Scholars and Scandals

by Judith Curry

Well I thought it was probably impossible at this point for someone to come up with a fresh perspective on Climategate.  A new article in Inside Higher Ed entitled “Scholars and Scandals” arguably fits the bill.  The article tackles the broader questions of:

What is the best course of action when scholars’ motives and research are attacked? How quickly should they respond? Who should vet such allegations — universities, disciplinary societies, or some other entity? If scholars move too hastily, do the risks of getting it wrong (or of being later disproven) outweigh the damage of letting allegations fester without rebuttal?

The article cites some insightful  statements from the Muir Russell report:

“One of the most obvious features of the climate change debate is the influence of the blogosphere,” wrote Russell’s panel. “This provides an opportunity for unmoderated comment to stand alongside peer reviewed publications; for presentations or lectures at learned conferences to be challenged without inhibition; and for highly personalized critiques of individuals and their work to be promulgated without hindrance. This is a fact of life, and it would be foolish to challenge its existence.”

This environment, the panel noted, should prod scientists to be more open with their data and to communicate their work in more accessible ways. “A failure to recognize this and to act appropriately can lead to immense reputational damage by feeding allegations of cover up,” Russell’s panel continued. “Being part of a like-minded group may provide no defense. Like it or not, this indicates a transformation in the way science has to be conducted in this century.”

As Russell’s panel suggested, the means of argument and debate, the treatment of uncertainty and the appearance of authority differ greatly between the blogosphere and academe. The blogosphere has many virtues: it is egalitarian, democratic, decentralized and quick. But, some scholars note with dismay, it also allows anyone with an Internet connection to publish his or her views and to find a platform to cast doubt on others, often without being held accountable.

In addition, some worry that the current media environment has exacerbated partisanship; people can simply pick and choose among sources of information that reinforce their existing world view. The web can advance, for lack of a better word, “truthiness,” the term used most famously by the comic pundit Stephen Colbert. In 2006, the American Dialect Society named it the word of the year and supplied a definition: “the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.”

On the fallout of Climategate:

Leiserowitz said recently via e-mail that it is unclear how long the damage has lasted, though he and his colleagues are about to do another survey. Many scientists felt stung by the episode, to be sure. But the issue has faded from memory for all but the most skeptical members of the general public, Leiserowitz said, with some who were on the fence indicating that their opinions had hardened. “Probably some people who were formerly doubtful became dismissive because of Climategate,” he said. “It will be hard to win back their trust.”

The University of East Anglia, where the Climatic Research Unit is housed, waited too long to respond once the e-mails were released, Leiserowitz added. In those weeks, the story gained traction and was firmly framed by climate skeptics. “We now live in a 24/7 news cycle — the story went through multiple iterations before they said anything,” he said. “The community was caught flat-footed.”

Speed vs deliberation?

Typically, universities — which have legal departments, review boards and other resources (as well as ultimate responsibility for federal grants, if the research funded by such sources is implicated) — are best equipped to handle allegations of research misconduct or unethical behavior, said Mark Frankel, director of the Scientific Freedom, Responsibility and Law program at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Frankel wondered whether methodical time frames were still practical in the current information environment. “To some extent, it changes the rules of the game,” he said of the blogosphere. And it is not yet evident, he said, that universities or disciplinary societies have developed processes or mechanisms to respond to rapidly proliferating, diverse and unfamiliar sources of information from which allegations spring forth.

“This is a different world from even 10 years ago,” said Frankel. “Moving with all deliberate speed is not going to be fast enough in the 21st century.”

Several interesting case studies are presented, including the El Dorado controversy (anthropology) and a controversy surrounding guns (history).

In conclusion, the article asks “Whose job is it?”

While universities may be well-equipped to pick through the sorts of issues that tend to come their way — typically allegations of fraud, fabrication and plagiarism — it is unclear how more ambiguous breaches of disciplinary ethics, like many of those taken up by the AAA, can best be investigated. Ethical standards tend to be unique to each field of study and more nuanced than, say, determining whether plagiarism occurred. While disciplinary societies would seem to be the standard-bearers of ethical practice, it is not clear that they have the resources or temperament to rule on them.

Stanley N. Katz, Lecturer with the rank of Professor and director of the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, said that the web can be harnessed in service to scholarship: scholars linked to each other via the web might deploy to respond quickly to emerging controversies. The larger risk of the current media environment, he said, is the weakening or destruction of academe’s best tool: peer review. “If everyone is a publisher, that’s a disaster,” he said. “That’s a real threat.”

“Some say the primary obligation is shifting from the institution to the discipline,” said Katz. “It’s every man on his own and every woman on her own. It’s in nobody’s corporate interest to police activity.”

Punchline

It bears repeating:

“It’s in nobody’s corporate interest to police activity.”

The incentives aren’t there for universities and professional societies to self-police effectively.  The most effective policing seems to be coming from the Inspector General’s office of the U.S. funding agencies (e.g. NOAA, NSF).

The blogosphere clearly has an important role to play here.  Your ideas?

198 responses to “Scholars and Scandals

  1. Willis Eschenbach

    Well, we’re up to what, five failed university-led whitewash jobs on ClimateGate at this point?

    So I’d say that in response to “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes”, I’d have to put them at the end of the list.

    w.

    • I agree, Wallis.

      The climate scandal illustrates the important role that the blogosphere has played in warding off the use of government science to promote government propaganda.

      The blogosphere has been the channel to communicate investigative work that has been purposefully avoided by the presidents of the US National Academy of Sciences, the UK’s Royal Society, the UN’s IPCC, and professional scientific organizations and managing editors of Science, Nature, PNAS, Proc. R. Soc, BBC, PBS, CBS, NBC, ABC, New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, etc.

      • Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister are well worth watching to get some sense of why government inquiries are never concerned with finding the truth. They are designed and intended for one purpose — to show that no one in authority did anything wrong.

    • I agree, Willis.

      The blogosphere has already exposed and help stop the misuse of government science as a deceitful tool of government propaganda – abuse that former President Eisenhower warned might happen one day in his 1961 farewell address to the nation.

      http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/ike.htm

    • Willis – unlike this excellent article, aren’t you implying that people like YOU become the policeman. Lisa Simpson asked the same question when Homer becomes a vigilante. Homer’s response? ” I don’t know – the coastguard?” so lets think this thing out or we get those with an axe to grind claiming their biased and questionable judgement superior to formal university process – just a thought.

      http://mitigatingapathy.blogspot.com/

      • Let the public be the policemen.
        You know – those poor suckers that actually pay for the ‘science’, whether they like it or not, however corrupt it might be, and the ones that will have to pay much more for everything else if and when, rightly or wrongly, CO2 political interference kicks in.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Paul, I’m not sure where you got that impression, my apologies. I think the right people to handle this are the universities, and the miscreant’s colleagues.

        The problem is, the Universities have failed five times on this one. And when that happens, people tend to bring in the Law, aka Congress or the District Attorney. I’d much rather the universities handled it.

        The main problem for me is that there is no moral revulsion in the field. People commit all kinds of scientific malfeasance, even illegal acts, and their colleagues still pat them on the back and blow in their ear and invite them to address major gatherings and the like.

        My own theory is that the majority of AGW supporting climate scientists, at some point in their careers, have had their gag reflexes surgically removed. Or maybe the gag reflex is gradually but completely destroyed by radiation from the supercomputers running the climate models, I don’t know.

        I say this because it’s the only theory that fits the facts – Phil Jones and Michael Mann are still the darlings of the AGW crowd, and that’s enough to make anyone with a normally functioning gag reflex lose their lunch …

        w.

    • Yes, the article takes the probity of the probes as a given; a very bad sign for the author’s understanding of the basics.

      The fundamental failure to disclose data, adjustments thereto and the justifications therefor, and refusal to comply with FOIA law are at the root, not any acceleration of “due process” because of the interference of the blogosphere.

  2. “If scholars move too hastily, do the risks of getting it wrong (or of being later disproven) outweigh the damage of letting allegations fester without rebuttal?”

    A scientist’s role in economic and political society, is to provide facts. It is NOT to provide advocacy. All advocacy is by definition suspect. Unfortunately, because most scientists do not study philosophy, they do not understand the scope of human intellectual error.

    Scientists should practice science.

    Advocacy is for politicians.

    • Seconded.

      The minute a scientist moves into advocacy is the minute they loose their impartiality and credibility on a subject.

  3. RE: “The blogosphere clearly has an important role to play here. ”

    The blogosphere is to academic research what the press is to politics, and auditors are to corporations. A necessary balance to natural bureaucratic myopia, methodological error, and human self interest.

  4. Willis Eschenbach

    The most tragic comment is this one:

    It bears repeating:

    “It’s in nobody’s corporate interest to police activity.”

    The incentives aren’t there for universities and professional societies to self-police effectively.

    I don’t agree with that. I think it would have been in the “corporate interest” of the University of East Anglia to police the way they responded to FOI requests. Climategate did not garnish UEA with laurels …

    And it would have been in both Penn State and UEA’s corporate interest to hold real inquiries into the Climategate issues. That was the lesson of Watergate, that the coverup would cost you more than the crime. And running those sham investigations has cost the reputation of both institutions, further embroiling them in controversy.

    So I fear you have mis-specified the problem. It is definitely in the universities’ best interest to police activity. The problem is that it may not be in the best interest of certain individuals within the university to police activity. The “old-boy” network raises its ugly head …

    But no, the claim that it is in no institution’s “corporate interest” to police itself is simply incorrect. Businesses do it all the time, the Bar Association and the AMA do it, the police themselves have special units to do it, because it is definitely in their corporate interest to do so.

    And in the same way it is definitely in the corporate interest of universities to police themselves … it’s just not in the interest of certain people in the university, and they may have the power to affect the actions of the university against its own best interests.

    w.

    • It’s definitely in their long-term interest to police themselves. But not necessarily in the short term — or so they think. They have a fire to put out, try to use whatever means they think are necessary to put it out quickly. In practice, that means a cover-up.

      “I did not have sex with that woman.” Even those who should have far better social skills than the average scientist fall into that trap.

    • The incentives aren’t there for universities and professional societies to self-police effectively.

      I can agree that the professional societies and unequipted and unfunded for such a self-policing effort. However, lumping universities who share in the funding and glory of the researchers they employ is an act of pure cowardice, devoid of all ethical behavior.

      “Hey, if Prof. Smith cooked the books downstairs, its not our problem. Let the Inspector General find it! We have the reputation of the University to uphold. Airing dirty linen only makes that job harder.” — Isn’t that the punchline of the article?

      If that is so, how do you maintain the value of the advanced degrees you generate? If I cannot trust the work of your Chairs, why should I trust the thesis work done under the Chairs’ supervision?

    • Willis there must be a reason why “honesty is the best policy” gets 10.7M results on Google.

    • Not in their superficial short-term interest, is what they mean. The petards they are planting under their long-term reputations, and the ethically corrosive effect of layers upon layers of academic lime dumped on the acids of criticism, are guaranteed to destroy the foundations of their academic standards and the “influence” they so clearly are grasping for.

  5. I disagree with this quote from Stanley Katz: “If everyone is a publisher, that’s a disaster,” he said. “That’s a real threat.” I noted back on the peer review thread that it would be interesting to see publication become something closer to arxiv and see the journals deal more with review and less on gatekeeping. It seems like that might introduce a bit more competition into the process (since the journals wouldn’t “own” the paper) and remove any chance of their being accused of holding up publication.

    • Gene,

      ‘…it would be interesting to see publication become something closer to arxiv and see the journals deal more with review and less on gatekeeping.’

      That’s already what 99% of all journals do. Most rejected journal articles are not rejected because one of the reviewers or the editor is trying to ‘gatekeep’. It’s because the article isn’t up to snuff, is not generalizable enough or belongs in another venue.

      I think there is a great deal of over-generalization in regards to how science/journals/scientists act when we have these conversations. The vast majority of scientists are not in the spotlight nor do they want to be. They just want to do their work.

      A handful of advocacy driven climate scientists are NOT representative of ‘science’ or ‘scientists’.

      The idea of ‘gatekeeping’ is not pandemic in the scientific community, although it does happen. Because it happened in a high profile case with some climate scientists doesn’t change this fact.

      I do agree that arXiv has an interesting role to play in the future of scientific communication, but not in a way that more involves the general public in a larger extent than peer review.

      • Maxwell,

        I should have said “more with review and less on publication” (didn’t intend the pejorative meaning of gatekeeping there). My point wasn’t to infer that “gatekeeping” in the negative sense was endemic (that’s way outside my area of expertise), merely to suggest that by removing that aspect, editors and reviewers would be shielded from the allegation. Getting a positive review from a prestigious journal would retain it’s cachet and the blame for poor papers would fall on the authors.

        I concur completely that it is both unfair and inaccurate to suggest that the behaviors uncovered by the UAE emails are common practice.

      • Maxwell

        I would agree that not all climate scientists have become corrupt, albeit the small cadre that did do so were quite influential.

        The problem here is that the IPCC process, itself, is corrupt.

        It’s goal is not to find scientific “truth” about what makes our climate do what it does, but scientific “proof” for its preconceived political message (and reason for existence) that potentially alarming climate changes are caused by the human emission of GHGs, primarily CO2.

        We are talking about a PROCESS problem here, which has resulted in the corruption of a few influential individual scientists, as well as the many insider whitewashes that have unsuccessfully tried to make the Climategate “tarbaby” go away.

        It will not go away until the IPCC process is fixed, which may be impossible to do in the attempt to avoid a major loss of face and a lot of heads rolling – in which case, the IPCC must be disbanded and replaced by a non-political group (not under the UN), whose primary goal will be to ensure that all climate science is reported in an unbiased and objective fashion, in order to provide “policymakers” with sound scientific information, rather than simply a sales pitch for direct or indirect carbon taxes.

        Will this happen?

        Who knows?

        But if it does not, the AGW scare will eventually die out and climate science will become irrelevant, IMO.

        Max

      • Max,

        I agree that there are very ‘interesting’ definitions of conflict of interest that are used wave away specific criticisms of the IPCC assessment reports and the process as a whole. I also agree there are many facets of the process that could be better with revision.

        But the question, as posed by the above article, is how do university/professional organizations/the scientific community learn how to better engage with the public in these types of situations?

        The IPCC is an aberration as far as university protocols and the peer-review process is concerned. Most research is not funneled into a document providing an overview an entire field and how the research from that field answer a specific research question. Nor does most research seek to drive a specific policy prescription, which I also agree can be problematic.

        I think that the IPCC, scientists’ involvement in Congressional hearings on climate change and media hype over specific research findings in climate science can serve as a very special example of what works and what does not work in engaging the public on world works. From my standpoint, I am trying to provide some damage control for ‘science’ in general, which I have seen a little too easily tarred because of the hype of ‘Climategate’. I hope that other scientists can recognize what is at stake for their own personal and collective respect when these types of events occur.

        Thanks for your thoughts.

      • maxwell

        “But the question, as posed by the above article, is how do university/professional organizations/the scientific community learn how to better engage with the public in these types of situations?”

        Answer: By being transparent, candid and (above all) HONEST, rather than reflexively “circling the wagons” with white-washes and cover-ups.

        Which they failed to do.

        The article is all about how to communicate and “frame” things effectively (a PR or advertising concept), not about simply being honest (which was the key problem here).

        Max

      • Max,

        I may have missed something, but weren’t there public investigations led by the University of East Anglia and UK government into what transpired with respect to ‘Climategate’? Weren’t those investigations widely covered by the media and totally open to the public?

        That is transparent. That is honest. If I remember correctly, the UK government scathe Phil Jones pretty severely to the point he questioned whether he could continue being a scientist.

        To me there is some confusion. What the scientists did certainly wasn’t ‘honest’ and definitely not ‘transparent’. But the response of the university was honest and transparent.

        So it seems like the university acted according to your ideals. Is that right?

      • maxwell,
        Not one university or government review of cliamtegate has been full fair or open. All they did was to increase whitewash sales.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        maxwell | April 8, 2011 at 11:13 am

        I may have missed something …

        maxwell, you not only missed something, you missed the whole thing.. The investigations were whitewashes that did not even ask the questions, much less get the answers. They were all, including the one at CRU, pathetic jokes.

        So no, that is neither transparent nor is it honest. The university is totally culpable in this one, first for the evasion of the FOI requests, and then for the coverup.

        You really should get out more, maxwell, claims like that just make people point and laugh. Steve McIntyre over at Climate Audit has a dissection of each of the “investigations”.

        w.

        PS – Ohhh, things were so hard, so tough, that poor liddle Phil Jones started crying …

        Dude, he should have been put in jail for both destroying emails that were evidence of his guilt, and asking others to do so as well.

        In addition, he should have been fired for his scientific malfeasance.

        Finally, at a minimum he should have been shown the door for colossal incompetence. He couldn’t even say where his data was, where it came from, what kind of agreements it was under, his computer programs were a mess … but he knew enough to deny FOI requests that would have shown that.

        And you think Phil Jones has been sufficiently investigated and punished because he CRIED!?! What is this, the Oprah Winfrey show, where if you cry, the audience cries with you, and all your sins are forgiven?

        You really, really, really need to get out more …

      • What the scientists did certainly wasn’t ‘honest’ and definitely not ‘transparent’. But the response of the university was honest and transparent

        No, dishonest and opague, as others have noted.

        And the universities’ attempted whitewashings were far more damaging to science than what their scientists did. Had they shown even a passing interest in getting to the truth, and then say sacked the scientists involved, Climategate would have been forgotten after a few weeks, and a clear message would have been delivered to a rotting science. But because they were more concerned with political correctness and their political grants, they chose instead to cover up the science crimes they sponsored, thereby entrenching the rot and so keeping Climategate the festering sore it remains.

      • Maxwell: “A handful of advocacy driven climate scientists are NOT representative of ‘science’ or ‘scientists’. ” Agreed, just so. But that pernicious handful is wielding disproportionate influence through its hold on the IPCC and on influential scientific journals, distorting public policy making, and dragging decent science into the gutter, while denigrating its critics as ‘anti-science’.

      • denigrating its critics as ‘anti-science’.

        Quite clever really, this framing of opposition to science fraud as opposition to science itself.
        This needs to be turned around to : support for science fraud (broadly the Democrats), vs opposition to science fraud (broadly the Republicans)

      • Coldish,

        ‘But that pernicious handful is wielding disproportionate influence through its hold on the IPCC and on influential scientific journals, distorting public policy making, and dragging decent science into the gutter, while denigrating its critics as ‘anti-science’.’

        Yes, and all of that behavior is wrongheaded and much of it unethical. But I’ll ask you a question, where has such behavior gotten this group of scientists?

        Are they any closer to realizing their policy prescriptions?

        No.

        Are they affecting public opinion in the desired ways?

        No.

        Is their influential not being recognized even within the scientific community?

        No.

        Basically nothing they have tried to use as leverage for a specific policy prescription has worked. As a world, we are now farther from global emissions standards than in the last 20 years. So really, all of this should be a good lesson to these individuals. We’ll see if they view in that light.

        All in all I agree with your assessment. I just don’t believe that it has the significance that many ‘skeptics’ see. None of their ‘plan’ (if it has been planned or forethought) has made their idea of the best world come any closer to true.

        Again, the manipulation of any scientific process for political gain is bad for ‘science’. That goes as much for specific conservative organizations who distort public policy making and drag decent science into the gutter as well. So there are factions in both sides of this debate who are doing ‘science’ a disservice. If we want to get the debate back on the right track, it’s better to leave crying babies cry, in my opinion.

  6. Given that climate science as a community failed spectacularly in a large number of instances by not only failing to police corrupt and incompetent work, but by embracing it and parading it to the attention of the world, logic tells us that the default position is to assume that the work is all flawed unless or until it has been thoroughly examined.

    Those scientists with an incentive to police the garbage and clean up their backyard are those scientists who do not wish to be regarded in the same manner as their peers.

    • Stan

      You wrote:

      “the default position is to assume that the work is all flawed unless or until it has been thoroughly examined”

      As painful as this may be for the many honest climate scientists out there, this sounds like a pretty good “null hypothesis” to me.

      Max

      • As long as the “self-correcting” aspect of science is broken, it is. Some scientists want to say that the studies which have been exposed as derelict are relatively few. But as a percentage of those which have been checked, they are large. And of course, what little checking and correction has been done is always fought tooth and nail by the science community.

        The number of scientists who are actively corrupt is likely not huge. But the community as a whole has clearly been corrupted. Since it doesn’t “work” the way science needs to work, we simply cannot trust it. Especially when the stakes are very high for society. Until the scientists with a desire for reputations of integrity clean up the mess, they will continue to have to stand and work in the midst of it.

      • Stan

        I agree with everything you have written, but would add, as a way to go forward:

        The IPCC must be disbanded immediately, with no further government funding.

        It should be replaced with a small group of scientists plus statisticians who have not been tainted by the scandal (including some who are openly skeptical of the IPCC premise of alarming AGW), and should not be under the auspices of the UN.

        This group should be given the charter to collect all the studies related to our planet’s climate, deciding which ones should be subject to an independent quality control audit and then putting together a short summary report with links to all the studies.

        This report should supersede all the previous IPCC summary reports. It need not comprise thousands of pages, but it should contain the data that are required for deciding whether or not AGW represents a real existential problem for mankind requiring policy actions or not, starting with the “null hypothesis” that this is not the case.

        To whom should this committee report and be accountable?

        It must be accountable to those who pay for the research work being performed. These are the taxpayers of the developed countries, through their elected representatives (not appointed secretaries, ministers or “czars”). This could be a loose group of elected representatives representing the key OECD nations (or groups, such as the EU), plus possibly China, India and Russia, with representation and voting rights proportional to the amount of climate-related research funding budgeted and provided by each member nation. As the largest single contributor, the USA should take the lead and chair this committee. The committee should play no role in writing or framing the scientific summary report, but should have a voice in deciding which individual studies should be subject to an independent open audit.

        I’m sure others here might have other ideas on this, but the key point is the IPCC has outlived its usefulness and relevance and should be disbanded and replaced by something more transparent and accountable to the taxpayers of the countries funding the research work.

        Max

  7. “In addition, some worry that the current media environment has exacerbated partisanship; people can simply pick and choose among sources of information that reinforce their existing world view. The web can advance, for lack of a better word, “truthiness,” the term used most famously by the comic pundit Stephen Colbert.”

    There is distrust because it was earned. It is not an issue of picking and choosing sides as in a football match.

    If the process were open, if the data and methods were available, if the Universities had done their jobs and “encouraged” openness, ESPECIALLY in the face of FOI requests, this would not have been nearly the issue that it has become. In fact, ALL of this is a direct result of researchers behavior.

    They are the ones who chose to veer away from using the scientific method. They are the ones who decided on their own that independent verification wasn’t a part of science.

    This isn’t a scientific debate. If well documented scientific principles were followed, there would be no need to send FOI requests for data.

    This isn’t a communications problem. If the data and methods were available, there would be no need to create an advanced-tactical-rapid-climate-communications-response team.

    This is a problem created entirely by the actions of these specific team scientists.

    Bruce

    • There is distrust because it was earned….

      If the process were open, if the data and methods were available, if the Universities had done their jobs and “encouraged” openness, ESPECIALLY in the face of FOI requests, this would not have been nearly the issue that it has become. In fact, ALL of this is a direct result of researchers behavior.

      Bruce: Well said. The article has its good points. At least the author doesn’t resort to “deniers” and “hacked emails.” However, it is maddening in that the author is largely unable to see the responsibility of academics and scientists in Climategate.

      That he quotes a snarky smear from Colbert — “truthiness” — and applies it to those Americans who somehow came to distrust climate change more after Climategate is further proof of academia’s self-serving, arrogant blindness in this debate.

      • Indeed. “truthiness” is like “denier”. It may be an accurate description of a small minority, but it’s a brass knuckled insult to everyone else.

      • I think the phrase “sciency” that Job Stewart has used is a terrific description of what many involved in this fiasco can be accused of. Mann, Briffa, Jones, et al have engaged in activities that seem like science, they’ve produced work that looks like science, but actually is not real science. Worse still, they’ve evaded, conspired, and confabulated about their actions. Not science.. definitely “sciency”.

        Bruce

  8. Interesting article, but sadly missing the point of ClimateGate by a country mile.

    One point was the evidence found in those e-mails for exceedingly bad science – something which was already, before ClimateGate, painstakingly shown up by Steve McIntyre’s audits.
    The other point was the evidence of the manipulation of the peer review, also something already investigated by Andrew Montfort (e.g. Hockey Stick Illusion).
    So this question:
    i>”What is the best course of action when scholars’ motives and research are attacked? How quickly should they respond? Who should vet such allegations — universities, disciplinary societies, or some other entity?”
    also misses the point.
    Why should scholars’ research not be attacked? Isn’t such an attack driving research forward?
    And why should scholars’ motives not be attacked when they attack the motives of those who dare question them?

    The following two quotes illustrate that academics seem to be very uncomfortable with the thought that ‘mere lay people’ can question them, on blogs even! Here’s the first:
    “But, some scholars note with dismay, it also allows anyone with an Internet connection to publish his or her views and to find a platform to cast doubt on others, often without being held accountable.”
    But – who actually is holding scientists using ‘tricks’ accountable?
    No one, I think. The various inquiries were whitewashes, and remind me of nothing so much as the enquiries into doctors’ malpractices held by doctors of the relevant medical associations in the olden days, where no doctor was actually found guilty …

    And this statement:
    “In addition, some worry that the current media environment has exacerbated partisanship; people can simply pick and choose among sources of information that reinforce their existing world view. “
    is ridiculous.
    Before the internet, people choose the papers they read in exactly the same way. This is not something which happened only since there were blogs.
    It shows nicely that a great many scientists, in many disciplines, seem to have no sense of history. For them, nothing that happened before, say 1980, ever really took place …

    People haven’t changed – what has changed is that the wars between academics, which used to be fought in learned journals and in letters to the editor of various broadsheets, are now out in the open where everybody can see them.
    That’s all. No need to call in the cavalry.

    Mind – it would be good if scientists held their colleagues within their own disciplines to keeping to the standards of proper scientific research!

    • Viv Evans, 4/6/11, 3:12 pm, scholars & scandals,

      Your view that the article [was] sadly missing the point of ClimateGate by a country mile is driven home by its first paragraph:

      In Nov. 2009, the unauthorized release of 1,000 e-mails between British and American climate scientists soon metastasized into a media (and, many say, manufactured) event. By seizing on two turns of phrase in one e-mail — that a “trick” should be used to “hide the decline” in a graph used in a 1999 World Meteorological Organization report — global warming skeptics painted a picture, largely successfully in some precincts of public opinion, of climate scientists as biased and the underlying science of global warming as in doubt.

      Far from seizing on a trivial point close to the substance of climate, the e-mails reveal a pattern and a conspiracy to commit fraud upon the public, and of unethical practices to punish the slightest dissent. In light of that misconduct, the release could be fairly called a whistle-blowing. By use of the word skeptics, and by disparaging of residual doubt in climatology, the writer reveals an alignment with the culprits, and a poorly developed science literacy.

      Universities might consider teaching a compulsory course to all its physical science and engineering students in the philosophy and principles of science, including its ethics, except for the fact that the course material need be a mere folio. Perhaps a series of lectures would do. This material should not be left to on-the-job osmosis.

      Professional journals should publish their criteria for accepting articles in every issue, and incorporate a peer or superior review process just sufficient to that task. The goal of review should be journalistic and scientific quality, and never conformity to dogma. Journals should seek technical controversy, inviting papers, and republishing papers with views and models clearly departing from the standard or conventional science or politics. Disputes should be settled civilly in the letters.

      Professional societies, especially those which have endorsed AGW, need to set new standards for themselves along these same lines.

  9. But, some scholars note with dismay, it also allows anyone with an Internet connection to publish his or her views

    and

    “If everyone is a publisher, that’s a disaster,” he said. “That’s a real threat.”

    Call me…skeptical of such claims, but I cannot see much evidence of the Internet in building up/sustaining pseudoscientific controversies. If Internet-mediated truthiness really ruled the day, velikovskyans, chemtrailers, moonhoaxers, creationists and raelians would have become mainstream by now.

    They haven’t, and no matter how much stuff they’re going to post, there is no change that they will ever do.

    So What is the best course of action when scholars’ motives and research are attacked?. Einstein showed the way. He believed his work enough not to worry about a hundred authors writing essays against it. He stayed his course and didn’t go around whining about people challenging him “without inhibition”.

    That’s because the best PR for scientists is of course to behave as if they believed their work. Everything else will undermine their public stance, as shown by the UEA and the AAA, both “institutions” defending themselves, not “truth” or “science”.

  10. The conlcusion that universities are the proper arbiters of these problems, after the author in the same paragraph points out that it is universities who recieve the ultimate benefit from the money that funds the research is pitiable. But it does demonstrate how far we have fallen.
    Of course it is in all of our best interests to police for wrong doing.
    Do academics really believe, as this article implies, that they are somehow a breed apart and not due the same chcks and balances and outside reviews as anyone else?
    But then, this report was written by….academics.
    I wonder just how self serving and self-absorbed science will get before the leash gets yanked?

  11. “It’s in nobody’s corporate interest to police activity.”

    The incentives aren’t there for universities and professional societies to self-police effectively

    That depends on whether they value their funding. My BS was from Penn State, many of those in my high school class also graduated from Penn State. Of those that I’m still in contact with, a majority (including myself) have stopped contributing to Penn State. And some of those people are major contributors.

    The blogosphere has many virtues: it is egalitarian, democratic, decentralized and quick. But, some scholars note with dismay, it also allows anyone with an Internet connection to publish his or her views and to find a platform to cast doubt on others, often without being held accountable.

    Mostly true – BUT fails to note the on-line peer review function by a large community of qualified (and sometimes, over-qualified) commenters that would not have been possible 20 years ago. Witness the eclectic collection of characters with a wide array of expertise in different fields (as well as a wide array of opinions) on this blog. For those who paid attention, the deconstruction of Dan Rather happened exactly this way – by the application of multiple fields of knowledge by a group of people who had never met but were drawn together on the Internet by mutual interest to resolve inconsistencies in the story that could not have been been resolved by any single person or group. It’s a form of distributed processing.

    It also fails to note that while extreme views (scientific, political or otherwise) , nonsense, stupidity, etc. may draw a small audience, most of those sites are very likely to be short-lived and have little or no real influence. Accountability doesn’t matter so much if you have no audience.

    The smarter scholars, like Dr Curry, will use the blogosphere to provide feedback, conversation, information and communication. Witness the recent thread discussing Dr Curry’s paper, asking for comments. Improving the product is always a good idea.

  12. The unfortunate fact is that as government’s continue to cut back on subsidies for education around the world, universities are going to have a harder and harder time providing ‘self-policing’. Many universities are now using more and more of their legal teams to find paths between research conducted on campus and products using that research. It’s an ever-growing component of the research university: technology transfer. As those finite resources become more and more tied up in finding money to get the university growing, they will have fewer resources for ‘self-policing’.

    So there is the dilemma. Take money away from universities and they can’t police themselves. Give them money we supposedly don’t have and they can.

    On the flip side, as most here are complaining about lack of transparency on the part of the academe, organizations like the American Physical Society (APS) are providing their ENTIRE journal catalog for free to public libraries all over the United States. I think that sets a very promising standard for other professional societies. Hopefully given that precedent the American Geophysical Union (AGU) will do the same and make it harder for serious participants in this issue to claim that scientists, in general, are trying to hide something.

    While some may act suspiciously, most of us have nothing to hide.

    • Compared to a generation ago, universities are swimming in money. If they don’t police themselves, it certainly won’t be because they lack the money to do so.

    • Is “self policing” at universities a money problem?

      I hardly believe so.

      Taxpayer-funded research work generates a lot of income for universities. The taxpayers have every right to insist that the universities do an adequate quality control job.

      When an organization like Penn State fails to stop a fraudulent study from being published that is poor QC work. When it then covers this up that is denial.

      Max

      • stan,

        ‘Compared to a generation ago, universities are swimming in money.

        Sure, the richest universities are richer than ever. But where is that money going?

        Is the legal department growing to the extent that as controversy arise, they can be there to solve the problem before it becomes public knowledge?

        NO!

        Most of the money universities get goes into infrastructure. That is, maintaining decades-old structures, retrofitting research facilities with more up-to-date safety and security needs and building new structures. Every university is trying to growth, just as most businesses do. Most of the rest of the money goes into a big pile out back that NOBODY can touch.

        In the states, state legislatures have been slashing subsidies for almost 20 years now. This sends the message that the university are really ‘on their own’. So they need a savings account and investments, just like anyone else.

        So while revenue might be up for some of the larger research universities, most of it gets spent on overhead.

        Max,

        Taxpayer-funded research work generates a lot of income for universities.

        Sure, about half of that taxpayer money goes to paying for utilities and staff that manage the actual facility. Most of the rest goes to living expenses for the researchers themselves, whose health care is covered by the grant money. The rest is spent on equipment, supplies and specialty items necessary to do the actual work.

        Unless you can prove with actual documentation that university’s are somehow taking grant money and not paying their bills, your argument doesn’t really work. All the money is accounted for and doesn’t make anyone ‘rich’.

        This is the take home point. Most staff allowances at big research universities have been slashed all over the US. Europe seems to be working in the same direction. Places like Arizona and Florida were badly hit with funding cuts that closed down entire programs. Other schools have seen similar cutbacks and hiring freezes. I have personal experience with these cutbacks as my wife is currently looking for such a position.

        And I’m supposed to believe that these places are getting ‘rich’?

        Dr. Curry should have some excellent insight into the administration of such an institution and how many resources a university can really put into ‘self-policing’. Maybe she can let us in on how a dean sees these issues if she has time.

        As far as the other part of the quote goes,

        ‘The taxpayers have every right to insist that the universities do an adequate quality control job.

        No, they don’t. They have a REASONABLE right to insist. That is, they can ask for an inquiry into the accusations, which Penn State and the National Academy of Sciences did, and an investigation, which Penn State and the National Academy of Sciences also did. None of this entitles the taxpayers to get the answer they are seeking, however.

        How would it work if every time a researcher published a paper that showed the utility evolution in explaining observations in microbiology an inquiry was convened because taxpayers wanted to invoke their right to freedom of religion to challenge the findings?

        That doesn’t seem very reasonable to me.

        I agree that what seemed to happen with respect to the ‘hockey stick’ was dubious. But when the gold standard is an expert’s judgment in making those decisions, that’s the standard. And Mann’s work passes that standard. Hands down.

        And while it may not have worked to our satisfaction in that case, it works splendidly most others.

      • double the fun with double the comment!

  13. I think this might be of interest here – it provides another perspective.

    • He’s right.

    • That is a true description of, how many of the most important new ideas have developed. It’s indeed true that their inventors have been stubborn and given more weight on their gut feelings that to the proofs by others.

      It is, however, very far from truth to claim that every scientist would be in that situation even once during his carrier or that scientists never change their mind. I’m certain that every scientist including the great ones has admitted a zillion times that he was wrong – but only after understanding himself where the error was and why the intuition has indeed failed.

    • Brilliant!

      Max

    • agreed this is very interesting. WUWT posted one of his essays a few months ago, which expands on the video
      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/12/29/terence-kealey-what-does-climategate-say-about-science/

    • Isn’t this old news? Of course all great scientists are advocates in the sense that they will proceed a long ways with their research in spite of discouragement and even falsification.

      Einstein himself spent half his life battling the Bohr version of quantum mechanics and sought futilely a unified field theory, thereby becoming a sad deluded figure to most physicists in his later years.

      But the trick word here is advocate. How many great scientists colluded with others to destroy data and correspondence, refused to share data, rigged peer review behind the scenes, constructed squirrelly presentations to paste over inconvenient data, squelched public discussions of their science, or took it upon themselves to decide just how scary they would pitch their science in order to create political changes they desired.

      I have no problem with stubborn scientists on their grail quests to truth. But scientists who behave like machine politicians or soviet commissars are something else entirely.

    • John Carpenter

      I am really torn with what Kealey is saying. I can completely identify with having a biased view of what kind of an outcome you want your research to show. It is absolutely correct. Scientists do not perform experiments or seek data to disprove what they believe the answer should be according to their theory or idea. I get that… I live that. We all advocate for our ideas and proudly display data that confirm them.

      Where I don’t agree is… if your idea/theory is falsified by other data or experimentation, that we ignore the falsification and soldier on. Nobody who advocates for their ideas ignores the threat of being falsified. Maybe I am misunderstanding what he is saying, but when the threat of a competing/alternate idea comes up, you not only continue to advocate for your original idea, but you seek to falsify the competing idea… or you steal it and try to incorporate it into your idea in a way they can both co-exsist. Well… maybe that’s just me.

      • Agreed John. That’s really the difference between those that are intellectually honest and those that are not… really the difference between science and belief.

        The best scientists are the folks that are unsure about their findings. They work diligently to find alternative explanations… they consistently work to poke holes in their own, pet theories. The best scientists are concerned that they may have MISSED something, some otherwise obvious explanation for the observed findings/effects… they are concerned that they may have fooled themselves.

        Those that simply believe seek confirmation of their beliefs.

        Bruce

      • John Carpenter

        BDAABAT,

        “The best scientists are concerned that they may have MISSED something, some otherwise obvious explanation for the observed findings/effects… they are concerned that they may have fooled themselves.”

        This is an excellent way to put it. I’m always waiting for the “other shoe to drop”.

    • I think Terence Kealey is trying to say, in a very compact way, that naive Popperism is simply not a very good description of how human beings do science. He’s right about that. He quoted the slogan “science progresses funeral by funeral.” Another one along the same lines goes something like: “theories are not overturned by data, but by better theories.” But this line of thinking can collapse into an overly cynical and subjective view of the whole enterprise. For my money, the writer who did the best job of diagnosing how it is that subjective, biased and impassioned humans nonetheless manage to create objectively true scientific knowledge is Michael Polanyi, in particular in his book “Personal Knowledge”, a difficult but very rewarding read.

      • My immediate reaction to the Kealey talk was to imagine everyone in this thread smiling, nodding their heads in agreement, and saying to themselves, “Yes, great scientists go with their gut feeling even when the majority says they are wrong. I go with my gut feeling even when the majority says I’m wrong. Therefore, I’m a great scientist.”

        I think Kealey gets it half right. What he says about individual scientists is often true, but rival scientists are usually the last to concur, and so the valid theories promulgated by the great and less great scientists don’t become consensus without extensive challenges, and without surviving those challenges over long intervals, by which I mean many decades. Once that happens, though, the history of modern science tells us that major theories are not going to be overthrown – whether by data, by new theories, or by funerals. Rather, they will be refined, modified, and perhaps expanded. Examples are evolution, Relativity, and QM – the latter two modifying but not overthrowing Newtonian mechanics, which works very well for our ordinary purposes. If a theory is to be overthrown in the face of very active investigation and scrutiny, it will almost never remain a dominant paradigm within mainstream science for more than a few decades. Even the most protracted examples such as the scientific perspectives antedating plate tectonics and the prion theory of neurodegenerative disease tell us that these new theories started to replace older theories within a few decades and completed the transition in under half a century.

        To acknowledge my own bias on this point, I note that the principles of greenhouse gas-mediated global warming that have been extensively investigated for more than 50 years would have been largely replaced by now within the consensus view and not merely in the view of outsiders to the mainstream if science history is any guide. Precedent is not proof, but it’s a useful perspective to keep in mind.

      • My immediate reaction to the Kealey talk was to imagine everyone in this thread smiling, nodding their heads in agreement, and saying to themselves, “Yes, great scientists go with their gut feeling even when the majority says they are wrong. I go with my gut feeling even when the majority says I’m wrong. Therefore, I’m a great scientist.”

        Fred M: I think this says more about you than the rest of us.

        For the record I think I’m an ordinary person with the commonsense to notice that (1) for decades environmental scientists have made fearful, exaggerated predictions, (2) rational people with an overwhelmingly winning hand in a debate don’t cut corners, collude, squelch discussion, and behave as though they were above the law or provide cover for those who do, and (3) people who cut off discussion and demand immediate action are often selling something.

        My gut feeling is that people who behave like untrustworthy people are usually not trustworthy people.

    • Harold H Doiron

      Climate Scientists remind me of the bandits in the classic movie, “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” who, when posing as lawmen and were asked to show their badges, responded, “Badges?, Badges!!!?, We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!!”. ……..As Dr. Kealey suggests, there are no judges in the CAGW climate scientist community, they just say, “Judges?, Judges!!!?, We don’t need no stinkin’ judges!!”…..and so they have more skeptics like me than they will ever admit.

  14. John Kannarr

    Given that Scholars and Scandal starts out, in its very first paragraph, with a major bit of intellectual dishonesty, claiming that “hide the decline” was seized upon by skeptics to paint a false picture of climate science, I find it difficult to assume that the rest of the article represents a neutral attempt to achieve a genuine solution to the issues of challenges to published scholarly work that will help us get to scientific truth.

    It is pretty well established by now, at least within the blogsphere, that the approach of hide the decline was used to mask the bad logic of accepting tree ring proxies as accurate representations of prehistoric temperatures, when the most recent period when such proxies can actually be verified against historic temperature records falsifies the entire approach. This is a simple case of false logic, not dependent on extensive knowledge of climate science, but available to any honest mind to recognize. Yet still we see this glaring problem ignored. Why can no academic see this point and say, “something’s wrong here, the skeptics have a major complaint,” and why has no one within climate science honestly owned up to it?

    • Depends on which skeptics. For most people wanting a simple narrative, “hide the decline” sounds an awfully lot like “fake the data”. The problem for the circle-the-wagons crowd is that “Mike’s Nature trick” isn’t a clever way to do anything innocent; there’s no innocent explanation for what they did, even if they weren’t faking any data.

      So you have the ridiculous situation where the politicos on both sides have it wrong, but there’s still the smell of a smoking gun in the air. How to clear it up? You can’t as long as you have a significant group of scientists who dig in and demand that there was nothing wrong.

      Here we are.

  15. Here are my comments on the Dan Berrett article on Climategate

    From the opening paragraph we see in which direction author Dan Berrett wants to steer this. (For those of us who are old enough to remember, it is reminiscent of the denial of the Nixon administration to the serious nature of Watergate.)

    In Nov. 2009, the unauthorized release of 1,000 e-mails between British and American climate scientists soon metastasized into a media (and, many say, manufactured) event. By seizing on two turns of phrase in one e-mail — that a “trick” should be used to “hide the decline” in a graph used in a 1999 World Meteorological Organization report — global warming skeptics painted a picture, largely successfully in some precincts of public opinion, of climate scientists as biased and the underlying science of global warming as in doubt.

    “media (and many say, manufactured) event”?

    Sorry, Dan. It was a lot more than a manufactured media event; it was the beginning of a full blown scandal involving a group of very influential climate scientists and IPCC, the supposedly gold standard scientific organization on climate science.

    “By seizing on two turns of phrase in one e-mail — that a ‘trick’ should be used to ‘hide the decline’”.

    Berrett is apparently in denial. That was just the tip of the iceberg, but it was bad enough, in that it revealed how paleo-climate data were manipulated and cherry-picked to get a preconceived message across.

    “global warming skeptics painted a picture, largely unsuccessfully in some precincts of public opinion, of climate scientists as biased and the underlying science of global warming as in doubt”

    The “picture” did not need to get “painted”. It was there for everyone to see.

    “largely unsuccessfully”? If that were true, why would Climategate still be a topic 18 months later and why would Berrett even be writing about it today?

    The facts are that a group of “climate scientists” exposed themselves as “biased” and corrupted, for one and all to observe.

    Certainly not all of “the underlying science of global warming” had been cast “in doubt”, but a key portion had, i.e.
    · non-transparent historical temperature records (which point to late 20th century accelerated warming) and
    · bogus paleo-climate reconstructions (which suggested unprecedented 20th century warming and rate of warming for 1300 years).

    Berrett then presents a rehash of the whitewashes that have occurred, further weakening the public confidence in climate scientists and climate science in general.

    One committee (chaired by Lord Ron Oxburgh) wrote:

    “We saw no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit,”

    Ouch! Destruction of data requested under FoI may not legally be “deliberate scientific malpractice”, but it sure makes malpractice hard to find.

    In addition Berrett presents a plaidoyer against the intrusion of the blogoshpere into climate science, which (quoting panel chairman, Muir Russell):

    provides an opportunity for unmoderated comment to stand alongside peer reviewed publications; for presentations or lectures at learned conferences to be challenged without inhibition; and for highly personalized critiques of individuals and their work to be promulgated without hindrance. This is a fact of life, and it would be foolish to challenge its existence

    Muir Russell plus Berrett himself need to wake up. Yes, the blogospere is a “fact of life”, and it is also a game changer. Peer review has never been a guarantee of either accuracy or objectivity; several incidents of “pal review” in climate science (as described in some detail by the Wegman committee regarding the “hockey stick”) have made it even less meaningful.

    Berrett refers to the Russell committee’s call for “scientists to be more open with their data” and writes:

    “A failure to recognize this and to act appropriately can lead to immense reputational damage by feeding allegations of cover up,” Russell’s panel continued. “Being part of a like-minded group may provide no defense. Like it or not, this indicates a transformation in the way science has to be conducted in this century.”

    “Allegations of cover up”? (Ehrlichman, where are you?)

    Many observers have seen the committee reports as insider whitewashes, intended to cover up malfeasance by some climate scientists and, hence, cover up manipulated and distorted “climate science” being reported by IPCC.

    Berrett calls for more open communication.

    This is undoubtedly important, but communication is not the key problem here. He then writes:

    On the other hand, academic research, at least ideally, is supposed to pursue truth instead of truthiness. It is conducted methodically, with attention to context and scholarly standards, and is at its best when held accountable through such vehicles as peer review. But it also can be slow-moving and, to the uninitiated, opaque.

    This has been a key weakness of the IPCC process itself, a basically corrupt process to which the guilty Climategate scientists have arguably fallen victim. IPCC has never been interested in finding “truth” about our planet’s climate; from the very beginning it has been all about finding “proof” for its notion of alarming anthropogenic climate change.

    Berrett then gets into a semantic discussion of “truth” versus “truthiness”, where the former is, at least ideally, supposed to be the pursuit of academic research, and the latter is:

    “the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.”

    There can be no better description of the IPCC process than Berrett’s definition of “truthiness” (I have seen others refer to it as “troof”).

    Yet Berrett turns the argument around by making the rather convoluted claim that the climate scientists have pursued “truth” while the media reports on Climategate have promulgated “truthiness”

    In the case of Climategate, truthiness seems to have prevailed. Forty-seven percent of Americans polled soon after the story broke in the mainstream media said that news coverage of the e-mails had made them either somewhat (18 percent) or much more (29 percent) certain that global warming was not happening

    [A silly poll, the question should not have been "is global warming happening?", but rather "is potentially alarming global warming happening as a result of huiman activities?"]

    Berrett quotes a researcher of public opinion on Climategate

    But the issue has faded from memory for all but the most skeptical members of the general public, Leiserowitz said, with some who were on the fence indicating that their opinions had hardened. “Probably some people who were formerly doubtful became dismissive because of Climategate,” he said. “It will be hard to win back their trust.”

    I can see no evidence that the Climategate scandal or skepticism about the IPCC have faded from the memory of the public; in fact, the opposite seems to be true.

    Berrett opines:

    Claims of fraud, fabrication and ethical breaches in research in the social sciences and the humanities rarely tend to surface as publicly or as explosively as they did in Climategate

    Here I agree 100% with Berrett. Of course, there is a major reason for this: AGW has become a multi-billion dollar big business, largely financed by the taxpayer in the developed world today. If carbon taxes get implemented, it will become a multi-trillion dollar big business. So the general public is becoming aware that this is not simply a remote scientific discussion, but a debate about policy issues that will directly affect their lives and well-being. When the public then perceives that the scientific foundation for the proposed policy changes is weak, flawed or corrupted, as Climategate revealed, the reaction is, indeed, “explosive”.

    The rest of Berrett’s article gets off into a discussion of the “Yanomami / El Dorado / AAA” brouhaha and unrelated philosophical sidetracks.

    But the “take home” for me is:

    Berrett has not yet understood what Climategate (and the ensuing revelations of IPCC malfeasance and fabrications) were all about.

    It reminds me of the denial by the Nixon administration of the crucial significance of Watergate, during early stages of the cover-up.

    Max

  16. If these people spent a tenth the time and energy on confronting the real issues of climate change that they do trying to analyze, medicalize or criminalize those that don’t agree with them, we’d probably be done and dusted on all this.

  17. Having been a university president I can say that finding out the truth in any allegation of academic misbehaviour is no easy thing. And it can rarely happen with lightning speed, for reasons of natural justice: time has to be provided to the accused, who usually brings in the staff association, some of the requested material is hard to find, or comes by mail, or is possessed by someone who is currently overseas, lawyers may be involved. That said, Australia possesses a few cases of high profile people who have been assessed, found guilty, and thrown out. There may have been cover-ups, but I don’t recall any suspicion of one in my time.

    To me, the great rule, where there has been error, and one committed it oneself, is to say ‘I was wrong’, and say it at once. If it the deed requires an apology, make it, and make it at once. The damage to one’s self-esteem may be great, but the whole mess will be over very quickly — and people are as likely afterwards to remember the apology or confessed error (favourably) as they are the incident itself.

    The problem is that we academics have large but fragile egos. I could sense the ego problem as I read through the Climategate emails, and felt the doom coming. For what it’s worth, I also felt that the release of the emails had to be an inside job, on the part of someone who got more and more worried (and offended, ethically) by what had been going on.

    The general quality of the debate and discussion on Judith’s website makes me feel that we ought to be moving to a system where people proposing to publish an article expose its draft to critical review on a dedicated site somewhere for a week, say, and find out what the holes and strengths of the paper really are. Perhaps there is something like that already — I’m no longer interested in publishing in academic journals — but if so I’m not aware of it.

    • I agree on your comment that the release of the emails was an inside job, based on someone inside being offended by the various machinations outlined in said emails. I posted a comment on these lines at CA very early after the release

      IMO, your use of the word “ego” as the motivator for the behaviour evident in the emails is a euphemism. The word needed here is VANITY – the Achilles Heel of homo sapiens

    • To me, the great rule, where there has been error, and one committed it oneself, is to say ‘I was wrong’, and say it at once. If it the deed requires an apology, make it, and make it at once.

      Yup – that’s the key. There have been studies done wrt medical errors – and what the families are looking for more than money (generally) is just someone to say – “We were wrong. We’re sorry”. There “are” exceptions, of course.

    • The problem is that we academics have large but fragile egos.

      Don A: I’m sure you’re right about the egos. Yet is that the end of it? Isn’t there a question of ethics as well?

      I can admit to a large but fragile ego myself. But really and truly I can’t imagine myself conspiring with colleagues to delete data and emails, disregard FOI requests, rig peer view, ad nauseum, then when I was caught out by my own words, pretend that nothing untoward happened.

      I read the emails and sense people who missed some Sunday school classes or formative discussions with their parents about honesty and integrity.

      Or is academia today so corrupted that everyone plays the game like the scientists in the Climategate emails?

      My lawyer friend tells me that law students must take a class in Legal Ethics. Is there anything comparable for science students?

      • is academia today so corrupted that everyone plays the game like the scientists in the Climategate emails?

        How else to interpret the deafening silence from academia over Climategate?
        Which is a prima facie case for simply throwing out any climate science tainted by association with Jones, Mann, et al, until the situation is rectified.

      • Agreed, everyone has an ego, most people, at least most of the time, subordinate the imperatives of the ego to integrity and morality. That is essential to the (reasonably) harmonious functioning of any and every society. Those who can not constrain themselves are beyond the pale.

  18. There are some interesting point but on a balance it’s an establishment driven perspective to downplay what Climategate really means. Speaking of “truthiness” consider the ill conceived “poll” in the article relating to public reactions to Climategate;

    http://environment.yale.edu/climate/files/Climategate_Opinion_and_Loss_of_Trust_1.pdf

    Shouldn’t we really be past the point of the bait and switch of asking “do you believe in global warming” when the onion of the matter is if that warming is tied to human activity and specifically co2 regulation as an excuse for for massive global wealth redistribution scheme?? Ancient warmist Sophistry even in 2011. Without the human fingerprint the topic goes to a whole other level of mitigation which is why every warmist engages in this obfuscation tactic. Who cares if there is climate change if you can’t justify massive global regulations and taxes to mitigate it??? So the real question is what the weasel word of the IPCC “signifcant” means in regard to human co2 input and where is the proof?

    Also avoided and thereby distorted is that Climatgate goes to the heart of the Hockey Stick, the many past abuses and distortions unmentioned. The disinformation stands that “Climate Science has moved on…..” and “this isn’t that important to the AGW argument any longer” to paraphrase two of the most common and current warmist retorts around both the Hockey Stick and Climategate. So the article buries itself about communication protocal and I would say likely does so tactically to avoid the substance of the scandal. The tree ring proxies as well as average temp models are the core of AGW regulatory ambitions and asking if the earth is warmer is a mere distraction. This same polling tactic is used time and again to maximize the alleged “mainstream consensus” by muddling warming and attribution, frankly it’s one of the most sicking but standard warmist devices.

    • andrew adams

      Who cares if there is climate change if you can’t justify massive global regulations and taxes to mitigate it???

      Quite a lot of us actually.

      • No offense Andrew, there are people who study all sorts of topics and that is their right and privilege. I wish the same for you, do you seriously think the debate is dominated by science inquire or the social/politcal stakes involved?? My comment was honest about the macro view of the debate as is my question to you.

      • andrew adams

        cwon1,

        I wish the same for you, do you seriously think the debate is dominated by science inquire or the social/politcal stakes involved??

        I don’t doubt that the debate is dominated by the latter – only a small part of it concerns the actual scientific arguments for or against AGW. But the fact that it has become a highly politicised subject doesn’t mean that those of us who advocate action on AGW are basically motivated by political considerations, which is the point I thought you were making. We want action because we accept the scientific case that AGW is a real threat, not because we want higher taxes and more regulation.

      • aa, I’m sure there are true believers in central planning. They look at the world as a source of misery and gravitate toward collective solutions. Large industrial interests are an easy scapegoat among this pool and agw fits the narrative. The actual science is very secondary and in large quarters the most anti-science of logic is king; “prove us wrong”. In an abstract field regarding weather and climate predictions and history. They captured the tactical highground in university circles (leftist) and built the IPCC tower over decades. They have a lock-down on “peer-review” and it all peaked on ar4 around 2006-07. Now it’s failing on it’s own weight.

        There are small sections of geology I’m sure having bitter debates, as I said, most of the world would not care. AGW mitigation is the most fantastic and speculative regulation in history which accounts for the millions with at least an oversight interest. Clever also that the developement of the IPCC and the “concensus” has extended itself into the world of the Roman Inquisition by deciding what is “science” (those who agree or stay silent) and labeling dissent as “deniers” (a direct reference to those who deny the Holocaust of WWII).
        It’s past the point of civility long ago but there are those who try on both sides. Really though, do you feel no responsibility on calling out the excess that so defines a solid core of agw advocates?? How is it possible for example for Gavin Schmidt to maintain public employment? James Hansen who has been arrested for radical behavior? http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/23/hansen-of-nasa-arrested-in-coal-country/

        Why do I as a taxpayer have to fund a radical eco-agenda?

      • andrew adams

        cwon1,

        Well there are certainly people who gravitate towards collective solutions to the world’s problems, I guess that generally applies to all of us who position ourselves on the left politically – just there are people on the right who are instinctively hostile to such solutions, or regulation of industry or anything else that smacks of “big government”. Those of us on the left tend to have less objection to such things but that doesn’t mean we want to impose them for their own sake, or that we want action on AGW in order to pursue a political agenda. There are enough problems on a domestic or global level for which we can argue for solutions which fit our particular political viewpoint, we certainly have no need to invent new ones. From where I’m sitting it’s the anti-government types on the right who have more incentive to take a “political” view on whether AGW is a threat. Certainly if you look seriously at the history of climate science – how our understanding of climate developed, how it gradually became apparent that human GHG emissions could pose a threat, how the IPCC came to be set up, it really doesn’t support the claims by the skeptics that there is some big political agenda behind AGW.

        I completely agree that the wide implications of AGW and measures to mitigate it mean that there will be wider and more heated debate around the subject than there will on differences of opinion in other scientific disciplines, and of course there are serious political considerations surrounding potential action on AGW. This says nothing about which side is right but it does explain why people are often very forthright in expressing their views on the subject. I’m all in favour of civil discussion and try to stick to that myself but on a subject of this importance it neither surprises nor upsets me that strong words get exchanged (although I do think there should be limits), and skeptics are just as guilty as throwing around labels as AGW advocates.

        As for the “excesses” of AGW advocates, there is absolutely nothing in Gavin Schmidt’s behaviour which would justify him losing his current position. WRT Hansen, I have no objection to the kind of activity he took part in per se, whether it is compatible with his position at NASA is a more tricky question and I do see the objection. Ultimately that’s a decision for NASA – what I’m more concerned about is whether his activism has prejudiced his scientific work and I see no evidence it has, ISTM that the influence has worked in the opposite direction.

        There are a very large number of climate scientists who accept the consensus position on AGW and I see no evidence that they are in general inclined towards one side of the political spectrum, let alone that they are driven by a “radical eco-agenda”. Nor are the large majority of us who accept this position and want our politicians and society in general to take the threat seriously. You can accept that or not as you wish.

      • aa,
        You lost it when you get to the part where it is the wicked righties who seek to politicize AGW.
        It is AGW believers who are pushing huge laws and imposing social changes and cliaming that anyone who dares quesiton the calamity are vile denialist scum working for energy companies.
        Skeptics just think AGW believers are wrong, and look forward to their realizing it sooner than later so we can move on to the next pop cult fear. And skeptics hoep that beleivers will not waste too much more money or create more food shortages or energy shortages while we wait for the believers to tire of CO2 as the cause du jour.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Andrew Adams, you say:

        As for the “excesses” of AGW advocates, there is absolutely nothing in Gavin Schmidt’s behaviour which would justify him losing his current position.

        Yeah, I always give my employees a couple of hours of paid time to attack other scientists on a blog every day … check the timestamps on Schmidt website.

        Andrew, he’s using my taxpayer money to censor opposing opinions, including mine, and to promote his own fantasies … but no, there’s no reason to fire him, its all in the best AGW tradition.

        w.

      • andrew adams

        hunter,

        Skeptics just think AGW believers are wrong

        No you don’t. You think they are “pushing huge laws and imposing social changes and cliaming that anyone who dares quesiton the calamity are vile denialist scum working for energy companies.”

      • andrew adams

        Willis,

        You should see the timestamps on my comments ; )

        Seriously though, it’s up to Gavin’s employers to judge whether him running RC is either incompatible with his position at NASA or prevents him from properly fulfilling his professional duties. If they conclude that it doesn’t, which certainly appears to be the case then fine.

      • AA: if you look seriously at the history of climate science … it really doesn’t support the claims by the skeptics that there is some big political agenda behind AGW.

        So, no connnections in these histories
        * Government has huge vested interest in CAGW being believed lieved, since it justifies more taxes etc
        * Government funds the science that preaches CAGW
        * Government funds close to 100% of all climate science.

        IOW, politics funds the CAGW thinking from which it stands to gain, exactly like tobacco companes funded the smoking-is-safe campaign from which it stood to gain. How blind do you have to be to not see the connections?

      • andrew adams

        Punksta,

        I don’t accept the argument that government has a vested interest in CAGW being believed so the rest of your argument is rather moot since it essentially depends on that point being true.

      • AA I see no evidence that they are in general inclined towards one side of the political spectrum

        It has been reported here that a large majority are Democrats, which of course puts them on the totalitarian end of the political spectrum.
        As does the fact that they they are government employees.

      • aa,
        So do you oppose the crazy AGW polices or are you demanding them anyway no matter the lack of evidence?

      • andrew adams

        hunter,

        I’d like to think I oppose crazy policies on any issue. Chopping down rainforests to grow biofuels is obviously bonkers, as is spraying stuff into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight. I’m not convinced that CCS is viable on any serious scale even if I wouldn’t describe it as “crazy”.

        TBH I’m pretty open minded as to solutions – I think that some kind of carbon pricing mechanism is neccessary but other than that, and what I
        mentioned above, I have no strong attachment to specific policies.

        A large part of the problem is political in the sense that there is stuff we can certainly do which will make a difference but the big question is “who pays”? I don’t have any easy answers to that one.

      • aa: Solutions… to what specific problem? What exactly are you afraid is going to happen that requires changing everything about the world’s energy use/economies?

        And, how does that specific problem compare to the rest of the world’s problems?

        Bruce

      • andrew adams

        Bruce,

        Even if you find the arguments about the likely consequences of AGW completely unconvincing, do you really not know what they are?

        As for how it compares to other problems, well it actually has an impact on a lot of the most serious issues we face such as those around water supplies, food production, the problems of dependence on fossil fuels etc., so you can’t really look at is in isolation from those issues, but overall I’d say it’s about the most serious problem we face.

      • Really? The most serious problem we face? How exactly?

        Is it because people are dying from global warming?

        No. No one has died from global warming.

        Yes, people are dying from lack of access to energy. That is happening NOW. This isn’t some theoretical, gosh, it might just turn out to be really bad in the next 100 years kind of a proposition. People are actively dying NOW from lack of access to energy. And your solution appears not to be to bring those that don’t have energy up to the standards of the rest of the world. Your solution seems to be to bring down the standards of the developed world to those of the developing world by limiting access to energy. And, for what, the possibility of maybe something bad happening at some far off point in the future?

        For all those that believe that energy is bad, that believe that carbon released into the atmosphere will impose problems for humans in the future, PLEASE do one thing first: please live like you don’t have access to energy….like the way you would like to condemn others to live.

        And, no, I’m not talking about changing out your incandescent bulbs for CFLs… I’m talking real change. Not power from carbon sources. No tv, no computer, no microwave, no refrigerator, no dishwasher, not hot water heater unless it’s from non carbon source energy.
        No food from the store… Needs to be food that was grown and distributed without using carbon.
        In addition, you cannot work in any industry that uses carbon based energy.

        No medical care that relies on carbon based energy either. And, please do this experiment with your family as well… It’s not enough that you directly experience the effects of the solutions you propose. You need to get your entries family involved.

        Do this for a year to see what it’s like. THEN come back here to share your beliefs and your experiences. But, until you go through the experience of living the life that you are suggesting to impose on billions of people, you have no credibility for the positions you advocate.

        Bruce

      • andrew adams

        Bruce,

        The idea that a problem can’t be considered very serious now because the worst effects will not be felt until future years/decades/centuries is just illogical. Should we have waited until millions were dying of skin cancer before we treated the hole in the ozone layer as a serious problem?

        Yes of course people are dying of other causes now – such as lack of food or clean water of because of disease. AGW is likely to make these problems worse. I’m not sure how many are actually dying because of lack of energy, not so many I’d have thought, but obviously poverty is a big problem and raising living standards will create more demand for energy. Of course us “warmists” have no desire to deprive them of the opportunity to improve their lives, nor to bring down the standards of those in the developed world to their level, so the last part of your argument is a huge straw man and you’ll excuse me if I don’t take up your challenge.

        It’s quite confusing though because on the one hand we are accused of wanting to keep people in the developing world poor by denying them access to energy and on the other of wanting to create a socialist world government which will give all our money to poor people in the developing world. Mind you the consistency of their arguments has never been the skeptics’ strong point. Either way, given that it is people in the developing world who will be hit hardest by AGW and the skeptics are doing their best to stop any action to prevent it forgive me if I find the faux outrage expressed by the skeptics on their behalf unconvincing.

      • Aa: I suggest reading about ozone first. You need to get the facts straight there.

        Second, I don’t see how you can say that it’s illogical to spend money on what MAY be a problem in decades while we have real problems now. An analogy that I’ve heard that seems apt is, attempting to do something about CAGW is like treating someone with a family history of cancer with chemotherapy prophylactically. The treatment won’t do anything to prevent the problem and will cause harm…it’s all pain, no gain.

        Re: CAGW making things worse for people. Again, I’m stunned to hear this reaction. What separates the developed world from the less developed world? Access to energy. Seriously. It’s just that simple. Increasing access to energy increases the standard of living of people. Real people’s lives improve. Education levels increase. Health status improves. Eventually, even the envinrment improves. That pattern has repeated over and over again over time.

        The plans for which you are advocating, acknowledging that you may not be correct, but are just worried about possible consequences will result in greater energy costs. That, by definition, limits access to energy.

        Limiting access to energy only further worstens people’s lives.

        Bruce

      • Aa: oh, and btw…which folks respond more fully and capably to disaster… The energy poor countries or the energy rich countries? How did Haiti do after a devastating earthquake? Compare that to the response in New Zeland. Similar magnitude quakes, totally different responses.

        Making people pay more for energy will make them LESS able to care for themselves and less able to respond to real emergencies.

        Bruce

      • It’s quite confusing though because on the one hand we are accused of wanting to keep people in the developing world poor by denying them access to energy and on the other of wanting to create a socialist world government which will give all our money to poor people in the developing world.

        What’s to be confusd about? It’s just the usual socialist/totalitarian two-step
        (1) interfere to create a problem
        (2) charge in on white horse with solution.

        Mind you the consistency of their arguments has never been the skeptics’ strong point. Either way, given that it is people in the developing world who will be hit hardest by AGW and the skeptics are doing their best to stop any action to prevent it forgive me if I find the faux outrage expressed by the skeptics on their behalf unconvincing.

        You’re assuming what you need to prove – ie that the fraud-ridden faux science behind CAGW holds up. Suggest you enroll in a Logic 101 forthwith.

      • andrew adams

        The key issue is NOT global warming (or global climate change, however you want to parse it).

        We know the globe has been warming (in multi-decadal cycles) since the modern record started in 1850, and much longer, based on earlier records, such as CET. This has been at an underlying rate of around 0.04C per decade. Yawn!

        We also know that climate changes. Always has. Always will.

        And, Andrew, there is not anything we can do about it. Nada. Zilch.

        Now to the “anthropogenic” part.

        IPCC and a group of climate scientists believe that human activity has been the principal cause for the most recent warming cycle, although it is not so certain about earlier indistinguishable warming cycles.

        They believe that, despite a most recent 10-year hiatus in the warming, it will again resume at a rate of 0.2C per decade, a rate that even exceeds that of the late 20th century. They believe that this rate will even accelerate, and that this poses a potential serious threat to humanity and out environment.

        This belief is based on model simulations, which are largely based on theoretical deliberations plus some questionable paleo-climate interpretations, but no real hard empirical data.

        In fact, recent “real-time” physical observations (Spencer, Lindzen) point to a low 2xCO2 climate sensitivity, which would indicate that there is no cause for alarm, as the theoretical warming from doubling CO2 sometime around the end of this century will be around 0.6C, of which we have already seen roughly half today.

        So some climate scientists, like Dr. Curry, are advising that we should first clear up all the uncertainties before we respond urgently to implement solutions to a problem that may not really exist and does not “seem to be an existential threat, even in its most alarming incarnation”, especially since the proposed solutions “may fail to address the problem” with “unintended consequences” which “have not been adequately explored”.

        I agree fully with Dr. Curry on this.

        Do you agree with Dr. Curry or not?

        And if not, why not?

        Max

      • andrew adams

        Max,

        No, I don’t agree with Dr Curry. Firstly, I don’t think Dr Curry is actually claiming that we must “clear up all the uncertainties” before we take action – that would be totally unreasonable as uncertainties will always exist to an extent. Rather, I think her position is that the uncertainties are seriously understated by the IPCC and those who support the mainstream position in general and that as a result the need for action is overstated. There may be some specific questions where she may have a case but in general I am not convinced either by her assessment of the level of uncertainties (particularly WRT climate sensititivty) or the extent to which they are not recognised by advocates of AGW, nor by her claim that “natural variability” constitutes a “plausible alternative theory” to CO2 for late 20C warming.

        And in particular I find her statement that the problem does not “seem to be an existential threat, even in its most alarming incarnation” [my italics] rather contentious. As I see it this has two possible meanings – either the worst case scenarios (however unlikely they may be) are not alarming, which I just think is plain wrong, or they are sufficiently unlikely not to warrant some level of concern, which would seem to be inconsistent with Dr Curry’s views on uncertainty in general.

      • We have been pricing carbon since woodcutters started selling wood for fires. And doing a decent job of it.
        The AGW movement needs to go away and its leaders need to write memoirs rewriting their roles in this complete fiasco.

      • andrew adams

        hunter,

        We have been pricing carbon since woodcutters started selling wood for fires. And doing a decent job of it.

        Well quite. I should have said “carbon emissions” rather than “carbon”.

        The AGW movement needs to go away and its leaders need to write memoirs rewriting their roles in this complete fiasco.

        Well with respect I don’t think it wise for the AGW movement to take advice from those who want it to fail.

      • aa,
        I don’t want it to fail.
        Reality has already failed it.
        All we are waiting on now is for it dribble away into nothing.

      • You would like to think that you oppose crazy AGW policies, but you would be wrong.

      • andrew adams

        Well I’ll continue to make my own judgements and suport the policies which I think will work. And you will no doubt continue to call them crazy. ANd so it goes….

      • aa,
        And what would those policies be?
        Kyoto? Rio? Copenhagen? Cancun?
        Windmills? Solar? Ethanol?
        Cap-n-trade or carbon tax?
        Not one has worked or can work if your goal is to limit CO2 and effect the climate.

  19. I find it quite incredible that the IPCC was permitted to behave the way it did for so many years. It was not until Climategate revealed the underlying bias and unethical behaviour of a few key individuals that the IPCC was forced to invite the IAC to conduct an independent review of IPCC’s processes. That should have happened much sooner. The full extent of IPCC’s malfeasance was indeed revealed by the IAC (political interference, lack of transparency, bias, failure to respond to critical review comments, vague statements unsupported by evidence, use of non-peer-reviewed and unpublished material which had not been critically reviewed or flagged as such, failure to properly reflect uncertainty, absence of any conflict of interest policy). Wow! How is it that the climate science community tolerated this malfeasance for so long? This set of circumstances screams “vested interest”. The UN and WMO set up the IPCC and 194 governments participated starting from the ASSUMPTION that AGW was a fact and then asked for a report (“assessment”) to justify their political agenda. The climate science community apparently went along with this so that the gravy train (money, cash grants from governments) would continue unabated. In effect governments said ‘Give us a report to justify our agenda and make it look scientific.’ The climate science community’s response was ‘Yes and how thick would you like it.’
    Unfortunately enormous damage has been inflicted by IPCC and IAC’s review has apparently had little traction in the media here in Australia. We are now threatened with a carbon tax which will have no significant impact on atmospheric CO2 concentrations but has the potential to wreck our economy. The fact that the European ETS has failed and has been characterised by large scale fraud seems not to have reached the consciousness of the proponents/advocates. I raise this to illustrate the very real damage done not only to the reputation of climate science but of science more generally and the enormous potential harm when ‘science’ is prostituted for political agendas.

  20. “The larger risk of the current media environment, he said, is the weakening or destruction of academe’s best tool: peer review. ‘If everyone is a publisher, that’s a disaster,’ he said. ‘That’s a real threat.'”

    Sounds like a complaint from the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, Time, Hollywood, the music industry…. The internet is here to stay. It is undermining business models across the economy: newspapers, magazines, books, movie, music and on and on.

    If everyone is a publisher? Everyone who wants to can already “publish” (in the broadest sense of the word) on the internet. That may be a threat to the position currently held by universities and professional journals, but it is no threat to the man on the street.

    The best antidote to speech is more speech, not less.

    If Oliver K. Manuel wants to preach to the world the theory of the iron son, and Bart R wants to peddle his crypto-progressive tax schemes as laissez faire capitalism, let them. If I am suddenly overcome with the need to publish some wildly uninformed rantings on radiative physics (of which I know nada), so what?

    The internet not only makes it possible for everyone to “publish,” it also makes it easy for those who are better informed to respond. The argument over the initial hockey stick took years to reach critical mass. But the brouhaha over Eric Stieg’s latest paper took place with unbelievable rapidity.

    There will likely always be a place for peer reviewed journals. Just as there will always be newspapers and magazines (in some form). But they will probably never again have the dominant position they have held to date. And that is a good thing. A mature society just does not need gatekeepers on information.

  21. Hank Zentgraf

    “Ethical standards tend to be unique to each field of study….”.

    Judith, what are the agreed to ethical standards of Climate Science?
    Can you site a reference for me?

    • “Ethical standards tend to be unique to each field of study….”

      This is an amazing relativist statement. Truth is truth; honesty is honesty; integrity is integrity. If the author(s) of the article, or anyone else, don’t know that, then they aren’t qualified to write about ethics. Orwell forewarned of such anti-morality, such newspeak, here it is.

    • Hank Zentgraf

      You ask Judith: “what are the agreed to ethical standards of Climate Science?”

      Maybe Judith will answer your question, but let me give you my take.

      I seriously doubt if there are any (other than the normal ethical standards for any science, which related primarily to plagiarism or fabricating false data, rather than withholding data from the public), but whatever they are, they have been bastardized by a corrupt IPCC process, which looks for scientific “proof” to support its preconceived notion of alarming AGW rather than scientific “truth” about what makes our climate work.

      This corrupt PROCESS has led to the corruption of a very influential insider group of climate scientists (many of whom were exposed by Climategate).

      These individuals no longer abide by any “ethical standards” when it comes to defending the IPCC message of alarming AGW.

      Max

    • From what I read and see in the public square, the basic rule of ethics for the AGW movement is ‘if it works, it is good’.

  22. Paul Cottingham

    What is the best course of action when scholars’ motives and research are attacked?

    My motive is to find the truth and to welcome an attack as useful if it is justified by finding mistakes in your work or informing you of something you did not know about or did not consider. A group of us in the Space Special Interest Group of the high IQ society Mensa found that the best way to calibrate CO2 warming was to use the Atmosphere of Mars. Starting with the scientific paper (Greenhouse effect in semi-transparent planetary atmospheres, Ferenc M. Miskolczi, 2007) we found it gave an insignificant 0.015 Kelvin for Anthropogenic warming which is confirmed by (Jaworowski, 2007) using different methods, although Jaworowski gives a lower figure, probably because of the inability to differentiate between man-made and volcanic CO2. The Space Special Interest Group has produced an article “Climate Change from Space” (see below). We only include facts and avoid the mad world of assumptions about assumptions that exist in the Climate science establishment.

    Climate Change from Space

    Mars Global Surveyor studied the surface of Mars from 1999 to 2006, four Martian years, this coincided with a five and a half year rise in solar activity reaching the Solar Cycle peak in 2002. During a Solar Cycle maximum the Sun irradiates 0.1 percent more energy than at a Solar Cycle minimum, for Mars this means an increase in Global temperature of 0.21 Kelvin in three Martian years. At Perihelion Mars receives 44 percent (6.8 percent for Earth) more radiation than at Aphelion as the orbit of Mars is almost six times more eccentric than Earths. Mercury is the only planet to have a more eccentric orbit than Mars. Perihelion occurs during the Southern Summer and ever since the 1830s it has been noted that during warming periods a dark band appears around the periphery of the shrinking polar cap, and with dust storms being more common during this period, this has decreased the Martian Albedo from 0.16 to 0.15 and increased the Martian Global temperature by 0.65 Kelvin. This has also caused more frozen CO2 to melt and turn into gas than usual for three Southern Summers in a row. With 95 percent of the Martian atmosphere made up of CO2 (0.038 percent on Earth) and only 0.03 percent Water vapour (1 percent on Earth). CO2 induced Global Warming is almost an irrelevance for Mars as it is for the Earth, as the CO2 has already absorbed most of the radiation available for absorption. The Warming on Mars raises the average surface temperature by 3 Kelvin to 210 Kelvin from 207 Kelvin. Both Planets can cool much faster than they can warm up, so Mars with almost a 100 percent transparent dry CO2 Atmosphere and without the problems with feedback (other than dust storms) from Water Vapour, Clouds, Oceans or an Atmospheric Mass 2,600 times that of CO2. Then Mars is the perfect example to use to test the theory of CO2 warming on Earth. The Black Body Temperature of Mars is 81.5 percent that of the Earth. The surface has a 7 millibar CO2 atmosphere (0.39 millibar CO2 atmosphere on Earth). So the equivalent 7 millibar CO2 Atmosphere on Earth would produce a temperature of 3.68 Kelvin. If you deduct the 0.24 Kelvin increase for a doubling of CO2, four times you get 2.72 Kelvin for a 0.4375 millibar Atmosphere. This makes 2.7 Kelvin for a 0.39 millibar Atmosphere. The 2.7 Kelvin includes, 1.2 Kelvin for CO2 absorption only, plus half of the 1.5 Kelvin that CO2 absorption shares with Water vapour. Confirming that the CO2 induced Warming on Earth is about 2 Kelvin, and also four times weaker than on Mars. Confirming the irrelevance of its ability to increase Global temperature much more, even with significant increases in Carbon Dioxide. Man made CO2 is natural CO2 which has been fossilised for millions of years and does not have the Carbon-14 Isotope. Levels of this Isotope show that 4 percent or 15ppm of the increase in CO2 in over 100 years is due to Man & 85ppm due to Nature, this is also confirmed by the ratio of Carbon-12 to Carbon-13 in the Atmosphere. All evidence in Ice core data and direct measurements point to changes in the temperature causing the changes in CO2 levels as on Mars, this increase being due to the 0.76 Kelvin increase in Global Atmospheric temperature over the last 200 year bounce back from the Little Ice Age. But ice core data shows that this is mainly due to the 800 year lag in the changes in deep ocean CO2 levels after the Medieval Warm Period, the ocean contains 93.5 percent of the Earths CO2. The increase has added only 0.1 Kelvin to the 2 Kelvin that CO2 gives to the Warming of the Earths Surface Temperature, this means that man-made CO2 has only contributed 0.015 Kelvin. But the relative humidity of the Earths Atmosphere has been dropping, especially at higher elevations allowing more heat to escape into space, this is because the conservation of energy means that as CO2 increases, it replaces water vapour to maintain a constant greenhouse effect, this is proven by the relative stability of the optical depth of the Earths Atmosphere over the last sixty years. The largest effect on Climate Change is the Length of the Solar Cycle, short Solar Cycles cause a warming and long Solar Cycles cause a cooling. Between 1913 and 1996, only one of eight Solar Cycles was longer than the mean Solar Cycle length of 11.04 years. The last of these was the shortest Solar Cycle for more than 200 years. Short Solar Cycles cause a decrease in cosmic rays when Solar activity is high, decreasing cloud cover and leading to the enhancement of Global Warming on the Earth, a 1 percent decrease in cosmic rays causes a 0.13 Kelvin increase in Global temperature. This is called the Forbush effect and is caused by coronal mass ejections which are ten times more common during Solar maximum and have a ten day period that can be predicted four days before the event. This is carried by the solar wind to the Earth on the Suns magnetic field lines.
    A study of Luna Earthshine shows that the Albedo of the Earth decreased from 0.32 in 1985 to 0.29 in 1997 showing a 6.5 percent decrease in cloud cover. The Earths Albedo has since increased to 0.31 showing that 69 percent of solar energy is absorbed, 50 percent by the Surface, 19 percent by the Atmosphere (13.3 percent by Water Vapour, 1.6 percent by Carbon Dioxide and 4.1 percent by Dust, Ozone, Nitrous-Oxide, Methane and other gases). In the last hundred years the Earths Albedo has been as high as 0.44 and as low as 0.29 with an average of 0.36. The Albedo effects the North more than the South because the Southern Ice cap is anchored to the Land while the snow zone is mainly in the sea. Weather from the Sun was first postulated two hundred years ago when William Herschel tried to prove the price of grain was inversely correlated with the sunspot number, which was subsequently proven, the sunspot number being low during the Dalton Minimum (1790-1820) at the end of the Little Ice Age. The sunspot number was close to zero during the earlier Maunder Minimum (1645-1715) during the coldest part of the Little Ice Age, this is also confirmed by tree rings formed at sunspot minimum which have a higher amount of carbon-14 due to the Forbush Effect. The enhancing effects of the Albedo changes on the Earth and Mars would more than explain Global Warming on both Planets and would explain why the cause of Global Warming on other Planets is not that definite other than the finding that the changes in the brightness of Neptune correlate with the changes in the Earths Global Surface Temperature. When the Earths temperature increased, the Atmospheric Water Vapour content increased, but if this increase had been due to CO2 then the Tropospheric temperature would have increased at twice the rate of the Surface temperature increase. This did not happen. Over half of all Solar radiation is absorbed by the Earths Oceans which are almost 300 times the mass of the Earths Atmosphere. This helps to regulate the effects of the changes in the Earths climate which then responds to these changes after a five year lag. Global Warming peaked in 1998 and ended with the following Solar Cycle peak, followed by strong observational evidence that the ocean has been cooling since 2003, and that the increase in Atmospheric Methane has ended. So it seems quite clear that Climate Change is ruled by the Sun. The speed of the centre of the sun relative to the centre of mass of the solar system determines the length of the solar cycle, this in turn is caused by the orbits of the Planets, this means that short term Climate Change can be predicted. There are also long-term future causes of Climate Change in Astronomy. The inclination of Mars varies between 35 degrees and 14 degrees over a period of 50,000 years while that of the Earth only varies between 22.1 degrees and 24.1 degrees over a period of 41,000 years, both planets are at the half way point, Mars at 25.19 degrees and the Earth at 23.44 degrees. This cycle and other changes in planetary axis and orbit produce Ice ages every 100,000 years, in periods when more ice is exposed to the Sun heightening the Albedo, which causes the cooling. The Galactic Orbit of the Solar System every 240 million years produces Ice Age Epochs every 120 million years which are caused by the Sun passing through the Galactic spiral arms increasing the level of cosmic rays and therefore cloudiness, we are at present in an ice age epoch caused by our presence in the Orion armlet. But the Final Global Warming Terror will be when the Sun turns into a Red Giant. In one billion years time the Oceans will be boiling and in five billion years time the Earth will be eaten up by the Sun, leaving Mars as the most inner Planet of the Solar System. The information above comes from many sources such as The Guinness Book of Astronomy Facts and Feats by Sir Patrick Moore, Encyclopaedia Britannica but mainly from Scientific papers found on Google Scholar.

    • ferd berple

      Similar work has been done showing that Venus (CO2) and Earth (N2/O2) have temperatures that depend only on the thickness of the armosphere, not on the amounts of greenhouse gases. At the same pressure, earth and venus show the same relative temperature relative to their distance from the sun.

      Given that Venus is almost all CO2, if the greenhouse gass theory is correct, Venus should show much greater warming than earth at the same pressure. It doesn’t, any more than Mars does which is also almost all CO2.

    • Hard to take an interest in a wall of text with no paragraphs.

  23. “That’s a real threat”. Danger, Will Robinson.
    ==============

  24. A great posting over at WUWT, showing in laymans terms how climate science missed the connection between global ice coverage and solar radiation.

    Total Ice doesn’t vary with annual solar radiation. Rather it is the change in ice that varies with solar radiation, which was not discovered until 2006.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/04/06/warming-or-cooling-heads-or-tails/

    This would explain the 100k year problem and the discrepancey between orbital cycles and the 100k year ice age cycle. It would also suggest that the IPCC AR1 assumption is not correct.

  25. So what we have here is an unrepentant organization more concerned with the consequences of bad behavior than the bad behavior, and they reveal they wish to manage the story, not the actions that created the story. This isn’t a lesson learned – it is a strategy for the next time, and it seems from the conversation they believe there will be a next time and they had damn well better be prepared.

    This reminds me of the Clinton years in the white house when the response to the bimbo eruptions was a full frontal assault on any hint of publicity. I can hardly wait for the finger pointing lecture: “I did not truncate that tree ring, that Yamal, data to hide the decline”.

    We don’t need ridiculous endless reminders of what Eisenhower warned in 1961 – he had no experience with it, he was projecting his fears. We have seen what Ike did not. Modern climate science for government policy purposes is a farce.

  26. The academics are nearly to the point where pointing out error, if done by someone they do not approve of, is considered an attack on science and unworthy of consideration.
    Yet policymakers depend more and more on claims by academics for policy.
    This will not end well.

  27. ferd berple

    pointing out error = attack on science

    pointing ~= attack
    therefore
    error ~= science

  28. On Piers Corbyn’s site there is a link tonight to a video from St. Louis MO:

    http://bit.ly/dNbjgG

    The video suggests earthquakes have been detected in the midwest and are being ignored by the USGS.

    I would appreciate comment from someone able to verify the validity of this report.

    Thanks,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    100 miles South of St Louis
    Closer to the New Madrid Fault

    • The above earthquake warning was apparently unfounded.

      I posted the following message to Piers Corbyn this morning:

      This is to express my concern that a fellow scientist, Piers Corbyn, would distribute a video containing apparent misinformation about ongoing earthquakes in this area:

      VERY IMPORTANT VIDEO http://bit.ly/dNbjgG

      An explanation would be appreciated.

      With kind regards,
      Oliver K. Manuel

      This fiasco illustrates a weakness of the blogosphere: Ability to rapidly transmit misinformation too.

  29. ferd berple

    http://moreintelligentlife.com/content/ideas/anthony-gottlieb/limits-science

    Most laymen probably assume that the 350-year-old institution of “peer review”, which acts as a gatekeeper to publication in scientific journals, involves some attempt to check the articles that see the light of day. In fact they are rarely checked for accuracy, and, as a study for the Fraser Institute, a Canadian think-tank, reported last year, “the data and computational methods are so seldom disclosed that post-publication verification is equally rare.”

    In a recent book, “Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us—And How to Know When Not to Trust Them”, David Freedman, an American business and science journalist, does a sobering job of reviewing dozens of studies of ignorance, bias, error and outright fraud in recent academic science. He notes that discredited research is regularly cited in support of other research, even after it has been discredited.

    And barely a day goes by without the media exploiting an almost universal misunderstanding of statistics and reporting something that has no relevance to anything. When researchers are said to have found that an effect occurs to a statistically significant degree, this means that it probably isn’t caused by a fluke, not that it is large or definite enough to be useful.

  30. The main lament seems to be too little whitewash applied, too late. No suggestion anywhere that wrongdoing should actually be punished and rooted out, to say nothing of the likes of the Climategate Crooks being sacked from their jobs.

    “Whose job is it?” is a good question though. Certainly not the academics and universities themselves; the accused investigating and policing themselves is just never going to work, since there is just no incentive to be honest.

    The solution? The blogosphere, plus a much tougher FOI act – with automatic prison sentences and loss of state funding for failure to comply, and with the excuses for declining requests radically curtailed (or perhaps just removed).

  31. It might be important for those implicated to respond quickly from the point of view of PR, but a quick response to any implications is hardly in the interest of justice.

    The appropriate response to any allegation of misconduct in science or any other field is to investigate the charges thoroughly and fairly and hold off judgement until the investigation is complete.

    the blogosphere “allows anyone …to publish his or her views…without being held accountable.”

    An interesting point of view, but it’s not clear to whom scientists are accountable. Out and out fraud and plagiarism are usually addressed, but other than that, there’s not much accountability.

    Nor is it clear why scientists, who demand that they not be silenced because of their views, should feel dismayed when others have the opportunity to express themselves.

    • JL

      “it’s not clear to whom scientists are accountable”

      It may not be real clear to many of the scientists themselves, especially in climate science today. but to me it is crystal clear.

      If the “science” is being funded by the taxpaying public, then the scientists are accountable to the public.

      This means that the results of this “science” should be completely transparent and available to public scrutiny, including independent audits, if the public so desires.

      Any problem with that?

      Max

      Max

  32. Cecil Coupe

    Hmmm. An academic scientist finds a peer reviewed and published paper about how the the peer review system might not work in some situations and science might not be self correcting in time frames that matter to “scary” predictions and politicians and even worse the academics and professional societies have no way to deal with ivory tower blowback from the unwashed citizenry who pay for their subscriptions to the journals of collected wisdom.

    Nor is science & academia all that good at policing their own (peer reviewed) nut cases in a timely manner. Some other scientists claim only 10% of peer reviewed papers are useful advancements to the field (90% useless).

    Someone once claimed irony is the strongest force in the universe and some folks say it’s compound interest. This post and comments are swimming in irony.

    Here’s a communication clue for scientists on the internet. Don’t tell me what the literature says. Tell me what you personally think or you discovered in your experiments. Stop the ivory tower speak and appeals to authority journal citations. That only works on other scientists and it prolongs the elitism that scientists seem to want to find in the blogesphere. To misquote B-movies, “your Kung-Fu is weak here”.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Cecil,

      How can new areas of science advance in a closed system?
      If it is truly new, then there are no peers.
      Science has generated many mistakes that it holds dear and will not change.

      So, someone like me has to come back from many angles to show where the mistakes are.
      Being too advanced has it pitfalls of leaving society behind.
      But the rewards of new knowledge is very addictive.

      I’m currently up to understanding how the sun rotation boosts planets rotation as the advancements made to understand this planet has been completed.
      Current climate change is :
      Less atmospheric pressure on this planets surface has allowed centrifugal force to bring salt to the surface of the oceans. This is block solar radiation penetration.

  33. One has to love the hypocrisy of this kind of bleating on. The internet has changed the world, the web was created by an Academic to make use of the backbone. As for transparency and whinging about the “lay person” give me a break, as other have pointed out many of these are highly skilled and adequately qualified individuals. Yes there are muppets out there (welcome to the real world). However in the deeply technical arenas where much of this takes place, the vast majority of posters know one aspect or another pretty well in my experience.

    The Web has changed the landscape for every organistion and institution, I doubt many governments are happy about Wikki Leaks!

    Before Academe bleats on too much, one should enquire as to why so many publicly funded papers are behind paywalls and who gets the cash for access to work generally paid for by that nations taxpayers?

  34. Resolved:
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of science, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

  35. Jack Hughes

    “Ethical standards tend to be unique to each field of study”

    Whoaa. Stop right there.

    • This statement is correct in a certain context. Many of the thorniest ethical issues in science involve the use of human subjects (medical, sociological, psychological). Such ethical issues are irrelevant, say, in physics. Another key issue is authorship, different fields have different standards for who should be included as authors, and in what order. etc.
      Scientific misconduct (e.g. fabrication of data, plagiarism) has a common standard across different fields.

      • Misconduct. How about hiding of data (and code) ?

      • I think you’re spiltting hairs Dr Curry.

        Unless i’m mistaken (and Jack can shoot me down in wildly impressive flames if that is so) he was highlighting something that’s bothered me for years on this debate- the percieved double standards between climate science and ‘regular’ science.

        I.e. what is passed off as ‘normal procedure’ in climate science is (in my field at least) classed as gross misconduct at the very LEAST.

        What you’re reffering to are procedural differences, which i think are seperate. Which opens up the possibility that you’ve misinterpreted what he said and that I’VE misinterpreted both you and he… so, erm, apologies if that’s the case!

      • This lovely little morality play is a fine exercise in ethics for the whole herd. C’mon, class, let’s learn something.
        =============

      • Joe Lalonde

        Judith,

        Current science has generated the mistake of enclosing themselves into many fields.
        They all are interactive in understanding this planet and why we are here through this planets evolution, the suns evolution and the solar systems evolution.
        General theories and opinions has clouded this from gathering facts and physical evidence.
        This is why lightening and brain synapses are related.

      • Judith

        “Plagiarism” is cheating other scientists by stealing from them.

        “Science” is pretty strong on policing this and punishing violators.

        “Destroying evidence from FoI requests” is cheating the taxpaying public, who paid for the research or data, in the first place.

        “Science” is pretty weak on policing this and punishing violators.

        And I think this is what the hubub is all about.

        Max

      • There’s another issue with FOIA noncompliance – the findings leverage policy. That’s far more egregious than simply cheating the taxpayers out of the money paid for research. That’s covering up potential witness/evidence tampering.

        FOIA wasn’t originally put there so we can see what government fund recipients are properly doing with the grants. It was put there so we can see what they shouldn’t be doing.

      • Agreed Max. But, it’s important to remember what started this whole mess: doing shoddy science in the first place. That lead to all the other problems.

        Of course, the individuals involved then compounded their problems by trying to avoid the consequences of doing shoddy science….by refusing to release their data and code. In addition, they conspired to prevent data/code/communications/contrary findings from ever coming to light, in both the peer review process and the IPCC process. THEN they conspired to not respond to FOI requests.

        And, again, the academics who should have identified the original, poorly done science chose not only to let it pass, but celebrated it and poured funding and celebrity onto those that did not engage in acceptable scientific practices. In fact, they are STILL endorsing it and supporting it (see the latest goings on with Kerry Emanuel)! Not a good showing by the academy.

        Bruce

      • Jack Hughes

        Please, JC.

        We are talking about lying. Breaking the law. Destroying data. Gloating at the death of a skeptical scientist.

        These are unethical in any human field.

      • So climate science in its present focus is demanding to make all of us lab rats while they test out the idea that controlling CO2 will manage the climate effectively.

  36. Joe Lalonde

    Judith,

    Has science figured out yet that one pound of warm air has less density to one pound of cold air?

    • yes, warm air is less dense than cold air, this has been known for several hundred years.

      • Joe Lalonde

        Judith,

        The climate models would have been correct EXCEPT, this planet has a way too cool itself down when overheated. Years and years of heat rising over the equator is also where the salinity of the oceans started to change. Not from evaporation, but from less density. Changing the average air pressure. Planetary rotation is like studying a giant centrifuge where our concept of motion is incorrect. There is contained and free borne centrifugal force which can be reproduced to show how compression is a big factor in motion.
        Our concept of the planet being totally inert is incorrect as the suns great magnetic field also has put other planets into sequence with the suns rotation even though they come in different density and sizes. The planets too close had missed the edge of the magnetic field and got lambasted by the solar activity which slowed their rotation down.

      • Lissen up; if Joe can figure it out, we all can.
        ============

      • I’m not being condescending, Joe; you have a powerful intuitive imagination.
        ========

      • Joe Lalonde

        Kim,

        It is just slightly more than that. I use experimentation and also followed trails of evidence back to the creation of the planet.
        I use technology that was created after all the theories became a consensus laws.

      • Joe,

        First and foremost, magnetic fields cannot do work. That is, they cannot ‘push’ a planet in or out of ‘sequence’ with the sun.

        Second, if a magnetic field is interacting in some fashion with a planet, such an interaction would necessitate a substantial positive or negative charge density to overcome gravitational effects.

        Are claiming that some planets are substantially positively or negatively charged?

      • Joe Lalonde

        Maxwell,

        The magnetic field of the sun does NOT effect a planet. It effects the much weaker magnetic fields in rotation. This is done by the sun having a slightly faster rotation starting at the core. The unfortunate 2 planets ahead of us, One pealed off the sun and is rotating backwards and the other was too close to the sun when the magnetic field first started with the sun.

      • Joe,

        I’m having a hard time following the distinctions you’re making in language.

        Using Maxwell’s equations (no relation), how does the magnetic field of the sun affect weaker fields in rotation?

      • Joe Lalonde

        Maxwell,

        Many things are occurring :

        The larger magnetic field is in a complete vacuum and so is the smaller field creating virtually no friction.
        A magnetic field is extremely weak close to the sun, then gets very strong and weakens as distance is then a factor. But close to the sun is very little magnetic field like this planet.
        A corridor is created between the north and south polarities that allows some drifting but essentially holds planets in place.
        Now, rotation and distance become a major factor as the field goes past the planet it is weaker due to distance which helps to spin the planet by the magnetic field(similar to rotating a basket ball on a finger) and the rotation of this field slightly faster than the planet.
        This is why their is a relationship to the speed of the sun to the rotational speed of the planets. By normal logic, their should have been a major slowdown of some planets to others due to the different density and make up of these planets. But after 4.5 billion years, their is less than 1/2 day difference in the rotational speeds except for the 2 closest planets(and one is rotating backwards(meaning it shaved off the sun)) and the last planet. Density in planets are in the different layer going to the cores.

      • Joe,

        do you have some sources that you use to derive the equations of motion that describe what you have detailed above?

        I’m have a hard time understanding your theory because magnetic fields can’t slow down planets. They can’t speed them up either. Based on the Lorenz force (which has been thoroughly tested), magnetic fields cannot do work.

        Also, magnetic fields don’t ‘interact’ with other magnetic fields. Magnetic fields interact with charges, from which such an interaction can affect the subsequent magnetic behavior.

        But it would be a lot easier for me to understand what you are trying to say if you could just point me toward some equations of motion that account for these types of effects.

      • Joe Lalonde

        Maxwell,

        I’m still current processing a great deal.
        Just finally understood what gravity actually is and it is not related to magnetics.
        It is the forward momentum of our solar system that is pinning us like flies on a rotating planet, under pressure in a vacuum.

        My calculations are bringing back the time line of where the planets were and the assumption that all these started at the same rotational speed with the sun when this solar system broke away.
        This has brought out why their SHOULD be a very significant different in rotational speed due to all the different sizes and densities. Yet, their is a very small difference, so they MUST be helped along by the suns rotational field in order to be in sequence with the suns rotation.
        Drawings of how this activity must occur shows that the front of the planets field picks up more magnetic straight than the back of a planets rotational field.
        Now you also have to add in that the sun does not slow in it’s forward motion yet the planets are closest to the sun when they are in front and furthest when they are behind.

  37. Can’t they see how easily ‘peer review’ mutates into ‘pal review?’

  38. While this article highlights speed and accuracy in their response, they absolutely miss the critical issue that made the release of the emails such a powerful weapon in the hands of those seeking to discredit the consensus:

    The response must be on target and directly address the primary concerns raised.

    It really doesn’t matter how quick or how complete your response is if it is simply a collection of partisan talking points that dodge the issues that are fundamentally contentious. No matter how much spin control the communication masters try to place on the topic, if I have issues with items A and B and they try to spin the conversation to C and D because talking about A and B looks bad. Folks are going to notice, and it is not going to do good things to their credibility either.

  39. randomengineer

    The University of East Anglia, where the Climatic Research Unit is housed, waited too long to respond once the e-mails were released, Leiserowitz added. In those weeks, the story gained traction and was firmly framed by climate skeptics.

    Same idiocy. Different day: “…if not for the framing by the wrong side, why…”

    They don’t get it. They are *never* going to get it. This isn’t a story or issue waiting for the ‘correct’ spin.

    “A failure to recognize this and to act appropriately can lead to immense reputational damage by feeding allegations of cover up,” Russell’s panel continued.

    More idiocy. Allegations of cover-up? Oh, please. The blogosphere has merely requested that scientists adhere to the basics of science where it concerns reproducability — publish whatever you like, conclude what you like, just show your work.

    The panel then veers straight into politics vis a vis Colbert (don’t you love it when the poster boy of partisan excess is cited?) basically promoting an image of brains vs ignorant proles reinforcing the implied assertion that the web promotes commentary from the ignorant and values it over and above that of the prople doing the science. Essentially they’re trying to invoke the image of American Idol.

    The problem with this image of course is that the majority of those who have any opinion whatsoever re papers [posting on any sites that could have even a remote impact are generally dominated by the well educated class (engineers, etc.) who may not be specialists but are still capable of following arguments and equations.

    At the top you have a bunch of extremely clever types like McIntyre who are calling scientists on the carpet for crap work AND PROVING IT. That’s hardly American Idol.

  40. This fiasco illustrates a weakness of the blogosphere: Ability to rapidly transmit misinformation too.

    Oliver – you transmitted the info you had at hand in a request for additional information. Well and good, so far though I strongly doubt Piers has time to respond to individual requests of this nature. But — If you peppered your request with anything resembling an analysis of the information before you had verified that information then the error was yours, not the blogosphere’s.

    In fact the blogosphere was ultimately responsible for exposing your error – it is self-correcting. What is not to like?

    I wonder what Eisenhower would say…

  41. Willis Eschenbach

    randomengineer | April 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Reply

    The University of East Anglia, where the Climatic Research Unit is housed, waited too long to respond once the e-mails were released, Leiserowitz added. In those weeks, the story gained traction and was firmly framed by climate skeptics.

    Same idiocy. Different day: “…if not for the framing by the wrong side, why…”

    They don’t get it. They are *never* going to get it. This isn’t a story or issue waiting for the ‘correct’ spin.

    Neither Leiserowitz nor you quite have it right. In this case, the framing of the question was critical.

    The response from many supporters of Phil and the Team to Climategate’s revelations was immediate, and the main theme or frame that the CRU and their friends wanted (and immediately got) the media to agree to was “Boys will be boys” and “Nothing to see here, it’s just scientists dissing each other in private”. That was the initial context or frame for discussing the CRU emails, and it was dictated by the CRU folks and their supporters.

    So Leiserowitz is wrong, the CRU and their friends framed it for all they were worth from the first moment, and they were well down the road to success. That frame immediately became the dominant theme in the public discussion of the issues.

    As the person who wrote the first Freedom of Information Request (FOI) to the CRU, I was incensed by this false framing of the debate. I resolved that no, they wouldn’t get away with that, so I wrote a piece called “Freedom of Information, My Okole …” which listed and detailed some of the unethical, unscientific, and even illegal things that Phil Jones and his Merrie Men had done.

    My post was widely reproduced and cited around the world. I followed it up with hundreds of emails, to everyone at CRU and EUA, to the FOI folks in the UK top to bottom, to every major scientific organization and every scientific journal, and to every major news agency and individual journalist, all of them carrying the same message regarding the framing of the debate – this is not “boys will be boys”, this is serious scientific malfeasance and perhaps illegal action by some of the leading lights of the AGW movement.

    Quite quickly, the tenor of the discussion began to change, and although there are people still defending the old “boys will be boys, nothing was revealed” frame, the predominant frame seems to have become “it was a serious case of scientific malfeasance”.

    So despite your dislike of “spin”, framing is indeed important. In this case, the good guys won the framing battle … but that’s just a battle, not the war.

    w.

    • Willis

      Thanks for posting the link to your “People versus the CRU” article, which I missed the first time around. It is a fascinating “Kafkaesque” story.

      You conclude that we are talking about “the illegal evasion of legitimate scientific requests [under the FoI law] for data needed to replicate a scientific study”.

      This is indeed more than just “boys will be boys” stuff.

      Climategate clearly did reveal illegal, and therefore unethical, actions by a cabal of insider climate scientists in withholding data from legitimate requests under FoI.

      All the whitewashes in the world will not change this fact, as they are simply cover-ups by insiders.

      Were they hiding bogus, manipulated or fabricated data?

      Who knows? The data are not available for public scrutiny or audit.

      To say, “We saw no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit”, as the Oxburgh committee concluded, is either a deliberate lie or a result of gross incompetence in the investigation.

      Laws have clearly been broken and this scandal should eventually end up in the courts (as the Watergate cover-up did, before Nixon finally resigned and Ford pardoned him).

      Max

    • PS

      Leiserowitz (intentionally or not) got it all wrong when he opined that “the story gained traction and was firmly framed by climate skeptics” because the CRU waited too long in responding. He has (intentionally or not) become part of the cover-up, because he is ignoring the real problem – namely the illegal refusal to divulge information to legitimate FoI requests.

    • Willis E: Thanks for your stalwart efforts!

      However I am discouraged by my impression that the Climategate frame mostly remains “boys will be boys.”

      Even in this blog the orthodox climate change commenters continue to brush off Climategate with some version of “no big thing.”

      The upshot of this is realizing that the orthodox really have no satisfying response to Climategate.

  42. I have done histograms of the temperature data provided by NOAA of the Antarctic Ice Core Data and the Arctic Ice core data during the past ten thousand years. I have compared the NOAA data presented for the most recent 130 years and it is well in the range of data for the past ten thousand years. This data is representative of a very stable system, oscillating in a narrow range. The only thing, according to NOAA, that proves that the future temperatures will be out of this range is the climate models. The data is something we can analyze. The model output is purely extrapolation. Climate scientists are biased toward the unstable extrapolations and do not see the rock solid stable temperature system. When there is no data that supports your theory and models, it is time to join us skeptics and question it yourselves. You cannot take 130 years of instrumented data and extrapolate it into anything meaningful. Ten thousand years of stable data trumps a warming over 130 years that looks like dozens of other warnings during the past ten thousand years. The major scandal is that this very stable data is presented by the consensus climate scientists as unprecedented and unstable data. The only thing that is unstable is the output of the consensus theory and models and that is in the future so they cannot prove it is right and we cannot prove it is wrong to each other’s satisfaction. If you talk to us and listen to us, maybe we can work toward the right answer.

    • If we are talking about CO2 values of 500-1000 ppm, you have to go back tens of millions of years for a comparison. An example of a particular questions to ask is whether Antarctica’s ice cap can be stable at 1000 ppm. Was it 5 or 10 degrees warmer back then? Paleoclimate studies tell us something about these issues, but the bottom line is that you should not be too shortsighted when looking for relevant climate history.

      • Jim D

        You wrote:

        “Paleoclimate studies tell us something about these issues, but the bottom line is that you should not be too shortsighted when looking for relevant climate history.”

        The sad truth of the matter is that paleoclimate data can be interpreted to tell you just about anything you want them to (the hockey stick is just one example of this).

        Much more meaningful are empirical data from real-life observations.

        These do not provide robust support for the premise that AGW has been the primary cause of past warming or that it represents a potential serious threat to humanity or our environment.

        The temperature record, with all its known “warts and blemishes”, tells us that we have had a gradual warming since its start in 1850 of around 0.04C per decade, occurring in two statistically indistinguishable multi-decadl warming periods in the early and late 20th century and another multi-decadal period of slightly less warming in the late 19th century. Each of these warming cycles lasted around 30 years, with cycles of slight cooling of the same length in between. The whole record resembles a sine curve, with an amplitude of +/- 0.2C, a total cycle time of ~60 years, all on a slightly tilted axis. There is no robust statistical correlation between atmospheric CO2 and temperature, it is more of a “random walk”. Without a robust statistical correlation, the case for causation is extremely weak.

        So much for the historical record of the past 160 years.

        The past decade has seen no warming despite CO2 increase to all-time record levels and IPCC model predictions of 0.2C per decade warming. This is too short to be considered a new trend, but it does not bode well for the assumption that CO2 is a major driver of our climate.

        Then there are the most recent physical observations from ERBE and CERES satellites.

        These (Spencer, Lindzen) show us that AGW is likely to cause only minor theoretical warming and is therefore no threat.

        So, all in all, the evidence from “climate history” for alarming AGW is not looking very good.

        Max

  43. Jim D

    Further to my earlier post on climate history.

    While I do not place too much importance on paleoclimate studies, the Antarctic ice core data going back 450,000 years show that CO2 has lagged temperature by several hundred years, so has not been the driver of the climate.

    In fact there are several periods in this record where CO2 was above normal and temperature started to drop and others where CO2 was below normal and temperature started to rise.

    Again we have no robust statistical correlation which would support the premise of causation.

    It just isn’t there.

    Max

    • You will find we know a lot more than you think about the last period when CO2 was 500-1000 ppm after the Cretaceous, and as first Antarctica, then Greenland got their ice sheets while the CO2 level was declining by about 10 ppm per million years. This would seem to be a long period where cooling temperatures followed declining CO2 as the CO2 was sequestered by geological/biological processes. Fossils and isotope evidence indicate widespread warmer conditions before Antarctica’s ice sheet formed, and an interesting detectable cooling as it formed and added an albedo effect, followed later by another cooling as Greenland’s formed followed closely by the Ice Ages. I think this history can be very instructive as we reverse the CO2 to these prior levels.

      • Jim D

        Yeah.

        But we ASSUME that CO2 was the CAUSE of the warming.

        “Our models can only explain it if we assume…” is an argument from ignorance.

        Let’s concentrate on real-life data, Jim.

        CO2 does not correlate well with temperature; the case for causation is thus very weak.

        Let’s settle this question first, before we go off attributing reconstructed temperatures of the geologically distant past to reconstructed CO2 levels.

        Max

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Jim D, do you have a citation or a reference for the changes in CO2 and temperature as the Antarctic ice sheet formed?

        w.

  44. Jim D

    A final post in response to yours of April 7, 2011, 10:56pm

    You wrote

    “An example of a particular questions to ask is whether Antarctica’s ice cap can be stable at 1000 ppm.”

    Two other “particular questions to ask” are

    a) whether or not it is reasonable to assume we will reach a level of 1000 ppmv CO2 in our atmosphere from human activities? and

    b) what would be the temperature impact of reaching this level?

    Question a) comes up with some surprises. All the very optimistically estimated fossil fuel reserves of our planet contain just barely enough carbon to reach almost (but not quite) 1000 ppmv when they have been all 100% consumed. [The Rutledge study come up with a lower number, reaching an asymptotic maximum of somewhere around 800 ppmv.] So reaching 1000 ppmv CO2 is obviously not something that is going to happen over the next century, if at all.

    Question b) is the real problem here, though. Recent physical observations have shown us that the likely 2xCO2 climate sensitivity is not 3.2C as estimated by the models cited by IPCC, but rather somewhere between 0.6 and 1.0C.

    So taking Rutledge estimate and a 2xCO2 CS = 1.0, we arrive at 1.0C warming above today’s value as an absolute maximum ever to be reached by human combustion of fossil fuels.

    If we take the more optimistic estimate of fossil fuel reserves, we end up with maximum ever theoretical warming of 1.4C.

    These are obviously not serious threats to the Antarctic Ice Sheet.

    Max

    • Once you start adding new sources like oil shale, and include all the coal, 1000 ppm can be exceeded quite easily according to some estimates.
      On sensitivity, we need to examine your recent physical observations, because so far the temperature rise is on pace for about 3 degrees per doubling, and the paleo record supports at least 2.5 (Alley’s recent work).

  45. The main problem for me is that there is no moral revulsion in the field.

    Yes indeed. Including from Andrew Adams, probably the only person on the planet subscribing to CAGW theory for reasons other than the ratcheting up of politics it justifiies.

  46. Jim D

    An optimistic estimate for worldwide oil shale is in the “almost 1000 ppmv max” estimate.

    Alley’s work on paleo suffers the same problems as all paleo work. You can interpret the data to get any conclusion you want to get.

    Forget about all that paleo stuff, which supposedly supports a 2xCO2 CS of 3.2C. Let’s look at more recent “real life” data instead.

    The past decade showed no warming, despite CO2 levels rising to record high levels (and IPCC model projections that we “should have” seen 0.2C per decade warming. A bad sign for the premise that CO2 is a major driver of temperature.

    The “temperature rise is” DEFINITELY NOT “on pace for about 3 degrees per doubling”, if you look at either the 160-yer modern record or the past decade. In fact, it only looks that way if you extrapolate the 30-year late 20th century warming cycle (an upward cycle in the long-range sine curve).

    Based on the past decade the “temperature rise is on pace for about 0 degrees per doubling” and based on the past 160 years the “temperature rise is on pace for about 1.4 degrees per doubling”, IF we ASSUME that all warming was caused by CO2.

    However, we know from several solar studies that around 0.35C of the observed 0.67C warming can be attributed to the unusually high level of 20th century solar activity, with most of this occurring in the first half of the century.

    So, if we correct for this, we see that a doubling of CO2 would only get us a around 0.7C warming (as confirmed by the Spencer/Lindzen observations).

    As I said, Jim, it does not look good for the IPCC premise that AGW has been the principal cause of past warming or that it represents a serious potential threat to humanity or our environment (including the Antarctic Ice Sheet).

    Max

  47. Universities have Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) and Research Compliance offices for regulating research with human and animal subjects. The training now required to do things as simple as surveys is almost beyond belief (multi-hour online training courses with testing to get certification, extensive applications outlining the research plan, board review, etc.). Onerous as this may be for some things, it should be required of *all* researchers because of the components that deal with the ethics and standards of research that go beyond simple informed consent. Start with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Research_ethics, but continue investigating the topic. Climate science has a way to go to measure up.

    • Gary,

      that’s a excellent point. There is not enough across the board training for students and post-docs in many fields on what is ‘good research’ and what is ‘good research behavior’.

      I had to take a research ethics course and discussion section as part of a NIH fellowship program, which covered all such NIH fellowships on campus. Most of the work was under the ‘medical’ banner, but my research, for instance is not, and I found it highly enlightening.

      With NIH providing the funding for the course, the university had to oblige. Maybe if other funding agencies like DOE, NSF and NASA could secure funding for similar courses, it could become standard protocol to inform researchers on ethical and good research practices as a requirement for awarding grants to universities and research facilities like national labs. These funding agencies could at least start pilot programs for climate science related research grants.

      Dr. Curry,

      has anyone tried to get NSF and NASA on board for programs on research ethics?

      • actually NSF is pushing this very hard, ethics training is becoming a requirement for NSF funding, I posted on this previously
        http://judithcurry.com/2010/12/22/washington-update-science-integrity/#more-1623

        i will do another post on this re how this is being implemented at the grass roots level (i.e. training of individual students and researchers)

      • When was Rome was great it needed few laws. When rome was rotten a million laws would not help.
        Nothing beats having an ethical core.
        As long as ethics are just another bump in the post-modern road, no amount of clever laws and classes and testing will make an appreciable difference.
        Think of public education and if its current version of reform is making any positive difference as a go by.

      • hunter,

        ‘As long as ethics are just another bump in the post-modern road, no amount of clever laws and classes and testing will make an appreciable difference.’

        I am willing to put students and post-docs through classes on research ethics to test your hypothesis.

        Moreover, ‘science’ does not have an ethics problem. Still moreover, climate science does not have an ethics problem. There are some ethics issues with the research of a group of climate scientists whose work has been elevated by specific political groups in an open political system. That is not an indication that ‘Rome is rotten’.

        I would have thought that a group of people pressing on specific instances of misconduct and over-generalization would be a little better about not falling prey to the same fate. So far, I have been thoroughly disappointed on that front.

      • That is not an indication that ‘Rome is rotten’.

        maxwell: It’s hard to tell. Again, it was not just some group of climate scientists who got caught but some of the most prominent and influential climate scientists.

        Furthermore, with very few exceptions such as JC, the rest of the climate science community either remained silent or actively spoke out to gloss over these “ethics issues.” Ethically speaking, that renders climate scientists complicit in those issues.

        Finally, in this blog and others, we read accounts from climate scientists and students who post anonymously for fear of jeopardizing their careers because they disagree with climate orthodoxy.

        It’s hard to say how rotten climate science is but some rot has clearly set in. If I saw more scientists actively working against the rot, I wouldn’t worry so much, but I don’t.

      • huxley,

        …the rest of the climate science community either remained silent or actively spoke out to gloss over these “ethics issues.”’

        Yes, 99% of the climate science community has remained mute on this issue. So has 99% of the public. Are they also complicit?

        And what would those climate researchers say, without accessing to the files, emails and context of the situation? Why should they pass judgment on a situation for which they are ill-informed?

        My problem with this line of reasoning is that it assumes the wagon-circling of a small group of highly connected and politically motivated individuals is representative of the broader climate science and scientific communities. Yet, there is no basis to make such a claim.

        Again, the irony that these claims are coming from individuals who take great effort to point out the over emphasis of specific scientific claims with respect to climate change is palpable. If there is a scenario in which the uncertainty is large enough to render any specific conclusion in error and action inappropriate it is one in which we have absolutely no idea how a group of professionals feels about the behavior of a specific set of their peers.

        I mean, by your logic every Republican is complicit in Newt Gingrich’s extra-marital affairs or President Bush’s alcoholism, right?

      • maxwell: I’m not speaking of criminal complicity, but of the complicity addressed by Burke’s aphorism: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

        If you are aware of something wrong happening in your presence and you do nothing when you could have, then to some extent you are complicit in that wrong.

        Since gibes against Bush and Cheney come easily to you, perhaps you recall the whole “Not In Our Name” movement of Americans who opposed the Iraq War. Those people were signifying their refusal to be complicit in that war.

        Likewise our gracious host, Dr. Curry, saw the wrong in the Climategate emails and took action which in part resulted in this blog. As I recall, she expected more scientists to speak out similarly, thereby refusing complicity, but they did not.

        For those of us who consider Climategate an outrage, the silence of most climate scientists — like it or not — reads as tacit acceptance. That’s just the way these things work.

        No one has the time to avoid all the complicity human life affords but there are times when taking a stand counts and if you don’t, that counts too.

      • Maxwell Yes, 99% of the climate science community has remained mute on this issue. So has 99% of the public. Are they also complicit?

        So if there was a medical or financial fraud, and doctors and bankers to remained mute, you would not think them complicit? Sure you would.
        And comparing the wider public to a profession is ludicrous.

      • huxley,

        ‘If you are aware of something wrong happening in your presence and you do nothing when you could have, then to some extent you are complicit in that wrong.’

        Fine, if that is the definition you use for determining where blame should be placed, it still doesn’t make sense to imply the climate science community is at fault. ‘Climategate’ did not happen in their ‘presence’. Some researchers like Dr. Curry seem to have been more personally affected by the behavior of the specific individuals involved in the scandal, therefore, I can understand her desire to voice her displeasure with them.

        I am neither a climate science researcher nor do I know any of the individuals involved personally of professional, yet I have found it necessary to point out their behavior was far from ideal.

        So again, you’re clearly saying that the silence of involved parties results in their compliance in unethical behavior. The vast majority of both the scientific and climate science community were not involved in ‘Climategate’, therefore they are NOT complicit in that behavior, by your own standards.

        Punksta,

        ‘So if there was a medical or financial fraud, and doctors and bankers to remained mute, you would not think them complicit?’

        Again, there is significant confusion here. When there is a medical fraud, I do believe that silent parties involved are complicit. I do not, however, blame my personal physician, who is a doctor, but had nothing to do with the fraud in question.

        In the same way, while there is blame to be laid on researchers and administrators who willfully did not disclose ethical behavior, the broader community of researchers was not involved at all. Therefore, they are not complicit.

        The comparison to the general population is apt in that context. As far as involvement is concerned, the average climate researcher was as involved in ‘Climategate’ as the average elementary school teacher.

        I don’t understand how you two can make your analogies and not come to the same conclusion I am proposing here.

      • mxwell,
        That group claims to speak for basically all of cliamte science. They indeed go to a great deal of trouble, including lawsuits to force silence. Dr. Curry, Pielke Sr., and a few others like Dr. Spencer dispute any of them to any degree.
        Until the ‘small group’ you describe is treated as a small group of extremists, then they represent all of cliamte science for all practical purposes.

      • Dr. Curry,

        ‘i will do another post on this re how this is being implemented at the grass roots level’

        Great! I think that would provide a better understanding of how science works on the ground for a good deal of the audience here.

        Thanks.

  48. Dr Tim Ball, Canadian climate sceptic is being sued for libel by the obno*ious Michael Mann and another backed, it is beleived, by the wealthy Suzuki Foundation.

    This retired prof with only pension income needs contributions for his legal fighting fund. Please help!

    You can contribute on his blog here, top right hand corner.
    http://drtimball.com/
    An article on the background to the case can be found on WUWT here http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/04/08/he….ann/#more-37546
    “Help asked for Dr. Tim Ball in legal battle with Dr. Mann”.

    P.S. Please publicise this appeal on any other message boards where you think a sympathetic reception to the request for donations can be found. Thanks.

    • What did Ball write that was the basis for the suit? In general, I’m opposed to conducting climate science by litigation or criminal investigation, but it would still be worth knowing how this particular suit developed. This is also useful because sometimes these suits are settled via acknowledgment of error, when appropriate, rather than monetary awards.

      • I think that’s funny. I wish I had thought of it. Maybe I still can. I wouldn’t sue over it (if it’s a true description of the claim), but I also think that the lawyers, prosecutors, and Justice System should have no place in any of this regarding anyone in climate science unless the individual is guilty of much more than the charges that have been hyped to date in the blogosphere. These are the result of overheated ideological combat to the point where the participants seem to have lost all perspective and are only out to destroy their perceived enemies, using allegations of misbehavior as an excuse. Shame on them all (and you know who you are).

      • Lol -hilarious banter! Litigation over a remark like that is pathetic.

      • I’m opposed to conducting climate science by litigation or criminal investigation…

        Fred M: In your opinion how should researchers be treated when they refuse FOI requests and are exposed as conspiring to delete data and emails?

        I’m not for taking Mann to court over the Hockey Stick games, but where laws are concerned I don’t think it’s too much to expect scientists to obey laws as the rest of us do or face criminal investigations or court.

  49. Willis Eschenbach

    Allegedly, Tim said Mann belonged in the State Pen, not Penn State.

    Mann is stupid to try to sue over that. It’s too funny, too euphonious, and rolls off of the tongue too nicely. All Mann is accomplishing is just what’s happening here – dozens of people who never heard of Tim Ball end up laughing at Mann. It’s going to be repeated so many times, it’ll be the poor guy’s autograph …

    Ah, well, stupidity roolz. I feel sorry for Tim, everyone should send him some $.

    w.

  50. Willis Eschenbach

    grrr … “epitaph”, not “autograph” …

    w.

  51. Wrong. Gatekeeping, both conscious and unconscious, is by far the rule. Else why need Feynman have said, “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.” Said experts on journal editorial boards and acting as reviewers ignorantly reject anything challenging their expertise.

    How is this not “gatekeeping”?

  52. JC earlier commented on ethics training for scientists …

    Sounds like a good idea on the face of it. If your average scientist doesn’t grasp the meaning ‘honesty’, and how to resolve the endless clashes between political correctness and facts, then they should be taught these basics.

    But given that this teaching will itself be politically funded and managed, what hope is there it will actually deliver the goods?

  53. Willis Eschenbach

    andrew adams | April 9, 2011 at 1:51 pm |

    Willis,

    You should see the timestamps on my comments ; )

    Seriously though, it’s up to Gavin’s employers to judge whether him running RC is either incompatible with his position at NASA or prevents him from properly fulfilling his professional duties. If they conclude that it doesn’t, which certainly appears to be the case then fine.

    Seriously though, if you think the people in charge at NASA are the right people to judge Gavin, there’s a story about foxes and henhouses that come to mind …

    Which is why we have things like FOIs, and oversight panels, and why people stand up and scream when some government agency like NASA lets its employees run wild … and it’s also likely why NASA is in big trouble now for avoiding FOIs. Your faith in the government, and in NASA in particular, is sadly misplaced.

    w.

    • Willis and Andrew

      Willis makes a good point. But there is an even more basic point.

      NASA managers may or may not feel that it’s OK for Gavin to spend “company hours” on his “nighttime job” selling the alarming AGW story, but who is paying Gavin’s salary + expenses in the first place (as well as those of his managers)?

      It is the US taxpayer.

      So far he/she is not being asked if his/her tax money is being well spent funding RealClimate, or whether he/she would rather cut off this funding.

      That is the key point here, which sometimes gets forgotten.

      (Sort of goes back to the old “golden rule”, doesn’t it?)

      Max

      PS I do not live in the USA, so the above argument does not impact me directly. I also do not live in the UK, but I can understand very well how many UK residents were outraged by the idea that their tax money was being used to finance government-sponsored TV scare mongering campaigns to sell the alarming AGW premise to the general public (this seems to have stopped under the new government there, so maybe somebody “got the word”).