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« The edge of the academy | Main | Mr Opportunity - Josh 198 »

A new hockey team paper

There are lots of familiar names behind this new paper in JAMS - Rutherford, Mann, Wahl and Ammann. It seems that their infilling RegEm methodology has received some criticism. Apparently though, it "doesn't matter".

Smerdon et al., (2010) report two errors in the climate model grid data used in previous pseudoproxy-based climate reconstruction experiments that do not impact the main conclusions of those works (Mann et al., 2005; 2007a). The errors did not occur in subsequent works (Mann et al., 2009, Rutherford et al., 2010, and Schmidt et al., 2011) and therefore have no impact on the results presented therein. Results presented here for the CSM model using multiple pseudoproxy noise realizations show that the quantitative differences between the incorect and corrected results are within the expected variability of the noise realizations. It should also be made clear that the climate reconstruction method used in Smerdon et al. (2010) to illustrate the nature of the errors, RegEM-Ridge, is known to produce climate reconstructions with considerable variance loss and has been superseded by RegEM-TTLS in Mann et al. (2007) and subsequent works.

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Reader Comments (23)

Here's another hockey team paper there has been an ongoing battle over: Rebuttal paper stonewalled by the journal.

More egregious statistical errors, but the team continue to cite the paper three years after they were made aware of fatal flaws:

Jan 31, 2013 at 7:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterRog Tallbloke

"incorect" is the right word

Jan 31, 2013 at 8:06 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Their incorect speling does not mater either.

Jan 31, 2013 at 9:02 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

So now that RegEm has been shown to be a farce, they tell us to "move on" because they now use the improved version of it. Right.

Jan 31, 2013 at 9:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterLuis Dias

It's interesting that the science remains permanently settled however often the Warmmongers methods are shown to be dross.

Jan 31, 2013 at 9:45 AM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

I am not au fait with the details of these works, but I am sorry to say I would approach studying them with a jaundiced view already in place. Why? Because climate science seems to have attracted some of the worst scientists the world has ever seen. We might chuckle at their antics were it not for their using them for political purposes. In that regard, the field has attracted some of the most successful scientist-activists the world has ever seen.

Jan 31, 2013 at 10:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Aren't we past the point where anyone cares what this group says?

Let's get past the "nitpicking" of papers from the academic wilderness and wake up to the reality that most people know that global warming was overblown.

So, let's forget unfashionable and frankly discredited people who wrote this paper, and start focussing on the real problem: the idiotic policies which their lies have foisted on the UK and Scotland in particular.

I seriously doubt that there are any but a few zealots left who want more windmills littering Scotland nor any but a few zealots who want people's fuel bills to rise to pay for them. The problem is that we still have the laws that allow the commercial sharks that profited from this overblown global warming to continue to up our fuel bills.

That is the real issue now ... not a few academics who had their moment of celebrite and blew it.

Jan 31, 2013 at 11:31 AM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Same as Mike Haseler. Who cares about what these people have to say? After this Mann guy wastes his taxpayer-funded faculty position tweeting and facebooking countless times a day, and suing newspaper columnists, he suddenly turns to his other computer and writes a science paper, and we are supposed to read it with all seriousness?

Jan 31, 2013 at 11:59 AM | Registered Commentershub

Frankly, that excerpt reads like the output of the Postmodern Essay Generator with a small change of vocabulary to include Team terms.

Jan 31, 2013 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterRich

Their assertion, "It doesn't matter", is very true but not in the way they intended.
I am reading some books on the history of the large contests in science from the early part of the 20th.
The "team", more and more, sounds and acts like the faction led by Mach.

Jan 31, 2013 at 1:13 PM | Unregistered Commenterlurker, passing through laughing

I am interested in the same topic. What are you reading.

Jan 31, 2013 at 1:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterbernie

Surely I can't be the only person wishing that they had subscribed their names in the order: Wahl, Ammann, Rutherford, Mann. Are they not the WARM team?

Jan 31, 2013 at 1:23 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

I've been following Jason Smerdon's work for a long time, and he is very good at what he does - his criticisms are accurate and scathing, and he has taken apart many papers by Mann. Of course, Mann's responses (along with his "team") are usually trite, dismissive, and do not address the real issues at hand.

But I would recommend reading the original Smerdon paper to see the error. It isn't a small one, and it is remarkably stupid. When gridding data, Mann and his team took longitudinal data from 0 to 360, and interpolated onto a new grid from -180 to +180, but didn't perform the mapping between (-180 to 0) and (180 to 360). In short: half of the data in their analysis was replaced by junk. Not "missing", but replaced by junk. And somehow this has no effect on the result.

See figure 2 here:

I appreciate mistakes happen. But mistakes this big? By someone that experienced? That don't "matter"? You've got to be kidding. And this will undoubtedly result in more pointless back-and-forth because Mann is incapable of conceding any trivial point whatsoever in his litany of errors.

Jan 31, 2013 at 1:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpence_UK

Apparently though, it "doesn't matter".

So, in the interest of "the cause", The Team bestows on the world yet another instance of mind[less mantra] over matter!

Jan 31, 2013 at 6:12 PM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

[deleting duplicate ... first one did not appear to have gone through, so had posted again]

Jan 31, 2013 at 6:16 PM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

The timeline separating invalid and presumably correct Mannain science appears to lag current time by a constant couple of years.

An endless sequence of invalidating previous science which didn't matter and coming up with something new which matters.

Jan 31, 2013 at 7:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterManfred

If it wasn't so dishonest, the justificatory verbiage and the nonsense this paper from 'the team' contains would be funny. I am not a scientist, but I have been around long enough, done enough stats and dealt with enough salesmen over those years to recognise arrant and slightly unhinged bullshit when I see it. The press release has marked similarities to the brilliantly-unhinged initial sales pitch sung by the lead character in 'The Music Man'.

Jan 31, 2013 at 8:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Wasn't Mann 2005 one of the papers presented to the US Congress as evidence that, despite Mann1998/99 were bad science, it did not matter, because later publications "showed" they were right anyways ?

How is a snow ball system.defined ?

Jan 31, 2013 at 10:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterManfred

For anyone (like me) who wants to see some background on Mann-Rutherford collaborations using Reg-EM, before too many 'fail' criticisms led the Hockey Team to move on, here are some links to Climate Audit threads:

Rutherford Mann et al. 2005

Rutherford 2005 and the Divergence Problem

Jean S on Rutherford 2005

Splicing in Rutherford 2005

Re-visiting Rutherford et al. 2005

Jan 31, 2013 at 11:15 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

note: there are various papers and issues involved, I'm simply providing some quick links and info for anyone else who is trying to review these matters. Here are some references from the Smerdon, et al. (2010) linked above by Spence_UK (I haven't yet looked up links for these but just leaving the references for anyone who wants to -- I must go out for the evening here):

Mann, M. E., and S. Rutherford, 2002: Climate reconstruction using
‘pseudoproxies.’ Geophys. Res. Lett., 29, 1501, doi:10.1029/

——, R. S. Bradley, and M. K. Hughes, 1998: Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries. Nature, 392, 779–787.

——, S. Rutherford, E. Wahl, and C. Ammann, 2005: Testing the
fidelity of methods used in proxy-based reconstructions of past
climate. J. Climate, 18, 4097–4107.

——, ——, ——, and ——, 2007a: Robustness of proxy-based climate field reconstruction methods. J. Geophys. Res., 112,
D12109, doi:10.1029/2006JD008272.

——, ——, ——, and ——, 2007b: Reply. J. Climate, 20, 5671–

Rutherford, S., M. E. Mann, E. Wahl, and C. Ammann, 2008: Reply
to comment by Jason E. Smerdon et al. on ‘‘Robustness of
proxy-based climate field reconstruction methods.’’ J. Geophys. Res., 113, D18107, doi:10.1029/2008JD009964

Smerdon, J. E., and A. Kaplan, 2007: Comments on ‘‘Testing the fi-
delity of methods used in proxy-based reconstructions of past
climate’’: The role of the standardization interval. J. Climate, 20,

——, ——, and D. Chang, 2008a: On the origin of the standardization sensitivity in RegEM climate field reconstructions.
J. Climate, 21, 6710–6723.

——, J. F. Gonza´lez-Rouco, and E. Zorita, 2008b: Comment on
‘‘Robustness of proxy-based climate field reconstruction
methods’’ by Michael E. Mann et al. J. Geophys. Res., 113,
D18106, doi:10.1029/2007JD009542.

Jan 31, 2013 at 11:22 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Interesting event from 2005, showing how Michael Mann controls, collegues obey (in an almost painful way to watch) and dissenters are excluded.

Feb 1, 2013 at 12:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterMarkus


This is an aside from issues analyzed by Smerdon, et al. (2010), but goes into the larger context of a whole series of Mann-Rutherford articles. I urge all to examine (or review) the conduct of anonymous 'Reviewer #2' in the July 2006 online dust-up at Climate of the Past:

Look at the timeline for a new Mann et al. article cited as 'accepted' by Reviewer #2. Consider how Reviewer #2 misbehaves, leading to the final statement from the editor:

‘In our evaluation, we discarded the inappropriate tone of reviewer #2 and his/her scientifically irrelevant points.’

Given that it took from July 4 to November 22 for this article even to be 'received' at AGU/JGR, one must wonder how it could be cited as 'accepted' back on July 4, 2006. Indeed, (mere speculation), had the article even been written by July 4..... Hints of ethical misconduct to spike a rival's article submission by citing an article as 'accepted' which would not even be submitted for another 19 weeks....

Feb 1, 2013 at 3:28 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Glad to help.
Some nice introductions to the milieu of the 19th to early 20th centuries, when the world we are dealing with was essentially born are
Uncertainty, by David Lindley
A World Without Time, by Palle Yourgrau

Both books have the great advantage of being relatively brief, yet are well written by authors who know the territory they are leading us through. These books should dispel any lingering doubts regarding the maculate nature of science.

Feb 1, 2013 at 5:00 AM | Unregistered Commenterlurker, passing through laughing

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