John A: I would like to emphasize that the following is my personal view and not necessarily that of Steve McIntyre or Ross McKitrick.
In amongst the consideration of the proxy, statistical and social network evidence of the Wegman report, there is also this (page 48), which I could construe (albeit distantly) as a personal criticism:
5. As mentioned in our introduction, much of the discussion on the ‘hockey stick’
issue has taken place on competing web blogs. Our committee believes that web
blogs are not an appropriate way to conduct science and thus the blogs give
credence to the fact that these global warming issues are have migrated from the
realm of rational scientific discourse. Unfortunately, the factions involved have
become highly and passionately polarized.
Now I can’t lay claim to the statistical knowledge of Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, but I do know that Climate Audit has been a key reason why the hearings of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House Science Committee, and the formation of the NAS Panel and of the Wegman reports ever took place and why several other distinguished scientists and statisticians have seen fit to contact Steve and Ross and offer insight and suggestions into various fruitful lines of inquiry.
My reply to Professor Wegman would be: "You are correct that weblogs are not an appropriate way to conduct science, but if and only if, the normal channels of debate through peer reviewed scientific journals and even direct communication between the two sides had not been systematically poisoned and closed off by the actions of the Mann social network (aka the "Hockey Team") that you describe in your report.
You refer to the influence of Mann and the other 42 authors thus (page 40):
…. Mann, Rutherford, Jones, Osborn, Briffa, Bradley and Hughes form a clique,
each interacting with all of the others. A clique is a fully connected subgraph, meaning
everyone in the clique interacts with every one else in the clique.
and (page 4) make this observation:
…we judge that the sharing of research materials, data and results
was haphazardly and grudgingly done. In this case we judge that there was too much
reliance on peer review, which was not necessarily independent. Moreover, the work has
been sufficiently politicized that this community can hardly reassess their public
positions without losing credibility.
What you describe as a clique or community is a modern term for what in centuries past used to be called a "cabal" – "a number of persons united in some close design, usually to promote their private views and interests in a church, state, or other community by intrigue"
The scientific journals have not acted in accordance with the ethical responsibilities of the scientific method. Instead, some have behaved in a highly partisan fashion, refusing to compel disclosure of data and methodology from the authors of the multiproxy studies, refusing timely reply from both McIntyre and McKitrick to statements made by the Hockey Team that can only be described as seriously and wilfully misleading. In addition a few prominent journals have editorialised in highly personalized terms for the Hockey Team and especially Michael Mann and against McIntyre and McKitrick, refusing them the right of reply. (For example, I wrote about one such piece here )
It is a matter of record that on more than one occasion, Michael Mann himself intervened by communicating personally with the editors of journals, scurrilously impugning both McIntyre and McKitrick’s integrity in an effort to get the editors to block publication of MM’s researches into the multiproxy paradigm in climate science and especially MBH98. On at least two occasions the intervention failed, but we will probably never know how many times such intervention by one or more members of this clique succeeded.
In a rational world of scientific discourse, the journals would have published both sides and insisted on proper disclosure of data and other materials sufficient to allow replication.
Most of the Hockey Team to this day refuse to discuss their published work with McIntyre or McKitrick, and of the few that correspond, some break off that correspondence claiming "intimidation" when asked in the politest terms to reveal data, sources or other information about their published works.
What has been demonstrated Professor Wegman, is that social networks like the Hockey Team can exert an extraordinary influence in the conduct of science, and give a false impression of "certainty" and "consensus" that their works, as you discovered, do not merit.
What I have seen from my view has been a systematic collapse in scientific ethics in climate science as a result of the Hockey Stick affair, the consequence of which has been just the sort of partisan duelling that you rightly decry.
In Steven Levitt’s excellent book "Freakonomics", Levitt gives an interesting insight into the power of information to overcome an insuperable asymmetry of political or economic power via the Internet (pages 69-71):
It is common for one party to a transaction to have better information than another party. In the parlance of economists, such a case is known as an information asymmetry. We accept as a verity of capitalism that someone (usually an expert) knows more than someone else (usually a consumer). But information asymmetries everywhere have been mortally wounded by the Internet.
Information is the currency of the Internet. As a medium. the Internet is brilliantly efficent at shifting information from the habds of those who have it into the hands of those who do not….
The Internet has proven spectacularly fruitful for situations in which a face-to-face encounter with an expert might actually exacerbate the problem of asymmetical information – sitautions in which an expert uses his informational advantage to make us feel stupid or rushed or cheap or ignoble.
…The Internet, powerful as it is, has hardly slain the beast that is information assymmetry. Consider the so-called corporate scandals of the early 2000s. The crimes of Enron included hidden partnerships, disguised debt, and the manipulation of energy markets….
Though extraordinarily diverse, these crimes all have a common trait: they were sins of information. Most of them involved an expert, or a gang of experts, promoting false information or hiding true information; in each case the experts were trying to keep the information assymmetry as asymmetrical as possible
Professor Wegman, you note this information asymmetry thus (page 49)
Generally speaking, the paleoclimatology community has not recognized the
validity of the MM05 papers and has tended dismiss their results as being
developed by biased amateurs. The paleoclimatology community seems to be
tightly coupled as indicated by our social network analysis, has rallied around the
MBH98/99 position, and has issued an extensive series of alternative assessments
most of which appear to support the conclusions of MBH98/99.
I encouraged Steve McIntyre to begin this blog because I was keenly aware in a way that Steve was not at the time, how powerful instant publishing and rebuttal can be in combatting the asymmetry of the scientific playing field in climate science as I saw it at the end of 2003. That asymmetry still exists, which is why I believe Climate Audit should continue.