More Ballin’

I took a peek over at blogger Anders’s place, and I found another great example of how to be a Climateballer. Now, I was banned from that site some time back, so I can’t comment on this there. Or at least, that’s what I thought. For my own gratification I tried submitting a comment there. I expected it to vanish without a trace like they usually do. It didn’t. It went through. It didn’t even land in moderation.

I don’t know if it will be allowed to stay, but since it showed up, I’m just going to post a screenshot of it. Read it, and you can learn more about how to be a Climateballer:


Kudos to miker613 for his attempts there. I hope he’s seen this link in my last post. It’s by Steve McIntyre, and it specifically lays out the point the people at Anders’s blog aren’t seeing:

First, there is no mention in MBH98 or the MBH98 SI that Preisendorfer’s Rule N was used to determine the number of retained PC series for tree ring networks. The only pertinent reference in MBH98 was as follows:

“Certain densely sampled regional dendroclimatic data sets have been represented in the network by a smaller number of leading principal components (typically 3–11 depending on the spatial extent and size of the data set). This form of representation ensures a reasonably homogeneous spatial sampling in the multiproxy network (112 indicators back to 1820). [our bolds]”

This statement contains no reference to the use of Preisendorfer’s Rule N.

In connection with the calculation of temperature principal component series, a different calculation, MBH98 does refer to the use of Preisendorfer’s Rule N as follows:

“a conventional Principal Component Analysis (PCA) is performed… An objective criterion was used to determine the particular set of eigenvectors which should be used in the calibration as follows. Preisendorfer’s selection rule ‘rule N’ was applied to the multiproxy network to determine the approximate number Neofs of significant independent climate patterns that are resolved by the network, taking into account the spatial correlation within the multiproxy data set.”

They say its hard to see the forest for the trees. I feel like there’s a joke in there about not being able to see the trees for the instrumental temperature record.



  1. That’s sad. They have what amounts to an echo chamber. It would help the quality of their conversation to have more people willing to step and challenge some of what they say, since none of them seem particularly interested in vetting each others opinions.

  2. Carrick, if you want to know what’s really sad, look at this comment left by Anders after he deleted mine:

    I get a feeling that this discussion is getting to the “not particularly constructive phase”. Maybe you could clarify your position with respect to Peisendorfer rule N. You seemed to suggest that Mann didn’t mention it when you said:

    “Mann and co later claimed to use Preisendorfer’s Rule N to evaluate PC significance. However, they did not mention doing so in MBH1998 wrt retaining tree ring networks, referring instead to spacial extent and size of networks.”

    And yet, MBH98 both mentions it and cites the original paper. I’m finding it hard to take what you say seriously if you’re still suggesting otherwise.

    Which shows him repeating the exact mistake I pointed out. Now, I don’t believe Anders even bothered to read the comment I posted, much less attempted to understand what it said, but it is pretty remarkable. He deleted a comment, and almost immediately after, he went on to repeat the exact mistake that comment pointed out.

    There’s also another idiotic issue which has now come up. KR posted:

    [ Side note, just for my amusement: in MM05 Fig. 1 there is a comparison between one of MM’s red-noise/MBH PC runs with something of a hockey-stick shape, and the MBH reconstruction. What _isn’t discussed_, but is obvious from the axis scales, is that the red noise run has a range almost an order of magnitude smaller than the MBH reconstruction (0.08C vs. 0.6C), meaning that even if MM05 were correct about the MBH procedure generating HS’s from red noise (which they aren’t) that would explain less than 0.1C of the reconstruction trend – still leaving the present the warmest in the last 1000 years. And that wouldn’t by any means invalidate the MBH conclusions. ]

    But as anyone who knows anything about this topic knows, MBH rescaled all their proxies. In fact, if you understand PCA at all, you know PCs have no inherent scale just like they have no inherent orientation. You have to rescale them if you want them to represent temperature. Despite this, Anders responded:

    Wow, I hadn’t noticed the scale on Figure 1 was completely different in the top panel compared to the bottom. That seems to be true of the 12 figures in the Wegman report too.

    His response:

    ATTP – Indeed, the largest hockey-sticks that the MM procedure produced from ‘red noise’ appear to be less than significant, i.e. values in the noise level.

    Then Anders says this point is amazing:

    Hmmm, so that seems to suggest that even though Figure 2 suggests that short centering brings the hockey stick shape to PC1, these are not particularly significant hockey sticks compared to those that you get from a full reconstruction using real proxies. Amazing.

    It is rather amazing. People are taking unscaled series whose absolute values have no meaning because they haven’t been calibrated and claiming the fact their uncalibrated values don’t match up with other series’ calibrated values proves they’re too “small” to matter.

    I’d comment there to point out this mistake as well, but even if my comment went through again, we know it’d just be deleted, and they’d continue making the same mistake it pointed out.

  3. Brandon, Rachael used to do a lot of the moderating. It’s possible Anders didn’t see it.

    The comment that I made about this being surprisingly complicated (or some such) seems to apply here. I think that Anders is bright. But I also think he is lazy and not inclined to critically challenge his own thinking.

    Were Anders to run his blog as well as he should, instead of agreeing with KR’s comments, Anders should either (1) not comment or (2) vet the readers comments before replying. What he should not do is encourage wrong-headed thinking.

  4. I’ll mention that I’m glad that Pekka is commenting there. I do plan on going back and reading his comments. Probably with a beer.

    Many of the participants on that blog seem to really be arguing why we should let our species be eradicated, if possible, by climate change.

  5. I’m sure that I’ve seen that last one — mistaking the (arbitrary) scale of a PC for degrees C — at some point when I was first bringing myself up to speed on this. Can’t remember where, though. It might have been SkS.

    Figure 1 of MM2005(GRL) contrasts a simulated PC (top panel, no label on vertical axis) with MBH (bottom panel, labelled as degrees C). Because there’s no label on the top panel, it sounds plausible at first glance to think that the label applies to both panels. Especially since the axis scales for the two panels are within an order of magnitude of each other. Until, of course, one thinks it through, realizing that PCs are unitless, and aren’t translated to “real” units until a calibration step.

    Placing a label on the vertical axis of the top panel, something like “arbitrary units”, would have avoided this misinterpretation. Hindsight’s always 20/20. Or better.

  6. Carrick, I don’t have evidence for my view, but judging by the moderator remarks, I’m confident Anders is the one who deleted the comments (mine, and two referencing it).

    As for Anders himself, I agree with you about how he ought to be running his blog. I don’t agree he is “bright” though. I don’t necessarily think he is stupid, but he has never done anything which makes me feel he is bright.

    Pekka is much better. I’ve had some issues with him where he said something incorrect and refused to address it because he felt it was uninteresting/unimportant, but whenever he discusses a topic (rather than just states an opinion), I make sure to read it.

  7. HaroldW, I definitely understand how someone could make that mistake. There’s nothing obvious which highlights the lack of calibration of PCs. If I were new to the discussion, I might raise the same point.

    The difference is I wouldn’t be so egotistical as to assume it was a real problem. When confronted with a subject I knew little about, I’d have the humility to consider the possibility I was missing something. I wouldn’t just assume a scientific publication had an obvious, glaring error.

    Of course, there’s a problem beyond being egotistical/jumping to conclusions. That problem is laziness. There are tons of resources available in this discussion. These people aren’t interested in using them. They aren’t interested in actually understanding anything. To them, the only point is “winning” or some such.

  8. Carrick, I think you should check out this comment at Anders’s blog. It’s pretty bad. The user says:

    miker613: I don’t believe a single thing McIntyre says. I think he’s a blowhard.

    I’m a big picture kind of guy. I need to see that the overall data is incorrect, and it needs to also demonstrate that with the error margins present. If the best you have demonstrates that your ‘new’ data set is within Mann’s error margins, then I can’t be bothered to care. Its not worth getting upset about let alone worried, or even blog.

    Here’s Mann’s original work;

    Here’s Carrick summing up McIntyre’s efforts;

    With a graph from MBH98 being compared to your graph showing the combined four reconstructions and MBH together. Despite the clear discrepancy your graph shows, he acts as though MBH has the same “big picture” as the other reconstructions.

    But more importantly, he claims the graph is you “summing up McIntyre’s efforts.” That graph has nothing to do with Steve McIntyre’s work. It doesn’t show anything McIntyre has ever endorsed. It doesn’t show any corrections McIntyre has called for. All it shows are some reconstructions which have come out since McIntyre started blogging. It’s absurd to claim that is you “summing up McIntyre’s efforts.”

    On the upside, Anders has started coming to his senses:

    Actually, I was thinking about the MM05 figures again and am not convinced the scaling matters. I’m surprised that they didn’t rescale Figure 1 to have the same kind of range, but presumably what matters is the size of the blade relative to the noise in the shaft, which looks similar in both the top and bottom panels.

    First it was, “Wow.” Then it was “Amazing.” Now it looks like, “Oh wait.” I’m curious if it will ever reach the, “Oops” stage. I say there’s a 50-50 chance. I figure there’s a pretty good chance Anders will just drop the issue.

  9. Brandon: “I figure there’s a pretty good chance Anders will just drop the issue.”
    That’s the way I’d bet, too.

    And regarding the comparison of the magnitude of the PC (in arbitrary units) with that of a reconstruction (in degrees C), Eli Rabett linked back to 2006 where it was claimed that the scale mismatch made MM2005’s figure 1 “fishy”. A good response there (on the 2006 thread): “The shape is important, not the scale.” On the other hand, people seem to think that recycling is a good thing…

  10. Brandon:

    But more importantly, he claims the graph is you “summing up McIntyre’s efforts.” That graph has nothing to do with Steve McIntyre’s work. It doesn’t show anything McIntyre has ever endorsed. It doesn’t show any corrections McIntyre has called for. All it shows are some reconstructions which have come out since McIntyre started blogging. It’s absurd to claim that is you “summing up McIntyre’s efforts.”

    Summing up McIntyre??? I wasn’t aware he was so instrumental in the modern temperature series. Anyway, that’s hilarious.

    As is obvious, the only part of MBH that agrees with the other series is the “blade”..the part where the reconstruction is forced to conform to the instrumental data. The part that matters, the reconstruction period going from circa 1400-1900, there is no correspondence at all between MBH98 and any of the modern reconstructions.

    I sometimes wonder what it’s like to walk through a universe where the truth doesn’t matter.

  11. The scale issue shows remarkable ClimateBaller ignorance. This is stupid even by ClimateBaller standards and yet it’s been circulating among them for years.

    The scale of the MBH98 PC1s are exactly the same as the scale as the simulated PC1s because both come from SVD procedures where the sum of squares of the PC is 1. For example, any of the PCs from Mann’s UVA directory – preserved at

  12. HaroldW, I think I deserve a “win” on my prediction. I made a comment earlier about Anders starting to come to his senses because he had said:

    Actually, I was thinking about the MM05 figures again and am not convinced the scaling matters. I’m surprised that they didn’t rescale Figure 1 to have the same kind of range, but presumably what matters is the size of the blade relative to the noise in the shaft, which looks similar in both the top and bottom panels.

    After that, Eli Rabett made two comments promoting the idea the scale matters, including the one with the link you mention. KR then said:

    Eli Rabett – Yes, size matters 🙂

    I won’t claim any originality on that point – I recall reading about that particular point a number of years ago (on a thread involving deepclimate and others), but it struck me anew re-reading the MM05 papers. So. Many. Errors.

    But then after reading Anders’s comment KR said:

    ATTP – WRT your note about the red noise scaling, that’s an excellent point. Personally, I would think that judging replication on synthetic data would require using _all_ the steps on the method in question, including scaling, but perhaps MM failed to apply that step. So perhaps the scaling isn’t the issue.

    Which is pretty stupid as the test PCs are on the exact same scale as the actual PCs. Still, he dropped the size issue. anoilman kept it going though:

    Eli Rabbit: That was hilarious! Do you think Napoleon would disapprove of us getting upset over McIntyre’s little size problem?

    After which nobody seems to have brought it up again. Dozens of comments have passed after Anders began to realize his stupid mistake and KR sort acknowledged the stupid mistake, but they made no effort to actually reach a conclusion. They both basically said, “It looks like we may have made an incredibly stupid point. Let’s stop talking about it before we find out for sure.” And then they happily chose not to comment on the matter as other people kept making the same stupid mistake.

    I guess if you can’t admit your own stupid mistakes, you can’t be expected to correct the people who repeat the stupid things you say.

  13. Steve McIntyre, yup. As you can see by my response to HaroldW just above, I have quite a bit of contempt for these people because of things like this. Anders deleted my comment which clearly pointed out his mistake, kept making the same mistake, then eventually realized he was wrong and quickly dropped the subject without trying to encourage other people to stop making the mistake as well. Even if the mistake wasn’t a pathetic one showing laziness/apathy/incompetence, the intellectual dishonesty is inexcusable.

    The most ridiculous part to me, though, is the link Eli Rabett provided. He posted a link to a comment raising this issue nearly a decade ago, a comment which received a prompt correction he simply ignored. There is no reason anyone who put the work into finding the comment he linked to should be unaware of the correct response.

  14. Brandon –
    If I may be forgiven for a reference “before your time”, ClimateBall means never having to say you’re sorry.

  15. That’s actually a bit amusing. I guess it’s easy to make claims like “so many errors” when you don’t have to list the “errors” you found.

    I guess climate balling must be like spit-balling: Just keep throwing out arguments, you get points for ones that stick.

  16. HaroldW, I’ll forgive you only if you’ll forgive me for saying I don’t know your old people references.

    Carrick, I don’t know about that. With these guys, it doesn’t seem to be about making arguments “stick.” It seems more about convincing themselves the arguments stuck.

  17. Aw, you young whippersnapper! The allusion is to a book (and movie) best forgotten. But it does seem to be the practice in ClimateBall never to admit a mistake. At most, make a half-hearted concession, as ATTP did.

    For a less than half-hearted example, read the twitchy thread which Judith links to in her latest post.

  18. HaroldW, I’ve actually heard the reference a number of times before (I think once was in an episodes of The Simpsons). I just never knew where it came from. Anyway, I’ve noticed the same pattern of behavior plenty of times, and it is by no means limited to people of one side. I have a recent example from Judith Curry’s site from a person considered to lean skeptical, and I’ve written about examples from people of that “side” on this very blog. I just never had a term for the pattern of behavior it before. (I’m still not sure I do as Climateball implies the subject is climate. I guess I could try to co-opt “balling” for it.)

    That Twitchy thread was an interesting example. I actually followed the “story” before Twitchy got a hold of it because the tweets were showing up in my Twitter stream. What I find interesting is not too long ago, I was critical of a person I know favoriting a tweet which mocks Christians (with idiotic, and even fabricated claims, no less). It was a visceral reaction, and I hadn’t considered “favoriting” might not imply agreeing with/liking a tweet. For a while there, I expected I’d need to issue a mea culpa.

    I actually wound up sticking with my original interpretation though. I reviewed the tweets the user had favorited in the past, and I found they only favorited tweets which shared their views. Moreover, when responding to me, they never said anything to indicate they didn’t fully endorse the tweet they favorited. If either of those had been different, I’d have likely wound up apologizing.

    And now some Climateballer can come by and point to this as an example of me being hypocritical by ignoring the important differences despite me highlighting them. I swear sometimes it seems the “misunderstandings” these people have of material have to be intentional.

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