Petty Petty Puzzler

Over at Climate Audit, McIntyre has a post on a line from one of the EA emails.  It’s all about the Y2K correction and the comment that someone should “hide” the article by Hansen “”.

Here is the quote:

Jim, please check if everything is fine.
Robert, please move to the CU site and hide this after Jim checks it.
Darnell, please send it out to Jim’s email list. Jim said if I don’t want to, you should do, but it is not a matter of what I WANT TO or NOT WANT TO. I don’t know how to.

Much ado about the word “hide” — in fact, 4,562 words or 18 pages dedicated to one word.

McI is really trying to dig up dirt isn’t he?

It’s another passive-aggressive post — claiming he can’t really do something (we don’t know what he meant) and then doing it anyway — more speculation.

Here’s the quote:

Obviously we don’t know the answers. But it’s not hard to speculate on why Hansen chose to publish the article at his “personal” website. NASA has policies and regulations on the dissemination of NASA information – see a CA discussion from late 2007 here). Would Lights Out Upstairs – with its whiny and juvenile tone – comply with NASA peer review procedures? Seems pretty unlikely to me. And I’m sure that Hansen was as aware of this as anyone. [my emphasis]

Speaking of juvenile terms, he then compares Gavin Schmidt to the eye of Saruman from LOTR…

Someone notes in comments that had McIntyre really been all about the science, he would have sent a private email to Hansen and noted the error so that NASA would have the chance to correct it and do so in a face-saving manner — something I would expect from any colleague who noticed a mistake I made in a government-funded document or publication. Instead, he posts the mistake on his public blog, which is very heavily read and only the next day sends an email to NASA.

Of course, the chorus chimes in to defend Steve, pointing the figure of blame to NASA.

Petty petty.

McIntyre posts this in response:

You’re assuming that I wrote the blog post to stake a priority claim or that I was seeking some sort of recognition for this. [No shit, Sherlock…] Maybe those are other people’s motives, but they weren’t mine. I was working on a puzzle – and had been doing so for some time as a review of prior posts shows. I was initially diarizing progress on the puzzle.[my comment]

Ah, yes, the honorable puzzle solver just diarizing progress on the puzzle.

I believe him.  That’s why he spends so much time dissecting the emails in search of deep meaning — just because he likes puzzles.

There is even a move by a couple of posters to urge people to submit FOI requests for the computer logs of workers there so they can find out how much time people spend working on RC.I’m really liking his recent posts.


Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 2:50 AM | Permalink | Reply

You can file a FOIA request to get the computer logs of government employees. I’ve seen TV news reports on this type of thing where they get proof of govt workers downloading p-rn or whatever on taxpayer time. You can even get the URLs of the sites they visited in certain cases.

With some imagination you might even be able to make a FOIA request that reveals how much time NASA employees spent doing unauthorized activities during regular business hours. The fun part about this is the subject of the investigation has no authority to screen the data before its release as was the case with various components of Climate Gate where they had to be consulted to make sure no “state secrets” were revealed… and started hiding things.

  1. L Gardy LaRochePosted Jan 23, 2010 at 3:53 AM | Permalink | Reply
  1. Re: LMB (Jan 23 02:50),
    This is The Judicial watch FOIA handbook;
    FOIA Letter Generator:
    Instructions on How to File an FOIA Request are here:
    Good Hunting.

Really puts it all out there for us folks to see.  Who needs to speculate about skeptic motives?

About Policy Lass

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18 Responses to “Petty Petty Puzzler”

  1. You miss the entire point, don’t you? After all, the temperature data was being adjusted… the changes, and the old data, were not being correctly handled… the scientists were trying to hide and correct the problem without it being noted. It isn’t Steve’s problem that they have spent years avoiding and disregarding his findings. Their database is like a bad Swiss cheese… full of holes, with unexplained crusty bits and bad-smelling decay around the edges.

    • His “findings” — such as they were — should have been handed in a professional manner if he was truly interested in the science instead of the spin.

      Since they weren’t handled professionally, I take it the spin was of utmost importance.

  2. Susann,
    You are way off base here. Steve handled the issue with adequate professionalism. What did the RSS guys do when they found an error at UAH? They wrote a paper about it to publicize the error and issued a press release.

    Science is not about covering up for people. It is about transparency and openness. If Steve hadn’t publicized the error, Hansen may not have acknowledged it. Because of gatekeeping, publishing a paper was not really an option.

    Steve did not do anything wrong here. People who are throwing rocks at him are thinking clearly.

    • Hardly adequate.

      The whole purpose of his blog, is, according to McI, to solve puzzles. But despite what McI claims is the purpose, what has taken place at CA seems to be a whole lot of making mountains out of molehills, where laypeople in the comments do the dirty work of charging fraud, blowing small errors out of proportion and using them as a means to question the integrity of the scientists and by extension, the science. It is then used as fodder for the denialist crowd.

      I’ve seen enough at CA to know that if I want to understand the science, I should go elsewhere. But if I want to see machinations, CA’s one place to go.

  3. I don’t think you are giving credit to all of Steve’s accomplishments. The whole purpose of Steve’s blog is an open audit of the scientific papers and claims relied on by the IPCC or made by the IPCC. The blog serves as his lab notebook, so to speak, and records conversations with colleagues, climate scientists and statisticians regarding what he has found and what it means. Yes, there are some from the peanut gallery, like me, whose comments may not be helpful. But for the most part, the blog is respectful and helps advance the science.

    Steve is looking at papers, auditing them, in ways never done before. His approach has been very productive in that he has found a number of errors which have helped put the science back on track. Perhaps the most important contribution has been his consistent call for openness and transparency. Because of Steve, at least one journal has begun to enforce its own standards for archiving and data sharing. This is a huge step forward for climate science.

    Another tremendous achievement is the way Steve has trained other statistician types to look at papers. Hu McCulloch helped Craig Loehle correct his 2,000 year temp reconstruction. Look at the number of blogs which have popped up by people who got into climate science by reading ClimateAudit. Anthony Watts (although Anthony was also highly influenced by Roger Pielke Sr.), JeffId from the Air Vent, lucia from the Blackboard and several others, possibly even PaulM.

    Your post on this topic assumed the proper thing for Steve to do when he found the GISS error would be to help cover it up or maybe to notify GISS so they could fix it and let GISS take credit for finding it themselves. Science does not work that way. When you find a published error in science, you let the world know.

    Perhaps you don’t like Steve’s personality or you don’t feel like you were treated well at ClimateAudit, that’s fine. But Steve is a cheerful guy who does not hold grudges. If you can find an error in his work, he would thank you for it and give you credit for finding it because that would be the right thing to do.

    • Ron, I don’t have to give credit to all of Steve’s “accomplishments” — he has folks like you to do it for him and he does enough self-promotion to take care of that himself.

      As to his blog being so innovative — I’m sorry but I see it as totally unprofessional bordering on gossip-column. The sly comments, the aspersion-casting, the winky flavour, the blowing out of proportion, is more appropriate to a teenage girl’s diary than a science lab notebook.

      He found a few small errors that ultimately don’t change anything important! Not anything!

      When you find a published error in science you either publish a paper showing it was in error and what the consequences are for the larger issue, or you issue a request to the publisher that the paper issue a corregidum.

      That’s how it’s done in science.

      A small error or typo or line of data misplaced, or calculated in error? You don’t publish it on the internet as feed to conspiracy theorists and denialists. You send an email with the correction and then, if the scientists in question behave badly and refuse to correct it or acknowledge it, then you make waves.

      McI claims that the hockey stick made him think of Bre-X — a scandal and hoax of significance in the mining industry. The fact he started from that “frame” as Mosher likes to put it, suggests that he’s been biased from the start in his “auditing” of the IPCC.

      I’ve concluded, over the past weeks and months, that what McIntyre and Watts and the like are doing? Nothing more, in my opinion, than public muckraking and mudslinging in service of a larger denialist campaign.

      There — I’ve come to my conclusion. I no longer give much credibility to CA or other skeptic blogs. In fact, the reason for this blog is pretty much satisfied — I don’t feel a need to explore the skeptics and their arguments any longer. I’ve seen enough over at CA in the recent months since Climategate to judge.

  4. I think you are doing a great disservice to yourself! You only question tone, insinuations, slant and implication. Why don’t you address the content?

    Nature magazine made a point that people who want to debate climate science come with preconceived notions and that is a major barrier. Don’t you agree? If we have to find meeting ground, it has to be necessarily beyond certain differences in viewpoint.

    Everything McIntyre says looks suspicious to you; it will look suspicious to you. The point is, does he have anything of substance beyond that?

    For example, I argued, for my brief duration of stay at RealClimate, that Gavin is sullying his name associating with and defending Jones, because in the end, it is indefensible to support acts of FOIA circumvention. I do feel that Gavin has some valid points and I will give him that. Inspite of having uncovered many less-than-glowing actions by Gavin in the past, after perusing several blogs.

    Your conclusion about Steve McIntyre however seems to have no redeeming qualities at all. You were building up towards this all these days – we all saw it. You tried to hold back your judgements, but your pre-judice seemed to break through at every juncture. And now, we are here…


    • Why am I suspicious of Steve McIntyre’s blog and motives? Because the one of first things I read about him and his views on global warming was his comment comparing climate science in the IPCC reports to Bre-X.

      If one of the biggest hoaxes in mining is how you frame your approach to the issue of climate science, if it is your entree to the issue, how can you help but be suspicious of everything and everyone and find every flaw or error or misstep to be evidence of what you expect to find?

      He biased me with respect to his claims by making that statement.

      I am willing to examine the science, but no one seems to be doing so. They seem to be debating or distorting the words of climate scientists like Latif, or the meaning of statements in emails, the number of FOIs submitted, the time spent on RC while people are supposed to be working, and make insinuations about the motives of people for choosing certain data or methods, or topics or research questions, etc.

      Frankly, I don’t see a lot of science done at CA or WUWT. Quite the opposite.

      • susann,
        You do know Steve was involved in uncovering the fraud at BRE-X, right? Don’t you think that experience would affect the way you see things? If you were Steve and saw similarities between BRE-X and the Hockey Stick, don’t you think you would say so?

        Click to access Climate_L.pdf

        You say you do not see a lot of science being done at CA or WUWT. Not a lot is being done right now at CA because Steve is trying to put the CRU emails in proper context. This isn’t science per se, but it is important to understand the historical context of when these emails were written.

        You can always go back and read older posts by Steve on CA. I would suggest you start with a post by Anthony Watts at

        Once you read that, then click on the link on the top right with the arrows >>. That will take you to the next day. You will read some interesting posts by Anthony and Steve leading up to the discovery of Hansen’s Y2K error. This is the way science is done. Oh, by the way, Anthony mentions Warren Myers several times. Myers is another guy who started his own blog through his relationship with Anthony. Now he gives lectures on climate science.

        • Actually, let’s give Steve his due.

          I think Steve is only doing what he is trained to do — look for evidence of fraud, suspect fraud when there are uncertainties and questions about process. He’s not a climate scientist and has no degree in climate science or any of the specialty areas, such as paleoclimate, geology, atmospheric science, models, etc. He’s good at maths and stats. He solves puzzles.

          It seems that Steve was predisposed to mistrust climate science and the IPCC for some reason — he won’t tell us why, but I could easily understand that his training and background in minerals and his link to an energy company predisposed him to mistrust it because of its implications.

          He appears to have gone looking for fraud and everything I have read at his blog suggests that is what he is focused on — finding fraud. Fraud of course, involves individuals deliberately deceiving others and manipulating data and that is what Steve has focused on in his blog. Individuals and their data.

          Fair enough – it matters not what one goes looking for in the end — it matters what one finds. We can all examine what he has found.

          In the end, IMO, he didn’t find fraud or hoax or a preponderance of evidence to debunk AGW despite the claims of his choir and the denialists who follow his blog and laud him.

          What he found amounts to flawed methodology, which is a staple in the progress of science and not in itself evidence of scientific fraud. He found people using data over which there are legitimate scientific debates, which is not in itself evidence of scientific fraud. He found mistakes in recording data and errors in adding new data to existing databases, which happen all the time in the normal course of things and is not evidence of scientific fraud.

          In the end, the corrections did not mean a whit of difference for the global temperature record, to the theory of the greenhouse effect, of the relationship between globally averaged temperature and atmospheric CO2 increases, and of the relationship between atmospheric CO2 increases and the burning of fossil fuels and land use changes in the industrial era.

          What he has found has not risen to the level of debunking the science. But he has given the denialists a whole host of talking points, has participated in their forums and done interviews with them and that is important to me, a social scientist, who is interested in the debate in those terms.

          Nope. I found nothing on CA or WUWT of merit except for their worth as evidence of the way the denial machine works.

          • Susann,
            Thank you. I think this post was a step forward for you. I still do not think you are giving Steve his full due, but it shows some growth on your part.

            You say Steve has not found evidence of fraud. But I do not think you have read

            If you had, you would know about the CENSORED folder. You would know about the verification statistics Mann ran which did not confirm his reconstruction and which he did not disclose. And you would know about the Artificial Hockey Stick. Under normal circumstances, any one of those would have gotten Mann fired for academic misconduct.

            Many of the other errors Steve found are not fraud, just errors which have improved our knowledge about our climate system. The errors do not debunk the claims of global warming alarmists, but they have taken the wind out of the sails of the claims that something must be done NOW.

            Without question, Steve’s biggest contribution has been in the area of paleoclimate studies. Paleoclimate will never debunk AGW. Steve has successfully refuted the Hockey Stick and the Spaghetti Graph, which claimed current climate is at an unnaturally high temperature. The idea for a non-tree-ring reconstruction calibrated to local temperature came to Craig Loehle because he was reading ClimateAudit and it shows the MWP was at least as warm as today.

            There are good reasons why global warming supporters like Judith Curry, Eduardo Zorita and others respect Steve and comment at Climate Audit.

            • Ron, I know about the “censored” folder and have read the article.

              As to the “censored” directory, I have been aware of that from the beginning. According to Mann, it was a test to see if the NH reconstruction was “robust” to the removal of the NA series. They found that removing the data led to a -6.64 RE vs 0.42 RE and so they kept the data in. That they didn’t mention in it the paper? I’m not so sure about this — do you include every step of the research process in a paper? Of course not — you include what is necessary to reproduce the results.

              Nothing ominous to me. I realize it was used as proof of fraud by skeptics and deniers but seriously, if you were deliberately setting out to deceive, would you call a file “censored” — and then leave the file on a public FTP site and then send your critics the link to that FPT site? Seriously bad hucksters if so.

              I know that much ado was made about the term “censored” — as if the term was an admittance of intent to deceive, but it is a common term in statistics. I can’t imagine that McIntyre, the stats genius that he is, was unaware of this. However, it makes for a good lead and good copy when trying to sway the unaware.

              • Susann,
                Thank you for reading the article. You hadn’t mentioned reading it before so I wasn’t sure you had. That was why I kept mentioning it. That article was the turning point for me.

                Yes, censoring is a term used in statistics, but the usual meaning of the term does not apply in this case. See

                The real issue is not the name of the folder but what was found inside it. It showed Mann had run verification statistics that did not support his conclusions but he did not disclose it. Ask around. See if other researchers think that is ethical.

            • Ron, sarcasm is very hard to show in pixels. While I was posting my response to you, which you think is a step ahead, I was searching google images for pictures of “The Joker”, “The Riddler”, and was pondering how I could manip a photo of Steve McIntyre to make him appear like a similar super…hero called “The Puzzler”. 😉

              I don’t understand this need of yours to defend Steve McIntyre. Does he pay you? Anytime you adhere too strongly to one position, you need to reconsider. Remember — “A fanatic is one who won’t change his mind and won’t change the subject” — Churchill.

  5. Susann, now I understand. What I attributed to growth was actually sarcasm.

    It is interesting that a man who has solved puzzled and discovered frauds should earn your disdain. Do you really think of him as a Super Villain? Really?

    By denigrating Steve you put yourself solidly in the camp of supporting fraudulent activity like BRE-X and tree-ring thermometry. Is that really where you want to be?

    I defend Steve McIntyre because he has one of the finest mathematical minds I have ever seen and he has shown tremendous personal integrity.

    No, Steve doesn’t pay me. He doesn’t need to.

    I love Churchill quotes. It just seems odd that you are quoting it to me. It seems I should be quoting it to you. After all, I am learning any new information that challenges my current position. You are.

    • Sorry, I left out a word. I meant to have written:

      “I am NOT learning any new information that challenges my current position. You are.”

    • Do I really think of him as a super-villain? OMG Ron but I always thought it was warmers who had no sense of humour…

      Of course I don’t think of him that way. But, really, this whole debate gets rather depressing after a while, and it does amuse me to see him in a super-villain costume hobnobbing with the Joker and Riddler…

      By denigrating Steve you put yourself solidly in the camp of supporting fraudulent activity like BRE-X and tree-ring thermometry. Is that really where you want to be?

      Please, your hyperbole is ridiculous and doesn’t even merit a response.

      I defend Steve McIntyre because he has one of the finest mathematical minds I have ever seen and he has shown tremendous personal integrity.

      I am not questioning Steve McIntyre’s virtuoso mathematica. I am questioning his findings, his motives and his goals. I know his supporters don’t think it’s kosher to question the motives and goals of the Great Puzzler, but since he does it to all the climate scientists, I figure turnabout is fair play…

      As to Churchill — you seem unwilling to consider that your position is wrong and keep coming back to a defense of McIntyre, which suggests a touch of fanaticism. That’s the essence of the Churchill quote.

      But I do appreciate that you are willing to engage me, have shown tremendous patience, and do so politely.

    • Personal integrity? Steve McIntyre?
      Sorry, but this:
      is evidence of quite the contrary.

      And this:
      (make sure to read the whole Yamal series)
      Add the fact that McIntyre had the Yamal data since 2004(!), but decided to only inform his readers after years of complaining about Briffa (who wasn’t the owner of the data).

      I find this at least as questionable integrity as all the complaints about Phil Jones.

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