Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Staked Goat Stews

Ryan O'Donnell is becoming increasingly defensive as the storm about his unethical behavior grows.

It certainly appears that the Steve and Jeff act, with assists from Tony and Lucia and others have staked Ryan O'Donnell out there. When Ryan outed Eric Steig as one of the reviewers of O'Donnell, et al, somehow his co-authors McIntyre and Id, had not told him that they had asked around whether it was ethical to publish the names of reviewers, even if they were known and they had gotten a definite NO.

OK, some, not Eli to be sure, might say that maybe they forgot to forward the message to Ryan. Stuff happens. But then when Ryan outed Eric on Climate Audit WHY DIDN'T THEY SAY SOMETHING BEFORE THE POST APPEARED? You know, like maybe you shouldn't do this. . . and here is why (The link, by the way is the prettified version, which, some, not Eli to be sure, would say appeared after consequences were discussed.)

The wrong question is whether Steve and Jeff told Ryan it was a no-no, more to the point why did they let him insert foot in mouth. Oh yes, and when did they learn from Ryan that Eric Steig was definitely Reviewer A. Steve was certainly hinting around on December 2.

But this is not a totally sad story, the pressure is getting to Steve too. First, he takes a leaf from the Luciawarmer Lexical Service and trying to bafflegab his way out of the AMS policy on outing reviewers.

Just now we have Yamal II, with Steve McIntyre admitting that the version of the Supplementary Information posted at Climate Audit, was the version created AFTER Steig's initial review. Why does this matter, only because the version previously posted refers to ridge regression, while the actual real original swear on a bible who the hell knows version posted on February 15, has NO reference to ridge regression. That completely blows out of the water any claim that Eric Steig introduced the idea of ridge regression. It was introduced by O'Donnell, et al. in their reply to the first set of reviews and in the first revision of the paper and the supplementary information.

And, oh yes, we now see the mysterious Table S3, of which it was written

It’s perhaps also worth pointing out that the *main* criticism I had of O’Donnell’s paper was never addressed. If you’re interested in this detail, it has to do with the choice of the parameter ‘k_gnd’, which I wrote about in my last post. In my very first review, I pointed out that as shown in their Table S3, using k_gnd = 7,

“results in estimates of the missing data in West Antarctica stations that is further from climatology (which would result, for example, from an artificial negative trend) than using lower values of k_gnd.”

Eli trust that the boys will now chase down every mistaken piece of bile they let drip.

Eli is a foolish bunny


Eric said...

Eli, this is probably a mostly private joke between friend of the Okefenokee, but remember when Albert was accused of eating the pup dog? I'm reminded of it somehow. The question is, which character is Seminole Sam?

Sou said...

On Bart's blog I pondered how O'Donnell would react to being betrayed by his co-authors and hung out to dry.

So far he seems to be acting the sacrificial lamb, naysaying the false accusations others have made against Steig while still trying to justify his own personal vilification of Steig.

I've also pondered this situation in terms of morals and ethics, which scientists seem to understand while denier chums play fast and loose.

Anonymous said...

Surely you meant to link to this version of Ryan O's rant.

Colour coded and everything.

EliRabett said...

Eli is a NICE bunny. Besides think of the children

Marco said...

I think Eli neglects that both Steve McIntyre and Jeff Id simply did not care about John Nielsen-Gammon's statement. Note that it was mainly Steve McIntyre who was somewhat interested, Jeff Id simply doesn't care at all. Both do the "it's not a written rule" routine. Which, notably, is quite funny, considering their huffing and puffing whenever they can't get data or codes and claim this is really, really bad behavior, because everyone knows the *unwritten* rule this should be shared. And then later try to strengthen that claim by referring to new rules written years after a paper was published.

Note also neither Jeff Id nor Steve McIntyre specifically asked John Nielsen-Gammon for his opinion, it was merely a discussion that came up on the Air Vent, and where John Nielsen-Gammon was kind enough to actually make the effort and point out how AMS leadership would look at the matter. And now John NG probably feels pretty stupid even having made that effort, because clearly these guys didn't care about his opinion (or the AMS leadership for that matter). Nice going. Then again, we know they don't care much about publishing papers. Their careers don't depend on it.

anony mouse said...

Steig was professional, and the Audit Team threw it back in his face.

You can't explain that.

J Bowers said...

It was spotting in John N-G's post who the recipients of the email were, and who was not, that caused me to continue to [over optimistically] give O'D the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps I was just practising scepticism (I like to tell myself for now).

Anonymous said...

I think you may be right.

I've been trying construct a sympathetic reading of O'D's position. Here's an outsider posting what he knows will be an unpopular position with the establishment. No experience of publishing. I know how terrifying I found referees reports when I first started, before realising we were really all on the same side (and I am not working on anything remotely controversial). So it would be natural for O'D to be both insecure and defensive.

If you can think yourself into that framework, go back a re-read the RC posts. The first one 'A brief history of knowledge about Antarctic temperatures' now reads like an attempt, not to defuse the argument, but to grab some sort of control of it. The second, 'West Antarctica: still warming' follows the same line, supported by robust and forthright disputation with a wallpaper of conciliatory language.

Comparing these with innumerable past events on blogs and forums, it was probable from the first post and inevitable from the second that the whole thing would degenerate into a flame war.

I'm not saying anything about the technical merits of the arguments - that's a little beyond me - just about the social side of it. And I'm sure the auditors have been stirring for all they are worth. I'm also not allocating blame - I don't for a moment imagine I would have handled the situation any better had the focus of the sceptics turned on me. I'm just trying to understand what happened. (And of course if my reading of O'D is wrong, the whole thing falls.)

If that is right, then it could maybe theoretically have been handled better, although to do so would probably require super-human levels of insight and tolerance. In my experience of being a scientist and working with scientists, those are not traits we are strong in.

Kevin C

willard said...

## 2010-12-01, 16:41 - Steve McIntyre:

> Mark T, I'm interested in any articles or documents evidencing the existence of a duty of confidentiality to the reviewers. Reasonable people can disagree on whether it is or isnít a sensible policy; I'm looking for something else - why do people believe that such a duty exists. The AGU policy doesn't prove it.


## 2010-12-01, 19:32 - Ryan O'Donnell, to Eric Steig

> Give me a couple of days to save them in a different format and upload them somewhere (like FileDropper or something) so you [Steig] can get at them


## 2010-12-01, 20:29 [Comment on the Air Vent] by Eric Steig

> I won't get into arguing about Steve's intentions here [...]


## 2010-12-01, 21:20 [Comment on the Air Vent] by Carrick

> Objecting to Steve's over-the-top, adversarial choice language on the other hand, is understandable.



There are lots of other comments by RyanO on that thread.

willard said...

## 2011-02-15, 02:22 - Steve McIntyre:

> Re First Submission SI - version attached to first submission is now online (dated 20100121).


Nota Bene. Since there is only one coded sentence in that admission, we can't know if it is casual, or not.

## 2011-02-16, 01:37 - MrPete:

> My first recommendation (of course) is to go read the Real Thing.


A cursory glance shows that the sequence of digits "20100121" does not appear under MrPete's link.


willard said...


EliRabett said...

Why Willard, Eli does believe you are blog whoring. . .

and remember, moderation in all things including moderation.

Anonymous said...


For some truly memorable comments by JeffId hop over to bart V's place. Some of them are worth reproducing elsewhere. Here is a taster:


"“Without rebuttal, this paper (S09) and those which Dr. Steig claimed at RC are being developed by others will be the new poster children for the IPCC”

The mind boggles.

Anonymous said...

Really, given all the evidence at hand (and there may be more revelations to come), AMS should seriously consider sanctioning the authors of O'Donnell et al.; perhaps letters of complaint have already been sent to the big wigs at AMS. AGU should also be very cautious about accepting papers submitted by these guys and their colleagues. Harsh? Yes, but they really went over the line, and cannot plead ignorance. How then can they be trusted again? The truth is that they probably cannot.

Phil Clarke said...


This bunny thanks you for coining the word bafflegab, 'tis one of my favourites and the mot juste extraordinaire. I last saw it in print used by George Monbiot to describe Ian Plimer's twisting and turning like a twisty turny thing....

Speaking of which, McIntyre's contortions as he tries to rehabilitate O'D'S ethics are a source of much mirth - he should have been a lawyer .... witness him parsing the life out of Neilsen-Gammon's pronouncements:

As someone who’s perhaps over-used to reading interpretation bulletins, I understood his second paragraph (which begins “in the context of this”) as a sort of interpretation bulletin of AMS policy, providing his interpretation of the last sentence of the first paragraph, a sentence which discusses the redaction of reviewer names (if they were included.) I understood N-G to be saying that authors, in possession of redacted information, could not evade the intent of the redaction by concurrently publishing speculations as to the identity of the author.

and declaring himself more of an expert of N-G's views than N-G himself. John Neilsen-Gammon's swift and didactic intervention in the discussion is a thing of beauty:

“In the context of this”: This phrase opens the second paragraph. The word “this” refers to the first paragraph, which describes the AMS policy for making reviews public. It does not refer merely to the last sentence of the first paragraph. [...] The second paragraph was not an interpretation bulletin, and was meant to say exactly what it says on its face. So as to be perfectly clear, I will parse it: ...

A genuine teaching moment. This bunny understood N-G to be telling McIntyre to go sit on the naughty step ..... but go read the whole thing yourself


Anonymous said...

The leader of the CAbal's reply indicates he still doesn't get it!

Cymraeg llygoden

Anonymous said...

"The leader of the CAbal's reply indicates he still doesn't get it!"

If all else fails invoke the obtuse card. That is what McI is now trying.

Hank Roberts said...

How it happened: excerpted from http://blogs.chron.com/climateabyss/2011/02/steig_this_is_not_complicated.html

"See http://blogs.chron.com/climateabyss/2011/02/on_revealing_the_identity_of_reviewers_1.html where I told Steve and Jeff [December 8, 2010] that (a) it's ethical to publish anonymous reviews, and (b) it's unethical to reveal reviewer identity." -John N-G

Set up.

"... I only became aware of the email after it was mentioned on Lucia's blog." --Ryan O

J Bowers said...

AMS on anonymity for reviewers: Reviewers' Guidelines

"...If you do not wish to be anonymous to the Author, please so advise. If you wish to be anonymous to the author, check the document properties and delete any identifying tags."


Anonymity seems to be assumed and has to be actively opted out of, it seems to me.

J Bowers said...

Thanks Phil. McIntyre's really laying it on, there:

"Of course, I’ve wondered why. The custom in other fields e.g. engineering, business is that parties have to sign their reviews. If climate science is to be applied towards public policy, it seems entirely reasonable to me that more formal systems of review e.g. signed reviews, might well provide a more secure chain of quality control and due diligence.

In some ways, it seems to me that the primary resistance on the part of academic climate scientists to making reviews public is that the public will be unimpressed by the quality of the reviews – they are not due diligence as the business and engineering public understands it."


So, not all research science, just climate science, and justfies what they did by saying things should be that way, anyway. It's all the scientists' fault because they never thought to do things like others do and fear being exposed. Truly sad.

Horatio Algeranon said...

"I did not have unethical relations with that journal -- aMs. Climate"

"I [Steve McIntyre] understood his [Neilsen-Gammon's] second paragraph (which begins “in the context of this”) as a sort of interpretation bulletin of AMS policy, providing his interpretation of the last sentence of the first paragraph, a sentence which discusses the redaction of reviewer names (if they were included.)"

In short: "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'this' is."

EliRabett said...

Steve is losing control of the story line. He is so used to getting out in front and driving it with others responding that this is a new experience. Remember Yamal.

davey said...

That second paragraph of Steve's that J Bowers quotes is a thing of twisted denialist beauty. Doubt, doubt, doubt. Sow the seeds of doubt. Never argue the science. Always sow the seeds of doubt.

Sou said...

Meanwhile, Jeff Id has explained his perfidy over on Bart's blog.

I can't resist doing some parsing of my own: It boils down to the fact that Jeff is not happy that he lives in a cooler climate but he can't be bothered moving elsewhere. He can't wait for his world to get warmer and the rest of the world can get stuffed. Typical WUWT rubbish.

"I say warmer is better ...So when people claim the Antarctic melt is a big deal, it’s just funny to me. I’m totally unconcerned. Kilimanjaro melt — other causes. Warm air, -sounds nice. Sea ice melt, no problem. Hurricanes – flat false. Drought, nobody knows."

And these guys want to be taken seriously?

trrll said...

If anything, O'Donnellgate illustrates the value of anonymous reviewing. Of course anonymous reviewing is not all that terribly anonymous in actual practice. There are generally a handful of labs that are most competent to review a paper on a given topic, authors are encouraged to suggest reviewers, and they also know that there is a good chance that the editor will choose to send their paper to a competitor who has previously published on the same topic. Particularly with a critical review, which reveals quite a bit about the reviewer's knowledge and opinions, an author has a pretty good idea who is who. So you might be 95% certain, but there is always that little bit of doubt remaining, and it is that little residue of doubt that helps you to be civil when you encounter the suspected author of that blatantly unfair review at a meeting (even if you can't resist making an offhand comment about "idiot reviewers"), and helps you to maintain a modicum of fairness when, as the wheel of karma turns, you receive one of *his* papers to review.

As we've seen, breaking of confidentiality can easily leads to cycles of increasingly angry recriminations. So while there are journals that experiment with open reviewing, I expect that confidential reviews will remain the standard practice of the top journals, who hope to attract the best reviewers.

seamus said...

trrll said... "authors are encouraged to suggest reviewers, and they also know that there is a good chance that the editor will choose to send their paper to a competitor who has previously published on the same topic."

Yet it seems that O'D and co. didn't expect that their paper was likely to be reviewed by author(s) of S09. At every step they appear to misunderstand the purpose of the review process.

When the only tool you've got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail...

David B. Benson said...

Lordy. Another lode of snake oil has been tapped.

adelady said...

I love this post from Not Spaghetti -

Just for fun, scroll down so all those reviewers' comments are on the screen, close your eyes, touch the screen, open your eyes. Read the comment.

Now imagine the reaction from O'D or Iago McIntyre or the great JeffID.

Minnies Mum

Hank Roberts said...

> it’s just funny to me.
> I’m totally unconcerned.


"How would you feel if the world
was falling apart around you
Pieces of the sky were falling
in your neighbors' yard
But not on you
Wouldn't you feel
just a little bit funny
Think maybe there's something
you oughta do ..."

-- Before Believing (Danny Flowers)

Fixed Carbon said...

Who is this Nota Bene guy?

CTG said...

My wife is an editor at a prestigious scientific organization that publishes 7 journals. She says that if any of her authors had behaved the way O'Donnell et al have done, they would be instantly blacklisted. Their behaviour is completely unethical, no question or interpretation about it.

As an example, they have just blacklisted an author (on a topic completely unrelated to climate, in fact of interest to about 12 people on the planet, so nothing to do with politics). The author's crime? He submitted a paper to one of their journals, and to a separate journal at the same time, despite indicating on the submission form that it had not been submitted elsewhere. This was only picked up because the publisher happens to publish both of the journals, and detected that they were printing proofs of two papers with the exact same title and authors.

Now, this may seem like a trivial matter, but in fact this is vitally important for journals to be able to maintain their credibility. The author broke the rules, end of story. In fact, the question on the submission form "Have you submitted this paper to another journal?" acts a bit like that question on entry visas, "Are you a terrorist?". If you say no, and it turns out you should have said yes, then you have lied on the form, which is enough to press charges.

Is it disingenuous of McIntyre to claim that it is a matter of interpretation. The rules are rules. You stick by the rules, or you don't play at all. Period.

CTG said...

PS, my wife could tell you some stories about the peer review process that would make your hare stand on end, Eli :-)

Anonymous said...

From Bart's place, H/T to lord_sidcup at Deltoid.


Another author of O'Donnell et al. (Lewis) enters the political fray in the right-wing rag "The Spectator".

Lewis is chumming in a duo with Ridley, the latter is from the Global Policy Warming Foundation (i.e., an astroturf lobby and disinformation group) which has discredited people like Carter, Plimer, and McKitrick (from Climate*****) on its "academic advisory council". The title or the Lewis/Ridley piece is:

"The ice storm – Nicholas Lewis and Matt Ridley expose the bias and bluster behind the latest set of shaky global warming data"

Quite the generalization and quite the team effort by the CA crowd- they now have enough fodder to feed the "skeptics" for a few more months.

Pathetic that the contrarians and "skeptics" can't keep politics out of science."


Holly Stick said...

O'Donnell says his behaviour was not unethical, though possibly less than optimal.


Anonymous said...


John N-G makes some excellent points in his article....a good read.


Hank Roberts said...

By contrast, here's an author mentioning being turned down due to one reviewer's report. He's quoted in the NYT:

Sounds like he took it calmly:

"Dr. Longo said that his report had first been submitted to Science, a better-known journal, which turned down the paper because of an adverse report from one reviewer."

And that's all he said.

Science published his paper but in a less well known journal, here:

Anonymous said...


With the release of "The Spectator" diatribe, all of the authors in the O'Donnell et al. paper (O'Donnell, McIntyre, Lewis and Condon) have now engaged in unprofessional, unethical and inappropriate behaviour and actions.

What a stand up crowd. Not.


willard said...

> Remember Yamal.

A link always makes it easier.

In his reply to Michael Ashley by Steve McIntyre, dated Oct 7, 2009 at 9:22 AM, we read:

> [I] already had a version of the data from the Russians, one that I’d had since 2004.