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Letter to Ludescher et al

(Moved this text from another thread to here.)

John wrote:

So, maybe one of us should send them a polite email and ask them some questions.

Let’s discuss our intentions and strategy for such an email here.

Mostly what I see in our discussions are concerns and critical analysis of their methodology (and notation), rather than true questions. This is fine, but calls for a different approach when contacting them. One could always turn a criticism into a question, e.g., do you agree with this problem concerning the running means, or do you agree that your results only have weak statistical significance, but I don’t see that leading to productive discussions.

But if I’m wrong here, and people do have real questions they’d like to ask them, please can you rephrase them here so we can gather them.

The broader goal, as I see it, is to engage them in a discussion of the issues, because of their expertise in the subject, and get as much feedback from them as possible before submitting anything for publication. But putting them on the defensive wouldn’t be a good way to start.

This wiki page gives one approach to communicating with them.

Please everyone help to get this into shape and fill in details.

This page can later serve a second purpose, which is to provide material for a project page that’s oriented towards a general public.

Comments

  • 1.

    Added this sentence:

    Even apart from the academic interest of these ideas, we are motivated by the underlying theme of working on challenging problems that have a real bearing on the environmental crisis.

    Comment Source:Added this sentence: > Even apart from the academic interest of these ideas, we are motivated by the underlying theme of working on challenging problems that have a real bearing on the environmental crisis.
  • 2.

    One might wonder about the conflicts of interest involved in inviting researchers to collaborate in a project that involves a critique of their work. E.g. would they treat us as collaborators or rivals.

    But such potential conflicts of interest and "competitor-risks" nothwithstanding, I still think that such a collaboration is worth attempting. It has the greatest potential for substantial interchange of ideas, and it is consistent with the practice of conducting science in the open -- which is especially needed in a time of environmental crisis.

    Comment Source:One might wonder about the conflicts of interest involved in inviting researchers to collaborate in a project that involves a critique of their work. E.g. would they treat us as collaborators or rivals. But such potential conflicts of interest and "competitor-risks" nothwithstanding, I still think that such a collaboration is worth attempting. It has the greatest potential for substantial interchange of ideas, and it is consistent with the practice of conducting science in the open -- which is especially needed in a time of environmental crisis.
  • 3.
    edited August 2014

    It sounds like you have some questions and also some criticisms. I'm sure these guys are professionals and this topic is not so cut and dry like say mathematics. So this community is going to be more used to this sort of thing I think.

    If you're worried you might offend them, maybe you can ask them your questions and at the end, offer them the critique. This way if they don't want that, they won't request it. To me this seems logical as you get to ask your questions, and if they don't care to hear any criticisms on their paper, they can opt not to ask for them. Not to mention, it saves your time writing this part, which could go wasted if they simply don't care.

    Comment Source:It sounds like you have some questions and also some criticisms. I'm sure these guys are professionals and this topic is not so cut and dry like say mathematics. So this community is going to be more used to this sort of thing I think. If you're worried you might offend them, maybe you can ask them your questions and at the end, offer them the critique. This way if they don't want that, they won't request it. To me this seems logical as you get to ask your questions, and if they don't care to hear any criticisms on their paper, they can opt not to ask for them. Not to mention, it saves your time writing this part, which could go wasted if they simply don't care.
  • 4.

    The main questions are:

    1. What do they mean by that formula that seems to involve a running average of running averages?

    2. What rules are they using to predict an El Niño? They describe some rules, but there are some subtle issues that arise when applying these rules; in Part 6 Steve Wenner tried 4 ways to disambiguate the rules and couldn't match their predictions with any of these.

    I'm not sure collaborating with them will work, but it also seems courteous to let them know about our blog articles instead of just letting them bump into them (which they may already have done).

    Comment Source:The main questions are: 1. What do they mean by that formula that seems to involve a running average of running averages? 1. What rules are they using to predict an El Niño? They describe some rules, but there are some subtle issues that arise when applying these rules; in [Part 6](http://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/el-nino-project-part-6/) Steve Wenner tried 4 ways to disambiguate the rules and couldn't match their predictions with any of these. I'm not sure collaborating with them will work, but it also seems courteous to let them know about our blog articles instead of just letting them bump into them (which they may already have done).
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