Research ethics training

by Judith Curry

I have been pondering how to best teach research ethics to incoming graduate students and to meet the new NSF guidelines.   While googling around, I found an interesting document from the Department of Meteorology at Penn State.


In response to the requirements of the America Competes Act (background here),  the U.S. National Science Foundation is requiring that students and postdocs participating in NSF funded research receive training in the responsible conduct of research.  From their website:

This page provides resources on NSF’s implementation of Section 7009 of the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act. The responsible and ethical conduct of research (RCR) is critical for excellence, as well as public trust, in science and engineering. Consequently, education in RCR is considered esential in the preparation of future scientists and engineers.

Statutory Requirement

“The Director shall require that each institution that applies for financial assistance from the Foundation for science and engineering research or education describe in its grant proposal a plan to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers participating in the proposed research project.”

I wholeheartedly applaud this initiative/requirement.  It is clearly insufficient to train students to be specialists in science and technology; ethics and social responsibilities are as important as scientific skills and understanding.

Georgia Tech’s guidelines for meeting the requirements are [here].

Penn State guidelines

While pondering how to best implement this for the  students in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, I was googling around to see what other universities were doing.

I found this interesting document from the Department of Meteorology at Penn State:  Development and Ethics as a Researcher in the Atmospheric Sciences Meteo 591.  There is some good stuff here.

About halfway through the document Week 3 –  Interfaces with Society, I found a case study associated with the hockeystick:

*Government Interference (The Case of the Unwanted Hockey Stick):

I clicked on all three links, the Prospect link doesn’t go anywhere.  This seems to be the appropriate link.  The upshot is that these three links seem to reflect the hockey stick wars from Mann’s perspective.

Learning from climategate and the hockey stick

I had also planned on using the hockey stick as a case study, but in the context of climategate.  In particular, I think Steve McIntyre’s essay related to his Heartland talk on Climategate and Hide the Decline introduces a whole host of ethical issues that students can learn from by considering the various dilemmas and judgments made by the scientists.

While I can’t exactly tell what the Penn State students were exposed to in this regard, the ” government interference,” the dismissal of M&M in the links, etc.,  gives a pretty good indication.

Well, the Georgia Tech Earth and Atmospheric Science students will be exposed to something different, regarding climategate and the hockey stick.  They will be given links to my three climategate essays:

They will also be encouraged to read the posts at climate etc. under the ethics tag.  Regarding the hockey stick, they will be exposed to both versions:  Penn State, and McIntyre’s view.  They will also be reading this thread to get a sense of the “factions,” diversity of perspectives, and overall complexity of this issue.

Moderation note:  The combination of hockeystick, Penn State, Mann, and McIntyre in one post may be combustible in terms of provoking inflammatory comments.  Don’t.  The students will be reading this.  Keep your comments thoughtful and constructive, and keep the noise to a minimum, please.  Thank you in advance for your constructive ideas on teaching ethics to students involved in climate research.

871 responses to “Research ethics training

  1. No better ethical training available than case studies drawn from the two ClimateGate files.

    • …..with the extra interest provided by being able to study all the aspects of Climategate Part 2…… as it happens! :)

      • Is the PCA approach robust? Are the results statistically significant? It seems to me that in the case of MBH the answer in each is no
        4241 Wilson:

        I thought I’d play around with some randomly generated time-series and see if I could ‘reconstruct’ northern hemisphere temperatures.
        […] The reconstructions clearly show a ‘hockey-stick’ trend. I guess this is
        precisely the phenomenon that Macintyre has been going on about.
        3373 Bradley:

        I’m sure you agree–the Mann/Jones GRL paper was truly pathetic and should never have been published. I don’t want to be associated with that 2000 year “reconstruction”.
        4758 Osborn:

        Because how can we be critical of Crowley for throwing out 40-years in the middle of his calibration, when we’re throwing out all post-1960 data ‘cos the MXD has a non-temperature signal in it, and also all pre-1881 or pre-1871 data‘cos the temperature data may have a non-temperature signal in it! 0886 Esper:

      • Looks like the team will be getting lumps of coal from Santa once again.

        He sees you when your sleeping
        He knows when your awake
        He reads through all your e-mail
        So be good for goodness sake.

      • Nah.
        He sees you when you’re sleeping
        He knows when you’re awake
        He reads through all your e-mail
        So be good for goodness sake.

        Remember, students will be reading this! They don’t need incompetent grammar on top of the horse output that passes for public science education these days.

    • Although I agree that GHGs are important in the 19th/20th century (especially since the 1970s), if the weighting of solar forcing was stronger in the models, surely this would diminish the significance of GHGs.
      […] it seems to me that by weighting the solar irradiance more strongly in the models, then much of the 19th to mid 20th century warming can be explained from the sun alone.

      1485 Mann:

      the important thing is to make sure they’re loosing the PR battle. That’s what the site [Real Climate] is about.


      I’ve been told that IPCC is above national FOI Acts. One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5 would be to delete all emails at the end of the process

      5349: “…..need to identify someone specific to work on the communication to industry end)and I would be happy to approach Bob May or Ron Oxburgh…”

      Phil Jones:

      “….As Kevin may have said to you, we have a very mixed bag of LAs in our chapter. Being the basic atmos obs. one, we’ve picked up a number of people from developing countries so IPCC can claim good geographic representation…..”

      • Jones: “I’ve been told that IPCC is above national FOI Acts. One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5 would be to delete all emails at the end of the process”

        Aside from the huge ethical problems with Jones’ statement above, Jones also demonstrates a unique absence of knowledge about enterprise email. He can delete emails from his computer but they will still be retained on one of the university’s mail servers.

        I would love to hear his conversation about this with the university’s mail administrator.

        Jones: “Hi, I would like you to delete all of my email from your mail server so I can illegally evade FOI requests”
        Admin: “Sorry Jones, I am not getting fired and/or criminally charged for you and your cronies”
        Jones: “OK, I understand, just don’t tell anyone that i asked you to do this”.
        Admin: “Ha, fat chance. I’m going to leak this like the rest of your frauds”
        Jones: “Ohhh”

      • What “huge ethical problems”? It had been the policy of the Governor of Texas to delete all emails each and every week in order to avoid FOIA disclosure.

      • In 2003 I was advised by my Dean not to keep emails.

      • Sounds like La Cosa Nostra.

      • You should have been advised by your IT person that there’s no such thing as delete.

      • Dr. N-G,
        And now it isn’t done that way, as you point out.
        Does that make your colleagues doing this ethical?
        If your money manager was doing this would you feel more, or less, confident of their ethics and management?
        In the real world of responsible accountable corporations, there are very strict document management policies, the violation of which gets you fired.
        It is frankly disturbing to hear public employees openly talk about how to avoid accountability to us.

      • Dr. Curry,

        Interesting that it took till 2003 for your Dean to indicate it might be a good idea to delete older emails. It looks like the governor of Texas has been advised, likely by his IT folks, that the standard IT policy in Texas is to back up ALL electronic communications every week. My former fortune X company was MORE then aware of the back up period for electronic communications back in 1996- their concern became one from a legal perspective. A corporate policy was put in place after 1996 to formally state when it was appropriate/required to delete electronic email communication. The rational for the policy made a lot of sense from a legal perspective. Unfortunately, from a knowledge management perceptive (in the days before Documentum or it’s equivalent), this led to a bit of a problem for those of us in the development trenches that were used to open communication between dispense geographical locations of scientists and engineers trying to move things forward.

        A mentor of mine suggested that any communication that you don’t want to be public should never be written down (either on paper or in an email- especially electronic communication as it always seems that someone backed it up as part of their good IT practices).

        By the way no one likes to have folks with guns from a federal agency come to your place of work to secure all forms of communication in an area they have found of interest- they thought someone might want to delete a few things……………

        If you would like any specifics feel free to drop me an email and I will provide them- likely via the telephone or 1 on 1 communication;).

      • K Scott Denison

        “In 2003 I was advised by my Dean not to keep emails.”

        This was bad advice, for several reasons:

        1. Without a formal document retention policy in place, his advice, and your following it, open you both up to scrutiny and liability that neither of you likely anticipated.

        2. This statement indicates you did not check to see what, if any, retention policy was in place, either by your employers at the University or State level, or your grant providers.

        3. It is naive, at best, to think that deleting emails means they are gone. Not only does one have to know the retention practices of one’s IT department, one must also factor in the retention policies of those whoe sent or received the emails. ( Hint: Tiger Woods was exposed by electronic communications that he had deleted. )

        Instead of listening to the Dean you should have questioned him/her as to the formal policies and practices of your organization.

        And above all, don’t put into an email what you don’t want discovered.

      • “In 2003 I was advised by my Dean not to keep emails.”

        It is illegal after the FOIA request has been made, or after the emails have been subpoenaed. Before that it is merely unethical if deleting solely to avoid disclosure.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        K Scott Denison, that advice wouldn’t necessarily give cause for scrutiny or liability to Judith Curry (or for her dean, most likely). There is rarely any issue with deleting personal copies of an e-mail. E-mail records are expected to be kept by institutions and companies, meaning the people running the servers are responsible for it, not the individuals working there.

        On the other hand, if there is a policy in place for how long e-mails should be kept, it can be best for individuals to delete their e-mails. If a server only stores e-mails for a month, but employees keep e-mails for longer than that, it is possible for e-mails to be obtained which the policy would normally prevent.

        Of course, if there is no formal policy, things get messy. Sometimes servers backup e-mails for inconsistent time periods, and sometimes they don’t even store any copies of e-mails. Deleting personal copies of e-mails can be far more significant in this case, but even so, if it is done in a consistent manner, there is usually no room for liability, and little for scrutiny.

      • In about 1994, the Law Firm I worked for decided that they would exclude the backup of the mail store from offsite rotation as they only needed their current stores and weren’t worried about historic e-mails!! This meant that if someone deleted their e-mail within a week there would be no record of it in our systems.

        I believe this was within a year of the first successful use of disclosure law on electronic mail in a silicon valley case.

        On the other hand in the Eurozone there are differing laws covering Environmental Data. Anyone have details on that??

      • Here it is in a nutshell:

        Deleting e-mail is unethical, if not criminal.

        Stealing e-mail is OK. Misrepresenting it also is OK.

      • Where I work when you delete an email it is not actually deleted. It is moved to a separate mail archive to be used in cases of “discovery” for any future legal (or personnel) action.

        The individuals involved have no expectation of privacy of email on their employers’ systems. To the best of my knowledge, nobody’s personal private email accounts were accessed. All mail in these archives that I have seen so far appear to have come from places that were subject to FOIA scrutiny though I do see some attempt to somehow position them as “private” when they are not, to the best of my understanding.

        In fact, Briffa is quoted in one of the emails mentioning that he had moved certain information to his personal private storage and as far as I know, that information remains personal and private.

        So nobody’s private email was “stolen” as far as I can see. What we do have is an apparent case of unauthorized access to an organization’s email store.

      • M. Carey,
        The your interpretation of the law regarding documents is heavily emphasized on “nut”.
        Stealling is bad.
        shredding/deleting material business/work product records outside of a legal document records system is also illegal- criminally and civilly.
        Leaking evidence of wrong doing is generally considered a legitimate defense against the theft/unauthorized use.
        When we see you condemn The Pentagon Papers, Deep Throat in watergate, wikileaks, the NYT on national security issues regularly, and demonstrate some knowledge and nuance on this, I would look forward to discussing it further.

      • Rational Debate

        Just hope you have a kind friend such as Tim Osborn to yank you up short for these sorts of suggestions, and provide you with the convenient lie in the process. /sarc Frankly, this seems about as diametrically opposed to integrity as it can get. Not to mention bizzare, since he’s making the comments in an email telling others not to discuss such things in emails…. this was found by someone else and posted to a WUWT thread:

        Geoff Sherrington says: November 24, 2011 at 1:58 am

        Willis, try #3791 The last line is especially illuminating.
        date: Mon, 8 Dec 2008 19:49:18 -0000 (GMT)
        from: “Tim Osborn”
        subject: RE: FW: FOI_08-50 ; EIR_08-01
        to: “Jones Philip Prof”

        Hi Phil!

        re. your email to Dave Palmer [which he copied in his response to you and
        cc’d to me, Keith & Michael McGarvie, and which has hence already been
        multiply copied within the UEA system, and therefore will probably exist
        for a number of months and possibly years, and could be released under FOI
        if a request is made for it during that time!]… I assume that you didn’t
        delete any emails that David Holland has requested (because that would be
        illegal) but that instead his request merely prompted you to do a spring
        clean of various other emails that hadn’t been requested, as part of your
        regular routine of deleting old emails. If that is what you meant, then
        it might be a good idea to clarify your previous email to Dave Palmer, to
        avoid it being misunderstood. :-)

        The way things seem to be going, I think it best if we discuss all FOI,
        EIR, Data Protection requests in person wherever possible, rather than via
        email. It’s such a shame that the skeptics’ vexatious use of this
        legislation may prevent us from using such an efficient modern technology
        as email, but it seems that if we want to have confidential discussions
        then we may need to avoid it.

        I shall delete this email and those related to it as part of my regular
        routine of deleting old emails!



    • My commitment to the basic principles of science was instilled by observing the quiet reverence that my research advisor had for science when facing powerful opposition to his findings by hostile members of the Western scientific establishment.

      “Professor Paul Kazuo Kuroda: 1917-2001”
      Geochemical Journal 35, 211-212 (2001)

      • My commitment to honesty and integrity in everything I do was learned at my mother’s knee. Likewise, my kids learned it from their parents. If you reach uni without a proper grounding, it’s probably too late for fundamental change.

      • There is prison…

        just sayin…. :)

  2. Bloke down the pub

    By the time they’ve finished their course in ethics, will they have time left to study science. Still, one’s no good without the other I suppose.

  3. Judy:
    Aaron Wildavsky’s book But Is It True? would be on my short list of texts for a course on Research Ethics.

    P.S. Another tranche of CRU/UEA emails has just been released. If valid, you will have much more material for your course.

  4. Judith –

    What other material will you provide your students?

    I realize that you think that the ethical questions in the hockey stick situation are black and white, and that the only viable perspectives are those in agreement with your own, but In a course on ethics, don’t you think it is important to present a variety of perspectives?

    And also – if you’re going to present to students a perspective based on a perceived loss of “public trust,” don’t you think that you should provide some quantified and verified data that supports that assertion? You do have some, don’t you?

    • Also Judith –

      There’s an interesting aspect to your essay on the credibility of climate research.

      In it, you mention Watts as a prominent member of the “climate auditor” community. This is interesting because it seems to me that at times you have specifically distinguished and distance Watts from other “skeptics” who seem to be less overtly ideological and more limited in focus to the science of the debate.

      It seems that you want to have your cake and eat it too, Judith.

      • Joshua, perhaps you are unfamiliar with Watts’
        where he and some volunteers posted specific issues with the stations’ ability to log the correct temperature. i.e. the temperature that would have been observed with “proper” siting. I think that project qualifies Watts’ as an “auditor”.

  5. Although the title of your post is ‘Research ethics training’, I think it overlaps with quite a few things that have certainly not been part of scientist’s training in the past. By that I mean an understanding of the media, FOI laws, and exposure to activist organisations and pressures etc. Of course many scientists won’t have need of such things, but for the foreseeable future, climate science is probably an exception..

    I think actually getting your students to read Climate etc is a splendid idea -and not just the ethics posts! There are certainly a wide variety of views and tribes represented here – as well as the kinds of arguments that go on in the broad background of the ‘public’ version of climate science.

    A note of caution, though. Too much exposure to the exciting perspectives we enjoy – Philosophy of science, Psychology of hysteria, Confirmation bias through the ages…etc etc – might mean some of your students taking a mid-term swerve towards other more esoteric disciplines! :)

  6. Watching the AGW believer community find ways to ignore climategate by hijacking threads, dissembling, filibustering, diversions, attempts to reframe the conversation, etc. will be excellent examples what ethics are not.
    Studying the actual e-mails themselves will be a great way to see how good people make bad decisions and then make the situation worse and worse over time.

  7. The combination of hockeystick, Penn State, Mann, and McIntyre in one post may be combustible in terms of provoking inflammatory comments. Don’t. The students will be reading this.

    Not that I disagree, but perhaps some exposure to and discussion of the flames emanating from both sides would be instructive. Understanding the emotional impact of an attack on your “side” and how that affects your objectivity is important. Losing that objectivity can lead to losing the perspective necessary to prevent ethical lapses.

    • Gene –

      You make a good point. One of the major defences of Dr Curry posting the Ludecke papers was that we’re all adults, this is a blog-without-pedagogy, and no-one was going to come to any harm.

      Also, when we had interminable discussions about how we should all behave if we had a guest post from an invited climate scientist, the majority opinion was that it would be slightly patronising to portray a false ‘ldealised’ version of Climate etc so as not to offend the guests.

      If students are old enough to leave home and go to University, I say they’re probably old enough to cope with all the gentle ribbing and good-natured banter that usually occurs here [ ;) ] An even more pertinent point might be that everything published here has had the opportunity to be moderated….
      so has a sort of tacit approval of our hostess.

      Lastly, I think if I were a student at Georgia Tech’, I’d spend a lot of time reading Climate etc as an enjoyable alternative to trudging through Ray Pierrehumbert’s ‘Principles of planetary climate’, so students may as well jump in at the deep end.

      • One of the major defences of Dr Curry posting the Ludecke papers was that we’re all adults, this is a blog-without-pedagogy, and no-one was going to come to any harm.


        Also, when we had interminable discussions about how we should all behave if we had a guest post from an invited climate scientist, the majority opinion was that it would be slightly patronising to portray a false ‘ldealised’ version of Climate etc so as not to offend the guests.

        Spirited disagreement is something I have no problem with. Some of the rabid snarling I see here and there (from both sides) is another matter entirely. It does, however, serve as a warning of what happens when people let their emotions rule. It’s good to have a bad example here and there, but I don’t advocate being one.

        An even more pertinent point might be that everything published here has had the opportunity to be moderated…so has a sort of tacit approval of our hostess.

        This I disagree with. That a particular comment hasn’t been moderated does not convey approval, only that it’s either not been seen yet or isn’t so eggregious as to warrant deletion. I do, however, applaud the light moderation employed here.

        Lastly, I think if I were a student at Georgia Tech’, I’d spend a lot of time reading Climate etc as an enjoyable alternative to trudging through Ray Pierrehumbert’s ‘Principles of planetary climate’, so students may as well jump in at the deep end.

        Somehow I doubt that would be an effective strategy to earning a degree ;-)

      • Fair points again.

        My slightly tongue-in-cheek comment about the ‘tacit approval’ is really to remark on the almost complete lack of moderation here. I too welcome it – it is only rarely that I wish some of the abuse was deleted, but then i ask myself why I am there reading it, usually involved?

        I think I’d risk the suggesting that Dr Curry has precious little interest in moderation [partly because there is no ‘agenda’ here, which is enormously to the credit of Climate etc] and so at a time like this might feel just very slightly anxious AS IF all the comments had been ‘passed’ by her moderating hand. It is very understandable, and to an extent her request for relevant helpful comments is entirely justified – we are by and large given an enormously long leash!

        And you’re right – it’s probably good to have an example of how emotional tribalism is manifested on the internet. We don’t have to endorse it!

      • My slightly tongue-in-cheek comment about the ‘tacit approval’ is really to remark on the almost complete lack of moderation here. I too welcome it – it is only rarely that I wish some of the abuse was deleted, but then i ask myself why I am there reading it, usually involved?

        Ah, I see. The ‘tacit approval’ thing is a pet peeve of mine. As much as I may cringe at some of the comments, I find the urge to silence people more troubling.


      • Anteros,
        You and Kim are prescient gifts to these discussions. Nice to see gifted people with humor, intellect and ability to enjoy a little repartee. Every climate discussion needs a little “tongue-in-cheek” and self depreciation.

  8. I always talk about Fritz Haber, father of the industrial production of ammonia and chlorine and the inventor and instigator of chemical weapons. He prostituted himself and his science in service of the German State, which less than two decades later turned on him because he was a Jew. Ironically, he personally helped in the formulation of Zyklon A, which was later developed into Zyklon A.
    The population density of the plant is a result of the Haber’s work, ammonia for fertilization of crops and chlorine for producing clean drinking water. Then again, so are chemical weapons.

  9. Judith, in the construction of an ethical training course you might want to consider the behavior of the authorities at Penn State who were charged with reviewing the M. Mann scientific behavior and the Penn State President who, when reporting to the board, covered for their whitewash. That would lead into a discussion of institutional ethics. Perhaps the names Sandusky & Paterno might be included.

    • Hank Z,
      That whitewash, and the stonewalling at U Va. are particularly egregious.
      The AGW movement has only grown into the monster it is by the failures of many- Academia, govt., journalism, etc.

    • Probably also should discuss how shameless ideologues attempt to slime members of Penn State’s Mann inquiry by putting them in the same boat with an accused child molester.

      • The private victims of one Penn State cover-up deserve more pity than is available, but what about the public victims of the other Penn State cover-up?

      • “Cover-up” and “whitewash” are words crybabies use when they don’t get their way.

      • ‘cover-up’ and ‘whitewash’ are words used when there has been dirty work at the crossroads.

      • Wahhh ! BOO HOO ! Poor babies.

      • Mr. Nixon, you have a good point.

      • Cute, M. carey. ‘Poor babies’ is exactly what is motivating our hero, the Leaker.

      • M. Carey,
        You could have been Ehrlichman for Nixon.
        You are really good at this sort of shallow, misleading deception.
        Do you have some time on your hands because Corzine asked you to lay low?

      • M. carey,

        I don’t think anyone is comparing Mann to Sandusky. I think they are comparing former Penn State President Graham Spanier to….umm…Graham Spanier.

      • I don’t think that those who criticize the Penn State Mann inquiry are trying to slime members of the inquiry. Rather, such critics are merely pointing out that high officialdom at Penn State in both cases — Sandusky’s alleged child molestation and Mann’s hockey capers — chose to protect entities that brought lots of $ to Penn State, instead of taking the morally correct course.

      • Exactly John, follow the money and the hell with ethics – that should be Penn State’s new motto.

      • Mann’s critics are trying to slime the faculty members who served on the Mann inquiry committee, because they did the right thing when they cleared him of wrong doing. There never should have been an inquiry to begin with.

      • actually the inquiry members appear to have violated proceedure.

        Now the faculty is demanding outsiders investigate

      • M. Carey,

        Penn State is not doing to well regarding wrong doings.

      • Steven Mosher says “the faculty is demanding outsiders investigate.”

        I hadn’t heard. Have a link?

        Is it because they want to remove all doubt, and make Mann squeaky clean?

      • The president made the boat. In both cases, justifications for whitewashing the charges were that the charged had national reputations and brought in money. Also, in both cases people who had pertinent information were ignored.

      • Wrong.

        The issue is the administration and its ability to set up independent investigations.

    • That would be the same Penn State that in addition to whitewashing Jones misconduct, also was caught covering up pedophilia by their staff, right?

      Hmm, what a fine institution with a great record for ethical behavior.

  10. Joshua. Perhaps it could be as simple as suggesting that they read their Bible, it would help. Some will get extra credit, some won’t. The fact remains though, the Bible should not be put into the closet. It will tell the reader the value of sticking with the truth, whatever the circumstances. And how for all. that can be very difficult at times. Real life stuff.
    All the best.

    • I agree Tom. With Christianity you learn to be ethical in all situations. It may be hard to do in practice, but at least you know what to aim for. Institutions that are practically atheist do not know what to aim for.


  11. One little nuance that can remain unnoticed by budding Climate scientists is that it is surprisingly easy to become seduced by a ’cause’ (real or imagined). What happens then is that it is possible to become partisan, tribal, suspicious and paranoid. It has even been suggested that one’s ethical faculties may become a little rough round the edges…

    Here is one of the emails from Climategate part 2 – from Mr Michael Mann.

    “I gave up on Judith Curry a while ago. I don’t know what she think’s she’s doing, but its not helping the cause”

    • Anteros,

      Point well taken. But I think the issue is that there are really competing “moralities” at play in the CAGW debate–“bourgeois” morality (of which the Georgia Tech science ethics code, with its emphasis on personal rectitude, is a subset), “proletariat” morality (that which advances the cause is moral; that which does not is immoral) and “Gordon Gekko” morality (greed is good).

      Corruption of science and every other discipline and institution of our society is likely to be endemic until “proletariat” and “Gordon Gekko” ethics, with their brave-new-dystopia and make-a-buck moral imperatives are discredited and abandoned.

    • I suspect that you have the cause and effect backward. In most cases, I don’t think you have people entering the field to become elucidators only to become activists, but people who start out with the conceit of “changing the world”, and pursue their path based on that.

  12. No amount of education on what the right course of action is can be compared to the economics that drive good people to make bad choices. The structure of research funding, or lack thereof, predicates what choices are available. There few takers to be the ethical starving man (woman). Government funding for research is dictated by committees whose primary function is to hide any bias to whom the funding is directed. Requests for proposals contain all the nuances which shade the research dollars towards either certain institutions or investigators. The military on the other hand, make no such politically correct funding decisions; build me something that will win the war; these are the specifications and initial dollar costs be damned; but, keep it secret; hence, private military contractors.
    In USA academia, where the publish or perish atmosphere is high pressure, research dollars are tabulated, papers in prestigious journals counted, books published, committees served, administrative offices held, and voila, tenure. (Teaching is an Oh by the way) Anyway along the line there is opportunity for ethical lapses; and there are, sometimes many. Some people are caught but go quietly in the night. Others with great fanfare are marshaled out of the department/university depending upon how much money is involved or there is a need for a general house cleaning. For the vast majority of academicians the research, teaching, and administration have varying importance depending on the waxing and waning of research dollars with few if any ethical lapses. How does the university system handle ethical lapses? Penn State and Joe Pa demonstrate that for years, because of the money involved, the budget implications, the central administration chose the course of action it did. It is not too far fetched to understand the machinations surrounding the Michael Mann inquiry. It is all well and good to instruct students about what the right course of action to take, it is quite another to have a central administration undercut all the good intentions.

  13. Jonathan Gilligan

    It’s difficult to teach research ethics using emotionally and politically volatile case studies. I would fear that it would be very difficult for a professor, on either side of the Hockey Stick controversy, to teach it in with sufficient dispassion to make it a good pedagogical, rather than indoctrination exercise, and the scientific issues at the heart of it are far too complex for students to follow without derailing an ethics class and turning it into a statistics seminar. Ask yourself critically how well you’d be able to teach the hockey-stick in a way that students can truly understand and judge the issues for themselves rather than simply accepting your version of them. I think it’s better to use case studies that are a bit colder.

    The David Baltimore, Teresa Imanishi-Kari case is a very good one pedagogically. 20 years later, both researchers and serious historians of science still can’t decide whether the crucial paper in Cell was legitimate or not. They can’t even agree on whether the experiment was successfully replicated. Reading, in parallel, Horace Freeland Judson’s account in “The Great Betrayal” and Daniel Kevles’s account in “The Baltimore Case” shows how hard it can be to determine whether fraud was committed, even when the full resources of the Office of Research Integrity and the Secret Service are brought to bear. Judson is utterly convinced that Imanishi-Kari got away with fraud because she had a powerful mentor, and that her results were never replicated, while Kevles is equally convinced that the results were successfully replicated and that Imanishi-Kari was subjected to a witch-hunt that mistook minor sloppiness for fraud and never let her confront witnesses and evidence or present a fair defense.

    More straightforward cases: The Jan Hendrik Schoen case is great for exploring the importance of good mentoring of graduate students to inculcate ethical research habits and also the importance of co-authors taking responsibility for papers on which their name appears. There was a great history of this case that came out last year, “Plastic Fantastic: How the Biggest Fraud in Physics Shook the Scientific World,” by Eugenie Samuel Reich.

    It’s also well worth looking farther back in history to the controversies surrounding Mendel’s, Pasteur’s, and Millikan’s ethics (Judson writes well on these, and David Goodstein at Caltech has a nice little book out, “On Fact and Fraud,” that discusses Millikan at length; Harry Collins and Trevor Pinch have a good short account in The Golem of the politicization of science and the ethical problems surrounding Pasteur’s experiments on spontaneous generation of life).

    And for the importance of transparency and honestly and clearly communicating uncertainties as ethical responsibilities, I like to teach the misuse of forensic science (the Brandon Mayfield case, and much scholarly writing about the flaws in forensic science research and laboratory practice). There was a good National Academy study in 2010, but to keep the syllabus of manageable length, I like to assign a quartet of shorter papers that appeared in Issues in Science and Technology in the Fall 2003 issue. Risinger and Sachs’s essay, “A House With No Foundation” is particularly good at laying out the importance of transparency and honestly communicating uncertainty when people’s liberty and lives are at stake.

    I also like to get students to read Jacob Bronowski’s “Science and Human Values,” a short volume that gives the best account I’ve read of the ethics of research and how those ethics connect to the ethics of our society as a whole.

    I do this in a freshman writing seminar in Earth & Environmental Sciences on scientific ethics, distinguishing science from pseudoscience, and the role of science in a democracy. For a graduate seminar, you’d want to go into things at a higher level, but I think these resources would be useful in that context as well.

    • Jonathan, thanks for these suggestions

    • I agree with Judy, and with Bart Verheggen below. This comment by Jonathan Gilligan strikes me not only as well-informed and insightful in regard to current controversies, but additionally as an illustration of how our perspective on a contentious topic can be enhanced by an appreciation of historical context, including examples he cites here.

      It would be instructive to see some of the latter fleshed out in more detail, along with a description of how opinions at the time of the original controversy evolved with the passage of time and the cooling of emotions..

      • Bart,
        You are usually more fair and reasonable..
        You don’t do obtuse very well.
        the guys you have relied on have scammed you.
        Deal with that and stop trying to pretned otherwise.

    • Jonathan,
      This sounds transparently and even cynically self serving for AGW true believers: Ignore the present, only study the nice quiet past.
      Leave the field to the obvious partisan AGW believers to continue frmaing the discussion.
      It is winding up Jonathan.
      Even banal, moderate talk is not likely to stifle cliamtegate v2.0
      You guys got everyone to ignore the real issues- institutional corruption and self-serving for two years longer than you deserved.
      Be happy enough with that.

    • It’s difficult to teach research ethics using emotionally and politically volatile case studies.

      Difficult but vital. The Tuskegee Study should be reviewed by everyone. The ultimate corruption is the belief by the researcher that his or her purity of motive overrides all other ethical considerations. Students of ethics in science should have some understanding of how the legal system has gotten involved because of real misbehavior by researchers, not merely ambiguous behavior.

    • You mention David Goodstein and his book “On Fact and Fraud”. Well, the biggest fraud perpetrated on the world’s populace is the lack of recognition given to the finality of oil depletion. Professor Goodstein knows this issue deeply as he wrote another fine little book in 2004 called “Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil”. Most of the commenters on this site who pounce on climate scientists for “questionable ethics” should realize that their concerns are in fact completely overshadowed by the prospect of dwindling fossil fuel supplies — with crude oil the first to go. Read everything by Goodstein and also his Caltech colleague David Rutledge who has been studying coal depletion.

      • Yea, its a problem, but not a near term one. When it appeared that every tree in England would be felled for fuel, people predicted the end of the world and guess what? People discovered coal. When we run of oil, people will rediscover nuclear power or solar power. There was a great article I think in Scientific American on this that showed that solar and nuclear were the only 2 viable options for our future.

      • It won’t be a seamless transition. Compared to the transition from whale oil to crude oil, whatever we go to next won’t be smooth. Nothing stands out waiting in the wings, apart from a bunch of stopgap measures.

      • Vernon, less cringeworthy than what you are going to beat on, no doubt.

  14. In my inbox this morning I had a message from Air Vent- As the topic of this thread is Ethics I thought you might like to consider this comment referenced in Jeff’s post-


    The results for 400 ppm stabilization look odd in many cases […] As it stands
    we’ll have to delete the results from the paper if it is to be published.

    I wonder if the FDA moved to a peer previewed (stating how you are going to evaluate the data for the results section upfront) recommendation for best practices in use of the scientific method to mitigate the ethical risk/danger of the approach Warren is suggesting……………………..

  15. Santa Fe conference (November 2011)
    Was this taken seriously ?
    I hope not !
    Pal Brekke , H. Abdussamatov, Lockwood any comments ?

  16. Why would anyone (scientists included) be unethical and ‘bend’ the evidence to support a point of view?

    (1) Self-regard (“I am saving the planet..”; “I am on the leading edge of world-changing science..”; “They will build statues of me in grateful rememberence..”; “My work is vital to all mankind, present and future..”.

    (2) Reputation (“i’ve made all these statements – I’ll make sure no-one is going to prove me wrong..”)

    (3) Ideology. Sometimes unrecognized (“No. he is a zealot, you are biased, I’m perfectly fair.”),

    (4) Money.

    The same things really motivate all of us (think of economists arguing over the current meltdown) but scientists are supposed to have filters against them. Amongst these are other scientists whispering in their ear “All glory is fleeting”; “you haven’t considered half the pertinent work”; “you can’t do that with the data!). Therefore a gang of miscreants are really bad news for science.

    I put money last. If it were a major motivation surely many scientists would cease inventing dodgy climate models and move to Wall Street where they could build dodgy financial models.

  17. Climategate II
    Mann: I gave up on Judith Curry a while ago. I don’t know what she think’s she’s doing, but its not helping the cause.

    As my parents warned me – “Be careful who you hang out with”

    more elegantly stated in an Persian proverb:

    “It’s better to have a smart enemy than a dumb friend. A smart enemy will teach you things, a dumb friend can get you killed.”

  18. I agree with Jonathan Gilligan.

    The hockey stick debate is too hot to be used as a genuine teaching tool, because the teacher (i.e. Judith Curry in this case) will invariably have a favorable opinion of one side and a less favorable of the other side (as Judith Curry clearly has). This will inevitably influence their teaching of the subject.

    Better to use a more historical example where you don’t have a strong personal opinion for either side.

    The mirror image of McIntyre’s view would be Mann’s view I guess (ie via his writings at RC or elsewhere). I doubt that the PennState reading list can be regarded as a mirror image of McIntyre’s writings.

    • I wholeheartedly disagree. Particularly for climate students (but also for all students) climategate is one of those teachable moments that is of high relevance to the students. They are of course hearing about it, what kind of message do they get if their professors just ignore it? These are the kinds of things that SHOULD be discussed at universities.

      As for my “biases” on this, my public statements have been on the integrity of science. I see things in the emails and in the practices of the IPCC that cannot be defended by anyone as “best scientific practice.” And this has nothing to do with whether you are convinced or unconvinced, or which side of the “cause” you are on.

      Its about thinking critically about scientific debates and ethical issues/dilemmas.

      • Heh, the greatest evil present in our intellectosphere and Gilligan and Moolton prefer to ignore it. This is the ‘Hear no Evil, See no Evil, Speak no Evil’ School of Ethical Studies.

      • Judy – I tend to agree with Bart here, and also with Jonathan Gilligan, at least by what I interpret him to be saying. I think it would be possible for someone to include Climategate in a research ethics teaching exercise, but I think Jonathan’s point is that if this is to be done, it should probably be best undertaken by someone who has not taken a public position on the topic that he or she would inevitably feel a need to defend. It’s almost impossible for partisans to offer students a sufficiently objective foundation upon which ethical rights and wrongs can be displayed and analyzed.

        In general, I’ve stayed away from Climategate debate here and elsewhere, and I won’t dwell on it now except to say that comments in this and other blogs tend to reinforce my impressions of how judgments can be warped by partisan bias. One reason I’ve avoided arguing on the topic is because any attempt I might make to suggest that some critical condemnations have been excessive would almost inevitably lead to accusations that I’m trying to defend wrongdoing. That non-sequitur by itself illustrates the hazards of trying to talk rationally about something still too highly charged with irrational overlay.

      • There are additional problems inherent in student/teacher relationships. This is always a potential concern, but is exacerbated by any circumstance that might inhibit students from expressing views differing from those of the teacher when the teacher clearly has a strong emotional investment in his or her position.

      • Fred needs to square his conscience with the contents of the email. It is transparent why he won’t go near the files.

        The sooner the better, Fred, for your own sake.

      • Fred:
        I totally disagree. If there is a strong bias it will shade what ever case is being taught. The keys to handling controversial issues are the degree of openness, candor and authentic truth-seeking on the part of the instructor and for that matter the students. What is incumbent on a teacher teaching a controversial topic is to explictly acknowledge their position, the possibility of unintended bias and to request feedback from the students when they think that the teacher’s position is biasing or limiting the discussion. (See Chris Argyris, Teaching Smart People How to Learn (HBR1991) or see ). Students should be held to similar criteria.

      • Bernie – I don’t disagree with some of what you say, but when a teacher has clearly staked out a strong public position on a partisan issue, accomplishing what you suggest is extremely difficult. My earlier point was not that no-one should include Climategate in a research ethics discussion, but rather that whoever does it would best be someone who hasn’t participated in the partisan public debate.

      • Fred:
        I disagree on 3 counts: (1) The teaching of ethics as right behavior not simply rule following has to touch on issues that all are strongly invested in. (2) The bind that you refer to wrt the power imbalance between teacher and student is in reality at the heart of many research ethics issue and any course needs to address this power imbalance. The instructor’s and students’ classroom behavior are in fact part of the class material. (3) Count (1) and (2) are very much manifested in the HS and Climategate debate. If Judy can model openness, candor and truth-seeking while teaching subject matter she has strong views on, then the students will learn an awful lot about how to behave in an ethical manner.

      • btw, no grades are given for ethics training, they just basically need to show up and pass a multiple choice test that the university gives.

      • Bernie – I don’t want to prolong this exchange too much longer, because I basically agree with the principles you espouse – I disagree on who it is who should do the teaching in the particular case of a teacher with strong public views and students who depend on her favorable impression for their success. In that circumstance, student perceptions and apprehensions can be inhibitory even if the teacher has done everything right. If I were a student, I might still be apprehensive; perhaps you wouldn’t be. If I were a teacher, I would find it hard to resist having a favorable impression of someone who cogently expressed ideas that happened to resemble mine, but again that’s just me.

      • no grades are given for ethics training, they just basically need to show up and pass a multiple choice test that the university gives.

        Would the course constitute much of a learning opportunity if it didn’t also involve extensive discussion among students and teachers? It’s here where teachers form impressions about students, and where students are aware that what they say will affect those impressions – at least that’s been true in my experiences as teacher and student. If it’s just a question of showing up and passing a test, then the opportunities for learning that Jonathan Gilligan refers to would probably be compromised.

      • The whole point is discussion. but there is no negative consequences in the course for disagreeing with the instructor. As an instructor, i don’t intend to force them to any specific conclusions, beyond obvious things to avoid in their own scientific research/practice.

      • Fred:
        I would simply urge you to read the Chris Argyris article I pointed to earlier. These issues have been around for a long, long time. You can call it “ethics” if you want to or “trust” or integrity, but in large measure it reduces to how you effectively problem solve with others in a way that enables you to continue to effectively solve problems. I would say Feynmann’s aphorism about not fooling yourself and yet you are the easiest person to fool is the quintessential ethical guideline for scientists.

      • This may be apples and oranges, but most licensed professions in most states have an ethics portion to the exam. There are right answers and wrong answers, and if you fail, you don’t get your license.

        They also have specific protocols (such as the Hippocratic oath) as guidance. Perhaps some such protocols are needed for researchers?

      • Judy:
        I agree. The quality of the discussion is key. It can be handled very formally (and relatively meaninglessly) with frameworks like Larry Kohlberg’s which is far too theoretical and non-empirical for my taste or it can be handled by discussing real-world, real-time controversies like the HS and, importantly, discussing how we discuss the discussing of those controversies. Doing this in a classroom situation is pretty challenging and requires some pretty sophisticated skills such as the ability to recall what others said, what you thought about what they said and what led you to respond in the way that you did. All this is in the Argyris article.
        Good luck!

      • Bernie – I did read the Argyris article. P.E. – Research Ethics guidelines are often a part of the process of engaging in research at an academic level – they include the prohibitions against plagiarism, falsification, and fabrication, as well as problems involving conflict of interest and the use of human subjects in research. Researchers are often required to sign forms indicating their compliance and to attend lectures on the subject. The issue here is not the existence of standards, but the judicious choice of both teaching material and the matching of that material to individuals best suited to address it. In regard to something like Climategate and the dangers inherent in involving individuals caught up in the partisan conflict, my views are similar to those expressed by Jonathan Gilligan, and I recommend his comment.

      • Fred, This is a problem easily overcome. Judy could just use Muller’s exposition of the events. McIntyre’s referenced talk/writeup is excellent and I think McIntyre is an example of ethical and honest dealings. He is also open about how things happen and what his role was. This is just not a problem. It’s a little like saying that Mann should not teach about paleoclimate since he has a controversial position on the issue. It is strange that you have such high standards for Judy but so little curiosity about the climategate issue. It’s almost as if you don’t want to know or comment on one of the most important scientific ethical breaches of the last 15 years. It’s important because it has such serious consequences for mankind, This fits a pattern of “seeing nothing, hearing nothing, and ultimately knowing nothing” to quote a famous overweight TV seargent.

        In any case, Judith’s handling of Climate etc indicates that she is very tolerant of contrary opinion and that students have nothing to fear. Would a student of Trenberth, Mann, or Jones have a basis for such confidence? I doubt it.

      • If no grades are given for the ethics class, I think it would be better if it were an open discussion. Provide the basic ethical guidelines and let the class decide which cases to discuss. They might be much more interested in medical or industrial cases than purely academic. After all, it will be their interpretation of ethics that shapes their future.

      • David – I see the problem as more formidable than you because of the strong personal feelings involved. I recommend Jonathan Gilligan’s earlier Comment on this, as well as his later one.

        When a teacher is strongly and publicly involved in a partisan struggle, it almost doesn’t matter how honorable she is – ensuring an adequately objective evaluation becomes extremely difficult, particularly if, as Jonathan Gilligan points out, the students lack a sufficient background to make their own scientific judgments. I say that because I hope Dr. Curry doesn’t think that I’m impugning her integrity by suggesting that students will be intimidated by how they perceive she might think – regardless of her intentions.

        Let me state it on a more personal level, because I’ve been a teacher (and student before that). I consider myself to possess a high level of integrity and an intention to be objective. However, if a student in a course I gave on a topic I feel strongly about expressed a view that very accurately captured the essence of what I believe, I concede that I would probably have a more favorable reaction than the student’s comment deserved, despite my best intentions. This doesn’t directly penalize other students (I hope I wouldn’t do that) but it unfairly relegates their status to a less favorable one.

        Maybe I’m just worse in this regard than other teachers, but I suspect that students will often anticipate this type of reaction from their teachers and be correspondingly pressured.

        It’s best in my view to tread very cautiously in this area, and for instructors to divide up their responsibilities so that the ones most emotionally involved publicly in a particular issue leave the instruction on that issue to others will less public involvement.

      • P.E.
        There are right answers and wrong answers to the ethics questions and most people know the right answers. Giving a right answer on a test does not reflect what you will do if you are in that situation.
        It does not matter how they answer, it matters what they believe and live by.

      • David –

        It’s a little like saying that Mann should not teach about paleoclimate since he has a controversial position on the issue.

        Not really. It’s like saying that Mann would be a questionable choice as an instructor in a course on the ethics of climate science – unless he brought in guest lecturers (or included significant material) that represented a point of view in opposition to his.


        In any case, Judith’s handling of Climate etc indicates that she is very tolerant of contrary opinion and that students have nothing to fear.

        She is tolerant of contrary opinion, but doesn’t engage with it very much. She clearly stakes out a position and doesn’t seem to feel it is necessary for her to defend her position.

        Once again, I point out to her insistence of some significant loss of public trust in climate science in spite of not producing verifiable data that quantify the supposed loss of trust.

        Based on what I’ve seen here and in the article she linked above, I think her approach on these issues would need some extensive supplementation if she were to teach a course on ethics that used the climate debate as a case study.

        She said she would offer her essays as reading material – what material would she provide that addresses the ethical questions as played out in the climate debate from a differing perspective?

      • Fred, is the ‘high level of integrity’ that you possess reflected by the writers of these emails?

      • Keep staring at the bricks, Lord Melbray….

      • Fred, There is a post downthread. Basically, scientists should feel strongly about ethics issues and exhibit intolerance toward it. Your qualms are just hair splitting. Judith can easily find material looking at both sides of the issue and I’m sure she will. There was a great youtube of a panel discussion at the Haag school in Berkley on this topic that is very balanced and looks at all the issues.

      • You just say that because it shows the poor ethics on the side you have chosen.

        If it look like cover up and quacks like a cover up…

      • At least a proper examination of climategate should also highlight the shady tactics of McIntyre.

        The suggestion that Mann’s reconstructions should have an R2 correlation test perfomed, shows to me that McIntyre is trying to fool people with statistics in a way worthy of the Mark Twain quote.

        Second, the whole Tiljander upside down series episode shows he thinks he can flip a graph upside down, and people will believe that someone used the series improperly.

        The whole mining for hockey sticks, again shows that you can fool people by showing artefacts in the data that are at the level of the noise.

        And the last thing from him that really frosted the cake for me, was the attack on the report by the greenpeace guy just because he was from greenpeace and had no arguments on the validity of the report, he just trashed it because it was from a guy in greenpeace.

        Both side of the issues please,

      • Do read the Hockey Stick Illusion to get the facts. You have so few in your comment.

        It really does help to support your accusations with some evidence.

        I thought at first I would see a sarc tag.

      • I was referring to the work of McIntyre not Mann, why should leave the realm of peer reviewed research?

      • Earle Williams

        bob droege’s reply here underscores perfectly the consequances of lapsed research ethics. Mann et al’s use of the Tiljander sediment series in 2008 was the epitome of data mining. The use of the series as a proxy for temperature, in the opposite orientation established by the original researcher, was a mistake. Refusal by Mann et al to acknowldge the mistake and correct the paper was an egregious lapse. The consequence of this lapse – a denizen of the blogosphere is convinced that the problem was McIntyre flipping a graph, not Mann using data with complete disregard to the caveats or even the physical meaning of the data.

        Should Tiljander be on the syllabus, don’t just present McIntyre’s perspective. Please, also include that of Mia Tiljander and her coathors:

        That anyone thinks that continued defense of Mann’s use of Tiljander sediments is a valid scientific argument is a disgrace and the blame rests entirely at the feet of Michael Mann.

      • Please provide me with specific examples of McIntyre being “shady”. Specific examples please.

      • That would be MM05

      • bob,
        you must have slept through that lecture.

      • So do you have anything more to add than an adhom?

      • Asking a question as to why you are misinformed is not ad hom?
        If were to say you are just another cynical lying true believer, that would be ad hom.
        But I granted you good the benefit of the doubt and asked if you were sleepy.
        And your non-answer of simply listing a paper is non-responsive and implies that yes, you were sleepy that day.

      • And the last thing from him that really frosted the cake for me, was the attack on the report by the greenpeace guy just because he was from greenpeace and had no arguments on the validity of the report, he just trashed it because it was from a guy in greenpeace.

        I think you missed the point. It was a criticism of the IPCC for using a Greenpeace report. IPCC presents itself as having higher standards than that.

      • bob droege has missed several points in his post but I think you’re wrong about this… or at least McIntyre would be highly hypocritical to make this argument. I doubt he’d be happy if the IPCC could always dismiss peer-reviewed papers (as the ‘Greenpeace’ report was) based on a dislike for the authors.

        I believe his real arguments were that 1) a co-author of the ‘Greenpeace’ report was also one of nine lead authors on the IPCC chapter in which it features, and that this represented a conflict of interest – reviewing their own work. It’s an easy argument to make because it’s essentially correct. But it’s also often unavoidable when producing a substantive technical review of literature in a niche field. The aim is that other lead authors, who included an employee from an oil company, should balance out any personal biases.

        and 2) He had a problem with the use of the word ‘show’ in the headline of the press release, arguing that the report didn’t ‘show’ anything in that context: it just regurgitated results from various scenarios without analysing feasibility. It’s a reasonable point though dependent on a philospohical discussion of what the word ‘show’ means.

      • “it’s also often unavoidable when producing a substantive technical review of literature in a niche field”

        Paul S,

        “Special Pleading”


      • What I found particularly interesting about that episode was that I’ve been told that McIntyre is too busy auditing the work of “consensus” scientists to have time to audit the work of “skeptics” — yet he found enough time to pursue yet another essentially unimportant bone-picking exercise.

      • “was that I’ve been told that McIntyre is too busy auditing the work of “consensus” scientists”


        Climate Change Policy Producers aren’t using “skeptical” papers, FYI.


      • B.A. –

        Climate Change Policy Producers aren’t using “skeptical” papers, FYI.

        I see these kinds of statements, and then I see references to findings in “consensus” papers used by “skeptics” to support claims of “skepticism.”

        I also often see statements from “skeptics” that the scientific analysis of “skeptics” is important – yet rarely see “auditing” of the work of “skeptics” by other “skeptics.”

        It seems that the “skepticism” of many “skeptics” is rather selective.

        I find that interesting. How ’bout you?

      • “It seems that the “skepticism” of many “skeptics” is rather selective”


        Nobody cares about papers that nobody (other than an egghead) uses.

        People tend to audit papers that affect people, like the ones that policy makers use.

        I see it’s taking more than one comment for you to grasp this.


      • Bad Andrew,

        It’s called realism. Addressing what’s possible in the real world rather than what would be desirable assuming an idealised situation. It would be ideal if several authors within each field held off from publishing anything for 5-6 years so they could be free to work on a report without addressing their own papers. It’s not very practical though, is it?

        The alternative to having people review their own work would be non-experts trying to make sense of literature with which they aren’t at all familiar. Inevitably they would have a choice between releasing a substandard report or consulting with the people who do publish in the field anyway.

      • “It’s called realism”

        Paul S,

        Call it whatever you like. It’s still Special Pleading.


      • Sure, if you change the definition of ‘special pleading’.

        I should say I’m not convinced such a conflict was unavoidable in this specific circumstance, but that’s an opinion which is almost entirely derived from ignorance of the niche discipline involved.

      • B.A. –

        People tend to audit papers that affect people, like the ones that policy makers use.

        Here’s what’s interesting about that. “Skeptics” talk about the deep significance, and impact, of the work of other “skeptics” in the scientific debate as well as in the arena of public opinion. We are told that the work of “skeptics” is the reason that mitigation policies have not been implemented. But then when asked whether they apply their “skepticism” to the work of other “skeptics,” they say that the work of “skeptics” is unimportant and not influential.

        Judith employs this contradictory line of reasoning quite frequently.

        And again – “skeptics” use the work of “consensus” scientists frequently to support their “skepticism.” You will see this at, say, WUWT where Anthony highlights findings of, say, uncertainty wrt certain outcomes of AGW. Those findings of uncertainty are not “skeptically” examined, yet the large-scale conclusions of those same scientists who produce the work are deemed to be a product of the same “consensus cabal” trying to promote “fraud.”

        I tend to feel that people who are so selective in their “skepticism” are more ideologically motivated than “skeptical.”

      • 1. Paul S accepts that conflicts of interest are bad.

        2. In the case of climate science, Paul S claims conflicts of interest are unavoidable.

        3. Paul S excuses climate science from conflict of interest issues.


      • Bad Andrew,

        I didn’t mention climate science at all. This would apply to substantive technical reviews across most scientific (and other) disciplines.

      • “skeptics” use the work of “consensus” scientists frequently to support their “skepticism.”


        This has nothing to do with why a oft-used by policy makers consensus science paper would be audited, as opposed to a not-used by anyone skeptic paper.


      • “I didn’t mention climate science at all.”

        Paul S,

        We were talking about the IPCC, if you go back and read what we were talking about.


      • Bad Andrew,

        I’m well aware of the post to which I was replying but my comment was clearly a general statement and I’ve clarified for those who missed that in the comment just now.

      • B.A. —

        This has nothing to do with why a oft-used by policy makers consensus science paper would be audited, as opposed to a not-used by anyone skeptic paper.

        As one example, American politicians frequently ask “skeptical” scientists to testify to Congress about their findings, and base their public statements on the work of “skeptics.” Further, the work of non-scientists is heavily promoted and deemed important at sites like this one, and throughout the rightwing mainstream media. Surely you are not unaware of those phenomena.

        The fact that you, repeatedly, selectively define conditions that only confirm your biases makes it unlikely that this exchange will prove fruitful.

      • Paul S,

        Your comment has multiple references to “IPCC” and “Greenpeace”, and even invokes the name “McIntyre.” Pretty specifc organizations and even a unique individual.


      • The IPCC is documented to choose conflicted, non-peer reviewed or simply made up refernces when it fits the agenda.
        This is not simply, as the apologists wish, an occasional thing.

      • Bad Andrew,

        I’ve clarified what I said, even though it was clear in the first place. Even if you were to interpret it as relating specifically to a particular field you’ve got the field wrong. The report in question covered economics, political science and social science. It wasn’t a climate science report.

      • “American politicians frequently ask “skeptical” scientists to testify to Congress about their findings”

        American politicans often make climate policy based on ‘consensus’ papers, that’s why they would get audited first, as opposed to ‘skeptic’ papers which wouldn’t necessarily drive any policy. Pretty basic easy to understand points, Joshua.


      • “I’ve clarified what I said”

        Paul S,

        No you havent. You’ve now said something different from what you said.


      • But it’s also often unavoidable when producing a substantive technical review of literature in a niche field.

        What part of this has changed?

      • “my comment was clearly a general statement”

        Paul S,

        This is where you tried to change. Your comment was specific to climate science, the IPCC, Greenpeace and Steve McIntyre. Then you tried a generalized Special Pleading about “niche” that clearly attempted to excuse climate science in particular.


      • Bad Andrew,

        Obviously the whole post was addressed to the specific topic to which I was replying but my replies to you have been about the quote you picked out (reproduced above), strangely enough, which clearly has a non-specific application.

        Also, none of this concerns climate science so your conclusion is incorrect even if you choose to interpret my words as only applying to that report. The report was about economics, political science and social science.

      • “none of this concerns climate science”

        This is a climate science blog, Professor Paul. ;)


      • Ok, clearly you have no interest in a real discussion.

      • Paul S,

        If you’d like to discuss things that have nothing to do with climate science, perhaps a non-climate science blog might be a more appropriate venue. lol

        And lemme guess …you are a Warmer.


      • Paul S.,

        I don’t see how your post contradicted the point I made.

      • Joshua,
        The sad thing is you like so many of your fellow believers don’t see the irony in disparaging skeptical scientists and in promoting non-skeptical science.

      • The emails reveal that even the arrogant ruling clique in climate science had many of the same qualms about the science as the skeptics do. It will be useful someday to understand their pathological determination to present a united front of ‘settled science’.

        We’re all skeptics now, but who can bell the cat?

      • Joshua,

        If Steve McIntyre and Lucia and Jeff Id… were Sceptical of CO2 warming the earth, I might have some sympathy for your position. Since they do believe it warms the earth I have no sympathy for your pathology.

      • McIntrye is obsessed with Mann, and I think it’s affecting his judgement.

      • read the emails and you will find the exact opposite

      • M. Carey,

        funny how all you lower tier partisans have the same crib sheet. Boris over at the Blackboard has the same talking points. Too bad they aren’t up to snuff on the science. you might also spend some time reading how your heores refer to the sceptics and deniers in their e-mails. Seems Mann and the Hockey Team are much more obsessed on not opening up their “Climate Science” than McIntyre is in “getting” Mann!!

        Do you really have a recording reading off your daily schedule every morning??

      • Jonathan Gilligan

        This discussion is focused on the question of possible bias by the professor, but is not engaging a closely connected part of my comment: if the students can follow the analysis and judge for themselves, then the question of whether the professor (or the student) has strong feelings is not such a problem.

        A large part of my concern is that the arguments over the statistical processing of the data and the reliability of certain data sources require more expertise than most climate scientists possess. If you’re going to get into controversies over whether Mann, Bradley, and Hughes unethically manipulated their data, then the students need to know a lot more about statistics and dendroclimatology than you can reasonably expect from incoming graduate students. And it’s pedagogically tricky, in my opinion, to ask the students to pass ethical judgments on the details of research practice based only on others’ opinions when they don’t understand the research well enough to judge for themselves.

        Heated emotions combined with students’ inability to assess the basic research for themselves presents a real pedagogical difficulty. If emotions are cooler, students can better assess the difficulty of trying to judge research in an unfamiliar specialty. If the students can assess the research for themselves, then the emotions won’t be as likely to distort their judgments. But if there are both heightened emotions and technically arcane research questions, I don’t see how to teach it well. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t teach it, but think about how you’re going to address this problem.

      • The issue re the data can be much broader, and these don’t hinge on arcane technical issues. In the context of concerns about falsification, where do you draw the line in terms justifying throwing out data? not at all a straightforward issue in many cases. What about reproducibility?

        Data that do not fit the model is problematic. There is no obligation to include obvious mistakes in publications, but ideally the mistakes should be obvious and the data excluded objectively before analysis.

        Outliers that donʼt fit expectations should be subject to scrutiny and may be left out of model fits, but the scientist needs to document what has been done. and don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. Don’t forget that the antarctic ozone hole was missed for many years because anomalously low data points were discarded.

        From my previous post on torturing data:

        “although very few researchers will go as far as to make up their own data, many will “torture the data until they confess”, and forget to mention that the results were obtained by torture…”.

      • Judith –

        where do you draw the line in terms justifying throwing out data? not at all a straightforward issue in many cases. What about reproducibility?

        I think those are excellent questions. How would you apply them to your analysis of the climate debate? Let’s take one example: what data have you used (or thrown out) to draw conclusions that there is a significant loss of public trust in climate science? How reproducible are your conclusions?

      • Jonathan Gilligan

        OK. What you say here sounds right on target. You’re asking all the right kinds of questions for a research ethics class and at the right level for intro grad students. You might find Judson’s “Great Betrayal” and Goodstein’s “Fact and Fraud” useful resources on precisely these questions. Both books are very well written.

        Here’s another good dilemma: if someone says your work is wrong in a major way and you acknowledge there were errors, but claim they were minor and don’t affect the main results of the paper. When are you obliged to retract the paper or publish a correction and when is it acceptable to tell the critic, “go ahead and publish your criticism, but the problem is too minor for me to do anything”? This was at the heart of the Baltimore scandal: Baltimore told Margot O’Toole to publish her criticism under her own name, and she insisted that Baltimore and Imanishi-Kari publish a correction to their Cell paper. (See Kevles, The Baltimore Case, pp. 90-92 and 123-25) We see analogous disputes all over the climate wars about what should be a correction, a comment, a reply, etc.

      • These are both fair points. I think Dr Curry is right to recognize that science, today and always, involves looking at data and trying to determine if it is meaningful data, or not. You can’t do that without some preexisting concept of what the answer might be. Therefore we don’t come to the data with a perfect tabula rasa. Nothing to be done about it; just disclosure, disclosure, disclosure.

        I also agree with Joshua that many of Dr. Curry’s analyses of the climate debate could stand as examples of torturing observations to force them to fit into a preexisting worldview.

      • “where do you draw the line in terms justifying throwing out data? ”
        That would be through the use of well determined selection criteria, which are listed in the Materials and Methods.
        ad hoc methods of data selection are not allowed in any other field.

      • “the antarctic ozone hole was missed for many years because anomalously low data points were discarded.”

        That would provide a much more useful case study than the hockey stick because a) the technical issues are easier to understand, and b) neither teacher nor student is likely to have a strong emotional/ideological attachment to a certain viewpoint.

        Which is exactly Gilligan’s point as I understand it.

        Your views on climategate and integrity of climate science, IPCC, etc are colored, as all our views on that topic are. How can they not be? We’re in the midst of it.

      • Dr. Curry,
        Donna Laframboise’s book discusses the ethical pitfalls of disclosure and data selectivity very well.
        If strict ethics are practiced, the data selection problem will be much less likely to infect the entire effort.

      • “Here’s another good dilemma: if someone says your work is wrong in a major way and you acknowledge there were errors, but claim they were minor and don’t affect the main results of the paper. When are you obliged to retract the paper or publish a correction and when is it acceptable to tell the critic, “go ahead and publish your criticism, but the problem is too minor for me to do anything”?”

        Suppose instead this were to occur in peer review.
        It seems to me this would an option, one could ethically do.
        But it doesn’t seem particularly rational.
        A more rational choice would be have person who found
        errors write the paper, and you could review it and if satisfied be
        a co-author of paper.
        This is assuming you don’t want to spend the effort
        required to re-write it.

        The difference is the status involved in a published paper.
        If not for this status aspect, one should consider any published
        paper as not different than yet to be published papers- they should be reviewable and correctable.
        So in regards to status, it’s like ownership.
        You own a car, it is ethical to do anything you want to do
        with it- such as cut it in half and make into a lawn ornament.
        Ownership doesn’t require that you rent it or share it or sell it.
        It gives the right to do this, but doesn’t force or require that
        you do this.

        But bottom line is it’s not ethical to require another to do work-
        as in slavery is not ethical.
        Nor is it ethical to require someone to own something.
        Reason or sanity can not be a tool, that can ethically require slavery
        or forced ownership.
        Of course if author signed some contract as condition to have a paper
        published, one is obligated to follow a contract as the conditions
        indicate. I am not looking at the author and publisher relationship.
        So there could some implied or stated agreement that author
        behave in manner that doesn’t discredit the publisher.

      • This still sounds strange to me. Professors should have strong feelings about ethics and at some point intolerance is required. To require recusal on all issues about which one has strong feelings is silly. Just take care to show both sides of the argument. There is an excellent youtube of a berkeley panel on this topic that is balanced and hits all the issues. Haas school sticks in my mind.

      • If you’re going to get into controversies over whether Mann, Bradley, and Hughes unethically manipulated their data, then the students need to know a lot more about statistics and dendroclimatology than you can reasonably expect from incoming graduate students.

        I disagree. Mann plotted actual late 20th century temperature data in a graph that displayed temperature reconstructions based on proxy data, and then said that no one in climate science had ever done such a thing.

        If McIntyre is correct (we can go into the details here later), Mann has written claims in his Supporting Online Material about his handling of some of the proxies that contradict his written claims in his publications and at RealClimate.

        In neither case do you need to know about advanced statistics to suspect Mann of unethical behavior — all you have to do is track his papers and other writings.

        Should Dr. Curry care to introduce the Mann history into an ethics class, an obvious assignment would be to have the students independently read and evaluate the history of his (purportedly) contradictory claims.

      • Judith, I think that it would be bizarre if you did not personally engage the students with highly relevant cases well-known to you, given the context of the class and your role and expertise. You obviously have honesty and integrity, and the students must have some idea of your position on these issues. It’s an ideal learning environment for them, they can challenge you if they wish as to whether or not you can remain dispassionate and unbiased on the issues under discussion, and you will be a real-life example for them, as someone who stands up to be counted at potential personal and professional cost. Sorry I can’t attend.

    • Bart V,
      How transparent on your part.
      Shame on you.
      Everyone here knows that if the standard AGW believer myth of a great “fossil fuel industry” conspiracy actually existed it would be taught in teach ins….er coilege classes….world wide 24/7.

    • Jump into the current debate and after it plays out, reflect on your positions and actions during the debate and learn from them. Something that happened long ago, happened long ago, and mostly was written up by the winners, and not necessarily by who had the most correct answer or position.

    • I disagree. In a course, Dr. Curry can insert Dr. Mann’s (and others’) view of the case, and encourage students to find yet other views.

      Like a jury, the teacher has to try to be “fair”, not to try to be or claim to be perfect.

  19. Who believes nothing, will believe anything.

    • randomengineer

      Chesterton ripoff, and just as incorrect now as then.

      • not a direct quote as there is none. some of his writings certainly reflect the content of the misquote.

        “It’s the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense.”

        Chesterton, after Shakespeare, has the most memorable lines in literature..
        Here’s one of my favourites:
        It is idle to talk always of the alternative of reason and faith. Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all.

      • Coniston,
        You may be interested to know that “When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.” was found on page 2 in Google’s first entry for Chesterton, G.K. Chesterton Quotes (Author of The Man Who Was Thursday)
        50+ items – 554 quotes from G.K. Chesterton:

        However, as with many of the quotes on this site there did not appear to be any source. I’ve seen the quote with minor word changes in several different places but do not recall attribution to a source.


      • Ron, the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations has a slightly different version, and states that though this is widely attributed to Chesterton, it has not been traced in his works. It was first recorded in Emile Cammaerts “Chesterton: The Laughing Prophet,” 1937, as: “The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything.” I’m sure that’s not true, I gave up belief in God at age 13 as I couldn’t fit it into my rational education, I didn’t substitute any other beliefs, though I’ve learned a few things as I’ve gone through life. I do know that belief in God is not necessary for one to live a moral life.

      • Faustino
        Without a transcendental basis for ethics, people take “might makes right” as their “morality” – by the “barrel of the gun”. The consequence during the 20th century, was that some 100 million people were killed by their own governments .

        Ideas have consequences!

        The foundational issue is thus: On what basis do we appeal to the Supreme Judge on the last day as to why should we live with him rather than away from him?

      • So what is the argument you are making here, David?

        That invisible superheroes from space exist, or that it is necessary to invent them?

        If it is that they exist, show your proof.

        If it is that we must pretend they exist to behave ethically, do you have any evidence that believers are, as a whole, more ethical?

        That also requires proof. And if you want to go about proving it by tallying the harm done by people to do not believe in invisible superheroes from space, you have to include in your calculation the harm done by those that do believe, whether it is the serial rape of children, the millions who died in the Crusades, the burning of thousands of women as witches, the enslavement of millions of Africans.

        I suggest to you that you take as the null hypothesis that people are no more or less prone to mistreat each other based on their belief or lack thereof in invisible superheroes from space. Can you show that to be false?

      • Robert

        RE: “evidence that believers are, as a whole, more ethical?”
        Re “Ethical” implies a standard for ethics. You have no basis in natural stochastic processes based on the 4 laws to differentiate between “Help the old lady across the street” and “Push the old lady in front of the truck”.
        On evidence for “believers as a whole, more ethical” consider their conscience and concern for right and wrong. Those who have hardened their conscience have no compunction against murder.

        One blog posts:Very, very rough estimate until I research this more fully: 8.5 million murders worldwide, 1900-1999.
        That suggests that during the 20th century, the small number of people controlling atheist/communist governments killed more than ten times as many as were killed in all homicides. You bear the burden of proof why we should believe you against such strong evidence.

        For evidence, see Josh McDowell
        New Evidence that Demands a Verdict and

        Vishal Mangalwadi The Book That Made Your World – how all the major institutions of the West are founded on principles from the Bible.

        The Bible remains the world’s perennial best seller at about 100 million copies per year. With that statistical evidence, and Vishal’s examples, you bear the burden of proof to the contrary. You might try reading it sometime. See Bible Gateway

      • David, do you agree with the Bible’s advice on selling your daughters into slavery.

      • M, this is village atheist stuff. I speak as a reluctant atheist myself. Plenty of christian literalists believe that the old testament law books are “the true history of Jewish law,” not law-like strictures for christians to follow.

      • Sell! They were going to charge me.

        How ’bout that not killing nonsense or plowing your neighbor’s heifer. Everyone knows there is no Dog, err.. God? Dang dyslexia!

        Our whole nation was built on that silliness. We need to nip that in the bud. With no church there is no need to separate the state from anything.

        Isn’t it funny how every one of those silly religions have to tell folks what to do and how to act? Seems like there was a common need for ethical behavior based on fear of something. Being chastised by your peers just doesn’t have the umph of eternal damnation, returning as a snake, being beheaded or stoned or turned to stone.

        At least since now that all the world’s population share the fear of chastisement, it’ll all be better.

        Oh, that was better to sell your daughters into slavery than what?

      • “Oh, that was better to sell your daughters into slavery than what?”

        Sometime I am tempted to do that with my 15 year old, I understand the urge to do so stops in about a decades time :-)

      • I sold mine several times, but the buyer kept bringing them back wanting a refund :)
        Seriously, ethics are learned by the time you are 4 or 5 by watching your parents and after about 8 you either are honest or not. If you have learned properly, you can still do things you wish you hadn’t. Then comes remorse and hopefully admit the wrong and go on. Or….. you have not learned properly and don’t care about honesty. That takes away the worry when you lie, cheat or steal. As long as you don’t get caught, no problem, conscience clear.

      • If one is lucky.

      • DocMartin, Completely OT, but grandchildren are the gift you get for not killing your children when they thoroughly deserved it.

      • And spoiling the grandkids provides some compensation for the pain and suffering endured.

      • M. carey
        Would you prefer that both starve?
        At the time, selling oneself or the family into slavery was the only alternative to being unable to pay one’s debts. The Mosaic code constrained the duration and provided for a way to be redeemed out of being a bond servant. If you look at the passage, I read it as constraining the existing practice to protect the woman and provide for her to be redeemed etc. – compared to the practices of other peoples.

        Jesus reviewed the Mosaic code as:

        Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] There is no commandment greater than these.”

        He gave the higher law:
        “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

      • My intended reply to the above went Here.

      • The threading has become jumbled. The “intended reply” was to a David Hagen comment.

      • M.Carey,
        You missed the point of that story big time.

      • It kinda doesn’t matter where this comment of yours shows up, hunter.

      • kim,
        Somehow this thread is not adding new comments very well. The conversation chains are becoming randomized.

      • The conversation chains are becoming randomized.

        So are the conversations…

      • M. Carey,

        “David, do you agree with the Bible’s advice on selling your daughters into slavery.”

        Please give us the chapter and verse so we can look at and discuss this statement in context. Over the years I have found many of those who like to tear down religion have CREATED their own interpretations of many passages. Quite often simply making the paragraph or chapter available makes it obvious that their interpretation is biased. Show you understand what you probably have gathered from some one else.

      • Well M. Carey,

        You appear to NOT have responded to me on giving us the context of your assertion. I will have to ASSume that you are talking about the following:

        Exo 21:7 And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do.
        Exo 21:8 If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her.
        Exo 21:9 And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters.
        Exo 21:10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.
        Exo 21:11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.

        This kind of changes your blunt suggestion that God told them to sell their daughters into slavery. This was not an order, but, LAWS to control the selling if the individual decided to do it. You also need some more from that chapter:

        Exo 21:2 If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.

        So, although slavery was allowed, it was fairly tightly controlled and was NOT forever. Judaism had a similar law about loaned money. Debts were excused on a 7 year cycle also.

        But back to your comment. you were WRONG. The Judaic God did NOT tell anyone to sell their daughters, unless you have a better reference we can discuss?.

      • kuhnkat –

        My read of that passage is similar to yours. Its purpose was to insure the ethical treatment of women and in particular daughter slaves (one purchased from her father) which was not at all the same as either son slaves or women thieves who were sold into slavery so as to re-pay their victims. Note that some of the clauses are difficult to interpret.

        1) A master was forbidden to ‘sell’ a poorly performing daughter slave. Her father had the sole right to buy out the contract and bring his daughter back home.

        2) The master was required to provide sexual intimacy. Otherwise, the daughter was free to leave without reimbursing the master. The primary intent of the contract was marriage, conditional on the daughter giving birth within 6 years. A wife -ex-slave or not- had equal standing among other family members. The requirement of intimacy further prevented the callous use of the daughter as a mere contract worker, forced to pass on motherhood during her primary child-bearing years.

        3) The master could not release the daughter from service after the 6 years term, if the daughter did not desire it. There are reasons she would not want to leave. Primary is that the prospects for prosperity may well have been better staying with the master’s family as a servant, rather than as a free, single, childless, husband-less woman. Prospective husbands would be aware that she was both barren and ‘humbled’.


      • David has not answered you. Let me try.

        The Bible advice you refer to (Exodus 21:7-11) is essentially an ancient, arranged-marriage contract.

        Obviously, 21st century relevance will be diluted. For example, special welfare provisions are no longer necessary for unmarried, infertile, ex-slave women. On the other hand, the description of that Bible ‘slave’ seems more like ‘six yr. indentured servant’. As such, a modern equivalent might be a 6 year masters program replete with scholarships and grants. Then the equivalent modern advice is that the school that recruited you to a workaholic, blunted, academic career in exchange for you giving up motherhood maybe owes you the right to remain within the academic ‘family’ for as long as you wish.

        If you were my daughter, M. carey, I doubt that I would have tried to ‘sell’ you to the highest bidding university (or long ago to some other wealthy ‘master’). I suspect that after weighing everything in balance, I would have done what most fathers have done since the dawn of time – and asked your mother as to what you and she had already decided.


      • Re “Ethical” implies a standard for ethics.

        Now you’re shifting your ground. The claim was that people who believe in invisible superheroes from space behave better, as evidenced, somehow, by the violence of the 20th century. Can you show evidence for that? Apparently not, or you wouldn’t be trying to change the subject.

        On evidence for “believers as a whole, more ethical” consider their conscience and concern for right and wrong.

        Exactly. You want to take the conscience that raped thousands of young boys and lied about it and apply to scientific research. You want to bring the idea of right and wrong that burned thousands of accused witches and enslaved millions of Africans to science.

        If that’s all you’ve got, pass.

        Those who have hardened their conscience have no compunction against murder.

        A third of Germany’s population died in the wars over the Reformation. So I guess we can only conclude that Christians long ago hardened their conscience against murder.

        The Bible remains the world’s perennial best seller at about 100 million copies per year. With that statistical evidence . . .

        That may be the most bald and unselfconscious resort to the fallacy of argumentum ad populum I’ve ever seen. People buy Bibles, therefore believing in invisible superheroes from space makes people more ethical. Sorry, that argument is a fail.

        And so is this one: “you bear the burden of proof to the contrary.” No, one argumentum ad populum and one reference arguing the Bible is important to the culture (that same culture that murdered many of the hundred million people you cite in your original post) does nothing to advance either of your claims:

        1. Are invisible superheroes from space real?

        2. Does pretending they are real make people behave more ethically?

        Any time you feel that making an argument for one or both of these arguments, go right ahead. In the meantime you might enjoy another of Vishal Mangalwadi’s many books, one that is more a propos: “Spirituality of Hate.”

      • Robert
        I gave you evidence. Have you read it yet?
        Re: “believe in invisible superheroes from space”. I said nothing about pretending. Rather, the bible gives eye witness accounts of Jesus birth, life, death and resurrection. His followers held to their eye witness accounts even in the face of death. You don’t do that for something you know is false (“pretending”). Historians provide concurring evidence. Review all the evidence. See McDowell for details.

        On 20th century evidence, the homicide rate could be considered a proxy for the average population, most of whom are religious, while the communists dictators reflect those who are atheists. Thus the 10:1 ratio as a quick statistic.
        You were arguing that the null hypothesis was that there was no difference. I gave you contrary evidence. So now the burden of proof reverts to you to over ride that evidence.
        The number of bibles sold vs marx is one measure of evidence that there are more believers than atheists. If you want quantitative statistics see the World Christian Database
        I encourage you to read Mangalwadi. He has fascinating insights on ethics and the West, examined from the viewpoint of a non-Westerner from India.

        if there is no transcendental basis for ethics, (such as recorded in the bible,) what basis do you provide for ethics in science besides “might makes right” and tossing dice, given the stochastic nature of the four laws of nature.

        Do you therefore uphold the actions of Mann, Jones et al. etc. in “hiding the decline”, defeating FOIA laws, distorting peer review etc., because they were acting on the basis of their established power and wealth (“grants”)?
        See FOIA for original emails, ClimateGate 2 for extracts etc.

      • ian (not the ash)


        Historians provide very little in the way of concurring evidence as to the life and deeds of the one called Yeshua in the New Testament. I would suggest that McDowell, being a literalist Christian, is perhaps not the most unbiased source of evidence. While those such as Josephus, Pliny the Younger, and Tacitus make references in passing, it is by no means conclusive who they were refering to.

      • ian (not the ash)

        This post was meant for David L. Hagen.

      • ian (not the ash) at November 24, 2011 at 3:20 am
        Thanks ian for considering the issues. May I encourage you to look further at the full combination of evidence. One classic reviewing the evidence is FF Bruce New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 6th Ed. 1981. ISBN 0-8308-2736-6.

        Investigative reporter Lee Strobel challenges the full range of issues in “The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus”. See especially Chapter 4.

        One web site Extra-biblical references to Jesus and Christianity also lists references by, Suetonius, Julius Africanus, Origen.

        Josh McDowell, reviews extra biblical evidence in Evidence for the Historical Jesus, 1993, Harvest House Pub.

        Kel Richards writes an entertaining novel about an investigative reporter on “The Case of the Vanishing Corpse” Beacon Books (1996) ISBN-10: 0340536012
        There is evidence for those who search for it.

      • ian(not the ash),

        you only need to explain how any man could have started a religon that was able to subvert the Roman Empire in such a short time that the elites saw they needed to adopt it to save their power.

        Should be easy to do, show that Jesus was a myth or just a man and that the religion he started was just another cult. Or not.

        What percentage of the world is Judaeo/Christian based now??

      • “1. Are invisible superheroes from space real?”


        I’m an atheist, and so’s my Dad. But I remember coming home from my first year of college, where I actually had to read parts of the Bible (in order to better understand Western Civilization you see). This was a commie college too, Reed College. And I remember commenting to my Dad that I found the Gospels very interesting. He said something like: “I haven’t been able to believe in a long time but Man hasn’t had a very distinguished existence since God died.” Nietzche scholar, you understand.

        At any rate, try to read some real contemporary Christian intellectuals sometime. Here is a blistering send-up of a lot of recent shallow atheism that you might find challenging:

        Like I said, I’m an atheist. But I really dislike militant atheism, which is a mile wide and an inch deep… People like David Hart explain why this is so. I am very embarrassed because I really like Dan Dennett and Richard Dawkins and Chris Hitchens. But frankly they sound like sophomores when it comes to faith and religion and all that.

      • NW
        Thanks for the link to Hart’s article and the superficiality of Dawkins et al.

        For an atheist who seriously addressed issues, may I recommend Antony Flew. In 2004 Flew changed his mind. Per Flew’s NYT obituary: , he announced

        on a DVD titled “Has Science Discovered God?” that research on DNA and what he believed to be inconsistencies in the Darwinian account of evolution had forced him to reconsider his views. DNA research, he said, “has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved.” In “There Is a God” he explained that he now believed in a supreme intelligence, removed from human affairs but responsible for the intricate workings of the universe.

        Similarly C.S. Lewis committed to atheism at 15. He then describes his journey from atheism to theism in his book Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life.

        From this background Lewis wrote extensively of grappling with such foundational ethical issues. e.g., God in the Dock, Essays on Theology and Ethics. His path parallels’ Francis Thompson’s poem ‘The hound of Heaven’ (as read by Richard Burton).

      • David, fair enough, many do that; many don’t, I’m not alone. And many with transcendental beliefs commit atrocities. IMHO it comes down to the individual, for some the transcendental belief structure might be a necessary support, for others not. In my view the supreme goal of life is spiritual growth, that depends not on organised religion or beliefs but on understanding reality as it manifests from moment to moment in our own mind and body. That’s our only direct contact with truth, all else is a construct.

        In my experience, the spiritual development of the individual is peripheral to most/all organised religions, which are social constructs with many goals and actions contrary to spiritual development. Look at St Peter’s basilica for example, a monument to ego, power and ostentation, completely at odds with the life and teaching of a certain humble carpenter.

        I practise Vipassana meditation, a technique with no belief structure. My teacher, S N Goenka, describes it both as “an art of living” – it helps you to lead a wholesome life, good for oneself and good for others – and “an art of dying” – if you live your life in the moment, aware of the impermanent, changing nature of existence at the deepest level, then you’ll die with that awareness; another moment in the process of change.

        Of course, ideas have consequences. So don’t depend on ideas, a construct of that small part of the mind labelled “conscious” – which is, of course, dependent on the deeper part of the mind – understand reality through direct experience. If you understand at the experiential level that everything is changing at a great rate (cf Luis Alvarez’ bubble chamber), with no substance, no continuing “I” or ego, you can free yourself from conditionings, from the common pattern of craving and aversion which causes so much misery.

        You might recognise some of that as the teaching of the Buddha. But he didn’t found an organised religion, he didn’t teach a belief structure, just a technique by which each one of us could ascertain truth for ourselves. Purer science than pursued by Jones, Mann et al.

      • Faustino, sorry, but something appears to have gone wrong in my earlier attempt to post my thanks for your response on the Chesterton quotation. If you have the time or interest, and in the spirit of another GKC remark, “the thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion,” I’m curious how you would know, “…that belief in God is not necessary for one to live a moral life.”? Thanks,


      • Ron, the problem is that the phrase was used in a book about Chesterton written by Emile Cammaerts in 1937 and in the sentence there was the directly quoted passage I mentioned above and then this: the first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything..which was written by Cammaerts not Chesterton. But Chesterton wrote so much in a similar vein, it is easy to see how it morphed into a quote from him. Source American Chesterton Society..

        Sorry about the OT stuff

      • Thanks coniston,
        both for the research and for the reminder of the Chesterton Society. Apologies if I misread your thinking but I suspect you would not object to my not being in full agreement with your apology, but would argue instead that Chesterton’s insights in many areas, certainly including ethics/morality, are seldom OT stuff.

        Exchanging favorites, here’s one of mine: “In truth, there are only two kinds of people; those who accept dogma and know it, and those who accept dogma and don’t know it.”


      • Heh, misquote? I quote myself.

        Randomengineer was very quick to note the Chestertonian influence, as he has taught me something of the limits of skepticism.

        Another quote, from me, I think: Who believes nothing, is nothing.

      • OK, OK, Cartesian.

      • We are what we think.

    • corollary: those willing to believe anything, believe nothing.

    • kim

      I think when Richard M. Nixon said it, he said, “Who doesn’t stand for something, will fall for anything.”

      Just helping out.

  20. Norm Kalmanovitch

    Climate models operate on energy flux and since temperature is dependent on energy and flux without a time factor during which it operates is not energy; climate models are incapable of predicting past present or future temperature.
    There is no validated relationship for CO2 concentration to flux which is used in the climate models so climate models are completely incapable of determining flux changes resulting from changes in CO2 concentration.
    There is no validated relationship for CO2 emissions and CO2 concentration so climate models are completely incapable of projecting CO2 concentration from increases in CO2 emissions.
    Scenario A of the 1988 climate model projection is based on an underestimated level of CO2 emissions an overestimated level of CO2 concentration and with the exception of an anomalous temperature spike in 1998 caused by extraordinary el Nino conditions; all projected temperature values for the past 23 years have been far in excess of measured values.
    In proper scientific practice when a model based strictly on assumptions without any ground truth verification fails in all aspects; the model is rejected as being inappropriate for this use and no research is ethically undertaken using the output from this model as a scientific basis on which the research depends.
    If research based on faulty models is used as the foundation for the Kyoto Accord which has resulted in 6.5% of the world’s grain being renoved from the global food supply as feedstock for ethanol production for Kyoto Carbon Credits leaving hundreds of millions of the world’s poor facing starvation; the ethics take on a moral aspect which is far more important than just the simple matter of research being ethical from the single perspective of scientific reasearch protocol.

  21. This is an important topic, I think. The ethical training I received during my doctoral studies focused on human subjects matters, which may be appropriate for a social science like education, but I think more information on professional behavior would have been useful.

  22. Dr Curry,
    You seem proud that you will be ‘teaching the controversy’.

    While I can’t exactly tell what the Penn State students were exposed to in this regard, the ” government interference,” the dismissal of M&M in the links, etc., gives a pretty good indication.

    Do you think it is just possible that Penn State students are smart enough to have dismissed M&M based on the lack of scientific merit?

    Well, the Georgia Tech Earth and Atmospheric Science students will be exposed to something different, regarding climategate and the hockey stick.

    Great news.
    Whatever you do, just make sure the students know beforehand who to dismiss and who not to. That’s what education is all about.

    Of course, it goes without saying that the original hacking of CRU was ethical…

    • Maj. Tom,
      The wheels are coming off your wagon, yet you keep dragging it along.
      It is like you just cannot accept that you were wrong on this.
      Which brings to mind another Bowie hit

      • Sorry to be a drag, hunter.

        That extremely relevant link is certainly proof enough for me that I’m wrong about everything.

      • Maj. Tom,
        Consider the link a kindness.
        Believers who are wise will realize the time for some introspection about why AGW was so attractive has come.
        I take it you are not yet ready for introspection.

    • randomengineer

      Whatever you do, just make sure the students know beforehand who to dismiss and who not to. That’s what education is all about.

      WTF? I’m hoping you were being sarcastic, but… I can’t tell.

      The ultimate purpose of education at Dr Curry’s level is to teach one how to learn, how to contribute to the body of knowledge. Educating at the “here is what you must know” level is called training. And in politically hot topics, this is sometimes referred to as indoctrinating.

      • Sarcasm confirmed.

        Whenever I see ax-grinding in the name of science, I find that sarcasm helps me get through the day…

      • randomengineer

        It sure says a lot about the sorry state of things when what ought to be obvious sarcasm seems to be the actual opinion of many. I should have not doubted you.

  23. On second thoughts, having read the latest ‘release’ of emails, forget all the verbiage above. These people are truly ghastly.

    • The people who protect and defend the “team” are equally abhorrent.

    • There is nothing redeeming about them. As our hero, the leaker, shows, CAGW is a war against the poor, so their noble cause of ‘saving the earth’ is a hollow excuse for ‘damning the poor’.

  24. American-educated students tend to enter university with a philosophical error that breeds ethical difficulties: Not knowing the difference between opinions and facts. (I blame the influence of religion.) Without this foundation, it is easy to become an unwitting activist instead of completely cold hearted scientist.

    • Unfortunately, many students tend to leave universities with the same philosophical error intact.

    • Caz in BOS, Ms. Pelosi, feel the same way.

      “[Those who disagree] may not like the language,’’ she told The Washington Post, “but the truth is what I said. I’m a devout Catholic and I honor my faith and love it . . . but they have this conscience thing [that puts women at risk.]”

      Go figure.

    • I think judging religion as being the cause of this ethical problem is extremely weak. Students can be taught how to discriminate opinion and fact and the various shades of grey to be found in complex and messy problems. More likely it is that schools and colleges in the US and other western countries have failed to teach because it suits the statists to produce lemmings rather than encourage truly independent and strong minded citizens. Easier to herd and cow them if they are unable to see the wolves machinations. So keep the blinders on and lead them wherever we choose. Dr Curry should oppose attempts to curtail her teaching scientific ethics. It’s just another round of telling the honest that they cannot discuss their opinion because they have one.

  25. Moderation note: The combination of hockeystick, Penn State, Mann, and McIntyre in one post may be combustible in terms of provoking inflammatory comments.

    And you didn’t even plan on a jerrycan of Climategate II being poured on top of this already combustible mix.

  26. Most ethics problems are situational. If you find a paper bag full of money, what do you do with it?

    Here is a starting place article on the science of right and wrong with a couple of references

    • You could try and get the script from the climate science based play called The Heretic

      The cartoons by Josh are good too.

      Science Fiction stories and movies are good for teaching contemporary ethics also, any Isaac Asimov stories, Michael Crichton, Al Gore, Hansen, Gataca, Planet of the Apes etc…

  27. Message to students who will become scientists:

    Always be very careful what you say in e-mails and other recorded communications. There are people out there ready to use your words against you when it serves their purposes, and they will not hesitate to misrepresent your words in an attempt to malign you.

    • randomengineer

      There are people out there ready to use your words against you when it serves their purposes, and they will not hesitate to misrepresent your words in an attempt to malign you.

      Unhelpful and smacks of partisanship. The comment is true regardless of job field. Happens in politics regularly. One teaches kids before they hit 13 or so to not write stuff down that could come back and bite, and one would hope that Dr Curry’s students are already well aware of this.

      • True, you can’t be sure your e-mails are safe from theft.

      • randomengineer

        WTF? In any workplace, your insitutional email account belongs to the company, can and will be archived and/or read by 3rd parties, and you have no expectation to privacy of any sort. These accounts are provided for you to be able to do your job. As such these belong to the employer by definition.

        Private messaging via non-institutional email, e.g. a private gmail account on a personal laptop you own, this is where you could reasonably expect privacy. It is also not what happened here. The leaked emails came from the institution archives.

      • This is not difficult stuff. They are NOT your e-mails. They belong to the institution that employs you and supplies the equipment you use and/or pays for your time when you are writing or reading them. While you are on worktime and using work equipment you are not a private individual, you are a representative of that institution.

        A very simple way to distinguish this is if you use an email address that constains the institution name you are definitly on worktime.

        I you use privately supplied equipment outside of worktime, and you make no reference to your status within work, then your e-mails are probably private.

        Academics seem to have a fatally flawed misconception that ‘academic freedom’ is much like ‘diplomatic immunity’, and that it somehow makes them immune to the normal processes of conduct and integrity. It doesn’t mean ‘academic licence to act however we want so two fingers to the rest of you’.

        It doesn’t.

    • Message to students who will become scientists: Gnothi Seauton.

    • M. Carey,
      You have entirely missed the message.
      You may be very smart, but you are not wise.
      Do you think possibly that the message is:
      Do Not Lie.
      Until the AGW movement, exposing lies to the light of day was considered good.
      Now, whole seminars are held and Board Members are appointed to formerly prestigious professional societies on how to lie better.
      And you wnat that taight.

      • Being truthful doesn’t help. Evil people will twist your words, take them out of context, misrepresent your meanings by omission, and do other dishonest things to malign you.

        We are already seeing how the scumbags operate by the out-of-context quotes from the most recent stolen e-mails.

      • Some of your bitterness might be eased by reading the emails, M. carey.

      • Evil people will twist your words, take them out of context, misrepresent your meanings by omission, and do other dishonest things to malign you.

        That’s a minority. Most people will judge the emails fairly. This has been demonstrated by the response of most commenters who have written about the leaked emails. It seems that you have not read them. You should read them or forever remain silent on them.

      • It seems you don’t what you are talking about. Not all the e-mails are available for reading. If you have some of the cherry-picked e-mails in mind, what are they?

      • You should read them or forever remain silent on them.

        If only deniers could be persuaded to take this attitude towards the science!

        Hardly matters here, though. The total failure of deniers to find anything of note in the stolen emails has been published far and wide. Until the thief comes forward to name their employer, the story is pretty much played out.

    • Very true M. my company requires smart writing training annually. The team could have avoided being found out if they had covered their tracks better.

    • Always be very careful what you say in e-mails and other recorded communications.

      Read the terms of use of your institution’s IT department carefully and learn them before you sign them. Then adhere to them.

      This is not as hard as defenders of Mann, Jones, etc make it.

      • Exactly. The emails, files and data you generate at work are NOT YOUR PROPERTY. They are the property of your work/institution/funding body.

        Everything in those emails is able to be, and IS read by your IT team. It is archived. It is backed up (unless you work for the CRU).

        You can be disciplined, fired and PROSECUTED for ANYTHING you put in your emails. Whether they were meant for personal use or not.

        This is in the end user agreement everyone signs when you start a new job. I suggest people read it more carefully in the future.

  28. Here’s the point where the Curryian analysis always loses me:

    However, even if the hacked emails from HADCRU end up to be much ado about nothing in the context of any actual misfeasance that impacts the climate data records [How prescient!], the damage to the public credibility of climate research is likely to be significant.

    That is certainly true. The question this raises, for me, is why stolen emails that found no “actual misfeasance” could be and were used in a public relations campaign to demonize climate science. That’s an interesting question. But here is Dr. Curry’s leap: If there is damage to climate science’s credibility, then there must be a rational reason for it, and it must be down to some flaw in the scientists:

    In my opinion, there are two broader issues raised by these emails that are impeding the public credibility of climate research: lack of transparency in climate data, and “tribalism” in some segments of the climate research community that is impeding peer review and the assessment process.

    Perhaps credibility was harmed through lack of data transparency; we know how passionate the public in general and the right in particular are about data transparency. It’s possible that “tribalism” in climate science, which has definitely discriminated against the worthless garbage produced and promoted by deniers and in favor of actual science, is the target of the public’s ire. But can we reach that conclusion logically from the first point?

    No. We do not have the argument that connects those two propositions in a compelling way. I would propose, as an alternative explanation, that there was a preexisting community of climate deniers who obtained thousands of stolen emails, and that any time, anywhere, that you steal and publish thousands of pieces of private correspondence, you are going to find bits and pieces that are potentially embarrassing. And if you sell them to a community of like-minded right-wing ideologues primed to mistrust, they will feed mistrust.

    There is no general problem with the credibility of climate scientists in the public; the numbers for non-conservatives, independents and liberals have hardly budged. There is a specific problem with American conservatives: they have embraced climate denial, just as they have embraced denial of evolution. Did “Climategate” accelerate the growth of science denial among conservatives? Yes it did. But the underlying trend existed prior to the emails, has persisted after, and has little to do with the scientists or how they are doing their science, and a lot to do with the scientific results reflecting realities of the physical world that the community of conservatives has decided they don’t like.

    • Read the mails, Robert, it’ll do you good.

      • So you still have no evidence of “any actual misfeasance”?

        Just read the emails? The ones that have been picked over, repeatedly investigated, obsessively quoted, without producing anything but total humiliation for the deniers who promised us a smoking gun?

        Why don’t you try reading the actual science?

      • That cloud of smoke you see is the result of an artillery barrage.

        I read the science, and it is primitive; extrapolated from laboratory work and incognizant of whole world observations.

      • The sensitivity, my dear, the sensitivity.

      • Robert,


        I don’t have time to waste on you today. Read the note at the bottom of the original post, and come back when you have a real argument, rather than excuses and whining.

      • Sorry Robert

        Sorry Tom,

        While you “got no science” and probably never did, this is a grown-up conversation for people who want to talk about the science.

        Go play with your propeller somewhere else,

      • “You’re whipped again.”

        “Hardly.” ;)


      • We’ve got the rest of time to read the emails, Robert. When you get the time, read ’em, and weep.

      • Bad Andrew,
        Our dear friend robert is a wee bit pre-occupied with trying to tell everyone and convince himself the wheels are not coming off his wagon.

      • Robert says
        “The question this raises, for me, is why stolen emails that found no “actual misfeasance” could be and were used in a public relations campaign to demonize climate science.”

        Because there was an audience eager to believe any science that threatened their ideology couldn’t be right.

      • ‘Actual misfeance’ might be a light charge. These writers were corrupt to the core, and cynically so.

      • From: Phil Jones []
        Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2008 1:31 PM
        To: Palmer Dave Mr (LIB)
        Subject: Re: FW: FOI_08-50 ; EIR_08-01

        Do I understand it correctly – if he doesn’t pay the £10 we don’t have to respond?

        With the earlier FOI requests re David Holland, I wasted a part of a day deleting
        numerous emails and exchanges with almost all the skeptics. So I have
        virtually nothing. I even deleted the email that I inadvertently sent.
        There might be some bits of pieces of paper, but I’m not wasting my time
        going through these.


      • Delete e-mail exchanges with skeptics so skeptics wouldn’t have them anymore ? HA HA, there must be more to this than that.

      • What’s cute here, M. carey, is that those were likely fairly innocent emails, but were deleted because poor Phil thought that he could make himself safe from FOIA requests by doing so. What he and the others left were the herd of elephants in the living room, probably because they were so corrupted by their ‘noble cause’ as to believe they weren’t dangerous.

        But then this guy couldn’t archive as well as a minimum wage library assistant and couldn’t regress Excellently either. I should feel sorry for him, but he has made his bed and now must lie in it.

      • @kim
        “What’s cute here, M. carey, is that those were likely fairly innocent emails, but were deleted because poor Phil thought that he could make himself safe from FOIA requests by doing so. ”

        I have long speculated that the “FOIA” collection of emails was created in anticipation of a FOI request being successful despite the Team’s attempts to frustrate it, and was a folder where the collector placed all emails the Team wanted to WITHHOLD from the petitioner. You appear to be thinking on the same lines – have I misunderstood you?

        PS Wonder what’ll be in Climategate 3?

      • TomFP, I long held that idea as likely but I no longer do so. I don’t think they collected a quarter of a million emails in anticipation of FOIA.

      • Recommending an ethical lapse in a thread on Research ethics training, why is my irony meters smoking?

      • bob droege

        why is my irony meters smoking?

        Maybe it needs to be reset to reality, Bob.


      • Maybe the answers we seek are not found in these e-mails.

    • randomengineer

      But here is Dr. Curry’s leap: If there is damage to climate science’s credibility, then there must be a rational reason for it, and it must be down to some flaw in the scientists:

      This is a concept so old that the phrase “where there’s smoke there’s fire” was well understood millenia before man could write it down. And yet you appear to be astonished — enough that you call it a leap — that one could reach such a conclusion?

      • This is a concept so old that the phrase “where there’s smoke there’s fire” . . .

        And when the smoke of science denial flies up into the air, the fire of faith-based right-wing dogma is near at hand.

        The concept that because somebody accuses you of something you must be guilty of something may be old, but it is not the less stupid for that.

        Seeing smart people propound stupid things — like the idea that right-wingers hating scientists means there’s something wrong with those scientists — is astonishing.

        Make an argument for this, if you believe it. “We hate it, and we’re good people, so it must be bad” is not a persuasive argument.

      • Robert,


        I don’t have time to waste on you today. Read the note at the bottom of the original post, and come back when you have a real argument, rather than excuses, projection, and whining.

      • randomengineer

        And when the smoke of science denial flies up into the air, the fire of faith-based right-wing dogma is near at hand.

        This argument has been shown as complete nonsense on this very blog in an earlier posting from Dr Curry. Did you fail to read it or are your presumptions landlocked? My guess — both.

      • “This is a concept so old that the phrase “where there’s smoke there’s fire” was well understood millenia before man could write it down.”

        Priceless. Reality as defined by ancient sayings. Doesn’t matter that many of them contradict each other. Perhaps that’s why they might appeal to deniers?

  29. As has been pointed out there is another release of Climategate e-mails. The Air Vent link above has snippets. The one that caught my eye is:

    /// The Cause ///


    By the way, when is Tom C going to formally publish his roughly 1500 year
    reconstruction??? It would help the cause to be able to refer to that
    reconstruction as confirming Mann and Jones, etc.


    They will (see below) allow us to provide some discussion of the synthetic
    example, referring to the J. Cimate paper (which should be finally accepted
    upon submission of the revised final draft), so that should help the cause a


    I gave up on Judith Curry a while ago. I don’t know what she think’s she’s
    doing, but its not helping the cause

    Helping the “cause” seems political in nature with its aim to effect “consensus policy. For Penn State to be a model for ethics, perhaps actions need to conform to the requirements while the leaders like Dr. Mann putting the ethical practice of science ahead of causes.

  30. Ooh, you are good, re. Judy’s messed up the context a little, but Chesterton had a little to say about the limits of skepticism.

  31. Climategate II

    Mann confirms the e-mails are his.

    The hackers held back some leftovers to use in an attempt to disrupt Durban.

    Watch the anti-agw group spin some lies about these e-mails.

    • M. Carey,
      All skeptics need to do is get people to actually read the e-mails, and not to listen your incresingly desperate spin about them.

      • Some people don’t like to read stolen e-mails. They think it’s like receiving stolen property. If you want them to read the stolen e-mails, you will have to convince them being like you is OK. That might be a hard sell.

      • M. Carey,
        Like I said, you do deception consistently on this. Perhaps that is why you are so committed to AGW?
        Modern media makes its living reporting on stolen or leaked docs.
        The US Supreme Court says it is not illegal.
        You are transparently hoping to distract from the content of the leaked e-mails and data.
        By the way, you have no proof at all that the e-mails were ‘stolen’ by outsiders and not leaked by a conscience-stricken insider.
        It is telling that in two years of investigation the police studying climategate 1.0 have made no definitive announcements regarding the docs and how they were released.

      • “By the way, you have no proof at all that the e-mails were ‘stolen’ by outsiders”

        Just like you have no proof of malfeasance by the scientists in the emails.

      • “Just like you have no proof of malfeasance by the scientists in the emails.”
        I haven’t seen malfeasance so far.
        But I find this interesting:
        “Mann: I gave up on Judith Curry a while ago. I don’t know what she think’s she’s doing, but its not helping the cause.”

        First, it’s funny.
        And it would interesting to know exactly what Mann means by the cause.
        Somehow it doesn’t seem that his cause is aligned with Climate science.
        It doesn’t seem to serving the public.
        So If you throw out those what is left?

      • lolwot,
        Since you won’t bother to look, it is rather moot, no?
        AGW beleif requires defining ‘evil’ as ‘that which disagrees with the apocalyptic consensus’.
        So that leaves you believers in a tough spot:

      • hunter, IMO you do condone thievery. Why do you malign the victims of theft, and give the thief a pass?

      • M. Carey,
        You are just filibustering and not responding to the points of thread.
        That renders your opinion less than credible.

      • M carey, you and many others keep referring to the emails as stolen. Many of us, in other contexts, might agree that whistleblowing is a good thing. And many of us, but obviously not you, think that perhaps what is going on here is that an insider is blowing the whistle. Disgusted by the behaviour of the scientists he or she is working with, this whistleblower released the emails, to show all the manipulation, obfuscation, attempts to avoid FOI laws, attempts to prevent others from publishing, etc.

        If you think otherwise, read some of the just released emails, written by the “insiders” with regard to the IPCC process, and whether it is open and honest, or controlled by an ideological cabal who want to make sure their views are presented, regardless of the actual science. They says things like:


        Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the uncertainty and be honest. Phil, hopefully we can find time to discuss these further if necessary […]


        I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it
        which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run.

        It seems that a few people have a very strong say, and no matter how much
        talking goes on beforehand, the big decisions are made at the eleventh hour by a select core group.

        Mike, The Figure you sent is very deceptive […] there have been a number of dishonest presentations of model results by individual authors and by IPCC […]

        The trick may be to decide on the main message and use that to guid[e] what’s included and what is left out.

      • It’s clearly an outsider and a hack. The biggest clue is what the hacker considered important enough to quote alongside the dump. This reveals the expertise of the hacker on the subject is rather poor. A number of chosen quotations are clearly benign, but you’d have to know a little about the science to realize that. Hence it cannot be an insider. An insider would not have picked some of those quotes.

      • John, it’s been two years, and your so-called whistle blower hasn’t identified himself. Since whistle-blowing is supposed to be a good thing, why wouldn’t he (or they) want to be recognized for doing a good thing?

      • Why should the whistleblower come out on your schedule?
        You guys are much fun.

      • Give it time, M. carey. It is clear that the leaker is very courageous; it’s also very clear the leaker is not foolish.

      • The person who illegally stole the emails also illegally hacked into the RealClimate site to post them there. No heroic whistleblower here, just a criminal all the way.

      • “The person who illegally stole the emails also illegally hacked into the RealClimate site to post them there. No heroic whistleblower here, just a criminal all the way.”

        I see RealClimate is down.
        When/where you find out it was hacked?

      • I suspect KIm, John, and Hunter condone thievery, or whistle-blowing as they prefer to call it. If you ever have one of these guys in your home, make sure he doesn’t whistle-blow your valuables into his pockets.

      • My taxes supported this fraud, M. Carey. Do I go to the same place to get my money back that these email writers go to to get their reputation back?

      • M. Carey,
        I don’t condone theivery.
        I do condone jsutice.
        Climategate, just like Watergate, came as a direct result of scumbags avoiding the law.
        Nixon and pals got in toruble directly for condoning and covering up bad things.
        The leaks that led to Nixon’s downfall were illegal, just like the Pentagon papers, and both were righteously published in every media outlet in the land. The US Supreme Court specifically said it was legal to publish the Pentagon Papers even though they were stolen.
        you are not going to win any arguements or points on climategate by trying the Nixonian tact you have chosen.
        But I want you and yours to continue to lose, so carry on.

      • So the dodge of the believers is clustering around ignoring this leak because the hacker has not behaved the way the believers think is appropriate.

      • lolwot, carey, holly – a very good effort to distract attention away onto some obtuse philosophical discussion about theft etc. But what do you think about the claims of dishonesty raised by scientists in the emails above? As usual, your silence on the substantive matter speaks volumes.

      • kim, my tax money is being wasted when evil people harass scientists with bogus claims of fraud.

      • K Scott Denison

        Really, how so? When a “scientist” is harassed how, exactly, does that spend your tax dollars?

      • Being harassed is a distraction which interferes with scientists getting their work done. If they do less work, my tax dollars are being wasted.

      • K Scott Denison

        LOL, are these scientists paid by the hour?

      • Yes,
        Those pesky families with their whining about their children getting molested is a huge distraction from the important priestly work.

    • When Climategate I happened, I speculated that there might be another tranche ready to go, and that those who rushed to the Team’s defence might find themselves hostages to fortune. Well, there was, and they have, and you would have thought believers would have learned their lesson, but no, we see “more, better and different” of essentially the same thing, albeit with top-notes of desperation! I guess that’s what makes them believers.

      By the way, there may be more!

    • Watch the anti-agw group spin some lies about these e-mails.

      So far, the damage has been done by the truths, and by literal quotes from the emails in context.

      • All I have seen is quotes of out-of-context sentences and pieces of sentences. Taking comments out of context is not telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It’s a way of lying.

      • To prove it is lying you have to show the context changes the meaning of the sentences as presented. I’m willing to bet money you can’t. In the last Climategate release the closer you looked into the context the more damaging the emails became. McIntyre is a master at drawing out the historical context.

      • Ron, present the cherry-picks and the e-mail messages from which they were picked. I will show you how they don’t tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and therefore misrepresent or lie.

      • Have you read any article/document from a wiki-leak or the Pentagon papers or the memoirs of dozens of spies? I hope not because those docs were all confirmed to be stolen, and therefore having committed acts you find repugnant, you should shame yourself.

        Just read the emails. Don’t be afraid. They can’t hurt you. Not unless you are afraid that your version of the facts is so weak that it cannot stand a challenge.

      • I have read the e-mails. My points are (1) some people may think it’s unethical to read stolen e-mail, and (2) people who condone stealing e-mail or no better than thieves.

      • I do have large ethical problems with the Climategate email theft. I do not think it makes a difference whether it was an inside job / whistle-blower or an outside hack. Once the emails were removed from the servers without authorisation, a crime was committed. Once the emails were put out on the net, another crime occurred and another ethical lapse had occurred.

        I have not read any items from WikiLeaks because I do believe that material to have been acquired illegally. Most spy memoirs are read over by the CIA/etc. before they are published. As for the Pentagon Papers, they have been declassified, so there is no ‘problem’ reading them now.

        Some interesting factoids from the Pentagon papers case:

        1. The newspapers published and were ‘allowed’ to after winning a case against prior restraint.

        2. Ellsberg assumed he would be charged, convicted and jailed, but proceeded any way. He was freed on mistrial.

        from Wikipedia []
        (I know, not the best source, but it’s the day before Thanksgiving…)

        “Times v. United States is generally considered a victory for an extensive reading of the First Amendment, but as the Supreme Court ruled on whether the government had made a successful case for prior restraint, its decision did not void the Espionage Act or give the press unlimited freedom to publish classified documents.

        Ellsberg and Russo were not acquitted of violating the Espionage Act; they were freed due to a mistrial from irregularities in the government’s case.”

      • John Carpenter

        M Carey, for those who think it is unethical to read the emails for fear they could be stolen, that’s fine. However, those people are not entitled to offer an opinion about them, other than they are stolen and that is unethical. Personally, I call that a cop out on the issue… but if that is a position they want to take it’s ok with me… just don’t take it any further otherwise they will be like people who don’t vote but complain about the government.

        I would not condone the stealing of the emails either…. if that is in fact the case here… we simply don’t know. Regardless, the information revealed in the emails (the unethical behavior) cannot be ignored either… If an environmental activist trespasses on business property to snap some photos of illegal dumping of toxic materials into the environmnet, he may have broken the law to get his evidence… but the EPA will still pursue actions against the polluter, they won’t sit content to let it continue to happen will they? No, they will schedule an inspection and know where to look.

      • All I have seen is quotes of out-of-context sentences and pieces of sentences.

        That’s your choice. You are willfully ignorant of the contents and contexts of the emails. You are free to choose ignorance if you want, and you have done so.

  32. I am not sure ethics can be taught in a university course. To me, ethics is how we all live. Can business be conducted on a handshake? An Englishman’s word is his bond; etc. etc. A few idle thoughts. In Rudyard Kiplings Captains Courageous, Harvey has promised Captain Troop that he will be on the dock early the next moring, and nothing his father can say will persuade him not the be there. Then in the Water Babies there was Mr. Do-as-you-would-be-done-by, and Mr. Be-done-by-as-you-did.

    • Jim:
      To a point you are correct. However, I believe that increasing young scientists’ awareness of ethical dilemmas and binds changes the odds that (a) they will do the right thing when confronted by such situations; (b) they will feel guilt and shame when they do not live upto their professed standards of ethical conduct; and, (c) will have more coherent and compelling arguments to persuade other scientists to do the right thing (even if they might not do it themselves when faced with similar circumstances).

  33. So the person who hacked the emails in 2009 just before Copenhagen waited a whole two years before releasing more of them, just before Durban? That is not how an honest whistleblower behaves, it is how a paid industrial saboteur behaves.

    You lot who are so eager to propagate “Climategate” II are either gullible, dishonest or desperate to preserve your false view of climate change; or more probably all three.

    I pity you: eventually you will either have to admit you are wrong or else completely lose touch with the real world.

    • Wow Holly Stick, that is just what Phil Jones was thinking, I’ll bet.

    • “So the person who hacked the emails in 2009 just before Copenhagen waited a whole two years before releasing more of them, just before Durban? That is not how an honest whistleblower behaves, it is how a paid industrial saboteur behaves.”

      Does it matter whether honest whistleblower or paid industrial saboteur?

      It seems to me what is important is are they real and whether information should be public.
      Since we are talking about public employees and it’s regarding public matters. I need to know what problem is.

      We paying these guys their salaries- they work for us.
      They don’t work for their boss- their bosses and those under works for us. So the question is would the top boss have a right to see these emails.
      That is the precise moral question involved.

      • “Does it matter whether honest whistleblower or paid industrial saboteur?”

        Apparently it does. Many deniers are very very keen to claim it was a whistleblower. I am still wondering why myself. Is it because they realize their jobsworthian “FOIA-requirements have been violated!” parade would be in contrast to a jobsworthian “stealing emails is wrong!”?

      • “Many deniers are very very keen to claim it was a whistleblower.”
        Well some have called me a denier. I am not keen to know who is releasing the e-mails. I they want put there face on it- I could find it more interestng
        ” I am still wondering why myself.”
        Well I would guess that are being given a gift. And it’s not normal to insult someone who is doing you favor. So the term whistleblower is regarded a good person- perhaps heroic.

        ” Is it because they realize their jobsworthian “FOIA-requirements have been violated!”
        I don’t think so.
        “parade would be in contrast to a jobsworthian “stealing emails is wrong!”?”
        Don’t understand??
        It seems releasing emails not stealing them- more like giving them.

      • yes that last part I wrote was very mangled and made no sense. I meant to contrast the ethics of “ends justifies the means” that lies behind hack and release of emails with the ethics of “there can be no excuse” for trying to avoid FOI.

    • The IPCC SREX Summary for Policymakers was also released prior to the Durban sojurn.That there was little substance in the science by “press release” methodology due to the abscence of the substantive paper and references.(which will not be released to 2012)

      That this gives the factions the opportunity to play the “scary” game via the newsmedia is a bad ethical choice,

      That little has been released on the GEB group is telling,as the implications are profound,.Say the Press release could read as follows.

      Faustian Contract Cancelled

      In an interesting press release issued today by Lucifer,he tells that his contract with Hansen has been cancelled,the Devil was both on the Staircase and in the detail.

    • Holly Stick,
      You are hardly the person to set the standard of ‘honest whitle blowing’.
      You just don’t like what is happeing.
      Perhaps you can change your name from “holly stick” to “sour grape”?

    • Should I even bother to ask if you have read any of the new emails that have been released?

    • What’s your opinion of Wikileaks?

    • Holly,

      Good catch- why did the person(s) responsible for making public the emails wait till now to release a second group of the communications? The first thing that came to mind was that the timing must of been to disrupt the flow of the efforts that are in the works at Durban and/or the next IPCC update.
      My marketing professor stressed the importance of awareness as being the first principle in sales and marketing. You can’t sell something to someone if they aren’t aware of it. So yes, I think you are right this second release of documents looks like they are timed to keep the awareness of how the science has been done in Climate Science.

      • No, Mark, they are timed to disseminate lies, and every one of you are guilty of spreading those lies and smears. Shame on you.

      • Holly Stick,
        Only in AGW land would releasing the exact quotes of what people have actually stated be called ‘disseminating lies’.

      • the lie is that rising CO2 won’t change the climate

        These quotes are released to convince people of that lie

      • lolwot,
        I thought we were past all the childish posing bs of you true believers.
        The question has never been, excpet for true believers kiding themselves, if things were going to change.
        The quesiton is whether or not we are facing a cliamte crisis.
        There is no evidence a reasonable person can look at with confidence and conclude we are facing a climate crisis.
        However, climategate 1 & 2 raise the question of how much lying the climatocracy has been engaged in.
        From the frantic acts of denial and spin control by the players and you believers, the answer implied is “quite a bit”.
        As to the rather pathetic attempts to pretend the question of the “team’s honesty does not count, I can see that you desperately wish it were so.

      • But they are not exact quotes in context, are they. In how many cases do you have all of the emails in a conversation? Just repeating one sentence without understanding the whole context is dishonest.

      • Hunter there is lots of evidence – you just do not have the guts to face reality.

      • “There is no evidence a reasonable person can look at with confidence and conclude we are facing a climate crisis.”

        Unless of course the crisis is that we are hurtling towards uncharted climate territory with potentially catastrophic consequences. Then there is quite a lot of evidence.

        Think about geo-engineering and how even skeptics are so scared of the idea of scientists messing with the climate. Now apply that to cabon emissions and general.

      • Holly,
        You talking about people not facing reality is really, really funny.
        Thanks, but I gotta go engage in some commercial activities.

      • Hunter, have you ever posted anything worth reading? You do nothing but spout bile in every post you make.

      • Holly, the jig is up, and it is time to feel sorry for the likes of you.

      • Holly Stick,
        When and if you engage honestly, you will get me to play nice.

      • Holly,

        Are you saying these emails are fake/lies?

      • One day, perhaps, you will comprehend the painful contradiction in your statement above.

        You may want to consider that the release was timed to disseminate a message of which the truth of the emails are a part.

        I know if I was the one releasing the emails, I would release only some emails which only maybe touched on some particularly inflammatory point, wait until someone took a hard and untruthful position on something or came up with some sort of excuse, then release the truth to catch them in the nested lie they’ve created.

      • No, Mark, they are timed to disseminate lies, and every one of you are guilty of spreading those lies and smears.

        Are you, like M. Carey, completely ignorant of what is in those emails?

    • If there is any wrongdoing in releasing these e-mails, it pales into significance compared to the wrongdoing revealed in them. The unnamed releaser is a hero.

      • Yet repeated investigations failed to find any significant wrongdoing . . . only climate deniers seem to think otherwise. And they, or course, always though climate science was corrupt, before any stolen emails. Which makes them a less than reliable source, wouldn’t you say?

        Years on, no one has ever been able to show me any evidence of significant wrongdoing . . . can you?

      • Repeated investigations that didn’t actually look into the emails, the data or ANY of the accusations raised.

        Yup. I’m convinced.

      • Labmunkey

        I find your claim very interesting.

        Could you list each of the investigations you are referring to, so I can look at their records to determine the accuracy of “didn’t actually look into the emails, the data or ANY of the accusations raised,” for each, and affirm the completeness of your list?

        As a skeptic checks extraordinary claims like that before saying, “Yup. I’m convinced.” Even ironically.


      • Bart R – In no inquiry were the emails and data submitted as evidence…or reviewed. No skeptics were consulted not even McIntyre who was directly involved i.e. there were dozens of emails that mentioned him. The Parlimentary Panel did not look at the science as the Muir Russell and Oxburgh panels were supposed to but didn’t..I don’t have time to pull all the quotes but their purposes are listed in the recap of each panel… the Penn State Panel apparently asked Michael Mann verbally whether or not he had deleted emails, etc he said no and that was that. Brits (and apparently at least Penn State in the US) are great at having inquiries that are never supped to inquire but just to paper over the cracks.

      • coniston

        For Muir Russell, you say “Muir Russell and Oxburgh panels were supposed to but didn’t,” and, “In no inquiry were the emails and data submitted as evidence…or reviewed.”

        Further and entirely independently, BEST’s results tend to confirm the panel’s findings about the data. As too have other efforts. I can’t find a qualified source that has looked at the emails and/or data that seriously calls into question what I read at at all.

        Moreover, part 1.3s15 is a scathing rebuke of the conduct of the CRU scientists and the UEA; part 1.3.1s18, part 1.3.2s23, part 1.3.5 & 1.3.6 also are quite damning and conclusive, so Muir Russell can scarcely be accused of favoritism.

        Given that in the aftermath of this panel, there were internal reorganizations, personnel changes that — although they were claimed publicly not to be disciplinary had all the same outcome of demotion — it’s ludicrous to hold the position Labmunkey purports.

        Clearly, you are in error.

        Shall I go on and look at transcripts from the other inquiries to examine just how much you are saying that is pure fiction, or can I stop here now?

        Skeptics want to know.

      • Bart R, i’m quite curious here now. I was not aware that what i was saying was particularly controversial or unknown.

        The parlimentary enquiry, the oxbrugh enquiry and the Muir russel enquiry have all stated that they did not look into the emails, data or accusations made. It’s in the releases.

        Further, (i think it was muir) it has been stated that one of the reasons they did not look into these things was because they were worried they may uncover evidence of wrong doing that would fall out of their remit (this in no way provides evidence that there WAS wrong doing, just that muir(?) suspected as much).

        There have been numerous articles on this, stating the lines, pages and exact quotes used. Perhaps try searching on climate audit or WUWT.

        I really wasn’t aware that this was a point of contention.

      • Labmunkey

        Clearly there’s some ambiguity here.

        I look at the one inquiry (Muir Russell, because coniston supplied a list of 3 and I chose at random where to start) first to see if it shows substantial information about the emails and the data and the accusations.

        In the first document I look at about this first inquiry, I find immediately a plethora of accusations not merely mentioned but examined in detail, including findings of wrongdoing. So when you say “ANY of the accusations” you are clearly and unambiguously in error.

        I don’t know from what you say where you got that fact from, but your source is not very good if it can’t even get that obvious and easily checked item right. A skeptic would learn to distrust such a source very quickly. You imply it was WUWT?

        Likewise, when I look at what the _first_ document about the first inquiry I find, it spends lavish public time at the public’s expense re-examining the data, as later confirmed correct by the far more appropriate expertise of BEST at the very appropriate expense of concerned individuals.

        Likewise, the inquiry document I come to _first_ by happenstance also laboriously examines multiple facets of the emails most in question. Sure, it doesn’t look at the deleted emails that no longer existed, other than to note that this was wrong to have happened, as it’d have, y’know, been impossible to do that. It doesn’t look at emails between Al Gore and the Premier of China, as that’d have been obviously outside its ambit. What other emails did you specifically want an inquiry to look at? The ones being released now? Had the Climategater come forward and/or released all the emails, which Phil Jones did in inquiry admit he sent many awful emails at the time. So isn’t the fault then yours now for failing to file a FOI for such things, if they still exist other than in the Climategater’s hoard? For $16 you could have first hand data, too, and then we’d know what else the inquiry specidically missed — because it did look at emails, despite your statement to the contrary.

        Labmunkey, you come off as a scandalmonger, or as complicit with scandalmongers, repeating ill-considered defamations with clear fictions sprinkled throughout.

        What did you do until age 7, that you never learned this was wrong? (Or at least not to get caught?)

      • Labmunkey,

        a lot of Bart R’s reparte is simply disagreeing with knowns. He even thinks a cheap IR thermometer gathers enough information to allow the computation of the energy flux in the atmosphere!!

        Basically he claims a win if you cannot overwhelm him with facts even though he has provided none!!

      • kk


        Do I look French to you?

        Of course I challenge ‘knowns’. (Or what you variously call when other people use them in ways you don’t like, “ASSertions” or “ASSumptions.” Charming and witty every time you do so fixatedly.)

        Challenging the basis of knowledge is the heart of skepticism.

        Repetition of baseless defamation is the heart of scandalmongering.

        Do you see the difference?

        I can show the claims I make to be true or I withdraw them when shown my error if I follow a skeptic ethos.

        You defend clearly false statements that correspond to your political and philosophical beliefs, if you have no real ethics at all.

        What do you honestly say Labmunkey’s statements are more like?

      • Well Bart R,

        your brilliant disagreement with what the investigations actually said they looked into and found was a classic in disagreeing with known information. You can ramble on for years about how intelligent and scintillating you INTERPRETATION of your EXCERPTS are and still be disagreeing with FACT.

        You are funny the way you try and show you superior argumentative skills. Is that why you pick the wrong side so often? Because it is easy to argue when you are right and the information is available and you want to show how good you are??

      • kk

        So you agree I’m a skeptic and Labmunkey’s a scandalmonger in your overwrought handwavy manner.

        Glad you cleared that up.

        All a disproof needs is a counterexample.

      • No Bart R,

        You try and start your own Monty Python skit yet again. As usual you make up your own interpretation with little reference to facts. A sceptic attempts to arrive at an honest evaluation bnased on all the available data. You, on the other hand, simply select what you wish to believe and exclude anything that would interfere. You sure you aren’t a Climate Scientist or Evolutionist?

      • kk

        Flattered though I am by the Monty Python reference, you miss the mark. I was reprising A Man For All Seasons.

        Your ludicrous attempt to redefine scepticism paints you rather into a corner.

        “All available data” is seldom needed to establish a clear scientific proof. One generally prefers “necessary but sufficient” evidence for a proof, so long as no available data contradicts the proof.

        And yet I provided a link to the Muir Russell review findings themselves, citing not interpretations of the findings, but of the literal chapter and verse.

        It’s easy to understand why such may happen.

        Labmunkey and Mosher, coniston and others, at Climateaudit and or WUWT and or elsewhere got together to talk about things. Some of the talk got heated, and some opinions with little semblance to reality became entrenched beliefs and attitudes without due fact-checking.

        So now some view things as known which are easily demonstrated to be false. There may even have originally been some whiff of legitimacy or substance to the original — long since distorted out of all proportion to truth — which some still remember and think of when they see the distortions.

        But now they’re cheerleaders of scandals and rumors, gossip and fictions, and will not easily be freed by the slap in the face that is the documented record of what really happened.

        An object lesson.

      • Bart R,

        Unless you know the complete story of the lack of investigation, using their transcript simply reinforces what they published to promote their agenda. Try checking out the threads at CA where McIntyre and others who are part of the issue reprise the actual incidents, compared to what is not covered by the white washes.

        Thank you for confirming how shallow your thought processes really are though.


      • Yet repeated investigations failed to find any significant wrongdoing

        Phil Jones broke the law but he was not prosecuted because the statute of limitations had expired.

      • HA HA ! Verdict first, trial later.

        Classic Lewis Carroll

      • Sorry, M. carey, you are the one gone through the looking glass and what you report from the other side is fabulously entertaining.

      • He was, however, and quite rightly, relieved of all administrative duties that would put him in position to repeat the same actions.

        Though he was spared the indignity of this being publicly called a demotion.

        Some may consider that his correspondences with the FOI cmmissioner clarifying his duties at the time somewhat indicate he at least was making an effort to follow the law.

        And if it’s any comfort, one believes the statute of limitations has not yet run out in Texas for Rick Perry’s email hijinks. You can still try to have the governor charged there.

    • randomengineer

      That is not how an honest whistleblower behaves, it is how a paid industrial saboteur behaves.

      The only thing you know less about than climate is pro hacking. A real pro funded by deep industry pockets wouldn’t stop at EAU emails, s/he would hack *EVERYTHING.* If this was the work of a pro hacker, evisceration would be the goal. SInce this hasn’t happened then your hacker must be a complete moron. This isn’t a hack. It’s a leak.

      It’s funny how you and people just like you claim a position of authority re scientists and their work, yet when computing/electronic pros tell you something is a leak, you seem to think you know more. Consistency on your part (pros on a subject ought to hold the default position) would at least lend *some* credibility to your words. But no, you exhibit neither consistency nor integrity. You’re simply a loudmouth.

      • Additionally. IN the 2 years (?) since climate gate NO EVIDENCE of a hack has been found.

        I agree with RE, a hacker would have destroyed the servers, this was no hack.

      • randomengineer

        No need to destroy servers. A well funded and motivated professional team (i.e. employed by the dastardly fossil fuel interests) wouldn’t have stopped at UEA; they would have been hacking *everybody* included.

        The delay of the Iranian Nuclear effort via ruining centrifuges was a professional level job.

        People capable of this aren’t going to stop at the UEA email stage.

      • Ah, loose terminology, by destroy i meant remove everything, leave virus and scarper. That’s assuming ‘low’ level hackers.

        If it were proffessional, hell, they’d have got EVERYTHING.

      • In principle, a whistleblower is protected by whistleblower protection legislation — and before such laws, in theory at least by the aprobrium of a society that values truthful warning of wrongdoing by those in power above loyalty to powerful wrongdoers.

        Since we know society’s attitudes aren’t enough to protect whistleblowers, it’d be understandable if a whistleblower shrank from coming forward on the thin pretext of the further defense of law.

        However, one isn’t a whistleblower if one fails to come forward.

        The law cannot defend, nor can society approve of and shield, a shadowy figure whose motives are impossible to probe or confirm, whose mischiefs cannot be questioned by their victims, whose accusations cannot be cross-examined by the accused, in a just and fair world.

        So, “whistleblower” is not apt nor accurate, at this late date.

        Also, this glorifying of professional hackers, as if all were cut from the same Tiger Team mold, all equally White Hat competent and qualified, the whole activity an enterprise of predictable and immutable giants is absurd.

        Some guy downloads a backup file or copies a tape. That’s a hack. Should he be profiting from it by payment, that’d be a professional hack. I don’t believe such is what is happening, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

        Person or persons are acting anonymously to manipulate the reputations of a target group of victims. That’s all one need know of their ethics.

      • HA HA, what a pathetic attempt to excuse e-mail theft.

        The thief’s defenders want us to believe he is just a stand-up guy who wants nothing more than transparency, yet he hides his identity and reveals only selected parts of what he stole. The stench of hypocrisy burns the nose.

    • Until I came back and reread many of these posts, I hadn’t realized the symmetry between Watergate (so much denial) and the Pentagon Papers (revealing the truth) on the one hand, and the IPCC (twisting the facts, leaving out important science, because the top gatekeepers wanted to tell a different story) and Climategate 1 and 2 (revealing the truth of what actually happened to make peer reviewed science disappear). I have huge admiration for whoever released the emails.

      Roger Pielke Jr. has found some nuggets in the new trove of Climategate emails, in which Kevin Trenberth makes sure that Pielke’s peer reviewed papers, with conclusions disliked by Trenberth, newer get mentioned in the IPCC report on whether hurricane frequency and power have increased. Here is a llink:

  34. Perhaps credibility was harmed through lack of data transparency; we know how passionate the public in general and the right in particular are about data transparency. It’s possible that “tribalism” in climate science, which has definitely discriminated against the worthless garbage produced and promoted by deniers and in favor of actual science, is the target of the public’s ire. But can we reach that conclusion logically from the first point?

    No. We do not have the argument that connects those two propositions in a compelling way.

    I’d like to elaborate on this a little. I think this topics are interesting in their own right; it’s using the one (violent climate denial, lukewarmerism) to promote the others (greater transparency, other reforms) I disagree with. Strengthening professional ethics, always a good idea. Transparency, acknowledging uncertainty, eschewing tribalism — these are all good things.

    Associating those aims with the vituperative campaign against scientists by some on the right, as if one caused the other, as if a lack of data transparency caused death threats against climate scientists and insufficient mathematical treatment of uncertainty led all the major Republican candidates for president to deny the existence of AGW, is both absurd and counterproductive:

    1. It makes persuading the least informed and most biased parties in the debate the standard of success in addressing the proposed reforms.

    2. It blames the victims for utterly dishonest and slanderous attacks on them and their research which have included blatant lies and physical threats.

    3. It promotes a false promise that if scientists change this or that procedure, that climate deniers will be won over and embrace the science.

    4. It aborts investigation into the real drivers of the right-wing denial machine — why this small but fanatical movement for science denial has sprung up, what fuels it, why the mainstream right is allowing them to set its agenda, and how the problem of global warming can be brought to a place where acknowledging the reality is not political, even if, realistically, determining how to react to the physical reality will always be a political debate.

    • That is truly laughable.

      You’ve just identified yourself as an extreme left-wing totalitarian trying to hide your motives and actions by accusing others of your tactics.

  35. Follow the highest standard for your actions:

    appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions

    as set by the Founders of the USA in the Declaration of Independence.
    Be on your guard against actions based on “no one is watching,” or “everyone is doing it”, or “might makes right”. Focus on the Rule of Law and integrity as foundational to the West and to Science.

    • John Carpenter

      Thanks for bringing these points up, I would like to expand on them. Ethics of research is no different than ethics of living in general. The ‘no one is watching’ and ‘everyone is doing it’ ideas are fatal traps people (particularly young people) fall into routinely that eventually lead to problems. Peer pressure is a difficult hurdle for many people to overcome… they don’t want to be seen as ‘non-conforming’ among their peers, especially new peers.

      When you are younger, your mind has not fully developed the ability to look down the road at the ramifications your decisions can have… I’m not talking about just tomorrow or next week, I’m talking about three, four, five years later. Younger minds typically have not had the experience of either witnessing first hand ethical mis-steps gone wrong or havn’t been caught doing so. They have not matured enough to develop an awareness for such things…. They are more vulnerable to making poor decisions. Not all young people fall into this category, but the majority do (why else do you think insurance companies have higher rates for younger drivers?).

      It is interesting to note that Mann was barely out of grad school when his hockeystick was initially published. The hockeystick itself is really not much to talk about… it is the way he and his supporters responded in the face of inquiry. They made a poor decision to fight against inquiry and then they didn’t look at the potential ramifications of their decision. Making bad decisions in themselves are not necessarily unethical. But when it became a conercerted effort by one group with power to hold down/hold back dissenting viewpoints of others. When it became a concerted effort by one group in power to evade and instruct others to evade FOI inquiries to the data used, they crossed the line. There is no doubt when reading the climategate emails this was their intent. There is no defending this type of behavior.

      If a parent witnesses a bully on the playground pushing the little kid around, they stop it…. they speak up because they see it is wrong. So what has become a further ethical derailment of climategate is the climate science community largely letting it happen… turning their head the other way… the collective power saying ‘this changes nothing… it doesn’t matter’. Who within the consensus climate science community publically stepped forward and said; ‘the type of behavior depicted in the emails was wrong, unscientific, and unethical’ ? You can count them on one hand. It is equally unethical to see wrong doing and do nothing about it. The ‘might makes right’ idea was hard at work during climategate.

      The founders of the USA understood life is unequal. They understood some people will be better off than others and that it is natural. They understood those who were better off had the power (the king of England)… and abused it for their continued advantage. So in their wisdom they founded the country on the ‘Rule of Law’ because they understood that the ‘field would be level’ if all men were ‘equal before the law’. No matter who you are, you have no more right than anyone else under the law. Science is no different, except ‘inquiry’ is the ‘Rule of Law’ in science. Obey that law and don’t refuse others the right to use it in their pursuit of the truth. If you have to do so in order to preserve an idea you are dear to… you are breaking the law of scientific inquiry. And that is unethical.

      • If a parent witnesses a bully on the playground pushing the little kid around, they stop it…. they speak up because they see it is wrong.

        I think a lot of people want to put a stop to science deniers’ bullying of scientists . . . the famous savage attack on Mann’s outstanding and repeatedly confirmed science being one example of that. But in an age where internet bullies circulate climate denier lies online, how can anyone stop it?

        We know today that the hockey stick is correct . . . that’s been settled science for a while. But people like John are still lying about it, still trying to rewrite the history of their failed witch hunt. Why?

        To bully scientists. To make an example of Mann. To try and make the next scientist with data the climate deniers hesitate . . . maybe soft pedal the uncomfortable reality.

        That’s bullying — real bullying, not the fake persecution complex of deniers. And it is wrong. And people are speaking up.

      • John Carpenter

        Robert, I’m not a bit surprised you totally missed the point of my comment and then turned it into something it wasn’t.

      • I’m not surprised. It was a deliberate effort to avoid addressing an unpalatable truth. Typical hardline warmist techique.

      • Robert sadly does not recognize bullying and corrupt behavior by climate alarmists and instead opposes those who stand up for truth and the integrity of science. Historically the Press has stood for printing the truth (aka news), especially with investigative journalism. The bullying and corruption exposed by ClimateGate caused a sea change in journalism on “climate change”.
        Compare the highest standards of integrity in science and journalism with the further misbehavior being exposed in ClimateGate 2.0. e.g. See:
        David Appell’s selections: “Sorting through stolen UAE emails”
        “the ones in red seem, to me, to be the most damaging (damning?)”

        Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the uncertainty and be honest. Phil, hopefully we can find time to discuss these further if necessary […]
        I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run.
        Mike, The Figure you sent is very deceptive […] there have been a number of dishonest presentations of model results by individual authors and by IPCC […]
        The trick may be to decide on the main message and use that to guid[e] what’s included and what is left out.

        On how NOT to behave, see New Climategate Emails
        E.g., rather than obeying the FOIA law, we see Phil Jones knowingly deleting email evidence – which is forbidden by law:

        From: Phil Jones . . .Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2008 1:31 PM To: Palmer Dave Mr (LIB). . .
        With the earlier FOI requests re David Holland, I wasted a part of a day deleting numerous emails and exchanges with almost all the skeptics. So I have virtually nothing. . . . Cheers

    • Uphold the highest standards. e.g. see the West Point Cadet Honor Code

      a. The Cadet Honor Code is defined as “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.”

      Standing up for the right against the crowd needs to include high school.
      See current SAT corruption being exposed:

      Their focus soon fell on students who had registered to take the tests outside the district, and those whose scores and grades showed a disparity. They turned over the details to prosecutors, who opened a broad examination.
      In September, prosecutors accused Sam Eshaghoff, 19, of impersonating six students, including a girl, to take tests for them. Officials allege that students paid Mr. Eshaghoff up to $3,500 per test for scores ranking as high as the 97th percentile. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

      20 Students Now Accused in L.I. Case on Cheating

  36. As for the bliever fall back position about how this is just a rehash of the original and its all nothing-here-just-move-along…..the files include a nice fat encrypted file and the password has not been cracked publicy or released yet.
    I would at least cut back on the ‘tude if I was a believer until we know if the encrypted is interesting or not.
    Or keep it up- it will be cool to watch this play out.

    • Actually you might find some emails in which deniers assume a bad context actually turn out to have a different context that are conveniently locked away in the encrypted file.

      Afterall this isn’t a random release of emails, they’ve been cherrypicked for juice and presumably the boring ones – possibly even the ones that show the scientists in the best light – have been hidden away.

      • You are reduced to whislting past the graveyard.

      • lolwot,

        In a technical sense you are correct – context DOES make a difference. The problem for those promoting CAGW is that the context makes the Lysenkoists who call themselves “climate scientists” look WORSE.


        Also see:

        And: Climate Audit on archiving:

        And: International Journal of Climatology – refuses to require authors to archive data:

      • AndrewR, as someone who regularly breaks the law all the time – speeding in my car, let me just say I couldn’t care less if scientists deleted their emails to avoid FOIA or didn’t follow the letter of the International Journal of Climate law. I value those laws slightly more important than speeding, but not enough to actually feel scandalized.

        In fact it all sounds rather jobsworthian to me. I can see what the science shows irrespective of any individual scientist’s words, actions or work and that science says we are very very likely going to warm the world hotter than it’s been for millions of years if we do nothing about carbon emissions.

      • Wait, I thought it was all very uncertain.

      • If the Scientific Method isn’t followed, it’s not science. Period. That you call the blatant fraud of the Hockey Team “science” says far more about your ethics than it does about anything else…

      • lolwot,
        So your moral and ethical perception is so poor as to not see the distinction between speeding some and deliberate coordinated efforts to avoid the public law designed tokeep govt. officials and those receiving public money accountable?
        wow, you could have made a lot of money with bernie Madoff, or Stanford, or Nixon.
        You missed your calling as a hack….or maybe you are?

      • “So your moral and ethical perception is so poor as to not see the distinction between speeding some and deliberate coordinated efforts to avoid the public law designed tokeep govt. officials and those receiving public money accountable?”

        hunter I think many people would say my crime of speeding that is far worse than deleting emails. Children aren’t killed by deleting emails. They are killed by speeding drivers.

        I on the other-hand apply situational common sense to both cases.

        In both cases my speeding and a scientist deleting emails are irrelevant. Unless of course you are a science hating denier hell bent on sending some scientists to jail on technicalities.

      • “I couldn’t care less if scientists deleted their emails to avoid FOIA”
        lolwot’s attitude directly undermines the Rule of Law, destroying the foundations of science and civilization. In the 20th century, more than 30 democracies descended into tyranny by failing to uphold their constitutional protections against the rise of dictators – including Russia, Germany, and China. One consequence – Lysenkoism which set back Russian science for a generation.
        See Samuel Rutherford, one of the proponents of the Rule of Law in Lex Rex. This was foundational the Declaration of Independence.

      • lolwot: In both cases my speeding and a scientist deleting emails are irrelevant. Unless of course you are a science hating denier hell bent on sending some scientists to jail on technicalities.

        You have declared yourself ineligible to comment upon ethics in science and government.

      • Yeah change the subject AndrewR

        bitter because you encountered someone who wasn’t impressed by your FOIA arguments

      • People are only feeling sorry for your lack of morals and ethics, lolwot- it sort of puts everything you have ever said into perspective.

  37. Judith

    I think an ethics principle has been nicely illustrated today by the short context message left with the Climategate 2.0 files, it is also very relevant to those who have implied dishonesty, due to timing, on the part of up thread

    “Over 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day.”
    “Every day nearly 16,000 children die from hunger and related causes.”
    “One dollar can save a life” — the opposite must also be true.
    “Poverty is a death sentence.”

    but our resident climate alarmists continue to rationalise their hypocrisy by insisting that

    “Nations must invest $37 trillion in energy technologies by 2030 to stabilize
    greenhouse gas emissions at sustainable levels.”

    How do they sleep at night?

    • $37 trillion is just 3% of global GDP, even assuming GDP doesn’t rise to 2030. Then you can also subtract the amount of GDP will we be spending anyway on energy anyway – which will no doubt increase as fossil fuels are becoming more scarce.

      So why not spend just 3% of GDP to stabilize greenhouse gases, and also give another 3% to the poor so they don’t starve*?

      Cue outrage from the largely-libertarian climate deniers who would oppose giving any % to the poor as it’s “socialist wealth redistribution”.

      So as per the ethics of this title we have climate deniers exploiting children to argue for inaction, knowing full well that they would never dream of giving the money saved through inaction to those children anyway.

      *Yes it’s a strawman. The human race can do more than one thing at once. Duh.

      • “So why not spend just 3% of GDP to stabilize greenhouse gases”

        Why? Because it isn’t necessary, and because it can’t be done. Only a fascistic dictatorship in the US, Europe, China, and India could accomplish that, and despite the dreams of the CAGW crowd, that is not going to happen. (Well, China already has that, but…)

        Even Naomi Klein in The Nation admits it:

        “Responding to climate change requires that we break every rule in the free-market playbook and that we do so with great urgency. We will need to rebuild the public sphere, reverse privatizations, relocalize large parts of economies, scale back overconsumption, bring back long-term planning, heavily regulate and tax corporations, maybe even nationalize some of them, cut military spending and recognize our debts to the global South. “

      • I think it is necessary. Elevating CO2 and other greenhouse gases to tens of millions of year highs is not a good idea.

        Claiming that it can’t be done does not convince me either. As if democratic governments don’t already spend in excess of 3% GDP on certain other things like the military or social security.

      • Why not spend 1% on wet land restoration and reforestation then throw 2 % at rebuilding the economy so there will be a bigger 1% in the future to do more with?

      • lolwot,
        WTF should anyone care about your need to spend other people’s money?
        You have already deomonstrated you are of low moral and ethical standards. Why should anyone listen to what you say is important?
        maybe you are just a windmill salesman and want more operating subsidies?
        Maybe you work for RFK Jr. at his green company and need another billion of tax payer money?

      • “WTF should anyone care about your need to spend other people’s money?”

        Why don’t you tell that to your hacker friend who seems rather insistent that we spend $37 trillion of other people’s money to save starving children?

      • “Why don’t you tell that to your hacker friend who seems rather insistent that we spend $37 trillion of other people’s money to save starving children?”

        Mmm, hacker friend.
        Maybe the hacker just thought saving starving children was a higher priority. First spend whatever money to stop children from dying, once that got point where less than 100 per year were dying one consider other priorities.
        “According to the World Health Organization, hunger is the single gravest threat to the world’s public health. The WHO also states that malnutrition is by far the biggest contributor to child mortality, present in half of all cases. Six million children die of hunger every year.”

        So once it less than 100 or so maybe do the climate thing.

      • Or do both at once.

      • “Or do both at once.”
        Well Obama threw away 1/2 billion for solar company [tip of iceburg that]- what he done to save starving children?
        I think other countries have already squadered 10 of billions per year on climate related stuff. {it probably at least more like 2 trillion dollars spend already on this green stuff worldwide, I rather not quibble the issue.]
        Point is the money already spent where is the “both at once”?

      • lolwot
        Your advocacy effectively starves the children and feeds wall street fat cats. Climate mitigation is dead last in terms of benefit/cost. Burying funds into carbon “sequestration” starves the most beneficial projects.

        Restore ethics to Science. Serve the people first.

  38. Jonathan Gilligan

    One more thought: Talk to your IRB people at Georgia Tech about how they do their training on ethical conduct of research with human subjects. A big part of making IRB training useful is not demonizing people who conducted unethical research (e.g., Tuskegee or Mengele), because everyone thinks “I’d never do that,” and then walks out feeling morally superior without having learned anything.

    IRB training is much more effective when you show people how researchers with good intentions ended up going astray ethically (e.g., the consequences to research subjects of the Milgram or Zimbardo experiments, or failing to see how subjects could be identified from published data and suffer as a result, or giving false hope to gravely ill subjects in pure research trials).

    Try to engage students in thinking about possible professional situations they could find themselves in where they’d feel honestly confused or conflicted. If you teach the Hockey Stick or Climategate controversies as black and white, you won’t teach anyone anything.

    Consider the discussions you had over at CA a year or two ago about the evolving ethical standards for archiving data in academic research. Ask students what they’d do if they started getting so many FOI requests for data that satisfying all of them would take so much time that it would conflict seriously with their research obligations. Ask interesting and tough questions that will make the students think. Focus not on getting the “right” answer but on having them develop a coherent way of reasoning through each dilemma that will help them approach new and unexpected conflicts sensibly and ethically.

    • One of the writers of the emails confesses that the volume of FOIA requests was not vexatious. Now there is a writer with a high standard of integrity.

      • Well, maybe not to him, but does he speak for everybody. The downside to FOIA is it can be used to harass. A solution might be to have everything subject to FOIA available on line to begin with. However, that might encourage an underground.

  39. I’m very glad to see more revelatory emails of course. Some of them are pretty sickening and deserve to be read and roundly condemned. But as I read through them I’m aware of a certain ambivalence. I actually find myself feeling a little sorry for these people. Was it Phil Jones who admitted a while back that he’d been considering suicide?

    These guys deserve what they get ultimately, but I can’t help thinking about the human dimension of all this. Decent people get swept up in things that they end up bitterly regretting.

    In a practical sense I don’t see how the warmists can take any consolation if it turns out these were hacked, but at the same time I admit to hoping for the whistleblower scenario.

    • On the other hand, Michael Mann is utterly loathsome. Hard to feel sorry for that guy,

      • I agree that it is time to feel sorry for a great number of climate scientists. They have been fooled, too.

      • pokerguy, IMO, you are loathsome for calling Mann loathsome. But I would allow, you may have been duped into being loathsome by swallowing a lot of BS about Mann,

      • M Carey…… and maybe you are loathsome for calling pokerguy loathsome for calling mann loathsome. No wait…..maybe I am loathsome for calling you………
        Pointless name calling will not distract attention away from the unpalatable realities of climategate 2.

      • Yes, once again we have a thief, who in the interest of transparency refuses to be transparent, and is condoned by hypocrites who demand ethical behavior while embracing thievery.

      • M. Carey,

        “Yes, once again we have a thief, who in the interest of transparency refuses to be transparent, and is condoned by hypocrites who demand ethical behavior while embracing thievery.”

        As usual you do not seem to have anything in mind but protecting the unethical Climate Scientists. That is pretty much all we need to know about you. Unethical behavior is OK as long as it moves your agenda and not the other guys!!

      • That is over the top! Mann is not loathsome! He just appears to have gone Emeritus before his time :)

      • Gone Emeritus? Captain are you kidding? Michael Mann has co-authored well over one-hundred published research papers in his carrier as a scientist, including five as recently as this year:

         Kemp, A.C., Horton, B.P., Donnelly, J.P., Mann, M.E., Vermeer, M., Rahmstorf, S., Reply to Grinsted et al.: Estimating land subsidence in North Carolina, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 108, E783, 2011., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 108, E783, 2011.

        Katz, B., Najjar, R.G., Cronin, T., Rayburn, J., Mann, M.E., Constraints on Lake Agassiz discharge through the late-glacial Champlain Sea (St. Lawrence Lowlands, Canada) using salinity proxies and an estuarine circulation model, Quat. Sci. Rev. (in press).

        Mann, M.E., On long range dependence in global surface temperature series: An editorial comment, Climatic Change, 107, 267–276, 2011.

        Kemp, A.C., Horton, B.P., Donnelly, J.P., Mann, M.E., Vermeer, M., Rahmstorf, S., Climate related sea-level variations over the past two millennia, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 108, 11017-11022, 2011.

        Schmidt, G.A., Mann, M.E., Rutherford, S.D., A comment on “A statistical analysis of multiple temperature proxies: Are reconstructions of surface temperatures over the last 1000 years reliable?” by McShane and Wyner, Ann. Appl. Stat., 5, 65–70, 2011.

        See the following link for more:

        Mann is one of the most prolific researchers in his field. He recently was awarded the prestigious Han Oeschger Medal from the European Geosciences Union (EGU) in recognition of his accomplishments within the field of climate science.

        It’s no wonder the so-called global warming skeptics and deniers fear Mann and try to malign him.

      • I’ve got a play recommendation for you M. carey: ‘The Importance of Being Sarcastic.’

      • Kim, you may fear Mann because you suffer from peladophobia, pogonophobia, phronemophobia , or all three. That’s just a guess.

      • M. Carey,

        can you pick out for us the most outstanding 3 papers for us so you can explain to us why Mann is so important and influential in his field??

        Hey all, this should be fun!!

      • By the way M. Carey, you do realize that the Nobel that Gore and the IPCC received was a PEACE Nobel??

    • Pokerguy, I feel the same. I’m reminded of the same old “paved with good intentions” human dimension of all this. There’s a lesson in there.

      • You folks should stop demonizing Mann and others. You are like the idiots making death threats against Australian scientists. Some of them also threatened to rape the scientists’ children. That kind of monster is what you haters are likely to produce.

      • Read the emails, Holly. There be hippogryffs there.

      • No pressure, mind you.

      • I’m not demonizing. I feel sorry for Mr. Mann and others. Sincerely. I understand them. It takes one to know one.

      • Any ethics here?:

        “…The other woman was asked by a local newspaper to pose with her young children for a photograph to illustrate an article promoting a community tree-planting event. She was briefly quoted as saying planting trees could help mitigate climate change. Two days after the article appeared, she received emails containing threats of sexual assault and violence against her children.

        As for the woman speaking at the library, her car windscreen was smeared with excrement – animal or human, does it matter? – and the words ”climate turd” written (also in excrement) across the car bonnet. Proof perhaps, of a climate dissenter with a Freudian complex indicating arrested development…”

      • Holly, never mind Hunter. He sides with thieves, rather than their victims.

      • Holly stick,
        There wer no death threats against Australian scientists or hteir families. It was a fabrication to fool people like you.

      • Prove it.

      • You prove there were, you rude twit.

      • Tell that mother whose children were threatened that there wer no death threats. Shame on you.

        Death threats and hatred in Australia, UK and US:

        This is the kind of monstrous behaviour you encourage by spreading lies and smears against scientists. Shame on you.

      • You don’t get it holly. They need you to provide the victims address and the route her kids take to school to prove it.

      • “Climate deniers have created a climate of hate and violence. You need to man up and take some responsibility for your actions.”

        Bobert good at argue sciencey stuff.


      • Peter you should look at the company you are keeping. I have seen smears of Mann on this blog, not sure if Dr. Curry allowed them to remain (shame on her if she did). And that kind of lie being repeated over and over again can imspire unstable people to find excuses for vile acts:

      • Actually, Holly, not one of those repetitive and derivative articles you linked to offers any evidence at all.
        Not one arrest was ever made.
        If anyone did make death threats, they should be condemned and prosecuted.
        But that list looks as phony as your claims about cliamte catastrophe: trumped up hype.
        As to disgusting threats, shall we revisit 10:10?

      • and then of course there was the 10:10 video………

      • Dear Miss Stick: Michael Mann has been wrong in many dimensions. His latest writings restore the Little Ice Age as a widespread phenomenon. Although Mann himselft still doesn’t acknowledge the existence of the Medieval Warm Period, many of his cabal (Jones among them) acknowledge in Climategate emails, but not in public, that the MWP did in fact exist. Mann refuses to acknowledge that crucial papers of his used the Tiljander series from Finland upside down — one of so many findings by the inestimable Steve McIntyre — and that using the series correctly invalidates his conclusions. I could go on, but open minded readers of Judith Curry’s blogs already know the rest.

        Pointing out how Mann’s hockey schtick was an attempt to railroad world governments on the basis that the end justifies the means is the opposite to being like someone who makes a death threat. Instead, doing so is in the finist tradition of investigative journalism — too bad that it took bloggers, and not journalists, to make these discoveries.

      • Make that “finest,” not “finist.” I do know how to spell!

      • “Instead, doing so is in the finest tradition of investigative journalism — too bad that it took bloggers, and not journalists, to make these discoveries.”

        So true.
        And it clearly shows how vastly inadequate investigative journalism has been.
        In theory investigative journalism could make a big difference- but it take one retired scientist to provide real example of how they should have actually done their jobs.

      • Holly Stick: You folks should stop demonizing Mann and others.

        Besides “demonizing”, other relevant concepts here are “accountability for the spending of public funds” and “scientific scrutiny of methods and results.” There are specific criticisms of Mann and others, independent of any “demonizing” that may exist.

    • pg, decent people don’t do this sort of thing, no need to feel sorry for Jones et al. I’d feel sorry for him if he’d suffered from risking his career by, say, being the one who revealed to the world the contents of CRU’s e-mails, or standing out against the actions in which he was complicit.

  40. How do you teach ethics in the field of climate science? An outside statistician was brought in by NAS to review Mann’s statistics in the Hockeystick graph and he found them lacking. A few years later, the boiler plate that was cut and pasted into the statitician’s final report became the basis for a plagiarism case for not being thoroughly enough referenced. I’ve never seen the lengths that people go to in this field go to to make everything intensely personal. there are never any prisoners taken in support of the cause and wrecking people’s reputations in the process is all fair game.
    Science should be about seeking the best description of the truth. Ultimately, it will always be self correcting if there are mistakes are a better description is developed. If you are working on something important and claim a breakthrough, expect people to double check everything. If you are working on something obscure and un-important, it might be possible to get away with short cuts, only due to the anonymity of the work. Good science demands scrutiny, reproduction and discussion.

    • “How do you teach ethics in the field of climate science? An outside statistician was brought in by NAS to review Mann’s statistics in the Hockeystick graph and he found them lacking. ”

      No, rather statistician audits and publishes results. This interests Congress they ask statistician and Mann to appear before them. Congress also ask NAS to appear and give them testmony.

      So ethics lesson is, you can fool some of the people some of the time…..

      Make sure you are diligent and then if make mistake in science, which someone finds, thank the person for finding your error, and move on.
      Quite simple.

      • More than one review of the statistical methods in Mann’s work were undertaken by qualified individuals.

        In each case, the rebuttal by Mann et al consisted of personal attacks on the authors. The work itself was not challenged. This is their approach to any and all challenges to their belief system. Note that I refer to their work as a belief system as it clearly is not a science.

        Continuing to defend the indefensible by use of ad hom attack is hardly the sign of an ethical scientist. This behavior belongs in the world of religion.

      • The Party, and the cause are not open for debate.
        J. Stalin

      • “Continuing to defend the indefensible by use of ad hom attack is hardly the sign of an ethical scientist. This behavior belongs in the world of religion.”
        I would agree that much of AGW is religious in nature.
        But Mann behavior is more similar to the world of politics.
        Bill Clinton had the wisdom that when the stained blue dress entered the scene, to cut his losses.
        Mann behavior doesn’t make it to this level in terms of being professional politician. It’s more similar to level of politics in the gutter- foaming left/right crackpots.
        A unprofessional politician is the kindest way one could describe Mann.
        Mann error is he wanted to be a politician but has no skill in this regard.

        One might make a case that Mann and others were a victim of a misguided policy or sentiment that scientists should be more like politicians.
        Perhaps it’s good advise to someone wanting to be politician- do something else first. It could make one a wiser politician and make you more credible in general. I don’t believe Mann ever wanted to be a politician, but rather ended up there, and way over his head.

    • sean –
      The “boilerplate” was copied by an grad student from overseas not familiar with US standards of ethics and plagarism. Don’t kill the messenger.

  41. Judith

    I’ve always thought it would be interesting for Universities to revise the idea of the dissertations by Linnaeus

    You coud cover a whole series of topics setting out your own ethical values which then have to be defended by the student. Linnaeus was a lutheran and in his own work displays a number of attributes of integrity, hard work, wide ranging thought and adherence to the scientific method.


  42. From the climategate 2 leaks, (and from things that have gone before), it’s obvious that one of the reasons Mann, Jones, et al failed ethically is noble cause corruption. It is the same reason a police officer may be tempted to manipulate the evidence to put away somebody he ‘knows’ but cannot prove is guilty.
    Of all ethical failures I believe it is on of the most insidious because we can feel so self-righteous while violating all of our previously held ethical standards. Only those who love the truth more than anything else can hope to withstand it, which gives a new slant on ‘you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.’

  43. Ms. Curry,

    I suggest in your teaching of research ethics, you might want to discuss Willis Eschenbach’s superb posting here last July:

    Key questions from that post:

    1. “When members of your scientific community lie, cheat, and steal to further their own ends, should other members refuse to say anything bad about the wrong-doers?”

    2. “What should my scientific response be when a prominent scientist says ‘Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.’?”

  44. I believe the teaching of research ethics should address questions about e-mail theft.

    1. Is stealing e-mail ethical?

    2. Is using stolen e-mail to advance a cause ethical?

    3. Is misrepresenting stolen e-mail ethical?

    • That’s a good start, Then you can move into a discussion of the ethics of whistle blower laws, is it ethical to anomalously report unethical activity?

    • M. carey

      Add 4: Is whistle blowing on unethical behavior ethical?


      • PS See that Captain Dallas just asked M. carey the same question.

      • Depends on whether whistle-blowing is a euphemism for theft.

      • I think the whistle blower definition in the urban dictionary may not be the one you are looking for. Whistle blower in the US is a person or employee that discovers criminal activity inside and organization are reports that activity anonymously. Whether the evidence is stolen, privileged .or protected by confidentiality agreement depends on the court’s interpretation. So if there is not malfeasance, the emails would be considered stolen. If there were malfeasance, the thief would become a hero and social icon for defense of scientific ethics.

        So M. Carey, If you witnessed a crime and did not report it, you would not be a whistle blower or in redneckese, have a hair on yer butt.

      • I’m hard on crime period, not matter how small the infraction. E-mail theft may not seem like real theft to some because the victim still has his e-mail, but I see it as a serious crime. I believe people who condone it are no better than thieves themselves, and I’m sure they wouldn’t hesitate to lie.

      • M. Carey,
        It is not something to be condoned or dismissed, it is evidence, either of malicious hacking (theft) or something much more serious, a conspiracy to manipulate policy.

        Back room discussions in academia are one thing but backroom discussions by politicians and their staff another. That is the tangled web of politicizing science.

        So two ethical standards are intersecting. Should climate science intended to shape policy be treated as political backroom negotiations or a scientific squabble over if Venus’ lower atmosphere is iso-conductive .or has 15Wm-2 of absorbed solar magically amplified to 13,600Wm-2?

      • Captain, the latest release of the stolen e-mails reveal that Bradley didn’t get the message about the conspiracy he was supposed to be a part of.

      • M carey, Conspiracy is one of those legal issues open to interpretation. I haven’t looked at the all the emails, but there are a few, RP Jr. has one on his blog, that could go either way.

        To be brutally honest, the Menne et al preemptive paper violated copyright because Watts had a, “unique database” since each and every part of the “data” included a photograph that is automatically grant copyright protection.

        Don’t mean to throw that little curve at you, but I think Dr. Curry’s class might want to looking into that supreme court ruling about what data is an is not intellectual property.

        You may want to review some legal terms yourself, unless you like sounding foolish :)

    • M carey – is it unethical for you to claim that this was a theft when it could just as well be the actions of an insider and a whistleblower?

      M carey are you ethical?

      • The hacker … hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

        There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known …. except anything that doesn’t serve the hackers agenda.

        The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. . . .each person was judged according to what they had done …. and this does not bode well for those who condone theft and use what is stolen to malign the victims of theft.

      • M Carey,

        your continued accusations and speculations are pointless.

        A WhistleBlower within the UEA would immediately end his/her career if they cam forward. We have seen how the investigations were handled. They would probably be convicted of invasion of privacy or some such.

        Please continue your hallucinations though. They are somewhat humorous.

      • M. carey
        The probabilities strongly suggest an internal whistle blower, not a hacker.
        Thus working to provide the files legally requested under FOIA when it became obvious that those who sent the emails were breaching the FOIA law and refusing to provide the.
        Thus we see the corruption being exposed to the light.

      • The probabilities strongly suggest an internal whistle blower, not a hacker.

        That was never a very credible spin on the thief’s motives, but it’s now utterly laughable now that the thief has waited two years to circulate a second batch of stolen e-mails, timed to disrupt an international conference.

        That’s obviously not the act of a whistle-blower. It’s not the act of someone trying to shed light. It’s the act of a clumsy, dishonest, manipulative propagandist. Unfortunately, in the community of climate deniers, that could describe anyone.

    • In response M. carey’s points above. For once, I think that they have a good list of questions.

      “1. Is stealing e-mail ethical?”

      1. In the context of exposing light upon conspiracy, whistleblowing is not only right, it should be encouraged. The simple fact that there has been prima facie wrongdoing by several prominent climate “scientists” involved in this scandal alone justifies this whistleblowing leak. In fact, the person responsible for the leak is pretty much a hero, as without the light of the truth exposed in the emails leaked, we wouldn’t have facts to back up our argument against BEHAVIOR by ‘the team’ that feels like collusion and obfuscation, but we wouldn’t have had any way to prove it. I’m surprised that they’re still so unrepentant. Maybe this will bite them in the backside if the whistleblower has carefully chosen which emails to release and wait for those involved to take misleading positions, then release further truths to make them look even more foolish for lying.

      “2. Is using stolen e-mail to advance a cause ethical?”

      2. The emails in question are public property. I’m not sure if you work in any professional sense, but the contents of my work email are public documents – as such I generally maintain a high professional standard of correspondence within them. If they were released, you may find the odd mundane but amusingly inappropriate quip, but I woudn’t be embarassed by the release of them. If they were used in the discovery of some specific wrongdoing, and I had indeed done wrong, I wouldn’t blame the messenger in any case, I would blame myself for being unethical.

      “3. Is misrepresenting stolen e-mail ethical?”

      3. Misrepresenting things is subject to opinion. I feel that the apologists will have a much more difficult time explaining the validity of their ‘interpretations’ and excuses in this whole affair. The absolute willful blindness that many of you sycophants express is quite pathetic if not emotionally driven, I would consider to be painfully unethical.

      • 1. Whistle-blowing is supposed to be about revealing illegal activity, not maligning people. In this case the hacker steals all the e-mails and cherry-picks those that he believes will reflect poorly on the mailers. He wants you to believe his interest is transparency, but his secrecy and selectivity show him to be a hypocrite as well as a thief.

        2. You do not in fact know all of the e-mails the thief stole are public property. He hasn’t shown everything he stole.

        3. Misrepresentations are not the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

      • Which planet is your home world again? You know why sharks don’t bite lawyers? Professional courtesy. This would be a slam dunk in court only most of the Skeptics are nice guys and not willing to press the penalty side of the law, they just want transparency.

        Mann’s little misinterpretation of the state pen joke is just a sign that some of the team need to cultivate a sense of humor and a touch of humility.

      • I think that M. carey, like Fred Moolton apparently, refuses to look at the emails. Do you think they will bite, M. carey, or do you fear they may destroy a little of your faith?

      • Captain, tell that one to Ball.

      • Heh, Ball’s already taken the latest emails to his lawyer. Better read ’em if you want to keep up.

      • kim, I have read the e-mails, albeit not all of them. If you have any you would like to discuss, present them along with your thoughts. If you choose any I haven’t read, I will read them.

      • M. carey, do you believe the writers of the emails were acting ethically? A simple yes or no will suffice.

      • kim, I haven’t read all of the e-mails, because the unethical person who hacked them, hasn’t released all of them. If you would cite a specific example of an e-mail exchange (not just snippets)you believe shows unethical behavior, I will try to give you a yes or no answer.

      • Whistleblowing is also for dishonest or unethical activity. This person obviously believed these emails showed dishonest and unethical activity.

      • M. carey

        Misrepresentations are not the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

        Would you put IPCC AR4 WG1 SPM into that category? (Seems to fit like a glove.)


      • If that is the case, he has managed to find nearly 5,500 mails that he believes reflects badly on the relatively small numbers of participants.

        That’s a lot of cherries each. And a very fruitful cherry tree.

        If say, he could find only half a dozen, you might have a point. But 5,500 speaks to a ‘pattern of behaviour’, not just an isolated instance or two.

    • I think a course on research ethics SHOULD include examining emails like this one of yours, M carey. It illustrates how idological everything related to climate change has become, and therefore how crucial it is to never stray from strict scientific truth as you know it, to make sure you point out weaknesses in your arguments and findings, and to suggest lines of research which could either validate or invalidate your findings.

      I would add another question to your list, though: is it ethical to ignore crucial evidence found in emails that find their way to the public, despite attempts to stonewall legitimate FOIA requests for that information?

  45. Judith Curry

    Thanks for this post on research ethics and for reposting your post-Climategate advice on ethics to climate students, which is just as pertinent today as it was when you wrote it.

    You described the three options the climate science community had for responding to the Climategate revelations (and to questions regarding other past problems with the rigor of the scientific method, as it was applied in climate science, which resulted from the politicized IPCC “consensus” process).

    1. Retreat into the ivory tower
    2. Circle the wagons/point guns outward: ad hominem/appeal to motive attacks; appeal to authority; isolate the enemy through lack of access to data; peer review process
    3. Take the “high ground:” engage the skeptics on our own terms (conferences, blogosphere); make data/methods available/transparent; clarify the uncertainties; openly declare our values

    While the record since then shows that many climate scientists have chosen options #1 or #2, you have chosen #3, as clearly evidenced by this blog site, among other things.

    The “Rebuilding Trust” essay is very much to the point.

    Best of all I like your advice in response to questions from students:

    Spend some time perusing the blogosphere (both skeptical and pro AGW blogs) to get a sense of the political issues surrounding our field. A better understanding of the enormous policy implications of our field should imbue in all of us a greater responsibility for upholding the highest standards of research ethics.

    How true!


  46. I made the mistake of looking up the definition of “whistle blower” in the Urban Dictionary. DISGUSTING !

  47. Young man did you steal that DVD ?

    No, sir, a whistle blew it into my pocket.

  48. I have been pondering how to best teach research ethics to incoming graduate students and to meet the new NSF guidelines.

    So what are the basics?

    1. Methods should be as clear and unambiguous as possible. There may be many reasons for using a particular data set, even a suboptimal one (after the best data has been analyzed, one might want to compare other methods and other data to see if the results are similar). But the methods and data chosen should be clearly described.

    2. Authors should be committed to offering their findings to the public regardless if they are positive or negative findings. Failing to do so allows funders, for example, to sponsor multiple studies and only publish those whose results they like.

    3. Post hoc reanalysis or modification of methods should be disclosed. P-values are literally meaningless if you keep rooting around in the data without limit.

    4. Research subjects should participate only after informed consent.

    5. Conflicts of interest should be disclosed.

    6. All funding should be disclosed.

    7. Anyone claiming to participate in the scientific process via “auditing” or “extended peer review” should uphold the same standards of ethics as those participating in formal scientific work, and should be subject to similar sanction if their work fails to meet those standards.

  49. “Mann: I gave up on Judith Curry a while ago. I don’t know what she think’s she’s doing, but its not helping the cause.”
    OK, Mann really did it that time. Giving up on Judith Curry is the last straw. Take back his recent award.

  50. The concept of “ethics” in climate science (and in other domains) can have two possible meanings, two versions:
    1. The climate scientist is under ethical obligation to do his best to save humanity from the impending AGW catastrophe. He must communicate, engage, promote.
    2. The scientists is (like any other person) under a moral obligation to stick as close as possible to the Truth and scientific method.

    It’s worth to mention the two conflicting versions of climate science ethics.

    • Not everyone will share the views of the CAGW scientists. Certainly, if they believe there is a potentially or actually serious issue, they must alert government and population. But they are not best-placed to make decisions on humanity’s response. And in presenting the issue to the broader population, there is no justification whatsoever for deviating from truth, honesty, integrity and scientific method. The latter to me is an essential underpinning, if you depart from it you can not expect good outcomes when pursuing (1). Once you breach faith, nothing you say can be taken on trust.

  51. Another ethical issue is the EPA deliberately cherry picking science to justify harmful Regan that actually help none and hurt many.

  52. Merck has settled with the government in the Vioxx case:

    Total cost to Merck for its various ethical lapses involving Vioxx: $5.8 billion.

    Interesting case of research and corporate marketing, ethical and legal responsibility.

  53. Ethics education does not make one ethical. Lawyers for example are required to take classes on legal ethics in law school. You have to take an examination on ethics to be admitted to the bar. In most states you have to take continuing legal education on ethics to maintain your license. There is, in short, far more ethics education for lawyers now than when I began some 24 years ago.

    None of which has made the legal profession more ethical.

    If you are not ethical by the time you begin graduate school, no number of classes or CLE courses will change that. It is appropriate to teach students the ethical rules of their chosen profession. Application of ethics to technical situations in any given field should be outlined in advance. There will be many applications the students have never thought of before. And refresher courses are fine.

    But that is not where the problems have arisen (in the law, climate science or other fields), nor where they will be cured.

    The primary rules of ethics arise not from the professions, but from the classical Roman and Greek philosophers and the Judeo-Christian ethic, which together have shaped western civilization, for the better, for centuries.

    In the Judeo-Christian tradition (which does not depend on adherence to any religion), the four cardinal virtues are: prudence, justice, temperance, and courage. They had their analogs or precursors in the Roman and Greek philosophies.

    But in modern society, what were once virtues are now weaknesses, while what was once denounced as immoral or sinful is now seen as the norm. Integrity? The end justifies the means in politics today, integrity is only an issue if it is your opponent’s integrity in question. Humility? That’s for the weak and insecure. Justice? That has become an empty label to apply to whatever result seems politically expedient. Chastity? Just saying the word makes some people cringe, and others laugh. Courage? That’s for suckers, those who value courage are just jingoistic neanderthal racists.

    Pride/arrogance? That’s a sign of superiority, a justification for the right to assume power over others. Greed? Greed, as Ranjendra Pachauri, Al Gore and Tom Friedman make clear, is good, even on the left. Lust/licentiousness? That is how people, including ever younger children, are supposed to act. (Families? We don’t need no stinkin’ families!)

    If you are relying on teaching ethics in grad school to reverse the decline in science, and the culture as a whole, you are too late.

    What is needed is more emphasis on fundamental ethics, and, more than anything else – enforcement of consequences for breaches of ethics. That is where the real failure is. What good does it do to teach a student ethics, if he/she sees unethical behavior going unpunished, and often being rewarded, in the real world.

    In my profession, the federal courts and all the states have rules that provide sanctions for filing frivolous law suits and pleadings. The rules explicitly provide that an attorney who files such a pleading can be ordered to pay the attorney’s fees and costs of the other side. A great mechanism for policing attorney ethics right?

    In 24 years of practice I have not seen a single attorney ordered to pay such fees or costs. Not long after the rules were passed, the courts got flooded with motions filed by lawyers whose clients had been subjected to frivolous claims. So the courts simply stopped enforcing the rules to clear their dockets. And every lawyer knows it. The result is that the legal profession is worse now with unenforced written rules than it was before when the rules were assumed and accepted as the norm.

    When society taking ethics seriously again, then teaching the particulars to students will be of more value.

    • What is needed is more emphasis on fundamental ethics, and, more than anything else – enforcement of consequences for breaches of ethics.

      Agreed. So when we are confronted with total moral failures like Monckton, Watts, McIntyre, Soon, Wegner . . . really the entirely “skeptic” A-list, more or less — poor guys, in 2011 you have roughly the moral authority of an international pedophile ring– what consequences will there be? Fined, jailed, other? I’d say public humiliation, but obviously deniers are immune to that.

    • cf my reply to Oliver at November 22, 2011 2:39 pm. You need a good grounding as a child, and need to be prepared to stick to your principles when others have none. This isn’t just a foundation for science or policy, but for a good life free from tension.

    • While I agree that an ethics course isn’t going to make saints out of anyone, it’s obvious from the antics we see in the climategate emails that ethics is completely missing in non-insignificant areas of the field.

      Even in the legal profession, if the prosecution hides evidence from the defense, this is a non-trivial offense. When a researcher deliberately tries to prevent opposing views from being published, this is not ethical behavior. Period. I also agree that there really needs to be some enforcement of the rules. A question that should be asked is “what transgression would it take to make a clear case for a sanction?” If this can’t be answered, there’s no point of going any further on the ethics path.

      While I don’t think climate science is unique as far as ethics level, what IS unique about it is that it is one of the few fields that has the audacity to think it can predict with any precision what will happen 100 years from now. Economists don’t (a field that resembles climate science in scope). The only things I can think of where one can rightly make predictions that far in the future are phenomenon based on relatively simple physics (like orbital mechanics, radioactive decay…). Anything on complex mechanisms are just educated guesses and should not have any more weight that that. I think part of the problem is that someone didn’t say “this is a complicated process with many variables that function over large time frames, so we really don’t know enough to make concrete statements” early enough before people gave too much weight to arguments that are not strongly supported. If you raise expectations higher than what you can deliver, be ready to pay the piper…

  54. Over on RealClimate Gavin is answering questions about the context of the emails written by others. That sure appears to be some kind of collusion among the team..

  55. Dr. Curry,

    You might consider, in the Ethics for Research, my story about the ‘White Wall of Silence’ (emailed to you in response to another post on Ethics). If you wish to use it, you have my permission. There are similar known Walls of Silence in other professions: the police have one – ‘no cop turns in another cop’, for example.
    It is important to raise this issue –> all your student will face it.
    An example is he recent case in which it was discovered that the Dutch researcher Diederik A. Stapel made up the data for dozens of research papers has shaken up the field of social psychology. I believe it took some time (measured in years) before the doubts of research associates and students working under him were taken seriously enough to taken seriously.
    I suspect many of his peers had their doubts and suspicions, some may have actually caught on and instead of blowing the proverbial whistle, they sadly shook their heads and said nothing.

  56. “From lies of tongue and pen … Deliver us, good Lord! (Hymn, 1915)

  57. (My 8.52 reply to coniston’s 2.27 post appears before it)

  58. Some of the discussion in this thread has been illuminating in ways that may not have been intended. In her post, Dr. Curry raised legitimate questions about how research ethics should be taught, and elicited thoughtful responses on both the importance of the issue and, in my view, the minefield that a teacher traverses if the teaching focuses on a controversy in which he or she has become known as a strong partisan rather than a dispassionate observer. After reading all the commentary, I’ll be content to confine my advice to the recommendation, “tread carefully”, but perhaps add, “don’t dwell excessively on this example to the exclusion of historical examples in which you are not personally embroiled.”

    Beyond this, though, I perceive here the emergence of a separate ethical issue that has grown in importance with the increasing role of the blogosphere as a communications medium. I would call it “ethics as ammunition”. By this, I mean the selective invocation of ethical concepts to punish one’s enemies or support one’s friends – to condemn or condone as it suits an agenda. In this thread and elsewhere, it’s hard to read comments on Climategate ethics without being struck by this sense of selectivity – the word “fraud” is tossed around by both supporters and condemners of Climategate participants as a verbal hand grenade to vilify the other side.

    Is it ethical to use ethics this way? I see it as part of the larger question of the ethics of selectivity in general – the use of carefully chosen examples to create an impression different from the one to be gained by citing all the evidence. Ironically, this type of cherry-picking is at the heart of the debate about the Hockey Stick and the selective exclusion of post-1960 data – a choice used to emphasize the perceived deceptiveness of Michael Mann’s treatment of evidence. Politicians have never hesitated to engage in deception through selection rather than falsehood, but if we are trying to act in a more ethical manner than they (or than climate scientists we criticize), I think the issue needs to be examined by any of us who take part in climate disagreements. One obvious reason is our claim to be seeking some element of truthful understanding of climate. In addition, though, I would suggest that we have some obligation to ourselves and our medium to protect our credibility. It is always easy to say, “IPCC authors like Phil Jones or Michael Mann have special obligations to avoid cherry picking that conveys a false impression”. The unstated message in this, however, is, “We don’t”. Certainly, we can choose to act in accordance with that proposition, but we then should be prepared to live with the consequences. Are we throwing stones from inside a glass house?

    • Sorry, Fred, all your nuanced yap about ethics is worthless unless you address the catastrophic ethical lapses in the writers of the emails.

    • Shhhhhh… The Well-Respected Scientist has commented. ;)


    • Fred, your concerns are verbose and not valid. Ethics is always going to be “ammunition” to people who don’t like you. The question is what is really unethical. If any executive of a drug company were caught discussing drug trials in the same light as Mann et al were discussing the hockey stick, he’d be fired that instant and possibly prosecuted. Why do you have such low ethical standards? We should expect higher standards from our drug companies and from our public employee climate scientists. By the way Fred, was the “spin” put on the Vioxx data by Merck just a “summary graph and that the details were in the literature.” If you can’t see the plain fact that this was unethical, you have a problem.

      I guess the question is what is the downside of higher ethical standards? Afraid that you might not be able to abide by them?

      • I think you illustrate the point about “ethics” used as ammunition.

        You cite a type of action relevant to misuse of ethical standards by certain partisans – attempts in Virginia by Attorney General Cuccinelli to see if he can prosecute Mann on criminal charges. That was one of the things I had in mind. I’m not accusing you of condoning Cuccinelli’s actions, but we’ve seen some examples of that here and elsewhere. Failure to condemn Cuccinelli can be seen as a form of selective ethics for partisan purposes.

        You seem to be accusing me of low ethical standards, but you provide no example. Do you have one? You should reconsider that claim.

        I have never commented on the Vioxx data, and so your assumptions about my opinion don’t come from anything I’ve said. I’m not sure why you brought it up. I’ve been a strong critic of drug company suppression of evidence.

      • My own personal view is that someone that states someone else has misrepresented something but can’t even identify what was misrepresented is using ethics as ammunition. Would you agree and would you agree this shows a lapse of ethics on the part of the accuser?

      • I don’t know if Mann should be prosecuted. I do know that the Penn State investigation was a whitewash. In general, I would say that scientists should not be criminally liable except in cases of clear fraud or manipulation of data. However, for issues where lives are at stake as is the case in the climate wars, a high level of honesty is required and I do think Mann should not be an honored member of the science community unless he confesses some of the obvious errors. He clearly owes several people an abject apology and retraction, such as Steve McIntyre. You know, he was young when this happened so I would forgive him. But the prerequisite for forgiveness is a confession of error. I am generally not a legalistic person at all. It’s never too late to admit error and gain absolution. I still claim that if something like climategate happened in any drug company, heads would roll and the public would be demanding action.

        I just find it interesting Fred that you have very detailed and silly standards for Judith but refuse to comment on the issues of scientific and medical malfeasance I’ve brought to your attention. Maybe you just are a little hypocritical, but I don’t understand it. There is absolutely no problem with professors teaching ethics using examples on which they have taken a public position and about they have “strong feelings.” I expect Judith to have strong feelings about ethical issues and to make sure her students know her point of view. I just find it odd that you are quick to tell Judith to be careful, but studiously avoid criticizing the ethics of any of those tainted by climategate. If you are strongly critical of drug companies for witholding data, you should see the same lapses in climategate. Don’t take it personally, Fred, I like you and enjoy our interchanges. I just don’t understand.

      • BS! McIntyre owes Mann an apology, especially for his shameless attempt at paralleling Penn State’s investigation and clearing of Mann with their lack of investigating an accused child molester.

      • M Carey, You are so full of it. McIntyre’s detailed and careful dissection of the Mann investigation is so obviously correct. I note that you lurk and try to insert comments when no one is watching. I won’t let this one go. Penn State did not even investigate the allogations against Mann and instead simply said: He is respected by his peers, therefore he could not have been guilty of misconduct. This is just nonsense.

      • David, if you think all the committee did was find Mann is respected by his peers, you have been misinformed.
        The committee studied the e-mails that Mann’s accusers said were evidence of his wrong doing. The committee didn’t agree with the accusers. Read the report.

        If McIntyre, Ball, or any of the other Mann bashers want to file a civil or criminal suit against him, they can do so. But don’t bet on that happening. Mann, on the other hand, is suing Ball.

      • For M carey and anyone else who thinks that the Penn State inquiry of Mann wasn’t a whitewash, here is a link to Clive Crooks’ analysis of the inquiry in the Atlantic:

      • John, Crook said the inquiry dismissed accusations against Mann out-of-hand. That’s BS!

        “Out-of-hand” means completely without thinking about it or discussing it.

        The committee studied the e-mails.

      • You really are quite naive, M. carey; the committee studiously avoided the issues and blatantly declared that Michael Mann couldn’t be unethical because he had such a great reputation.

        And if you think the committee isn’t in trouble over their callous disregard for honest inquiry, then you have another think coming.

      • Kim, send the committee a few of your coo coo high coos, and you will have them begging for mercy.

      • Fred, surely you must understand that prosecutors, as lawyers, sometimes engage in fishing expeditions simply because they don’t know all the relevant facts, and the way the law works, you don’t get to do discovery before you’ve made an allegation. If you want an example of prosecutorial misconduct, I suggest that you study the strange case of Mike Nifong. THAT is what you call prosecutorial misconduct. Cuccinelli is simply practicing lawcraft, at least so far.

        And don’t be naive about how prosecutors are above politics, lest I rattle off a dozen or so highly political things that Eric Holder and his department have done.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      I find this remark by Fred Moolten confusing:

      Ironically, this type of cherry-picking is at the heart of the debate about the Hockey Stick and the selective exclusion of post-1960 data – a choice used to emphasize the perceived deceptiveness of Michael Mann’s treatment of evidence.

      I have to say, I’ve followed the hockey stick controversy for a long time, and I can’t figure out what Moolten is referring to. While there has been serious (and completely justified) criticism of omitting adverse data, by far and large, it hasn’t been Mann who was accused of it. The primary criticism has been of the omission of post-1960 data from a reconstruction made by Keith Briffa.

      I’d imagine Moolten isn’t just making something up, or conflating issues, but I’m at a loss as to what he would be talking about here. Can anyone point out what I’m missing?

      • In her post, Dr. Curry links to a talk by Steve McIntyre that addresses some of this.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        This response both clarifies and confuses the issue for me. It indicates the issue being discussed is the graphic Michael Mann was responsible for in IPCC’s Third Assessment Report, which is a clarification.

        On the other hand, I can’t see why he would refer only to the omission of data in that figure. Omitting post-1960 data from that series is something which had been done before, and Mann merely copied others in doing it. The more deceptive thing Mann did is he used the modern temperature record to fill in some of that truncated data in order to smooth the series. Nobody else had done that before.

        The “trick” had two components to it. One was far more blatantly deceptive than the other, and it was one nobody before Mann had done. The other was deceptive, but it was also something which had been done by others before Mann. Both components were essential, and both were used in the same figure. Given all this, I don’t understand why anyone would refer only to the less deceptive part. That just seems like cherry-picking, the very thing being criticized.

        Oh well. I did know Mann had truncated the series so I guess I should have realized that was what Moolten was referring to. I just didn’t think it was since it meant he was leaving out the part about plugging in values from a totally different series in order to smooth the truncated series.

      • The more serious sins of Mann were statistical and the subsequent coverup, silencing of McIntyre, and the clinging to his reconstruction to “eliminate the Mideval Optimum”. These things are serious and contaminated the AR4 report. Mann is also a litigious turkey who must have some well healed backers who are footing his bills. This is what is annoying to me the most, the continued stonewalling. The recent dialogue in Annals of Statistics I think served to finally (after a decade of obfuscation and stonewalling) to have aired the issues. I must say, I found Schmidt, Mann, et al to be very effectively rebutted in that exchange. Muller is excellent on this. If indeed tree rings diverged after 1960 from the temperature record, how do we know they didn’t diverge in other periods of time. There is no answer to this in any of Mann’s numerous papers or any of the emails. The only answer to this is “we need to eliminate the Mideval Optimum” therefore we know they didn’t diverge at that time. So, its a slam dunk, as even one of the team candidly said in the new emails:

        3373: Bradley says Mann/Jones GRL paper was truly pathetic and should never have been published. I don’t want to be associated with that 2000 year ‘reconstruction’.

      • “eliminate the Mideval Optimum”

        David Young – can you link to a source that indicates Michael Mann has ever said the above phrase?

        I believe he said this:

        “it would be nice to try to “contain” the putative “MWP”, even if we don’t yet have a hemispheric mean reconstruction available that far back”

      • I apologize. I think it was another scientist who called for this. It’s in The Hockey Stick Illusion I think. It was just that Mann’s work conveniently seemed to satisfy this desire. Certainly in AR4, Mann’s graph effectively “eliminated the Mideval Optimum.”

      • In what sense? Do you know how global the MWP was? If so, show me.

      • David Young and JCH

        It was probably Jonathan Overpeck who wrote “we have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period'” in a message to David Deming.

        Mann’s wording was slightly different, but his study was a botched attempt to do precisely that, which backfired.

        Seems everybody “got the word” except IPCC, who clung to the notion of “unusual 20th century warmth for 1,300 years” lin AR4, ong after the hockey stick had been discredited and buried.


      • Here is a transcript of David Deming’s testimony, in which he mentions the “get rid of the MWP” email, but does no reveal the source.

      • JCH

        You ask David:

        Do you know how global the MWP was? If so, show me.

        Maybe I can help.

        Here are links to several studies, from all over the world using different paleo-climate methodologies, which all confirm a MWP that was slightly warmer than today.

        1. Global
        Loehle (2007):
        In this study, eighteen 2000-year-long series were obtained that were not based on tree ring data…The mean series shows the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and Little Ice Age (LIA) quite clearly, with the MWP being approximately 0.3°C warmer than 20th century values at these eighteen sites.

        2. Greenland
        D. Dahl-Jensen et al
        Past Temperatures Directly from the Greenland Ice Sheet
        Science 9 October 1998: Vol. 282 no. 5387 pp. 268-271
        MWP 0.8C warmer than latest average

        The Last Glacial Maximum, the Climatic Optimum, the Medieval Warmth, the Little Ice Age, and a warm period at 1930 A.D. are resolved from the GRIP reconstruction with the amplitudes –23 kelvin, +2.5 kelvin, +1 kelvin, –1 kelvin, and +0.5 kelvin, respectively.

        The HadCRUT Greenland temperature record shows an average annual temperature:
        1926-1935 = -0.29°C
        1996-2005 = -0.61°C (most recent data reported)
        So 1930 was around 0.3°C warmer than the latest average

        MWP period high was around 0.5C°C + 0.3°C = 0.8°C higher than current highs.

        3. Greenland Summit
        Johnsen, S.J., Dahl-Jensen, D., Gundestrup, N., Steffensen, J.P., Clausen, H.B., Miller, H., Masson-Delmotte, V., Sveinbjörnsdottir, A.E. and White, J.
        2001. Oxygen isotope and palaeotemperature records from six Greenland ice-core stations
        temperatures during the Medieval Warm Period (~AD 800-1100) were about 1°C warmer than those of the Current Warm Period.

        4. China
        De’Er Zhang 1994
        Henan Province
        0.9-1.0°C warmer than present

        5. Eastern China
        Ge, Q., Zheng, J., Fang, X., Man, Z., Zhang, X., Zhang, P. and Wang, W.-C. 2003
        0.4°C higher than today’s peak warmth

        6. Pearl River Delta, S. China
        Honghan, Z. and Baolin, H. 1995
        1-2°C higher than that at present time

        7. Japan
        Adhikari, D.P. and Kumon, F. 2001
        warmer than any other period during the last 1300 years

        8. Yakushima Island, S. Japan
        Kitagawa, H. and Matsumoto, E. 1995
        about 1°C above that of the Current Warm Period

        9. Sargasso Sea
        Keigwin, L. 1996
        ~1°C warmer than today

        10. Tropical Ocean (Indian Ocean, South China Sea, Caribbean)
        Alicia Newton, Robert Thunell, and Lowell Stott 2006
        0.4°C warmer than today,%202006.pdf

        11. New Zealand
        Cook, E. R., J. G. Palmer, and R. D. D’Arrigo 2002
        (MWP confirmed but no temperature difference cited)

        12. New Zealand
        Wilson, A.T., Hendy, C.H. and Reynolds, C.P 1979
        0.75°C warmer than the Current Warm Period

        13. Barrow Strait, Canada
        Vare, L.L., Masse, G., Gregory, T.R., Smart, C.W. and Belt, S.T
        (MWP confirmed but no temperature difference cited)

        14. Northern Gulf of Mexico (Pigmy Basin)
        Richey, J.N., Poore, R.Z., Flower, B.P. and Quinn, T.M 2007
        about 1.5°C warmer than present-day temperatures.

        15. Coastal Peru
        Rein B., Lückge, A., Reinhardt, L., Sirocko, F., Wolf, A. and Dullo, W.-C 2005
        Medieval Warm Period for this region was about 1.2°C above that of the Current Warm Period

        16. Venezuela coast
        Goni, M.A., Woodworth, M.P., Aceves, H.L., Thunell, R.C., Tappa, E., Black, D., Muller-Karger, F., Astor, Y. and Varela, R. 2004
        approximately 0.35°C warmer than peak Current Warm Period temperatures, and fully 0.95°C warmer than the mean temperature of the last few years of the 20th century

        17. Lake Erie, Ohio, USA
        Patterson, W.P 1998
        both summer maximum and mean annual temperatures in the Great Lakes region were found to be higher than those of the 20th century; mean annual temperatures were 0.2°C higher

        18. Chesapeake Bay, USA
        Cronin, T.M., Dwyer, G.S., Kamiya, T., Schwede, S. and Willard, D.A. 2003
        mean 20th-century temperatures were 0.15°C cooler than mean temperatures during the first stage of the Medieval Warm Period

        19. Sweden (Central Scandinavian Mountains)
        Linderholm, H.W. and Gunnarson, B.E. 2005
        Between AD 900 and 1000, summer temperature anomalies were as much as 1.5°C warmer than the 1961-1990 base period

        20. Finnish Lapland
        Weckstrom, J., Korhola, A., Erasto, P. and Holmstrom, L. 2006
        0.15°C warmer than the peak warmth of the Current Warm Period

        21. Ural Mountains, Russia
        Mazepa, V.S. 2005
        Medieval Warm Period lasted from approximately AD 700 to 1300 and that significant portions of it were as much as 0.56°C warmer than the Current Warm Period.

        22. Altai Mountains, S. Siberia, Russia 2007
        Kalugin, I., Daryin, A., Smolyaninova, L., Andreev, A., Diekmann, B. and Khlystov, O.
        mean peak temperature of the latter part of the Medieval Warm Period was about 0.5°C higher than the mean peak temperature of the Current Warm Period.

        23. Swiss Alps
        Schlüchter et al. 2004
        MWP and other earlier periods warmer than today, but no temperature estimate given

        24. Austrian Alps
        Patzelt 2009
        MWP ~900 AD slightly warmer than today, earlier periods even warmer

        25. Silvaplana, Switzerland
        Larocque-Tobler, I., Grosjean, M., Heiri, O., Trachsel, M. and Kamenik, C. 2010. Thousand years of climate change reconstructed from chironomid subfossils preserved in varved lake Silvaplana, Engadine, Switzerland. Quaternary Science Reviews 29: 1940-1949.
        mean July air temperatures were 1°C warmer than the climate reference period (1961-1990).

        26. Spannagel Cave, Central Alps, Austria
        Mangini, A., Verdes, P., Spotl, C., Scholz, D., Vollweiler, N. and Kromer, B. 2007. Persistent influence of the North Atlantic hydrography on central European winter temperature during the last 9000 years. Geophysical Research Letters34: 10.1029/2006GL028600.
        the peak temperature of the Medieval Warm Period (AD 800-1300) was approximately 1.5°C higher than the peak temperature of the Current Warm Period.

        27. NW Spain
        Martinez-Cortizas, A., Pontevedra-Pombal, X., Garcia-Rodeja, E., Novoa-Muñoz, J.C. and Shotyk, W. 1999
        mean annual temperature during this time was as much as 3.4°C warmer than that of the 1968-98 period.

        28. Tagus River Estuary, off Lisbon, Portugal
        Abrantes, F., Lebreiro, S., Rodrigues, T., Gil, I., Bartels-Jónsdóttir, H., Oliveira, P., Kissel, C. and Grimalt, J.O. 2005. Shallow-marine sediment cores record climate variability and earthquake activity off Lisbon (Portugal) for the last 2000 years. Quaternary Science Reviews 24: 2477-2494.
        The MWP was identified as occurring between AD 550 and 1300, during which time interval mean sea surface temperatures were between 1.5 and 2°C higher than the mean value of the past century, while peak MWP warmth was about 0.9°C greater than late 20th-century peak warmth

        29. Antarctica (Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica)
        Hemer, M.A. and Harris, P.T
        The MWP at ca. 750 14C yr BP was likely warmer than at any time during the CWP.

        30. Bahamas
        Lund and Curry 2006
        MWP (1200 years BP) roughly 0.2C warmer than today

        31. Northern Hemisphere (MWP = Present), Moberg
        There are more data out there. Here is a link to a database listing several studies world-wide

        Hope this helps.


      • manacker | November 24, 2011 at 6:56 am |

        Well done. Good start.

        Now if you could gather 1.5 billion discrete datapoints from 40,000 or so sites and apply the methods from BEST as appropriate, we’d really be somewhere.

        Somewhere about 0.5% of where we are with the modern instrumental record, but still somewhere. (2,000 years instead of 200, one 20th or so the resolution of modern thermometers.) And only about the last third of BEST is very reliable.

        Keep it up, you could be the next Muller.

        It’s not that I don’t believe there was an MWP and an LIA. It’s that the numbers aren’t terribly useful as anything more than loose parameters. They can only be used in some fairly primitive statistics, none of which address much AGW.

        18 to 31 sets of a few dozen or hundred dates on average spread out over years and compared using some statistical methods that would never pass McIntyre-style audit just doesn’t cut it.

        Contrary evidence, like the study of Arctic sea ice coverage based on silt showing the last time the Arctic was within 15% of being as low in September cover was 1450 years ago or so, also seems to be missing.

        BEST shows modern warming affects only 2/3rds of land stations.

        Where’s your 1/3rd MWP cooling? Your 1/3rd LIA warming?

      • Manaker provides a long list of evidence of warmer periods in the past. Pat the nice little boy on the head.

        I think the point is that the earth’s climate is in a metastable state and the paleoclimate records show huge fluctuations in the reconstructed temperature record. It clearly doesn’t take much of a forcing function for the earth’s climate to start wandering between low and high bounded extremes of temperature.

        What one can do is try to quantify how likely that the current trend is likely to occur in comparison to previous transitions. One can attempt to place these into probabilistic terms (as the Ludecke papers miserably failed at). What I tried to do at the blog link below, is to look at paleoclimate data and derive a stochastic model for regional temperature variation:

        The model of the earth’s climate is of a shallow energy well in which the temperature can fluctuate high and low via a controlled random walk. The impetus for the walk is likely a forcing function or stimulus based on some pseudo-random natural event. These are pseudo-random only in the sense that given enough possibilities of many different weakly cyclic events (solar, tides, orbital, etc), the aggregate is easily modeled as a stochastic forcing function.

        The concern of the climate scientists is that this recent forcing function — that of a very strong 100 PPM impulse of CO2 injected into the atmosphere in the last 100 years — is likely unprecedented in all of paleoocliamte history. We have little to compare this against, apart from the solid knowledge derived from the historical record that the climate has strongly fluctuated over the years. Whether this recent forcing function will have a strong warming effect remains to be seen. The records of a “medieval warming period” only point out that strong warming fluctuations can occur with small forcing functions.

      • And we should care because…?

      • And we should care because…?

        Because we have sockpuppets like you that exist to simply raise FUD.

        The “uncertainty” in FUD can be treated quantitatively, not as a bludgeon that most climate skeptics attach it to.

      • WHT, I agree this is the crux of the issue that you have put well. The earth had a Cretaceous climate 100 million years ago, and CO2 levels are approaching those levels possibly within the next century. Do we want a Cretaceous climate, which we know the earth’s system is capable of? And the speed of transition is going to lead to major ecological changes, so we need to stop arguing about whether this will happen and more about how to plan for it.

      • @webbie

        ‘Because we have sockpuppets like you that exist to simply raise FUD.’

        I do nt exist to raise FUD. I just ask some pretty simple questions asking the ‘scientists’ to justify their work.

        And when I don’t get straight answers, but evasion, snark, adhom attacks and all the techniques that you and your cabal are so practiced (if not skilled) in, I make the judgement that you have very little actual science and a great deal of handwaving with some pretty strong incentives to prevent any outside scrutiny, record keeping, auditability, replication or any of those other things that humanity has invented over millenia in an attempt to keep us honest or at least make it easier to identify where we haven’t been.

        And I conclude that the proposition you are selling is also likely a crock of ordure.

        No FUD here, mon brave, just observation of a bunch of snake-oil ‘salesmen’ who have no selling skills.

      • And when I don’t get straight answers, but evasion, snark, adhom attacks and all the techniques that you and your cabal are so practiced (if not skilled) in, I make the judgement that you have very little actual science and a great deal of handwaving …

        Nice try, and you haven’t even looked at anything I have done because you lack any kind of intellectual curiosity, notwithstanding that your aim is to “just ask some pretty simple questions asking the ‘scientists’ to justify their work”. Well I took a crack at justifying some ideas with state-of-the-art stochastic modeling and all you can do is whine about it.

      • @webhubtelescope

        You are right. I didn’t spend too much time on your ‘state-of-the-art stochastic modeling’ because you have still failed to come up with any reason at all why it is of relevance.

        It may be the case that you believe you have a better way of reporting oil reserves than Joe Soap down the road. Good for you. Clever boy – have a pat on the head. Look at how bright webbie is children – and all the complicated mathematics he has done!

        But apart from showing how clever he is, is there an explanation of its purpose? Its relevance to the climate debate? Just a couple of paragraphs about why we should care?


        So sadly, despite your pleadings I am not going to read it unless you can give some better reason than you have so far advanced.

      • WHT

        In case you missed it, JCR asked:

        Do you know how global the MWP was? If so, show me.

        So I did.

        The reports I cited confirm:

        – that the MWP was global

        – that it was slightly warmer than today

        Too bad IPCC failed to get the word.

        Are you a denier, too?

        Get over it, WHT. It’s not the end of the world.


    • No, Fred, I don’t throw stones and I don’t live in a glass house. I don’t compromise my honesty and integrity in climate debate or elsewhere. If I criticize someone who’s not ethical, there’s no hypocrisy involved. You are in effect making a pretty broad charge that many who criticize Mann, Jones et al are hypocritical, I don’t think that that charge sticks. A withdrawal of any such implication would be courteous.

      • Fred is self-projecting. The fact that he’s defending Mann, Jones shows who’s hypocritic.

      • Faustino – I haven’t followed your comments carefully enough to know whether you are an inveterate cherry-picker, but many who comment here are when it comes to citing climate data to make a point. A major criticism of IPCC and Michael Mann’s handling of the hockey stick data was that it involved cherry-picking – proxy evidence supporting a conclusion was presented and evidence throwing some doubt on it was omitted. For the inveterate cherry-pickers to condemn this does strike me as somewhat hypocritical. It doesn’t mean that the criticism was wrong, but it implies a double standard that weakens the credibility of those who do the condemning.

        Since we’re all guilty at one time or another, I don’t think the answer is to avoid criticizing lapses by others, but simply to engage in enough self-monitoring to avoid cherry picking when we’re trying to reach accurate conclusions from climate data.

        Cherry picking is most frequent when strong opinions are involved, which is why Climategate as a case study for a research ethics course is likely to be the “minefield” I referred to unless the students come prepared with a sophisticated background in the subject matter. Otherwise, the temptation on the part of many will be to try to score points rather than evaluate the findings objectively. I think the comments in this thread tend to illustrate the “point scoring” nature of arguments on this subject. With enough cautions, Climategate might be something that can be handled well, but I agree with Jonathan Gilligan’s earlier comments that historical examples that have given us ample time for perspective should perhaps be a mainstay of a case study approach to research ethics.

      • Your ethical pronouncements, Fred, have the odor of hypocrisy until you can address the catastrophic ethical lapses of the writers of the emails.

      • Fred, do you think the writers of the emails were acting ethically? This is a simple direct question and I ask nothing more than a simple yes or a simple no.

      • Fred thinks we all are sinners. We all make mistakes.

      • Fred

        Your comments on “cherry picking” are interesting, provided they are not interpreted in a “one-sided” fashion (i.e. by “cherry picking” the examples of “cherry picking”).

        But who can resist “cherry picking” the examples of “cherry picking” to suit his/her own needs?

        Let me suggest a “cherry picked” example as a classical case study in “cherry picking”: the IPCC AR4 WG1 report, particularly its SPM report.


    • @fred

      Please try writing

      ‘The cat sat on the mat’ – if that is what you mean.

      Rather than

      ‘It is beyond peradventure that after my extensive personal survey of the situation – with many observations separated by differing periods of the ‘time’ variable – and taken together with my detailed personal knowledge of the spatial context that there exists (if anything can indeed be said to exist – please see my comprehensive recommended reading list on the philosophy of this point) a tailed feline quadruped mammal within the relevant coordinates and that such an animal may be described by some of the many authorities I have personally consulted as a cat and that the domestic pet in question is recumbent upon a floor covering of a woven or braided nature designed to warm the feet of any passing human or animal occupier of the premises and/or to protect the substructure (or substructures in case of what the my detailed architectural experience describes as a slatted floor) from damage or dirt.’

      Because otherwise people might think that you write long and rambling sentences because you cannot distil your thoughts into their essentials.Or that you are being paid by the word And so just ignore you

      Heed the warning from Churchill.

      ‘Dear Sir

      I am sorry to write such a long letter. I did not have time to compose a short one’


    • Fred,
      What is illuminating is that you are a hypocrite.

    • I’m a professional engineer. There are serious consequences to society with any of our ethical lapses, so one of the best ways that we teach ethics is:
      a) Example of wrongdoing in your profession.
      b) Real life example of the worst thing possible happening.
      c) Blowout and consequences.

      Repeat a to c until the new engineer CLEARLY understands that they shouldn’t do unethical activity a)

      Climate science is no different, other than the fact that we would like the profession to achieve the same high ethical standards truth applied to engineering, but without the same constraints on doing the ‘safe’ thing since a wrong result can often be illuminating, but the wrong solution to a bridge design can kill a lot of people and cost the public a lot of money.

      But wait. In this case, the wrong solution either direction can either change or maintain global energy policy based upon this information which in turn will either increase or reduce the standard of living of a lot of (poorer) people (some additional people will die with the wrong public policy choice), and an inapppropriate choice will cost the public a lot of money.

      At the very least, the public trust DESERVES ethical behavior from the scientists it employs and provides a comfortable standard of living.

      So I propose that you teach your climate science students exactly the same way we teach young engineers ethics.

      a) Example of wrongdoing in your profession. (hide the decline)
      b) Real life example of the worst thing possible happening. (whistleblower sends out CRU emails)
      c) Blowout and consequences. (Phil Jones made several statements about how personally painful it was for him and that he contemplated suicide. This coupled with possibly more expensive to the profession and to the truth – the loss of public trust which you can see in polling.)

      All fine examples on why you should behave ethically.

    • Fred Moolton: I would call it “ethics as ammunition”. By this, I mean the selective invocation of ethical concepts to punish one’s enemies or support one’s friends – to condemn or condone as it suits an agenda.

      In the interest of fairness, you seem to have dedicated yourself to not criticizing any misbehavior.

  59. Dr. Curry, there are training courses available the deal with ethical and properly conducted research. See, for example, Check some of the links at the top.

  60. Dr. Curry,

    A core ethics issue is whether a person has an obligation only to tell the truth, or to also tell the whole truth (i.e., to not omit to state information, the omission of which is material in the circumstances). In academic circles, it appears to me that this may still be an open issue.

    As I have posted previously, the Federal Policy on Research Misconduct defines “falsification” to include “manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.”

    “A finding of research misconduct requires that: … The misconduct be committed intentionally, or knowingly, or recklessly; ….”

    Thus, an omission which was intentional, knowing or reckless is research misconduct under Federal policy. See, e.g.,

    Federal policy only covers Federally-funded research. Other research is generally subject to University research misconduct polices. A number of universities follow the Federal policy, but a number do not define the concept of “falsification” at all, leaving the question of the scope of that concept instead to Committees investigating particular allegations. Compare, for example, Northwestern (which expressly includes omissions in its definition of “falsification” copied from the Federal policy – with Georgia Tech ( and University of Colorado (, neither of which defines “falsification.”

    I encourage you to raise and discuss this issue with your students.

    Mark Kantor

    • This is interesting. It looks like to me like the Hockey stick must have resulted from misconduct by this definition because the post 1960 data was omitted and a totally different type of data was substituted. But as Muller points out, the temperature data was also smoothed so it isn’t obvious that the data came from a different source. And the SAME temperature data was added to 3 different recdonstruction curves, giving the illusion that all 3 agreed remarkably well for the last 50 years. Misconduct? In my book, yes. Forgivable? Yes subject to an admission of error.

  61. Yeah

    I’m doing my best, keeping in mind that students may read this, to be thoughtful and constructive.

    In my very much longer than usual experience listening to the views of people discussing ethics in academia, I’ve obtained no real great insight that deserves greater weight than what anyone coming fresh to the topic might have.

    Everything an ordinary child learns by age seven, of ethics, can be extended to completely encompass even the thorniest ethical difficulty of academia.

    Not all of Epicurus or Cicero, bible study or Koran or Talmud, Hammurabi or Lao Tzu or Confuscius adds so much as a jot to that understanding.

    I generally end up asking of ethicists what are their scientific qualifications? Too many times I’ve heard ethicists make high flown (or low) moral arguments in which they misidentify key elements of the scientific topic at hand.

    Clearly, we can all agree any ethicist making such an error of science — and we can all think of such errors and straw men, from people who laugh about Darwin’s chimpanzee ancestors (and sincerely mean it) to those who claim AIDS can be cured by sleeping with virgins — transgresses hypocrisy and embarrasses their cause, as well as perpetrates real harms.

    Thus, in many cases, the least ethical person in any discussion of science will be the ethicist, but most especially the ethicist untrained in science and untested by practical application of science.

    To go further, even scientifically cautious ethicists who make few errors of science (as being human, we all may make errors of science), and who assiduously take steps to fully educate themselves on the science before making ethical assertions, often cannot demonstrate their ethical authority.

    A philosopher of decades of study of the history of ethics and of sceince, a sociologist or anthropologist, theologist or expert in law or morality quite often has no argument to found their ethical opinion on.

    Many ethical views are deeply controversial when examined even a little closely. Some ethical systems are but thinly disguised agendas of overt political or even simple criminal power.

    While scientific skepticism that examines evidence and experimental method and logic and reasoning is appropriate to evaluating hypotheses of physical fact, it’s my experience that far greater degree of skepticism is needed about every ethical opinion expressed — most especially one’s own — and is far more difficult to validate and verify.

    Or, people can sit down with the morality they learned by the age of seven, and examine situations face to face as humans, guided by those core principles.

    Which, I’m fairly certain, we’ll see very, very little of in this thread.