Let Eli count the laughs.
First, the bearded barbarians from the Heartland Institute are forced to bow down to the mandate of Heaven
Then Richard Tol gets a letter from the Editors (why he posted it is a mystery to Eli, but with Poptech on your side anything is as clear as the peace of God. Willard, of course, is warming up on the ice).
The comment raises a number of issues with the recent study by Cook et al. It is written in a rather opinionated style, seen e.g. in the entire introductory section making political points, and in off-hand remarks like labelling paper “may strengthen the belief that all is not well in climate research”.Then, to make the day perfect, Stevie McI gets slam dunked by the UK Information Tribunal in his appeal of the Information Commissioners ruling that he can't rummage in the CRU files.
It reads more like a blog post than a scientific comment.
The specification for ERL comments is:
“A Comment in Environmental Research Letters should make a real contribution to the development of the subject, raising important issues about errors, controversial points or misleading results in work published in the journal recently.”
I do not think this manuscript satisfies those criteria. It is in a large part an opinion piece, in other parts it suggests better ways of analysing the published literature (e.g. using a larger database rather than just Web of Science). These are all valid points for the further discussion following the publication of a paper – colleagues will have different opinions on interpreting the results or on how this could have been done better, and it is perfectly valid to express these opinions and to go ahead and actually do the research better in order to advance the field.
I do not see that the submission has identified any clear errors in the Cook et al. paper that would call its conclusions into question – in fact he agrees that the consensus documented by Cook et al. exists. The author offers much speculation (e.g. about raters perhaps getting tired) which has no place in the scientific literature, he offers minor corrections – e.g. that the endorsement level should not be 98% but 97.6% if only explicit endorsements are counted. He spends much time on the issue of implicit endorsements, about which one can of course have different opinions, but the issue is clearly stated in the Cook et al. paper so this does not call for a published comment on the paper. He also offers an alternative interpretation of the trends – which is fine, it is always possible to interpret data differently.
All these things are valid issues for the usual discourse that exists in many informal avenues like conferences or blogs, but they do not constitute materialfor a formal comment.
Mr McIntyre questioned whether UEA had any intention to publish the 2006 Chronology, or rather, was asserting disingenuously that it was incomplete as a delaying tactic. He suspected that data would reveal ‘academic fraud’ and failed manipulations within the meaning of the term explained by Simons and Simonsohn. The argument we can see of relevance here would be if he were asserting that the 2006 Chronology was as complete as it would ever be and did not relate to unfinished documents, because no report relating to it was to be published. However, we accept UEA’s reasons for the delay in the publication, including the absence of one of the researchers, referred to in Dr Osborn’s [Keith Briffa's illness, during which McIntyre ceaselessly hectored him-ER] evidence and explained more fully in the closed evidence made available to us. We also note that UEA have made very clear that they intend to publish the 2006 Chronology shortly and Dr Osborn’s statement that the various iterations of chronologies have been retained by UEA to demonstrate the soundness of its research techniques and results, and that analysis of them would form part of the intended publication of the research. We doubt that they would run the risk of reputational and other damage by making such a statement to a Tribunal if it were not true, particularly given the veracity or lack of it would be clear in the fullness of time.Eli has previously written about the genesis of this nonsense,
So here comes to an end the Heartland Chinese Academy of Science trip, Richard Tol's hissy fit, and McIntyre's Yamal adventure, all on one spring day.