Team player plays dirty

Of course this is hardly news to the skeptical blogosphere, but I’ve been howling with laughter at the comments over Josh’s cartoon at Bishop Hill – I’ll not attribute individuals but here are some that tickled me:

Eric Steig - suitably red-faced, from

Steig in the dumps

There is very clearly only warming in the peninsula regions: the interior is still looking blue…

Is he sitting in the Schmidt house?

Is it his turn to keep the lid on the borehole?

Eric has no shame; that red you see is blackness from his heart spread temporally and spatially over his facade.

This is how Eric produces the material to smear his critics, when he runs out of Real Science

The sore behind …. the 88 sheets of abrasive paper.

For anyone thinking – huh? at these insider comments, James Delingpole is probably a good place to start.  JD is well-known for his skeptical polemic and his regular readers will have some familiarity with AGW and Climategate, but that set me thinking – if I was a journalist – a regular, straight up one, not habitually pushing a warmist* pro-AGW agenda, just how would I sell this to an uncaring general public? I mean just where would you start?

A good headline – sport, that is attention grabbing.  Team Player Plays Dirty. Hmm. Maybe so the less sport-inclined won’t be put off – David and Goliath: academic slain by blogger for duplicity. No think tabloid.  David and Goliath: blogger slays two-faced academic. Better. OK enough!

Here it is in a nutshell (although such brevity doesn’t do it justice for the full story try here):  After methods in his 2009 high profile paper were suggested to be erroneous, Univ. of Washington academic Dr Eric Steig challenged critical “skeptic” bloggers to get their own paper though “peer review” and published in a climate journal.  Eventually they did so – publishing a rebuttal just before Christmas, but yesterday it emerged that Steig was a reviewer of the paper – the one whose demands resulted in 88 pages of comment and review for a paper of 14 pages.  Now Steig is discussing his rivals’ paper openly on a “warmist“* por-AGW climate science blog (Real Climate) criticising the very changes he asked them to make during the review process.

I cheered when Jeff et al. announced their publication, and I am truly shocked at Steig’s shenanigans. I know I shouldn’t be, after Climategate and having had innocent questions snipped at RC in my early days of scepticism, but it pains me that this behaviour is at the heart of what is held up as ‘mainstream science’.  I know many (including some academics) who, not having looked at the issues themselves, trust ‘the scientists’.  I also know many of these would be shocked at Steig’s behaviour, but somehow they have this image of scientists as ‘honest’ and ‘beyond reproach’ that somehow they must be in the right.  Funny that.  I guess the Hockey Team thrives on such ignorance.  So much for scientific integrity – Steig’s behaviour is disgraceful.

But I am repeating myself – I said much the same thing after Climategate and it still stands.

*Altered 02Oct2011 in line with new policy: VJ.

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8 Responses to Team player plays dirty

  1. Pascvaks says:

    Sometimes we can’t say too much, sometimes we can say too much, usually it just doesn’t matter, but there is sometimes a certain “justice” that the guilty-as-charged bring upon their own heads that reaches the light of day and, when it happens, it brings a knowing smile to those who know it is so well deserved. There is nothing devine about justice, it is very haphazzard, were it otherwise we would all be complaining about the heat this winter.

    [Reply – wise words! V. ]

  2. ArndB says:

    Shenanigans? Competence of ‘mainstream science’? Or trust ‘the scientists’?

    A line that has been published only 30 years ago*):
    “This is obviously the decade in which climate is coming into its own. You hardly heard the word professionally in the 1940s. It was a layman’s word. Climatologists were the halt and the lame. And as for the climatologists in public service, in the British service you actually, had to be medically disabled in order to get into the climatological division ! Climatology was a menial occupation that came on the pecking scale somewhat below the advertising profession. It was clearly not the age of climate.”

    What a miracle has happened!
    From where have all these experts suddenly been coming from?

    *) F. Kenneth Hare, 1979; „The Vaulting of Intellectual Barriers: The Madison Thrust in Climatology“, Bulletin American Meteorological Society , Vol. 60, 1979, p. 1171 – 1124
    About: Professor F. Kenneth Hare, (1919–2002), : “Canada’s most distinguished geographer and climatologist”

    [Reply – It is amazing how fashions turn – Verity]

  3. tonyb says:

    I can’t believe that Steig has done what has been alleged. It makes you wonder just how much of this goes on. We already have the term ‘pal review’ but I think we need a new one to describe this sort of alleged behaviour.


    • Duster says:

      This kind of behaviour is common in any field where journal review is anonymous. There is a perpetual battle in academia for funding and scientists do not become scientists to get rich. They enter the fray for the purpose of being able to say, “I told you so. You were wrong.” Ideally, replication, especially by critics, is the capstone on a research program. This fact very strongly indicates the real weakness that AGW researchers perceive in their own work. Were they confident that any other researcher would acquire the same results, there would be no need for FOIA requests. They would ask you to wait until publication. They will then be happy to provide all data, methods, and relevant code. They should want to crow.

      Steig’s, the Team’s behaviour in general, is so contradictory to this that I believe the behaviour itself is what has lead to so many critics to speculate about AGW conspiracies and “fraud.”

      • Verity Jones says:

        Peer review is, very sadly, not what it should be, and, as in any walk of life, self interest and greed have crept in and subverted the process. I very much doubt that it can ever be the impartial process it should while it remains anonymous. It seems to me that those who ‘get on’ by genuine merit are fewer than those who advance by being ‘one of the club’ (or ‘in “the Team”‘ in climate science).

      • Duster says:

        Peer review is not, I think, ever impartial, nor does it need to be. What is required is openness about methods by the author/s, data availability, and opportunity for different methods and theories to compete. Science is an evolutionary process. It doesn’t produce truth, but instead workable, productive explanations. Productivity means that the science furthers us somehow. Quantum mechanics for instance has been incredibly productive. In contrast, AGW is an hypothesis whose supporters have as yet not even offered a reliable means of differentiating anthropogenic climate effects from natural processes.

        Science “cliques” and “clubs” compete, and if their product is useful beyond their own doorstep, it succeeds for a while. Scientifically, the usefulness of AGW theory appears to be profoundly limited – nonexistent – and I expect that it will wither away within a few more years, leaving a few “green” industrialists wealthier and few politicians happier and a number of lame regulations and statutes in the legal codes of a number of nations and states.

  4. Louis Hooffstetter says:

    I tried to post this twice a RealClimate but got snipped both times:

    The only relevant (and as yet unanswered) questions are:

    1) Were Steig’s data and methods (algorithms, statistical methods, code, etc.) freely available so others could replicate his results?

    2) Did O’Donnell and Steig use the same data and methods (algorithms, statistical methods, code, etc.)?

    3) If not, why not? The purpose of peer review is to clarify research, not confound it. As ‘Reviewer A’, Stieg made 88 pages of comments about O’Donnell’s paper. There’s no excuse whatsoever for mis-communication between the author and peer ‘Reviewer A’.

    If the science is sound, post Steig’s data and methods on RealClimate and let Steig and O’Donnell, (and anyone else who wishes to) reprocess the same data, using the same methods. Then post the results on RealClimate to show which publication is toilet paper masquerading as ‘peer reviewed’ scientific research.

  5. Greg. Cavanagh says:

    climatology did find a use outside of their own doors, but it’s a political power, emotional green, and economics use; not a scientific one.

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