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Lüdecke et al

Over the weekend I was sent a prospective guest posting by Lüdecke et al - this was the same one that has now appeared at Judith Curry's and Matt Briggs' sites. Given that it is widely available elsewhere, I don't see any point in reposting here. However, there has been a rather remarkable reaction to the posting, which looks like it will keep the climate blogs busy for a while.

Richard Tol has pointed out what he says is an error in their statistics (I am not qualified to comment here but his criticisms sound plausible to me). He then goes on to say that Judith C's posting the article then transforms this error into disinformation. I must say I'm struggling with this somewhat. For Judith to be criticised for posting an article based on a peer-reviewed paper seems to me to go too far. It seems to me that you either have to trust in peer review (and only post things that have received its imprimatur) or alternatively you distrust it and to allow post-publication peer review to do its work. Either way, it's hard to criticise Curry for posting the Lüdecke et al article.

Richard Klein meanwhile says that Judith has lost the plot and is posting the work of "politically motivated stats amateurs". Again, this seems quite overwrought to me. I'm sure readers here will recognise the motivation fallacy in action too.

Some of the readers on Judith's blog are also very excitable, one muttering darkly about the outlet for the paper:

I do not know this journal, except that it has previously accepted work by Gerlich and Tscheuschner.

How disreputable.

Judith, meanwhile, just seems to "get it".

If something is wrong, shine a light on it, don’t hide it in a corner. The jury is still out on Ludecke’s papers, they have not been adequately discussed and examined. Perhaps that will happen here.

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Reader Comments (90)

"a peer-reviewed paper"

So the question becomes (and maybe a Warmer like BBD can chime in and answer this):

How do we determine what this ("peer reviewed") means for each individual paper, if it means anything at all anymore?


Nov 7, 2011 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

Sadly, Bad Andrew has a point.

Nov 7, 2011 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Marvellous grist to the mill. And huge kudos to Judith for posting.

Nov 7, 2011 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

There are plenty of great JC quotes in the thread too, worth reading just for those - she has a comment on critical thinking and ends with:

"This whole ‘disinformation’ thing is a joke. There are very few ‘undebatable’ facts in all this. Interpretation of the surface temperature record is not one of them."

Nov 7, 2011 at 3:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

It seems to me that the CAGWers are getting very worried. There has been a marked increase in the number of trolls at Climate Etc and the loudness, nay nastiness of their comments about Judith. They are afraid, very afraid.

Nov 7, 2011 at 3:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

The problem is that there is little honesty in climate science, it is full of tricksters, self-publicists and band-wagoneers.

This is not a debate it has become an open brawl in the gutter.

Nov 7, 2011 at 4:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

You must admit, Phillip, she gets a better class of troll!
When your cherished beliefs come under threat there is a tendency to --- shall we say, over-react.
I know from nothing about the papers in question but still take the view that any contribution is to be welcomed, examined, shredded, and then debunked or added to the corpus of knowledge.
As Judith says, "if something's wrong, shine a light on it."
Yes, I know I'm old-fashioned!

Nov 7, 2011 at 4:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

The reaction over at Climate etc has been has been extraordinary. People have been piling in and on who have no intention of ever reading the papers, but who are incensed about the source. Are these people who wrote the papers convicted criminals? Pariahs? Outcasts?
For all I know they may be as cranky as the Skydragon people but I don't get the vitriol at all. If all the 'antis' hadn't started screaming up and down the blogosphere who would have been any the wiser?

Shine a light - see what's there. If it's bunk, SAY SO!!!!

Nov 7, 2011 at 4:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnteros

'A better class of troll' Neven states;

"I dismiss them (Lüdecke et al) because I have seen them lie and distort repeatedly, and never be right about anything, and never retract allegations, and never admit or correct mistakes."

Something of an ironic metric.

Nov 7, 2011 at 4:25 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Mike jackson:

Are you saying that Joshua is of a better class than zebedee? Perish the thought.

Nov 7, 2011 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I am not sure where Judith Curry is in her beliefs. It is interesting to watch her thoughts develop over time.

I expect her to get it all sorted out soon enough, but she will have to do some deep soul searching, which is exactly what I think she is doing.

Nov 7, 2011 at 4:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

just saying that from what I have read, neven makes Tamino's mind seem open....

Nov 7, 2011 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

As I argue over at Climate Etc, these two papers are methodologically unsound. If Curry does (not) have the statistical wherewithal to recognize that, she should have not have posted this.

Nov 7, 2011 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

Richard Tol. Lots of "climate scientists" don't have the "statistical wherewithal" to do the analysis they do and to publish and peer review other work. It's never stopped "climate scientists" in the past, so why start now?

Nov 7, 2011 at 4:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

"these two papers are methodologically unsound"


Doesn't the peer review process address this? Isn't the procedure to write a critique via the proper scientific publishing channels?


Nov 7, 2011 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

Richard Tol

If Curry does (not) have the statistical wherewithal to recognize that, she should have not have posted this.

As you noted over there, you can blame it all on the free and easy access to PCs and cheap statistics programs. As anyone should know, they are addictive and habit forming, usually leading to a disastrous result.

Your statistics professor was right. They should be restricted. However, forty years ago I was a statistics consultant at Cornell University's computer center and saw the same abuse then, so it is nothing new.

Nov 7, 2011 at 5:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Richard Tol

these two papers are methodologically unsound.
And MBH98 was a model of statistical probity, I assume.
The extent to which these are being ripped to shreds, not because of what they are but of who their authors are "connected to" should be a scientific scandal. If they are useless then no doubt this will be proved.
Comments about lies being halfway round the world before the truth gets its boots on is rich coming from the warmist camp — pot, kettle, black comes to mind.
And the vehemence of the comments brings to mind Emerson's famous line
The louder he spoke of his honour the faster we counted the spoons.

Nov 7, 2011 at 5:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

Richard Tol,
You can claim they are unsound all you want.
Peers who reviewd the papers seem to disagree with you.
And you offer nothing other thanthe typical AGW tactic of simply rejecting things that challenge your faith.
You seem to rely on something that is laughably dubious: questioning Dr. Curry's abilities, rather than demonstrating yours.
When other follies, like tulipmania or eugenics, were at their height of popular obsession, the belivers in those lost causes acted the same way when confronted with uncomfortable ideas as you do defending AGW.

Nov 7, 2011 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Wow, just been and had a look and I will pass I do not have a dog in that fight. I am best described as “statistically challenged”.

However the following comment strikes a chord:-

“The attempt by some commenters on this thread to apply external gatekeeping on Judith’s e-salon is to me, personally, highly reminiscent of some publically revealed pre-AR4 attempts at gatekeeping.”

Nov 7, 2011 at 5:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

A better link to Dr Tol's criticism (than the one in the headpost) is

Nov 7, 2011 at 5:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

I have stated my distrust of peer-review before. With respect to the "mad, mad world" comment, I will post here what I posted on both and today, since this seems to be today's theme:

This may be off-topic, but it is most relevant: I second the identification of "willful obtuseness" on the part of climate consensus defenders. With respect to my Venus/Earth temperatures comparison, I found the Venus/Earth ratio of temperatures at equal pressures to be 1.176, which implies an incident power ratio of 1.91, just that provided by the ratio of the two planets' distances from the Sun** (and thus proving there is no greenhouse effect, even for so large a CO2 increase as from 0.04% on Earth to 96.5% on Venus). Defenders of the consensus (most recently Vaughan Pratt on Climate Etc.) keep insisting that the true incident power ratio is about 1 or 1.1, evidently thinking this explains the 1.176 temperature ratio. They are not even acting like scientists in this, more like ecclesiastical authorities on the climate consensus. With respect to facing the obvious fact of the Venus/Earth temperature ratio, they are in my opinion insane (unable to face reality).

**That solar distance ratio squared gives the incident power ratio, 1.91, and the fourth-root of the latter gives the 1.176 temperature ratio.

Nov 7, 2011 at 5:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Dale Huffman

Green Sand,
It is certainly revealing that of all the comments on that thread (175 at the moment), I counted only two (perhaps three) which make a clear critique of the methods or data of the papers. An unusually low signal-to-noise ratio for Climate Etc.

Nov 7, 2011 at 5:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

I just checked over at climate etc...the nevens and joshuas are tucked up in their greeny eco sleeping-bags and some interesting analysis from the likes of Richard Saumarez is emerging. The Team played the Joker - get in fast and discredit the papers and those oil-funded people what wrote them, at all costs avoid discussion of the papers on their merits. But time is telling. I do not think these paperes will end up saying very much...but we have an example of how the Team is trying to smother dissent.

Nov 7, 2011 at 5:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

I have posted over there on a previous thread that the BEST data is riddled with errors (now backed up by Steve Mc) and I have not had one troll challenge my statements, maybe they don't want to open that can of worms and draw more attention to it.

Nov 7, 2011 at 5:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterA C Osborn

AC Osborn

it cuts deeper...the raw data is a drawer of odd socks - thermometers calibrated against what, reading on what scale, sited at coordinates defined by which system, read at which times of day, how frequently...BEST comes along, throws some more sites into the mix..and we now have a drawer full of more socks...the blog correspondence around the time when the "amateurs" like Jeff/Roman, Nick Stokes et al were compiling their indices showed what a heap of junk it all was. BEST have just proved, again, that it is a pile of scrap-metal and not a gleaming DeLorean. Why is there so much interest? Well, they claim to have found a way of reducing the error-bands...I do not think they are right. They show no understanding of the data, else they could not make their claims about UHI. The good thing is that they show that the proxies for the 19thc temp are way off the instrumental scale.

Nov 7, 2011 at 5:46 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes


"The problem is that there is little honesty in climate science, it is full of tricksters, self-publicists and band-wagoneers."

*cheery wave!* Plenty of honest folk in climate science Mac.


Nov 7, 2011 at 6:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterTamsin Edwards

Diogenes, raw data as odd socks - love the image!

Nov 7, 2011 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh


I think it comes from JeffID originally...and he should know because he rooted around in it and saw all these weird bits and pieces of mangled data.....I loved the analogy

Nov 7, 2011 at 6:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

I trust Richard Tol will demonstrate in which way the papers are methodologically unsound, rather than merely proclaim them unsound.

Our interest should surely be in seeking the truth, floating the valid to the top and sinking (with big torpedoes) the crud which is not. Our beliefs follow only so far as that which is scientifically demonstrable. If we wish to distinguish ourselves from the fervent "warmies", we cannot let belief and ideology lead us as it leads them.

Judith Curry is in pursuit of the truth, whatever that turns out to be. She is climate sceptical in certain fundamental respects because she discovered, as we all have, (I think HSI has much to do with this) that the veracity of some "climate crisis" claims could not be relied upon. She discovered that some highly relevant uncertainties had been understated, or certainties overstated.

She discovered that the consensus that she had assumed was a consensus of scientific evidence turned out to have been a consensus of opinion, and that far too much of the science that she believed she could rely upon in fact needs re-examination with far greater scrutiny.

To me, she is the epitome of an ideal climate sceptic with immense scientific integrity.

Nov 7, 2011 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

HaroldW, I think Dr Curry is letting go as it appears to be leading into a post on "Critcal Thinking". Which after the present exchanges could prove quite engaging.

Nov 7, 2011 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

Josh There are plenty of great JC quotes in the thread too, worth reading just for those (...)

Another JC quote:

I’ve abandoned trying to build bridges with the climate dittoheads in the blogosphere. I’m trying to engage the thinking public to actually think, and challenge their understanding and prejudices.

Nov 7, 2011 at 7:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

OT, but on the subject of other blogs. Gavin Schmidt appears to be joining in at Climate Audit! Looks like an interesting exchange. Lets hope it proves productive.

Nov 7, 2011 at 7:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

@Philip Bratby
Agreed: Many (but not all) climatologists are lousy statisticians, including Jones, Mann and Rahmstorff.

The main discussion is over at Climate Etc. Suffice it to say that they use a technique called "detrended fluctuation analysis" to study trends. Unlike other disciplines, statisticians use labels that describe their methods.

Nov 7, 2011 at 8:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

Richard Black's statistical analysis eclipsed in the pall from the heavy gun fire of a Richard Tol.

Nov 7, 2011 at 9:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

It is refreshing for me to see in the two ‘Lüdecke et al’ papers none of the obeisance toward alarming AGW by CO2 from fossil fuels.


Nov 7, 2011 at 9:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Whitman

After what we saw from Climategate where none of the felons against truth who were exposed therein saw their publishing credentials pulled, the precedent is clear that no one can commit an offense against honest scientific inquiry sufficiently grave enough to lose their credibility (at least lose it so as to be incapable of publication). We have seen ridiculous garbage from all manner of the supposed leading lights in the climate science field. The idea that someone else should be banned from consideration is just preposterous.

Curry is right. Get it all out there -- the good, the bad and the ugly. This field has been rife with collusion, corruption, abuse and scandal for far too long. The pot calling the kettle black is a bridge way too far for the warmist shock troops.

Nov 7, 2011 at 10:07 PM | Unregistered Commenterstan

The post at Climate Etc has now attracted 346 responses and is for most practical purposes unreadable, as most of the comments don't deal with the papers, but with the commenter's prejudices or lack of them or whatever - it's another debate about the debate.

At the same time the same post at WM Briggs' blog has attracted 3 comments.

So my hope is that at least W M Briggs will have an insightful comment, in due time.

Suggestion to Josh: Jugde Judith the Great holding back the lynch crowd insisting on a fair trial before the hanging.

Nov 7, 2011 at 10:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterBebben

Dr Tol you forgot to name check Eric Steig...

Nov 7, 2011 at 10:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

Judge Judith, now there's a thought, many thanks Bebben!

Nov 7, 2011 at 10:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

This is very unreasonable of Richard Tol:
As I argue over at Climate Etc, these two papers are methodologically unsound. If Curry does (not) have the statistical wherewithal to recognize that, she should have not have posted this.

I find that very few non-statisticians have a good competence with statistical thinking and the associated methods. It is a difficult subject, and non-statisticians would do well to seek advice before collecting and analysing data. However, once a paper is published, it is one means of further progress for people to point out methodological problems. There is no need for them to be offensive in so doing - this should be an ordinary, and welcome event. To expect Judith Curry to have studied these papers in depth before drawing attention to them is absurd. They have been through a review process, and she was was not endorsing them by bringing them up for discussion. That is only true in the abject world of ideological politics and the associated spinning, in which any drawing attention to alternative viewpoints as possibly having some merit is a real no-no. The degeneration of climate science of the past 30 years or so may well have taken us to such depths, but there is no virtue in wallowing in them.

Nov 7, 2011 at 10:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

@Simon Hopkinson

"To me, she is the epitome of an ideal climate sceptic with immense scientific integrity."

I think you left out a couple of important words in that sentence. I think it might be better phrased as follows:

To me, she is the epitome of an ideal climate scientist, a sceptic with immense scientific integrity.

Nov 7, 2011 at 11:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterMique

Mique, that works for me! :o)

Nov 7, 2011 at 11:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

@John Shade Nov 7, 2011 at 10:47 PM

To expect Judith Curry to have studied these papers in depth before drawing attention to them is absurd. They have been through a review process, and she was was not endorsing them by bringing them up for discussion.

Hear! Hear! I did post my own thoughts on this absurdity:


[in response to Richard Tol's:]

I think that the editor of a blog has the duty to check guest posts for quality.

With all due respect, Richard, a blog is not the same as a journal (as you know, no less an authority than the IPCC has recently decreed that blogposts are barred from being considered as acceptable source material!)

Personally, I think it’s rather bad form for anyone to tell someone else how they should be running their blog – but rest assured you are not the first to have done so!

In my view, here at Climate Etc., Judith has chosen the role of “publisher” rather than that of “editor”.

All of that being said, to the extent that all who comment here are also, in effect, “guest posters”, I believe that your suggested “duty” would place a very heavy – if not unworkable and intolerable – burden on our hostess.

What I don’t understand is why you would choose to broadcast – as you did via twitter – such a loaded and denigrating comment, rather than simply posting your critique of the papers here.

There has been a somewhat similar discussion over at Bishop Hill regarding the fallout from another (IMHO) ill-considered “tweet”. One commenter had observed [Nov 7, 2011 at 12:14 PM]:

[...]Twitter has the potential to be the biggest mistake that the Internet has spawned. [...] Criticising bits of someone’s work in 140 characters? Recipe for disaster!

I’m inclined to agree with him :-)


Nov 7, 2011 at 11:28 PM | Unregistered Commenterhro001

I see where the Warmer Knee-Jerkers are coming from:

You know the climate change discussion was already a big steaming mess, like climate science itself. Why not inject a little more stupidity? What difference could it possibly make?


Nov 7, 2011 at 11:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

The bigger that big steaming mess, the more likely someone will conclude that there must be a pony in there somewhere.

Nov 8, 2011 at 12:21 AM | Unregistered Commenterstan

The discussion at Climate Etc has descended into a tit-for-tat series of unsubstantiated assertions. Hopeless.

One can tell when the alarmist faithful are getting rattled because they revert to knee-jerk accusations about who might be funding the report. Forgetting of course that this raises the spectre of IPCC assessment reports' reliance on WWF, and subsequent exposure of mistakes, advocacy and data manipulation.

Poor Judith, having to moderate that lot.

Nov 8, 2011 at 1:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

We all know there is no such thing as natural climate change or natural climate cycles.

All increases or decreases in temperature must be "forced" by CO2 or Aerosols or the Milanokovitch high latitude summer solar insolation cycles (we have to explain the ice ages after all).

Any paper which shows non-forced climate change is "bad". Any paper written by a non-pro-AGW'er is "bad". As in "bad dog" or "bad paper" or this paper gives me "bad feelings". It must be stricken from all records given how "bad" it is.

[Sorry, I was taken aback with the climategate emails about how "bad" the Soon and Baliunas paper was, even though noone could really say why it was bad and even though Michael Mann had written papers earlier about the AMO and how it affected temperatures in Europe].

The naysayers at Climate etc. today just reminded me so much about those same climategate sentiments. It is just bad no matter what it says or how its base data was analyzed.

Nov 8, 2011 at 1:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterBill Illis

Bill Illis
Absolutely. In reading the Soon and Baliunas paper emails, it becomes very clear that all the authors think (or atleast write to that effect) that Soon and Baliunas' paper is such a bad paper because it was the product of a 'corrupted' peer review process, and that the peer review process must have been corrupted because it produced such a bad paper as Soon and Baliunas.

Soon and Baliunas and Climategate emails. - It is the story of climate science corruption and there is not a single journalist to tell the story. How sad.

Nov 8, 2011 at 3:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterShub

The arguments regarding the analysis of surface records seems to be lacking merit. The surface record does not cover the oceans well, and the oceans account for 72% of the Earth's surface area. GISS has already confirmed that they don't have the funding to verify the data they collect, and at best, a surface data point is a high and low temperature averaged. What value does that have exactly?

The BEST study claims a more comprehensive record set, but what do we know of the quality of those sets? There were atmospheric CO2 density sets made early in the 1900s, some showing CO2 densities as high or higher than today. Those studies were disregarded by the IPCC who favoured ice core proxies over the work of eminent and live scientists. The BEST study is doing the same it seems, telling us the data collected over a hundred years ago is valid. If it is valid, then surely the CO2 densities showing 400 ppmv in the 1930's is also valid.

I think it's time we scrapped the surface record and used the satellite record. Satellites cover 95% of the atmosphere, sampling billions and billions of data points per scan. They detect microwave emissions from oxygen molecules that vary in frequency with temperature.

Many alarmists have argued that the sat record is consistent with the surface record and climate model output. That is nonsense. As John Christy of UAH has pointed out, the sat record shows no average warming till after the 1998 El Nino extreme. Circa 2001, there is a step of about 0.2 C, then the average remains remarkably flat through 2011. There are pretty wild relative oscillations, but the average can be seen visually to be consistent around 0.2 C.

John Christy has commented that one way of observing a linear trend line with the sat data, is to balance a trend line on 1998. The portion of the trend before 1998 dips into the below normal anomaly range, and after 1998, it is in the true warming range. He explains that pre 1998 features cooling due to volcanic activity, and post 1998 warming is due to El Nino activity. Those record warming years of the 2000 decade were produced by El Ninos...natural phenomena.

The surface record, on the other hand, has a trend starting at 1980 with a definite positive trend through 2011 that reaches 0.6 C, or higher, three times the sat range. The records are very different and I can't help thinking the difference is due to the much higher quality satellite coverage (95%) and the huge number of data points to average. Why we are still wasting time with the surface record escapes me.

The surface record is poor when it comes to heat distribution. The sat record shows contour maps in which it is obvious that the warming is far from global. Christy has claimed most of the warming is in the northern part of the Northern Hemisphere, and he does not regard that as a signature of CO2 warming.

Nov 8, 2011 at 5:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterGordon Robertson

Gordon, there is a recent post by Steve M at climateaudit ("Final Thoughts on BEST", IIRC) that outlines the most important reason for preserving the land record: it goes back further in time than satellites. Like you, though, Steve considers satellites to be better than surface records for the recent period. In fact, he suggests that the satellite records provide a mechanism for identifying biases in the surface record.

Nov 8, 2011 at 8:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Harvey

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