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« Josh 27 | Main | McIntyre in Die Weltwoche »

Tamino on the Hockey Stick Illusion

Tamino has a rave review of the Hockey Stick Illusion up at Real Climate. I'm reading it now.

A few initial observations - there is a lot of discussion of proxy selection rules in Tamino's piece. This is complex for those who aren't embedded in the nitty gritty of the science, but stand back and ask yourself this: if you have over 100 series in your database, and one of these is the fourth most important pattern in the tree rings of a couple of closely related tree species in one area of the western USA, how comfortable are you that this series should form the basis of the temperature reconstruction for the northern hemisphere? The idea that you can reconstruct hemispheric temperatures in this way is deeply unsatisfactory.

Tamino doesn't try to defend the use of the bristlecones. It's not clear why it's worth arguing about PC retention if everyone (including the NAS and Wegman panels) agrees that bristlecones are inappropriate.

The observation that "McIntyre argued that the entire Gaspe series should be eliminated because it didn't extend all the way back to 1400" is wrong. MBH had its steps starting at 50-year intervals. Gaspe should therefore have been in the 1450 step not the 1400 one. There is probably an argument that Gaspe should be excluded because the update that was taken didn't show the same shape (although it was never published and everyone seems to have subsequently forgotten where the actual location of the trees is).

There's a lot of discussion of reconstructions being hockey stick shaped. The critical issue is of course the relative warmth of the medieval and modern periods.

Remembering Matt Ridley's article about straw men? I am criticised for complaining that hockey stick shape proxies dominate reconstructions and apparently I imply "unfairly" so. I explain how the hockey stick shaped series come to dominate the reconstruction, but I don't imply unfairness as far as I remember. Of course, since Tamino doesn't actually quote anything I said that implies unfairness, it's hard to respond in a precise way.

I'm accused of quote mining re the "better for our purposes" quote. Given that I start by saying that an innocent explanation is possible, I'm not sure this is reasonable criticism. I don't think it's a "killer quote" but it was there and McIntyre raised it in his correspondence with Nature, so it needed to be discussed.

There are very few quotes of any kind from the book (go figure), but certainly some I'd like to use on the cover of the next printing:

"A narrative worthy of the best spy thrillers"

"...spins a tale of suspense, conflict and lively action, intertwining conspiracy and covert skullduggery, politics and big money".

My publisher is going to love it.

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Reader Comments (229)

Typical RC BS. I love how both Tamino and his fan club portray themselves as the victims, getting so much less grants than Big Oil revenues amount to.

Boo Hoo.

Any I can see no point of substance in Tamino's faux demolition job. Indeed, most of his arguments are fairly discussed in Andrew's book.

If it was a "rave review" from that nest of vipers, I'd be worried.

Jul 22, 2010 at 8:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

It's funny how Tamino notes his own mention in HSI, but doesn't say why he was included, namely, that he had misrepresented Jollife on decentered PCA, and had been hauled on the carpet by Joliffe himself. Oh well. Tamino knows that once the RC faithful read his "very clear and logical presentation," none of them will feel a need to read HSI themselves and find out the real reason because he has thoroughly debunked it.

Jul 22, 2010 at 8:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobT

If as Tamino and Real Climate assert, Hockey Sticks are so unimportant - why expend effort in attempting to resuscitating them?

Even Phil Jones appears to have realized that this particular horse is, err, dead.

And am I missing something or do Tamino's proxy series stop some time around 1960 - while the instrumental data alarmingly points onward and upward?

Why not creatively show that proxies and instruments agree? Other even braver climatologists would and have done this, of course. (So perhaps we are witnessing some progress in climatology!)

Jul 22, 2010 at 8:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Tamino does a fine, artisanal job of defending the indefensible doesn't he? Along with Drs Schmidt, Connolley and the rest, of course.

Clever chaps all, but a little over-focussed on their own sense of outraged probity at the expense of dealing with the problem itself.

The trouble is, the questions raised by McIntyre and McKitrick and so carefully reviewed in THSI just won't lie down and die (although far from 'zombie arguments').

Dr Curry asked RC to rebut, but if Tamino's review is the response, there is more work to be done.

I await the results with dwindling patience.

While I fully grasp that the debunking of the Hockey Stick does not invalidate the AGW hypothesis one bit, I wonder if those that persist in flogging this foetidly dead horse are even slightly aware of the harm they do their own cause?

Thankfully, they do not appear to be quite sharp enough to see what they are doing to themselves.

A ten year stint in the real world of business would do them no end of good. At present they appear to be living the dream.


Jul 22, 2010 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD


This question is asked by one of the faithful. I do read RC occasionally but find it too nauseating if I read too much. Sometimes it's funny and sometimes it's sick but most times it's just pathetic and this is one of the latter.

Well to the Bish. Their noses obviously still smell from being rubbed in it.

Jul 22, 2010 at 8:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards

Well done on attracting the flak. That should keep up the interest.

Jul 22, 2010 at 8:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

Is that the tamino that knows so little about Time Series Analysis and unit roots?

Jul 22, 2010 at 9:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterphinniethewoo

How long to wait for HSI to be routinely and unfailingly described as the "discredited HSI".

I seem to remember that after Bob Ward's incompetent and tendentious hatchet job review in the Times (I think it was?) Plimer's Heaven and Earth
is now invariably referred to as the "discredited Heaven and Earth".

From memory the only point of fact that Ward found in error was a typo (a hyphen instead of a slash, or suchlike) for a newspaper article citation in a footnote. This (with his airy dismissal of all the facts and figures marshalled by Plimer) was enough to consign the book to the flames. It took me less than a minute to search for the correct citation.

I'm afraid this kind of nonsense from the likes of Tamino and Bob Ward and Moonbat just destroys whatever credibility they might have been able to tenuously hang on to.

Jul 22, 2010 at 9:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

"Clever chaps all, ..": I think not. When I started reading up on Climate Science, almost the first thing that struck me was how foolish much of it was. Slackness, incompetence, stupid and arbitrary procedures - the fieldis littered with the spoor of the dud. I suspect that many of them turned to dishonesty in an attempt to defend work that couldn't be defended without.

Jul 22, 2010 at 9:08 PM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

The concluding paragraph:-

“The only corruption of science in the “hockey stick” in(sic) the minds of McIntyre and Montford. They were looking for corruption, and they found it. Someone looking for actual science would have found it as well.”

Science as well as corruption? A reasonable conclusion?

Jul 22, 2010 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

I don't like to look at the RC comments any more. they make me feel ill. Has any criticism got through moderation?

Jul 22, 2010 at 9:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Tamino should have read this by now:

I. T. Jolliffe. Principal Component Analysis. Springer, New York, 2nd edition, 2002.

Jul 22, 2010 at 9:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterIbrahim

Don't worry Phillip I have just the tonic for you. I should get it online tomorrow morning sometime ;-)

Jul 22, 2010 at 9:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

Thanks Josh, I look forward to it..

Jul 22, 2010 at 9:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Phillip Bratby:

I foolishy published at RC a couple of weeks ago while they were all "high fiving" and backslapping over the Muir Russell result. My comment got through but not without edits.

Want to know what was edited? All references to Bishophill, CA and WUWT websites. Its like being in Harry Potter - He Who Shall Not Be Named.

Gavin responded with a slightly patronising reply about checking data so I sent a rather disparaging follow up that I have processed the GHCN data myself and could not understand why the climate scientists get so excited about such small data sets. I hoped that Mann might have read it too...anyway nothing further I sent was published. A couple of other posters responded to mine as well as Gavin but of course none one of my subsequent replies were let through. Not even when I mentioned Voldemort.

They really are a bunch of self indulgent children. Waste of time even trying to have a conversation. I documented all my submissions - it would make entertainment to write a series of posts and responses and then publish elsewhere the censored posts to make people understand what a closed and sycophantic group is RC.

Jul 22, 2010 at 9:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

Who is tamino anyway?

Jul 22, 2010 at 9:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark Nutley

ThinkingScientist: I got one comment published once, but nothing since I queried/contradicted the response.

Mark: Grant Foster

Jul 22, 2010 at 10:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Hey, not taking sides here, but at least Mr Tamino has gone to the trouble of explaining (albeit in stodgy detail) what he thinks is wrong with the Bish's analysis. I give that much more credit than crap "who is he anyway?" responses any day, and so should anyone critically minded. I urge you to respond in kind!

Jul 22, 2010 at 10:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterBig Yin


I had an almost identical experience at RC (on one of the first times that HSI was mentioned there). It was particularly annoying that after my posts were censored, the others attacking were allowed to go on making their points (including asking "so why aren't you replying?"!).

Jul 22, 2010 at 10:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger D.

@Big Yin: agreed.

We need a point by point rebuttal - with cites. If it's crap, then let's demonstrate exactly how it's crap. Appreciate that this is a necessarily time consuming exercise, but I suspect that it's important to do.

Can we get Judy to review/comment?

Jul 22, 2010 at 10:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Pedant-General

Regarding the 'Tamino' review:
In the words of Karsa Orlong (Google it please, please): "Too many words"

What is 'Tamino' saying? I cannot see the main criticism anywhere in that lengthy thing.

I see somewhere at the end that he has 'paraphrased' Dee Snider. I also see that our friend has forgotten to mention that the paranoia-driven, Tipper-driven Congress inquisition to find something wrong with the craven cult of rock music and metal, was carried out by .... Al Gore!

Dee Snider and Al Gore

If Tamino thinks that Dee Snider, an outside guy who rips up the establishment which went looking for something (sadomasochism) in Snider's cryptic lyrics, is somehow in *the establishment's* favor, then he must have some imagination. :)

I don't know, somehow, to me, it appears that the Al Gore establishment, went looking for something in the tree rings which wasn't really there, and has been cross-questioned by some ragged skeptics from the outside ever since....

These guys deserve to be rounded up, given roses and a a groug hug. :) Morons.

Jul 22, 2010 at 11:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Hoping a lay person can interject here. I am in the middle of reading "The Hockey Stick Illusion"---a fascinating read that seems so well documented. I also just read Tamino's post. You might understand how confusing all this is to someone who is trying hard to understand as much as possible about the climate change debate. Here is what I need to have clarified: Tamino indicates that if the few troubling proxies (NOAMER, GASPE, etc.) are removed many others still produce the hockey stick pattern. That sounds contradictory to what I have read in the Montford's book. Can someone help me out here?

Jul 22, 2010 at 11:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterC Johnson

"The Montford Delusion"

More likely "Realclimate Collusion".

Jul 22, 2010 at 11:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris S

C Johnson

Finish the book, and inwardly digest. Then read the Tamino review again. See what you think. Or keep reading up on the hockey stick debate for six months, then re-read THSI and Tamino's review.

Enlightenment wasn't built in a day...

Jul 22, 2010 at 11:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

It is really sad and it upsets me.
Steve has no agenda, he has been unfailingly polite even to Mann but he DOES investigate science papers on climate to see if they hold water.
The Bish attempted (wonderfully well) to tell the story of Steve's investigations.
How the Bish becomes a target is beyond me, talk about shoot the messenger?
As I understand it if you remove short centering and you remove tree rings then there is no hockey stick. Did I get that wrong as well as everything else I get wrong?

Jul 23, 2010 at 12:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterDung

C Johnson

The blog here exists on many levels, there are people posting here who have Hons degrees, PHDs and doctorates then there are numbees maybe like you and me and sometimes the argument goes over our heads (and it takes a month to figure something out hehe). As others have said, keep reading and read Real Climate as well as this blog. The truth is out there.

Jul 23, 2010 at 12:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterDung

Big Yin

Go to Real Climate and make a very polite post that explains why Tamino is wrong (make it up if you must) then see if your post gets published. Then ask a friend to make a post here saying politely that the Bish is wrong :)

Jul 23, 2010 at 12:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterDung

I think the better word be: raving. As in, "Tamino is raving".

Big Yin,
The dodge about how skeptics must behave 'fairly' as defined by people who call skeptics denialists and worse, even as those people attack without hesitation on ad hom basis and never ever respect those who disagree is a bit boring, frankly.
Why should AGW skeptics bother with any advice or demands from people who despise them, slander them, disrespect them and misrepresent them, even as they mislead so many about what they claim to be true?

Jul 23, 2010 at 12:39 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

"“The only corruption of science in the “hockey stick” in(sic) the minds of McIntyre and Montford. They were looking for corruption, and they found it. Someone looking for actual science would have found it as well.”
Poorly written or accidentally revealing?

Jul 23, 2010 at 12:41 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Historically - having a tendency to believe what I hear on the BBC - I had no clue which side of this discussion was right and I posted questions on Real Climate, Tamino's blog, etc. and ClimateAudit, etc. with equal aplomb or stupidity. What I observed were logical, relatively polite, informative answers on ClimateAudit and rather rude, illogical answers on RealClimate etc.

Now I know that neither side really knows the 'truth' about the causes of climate change - but at least the honest people say 'we don't really know at this point'. The dishonest people splice together data from different sources to make their story more 'convincing'.

And now - Real Climate doesn't allow my questions to go through their screening system most of the time.

I would guess that many of the people interested in this subject followed a similar trajectory - it is as though Gavin, Tamino et al were in the pay of big oil. They have even managed to lose Jon Stewart...

Jul 23, 2010 at 12:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Thinking Scientist, the domain name is available as is I say go for it!

Jul 23, 2010 at 2:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterRayG

My guess is Tamino is smoking really strange shit. Excuse my language, but I was using a 1970's term. :)

Either that, or he got infected by a Unit Root.

Jul 23, 2010 at 3:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra


You should give credit to Hockey Schtick for this gem of a find.

[BH adds: I actually read Barry Woods' comment on Collide-a-scape before I saw the comment here.]

Jul 23, 2010 at 3:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra


Well done on attracting the flak. That should keep up the interest.

I missed this in my first reading of the tread. I have to say you nailed it. Tamino's rant will simply cause more to read HSI.


Thankfully, they do not appear to be quite sharp enough to see what they are doing to themselves.

Exactly so.

Jul 23, 2010 at 3:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Green Sand quotes the review as follows:

“The only corruption of science in the “hockey stick” in(sic) the minds of McIntyre and Montford. They were looking for corruption, and they found it. Someone looking for actual science would have found it as well.”

That thought is worthy of the title "New Age." The Real Climate people have no clue about scientific method. No doubt, they believe that a little corruption in the science might actually improve it. You know, the way corruption must appear in each detective novel. The truth is that the addition of corruption to science destroys it. My respect for these people and all Climategaters falls daily. And daily, I am shocked that, once again, my respect for these people falls lower. They demonstrate no reasoned judgement whatsoever. They are vastly ignorant of science and vastly challenged by the effort of stringing together two consistent sentences. They stand as proof that way too much money has gone into science.

Jul 23, 2010 at 4:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

I got as far as "Montford’s hero is Steve McIntyre....." and noticed the link for SM was to sourcewatch. It that really the best in the way of research Dr Foster and his team of scientists can do? Even Wikipedia has less bias in its McIntyre page. Using sourcewatch as a reference tells the reader a lot about the author.

Consequently, I didn't bother reading any further.

Jul 23, 2010 at 4:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB

Mark Nutley: Who is tamino anyway?

A "cat *txt | grep tamino" applied to the unzipped CRU emails shows "tamino" to appear at least 21 times as the alias (as in email handle) for Gran Foster. He is commonly a addressee rather than an originator in the CRUgate emails.

Jul 23, 2010 at 7:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterDuster

Dung says:

"As I understand it if you remove short centering and you remove tree rings then there is no hockey stick. Did I get that wrong as well as everything else I get wrong?"

That's pretty much it, but it is worth adding 2 further points:

(a) if you don't use short centering and remove the suspect data you still get an uptick in modern times but you also get a warm period around 1,000 years ago (the Medieval Warm Period or MWP) which liley has at least the same magnitude as today. This result makes the claim that modern day warming is unprecedented invalid (or, being more scientific, there is no evidence to support that claim).
(b) If you compare tree ring to temperature data in the modern period up to 1960 or so there is a significant positive correlation (tree rings increase as temperature goes up) but after 1960 the tree ring response is in the opposite direction to temperature (temperature goes up but tree rings go down). This could mean that tree rings are not really correlated with temperature or that above a certain temperature the response changes ie a given tree ring value could indicate both a high or a low temperature, or other similar arguments. This is what lies behind the "hide the decline" argument and effectively invalidates the use of tree rings for historical temperature reconstruction.

ZT says:

"What I observed were logical, relatively polite, informative answers on ClimateAudit and rather rude, illogical answers on RealClimate etc."

That's an excellent summary. In fact your comment about illogical answers on RC is very good. Gavin is a master of obfuscation and of course the "one critical only" post before being blocked means no right of reply. In one of my susbsequent posts to RC I pointed out to Gavin how their policy was really self-defeating in the long run. Even if they don't post it, Gavin probably reads some of it. Have a read of the Gavin post on why CO2 lagging temperature in ice cores is not a problem for AGW and you will see a master obfuscator at work. The arguments are not rational, but of course no right of reply means that challenging it is a waste time. As a consequence RC builds up a back catalog of "smoke and mirrors" and maintains a public face that says only they know what they are talking about. It is a slick but naive exercise in spin and PR.

Jul 23, 2010 at 8:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

I have had only two posts accepted on realclimate. In the first I asked whether anyone can prove it is the increase in human fossil fuel burning that has led to the increase in temperature. The abusive, and I mean abusive, replies were really surprising. None of course had any response in them, they simply regurgitated the C12/C13 isotope issue, proving that the increase in CO2 had been human induced, along with a series of questions about my intelligence, etc. All were written in the sneering tone which would get you censored here and at WUWT and realclimate. So I responded by accepting that the increase in CO2 was caused by humans and asked for some maths that relate this increase and that could be tested by observations. That was, of course, censored. The next time I stuck to dog poop in Paris and it sailed past Gavin. Haven't bothered to engage since.

Jul 23, 2010 at 8:51 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Thinking Scientist and others, there is already a wordpress blog dedicated to the subject of rc censorship, called rcrejects, so you could put your examples there.

There is also an ancient CA thread celled 'is Gavin Schmidt honest'.

Jul 23, 2010 at 9:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaulM

Also, see the interesting 'Reader Background' tab and thread at the Air Vent blog. This shows how RC has been a spectacularly successful recruitment tool for climate scepticism!
[typo in previous post, celled -> called]

Jul 23, 2010 at 9:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaulM

Who is Grant Foster?

Jul 23, 2010 at 9:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

Great review, though you've just made me look at RealClimate again and having come from a geological/meteorology background that site just makes me cringe with embarrassment. It was the prominent Hockey Stick being portrayed by the media that made me re-investigate the facts as I was puzzled by where the MWP had gone.

Jul 23, 2010 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob B

Phillip, as promised. See

Jul 23, 2010 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

I must say something in defense of RC. I have to thank them for making me a convinced skeptic. In the old times I went as usual, assuming GCM results were reliable as you do in other disciplines, you trust your colleagues. After reading some RC posts I realized that it wasn't the science I had learnt, I started digging in, and found too much snake oil there.

Theo Goodwin

They are vastly ignorant of science and vastly challenged by the effort of stringing together two consistent sentences. They stand as proof that way too much money has gone into science.

I beg to disagree. It is just too much money badly allocated. You would be surprised on how many climate-related research projects are rejected if you are a suspected skeptic or if you don't pay enough attention to climate change. Things would be different if rejections on that basis weren't accepted and if skeptic climatologist/geologists/glaciologists/hydrologists, etc could apply to funding regardless of their attitude to AGW.

Jul 23, 2010 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterPatagon


Thanks for pointing me towards rcrejects.

Jul 23, 2010 at 10:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

Thanks, Josh. I can't really believe that Tamino looks like that. I imagine him as a cross between Mann and Schmidt.

Jul 23, 2010 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Well, I could be wrong - this is what I have used as reference.

Jul 23, 2010 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

And I joined that very large hall of fame - my early and very reasonable comment on Realclimate was moderated. Amazing.

Jul 23, 2010 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoddy Campbell

I just posted this to RC:

JC's grade for the review: C-

pros: well written, persuasive

cons: numerous factual errors and misrepresentations, failure to address many of the main points of the book

If anyone is seriously interested in a discussion on this book, I can see that RC isn't the place, people elsewhere are already describing their posts not making it through moderation.

unfortunately i don't have much time for blogging at the moment. hopefully the RC post will motivate more people to read the book, then we can have a more interesting discussion at a more neutral site

Jul 23, 2010 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterJudith Curry

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