RC’s response to McShane and Wyner: a case of orange cones

RC’s response to McShane and Wyner: a case of orange cones. This is a classic whine from Anthony Watts about “the Team” and their “egos”. Gavin Schmidt, Michael Mann, and Scott Rutherford (apparently representing the Team) have written a scathing comment letter to the Annals of Applied Statistics about the recent allegedly “hockey-stick busting” paper by the naïve statisticians McShane and Wyner entitled A Statistical Analysis of Multiple Temperature Proxies: Are Reconstructions of Surface Temperatures Over the Last 1000 Years Reliable? [PDF].

Update: I just noticed that the URL for Anthony’s blog post is “http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/09/23/rcs-response-to-mcshane-and-wyner-the-teams-steaming-pile-of-snip”! Now that’s critical analysis.

The paper has been debunked as wishful thinking and statistical failures (particularly embarrassing if you’re trying to overturn statistical evidence) that rely heavily and uncritically on biased sources and is coated with an irrelevant layer of political posturing. Read the coverage at Deep Climate, or Deltoid, then have a chuckle over Anthony’s first coverage of this “new and important study“. It has proven to be the latest superficially useful denialist effort, so it is being blindly praised in the usual quarters and stubbornly defended by the ignorant (this is Anthony’s cue).

I’d summarize it as an attempt to claim that the weak results of their poor statistical analysis means that the better techniques used to successfully identify the “hockey-stick” temperature trend are invalid. Sort of like saying “we get crappy results, so you must have done a crappy job just like us.”

Anthony jumps in with both feet sputtering about the nerve of those climatologists pointing out improper “data quality control” in McShane and Wyner’s paper. It’s one thing for denialists to fabricate quality control criticisms and splash them about freely, but apparently poor sportsmanship for scientists to point out real data flaws. Even if M&W tried to preëmptively claim that they’re “not interested at this stage in engaging the issues of data quality.” (Except they are.)

M&W are also called out for adding “poor quality proxies [that have] a material effect on the reconstructions, inflating the level of peak apparent Medieval warmth”. Why can’t they spin the climate record for the benefit of their desired conclusions? It’s standard practice for denialist papers! Sorry Anthony, M&W have to play by the big kid’s rules. What M&W did was to throw back in all garbage data they could to try to cherry-pick their way to an inconclusive trend.

And all this adds up in Anthony’s mind as mere wounded egos on the part of some pesky climatologists…

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