Reply from Cicerone of NAS

On Aug 12, I wrote to Ralph Cicerone, President of NAS, asking him to request unarchived data from various authors relied upon by the NAS Panel as follows:

I enjoyed the opportunity to chat with you during the most recent hearings of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. As I have previously written to you, I view the contributions of the National Academy of Sciences panel to paleoclimate debate as being very helpful, although I obviously do not agree with all aspect of the report.

One of the ongoing problems in paleoclimate is the failure of authors to properly archive data and methods. While Mann has deservedly attracted much publicity in this respect, the problem is much more pervasive, as recognized by the NAS Panel on Surface Temperature Reconstructions and by the Wegman report. The NAS panel once again stated the necessity for a clear and public description and archiving of data and methods, but inconsistently cited and relied on many studies, which have either not archived data and methods or done so in such an inadequate way that replication is impossible.

In many cases, I have corresponded both with the authors and the journals in an effort to obtain such data without success. In some cases, the correspondence has gone on for nearly three years without resolution. In several cases, the NAS Panel relied on such studies, even hearing personal presentations, but did not take the opportunity to request the authors to archive their data.
However, now that the NAS has relied on these studies, it is of paramount importance that these studies are closely examined to determine if their conclusions are robust, or have limitations such as the NAS panel described for Mann’s work.

I believe that a letter to authors who have refused to archive data and methods in a complete manner, coming from you in your capacity as President of the National Academies, which has just published a study relying on their reports, might be effective in achieving the mutually desired goal of inspiring the authors to archive their data and methods. In Lonnie Thompson’s case, since some of the results have recently been published in the Proceedings of the NAS, the request could also be made via the journal.

In an Appendix to this letter, I have set out missing and pertinent data for six authors. Considering all of the above, I request that you promptly write to each of the authors asking that they promptly archive the data at the World Data Center for Paleoclimatology or other archive acceptable to the NAS. Thank you for your consideration.

Cicerone has just replied, declining to take any action on the grounds that he could not “command” the authors to do so, which I already had expressly acknowledged – I merely asked him to request that they do so,

I then wrote to Gerry North who, to his credit, agreed to write to the various authors. Update: No further response from North or any of the authors.


  1. fFreddy
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 8:46 AM | Permalink

    Steve, the link to his reply is not working.

  2. Judith Curry
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 9:26 AM | Permalink

    Steve, the funding agency that funded the work (presumably it was NSF earth history program?) is the appropriate group to contact regarding any issues you have with accessibility to the data that can’t be resolved by interactions with the scientists.

  3. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 9:38 AM | Permalink

    #2. I’ve done the obvious things first and I’ve already been blown off by NSF. I’ve written them a couple of times at various levels. However, maybe I’ve got an updated listing on hand; maybe I’ll send it to them again. The House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to them last summer but nothing seems to have come of it.

  4. Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 10:21 AM | Permalink

    I’ve edited the post for bad speling.

  5. fFreddy
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 10:50 AM | Permalink

    Methinks Steve is still getting used to a laptop keyboard …

  6. Pat Frank
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

    An unspoken conspiracy of obdurance? After all, you’re but an “amateur,” Steve.

    I’ve been hanging around here for awhile, watching the struggle. Let’s see if I can list the elements of the saga.

    1. Scientists fail to archive critical data and methods.
    2. Government funding agencies refuse to enforce their own regulations for archiving and transparency.
    3. Editors refuse to enforce the regulations of their journals governing archiving and transparency.
    4. National academies refuse to ask members and scientists to archive critical data.
    5. An International Panel promotes results from studies that cannot be replicated.
    6. Governments tout expensive policies based upon IP recommendations.
    7. Requests for data by outsiders are stonewalled by scientists, resented by journal editors, shrugged off by heads of granting agencies, ethically lapsed by the National Academy, dismissed with bland assurances by International Panel bure-autocrats, and ignored by policy-responsible government officials.
    8. Meanwhile, a rogues gallery in green aggressively tars the requestors as baby-killers.
    9. All of the above persons, or their agents, physically meet every four years to write a Summary for Policy-Makers that tendentiously and promotionally misrepresents the body of the International Panel report.

    Is that list approximately accurate?

    Isn’t it a societal peculiarity that so much coherence in action and effect can arise from the spontaneous decisions of so many freely-acting individuals? Perhaps ideology as an internalized governing dogma is not so far-fetched after all. Even among scientists. And, given the quadrennial meetings, perhaps the “unspoken” should be removed from “conspiracy of obdurance.”

  7. Pat Frank
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 10:53 AM | Permalink

    #4 “aspect” in line 4 of the letter should be plural. Or else “all” should be ‘every.’ :-)

  8. Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink

    re #7 …but not bad grammar. No wonder Steve keeps getting ignored.

  9. Steve Bloom
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 11:56 AM | Permalink

    Any further focus on the paleoclimate controversy, such as it is, is doing a big favor to the fossil fuel industry and associated denialists. Why should Cicerone want to help them out?

  10. Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 12:05 PM | Permalink


    No, colders need to hurry. Warmers will soon inject sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere to stop the warming. Or maybe not focusing will do a big favor to the nuclear industry.

  11. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 12:10 PM | Permalink

    I just sent the following letter to Gerry North:

    Dr Gerald North,
    National Research Council Panel on Surface Temperature Reconstructions
    Dear Dr North,

    As you know, I requested Dr Cicerone, in his capacity as President of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), to request unarchived data and methods relied upon by the recent National Research Council (NRC) panel on Surface Temperature Reconstructions. Dr Cicerone has declined to do so, stating that the NRC lacked authority to “command” the recalcitrant authors to do so. In my original letter, I expressed my understanding of this and simply requested that he request the authors to do so, fully understanding that he could apply no sanctions in the even that the authors refused a reasonable request from the NAS President.

    Since Dr Cicerone has declined to act, I am writing to request that you do so in your capacity as Chairman of the NRC Panel. Obviously it would have been more appropriate had the matter been raised when Drs Mann, Hegerl and D’Arrigo appeared before the panel.

    However, since this was not done at the time, I request that you do so now. In an Appendix to this letter, I have set out missing and pertinent data for six authors. As I had said in my previous letter to Dr Cicerone, I understand that you do not have the authority to require compliance. However, I believe that a request coming from you would have considerable weight and, hopefully the authors in question will cooperate voluntarily with such a request from you without further ado. If they don’t, then nothing is lost by your making the request.

    Yours truly,
    Stephen McIntyre

  12. Jonathan Schafer
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 12:14 PM | Permalink

    #9 Well, one would think that it is befitting of scientists to disclose all data and results, regardless of who benefits. After all, science is the pursuit of knowledge and understanding, not ideologically driven dogma. If the fossil fuel industry benefits by exposing the web of lies weaved by the HS team, so be it. That you would advocate withholding potentially incriminating data/results because of your ideology tells us all we need to know about you. If it wasn’t already (and I’m pretty sure it was), every statement you make will have to be viewed in light of your favoring obsfucation of the truth. Doesn’t really leave you in a position to contribute toward any real understanding of the issues.

  13. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 12:15 PM | Permalink

    #9. Any responsible person concerned about AGW should take issues such as unarchived data off the table. You don’t fight about issues that you’re going to lose. They are never going to succeed on withholding data and it just makes them look bad. I don’t understand this at all. In his shoes, I’d write Mann, Briffa, Hegerl and the others in a heartbeat.

  14. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 12:45 PM | Permalink

    #2. I sent off another letter to Arden Bement, Director of the NSF.

  15. bruce
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 12:56 PM | Permalink

    Re #9: Mr Bloom. Would you care to comment on whether you agree or disagree with the points made by Pat Frank in #6 above.

  16. Marlowe Johnson
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 12:57 PM | Permalink


    As frequent lurker on this site I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the manner in which Dr. Curry has managed to keep the discussion civil and on topic.

    By comparison, your recent comments are laced with petulant, mean-spirited language “like a good bureaucrat”. While I support your general aim to improve data transparency and access, I can’t help but wonder if your difficulties, aren’t at least in part because you behave like such a d**k at times on your blog. Now I realize that this is your blog and so you have every right to write whatever you want. Having said that, consider this a gentle suggestion that this kind of behaviour (while understandable given your frustrations) is very likely counterproductive and only serves to alienate you from the broader research community.


  17. ET SidViscous
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 1:06 PM | Permalink

    And their same attitude before he started the blog, and the insults to him before he started the blog.

    That would be explained how?

    Remember that Steve started this blog at least partially to defend himself.

    Possibly their actions are counterproductive to placating Steve and making such an issue of this.

  18. Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 1:07 PM | Permalink

    What I’d like to know is when will Steve actually make an FOIA request for all of this data and break this particular logjam?

  19. ET SidViscous
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 1:09 PM | Permalink

    I don’t believe Steve can.

    But anyone of us here in the US certainly can.

    Though I don’t think that will help unless someone wants to make an issue of it and take it to court. For a govenment agency that has the data, no problem. For an individual who recieved gevenment grants I believe that is a bit of a gray area.

  20. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 1:19 PM | Permalink

    Gerry North has responded promptly to my letter to him and said that he will write to the various authors tomorrow. He also added the following:

    PS: In my recent lecture my reference to “Enter the Amateurs” was not
    meant to be a derogatory remark. In fact, it was meant to be praise,
    since I believe the history of science reveals many cases where
    amateurs have stepped in and made important contributions. I respect
    your entry.

  21. Marlowe Johnson
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 1:22 PM | Permalink


    You’ll note that I mentioned “understandable frustrations”. My point is that it is always better to be polite everything else being equal…

  22. ET SidViscous
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 1:22 PM | Permalink

    Well that was nice of him.

  23. ET SidViscous
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 1:23 PM | Permalink

    And I understand that, and I think the majority of the time he is, and he was for a long time, as the record shows.

    Bad Boy of Climate research or not, he’s still a humn being (Albeit with super mathematical powers) and is prone to frustration just as the rest of us are.

  24. Steve Bloom
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 1:24 PM | Permalink

    Re #13: In all seriousness, don’t forget that Cicerone has a much larger data issue to worry about. From his POV it makes all the sense in the world to think in terms of a comprehensive reform. Even if were just a matter of the paleoclimate issue, what point would there be in focusing on that in the aftermath of Barton/NAS/Wegman and when the AR4 release is so close?

    Re #15: AFAICT Steve M. is definitely not a baby killer.

    Re #16: Judy’s persistence is admirable.

    Re #18: I don’t think Steve M. can make a FOIA request.

  25. ET SidViscous
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 1:27 PM | Permalink

    Woops looks like Steve B and I are both wrong.

    Who may file a FOIA request?

    Anyone can submit a FOIA request, including U.S. citizens, partnerships, corporations, associations, state governments, and foreign nationals or governments. The statute excludes federal agencies from the definition of a person who can request records under the act. Requests for records from fugitives from justice, or from an agency acting on behalf of a fugitive, also are not covered by the act.

  26. Jeff Norman
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 1:42 PM | Permalink

    Re #20


    The proof will be in the pudding I expect. Do you suppose he will he copy you on the letters? I don’t.

  27. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 2:02 PM | Permalink

    #16. The idea that Cicerone was unresponsive because of snippy ocmments on my blog is ludicrous.

    After the NAS panel reported, I wrote to him thanking him for his efforts. I’ve had several very cordial conversations with Cicerone in Washington. He expressly noted his appreciation for the thank-you letter, which was highly unusual in his experience. He didn’t receive any others in this instance.

    I pointed out here that I would later be criticizing the panel and I wanted first to table my appreciation for the many positive things that they did.

    My original letter to Cicerone was very straightforward letter to Cicerone and gave no reason for him to get his back up. So there was no prior reason for him to be uncooperative. In my opinion, the comparison with bureaucrat was appropriate. I’ve had lots of correspondence with bureaucrats in my life – I dare say, more than most readers of this blog. I made the comparison advisedly and it’s fair enough under the circumstances. I don’t expect that Cicerone’s nose will be out of joint. He knows what he’s doing and he knows what I’m doing.

  28. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 2:06 PM | Permalink

    On FOI, it’s my understanding that it only covers data that federal institutions possess. So as long as NSF doesn’t itself possess the data, a FOI request to them would be pointless. That’s why you have to ask them to do something and publicize non-responsiveness. They don’t like it, but too bad.

  29. TCO
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 2:11 PM | Permalink

    Just keep pushing the peanut, Steve. Baby steps…

  30. Armand MacMurray
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 2:19 PM | Permalink

    Re:#24 1st para.
    Steve B., as an activist, you may wish to consider that your continued support for disregarding basic tenets of scientific research also reflects poorly on those organizations with which you are affiliated.

  31. Marlowe Johnson
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 2:20 PM | Permalink


    My point wasn’t that Ciccerone has been or will be unresponsive in the future because of how he views your post (if he ever reads it). It was meant to be a more general comment that snarky comments, while entertaining, don’t win you many friends and that you’re better served by keeping things civil.

    The main reason that I’m pointing it out now is that the tone of your comment — typical bureaucrat — stands in stark contrast to the tone of the dialogue that has been going on in the threads that Judy Curry has been active in — and judging by other’s comments this seems to be a welcome change in atmosphere.

    Also, you come across as a little bit two-faced as it were by saying how polite you were in your face to face meetings with someone and then disparaging them publicly on your blog later when they haven’t behaved the way you wanted.

  32. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 2:31 PM | Permalink

    My dear Mr. Johnson,

    It’s with a heavy heart that I ….

    Oh never mind. Just exactly who was being two faced, Steve or Dr. Ciccerone and how do you decide? If Steve had said something to Dr. C there that he didn’t believe that’d be one thing, but is that the case? I don’t think so. It’s just as likely or more so that Dr. Ciccerone was nice but didn’t really want to help Steve in his quest for the Holy Proxy Data.

  33. Marlowe Johnson
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 2:48 PM | Permalink


    I probably shouldn’t have included the ‘two-faced’ comment, but the point still stands. To you Ciccerone is two-faced, to me it doesn’t look that way. Lets agree to disagree. Again, it’s steve’s site and his perogative to write whatever he wants. I completely understand and agree that he’s justified in feeling frustrated, pissed off, whatever.

    What I don’t get is how anyone thinks that putting up these kinds of posts accomplishes anything other than generating bad will towards Steve (I understand that some people will argue that shaming the recalcitrants will induce change, but I don’t buy it).

    My point is that you can scream that you’re right (public access to data) till you’re blue in the face, but if you’re being a prick about it, then don’t be surprised if people don’t listen.

    Bottom line is that I’d like to see these kinds of posts dwindle and more focus on the actual science. The soap opera stuff just isn’t that appealing.

  34. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

    Marlowe, Look, I’d like to see these sorts of posts dwindle as well. IT’s a total waste of time being in quasi-litigation about data, but do you have any other bright ideas on how to get all the relevant data archived. Why don’t you write to these guys and suggest that they archive their data? I get more than a little tired of people standing around and then tsk-tsk’ing. The problem is the people not archiving the data – not me asking for it. BTW I was quite frank and critical in my discussions with Cicerone; however I also made it clear that there were points that I appreciated and made sure that I did so first so that these would be on record when I later criticized things. Cicerone knew exactly where I stood – don’t worry about that. However, after thinking about it, I don’t need to make the comment about "bureaucrat"; the point remains nicely without using the simile and I have accordingly deleted these words from the post. Marlowe, do you think that they’ll supply the data now?   

  35. Gary
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 3:01 PM | Permalink

    Oh, just get Rep. Barton to subpoena the information and have done with it.

  36. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 3:06 PM | Permalink

    #26. They’ve lost interest in it. They found out what was relevant to them – there was something wrong with the Mann reconstruction but global warming was still an issue. I don’t think that they have any interest in spending more time on it.

  37. Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 3:08 PM | Permalink

    Re #20

    Why do I not believe Gerry North? Was the tone he conveyed when he presented using those slides one of respect for your contributions or was it sarcastic? Do you think the people in the room got the impression that you were being praised or ridiculed with faint praise?

    Want to make a $10 bet that none of the authors bothers to respond to North’s “intervention”, still less archive any data?

  38. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 3:15 PM | Permalink

    #37. I suspect that North won’t get much response but he’s doing the correct thing. If the autghors don’t respond to him, then that will reflect even more badly on them and will be information that can be conveyed to the National Science Foundation. One step at a time.

  39. Ken Fritsch
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 3:18 PM | Permalink

    That’s why you have to ask them to do something and publicize non-responsiveness. They don’t like it, but too bad.

    And re: # where Marlowe J comments:

    Bottom line is that I’d like to see these kinds of posts dwindle and more focus on the actual science. The soap opera stuff just isn’t that appealing.

    In my view Steve M is making requests that I feel he knows and most of us here know were not sent in anticipation of getting a real or proper answer, but more to put the request recipient on record and publicly reveal their attitude and approach to these issues. The language in the request is, I think we can all agree, sufficiently civil to provoke a positive response if one was forthcoming. One could avoid all confrontation in life and perhaps even make one’s life simpler by avoiding such issues altogether or sugar coating it sufficiently to make the point unrecognizable.

    Steve M’s request for archiving of data is a major focus on the actual science and a necessity if that science is to proceed efficiently.

    If you have not been through the obviously frustrating processes that Steve M has in this matter, I would not be so quick to criticize his tone. Even the exemplified Judith Curry showed some emotion in posting about the trials and tribulations of obtaining correct data from government agencies as I recall. Even the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do TCO can get his feathers up when properly provoked.

  40. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 3:23 PM | Permalink

    Let’s be blunt, Marlowe. It’s your sort of post which gets people here fired up and tending to “be pricks.” When the number of trolls around are low what you tend to see are lots of high-science-content posts. There are several going on right now, you might observe. And, lest you complain I’m calling you a troll, that’s not the case. I just observe that even the most anti-Steve M person who comes around, if he or she argues on the data rather than the person, has no problem being picked on.

    So let’s go away from what you feel is a “personal” attack by Steve and look at the facts. Steve pointed out that the panel didn’t “request the authors to archive their data” and said a personal request from Ralph might help “in achieving the mutually desired goal of inspiring the authors to archive their data and methods.” that he meant a “request” rather than a command for that is indicated by the next sentence where he says with regards Lonny Thompson that “the request” could also be sent to PNAS.

    This is all pretty clear as to what Steve was himself requesting. So when Dr. Ciccerone replies “so I cannot command compliance” The only conclusion which can be reasonably reached is that he purposely misunderstood what Steve asked. While I suppose it’s possible that he misconstrued “request” as a euphemism for “demand” or “command,” I’d think if that were the case he’d should have returned an e-mail asking clarification, or better, added to his decline to issue a ukase that he would be happy to pass on his recommendation that these people do so.

    Given all this, it seems clear that Steve is correct that what he received was a bureaucratic brush-off.

  41. Pat Frank
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 6:48 PM | Permalink

    #33 — Putting up posts like this thread publicizes the lack of cooperation by the head of the National Academy of Science regarding a completely reasonable request regarding a very critical issue in current science and technical/economic policy. I think it’s a completely justifiable tactic, considering the resources Steve M. has, considering the lack of cooperation by the press in publicizing the apparent dishonesty of the climate establishment, and considering the beneficial effect like publicity has had on similar cases in the past.

    Mr. Cicerone should have to answer for his lack of willing cooperation. Off-hand, as head of the NAS, I’d think it’s Mr. Cicerone’s duty to see to it that the standards of trust and transparency of science be upheld.

    Being charming in person while conceiving non-cooperation in fact is entirely a bureaucratic mode of operation. Steve M.’s description was completely apt, and not at all snarky. If Mr. Cicerone resents being catagorized as a typical bureaucrat, he should refrain from acting like one. Likewise, your objection would carry more weight if Mr. Cicerone honored his duty to science.

  42. Pat Frank
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 6:53 PM | Permalink

    #20 — I listened to Dr. North’s lecture, and don’t recall conveyance of any attitude of respect for certain amateurs, either by direct mention or by implication. My memory might be failing me, of course.

  43. Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 6:58 PM | Permalink

    Let’s be clear. They are not going to release the data and post it for public access. To do so would be a career ending act. If they keep the bureaucrats in the dark and in doubt they have a chance of for survival. Releasing the data so open minded scientist, amateur or not, can do a reconstruction would be a career ending act. It will not happen, with out career ending consequences. I just do not see any of these circumstances the horizon that would force the data release. I could be wrong, but have serious doubts.

  44. TCO
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 7:42 PM | Permalink

    33. Right on. And how about some publications? And how about the quantitative measurement of extent of effect of errors? Steve “still owes me” that! Reading the roundie roundie on this sort of stuff is a downer, if Steve is unwilling to clarify points that will diminish his “story” once the facts are more fully known.

  45. Pat Frank
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 8:37 PM | Permalink

    #44 — “the quantitative measurement of extent of effect of errors?

    I’d like to see that calculated from parameter uncertainties, with respect to 100-year GCM projections. Maybe Dr. North will provide that for us, in W/m^2.

  46. TCO
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 9:07 PM | Permalink

    Steve can control what he does and instead of doing simple Burger and Cubasch type issue-analysis and quantititative studies, persists in “it flips series” brew-crew remarks.

  47. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 9:32 PM | Permalink

    re: #40 Arguing against myself since nobody else has yet.

    I’m wondering if the real problem for Dr. Ciccerone was the phrase:

    coming from you in your capacity as President of the National Academies

    The trouble is that in his capacity as President of the National Academies he’d be speaking FOR the National Academies and since as he claims,

    The NRC does not have authority over all of these entities

    he can’t do what you proposed. However if you said something like,

    “I know that as the President of the National Academies, you can’t make a request, which might anyway be seen as more than a request, but as a well known and respected senior scientist, if you’d request in your private capacity that might prove efficacious.”

    that might prove efficacious.

  48. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 9:38 PM | Permalink

    Dave D, if Cicerone wanted to write to the authors, then I’m sure that he could have. He wrote to the Barton Committee in his capacity as President of NAS. I doubt that his mandate precluded him from writing to Mann etc if he wanted to.

  49. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 10:03 PM | Permalink

    I don’t know, Steve, isn’t that just what Dr. Hanson was complaining about; that he’s requried to clear something with the administration because of his official position? NAS isn’t a fiefdom that Dr. Cicerone can play with as he wishes. However much freedom of speech he may have as a private individual, he has to reflect the position of those he’s been hired by / elected by. You may be right that he could have worked around any roadblocks he may have had, but he may have some plausible deniability. Anyway we’ll see how the North thingee works out.

  50. Armand MacMurray
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 10:59 PM | Permalink

    Dave, the NAS IS an independent institution. Dr. Cicerone certainly doesn’t have to reflect the positions of various government bodies that may hire the NAS to do a study, and I would think that those who elected him, the Academy members, would support access to research data.

  51. Mark H.
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 11:19 PM | Permalink

    R38 Steve, exactly what is “one step at a time”? What is beyond another complaint/request to the NSF? And if/when that is unsuccessful, what does one do – send a letter to Barton?

    It seems to me that it will take another peer reviewed article from you, then a reply from them that you don’t have all the data, and then a material complaint to their publisher to force the issue. Unless they get publically emabarrased, I see the data quest to be approaching a dead end.

    Moreover, does the rumored change in the Bush administrations stance on Global Warming suggest that Washington will no longer be interested in supporting contrarians?

  52. BradH
    Posted Sep 18, 2006 at 11:37 PM | Permalink

    [Ring, Ring]
    North: Hello?
    Mann: Hello, Gerry? It’s Mike Mann here.
    North: Oh, hi Mike, how are you?
    Mann: I’m good. Listen, Gerry, I just got your letter about archiving of data from that ancient study I did back in ’98.
    North: Oh, yeah, well Steve McIntyre wanted me to ask you for it.
    Mann: Gerry, I don’t know how many times I’ve been over this..
    North: I know, I know, Mike…
    Mann: I refuse to be intimidated, Gerry…
    North: Yes, Mike, I know…
    Mann: It’s just outrageous, Gerry. This guy won’t leave me alone…
    North: I know, Mike…
    Mann: I’m not going to give it to him, you know that, don’t you, Gerry?
    North: Yes, I know Mike. But, I told Steve that I’d ask you, so now I’ve asked you.
    Mann: Right, just so long as we’ve got it clear that I’m not going to give in to him, OK?
    North: Yes, Mike. I’ll write back to Steve and tell him that I asked you and that you’re not going to give it to him.
    Mann: “Give in to him”, Gerry, “Give in to him”.
    North: Yes, but you’re not going to give it to him either, are you?
    Mann: No, of course not!
    North: OK, nice to talk to you, Mike. See you soon.
    Mann: You too. Bye, Gerry.

    [All aspects of this exchange (including the exchange itself) are purely fictitious. Any resemblance to any conversation which may or may not occur is purely coincidental.]

  53. Roger Bell
    Posted Sep 19, 2006 at 6:08 AM | Permalink

    While it was worth your while writing to Cicerone, since you had met him, I think that it would have been better to approach people at NSF. After all, they are the people who are funding the science
    NSF has a supervisory board, the National Science Board, which acts like the Board of Directors of a company. Some of the members are first class scientists, others hold important positions in industry. Erich Bloch, when he was in charge of IBM, was on the Board. An informal approach to scientists on the Board might work.
    There is a Surface Earth Processes section at NSF that deals in part with the interaction of the surface of the earth with the atmosphere – they could be approached, as could the Director of NSF.
    Judith Curry might know the appropriate names to call or send letters to.
    Roger Bell
    PS Message #9 is absolutely appalling!

  54. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 19, 2006 at 6:14 AM | Permalink

    #51,52. That’s probably what will happen, but refusing a direct request from Gerry North is very hard to justify to any third party. MAybe I’d go back to the journals and ask them to intervene with this additional evidence. I suspect that a little information will materialize. For example, I wouldn’t be surprised if Hegerl supplies information on her study – the data looks like it’s 95% Osborn and Briffa data.

  55. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Sep 19, 2006 at 9:48 AM | Permalink

    RE: #6 – A perfect characterization of one of the dark corners of a world so ably forecasted by Burnham, among others.

  56. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Sep 19, 2006 at 9:51 AM | Permalink

    RE: #10 – Imagine some paleo dude, a millions of years from now, trying to figure out what happened in the time we currently live in. I am rightly concerned that indeed, the warmers will inadvertantly cause severe damage to the Earth, far worse than even an all out nuclear war.

  57. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 19, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink

    #53. I had already approached NSF in 2004 without any success whatever. With respect to Mann, they said that “Mann was entitled to his view of climate and I was entitled to mine” and that he was not obligated to disclose anything that was not required by journals. In response to a list of unarchived items, NSF said (incorrectly) that the items were already archived at WDCP – as though I didn’t know my way around WDCP data.

    However I sent another request to the Director of NSF (who I’d contacted in 2004) in addition to the one to North.

  58. Marlowe Johnson
    Posted Sep 19, 2006 at 1:29 PM | Permalink


    thanks for the reply. judging from the reaction of others it appears that i should have followed my own advice and been more careful with my choice of words :). My comments weren’t meant as criticisms, just sugggestions, and i certainly didn’t intend for them to be trollish or judgemental in any way. I do admire the work you do here and certainly wouldn’t claim that I’d behave any diferently in your position. Actually I was only trying to put in my 2 cents to encourage a better tone in the discussions, but judging from the reactions, it looks like i was less than successful. Ah well…


  59. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 19, 2006 at 2:36 PM | Permalink

    #58. Marlowe, your words were fine. I just disagree with the idea that pulling punches here would make a speck of difference to getting data from the TEam.

    HOwever, I do want to stay away from an angry tone; I generally strive for an ironic or sarcastic tone in these sorts of posts – I thought that I’d done so here. I’ve come to the conclusion that the only traction that I have to get data from the Team is to do exactly what I’m doing – put a spotlight on data refusals. If I were handling the Team, I would take this entire issue off tghe table by archiving everything that I could think of. If they want to play this foolish game and look silly, it doesn’t bother me.

    A journalist recently told me that he had learned a lesson by my patience in dealing with the Team. Even if you “know” that they are going to refuse, you still have to request and make them refuse.

  60. bender
    Posted Sep 19, 2006 at 3:51 PM | Permalink

    Public shaming rituals are an effective deterrent against careless science. Anyone got any better ideas – go right ahead. Show me.

  61. TCO
    Posted Sep 19, 2006 at 6:21 PM | Permalink

    Publish papers based on the incomplete documentation (and include as a caveat within the papers, that the source material is incomplete).

  62. TCO
    Posted Sep 19, 2006 at 6:40 PM | Permalink

    Note that 61 was NOT an order to Steve. (So don’t yell at me.) It was a response to bender. I think he had a good point. I just want to say that papers (even on incompleted information) can push the peanut forward. Maybe this is in a sense some part of the subset of public shaming. But I am not advocating that the paper read as a “whine” about lack of data. I’m advocating that Steve show what analysis is possible based on the data that is public (with a very small caveat about the lack of data). This will help in two ways:

    1. The caveat is like a subtle whine.

    2. More importantly, replies from the aggreived Mannites will say that Steve did not have all the source data, but will then give more of an impetus to share it to argue against him.

  63. bender
    Posted Sep 19, 2006 at 7:17 PM | Permalink

    Re # 61
    What part of “show me” do you not understand?

  64. TCO
    Posted Sep 19, 2006 at 7:48 PM | Permalink

    Fair enough.

    See MM03 (EE)

  65. Posted Sep 20, 2006 at 1:10 AM | Permalink

    # 56
    Not sure if I follow.. Anyway, I was referring to ‘A Combined Mitigation/Geoengineering Approach to Climate Stabilization’ T. M. L. Wigley. Don’t have access to Science Express, but the abstact is here .

  66. per
    Posted Sep 20, 2006 at 1:38 AM | Permalink

    i note that the article appears to have been deleted by mistake.

    You might be interested in:
    FASEB JOURNAL 19 (14): 1943-1944 DEC 2005
    Unavailability of online supplementary scientific information from articles published in major journals
    Printed articles increasingly rely on online supplements to store critical scientific information, but such data may eventually become unavailable. We checked the current availability of online supplementary scientific information published in six top-cited scientific journals ( Science, Nature, Cell, New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA). Here we show that in 4.7% and 9.6% of articles with online supplementary material, some of the supplements became unavailable within 2 and 5 years of their publication, respectively.

  67. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 20, 2006 at 4:40 AM | Permalink

    The original online SI to MBH98 is no longer available at Nature although the Corrigendum SI is.

  68. Ken Fritsch
    Posted Sep 20, 2006 at 9:20 AM | Permalink

    Note that 61 was NOT an order to Steve. (So don’t yell at me.) It was a response to bender. I think he had a good point. I just want to say that papers (even on incompleted information) can push the peanut forward. Maybe this is in a sense some part of the subset of public shaming.

    Not yelling, but simply suggesting that your 1000 nits to pick approach, that well could have been adapted from Bush I’s 1000 points of light, is in my view not a very efficient way of making a point. I much prefer Steve M’s integrated approach that gives a better view of the “big picture” and allows the informed readers to judge for themselves some of the details.

    Look at the time you waste here at this blog on numerous occasions attempting to make some minor point of interpretation, and I think sometimes not to further the discussion, but simply to extend an argument.

  69. TCO
    Posted Sep 20, 2006 at 4:14 PM | Permalink

    Ken, I understand your feelings, but I won’t respond to my style within a thread where I’m engaged in the science. Put it in road map if you really care. Here, I want to keep the focus on my basic point which is that published analysis based on imperfect archived material is useful for two reasons:

    1. It allows some insights to be gathered, particularly if the complete data is never released. (Of course, the lack of the complete data, should be frankly listed as a caveat that may affect the critical analysis.)

    2. It highlights (gently) the lack of the complete data to the field and may in the course of thinks help pry it loose.

One Trackback

  1. By Cicerone Then and Now « Climate Audit on Feb 4, 2010 at 5:53 PM

    [...] NAS report of 2006 relied on many studies with unarchived data. I wrote to Cicerone (See CA here) , excerpt as follows: In many cases, I have corresponded both with the authors and the journals in [...]


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