The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.

- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

RC metasnark

I haven't been watching RC very closely lately, but I stopped in and saw arrogance slipping back into the discourse. Also, I had trouble with the captcha thing, so in case I didn't get through, I thought I should comment here.

So in the excellent and interesting article Antarctic warming is robust appears the following exchange:
jeff Id Says:
4 February 2009 at 11:21 PM
A link to my recent post requesting again that code be released.
[edit]
I believe your reconstruction is robust. Let me see the detail so I can agree in public.

[Response: What is there about the sentence, “The code, all of it, exactly as we used it, is right here,” that you don’t understand? Or are you asking for a step-by-step guide to Matlab? If so, you’re certainly welcome to enroll in one of my classes at the University of Washington.–eric]
I don't know who Jeff is or whether he should be encouraged, but I find Eric's response unsatisfactory. Here is my reply, slightly expanded.
Eric, you snark: ” What is there about the sentence, “The code, all of it, exactly as we used it, is right here,” that you don’t understand? “
I don’t understand how you think that could be true. You link to a nicely documented and from all appearances elegant library of matlab functions. Where are the data files? Where is the script that invoked those functions and plotted those graphs?

There is absolutely no substantive reason this should not be distributed along with the relevant publication. You shouldn’t be sniffing at people who want to replicate your work in toto. You should be posting a complete makefile that converts input data into output data. This is common practice in exploration seismology, thanks to the example of John Claerbout at Stanford University, and that in a field where there are sensible commercial reasons for confidentiality. A related effort to create tools to facilitate this pervasive
reproducibility approach, called Madagascar, is being developed at U Texas and is 100% open source. A recent issue of Computers in Science and Engineering discussed reproducibility as a topic.

The paradoxical backwardness of science in regard to adopting the social lessons of high tech is well analyzed in
this blog entry by Michael Nielsen. An open source and test-driven approach is far more productive than petty jealousy. "Publish the recipe, and build the restaurant."

If you refuse to be helpful, don't put up a pantomime please. I should be able to reproduce these results in five minutes, not after taking a course in Matlab. The course in Matlab should follow if I find the results interesting. RC again climbs on its high horse, doing none of us any good. You guys are the good guys. Please act like it.

mt
Update: Unsurprisingly Jeff is not one of what I'd call the good guys, but he is probably the genuine article, a serious person and an honest critic. Unsurprisingly he says pretty much what I said, though understandably angrier.
Ok, I’m madder than hell by now, my good Irish temper is taking over so this is what I posted.

You know, if you claim you archived the code, you could actually archive the code rather than a link to the functions which may have been used in the aforementioned code.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve seen Eric accuse people of everything short of fraud including Steve McIntyre who does everything in the open. In the meantime my reasonable requests for data and code have been cut from the threads repeatedly. This man is intentionally deceptive about his openness and he’s doing it pretty effectively because nobody at RC made it through the thread who had questions and because I was actually had to disagree with by smart people at CA who believed Eric actually had archived the code by his link.

Dr. Steig, put up or shut up. Enough bull about the posting all the code and the data (including the satellite data). I will call you out to no end and people will know the truth. If your paper is good, they will know - I promise. If not, I also promise.

——————–

Update, I got through. I did I really did. I sent this comment to Real Climate.

4 February 2009 at 11:21 PM

A link to my recent post requesting again that code be released.
[edit]
I believe your reconstruction is robust. Let me see the detail so I can agree in public.

[Response: What is there about the sentence, “The code, all of it, exactly as we used it, is right here,” that you don’t understand? Or are youasking for a step-by-step guide to Matlab? If so, you’re certainly welcome to enroll in one of my classes at the University of Washington.–eric]

I replied again like this.

I’d love to take your class, but I’m busy running a company.

You point to the RegEm manual for use. I was hoping you could show the setup and implementation used. i.e. The actual code you used. I’m sure you would agree, it is pretty important as far as understanding the result. Also the satellite data set.

If you present this as used and it works as advertised, you’ll find yourselves with a big pile of supporters instead of the ridiculous situation we have now. As I have repeatedly stated, I believe your result simply because warming is true everywhere else.

Jeff

———————–

Banned again Real Climate.

[edit — thanks for your support dhogaza, but I’m not allowing ‘jeff id’s’ rants to show up here, even if passed on to me by someone else–eric]

———————-

This stuff is so silly, you know it saps you to listen to it. Doggozza calling me all kinds of things, real climate not allowing quesitons, they want me to be a denier. It’s like they’re saying please Jeff please deny our work just don’t make us disclose the methods.
It's sad really. Honestly I think it's more ignorance than rudeness, but it is amazing. And given the stakes attached to the core credibility of the ideas, amazingly unfortunate.

Update: Tamino's point in #92 is partly true. I find his argument that on the difficulty in publishing results such that they can easily be replicated unconvincing. One should always organize one's work in that way as a matter of elementary sound practice, and it is commonly practiced elsewhere.

On the other hand, it is certainly true that the hacks want to find errors to use as weapons in their overdrawn attacks on the core conclusions of science. Coping with those attacks is indeed an important larger issue here. The advantage in this matter to eschewing openness is not clear, though. The failure to use new tools to enhance the efficacy of the scientific method dominates any convenience effect from having unqualified people poking at the code.

Any confidence that the scientific method will win in the end only works if the scientific method is sufficiently followed for its advantages to work. Not only that but we need it to work fast enough to keep us from that cliff we seem to be barreling toward. Remember that cliff? In principle science will out, maybe, but in practice it can take generations.

If standard practice in software engineering can accelerate the advantages of the scientific method and nonstandard practice (inattention to workflow as a component of work product integrity) can obscure those advantages, which choice should we take? Perhaps Gavin is right in suggesting that I overgeneralize when I say that scientists generally arrogantly refuse to learn from commercial practice. But those scientists who complain about 'learning curves' and lakc of 'demonstrated benefits' in the context of elementary best practices are not serving as counterexamples to the generalization.

Rather than being entirely argumentative here, allow me to commend to those willing to address this matter constructively the work of Greg Wilson of the University of Toronto: here is his excellent article called Where's the Real Bottleneck in Scientific Computing? and his course on software carpentry is here. The relevant lesson for present purposes is automated builds.

Update: Woot! Gavin responds with a front page article on RC! On the other hand, no link back, for some reason.

Lots more commentary from Gavin in that article, much of which I find strange. My last word on this:
Reply to #89:
"[Response: My working directories are always a mess - full of dead ends, things that turned out to be irrelevent or that never made it into the paper, or are part of further ongoing projects. Some elements (such a one line unix processing) aren’t written down anywhere. Extracting exactly the part that corresponds to a single paper and documenting it so that it is clear what your conventions are (often unstated) is non-trivial. - gavin]"


Gavin, what you are describing here is what would be called, in any commercial or industrial setting, bad practice.

That is exactly the point I am trying to make. It's not a point about openness, it's about effectiveness. Good practice in any discipline evolves from long experience. The behavior you are describing is behavior every programmer occasionally does on quick projects. However, most of us know better than to defend such behavior on major work products.

It is considered bad practice with good reason. It takes a lot of effort to go back and replicate your own results from memory, but very little to maintain a script which can do all of it. If steps are expensive, you need to learn a tiny bit of rule-based logic, but that is hardly beyond the abilities of anybody doing scientific computations. The payoff is not just throwing the CA folks a bone to chew on. It's a very important component of reasoning about computations, which are, after all, error-prone.

Basically, you are making it easier to make mistakes.

Why should pure science be held to a lower standard than applied science or commerce? Does climate science matter or doesn't it?

Per #98,

So to make appropriate use of the code and paper (enough to enable us to DEMAND it all be available), we need a team...


The issue is not whether the CA people are competent to examine the process or not. They might or might not be.

The issue is that when Gavin claims that this is unreasonably difficult, he is making a claim that many readers already know, as a consequence of their own daily practice, to be false and indeed absurd. Indeed, these readers overlap strongly with the group of nonscientists most competent and most willing to evaluate scientific claims. This does the credibility of RC, and by further extension the whole of climate science, no good.

In any case, whether this is sound practice on the part of the scientist or not, whether it is responsible behavior on the part of the hobbyists or not, one can expect demands for replication on any observational climatology analysis. Observational climatology is not at fault for having the perhaps worst relationship with its interested public of any science ever. There really are, after all, some truly malign forces involved. But it's nothing to celebrate, and it's worth making some effort not to make it worse.

In summary: First, it is not true that maintaining end-to-end scripts is onerous. If large calculations are involved a series of scripts or a rule-based makefile may be practical, but these are easy skills to develop compared to the background needed to do science. Doing so in commercial and engineering settings is standard practice because it dramatically reduces error and increases the potential for objective tests.

Second, that some branches of science don't do this is going to be perceived as an embarrassment. Defending the absence of a practice of end-to-end in-house repeatability is difficult, and coming from someone who has not spent much time thinking about it, likely to make silly claims.

Of course, as climatologists, we are barraged with silly claims, but in that we are not unique. We tend to lose patience with people making strident and erroneous claims about things they don't understand. In this, we are not unique.

Strong programmers also tend to dismiss the opinions of those making strong claims they know to be untrue. Every technical mailing list has plenty of examples, some quite funny. (Strong programmers can be quiet clever in their putdowns.) Generally, if one is trying to convince others of the validity of one's ideas, it pays to be modest and willing to learn about points where one may be less expert than the person one is trying to convince.

76 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mr Tobias
I lack your acquaintance but I wonder why you might be surprised to find arrogance, ignorance,complete stupidity, and every other bad thing I can think of running rampant at real climate? thats what they do.

David Duff said...

Well, at least it demonstrates the falsity of that commonly accepted image of the scientist as a cool, calm, detached observer of phenomena simply following the path of Truth and Reason!

Both sides of this disputatious science have behaved badly at times and in this they simply repeat the history of science through the ages. However, Michael, you are sympathetic to the 'warmers' and your criticism of this particular episode does you credit.

Neven said...

I think the 'arrogant' way of reacting to 'skeptics' on RC is understandable, but it's strategically speaking not the smartest thing to do. It's violent and makes other people violent as well. And violence is the last thing we need in finding solutions for AGW.

But again, it's understandable. I think Gavin Schmidt responded well and calmly to your critique, Mr Tobis. I can imagine someone working very, very hard doing very complicated and difficult stuff and putting all his data and stuff out, and then getting these people looking for minor details in his work and blowing them up disproportionately, just swallowing all of the time you need for other, more important stuff.

Steve McIntyre is a provocateur, people at RC should not let themselves be provoked, but it's not that simple. In the end though, staying polite and patient is the best way to convince people.

For me Walt Meier is a great example of how scientists should behave. Instead of scoffing at Watts Up With That (which would be a logical reaction as that blog is full of the most horrible comments and articles even) he politely accepted the invitation to answer questions about Arctic Sea Ice. It's honest, it's smart, it's the right way to get those 'skeptics' doubting their own figments.

bi -- International Journal of Inactivism said...

Looking at the portion of the discussion as pasted here, I'm actually tempted to side with Eric. Because, well, Jeff never once bothered to explicate exactly what he found was missing from the supplied code. He's pretty much just screaming, "I WANT THE DETAILED CODE!!!!!!! THE DETAILED CODE!!!!!!! THE DETAILED CODE!!!!!!! THE DETAILED CODE!!!!!!! THE DETAILED CODE!!!!!!!111111111oneoneone"

This isn't about arrogance of scientists or whatever. It's a known problem for programmers of any stripe, see e.g. How to Report Bugs Effectively. Jeff broke every precept of good sense, and when Eric called him on it, he decided to cry persecution.

Oh, and Jeff is "busy running a company"? What kind of excuse is that? Does he think he's the only person around there whose time is precious?

Granted, Eric could probably have handled this in a slightly more diplomatic manner, but there's just no excuse for Jeff's behaviour.

Anonymous said...

Michael. Congratulations to you for standing up for sound scientific practice. It is likely that we hold different views on many subjects, but I applaud the stand you are taking here. After all, it is the quest for truth that is important.

Bernie said...

Michael:
Your point is well made and Gavin's response to you and Eric's general position is hard to fathom. The more important the paper, the more important it is to take all reasonable steps to enable full and complete replication, i.e., post the actual code and post the actual data. If they used some typeof interactive process then say it and create a script. Gavin in whole or in part has apparently replicated Eric's analysis - so what is the big deal.

Inserting Jeff's "attitude" into the argument as some excuse for not posting the actual code is simly a diversion.

thingsbreak said...

If Eric decides to let Wingnuttia do a little bit of the work themselves, I'm not sure I disagree with it.

He's quite a bit more responsive to those who aren't spittle-flecked conspiracy theorists. There is no satisfying that group, and should they deem the current paper acceptable, they'll still be snickering into their bathrobe sleeves about "Mannian" this or "Team" that and the whole process will be repeated after the next paper, and the one after that, and the one after that...

Running out the door to Antarctica, I'm not sure I would have exercised the level of civility Eric did. When he gets back in a few months, try having the discussion then. Which is all to say that although I agree with you broader points, you've admitted to being out of loop as far as the context goes- tempers are running a bit high at the moment.

Michael Tobis said...

Yo, thing. Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

On Fri, Feb 6, 2009 at 9:25 AM, thingsbreak wrote:

If Eric decides to let Wingnuttia do a little bit of the work themselves, I'm not sure I disagree with it.

He's quite a bit more responsive to those who aren't spittle-flecked conspiracy theorists.


Much as that's understandable, it is emphatically not a good idea.

There is no satisfying that group, and should they deem the current paper acceptable, they'll still be snickering into their bathrobe sleeves about "Mannian" this or "Team" that and the whole process will be repeated after the next paper, and the one after that, and the one after that...

Sure, but the "here's the code, all of it" was obviously wrong and consequently was laughable. Being an object of justified derision is not a good tactic.

Running out the door to Antarctica, I'm not sure I would have exercised the level of civility Eric did.

Then I hope you would have had, and I wish Eric had had, the good sense to STFU.

When he gets back in a few months, try having the discussion then. Which is all to say that although I agree with you broader points, you've admitted to being out of loop as far as the context goes- tempers are running a bit high at the moment.

Don't get me wrong. I'm as P'O'ed as the next guy who sees how destructive this gotcha attitude among the "auditors" is. That's no reason to put more logs on the fire, is it?

rcram said...

Michael, thank you for your post. I appreciate you telling Steig he should release the code. I don't know you at all, but I like you already.

I would, however, suggest we change meaning of the terms "good guys" in the context of this debate. If we want to advance the science, we should not think of people as "good guys" based on the position they might have taken. The "good guys" are those who are honestly and civilly moving the science forward. In that sense, you, jeff id, and Steve McIntyre are all good guys. People who are attempting to stop the auditing or replication of results are playing the role of the bad guys.

Michael Tobis said...

rcram, in normal times and with regard to normal scientific topics I would tend to agree with you.

However, I think the evidence that we are entering an emergency of unprecedented magnitude is compelling. That doesn't excuse the sloppiness that is endemic to grant-funded science. But it also doesn't mean that on the whole Climate Audit is doing us a great service, as long as it not only tolerates but also cultivates the side effect of propping up the forces of delay and denial.

thingsbreak said...

Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

That wasn't sarcasm, was it? ;)

The points you made are important, and I'm glad you made them both at RC and CA. What I was trying to express- and I fear that I may have been unsuccessful in doing so- is that your comments might have made (or still could make) more of an impact when they don't come atop a mountain of criticism (some of it deserved, much of it unwarranted, and more than a bit of it wholly detached from reality). When I said that you should try engaging Eric on this when he gets back in a few months, I was being completely sincere.

Being an object of justified derision is not a good tactic.

Absolutely.

Then I hope you would have had, and I wish Eric had had, the good sense to STFU.

:) I honestly don't think Eric was prepared for any of this. Which in its own way was one of the more surprising things to come of it all. You would think that Gavin or Michael could have prepped him.

amoeba said...

While I do not know what the censored poster wrote, what I am aware of is the persistent allegations of conspiracy, dishonesty and chicanery levelled at any working climate scientist, particularly those who author a high profile paper. Maybe Eric Steig and Gavin Schmidt snapped, but these frequent accusations are surely tiresome in the utmost and even these guys aren't perfect. But then who is?

Just consider the unjustified hatred and lies spread about about Michael Mann and his hockey stick, or James Hansen.

Yes it's unfortunate, but one of the essential qualifications of a working climate scientist is a thick skin!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Tobis,

Your attack on Mr. Steig at all is unwarranted. If someone were to ask me for software that I used in publishing a paper, for use in verifying my results, I would retort that while they were welcome to the data used in the publication, they would have to analyse the data themselves.

Why ?

Because all the steps used in my analysis would be satisfactorily explained in the paper.

If not, I would not expect my paper to pass peer review. And in my experience, not once have any of the reviewers ever asked for my software.

Therefore you imply that the published paper together with the data sources used by Mr. Steig et al. are insufficient to reproduce the published results and that the process of peer review in the journal is flawed.

I disagree. The sources repeatedly listed by Mr. Steig at realclimate.org are quite sufficient to reproduce the results. Would you care to explain why you thing the previous sentence is wrong ?

Or have I misunderstood your point ?

rcram said...

Michael, at one time I think the weight of evidence supported the idea anthropogenic global warming may be catastrophic. However, a number of peer-reviewed papers have been published since 2007 which call this idea into question. The Schwartz paper on climate sensitivity, the Chylek paper on aerosols and climate sensitivity, the Spencer paper on the negative feedback over the tropics (a feedback they identified as the Infrared Iris effect hypothesized by Lindzen) were all published in 2007 and indicated CO2 is not as great a problem as once thought. Since late 2007, the PDO has gone into its cool phase which last about 30 years and temperatures have been dropping. One of the features of the PDO being in the cool phase is that El Ninos will be stronger and El Ninos will be weaker. Argos has had sparse global coverage since 2003. The Josh Willis paper reports that since 2003 (using the Argos data), there is no evidence of increased ocean heat content. Ocean heat content is a far better metric for measuring and monitoring global warming than surface air temperature. I am not certain why one would be convinced AGW will be catastrophic given the present state of science.

Michael Tobis said...

To the above anonymous poster:

You understand my point correctly. We disagree. The technological environment has shifted. Every figure should in principle be replicable by its author with essentially zero labor, starting with observational and experimental data and ending with a publication quality image.

(If very large computations are involved this may be difficult in practice, but that is not true in the present case.)

If the researcher's practices prevent easy replication, the researcher does not understand how to create digital products and is in need of training.

The "quite sufficient for replication" standards of the past are archaic and also unrealistic.

A request for "the code" is a request for a makefile, raw data, source and parameter files sufficient to reproduce all figures and tables as submitted to the journal.

I agree with you that the request is outside the traditions of science. I agree with people making such requests that it should not be.

This is the same old stuff except for Eric's claim that "all of it" was at the link, and that the reader was being obtuse in not understanding that. "All of it" was obviously not there.

I cannot understand what purpose is served by your model of "quite sufficient", even if it were entirely true. Sadly, this weird idea of sufficiency is common in science, as if nothing much had changed in how information is managed in the last twenty years.

It is ironic that the network was invented by scientists in the service of science. Even MDs make better use of it.

Bob North said...

Michael - Your post was very well stated and right on regarding the appropriateness of making all data and code available and avoiding what amount to useless arguments. I am actually quite suprised at Gavin's response, which seemed mostly throwing a bunch of strawman arguments about where do we draw the line. Anyone who has submitted a technical report to a regulatory agency will know that it has been standard procedure for decades to submit all relevant data and have all backup information (QA/QC, code, supplemental data, intermediate results, lab notes, field notes, etc)archived and availabe should it be requested. It is not the end of the world and it is done routinely in other arenas and apparently, based on a good post by Geoff over at CA, even recommended by journals in some other academic disciplines (see Rational approach

Regardless of how Drs. Schmidt and Steig feel about Mr. McIntyre, they should strive to improve science by making all of the information available and not prejudge who is legitmate.

Michael Tobis said...

rcram, your choice of evidence doesn't represent the balance of evidence, in my opinion, or even a coherent view of the situation.

I will be thoroughly unconvinced that our climatology are worthless until somebody builds a full scale very-low-sensitivity CGCM that replicates climate as well as existing CGCMs do.

Failing that you are just sniping at the margins.

I would be willing to participate in the exercise of trying to do that, under sufficiently supportive circumstances. It's the obvious thing to do, and if the "skeptics" are so dubious about the science, they should go ahead and construct a competing synthesis.

Until then, it is irresponsible noise. The above-described program is likely impossible because the world doesn't actually work like that. (I think it would be a worthwhile exercise to try, nonetheless.)

Pending such a synthesis, you guys are blowing smoke. Taking on the climatology rather than the economics of the situation is reprehensibly irresponsible.

That doesn't mean that us good guys should act like jerks, of course, which is my point here.

guthrie said...

Funny how the first two comments are from an anonmyous snarker, and a well known denialist troll.

Neven's post makes most sense.
For a number of years now I have been in favour of complete open access to everyone of all scientific papers. If this should include the programs and settings used to get the results, so be it.
But this should also require some sort of sensible setup which links it all together and specifies what is there, and I don't see that we have that yet.

I don't expect science to be any more forwards than anything else, such as e-books. Scientists are human (only trolls like Duff seem surprised about it) and outwith their own specialisation as likely to be conservative minded as anyone else.

I know nothing about data manipulation, but it seems to me that that page Eric linked to does contain the necessary information, or links to where it is. Just not in a form which enables everyone to run the program. So to a large extent it is a storm in a tea cup. Misunderstandings occur all the time.

Michael Tobis said...

Hmm. I know a lot about data manipulation and it doesn't.

Also, David Duff means well.

He may be a well-known stubborn head-in-the-sand denialist troll, but he's our favorite well-known stubborn head-in-the-sand denialist troll.

He's just been hanging around with a bad element. Who knows but that with enough love and affection he may still find his way back to a responsible and productive life.

gravityloss said...

Michael, I think you should discuss this in private with the RC guys...
Jeff Id really doesn't at first brush seem like a honest person if you read his blog. I could be wrong.

I'm also for open code, but it's not always a simple problem.

Michael Tobis said...

Many people seem to be misunderstanding what this is about.

It's not primarily about Jeff, or CA, or openness or software methodologies, though the latter two interest me a lot.

I objected to Eric saying something obviously wrong in a snide and sarcastic way.

The response of many people is that it couldn't have been wrong. But I reached the conclusion that it was obviously wrong independently. I posted the first version of this before looking at Jeff's stuff or McIntyre's either.

Here's the problem:

1) The link Eric provided was not remotely sufficient to easily replicate and examine his results, despite his emphasis that this was "all of it".

2) In claiming so in a childish way, he makes himself and the whole RC enterprise, and by extension all of us, look bad.

3) That in turn is very counterproductive to getting the discussion on to policy and off the no-brainer parts of the science. ("Is CO2 business as usual free of large risk: yes or no?" Duh. Can we stop being stupid now?)

Aaron said...

Who paid for the code? If they got any public money, or used any public facilities (big computers, offices, grad students) the full code, as run, should be disclosed. In the days of card decks, this would have been expensive, and failure to disclose full code could have been excused on the basis of the tight budgets. Today, that excuse is gone.

And, just so you know that I am a total wingnut job, I think tight budgets in research organizations are essential to bring out the creativity to answer the big question. The moment you give them real offices, you start getting more papers and less creativity. As soon as they have a door, researchers start dotting their “i”s and crossing their “t”s, and neglecting to answer the big question.

At this point the only researchers to even whisper the big question are an underfunded group at USGS. See http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap1-2/final-report/ Chapter 6 page 350.

gravityloss said...

Okay, if I have some time in the coming month, I might try to replicate some things.

I haven't looked at Eric's paper and verified if it is or is not possible to replicate everything with the

1) open datasets available
2) descriptions in the paper
3) the available open source libraries

This reminds me of when David Kane said he could not reproduce some survey analysis results and they were a fraud, when they actually were easily reproducable by others who bothered to just look at the issue after his claims. There was a thread about this on Crooked Timber.

The existence of complete deterministic mathematical reproducibility is a different question from the easiness of said task.

It's important to know of which we are talking about.

David Duff said...

"A well known denialist troll"!

This is all beside the point but just to set the record straight:

1: I am not well known.
2: I am not a "denialist", I am an 'unconvinced'.
3: I am unable to say whether or not I am a "troll" because as far as I can judge that covers anyone who disagrees in the slightest respect with the sort of, er, sensitive soul who would use a word such as 'troll'!

However, I admit that I am stubborn, but if you throw me a bone and a kind word I will roll over and let you tickle my tum!

Michael has not given an inch on his firmly held belief in AGW and I remain as sceptical as always, but on this matter of scientific decorum, or even just old-fashioned good manners, we can agree whole-heartedly.

rcram said...

Michael, I understand we have a different view of the situation. I appreciate the fact you are willing to discuss it rationally.

I do think the view I presented is internally coherent and represents the best science currently has to offer. Regarding building a low-sensitivity CGCM, I think it is a fair challenge. Roy Spencer has already shown that such a model is possible by demonstrating a simple low-sensitivity model. Perhaps you have not seen the paper.

http://ams.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=get-pdf&file=i1520-0442-21-21-5624.pdf&ct=1

Spencer is also about to submit another paper for publication showing why currently used climate models are too sensitive. See http://www.drroyspencer.com/research-articles/satellite-and-climate-model-evidence/

I am certain he would be interested to hear any comment you have about his research.

Michael Tobis said...

Without prejudice to Spencer's work, which I haven't read, I would point out that you can set up a reduced complexity model to show whatever you want it to.

It's only in a model where the designer has many fewer degrees of freedom than the system under study that the model starts to provide a test of the underlying understanding.

rcram said...

I would like to discuss computer modeling with you in more detail some day. For the time being, I am wondering - do you plan to read the two papers by Spencer?

I hope you do because I would love to read your comments on them.

thingsbreak said...

rcram:

I do think the view I presented is internally coherent and represents the best science currently has to offer.

You're mistaken. You're basing your view on a handful of papers whose conclusions have been disputed or revised (e.g. here, here, here, here) and stand in contradiction to sensitivity estimates derived not only from model projections, but also paleo data and model-independent methods (e.g. here and here) found in dozens of papers in the primary literature going back nearly 30 years to the Charney Report. Not only that, but you seem to believe that the PDO can somehow be a driver of longterm climate change when it was defined as being basically incapable of such.

It's going to take a lot more than challenging GCMs' handle on clouds and handwaving about ocean oscillations to dissuade anyone of the view that 600ppmv+ is not somewhere we want to go.

Marion Delgado said...

As you probably guessed, Michael, I side with RC. And I think it's not peripheral, but central that you haven't been immersing yourself in their posts and exchanges lately.

I claim bad faith, and screw Jeff. This is simply part of the periodic harrassment campaign. Of course they are never going to say, we're doing a coordinated attack, and this month we're on our "give us the data" cycle.

What does the history of that part of the broken record reveal, again? As far as I can tell, the denialists will stall and waste as much time as possible. They'll cherry-pick and manipulate. The one thing they'll never, ever do is play a straight game.

The closest we ever came was when someone "on their side" basically admitted the surface stations project wasn't getting anywhere, and even that was swept under the rug.

There are two issues I wish more people would keep separate. One is the general processes that make data available publicly. Or don't. Or facilitate it. Or don't. In many cases, research is privately funded with nondisclosure provisions. In many cases, there aren't funds available to make data available in a clearly labeled and version controlled way.

The other is the special requests by denialists for "all the data"
and then it's "all your software"
and then the next thing on their little checklist. and the next.

McIntyre made great hay out of the available data being integrated from one agency to another with different base dates - but that data was available freely in multiple forms. Conversely, none of the special requests made by denialists have ever produced anything.

Let science be "open" generally instead of being intimidated. And I really believe scientists shouldn't give anti-scientists the time of day, attention, ink, or credibility. Sorry. I realize that's tricky to manage, but it MUST be done.

Just as industry astroturf is not real grassroots, denialism is not real investigation.

Marion Delgado said...

Anonymous 10:00 am I wish you'd used at least a pseudonym. You made very good points - better than I made them.

I would only point out the word "meta-snark." What you said is right but doesn't address Michael's meta-point.

bi -- International Journal of Inactivism said...

Michael Tobis:

"Every figure should in principle be replicable by its author with essentially zero labor, starting with observational and experimental data and ending with a publication quality image [...]

"This is the same old stuff except for Eric's claim that 'all of it' was at the link, and that the reader was being obtuse in not understanding that. 'All of it' was obviously not there."

Well, so that's where you come from. But people omit files from their nice little software packages due to forgetfulness, or lack of consideration, etc. It happens. If this were the case, Jeff could've said something like

"I cannot find the data or the glue code to feed the data to your Matlab scripts? Where is it?"

But instead he just made a vague bullcrap request that went

"Let me see the detail"

and then proceeded to cry persecution.

Are you saying that Eric, since he's a taxpayer-funded scientist, should suddenly develop mind-reading capabilities to intuit what Jeff wanted?

dko said...

Hey, this is cool!

Reminds me of the time I went to a hockey game and a climate debate broke out.

Michael Tobis said...

No, Frank, go look. The link goes to a generic library for handling statistics of data with missing values.

It may be an honest (if telling) misunderstanding, but it's not a little glitch or a minor oversight. Absolutely nothing on that page was due to Steig et al. It was all from Tapio Schneider's group.

It's as if I asked you for a recipe and you told me where you bought your groceries and where you got your your cookware, leaving the rest as an exercise.

rcram said...

thingsbreak,

I have not read all of the comments you linked. One of the links did not work for me and others were not open access. I am familiar with comments on Schwartz and he did revise his sensitivity estimate to be approximately one-half the IPCC estimate, instead of his earlier one-third of IPCC estimate. However, I find the Chylek paper compelling me.

When taken in context, these recent papers fit. For example, something has to explain why the earth has not warmed as much as the models predicted. This is the reason for Lindzen's hypothesis regarding the Infrared Iris effect. I now view Lindzen as somewhat akin to Einstein in that his hypothesis has not been confirmed by observations of Spencer's team.

In my view, all of the best climate scientists are skeptics. I refer to Roger Pielke, an ISI highly cited researcher, who has been very critical of the IPCC's emphasis on CO2. Lindzen, whose hypothesis appears to be confirmed. John Christy and Roy Spencer who keep the UAH satellite temp record. Other scientists who would not identify themselves as skeptics in the past, such as Stephen Schwartz and Petr Chylek, are publishing papers showing CO2 is not as much of a problem as previously thought.

Regarding the PDO, Spencer has put forward a mechanism by which the PDO may impact radiative forcing through its effect on clouds. In fact, that is the point of the two papers I am encouraging Michael to read.

The point of my comments is not to convince anyone reading to change their view. The point is that we need to treat those who are trying to advance the science as the good guys, no matter what their view is. If they are upholding the standards of science and behaving civilly, they are good guys. The guys who attempt to stonewall replication are not good guys and they do not deserve the title of scientists.

I am pleased to see Michael is one of the good guys.

bi -- International Journal of Inactivism said...

Michael Tobis:

Ouch. In that case, then I agree, it's totally not cool.

Michael Tobis said...

rcram, I don't find it much of a compliment to be in your good graces along with that lot. You seem to select your science based on outcomes.

This is not a thread or a site for playing denialist whack-a-mole. I no longer enjoy that sport.

I will only say that there is no coherence among the papers or positions you. It makes no sense to collect them together in a discussion of science. The only connection between them is political, and it's a politics based on tuning out most everything you find inconvenient.

If you want serious conversation from people who actually know what they are talking about, you ought to take up one topic at a time and in an appropriate place.

rcram said...

Michael,

The coherence between the papers is that they all come to a climate sensitivity much lower than the IPCC estimate, which means that natural climate variability plays a larger role than the IPCC estimates.

It is true all the papers come to these conclusions in different ways. But to say a lack of coherence exists between them seems odd to me.

You seem to think the papers have only a political point of view in common. This is not at all true. In fact, Schwartz says he is still concerned about global warming but that his findings show "we have more time" to find a solution. As a government scientist at Brookhaven National Lab, he is hardly a carbon-funded anti-science denier. Petr Chylek is a government scientist at Los Alamos National Lab. He has published papers that made the warmers happy and other papers that have pleased skeptics. He is not driven by any agenda, but follows the science. Spencer is a bit more outspoken as a skeptic, but he was also a decorated scientist at NASA before joining UAH.

If these guys do not make your "good guy" list, something is drastically wrong. You may or may not agree with their scientific conclusions, but they are honest scientists who are shedding new light on the issues. And they are all open to having their work replicated. That to me is the measure of a scientist.

thingsbreak said...

I have not read all of the comments you linked. One of the links did not work for me and others were not open access.

As far as I remember, only one of the rebuttals to the Chlyek “exercise” wasn’t publicly available. Everything else should be accessible regardless of institutional or personal access.

I am familiar with comments on Schwartz and he did revise his sensitivity estimate to be approximately one-half the IPCC estimate, instead of his earlier one-third of IPCC estimate.

He actually brought his own, flawed, estimate to ~2C, which is fully in line with the norm, but more importantly screamingly unlikely as long as the Troofers get equal weight in the spheres of public opinion and political reality.

However, I find the Chylek paper compelling me.

No you don’t. You find it convenient because you think it implies a socio-political outcome you like.

Just stop. Or, in turn shock us all and offer your rebuttals to either of the published criticisms illustrating why that paper wasn’t particularly illuminating.

When taken in context, these recent papers fit.

No, they don’t. You should try reading them. That might beat your strategy of pretending to having read them.

For example, something has to explain why the earth has not warmed as much as the models predicted.

You don’t even have a basis to rationally critique the modeling, which isn’t (no offense intended to anyone) exactly a target free environment.

This is the reason for Lindzen's hypothesis regarding the Infrared Iris effect.

His “reasons” for rejecting anthropogenic warming via carbon are quite obvious if you read what he writes. Also, really? The “iris” again?

Why didn’t it constrain glaciation cycles?

I now view Lindzen as somewhat akin to Einstein in that his hypothesis has not been confirmed by observations of Spencer's team.

I’m sorry, I heard “Seitz KEN HAM KEN HAM KEN HAM”

In my view, all of the best climate scientists are skeptics.

Of course they are. What an amazingly sound basis to proceed from.

I refer to Roger Pielke, an ISI highly cited researcher, who has been very critical of the IPCC's emphasis on CO2.

He doesn’t nearly so much as he’s given credit for. Ask him for his publications and the accompanying data which substantively challenge the mainstream climate sensitivity and report back.

Lindzen, whose hypothesis appears to be confirmed.

By what??

John Christy and Roy Spencer who keep the UAH satellite temp record.

Which publications?

Other scientists who would not identify themselves as skeptics in the past, such as Stephen Schwartz

Who had been advocating a self-admittedly weirdly low sensitivity for some time against the friendly criticisms only to have to go back and acknowledge its place within the fold?

and Petr Chylek, are publishing papers showing CO2 is not as much of a problem as previously thought.

I can cherry pick any sensitivity I want if I ignore enough.

Regarding the PDO, Spencer has put forward a mechanism by which the PDO may impact radiative forcing through its effect on clouds.

Then you (and "Dr. Spencer") quite literally don’t understand what the PDO is.

The point of my comments is not to convince anyone reading to change their view.

No danger there.

The point is that we need to treat those who are trying to advance the science as the good guys, no matter what their view is.

Right. Anthony Watts, Christopher Booker and the rest are “serious scientists” and advance science!

I am pleased to see Michael is one of the good guys.

I’m pleased to see that actually he is, and tickled pink it’s for none of your imagined reasons.

--it's like touching your fingers to your nose after a few beers.

Marion Delgado said...

Eric made quite a few comments and I believe in his mind (catching the car to hit the airport, no doubt) he had done enough. Pointed to the READ as a source of datasets, pointed to his paper, pointed to the Matlab-based programs he was running description on the last link he gave. So the discussion about what is standard practice in science and what should be is the most germane.

And yes, it shows how paranoid i've become, but I suspect some of these, "you're being reasonable so you must agree with us" comments that Michael is getting are actually also in bad faith - just a kind of taunting.

Tony Hansen said...

Michael,
What has happened lately leaves me rather perplexed.
Could Eric really think that his paper would not come under close scrutiny?
Knowing all that had gone before, this would seem unlikely.
Having all his stuff ready to go from 'day 1' would (I would have thought) been the best form of defence ie attack them with your best.
He and Gavin claim that they have re-run it after Harry so it would seem to be readily accessible/usable.
Is it a case where it is not enough to have just done the right thing but that they must be seen to do the right thing?
I cannot imagine where they think the payoff is in this case.
Cheers

James Annan said...

I agree that RC have embarrassed themselves over this. I also agree with just about everything mt says, except having not been brought up properly to produce turnkey scripts I am reluctant to bring the requirement upon myself :-)

Anonymous said...

Michael,

Thank you for eloquently conveying the way I feel about Steig's "the code, all of it". My crude comment on RC was censored.
I hope the bloggers there understand how bad this look. Even though all this drama was built on a fairly trivial matter, I think it's the kind of misstep that can erode the trust that readers have put into the RC crew. It will certainly be on the back of my mind when I read RC from now on.

rcram said...

thingsbreak,

Re: Your links
http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2008/2008GL033888.shtml is not open access. I did note that Chylek has responded to this comment at http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2008/2008GL034308.shtml But I cannot comment, since I have not read either. Also, I have not read Chylek’s paper referring to the ice cores.

The paper that did not open for me in Firefox did open using Internet Explorer and it was a paper I was familiar with.

I have not read the two paleo papers you linked. Do the IPCC rely on these papers?

Re: Schwartz
Schwartz revised his sensitivity estimate to 1.9C which is roughly half of the median IPCC range of 3-7C. I feel his estimate is still too high. If I remember correctly, the data was drawn mainly from the period when the PDO was in its warm phase. But to claim Schwartz is within the IPCC is, in my view, just a little uninformed.

Re: Chylek
I found the Chylek paper compelling because it is based on a better understanding of the cooling effect of aerosols. If the climate is less sensitive to aerosols than previously thought, then it is also less sensitive to CO2.

Re: Pielke
You asked for links to Pielke’s writings. Below are a few links to his website. These detail his perspective on a variety of issues relating to IPCC and CO2. On these pages, you will find links to his own papers and to other papers he feels the IPCC has wrongly ignored in their assessments.

* http://climatesci.org/2007/06/20/documentation-of-ipcc-wg1-bias-by-roger-a-pielke-sr-and-dallas-staley-part-i/
* http://climatesci.org/2007/07/20/documentation-of-ipcc-wg1-bias-by-roger-a-pielke-sr-and-dallas-staley-part-ii/
* http://climatesci.org/2007/09/01/the-2007-ipcc-assessment-process-its-obvious-conflict-of-interest/
* http://climatesci.org/2007/11/30/climate-metric-reality-check-1-the-sum-of-climate-forcings-and-feedbacks-is-less-than-the-2007-ipcc-best-estimate-of-human-climate-forcings/
* http://climatesci.org/2008/03/31/roger-a-pielke-srs-perspective-on-the-role-of-humans-in-climate-change/
* http://climatesci.org/2009/02/02/further-comments-on-the-question-can-the-climate-system-mask-heat/

See also the book “Human Impacts on Weather and Climate” by William Cotton and Roger Pielke. A review of the book says “Contents-wise this is an excellent book ... It is written with great honesty and courage, attacking many of the sacred tenets of weather modification and of climatic doomsday predictions.” - Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics.
http://www.amazon.com/Impacts-Weather-Climate-William-Cotton/dp/0521600561/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1234024590&sr=1-2

Re: Lindzen and Spencer

First, I’m sorry but I do not know who Ken Ham is. The Spencer paper confirms Lindzen and credits Lindzen for Infrared Iris hypothesis as the negative feedback Spencer and his team observed over the tropics. See http://blog.acton.org/uploads/Spencer_07GRL.pdf

Re: Christy and Spencer
See the paper mentioned just above plus http://www.devilskitchen.net/dk_blog/2007_christy_tropics.pdf and http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/joc.1651

Regarding Spencer’s understanding of the PDO and how it can effect long term climate trends, see http://www.drroyspencer.com/research-articles/global-warming-as-a-natural-response/
Obviously, Spencer’s view of the mechanism is new. But the fact is the view has merit if strictly from the correlation between to changes in global temperatures and the PDO being in either its cool phase or warm phase. From 1910 to 1945, it was in a warm phase and global temps went up. From 1945 to 1975, it was in a cool phase and global temps went down. From 1975 to 2007, it was in a warm phase and global temps went up.

Contrary to Michael’s comment that I select what science I like by the conclusions it reaches, I would say I select the papers I like based on whether or not they have been replicated and withstood scrutiny. The dendroclimate papers have not held up at all. Papers which try to support MBH9x all have the same problems, reliance on strip bark trees the NAS panel said were not temp proxies and should be avoided. But I am straying off topic here.

My point in commenting to the blog to begin with is was only to say the “good guys” are people who are trying to advance the science. People who stonewall do not advance science. Nothing can be added to our compendium of scientific knowledge that has not been verified by audit or replication.

I am sorry to see James Annan admit he will not provide turnkey scripts. This will be seen as stonewalling and the number of skeptics will continue to rise as long as this attitude prevails.

Michael Tobis said...

rcram's preference for a few fringe scientists is obviously not based on "audits" nor on understanding of the climate system. This blog is not a place to discuss such matters. if rcram wishes to propose another venue for it I will allow that through.

In that venue rcram should back up those claims by explaining how the preferred stuff has been "audited" and how criticisms thereto have been addressed. Specifically "I select the papers I like based on whether or not they have been replicated and withstood scrutiny". It would be interesting to see that elaborated. (As if!)

Else that's the end of the whack-a-mole around here.

The skeptics have amply demonstrated their skill at this kind of thing. I don't propose to spend any more of my time reading, deconstructing and defeating every silly thing that is dressed up as science. I did plenty of that in the nineties when I had access to a much better library (at U Wisconsin).

It was instructive for me but did no good at large. Here we are with ten years more evidence behind us and the same games being played. The tactic of "debating" the sort of noise put up by the Spencers of the world doesn't help us.

We no longer have time for this noise.

Michael Tobis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
guthrie said...

Certainly Duff appears to be a bit more sensible these days, I am glad Michael has him in hand.

Dano said...

I must say that the Anti-science types have done an excellent job at jabbing the paradigm a bit.

That is: all of a sudden amateurs are controlling discourse, valid or no, and all of a sudden short tempers have made an environment where conspiracy theories and tinfoil hatters are seemingly validated.

Sheesh.

No wonder we can't get decent policy around here.

Best,

D

Michael Tobis said...

In the end we need to decide whom to trust. That's the only relevant skill, and it's not in adequate supply.

King of the Road said...

Michael, really?

Allow me to ask, then, in a all seriousness, what is the purpose of your blog? It's not a venue for the communication of cutting edge computing or climate science, nor does it try to be. I don't really think it's just to show examples of the state of affairs to those who already agree with you. And I don't think that it is (like mine) merely a hobby to allow you to see your thoughts on the web.

The most common theme seems to be an attempt to share ideas on how to communicate the results of true (I guess as opposed to "truthy") science to the non-scientists in the public who form opinions and those who determine public policy.

I can understand your dilemma. But as I said in my first comment in your blog, there are many out there whom I represent. That is, people of reasonable intelligence, reasonably pure motives, and well-developed curiosity. Most have neither the tools nor the time to examine objective evidence and reason to a conclusion. So what they believe is determined by whom they believe. I know many, many such people.

They may go to Real Climate and then to Climate Audit. How are they to choose? None of the names are known to them, none of the studies and equations are transparent to them. They may wind up at your site or that of Steven Milloy. What you know to be a "silly thing dressed up as science" looks legitimate to them.

This post of yours has gotten dramatically more comments than is typical (I'm sort of embarrassed to know that); it has to be because of the intensity of the debate. People may feel that something is wrong, if such people end up here, what is the message you want to communicate to them?

If there be moles, somebody has to whack them. If it's actually true that it did no good at large, then what will?

Regards,
Rob

rcram said...

Michael,
Okay, I got the message that you do not want me posting here anymore. I am sorry you feel that way.

I am willing to continue the discussion elsewhere as you suggested. The venue I suggest is the Message Board attached to Climate Audit. It is pretty open to discourse as long as people remain respectful and professional.

Perhaps the best thing would be if you began a thread and repeat the questions you want me to answer. Then send me an email so I can find the thread. http://www.climateaudit.org/phpBB3/index.php

I would also invite you to contribute your thoughts on my thread "Will climate models ever be predictive?"
http://www.climateaudit.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=642

BTW, I understand Steve McIntyre has invited you to write a post for ClimateAudit. I hope you take him up on it. I think it is very unhealthy when people stop talking to one another.

Jeff said...

Thanks for handling this issue with honesty. I recently had a request on my blog for a pro AGW site which handled the issue with honesty and without animosity toward reasonable skeptics.

I didn't answer because I didn't know of anywhere. I'll stop back and read around some more but I think I've found it, thanks.

Jeff Id
---
There are several people who have obviously not read the paper here and don't understand the issues with replicating the work.

The attempt to redo the work is something I am doing anyway but it is much more difficult without the stupid 10K of text sitting right in front of them on the computer.

Also, there is the issue of the satllite data. AVHRR has many versions and is offered in twice daily format, how they convert this into a gridded series and filter it is another question.

Hank Roberts said...

Hey, everyone knew plenty early that Eric was packing for Antarctica.

He came back and noted inline that he'd interrupted that after he'd intended to be gone, for the last responses, making it clear he wasn't going to be able to answer back.

So they piled on, and on, and on.

Look up his course -- he wasn't kidding, he teaches it.

Look at the other hits I posted -- there's a MATLAB server online at UW for another paper there from one of the UW departments -- the abstract makes clear they understand the problems of different people trying to use different platforms, that's why it's there.

Nobody has yet asked for an online course (did anyone look for one? MIT, maybe?). You want to audit, audit a course in how to use the tools.

Yes, eventually, all the material for research will be online.

Have any of you scientists worked out how you can do this? You really ought to plan on a digital watermark and signature on research files, to make sure that someone won't later raise doubt about it -- or about someone's copy of a copy of it.

Without certainty you have a good original file, you're going to have to audit every copy against the original. That'll be a great waste of time -- mission accomplished, where the mission is to delay and confuse.

King of the Road said...

It's irresistible to me to point out that Jeff has now called your site "pro AGW." Funny, I never really got that impression...

Rob

Michael Tobis said...

King of the Road,

I can understand you seeing it that way.

There is a difference between being willing to talk to someone trying to make up their mind and talking to someone who has already made up their mind, has pretended not to, and is playing to the galleries.

There's a long history to this soap opera. One of the things you learn is that people who show up with a laundry list of essentially unrelated publications have an agenda.

There are people who understand the science, and there are people who are expert at manipulating public opinion. There is very little overlap between these groups.

The interested outsider has to develop the skill of identifying who are the sincere and knowledgeable parties.

Meanwhile the serious insider has to exercise quite a lot of judgment as to who is worth talking to.

In my defense, note that I could have simply refused to post rcram's provocations altogether, and come out like roses.

Michael Tobis said...

rcram, I will not do your work for you.

If you want to identify a thread somewhere where you want to raise some or all of the research issues you mention, you can post the URL here. That is not the topic at hand.

I am well aware of Mr McIntyre's invitation. I am thinking about what I would say to the CA readership, if I were to take him up on it.

Michael Tobis said...

Rob (KoTR), see also this entry in answer to your question.

amoeba said...

Maybe someone should examine some unrelated fields away from the glaringly obvious pro-con arguments like a) creationism / I.D. vs Evolution; b) AGW vs the fossil-fuel-lobby & freedom ideology: perhaps metallurgy, particle physics and see whether the opinions of non scientists are distributed in the same way as in a) and b), or rather differently. I have a sneaking suspicion that a) and b) will stand-out far from the majority.

What I am trying to say is whether there is statistical evidence from the huge amount blog activity of continuing and coordinated campaigns as would seem to be occurring?

I'm not even sure it can be done. But if it can, I would dearly love to know whether this has been done and what the results and conclusions were.

ac said...

Sorry, it's pie in the sky to expect today's scientists to construct portable scripts to reproduce not only their results but their publication quality graphics.

Desirable, sure, but completely unrealistic.

There is a world of difference between getting a nice script going to make your work more productive, and being able to reproduce your own work cleanly, to the hard work of polishing that script so that it's ready for public distribution.

If a compentent coder can reproduce the analysis provided in the paper by following its prescriptions, then surely that is a sufficient standard of reproducibility.

Last time I looked at the software carpentry course, I though it was a nice intro to software eng, but I struggled to see how a working atmospheric scientist would integrate the material into their workflow. Well intentioned, but too scattered to make an impression on most of the scientists I work with.

I'm a computer science guy who spends much time trying to get the atmospheric scientists I work with to use SVN, to help maintain shared libraries, and to standardise on coding styles. And I would have told Jeff much the same thing - the prescription is published, the guts of the software is free, now write your own bloody script.

rcram said...

Michael,

Okay, I started a thread "Are all the best climatologists skeptical?"
http://www.climateaudit.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=665 It discusses how to know who to trust. I look forward to continuing the discussion there.

Also, I invite your comments to an earlier thread I started "Will climate models ever be predictive?"
http://www.climateaudit.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=642&p=13441#p13441

Hank Roberts said...

Hm, my take at RC differed from the start because I knew Eric was packed for leaving for Antarctica and I recognized JeffID as what he is -- so I took it as a personal attack on Eric rather than a broad illustration of a general question.

Seems the spin succeeded in going the latter way, regrettably. A legitimate (or "legitimate" to use N's word) scientist asking for help repeating the study would have corresponded with Eric and taken his travel schedule into account.

Instead we got a blogkerfluffle that served JeffIDish types well indeed.

Pity.


> evidence ... coordinated

Try asking Andy Revkin, who long ago said his comment threads were going to be studied. Haven't seen anything on that result.

Lots of possibilities for research into patterns. Hope someone's bothering. It may be just assumed to be happening, knowing that's part of the toolkit with which the business of influencing opinion works these days. But that's rarely opened up to scrutiny of the details until long after it's outdated.

More generally on tactics, see, e.g.:
http://endocrinedisruptors.missouri.edu/pdfarticles/vomsaalC-I2005.pdf

"...The misinformation ... reveals an interesting tactic, which is to deny the published literature .... good reason to be concerned
about a breakdown in trust in corporate-sponsored research, which for low-dose effects of BPA is uniformly negative, in contrast with the very large number of studies by independent scientists that find positive effects. The APM commentary, based on the premise that this huge scientific literature does not exist, adds fuel to the growing mistrust of industry...."

Or simply http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=sound+science and "recent" and read past the first few pages for other areas.

One rather interesting difference with climate science is that -- unlike tobacco or endocrine mimics or lead or asbestos or pesticides -- there has not been an effort via industry-sponsored research published in the science journals concluding no problem exists. With tobacco, endocrine mimics, chromium-6 and so on, it became clear after a while that the industry papers consistently found no problem, and the independently funded papers consistently showed the problem existed and defined it.

The attack on climatology perhaps hasn't used that tactic because it gets caught out by the studies of such patterns -- or because there just aren't enough captive scientists to make the tactic work.

As far as I can tell as an amateur reader, there really hasn't been a lot of _research_ funded to disprove the climatology. Perhaps because the paleo models used by the petroleum industry to locate likely basins to drill have worked so well.

But the money's being spent.

Perhaps comparing IP logs (or evidence of forged IPs) and timing patterns would help find the bots the same way it helps find other patterns? This kind of tool applied to tracking blog patterns?

http://bsdly.blogspot.com/2008/09/and-shame-or-socially-responsible-use.html

Hank Roberts said...

By the way, Michael -- you used the same 'recipe' metaphor here as I did 'cookbook' at RC, I think.

My impression is that Eric, like you at first, thought wossname was asking a serious question and would be able to work it out given the pointer or ask questions.

Neither of you recognized the guy.

If you could start over, looking him up first, and knowing Eric was replying literally amidst departure to Antarctica -- would your view of this particular situation differ?

It's always possible you got taken by the "victim troll" ploy, imitating a real situation.

A real scientist asking for more information from Eric would have deserved help. Whether you or Eric or anyone does give wossname the help to do the work, let's wait and see what he publishes, eh?

Hank Roberts said...

Summing up -- Michael, immediately after the post you objected to, my response:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/02/antarctic-warming-is-robust/langswitch_lang/fr#comment-111657

You make the same point in your comments here that I did there to Eric -- same recipe/cookbook metaphor.

Only difference, I think, is you took umbrage on the behalf of honest people who might ask. I commented from knowledge about JeffID and said that after Eric got back, someone like Robert Grumbine might in fact do the homework help.

I'm not sure I'm seeing your point of view yet -- can you say whether you see a difference between what a working scientist would be expected to do (while packing for Antarctica, or with more time) in the two different cases?
-- helping out another legitimate scientist, compared to
-- helping out a high school science fair project

Leaving aside the help-the-hopeless
-- helping out a critic, skeptic, journalist, or incompetent reader

gvwilson said...

I'm flattered that you think Software Carpentry would be useful to scientists trying to do reproducible research --- I'm hoping to rebuild the course this year or next, and giving people the background they need to do RR is one of the major goals. I'm still not entirely sure what tools I should include, though: while I admire the work of the Stanford group, and Fomel et al's Madagascar, writing Makefiles to reproduce papers seems like a lot of effort for the average scientist.

Michael Tobis said...

Greg, thanks for your comments.

Madagascar as it exists is a bit inaccessible, admittedly, and while there's interest in creating a reproducibility tool, it still is not general; the target will remain large orthogonal numerical datasets on a local disk drive. I have some ideas as to how to do something more general.

Anyway, while you can argue that the whole publication might not require a script, I think it is still the case that individual figures should. If you are interested, we should take this conversation offline.

Michael Tobis said...

Gavin in #19 in "on replication":

One the guidelines in cross-cultural communication is that one should learn not to patronize people whose culture you don’t appreciate. I am perhaps sometimes guilty of that,

Gavin in #25:

Well, most scientists are pretty much self-taught in everything useful and they are almost always working in an exploratory mode. This is a huge contrast from a large firm (think Google, Accenture or McKinsey) that spends millions of dollars training their employees to code the same way and use the same workflow methods on all their (very repetitive) projects.

sigh...

Jeff said...

King of the road.

I haven't had time to read this site much. I assumed because I was labeled 'not one of the good guys' here and Michael's comment on RC called them the good guys that this must be pro AGW.

I see several others who try to paint me as a denier, I assure you this is not the case. The earth has warmed after all, I started my blog 6 months ago to figure out what was going on, so far not much luck. But I tell you what, the ice in the antarctic has grown and I am now getting skeptical of Dr. Steigs results.

http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/02/08/global-sea-ice-trend-from-gridded-data/

Jeff Id

Michael Tobis said...

His highness is pointing out that the nomenclature "pro-AGW" is a peculiar one with regards to the position taken here.

I am very worried about AGW and would like to prevent as much of it as possible, so accordingly a better name would be "anti-AGW", or "pro-consensus", neither of which would fit the polemics of you guys in the "what-me-worry" crowd.

You haven't mistaken my position; you just miss the King's point. A consequence of hanging around in the wrong crowd, I imagine.

Jeff said...

I wouldn't say I'm in the what me worry crowd either. Besides the possible trouble warming can create, I'm quite terrified of the overreactions to AGW. IMO, more time is needed and fully available to really understand what is going on.

As an engineer and technology buff, I also have full confidence that if we don't implement economy crushing policies, technology will sort this out for us in 25 to 50 years and it will become a non-issue.

There are a number of new battery, solar and nuclear technologies which show great promise by then.

In the meantime, absolutely no political policy will stop CO2 production so we might as well wait, push technology and see.

Michael Tobis said...

Jeff, you don't seem to understand the time constants built into the problem. I'd expect an engineer to do better on that front.

(What flavor of engineer are you, and what vintage, out of curiosity? I started out with a B.Sc. in EE from Northwestern, 1976.)

As for not implementing economy-crushing policies, it's a bit late for that, don't you think? Consider yourself good and crushed and take it from there.

Jeff said...

Aeronautical but I work in optical.

I'm sure we can disagree about many things, but for sure the economy can be worse. I also believe the time constraints come from the politicians and polyscienticians rather than reasonable science.

I'll try and take some time later tonight to look around your blog, I should be working now anyway.

Michael Tobis said...

Sheesh, I know I advocate being polite, but the only thing I can think in response to that outburst is "Lenscrafters?"

Jeff, kindly go out and amass some clue before being so admant about your opinions. Thanks.

Jeff said...

I take it you don't agree then. I'm not surprised.

Would you mind telling me how you feel society needs to respond?

Are you a taxer, anti-energy, green energy or anti-business etc...

Michael Tobis said...

I'm a Don't-Label-My-Opinionist.

Jeff said...

Just curious. You meet all kinds on the internet.

Chris S said...

Marion Delgado states: "Let science be "open" generally instead of being intimidated."

Dano states: "all of a sudden amateurs are controlling discourse, valid or no"

To me this approaches the nub of the problem. It seems to me that there is an increasing trend of attacks directed at the climatology researchers rather than their output, excarberated by the ease of which it is possible to cherry pick papers & data whilst ignoring the larger body of evidence stating the opposite. Interested amateurs drawn into the blogosphere in search of answers are met with a confusing array of websites, many of which disguise their intents behind a cloak of scientific credibility (I was initially amused by the fact that the Watts... site was awarded "Best Scientific Blog" recently before the implications of this sank in).

In such an environment the continual trumpeting of flaws (real or imagined) in any of the science being done does become intimidating to those who are actually doing the work. (The recent farrago over the Harry data is a good example here - where the person who actually did the right thing & reported an error to BAS is vilified in certain quarters when it is clear to me that NOT reporting the error was by far the greater 'sin').

As a scientist (well, technically a taxonomist and ecologist) I find the increasing amounts of ire and triumphalism found in the comments of blogs such as those at Climate Audit & elsewhere very worrying. In this day & age everyone who has access to google can believe themselves to be an expert it seems when all many are doing (on both 'sides' of the debate) is reinforcing their own opinion. It would be amusing if the potential implications of inaction were not so dire.

Hank Roberts said...

I would like to see how Lenscrafters imagines "new battery, solar and nuclear technologies which show great promise" undoing the change in ocean pH, but I'd bet it hasn't been considered.