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That error

The Bengtsson paper would have to have been very bad to be worse than, say, Kummler and Dessler, but at the moment we just don't know because we haven't seen it. However, the ERL editor claims that Bengtsson's offering contained errors. Unfortunately she doesn't actually identify any; the only concern  in the reviewer report published to date seems to be with Bengtsson's temerity in thinking that observations and models really ought to match up, and of course the concern that sceptics might be keen on the paper.

But there are some errors floating around that are worth a look - as I mentioned earlier a cursory glance suggested to me that the reviewer's report itself included a bit of a boo-boo. I've now been away and done some fact checking and confirmed that I was right. Actually, I'm righter than I thought I was, as I shall now explain. Here's the paragraph in question:

Even more so, as the very application of the Kappa model (the simple energy balance model employed in this work, in Otto et al, and Gregory 2004) comes with a note of caution, as it is well known (and stated in all these studies) to underestimate ECS, compared to a model with more time-scales and potential non-linearities (hence again no wonder that CMIP5 doesn't fit the same ranges).

What struck me - a humble blogger, a mere accountant, a grubby scribe, as my detractors are occasionally wont to say - is that the Kappa model is not actually used in Otto et al (or indeed Gregory 2004). So here we have an expert reviewer who seems to be less familiar with the details of the relevant studies than I am. The reason I know about all this is that it was discussed at Ed Hawkins' blog some months ago. Here's Nic Lewis in the comments thread:

I spent weeks trying to explain to Myles Allen, following my written submission to the parliamentary Energy and Climate Change Committee, that I did not use for my projections the unscientific ‘kappa’ method used in Gregory and Forster (2008)...

...going on to explain that by 'unscientific' he meant that it didn't conserve energy.

And this quote reveals the other problem with the reviewer's remarks. The kappa method is an approach to estimating ocean heat uptake, which assumes that this is proportional to surface temperature change. Everybody seems to agree that the approach is unphysical because it doesn't adjust for 'warming in the pipeline' and indeed the Gregory and Forster paper notes that 'its validity is restricted'. But the important point is that it is only relevant to projections of future warming anyway. It has no relevance to energy budget estimates of climate sensitivity, which are backward looking.

But the reviewer who recommended the rejection of Bengtsson's paper did not understand this.

Scary eh?

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Reader Comments (81)

"> the only concern in the reviewer report published to date seems to be with Bengtsson's temerity in thinking that observations and models really ought to match up

No. There's a previous, fatal concern: “The overall innovation of the manuscript is very low”. Its curious that you managed to miss that. Perhaps you need to read it more carefully."

May 17, 2014 at 8:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Connolley

You changed the topic. The topic was error. There is no way that the judgement "overall innovation of the manuscript is very low" can be understood as a claim about an error. Please stick to the topic.

May 18, 2014 at 4:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

William Savonarola Connolley.

May 18, 2014 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Leave Savonarola alone. I see Mustapha Mond with a hint of Diana Moon Glampers.

May 18, 2014 at 4:19 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Give William Connoly a break, he's just 10 years ahead of the rest of us - he was removing inconvenient information from the net well before the right to be forgotten was a thing.

May 18, 2014 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRc

Omno, he's an ancient archetype, a bit of clay who doth not understand the part he plays.

May 18, 2014 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Dr. Nicola Gulley, of the IOP said:

A) There were ''ERRORS''
B) '' in our view did not provide a significant advancement in the field, and therefore could not be published in the journal.” (This is given to be the meaning of, ‘The overall innovation of the manuscript is very low.’) and
C) ''the rejection was solely based on the content of the paper not meeting the journal’s high editorial standards.''

As the title of this discussion is ''THE ERROR'' I don't see why focusing on this point is somehow lying. The article doesn't deal with the innovation issue, or the lack of standard issue. I think the quality of both of these points is also questionable. Specifically admitting that there is nothing new in the discrepancies between Climate models and real world observations, in my opinion, is a significant advancement on the part of the alarmist. Well done. Accepting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.

May 18, 2014 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterEamon Butler

You've become a caricature, William. Enjoy your success.

May 18, 2014 at 6:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Re: Not acknowledging (even just minor, and purely semantical) points made by others

"but time has now passed and its clear he intends to hope his error gets buried rather than correcting it; that is now lying"

Well, we have been lied to for an awful long time now, wouldn't you say!? By the'protectors of the narrative' ..

Or does erasing such, or more pointed points, under the pretense of 'moderating', or deleting at them Wikipedia, constitute the standard of such 'non-lying' you claim to aspire to?

May 18, 2014 at 7:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonas N

Oh my god, I feel dirty reading WC's words given his part in the destruction of the climate sciences!


May 18, 2014 at 7:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Complete absolute and total lack of self awareness suggests poor WC is mostly busy deleting his own memory

May 18, 2014 at 7:30 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

If Bish told an untruth, it was only a lie if he knew it was untrue.

An example of a lie would be claiming that "Wikipedia Bans Radical Global Warming Propagandist From Editing All Pages.
Seems rather off-topic too. Its also false". I don't know how you would fail to notice that after so much editing Wikipedia you were banned. This page is testament to the fact that you were banned,

So I don't think anyone is going to believe you. You can rewrite our encyclopaedias but not out minds.

May 18, 2014 at 7:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterRc

Well, well. The serial troll gets banhammered, and Stokes and Connelly turn up. This site has clearly got them worried over in Warmist Central.

Could it be that the wheels are coming off the gravy train?

The way the political wind is blowing what happened in Australia could happen here, and it's goodbye to all that lovely public money or at least a substantial chunk of it.

May 18, 2014 at 7:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

Well, you must admit that Connelly successfully distracted the audience from this thread. He waved a red cape, and you dashed at it with your eyes closed. When will you learn to ignore those who practice deceit and deception? When the devil tempts you, just blot him out of your thoughts. When you engage someone like Connelly, you only embolden him... you will never be able to remove the splinter in his eye.

May 18, 2014 at 8:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterDrcrinum

Odd i didn't know all these 1000's of warmish
Govfunded papers were so high in innovation?

Especially knowing how long the sceance is
Already settled

May 18, 2014 at 9:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterPtw

Astonishing stuff. I return from a pleasant day with kids to find that Mr Connolley has been polluting the thread in his normal unpleasant way. I am not sure if I have ever come across anyone quite so disagreeable. I have been discussing the alleged errors in the Bentsson paper, and Mr Connolley feels that my failure to mention a criticism made of it on grounds of "lack of originality" means that I have been lying. And that my absence from my desk on a Sunday means that I am running from facing the facts.

I think he "has issues". Serious issues. But he can explain himself on his own website, where only the fruitcakes go.

May 18, 2014 at 9:20 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Connelly has a point. In climate science, innovation/originality means that if your data fail all statistical tests known to professional statisticians, why not make up your own statistic and associated "conservative" threshold that your data can pass? A good example of this practice would be the innovative 2007 papers by Wahl & Ammann and Ammann & Wahl, which gave the world the calibration RE/verification RE ratio with its gold standard significance threshold of 0.75, and which I understand is still technically the final word in the literature on the validity of the MBH98/99 hockey stick. There's no evidence Bengtsson provided any innovation of this nature in his paper.

May 18, 2014 at 9:56 PM | Unregistered Commenterigsy

I'd bet that there are far more papers out there than innovative papers.

May 18, 2014 at 10:02 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

what can you innovate in a settled sceance ??

May 18, 2014 at 10:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

They are keen on "innovative" techniques, like the one which produces hockey sticks out of random noise.

Non innovative stuff, like established statistical methods, tends to show that their precious "data" is a crock of shit.

May 18, 2014 at 11:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

To notorious Wikipedia activist William Connolley, who recently denied he was the subject of an article about a certain William Connolley who proudly corrupted Wikipedia, I ask:

First it's an “error” and then it's a lack of innovation instead. You mean like Steig's innovation of illegally spreading Antarctic Peninsula warming over the whole continent, or Mann's innovation of ignoring the majority of proxies that show a bowl instead of a hockey stick, or Mann's innovation of then using an algorithm to cherry pick noisy proxies that lined up with thermometer plots so he could call this objectively unbiased “filtering,” or Marcott's innovation of a pure data-drop off hockey stick blade, of the innovation of creating virtual sea levels that are then labeled as “sea level,” or the innovation of calling debate foes “deniers” in press releases for papers, or the innovation of allowing a single tree to create a hockey stick shape, or the innovation of raising confidence levels from 90% to 95% after further deviation of temperature from predictions, or the innovation of invoking consensus as a *scientific* instead of profoundly anti-scientific principle, or the innovation of Hiding The Decline by just throwing away new data, or the innovation of claiming that greater uncertainty equates with greater urgency and risk, or the innovation of dissolving sea shells in acid and extrapolating to the whole ocean, or the innovation of calling mild ocean neutralization “acidification,” or the innovation of finding four dead polar bears and expanding that to species endangerment, or the innovation of using satellite data to up-adjust the global average temperature in a way that the same satellite data in fact falsifies, or the innovation of doing risk analysis devoid of any and all benefit analysis as balance, or the innovation of “reversing the null hypothesis,” or the innovation of theoretically hiding heat in an ocean that shows no corresponding extra volume expansion, of the innovation of calling climate model runs “experiments,” of the innovation of invoking a surge of weather intensity in abstracts as actual weather intensity has declined, or the innovation of referencing IPCC reports which themselves reference activist literature almost as much as peer reviewed science, or the innovation of using mere mentions of man made warming in abstracts as offering empirical support *of* that theory, or the innovation of NASA itself not using NASA satellite data in their only temperature product, or the innovation of asserting that recent temperature variation is outside of natural variability without mentioning the near exact precedent for it in the first half of the thermometer record, or the innovation of claiming the 350 year old Central England record that falsifies climate alarm is merely an insignificant local affair that just by chance shows near exact correlation with the global average plots, or the innovation of using the systematic mismatch between tide gauges (relative to land) and satellite altimetry (absolute) to imply a sudden burst in sea level rise that is falsified by the tide gauge data itself?

May 19, 2014 at 9:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterNikFromNYC

WC - it ain't that difficult.

1. ERL editor says Bengtsson's paper "contained errors"
2. Nobody knows what those errors are
3. About the reviewer's report, the Bish writes "the only concern"
4. This is zero words away from an "any" that means "any error"

Honest cakes of all variety will surely understand that "concern" means "error" - as in a scientific error that is concerning enough to warrant non-publication of the paper.

You don't get that.

You don't get any of the criticism flying your way, pretend recent history has not happened.

It's a stale fruitcake you're playing.

May 19, 2014 at 10:09 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

There is a sentence about errors. There is another sentence about errors next to it. Then there is a semicolon, followed by a sentence that mentions "concern" in reference to what written before.

It takes quite a fantastic leap of one's mind to pretend the "concern" is something that springs out all of a sudden, totally different from "error".

May 19, 2014 at 10:26 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

We could check Wikipedia to verify Nik's wonderful rant. Never have I missed paragraphs less in that marvelous compilation of errors, oops 'concerns' about Climate Science.

Or not.

May 19, 2014 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Following WC's logic, his mentioning of an "organ grinder" means he's in the music business. Any claim to the contrary will be classified as a desperate attempt to redefine language, a tall order coming from somebody that to this day refuses to equate "widely accepted" with "consensus".

May 19, 2014 at 11:32 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

not being innovative is (to the warmish believer) a very obvious mistake? lol. This washed down version of billy conolley can be funny.

IT si true there is some "innovation" in warmish camp, re methodology, ethics, and general appraoches:

Zero subpopulation shtatishtics
Proxy "scythes" where bizarre numerical/lexical calculations are made
Slingo's doing science without statistics

May 19, 2014 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

We can now add pithecophobia to the long list of Connolley's despicable attributes.

May 19, 2014 at 4:07 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

At least in that referee report there are claims of a real 'error'. Which I cannot check however, since I haven't seen the manuscript. Nevertheless, it constitutes at least a formal reason for the rejection (and also claims it is)

The other comments are shallow, and partly echo referee #1 saying: I would have liked to learn what causes these inconsistencies ..

Then there are two common warmist memes too:

1) The heat could have gone into the ocean ...
2) And maybe it is hotter than we think ..

For both those reasons your calculated ECS then would(could) be higher.

It is funny how particular these guys can be when it interpreting what errors and uncertainties there might be, and much such are downplayed for the in all of that regime where they point in the other direction ... But, maybe this reviewer is painstakingly thorough, both in exploring all possibilities, uncertainties and error margins, and listing (and quantifying?) other possible mechanisms too, who knows!?

May 19, 2014 at 5:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonas N


May 20, 2014 at 10:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Connolley

Well at least we know now why WC kept deleting stuff from Wikipedia.

[WC has gone the same way as Zed, so don't waste your breath]

May 20, 2014 at 10:33 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Sorry, but I have to express my disappointment in the banning of WC. I think the terms 'weasel' and 'not likable' even 'disingenuous' are appropriate, but cannot see that he has crossed any line (at least here). And I would also like to have seen his sharpest arguments (I think we did, actually).

Moreover, I have seen that in many places the active debate has migrated to those blogs where comments aren't summarily or even automatically 'disappeared' if inconvenient. I'd even go as far as to say 'it is the inconvenient comments that best advance the debate, knowledge and understanding. The 'discomfort' and the occasional pot shots and ad hom:s come withthe package so to say.

May 20, 2014 at 2:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonas N


But then you don't have to moderate the threads! There are some people that you can't hold discussions with. It's just a waste of time to even try. WC is one of them.

May 20, 2014 at 9:47 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

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