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Scottish Review of Books

A critical review of The Hockey Stick Illusion in the Scottish Review of Books. I was interested to see the Huybers and von Storch critiques of McIntyre's GRL paper mentioned without any allusion to the reasons given in my book as to why they were wrong.

You get a lovely warm feeling when this is the best your critics can come up with...

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Reader Comments (53)

Interesting CA post on a new statistical paper coming out rebutting the statistical methods used by Mann (2008) and agreeing with MM

Aug 14, 2010 at 10:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterMichael

"At worst, it’s a yapping terrier worrying the bull; it cripples action, potentially costing lives and livelihoods."

What a sad comment from an obviously disenchanted person on your wonderful book.

Just imagine, if the vast amounts of money, pounds, dollars, Euro etc which have been stolen to support the discredited theory and false religion of AGW had instead been invested in aiding the eradication of malaria, or in supplying potable water to millions in Africa. The benefit to these people would have been immeasurable.

Alastair, just keep tossing off your caber.

Aug 14, 2010 at 11:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterRETEPHSLAW

One gets the sense that Alastair couldn't bring himself to read the book, suffered terribly from a case of cognitive dissonance and instead went on t'internet to find something, anywhere, to satisfy himself that what he was reading couldn't be the case. Like peppermint to a case of heartburn: it doesn't address the problem, it just makes the pain go away so you can go back to sleep.

Aug 14, 2010 at 11:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimonH

"At best it will help to keep already-overstretched scientists “on their toes""

Would that be the poor, under resourced, 1800 scientists in the UK alone, who believe in AGW passionately, but cannot come up with a single scientific argument to refute what McIntyre and Ross have pointed out.

Aug 14, 2010 at 11:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Let's be pedantic then:
"He relates: “While some of the statistics was [sic] over my head … ""

Alastair McIntosh:
"Even if Mann were [sic] guilty as charged by the climate change contrarians..."

Aug 15, 2010 at 12:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterQ

To be truly pedantic when correcting grammar, you first need to be correct.

Aug 15, 2010 at 12:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Let's see.... I make it six - or seven, with a certain generosity - paragraphs that relate to the book, and eleven - or ten - that are vague propaganda for The Cause. Why are we calling it a book review?

Aug 15, 2010 at 12:58 AM | Unregistered Commenterjim

In the review, it said Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Should it have been Woods Hole Research Centre?

Aug 15, 2010 at 1:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerry

I did a Google on "Alastair McIntosh" and the first hit up might be our chap:
A Scottish scholar and activist residing in Glasgow; into Climate Change, Dark Mountain, Human Ecology, Liberation Theology, etc. Writes books and performs book reviews. The following is quoted from the above site:

"My major books are Soil and Soul: People versus Corporate Power (2001), Love and Revolution: Collected Poetry (2006), Hell and High Water: Climate Change, Hope and the Human Condition (2008) and Rekindling Community: Connecting People, Environment and Spirituality. These have variously been described as "world-changing" by George Monbiot, ..."

Too bad he obviously did not read HSI except perhaps the Introduction. Do you think he was paid a fee for this review?

Aug 15, 2010 at 2:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterDrCrinum


"Even if Mann were [sic] guilty is using the subjunctive mode. It is correct grammar, although you obviously disagree with his assumption.

It is clear that Alastair has fallen into the "authority trap" of blindly accepting an authority figure

Montford’s analysis might cut the mustard with tabloid intellectuals but not with most scientists. Credibility counts. Mann has published over a hundred relevant contributions to scholarly journals compared, seemingly, with McIntyre, three, and Montford, nil. Meanwhile, Mann and his colleagues get on with refining their methods and datasets, publishing in such world-renowned journals such as Nature and Science.

Well, Alastair. As a scientist myself, I think you have a lot to learn about science. Just what are your scientific credentials? Let see--

Background and Education

I was born in 1955 and grew up in a Hebridean crofting community on the Isle of Lewis, attending Leurbost School in the village and then the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway, acquiring Highers in Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Geography and English. Co-curated school Natural History Museum.

Graduated 1977, University of Aberdeen, with a Degree of Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Geography, submajoring (as Designated Degree) in Psychology & Moral Philosophy. SRC Science Faculty Convenor.

Graduated 1981, University of Edinburgh, Degree of Master of Business Administration (MBA), specialising in Accountancy, Finance & Investment and Management Science.

Graduated 2008, from the Academy of Irish Cultural Heritages, University of Ulster, with degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) by Published Works: Some Contributions of Liberation Theology to Community Empowerment in Scottish Land Reform 1991-2003.

OMG! He's a bloody accountant! Must be trying to take business from BH!

Aug 15, 2010 at 2:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

"And a review this year by Mann’s own university exonerated him..."

Jeez, are there still people out there who really believe that that pathetic excuse for a "review" (as Scotty called it) was capable of exonerating anyone?

"Even if Mann were guilty as charged by the climate change contrarians, the hockey stick has been replicated by at least a dozen other studies."

Yep, he really hasn't read the book at all, has he! If he had, then he would know that it's easy to replicate something when you're working from essentially the same crappy source data and applying the same flawed statistical methodology.

"Above all, the MWP is probably a red herring. Its warming effect was probably more regional than global."

Yes Scotty, you keep telling yourself that. I guess the MWP, the Roman WP, the Little Ice Age, and all those other supposedly global phenonema were actually just local events, eh? And they call us sceptics the "deniers"!

Aug 15, 2010 at 2:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid, UK

Fascinating to see how the reviewer cannot keep his bias under wraps for even a single sentence, where he states as 'fact':

"The ‘hockey stick’ is a graph showing the Earth’s temperature relatively constant for the past thousand years but then, like a hockey stick’s blade, rising sharply from about 1900 when human-induced greenhouse gas emissions seriously kicked in."

That will have immediately turned off anyone hoping to discover what the book might be about, knowing instead they will be subjected to the whole gamut of tired leftist agit-prop and moral posturing, which the reviewer duly delivers.

Aug 15, 2010 at 3:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

My major books are Soil and Soul...

Sounds very reminiscent of the proto-green Blood and Soil movement in Germany.

Aug 15, 2010 at 3:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerry

Donner und Blitzen! href doesn't show.

Should have had at the end of the above text.

Does anyone know how to put in a link that works?

Aug 15, 2010 at 3:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerry


Does anyone know how to put in a link that works?

I am using Capital "A" for the lower case "a" you must use

<A href=""> Title user sees </A>

There are three parts: the opening , the title the user sees and, the closing

You MUST have the " in front of http and " at the end (before the > )

You can check it in Preview Post. It will work there. The user viewable title will be light blue and the link will work. If it does not, check for a missing " at the end of the URL. That is, you have ' soil>' instead of the correct 'soil">'

Aug 15, 2010 at 4:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Alistar's CV is HERE

Click on either the short or long CV. Quite a tree hugger, to say the least

Aug 15, 2010 at 4:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Alistair McIntosh, b'gosh: "How can we lose when we're so sincere?" (Charles M. Schulz).

Aug 15, 2010 at 5:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Blake

“... when Vikings swashbuckled Greenland and wine from home-grown grapes swilled the manor halls of England... ..the MWP was airbrushed out by cherry-picking and statistically steamrollering tree-ring data...”
Is it normal for the Scottish Review of Books to torture the English language like this?
Then the reviewer accuses you of an error which isn’t (“statistics is..”) and finishes with a suggestion your book might be an instrument of mass murder. Nice.

Aug 15, 2010 at 6:18 AM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

We’re not going to get all ad hominem, are we, but Don Pablo, please tell me you made this person up:
“His book, "Soil and Soul" (Aurum Press, 2001), has been described as "No Logo in a Fair Isle jumper" by Susan Flockhart of the Sunday Herald, “world-changing” by George Monbiot, "life-changing" by the Bishop of Liverpool, and "truly mental" by musician Thom Yorke of Radiohead.. he has lectured on the theology of land reform at the Economics Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences...”

Aug 15, 2010 at 6:26 AM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

I just read the "critical review" of HSI by Alistair McIntosh and I am a bit dumb-founded. It seems Mr. McIntosh is confused as to what a book review should be or what service his readers would welcome. This review fails to help me decide whether HSI is a book I would want to take the time, effort and expense to read. It is not possible for me to read every book, so I am forced to be selective. I have criteria: is the narrative good? does the author exhibit any wit or skill? I wish that this reviewer had addressed these issues before attempting a rebuttal. I think attempting a rebuttal was unwise and unsuccessful. There was not sufficient space, and the narrative, perhaps partly for that reason, is entirely chaotic. This stands in strong contrast to Mr. Montford’s writing. His narrative is excellent and it is very easy to follow because of the careful use of linear progression, foreshadowing (I enjoyed the use of foreshadowing in HSI. It was very effective and very helpful), and the thoughtful cross-referencing in the footnotes. I needed those cross-references as I was reading. The story was quite complex, which is not surprising, but Mr. Montford did not punt (an Americanism for feebly giving in). Instead, he went the distance on a great many aspects of the story, which was quite agreeable to this reader. Is Mr. Montford invariably correct? Are there any significant errors or omissions in HSI? On these questions, I have no information to contribute. Perhaps Mr. McIntosh does. If he can write a narrative with the clarity, wit and skill of Mr. Montford’s HSI, I will happily buy a copy and read it. Mr. McIntosh can consider this as a tender for said narrative.

Seaford, Virginia

Aug 15, 2010 at 6:37 AM | Unregistered Commenterpluck

Any updates to HSI following McShane and Wyner 2010?

see CA or WUWT for details

Aug 15, 2010 at 8:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterMarcH

What a terrible review, terrible as it so clearly prejudiced and partisan that anyone can see it.

I get the impression, like others here, that he hasn't read it in full or with any considered thought.

I don't think anyone having read the book can take anyone seriously who says that this is a book that could end up "potentially costing lives".
In fact reading that review I think McIntosh is a person incapable of any real inquiry or appraising any real threats.

Aug 15, 2010 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve2

Responding to Steve2:

Yes, the possibility that Mr. McIntosh had not read the complete HSI, came home to me with some force. In Mark Twain's well-known essay "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses," the author complains of people who express opinions on writings that they haven't first read.

"It would have been much more decorous to keep silent and let persons talk who have read [it]."

Seaford, Virginia

Aug 15, 2010 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered Commenterpluck

His youtube climate video, the bits with the fingernails and the mouth contorsions, has to be a candidate for the Josh's Christmas Special 'Bishop's Readers Limited Edition Alternative Awards' collection.

Aug 15, 2010 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Yup, strongly reminiscent of those Amazon 1* reviewers who didn't feel the need to read the book. (Some of them have even admitted it in comments threads: "I never said I read the book, I merely criticized the factually inaccurate claims it makes. I suggest you get over yourself.")

Aug 15, 2010 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger D.

Huh? Real Climate has an update adding this really crap review.

Aug 15, 2010 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterharold

I think it is a left handed compliment to the author. When judging a book, interest is usually a concern. The review might well get someone interested in why the reviewer could not bring themselves to actually review the book. In fact, HSI is so well written, I think the truth is secondary to my enjoyment. As it should be IMO, since the articles, IPCC, CA and RC have most of it in public view, anyway. Why read "boring" if one can read "interesting" true stories.

Aug 15, 2010 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn F. Pittman

We'll see how the Team respond, but McShane and Wyner 2010 clearly has the potential to nail the statistical side of this debate once and for all.

Aug 15, 2010 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger D.


We’re not going to get all ad hominem, are we, but Don Pablo, please tell me you made this person up:>

Well --- er -- actually, I did. Why do you think it took me so long to post the CV? That was quite a lot of typing I had to do. :)

Honestly, when I first saw it, I was laughing for some time. It just HAD to be shared. Glad you like it.


His youtube climate video, Have you a URL to it?

Rodger D

McShane and Wyner 2010 clearly has the potential to nail the statistical side of this debate once and for all.

I have given it a quick look-see, and it really needs hours of intense study, but one interesting tidbit was that A. Wyner is at U of Penn. I hope he doesn't met Mad Mike in the parking lot, particularly given Mad Mike's fondness for chainsaws.

My gut reaction to the paper was it shreds the Hockey Stick -- however, this paper, too, will need to stand the test of critical review by others.

I might add, for a statistics paper, it is well written and very readable -- for a statistics paper that is. It is also very long -- about 45 pages, but appears to be very thorough.

I wonder what VS might have to say. Has he commented on this paper somewhere? If so, please post a pointer to it.

Aug 15, 2010 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

I've put a comment up on the website. Suggest others may want to. The more we can get to buy the book the better.

Here's a quote from a reviewer of McIntosh's book 'Hell and High Water'....."An unsatisfying melange of mainstream analysis and pseudo-spiritual tripe"

From my cursory glance a very apt description.

Aug 15, 2010 at 3:05 PM | Unregistered Commentermactheknife

Don - I think that U Penn and Penn State are unrelated:

Not sure if they have any share parking though! :)

Aug 15, 2010 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

I was going to say its obvious which side of the fence McIntosh sits. I was going to say that he obviously is unaware that ascience and nature have both been kidnapped for "the cause" long ago I was going to say that he seems oblivious that the "numerous other studies" noly replicated the HS by useing the same rotten data and inapropriate statistical tools as the origional. But then I read the comments on thios post and realised its already been said. nice to know you're not alone. Keep up the good work. Good suggestion from mactheknife by the way.

Aug 15, 2010 at 3:22 PM | Unregistered Commentersunderland steve

Ok done that.await response, if any.

Aug 15, 2010 at 3:41 PM | Unregistered Commentersunderland steve

Don Pablo

Aug 15, 2010 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

just watched the youtube clip, what a muppet! I especially liked the bit where he says "watch my lips", but you can't cos his beards in the way. :)

Aug 15, 2010 at 4:10 PM | Unregistered Commentersunderland steve

"Well --- er -- actually, I did."

No he didn't. He's just kidding. It really is McIntosh's CV.

I noticed that the Wiki discussion about Wiki's HSI page has been bemoaning the tragedy that there did not seem to be a single negative review for the HSI. Now there is one - but hardly what they, no doubt, had been hoping for.

And, to cap it all, the McShane and Wyner paper has appeared.

Aug 15, 2010 at 5:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Martin A, i hate to have to tell you this but they are delighted at this review over at wiki. One user has stated he will use it to rewrite the synopsis and also use it to call Andrew a conspiracy theorist, this sadly is honey for the worker bee`s over at wiki :(

Aug 15, 2010 at 5:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark Nutley


Thank you. I wonder if he has been out on the moors too long. I am not talking about his accent, which is fine, but his logic. It is convoluted. He strikes me as a failed student from the seminary who really believes he can still save the world from sinners. He needs to get a real job and a real life. There is more to life than living in a highland croft with only sheep for friends. I think he really expects the rest of us to listen intently to whatever it is he is saying and beat our approval.

Sad, really.

sunderland steve

Either a muppet or a green Teletubby. That is Dipsy, with the pointy head. All he says is "Oh, oh!" which is about all Alistair seems to be able to say

Martin A

You should know my weird sense of humor by now. Even I couldn't have come up with the stuff in that CV. I do write fiction for fun, and I am pretty good at Irish Craic but you just can't come up with some of the things he was done.

Aug 15, 2010 at 6:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

"We find that the proxies do not predict temperature significantly better than random series generated independently of temperature." (McShane & Wyner)

Oh dear.

Aug 15, 2010 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

James P

Old news really. M&M showed that they can get the same effect with Brownian noise previously. Or, you might say that M&M have been replicated.

Has RC attacked the McShane & Wyner paper yet, calling it a Delusion™ ?

(That appears to be their trademark response to anyone who doubts the perfectness of their research.)

Aug 15, 2010 at 6:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Don Pablo and others
On his CV the reviewer reveals some tragedy in his private life. All the more reason to limit the wisecracks (apart from the fact that ad hominems would do His Grace no favours). He also says he is a Quaker, which makes his accusation that the book “cripples action, potentially costing lives and livelihoods" all the more odd. Accusing a book on a technical subject of “costing lives” is not something to do lightly.

Aug 15, 2010 at 6:37 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

"In the review, it said Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Should it have been Woods Hole Research Centre?"

I noticed that. McIntosh has made the rather elementary error of confusing the two, as the WHRC doubtless intended. One is an 80-year old respected institute, staffed by real oceanographers, while the other is a bunch of environmentalist muppets doing warmist PR and dining out on their location.

[BH adds: Huybers was at WHOI]

Aug 15, 2010 at 6:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

"some tragedy in his private life"

To offset the comedy of his CV, perhaps.. :-)

Sorry, ad hom, I know, but if he's prepared to publish a review of a book he hasn't read, then he deserves a kicking. His employer might also reasonably ask for a refund.

Aug 15, 2010 at 6:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Just one thought, not really a review is it ? More a statement of his opinion.

Ahh, well.

Aug 15, 2010 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris

Thanks, mactheknife, for the suggestion. Done. The comments on the review are gratifying, and getting better.

Aug 15, 2010 at 8:44 PM | Unregistered Commenterjim

Jerry asks, 'Should it have been Woods Hole Research Centre?'

No, he got WHOI right but seems to have misunderstood what Huybers concluded.

I had a hard time understanding the review as it is not written in any language I know. I had never seen 'to swill' used as a verb with wine as the active subject before.

Aug 15, 2010 at 9:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Eagar

Oh dear. The guy seems to be a bit of an Uber tree hugger. Oh dear. What a caricature!

Aug 15, 2010 at 9:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

I've just checked out his You Tube Video. More of a tree killer. Have you seen how many dead trees he has in his book cabinet?

Aug 15, 2010 at 10:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

Having read the comments by Alister Mac somebody.............about the HSI, i can't wait for him to read it and review it.

Aug 16, 2010 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

Don Pablo - re McShane and Wyner 2010

one interesting tidbit was that A. Wyner is at U of Penn. I hope he doesn't meet Mad Mike in the parking lot, particularly given Mad Mike's fondness for chainsaws.

For Don Pablo and my Brit friends: Prof. Wyner's college, the University of Pennsylvania (aka "Penn") is a private institution in Philadelphia founded by Ben Franklin in 1751. Enrollment is 20,000, endowment $5.1 billion. Wyner teaches at the highly regarded Wharton School of Business and appears to have a solid CV with a Ph.D. from Stanford University.

The Pennsylvania State University (Dr. Mann's employer, aka "Penn State"), is a wholly state-supported institution, founded in 1863 as the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania. It lies some 200 miles Northwest of Philadelphia in State College, PA. Enrollment is 45,000 at main campus, endowment $1.2 billion.

Although the probability of Professors Mann and Wyner meeting in the same parking lot is "strongly supported and consistent with" the facts that they both teach in the State of Pennsylvania and their institutions both have "PENN" in their titles, other data, e.g., their parking lots being separated by 200 miles, suggests a somewhat lesser probability of a chance encounter.

Aug 16, 2010 at 7:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterBill Curry

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