Rejected Again… Open Mind Isn’t!

I hate feeling rejected! It’s happened to me again.  Back in August 2009, I experienced that for the first time at RealClimate.   A comment which  I submitted on statistical methodology used in the Steig Antarctic paper did not pass their “peer review” and abruptly disappeared.

Today, I posted the following comment at Tamino’s Open Mind on the thread “Combining Stations” – one of a series of posts about processing station temperature data:

You don’t seem to get a lot of technical observations from your regular commenters in a thread such as this so I thought I might offer some comments about the method you are using to estimate the “offsets” for each station.

I don’t know if you are aware of it, but the “optimal” method appears to be a disguised two factor weighted analysis of variance. One factor is the stations (whose coefficients are the “offsets”) and the second is time (in this case months) treated as a numeric variable. This is not immediately obvious from the form in which you formulated the sum of squares that you are minimizing, but some fairly simple algebra can re-express that SS in a way which is more obviously consistent with an anova. The weights for a given temperature measurement are proportional to the number of stations which have available data for that month. I would have run some comparisons for your example in R, but your aversion to posting data and code makes that more difficult. However, I wrote a simple R program for calculating the offsets as well as some scripts for the anova and ran them on randomly generated data with identical results for both methods.

The side benefit of this is that the estimated monthly grid values are calculated simultaneously with the offsets rather than as (possibly sub-optimal averages) of the offset adjusted temperature series. Variability estimates can also be computed more easily as well.

Within an hour the comment dissipated in electron limbo.  I fail to understand why.

Was it the fact that I mistyped the phrase that time is ”treated as a numeric variable” (I meant to sat a “categorical” variable)?  Was it my observation that there were not a lot of technical contributions by the readers (there were 14 comments in the thread none of which contributed to the specific material being developed by the author)? Or maybe, my chiding remark that Tamino does not reveal his code or data (thereby preventing most of his readers from real participation)?  I honestly don’t know.

I should be pretty irritated but I take comfort in the fact that I am now in good company 🙂  – with people like Jeff Id and Lucia, both of whom I believe were summarily deleted from that blog at one time or another.

I had expected a real discussion regarding the methodology – that he would be gratified that someone actually expressed enough interest in the material to do further analysis (with some pretty interesting insights into his procedure), but I now suspect that he did not even understand exactly what I was telling him.    My guess would be that Tamino could actually have learned something from such a conversation, but it appears that he is more interested in appearing to be a mathematical “expert” to his small coterie of readers preferring to pontificate in one-sided expositions

I’ll also opine that the optimal method can definitely be called superior, both because it has no dependence on the order in which stations are processed, and because it simply minimizes the sum of squared differences between all pairs of station records.

rather than interacting with his audience in a meaningful and productive fashion to get a better grasp of the science behind it.

Open Mind? What a laugh!

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28 Comments

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28 responses to “Rejected Again… Open Mind Isn’t!

  1. Terry

    Yes Ryan, he certainly has that self adulating “my way or the highway” approach to science. Very different to the scientific method I trained in but then I’m just a humble physical chemist, not a lofty statistician like Mr Foster. But I guess his motive is more to do with his own ego and putting himself up as the “guru” on things statistical than doing anything useful. I imagine that Jolliffe and Briggs are likewise banned by now, so you are in good company.

  2. RomanM

    Tamino also seems to have a phobia in regard to having any errors he makes exposed in public. This interferes with his efforts to “educate” the general reader about the concepts he presents and prevents any positive interaction with people who may be familiar with the subject matter. Whether his sometimes arrogant and abusive manner is a result of such a phobia or because of an enlarged ego is an open question.

    Whatever the reason, I found that his refusal to consider that his presentation is actually a particular application of a recognized statistical procedure with known properties and good tools for assessing uncertainty in the estimated values is the mark of the narrow close-mindedness of people entrenched in rigid viewpoints.

    Loosen up, Tamino! You might actually learn something.

  3. Open Mind? What a laugh!

    some kind of reversal of the truth.

  4. AMac

    It might be worth the effort to memorialize your rejected comment at “An Inconvenient Comment” (a href=”http://aicomment.blogspot.com/2010/02/open-mind-combining-stations.html”>this thread).

    There is no clear way for readers to tell which bloggers aggressively prune comments, or what those rejected remarks look like. That can provide useful context.

  5. I was permanently banned from Open Mind when he discovered my error in using NSIDC provided ice anomaly series. I averaged two time series together without being aware of the step. Tamino caught the error blamed it on my not reading the documentation. I thanked him and pointed out the documentation was inaccurate. NSIDC even changed their documentation on the official site. — they were very cool about it. And for that Tamino banned me for trying to confuse the topic – on an open thread. He may have still been angry about the whole Ian Joliffe thing where I asked if Dr. Joliffe had reviewed SteveM’s paper. Naturally he received one more post explaining in somewhat less reasoned terms how his views fit in my world. Just call it a bridge burned.

    I also got snipped from DeepClimate for writing that the end point filtering used by CRU was designed to hide the decline. This was before the numerous more recent posts at CA on the topic. He claimed I libeled the good scientists, it’s pretty funny in retrospect.

    RC has been a nightmare. Several direct but difficult questions about Yamal which were all snipped until I asked the same question and threw in a bit of CA bashing under the nom de plume of jack DeBeers – I was drinking one at the time. It went through but no answer.

    DelayedOscillator – a climate scientist seemed to look for almost any possible reason to snip my comments. Going back and forth between nice and angry.

    ClimateProgress wouldn’t let the simplest comments from me through.

    BTW, if you think my political views are extreme, tamino, prior to becoming a regular blogger, posted some very very communist rants on other blogs. He makes me look like a kitten but he hides it (although you can’t tell) in home court.

    Anyway, welcome to the club of banned bloggers. If you really want to get a comment through on these blogs, start with some kind of prayer to the AGW gods agreeing with any aspect of the IPCC, bashing of bush , Climate Audit or maybe even tAV will help, then make your point as though speaking to a priest and back away quickly.

  6. Awaiting moderation, you have time for that?

    Anyway, I would be very interested in a post on your preferred method of calculating offsets, having done a bit of it myself.

    • RomanM

      Re: Jeff Id ,

      The blog came with default moderation and I just left it that way since i get an email when someone posts a comment. If I get popular like you, I will turn it off.

      I’m not sure that I have a “preferred method at the moment, but, as a result of Tamino, I have been playing with some of the methods lately to see how they behave. If I can motivate myself (hey, I’m retired! 🙂 ), I’ll post up some of the more interesting stuff that I run across.

  7. “If I get popular like you” –haha

    The great thing about a technical blog is that trolls fear graphs and code. It’s a secret which keeps the threads reasonably calm at tAV. Ya just can’t get mad at a graph you don’t understand. After a LONG while TCO, got placed into moderation by his fake email account because his posts had no meaning and he didn’t care. So you can sort a continuous offender.

    In the Antarctic paper, I just used the mean of data which overlapped for a fixed maximum timeperiod. After about 30 months, the offset trend variability stabilized and became insensitive to the offset amount and overall wasn’t that different from a simple average of anomaly. For my GHCN work which was updated yesterday, I’ve got a simple average. One of the next steps was going to be to look at proper offsets which is what brought up my interest.

    • RomanM

      Re: Jeff Id ,

      Yah, TCO is a pain in the butt. He reappeared on CA last week (after disguising his fake email by adding several more letters to it) but he seems to be gone again.

      The approach advocated by Tamino in the Combining Stations thread actually does have possibilities, because it is equivalent to a known statistical procedure. However, it appears that it is flawed for combining temperatures in the form that he has proposed it. I have made a small improvement in it to get around that problem and can provide an R script for you to play with if you wish. I would post it here, but I am still working on it and besides, I don’t wish to share my materials with someone who might try to prove me wrong. 😉 – anyway, it may keep him guessing at what I am talking about.

      Tell me if you are interested and I will email you the description and the script.

  8. If you’re willing to take the time, an improved approach would be welcome, and despite not having read Grant’s thread yet, I wonder how you stats guys take something which seems simple and make it better.

    Some people do crosswords though.

    It would be an excellent thread for your blog BTW. It’s not apparent what you intend to do with the blog quite yet, but that is the kind of thing which will draw us math moths.

  9. Jean S

    Me too! (I’ve been also rejected by both Mr. Open Mind and RC). But I guess none of you have had your pen name changed two months after you had submitted a comment! After posting this over CA, my pen name in this comment over RC was changed in about an hour 😉

    • RomanM

      The AGW Rejects Association is fairly large now and growing daily. I suspect that the problem lies more in their camp than in ours. The good news is that by having our own blog sites, we can still get our views to be heard and for people to learn how blatantly close-minded some of the these people can be.

      Despite Tamino’s lack of desire to learn how to do things mathematically appropriately, I am working up a post on the topic which I hope to put up soon. 😉

  10. ha,

    Sorry I didnt read this thread first before commenting on Plan B.

    DO was a real pain in the butt to me when I pointed out his inconsistencies. in a nice way of course.

    For Tamino.. Perhaps it’s time to publicize his behavior to a wider audience…..

  11. Carrick

    You don’t seem to get a lot of technical observations from your regular commenters in a thread such as this so I thought I might offer some comments about the method you are using to estimate the “offsets” for each station.

    LOL.

    There’s a reason for that. Grant wants to be seen as he-who-is-the-superior-intellect, and brooks no questions that expose any weaknesses in his intellectual prowness.

    To paraphrase something he once said to me (as good riddance), if you don’t post there again “you won’t be missed.”

    RealClimate isn’t, OpenMinded isn’t, and ClimateProgress isn’t.

    No wonder these guys have so many image problems.

  12. Carrick

    The blog came with default moderation and I just left it that way since i get an email when someone posts a comment. If I get popular like you, I will turn it off.

    I vote remove moderation. It suppresses any opportunity for conversation among other bloggers when you aren’t available to approve them.

    My suggest is remove obnoxious comments, if you must, after the fact. (Some of my favorite bloggers, like Jeff, don’t even do that, really this just exposes people for what they are if you allow them to step in their own goo in public.)

    You are right in that it does not allow for side conversations. I have turned automatic moderation off.

  13. I like to vote for no moderation. I just wish there were tools to suppress the comments from trolls and dolts

    [Moderation has been turned off. Don’t tell TCO 😉 ]

  14. blob

    Why did you expect a response when you inserted a chiding remark in your comment?

    I reckon tamino would have re-read your comment after seeing that remark and picked up on a subliminal snide tone when it is read in a different light. I know I did.

    • RomanM

      You are correct that my remarks may have been on the “snide” side, but they were not anywhere near being abusive. One might think that someone with as much experience as Tamino in hanging out on the web could be able to get past a minor slight and engage on the meat of the situation. In a previous interaction with him on statistically oriented temperature stuff, he informed me that I couldn’t “tell my ass from a hole in the ground”, but I managed to get past that and interact with him anyway in an adversarial, but polite, fashion.

      People might give him more respect if he dropped the arrogant and aggressive attitude towards those who do not share his every viewpoint and acted a little more mature and reasonable: less didactic and more assuming that there are others who might understand the situation as well or better than he does. There is no shame in possessing that sort of demeanor.

      I will take your comment under advisement (no offense taken), but there is a history here.

    • Carrick

      blob: <blockquoteWhy did you expect a response when you inserted a chiding remark in your comment?Oh wow. “Snide”. >.<

      Nobody should ever have to deal with "snide".

      Not even "adults".

      /snark

  15. PolyisTCO

    FYI:

    I was not banned or being pre-moderated when he disappeared from CA. Only on return, did I experience that. I left out of honest disgust with sophistry by McIntyre. Plus it is a waste of time and energy to be on the net so much. Plus I wanted to dedicate myself to health (lost 70 pounds in 6 months…down to 10% bodyfat, while gaining 50% strength on weightlifting).

    I’ve heard a lot of people toss out the “TCO was banned”. And that was not true at the time. Although, effectively it is true now. I mostly just kept my mouth shut when people speculated or said these incorrect things. But for the record…that’s incorrect.

    • Kenneth Fritsch

      “I’ve heard a lot of people toss out the “TCO was banned”. And that was not true at the time. Although, effectively it is true now.”

      CA finally got it right. A slimmer and more silient TCO is good for all involved.

      • RomanM

        I agree with you that TCO’s slimmer self is healthwise a very good idea.

        Now, if he can just break that extremely irritating repetitive nagging that has characterized his comments over the last several years, people might actually want to hear what he has to say. 🙂

  16. Well, I have apparently been censored without an explanation. Below is my response to the following comment thread:

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/thanks/#comment-40005

    “If the code is used in support of a very expensive policy initiative, it is definitely not a ‘waste of time’ or money to thoroughly test it. In fact, it is imperative that one tests it as one would test software that supports a medical device, public transportation system, or space shuttle.”

    • RomanM

      Well, I know the reason. How often do you see comments on that blog which are both reasonable and critical of something going on there?

      Welcome to the AGW Rejects club. We are in good company here.

  17. Anthony Watts

    I’m thinking I may add you to my blogroll.

    You’ll likely need moderation then.

    • RomanM

      I would probably have to turn off the “notify me by email when a comment is posted” feature as well. 😉

      My blog stats graph periodically looks like a hockey stick when someone links to my site, but as long as I don’t have to answer everyone who posts here, I can live with it.

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