Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« Plant food | Main | Another cold winter? »

Here come the cavalry...

This thread is for discussion of the McShane and Wyner paper, which looks as though it is going to be a pretty significant contribution to the Hockey Stick debate. Well, it has got Real Climate deleting comments again anyway...

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (113)

AJ - The regime change was just a minor point raised in the paper, and commented on by Jerry. The question was what if things are behaving differently now to the way they behaved before. [An interesting and more subtle expression of "We're all dooooomed"]

Aug 16, 2010 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

"(...) I guess the reality of cost has struck the government"

Not to mention the popularity that daily power cuts in future icy winters would have with the electorate.

Aug 16, 2010 at 4:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Cumbrian Lad,

Thanks on the regime change comment. But as I tried to note all biological organism and systems respond differently based on the environmental conditions or system balances. Not to beat a dead horse, but deciduous trees go dormant during the winter months of cold and shorter days. Each ecosystem balances out in response to long period of rain or drought. Grasslands can turn to forests, etc. If an illness takes out a prime organism others fill in to take its place. It is all churn.

There is constant regime change, which is why these proxies are so inaccurate since they rely on static forces in their mathematical models.

Aug 16, 2010 at 4:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterAJStrata

To me, this paper may finally help focus the science onto what it should have been always. Is this latest run-up in surface temps more A then N? That is the only question that really matters IMO.

Aug 16, 2010 at 5:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterDeNihilist

Perhaps following this paper and the hard work of M&M we should update an old adage?

Statistics has done us, the people, a great service so a re-write seems the least we can do..

My suggestion would be:

'Lies, damn lies, and robust AGW science'

Any other suggestions?

Aug 16, 2010 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterVarco


I have to disagree with you when you say "while nuclear power will only be safe if and when fusion is developed". There is no such thing as absolute safety. We make things as safe as we find acceptable. The current generation of nuclear power stations are designed and built to a standard where the risks of an accident resulting in say death, are acceptably low and much lower than for most other technologies. How many deaths of members of the public have western nuclear power stations caused? The answer is NONE. What other major industrial technologies have such an admirable record? NONE that I can think of.

Aug 16, 2010 at 5:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Phillip Bratby

Well, I don't think Three Mile Island was much of a miss, thank god. I was working for Landis & Gyr in electric power SCADA systems at the time and remember it well.

But you are right. And the real issue is the stupidity of those behind the controls. Three Mile Island was due to bad design (important indicators hard to see) and poor training (nobody looked). Chernobyl was absolute stupidity. Even with a basically bad design, it took the idiots who blew it up some time as well as disconnecting a number of safe guards.

And when you look at both the French and Japanese nuclear power industries, almost nobody knows they exist because they have been run so effectively. And people make crude jokes about French engineering.

As for Fusion, it has problems itself, but ones that could be handled once we figure out how to do the reaction on a net positive energy continuously.

Aug 16, 2010 at 6:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

The focus of the McShane and Wyner paper reminds me of the Maine (USA) joke relayed by Marshall Dodge of Bert and I fame. (The CDs are available at Amazon.)

It goes something like this.

A New York tourist in a big swanky convertible, pulls up in front of Bert, our hero, while he is relaxing in his rocking chair on his porch. (The sound effects of a powerful engine and screeching brakes add to the story.)
The New Yorker abruptly asks “Which way to Millinocket?” (Lots of towns in Maine have names derived from the Indians - and New Yorkers are nothing if not abrupt.)
Bert, after thinking awhile, says to the tourist. "Let me see. Go west about 3 miles and take a left. Hold on. No, that not right. Let me see. Go east about 2 miles and take a left. No, that's not right either. Come to think of it, you can’t get there from here."

Thus ends the HS.

Aug 16, 2010 at 6:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterBernie

"...How many deaths of members of the public have western nuclear power stations caused? The answer is NONE. What other major industrial technologies have such an admirable record? NONE that I can think of."--Phillip Bratby

True. The problem is media focus. Compare the drama of a nuclear power event where even a hundred civilians are killed to that of 100,000 retired coal miners coughing their lungs out, unseen, over a 50 year span. Which will the MSM crow about?

Aug 16, 2010 at 7:22 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

Oh look, Wyner & McSHane have found another hockey stick!

But of course, your denialist religion prevents you poor suppressed babies from seeing it or understanding why it's there. And it always will be there, because it's in the data.

Aug 16, 2010 at 7:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterBishop Phil

Well, this outstanding paper doesn't mean that the Fat Lady has sung - but she's most certainly started her warm-up vocalisations.

My hope is that it gives impetus to all those scientists who would like to look at other factors which might influence the climate, without fear of having their funding cut and their papers being returned by 'peers' if CO2 isn't mentioned and AGW not made to be the sole culprit.

Aug 16, 2010 at 7:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

Bishop Phil

Yeap, that is what the Mann data say. There is a The Medieval Warm Period.

Just how do you explain that it was as warm in 1000 AD as it is now, according to Mann's data when it is correctly analyzed.

You have sinned, for ye have broken faith the the Church of Lately Warming.

Aug 16, 2010 at 8:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Poor Don Pablo, so blinded by his denialist religion he can't see that his statement is only somewhat true-ish if the error bars are accepted at full strength (which is statisticaly unlikely) and completely false insofar as the data only goes to the end of the last century.

And we've had a decade of warming since.

Still, back to the campfire and regale the lads with stories about how you're "winning" eh, Don me old son?

Aug 16, 2010 at 8:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterBishop Phil

Geronimo is correct about the religious aspect of AGW. However, no amount of proof is going to dislodge the core faithful. But it will shed the peripheral hanger-ons, leaving just a small sect like the Heaven's gate movement.

There are still people who believe that the earth is flat and the moon landings were staged. But no one takes them seriously and that is where the core is headed. The pleadings of the "catamites" (interesting term Jerry - very catchy) are just the evidence of the peripheral hangar-ons seeking guidance that is become harder and harder to supply with any sort of straight face.

Aug 16, 2010 at 8:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilJourdan

@Bishop Phil

Interesting link to that hockey stick superimposing. Now if I cast my mind far our to sea and forget that hockey sticks ever existed, then if I saw that new graph first time then all I actually see is a gentle sinusoidal wave. Ah but that is just my denialism working, I cannot see hockey stick stigmata.

I also find it strange that in one breath you claim the graph is good and there is a hockey stick then castigate Don Pablo and say the graph is bad.

So which is it? A good graph or a bad graph? You seem to want to have both ways, and however you interpret is the only valid way

Aug 16, 2010 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

Jimmy asks: "Which is it"?

My earlier comment was a comment on your group eagerness to accept whatever confirms your prejudices, and your group-think, religious inability to see what your heroes d'jour are actually telling you

W&S's work (as statisticians playing at being scientists) is of course fatally flawed for that reason. Expect some major ass-kicking shortly.

Maybe you could send hard-of-thunking scientist over to Tamino's and he can relay the sad truth back to you in terms you can all comprehend when the time is right/or he's reacquired his nerve after his last whupping.

On a personal note, all you need to know Jimmy is that AGW is real and it's happening now.
Perhaps you could escape from your ghetto for a short while and find out what actual scientists are saying...

Aug 16, 2010 at 9:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterBishop Phil

"On a personal note, all you need to know Jimmy is that AGW is real and it's happening now."

Just Believe Climate Science Real Hard and The Squiggly Lines Talk To You. Like poems an' stuff.

They really do.


Aug 16, 2010 at 9:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew™

Great posts above.

It is hard to say if the McShane & Wyner is a pivot point in the debate of whether current warming is unique. But it is a big step.

Consider whether the statistics departments of many universities and research institutes have:

a) Probably been discussing internally the significant statistical inadequacies of the core climate scientists/science for some time

b) Have been hesitant to engage the belief system of the AGW advocates so far

c) Have been waiting for some younger statisticians to take the first step (thanks McShane & Wyner), someone with audacity and no vested statistical reputation interest to protect

d) SEE THAT ONCE THE ICE IS BROKEN, by someone publishing successfully on climate science statistical treatment, there will be an increase in demand for a lot more.

McShane & Wyner should, if not M&M first, consider to claim, "Après moi, le déluge" of statistical papers treating critical views of the past 20 years of climate science.


Aug 16, 2010 at 10:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Whitman

How can the Hockey Team respond to this demolition job on their statistical ability ?

The paper does not specifically attack the data - cherrypicking etc - others can pile on and do that.

It focusses solely on what is the appropriate statistical way to analyse the data.

Mann and others simply have no standing in statistics per se to criticise the paper. Or if they try - other statisticians will surely jump on them with glee ?

The only credible criticisms of the paper would be from other statisticians - conducted in statistics journals. That is - the battlefield will finally have moved out of the control of the Hockey Team, their "peer-review" shenanigans won't work any more.

What will be fascinating will be the comments from Wegman and his colleagues on the earlier paper saying that Mann's statistical abilities are pants.


Maybe an update of Your Grace's book will be needed ? Or at least an insert slip referring to the new paper that surely vindicates your whole narrative ?

Aug 16, 2010 at 10:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohninLondon

John Whitman

Your post appeared while I was composing mine - we appear to be thinking on similar lines. This paper could become what I believe is termed "seminal" - will end up with many many citations. If there is any really valid critique, which would have to be published in a statistics journal and be peer-reviewed by statisticians - we could expect it within a year ?

If not - game over for the Hockey Stick ?

Aug 16, 2010 at 10:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohninLondon

@ Bad Andrew™

And if you look very closely ... on a clear, moonless night ... you can still see the lake sediments.

Aug 16, 2010 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered Commenteranonym

Bishop Phil

W&S's work (as statisticians playing at being scientists) is of course fatally flawed for that reason. Expect some major ass-kicking shortly.

M&J's work (as scientists playing at being statisticians) is of course fatally flawed for that reason. Expect some major ass-kicking shortly.

There. FTFY.

Aug 16, 2010 at 10:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterDennis

"Just Believe Climate Science Real Hard and The Squiggly Lines Talk To You. Like poems an' stuff".

There's your problem lads - and you are all lads aren't you? - basic mathematical illiteracy.
Talking squiggly line ignorance in the middle of the most globally disastrous summer in living memory.

Try venturing out of your ghetto to where actual scientists blog (or even - gasp! - read some papers first hand) or even try somewhere else where the resident blogmeister isn't pontificating his own vacuity to Scottish oil barons or similar vested interests might be some minor improvement.

But having said that it is kind of sweet (in a sickeningly twee manner) the way you all whistle your the darkness together for comfort.

Aug 16, 2010 at 10:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterBishop Phil

Interesting graph from Bishop Phil. The red line showing the smoothed proxy reconstruction indicates that temperatures 1000 years ago were warmer than today.
I think that the black line showing instrumental temperatures may be confusing some people.

Aug 16, 2010 at 10:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobWansbeck

Bishop Phil

You just don't get it, do you ?

The paper is not by two statisticians "playing at being scientists". It is two statisticians applying their considerable statistical expertise to issues of statistical method.


Oddly, you provide a link to Tim Lambert's site. But he is a computer guy - neither a scientist nor a statistician. Does he have any standing whatsoever ? - I think not.

Indeed I recall the last time he got out of his depth on statistical matters was over the Lancet figures on casualties in Iraq - another paper that has been shown to be based on utterly discredited statistical method.

If you can pray in aid any real statistical expertise to critique the new paper - go ahead. I.m not holding my breath.

Aug 16, 2010 at 10:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohninLondon

"M&J's work (as scientists playing at being statisticians) is of course fatally flawed for that reason."

No, actually you just exposed your own ignorance.
Science goes into the unknown, which is what MMH did to find out what wasn't known before.
Statisticians have their place, but groundbreaking science isn't one of them.
But I expect the difference is lost on those who follow an accountant's blog.

Aug 16, 2010 at 10:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterBishop Phil

I know you are reluctant to sanction anyone, but Bishop Phil is abusing his privileges, IMHO.

Aug 16, 2010 at 10:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterBernie

Remember Professor David Hand from the Oxburgh Inquiry? I wonder what his reaction is to the McS&W paper. Below is a comment by Hand from the Guardian:

"David Hand, a statistician at Imperial College London, who sat on the enquiry panel, said the CRU scientists had been naive over their use of statistics, but there was no evidence that the better techniques would have produced different results."

Aug 16, 2010 at 10:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterDrCrinum

It seems rising CO2 causes outbreaks of trolls! .It's a pity that BP crashes in and starts flinging ad homs around in a thread that has been nicely picking through the physical reality of the statisticians work. A bit ironic really.

I always found with my two year olds that if you ignored the bad behaviour they eventually gave up and found something more constructive to do.

Aug 16, 2010 at 11:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Oh Dear Bihop Phil,


No, actually you just exposed your own ignorance.
Science goes into the unknown, which is what MMH did to find out what wasn't known before.
Statisticians have their place, but groundbreaking science isn't one of them.
But I expect the difference is lost on those who follow an accountant's blog.

says far more about you than me.

I'll reiterate. These guys are specialists in their field. Statistics. That is what they do. That is what they study. They (very cleverly IMHO) took a dataset, completely ignored what the dataset represented, and analysed it. Statistically. Their day job.

You appear to forget that 'climate science' is not such a well defined field as being a 'chemist' or 'biologist'. 'Climate scientists' come from many backgrounds. The trouble is that their current work relies almost exclusively on processing 'data' using 'statistical' methods. And there's your problem. They aint no statisicians bubba....

Aug 16, 2010 at 11:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterDennis

@Cumbrian Lad.

Good point, well made.

I'll stop feeding.

Aug 16, 2010 at 11:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterDennis

@ DrCrinum

Speaking of which: the Oxburgh report set one piece of homework for the CRU, which was to get to know some statisticians. The responses to McShane and Wyner should give us some insight as to how they've been getting along with that; could be interesting.

Aug 16, 2010 at 11:29 PM | Unregistered Commenteranonym

BP - Re: "living memory" - mathematical literacy requires the ability to choose appropriate frames of reference to the problem at hand.

Aug 17, 2010 at 12:25 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

I kinda like Bishop Phil. He's got a puckish sense of humour. He understands exactly what buttons to press to get the reaction he planned.
He's borderline respectful, awesomely illogical and a total stirrer to boot. Just the right combination of talents to drum up a respectable audience in a Ffestiphal venue.
His parodic genius that seamlessly combines the Ghandi-like, non-belligerance of Romm, the tortured bi-polar mathematics of Tam the Mann with the pompous, pronouncements of RC to create a wonderful caricacture that totally encapsulates the reasons why I became a Sceptic.
Thank you DogMan, SecularAniseedBall, MeFunnyToo but, mostly, Bphil for your reminder.
Stay with us mate.

Aug 17, 2010 at 12:30 AM | Unregistered Commenterroyfomr

Aye Bishop Phil is highly amusing for his attacks on statisticians - what is the hockey stick but a statistical artefact? - so he is attacking the very thing he is defending. I've heard of Mann using upside-down proxies but this is hilarious...

Aug 17, 2010 at 1:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Lish

Well, given how much amusement Bishop Phil seems to bring to so many, I withdraw my request that he be dealt with as was Beckett - metaphorically speaking of course. Even a Bishop needs a fool in his court.

Aug 17, 2010 at 1:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterBernie

The global temperature record has long flat stretches (80 out of ~ 120 years). It is obvious that the best fit to this will be noise on a flat line. When M&S fit proxies and noise to the global record they find that noise is a better fit that the proxies. That should have been a warning to them but they charged ahead. A bit more a Eli's

The proxies are affected by local temperature (and precip, etc). The local temperatures vary more than the global ones, thus M&S get proxy sensitivities that are much smaller than they should be and noise that is much larger, esp extrapolated out to the year dot.

Some of the other procedures could be worthwhile once the calibration about global warming (CAGW) problem is fixed. As their Fig. 16 and 17 show, the end result will be a pretty hockeyish stick. Doing it right will reduce the error bands.

Aug 17, 2010 at 2:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterEli Rabett

The diehards won't give up but the "court of public opinion " is deciding rapidly against them

Aug 17, 2010 at 2:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoss

after all the interest online in this paper, the MSM has not a single mention of it anywhere in the world, according to a google news search. truly amazing...and telling.

Aug 17, 2010 at 2:38 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

This problem with proxies in the 1960's seems to crop up fairly often -- this regime change, the divergence, 'hide the decline' ...

I've been wondering if the problem could be with the instrumental record instead of the the proxies?

Some problems with the record (most recently Nepal?) have been highlighted. Could the problems with UHI and homogenization be worse than suspected? Could they be causing the proxy failures? Maybe the proxies are better than they seem?

Aug 17, 2010 at 2:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandy C

Ah Eli, repetition doth not make it right, though I guess silly wabbits are supposed to be good at reproduction.

Aug 17, 2010 at 3:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn M

"Ah Eli, repetition doth not make it right, though I guess silly wabbits are supposed to be good at reproduction."

@ John M

The way Eli has been a One Trick Global Warming Pony over the years, one might think he's
nothing more than a propagandist or something.


Aug 17, 2010 at 3:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew™

B.Phil - "Statisticians have their place, but groundbreaking science isn't one of them."

Look up Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher FRS

Aug 17, 2010 at 3:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB

can u guess it's election time in australia? such a shame.

17 Aug: SMH: Scientists say global warming is undeniable
THE world will be hotter by 2100 than at any time in the past few million years if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, the Australian Academy of Science warns in a new report…
Produced and reviewed by two expert panels, the 24-page report, The Science of Climate Change, Questions and Answers, acknowledges there are still scientific uncertainties about some of the details of climate change…
A former academy president, Kurt Lambeck, said the report was aimed at clarifying often contradictory comments from non-scientific ”instant experts”….

pdf: Australian Academy of Science: The Science of Climate Change, Questions and Answers

Aug 17, 2010 at 5:15 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

Sandy C

The dendro proxies have been cherry picked to give a hockey stick; most have been excluded. The dendro people think it perfectly acceptable to omit inconvenient data. And then there is the reproducibility problem; read the HSI about the Ababneh Thesis and how it affected the famous Graybill chronology at Sheep Mountain, pp.357-361.

Aug 17, 2010 at 5:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterDrCrinum

Can anybody explain what Marks and Spencer has to do with it? (according to Eli) ☺

Aug 17, 2010 at 7:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

What happened to Bishop Phil? Did somebody do him in or lock him up again? I too rather enjoyed his rantings.


Even a Bishop needs a fool in his court.

Exactly so. Bring him back!

Aug 17, 2010 at 8:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Is it just me?

When a new paper agrees with the CAGW narrative, there seems an exercise reminiscent of a military operation to conduct the MSM with a flurry of press releases which are dutifully picked up and screamed from every headline on the same day the article is published.

When a new paper disagrees with the CAGW narrative, journals hold up publication, or in this case delay to allow "selective replies", zero coverage in the MSM, in fact the only website to put it on the newsfeed seems to be Prison, generally regarded as a conspiracy website!

Seems to me the "right of reply" is after the "headline" fact for CAGW papers, why the special treatment for counter papers? Wasn't this the way science was supposed to be done, it's been such a long time I can't remember the protocols.

Regardless, it's been fun watching the trolls fall over themselves to miss the whole point of the paper with their MWP strawmen, much hilarity!

Almost as much fun as the day "a miracle has happened" :)

Aug 17, 2010 at 9:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete

The fact that no newspaper in the world has picked up this story (pat: Aug 17, 2010 at 2:38 AM) demonstrates the dire state of the debate. On any other subject, this would be leapt on. The media love a contrarian story, a scientific theory toppled by obscure nobodies. The Guardian has four science PhDs on its science/environment pages, plus Goldacre, whose entire career is built on analysing dodgy statistics, but who won’t enter the climate debate, calling it “complicated”.
Never once, in several thousand articles on global warming, has a serious British newspaper explained the hockeystick, what it is and why it’s important. Don’t expect that to change now.

Aug 17, 2010 at 9:31 AM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

Roundup from the Trenches

Deltiod - had a big laugh about the hockeystick being reinvented, but was seriously undermined by a proper statistician who explained some basic facts. The tumult of the brethren became a quiet murmer.

Tamino - Has kept an icy silence. I think that he is trying to produce a spin on the topic but is finding it a bit hard.

That annoying Eli 'formerly known as rodent' has demonstrated his fallibility again by latching on the unimportant and postulating all sorts statistical silliness. His commentors rightly identify Tamino as a chartist rather than a fundamentalist. N.B Wackpedia describes once-were-rodents as They survive by burrowing, hopping away from danger in a zig- zag motion. Quite apt really.

RC has acknowledged the document, but again - as with Tamino - are holding fire till they can get the just-right angle. The small fry like Eli 'formerly known as rodent' and Deltiod exhibit their lack of grasp by immediate and intemperate comments unsupported by the facts.

The remaining sites - e.g. Romm - I do not enjoy visiting, so I don't.

Aug 17, 2010 at 9:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerry

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>