Carterist science meets its Cartergate

by Gareth on March 22, 2010

homer.jpgThe peer-reviewed rebuttal to last year’s infamous McLean, de Freitas and Carter paper which claimed that the El Niño Southern Oscillation could explain most recent warming (see Mother Nature’s Sons and Big Guns Brought To Bear), has been accepted for publication by the Journal of Geophysical Research (Comment on “Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature” Foster et al, 2010). Co-author James Annan has the details (and full text of the rebuttal), but what is perhaps most remarkable is that despite being given the opportunity to reply to Foster et al’s comment — normal practice in these circumstances — McLean et al’s offering has failed to pass review and will not be published by JGR. Tim Lambert at Deltoid has more feedback, and draws attention to the comments by Prof Ove Hoegh-Guldberg at Climate Shiftswho demands:

The five things we want to know are:

  1. Will McLean et al. retract the paper (and will Bob Carter admit fault or even discuss the errors publicly)?
  2. Will the denial0sphere and the MSM give this story (a climate change scandal!) the same coverage it has recently showered on various IPCC hiccups?
  3. Will there be an investigation as Bob Carter himself and so many other skeptics have insisted on over and over again, usually in response to bogus and unsubstantiated allegations.
  4. Will Bob now reverse his policy positions and urge (vocally) politicians that may have been swayed by his bogus science to do the same? After all Bob, shouldn’t the science drive the policy?
  5. Will The Australian cover this pending scandal! A scientist behaving badly!

Those look like damned good questions to me. New Zealand’s science community has been reluctant to publicly criticise Carter — he was once a respected and influential scientist who encouraged many talented students to forge their careers in the earth sciences — but surely this display of academic turpitude puts him beyond the pale. What it says about de Freitas is probably unprintable. I encourage readers to remember the extravagant claims being made for this paper by Carter and de Freitas, and the uncritical acceptance of those claims by a pliable media. High time the boot was on the other foot.

[This song’s for Bob: h/t caerbannog in comments at Deltoid]

[Update 23/3: Skeptical Science explains the rebuttal here. Worth a read.]

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

ctg March 22, 2010 at 7:30 pm

So the burning question is: is this just a case of rank incompetence on the part of these three, or was there a deliberate attempt to commit scientific fraud?

To answer this question, the authors must immediately provide access to at least the following:

  • all of the data (raw, intermediate, processed) used in the paper
  • all intermediate workings, including any results that were not included in the paper
  • all correspondence between the authors relating to the paper
  • all correspondence between the authors and the journal
  • all of the review comments and the authors' response to them

The authors need to explain exactly why they chose the filter that was in the paper, and also why the fundamental errors in the paper were not caught during peer-review.

I will be writing to my MP, and to Auckland University demanding an inquiry into this scandalous affair. I urge everyone to do likewise.

Gosman, as you are so rightly concerned about professional standards among climate scientists, I am sure you will be doing the same, right?

Gosman March 22, 2010 at 8:58 pm

As you obviously have a handle on this there really is no need for me to do so.

I look forward to seeing the outcome of your request though.

Doug March 22, 2010 at 7:34 pm

As was stated on Deltoid

No, No, No, No, and No.

What amazes me is the double standard these people hold. They, quite rightly, hold climate science to the highest standard (and on most occasions the science meets these standards), but the rubbish they propagate would not impress a high school science/statistics teacher.

Macro2 March 23, 2010 at 5:34 am

Yes and having read both the original paper and the rebuttals I shudder to think what they were thinking. The denialosphere have been raucous in their misrepresentation of the Phil Jones "trick", but what were Carter et al up to in their manipulations – but "hiding" the trend.

Guest March 23, 2010 at 7:45 am

You do have a fundamental problem with comprehension, don't you Gareth?

I can't be bothered helping you by pointing out where you are wrong. You'll find out one day. I have better things to do with my time.

John McLean

Doug_Mackie March 23, 2010 at 8:44 am

John,

I enjoyed your two submissions to the NZ ETS Select Committees.

You have some fantastic graph work (in the 2008 submission with Terry) that presages the effort in GRL.

I particularly enjoy it where you say (in the 2009 submission):

The IPCC's charter ensures that it is biased from the outset. The claims in the latest IPCC report were written by people drawn from a very narrow field, one that has gained substantially from the hypothesis of man-made warming, its practitioners often worked together, probably reviewed each other's work and are hardly likely to admit short-comings in their work.

I wonder which 5 people you nominated to AGU to review your work?
I wonder who did review it and I wonder what they said when the comment was passed to them (as is customary with a comment).

Can you enlighten us as to why you have no "reply"?

Gareth March 24, 2010 at 1:51 am

Doug: important point about the original reviewers. Just who did McLean et al nominate. McLeangate, anyone?

Doug_Mackie March 24, 2010 at 2:05 am

Important distinction:

GRL requires author to nominate 5 reviewers. There is no certainty that any of those people will do the reviewing. I have sometimes been offered a review and turned it down to suggest other more relevant people and v. v.

Any competent editor will consider if the suggested reviewers are suitable. So AGU is also culpable. As noted at the time, the names of Carter and de Freitas should have sounded alarm bells. McLean is very much lesser (in oh so many ways) and that is presumably why he was lead author.

Any volunteers to trawl through his tedious submissions to the ETS Select Committee and show where graphs have come from etc? (Submissions are public by definition).

Gareth March 23, 2010 at 9:05 am

No problem with my comprehension, John, but you seem to have one with statistics. :p

himThere March 24, 2010 at 1:43 am

John,

Thanks for your contribution.

I think that the comments being made here are too important to let pass by. In the interest of balance and in order to provide a full and informed debate, I would be grateful if you could return and provide a rebuttal.

dappledwater March 23, 2010 at 8:38 am

"I have better things to do with my time." – John Mclean

Hoping nothing to do with publishing papers on climate one hopes.

dappledwater March 23, 2010 at 8:40 am

Me needs to work out how to edit comments.

Amoeba March 23, 2010 at 10:57 am

It seems that McLean, de Freitas and Carter, were caught 'hiding the incline'!

How strange that John McLean is too busy to rescue what's left of his reputation, which suggests that he knows the game is up. It's probably too late for de Freitas & Carter.

Are the so-called sceptics going to cry foul? Or are they merely pseudo-sceptics? For instance, Can we look forward to a lengthy dissection and FOI campaign, by ClimateFraudit?

I'm not holding my breath.

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