There’s an interesting article in the Conversation by Joëlle Gergis in which she discusses the saga around a paper they initially tried to publish in 2012. The basic story seems to be that there was an error that was only noticed after it had been accepted. They withdrew it, rechecked it thoroughly, went through mutiple rounds of peer review, and have now had it re-accepted.
At the end of the day, however, the result appears little changed and they still conclude – as they did initially – that
observed temperatures in Australasia have been warmer in the past 30 years than every other 30-year period over the entire millennium
The figure below also shows how the new reconstruction (black line) differs from their original result (red line).
What makes the story more interesting, is the response of various bloggers to the original paper. It appears (which is not surprising) that they made a mountain out of a molehill. Some of the response were, however, less than pleasant. As Joëlle Gergis says in her article
Viciously attacking a researcher at one of Australia’s leading universities as a “bimbo” and a “brain-dead retard” doesn’t do much to encourage professional climate scientists to engage with the scores of online amateur enthusiasts. Worse still, gender-based attacks may discourage women from engaging in public debate or pursuing careers in male-dominated careers like science at all.
Although climate change deniers are desperate to be taken seriously by the scientific community, it’s extremely difficult to engage with people who do not display the basic principles of common courtesy…
I’m neither female, nor actually a climate scientist, but I can say that engaging publicly in this topic can be remarkably unpleasant. It took me a long time to get use to the kind of vitriol that would be directed at anyone who didn’t dismiss mainstream climate science. If I had any sense, I would have stopped engaging elsewhere, but I think I’ve just come to find it fascinating, and I also know who to ignore and when to not respond. Even so, I’ve ended spending the last few days in a discussion with someone who seems incapable of not responding with a claim that I’m being dishonest.
So, how have bloggers responded to Joëlle Gergis’s article. I’ve seen three so far, all of whom are accusing her of lying. So, a climate scientist points out that being attacked will discourage climate scientists from engaging online, and she is immediately attacked. Kudos. To be clear, I don’t know if what she presents in her article is the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but I don’t really care. Most of this happened before I started engaging in this topic, so I’m only vaguely aware of the background story. From what I’ve seen, however, climate scientists are indeed attacked on blogs that dismiss mainstream climate science, so that bit certainly seems true. It also appears that whatever their error was, it hasn’t really changed the result of their paper, which is kind of the key point.
If people want to go out and do their own analysis and publish their own paper, they should go ahead and do so. Fighting about something that is probably irrelevant and happened a few years ago seems entirely pointless. Okay, it’s pointless if your goal is to gain understanding of climate science. If your goal is to find reasons to critcise climate scientists, then maybe not. Of course, that would then seem to suggest that Joëlle Gergis’s criticism of the conduct on blogs is justified. It does all seem wonderfully ironic to me. There do indeed seem to be some who would like to be taken seriously, but then find excuses why they don’t actually publish anything. They complain bitterly if they feel that they’ve been maligned in some way, but then find reasons why their “attacks” on others are justified. It’s all just a game; I think it might be called ClimateballTM