Steve McIntyre Responds

July 28th, 2006

Posted by: admin

In fairness to Steve I want to highlight his response to my somewhat critical comments:

Roger, what’s the “marriage of convenience”? I was invited to present at the House Energy and Commerce Committee and appeared. I was invited by my squash club to give a presentation and did so. I was invited by George Marshall to give a speech and did so. I’ve received no honoraria for these and only a fraction of my expenses. If I was invited to present by UCAR, I’d be happy to do that too.

I think that climate scientists should welcome the interest of the House Energy and Commerce committee as an opportunity to make their case. I don’t know much about Barton and I’ve only seen him in the E&C hearings, but he’s obviously a smart guy and I think that you have to take his comments about a serious interest in the issues at face value. He’s exactly the sort of guy that you have to engage. You should be thankful for the engagement.

It is irresponsible for people who are worried about climate policy to get into ridiculous controversies over withholding data and code. If you think that climate policy is serious, this argument is unwinnable. People like yourself should be telling Mann, Briffa, Jones, Jacoby, Lonnie Thompson, the whole crowd, to clean up their act pronto. Archive their code and data right now. They are dragging your community through the mud. It’s you that should be protesting about it, not me.

People who are worried about AGW should be anxious to get rid of bad and irrelevant arguments. Get rid of all the self-indulgent stuff in IPCC 4 AR – a history of climate science??? OK in an academic book, but not in an assessment report. Why should a nickel of policy money go to this sort of puffery?

If the hockey stick doesn’t matter, than IPCC 4AR should get rid of the corresponding paleoclimate section in IPCC 4AR, rather than trying to buttress it with equally vulnerable articles.

16 Responses to “Steve McIntyre Responds”

  1. Roger Pielke, Jr. Says:

    Steve- Thanks for commenting. The “marraige of convenience” is that you have needed the Republican political interest in your study in order to gain traction. Your interest may indeed be in the issues of climate science policy, but your political champions have an interest in climate and energy policy. This is simply a fact.

    I have agreed with you 100% about the science policy implications of your work, and said so here on several occasions. But you have been slow to distinguish the difference between the science polciy and climate/enery policy relevance of your work. And your blog attack dog – John A – certainly sends a mixed message to your readers.

    I have the same advice for you that I have given to RC. If you want to be a policy advocate (on science policy and/or climate policy) then do so explicitly. If you want to focus on science then go the peer-reviewed route. But don’t tell us that you are simply interested in getting the science right and then appear before the US Congress.

    By the way, I sincerely do want to offer congrats on your successes. Your accomplishments and experiences are indeed unique in the history of science and will no doubt be remembered as such. So what is next?

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  3. Mark Bahner Says:

    Roger Pielke Jr. writes, “The ‘marriage of convenience’ is that you have needed the Republican political interest in your study in order to gain traction.”

    Roger, a “marriage” is union between two people, “…in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer…”. Not to mention, “…forsaking all others…”!

    The idea that Steve McIntyre is “wedded” to the Republican Party, simply because certain members of the Republican Party like what he says, is ridiculous and demeaning to Steve.

    I assume that there were members of Congress who liked YOUR testimony. Does that mean you are “wedded” to them? Of course not!

    And if the Democratic Party asked Steve to give his exact same testimony to them, I’m sure he’d be happy to do it. In a REAL marriage, that would be a violation of his vow to “forsake all others.”

    I suggest you withdraw your characterization. (Or provide evidence to support it.) Unless you have more evidence than the simple fact that some members of the Republican Party like what Steve is saying, your characterization of the relationship as a “marriage of convenience” is both inappropriate and demeaning.

    P.S. Aren’t there ANY members of the Democratic Party who like what Steve McIntyre is saying? (If not, I’d say that reflects pretty poorly on the Democratic Party!) And if so, is Steve somehow “wedded” to them, also?

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  5. Roger Pielke, Jr. Says:

    Mark- Thanks for the comment. Though you have confused “marraige” with the phrase “marraige of convenience.” According to Wikipedia:

    “The phrase “marriage of convenience” has also been generalised to mean any partnership between groups or individuals for their mutual (and sometimes illegitimate) benefit, or between groups or individuals otherwise unsuited to working together.”

    This is indeed how I meant it and not in the pejorative manner in which you describe. Thanks!

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  7. Jim Clarke Says:


    You wrote:

    “The “marraige of convenience” is that you have needed the Republican political interest in your study in order to gain traction.”

    I don’t see how this is the fault of Steve McIntyre. It seems much more of an indictment of the ‘circle the wagons’ mentality that exists in (parts of) the science community, that ultimately resulted in poor science being sold to the masses. McIntyre did not seek the US Congress to settle the debate. They came to him and asked him to participate

    Then you wrote:

    “If you want to focus on science then go the peer-reviewed route. But don’t tell us that you are simply interested in getting the science right and then appear before the US Congress.”

    M & M raised serious questions about a highly promoted bit of science and tried the traditional routes to express their concerns. After that failed, they used the Internet, which gradually attracted the attention of politicians that had the desire to see if they were correct or not. If they stuck to the traditional method of the peer-review process, the Hockey Stick would still be an AGW icon.

    It almost seems that you are saying that there is no place for scientific truth in the US congress, although I know you can’t really mean that. Are you holding Steve McIntyre to a higher standard than all the climate change scientists that have testified before congress? Do they not also claim to be just interested in scientific truth?

    On the bigger issue of science, policy and global warming:

    Throughout the Hockey Stick debate, the IPCC and the climate change community revealed little interest in making sure the science was correct and showed much more concern for protecting the notion of man-made global warming as a crisis! When the Hockey Stick supported the paradigm of a climate crisis, it was embraced as an icon. When it finally became obvious that it was questionable science, it was discarded as irrelevant to the crisis paradigm. Either one must admit that the IPCC and the climate community has a desire to promote the crisis more than the science supports, or that the invalidation of the Hockey Stick weakens the climate crisis argument, or both. If it was strictly about the science, the Hockey Stick would have never been embraced and M & M would have been welcomed participants in the pursuit of the truth.

    It is my opinion that M & M’s efforts have revealed just a small portion of a very large problem that has saturated the AGW debate, namely an overstated confidence in scientific concepts that are extremely questionable. These concepts include the positive water vapor feedback loop, the supposed aerosol cooling of the mid-20th Century and the true warming ability of a doubling of CO2, among others. Currently, the consensus view has values for these forcings that are significantly higher than the physical evidence supports.

    Is it not logical to assume that the same mindset that gave us the overstated confidence in the hockey stick is at work with these and other highly uncertain and more central scientific issues? Hasn’t this entire episode revealed a bias towards calamity?

    I am not asking for 100% certainty before action can be taken, nor is anyone else, for that matter; just that the best science be used for policy development. After 8 years of struggle to resolve a hockey stick debate, how much confidence can we have that the rest of the ‘consensus view’ is really the best science available?

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  9. Mark Bahner Says:

    Hi Roger,

    “The phrase “marriage of convenience” has also been generalised to mean any partnership between groups or individuals for their mutual (and sometimes illegitimate) benefit, or between groups or individuals otherwise unsuited to working together.”

    Well, that’s STILL not an accurate assessment (unless you’ve got more evidence than Steve McIntyre testifying before Congress, at the request of Republicans).

    For example, would you describe your own testimony before Congress as the result of a “marriage of convenience?” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think you would!

    (To my knowledge) Steve McIntyre formed no “partnership” (per Wikipedia) of any kind with any member of Congress, including Joe Barton.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is that Joe Barton heard of Steve McIntyre’s work, wanted it brought into more general public knowledge, and requested that Steve testify before Congress. Steve said OK, provided they paid (at least some of) his expenses to do so. (Perhaps Joe Barton even offered to pay Steve’s expenses, and he merely accepted.)

    That is most definitely NOT a “partnership.” For example, the EPA and other branches of the federal government *routinely* pay contractors to do research, and/or to present the results of research to the public. Those federal agencies are NOT forming “partnerships” with the contractors…any more than you are forming a “partnership” with your automobile mechanic when you pay him to fix your car.

    “Marriage of convenience” is a pejorative term, even by the Wikipedia definition (note especially the parenthetical “and sometimes illegitimate” phrase!).

    And “marriage of convenience” is NOT applicable in this case, unless:

    a) you have more evidence than I’m aware of, or

    b) you also (wrongly!) consider your paying an auto mechanic to fix your car a “marriage of convenience.” (And it goes even further, if Steve was only paid for his EXPENSES, and not his time!)


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  11. Roger Pielke, Jr. Says:

    Mark- Of course my testimony was also a “marraige of convenience”. People aren’t picked at random to appear before Congressional committees – they are selected by the majority and minority. Congressional committees use witnesses to support their political agendas — sometimes to fact find. Witnesses use their forum to express their views and often to support the political agenda for which they were called to support. Witnesses who are unpredictable or of message are often not called (or called back, as the case might be). Witnesses who stick to technical details are most easily used for political purposes.

    I am happy with my6 characterization. And we can agree to disagree!


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  13. Roger Pielke, Jr. Says:

    Jim- Thanks for your comments. My own congressional testimony was written with the purpose of getting beyond the very issues that you raise:

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  15. Charlie (Colorado) Says:

    Roger, I’m a pretty uninterested observer in this — I go to your dad’s blog because I find both RealClimate and ClimateAudit to be “advocacy” sites, and consequently look for other sources to try to balance it out. I’m just looking at Prometheus for the first time, and I’m rather hopeful for it as another source.

    That said, I’ve got to say that I read the “marriage of convenience” phrasing as perjorative too, and as suggesting that Steve was willing to be used by the Republican Party.

    If that isn’t what you mean — as your other comments suggest — you might be well served to retract the phrasing “marriage of convenience” and substitute something that doesn’t have the perjorative connotation to at least some of your audience.

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  17. Roger Pielke, Jr. Says:

    Charlie (Colorado)- Thanks much for visiting and commenting. I am OK with my characterization. The Republicans have used Steve Mc. for their ends, and I think that Steve Mc. got a pretty good trade on the exchange. I accept that others might have a different views. Thanks!

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  19. Hans von Storch Says:

    Roger, you wrote to Steve McIntyre: “I have the same advice for you that I have given to RC. If you want to be a policy advocate (on science policy and/or climate policy) then do so explicitly. If you want to focus on science then go the peer-reviewed route. But don’t tell us that you are simply interested in getting the science right and then appear before the US Congress.”

    In principle I would agree. But in case of Steve McIntyre this may be somewhat unfair – the “peer-review route” was simply not open to him. In the beginning this had certainly something to do with the fact that he was not used to the rituals of publishing in science. This happens to all new-comers, but in particular so if the newcomer is a self-taught scientist without an experienced supervisor or advisor. But, what was more severe was the fact that the peer-review process in this specific field was blocked by people like Dr. Mann and his network, as indicated by the Wegmann report and felt by many of others. A good example of this gate-keeping has now become public due to the open access-review process of “Climate of the Past”, see reviewer #2 on Most people I know believe that this review is by Dr. Mann.

    Thus Steve McIntyre did not really have chance to successfully go the peer-review route. And I am impressed by Steve’s stamina to hold on, in spite of a really hostile reaction to his legitimate attempt to simply replicate a significant result of climate science. In doing so he did an important service to climate change science.

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  21. Jim Clarke Says:


    Thank you for linking to your testimony. While I still have a knee-jerk reaction to statements that ‘the science doesn’t matter’, I am beginning to see your point.

    For clarification: Would your recommendations change if our understanding of the percentages of human vs. natural climate variability changed?

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  23. Roger Pielke, Jr. Says:

    Hans- Thanks for this comment. I largely agree with your sense of the “barriers to entry” in this and other areas of science. My sense now is that SMc has overcome these barriers — to his credit and perseverence. Now he faces a choice in how to proceed going forward, and peer-reviewed publications are certainly a viable option.

    Thanks for linking to the open peer review at Climates of the Past. Very interesting!!

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  25. Roger Pielke, Jr. Says:

    Jim- Thanks. I’d write the same testimony if the human effect on the temperature record (to take a common example) was 90% or 10%. Thanks!

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  27. Sylvain Says:

    Mr Pielke jr.

    From what I remember of Steve McIntyre testimony before the congress hearing I don’t believe that he made any attempt at saying what the policy should be. He just presented the result of his work which was the sources, at least in part, of the Wegman and NAS reports.

    Although I admit that he gain a lot in visibility by appearing before congress. In this way both Mr Barton and McIntyre had to gain from this “marriage of convenience”.

    This is about a month that I visit your blog often and if I understood your position correctly the science shouldn’t matter in policy because climate change or not the cost of catastrophic event like Katrina are getting always higher. I believe it is also your point that even without the science their are other both economic and security reason to put new policy in place. (hope that it made some sense)

    I have another question concerning peer-review process:

    Shouldn’t the name of the author be kept anonymous and the name of the reviewer revealed. I believe that this would, not only, prevent the publishing of scientist based on their name, but also give us knowledge, if any, of the biases of a reviewer.

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  29. Mark Bahner Says:

    Hi Roger,

    You write, “Of course my testimony was also a ‘marriage of convenience’.”

    Plunk! vbmnb (Sound and results of my jaw hitting my keyboard. ;-) )

    Well, I’ll say this for you…at least you’re not being hypocritical. You are consistently wrong…about Steve’s testimony AND your own (and presumably you think everyone else who testifies before Congress is participating in a “marriage of convenience”).

    There are 3 concepts that virtually everyone would agree are associated with marriage:

    1) It is a partnership,
    2) It is significant, and
    3) It is long-term.

    Virtually all Congressional testimony meets *none* of those criterion.

    1) Congressional testimony is *not* a partnership. Here are three partnerships that COULD be labeled as “marriages of convenience”:

    a) Al Gore and Joe Lieberman in 2000
    b) Chrysler and Daimler-Benz, and
    c) Ford and Jaguar.

    In all of those cases, the two separate entities UNITED for some common purpose. As you yourself have noted, there is no partnership in Congressional testimony. (For example, you did not leave your position at the University of Colorado at Boulder to testify.)

    2) Congressional testimony is not significant. Marriage is a *significant* relationship! In fact, it is for many, it may be the significant relationship they have in their lifetime. In contrast, I’ll bet a Congressperson who heads an active committee for many years invites literally hundreds of people to testify before his or her committee. Just in the session where you testified, there were at least 5 people giving testimony. The idea that the Congressperson “marries” 100s of people is ridiculous.

    3) Congressional testimony is not long term. Marriages generally last for many years…even a lifetime. Congressional testimony is over in hours. Even the shortest “marriage of convenience” I listed in item #1 (Gore-Lieberman in 2000) lasted many months. The idea of “marriages” that last for *hours* is just plain silly. It doesn’t even pass the straight face test.

    You conclude with, “I am happy with my characterization. And we can agree to disagree!”

    Well, you shouldn’t be happy with your mischaracterization. It’s clearly wrong, as I’ve pointed out in these comments. Further, your mischaracterization demeans Congressional testimony participants, and is not conducive to good policy development. (To incorrectly infer that people who give testimony have some “partnership” with members of Congress…let alone “marriage!”…creates suspicion where none should exist.)

    You’re right that we can agree to disagree. But I hope you realize that probably 9 out of 10 English majors, 9 out of 10 married people, and 9 out of 10 contractors for the federal government (especially those who’ve testified before Congressional committees!) also disagree with you.*

    Best wishes,

    P.S. *Of course, that doesn’t guarantee that you’re wrong. But you definitely shouldn’t like your odds. ;-)

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  31. Paul Says:

    Roger writes

    “If you want to focus on science then go the peer-reviewed route. But don’t tell us that you are simply interested in getting the science right and then appear before the US Congress.”

    Here is the great irony. Those doors were closed from the outset.

    Archane and complex policies about articles, letters, corrigenda, blah blah blah mean that the “peer reviewed” route is one that can be utilised only by those with years of training in how to work with it and can be deployed to keep out the “amateurs”. To denegrate anyone’s contributions to science for failure to pursue “peer review” is specious and fails the most base test of logic.

    If, like Steve, you are just someone with excellent analysis to contribute, you can be sidelined without valid cause (I sometimes wonder where this tale would have led had Nature not been so obtuse in its treatment of M&M’s attempeted contribution to this debate at a nascent stage).

    And we haven’t even touched on the “clique” issues illustrated by Wegman, which mean that you can be black-balled out of the “peer review club” by members if you get on their wrong side, or simply irk their sensibilities by having the temerity to be an “amateur” questioning “their work”.

    I don’t think Steve has anything to be ashamed about by appearing in front of a Congressional Committee. It was the final evidence that he has chaken one small corner of this ivory tower to its foundations and walked in to make logic, reason and solid analysis heard (i.e. true science). Most people outside the suffocating and incestuous world of academic publishing would share the view that it is Michael Mann who should feel compromised by having to appear in front of a Congressional Committee.

    I believe Steve’s greatest lasting contribution could (not yet assurred) be the wake-up call that this gives to professional academics (including you Roger) who over time have come to believe that science=peer reviewed publications. No, peer review just evolved as a useful propogating media for science; towhit, the ongoing testing, stretching, breaking and evolution of ideas.

    The next time ideas come from outside the usual suspects, in any scientific field, let Steve McIntyre’s name be the warning to all to be true to science. Treat any contribution with the objective respect it deserves and avoid at all cost the academic hubris that could be the source of your own downfall.

    This tale has all the hallmarks of a Shakespearean tragedy.