Sunday, August 02, 2015

A Matter of Ethics

The open review of the Hansen, et al  paper on sea level rise has, as they say, gone nuclear, with the arrival of Andy Revkin and the local Dragon Slayer rep.  In that context Eli sees little difference between the two.

Reviewing papers is a matter of ethics.  First you don't review papers if you have any conflicts of interest with the authors.  Second you don't review papers if you are not an expert in the field.  In both cases you send the papers back to the editor with a polite note indicating the reason. 

The first is a question of fairness, the second a question of not making a fool of yourself and wasting everyone's time.  In either case you may have an opinion, but that's it.  It is YOUR opinion

As dsquared said on Twitter:  "devastating critique" is my word for when half-bright self-appointed science police get on the case of actual researchers.

Turn in your badge Andy.


PG said...

JC's new best friend has never owned a badge.

izenmeme said...

I doubt Andy claims a badge, just that he is a (fair and balanced?) interpreter of interpretations.

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

Andy Revkin is an embarrassment to the New York Times, to journalism in general, to science, and to the nation.

William said...

Hi Eli, OT but several years ago you published a great piece of instrumental music from a Swedish group. I can't find it but would rather like to. Can you remember it?

Victor Venema said...

Revkin does not see himself as an interpreter of interpreters. At Open Mind he argued that his new day job is science. His review sounds more like the work of a journalist though. It would have been better if he had alerted the experts to the manuscript so that they could have written a good review and initiate a good discussion without a middleman in between.

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

I'm not qualified to comment on Hansen's paper, since I have not read it, and so I am not in a position to review it. I did manage to get over there and read Revkin's review, and it's indeed pretty strange that he feels comfortable commenting for Engel, who admits he's never been to Eleuthera or Exuma to look at some of this stuff, rather than just having or encouraging Engel to review the paper himself. That's pretty over the top. However, I feel I can comment here on Engel's review, since I have been to the Bahamas (35+ years in the field) and I personally took Paul Hearty on a tour of the Exumas area to both introduce him to and look at some of this stuff back in my CMRC days. To briefly categorize these things, you have hard sun baked plate rock, you have tsunami emplaced gravel and boulders (the region just south of there is tectonically active), and you have fossilized corals embedded in the plate rocks. The latter doesn't lie. The stuff up and down the hill at Farmer's cay is particularly revealing. Perhaps a review of some of these formations is in order to let the evidence take it wherever it goes.

Kevin O'Neill said...

"...Eli sees little difference between the two..."

This might be a bit harsh - and neglect some of the backstory. I.e., not everyone is enthusiastic about jumping in or starting a pissing contest. Doesn't invalidate their arguments, just means they simply don't wish to engage and are willing to let the publicly know facts (as contained in the scientific literature) speak for themselves.

From what I can gather there has been a tsunami/not-tsunami argument running for at least a couple decades. Hansen et al have stated the tsunami hypothesis is unlikely, but then answer with super-storms. So they kind of what to have their cake and eat it too :)

Violent wave action as the source of chevrons is called into question by professor Bourgeois and Weiss. I do not know if there is a rebuttal to their arguments lying around in the literature.

The Mylroie 2008 paper claims the two largest 'boulders' on Eleuthera studied by Hearty and referenced in the Hansen et al paper (co-authors include Hearty) are not boulders at all, but tower karst. I am not competent to judge, but the Mylroie argument seems pretty convincing. That said, there are other, smaller boulders that do *not* appear to be tower karst. It may be that Hearty (and by extension Hansen) oversold their argument by hyping the two largest boulders; instead they should have stayed with a more general argument that accepted the two largest 'boulders' as not being boulders at all - unless they were willing to provide a convincing argument that the tower karst argument was incorrect.

I think Revkin has provided useful links to dissenting opinions; I wish Hansen et al had included these dissents more prominently themselves. It is difficult to overlook the analogy with economics and the recent writings by Paul Romer (via Brad DeLong) Oddities in the Rhetoric of Economics: Paul Romer Confronts the "Adversarial Method" in the Presentation of Economic Theory.

EliRabett said...

Eli believes this

not this

Tom said...

Yes, yes, Revkin is a denier and now a sky dragoneer. But then so is Obama, according to you pea brained idiots.

"God is on their side because he hates idiots." TMWNN

"It's a wonder you can even feed yourselves." B. Zimmerman

Tom said...

You are so full of shit. You say "you shouldn't review papers if you have any conflicts of interest with the authors."

Almost every journal editor actively seeks out reviewers with conflicts of interest with authors. That's a feature of science review, not a bug.

Of course if you disagree with the author, the data or the conclusions of a paper you should comment in an open review section. If prior examination of a subject or an author's work illuminates your point of view, you should definitely bring that prior knowledge to the table.

You may think carrots are a superior food. They are not improving your intellect.

david lewis said...

what's this badge Andy should turn in? Are you thinking of his Chancellor Award? Hansen himself attended the party where Andy was handed this thing. There seemed to be some question hanging in the air, was Andy the supreme science journalist of what, all time? The competitor was held to be Sullivan. Hansen declared Andy was the best. It was hard to believe at the time.

William Connolley said...

> Engel, who admits he's never been to Eleuthera or Exuma to look at some of this stuff

I think you've misread what E is saying. E is saying H's stuff about the boulders is hopelessly broken, and H should have known it, and throws that comment in as a kind of "weakening" that is irrelevant for those-who-know, in order to de-harshify his comment as a courtesy.

andthentheresphysics said...

Almost every journal editor actively seeks out reviewers with conflicts of interest with authors. That's a feature of science review, not a bug.
You know this because you're the editor of a scientific journal? You regularly try to refuse to review scientific papers because you're conflicted, but are encouraged to do so anyway by the editor? You're just making this up?

More sriously, this statement
"you shouldn't review papers if you have any conflicts of interest with the authors."
appears quite reasonable. Are you sure you read it properly?

Tom said...

Sorry, ATTP. I'll only respond to you at your blog. Oop! I'm banned there for a comment I didn't make on yet another blog. So bugger off.

William said...

Eli, yes it was the Swedish Reggae. Thanks very much :-)

Barton Paul Levenson said...

Tom: You are so full of shit.

BPL: Been reading Dale Carnegie?

andthentheresphysics said...

Sorry, ATTP. I'll only respond to you at your blog. Oop! I'm banned there for a comment I didn't make on yet another blog.
Not strictly true, but you could always ask William about the comment that you didn't make?

For those unaware of this, Tom claims that he didn't make this comment. So, Tom is claiming that WMC boreholed a comment by someone posting as thomaswfuller2 (I think) but that it's not him. Tom, I would complain to WMC if I was you. The comments that he's boreholed under a name I assumed indicated that you had made the comments, make you seem pretty nasty. Unless I'm missing something here. Am I misreading the name of the author of that comment? Is there another thomaswfuller? Something else?

EliRabett said...

The good lord help us, somewhere lurks a thomaswfuller1?

EliRabett said...

No David, Eli is talking about his Junior EGU Reviewer Badge. What people do in such a case is contact the experts that they know have pertinent information and ask them either to do a review or contact the authors/editors. As William pointed out

See this for example (in the comments)

Kevin O'Neill said...

Is anyone surprised by the garbage that Tom Fuller writes? Even after telling him numerous times that he has falsehoods on his website, he usually fails to correct them.

For instance, you'll still find this libel of Al Gore on his site - despite the fact it was pointed out to him several times.

"... it is hard to see Pachauri finishing out his final year as IPCC chairman. Perhaps he can join Al Gore in the Hall of Shame for climate opportunists, under the category of sex offender.

I've always found Fuller to be a bad faith actor.

Jan Galkowski said...

I dunno. The rocks in question at Eleuthera or Exuma, if it weren't for their latitudes, sure look as if they were glacial erratics to me. I am not saying they are glacial erratics. I'm saying they very much look like they were deposited atop country rock by something. Accordingly, to me, the Hansen, et al interpretation looks pretty plausible. Alas, Revkin has apparently never been to Acadia National Park or misunderstood what he saw.

lee woo said...

Brown nosers and asskissers have been pissing off cool people since the dawn of time. At some point, they always get their comeuppance. See the link below for more info.


Kevin O'Neill said...

Jan, here is Mylroie's take on the two large Eleuthera boulders:

"...examination of the current setting of the ‘‘boulders’’ suggests that they are actually tower karst, remnant hills left behind by erosion of an overlying eolianite unit. Field work in 2002 (Panuska et al., 2002) failed to find the random dip directions reported by Hearty (1997). Instead, it was discovered that the boulders had phreatic caves at their base (Fig. 12), a result of vadose water being perched on a dense, micritic terra rossa paleosol (the ‘‘entisol’’ of Hearty, 1997) that acted as an aquiclude. As the paleosol follows the swale topography of the underlying eolianite, vadose flow intercepted by the paleosol would have been focused down the axis of this swale, which is where the towers are located. Tower karst is well known for the foot caves that develop in them (Reece et al., 2006), and as shown in Fig. 13, the ‘‘boulders’’ are actually small karst towers. It is not possible to create the phreatic caves seen in these towers underneath loose boulders placed on top of a paloesol. Surface flow would bypass the boulders. But as eolianite remnants, the tower bases would have been part of the original surface landscape, and vadose ground water would have been funneled down the dune swale in the subsurface, perched on the paleosol. In the subsurface, such flow has no flood plain, so during high-discharge events, the water rises in elevation and dissolves out cave passages at and above the paleosol contact. Such over-pressuring of flow is not possible under a boulder lying on the land surface."

Late Quaternary sea-level position: Evidence from Bahamian carbonate deposition and dissolution cycles, Mylroie, Quaternary International, 2007, doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2007.06.030

Tenney Naumer said...

Does this not work for most people?

Oops, sorry, am not on PC -- just google James Hansen Boulders in the Bahamas

Susan Anderson said...

Eli, thank you for adding one more voice of objection to the phony pretension. I got stroppy and there was pushback from "reasonable" voices that still haven't twigged the difference between Andy's ego and his understanding. (Serious questions have been asked about why I bother.)

Mizewell quote the bit I'm passionate about (links to this and more at end):

"since Andy has been gunning for the whole enchilada and is the only reporting on the Hansen initiative in the entire NYTimes, and since he seems to think he is so right he doesn't have to look at his own lack of perspective and expertise, I have become quite angry. Perhaps how angry I am has been reflected in my comments: I hope so.

"Hansen should have been featured and given a voice, not made the butt of self-promotion and hype of theories about whiplash and such.

"Fact is, we are blowing past every kind of goal that will ensure a future beyond 2100 (or earlier, most likely), and all these petty arguments are being used to undermine what should be the strongest possible initiative to face the future and develop every kind of clean energy, conservation, storage, and delivery, local and national.

"Andy is instead focusing on a number of fringe issues and using his standing and reputation here to ignore exciting progress being made in clean energy.

"So yes, narrowly viewed, I am likely out of line.

"But in my view, his entire enterprise, including the embrace of luckwarmers, the Breakthrough boys, "bridge" fuels, and anything else that catches his eye that is not clean energy, is wrong for humanity.

"And his claim that he is speaking for the middle is also wrong, since he is busy hyping his preference for discounting evidence of clear and present danger to the top of his bent.

"He has children, too. It's a shame."

The smarmy stuff about Tamino was particularly galling, and the posse was all over it.

Rumor is NYT management is unlikely to let Hansen represent himself on this, which means Revkin got the last word as far as the "paper of record" goes. So amateurish and vain to boot.

Also, NYT management "verified" as "trusted" a group of liars, some of whom are paid professionals, "fair and balanced" at its worst. They present themselves as the polite and reasonable adults in the room.

I got pretty angry over there. Gotta hand it to Andy, he didn't censor it.

Tenney Naumer said...

Why are there no comments here on Hansen's reply concerning the boulders, especially after Connelley's predictably know-it-all snarky comment? Really?

Tom said...

""Fact is, we are blowing past every kind of goal that will ensure a future beyond 2100 (or earlier, most likely)..."

And yet some people object to the use of the term 'alarmist.'

Susan Anderson said...

Tom, truth is a defense against accusations like yours. We are in fact doing exactly as I said, and labeling it does not change the facts.