Another perspective on von S/Z?

Prompted by some comments over at CA I’ve been wondering again about the Hans von Storch and Eduardo Zorita post at Nature. A moment ago I said that McI was justifiably annoyed that S/Z appeared to be claiming prior credit for demolishing the HS (just for ref I don’t think it has been demolished, but thats an old argument). But is this wrong? M&M’s claim to priority is based on their E&E 2003 paper (“your paper apparently the being the seminal date for the beginning of the “healthy” debate (at least in your minds)… which is a back-handed way of saying the publication of M&M 2003 critique was inconsquential noise” as comment 22 over there says), which has subsequently been largely forgotten. Their scientific case (whatever you think of its merits) rests on the GRL 2005 paper; so in fact von S/Z *do* have priority, in at least one sense.

10 thoughts on “Another perspective on von S/Z?”

  1. Come on. It’s really the 2003 paper that got it going:

    Read the abstract. It has 43 cits while the 2005 paper has 26 cits only even though, of course, it made the criticism much clearer than it was in 2003.

    [Ah but you need to look at the content. The CA thread has much on revisionism, but I fear you are doing it too. M&M03 was largely about data errors, and most of those points are now forgotten. What M&M are known for is the PC stuff, which comes after von S -W]


  2. Can you unscramble this? I didn’t find the source; is there supposed to be a trailing close paren? Does “the being the” merit a [sic] or is it a typo?
    (“your paper apparently the being the seminal date for the beginning of the “healthy” debate (at least in your minds)… which is a back-handed way of saying the publication of M&M 2003 critique was inconsquential noise”
    No criticism of anyone, just want to clarify who wrote what exactly; blogging pace assumed; it’s always respectable for whoever blogged or quoted to go back and correct any error where it occurs, not just discuss whether it was a mistake down in the comments, as a kindness to later readers.


  3. I find it surprising that the whole discussion on this post is just focused on the issue of priority, instead on more substantial things.
    The M&M and S/Z lines of wok on this are not related. One is devoted to proxy selection (M&M) and the other is focused on the statistical reconstruction method. If some people want to claim of priority (of what exactly?) they are of course free to do it. I think there are more relevant issues here.

    [Thanks for the comment. But I am arguing that the M&M proxy stuff has not gathered wide interest, in contrast to their later work (GRL 05) which *did* discuss the statistical recon. As for what we’re arguing about… well, the “more substantial things” are of course the real point but they have been chewed over for years already. Whereas the fun argument about priority which you have unwittingly unleashed is a new thing -W]

    Ironically, the first critique of the hockey-stick was published by no other than Phil Jones in Science in 1998, followed by another one by no others than Briffa and Osborn, again in Science in 1999.

    [Thats an interesting point, I must check it out -W]


  4. In the first sentence of our 2003 paper, we pointed out that one of the defects in MBH98 was “incorrect calculation of principal components”. We did not know exactly what was wrong with the MBH calculations but we had identified that there was an error. We showed this with an uncontentious network – the Australian network.

    [I must have another look, is the pdf up anywhere? -W]

    We had also replicated MBH methodology sufficiently to determine that using a correct PC methodology had an impact on the final results. (IPCC AR4 misrepresents this totally. We also submitted the PC results to Nature in January 2004, slightly before VZ submitted to Science.

    [Yeeessss… but priority is publication, not submission, I think, especially when the paper is not published -W]

    From analysis of the bias in MBH methodology, we were able to identify the overweighting of the questionable bristlecone chronologies.

    As to Eduardo’s point that we addressed proxy selection as opposed to methodology, I would observe that it is hard to think of something much more methodological than an analysis of principal components methodology. However, I think that specialists are over-investing their energies in the pros and cons of various multivariate methods. In my opinion, the problem with the so-called proxies are the validity of certain proxies e.g. bristlecones and selection procedures in which the Yamal chronology is routinely substituted for the Polar Urals chronology (and even called the Polar Urals chronology in the most recent D’Arrigo et al paper). Testing for potentially contaminated proxies is important to a proper statistical analysis.

    [Note: the text below was in another SM comment I inadvertently deleted, so I shall paste it in here -W]

    On prior occasions, von Storch and Zorita have graciously recognized that we had an important role in opening up debate on this topic. Their own Commment on our article did not adequately address the impact of contaminated series on Mannian PC methods. I discussed this at length with Hans von Storch last fall illustrating the point with a new diagram; Hans indicated that he accepted this in principle and suggested that I submit it to a journal, which I will probably do some day.

    There are enough problems with MBH that there’s plenty of food for both parties; it’s a banquet. I’ve never denied VZ their seat at the table and I’m surprised that they seem so reluctant now to permit us ours.


  5. “Yeeessss… but priority is publication, not submission, I think, especially when the paper is not published -W”

    I don’t believe you’re serious. If it is very clear that someone had the results – and I might have already known about them at that time, although it’s hard to remember every month of 2004 in detail – and these results were being blocked by unfair journal procedures, surely a fair person wouldn’t deny the authors priority.

    Moreover M&M 2005 are really the only one who found the PCA bugs. Their M&M 2003 is also the first one that showed statistical errors in MBH and the need to look at it carefully.

    Their 2004 paper should have been accepted to Nature. Just because a certain team succeeded to make a certain wrong decision about that paper doesn’t remove the M&M priority.

    At any rate, this is all too funny, William, especially if I count the number of hours wasted by Wiki edit wars with you (and there were many other more relevant parties fighting with you) – you who tried to make the Wiki version of the hockey stick every more hockey-ish. Suddenly, a paradigm shift, as Kuhn would say, and you are way to happy to join the winners again. 😉

    Let me just remind you that you are no winner. In an analogy with the Velvet Revolution, you’re one of the agents of secret police. 😉


  6. First off the whole, “McIntye and McKitrick fired the first cannon shot over the bow” is a bunch of nonsense. It ignores the fact that there had already been successful reconstructions before M&M started their campaign in the the grey literature of Energy and Environment–an odyssey which has devolved into a skeptic gaggle over at their blog.

    And making the same claims about von Storch is equally lame. A “healthy debate” does not involve only proving someone is wrong. That’s skeptic crap. A healthy debate involves….well, actual debate. And as it is, Mann had been “debated” multiple times and those debates always ended up with similar looking reconstructions.


  7. Von S.’ approach to the “HS debate” seems to me to have not been very savvy politically. His real complaint is the TAR’s use of the HS as an “icon” for climate change, which is a fair (or at least debatable) criticism but would have been far better addressed separately from the scientific criticisms of MBH 98/99. To the extent that what von S. mainly wanted was a de-emphasis of the HS in the AR4, he got that (or rather, all of the added evidence since the TAR got it for him). To the extent that he wants some sort of official admission from someone that the way it was used in the TAR was a mistake, at this point he’s pretty much just wasting his time. In the meantime, what he succeeded in doing was giving a politically-motivated attack against the IPCC and U.S. climate science community a veneer of legitimacy that it might not have otherwise been able to acquire.

    I am reminded of a piece von S. wrote in the aftermath of the most recent German elections in which he said it was time for a shift in strategy since the new regime would of course be less receptive to taking action on clinate change. It turned out that a combination of mounting evidence (admittedly hard to predict, but over the course of time pretty much inevitable) and the fact that Merkel is herself a physical scientist led (along with other factors, of course) to a decision on her part to take a leading role in pushing for new policies.

    Note to Edouard: You’ve probably gotten this advice before, but since you and Hans are looking at (North) American politics from the outside, I will point out to you that McIntyre and company are not at all what they paint themselves to be. Their supposed interest in the purity of the science is wholly opportunistic.


  8. Oh yes, Hans. You and the skeptic crowd have been so ill-handled by the scientific community. Luckily, journalists invite guys like Pat Michaels and Richard Lindzen on talk shows to confront your oppressors.

    Isn’t the American public well-served?


  9. Mr. Bloom

    You say “…I will point out to you that McIntyre and company are not at all what they paint themselves to be. Their supposed interest in the purity of the science is wholly opportunistic.”

    May I inquire as to what you believe Steve McIntyre actually is, and what his true motives actually are?

    Thank you.


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