Is Briffa Finally Cornered?

In 2000, Keith Briffa, lead author of the millennial section of AR4, published his own versions of Yamal, Taymir and Tornetrask, all three of which have been staples of all subsequent supposedly “independent” reconstructions. The Briffa version of Yamal has a very pronounced HS and is critical in the modern-medieval differences in several studies. However, the Briffa version for Yamal differs substantially from the version in the publication by the originating authors (Hantemirov, Holocene 2002), but is the one that is used in the multiproxy studies (though it’s hard to tell since Hantemirov is usually cited.) Studies listed in AR4 that use the Briffa versions include not just Briffa 2000, but Mann and Jones 2003, Moberg et al 2005, D’Arrigo et al 2006, Hegerl et al 2007, as well as Osborn and Briffa 2006.

Of the 8 proxies shown in the proxy spaghetti graph (as opposed to the reconstruction spaghetti graph), 3 are from the Briffa 2000 study (called NW Russia, N Russia and N Sweden) but demonstrably the Briffa versions of these sites.

An important characteristic of tree ring chronologies is that they are sensitive to the method used. Chronologies can be quickly and easily calculated from measurement data. Rob Wilson, for example, will nearly always run his own chronologies from measurement data so that he knows for sure how they were done and so that they are done consistently across sites.

Osborn and Briffa 2006 was published in Science, which has a policy requiring the availability of data. It used Briffa’s versions of Yamal, Taymir and Tornetrask. At the time, I requested the measurement data, which had still not been archived 6 years after the original publication of Briffa 2000, despite the availability of excellent international archive facilities at WDCP-A (www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo). Briffa refused. I asked Science to require Briffa to provide the data. After some deliberation, they stated that Osborn and Briffa 2006 had not used the measurement data directly but had only used the chronologies from an earlier study and that I should take up the matter with the author of the earlier study, pointedly not identifying the author, who was, of course, Briffa himself. I wrote Briffa again, this time in his capacity as author of the 2000 article in Quaternary Science Reviews and was blown off. (See here for my last account of efforts to get Briffa data via Science mag.)

So years later, the measurement data for key studies used in both canonical multiproxy studies and illustrated in AR4 Box 6.4 Figure 1 (along, remarkably, with Mann’s PC1), remains unarchived, with Briffa resolutely stonewalling efforts to have him archive the data.

But has Briffa, after all these years, finally made a misstep?

Maybe.

Recently Briffa published Briffa et al 2008 in Phil Trans Roy Soc, a journal with a long history, and with a life outside IPCC. A reader drew my attention to the fact that Phil Trans Roy Soc has a clear and forthright policy. As I reported a little while ago, I
wrote to them observing that Briffa had not observed their requirements on data availability and that their editors and reviewers had failed to require observance of a data archiving policy that would require provision of a url as a condition of publication. My letter was as follows:

Dear Sirs,

Your policy on data availability as stated at: http://publishing.royalsociety.org/index.cfm?page=1684#question10 states:

“As a condition of acceptance authors agree to honour any reasonable request by other researchers for materials, methods, or data necessary to verify the conclusion of the article.

Supplementary data up to 10Mb is placed on the Society’s website free of charge and is publicly accessible. Large datasets must be deposited in a recognised public domain database by the author prior to submission. The accession number should be provided for inclusion in the published article.

Briffa et al failed to comply with your requirement that “large datasets must be deposited in a recognised public domain database by the author prior to submission” and your editorial staff and reviewers failed to ensure that the article included an accession number for such deposit.

In particular, Briffa et al. 2008 discussed the following tree ring measurement data sets which have not been archived at the International Tree Ring Data Bank or other public domain data base (other than a small subset of the Tornetrask data set.) Would you therefore please provide me with either a URL or the complete tree ring measurement data sets in digital form for all data sets discussed in Briffa et al 2008, including Yamal, Tornetrask, Taymyr, Bolshoi Avam and Finnish Lapland, together with digital versions of the individual reconstuctions referred to in Briffa et al 2008, including, without limitation, the reconstructions for each of the above sites and the composite regional reconstructions referred to in the article. This informaiton is necessary to “verify the conclusion of the article”.

Yours truly,

Stephen McIntyre

Last week, I received a cordial replying undertaking to look into the matter and stating:

We take matters like this very seriously and I am sorry that this was not picked up in the publishing process.

Imagine that. A journal that seems to have both a data policy and that takes it seriously. Unlike, say, Science or Nature, which have refused to make similar requirements of IPCC authors. On the face of it, a real science journal. That’s right: Real. Science.

However, Briffa is a wily data stonewalling veteran and may yet outwit the editors of Phil Trans Roy Soc. We shall see.

I suspect that Briffa won’t be able to pull off the same stunt that he pulled at Science, where he was able to use the prior publication of the data elsewhere as a pretext for not archiving the data in accordance with Science’s policies. Look at what Phil Trans Roy Soc says about publishing data in more than one place:

It is important to ensure that research work is only published once. If it is published more than once, the scientific literature can be unjustifiably weighted by the appearance that one study has been replicated. It might also mean that the study is inadvertently entered twice into a meta-analysis, for example, or cause problems in systems which use the number of publications to assess an individual’s or an institute’s research output.

There may be situations (e.g. review articles) where previously published work can be included in summary form, but it must be made clear to the Editor on submission that this is the case.

Imagine if that policy were applied in paleoclimate. How many times have we seen the same proxies re-cycled as a supposedly “independent” result. Look at the above sentence:

If it is published more than once, the scientific literature can be unjustifiably weighted by the appearance that one study has been replicated.

Precisely. If that were applied to the Team, they’d be out of business.


70 Comments

  1. Anthony Watts
    Posted Jul 30, 2008 at 7:03 PM | Permalink

    Good luck and godspeed Steve, let us hope persistence wins the day.

  2. David
    Posted Jul 30, 2008 at 7:06 PM | Permalink

    It seems to me that Science and Nature both would have a reputation to uphold regarding quality standards. I would find a reporter interested in making some noise. It doesn’t have to be about you, your site, or global warming. It has to do with ethics and quality standards. Maybe then they will change their tune…

  3. Not sure
    Posted Jul 30, 2008 at 7:13 PM | Permalink

    So what happens if Briffa continues to refuse? Will the journal withdraw his article somehow?

  4. bender
    Posted Jul 30, 2008 at 7:14 PM | Permalink

    The Royal Society is a classy organization with huge influence. Nature is a business. Prediction: compliance will occur this time.

  5. Gerald Machnee
    Posted Jul 30, 2008 at 7:43 PM | Permalink

    You can bet the Team will not send any more articles there. Cannot risk the steroid test.

  6. Tim Davis
    Posted Jul 30, 2008 at 7:54 PM | Permalink

    The sheer unadulterated paranoid arrogance of these people is unbelievable – keep up the good work Steve.

  7. don
    Posted Jul 30, 2008 at 8:35 PM | Permalink

    I predict when Briffa can’t come up with his data he’ll use a version of the “toddi” defense (the other dude did it), namely, Mr. Dog ate the paper.

  8. Matthew
    Posted Jul 30, 2008 at 8:46 PM | Permalink

    If he cant produce the data then he is clearly not meeting the academic standards of the the journal and should not be published.

    The consistent refusal to produce the data in an field which has such important policy ramifications is negligent and unethical. It also makes the author appear as if he has something to hide. So why not refute the sceptics with cold hard data.

    Steve:
    he has the data.

  9. jae
    Posted Jul 30, 2008 at 9:06 PM | Permalink

    LOL. Cornered, indeed! Even if he doesn’t release his data.

  10. Smokey
    Posted Jul 30, 2008 at 9:27 PM | Permalink

    There is only one reason that Briffa refuses to release his data: the data is at variance with his conclusions.

    Steve: Nope. He’s probably just being possessive.

  11. Jeff Alberts
    Posted Jul 30, 2008 at 9:51 PM | Permalink

    I predict the Chewbacca defense…

  12. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Jul 30, 2008 at 10:10 PM | Permalink

    I predict the Chewbacca defense…

    But who’s the wookie in this case?

  13. BradH
    Posted Jul 30, 2008 at 10:39 PM | Permalink

    Imagine if that policy were applied in paleoclimate. How many times have we seen the same proxies re-cycled as a supposedly “independent” result.

    Perhaps this is paleobiology. A discipline in which cloning is considered a remarkable feat of ingenuity. The offspring of Mann’s PC1 could be called, “Betty”, or something.

  14. MarkR
    Posted Jul 30, 2008 at 11:53 PM | Permalink

    BradH #13 May I suggest Dotty.

  15. jeez
    Posted Jul 31, 2008 at 12:14 AM | Permalink

    There’s an even chance the Royal Society will back down under pressure from Hadley etc. and do nothing.

  16. tty
    Posted Jul 31, 2008 at 12:24 AM | Permalink

    To say that “Philosophical Transactions” is an old journal is rather an understatement isn’t it? It started in 1665 right in the middle of the Little Ice Age and the Maunder Minimum.

  17. KevinUK
    Posted Jul 31, 2008 at 2:45 AM | Permalink

    #15

    I’m not quite as hopeful as others on this thread that our so-called ‘eminent’ Royal Society will back Steve in his request for Briffa’s data as our RS is sadly now infected with a controlling regime who seem content to suppress any alternative (to AGW) explanations as to the likely cause of the (to some, including me, perceived) warming trend we experienced towards the latter part of the 20th century. Since the RS now has an astronomer/cosmologists for its President there may be some hope particularly if he is true to his word and

    “acknowledges that the mysteries we seek to understand may be out of our reach” (see full article here)

    Despite my pessimism though Steve, keep pushing. Thanks to Ross and yourself the HS is now well and truly dead and while I personally have significant doubts as to validity of tree rings as a temperature proxy, obtaining Briffa data and showing that it has been manipulated inorder to ‘get rid of the inconvenient MWP’ will still nonetheless, I’m sure, prove very useful.

    Regards

    KevinUK

  18. PaulM
    Posted Jul 31, 2008 at 3:23 AM | Permalink

    I am afraid I share Kevin’s doubts, and I think Steve’s enthusiasm for the Royal Society may be misplaced, but we shall see.

    If you look at the RS main page you will see a link to ‘Is global warming a swindle’ where they crudely attempt to debunk various skeptical arguments.

    Worse still, the RS recently awarded a prize for ‘Best Science book’ to Mark Lynas’s ‘Six degrees’, a book of hysteria, speculation and scaremongering written by an environmental activist.

    The Royal Society – formerly a highly regarded institution – is now just as bad as Science or Nature.

  19. Kimberley Cornish
    Posted Jul 31, 2008 at 4:30 AM | Permalink

    I predict the Chewbacca defense…

    O.K. I’m game. What’s the Chewbacca defence?

  20. MrPete
    Posted Jul 31, 2008 at 5:30 AM | Permalink

    The blog link above gives us a hat tip link to an amazing article describing a recent change in the Royal Society’s motto. Rather than Nullius in Verba (‘on the word of no one’) apparently the esteemed president, Lord May, now wants us to “respect the facts” even if such “facts” are misquoted worst-case scenarios from a single study.

    Let’s hope the light of day has a good impact on the Royal Society.

  21. Ron
    Posted Jul 31, 2008 at 5:35 AM | Permalink

    The Chewbacca defense:

    If you don’t let him win he tears your arms off….

  22. wkkruse
    Posted Jul 31, 2008 at 5:57 AM | Permalink

    Kimberley, just Google it.

  23. KevinUK
    Posted Jul 31, 2008 at 6:08 AM | Permalink

    #18 PaulM

    Thanks for point that the RS has decided to award their ‘Best Science Book’ prize to a climate alarmist as I had missed that fact.

    For those who think that the UK Royal society is still an organisation that should be relied upon for ballanced scientific debate rather than alarmism I think this speaks volumes. Instead of choicing another book, it chooses instead to give it to this patently clear climate alarmists. Have any doubts that he is a climate alarmist? Then please visit his web site here. Of course as one might expect, don’t expect to see a link to Climate Audit, but of course do expect to see the mandatory link to Real Climate.

    Regards

    KevinUK

  24. Patrick M.
    Posted Jul 31, 2008 at 7:32 AM | Permalink

    Re 21 (MrPete):

    Perhaps Climate Audit is the last bastion of “Nullius in Verba”.

  25. Smokey
    Posted Jul 31, 2008 at 9:30 AM | Permalink

    There is only one reason that Briffa refuses to release his data: the data is at variance with his conclusions.

    Steve: Nope. He’s probably just being possessive.

    Steve, I’m not trying to argue, sincerely. My point is this: who does the data belong to? Briffa, personally? If so, then I misunderstood the situation and I apologize.

  26. cmb
    Posted Jul 31, 2008 at 11:08 AM | Permalink

    Quick question; you state:

    “I asked Science to require Briffa to provide the data. After some deliberation, they stated that Osborn and Briffa 2006 had not used the measurement data directly but had only used the chronologies from an earlier study and that I should take up the matter with the author of the earlier study, pointedly not identifying the author, who was, of course, Briffa himself. I wrote Briffa again, this time in his capacity as author of the 2000 article in Quaternary Science Reviews and was blown off.”

    And did you find that no data was ever published for that work, also?

    I note that your interestingly-worded article does not explicitly say so.

    Steve: I thought that I had said so explicitly.

    So years later, the measurement data for key studies used in both canonical multiproxy studies and illustrated in AR4 Box 6.4 Figure 1 (along, remarkably, with Mann’s PC1), remains unarchived, with Briffa resolutely stonewalling efforts to have him archive the data.

    If the data had been archived, this wouldn’t be an issue. I don’t understand your question. But yes, one more time, the measurement data for Yamal, Tornetrask, Taymir remains unarchived many years later.

  27. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Jul 31, 2008 at 11:27 AM | Permalink

    Definition Urban Dictionary:

    The Chewbacca Defense is a term for any legal strategy or propaganda strategy that seeks to overwhelm its audience with nonsensical arguments, as a way of confusing the audience and drowning out legitimate opposing arguments. It is thus a kind of logical fallacy: specifically, a red herring fallacy and non sequitur similar to argumentum ad nauseam.

    Part of South Park show it came from:

    Why would a Wookiee, an eight-foot tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor, with a bunch of two-foot tall Ewoks? That does NOT MAKE SENSE! But more important, you have to ask yourself: What does this have to do with this case? Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this case! It does NOT MAKE SENSE! Look at me. I’m a lawyer defending a major record company, and I’m talkin’ about Chewbacca! Does that make sense? Ladies and gentlemen, I am not making any sense! None of this makes sense! And so you have to remember, when you’re in that jury room deliberatin’ and conjugatin’ the Emancipation Proclamation, does it make sense? No! Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, it does NOT MAKE SENSE! If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit! The defense rests.

  28. Molon Labe
    Posted Jul 31, 2008 at 11:55 AM | Permalink

    After some deliberation, they stated that Osborn and Briffa 2006 had not used the measurement data directly but had only used the chronologies from an earlier study and that I should take up the matter with the author of the earlier study, pointedly not identifying the author, who was, of course, Briffa himself. I wrote Briffa again, this time in his capacity as author of the 2000 article in Quaternary Science Reviews and was blown off.

    Slackjawed amazement.

  29. steven mosher
    Posted Jul 31, 2008 at 12:06 PM | Permalink

  30. airmouton
    Posted Jul 31, 2008 at 12:28 PM | Permalink

    cmb –

    That you find the article “interestingly-worded” can be excused – explained, rather – by the fact that you chose not to read the entire thing.

    At the time, I requested the measurement data, which had still not been archived 6 years after the original publication of Briffa 2000

    Cheers.

  31. jeez
    Posted Jul 31, 2008 at 12:28 PM | Permalink

    Heh, South Park, Brazilian edition.

  32. Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist
    Posted Jul 31, 2008 at 2:40 PM | Permalink

    Briffa has in fact archived his data from “Annual climate variability in the Holocene: interpreting the message of ancient trees” (2000). You can download the data from http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/people/briffa/qsr1999/

    Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist

    Steve: Please do not assume that I am unfamiliar with these things. This is not the measurement data that is used to create the chronologies – and Rob Wilson, for example, always uses measurement data. This is the result of Briffa’s calculation not the measurement data. If this was what was sought, there wouldn’t have been this long back and forth.

  33. Patrick M.
    Posted Jul 31, 2008 at 3:26 PM | Permalink

    Re 33 (Fredrik):

    Steve is already aware of that data.

    See here

  34. Jeff Alberts
    Posted Jul 31, 2008 at 3:26 PM | Permalink

    Thanks, Sam, for the explanation.

  35. Dodgy Geezer
    Posted Jul 31, 2008 at 6:04 PM | Permalink

    I’m afraid I am with KevinUK and PaulM on this one. I suspect you will get the Science brushoff again, so your interactions with the RS should allow for this. Don’t expect too much, but good luck this time round!

  36. Ian Castles
    Posted Jul 31, 2008 at 6:59 PM | Permalink

    The statement in the Proc.Roy.Soc. letter that ‘We take matters like this very seriously and I am sorry that this was not picked up in the publishing process’ is very definite. Any action that the RS now takes that could be construed as failing to take this matter ‘very seriously’ would surely risk further damage to the Society’s already tarnished reputation.

    In an Annex (‘Anathema 2007: Misrepresenting the Science and Misleading the Public’) to his article ‘Government and Climate Change Issues’ (World Economics’. April-June 2007) David Henderson reserved some of his strongest criticism for the Royal Society:

    ‘The attitude and way of thinking that is revealed in [these] attempts to silence dissenting views by labelling them as ‘misrepresentation’, and to discredit personally those who advance them, brings to mind a term from George Orwell’s novel ‘1984’. In relation to climate change issues, those who question ‘the science’ are now cast, by members of ‘the scientific community’ and the Royal Society itself, in the role of Thought Criminals. Their views are to be anathematised.

    ‘This is not the Royal Society’s finest hour’ (p. 221).

  37. bender
    Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 12:16 AM | Permalink

    If you look at the RS main page you will see a link to ‘Is global warming a swindle’ where they crudely attempt to debunk various skeptical arguments.

    There’s nothing wrong with debunking incorrect arguments. But do they go one step futher and offer a proof of the CO2 sensitiivty coefficient calculation, including a formal estimate of uncertainty on that parameter? THAT IMO is where the alarmists fall down.

    The RS will come through. Because to not do so would be shameful.

  38. bender
    Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 12:19 AM | Permalink

    #33 What, no apology?

  39. dover_beach
    Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 2:13 AM | Permalink

    I think you’re being too kind to the RS in #38. If the statements they reply to are misleading, so are there responses; and they’re certainly too simple.

  40. Paul
    Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 3:06 AM | Permalink

    Re# 2

    Getting a paper in Science or Nature is like getting a hit single in the popular music charts.
    Its not about producing something of outstanding quality its about producing something that fits in with the current fashion, is well packaged and attractive. We all know deep down that its a worthless exercise, but for some reason it carries a kudos out of all proportion to its true worth and importantly its vital for a successful career. So we go along with the charade, perhaps a little uneasily, but afraid to point out that the emperor has no clothes. After all we have bills to pay.

  41. dreamin
    Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 4:00 AM | Permalink

    I’m an attorney, and in my experience, when people refuse to produce information they are supposed to produce, it’s usually because there’s something in that information which damages their case.

    Steve: I don’t think that you can extrapolate that to the present situation as other reasons can apply for academics. For example, the scientist may plan to publish the same data over and over in different articles. If someone has spent a long time collecting one empirical data set, he doesn’t want other scientists to grab the glory. This is something that is thought about in senior US policy statements where a two-year period of exclusive use is permitted under most circumstances. Unfortunately this policy is not enforced and so, for example, Thompson’s 1987 Dunde data remains unavailable except a very incomplete summary.

    I put much, if not most, of the blame on NSF and other funding agencies which have been negligent in carrying out their duties of implementing overarching federal policies; in this area, NSF has become co-opted by the cause and abandoned its compliance duties. This has permitted a culture of prima donnas. To some extent, I think that, because data archiving has been made an issue here, the effect in Team circles has almost been counter-productive, as stonewalling data almost appears to be a badge of honor for Briffa and some others.

  42. Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 6:43 AM | Permalink

    Regarding Science magazine, I have had the same experience as Steve M.: when I requested the tree-ring data used in the study of Manning et al. [2001], I was told that the authors were using data from an earlier paper of theirs, and I would have to contact the journal in which that paper was published.

    My experience with Nature has been more encouraging. I requested data for a paper that they published on grape harvest dates (also used as a temperature proxy). The authors had refused to release the data to me directly, but they did release it after I filed a “materials complaint” with Nature.

  43. Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 6:53 AM | Permalink

    P.S. The Nature paper was by Chuine et al. [2004]. (Steve blogged about the end result, here: http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=884 ).

  44. dreamin
    Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 6:56 AM | Permalink

    Steve: I don’t think that you can extrapolate that to the present situation as other reasons can apply for academics. For example, the scientist may plan to publish the same data over and over in different articles. If someone has spent a long time collecting one empirical data set, he doesn’t want other scientists to grab the glory.

    I don’t know enough about scientific scholarship to say for sure, but I’m skeptical. For one thing, it seems to me that if Scientist A publishes an important set of data, and Scientist B later publishes a paper based on the same set of data, it doesn’t necessarily take away from A’s glory. Indeed, if lots of people are citing Scientist A’s data, it seems to me that it would add a lot to Scientist A’s glory.

    Don’t most scientists want to get cited a lot?

    Steve: On this, we’re just exchanging opinions. I have experience in both worlds and I’m telling you what I think. I think that you’re misinterpreting the situation.

  45. henry
    Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 6:58 AM | Permalink

    I like the way they try to include two “facts” and then say the whole statement is misleading.

    For example:

    Misleading argument 1, split: The Earth’s climate is always changing. TRUE

    This is nothing to do with humans. DEBATABLE, land use issues, etc.

    I’m sure that more people can find papers that seriously challenge all the “misleading statements” shown.

  46. Craig Loehle
    Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 8:00 AM | Permalink

    It has been noted that a scientist might plan to publish many papers based on a dataset and thus be reluctant to let the data out. This is no doubt true. Some scientists due to things like teaching take a long time to get things finished. If they publish the data with the first paper, others could scoop them and quickly publish other papers with their data. This causes a dilemna, however, because readers of the first paper need to be able to check their work. Citation or coauthorship should be adequate compensation for the originators of the data, but some don’t feel that way. this refers only to honest reasons to be reluctant to release the data.

  47. PhilH
    Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 8:46 AM | Permalink

    I second Craig. If it quacks like a duck, objective opinion says it’s a duck. The Team
    has been swimming and quacking around together for a long time now. The doubt’s benefit’s
    head is barely above water.

  48. bender
    Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 8:53 AM | Permalink

    Global paleo reconstruction is a bit different from most fields. As no one can collect all the data themselves, there must be a shared community effort to do so. The challenge, then, is to gain as much access to global community data, providing as little access as possible to your own local data. Quiet (i.e. internal) finger-pointing about honesty, integrity, disclosure compliance etc. then ensues, as not everybody is equally sharing or compliant with group rules. (Sort of like an oil cartel.) The social pressure to conform to the sharing edict is strong, but not irresistible.

    This, incidentally, is what gives rise to the peculiarly inbred social network structure that perturbed Wegman so. [Art: math ain't paleo.]

    The point is: global reconstructionists tolerate the idea of sharing data with a group on the understanding that THEY will be the ones best positioned to grab the global glory (Nature, Science headlines). They don’t mind other people doing regional studies that grab the lesser headlines. They just don’t want competitors operating at the global scale, which they view as their domain. [No one admits this. To do so would signal to your community that you should be cut off from the data stream.]

    The result of all this is that compliance is spotty. The prevailing culture is: disclose the minimum required to keep your global community feeding you data.

    Contrary to what some cynics have said here, paleoscientists are not dishonest. They’re hungry. And the few at the top are greedy monopolists. [This is not illegal.]

    Prediction: This culture (and hierarchy) will prevail as long as the number of paleo samples from around the globe is small and growing. Because that is when the greatest opportunities for headlines are available. Once the globe has been sampled to death and the time-series have settled down to some equilibrium, the science will be settled and there will be more competitors operating at the global scale for lesser rewards. i.e. Reduced monopolism.

    This is why granting agencies and journals and scientific societies must police compliance: because the incentives for nondisclosure are quite high. Teams this highly inbred and empowered can not be trusted.

    I write at length in the hope the Royal Society will read this, and come to understand what is really going on in this field – why it would be shameful if they were to abrogate their social responsiblity to ensure disclosure compliance.

  49. John Lang
    Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 9:39 AM | Permalink

    Why don’t they just use the ice core data. Both Antarctic and Greenland show the Little Ice Age, the Medieval Warm Period, the Dark Ages, the Roman Warm Period, the Climatic Optimum, Younger Dryas etc. etc.

  50. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 9:50 AM | Permalink

    #51. I agree with bender on this. For example, Jacoby, who’s collected dozens of tree ring sites all over the world, and refused to provide data to me, was pretty snarly in one letter about Mann, who he perceived as hogging headlines without collecting data. For example, his Mongolia series was not distributed even in a grey form to Team members; the version used by Mann was digitized it from the print version (and not a great digitization either BTW). Jacoby has archived a lot of series at ITRDB, making the absences very frustrating.

    Rob Wilson said that Hughes wouldn’t provide data to Esper.

    Esper, who’s a data collector in the Jacoby, Schweingruber tradition (as is Rob Wilson), doesn’t archive data at ITRDB.

    I presume that Thompson is hoarding data so that his group can publish it, but 21 years for Dunde is long enough.

    Mineral exploration geologists work just as hard as dendros to collect data; but it wouldn’t cross their minds that they are owners of the data. They are entitled to get paid. That’s my take on data collectors – they are entitled to get paid; to have exclusive use of the data while they are entitled to have exclusive use, such exclusivity ending when they publish or when their period of exclusive use ends (which is supposed to be 2 years in US if NSF were not co-opted), whichever comes first.

  51. bender
    Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 10:32 AM | Permalink

    Provincial-minded people vying for global supremacy in their field, but without the means to do so alone, therefore reliant on community effort, but jealous and resentful when others who have contributed less succeed more.

    But this dirty laundry is not for public viewing. Don’t say a word. It would ruin the 1950s public image of scientist as benign truth-seeker. [Ironically, the majority are benign truth seekers who will disagree with this characterization of the field as a whole. But they aren't the noteworthy ones driving the dynamic of global monopolism ...]

    It’s Survivor Paleo. It’s the conspiracy that can not be admitted exists, and to some degree does not exist … because it’s always changing. Who’s in, who’s out, what’s the new code of conduct, what are the new stakes. The skeptics are right: there is no conspiracy. And yet there are many conspirings. Conspiracy is a shape shifter. To say a conspiracy doesn’t exist is meaningless. Today’s conspiracy is different from yesterday’s.

    Who shares data with whom.

    It’s not the public they’re intentionally hiding these data from. It’s not even Steve. It’s each other!

    But enough! Royal Society, NSF, etc. have the power to break the conpspiracy and serve the global public interest by exposing these data to the light of day.

    Who refuses to share data with the world?

    Who?

  52. Mike B
    Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 10:44 AM | Permalink

    51, 53, and 54 Bender and Steve

    Purely speculation about motives. Unhelpful, and prohibited elsewhere on this site.

  53. bender
    Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 10:53 AM | Permalink

    #55 Some speculation, yes, but more observation and insight. As to motive, I don’t think it would shock anyone to speculate that people are often motivated by simple self-interest. This is also a general observation, not focused on any one individual. The purpose of my post is not to outline motive of a group or any individual, but to demonstrate plausible mechanism for self-interest to lead to a particular group dynamic. This is also not speculation, but observation.

    Point specifically to any offending lines, explain your case, and I will amend them.

  54. bender
    Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 11:23 AM | Permalink

    Mike B: Try answering this question: “Why is it so difficult for auditors to obtain compliance on disclosure?”

    (1) It is helpful to answer this question because it leads to sound tactics that help obtain compliance.
    (2) It is impossible to answer the question without resorting to some analysis of human behavior, including speculation on motivation and group dynamics. Speculating on self-interest as a motivation, as I have done, is the most mundane of hypotheses, hardly offensive. Are we prohibited from pointing out instances of self-interest on this blog?

    Unhelpful, and prohibited

    I suggest that my comments are neither unhelpful nor prohibited.

    Rebuttal?

  55. bender
    Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 11:29 AM | Permalink

    … or was this just a pathetic attempt to try to put my comments here on the same level as the repugnant #208 in another thread?

    There are degrees of compliance, you know.

  56. steven mosher
    Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 12:15 PM | Permalink

    RE 54. what many fail to recoginize is what their failure to share data with each other
    signifies… consensus trumps verification, trust your colleages more than the data.
    You dont need the latter since the former vouches for it.

  57. Mike B
    Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 12:28 PM | Permalink

    #55

    Whether specific or general, the issue at hand is not the motivation, be it nefarious, noble, or benign, but rather the behavior, i.e. failure to comply. Even more important, is the failure of institutions to enforce their own standards, put in place so that people don’t have to wander about speculating what the motives are.

    I suppose most people post here believing that there opinions are in some respect insightful.

    #56

    I certainly believe that motivations can be interesting and also quite revealing. For instance the famous line from one climate scientist to Steve, “Wouldn’t that just be lost time?” was very revealing. However that was not speculation, insightful or otherwise.

    That was fact.

    #57

    You’ve lost me. I was under the impression from reading a number of threads over the past couple of years that Steve has grown tired and less tolerant of people speculating about the motivations of climate scientists.

  58. bender
    Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 12:51 PM | Permalink

    Mike B:
    Your point is not lost on me.

    But the question here is “Is Briffa finally cornered?” I hope that compliance will happen and I predict it will. The basis for my prediction is grounded in my understanding (or assumptions) of how the field operates. I am not in a position to provide the factual anecdotes you demand.

    If Steve has “grown tired and is less tolerant of speculating” on this case (or all cases in general), he will let us know. I assume from the title of this post that he is interested in people’s guesses as to whether compliance will happen or not. Surely he does not want a list of who says “yes” and who says “no”, but some sort of discussion about how compliance can be made to happen? That requires some discussion about what it takes to motivate people to comply.

    I’m sorry, I see no way around it.

    Anyayws, what’s your guess? I’ve given mine.

  59. PhilH
    Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 2:15 PM | Permalink

    It seems to me that what bender and Steve are agreeing on is an understandable
    modus operandi for paleo researchers; but once they take off
    those hats and become published paleo scientists, then they
    run smack up against the ethical standards that undergird the scientific process.
    Whether their motive is to protect themselves from scientific theft (and loss of
    money, prestige or glory) or from scientific criticism, and we have seen instances of both
    on this site, their complaints are mooted.

    Unfortunately, in this context,it appears that the only potential guardians of the
    ethical processes are the publishers. So it appears that the question is not so
    much has Briffa been cornered but has this particular publisher been cornered.
    Otherwise, as someone once said, who shall guard the guards themselves. Who indeed.

  60. bender
    Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 2:25 PM | Permalink

    #60

    has this particular publisher been cornered

    Indeed. Well put. I want to make it clear that failure to enforce compliance would be shameful. i.e. No, the authorities haven’t been cornered.

    And they won’t be cornered unless someone requires them to do whatever it takes to motivate delinquents to comply. That is why motivations matter.

    Myself, I think the authorities do not need cornering. I hate to think that I could be wrong. But I could be.

  61. Mark T.
    Posted Aug 1, 2008 at 4:50 PM | Permalink

    I agree with #71 90% of the time. Aw heck, I just made that up.

    Seriously though…

    people refuse to produce information they are supposed to produce, it’s usually because there’s something in that information which damages their case

    While this may be true some times, such as with Mann’s CENSORED directory, which oddly enough he didn’t fail to produce, he simply failed to mention, I don’t think this is true as a general rule. I think most scientists, and certainly, most engineers, a group for which I have a better standing of, simply suffer from inflated egos. They tend to get defensive when someone is critical of their work, regardless of the work’s validity. Furthermore, to complicate matters, I think built-in insecurities rather than cheating or self-deception play a big part in this as well (the latter of which is probably going to be much more common than outright cheating, again IMO).

    Mark

  62. bender
    Posted Aug 2, 2008 at 2:53 PM | Permalink

    Please, the topic is Briffa and the Royal Society and data disclosure.

  63. UK John
    Posted Aug 2, 2008 at 3:44 PM | Permalink

    understood, back to the lurker room.

    Best wishes

  64. dreamin
    Posted Aug 3, 2008 at 2:06 AM | Permalink

    Sheesh. Why was my 3rd comment deleted without explanation? It was on-topic and civil.

  65. Posted Aug 3, 2008 at 10:11 AM | Permalink

    It’s nice to see the Royal Society journals taking data access seriously. But don’t get too soft on them.

    When Proceedings of the Royal Society A published ‘Recent oppositely directed trends in solar climate forcings and the global mean surface air temperature’ by Lockwood and Frohlich – partly in response to TGGWS, apparently – its press release billed the paper as “The truth about global warming!”, claiming that “the sun is not a factor in recent climate change!” (Their exclamation marks.)

    We have covered a number of stories relating to the Royal Society and its associates’ roles in climate change debates at Climate Resistance. I hope they are of interest.

    What baffles us is that in contrast to the spirit of the Royal Society’s motto (as commenters here have already observed) the RS seems to be establishing itself as a kind of custodian of the facts. Through reinventing itself as such, it then rules on what is or isn’t a fact.

    So worried are they, about the possibility of dialogue, that the discussion moves away from the facts, to the facts about facts, and facts about the rebellious presentation of facts. At this point, senior associates of the Royal Society do not seem to be against making things up themselves, especially if it gives them a chance to undermine the credibility of ‘deniers’.

  66. jeez
    Posted Aug 3, 2008 at 11:49 PM | Permalink

    Steve McIntyre.

    Your quoted text

    As a condition of acceptance authors agree to honour any reasonable request by other researchers for materials, methods, or data necessary to verify the conclusion of the article.

    Supplementary data up to 10Mb is placed on the Society’s website free of charge and is publicly accessible. Large datasets must be deposited in a recognised public domain database by the author prior to submission. The accession number should be provided for inclusion in the published article

    from

    http://publishing.royalsociety.org/index.cfm?page=1684#question10

    is not found on that page. Have they amended their official policy since your request?

  67. Cliff Huston
    Posted Aug 4, 2008 at 12:36 AM | Permalink

    #68 jeez,

    See http://publishing.royalsociety.org/index.cfm?page=1595 , section 6

    Cliff

  68. jeez
    Posted Aug 4, 2008 at 2:32 AM | Permalink

    Ah ok, I didn’t really think anything that egregious could have occurred.

  69. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 24, 2008 at 10:08 AM | Permalink

    I’ve sent a couple of reminders to the journal as this has dragged. They report:

    I can confirm that the authors have agreed to provide the majority of the data by the end of the year. They hope to provide the remainder in (hopefully) early 2009.

    It has not been straightforward as the data come from a range of sources, each of which required individual negotiation.

2 Trackbacks

  1. [...] for materials, methods, or data necessary to verify the conclusion of the article, which condition has not yet been enforced against the global [...]

  2. [...] “Is Briffa Finally Cornered?“, Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit, 30 July 2008 — Excerpt: [...]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,247 other followers

%d bloggers like this: