Thanks to Willard’s necessary-reading Neverending Audit website, I came across (once again) the thread at CA on stripbark: Miracles and Strip Bark Standardization and the infamous CB. Oh, and yes — this was the thread on which the CRU hack was announced…
ETA: I realize I’ve already mentioned this thread before but damn, it all seems to blend into one big mash after a while…
Here’s the post by Rob Wilson that starts the fun and games:
Please do not take this the wrong way, but the depressing amount of ignorance on this current thread makes it hardly worth the effort to respond. Two quick points:
1. The linear aggregate model is a purely conceptual model – something ideal for teaching to undergraduates to highlight all the environmental factors that can affect tree growth.
2. w.r.t. scarred trees (fire, glacier, avalanches etc) – one would never use tree-ring data from a scarred tree for a dendroclimatic reconstruction – or at the very least one would use a measured radius where the rings were not affected by the accelerated growth around the scar.
There is a wealth of literature on these issues.
Well, let’s just say my keyboard needed a good wipe down after that! Kinda new around here, ain’t ya?
This thread is a great case study of the attitude towards science and scientists exhibited at CA. Imagine if you will a bona fide dendro a little green in the CA department, arriving at CA and witnessing first hand what we are all familiar with — the obvious contempt and holier-than-thou attitude towards dendro exhibited there.
Rob Wilson and CB take on the CA crowd and the results are predictable.
Here is a selection of the most amusing quotes:
I am going to resist the urge to rise to your comment about the ignorance displayed on this thread. What I will comment on is the lack of understanding about the QUALITY ASSURANCE process. As you note every dendro knows to avoid damaged trees. every dendro knows this. they are not ignorant. Every dendro knows to take at least two cores. So, the very first thing that I must do to check the work of a dendro is to see if they followed their proceedures. Clearly you would agree with this. I must check, did they sample damaged trees. Did they take two cores? If the study in question does not provide evidence for these two very basic QA tests, then the data is junk. It’s as simple as that.
Mosher likes to lecture people on proper everything. If you recall, he lectured — hectored — me on proper etiquette, suggesting I had Asperger’s and the like. Here, he lectures Rob on proper QC, the citizen auditor’s battle cry.
Steve McI steps in and offers some advice on how to improve dendro methodology.
One of the ways of assuring users that QC standards have been complied with is to archive photos of the tree in question. It’s very easy to do and Pete Holzmann did this within minutes of our Almagre sampling.
Another check that seems useful to me is to graphically compare ring widths from two cores in the same tree. If the trees are near-circular, then the two cores should match closely. If they deviate strongly as in the Tree 31 example, then one should check for scarring that might not have been attended to in the original sample.
Then Mosher and Steve and others have a bit of a back-patting session on how smart they are and how much they are advancing the science, talking about the importance of metadata and QA and other such engineering level practice. Shucks, those ignorant dendros might larn a thang or two from them!
Craig Loehle opines:
It is curious that all the professors out there whose work is being criticized, whose job it is to explain things to students (who are “ignorant”), seem unable to come here and explain their work. How hard could that be? And they could reach thousands, not just 25 at a time.
Why would professors want to go to CA? My God these people are deluded… They might come by just for the shock value, the horror…
Finally CB shows up and has the audacity to agree with Wilson:
I have to agree with Rob Wilson – most of this discussion reveals a fundamental lack of understanding and experience with the subject. There has been a great deal of work done with the bristlecones over more than 60 years including felling and stem analysis. Much of the remnant wood used for dendro work is from sections, not cores. People interested in climate reconstruction always try to avoid anomalous growth – surge or suppression – when measuring rings for chronology development as it is considered “noise”. The strip-bark form is NOT scarring i.e. wounding, but represents adjustment for energy balance. Idiosyncratic growth anomalies are corrected for by sample and site replication. Dendrochronologists have been aware of these issues for a hundred years, have studied them and done their best to recognize growth anomalies and mitigate their effects when interested in the influence of common environmental factors on growth (as is the case in climate reconstruction) or to search for them if they are interested in stand or tree disturbance – fire, flood, geomorphology, etc.
He ends his post with this plea (obviously he picked up on the contempt)
Dendrochronologists that I know love their subject, study it intently, do the best possible work they can for the love of and excitement of discovery – not to promote some nefarious “agenda”. It is hard, careful meticulous work that requires attention to detail. Most enjoy fieldwork and have a bit of awe for the objects of their study. How not to be awed by an organism that can live for hundreds or thousands of years, rooted in spot, unable to avoid the elements – wind, snow, ice, drought, cold, heat – take what comes and survive – truly amazing.
Please show a little respect for the trees and those who study them.
Talk about getting off on the wrong foot… Opining on the level of scientific discourse displayed on the thread. Asking that CAers show some respect for dendros?
That was quite the yuk.
The response is also predictable: Mosher displays his grandiosity:
In order to document that dendros have analyzed these cross sections correctly can you please point me to the records ( say photographs) of these cross sections? I am open minded about granting the people who do this work respect. Please show me the data to test your hypothesis that they are worthy of respect.
He’s willing to respect CB as long as he conforms to Mosher’s new improved dendro methodology of collecting metadata.
Brian B assures CB that CA is a place where there is real respect for science:
I think you will find an overwhelming level of respect (and relief) from most commenters here when an open-minded, non-agenda-driven scientist shows up. You may also experience a little initial suspicion from some because the experience of the proprietor of the blog and the commenters with climate scientists has often been of the type so recently exposed in the CRU emails.
The truly sad thing to me is that the large majority of scientists, who follow the evidence rather than lead it, find their own work and motives suspect because of the misbehavior of a few. Unfortunately the few usually seem to have a rather high profile.And when those few circle the wagons and are successful at suppressing dissent the idea that science itself is self correcting becomes suspect.
IMO that is the value of a place like this. I hope you’ll hang around and contribute some of your expertise.
The people here are pretty much like scientists in general; most are open minded and looking for the truth whichever way it goes, but there are some with an agenda. Please don’t apply the same thinking to CA that you justifiably object to being directed toward the majority of scientists who act professionally.
Lucy Skywalker — can I say Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds instead? sez this little bit of conspiracy paranoia:
CB, many of us here appreciate that many dendro-climatologists are knowledgeable and dedicated to good science in an area of fairly specialist knowledge. But the issue here is fundamentals, fundamental challenges of the bases upon which the current work has been built up. This is in addition to the evidence of deep corruption now surfacing – but not unconnected either. If there had been more openness, you would already know about Ababneh’s work.
Folk like myself smelled a rat that something was fishy in the whole of Climate Science. We have been motivated by the desire for justice and integrity in Science, and thoroughness and transparency in the climate science issues that affect us all so deeply. In the circumstances, all we could do was to try to sort out the truth for ourselves, even when unqualified in specialist areas. For instance, I discovered that the Yamal treering records seem to bear no relationship to any of the surrounding temperature record stations’ records. That to me was a fundamental piece of evidence challenging at least those Yamal treerings as proxies for temperature. It also challenged the conclusions of “unprecedented global warming” in which the Yamal Treerings were given a degree of significance they had not earned.
Yep, she’s swallowed McI’s innuendo and is very good at reguritation.
Bender shows up to offer his usual insults:
Ababneh? Read the blog! Reconstruction? Mann et al. 2008. Do a little reading before making pretenses at authority. Thanks for playing.
I won’t even comment on his post. It speaks for itself.
DaveJR protecting the reputation of CA:
There is a jaded view of dendro work here because of “sloppy” and obstructive practices by some of your peers and those who use their work. In particular, it appears that some of the problems in the work have been “brushed under the carpet” in order to present a “better message”. When these practices are called on, obfuscation has taken the place of candid clarifications. It would be great to hear how these problems are being tackled by proper scientists to clear up any misunderstandings evoked by others.
One thing to bear in mind. The majority of people here (and Steve keeps a lid on any that don’t) will treat you as you treat them.
When CB offers up some basic reading in dendro and the like, bender is having none of it:
This is not a bulletin board. It’s Steve McIntyre’s lab notebook. He’s read all these books. They don’t answer the questions Stve is asking. Read the blog. Example: Search the blog for “Fritts”. Thanks for playing.
Steve McIntyre’s lab notebook? What the frick is he smoking? I’m speechless.
John M is insulted:
Look, you can choose to participate as you please, but you’ll recall your very first post gave us all the impression that you thought you knew it all and were going to enlighten us poor unfortunate boobs. Then, with tail between legs, you admit you’ve never even heard the name “Ababneh”, and started asking people to bring you up to speed. Now, you focus on the noise and pretend that’s all there is.
CB looks around the site:
I have read a few more threads, really sorry I did. Full of paranoid comments, wild speculations and assumptions about people and circumstances the posters know nothing about and thus reaching foolish conclusions…. with small bits of interesting discussion mixed in by a small minority of participants… What to say? I don’t have the answers you desire.
HAHA! I like this CB person…
AMac has been converted — he’s seen the light.
One month ago, my confidence in the “paleoclimate community” was pretty high, based on my general feelings about the physical sciences. Actual interaction with an issue and some community members came in the form of learning about the Lake Korttajarvi varve series. Specifically, their mistaken use in Mann et al (PNAS, 2008), McIntyre’s calling attention to this error, and the circle-the-wagons response to the problem.
In this affair, the conduct of your community — academic and government researchers, authors, peer-reviewers, editors, prominent pro-AGW bloggers — has been generally disappointing. Well below the standards of any other specialty within the physical sciences (I hope).
I assume you do a conscientious job in your own work. Notwithstanding that, your profession as a whole has some severe structural problems that it has yet to acknowledge, much less address. I’d suggest that the paranoid comments and wild speculations that you’ve found on this blog shouldn’t rank all that high on dendrochonology’s To-Do list.
CB offers some more insight:
Automatically assuming someone has read through several years worth of conversations and should understand the local shorthand is a bit presumptuous. Actually I do know many of the people frequently mentioned here, including Ms Ababneh, and have worked with some of the material that is the subject of various discussions, have visited a number of the specific collection sites, etc.
As I said above, if the participants of this blog/journal/whatever, including specifically Mr McIntyre, are mostly engaged in turning over pebbles looking for evidence to support their latest pet notions there really isn’t much to say.
Pretty much nails CA…
This was priceless:
As for “recent events” let me say this. I came across an incident described and discussed on one of the threads: Mr. McIntyre was attempting to get some data from The Tree-Ring lab at the University of Arizona. He had difficulty and assumed his IP was specifically being blocked. Rather than contacting the sys admin for help to resolve the issue – or simply inquiring regarding the nature of the problem – he assumed nefarious intent, managed to get the data he desired via other means and brought legal action against the University for withholding data. It was a technical problem that affected others as well, took some time to track down and resolve, and had absolutely nothing to do with him. What an egotistical dolt.
You all might do well to consider that many of your dearest assumptions are simply wrong, unfounded, totally without merit. Rather than assuming the worst about people and their motives, people whom you know very little about – and since you have clothed them with your own misperceptions you couldn’t see the truth if it was spelled out in front of you – if you took the trouble to step back, take a breath, and examine the evidence for what it is (a good long look in the mirror might help a bit) without the terrible dark glasses you all seem to be wearing you might get a completely different perspective.
It’s a bit like a mass delusion.
OK, this has been fun, a good yuk and all, but I didn’t only post all this for my own amusement, but because I think it illustrates what is going on at CA quite well. It shows the complete contempt for science felt by the posters at CA such that they feel they are empowered to redefine proper scientific process and procedures and call into question and entire discipline with a century or so of research, holding McI up as if he’s some kind of savior. McI titles his post “Miracles and Strip Bark Standardization” and in a way, the religious reference is apt because seriously, his followers (and that word is truly appropriate as evidenced by the way they protect and defend him) see him as a saviour.
It’s truly scary.