendingaudit Says:

    Jeff,

    You say:

    > I remember similar reactions to a particular Antarctic warming paper there (having been snipped for several comments on them myself) and was looking to someone who can separate the science from their own opinion which is my impression of Bart.

    It is also my impression of Bart. It is also my impression of John Nielsen-Gammon, who recently declared:

    > This doesn’t demonstrate that the paper is wrong, but it does indicate that the editor doesn’t believe the paper either. That makes several of us.

    http://blog.chron.com/climateabyss/2011/09/spencer-braswell-and-the-review-process

    It might help you to consider that John Nielsen-Gammon also arbitrated an hurly-burly in reaction to a particular Antartic warming paper.

    For more background:

    http://blog.chron.com/climateabyss/2011/08/roger-pielke-jr-s-inkblot

    Since John Nielsen-Gammon already expressed twice his opinion of that Spencer paper and considering what you’re looking for, you might be interested to take your inquiry at John’s place.

    Besides, I believe the topic of Bart’s post is Wagner’s resignation. He might wish to stick to this topic. I’ve seen a similar response on a site that snips comment deemed to be OT.

  36. willard Says:

    Of course, I, willard, am the author of that last comment.

  37. Paul Kelly Says:

    Wagner’s statement is carefully constructed. It contains footnotes. Its meaning is conveyed with an economy of words. He says:

    After review by men of good repute, we published a paper following the same standard procedures used for all submissions to Remote Sensing and at most other journals, As Editor – in – chief, I delegated most of this process to others.

    Almost immediately a wonderful blog tore the paper apart and said it should never have been published. Other blogs, some of whom questioned my competence and integrity, joined in. A brilliant scientist, who another scientist promised would redefine the meaning of peer review if that’s what it took to keep a paper such as this out of print, was very upset. I’ve had to apologize to him personally. I am very upset that the paper is being used for political purposes, especially by the author. The wonderful blogger told me how bad this is right after his boss got back from protesting in front of the White House.

    Normally, when scientists disagree with a published paper, they prepare a response either in the form of a competing paper or within the comment/rebuttal section of the journal. The daily inflow of information about how awful this paper convinced me forgo the well established rubrics of science and decide all controversies myself. It’s easier this way. You might think an E -i – C who thinks a paper should never have been published would have an ethical obligation to retract the paper, but that would just give the paper’s author a chance to defend himself.

    I quit.

  38. Marco Says:

    Paul Kelly, English is not a difficult language, and even though it is not Wagner’s native language, none of what you make him say makes any sense.

    And “normally” is not as “normal” as you think. Loads of bad papers are never commented on, simply because there’s no use. In fact, several people apparently told Dessler to stop rebutting Spencer as *it is not worth the effort* (as John Nielsen-Gammon has related here http://blog.chron.com/climateabyss/2011/08/roger-pielke-jr-s-inkblot/).

    Also note that since a journal was forced to pay 10,000 dollar to a creationist for retracting his paper, it takes a bit more than just considering a paper wrong to retract it.

  39. Marco Says:

    @Tom:
    It’s amazing to see Pielke Sr defending Spencer, and saying exactly NOTHING about the way Spencer has been describing his colleagues. Perhaps it is his way of stating Spencer is not an outstanding scientist, but it doesn’t look like it.

  40. Bart Says:

    Tom,

    What are you referring to? Trying to achieve political ends?

    I’ll cite Grumbine again about that:

    There are scientists who pursue political goals, whether to minimize government, or prevent what they think are bad political decisions — but it’s on their own time, as private citizens — not as their job. The particularly active ones I know have always had a clear distinction between their job and their activities as a private citizen.

    I think distinguishing between one’s science and one’s political views is key here. Jim Hansen for example does that almost to the letter. See his presentations: Political statements e.g. on mitigation are labelled *personal opinion*.

    Looking at it from a helicopter pov, people like Hansen got worried because of the scientific results, ie the science guided their political pov. With people like Spencer, the appearance is opposite, as he pretty much laid out himself by saying:

    I view my job a little like a legislator, supported by the taxpayer, to protect the interests of the taxpayer and to minimize the role of government.

    Paul K,

    Did you read Wagner’s editorial? Please also read Bob Brand’s latest comment (03:24), it’s a far better rundown of Wagner’s argument than yours.

  41. Bart Says:

    I should add that even though Spencer and Braswell lacked essential references (eg Trenberth) as well as counter-arguments to already published rebuttals, I don’t find that per se a reason to apologize to Trenberth. Wagner’s resignation is as it were an apology to the scientific community for a) inadequate peer review and b) allowing his journal being abused for political ends. Neither means to me that an apology to a specific person is needed. For forgetting to add one citation to this list? Nah.

    Moreover, this personal apology plays right into the hands of the conspiratorial mindsets of course, such as displayed by Paul (a first for him afaik, a little disappointing frankly).

  42. Roddy Campbell Says:

    Bart, I quite agree as I said above. the apology is rather extraordinary. And it does play as if Trenberth has especial power or status rather than just being the lead author of an uncited paper.

  43. TimG Says:

    I am curious why motivation matters in science.

    Research is good or bad. The reasons driving the researcher is not an issue. i.e. a paper produced by Exxon could has a much merit as a paper produced by a university. One cannot make blanket statements.

    That said, when a researcher has an obvious bias it makes sense to look at those results more carefully. However, almost every well known scientist working in climate science has a “obvious bias” one way or another. Spencer is a lot more honest about his biases than people like Hansen.

    My last comment: why are people so obessed with the media reaction? Do you really forget the obsessive over reactions to alarmist papers over the years? Do you condemn those too or just the media over reactions that you disagree with?

  44. TimG Says:

    Bart,

    Did you every consider the possibility that the the conspiracy theorists could be right in this case and there was some serious arm twisting going on in the background? Do you really think that Trenberth and the RC gang would not use whatever means are at their disposal to get an editor fired for publishing a skeptical paper? The only open question is whether they actually have that kind of power.

  45. William M. Connolley Says:

    > I am curious why motivation matters in science.

    It is not a bad question, but you’re using it wrong. You’re using it as a statement: motivation doesn’t matter, this is a paper, therefore it is right.

    The answer is: very very few people in this debate have actually read, and fully understood, either S+B, Or Trenberth ’10, or Trenberth’s RC post.

    Clearly you haven’t, for example (please don’t go all huffy or pretend).

    So people are using short-cuts to try to evaluate who is correct. This is inevitable; if we restricted discussion to those who understood the issues, there would be far less debate (and folks like you would be crying “censorship! gate keeping!).

    You seem to be discounting the obvious explanation for Wagner’s explanation, the one he actually gave: personal morality. He doesn’t want to be associated with this paper, and has used the only means available to free himself. I know that is unpalatable to you, but it seems entirely likely.

  46. J Bowers Says:

    Bart, when you feel you have to tiptoe around conspiracy theorists, they just demand ballet pointe.

  47. Bart Says:

    What William said.

    Tim, I don’t see in the slightest how some hot shot climate scientist could force the editor-in-chief of Remote Sensing to be fired and then force him to write such an editorial. His own explanation, as paraphrased by eg Bob Brand and William, makes much more sense and requires much fewer unbelievable things.

    I agree with Roddy’s latest. But no Tim, that doesn’t necessarily lead to your kind of interpretation.

  48. sharper00 Says:

    TimG,

    “Did you every consider the possibility that the the conspiracy theorists could be right in this case”

    As above that’s the problem with conspiracy theories – they can be easily constructed to explain anything and are difficult/impossible to disprove. People often use them either because they lack a real explanation or because they dislike the most likely explanation.

    Have you considered that there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever any pressure was applied to Wagner to resign and that there’s no reason at all to think his motivation is different to that which he stated?

    “Do you really think that Trenberth and the RC gang would not use whatever means are at their disposal to get an editor fired for publishing a skeptical paper? The only open question is whether they actually have that kind of power.”

    Ok consider the proposal “The RC gang would not use whatever means are at their disposal to get an editor fired for publishing a skeptical paper”. How would someone show they would not do so?

    Let’s say I convert that position into “Roy Spencer would use any means necessary to slip a mediocre paper into any peer reviewed journal in order to use it as a cover for making grand and unwarranted claims through the media in order to satisfy his openly stated political aims”.

    Can you disprove this? Can anyone?

  49. Neven Says:

    Let’s say I convert that position into “Roy Spencer would use any means necessary to slip a mediocre paper into any peer reviewed journal in order to use it as a cover for making grand and unwarranted claims through the media in order to satisfy his openly stated political aims”.

    Can you disprove this? Can anyone?

    That’s in the end what this is all about. The only argument ‘lukewarmers’ as Tom Fuller can come up with is: but theyz did it too! Which gives me an insight into their rationalisation for their behaviour. Not that I didn’t know already.

    The ends justify the means. Legislator Spencer finds a hole somewhere to spout his taxpayer protecting propaganda. So what? The Team does it too. Or so we think.

  50. gryposaurus Says:

    Yes, this kind of nonsense is coming up all over the place now. But it is just a literary trick with two parts. A rhetorical question, ie ” The only open question is whether they actually have that kind of power?”, and the most important aspect, suspension of reader’s disbelief . The rhetorical question makes sure to keep the need for evidence at bay. We don’t need to know the “how”, we just need to know it’s “possible”. It’s only possible by suspending disbelief. This is done with careful character development. We must pick good villains, ie Trenberth, to carry the story. Trenberth makes a good villain by merely pointing back to climategate emails. “Kevin and I will keep them out” (Phil Jones referring to McKitrick et al). But of course the move from IPCC writers influencing the IPCC to the villains being powerful enough to effect an open journal (no need for subscriptions) editor’s decision to step down in a completely different science discipline is another leap. But remember, no evidence needed to suspend disbelief as long as good story telling is used.

    I predicted this would happen and I expect more posts referring to Trenberth’s initial reaction to the Spencer paper and then to the emails. There is also the 2003 episode with von Storch’s resignation where the all powerful villains refuse to submit to Climate Research due to fears the editors were letting substandard papers through (in the emails). Fears which turned out to be correct. But it’s a slam dunk narrative that will work with a certain crowd. The trick is to suspend the disbelief of more moderate thinkers. It’s hard but I don’t discount the ability of certain people and their skill at doing this.

  51. Bob Brand Says:

    @Roddy Campbell & Bart, re. the apology:

    The apology may seem a bit much, but please don’t underestimate:

    - there’s a considerable cultural difference at work: in German/Austrian culture (upper-class Prussian culture) it is considered chivalrous and ‘korrekt’ to offer apologies, certainly if a senior figure (THE senior figure?) in the field has been offended;

    - although Wagner had made his *personal* statement already (resigning & in his editorial), there was no statement yet by MDPI! This offered them an opportunity to clear the air with the climate science community;

    - MDPI clearly has an interest in being a respectable venue for publication with climatologists (not just within RS);

    - in Europe, and Germany especially, there is maybe 70 to 80% of the population which is in broad agreement with climatology and which doesn’t buy conspiracy theories. I guess Wagner didn’t like what he read about Spencer et al. at all…

    The cultural difference is pretty hard to get across. Maybe it can be summed up as: “honor is considered to be even more important then winning”. A considerable difference with Anglo-Saxon culture.

    And yes, I only seem to be able to write in bullets these days. That is what you get from arguing too often on the Internet! ;)

  52. Paul Kelly Says:

    Bart,

    It’s not a conspiracy. It’s a turf war. I read and reread Wagner’s statement, trying to make sense of it. Bob Brand presents a reasonable explanation, although he hints at conspiracy himself – “taken for a ride by Spencer&Braswell, the referees, as well as his Managing Editor.” Wagner must have felt considerable pressure from the mainstream, which was the basis of my tongue in cheek parsing, a little kidding on the square. I think WC has the best explanation. Wagner found himself in an ethical bind.

  53. Marco Says:

    Bart, I think, and I am really guessing here, that the apology was related to Trenberth so easily and rapidly finding glaring issues in the paper. That is: “sorry we didn’t ask you to review it, that would have saved us all a lot of trouble”.

    I propose this option, as not too long ago I also received an apology from an Editor. After I had helped them prevent publication of >10 badly flawed papers, they forgot to send me one other to review, which promptly slipped through review.

  54. gryposaurus Says:

    The apology thing is being blown way out proportion. It could be any type of quick apology for any part of the situation. He could be apologizing for Trenberth needing to spend time on it in the media when Wagner knows it should have been taken care of within the scientific process (review) months ago. The eggers-on want to make it look like this apology was some kind of groveling spectacle. We have zero evidence of this. It’s probably very simple.

  55. Tom Says:

    William Connelly’s comment about not reading the paper in question is certainly true about me. Sadly, I have to work for a living these days.

    So I base my opinion on Wagner’s unusual behaviour on other criteria.

    Just how weird is it to resign, rather than retract?

    Fairly, but by itself it doesn’t mean much.

    How strange is it to feel it necessary to apologize to Trenberth?

    Fairly, but again, by itself it is inconsequential.

    How damning is it to see the reaction of the community break out the way it has?

    Pretty key. I’ve interacted enough with people like Pielke Sr. and Curry to know that their assessment of this type of behaviour is honest, whatever faults they might have. Their characterization of Wagner’s action and their ability to set his action in context helps people outside the academic/scientific environment. Like me.

    Watching the political factions line up en masse to condemn or praise Wagner and/or Spencer no longer moves me. Getting insulted by fools like Neven no longer irritates me–he’s a step up from dhogaza and uses nicer words.

    The Team has form–a track record. They have done exactly this type of thing before. Until evidence surfaces that this is not the result of political pressure from Trenberth and the Gang, that’s going to be my operating assumption.

  56. William M. Connolley Says:

    > Just how weird is it to resign, rather than retract?
    > Fairly, but by itself it doesn’t mean much.

    That is a very odd statement to make. What do you base it on?

    I can only think of one comparable example in climate, that of Soon and Baliunas, where the editor-in-chief von S resigned. Without question, von S has far more clout than Wagner, and yet he couldn’t get the paper retracted, so he resigned (http://coast.gkss.de/staff/storch/CR-problem/cr.2003.htm; in fact even there it doesn’t say he wanted the paper retracted).

    So I think that your assessment, above, is more indicative of your biases than of any connection to reality. Based on previous examples, the natural reaction is “yes, resignation is what you expect”.

    > …I’ve interacted enough with people like Pielke Sr. and Curry…

    OK, so your decision-method here is “believe Pielke and Curry”. Which is going to get you the answers you wanted, and really isn’t very interesting.

  57. Bob Brand Says:

    @Paul Kelly,

    With the sentence:

    Realising how he’d been taken for a ride by Spencer&Braswell, the referees, as well as his Managing Editor…

    I don’t necessarily mean to say these three actors were ‘in cahoots’, as it were. There is no need for that.

    They may just ehh… have taken advantage… of Wagner in a serial fashion. I don’t consider it too likely that the Managing Editor had any special position on climate science, he just followed (a flawed) procedure and had reputable referees appointed, while nobody realised they were from a particular ‘camp’.

    Even between Spencer on the one side and the referees on the other, there is not necessarily any conspiracy. I believe Spencer, when he says he only knew the identity of one of the referees (although all three must have been on his list of suggested referees). The referees actually did *some* of their work, suggesting improvements, but they *were* really negligent in checking the full spectrum of opinion (and state of the art) within the field.

    I’ve already summed up what went wrong in my 03:24 post – no need for conspiracies, just human behavior.

    It does remind me a little of a Tarantino movie – the characters do seem to act reasonably sane on an individual basis, but taken together it goes horribly wrong. It was Wagner’s role to prevent that from happening, and he did NOT pay enough attention. He was remitt in his duties, so he drew the consequences, taking the opportunity to kick some serious butt. Did you notice the off-handed mentioning of the Managing Editor? ;)

    BTW, I don’t exclude the possibility that Trenberth actually *did* call Wagner to express his irritation. He may have asked Wagner why he (or a colleague) wasn’t asked to referee the paper, and why the current state of the science wasn’t adressed at all. Wagner probably said he’d look into it. While checking up on the procedural details and looking into the literature, he must have realised what went wrong, and where he failed. No armtwisting, or hooded IPCC assassins with strange accents at all…

    From that perspective it is just his sense of duty and honour, which must have compelled him to offer an apology.

  58. sharper00 Says:

    “How damning is it to see the reaction of the community break out the way it has?”

    I don’t understand this form of analysis – you can’t examine people’s reactions without knowing what they’re reacting to.

    I’ve simply glanced through the paper (not an expert so I just want to get an idea of what’s being claimed), the RC article written in response to it and Dr Spencer’s response to that (here and here

    Without being an expert I understand that if you’re going to claim “the models don’t show X” you would need to be extremely careful in your choice of model and not simply pick one which happens to not show X.

    Again without being an expert I also understand that picking forcing signals out of natural variability is always going to be difficult so again great care is needed if it’s even useful at all.

    I see little in the way of coherent or rational response from Dr Spencer on these issues, instead I see rants about Soros-funded what-not nestles in between posts ranting about Al Gore and Obama. This does not fill me with confidence.

    I already asked Dr Curry this and maybe you can answer it too: How should the community be reacting?

  59. Tom Says:

    Mr. Connelly, your assessment of how I formed my opinion is close to the truth.

    On this site and others like it people like Bart have wondered publicly how to communicate science to non-scientists. You’re seeing it in action now.

    Having corresponded with people like Pielke Sr. and Curry perhaps has telescoped the timeline for me, but in any event they have established credibility with this non-scientist, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt until evidence to the contrary appears.

    So, we might spend some time exploring how they established a reservoir of good will with me.

    First clue: It is not their position on the meta-issue of anthropogenic climate change. This might be one of the few weblogs where I can credibly make that claim, as I feel similarly about Bart despite the gulf between our ‘political’ positions on the issue.

    Second clue: They admit the possibility of error in their own work and have shown themselves to be forgiving of errors in the work of others.

    Third clue: Ye shall know a man by the quality of his enemies. I look at the people who have spent years trashing Pielke and a shorter time trashing Curry. Their reputation climbs with me as a result.

  60. Tom Says:

    By the way, if events of the past two days are the result of a concerted effort by the Climate Rapid Reaction Team, somebody should give them a lesson in messaging quite soon.

    The letter published by Trenberth yesterday was a travesty.

    Let’s assume that Trenberth and Wagner are 100% correct about Spencer’s work. His work has had errors pointed out in the past, so that’s not a stretch.

    What are we talking about today? We’re talking about Trenberth and Wagner.

    The first rule of public relations is never to be the story.

  61. J Bowers Says:

    Bob Brand — “The referees actually did *some* of their work, suggesting improvements,”

    Only two of the three. One had no problem with the paper.

  62. J Bowers Says:

    Bart — “Nah.”

    Agreed. William C. and Bob B. give the best explanations.

    Who in the blogosphere kicked off this focus on the apology, anyway? It seems a mighty fine distraction if you wanted to change focus from the real issues.

  63. Neven Says:

    Who in the blogosphere kicked off this focus on the apology, anyway? It seems a mighty fine distraction if you wanted to change focus from the real issues.

    The second role of public relations (especially as applied by people with flexible morals and high rationalisation skills) is to frame what the story is.

    Tom is good at that.

  64. andrew adams Says:

    I have to say I’m inclined to agree with Tom about Trenberth et al’s TDC piece – it unneccessarily personalises the issue. They would have been better to let Wagner’s resignation and apology speak for themselves.

  65. Mike Kenny Says:

    Why isn’t the Spencer & Braswell paper contested within the normal peer review process ?? Why all this hand waving ??

  66. andrew adams Says:

    Mike,

    I believe that Dessler has a rebuttal paper being published very soon.

  67. J Bowers Says:

    Dessler’s paper is out this week IIRC.

  68. Tom Says:

    Pretty quick work, that.

  69. Jeff Id Says:

    Bart,

    So we have a lack of citing Trenberths work as the reason for retraction or is there some other issue that is as yet unstated. I’m really very curious why you believe the paper is so flawed. What is the technical explanation that you can offer?

    I’m not trying to catch you or anything, I’m asking what your specific opinions are on this because you have a certainty of your conclusion which I cannot grasp from reading the papers.

  70. J Bowers Says:

    Published tomorrow, in fact. I doubt Geophysical Research Letters have to think much about who could act as knowledgeable referees.

  71. Tom Says:

    Neven, it is clear that you either do not know or do not understand what I think, feel or believe. So when you attack me personally, as you have done twice here (and frequently elsewhere), it just says more about you than it does about me.

    During an encounter at Collide a Scape, I did lay out my position regarding climate change and our environment. You abandoned the thread, presumably so you could maintain plausible deniability for your intellectually lazy attacks.

    You’re making a fool of yourself.

    The rapid reaction team could have been quite useful here. They could and should have gathered together the citations available to Wagner when he reconsidered the wisdom of publishing Spencer. That should have been the substance of Trenberth’s letter, not what actually went up.

    There have actually been better explanations here in the comments of this post than used byTrenberth.

  72. Neven Says:

    Sorry for attacking your rationalisations, Tom. Looking forward to your other lessons on the rules of public relations.

  73. Marco Says:

    Mike Kenny, Tom, Andrew Adams: Dessler’s GRL paper will likely contest some of the issues in SB2011, but I don’t think it is a direct rebuttal to that paper, just to various things Spencer has been throwing into the blogosphere and prior articles.

    The main reason this paper is treated different is that this is yet another of Spencer’s papers that mostly ignores prior criticisms, contains questionable analysis(*), and is subsequently hyped in certain media. John Nielsen-Gammon already pointed out that some people told Dessler to give up rebutting Spencer: Dessler should use his considerable intellect to contribute to new science rather than focusing on a lost cause (i.e., educating Spencer).

    (*) Just one example: Jeff Id should be able to see how making claims about sensitivity from model comparisons does not work if you have confounding issues like how well ENSO is modelled. As the realclimate article shows, you can have a very good fit with a model that properly models ENSO, but also a high sensitivity, while a model with low sensitivity that does not properly model ENSO is very bad.

  74. Tom Says:

    On the negligible chance that you are not being sarcastic, Neven, I will offer more tips and tricks.

    The purpose of a reaction team in a media context is to react, not repeat. Especially not to repeat in a louder voice, which is the essence of what Trenberth did.

    Good faith arguments and protestations appeared in the blogosphere shortly after Wagner’s resignation, accompanied by a number of knee-jerk skeptic responses. There was time to prepare a reasoned and reasonable responses to many of those reactions, as (again) we see here in the comments thread of this post.

    In a tennis match, there is only one serve per point.

  75. Neven Says:

    Sheer brilliance, Tom. No wonder the delaying tactics of your team are working so well.

    Now let’s let the intelligent people resume the conversation.

  76. Tom Says:

    Apparently you assume you are part of the group of intelligent people conversing. In which case I also assume you will look at that comment and wonder how you could have been so idiotic as to write it. Or perhaps your assumption is unwarranted.

  77. Neven Says:

    Don’t worry, Tom. I’m not part of the group of intelligent people conversing. And neither are you.

  78. Tom Says:

    More elementary mistakes on the part of the Rapid Reaction Team:

    Trenberth writes, “…it is evident that this paper did not get an adequate peer review. It should have received an honest vetting.”

    Big mistake. He fires a gun without loading it. He should only have written this if he was prepared (or even able) to name reviewers. The weaker alternative would have been to name who should have been reviewing and to discuss the review policies of Remote Sensing compared to other magazines, and show how other articles in Remote Sensing had suffered similarly from lack of vetting.

    And this is exactly the type of work that a reaction team does in the real world.

    As Andrew Adams notes above, personalizing the issue with attacks on Spencer and Christy (why Christy?) vitiates the impact of the letter. Stupid, unforced error. But, see Neven. Perhaps it’s endemic.

    Ah, well. Instead of advancing the discussion, they have just given more ammunition to Morano and Monckton.

  79. Tom Says:

    Neven at 19:44,

    You’re half right. Which also describes your level of wit.

  80. sharper00 Says:

    Tom,

    “They could and should have gathered together the citations available to Wagner when he reconsidered the wisdom of publishing Spencer.”

    Er, why? You won’t even read what’s already posted – you’re just going with whatever Pielke, Curry et all tell you.

    People interested in the technical details are more than able to to follow the realclimate link and at least start from there.

    I find little objectionable in Trenberth’s piece. You may dislike seeing Spencer’s behaviour being “called out” (or rather Pielke, Curry et all told you to dislike it and so you do) but he his correct. Spencer has an unmistakeable pattern of making errors that favour a particular position.

    The extra amusing element is of course that I’ve long read about how scientists should take each other to task for their bad behaviour and police their own. Who knew it was only Mann, Hansen or whomever is claimed to be on “the team” these days that were supposed to be the recipients of it.

  81. Tom Says:

    My goodness, Sharperoo, your point about me not reading what’s already posted seems a bit conflicted by your then commenting about what I wrote about Trenberth’s article.

    And you miss the larger point. Whether or not Trenberth was correct in ‘calling Spencer out’ (and we will have to agree to disagree on that point), it was remarkably stupid in terms of being a rapid reaction effort.

  82. MikeN Says:

    They still have to get the editors at BAMS to resign and issue an apology.

    ‘I think the role of the changing climate is greatly underestimated by Roger Pielke Jr. I think he should withdraw this article. This is a shameful article.’ Kevin Trenberth

  83. sharper00 Says:

    “My goodness, Sharperoo, your point about me not reading what’s already posted seems a bit conflicted by your then commenting about what I wrote about Trenberth’s article.”

    You won’t read any of the details posted, asking for more details when you won’t read what is already there strikes me as odd.

    “it was remarkably stupid in terms of being a rapid reaction effort.”

    Ok. Why? Is a list of cites really superior? Is that actually going to counter the “NASA blows holes in global warming” stuff or the rants about Soros on Spencer’s blog?

  84. Tom Says:

    Yes.

  85. Bart Says:

    J Bowers,

    The first place where I read about the apology was in Trenberth et al’s opinion piece, in which case he is the source of it becoming public.

  86. Bart Says:

    Tom,

    Gleick wrote in an email to RP Sr (as quoted on his site):

    Roger, how is it that you and I can read the same thing and see things so differently?

    Wagner was incredibly explicit that his resignation has NOTHING to do with the “divergent viewpoints” expressed by the paper, but had to do with failure of the review process, and failure of the authors to address conflicting and contradictory scientific data and theory.

    Gleick’s interpretation is much much closer to Wagner’s own words that Pielke’s is. An additional reason Wagner mentions is that, in his mind, Spencer seemed to have abused the journal to make political statements. It is *not* about not letting diverging opinions through, as Wagner very clearly writes. Roger trying to make it seem as if it is, does not get him credibility points from me. YMMV

  87. Bart Says:

    Jeff,

    No, it’s not the lack of citing per se that’s the issue. It’s the lack of considering contradictory evidence, the (in Wagner’s words) problematic issues w.r.t. “fundamental methodological errors or false claims.” and Spencer’s own exaggerations and over-interpretations of his results (which made Wagner feel that he had been taken for a ride). Those are the reasons as I read in his editorial.

    I wrote this post to discuss Wanger’s editorial, not to discuss the ins and outs of S&B. That said, when reading both S&B and the critiques thereof, S&B seemed to have taken quite some shortcuts. E.g. in the timescales of his comparison, in not properly accounting for the role of ENSO in the model-data comparison. The model Spencer uses for his interpretations seems to have serious issues.

  88. J Bowers Says:

    Bart, I meant as a topic of discussion all by itself, not as a “mentioned in passing”.

  89. Tom Says:

    Hi Bart,

    (How were your holidays?) Yes, I read that over at Pielke’s place and it is both logical and consistent. And I do remember that Piielke might still have on his mind the really shitty way he was treated by The Team.

    As I said, I haven’t read S&B. If I understand the major objections to it so far, it’s that S&B cherry-picked models and didn’t do a systematic literature review.

    And although not a scientist, from what I’ve seen since following climate change systematically, those two defects would not normally warrant even a retraction, let alone a resignation. Nobody resigned over Anderegg, Prall et al, despite defects that were an order of magnitude more grave. Nobody resigned over Mann’s serial mistakes. Phil Jones is still in post despite admitting grave errors in data handling and archiving, and despite letting serious error to persist for fifteen years.

    So despite the logic and consistency of Gleick’s post to Pielke, the net effect seems far out of proportion to the action that caused it, absent political pressure.

  90. andrew adams Says:

    Tom,

    Notwithstanding my previous comment I don’t see a problem with Trenberth’s statement “…it is evident that this paper did not get an adequate peer review. It should have received an honest vetting.” Wagner himself suggested that the peer review process was inadequate.
    Nor am I particularly concerned about what the likes of Monckton and Morano will make of it – they have zero credibility anyway. It’s more those who affect to be “honest brokers” but inevitable spin any controversy to portray mainstream scientists in a bad light – the Currys and Pielkes. I’m afraid I don’t share your high estimation of them.

  91. andrew adams Says:

    I do agree that it should not on the face of it have been a resignation issue but no one has produced a shred of evidence that Wagners reasons were anything other than he says they were. Others in the same situation may well have acted differently, that’s life – different people react in different ways. If others suspect political pressure the onus is on them to provide evidence.

  92. Neven Says:

    And although not a scientist, from what I’ve seen since following climate change systematically, those two defects would not normally warrant even a retraction, let alone a resignation

    And now, Mr. Smartypants, add to that the press release by UAH and Spencer’s own hyping, leading to Fox News and Forbes (“New NASA data blow gaping hole in global warming alarmism”), and you really don’t understand why Wagner and RS wouldn’t feel slightly (ab)used?

    And before you re-spit out your ‘theyz did it too, Miss!’ argument, the analogy would be this: some scientist – preferably from the devious, dark The Team – gets some paper published describing the temperature rise so far, then goes to the warmosphere and the press, screaming: OMG! We are all GOING TO DIE!

  93. Tom Says:

    Andrew, if Trenberth had only stopped there, his statement would have been far more effective (assuming of course that it’s true).

  94. willard Says:

    Indeed, Andrew, Tom is only showing concern for his own side.

    Trenberth has not been effective enough Should Be of Concern.

    (Assuming of course that it is true.)

  95. Tom Says:

    willard, you seem to know so much and yet you know not my side.

  96. willard Says:

    Tom, I only need to know what concerns you to have an idea what your side is. Your side simply has to bear your concerns.

  97. Tom Says:

    and then there are times when your speech borders on mystery…

  98. willard Says:

    Not mystery, Tom, German:

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2010/02/betroffenheitstroll.html

  99. Tom Says:

    Oh, well–if you’re citing that guy no wonder you’re incomprehensible. Read somebody else–anybody else–and try again.

  100. willard Says:

    Tom, you’re talking about Jörg Zimmerman, right?

  101. Tom Says:

    No, the rabett.

  102. Paul Kelly Says:

    willard,

    How bout you and Tom and maybe Eli take it over to Facebook

  103. willard Says:

    Tom, I really thought I cited Jörg Zimmerman, not Eli.

    ***

    Paul, thank you for your lukewarm suggestion, but you must realize how concerned I am about Tom’s concerns.

    Perhaps you should too: adressing these concerns once and for all might very well improve our chances to discuss bottom-up ways to solve our energy demands.

  104. Paul Kelly Says:

    Here’s the problem with “it is evident that this paper did not get an adequate peer review. It should have received an honest vetting”. He is saying either or both the reviewers and the managing editor are dishonest. This is an inflammatory and libelous remark. Of course, there were no doubt tremendous pressures put on Wagner. Given the vicious things Trenberth says in public about Spencer, one can imagine how vehement he would be in private. How many angry Emails and phone calls must Wagner and Remote Sensing have received.

    Spencer’s problems stem more from his politics than his science. It is what most offends Wagoner about the results of publishing SB11. He objects to Spencer promoting his ideas on partisan political blogs and media outlets. Ironically, Trenberth chose to publish his Spencer bashing on a blog specifically dedicated to partisan politics. Mote in the eye and all that.

  105. Marco Says:

    First, Tom: Christy was mentioned likely because Santer et al just published an article rebutting Christy. Again “the Team” had to put effort in to stop the spread of incorrect memes by “the not-to-be-audited” (one wonders why Jeff Id doesn’t get all upset about the complete absence of statistics in SB2011…).

    Second, Paul: no, there is no claim that the reviewers or managing editor are dishonest. He challenges their ability to honestly vet the article. It is possible he *thinks* the reviewers were dishonest, and in that viewpoint he would be supported by Wagner’s own words.

    Now, where exactly are the “vicious things” Trenberth says about Spencer? Apart from the *factually correct* statements on Spencer having been wrong many, many times before, combined with his open ideological bias driving his science, meaning Spencer is not a credible source?

    And again, it’s not Spencer promoting his ideas on partisan political blogs and media outlets: it’s the *spin* Spencer puts on his own research, unsupported by the results in the paper. Quite different. Well, at least for those who think scientists should not spin their results to say something it does not show at all.

  106. Paul Kelly Says:

    willard,

    Tom is so scattered that I’m not sure taking his down various garden paths is all that helpful. He has many concerns. Here, it is that affairs like this one poorly communicate the argument for action to mitigate climate. I would recommend he frame his argument in terms of the inadequacy of the information deficit communications model.

    I am not a lukewarmer. I’m a dead center consensus guy. It is also well known that I don’t consider climate to be the most immediate and certain reason to replace fossil fuels.

    To satisfy Tom’s concerns, I would get everybody involved in the climate discussion to switch from the deficit communications model to what I call the focus model.

  107. Paul Kelly Says:

    Marco,

    It is possible he *thinks* the reviewers were dishonest, and in that viewpoint he would be supported by Wagner’s own words.

    So now you’re saying Wagner is the one calling the reviewers dishonest, while Trenberth only calls them biased or incompetent.

    Spencer has been wrong in the past and may be wrong today. Trenberth’s characterization of an immediately corrected mathematical error as some great disqualifying event is ridiculous. It took years for scientists to discover they had gotten the “which came first, the CO2 or the warming” in the Thompson ice cores totally wrong. Which is the greater mistake?

  108. Bart Says:

    I added an update to the post (based on comments here and elsewhere).

    The discussion keeps going back to the reasons for Wagner’s resignation. I think in his editorial he was fairly clear about his reasons:

    - the lack of considering (previously published) contradictory evidence.
    - the (in Wagner’s words) problematic issues w.r.t. “fundamental methodological errors or false claims.”
    - Spencer’s exaggeration and spinning of his results in the media (which made Wagner feel that he had been taken for a ride).

    i.e. it is not just because he omitted to add a reference to the ref list, or because of a simple mathematical error. It is the combination of the above. At least that’s the way I read his editorial (without the need for over-interpretations or a whole set of implausible assumptions).

  109. sharper00 Says:

    Paul,

    “Of course, there were no doubt tremendous pressures put on Wagner. Given the vicious things Trenberth says in public about Spencer, one can imagine how vehement he would be in private. How many angry Emails and phone calls must Wagner and Remote Sensing have received.”

    Applying those relative scales Trenberth may have gone as far as “poopy head” in private.

    Much like the conspiracy theory what was done “in private” is open to endless speculation. However once you put the end result in (i.e. editor publicly resigns and apologises) it becomes much harder to what sort of private behaviour could lead to such a thing, emails and phone calls no matter how angry don’t cut it.

    We can reasonably assume that if Trenberth reached levels of crazyness that made Wagner seriously consider resigning, he’d more likely to call the police and issue a formal complaint than to actually resign.

    Unless of course the police work for them

  110. TimG Says:

    Bart,

    The problem is Wagner’s claims about ignoring prior work are completely false – a fiction created to rationalize a decision that was not being made for rational reasons.

  111. gryposaurus Says:

    “It took years for scientists to discover they had gotten the “which came first, the CO2 or the warming” in the Thompson ice cores totally wrong.”

    Could you elaborate on that please?

  112. Neven Says:

    I am not a lukewarmer. I’m a dead center consensus guy.

    Like Phil Collins once sang: ‘You’re fooling yourself, but you ain’t fooling me’.

  113. J Bowers Says:

    Dessler’s paper’s available HERE.

    Skeptical Science’s take on it is HERE.

  114. Tom Says:

    Now that’s rapid reaction!

  115. J Bowers Says:

    “Now that’s rapid reaction!”

    Just like Motl. Innuendo; crashed and burned.

  116. Marco Says:

    Paul Kelly, I am just taking Wagner’s comments on the reviewers as far as you take Trenberth et al’s comments. Nowhere is it stated that the reviewers were dishonest. You just do not get an honest vetting when you have a biased group with the bias all going in one direction, but bias is NOT the same as being dishonest.

    And I echo gryposaurus request to elaborate on your claim about the ice cores.

  117. Rattus Norvegicus Says:

    Ouch, Dessler’s paper is rather a bit of a takedown of both LC and SB. Interesting that SB did not plot models which showed them to be wrong, even though they looked at them. Makes you wonder…

  118. Bob Brand Says:

    Andrew Dessler has been in personal communication with Roy Spencer for weeks (months?), trying to explain to Spencer where Lindzen&Choi energy-budget calculations went wrong, and also why Spencer’s selection of models and data is mistaken.

    Spencer did refer to that when he mentioned submitting SB2011 for publication in Remote Sensing. Spencer said: “we seem to have come to a stand-still”.

    Andy Dessler already published on the same topic in 2010:

    http://geotest.tamu.edu/userfiles/216/dessler10b.pdf

    where he discussed the earlier Spencer&Braswell 2010 in detail.

    It is not a big surprise that Dessler can produce this critique (it is more of a direct rebuttal than a separate paper) that quickly, since they have been going back-and-forth for some time – and SB2011 seems to contain the same cherrypicking of observational data and models as before.

    I’m trying to understand this critique, but I’ve only once read thru SB10, and just glanced at their latest effort. It is completely mystifying to me why SB11 guesstimates the most essential values in the energy-budget calculation while measurements are available. Lindzen&Choi 2011 seems to be less wrong, but the energy-budget calculation still assumes clouds as a forcing upfront, while disregarding the ocean as a cause of ENSO.

    If you consider the:

    Conclusions

    These calculations show that clouds did not cause significant climate change over the last decade (over the decades or centuries relevant for long-term climate change, on the other hand, clouds can indeed cause significant warming). Rather, the evolution of the surface and atmosphere during ENSO variations are dominated by oceanic heat transport. This means in turn that regressions of TOA fluxes vs. ΔTs can be used to accurately estimate climate sensitivity or the magnitude of climate feedbacks. In addition, observations presented by LC11 and SB11 are not in fundamental disagreement with mainstream climate models, nor do they provide evidence that clouds are causing climate change. Suggestions that significant revisions to mainstream climate science are required are therefore not supported.

    and compare this to the enormous hype following Spencer’s publication… Ouch.

  119. Bob Brand Says:

    Marco,

    Do you understand this?

    Dessler shows that according to measurements σ(ΔFocean)/σ(ΔRcloud) ≈ 13 W/m2 / 0.5 W/m2 ≈ 20 while L&C just assumes 2.0 and S&B assume 0.5

    Where do Lindzen and Spencer get these values?

  120. Keith Kloor Says:

    Good discussion here on this. I have related post just up at the Yale Forum on Climate change & the media:

    http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2011/09/editors-apologetic-resignation/

  121. Marco Says:

    Bob, no idea, I can only guess. My best guess is that this is what their models demand. Just see Spencer’s model that Barry Bickmore eviscerated: the values are chosen such that the outcome is the desired outcome.

  122. Paul Kelly Says:

    Without in any way endorsing SB2011, Here is the content of the UAH press release Wagner says “much exaggerated the paper’s conclusions”:

    In research published this week in the journal “Remote Sensing,” Spencer and UAHuntsville’s Dr. Danny Braswell compared what a half dozen climate models say the atmosphere should do to satellite data showing what the atmosphere actually did during the 18 months before and after warming events between 2000 and 2011.
    “The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show,” Spencer said. “There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans.”
    Not only does the atmosphere release more energy than previously thought, it starts releasing it earlier in a warming cycle. The models forecast that the climate should continue to absorb solar energy until a warming event peaks.
    Instead, the satellite data shows the climate system starting to shed energy more than three months before the typical warming event reaches its peak.
    “At the peak, satellites show energy being lost while climate models show energy still being gained,” Spencer said.
    This is the first time scientists have looked at radiative balances during the months before and after these transient temperature peaks.
    Applied to long-term climate change, the research might indicate that the climate is less sensitive to warming due to increased carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere than climate modelers have theorized. A major underpinning of global warming theory is that the slight warming caused by enhanced greenhouse gases should change cloud cover in ways that cause additional warming, which would be a positive feedback cycle.
    Instead, the natural ebb and flow of clouds, solar radiation, heat rising from the oceans and a myriad of other factors added to the different time lags in which they impact the atmosphere might make it impossible to isolate or accurately identify which piece of Earth’s changing climate is feedback from manmade greenhouse gases.
    “There are simply too many variables to reliably gauge the right number for that,” Spencer said. “The main finding from this research is that there is no solution to the problem of measuring atmospheric feedback, due mostly to our inability to distinguish between radiative forcing and radiative feedback in our observations.”
    For this experiment, the UAHuntsville team used surface temperature data gathered by the Hadley Climate Research Unit in Great Britain. The radiant energy data was collected by the Clouds and Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) instruments aboard NASA’s Terra satellite.
    The six climate models were chosen from those used by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The UAHuntsville team used the three models programmed using the greatest sensitivity to radiative forcing and the three that programmed in the least sensitivity.

    What exactly are the exaggerations Wagner sees in this?

  123. Paul Kelly Says:

    Wagner also pointed to exaggerations by Spenser on his blog. Went there and read this:

    Did we “prove” that the IPCC climate models are wrong in their predictions of substantial future warming?
    No, but the dirty little secret is that there is still no way to test those models for their warming predictions. And as long as the modelers insist on using short term climate variability to “validate” the long term warming in their models, I will continue to use that same short term variability to show how the modelers might well be fooling themselves into believing in positive feedback.

    The short answer is that, while the title of the Forbes article (New
    NASA Data Blow Gaping Hole In Global Warming Alarmism) is a little over the top (as are most mainstream media articles about global warming science), the body of his article is — upon my re-reading of it — actually pretty good.
    About the only disconnect I can see is we state in our paper that, while the discrepancy between the satellite observations were in the direction of the models producing too much global warming, it is really not possible to say by how much. Taylor’s article makes it sound much more certain that we have shown that the models produce too much warming in the long term. (Which I think is true…we just did not actually ‘prove’ it.)

    while our detractors correctly point out that the feedbacks we see in short term (year-to-year) climate variability might not indicate what the long-term feedbacks are in response to increasing CO2, the IPCC still uses short-term variability in their models to compare to satellite observations to then support the claimed realism of the long-term behavior of those models.

    Again, what is the exaggeration here?

  124. Neven Says:

    Paul Kelly, why do you only copypaste part of the UAH press release? Could you please cite the title of the press release?

  125. J Bowers Says:

    Climate models get energy balance wrong, make too hot forecasts of global warming — UAH press release

  126. Neven Says:

    You do exactly the same with your copypaste from Spencer’s blog (thanks for the links BTW). Why do you ask what the exaggerations are when you are leaving out the exaggerations? What’s your point?

    Or maybe I should cut to the chase: Why are you – a “dead center consensus guy” – so desperately siding with a fundamentalist religious free market ideologue?

    Please, don’t be a hypocrite. Tom already has that part covered.

  127. Paul Kelly Says:

    Neven,.

    I am not siding with Spenser. I am trying to understand why Wagner resigned. I say that I’m a dead center consensus guy because that’s what I am. For some time now, I’ve taken all my climate science questions to stoat. Whatever WC says about the science goes for me too.

    Thanks to J Bowers for saving me a bunch of mouse clicks. If he or Neven thinks there is anything in the unpasted portion of the press release, they should post it up here. They can find the link at the same place I did, in the footnotes of Wagner’s resignation. Then they can explain how either the headline or the body of the press release does anything other than accurately describe the claims made in Spenser’s paper. What are the exaggerations?

    I hadn’t been to Spenser’s blog before. I scrolled down thru the posts prior to Sept. 1 and brought the relevant quotes here. If you have found something I missed, please post it up. I note that neither Neven or J Bowers has identified anything in either the press release or Spenser’s blog that much exaggerates the conclusions in Spenser’s paper.

  128. Neven Says:

    I wanted to give you the chance to copypaste the whole thing, Paul.

    “Climate models get energy balance wrong, make too hot forecasts of global warming”

    I’m missing a ‘could’ here. It’s posited as absolute truth. I don’t believe it’s put that way in SB2011. “Too hot forecasts of global warming” sounds very WUWTesque. In other words exaggerated, almost a political slogan. A press release title is pretty important in my book.

    Here’s the thing you didn’t care to copypaste from the Fundanomics blog (which was strange because it’s from the same post you quoted from):

    So, we continue to be treated to news articles (e.g. here, and here.) quoting esteemed scientists who claim to have found problems with our paper published in Remote Sensing, which shows huge discrepancies between the real, measured climate system and the virtual climate system imagined by U.N.-affilliated climate modelers and George Soros-affiliated pundits (James Hansen, Joe Romm, et al.)

    If you don’t see any exaggerations here, if you think Spencer is saying something entirely normal here, you are not the “dead center consensus guy” you portray yourself to be. Consequently, you should start to understand a bit why Wagner might have felt taken for a ride.

  129. Bart Says:

    Don’t miss the short and clear video outlining the main arguments of Dessler’s paper in GRL: http://rabett.blogspot.com/2011/09/grl-doi1010292011gl049236-andy-dessler.html

  130. Paul Kelly Says:

    A press release title is only important to those who don’t read the entire release. I trust that doesn’t include Wegner. Even so, the absence of the word could falls well short of much exaggerated.

    I didn’t think Spenser’s self defense in his battles in the science community and the blogosphere was relevant. What he says there about his paper repeats what he said in what I’ve already quoted. Is it an exaggeration to say that climate models contain virtual climate systems? I think not. What he says about Romm is true. The Center for American Progress gets major funding from Soros. I know that Soros offered Hansen money, but don’t know that he took it.

    On a personal note, I really don’t give a shit about what you think my view of the science is.

  131. Tom Fuller Says:

    Paul, you did me a huge favor some months back by advising me not to respond to one of the more rabid commenters here.

    I hope you’ll understand if I repeat your advice here–Neven’s just trolling and has nothing of substance to contribute. Ignore him.

  132. Neven Says:

    A press release title is only important to those who don’t read the entire release. I trust that doesn’t include Wegner. Even so, the absence of the word could falls well short of much exaggerated.

    Ah, so it’s only a little bit exaggerated, but that’s OK because it’s only the title. They could just put anything in that title, as long as the rest of the text reflects SB2011 accurately.

    If you don’t want to believe that Legislator Spencer was looking for a small hole to squeeze his propaganda through, then go on lying to yourself by any means you deem necessary.

    On a personal note, I really don’t give a shit about what you think my view of the science is.

    In that case you won’t mind me telling you that you are a hypocrite and a concern troll either.

    Good luck with pushing the sick narrative that IPCC scientists behaving badly are to blame for everything.

    As far as I’m concerned you have nothing positive to bring to the debate.

  133. Neven Says:

    Neven’s just trolling and has nothing of substance to contribute. Ignore him.

    I’m trolling? I happen to agree with everything our host says, so how on Earth could I be trolling.

    If anyone is trolling here it’s delaying-deniers-disguised-as-lukewarmers such as you and your twin brother Paul Kelly with your PR game poison.

  134. dhogaza Says:

    A press release title is only important to those who don’t read the entire release. I trust that doesn’t include Wegner. Even so, the absence of the word could falls well short of much exaggerated.

    Let us not forget that they only tested six models, outliers all (intentionally chosen because they were outliers), that happen to do a poor job modeling ENSO.

    Now if the press release had said something like “six models that more or less suck are shown to suck, and we didn’t bother to look at those that don’t suck so much because if we had, bald-faced statements like ‘Climate models get energy balance wrong’ would be so obviously incorrect that even fox news might not fall for it”, we’d have no complaint.

    Tom Fuller:

    I hope you’ll understand if I repeat your advice here–Neven’s just trolling and has nothing of substance to contribute. Ignore him.

    Shorter version: your life will be happier if you stick your fingers in your ears rather than let the truth in.

  135. Lazar Says:

    Tom Fuller,

    I agree with you from personal and pragmatic pov that Trenberth et al’s editorial was ott and mean spirited for a public statement. I think it would have been fair to comment that for this particular kind of modelling work, Spencer has a track record of blunders and not manning up to mistakes and criticisms.

    On political pressure…
    iirc (I may well be wrong) in the case of von Storch there was *talk* of applying pressure but no evidence that anything was actually done. In this case there is no evidence even of talk of pressure. Even evidence of real pressure being applied would not be evidence of *motivation*… we can’t read minds, all we have are the words of those who resign and crude guesses based on crude psychological modelling… which involves more guesses. In the case of von Storch, in light of his other actions, I find it difficult to believe he would resign due to political pressure, and more plausible he would publicly tell so-and-so where they can go in such a situation. To me it seems a strange and unsupported working assumption that Wagner resigned *because of* political pressure… and somewhat demeaning to his character and von Storch. I agree that in the context supplied by yourself and Jonathan Jones the resignation does seem bizarre. But the missing context is too many publicity tours on the shoulders of too many bad skeptic papers making a mockery of science… under which Wagner’s actions seem to me reasonable, responsible, and realistic. imv and quite a few others this game was bound to come to an end. If this does signal a point where skeptics can no longer abuse the reliability of the peer review low pass filter, and find every paper reviewed with a fine tooth comb, they are themselves to blame. I would also point out that Spencer bears responsibility for starting a propaganda war of which Trenberth et al’s response is a continuation.

  136. Tom Fuller Says:

    Hi Lazar,

    I think there’s enough blame to spread around pretty evenly.

    By resigning, Wagner interrupted a fairly conventional process for addressing concerns–either by retracting the paper or pushing for comments. His resignation, it’s timing and manner and the personal apology to Trenberth certainly leaves room for legitimate questioning–as well as illegitimate questioning.

    I think we should expect that more–even most–papers from skeptics will be of poor quality, so I think your point about that is misguided. I would venture to guess that a majority of all scientific papers are of poor quality–feel free to correct my prejudice, if appropriate. And those outside the consensus circle should have an ever-diminishing sphere of activity to follow, and as has been noted (although in a paper of very poor quality) there are more consensus scientists with experience publishing than those of a skeptical bent.

    Lastly, it seems to me that it wasn’t so much Spencer that created a hullabaloo about his paper, but others on his behalf. Doubtless he could have done more to quiet that storm, but was it really Spencer that exaggerated the claims?

    All in all, another case where everybody lived down to expectations, it seems to me.

  137. J Bowers Says:

    Paul Kelly — “A press release title is only important to those who don’t read the entire release.”

    90% of the world’s population, then.

  138. J Bowers Says:

    Tom Fuller — “By resigning, Wagner interrupted a fairly conventional process for addressing concerns–either by retracting the paper or pushing for comments.”

    So you’d be able to tell us precisely how many climate science papers have been retracted in the past decade? Over to you.

  139. Tom Fuller Says:

    No, I would not. Would you?

  140. Paul Kelly Says:

    J Bowers,

    You’re probably right about that, which is why newspaper reporters hate headline writers.

  141. dhogaza Says:

    Tom Fuller:

    No, I would not. Would you?

    You claimed that retraction is a “fairly conventional process for addressing concerns”, so I’m rather surprised that you can’t answer the question.

  142. dhogaza Says:

    I was in error here:

    Let us not forget that they only tested six models, outliers all (intentionally chosen because they were outliers), that happen to do a poor job modeling ENSO.

    They actually tested 14, but only presented their comparison to observations for 6 of them, the 6 that coincidently track the satellite data the most poorly (as well as doing a poor job modeling ENSO). The others track within error bars on model results and observations, according to Dressler’s paper.

    Worse cherry picking than I had thought …

  143. Jeff Id Says:

    Bart,

    “I wrote this post to discuss Wanger’s editorial, not to discuss the ins and outs of S&B. ”

    Sorry for the OT then, but the title specifically says ‘flawed’ and I am interested in your technical opinions on the matter. If we can’t talk about these scientific issues, we get nowhere and you are the pro, not me. I’m quite happy with whatever the physical world decides for climate sensitivity, we get no choice in that so in my world, understanding reality outweighs anything else. We will probably always disagree as to what the definition of ‘solution’ is but that doesn’t affect my reading skills. Honestly, if I had a firm belief that climate sensitivity was very high, then I wouldn’t be considered a lukewarmer or whatever you call me — except for solutions of course.

    “in the timescales of his comparison, in not properly accounting for the role of ENSO in the model-data comparison. ”

    Thanks for the detail. I have the “rebuttal” now for which I will make my own opinions. I am not pleased with the crazy way that this was handled by the IN crowd but that is today’s world. The science is still fun and we now have a new puzzle to sort out.

  144. J Bowers Says:

    Tom Fuller — “No, I would not. Would you?”

    I believe it’s two: Said et al (2008) and Sidall et al (2010). Even if it were double that I’d hardly call it conventional. So, on the subject of retracting, unless you can come up with plenty more perhaps you should try it.

  145. Lazar Says:

    Hi Tom,

    “By resigning, Wagner interrupted a fairly conventional process for addressing concerns”

    Exactly.

    “and the personal apology to Trenberth certainly leaves room for legitimate questioning–as well as illegitimate questioning”

    I would guess Wagner and Trenberth had a back and forth over the paper before a private apology was issued. I would guess Wagner came to accept Trenberth’s position. An informal apology from one scientist to another for a bad paper might not be surprising… I would view it as a courtesy. I would disagree that splashing the apology across the media was the right thing to do tho. otoh if Wagner and Trenberth had no prior communications I would view an apology as a bit creepy.

    “more–even most–papers from skeptics will be of poor quality”

    Yep. But a (really bad, or really uninteresting) paper will ordinarily sink quietly like a stone… really bad skeptic papers tend to live a raucous second life… before other scientists have discussed and evaluated their results, before any (dis)confirmatory work, they’ve booked the media tour. It is the repeatedly encountered combination of bad paper + publicity tour (+ exaggerating the import of results) that is an issue,– not bad paper on its own, not publicity tour on its own, not bad paper + publicity tour once in a blue moon–, for the reputation of science, and for public education.

    “I would venture to guess that a majority of all scientific papers are of poor quality”

    Maybe… I’ve heard that claim… however ‘poor quality’ could vary from ‘obviously wrong’ to ‘uninteresting’ to ‘not using the best techniques’ to… I don’t think it speaks directly to ‘good enough to publish’. I would venture that the majority of published skeptic papers are of lower quality than the majority of published papers which fall outside of that category… I would bet a large sum of money on it being true.

    “it wasn’t so much Spencer that created a hullabaloo about his paper,”

    Well, he at minimum played a part by going on talk shows publicizing and exaggerating his results… at least one such interview can be found on youtube. I was really referring to his book tho, and even before then.

    “another case where everybody lived down to expectations, it seems to me”

    I think Wagner did the right thing. Your comment seems fair to me for others… but their actions are relatively unimportant perhaps in that they are a continuation of the same-old. Wagner’s action may change things, which makes it interesting.

  146. Roy Spencer Wants You to Believe the Magician Really Cuts Her Body in Half « Global Warming: Man or Myth? Says:

    [...] Spencer and Braswell fundamentally flawed, journal editor resigns - Bart Verheggen [...]

  147. dhogaza Says:

    Jeff ID:

    We will probably always disagree as to what the definition of ‘solution’ is but that doesn’t affect my reading skills. Honestly, if I had a firm belief that climate sensitivity was very high, then I wouldn’t be considered a lukewarmer or whatever you call me — except for solutions of course.

    Spencer, at least, is honest about his belief that his role as scientist is to be ideologically-driven.

    You might get some respect here if you were as honest …

  148. dhogaza Says:

    I believe it’s two: Said et al (2008) and Sidall et al (2010). Even if it were double that I’d hardly call it conventional. So, on the subject of retracting, unless you can come up with plenty more perhaps you should try it.

    And Said et al (2008) was retracted because of plagiarism, not because it was original but flawed.

    An important distinction Mr. Fuller would be aware of if he were interested in being aware.

  149. dhogaza Says:

    Jeff Id:

    Sorry for the OT then, but the title specifically says ‘flawed’ and I am interested in your technical opinions on the matter. If we can’t talk about these scientific issues, we get nowhere and you are the pro, not me.

    In your own words, what’s the justification for testing 14 models, the n cherry-picking six outliers that don’t perform well regarding modeling ENSO events and the satellite record, then extrapolating that into a global claim that all climate models suck?

    Wouldn’t you expect someone to show all their results before making such a proclamation?

  150. dhogaza Says:

    Jeff Id:

    I am not pleased with the crazy way that this was handled by the IN crowd but that is today’s world.

    None of us are, of course, pleased with how this was handled by the “IN” denialist crowd that, once again, proclaimed “finally, the wooden stake through the heart of most of physics!”

    I do assume this was what you were referring to?

  151. Marco Says:

    dhogaza, I would have expected Jeff Id to go all crazy over the absence of any statistical analysis in SB2011, despite statistical claims being made.

    No such luck…
    (and as expected Steve McIntyre attacks Dessler 2011, and once again leaves his opinions on SB2011 in a dark corner, never to appear)

  152. sharper00 Says:

    I’m interested in Spencer’s response to the issue over which models he graphed. If I understand the standards of the skeptical blogosphere correctly then “hiding” information like this is completely unethical and fraudulent when used even as a cover on a presentation so I imagine it’s much much worse in a primary publication.

  153. TimG Says:

    sharper00,

    Spencer’s graphs has the words clearly written on them: 3 highest and 3 lowest sensitivity models. You did not even need to read the fine print to know that Spencer left information out of his graphs.

    If the Briffa graphs had similar words written on the graphs which told the readers that adverse data was truncated you would not see skeptics complaining.

  154. Marco Says:

    TimG: you could ask yourself why he happened to leave out the models that fit best…

    And your claim about Briffa is nonsense, and you know it. ‘Skeptics’ would still be screaming bloody murder: a whole publication (by Briffa, there are other papers, too) was devoted to the divergence problem!

  155. Øystein Says:

    I just have to ask, Marco.. Why ask TimG anything?

    Everyone knows he won’t answer, as that would leave his talking points moot. So he’ll ignore, ask different questions, forget his reading abilities, you know.. troll.

    If he hasn’t learned to read yet, it’s too late. Shame, that.

  156. sharper00 Says:

    TimG,

    “Spencer’s graphs has the words clearly written on them: 3 highest and 3 lowest sensitivity models.”

    Yes and apparently this is the defence he went with in his post today.

    The problem here though is his paper concluded that the models don’t represent the phenomenon he was studying very well. His selection criteria had the effect of picking the models that represented it with the least accuracy. Those models also have problems simulating ENSO which is the competing mainstream explanation to what Spencer is proposing.

    He therefore needs to explain why highest/lowest sensitivity is relevant in this context – can you explain it? If you’re studying whether temperature variation in the last decade is inexplicable (and thus requiring a better one) why would you focus on criteria other than what you’re actually studying?

    What would be a more relevant result is if the models which simulated ENSO the best diverged from Spencer’s observational analysis the most. This would mean he was at least onto something regarding the model’s ability to simulate the heat loss.

    As I stated above if you’re going to claim “The models don’t do X” you had best be very careful you’re picking models appropriately otherwise you’re really just saying “The models which don’t do X, don’t do X but the models which do do X, do!”. I’m not a climate modeller so I assume the reason we have different models is that they have different known competencies and thus individual models are only applicable to certain tasks. If you use the wrong model for the wrong task then that’s not exactly a noteworthy result.

  157. Rattus Norvegicus Says:

    sharper00, you might even say that the non-noteworthy result might be fundamentally flawed.

  158. dhogaza Says:

    And your claim about Briffa is nonsense, and you know it. ‘Skeptics’ would still be screaming bloody murder: a whole publication (by Briffa, there are other papers, too) was devoted to the divergence problem!

    Note that Mosher’s been making a similar argument elsewhere, apparently the denialist spin machine has settled on this as being an effective defense of Spencer. Along with “the editor was forced to resign therefore the paper rocks!” and various other oddities.

    You know, like a four year old brat – “Mann and Briffa did it first!!!!”.

    (not that Mann and Briffa have done anything like Spencer’s cherry-picking, of course).

  159. dhogaza Says:

    Spencer has unintentionally highlighted something interesting, though. In the past I saw some commentary somewhere – Gavin Schmidt at RC perhaps? (but don’t hold me, and especially him, to it) – that due to the bend-over-backwards full-international-involvement nature of the IPCC, that the bar for getting models included in the IPCC ensemble is quite low. And that there had been some discussion at some level of trying to weed out poorly performing models (perhaps for AR5)? Wish I’d kept a link, or at least notes.

    Anyway, Spencer’s cherry-picking of six models that are clear outliers regarding their main result (climate sensitivity to doubling of CO2) and that demonstrably don’t model ENSO and (thanks to Spencer) as a result also don’t do a good job of modeling changes in radiative balance the result from ENSO ought to be, you’d think, a motivator for those who might want to tighten up the qualitative standards for model inclusion into the IPCC ensemble.

    Of course, if the IPCC were to do so, you can imagine the “gatekeeping!” uproar in the denialsphere …

  160. Lazar Says:

    “Record” review time claims are incorrect… grypo did the work… guess who didn’t?

  161. Jeff Id Says:

    Dhog,

    I don’t find anything of great value in the statistics of the thing. If you look at the r and the sd of the data, what more do you need? It’s noisy as heck.

    There does seem to be a lagged response, although as I have commented elsewhere it could be caused by a few correlating spikes in all that noise. The reason I asked Bart is that I’ve been looking for a clear opinion from the experts on the technical reasons they don’t like the paper. It has been difficult to find.

    The rebuttal is as troublesome as the paper itself. I can’t figure either of them out well enough to have confidence in any conclusion. This makes the response by mainstream climate science even more disturbing in my opinion.

    I really shouldn’t engage you as you have long made it clear that your intent is to paint me into your preferred definition. You don’t read the science, you don’t get the stats, but you are really really opinionated about it.

  162. Tom Fuller Says:

    Now that Spencer and Dessler are working together on reconciling some of the issues in their two papers, perhaps this will serve as a lesson on how differing sides can actually move closer together.

    Won’t work here, probably. The alarmist brigade has too much invested in demonizing both skeptics and lukewarmers. But it’s nice to see that it can happen.

  163. J Bowers Says:

    Got any more of those retractions, Tom?

  164. Tom Fuller Says:

    Waddya mean ‘more,’ [edit. BV]?

  165. Tom Fuller Says:

    (The ‘fool’ part is supposed to be humorous. A little.)

  166. Fool Says:

    A reminder.

  167. willard Says:

    dhogaza,

    Jeff Id said to you:

    > The reason I asked Bart is that I’ve been looking for a clear opinion from the experts on the technical reasons they don’t like the paper. It has been difficult to find.

    I am unaware if he did ask John Nielsen-Gammon as suggested above:

    http://blog.chron.com/climateabyss/2011/09/spencer-braswell-and-the-review-process

    I am aware he did ask Shewonk:

    http://metaclimate.org/2011/09/06/the-eternal-return-or-the-unbearable-wrongness-of-spencer-and-braswell/#comment-5949

    This behavior might be more troublesome to honest brokers than any reaction to conclusions, rebuttals, or what not.

    This behavior might make honest brokers wonder why he pledges to science and only science.

    This behavior might make honest brokers wonder why they would engage with him.

    This behavior might remind honest brokers of this:

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/5986919630

    A strange game. The only losing move is not to play.

  168. dhogaza Says:

    willard:

    Jeff Id said to you:

    I could care less, his comments to me boil down to his claim that I can’t understand the argument.

    As it happens, I have a degree in math, but, whatever ….

    Anyway, Jeff Id’s politics speak for itself, as does Spencer (who, at least, is honest enough to admit it).

    As for me, I understand that nothing will be done. The politics of Spencer and Jeff Id will rule energy policy for the next decade.

    But it would really be nice if [they - edit BV] would be honest enough to admit that they don’t actually [care] about the science, and aren’t even gracious enough to admit so after having won the political battle a couple of years ago.

    I’m at least honest enough to tip my hat to their political success, and I’m trying to figure out how to capitalize on it in the investment context.

    Being 57.5 years old, with no children, the future is of no concern of mine, after all.

  169. Bart Says:

    Guys,

    Play the ball, not the man. Calling people names doesn’t add a thing to the discussion.

  170. Jeff Id Says:

    Dhogaza,

    I am aware that you have said you have a math degree so tell us about the stats if you get them. Come on man, if your intent is to teach us the science, don’t ask me about the stats, tell me about them.

    It doesn’t matter if I teased the Shewonk blog a little, I don’t like people with fixed opinions that aren’t able to back them up. That blog has no thought content behind the words.

    Watcha got? Maybe we will agree.

  171. Bob Brand Says:

    Bart & Others,

    Do you get this new meme over at Steve McIntyre, where he is attacking an OLDER paper by Dessler (Dessler 2010!) about CERES data – while this has nothing tot do with Dessler’s specific critique of SB2011?

    Not to mention the earlier flaws, as already discussed in july:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/07/misdiagnosis-of-surface-temperature-feedback/

    To me it seems like a “just hit ‘m back with anything, to divert attention” kind of move. It might be more useful to re-analyse Spencer’s data in the proper manner – we might actually learn something.

    During the meanwhile, the denialists seem to think this shows SB2011 to be correct – which is a different topic.

  172. Jeff Id Says:

    Bob,

    I’ve met and emailed with McIntyre many times. He is dangerous toward bad information but to date he has not shown any intent to make diversion an issue. It isn’t his game. His game is to point out flaws in the certainty and he treats it like a puzzle. Every big climate claim is like a crossword that has alternate answers. This happens because the data isn’t clean, it often isn’t well analyzed and over conclusion is the norm.

  173. cohenite Says:

    It is not true to say, as dhogaza says, that Spencer cherry-picked 6 models from 14; Spencer has responded to this here:

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2011/09/the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-my-initial-comments-on-the-new-dessler-2011-study/

    Spencer says:

    “How is picking the 3 most sensitive models AND the 3 least sensitive models going to “provide maximum support for (our) hypothesis”? If I had picked ONLY the 3 most sensitive, or ONLY the 3 least sensitive, that might be cherry picking…depending upon what was being demonstrated.

    And where is the evidence those 6 models produce the best support for our hypothesis? I would have had to run hundreds of combinations of the 14 models to accomplish that. Is that what Dr. Dessler is accusing us of?

    Instead, the point of using the 3 most sensitive and 3 least sensitive models was to emphasize that not only are the most sensitive climate models inconsistent with the observations, so are the least sensitive models.”

    Given that a commentator on the thread calculated the number of combinations of selecting 6 from 14 is 3003 [6 from 14 as follows (14*13*12*11*10*9) / (6*5*4*3*2*1)] Spencer’s method seems reasonable.

  174. troyca Says:

    Bob,

    To be fair, I posted on the issue Steve mentions on my blog over two months, and my guest post at Lucia’s was a month ago, so neither were to “hit ‘m back” for Dessler 2011. My point was that Dessler10 concludes that there is no evidence for a large negative cloud feedback, but using the same source (CERES) for both clear-sky and all-sky fluxes WILL give you such evidence, and this it worth noting I think.

    It’s true that this does not make SB11 correct (or have much to do with it at all). SB11 argues D10 is incorrect, and then D11 argues that SB11 is incorrect, so they are linked — but the issue at CA regarding D10 is unrelated to SB11. I’m sure there are places in the blogosphere where things have become confused, as nuance is typically one of the first casualties of the internet.

    For those interested, I have posted my technical issues with SB11 at http://troyca.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/thoughts-on-spencer-and-braswell-2011/

    My biggest issue is that SB11 would have a much stronger case if the non-radiatively forced simple model run matched up well with the non-radiatively forced GCMs of the early 21st century.

  175. Marco Says:

    Cohenite, assume Spencer would have to justify himself in court, and uses this statistical argument (too many possible combinations!). You are his lawyer.

    There are two simple questions from the prosecutor, which Spencer would then have to answer:
    1. “Dr. Spencer, could you please tell me which scientific rule tells you that only 6 of the 14 models can be shown? Why not 8? Or 4? Or better yet, why not all 14?”

    2. “Dr. Spencer, did you ever compare all those 14 models with the observed data, as you did for Figure 3? If so, why did you not wonder why some models were much better at reproducing the real-life data, and definitely much better than that selection of just 6 models you showed in your figure?”

    What would you recommend your client to answer?

  176. Bart Says:

    Jeff,

    That’s the “noble detective” narrative. There are others, such as the “harassment of scientists” narrative. It all depends from which angle you look at it, and which actions and words of McIntyre you chose to focus on. There’s ample room for both narratives there.

    From the pov of those who distrust mainstream climate science, the former narrative is most popular.
    From the pov of mainstream scientists, the latter narrative is dominant.

    There’s something to say for the view that both see only part of the whole story here.

  177. Roddy Campbell Says:

    Bart, I’ve often wondered about that. Another narrative is ‘the whistleblower’ one. As we know from many examples of corporate or governmental cases, ‘whistleblowers’ are often a bit crackers. No-one’s perfect, as we know, and a characteristic of whistle-blowers might be a persistence that borders on, or crosses into, dogged harassment. You have to be a bit crazy to be a whistleblower.

    So as with everyone in this debate, no-one’s right all the time, far from it. Just depersonalise, as you do very well here.

  178. Bob Brand Says:

    Hi Cohenite,

    “How is picking the 3 most sensitive models AND the 3 least sensitive models going to “provide maximum support for (our) hypothesis”? If I had picked ONLY the 3 most sensitive, or ONLY the 3 least sensitive, that might be cherry picking…depending upon what was being demonstrated.

    The cherrypicking consists of choosing GCM’s which are unable to model ENSO correctly in the first place. And since *that* is the observational data these models are being compared to, it is not a very surprising result to find that these models at the boundaries of the sensitivity range… don’t model ENSO correctly.

    So – surprisingly (or maybe not) the models with an ‘average’ climate sensitivity are best able to model ENSO over the years 2000-2010, which argues for their usefulness. It is not *that* surprising if ‘outlier’ models perform worse than the others…

    @Troyca,

    I do agree with your remark: “.. but the issue at CA regarding D10 is unrelated to SB11.

    That is why I find it somewhat of a diversion, and a rather childish ‘tit-for-tat’ tactic. I would think McIntyre is better than that. All this should not be construed as ‘Dessler 2010 is beyond criticism’ of course, but it is important to get it right about SB11 and D11.

    Dessler 2011 (his pre-print in GRL) is ‘only’ a direct critique of SB11 and LC09/LC11, and hardly a separate study. Among other issues it does point out some of the fundamental misunderstandings in Spencer’s and Lindzen’s assumptions about atmosphere/ocean heat fluxes. It is useful to gain a realistic understanding here.

    Strangely enough I do consider it a “loss” that Spencer and Lindzen are so far out on left field. IMHO they are both good researchers (Lindzen certainly is), and it might be helpful if they were able – at least – to work with others in the field. Dessler is doing all he possibly can, as before.

    And yes, the “narratives” do seem rather decoupled from reality.

  179. Tom Says:

    Bart, it is dangerous to try and construct a narrative. As a scientist you should know that. You note that two people can watch the same event and come away with different perceptions. That is what has happened in the climate debate.

    Don’t impose a narrative where it is not needed. The actors on the climate stage don’t always stay in character. They sometimes do different things for different reasons.

    Leave the story telling to the Greeks. They did it better, and they’re going to need the extra money.

  180. J Bowers Says:

    McIntyre has never audited any scientist whose research Heartland praises as far as I’m aware. It’s a bit of a puzzle given that he’s someone who so many claim doesn’t have a dog in the fight. Does he not audit CATO and Heartland favourites because his regular readers are predisposed one particular way, and its a way of keeping up the readership, where his choice of which side of the debate to audit fits the narrative that they want to read?

  181. Tom Fuller Says:

    JBowers, he has addressed that question so frequently on his weblog that it is obvious your question is just a troll.

  182. Bart Says:

    Tom,

    May I suggest that rather than your virulent reply you could have also just provided the answer that you’re aware of Mcintyre has given to that in the past? That way you wouldn’t immediately become engrained in one narrative or the other.

    Afaik, McIntyre has stated that he chooses to focus on “auditing” mainstream science, because that’s what in his perception has the most influence on policy. That’s definitely an arguable position to take, but that’s his take. Tom or others, correct me if I’m wrong. I didn’t search for a direct quote just now.

    Re narratives: I didn’t construct one; I observed Jeff’s comment being firmly engrained in one particular narrative, against which one could set up other narratives. I didn’t even pass judgment on the relative worth of each narrative, trying my best, as Roddy notes, to depersonalise the issue.

  183. J Bowers Says:

    Bart – “Afaik, McIntyre has stated that he chooses to focus on “auditing” mainstream science, because that’s what in his perception has the most influence on policy.”

    Thanks Bart. For that to be credible then Lindzen, Michaels, Spencer, Christy, etc, must never have testified to Congress. I find it quite incredible.

  184. Roddy Campbell Says:

    J Bowers – those ‘mainstream’ scientists you name may not have such an influence on the the IPCC, which is surely the definition of mainstream science. I must say that despite their standing I would hesitate to describe them as mainstream, as I’m sure you would, so I’m not entirely sure what your point is?

    Perhaps if you substitute the word ‘consensus’ for ‘mainstream’ in Bart’s description of McIntyre’s position it would be clearer?

  185. Jeff Id Says:

    In my opinion, the reason the mainstream is the focus has multiple levels. First, there is a lot of it. A ton really. Second, the mainstream of climate science has an obvious bias, Mann paleo papers being accepted is a great example. Antarctic warming which matches none of the previous documentation is another. When the big names aren’t questioned, it is up to someone else to do the work.

    It isn’t like the spencers and Lindzens aren’t carefully monitored by the mainstream already. Can the same be said for Mann? I think not.

  186. Tom Fuller Says:

    Umm, virulent? You’re a little late on the virulence watch, Bart.

  187. Bart Says:

    Tom, Ok, ok, perhaps virulent is too strong, dunno really. My point was, no need to invoke trollness when someone is clearly puzzled about it (and puzzled about the explanation itself, as am I), and clearly not trolling here as this is not CA, so there’s no expectation that he should have read everything over there.

    Roddy, you misread J Bowers I think. He meant that the names he mentioned appear to have a big influence on policy (e.g. having testified before congress), whereas they’re clearly *not* in the mainstream. So he wonders why McI is not auditing them (if my description of his reasons is correct).

    Jeff, you’re stuck in your narrative with your “obvious bias”. It’s getting comical.

  188. Roddy Campbell Says:

    Bart, I misread mischievously I’m afraid; your sentence began ‘McIntyre has stated that he chooses to focus on “auditing” mainstream science…’, so I was puzzled by JB’s name roll of non-mainstream scientists as in some way disproving SM’s assertion of his position. But as you say, that’s your memory of what SM has said, I don’t recall precisely either, but I would expect influence on IPCC AR findings might have come into it.

  189. Bart Says:

    McI may indeed use “influence on IPCC AR findings” as a proxy for political influence. J Bowers gives another proxy for political influence. In the current political climate (esp in the US) one could make a pretty good argument that at least on a person by person basis, some prominent skeptics (e.g. those in JB’s list) have at least as much, if not more political influence than e.g. Mann, Santer, Dessler or Trenberth.

    That’s also Spencer’s expressed objective btw. Protecting the taxpayers and stuff like that. The media- and thinktank-provided megaphones go a long way towards helping him in his political quest. He and his pals have tremendous influence on the public and on the political debate. Perhaps time for McI to add some other proxies to his list.

  190. J Bowers Says:

    Bart — “In the current political climate (esp in the US) one could make a pretty good argument that at least on a person by person basis, some prominent skeptics (e.g. those in JB’s list) have at least as much, if not more political influence than e.g. Mann, Santer, Dessler or Trenberth.”

    On the nosey.

  191. Neven Says:

    Indeed. Pretty much uitgeluld, I’d say. Well done, Bart.

  192. Jeff Id Says:

    Bart,

    “Re narratives: I didn’t construct one; I observed Jeff’s comment being firmly engrained in one particular narrative, against which one could set up other narratives. I didn’t even pass judgment on the relative worth of each narrative, trying my best, as Roddy notes, to depersonalise the issue”

    “Jeff, you’re stuck in your narrative with your “obvious bias”. It’s getting comical.”

    I suppose it is possible to make that statement if you don’t have the chops to understand the true issue. Regressions are complex, complex regressions are often stupid. Repeated complex regressions can be intentional bias. But you’re right, I’ll leave you and the’serious intellectuals here alone for a bit. If you ever want to discuss detail of something real, let me know.

  193. Øystein Says:

    Jeff:

    Reading your comments here leaves me with the impression that you are arrogant. What you do not show is any reason for your arrogance.

    I guess you just don’t want to be taken seriously.

  194. Jeff Id Says:

    Arrogant or irritated, your choice.

  195. William M. Connolley Says:

    JI: if you’re going to storm off in a huff (“I’ll leave you and the’serious intellectuals here alone for a bit. If you ever want to discuss detail of something real, let me know”) be a good chap and stay stormed off, eh? Popping back in to say “I’m storming off again” looks very silly.

  196. Tom Says:

    William M. Connolley, that is the point of your contributions, of course. At all costs, let us belittle Jeff Id. Especially if he’s making sense.

    Many thanks for advancing the discussion.

  197. William M. Connolley Says:

    T: I presume that was self-referential trolling. Anyway: this thread has clearly deterioriated past saving. I’m off. For my money, Bart needs a higher moderation level.

  198. Jeff Id Says:

    WC,

    You can have your impression, but I was completely unable to get any discussion on this thread. Bart is mad at me about a post at tAV, none of you addressed any of my questions with anything except opinions.

    I’ll leave Bart and yourself alone for a bit.

  199. willard Says:

    > Bart is mad at me about a post at tAV [...]

    Which one?

    Perhaps Bart is just a bit … irritated.

  200. Bart Says:

    Com’on guys, let’s try to keep a constructuve conversation here.

    I’m neither mad nor irritated at someone in particular. Sure it’s petty if someone tells me I don’t have the chops to understand something if I chose not to engage them on the detail they wanted and to keep the discussion on the big picture. But eh, that’s the life of a blogger. Can’t please everyone nor am I trying to.

    If anything, I’m a bit irritated that the lifetime of an interesting conversation is apparently so short. That sucks, because it means that I have to chose between two bads: – stricter (perhaps pre-) moderation (which diminishes spontaneous and open discussion) or – threads that continuously derail in pettiness, insinuations etc. WC makes a case for the former (and he’s not alone in that); I’ve stuck with the latter so far. I may reconsider at some point.

    Now everyone just chill for a moment and if you say something, say something of substance please.

  201. J Bowers Says:

    Ah, finding the first ever post by McI at CA explains a fair bit (previous posts are reposts from climate2003.com).

    Steve McIntyre, posted on Feb 3, 2005 at 7:58 AM…

    …In particular, I’ll try to post some comments on these topics (other suggestions welcome):
    – the “Hockey Team”
    – do the MBH98 errors “matter”? (They do.)
    – a retrospective scorecard on MM03
    – PC selection rules in MBH98
    – the supposed MBH99 adjustment of the bristlecone pines

    There’s also this comment…

    Steve McIntyre: Mar 23, 2006 at 4:57 PM

    I certainly perceived realclimate as actively attacking us right from the beginning. John A. told me that I’d be buried if I didn’t stick up for myself online. In that sense, realclimate is the “blog-father” of climateaudit. It wasn’t just one early post at realclimate. Here are some of the early posts at realclimate (Remember this was when Mann was still trying to block us from being published or getting covered by Natuurwetenschap & Techniek).

    And then there’s Wiki. Shoulda known.

    …One reason McIntyre gave for starting the site was to provide a forum for discussions on his “audits” of climate science research. Another reason for starting the blog was for McIntyre to respond to what Fred Pearce described as attacks on his work by the blog RealClimate. RealClimate was a blog started two months earlier by Michael E. Mann, Gavin Schmidt, Stefan Rahmstorf, and other climate scientists.[7]

    Dr Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology has said “McIntyre started the blog climateaudit.org so that he could defend himself against claims being made at the blog Realclimate with regards to his critique of the “hockey stick” since he was unable to post his comments there”.

    http://climateaudit.org/2005/02/03/climateaudit/
    http://climateaudit.org/2006/03/19/592/#comment-46455
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_Audit#Founding

    Should’ve named it RealClimate Audit ;)

  202. Tom Fuller Says:

    JBowers, I personally appreciate you doing the legwork to get that information. I doubt if I will like what you do with it, but at least you did something.

  203. Jeff Id Says:

    Bart,

    You know I don’t quit easily. I was hoping for some detail on why the Spencer/Dessler papers stink. The chops comment is because I’m tired of asking. Put your thoughts out there, all CS needs is openness to the public and if it is correct, it can’t lose.

    I really miss college halls where nobody worried about what their opinion was. Sure everyone hates being wrong, but the fun is in the discussion. My guess is that you took on science for that sort of reason. You said ‘flawed’, I said why?

    why?

    why?

    Imagine asking that question when I am personally more busy than you will ever be. It’s tiring and I was curious. So know I wonder—

    why not?

    No chops?

  204. Roddy Says:

    Zeke H has a post on S B 11 I found via Collide-a-scape which seemed reasonable.

  205. willard Says:

    Jeff,

    Here is what Wolfgang Wagner said:

    > [...] **I** perceive this paper to be **fundamentally flawed** and therefore wrongly accepted by the journal. This regrettably brought me to the decision to resign as Editor-in-Chief―to make clear that the journal Remote Sensing takes the review process very seriously.

    http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/3/9/2002/pdf

    The emphasis is mine. This sentence is not that easy to miss, even by college nostalgics. Bart has no argumentative responsibilities regarding Wagner’s perception.

    Perhaps talking about “chops” and college nostalgia might be ways to circumvent that lack of responsibility. Auditors will recognize the overburdening tactic:

    http://scientistscitizens.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/debate-in-the-blogosphere-a-small-case-study/

    ***

    Auditors ought to ask: considering that N-G has taken a stance regarding Spencer’s article, why Jeff Id insists on asking Bart?

    Not giving up easily is important in a never ending game where the only losing move is not to play.

  206. Marco Says:

    Jeff Id, several people have answered your questions, but you dismissed their opinion out of hand. No, it had to be Bart answering, only Bart would do. Perhaps Bart is your guru, but your comments do not support that suggestions.

    However, what I find most interesting is that you, as one of the Auditors, apparently need Bart to point out the flaws in SB2011. Dessler et al 2011 helped you on your way already. I’m especially interested in hearing your opinion on the statistics in SB2011. Are they right or wrong?

  207. J Bowers Says:

    Tom, I seriously doubt I’ll be doing anything with it. I’d rather try to understand the ‘how’ the ‘why’ and the ‘when’ from a primary source, is all. But thanks for the slightly backhanded compliment which, given our history in comments, was quite refreshing.

  208. Jeff Id Says:

    Marco,

    I know Bart to be honest and able to address my points. He knows the ‘chops’ comment was a tease. WC thinks he can take care of my questions, but all his link was, was a discussion where I learned nothing new. Bart wasn’t obligated to answer of course, I’ve already worked it out enough for myself now anyway. Nobody has the ‘right’ answer IMO but there are a few curiosities which longer data series will help clarify. Spencer’s paper’s non conclusion was better than Desslers one with conclusion, neither was very convincing due to data quality and the resignation was clearly caused by behind the scenes pressure.

    SteveM, has some interesting questions on his latest post which are leading toward the Spencer/Dessler data questions. This is all about data quality and I wonder just how real that lag in the data is.

  209. Neven Says:

    the resignation was clearly caused by behind the scenes pressure

    Not clearly, your opinion.

  210. Marco Says:

    Neven, not only his opinion, but an opinion that is in contradiction to Wagner’s own explanation. Of course, Wagner’s explanation does not fit in the narrative…

  211. Bart Says:

    A paper in Remote Sensing has just appeared, more or less as a reaction on Spencer and Lindzen:

    Issues in Establishing Climate Sensitivity in Recent Studies
    Kevin E. Trenberth 1,* , John T. Fasullo 1 and John P. Abraham 2

    Haven’t read it yet.

  212. Marco Says:

    Bart, essentially an expansion of the Realclimate post. Nothing really new.

  213. Bob Brand Says:

    Marco,

    The Realclimate post was clearly a pre-print for this Commentary in Remote Sensing. I like this expanded version better though:

    - it stresses that the same methodological problems were present in LC09, which was already answered in Trenberth et al. 2010;

    - which SB11 failed to mention or to adress in any way;

    - lack of reproducibilty in SB11;

    - “.. Our results suggest instead that it is merely an indicator of a model’s ability to replicate the global-scale TOA response to ENSO. Since ENSO represents the main variations during a ten-year period, this is of course not surprising”

    - “.. Because the exchange of heat between the ocean and atmosphere is a key part of the ENSO cycle [14], SB11’s simple model, which has no realistic ocean, no El Niño, and no hydrological cycle, and an inappropriate observational baseline, is unsuitable.”

    - the amazing factor of 1:2 between ocean:atmosphere heat capacity is mentioned: “Use of a reasonable heat capacity for the
    ocean is also crucial.”

    Still reading…

  214. troyca Says:

    Bob,

    I’m not sure where the 1:2 ratio of ocean:atmospheric heat capacity is used? My understanding is that the 1:2 ratio was between the non-radiative to radiative forcings. The heat capacity used in SB11 is of the ocean’s mixed layer, which at 25 meters is likely too small (but I think would still be about 10:1 for ocean:atmospheric heat capacity?). However, it looks like Dessler might have made a mistake and used 700m for the mixed layer depth, yielding far too large of a heat capacity. The actual depth to be used is probably between 50 and 75 m.

    I go over this in some criticisms of Dessler 2011:

    http://troyca.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/thoughts-on-dessler-2011/

  215. Eli Rabett Says:

    What the heat capacity is in these papers, is a measure of the depth at which the ocean exchanges heat with the surface over the time span of the measurements. SB have a very shallow (swamp) ocean.

    The discussion of heat capacity in all of the papers is somewhat misleading

  216. Eli Rabett Says:

    I should have added, misleading because it is not the heat capacity of water, but that of the amount of water that is interacting with the atmosphere

  217. troyca Says:

    Eli,

    I’m not sure what you find misleading? SB11 makes it quite clear that they are dealing with the mixed layer (that is, “the amount of water that is interacting with the atmosphere”):

    “For the interannual temperature climate variability we will address here, the heat capacity Cp in Eq. 1 is assumed to represent the oceanic mixed layer.”

    “Examples of non-radiative forcing (S) would be fluctuations in the heat exchange between the mixed layer and deep ocean, or between the mixed layer and the overlying atmosphere.”

    As I show in my post, since this layer should have a near uniform temperature because of the rapid mixing that occurs, we can get a rough estimate of the effective depth by comparing the float temperature measurements at each layer to the sea surface temperatures. I found that the depth of the mixed layer is likely to be (averaged globally and over seasons) between 50-75 meters…would you agree with this number?

    It’s fair to criticize SB11 for using 25m, which is a bit shallow. However, as I pointed out in my post on that paper, using a 100 m depth does not make much difference in their model simulations.

    On the other hand, the mixed layer depth makes an extremely large difference when it comes to Dessler’s calculations, because it determines the energy flux supposedly tied to surface temperature fluctuations. However, he seems to be mistaken or confused about the equation:

    “The formulation of Eq. 1 is potentially problematic because the climate system is defined to include the ocean, yet one of the heating terms is flow of energy to/from the ocean (F_ocean).”

    He seems to be looking at the mixed layer as the entire ocean, and this appears to lead to his mistake of using a mixed depth of 700m. Correcting for this error leads to a ratio closer to 2:1 for non-radiative/radiative forcing, rather than 20:1.

    Hopefully by the time the paper is officially published, this error is corrected and the ratio is lowered, because otherwise the blunder would be rather embarrassing and certain folks will assume that because D11 is obviously wrong in the first section, SB11 is proven correct. The truth likely lies somewhere between, and it would be great to see both sides agree on a more realistic number of 2:1. I just wish the reviewers had caught some of these simple things (13 W/m^2 for monthly non-radiative forcing, really?!) before accepting it.

  218. Bob Brand Says:

    Troy, Eli,

    Since these CERES measurements were taken over the course of 10 years (with several El Niño events), I would guess there would be a lot of overturning and upwelling taking place in the ocean over this time period.

    Usually the upper thermocline in the ocean is at 200 to 400 meters depth, at least at tropical and lower latitudes where ENSO occurs. Since all the water above the upper thermocline is essentially at the same temperature, it has to be well mixed and it is exchanging heat with the troposphere.

    Doing sonar readings one can actually see the thermocline lowering in the Eastern Pacific and rising in the Western Pacific, during an El Niño event. Most of the energy being dumped into the ocean waters ends up in the Eastern Pacific, and during such an event the mixed layer can extend to a depth of 400 meters (which starves fish from nutrients from the cooler layers below).

    Since a 10 meter column of water is equal in mass to the full column of atmosphere above it, the waters above the upper thermocline do correspond to 20 x the heat capacity of the atmosphere above it.

    So the ratio 20:1 (which D11 uses) seems to be about right – but I understand Dessler did use the Argo readings (over the same time interval as the CERES data) to calculate the actual heat flux (not just heat capacity), and he came up with about that same ratio.

    The 0.5:1 wich SB11 used (an estimate without any rationale I can discern) seems a bit silly: it corresponds to a depth of 5 meters, suggesting that the atmosphere would have ~ 2 the heat capacity of the ocean (above the upper thermocline).

    A puddle indeed… :)

  219. Eli Rabett Says:

    Yep, SB11 and SC08 have very shallow oceans, which is the point that Dessler and KFA make about it being too shallow, e.g having a low heat capacity

  220. Eli Rabett Says:

    Dessler and Lindzen and Choi, and Schwartz and etc.’s heat capacity of 168 W-month/m^2/K is the standard choice corresponding to a depth of ~ 100 m as you say. Everyone is Galileo

  221. troyca Says:

    Bob,

    As I mentioned above, the argument over the 20:1 ratio and 0.5:1 ratio is NOT over heat capacity of ocean

    vs. atmosphere. I’m not sure why you keep saying that. It is the ratio between the non-radiative forcing

    vs. radiative forcings that is in dispute. Spencer mentions five times in his paper that he uses 25 meters as the depth of the ocean mixed layer, and I’ve confirmed this in my reproduction of his model results. Yes, this is slightly too small…but in my post, I also showed that this choice does NOT make much difference when it comes to the lagged signatures in Spencer’s model. I repeat: this is NOT the primary problem with the SB11 paper (as I said before, it is that the lagged signature of the non-radiative forced his simple model he shows does not match up with that of the GCMs).

    Where the mixed layer becomes an issue is when calculating the non-radiative flux based on the Argo data, as Dessler11 does. Dessler appears to have calculated the flux for the *mixed_layer* based on the energy down to the 700 meter layer. And as I’ve shown in my post, the global average for the mixed layer is down to approximately 50-75 meter…this can be easily confirmed by comparing the global average temperatures at the different ocean depths with those of the surface temperatures. Yes, the mixed layer can be deeper or more shallow than that based on certain events and/or the location on the globe, but when calculating a singular heat capacity (C) you need to use the average depth.

    The heat that ENSO distributes from the lower layers to the mixed layer is primarily what Dessler and Spencer are trying to estimate with with the “non-radiative” forcing. But the way Dessler has set it up, heat redistributed from (for example) the 500 m layer to the mixed layer during ENSO is NOT counted towards this forcing, but heat redistributed from the 800 meter layer to the 700 meter layer (even though the 700 meter layer is uncorrelated with surface temperature changes) IS counted. Clearly, Dessler’s formulation is problematic.

  222. troyca Says:

    Eli,

    I have little problem with the use of 168 W-month/m^2/K. Unfortunately, Dessler11 says he uses this, but does not seem to use the Argo data down to the 100 meter depth, but rather to the 700 m depth. Would you agree this IF this is the case, it is far too deep?

    It is not difficult to show that using the 100m instead of the 700m strongly changes the section one conclusion of Dessler11 (that the ratio of non-radiative forcing to radiative forcing is around 20:1).
    .

  223. Jeff Id Says:

    troyca’s reply is pretty clear, as are his posts. I wonder if Bart or WC could respond to this?

  224. chris Says:

    Am I allowed to point out that Jeff Id appears to be acting like a public school prefect (or maybe milk monitor!),,,,directing who particularly should answer his posts; pronouncing on what Dr Wagner’s motive actuallty was, when Dr. Wagner made his motives rather clear; directing Bart and WC to answer somebodies particular posts and so on

    The scientific issues, and the issues of scientific good/bad faith seem pretty clear to me. Wouldn’t it be better if Mr Id stopped acting like a traffic policeman (apols for changing the analogy), and did some thinking for hisself???

  225. Paul Middents Says:

    Looks like troyca has gotten Science of Doom interested in his questions concerning Dessler11. SoD says he will think about them.

    http://scienceofdoom.com/2011/09/22/measuring-climate-sensitivity-part-one/

  226. More on the effective ocean mixed layer on multi-year timescales, and Dessler 2011 « Troy's Scratchpad Says:

    [...] where does this 168 W-month/m^2/K come from?  In our conversation over at Bart’s, Eli Rabett notes the following: Dessler and Lindzen and Choi, and Schwartz and etc.’s heat capacity of 168 W-month/m^2/K is the [...]

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