Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Echo Chamber at Climate Audit

I have been posting comments at Climate Audit for about eight years. They have generally been at odds with the prevailing thinking there, but have been, I think, fact-based, referenced, on topic and polite. And they have generally appeared, and attracted a vigorous response.

Recently there have been difficulties. I mentioned here back in September a problem that was affecting me at all Wordpress blogs. That was basically due to Akismet and has now gone away. This one is new.

At some stage during this thread, all my comments started going into moderation. At CA that is a semi-ban; moderation can take a day, and it is impossible to engage in any sort of dialogue. But then they started not to emerge at all.

Steve edits firmly at times, in ways that I don't object to. But it's usually transparent. What I do find objectionable is that recent threads have often been quite erroneous, and correction strongly resisted, and now suppressed.

A recent example of error was this, accusing Sven Teske of being a leader of the Nazca vandalism, based on a post of Shub Niggurath. In fact Shub hadn't said that, and clarified his comment. There was no other evidence, but although this was pointed out early (not first by me) there was no response or correction.

I'm writing now about his latest post. It is headed "Important New North American East Coast Proxy Data", and introduces the results of Sicre et al on alkenone analyses off Newfoundland. It suggests that they undermine the results of Marcott et al: "Obviously the Sicre 2014 results provide further evidence against Marcott’s supposed early-20th century blade. At the time, I pointed out that the Marcott blade does not exist in the data and is entirely an artifact of incorrect data handling. To borrow a term from Mark Steyn, the Marcott blade was f……..flawed. It is reprehensible that Marcott and coauthors have failed to issue a corrigendum."

And darkly suggests that they are quietened by the consensus: " Unsurprisingly, the new data was not press released and has thus far attracted no attention."

Well, I read all this and noticed that there were no quotes or references to what the paper actually said. It was based on the archived data and the notes with it. I wondered whether SM had read the paper, which was paywalled. None of the comments seemed to refer to it either.

So I read it, and it seemed to tell a quite different story. The focus of the authors is on the movement of the Labrador Current, which is very cold, and here not so far from the North Atlantic current (Gulf Stream, warm). They spend a lot of time talking about how the LC depends on strength of the NW winds, and may go quite differently to NH SST. The abstract says:
The ice-loaded Labrador Current (LC) is an important component of the western North Atlantic circulation that influences the position and strength of the northern limb of the North Atlantic Current (NAC). This flow of cold and fresh Polar Waters originating from the Arctic has a marked impact on the North Atlantic climate, yet little is known about its variability beyond the instrumental period. In this study, we present the first sub-decadal alkenone-based 2000-year long sea-surface temperature (SST) records from the western Labrador Sea, a climatically crucial region at the boundary between the LC and the NAC. Our results show a clear link between the LC strength and the Northern Annular Mode (NAM), with a stronger NAM and a more vigorous LC during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA). This suggests enhanced LC activity upon future global warming with implications for the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC).

So I commented. That comment, "Posted Jan 22, 2015 at 8:51 PM", stayed in moderation for a while, so I thought I would try something that seemed to work earlier, and submitted another version ("Posted Jan 23, 2015 at 1:26 AM") with my name slightly varied, and with a figure. Some time later those both appeared, with a response to the first.

It said, inter alia,
"I presume that you agree that the alkenone SST data indicates substantially warmer mid-Holocene East Coast temperatures than 20th century temperatures. Again, if you wish to argue that this is an expected theoretical outcome and provide references to authors who previously advocated this position"

Odd. I wasn't referring to that at all. Neither were Sicre et al; their results cover just 2000 years. It's in their title. And I was just quoting what they say. So I responded here. This went into moderation, but appeared quite soon. The response:
"Nor is Stokes’ theory of a cold MWP in Labrador consistent with other information discussed here"

Well, it's not my theory. It's Sicre et al, and I had showed their Fig 6. But by now, I was fairly convinced that Steve hadn't read the paper, so I asked:



That is still in moderation, three days later. Meanwhile, there was a little further commentary, based on a claim that SST in Placentia bay had not gone down. I had pretty much given up at that stage, but one query by R Graf  (above the one shown) seemed addressed to me so I sought to respond:



Still in moderation. So I had pretty much lost interest, when I saw that Steve McIntyre had, four days after my first comment, come up with a substantial response. It seems he has finally read the paper. But not allowed my earlier comments.

I'll respond a little here. He says
"Stokes says that Sicre et al “chose sites that are very sensitive to movements in the Labrador Current”. This is either an error or a fabrication in respect to the Placentia Bay site, used in the main comparison with Sachs et al 2007 Laurentian Fan site.
...
Sicre et al explicitly stated that the “SE site” (Placentia Bay) was in the “boundary zone between the Labrador Current and the Gulf Stream”. "

Exactly. The boundary zone is very sensitive to movements.


"Stokes asserts that Sicre et al 2014 postulated an “antiphase” relationship between the NE Bonavista Bay site (in the Labrador Current) and offshore Iceland.
...
There is no observable “antiphase” relationship between the Placentia Bay site and MD99-2275."

Yes. But this data is presented as a contradiction the the Marcott claim that temperatures rose in modern times. Whether antiphase or neutral, it does not provide that contradiction.

Update 11.22AM 27/01 Well, well. I see that my second comment there has now appeared, with a response. The screenshot I showed was timestamped 9.52 AM 27/01, both Melbourne time. The response basically argues that you can like the data without liking what the authors say about it.









31 comments:

  1. Your patience is amazing.

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  2. Its nice, in a way, to see CA explicitly descending to WUWT levels.

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    Replies
    1. Actually, while the content at WUWT, like CA, has been declining, the moderation has been less whimsical lately.

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  3. Nick

    Whilst we may often disagree you are invariably polite, on topic and full of information.

    I have no idea why you should be over moderated, if that is indeed happening.

    We need dissenting voices at all blogs otherwise they become echo chambers. What we don't need are trolls from whatever 'side' and I have never seen you in this guise .

    tonyb

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    Replies
    1. Why do you express any doubt that the over moderation happened as Nick described? Is there some reason you shouldn't, given the opinion you've formed of him based on past behaviour, simply take his word for it unless someone else has shown you incontrovertible evidence that he lied about it?

      Delete
    2. Jon,
      I think it's reasonable to have doubts. I am never sure myself. It could be that I am using some word that attracts moderation. Or it could be some residue of Akismet troubles. I now think that is unlikely, but not impossible.

      Delete
    3. Tony,
      Thanks. I have actually found CA frustrating over the years, but it also is often informative, in its way, and I did feel that dissent was treated fairly at an editorial level. This seems to be a change over the last year or so.

      Delete
    4. Nick, you need a different blog hosting service, hopefully one that does not consistently lose comments. It is very difficult to comment here.

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  4. Jon

    Of course Nick didn't lie about it. But there are two sides to every story and whilst I don't doubt that Nick feels he was over moderated many is the time I have posted something only to see it disappear for apparently no good reason or reappear many hours later..

    Nick is well known and respected even by those who may, on occasion, disagree with him. Consequently it would be useful to hear from Steve whether this is creeping censorship going on or if there is some other explanation.

    All the big blogs need well balanced dissenting voices
    tonyb

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  5. Moderation which delays a comment while others appear in response to an issue is insidious. It would be good to hear from Steve on what he thinks is happening here. It is very difficult to think that this throttling could be directed at Nick specifically. But the effect is the same, insidious.

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    1. It's more than insidious, it's downright dishonest. Nick S's original question of the 23rd is still vanished. And McI's inline responses in further discussion are in very poor spirit.

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  6. tonyb, can you elaborate on your use of medieval paintings of winter scenes in Europe to project future climate?

    On the other hand, never mind ...




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  7. WHT

    Like every climate historian I use the example of Breugel (and others) to illustrate one of the colder pulses of the LIA. Many far more famous people than me have used the same, ranging from Groves to Lamb to Fagan. In the Met Office library there are numerous books that utilise Breughel and others to illustrate that cold period.

    Here is a link to Brian Fagans book 'The Little Ice age.' Note the picture on the cover.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Ice-Age-Climate-1300-1850/dp/0465022723/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1422713686&sr=1-1&keywords=the+little+ice+age+brian+fagan

    The use of such paintings is is a well explored and documented subject and I don't know why you keep returning to it. If you recall it was you that took the illustration totally out of context in order to make some point or other you thought was relevant.

    tonyb

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  8. Well, well, I, for one, have complained about stuff like or ages. RC,

    It really hits home only when someone does it to you, doesn't it?

    I don't doubt Steve for an instant. He has been increasingly exasperated with your comments, and perhaps were some of the moderators.

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    1. What don't you doubt? I don't doubt that he has become increasingly exasperated. They often say that he is getting things wrong. The regular way of dealing with that is to simply answer.

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  9. I wrote another comment and lost it earlier. Hope this one makes through.

    I don't doubt Steve's motives. The CA blog platform has acted funny on me numerous times, I hesitate to comment there sometimes.

    Aside from that, I think Steve's gotten to a stage where he thinks you throw objections with extreme flexibility in argument. I am not going to pretend to do any more mind-reading than that.

    The 'regular way' is just a luxury you got used to. It is not a given at numerous climate blogs and I have written about this problem several times. The position where you find yourself is immensely bothersome, isn't it?

    My sense is that if you let things slide and contribute constructively (I'm not trying to lecture to you here, just a thought about 'tactics'), you should be able to 'resume' as before. Everyone runs on a fund of goodwill. Why blow it over trivial matters and not have any left for serious occasions when your point is stronger?

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    1. TonyB should see if he can find an image of Shub Nibguraths in one of those medieval paintings he dissects ....

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    2. "The position where you find yourself is immensely bothersome, isn't it?"
      No. I simply comment on the echo chamber. It seems no longer possible to point out where the posts are going wrong.

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    3. It didn't bother you? How did you come to write a blog post about it above? That is what I am pointing out.

      Do you think people queuing up comments and posting them up with inline responses is a good practice? 'Cause that's what you claim has happened.

      Delete
    4. Shub,

      You seem to presume that when a curator thinks a commenter throws objections with extreme flexibility in argument, it's OK to moderate that commenter. Is it the case?

      Also, you have not commented on the bit in Nick's post that concerns you. Will you?

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    5. Since he's having the same problems as SteveF, Shub answered my question over Twitter:

      > @nevaudit @BradPKeyes Of course it is a 'yes'. Goes without saying doesn't it?

      https://twitter.com/shubclimate/status/563007072745566212

      I'm glad this got clarified because I don't think "it goes without saying," if only because it limits the scope of the "yes, but RC moderation" meme a bit.

      Delete
  10. Webby

    Here you are, a 15 minute lecture from the University of Texas on the very well documented cold period around 1560 that Breughel, amongst many other artists, chroniclers and govts recorded.

    http://15minutehistory.org/2014/02/26/episode-44-climate-change-and-world-history/

    Are you denying that climate changes? Surely not?

    tonyb

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  11. Winter is cold. Duh!-nial is often painfully obvious.

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  12. Nick

    You wrote this over 5 days ago and other than an update on the 27th I have heard nothing further as to whether any of your other comments have reappeared or disappeared or indeed whether you are now posting without problems?
    tonyb

    tonyb

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    Replies
    1. Tony,
      No, nothing has changed since. But CA has gone totally quiet. Since SM's last comment that I mentioned, there have been only a few (7) essentially O/T comments. I haven't tried to post again - there is just one comment awaiting moderation.

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  13. Nick

    Gone quiet? Are you sure they haven't moved their domain but didn't want to tell you :)

    tonyb

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  14. No Idea now how comments are moderated here (or not). Wasted 30 minutes trying to post a simple comment, which appears lost. This is nuts Nick.

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    Replies
    1. Stephen,
      Sorry about that difficulty. Comments aren't moderated here, and should show immediately. I've checked the system, and there is nothing in spam or elsewhere.

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    2. Steve, it's a bug in the posting script, and I think it's related to what happens when you have to sign in after you've written the comment (generally that's when the comments get deep-sixed for me). I've gotten to the point where I write the comment in a text editor then copy and paste it into the comment window.

      I also do "Preview" before I publish. Not sure if that helps or is just superstitious behavior though.

      Delete
    3. Thanks, Carrick,
      I've never lost a comment, and I don't think it's owners privilege. I use a Google ID (tho any other is probably fine). But I do also paste comments on all sites. I keep one file open in an editor, so I have a record of all comments. Handy for finding URLs and quotes. And a better editor.

      Delete
    4. "I've never lost a comment",
      Actually, not quite true. I have fallen for the trap of pressing "sign out" instead of publish. Maybe "sign in" would do the same.

      Delete

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