Saturday, January 26, 2013

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Throws Itself Into the Trash

The editors of the EGU Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, specifically Athanasios Nenes has thrown the journal and it's open review system into the trash pit, which will take some effort to climb out of.  Nenes has agreed to publish a paper “Where do winds come from? A new theory on how water vapor condensation influences atmospheric pressure and dynamics” by A. M. Makarieva et al., under the delusion that jackels can be enticed to walk peacefully with lambs.

As you may recall, this was a paper that was the hit of a while ago, and our Judy made explicit mention of this in a review she submitted

This paper (M10) has been discussed extensively in the blogosphere, with participation
of the paper co-authors (including Makarieva):
http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/where-do-winds-come-from/
http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/10/19/momentary-lapse-of-reason/
http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/10/21/456345/
http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/weight-of-water-and-wind-hurricanepros-weigh-in/
http://judithcurry.com/2010/10/23/water-vapor-mischief/
http://rankexploits.com/musings/2010/flow-system-to-for-further-discussion-of-eqn-34/
http://rankexploits.com/musings/2010/equation-34-control-volume-symmetry/
The authors are to be commended for their willingness to engage in extensive public
discussion of their paper. 
As ER has remarked, this paper is an archetypal of a class of nonsense which attracts axe grinders, obsessives and the willing to be confused
Eli has learned over the years that all sorts of strange people write the same paper, very long, very hard to follow and very wrong. These papers and their defenders play the Gallileo card early and often. No one can follow the algebra (these things always hide under a blizzard of algebraic incantation), but you can look at the assumptions, and when you do this carefully you find some amazing stuff, not believable, not correct, but amazin.
Such documents provide endless streams of diddle because they are unclear, full of logical jumps, and anyone coming to them can weave infinite elaborations out of them.  Hydrinos, did Eli mention hydrinos?  You can even make a business of it.

Nick Stokes pointed out that Eq. 33-37 were the key and Isaac Held agreed that it was the jump at that point that made the paper equation salad, but, being a kind person he was not direct enough in his verdict
Recommendation: Reject
The authors make an extraordinary claim that a term that is traditionally considered to be small, to the point that it is sometimes neglected in atmospheric models and, even when not neglected, rarely commented on, is in fact dominant in driving atmospheric circulations.  . . .  A claim of this sort naturally has to pass a high bar to be publishable, given the accumulated evidence, implicit as well as explicit, that argues against it. I am afraid that this paper does not approach the level required.  I have done my best to keep an open mind, but do not see any cogent arguments that overturn the conventional wisdom. I do applaud the authors for questioning the foundations of our understanding of the atmosphere and provide some unsolicited advice on how the authors might proceed to clarify some of these issues.
 Nenes, did Eli mention that Nenes is Georgia Power Professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Physics at Georgia Tech, has a remarkable justification for publishing this thing
The authors have presented an entirely new view of what may be driving dynamics in the atmosphere. This new theory has been subject to considerable criticism which any reader can see in the public review and interactive discussion of the manuscript in ACPD. Normally, the negative reviewer comments would not lead to final acceptance and publication of a manuscript in ACP. 

After extensive deliberation however, the editor concluded that the revised manuscript still should be published – despite the strong criticism from the esteemed reviewers – to promote continuation of the scientific dialogue on the controversial theory. This is not an endorsement or confirmation of the theory, but rather a call for further development of the arguments presented in the paper that shall lead to conclusive disproof or validation by the scientific community. 

In addition to the above manuscript-specific comment from the handling editor, the following lines from the ACP executive committee shall provide a general explanation for the exceptional approach taken in this case and the precedent set for potentially similar future cases: (1) The paper is highly controversial, proposing a fundamentally new view that seems to be in contradiction to common textbook knowledge. (2) The majority of reviewers and experts in the field seem to disagree, whereas some colleagues provide support, and the handling editor (and the executive committee) are not convinced that the new view presented in the controversial paper is wrong. (3) The handling editor (and the executive committee) concluded to allow final publication of the manuscript in ACP, in order to facilitate further development of the presented arguments, which may lead to disproof or validation by the scientific community.  (italics added)
Eli confidently looks forward to the avalanche of crank papers from the Oliver Manuals and Tallblokes of the world which will soon inundate ACP. They asked for it, go give it to them guys.

For those of us who favor the open review system, this will be a disaster.  The predictable outcome is that people are going to cite this example as a reason to throw ACP invitations to review into the trash pit.  Open review required that the referees put their reputations on the line.  Their reviews are out there for everyone to read.  If the editors ignore them, why do so?


51 comments:

Pinko Punko said...

This is even worse- the open review process is used as a fig leaf for the journal, and the reviews in this case are basically dishonestly obtained. Since they are not being used as reviews, they are being used as a counterpoint piece. Very bad faith by the editor.

[The late] Atmoz said...

The paper is almost certainly wrong and should not have been published. It was also poorly written as noted in the Held review. The publication has some obvious immediate positives such as the increased attention to ACP. The downside to publishing the paper is that reviewers such as Dr Held will not participate in the open review process in future. But the paper will drift into obscurity, and I think the characterization that publishing one bad paper throws the entire system into the trash is also wrong.

Lars Karlsson said...

Oh dear.
"...the handling editor (and the executive committee) are not convinced that the new view presented in the controversial paper is wrong"

So it is not necessary to show that you are right. It is sufficient that there is a possibility that you are not wrong.

Hank Roberts said...

Well, physicists enjoy this stuff; here's another example:
http://alterslash.org/#article-3410109
A helpful commenter points to
http://prl.aps.org/toc/PRL/v108/i19
and elucidates: Scroll down to "Trouble with the Lorentz Law of Force: Incompatibility with Special Relativity and Momentum Conservation"

James Cliborn said...

At the risk of becoming repetitive, I submit:

“It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.” E. Kolbert, “Field Notes...”

When the hell are we going to start un-destroying ourselves?

Nick Stokes said...

The logic of the more spectacular part of the paper goes like this. She writes down conventional mass conservation equations (32,33). Then she writes Eqn 34, which she stubbornly refued to explain, but I can see that she has reasoned it out from first principles, and made a minor error. But as Held says, it's nearly right.

The math problem then is that she insists that the unspecified derivation is independent, and so both equations must be true. Well, if you get x=1 by one method, and x=0.99 by another, that may be not bad. But if you insist both are right, then you can subtract (0=0.01), multiply by 100 (0=1) and away you go.

Anonymous said...

(these things always hide under a blizzard of algebraic incantation)

Commonly known as mathturbation.

Even the M-Queen thought that paper was bad which should tell you something.

~@:>

Aaron said...

The global circulation models got sea ice wrong. It would be fun to plug this in to a GCM, and see if it does better.

Pinko Punko said...

I though that JC's review was lazy in that she piggybacked on other reviews and then gave a lot of generic stuff

Douglas Sheil said...

I am an author. Thanks for the interest everyone. I'm hoping that you might give me a hearing while I offer some clarifications:

1) The implication that both referees were strongly negative are incorrect: referee Dr Judith Curry accepted that the mechanism we describe is real as did several commentators (Note that even papers that are accepted generally recieve criticisms and the editors then judge the authors' ability to address these -- that is how the system works).

2) Dr Held's comments were indeed negative and we repsonded (you can see our reply at the APCD site http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/10/24015/2010/acpd-10-24015-2010-discussion.html. We specifically made a review of the study by Spengler et al. (2011) that he holds as a comparison to ours and explain flaws in its physics (see http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/10/C14894/2011/acpd-10-C14894-2011.pdf)
We also show why our ideas should not be given a "higher bar" than conventional ideas -- even if that seems reasonable. See http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/10/C15085/2011/acpd-10-C15085-2011.pdf -- for example "As science students we are taught about the sins of confirmation bias – that is the need not to allow our preconceptions and judgements to cloud our objectivity. We should not reject ideas, or data, that fail to conform to our expectations any more readily than those we agree with."
You don’t need to accept the ideas in our paper to accept these general principles.

3) The physcial principles being derided here have a more respectable pedigree than is being realised, there have been other peer reviewed papers concerning these concepts in the physics literature -- e.g. see this physics article: Phys. Lett. A, 373, 2801–2804, 2009a.

4) We realise the ideas are complex and the paper is not an easy read -- sorry for my part in that (I am the only English language native speaker on the team) -- this is one of the reasons why we discussed the paper so widely and sought feedback. We have made efforts to be as clear as possible (the paper is in distinct sections that I consider coherent). Yes there were apsects that needed clarification and we were grateful for the feedback (Nick Stokes especially, a whole appendix was added!). The final paper was much improved by this process. (n.b. Being poorly written does not in any case mean we are wrong).

5) By publishing the theory the journal doesn't say we are right or wrong -- only that there is a genuine case to answer. It is weird to argue that a theory should not be published if we cannot prove it or a reviewer thinks it is wrong but cannot be specific why.

6) Science is full of alternative theories ... they are what make science science. Even if most, or indeed all, of these alternative theories are shown to be wrong we need to encourage new ideas that force us out of our comfort zone -- otherwise we can too easily slip into the cosy compfort of dogma. Certainly skepticism is necessary too - careful skeptical assessment is how science sifts our the best ideas, but it has to be based on logic and evidence. I can be open minded about being wrong: if we are wrong that is OK, science will progress through the process (one of the lessons I have learned in this process is the extreme certainty with which different critics will make claims that contradict not only us but also each other ... there is a lot to clarify our there!). All I ask is that people consider, even if as an abstract principle, that we might be right -- and show using facts or logic why we are wrong. In any case, whether we like it or not, that is how science has always worked. It is a process. Evidence will decide. We need that evidence.

kT said...

Science is full of alternative theories ... they are what make science science.

And the internet is full of experts on alternative theories, so perhaps next time you can vett your alternative theory there first and thus save the journal some trouble.

For instance, your claim is a tautology of sorts, perfectly acceptable on the internet but even then not persuasive, and certainly not journal press ready.

Pinko Punko said...

I would at least like to add that Dr. Makarieva should be commended in terms of how professional she is in her communication with editors and reviewers. For this particular paper and previous open papers, I have to say I appreciate the tone of the comments. I think it would be even more desirable that it didn't appear that critics and authors were talking past each other, but being form a field where there is little tradition of open discussion or open review, I find these discussions to be fascinating.

John said...

Some physics journals have the policy that in case of a conflict between the authors and a reviewer, if there is some doubt about whether or not the author is right, then the journal will publish.

Why? Because it is the author (not the reviewer) whose reputation is on the line.

Of course, that can be an excuse for publishing rubbish.

willard said...

Douglas Sheil,

I believe your #2 relates to this comment by Isaac Held:

> The authors make an extraordinary claim that a term that is traditionally considered to be small, to the point that it is sometimes neglected in atmospheric models and, even when not neglected, rarely commented on, is in fact dominant in driving atmospheric circulations. The effect concerned is that of the mass sink associated with condensa- tion. This term is of first-order importance in some planetary atmospheres, such as Mars, where the total mass of the atmosphere has a substantial seasonal cycle, but for Earth the standard perspective is that the heat release associated with condensation dominates over the effect of the mass loss. A claim of this sort naturally has to pass a high bar to be publishable, given the accumulated evidence, implicit as well as explicit, that argues against it. I am afraid that this paper does not approach the level required. I have done my best to keep an open mind, but do not see any cogent arguments that overturn the conventional wisdom.

My emphasis.

I don't think that your reply renders justice to what Isaac Held says. Basically, Held simply reminds that there is enough evidence for the conventional wisdom that your objective is de facto quite difficult. I don't think he's saying nor implying that, as a contender, your theory must de jure pass the most stringent standards.

You must admit that your theory goes against a big body of theorical work, however imperfect that body can be.

The argument you are underlining amounts to an accusation that Isaac Held's judgement is clouded by confirmation bias, if not an outright sinner of it!

At least, this is how I am reading your #2.

***

As an aside, please note that the risk of allowing "our preconceptions and judgements to cloud our objectivity" is a concept that goes beyond confirmation bias. For instance, there are contexts in which we naturally have some preference for novelty:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-verification_theory#Preference_for_novelty

Pinko Punko said...

I just read two incredibly long threads at lucia's on this topic from 2010. My goodness. Like matter and anti-matter.

I think the authors here perhaps wore down the editors, but I will say the extensive open commentary does at least provide obvious context for the work, and even if these authors are considered to be off the deep end, they do try to work within the system- not once does it seem like they attempt to claim the system is illegitimate. I have to draw a contrast between Makarieva's polite doggedness and say our favorite auditors.

Anonymous said...

The implication that both referees were strongly negative are incorrect: referee Dr Judith Curry accepted that the mechanism we describe is real as did several commentators"

Is the latter actually a positive?

If Curry supported one of my theories, I'd have a very hard look to see that I hadn't made a showstopping error in logic somewhere.

~@:>

willard said...

> I have to draw a contrast between Makarieva's polite doggedness and say our favorite auditors.

Speaking of both, there are a few guest appearances at Steve's that might run against your impression, Pinko.

Here's an impersonation of Senior's style:

> However, Bernoulli’s equation is written for the streamline, which, in simple words, is the line parallel to air velocity at any point. As the air approaches the eyewall, it ascends and does not penetrate within the eye (for this reason it is still weather there). In other words, the horizontal streamline does not pierce through the windwall, so the fact that there is “stagnation” within the eye has nothing to do with Bernoulli’s equation for the horizontal streamline and is of no help for integrating it.

> This major error has fatal implications for the integrity of Emanuel’s potential intensity theory of hurricanes. From different viewpoints it has been recently exposed by Smith et al. 2008 and Makarieva et al. 2008. In my view, it is a very appropriate issue where the mainstream meteorological science can show how, avoiding the distraction from important issues, it promptly reacts to, and self-improves by, the critique of peers.

http://climateaudit.org/2009/12/12/mit-climategate-debate/#comment-208638

But I would agree that it's better to call the integrity of E's theory into question than E's integrity, which some may take as being one of the main topic of the discussions in the comment thread.

Aaron said...

This paper reminds me of an Italian dinner in the garden. Soup, antipasta, bread , wine - all very ordinary, then comes a big platter of spaghetti and meatballs - the spaghetti is sloppy, resulting in red spatter on shirts and the table cloth, and the meat balls are dry and hard. Whatever, we think of any one course in this feast, or the problems of eating in the garden, it is a feast, and the authors put a lot of effort into it.
The paper suffers greatly from its broad scope, and poor editing that tries to compress it into a limited number of pages. It should have been an entire issue or a book. For example, I do not think it would be difficult to write 18 pages on how the presence or absence of nucleation particles affects water condensation in the atmosphere and thereby affects the process. One might even be able to write 18 pages on the effect of nucleation particles on the process at the margin of the Arctic.
I think the real problem with the paper is that it does not go far enough. Water vapor/condensation pressure effects are in addition to differential heating, not instead of it. Both are important but in the different temperature ranges that are in different parts of the atmosphere.
Water vapor in the atmosphere interacts with infrared radiation, and condensed water interacts with visible light, and these interactions affect the energy balance of air masses, and rates of evaporation and condensation. Understanding wind as a function of water, requires consideration of water interactions with radiation. This was not addressed in the paper, I assume for reasons of brevity.
The authors and editor may not have found the best statement of the concepts, but the concepts are generally correct and very important. Reviews control the future of the science, because what is not published, does not affect the science. Reviews are the most basic guideposts pointing to the future of the science. Properly placing those guideposts leading to the future of the science is the primary duty of a scientist. Every review should reflect on the reputation of the reviewer.
With a bunch of friends, a feast in the garden is wonderful, even if the food is not to the highest culinary standards. With due respect to Stokes, Held, Schmidt, et al, this paper is a feast in the garden. If we want really good food at the next feast, we should go into the kitchen and help prepare it

EliRabett said...

Water aerosols also absorb and emit IR (eg clouds:)

Douglas Sheil said...

Willard
Thanks for the interest.
The links I sent provide a detailed response. We took each of Dr Held's points and replied to it carefully and (I believe) respectfully. That is how peer review works. We are allowed to disagree and offer our reasoning. Others can judge.
I agree with your point about novelty, but I would argue too that novelty in this context is desirable. It is what keeps us asking questions and wondering if our world view is the best one. We have to enjoy new and challanging indeas - otherwise we are not scientists.
I wrote a little about that in the blog that you can see here:
http://judithcurry.com/2011/03/30/water-vapor-mischief-part-ii/
Best wishes
Douglas

Douglas Sheil said...

Willard
See in particular this reply to Nick Stokes:
http://judithcurry.com/2011/03/30/water-vapor-mischief-part-ii/#comment-58747
I hope it addresses your point.

Douglas Sheil said...

An entertaining alternative view of this story can be found here:

http://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2013/01/28/richard-smith-the-editor-thinks-your-paper-is-nonsense-but-will-publish-anyway/

Anonymous said...

Snow Bunny sighs.

I was occasionally assigned to review papers like Eli describes. Vectors turn to scalar who then assume the vector form again. Each logical error must be delved into and untangled. Entities dance around as the author wishes, irrespective of the laws of physics.

Occasionally one such gets through the peer review system into a respected journal.

Douglas Sheil said...

Anonymous Snow Bunny (great name by the way!). That may be, but I think the issue here is whether our new paper which has been widely examined, commented upon and reviewed, is in such a category. To prove that implication is deserved all you have to do is spot a handful of the types of errors that you describe! So far noone has managed -- but it sounds like you have a good practiced eye so please do try.
Thanks

EliRabett said...

Why does this remind Eli of the Sky Dragons.

Widely read and commented on is not by itself an endorsement.

Douglas Sheil said...

So you cannot see any errors? You are convinced they are there but you cannot find them? Fine.

Anyway skeptical is fine (needed indeed) ... but lets use scientifically sound principles please. Thanks!

BTW you helped me with my request for suggestion how we can test these ideas before. Do please give that more thought if you have the time and energy. That was constructive and appreciated.


willard said...

Douglas Sheil,

I don't see anything in your comment to Nick that addresses my criticism of your #2.

Is it when you compare your paper with Einstein's?

Douglas Sheil said...

Hi Willard
You are close ... it is where I point out that in my view novelty is not the enemy of science but its lifeblood. And that Nick's criteria would exclude many scientific advances: general realtivity being one selected example (chosen for the punch). That I think addresses your smart point about the search for novelty. I agree it may be a bias but I see it as +ve.
Theories are there to be evaluated and tested. Finding new theories to examine with a skeptical, objective and mind that is open to the possibility of surprise is what science does. After all if we ar all convinced we know all the answers why do we even need more science right?
Did you read the replies to Held?
thanks for the continued interest.

willard said...

Douglas Sheil,

My point was that you were (perhaps not accusing, but) quite clearly hinting that Held's judgement was clouded by confirmation bias. This still appears to me unjustified, as I read his comment as correct statements of fact.

I am not sure I would advise to do that, since this looks a lot like playing the ref. Were you to indulge a bit more and you'd wish us to believe that you're being persecuted by Saint Bellarmine.

***

So this was my main point, and your response to Nick's point does not address it. The other about other kinds of bias was for argument's sake. Speaking of which, you have to admit that to respond to:

> You're being messianic.

with

> No, I'm just in the same predicament as Einstein's.

kinda begs for the reception you get. I hope you do get how theatrical your overall plea looks to me. In any case, the choice is yours and I side with Aaron on this.

***

Yes, there is a dilemma between being conservative and being innovative. I suppose we can oppose type I and type II errors in selecting papers for publication. It's always a matter of judgement, and in the end your position prevailed. You certainly should be proud.

Congratulations!

w

Douglas Sheil said...

thanks Willard
There was never a human born without confirmation bias. Here is a famous quote for you: "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." - RP Feynman. That makes the principles of the science process important. Calling on these basic principles is a general point not a personal one (yes certainly I believe they should apply to our study but also to any other). I am only requesting (and repeating) that if anyone believes we are wrong the criticisms should be based on scientifically relevant criteria. I want and welcome those. If that is being "messianic" according to some definition that you and Nick agree on I'll have to learn to live with that.
BTW I have no problem with "the reception" -- I very much appreciate people taking the time and effort to consider our paper however negative their reactions. I don't expect everyone to agree. Criticisms and challenges can help advance the ideas - That too is a scientific principle I would defend.
Thanks again for all the interest

willard said...

Douglas Sheil,

Thank you for this Feynman quote.

Here are my favorites:

http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/FeynmanForBloggers

As interesting as your discussion of confirmation bias may be, it does not address my point.

Not that you have to address it. After all, if you've got nothing against it... not that I would mind if you did, for I'm here seeking criticism... You know, we all want Sound Science...

Et cetera.

Sigh.



willard said...

Wrong link:

http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/tagged/FeynmanForBloggers

Alastair said...

Douglas,

I think that you may be onto something with that paper but I have to agree with Dr Held and Richard Smith (ex BMJ) that the paper is not clear. My feeling is that there is too much maths and not enough discussion of the physical reality.

For instance, it does not take much imagination to think of an experiment which shows that condensation causes a decrease in pressure. All that is needed is a large thin plastic 2 litre lemonade bottle plus a little warm water. Add the water to the empty bottle, and shake it to ensure that the air is saturated, apply the cap, then wait for water vapour in the bottle to cool and condense. The bottle will collapse inwardly to such an extent that it cannot be due only to the effect of the air contracting as the bottle cools. Obviously a more sophisticated procedure is needed for a published paper, but I have just performed the experiment as described above and shown to my own satisfaction that it does produce the effects predicted.

You may also be interested in a comment made in a talk to post graduate student at UCL (University College London) by Professor Huppert of Oxbridge. I recall him saying that in his experience, fluid convection was usually caused by chemical rather than physical changes. If you apply this principle to the air, then it is the addition of the lighter water vapour molecules which causes convection, not heating.

This explains why the Sahara Desert, where there is strong heating of the surface air, is situated a region of atmospheric down welling. This is part of a Hadley cell where the surface winds (the Trade Winds) are driven by convection in the tropics, caused by Huppert type evaporation rather than Makarieva type condensation!

Recently, I have been curious what it is that drives the clouds across the sky? As you will be aware clouds at different altitudes are often seen moving in different directions. This is made possible by the fact that the atmosphere consists of layers of air with different humilities and temperatures. These layers do not mix and travel in different directions. Your idea that condensation can produce lower pressures which cause the advection of clouds would seem to answer my question.

Another problem about which I have been curious is that when humid air condenses to form cloud, the gas in the air will become less dense but the air overall will retain its density because the water aerosols are still present in the air. Until the water precipitates the mass of the air (and its volume? and density) will remain unchanged. Thus the pressure the air exerts at the surface of the Earth will remain unchanged, since it is based on the weight of the column of air above it.

Thus my conclusion is that your mechanism is not applicable to the surface air movements which are what are commonly thought as winds, but it is the main driver of the advection in the remainder and majority of the troposphere, the region of the atmosphere where water vapour is a major player.

Curious, yet again. Is this of any help?

Cheers, Alastair.

Alastair said...

I should have written:

"Recently, I have been curious about what it is that drives the clouds across the sky? As you will be aware, clouds at different altitudes are often seen moving in different directions. This is made possible by the fact that the atmosphere consists of layers of air with different humidities and temperatures. Since these layers do not mix, they can slide above and below each other. But what powers those movements? Your idea that condensation can produce lower pressures which could cause the advection of the clouds would seem to answer my question."

Douglas Sheil said...

Thanks Willard - fun link

Douglas Sheil said...

Hi Alastair
Remember we are trying to produce a whole new theory. We cannot do everything in detail in one paper. We are offering key principles.
See here for more resources and evidence: http://www.biotic-regulation.pl.ru/index.html
You may also like to come and see the discussion at JC's http://judithcurry.com/2013/01/31/condensation-driven-winds-an-update-new-version

Douglas Sheil said...

Aaron
Thanks (I think).

Douglas Sheil said...

Willard

"given the accumulated evidence, implicit as well as explicit, that argues against it".

You were serious? Ok ...

Let's see ... indeed I am not aware of this "accumulated evidence". It certainly sounds like a big, diverse and weighty stack though right? (let me declare in advance, just in case we are talking at cross purposes, that analytical challenges [where reasonable people may differ] and the ability to make more or less plausible heat driven simulation models [see the discussion of regular behaviours in the JC blog] are not the kind of evidence that we should accept here ... n.b. we dealt with the flawed Spengler et al. physics that Dr Held drew attention to as a correct approach in the review).

Unfortunately Dr Held is a busy man and didn't actually detail any evidence. It was all implicit. We thought about it: what did he mean? We couldn't find anything.

800+ comments on the JC thread and no obvious evidence against it there either. On the JC thread Antonio and I offered some evidence for it ... but noone offered any against (lets set aside all the analytical derivations stuff: that was a rich discussion and it is reasonable for people to differ, but I don’t think this is what Dr Held was referring to). I acknowledged that it may be that few people have tried yet. (You didn't offer the requested evidence there when I invited falsification ... odd I think if there is indeed so much accumulated evidence available to do that ... but we will ask again).

So someone seems to be deluded -- perhaps it is me, perhaps it is you (likely both!). But we are talking about evidence so we can make a judgement -- and if your case is strong you should find this east. What are we overlooking?

Please be very explicit about the contradictory evidece that we need to address. We science types find the implicit stuff slippery. We need evidence that we can evaluate in a reasonably formal manner. What is this vast accumulated heap of evidence against our theory?

Thanks

Douglas Sheil said...

Sorry - typo
you should find this easy

willard said...

Dear Douglas,

Thank you for missing the point.

Here it is again:

> My point was that you were (perhaps not accusing, but) quite clearly hinting that Held's judgement was clouded by confirmation bias. This still appears to me unjustified, as I read his comment as correct statements of fact.

You now seem to disagree about the correctness of Held's statement of fact.

But to disagree with it, you have to interpret it as a statement of fact.

And if you do interpret it as a statement of fact, you should see that your claim that Held is accounting you and your co-authors to a higher standard than others has no merit.

Held is not saying that you should be accountable to the most stringent criteria, he's saying that you are embarking in a daunting task of overcoming what he perceives as strong evidence against your theory.

***

Your accusation of confirmation bias is irrelevant to what Held is claiming, as are most of ad hominems of this kind, not unlike your "someone is deluded".

Your latest model bashing is amusing but irrelevant to that point.

***

Had you replied to Held simply by disagreeing with his belief and came with counter-evidence instead of trying to cry foul, we would not have this conversation.

More to the point, you would have been acting like a scientist, because scientists argue by providing evidence, not by playing the ref.

Please acknowledge this. If you really do wish to improve your unsportsmanship, please learn from the true master:

http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.ca/


willard said...

For other readers, here's the paragraph me and Douglas are discussing:

> The authors make an extraordinary claim that a term that is traditionally considered to be small, to the point that it is sometimes neglected in atmospheric models and, even when not neglected, rarely commented on, is in fact dominant in driving atmospheric circulations. The effect concerned is that of the mass sink associated with condensation. This term is of first-order importance in some planetary atmospheres, such as Mars, where the total mass of the atmosphere has a substantial seasonal cycle, but for Earth the standard perspective is that the heat release associated with condensation dominates over the effect of the mass loss. A claim of this sort naturally has to pass a high bar to be publishable, given the accumulated evidence, implicit as well as explicit, that argues against it. I am afraid that this paper does not approach the level required. I have done my best to keep an open mind, but do not see any cogent arguments that overturn the conventional wisdom. I do applaud the authors for questioning the foundations of our understanding of the atmosphere and provide some unsolicited advice on how the authors might proceed to clarify some of these issues. There is a need for some clarification.

This paragraph is the only piece of evidence I need to make my case.

One week arguing over climate blogs can save Douglas a minute reading a paragraph.

Douglas Sheil said...

Willard
"by disagreeing with his belief and came with counter-evidence "

I admit difficulty with this. His perception of strong evidence is relevant to you but not the fact that none of us (not you, hot him not us) can find this evidence? Or again if you think it is a "his comment as correct statements of fact." Then offer justification (evidence).

If I am being dim you can help me out with the reply you wanted. What kind of counter-evidence was available to a charge we could not identify? (a point we also made in the reply ... have you read the whole thing BTW? You never answered before. Interested to know if you share our concerns about dogma and the value of vibrant engagement with new ideas).

I acknowledge interesting subtleties here (what you call "disagreeing with his belief" and what we called "confirmation bias" ... but to really know who is correct we'd need to know the basis of the beliefs ... I think I'll pass on getting deeper into that). We can hold our own views.

I any case I am interested if Dr Held, or you, or Eli or anyone can find this huge heap of contrary evidence.

BTW
You say "scientists argue by providing evidence, not by playing the ref.". No. They must do both. Practicing scientists are assessing arguments as well as evidence on a daily basis (theirs and others). I peer review as well as being peer reviewed. Standards are a shared responsibility. If I am out of line others will let me know and visa-versa. Editors expect authors to appeal within these rules. If your point is that we were partisan about doing that then my answer is simply of course -- that is how it works: we are expected to propose and defend out work within this framework of rules. I absolutely wanted the paper published. I make no claim to be objective about its merits (I don’t know any authors who are).

Thanks for the blog link. We have been in touch with Snr. on this stuff quite a bit. Unfortunately I don’t normally spend a lot of time on blogs -- during my recent years the internet was too limited. Now it is largely about time. Indeed if this response is not enough we may have to call it quits soon. We have no need to frustrate each other.

Douglas Sheil said...

Willard
This comment may also add a few explanatory comments (on the wider issue)
http://judithcurry.com/2013/01/31/condensation-driven-winds-an-update-new-version/#comment-292407
The basic point being that journals will often welcome a reviewer know to be critical and another who can be judge more open. The editor then decides if there is a case to answer. That seems to be what happened.

willard said...

Douglas,

Let's look at how Held constructs his paragraph.

His argument is introduced with his first sentence:

> The authors make an extraordinary claim that a term that is traditionally considered to be small, to the point that it is sometimes neglected in atmospheric models and, even when not neglected, rarely commented on , is in fact dominant in driving atmospheric circulations.

There are two arguments in this sentence. The term you claim drives clouds is (a) traditionally considered small and (b) insignificant in actual atmospheric models.

If we combine these arguments, we get that our best actual explanation considers the driver you are positing as insignificant. The reason Held invokes is that:

> [F]or Earth the standard perspective is that the heat release associated with condensation dominates over the effect of the mass loss.

What are the justifications for such views? It seems that there are, since Held alludes to given "the accumulated evidence, implicit as well as explicit".

If you don't know to what Held is referring right now, you can't disagree with his claim. If you do know what he's talking about, that means you have checked where this evidence could be.

Have you looked? I suppose you did. Have you found any evidence? I suppose you did.

Or else you're suggesting that our actual atmospheric models have been developed out of pure etheral layers of conceptual emptiness.

***

I doubt this is the case. I might be wrong. Even if I am, this has nothing to do with my commitment, which is to read to you what Held is saying, to show that how your confirmation bias schtick has no merit.

This is not my job to find out about that state of art in atmospheric models. The burden is on your shoulder to dig this out.

You're shifting your burden on me for no good reason. I am not your resource for this work, if we can borrow the ecological expression you used to refer to Judy's denizens.

I have no idea why you think this will work. I don't really care. This is your business.

***

There is no great subtlety between an accusation of confirmation bias and a disagreement about the evidence supporting a belief, Douglas. The first is invalid, as it tries to explain why your opponent entertains a belief you presume unjustified. The second is valid, because it tries to show that the relevant belief is unjustified.

Not only your ad hominem begs the question, but it it attacks the integrity of the bearer. And that's notwithstanding the victim playing going on.

This is basic critical thinking, Douglas.

Douglas Sheil said...

Willard
Thanks ... shall we wind this up soon?
I'm looking to find something here we can agree on (call me old-fashioned). Clearly I don't accept your premise and people can judge much of what you are claiming for themselves (questioning people's beliefs versus their judgement etc). But let me take this next text of yours at face value as I think it offers an agreement:
"Have you looked? I suppose you did. Have you found any evidence? I suppose you did. Or else you're suggesting that our actual atmospheric models have been developed out of pure etheral layers of conceptual emptiness."

Certainly we have looked. you "suppose we did find" ... no that's kind of a key point here and may be part of the perpetual cross-purposes ... I'm not sure how many ways I should say this but we don't know what evidence Dr Held is alluding to (go and look harder you say ... well if there is none that looks a little unreasonable -- please suggest a philosopher of your choice here -- and I would call foul intentional or not). We don't know what he was referring to -- we agree it matters. It'd be great to know and might move the process along.

Certainly if our theory is finally judged correct your conclusion is one that you might then draw. It is a little harsh (let me assume that is because you find the idea absurd). I don't think we move science forward through scorning what came before: their skills and abilities were impressive. When people first resisted the argument that planets move around the sun one of the reasons was that epicycles offered a markedly more accurate prediction (no sorry no ref just now). In our case it is less dramatic: we are not discarding one mechanism for another but simply adding one.

So ... in short we do seem to agree.

Anastassia Makarieva said...

willard,

Is your statement this?

Authors, who in a public response to a review of their work,
"(perhaps not accuse, but) quite clearly hint" that the reviewer has a confirmation bias, behave unscientifically.

Anonymous said...

"Thanks ... shall we wind this up soon? "

Douglas, earlier:

"Remember we are trying to produce a whole new theory."

No, not likely to wind up soon. BTW no one serious takes Judity Curry seriously any more. Her misunderstandings of climate science basics combined with her defense of iron-sun convicted pedophile guy Oliver Manuel (you can look this up yourself), has pretty much turned people off.

Reasonable people, I mean.


EliRabett said...

So let's start at the very beginning. Does anyone doubt that the energy available for pressure-volume work from water vapor condensing is not considerably greater than the energy change associated with the change in volume due to the condensation?

What obviously happens to that energy is pretty clear. The change in volume upon condensation is small, but will result in a negative pressure gradient. The heat of condensation will heat the non-condensible gas which will then expand producing a much larger positive pressure gradient.

And oh yes, most of the time condensation is not immediately followed by rain out, but there are these things called clouds which hang in the air a long time.

willard said...

Douglas,

It's very easy to wind up:

If you accept Held's statement we just discussed as a statement of fact, whatever it's truth value, your argument in #2 collapses.

Your misreading of Held helped you work the ref.

Human beings do work the ref from time to time. And scientists are human beings. So scientists can work the ref. But "this is not science", as you said elsewhere. (Replace "work the ref" with "take out the trash" to see how the equivocation works.)

This does not mean that working the ref is unscientific, Anastassia. It is just not what evidence-based reasoning is about in empirical sciences. Unless, of course, your subject study is related to publication policies or mental models of academic reviewers.

You both should accept Held's claim as a factual one and discuss its evidence base. This would be more relevant to the paper, and more constructive for everyone. In the long run, such strategy will help you gain allies, or at the very least something more than resources.

Before starting this comment, I was tempted to search for "heat release associated with condensation dominates over the effect of the mass loss" in ze Scholar, just to see what evidence I could find for Held's claim. Now I'm tired. Everyone is welcome to follow through.

***

As Garrison Keillor would say, be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Bye,

w

Anastassia Makarieva said...

"What obviously happens to that energy is pretty clear. The change in volume upon condensation is small, but will result in a negative pressure gradient. The heat of condensation will heat the non-condensible gas which will then expand producing a much larger positive pressure gradient."

The pressure gradient associated with latent heat has never been described in theory nor has it been proved empirically that it is significant. People realized that this is not as simple a problem as you depict it quite a while ago. In brief the physics is that the descending dry air parcel acquires positive buoyancy. This impedes the circulation and prevents the conversion of the rising parcel CAPE into the kinetic energy of winds. This cancellation effect (mentioned btw also by Lackmann ad Yablonsky 2004) leaves the net dynamic significance of latent heat an undetermined magnitude. If you are interested in this topic, you can consult the existing literature on, for example, the slice method. Additionally, latent heat is not relevant when there is intense horizontal mixing.

For this reason the common simple considerations like yours above are just not relevant for the problem in question.

The effect of gas removal that we described does not suffer from this cancellation effect in the descending branch of the circulation. It is not affected either by whether the ascent is adiabatic or not.

Douglas Sheil said...

Thanks Willard and Eli
I can respect your opinions and appreciate you taking the time to engage and explain them. So thanks.

Two loose ends for you, please:
What is a "climateballer" (google only finds comments from you Willard, and the texts are cryptic to me, so best I ask direct)?
Don’t believe everything you read in "the Australian".
Thanks
Good luck and take care