Santer's Boss Seeks to "Clarify Mis-Impressions"

David Bader, PhD, the Director, Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison, writes today seeking to “clarify several mis-impressions on your “climateaudit.org” web site” regarding the archiving of Santer’s data, the correspondence being shown below.

Readers may recall an earlier post here in which I requested data from Santer et al 2008, in response to which Santer refused to provide the data, circulating his discourteous refusal to 17 coauthors (none of whom had been copied in the original inquiry) and the journal editor. Santer:

… I see no reason why I should do your work for you, and provide you with derived quantities (zonal means, synthetic MSU temperatures, etc.) which you can easily compute yourself. I am copying this email to all co-authors of the 2008 Santer et al. IJoC paper, as well as to Professor Glenn McGregor at IJoC.

I gather that you have appointed yourself as an independent arbiter of the appropriate use of statistical tools in climate research. Rather that “auditing” our paper, you should be directing your attention to the 2007 IJoC paper published by David Douglass et al., which contains an egregious statistical error. Please do not communicate with me in the future.

I have reviewed this post and fail to see any statements by me that could possibly be construed as contributing to a “mis-impression”. On Nov 24, I reported on my unsuccessful FOI request to NOAA for the data, in which all of the NOAA coauthors claimed to have never seen the requested data. Again, I am unable to see any statements by me that could be construed as creating a “mis-impression”. The facts are what they are.

On Dec 28, I reported on efforts to obtain the data through the journal, reporting that these efforts had also been unsuccessful, as the publisher of the journal, the Royal Meteorological Society lacked a data archiving policy. A positive outcome of this effort was that the Society plans to review their lack of policy at a forthcoming editorial meeting. Again, I am unable to see any statements by me that could be construed as creating a “mis-impression”. The facts are what they are.

Around January 18th, I received a snail mail letter from the U.S. government dated Dec 10 (snail mail indeed), advising me that the FOI request had been placed in a queue and would be responded to when it got to the top of the pile. I didn’t plan to hold my breath.

On Jan 26, Ross and I submitted an article on Santer et al 2008, noted up the next day here ; I reported in the post that our submission included comments on the data refusal. On January 27, I received an email from a reader notifying me that the reader had just been notified by the U.S. Department of Energy that the data had been placed at a public archive. I promptly communicated this information to readers. I noted that, while the reader had been so notified, I had not received equivalent notice, again, a matter of fact. I am unable to see any statements by me that could be construed as creating a “mis-impression”. Later that day, I consulted the new archive and noted with some amusement that the file unzipped to a directory entitled “FOIA”. [Update Jan 31 - for "clarification", I do not imply that the data was released "because" of our journal submission on Jan 26. The CA reader in question had been on a lengthy business trip. As noted below, he had been informed on Jan 14 that Livermore was planning to release the data and that he would be informed of the url when available; he followed up upon return from his business trip on Jan 26 and obtained the url on Jan 27, whereupon he informed me. Had he not been traveling, he might have learned the url on an earlier data. Livermore did not inform me of either their plans or the actual archiving and my knowledge of the situation came only from from this CA reader.]

Earlier today, Dr Bader wrote as follows:

Dear Mr. McIntyre;

I want to clarify several mis-impressions on your “climateaudit.org” web site with respect to the Synthetic MSU data sets on the PCMDI website.

1. The data were released publicly on 14 January 2009, at which time our Department of Energy sponsors and NNSA Freedom of Information Act officials were notified. These data were released voluntarily by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and we were never directed to do so as a result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Furthermore, preparation of the datasets and documentation for them began before your FOIA request was received by us.

2. The long disclaimer on the web site beginning with the sentence, “This data available on this site was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States government. …..” is standard language on all published material from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and is not specific to this dataset.

David Bader, PhD
Director, Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison

Needless to say, I was extremely surprised by this letter. If Lawrence Livermore was actively preparing the data sets for public release “before” my request for the data, then surely Santer had an obligation to simply say so, rather than withholding the information that a public release was planned in the near future and challenging me to recreate their monthly results from first principles. Secondly, I was surprised to learn that the directory entitled FOIA had nothing to do my Freedom of Information Act request. Perhaps FOIA in this context stands for something else.

I replied to Bader, citing verbatim my original request for data and Santer’s refusal and asking:

If, as you say, preparations for the release of this data had already begun, could you explain why your employee failed to advise me of this at the time. In addition, I received no notice of these plans pursuant to my FOI request (to which I have received two separate acknowledgements).

You say that, on Jan 14, 2009, the data was “released publicly” on Jan 14, 2009 and DOE were notified of this. On Jan 14, 2009, one of my readers received an email from DOE saying that the data was being finalized that week in preparation for posting and the lab was seeking final approval from their site office to post the data, undertaking to send you the url when it was available, providing notice of availability on Jan 26. I received notice from the reader on the following day, Jan 27, and promptly recorded this notice on my blog.

At no point prior to your email did anyone from your organization notify me that the data was now “publicly available” despite my outstanding request.

I will post a notice at my blog of your position, but I’m sure that you will understand if I make editorial comments on them.

Given the information in your email, I hereby file a complaint about the handling of my request for data and request that you investigate how it was handled.

I also observed:

if you unzip the data sets placed online, they unzip into a folder entitled FOIA. Does FOIA in this context have another interpretation other than Freedom of Information Act that I should be aware of?

Bader replied:

My previous email was to clarify certain factual information with respect to the release of the Synthetic MSU data. Respectfully, I believe it to be counter productive to engage in an exchange regarding the history of your correspondence with Dr. Santer or Department of Energy officials on a matter I believe to be completely resolved.

I wrote back to him:

What is the factual information that you wish to correct? I am quite prepared to correct any errors: could you please provide me with specific points of fact that you believe to be in error, as I have reviewed the posts in question and cannot any “errors” in what I posted.

This request failed to elicit any details on any factual errors that could have contributed to any “mis-impression”. Bader replied:

I will make a sincere attempt to advise you of our good faith efforts to release the data in question. What you may not realize is that there are time consuming, but legitimate and typical review processes at most laboratories. For example, it takes 2-4 weeks from the time a manuscript is completed at my lab before it is transmitted to a journal for submission.

1. I was not aware of your FOIA request to the NNSA until sometime in early to mid December. At that time, we had already begun the process of preparing the Synthetic MSU datasets and their documentation for public release as a low priority activity. In their original format and without documentation, they were of little value to the broader scientific community for which they were intended.

2. When contacted about the FOIA request by LLNL FOIA officials, I inquired as to whether our plans for data release met their needs, and was advised that it would.

3. Given the demands on my staff’s time, the length of time required for the official laboratory “Review and Release” process and the upcoming holidays and vacations, I asked LLNL officials who handle FOIA requests if January 15 was a reasonable deadline for the release of data. I was advised that the date was acceptable.

4. The data were made available on January 14, at which time I notified LLNL staff who deal with FOIA requests and Department of Energy officials.

Should you intend to publish my correspondence with you on your site, I request that you post this entire email, without embedded editorial comment. Since you have clearly stated your intention to file a formal complaint in a previous message, I think you can understand that further correspondence with me on this issue would not be productive.

Santer et al 2008 was submitted on 25 March 2008, revised 18 July 2008 and accepted 20 July 2008.

Obviously, I have a number of questions about this matter, most of which will undoubtedly occur to readers. So I’ll defer editorial comment for now.

188 Comments

  1. Les Johnson
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 10:02 PM | Permalink

    Steve: … you sure like to stir it up.

    Good job. Keep stirring….

    • Geoff Sherrington
      Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 10:15 PM | Permalink

      Re: Les Johnson (#1),

      Please don’t be so fast to rush to motive. There are important implications here, some of which might not have occurred to you.

  2. mondo45
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 10:40 PM | Permalink

    This episode clearly illustrates that agencies funded with taxpayers money would do well to comply with their obligations to publish data under appropriate legislation (and in accord with normal scientific practice) if they wish to avoid giving the impression that they are being cavalier about their responsibilities to “we the people”.

    This is especially important in areas where public policy is being based on claims made by various parties, [snip]

    The thing that agencies must realised is that the internet has changed the disclosure landscape. Transparency is greatly facilitated by the internet and blogs such as this, and it is no longer feasible to engage with approaches that do not accord with statutory obligations, and community understandings of sound scientific practice.

    It also appears that Mr Obama has clear views on the obligation of agencies to comply with regulations and laws regarding data disclosure. No doubt his legal background equips him well in this area.

  3. Robert
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 10:54 PM | Permalink

    This part,,,,
    “If Lawrence Livermore was actively preparing the data sets for public release “before” my request for the data, then surely Santer had an obligation to simply say so,”

    ,,,,, appears to be a classic example of the type of response one gets when a bureaucrat doesn’t like what you’re doing.

    At times that’s not the case.

    But time and time again I have run across this. In a variety of arenas.

    They will stonewall because they can.

    One of my favorite ways they do this is when they cordially correspond with assurances of cooperation only to then provide nothing without explanation.

  4. Richard
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 10:59 PM | Permalink

    Pity you have to receive correspondence like this from Bader and Santer in the first place and then have to spend time correcting it. On the other hand, they seem to have all the time in the world to say and do nothing courtesy of the USA taxpayer. If Bader had any sort of – snip- he would have seen that the data would have been archived months ago instead of corresponding with you. It is incredible that he is happy to slur you, but won’t reply to give you to specific errors he thinks you’ve made. Climate scientists not only use unique stats, but also have different communications methods and skills! Keep up the good work, Steve, and don’t take a backward step.

  5. Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 11:05 PM | Permalink

    He didn’t say the data was being prepared for public release before you made your FOIA request. He said your request didn’t reach them as it traveled through the bureaucracy until after they began preparing the data. Apparently, the data preparation was begun soon after Nov. 10th, the day you got the reply from Santer (saying he wouldn’t give you the data) and submitted your FOIA request.

    If they read your blog, they knew on Nov. 10th you had submitted the FOIA request — you posted a blog entry that very day saying so.

    But, even if they don’t read your blog, there is this thing called a telephone and that stuff called email — enabling them to find out that the request was on its way long before the request actually arrived in their office.

    Then, apparently, they don’t want to lose face by admitting that the public release was prompted by your request. (Somehow, what they are doing saves face in their universe, but I can’t say how. My universe doesn’t work that way.)

    So, they claim that the public release occurred before anyone told them to release the data.

    It’s a shame, really. If they didn’t act like they were afraid of scrutiny, their opinions wouldn’t be met with such skepticism — at least, not in my universe.

  6. Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 11:12 PM | Permalink

    So we have another science paper be published.But the data that purports to support the conclusions are not adequately available.Because it is deemed not important to archive them because no one wants to try to reproduce it?

    I consider such papers worthless when the support data for it is not readily available.I think it was done on purpose.For whatever reason I can not fathom since it is bizzare that they would be so darn secretive with it.

  7. Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 11:26 PM | Permalink

    Amazing, thanks for your efforts. You know, about a year ago, I would stop by here and be irritated by the snarky nature of the comments. I thought C’mon how could it be that bad?

    The Santer group knows they’re in trouble. Bader starts out way too strong and then settles down in a turtle position. Because of the FOIA on the post, there is obviously lot more communication behind the scenes than there is admitted to be. I’m going to snip the rest of my thoughts for now, but really WOW!

    By the way I asked Eric Steig if the data and code from the antarctic paper would be posted on Real Climate. I guess data requests from someone who bashed a hockey stick aren’t allowed.

    I wonder if you know when the data and code for this will be released. If it has, where can I find it?

    It doesn’t matter to me if the antarctic is warming or not, but I would like to know the details of this study. I’ve read the paper and SI and it isn’t exactly chock full of detail.

    Eric responded to posts before and after mine in the same moderation group, yet nutin for me.

    • Richard
      Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 11:42 PM | Permalink

      Re: jeff Id (#8), Surprise, surprise. I’ve posted a few at RC – only postive ones on stories have been posted – I’ve never had one of my questioning/clarification ones posted. They don’t like being challenged and explaining themselves. After all, the science is settled!

  8. kim
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 11:47 PM | Permalink

    Miss Impression took the stand
    And told us all
    The Rule of Holes.
    =====================

  9. Soronel Haetir
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 12:02 AM | Permalink

    So why do all of these folks insist on being jerks about things they are going to do anyway?

    As for the disclaimer, I had always figured that it was broilerplate that would get attached to just about everything. Just somewhat humorous.

    Steve:
    I also presumed that it was standard boilerplate and did not personally comment in it adversely.

  10. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 12:22 AM | Permalink

    Dr Bader seems to have taken some pains to disassociate the archiving of the Santer data from my FOIA request, notwithstanding the seeming evidence of the data directory being entitled FOIA. Readers are therefore invited to provide their own suggestions as to what FOIA stands for in this context:

    Maybe For Oregonians in Arizona. Or Fine Oranges in Alabama. Or maybe Fortran Operational Interior Architecture. Maybe it’s an acronym in a foreign language – French? Latin?

    • Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 12:35 AM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#12), Attention to detail is SO important when covering one’s tracks.

    • Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 6:22 AM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#12),

      I worked out (I)nquisitive (A)uditors but the FO bit has me stumped.

    • Jon
      Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 11:50 AM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#12),

      I don’t get the petty snark here. The archiving began prior to his being notified of the FOIA request. That the data were subsequently placed in a directory labeled FOIA is in no way contradictory to anything he said.

      I understand that you have a certain… audience to entertain here, but come on.

      • thefordprefect
        Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 12:34 PM | Permalink

        Re: Jon (#78), Exactly what I was about to say!
        The unrestrained gloating of posters here when data is changed on a nasa/noa/cru website is strange when most of the posts are all suggesting data needs correcting!

        I can see at least one reasson why it may take time to publish data (I of course do not know if this is the reason in cases discussed here) some of the studies you refer to contain data from many sources. These may have been given freely to (or purchased by) the researchers. But they then do not have any right to distribute it freely to the public at large. They would have to seek aproval for any data that is not in the public domain. If it were publically available then you statitians would have no need to keep requesting it for it is already published. To seek approval from others takes time – a lot of time.
        If publishing stuff on the web was so easy, why don’t authors/people with paid access to Nature and the like publish the full articles on their websites? I think the answer is that it is not legal.

        I should like to point out “snark” is not my word! however surprisingly – urban dictionary:

        snark
        Combination of “snide” and “remark”. Sarcastic comment(s).
        Also snarky (adj.) and snarkily (adv.)
        His commentary was rife with snark.
        “Your boundless ineptitude is astounding,” she snarkily declared.
        by Tootybug47 Feb 9, 2004 share this add comment

        Use of sarcasm or malice in speech. Commonly found in the LiveJournal community. also snarky, snarkiness.
        Not to be snarky, but I don’t see how what you’re saying makes any sense.

        Re: Dave Dardinger (#56),

        The problem is that since you’ve never been willing to be objective about the treatment Steve has received from the high puhbahs of climate change, nobody here much cares what you believe.

        Being at the receiving end of “snarks” should not give you reason to be “snarky” back!

        Mike

    • Sam Urbinto
      Posted Feb 2, 2009 at 11:55 AM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#12),

      Funny On-the-spot Impromptu-explanations Archiving.

  11. AnonyMoose
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 12:25 AM | Permalink

    The chain of links back got broken. For new readers, the original post on Santer 2008 seems to be at http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=4101

  12. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 12:38 AM | Permalink

    #8. Jeff, I write quite a few posts that people think are snarky – perhaps even this one. I submit that it’s not all that easy to find anything that I’ve actually said in this post that can be fairly described as “snarky”; though I understand that the concatenation of facts may well leave such an impression.

    • D. Patterson
      Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 5:51 AM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#15),

      Is there any evidence in the file/directory properties or file contents whose nature may tend to corroborate the preparation of the response prior to the FOIA requests?

    • Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 9:22 AM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#15),

      In the past I didn’t know what everyone was so constantly worked up about in the comments. i.e.-J. Hansford #42, hilarious but not exactly thrilled.

      What are you supposed to say though. I believe Bader that they were working on this and Santer was just really upset that anyone would test their math so he didn’t want to help. I also suspect Bader would still be working on it without the FOIA. Which of course makes it a FOIA release.

  13. AnonyMoose
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 12:39 AM | Permalink

    I agree that the phrasing “Furthermore, preparation of the datasets and documentation for them began before your FOIA request was received by us.” claims that something began, but omits providing a reason for this preparation. It is interesting that preparation of data is necessary after publication; it is a shame that they’re not constantly archiving all data, procedures, and results so they don’t lose any unpublished material. If such was being routinely archived, making such information public should not require much preparation.

    Anyone could make an FOIA request for material related to this decision and procedure (although not everyone could pay the related fees), but I’m glad that the data has become available in time measurable in weeks rather than years.

  14. Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 12:42 AM | Permalink

    Bear in mind that the esteemed Dr. Bader is in the unenviable position of having ex officio to fill in the hole that Dr. Santer has dug, without burying Dr. Santer in it, much as he might like to. Not only is this a thankless task, but the hole has now become even bigger. Embarrassing. Regrettable. Unnecessary.

    • Richard
      Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 1:14 AM | Permalink

      Re: jorgekafkazar (#17), A real boss would tell Dr Santer to pull his head in and demand he archive the data that he is supposed to do as part of his employment. By trying to cover for him, he digs a hole for himself as well. And Steve, Re: Steve McIntyre (#12), this blog is mostly free of very little snark, and most of all from you. The facts remain, as you point out, that when logic and science is applied to some of the issues you raise, it is hard not to appear as snark. But that is not a reflection of you or many posters at CA, but rather the poor quality of the science that you are investigating and the apparent efforts of some of those scientists to hide how they came to their conclusions.

      • James Lane
        Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 2:01 AM | Permalink

        Re: Richard (#20),

        I suspect someone has told Santer to “pull his head in” and archive the data. I doubt that his superiors are happy about receiving FOIA requests. I’m not sure why Dr Bader would write to Steve as he did, I guess to clean up the mess caused by Santer’s original discourteous (and indefensible) refusal and preempt criticism arising from M&M’s comments on withholding data in their IJoC submission.

        Unfortunately Dr Bader’s narrative has rather blown up in his face with the revelation that the file unzips to the FOIA folder.

        Maybe FOIA translates to “F*** Off Impertinent Auditor”?

        • Geoff Sherrington
          Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 7:52 PM | Permalink

          Re: James Lane (#23),

          That #23 would be a typical explanation in foreign Aussie language, although we might use a stronger F word.

  15. D.nut
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 1:09 AM | Permalink

    Perhaps Dr. David Bader acted in good faith but came to the saga toward the end of the process and not in possession of all the information/history/correspondence?

    My compliments on your efforts. A long time reader of your blog. Thank you.

  16. Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 1:10 AM | Permalink

    #12. Fresh Out of Ideas Again?

  17. Phillip Bratby
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 1:39 AM | Permalink

    In my line of work, archiving of all data and code was mandatory well before publication. After much push here, it seems 6 months after publication is OK for this type of work. It must be considered unimportant work if post-publication archiving is acceptable.

  18. Alan Wilkinson
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 1:55 AM | Permalink

    A very familiar tone in those letters – bureaucrat on the back foot putting up a stone wall facade while pinned back against the FOIA cliff face.

    My questions to the gentleman would be:

    a) Was Santer’s response to your request acceptable behaviour from his staff and if so does he expect those wishing to understand and verify their work to have to issue FOIA requests to do so?

    b) Does he regard it acceptable scientific ethics to publish a paper over the names of seventeen authors when most of them claim never to have seen the data it depends on?

  19. Edward
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 2:13 AM | Permalink

    From Link: https://newsline.llnl.gov/articles/2008/aug/08.08.08_bader.php
    Published on Newsline an internal document for Livermore employees.

    “Livermore scientists working as part of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) recently released a report on computer climate models and their ability to simulate current climate change.

    Using some of the most powerful supercomputers in the world, scientists apply mathematical models of Earth’s climate to examine hypotheses about past and present-day climates. The climate simulations along with improved observations are merged into coherent projections of future climate change.

    David Bader, leader of the Lab’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI), is the report’s coordinating lead author. Atmospheric scientist Curt Covey was one of six additional authors.

    Climate and earth system models are tools that provide insights and knowledge into how future climate may evolve,” Bader said. “It’s important for us to understand where current models stand and where they may need to be improved.

    To develop this report, the Department of Energy chartered a federal advisory committee comprised of 29 members drawn from academia, government scientists, and non-profit and for-profit organizations that drafted and oversaw the review of the report in accordance with the CCSP guidelines.”

    Ben Santer was one of the 29 members that helped develop the above report and is on the Scientific Steering committee Chaired by Dr. Peter Gent.

    I’m sure Dr. Bader was not excited to have to respond to the FOIA request and determined it would be best to appear proactive by publishing it prior to having to be “forced” to publish by he who must not be named.

    Structure of the CCSM includes principal investigator Phil Jones see link at: http://www.csm.ornl.gov/~bbd/SciDAC2/ManagementPlanOct06.pdf

    • Curt Covey
      Posted Feb 13, 2009 at 2:55 PM | Permalink

      Re: Edward (#24), readers of CA may wish to know that this report may be downloaded from the US Climate Change Science Program’s Web site at climatescience.gov. It is Synthesis and Assessment Product 3.1. The report that Ben Santer co-authored was actually a different one in the series (SAP 1.1).

      As “one of the six authors” I naturally think we did a good job on SAP 3.1. Prof. Lindzen of MIT and Dr. Flannery of Exxon-Mobil (and “Numerical Recipes” fame) were members of the panel and kept our noses to the grindstone.

      Separately, without comment on who was being reasonable or unreasonable, I am very happy to see that the supplementary data for Santer et al. (2008) is now public and that the discussion is continuing in peer-reviewed journals, where it belongs.

      • Geoff
        Posted Feb 13, 2009 at 10:38 PM | Permalink

        Re: Curt Covey (#181), Dear Dr. Covey,

        Thanks for the alert of the final posting of “Climate Models: An Assessment of Strengths and Limitations” (availble here). If your job continues to consist in part of the responsibility to “accurately communicate the results of my work to scientific colleagues and the public” (as indicated here), I would suggest that in addition to any press releases, a note on a few blogs that are dedicated to climate issues (as in this case) would be very appropriate. It would seem evident especially over the past couple of months that CA is very carefully followed by scientists in the field as well as many interested amateurs, who may not receive all the latest press releases from your office.

        As to the second part of your comment (and Steve’s reply) I would submit that some of the science here exceeds the standards of some peer-reviewed journals, but it does vary in quality and misss some of the pre-review that occurs in peer-review. However, it seems also there is a significant risk of confirmation bias in the current peer-review process, and blogs can help bring good science directly to interested parties without passing a “consensus test”. Both blogs and press releases are likely to continue.

        I’m gld you’re glad the intermediate data from Santer (2008) is now available in the public domain, and would welcome suggestions as to how “enforceable” standards could be agreed in advance to avoid this kind of distraction in future (and to “clean up” a few existing issues from the past).

        • Not Jeff Id
          Posted Feb 13, 2009 at 11:33 PM | Permalink

          Re: Geoff (#184),

          Well said. I would like to second the fact that the science here often exceeds what is found in publications. The openness of debate combined with the natural willingness of technical people to ‘find the error’ have lead to a number of advancements in understanding. Santer in particular would not have been well understood without the efforts of this blog and Lucia at Rank Exploits. The final result of all these efforts (including comments by some brilliant readers) resulted in a large audience understanding the principles and meaning of an otherwise difficult paper.

          If we look at what people are doing with the Antarctic temperature reconstruction HERE people like myself are actually looking at the data and code to see if it makes sense. There is almost no ability to pull one over or slip something by this crowd. This, by its nature, leads to good science.

  20. Edward
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 2:28 AM | Permalink

    from link http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19926683.300 on August 8 2008

    “The evidence is pretty convincing that the models give a good simulation of climate,” lead author David Bader of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California told reporters last week. He concedes that the report did not examine predictions of future climate change. Nor did it address policy issues, which will be left to the next administration.”

    Steve is calling into question statements like the above that David Bader has made in support of these models.

  21. jim edwards
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 2:41 AM | Permalink

    FOIA is:

    Freely
    Offered
    Information,
    Actually

  22. Gerry Morrow
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 2:55 AM | Permalink

    Steve, I think the “mis-impression” you gave could only be that Santer had denied you access to the data, when he didn’t (according to climate science think) he told you you could GFY, and that he wouldn’t help you, but strictly speaking he didn’t deny you access. That’s the spin a Director of a government lab. wouild put on it if he was trying to save his ass/reputation as a scientist. My guess is someone has/or Daver Bader thinks someone will, asked for an explanation as to why work carried out by a government department has not been put in the public domain and required an FOI request. He’s trying to cover his tracks.

  23. Edward
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 2:59 AM | Permalink

    Please read page 2 from the Climate Change Science Program Strategic Plan (link below). It states the following:

    “As an essential part of it’s mission and responsibilities, the CCSP will enhance the quality of public discussion by stressing openness and transparency in it’s scientific research processes and results, and ensuring the widespread availability of credible, science based information. The CCSP and individual federal agencies generate substantial ammounts of authoritative scientific information on climate variability and change. While public and private sector interests have made progress in generating valuable climate science information, efforts to improve public access to this information have not always kept pace. Research findings are generally well reported in the scientific literature, but relevant aspects of these findings need to be reported in formats suitable for use by diverse audiences whose understanding and familiarity with climate change science issues vary.”

    http://www.law.stanford.edu/program/clinics/environmental/brennan/Piltz_Exhibit_M_Part_6.pdf

  24. Peter Pond
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 3:52 AM | Permalink

    In Australia there are three occupations that consistently are rated lowest in surveys of “Who do you trust?” They are “politicians”, “reporters” and “used car salesmen”.

    It would be a real shame if “scientists” were to join them.

  25. Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 4:01 AM | Permalink

    I find myself thinking back to Dr Wegman’s statement that

    “Our committee believes that web blogs are not an appropriate way to conduct science”

    I cannot for the life of me conceive how Steve could have got so far in the teeth of a hurricane of academic obduracy, except that he put his correspondence on the web for public inspection and let the reader decide.

    Here is what I wrote at the time [July 2006], and I’m still baffled as to what other avenue Dr Wegman had in mind. It’s not as if the Hockey Team are amenable to an amiable coffee in the Senior Common Room – they have been almost to a man and woman, wilfully obstructive and unhelpful. [There are honorable exceptions to this].

    To my mind, if the normal channels of academic interaction have been blocked or poisoned (and in the case of climate science they certainly have) then weblogging is the only real resort.

    This weblog is almost exactly four years old (how time flies) and its made the worldwide news every single year because of the science done in the full glare of the worldwide web.

    • James Lane
      Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 5:36 AM | Permalink

      Re: John A (#30),

      I think John A is spot-on here. Does anyone believe that Steve would have made any progress on this without the blog?

      It’s really funny, but it’s also sad. However, it’s also progress. I have no doubt that Dr Bader is monitoring the comments here, and will have little enthusiasm for riding this merry-go-round again. It’s impossible to have a good argument for the withholding of data, hence, the “we didn’t withhold data” tactic. Let the chips fall where they do. Santer’s H1 results might be fine, but what’s wrong with having a look?

      I really hope this is a “heads-up” for everyone else in the field.

    • Jonathan Schafer
      Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 9:23 AM | Permalink

      Re: John A (#30),

      To me, I see it as sort of a “fraternity” of scientists, whereby debates, disagreements, etc., are handled out of the public view, so that a certain “image” amongst the public is maintained regarding scientists. Sort of a way to keep them on a pedestal in the public eye. A blog certainly doesn’t do that, as not only does it air dirty laundry in public, but allows the public to engage in discourse not only about the material but about the behavior of the scientists as well. While this has both positive and negative implications, it certainly seems to help move the process forward to me.

      To me, the best part about Steve is the way he approaches specific problems, warning people not to go “a bridge too far”, to focus on the specific issue at hand, and not impute motive. Those are some of the negatives that can occur in a blog setting. But for moving the process forward, getting access to data, being able to examine code, processes, and procedures, as well as analyze results, this blog really does open up the scientific process and for that I’m thankful.

    • Craig Loehle
      Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 10:46 AM | Permalink

      Re: John A (#30), It is interesting that they make such a statement repeatedly, because there ARE other channels that are used for criticism and discussion: conferences, panel discussions, and even debates, including debates on TV like where prominent legal experts discuss some issue, or economists. It is disengenuous to claim that only the peer review literature is legitimate.

      • Craig Loehle
        Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 11:09 AM | Permalink

        Re: Craig Loehle (#70), I would add that controversial topics (that are not quite to the level of hysteria as climate change) are often subject to special sessions at scientific conferences, where the speakers attempt to rebut each other with all due vigor. I have attended many of these in my field. The sudden demand that no one question the grand poobahs (sp?) is NOT how science normally works.

  26. Hans Erren
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 4:09 AM | Permalink

    I see a fundamental difference between industry and science.

    In industry you prepare software and data for a client and the report is of lesser interest, the client primarily wants the software and data.

    In science you prepare a report for a journal and the data and software are of lesser interest, the journal wants the report and usually is not interested in the data and software.

  27. Alan Wilkinson
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 4:11 AM | Permalink

    John A, my rejoinder would be that a committee is certainly not an appropriate way to conduct science.

    Furthermore, as I said elsewhere, taxpayers should ensure that the science they fund is published and reported where taxpayers can read it. Blogs ARE one such place.

    • Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 12:28 PM | Permalink

      Re: Alan Wilkinson (#32),

      John A, my rejoinder would be that a committee is certainly not an appropriate way to conduct science.

      I wish I had thought of that.

      Re: James Lane (#34),

      It’s really funny, but it’s also sad. However, it’s also progress. I have no doubt that Dr Bader is monitoring the comments here, and will have little enthusiasm for riding this merry-go-round again. It’s impossible to have a good argument for the withholding of data, hence, the “we didn’t withhold data” tactic. Let the chips fall where they do. Santer’s H1 results might be fine, but what’s wrong with having a look?

      That would be my point if I was Dr Bader – tell my subordinates that being obstructive opens up the scientist to public disdain and negatively impacts the reputation of the Institution in the eyes of the people who ultimately pay all of our salaries.

      Re: David L. Hagen (#43),

      Perhaps Steve should attach the Obama memorandum to all future requests to the Team, with the implication that on the highest authority in the land, data and methods are to be disclosed except for reasons of National Security (and no, climate science doesn’t fall into that category)

      The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails. The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears. Nondisclosure should never be based on an effort to protect the personal interests of Government officials at the expense of those they are supposed to serve. In responding to requests under the FOIA, executive branch agencies (agencies) should act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing that such agencies are servants of the public.

      Whatever one’s beliefs about Barack Obama’s Presidency (which we’ve now endured for two long weeks), this executive order is excellent.

    • Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 3:13 PM | Permalink

      Re: Alan Wilkinson (#32),
      “A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled. -Barnett Cocks”

  28. Smokey
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 4:58 AM | Permalink

    President Obama has directed his subordinates to cooperate more fully with FOI requests: click

  29. RicL
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 6:52 AM | Permalink

    PaulHClark,

    I also got that far but I can’t say the “FO” part on a family blog.

  30. Mike C
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 7:20 AM | Permalink

    If you guys think this is bad, try to get the figures for how much of their budget goes into coffee and donuts

  31. BradH
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 7:24 AM | Permalink

    I think I have cracked the FOIA code. It was a perfectly innocent little Winnie the Pooh hum:-

    Foo-fiddly,
    Oh-diddly,
    Iee-tiddly,
    Ahh-piddly,
    humm dee dum dee dum dee do!

    [I often do this myself, when I'm trying to think up the name for a directory.]

  32. Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 7:38 AM | Permalink

    I believe that this whole issue demonstrates how little peer review actually occurs/exists regarding computer climate models. The models incorporate so many arbitrary parameters and adjustments that a single reviewer, unless an advanced computer software programmer with a advanced climate science degree and with considerable free time available, cannot accurately evaluate the manuscript.

  33. YourMom
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 7:52 AM | Permalink

    The official government email associated with your FOIA request is available to you in a seperate FOIA request including email concerning the release of the dataset…..
    It would be interesting to see how your FOIA was processed by the government and how Dr. Bader responded to it.

  34. J.Hansford.
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 8:18 AM | Permalink

    Fobbing Off Inquisitive Auditors…. Found Obscuring Illustrious Auditors…..Then only latter to be, Found obsequiously Illuminating Auditors…… there’s a couple fer ya. : )

  35. David L. Hagen
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 8:26 AM | Permalink

    President Obama has placed a high priority on transparency in government, as noted by Mondo45 at #3 and Smokey at #33. The day after taking office, President Obama issued the following Presidential Memorandum. Note particularly:
    * be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails
    * executive branch agencies (agencies) should act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation,
    * All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure,

    MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES>

    SUBJECT: Freedom of Information Act

    A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency. As Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” In our democracy, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which encourages accountability through transparency, is the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open Government. At the heart of that commitment is the idea that accountability is in the interest of the Government and the citizenry alike.

    The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails. The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears. Nondisclosure should never be based on an effort to protect the personal interests of Government officials at the expense of those they are supposed to serve. In responding to requests under the FOIA, executive branch agencies (agencies) should act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing that such agencies are servants of the public.

    All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA, and to usher in a new era of open Government. The presumption of disclosure should be applied to all decisions involving FOIA.

    The presumption of disclosure also means that agencies should take affirmative steps to make information public. They should not wait for specific requests from the public. All agencies should use modern technology to inform citizens about what is known and done by their Government. Disclosure should be timely.

    I direct the Attorney General to issue new guidelines governing the FOIA to the heads of executive departments and agencies, reaffirming the commitment to accountability and transparency, and to publish such guidelines in the Federal Register. In doing so, the Attorney General should review FOIA reports produced by the agencies under Executive Order 13392 of December 14, 2005. I also direct the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to update guidance to the agencies to increase and improve information dissemination to the public, including through the use of new technologies, and to publish such guidance in the Federal Register.

    This memorandum does not create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

    The Director of the Office of Management and Budget is hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

    BARACK OBAMA

  36. Stan Palmer
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 8:48 AM | Permalink

    I have had experiences with bureaucracies such as the one recounted here. My own suggestions would be to channel one’s inner Sir Humphrey and reply with only inconsequential and uncommitting remarks.

    My reply would be along the lines that of “Although our recollections of the exchange differ in some details, I welcome the level of accommodation that we have achieved and look forward to the same degree of cooperation in the future”. This is short and to the point. It indicates that one will expect disclosure and nothing less. It makes this point without requiring the other side to abjectly admit fault.

    A major finding in the theory of iterative games is that the ability to forget past behavior is essential to an optimal algorithm. If one allows a past defection to affect judgment then it will hinder the development of cooperation between the parties.

  37. thefordprefect
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 8:56 AM | Permalink

    No snark?????
    Snarkily implied lying:
    Secondly, I was surprised to learn that the directory entitled FOIA had nothing to do my Freedom of Information Act request. Perhaps FOIA in this context stands for something else.
    If they didn’t act like they were afraid of scrutiny
    But the data that purports to support the conclusions
    That’s the spin a Director of a government lab. wouild put on it if he was trying to save his ass/reputation as a scientist.

    General Snark
    So why do all of these folks insist on being jerks about things they are going to do anyway?
    Then, apparently, they don’t want to lose face by admitting that the public release was prompted by your request
    If they didn’t act like they were afraid of scrutiny
    Is there any evidence in the file/directory properties or file contents whose nature may tend to corroborate the preparation of the response prior to the FOIA requests?

    + the snips of course! and this is just this thread of 35 comments.

    Its worth pointing out here (A few weeks ago I emailed Steve with this info). In the UK if you damage someone’s reputation and they decide to sue for defamation. Then YOU have to prove innocence in the crown court (=£100ks). You are guilty until proven otherwise. Other countries will be different. A pseudonym is no hiding place (it costs nothing to find an IP address owner)

    When ANYONE from the opposition (for that is how the Steve acolytes here see them) gives comment on this blog the snark doubles against them and they retire never to appear again. As Jeff Id said jeff Id (#8)

    You know, about a year ago, I would stop by here and be irritated by the snarky nature of the comments. I thought C’mon how could it be that bad?

    Well I believe the snark has doubled and it IS ruining this blog, sorry!

    Re: John A (#30)

    This weblog is almost exactly four years old (how time flies) and its made the worldwide news every single year because of the science done in the full glare of the worldwide web

    I thought Steve said this weblog is not about science. As an engineer I do not consider Mathematics a science and the sub species of statistics certainly is not. Both are tools. The latter is like using a sliderule for calculations except it is mad of jelly and the cursor line is half the length of the rule!

    • John M
      Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 9:31 AM | Permalink

      Re: thefordprefect (#45),

      Its worth pointing out here (A few weeks ago I emailed Steve with this info). In the UK if you damage someone’s reputation and they decide to sue for defamation. Then YOU have to prove innocence in the crown court (=£100ks). You are guilty until proven otherwise. Other countries will be different. A pseudonym is no hiding place (it costs nothing to find an IP address owner)

      Well, that would certainly put climate scientists in good company.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/15/opinion/15mon4.html?_r=1

      That would also be quite consistent with climate scientist’s propensity to shoot themselves in the foot.

      Also, can you imagine the quotes from Real Climate, Tamino, Stoat, Eli Rabbett, etc that could be entered into the record, and the subsequent mess as these guys and their employers try to deal with the likely resultant claims of “libel”?

    • RomanM
      Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 9:34 AM | Permalink

      Re: thefordprefect (#45),

      As an engineer I do not consider Mathematics a science and the sub species of statistics certainly is not. Both are tools. The latter is like using a sliderule for calculations except it is mad of jelly and the cursor line is half the length of the rule!

      Don’t blame that ignorant statement on engineering. I think it is probably due to a deeper, more personal problem…

    • Dave Dardinger
      Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 9:38 AM | Permalink

      Re: thefordprefect (#45),

      All I have to do is see your name and I know the line of “argument” the message will contain.

      Well I believe the snark has doubled and it IS ruining this blog, sorry!

      The problem is that since you’ve never been willing to be objective about the treatment Steve has received from the high puhbahs of climate change, nobody here much cares what you believe.

    • David L. Hagen
      Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 9:49 AM | Permalink

      Re: thefordprefect (#45),
      Avoiding “snark” is well put. As a research engineer, may I point out that application of sound mathematics and statistics are foundational to both science and engineering. Misapplication is a major cause of failure in both.

      snip – sorry, you’ve gone off into policy

    • Peter
      Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 10:11 AM | Permalink

      Re: thefordprefect (#45),

      Just to be safe. Praytell, Mr. Prefect, what is snarky about Steve’s reference to the folder name FOIA? One doesn’t need to imply anything when the evidence hits you in the face.

      If they didn’t act like they were afraid of scrutiny

      Nothing snarky there, unless you consider your own personal objection to the opinion expressed qualifies something as “snark”.

      When ANYONE from the opposition (for that is how the Steve acolytes here see them)

      Mr. Prefect, the use of “acolyte” as opposed to reader, or poster etc, etc. is good old fashioned snark at it’s finest. The readers here are educated, mainly courteous, curious and unprepared to take things at face value just because of the name of the person saying something.

      -snip

  38. John M
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 9:06 AM | Permalink

    I think this whole episode is a stark reminder of why private corporations have such annoying and seemingly arcane rules for how employees communicate with the public and the media. It’s recognized that employees, as talented or brillinat though they might be, have no feel for how their words will look to the outside world outside of their own narrow area of expertise. Corporations don’t want a bunch of free-lancers out there seeming to speak for the corporation.

    Of course, climate scientists can’t possibly have controls put over them (even though they might prevent them and their bosses from looking silly) since we know that leads to loud (and highly visible) squeals of “censorship” In this case, the reluctance to give access to intermediate analyses has led to some poor, befuddled administrator now trying to paint a picture that trys to show nothing happened.

    Organizational rules for outside communication exist for a reason. While it’s true that academic institutions do and should have fewer constraints, a little extra training on communicating with the outside world wouldn’t hurt. Employees of government labs and government contracted labs, of course, should have no expectations of “academic freedom”.

    (Note: The opinions expressed here are of the author, and not of any entity, authority, or organization with which he, she, or it has ever or never been associated with.) :)

  39. Geoff
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 9:18 AM | Permalink

    It’s good the data is now available. How it became available may not be so relevant, but it may signal a new appreciation by many parties of the importance of archiving issues. Don’t forget that a prestigious journal of the Royal Society did not have any archiving requirements. Reasonable people could disagree on what constitutes “recorded factual material commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings”. Clearly Dr. Santer, in his original reply to Steve, commented that he thought the publicly available databases and the description of methods in the paper were sufficient. Steve, and others, disagreed.

    Eventually, Dr. Santer or his bosses concluded that it was worthwhile to put the data on line. As has been noted many times, economics journal routinely require this type of data. It would be helpful for some additional attention be paid to this issue by journals, funding agencies, and laboratories/authors themselves.

    People who are not well versed in statistics or science issues can well appreciate the issue when there may be lack of transparency of data or methods. Clearer, more uniform standards, which do not reply on the judgement of the paper authors about the scientific positions of others who would use the data would help to avoid the kind of problem seen in this case.

    This is in no way a question of “evil govenment scientists” but openness of science wherever and by whomever conducted.

  40. Craig Loehle
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 9:19 AM | Permalink

    But my question is: did the data they archive really address the question of what Santer did? or is it so “raw” that you need to know a lot of unknowable things about data massage and computing to get the input to Santer’s analysis?

  41. Gerry Morrow
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 9:24 AM | Permalink

    thefordprefect (#45),

    Sorry don’t know what a snark is, if my guess that there was some ass covering going on is one then I withdraw it.

    But we do have an inexplicable correspondence with the introduction of a new word, to me at least, mis-impressions, which I take it is either a euphemism for lies, or a new word for mistakes.

    Failure to specify what this mis-impression was is bound to lead to speculation as to why Dr. Bader would enter into correspondence in the first place. Having had considerable experience in these matters I suspect that Dr. Bader has a reason for implying lying/mistakes about events which have led him to send a rather puzzling couple of emails which he sees is a way of getting on record that the informtation was released without the need for a FOI request. Or he could be just chewing the fat with Steve McIntyre.

    Anyway didn’t mean to be snarky, whatever it is.

  42. Bill Illis
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 9:33 AM | Permalink

    I don’t understand why the supporting data is not provided at the time of publication.

    For important papers such as this, which have large impacts on our understanding of significant climate (and other scientific) processes, shouldn’t the data and methods be verified/reviewed by an independent reviewer prior to publication and then made available to all at the time of publication.

    How does the author of the study undertake his work without having a solid (publishable even) database available? How does the reviewer undertake the review without having a usable database available? How do the co-authors put their name on the paper without at least seeing the data?

    Does the work get carried out by the main author himself using a bunch of unorganized disparate files on the author’s personal computer only? This is how errors occur.

    It seems to me an appropriate process for science (as a minimum) would be to make available the dataset publicly at the time of publication.

  43. Geoff
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 9:48 AM | Permalink

    It’s good the data is now available. How it became available may not be so relevant, but it may signal a new appreciation by many parties of the importance of archiving issues. Don’t forget that a prestigious journal of the Royal Society did not have any archiving requirements. Reasonable people could disagree on what constitutes “recorded factual material commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings”. Clearly Dr. Santer, in his original reply to Steve, commented that he thought the publicly available databases and the description of methods in the paper were sufficient. Steve, and others, disagreed.

    Eventually, Dr. Santer or his bosses concluded that it was worthwhile to put the data on line. As has been noted many times, economics journal routinely require this type of data. It would be helpful for some additional attention be paid to this issue by journals, funding agencies, and laboratories/authors themselves.

    People who are not well versed in statistics or the detailed science issues can well appreciate the issue when there may be lack of transparency of data or methods. Clearer, more uniform standards, which do not rely on the judgement of the paper authors about the scientific positions of others who would use the data would help to avoid the kind of problem seen in this case.

    This is in no way a question of “evil govenment scientists” but openness of science wherever and by whomever conducted.

  44. Rod Smith
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 9:51 AM | Permalink

    Wasn’t it Churchill who remarked that Civil Servants were neither civil nor servant?

  45. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 9:56 AM | Permalink

    #45. I said:

    I submit that it’s not all that easy to find anything that I’ve actually said in this post that can be fairly described as “snarky”; though I understand that the concatenation of facts may well leave such an impression.

    which you re-stated as:

    No snark?????

    which is not the same thing. I agree that the following comment is snarky:

    Perhaps FOIA in this context stands for something else.

    However, I invite suggestions as to how one can fairly characterize the gap between Bader’s comments purporting to disassociate the archiving of the data from my FOIA request and the unzipping of the data to a folder labeled FOIA. Surely a little satire here is not unwarranted.

    My statement referred to my own comments; the other comments that you object to were not mine.

    I thought Steve said this weblog is not about science.

    I never said that. Quite the opposite.

    As an engineer I do not consider Mathematics a science and the sub species of statistics certainly is not. Both are tools. The latter is like using a sliderule for calculations except it is mad of jelly and the cursor line is half the length of the rule!

    I agree that statistics is a tool. Your characterization of statistics may well be right. But the problem is that Team articles are primarily statistical in nature. Many of the problems in these articles arise from the authors having inadequate understanding of their tools. A major theme of this blog is that authors of various articles have used faulty statistical methods and failed to prove their points, as opposed to my claiming to have proved the opposite.

  46. Jeff
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 10:13 AM | Permalink

    I find the concept of “preparing datasets for archiving” somewhat problematic. One assumes that source code for the analysis routines is stored on computer, ditto the data utilised by said routines, therefore it should be the work of a moment to transfer all relevent information to a public archive. There should be no need for “preparation”, they should go “as is”.

    I write commercial software which, along with its test sets, has to be placed in escrow prior to release. It is a truly trivial task, so I find myself wondering “what are they trying to avoid” when I hear of protracted delays in getting archive material in place.

    • Dave Dardinger
      Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 10:26 AM | Permalink

      Re: Jeff (#65),

      You’ll note that Steve posts [mostly R] code he uses here and fairly often it’s not quite stand-alone as originally posted. In which case he corrects it and life goes on. If scientists did the same with the back-up for journal articles, minor corrections could be similarly done and everyone would be happy. The point being that no great effort need be expended “preparing” the data and code provided negative feedback was used produce an eventually debugged system.

    • Ian
      Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 11:39 AM | Permalink

      Re: Jeff (#65), absolutely, I can never release anything unless the source, intermediate, and final data are under source control – onoreous, absolutely – takes me at least a minute or two. These “Climate Scientists” (no snark) are the brightest idiots things the planet, or so they’d try and convince us.

    • Ron Cram
      Posted Feb 2, 2009 at 9:01 AM | Permalink

      Re: Jeff (#63),
      Well said. I find myself asking the same question. I also agree with Jeff in #50.

      Re: jeff Id (#50),
      Yep. Without the FOIA, they would probably still be “preparing” the datasets.

  47. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 10:20 AM | Permalink

    This latest revelation from Santer’s boss, if taken at face value, would seem to me to make Santer’s reply to Steve M even more onerous and cranky in the face of his suggesting Steve M do all the data manipulation that would have been known to be unnecessary in a short time according to his boss. Santer’s boss is no doubt reacting to some higher authority and either covering his and Santer’s tracks with that authority or doing it at the request of that authority to cover its tracks with an even higher authority.

    Re: John A (#30),

    “Our committee believes that web blogs are not an appropriate way to conduct science. “

    I think Wegman has it about right, but I would like to see his comment appended to: “…not an appropriate way to conduct science, but an appropriate way for conducing scientists (to do the right thing).”

    My gentle soul wants to interpret that FOIA as a coded apology to Steve M (and the only one he will ever see from these people) and it stands for (F)orget/(F)orgive/(F)orbear (O)ur (I)nconsistent (A)nswers .

  48. AJ Abrams
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 10:27 AM | Permalink

    FOIA = For Others In Attendance

    It’s a well known folder name in government circles (or will be shortly after this event to prove it always was used in this manner)

  49. David L. Hagen
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 10:28 AM | Permalink

    snip – I’ve asked you not to introduce policy

  50. AJ Abrams
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

    FOIA = For Others In Attendance

    It’s a soon to be well known folder name in government circles (or will be shortly after this event to prove it always was used in this manner)

  51. Allen63
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 11:13 AM | Permalink

    Back in the day (1960s, 70s, 80s), Scientists and Engineers at NASA had to learn to write good FORTRAN code — if they really wanted to make strong use of computers (at least at my Research Center). Very, very few made the effort — it took a lot of study and a lot of practice — time better spent on “research” (I did it because it was fun and made my job easier). Formal statistics was also attempted by only a few of us.

    In the 90s, applications like spread sheets, Mathcad, etcetera made learning programming and advanced statistics obsolete — in the minds of most up and coming Scientists and Engineers I met — except those whose job description was computer-modeling. So, first its too hard, then its unnecessary — either way, almost none learned to use programming or statistics to a professional level.

    I assume the Climate Scientists who are genuine computer-Climate-modelers have learned advanced programming and statistics (or they are in the wrong business — its not something to leave to the grad-student). Of course, you know what they say about “assume”.

    However, if my experience is any measure, most (not all) Climate Researchers manipulating data are probably relatively clueless regarding statistics and programming. That (presumed) fact may be a major reason for the reluctance or slowness of providing code and data files — they aren’t nefarious, its just not their thing (though it should be).

  52. StuartR
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 11:20 AM | Permalink

    I think that a question about what exactly FOIA could mean in this context is worth asking. When the obvious answer is deliberately removed from the table (by our host) then all sorts of stimulating intellectual interpretations can then take place.

    This subject is something that lurkers like me have been following, and so without necessarily encouraging or playing up to snarkiness (I am not exactly sure what that means but I sense I may be guilty) I will try my hand.

    For Obama If Asked?

    BTW I think James Lane won it hands down at #20, what’s he win?

  53. StuartR
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 11:26 AM | Permalink

    I meant Re: James Lane (#23),

  54. Ron
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 11:41 AM | Permalink

    Steve:

    Have you considered taking the issue of data access obstruction with scientist and journals to a higher visibility. . . . .the press.

    People’s eyes glaze over when they are introduced to anything to scientific but they understand the human dynamics of behavior and will readily give attention to claims that GW scientist are withholding their research data. Doubts about this behavior will fuel doubts about the legitimacy of AGW.

    I know this straddles the line between science and politics where you feel less comfortable but its potential impact on ‘cap and trade’ legislation could be significant. If not you then someone else who can speak credibly on the issue.

  55. MarkB
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 11:43 AM | Permalink

    As so often happens when I come here, I am reminded of an old story. A guy is owed money, and when he confronts his debtor, the second guy says: “First, I never borrowed the money from you. Second, it was $50, not $100, and third, I already paid you back.”

    In the case of climate science, I think we could extend the discussion as follows:” I’ve already discussed that and answered all your questions, so there is no reason for me to discuss this with you any more. Please don’t contact me again.”

    When in doubt, brazen it out.

  56. Ron
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 11:49 AM | Permalink

    I also would like to add my voice to those showing appreciation for what this site means to so many of us. I don’t think it can be understated. In the future when this issue is long resolved(hopefully soon), very few in the larger population will understand how much effort was put forth quietly in their behalf and this site will have played no small role in that effort.

    Thank you so much, Steve

  57. Tim McHenry
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 11:54 AM | Permalink

    Transparency and openness are two of the better angels for those who have the truth. If the data was in good enough shape to be used as a basis for publishing, it shouldn’t take long to organize and release it for public consumption.

  58. M. Villeger
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 11:59 AM | Permalink

    It looks as if the January 26 submission of the MM paper sent ripples through the Lochness…

  59. per
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 12:02 PM | Permalink

    I think the contrast between the stance of Bader, and of santer, is pretty interesting of itself. One could imagine that Santer’s stance is so different from that of his boss, and government policy (especially with a new POTUS), that it is entirely possible that santer and his boss may even have had a “full and frank exchange of views”. Others make the same point.

    As regards Bader, you have now run into the “grown-ups”. I am certain that Sir Humphrey will be able to justify the phrase

    preparation of the datasets and documentation for them began before your FOIA request was received by us

    He is very careful to make this clear using (what seems to be) considered language, and actually, very little is required to make this true (e.g. one email request). It is also possible that Steve’s blog post of November 10 was brought to his attention, before he formally found out about the “FOIA request to the NNSA“.

    I doubt you are going to make anything stick to Sir Humphrey; and in faith, it appears that he has rapidly actioned the release of the data. I am not sure he is the bad guy here.

    cheers
    per

    • Geoff
      Posted Feb 3, 2009 at 11:46 PM | Permalink

      Re: per (#81), I agree. Dr. Bader has demonstrated leadership and good scientific practise in voluntarily organizing the release of the requested intermediate data. This sets a very good example, which other scientific institutions should follow (whether facing an FOIA request or not). While he may wish he had expressed himself differently to Steve (and who doesn’t occasionally rue some written remark in hindsight), it seems clear to me that his clarification chiefly was that the data was released voluntarily. Now that the data has been released, what I would like to see is a commitment to archiving and voluntarily making available such data in future. Making the data available to interested parties should not rely on whether or not you think they are on “your side”.

  60. David Ermer
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 12:09 PM | Permalink

    This would actually be funny if it didn’t involve the subjugation of science to politics/ideology/etc. You know science the process by which we figured out how to live in climate controlled houses, build sanitation systems, beat cholera… I think we are going to miss it when its gone.

  61. Nicholas
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 12:11 PM | Permalink

    “I don’t get the petty snark here. The archiving began prior to his being notified of the FOIA request.”

    Archiving doesn’t “begin”. It either happens or it doesn’t. The data wasn’t archived until it was available for download. Really, it should have been archived before publication. Science is about replicability and how can you replicate a study you read in a journal if the data or methods which are not in the public domain are not available at the point of publication?

    As Mr. McIntyre points out, if the data were in the process of being prepared for archiving at the time when he made his perfectly reasonable request, why didn’t they just say so?

    I still don’t understand why it takes so long to archive data used in the study. To perform the calculations they must have had the data sitting in a directory or two somewhere on their computer. How hard is it to zip that up and upload it somewhere? Why should it take nearly a year to do so? Surely it’s easiest to do it concurrently with calculating those results, rather than having to come back to it months later.

  62. steven mosher
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 12:39 PM | Permalink

    Perhaps if some paid as much attention to the details of climate science as they do to the details of snark we actually might learn something. Sorry if that sounds snarky.

  63. Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 12:44 PM | Permalink

    I think I figured out FOIA stands for, but its probably not appropriate language to post..

  64. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 12:51 PM | Permalink

    per, in my earlier post, I observed:

    Personally I can’t imagine any sensible bureaucrat touching Santer’s little campaign with a bargepole. I’ve long believed that sunshine would cure this sort of stonewalling and obstruction and I hope that that happens.

    And indeed, it appears to have played out along these lines. Bader moved promptly to put the data online, regardless of any prior positions taken by Santer.

    The only thing that puzzles me in the exchange with Bader is what he was trying to accomplish in his email to me. I presume that he is trying to place PCMDI in a better light, notifying me that they acted promptly to place the data online once they were in contact with FOI officials. Fair enough. But equally, that’s not what I was told – I was never told that they planned to archive the data and was told that they would get to my FOI request when they got to it.

    In his shoes, if I were trying to place PCMDI in a better light, I would included an apology for 1) not being advised originally that there were ongoing plans to archive the data; 2) regretting that I had not been advised of the archiving schedule or availability once they had embarked on that course of action. I might even have included an invitation to visit the facility if I were in the area. That sort of apology doesn’t cost anything.

    In his shoes, I might even say that they would place higher priority on prompt archiving in the future.

    Instead, his turn of phrase, in effect, blaming Climate Audit for creating a “mis-impression” is a pointless sort of red flag. I reported the information as it was available to me and reported it accurately. There’s a kind of self-righteousness about the climate Sir Humphrey’s that one doesn’t necessarily see in usual Sir Humphrey’s who would avoid that sort of jibe. I don’t think that he even realized that it would come across badly – they think of themselves as righteous and thus anyone who thinks otherwise is creating a “mis-impression”. Not an effective way of dealing with things.

    And in this case, his efforts at self-righteousness simply raise new questions about the chronology that I’d never thought of before. If they had already planned to archive the data, then Santer’s answer was even worse. (Of course, as others have observed, they could have started the process after Nov 10.)

    • Howard
      Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 1:37 PM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#88),

      Passive-aggressive behavior (regardless of motivation) is SOP for a high level bureaucracy: CYA, defend your people and blame the victim. Your aggressive-aggressive approach really throws them off their game. A good example is the nit picking from thefordprefect: he gives the impression that he does not buys into passive-aggressive behavior and yet attacks you and this blog for not being a compliant victim.

      You have achieved a major victory here. Bader’s response was weak and petty because admitting mistakes is not in their playbook. However, his missive was a coded acknowledgment of defeat. In future, I predict it will be easier (but not easy!) for you to get the data you want from the real climate scientists.

      Congratulations.

    • Jon
      Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 2:04 PM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#88),

      seems to have taken some pains to disassociate the archiving of the Santer data from my FOIA request, notwithstanding the seeming evidence of the data directory being entitled FOIA. Readers are therefore invited to provide their own suggestions as to what FOIA stands for in this context

      I presume that he is trying to place PCMDI in a better light, notifying me that they acted promptly to place the data online once they were in contact with FOI officials. Fair enough.

      He told you that the process had already begun prior to being notified on the FOIA request. Why do keep framing this as though the archival was somehow prompted by the request if not to imply that he was being dishonest?

      Steve: Oh, puh-leeze. As others observed and as I also had noticed, his wording would be literally onside if they started doing something after I raised the issue online but before he personally received my FOI request through channels. I’m quite aware that people can express themselves carefully and I presume that Bader did so here. Equally, I can express my opinion that a directory labelled FOIA was not produced in total disassociation from my FOIA request. Whether they had begun the process as a “low priority activity” before or after is beside the point. I don’t dispute that it was “low priority”, that’s for sure. The issue is really why Santer didn’t communicate this information in response to a straightforward request.

      • TerryS
        Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 2:36 PM | Permalink

        Re: Jon (#95),

        He told you that the process had already begun prior to being notified on the FOIA request. Why do keep framing this as though the archival was somehow prompted by the request if not to imply that he was being dishonest?

        Recently heard in a schoolyard near you:

        Tom: Can I play?
        Dick: No
        Tom: Please?
        Dick: No:
        Tom: I’ll ask the teacher.
        Dick: Go Ask.
        Teacher: Dick, let Tom play.
        Dick: I was going to let him play anyway.

        The simple fact is Steve made a reasonable request and received an unreasonable reply. He then went to a higher authority (FOIA) and now the data is being made available. The department he made the request of is now saying they were always going to release the data. My own personal opinion is that without the FOIA request the data would not have been made available so soon after the papers release (less than a year seems fast for climate science). The optimal solution for this would have been for Santer to say the data isn’t currently available but would be within X months. If it takes so much time and effort to make the data available (which I infer from Bader’s response) then the preparation must have begun before Santer’s response and I find it difficult to accept that Santer would not have been aware of the preparation of the data for release.

      • Mark O
        Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 2:47 PM | Permalink

        Re: Jon (#95),

        There are a many ways Steve’s FOIA request could have prompted the data release and yet the data archiving could still have begun before they actually received the official request. You can continue to defend their actions but I don’t think you are going to convince anybody with an open mind who reads the history of Steve’s interactions with them.

      • Jon
        Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 3:26 PM | Permalink

        Re: Jon (#95),

        Equally, I can express my opinion that a directory labelled FOIA was not produced in total disassociation from my FOIA request.

        That’s a total strawman. Obviously that directory was named after the decision was made to comply with the request. That has nothing to do with whether or not the archival process had already begun prior. Are you accusing him of dishonesty in stating that the process had begun prior?

        Whether they had begun the process as a “low priority activity” before or after is beside the point.

        It is a point you felt the need to make:

        seems to have taken some pains to disassociate the archiving of the Santer data from my FOIA request, notwithstanding the seeming evidence of the data directory being entitled FOIA.

        If you grant that the process had begun prior, what does it matter that the data were moved to a directory created after notification of the request? What point are you trying to make by calling the directory name “seeming evidence”? Evidence of what?

        Steve: I do not permit the use of words like “dishonest” at this blog and I request that you observe these rules. I made no such claim in respect to Bader and I’m getting tired of your misrepresenting matters. I said that I’m sure that Bader is capable of expressing himself carefully; Bader only said that the process began prior to him being aware of my FOI request to DOE. Prior to that request, I’d filed a FOI request to NOAA and he might well have assumed that it was only a matter of time until I filed with DOE. Bader didn’t say one way or the other.

  65. kim
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 1:13 PM | Permalink

    This is more cart before horse than chicken and egg. Arrogance breeds sarcastic remark, not the other way around. If these researchers had the proper scientific humility in the face of data there would be no snark, but rather respectful and wondrous mutual illustration of the facts. What has gone so terribly wrong?
    ==========================================

  66. Lawrence Hickey
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 1:24 PM | Permalink

    Steve, if you were really into tactical maneuvering, the next time data is withheld like this, don’t write to anybody. File t he FOIA request and keep your head down long enough to establish that it was ignored. Quietly hire a lawyer, and sue them, citing the history in court of the history of bad behavior. The first note they would get would be a summons to court. You could hardly worry about poisoning the acid responses you get already. Maybe fear would work, and they could display their contempt in court. I guess you are too nice to lay such a trap, but it would sure be easy.

  67. Shallow Climate
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 1:33 PM | Permalink

    I myself don’t mind a little snark here and there. After all, this is the internet: a little snark makes things lively, internet-ish. Lets not be prudes. My only concern, when it may arise, is the use of snark to finesse around addressing important concerns/issues. Frankly, I tend not to see that at CA, but I believe I do see it at RC.

  68. Michael Smith
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 1:36 PM | Permalink

    Based on what I’ve seen to date, I would not be surprised to learn that FOIA means: “Full Of Inscrutable Adjustments”.

  69. curious
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 2:01 PM | Permalink

    I think I’ve missed something here:

    1. The data were released publicly on 14 January 2009, at which time our Department of Energy sponsors and NNSA Freedom of Information Act officials were notified.

    and

    4. The data were made available on January 14, at which time I notified LLNL staff who deal with FOIA requests and Department of Energy officials.

    vs.

    On Jan 14, 2009, one of my readers received an email from DOE saying that the data was being finalized that week in preparation for posting and the lab was seeking final approval from their site office to post the data, undertaking to send you the url when it was available, providing notice of availability on Jan 26.

    So, I read this as showing that, via a channel other than Steve’s reader, the data was publicly available on the 14January09. Dr Bader, please can you clarify and point to the medium of publication? Thank you.

  70. Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 2:50 PM | Permalink

    FOIA

    Found Our Information Afterall

  71. MrPete
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 3:22 PM | Permalink

    This can be construed as a simple (?) matter of differing cultural perspectives.

    If I may interpret Bader’s statements as graciously as I can…

    Dear Mr. McIntyre;

    I want to clarify several mis-impressions on your “climateaudit.org” web site with respect to the Synthetic MSU data sets on the PCMDI website.

    Bader is not correcting ; he is clarifying. What Steve said is not incorrect. Bader is simply providing clarification.

    1. The data were released publicly on 14 January 2009, at which time our Department of Energy sponsors and NNSA Freedom of Information Act officials were notified. These data were released voluntarily by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and we were never directed to do so as a result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Furthermore, preparation of the datasets and documentation for them began before your FOIA request was received by us.

    [Emphasis mine in the above]

    Bader simply does not want anyone to get the impression that an FOIA request went through to completion, forcing LLNL to release the data. That would be an incorrect impression. Nothing needs correcting; he’s simply providing clarification to ensure such a mis-impression is assumed by anyone.

    Bader is clarifying certain facts:

    1) LLNL released the data voluntarily (it never reached the point of a FOIA lawyer directing them to do so.)

    2) Data preparation began before Steve’s FOIA request (in fact, it may have begun even before the paper was published.)

    Note that Bader’s statement does not dispute or oppose any of Steve’s statements. Steve is also indisputably correct in his assertions:

    3) Santer refused Steve’s data request, and suggested he could generate the data himself.

    4) Before Steve filed the FOIA request, there was no public evidence or acknowledgment that the data would ever be released.

    5) The received data is stored in a FOIA folder, indicating that it was produced in compliance with the FOIA request.

    In government-speak, there’s no problem here. Santer’s words and attitude, and the lack of disclosure, are simply chalked up to “understandable” delay and frustration. And Steve did get the data without the FOIA turning into a legal battle.

    Either of the following claims would be unsupportable:
    a) Data preparation was done without knowledge of the FOIA request. ["FOIA" folder disproves that]

    b) Bader’s group stonewalled and was forced to release the data by a FOIA ruling [There was no ruling... once the process began, Bader ensured there was cooperation.]

    Jon and fordprefect, methinks you protest too much. Steve has a very valid claim here, and his work very much influenced the timing and results. And Bader gets a little bit of CYA as well: at least his team was not forced to release the data by FOIA lawyers.

    • Jon
      Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 3:49 PM | Permalink

      Re: MrPete (#100),

      5) The received data is stored in a FOIA folder, indicating that it was produced in compliance with the FOIA request.

      ["FOIA" folder disproves that]

      There is absolutely no evidence for either of these statements. Are you unaware that data can be and are created in directories and copied/moved to others? If I am archiving data for Project X and I begin storing it in Directory Y, and later receive a request from Z that I want to provide data from Project X for, why wouldn’t I create a Directory Z and copy or move relevant data to it?

      • RomanM
        Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 4:26 PM | Permalink

        Re: Jon (#104),

        I haven’t heard such lame nonsense since the last posts from Ford or Deep C! Here is a guy who writes

        I see no reason why I should do your work for you, and provide you with derived quantities (zonal means, synthetic MSU temperatures, etc.) which you can easily compute yourself. I am copying this email to all co-authors of the 2008 Santer et al. IJoC paper, as well as to Professor Glenn McGregor at IJoC.

        This seems to me to be pretty adamant in the attitude that in no way, shape or form is he going to provide the data. So tell us, what caused him to change his mind? He had a sudden awakening? Did someone plead with him to do so perhaps? Could he (and his boss!) possibly have been aware of the FOIA request (say, from this web site) before it “was received by us“? By all means, tell us what you think transpired since you must have information that we don’t to be so certain that Mr. Santer just moved (heck, why move it – just rename the directory) the data to directory Z since he received a polite request from the folks at FOIA which had nothing to do with the change of heart. Yeah, I believe it, sure …

      • Dave Dardinger
        Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 4:31 PM | Permalink

        Re: Jon (#103),

        If I am archiving data for Project X and I begin storing it in Directory Y, and later receive a request from Z that I want to provide data from Project X for, why wouldn’t I create a Directory Z and copy or move relevant data to it?

        But if you were gathering data to archive and then got a request for FOIA and moved RELEVANT data to it, why would you then use this later file directory to archive? Wouldn’t you use the original directory which might have additional data which wasn’t strictly necessary for a given FOIA request?

      • TerryS
        Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 4:32 PM | Permalink

        Re: Jon (#103),

        If I am archiving data for Project X and I begin storing it in Directory Y, and later receive a request from Z that I want to provide data from Project X for, why wouldn’t I create a Directory Z and copy or move relevant data to it?

        Actually, this happens to me quite a lot. I never bother copying the data into another directory as it is a waste of time. I simply tar and gzip the “Y” directory and send it to them. The only time I will create a separate directory is if the data I have to send to “Z” is either a subset of “Y” or if “Y” is a subset of “Z”
        . Even if Zeds request arrives before Y is complete I wont rename the directory because gathering the data usually involves scripts that have “Y”‘s directory defined somewhere within them. Of course, if I haven’t been doing “Y” and “Z”‘s request arrives then the directory will be named “Z”.

    • Urederra
      Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 8:50 AM | Permalink

      Re: MrPete (#100),

      2) Data preparation began before Steve’s FOIA request (in fact, it may have begun even before the paper was published.)

      I just hope data preparation began BEFORE the conclusions of the paper were written. Preparing the data AFTER writting the conclusions is not a good scientific practice.

      Re: thefordprefect (#85),

      I can see at least one reasson why it may take time to publish data (I of course do not know if this is the reason in cases discussed here) some of the studies you refer to contain data from many sources. These may have been given freely to (or purchased by) the researchers. But they then do not have any right to distribute it freely to the public at large. They would have to seek aproval for any data that is not in the public domain. If it were publically available then you statitians would have no need to keep requesting it for it is already published. To seek approval from others takes time – a lot of time.

      Then hold the paper until you have all the data ready to be released, like It is done in other scientific fields.

  72. Patrick M.
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 3:47 PM | Permalink

    FOIA = For One Inconvenient Auditor

    Clearly the folder was named after Steve.

  73. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 4:22 PM | Permalink

    #100. Hi, Pete, Your observations make sense. Bader’s email is still really peculiar and some of my critics are totally misunderstanding what I find peculiar about it.

    Y’see, in a way, Bader really hangs Santer out to dry. Bader volunteers this information (that we didn’t know before):

    Furthermore, preparation of the datasets and documentation for them began before your FOIA request was received by us.

    If they hadn’t started such preparations, then Santer’s original response was merely unco-operative. However, if they had started such preparations – which Santer would have known about – then Santer’s original reply is even more out of line than we realized prior to Bader’s email.

    Maybe Bader’s gotten annoyed with being dragged into Santer’s mess and is subtly inviting a formal complaint, which would give him some leverage against Santer. That would be a manoeuvre worthy of Sir Humphrey. (Hey, I don’t really think this…but it’s an amusing scenario.)

  74. Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 5:08 PM | Permalink

    I haven’t posted here before, but it is always interesting reading. It would probably be best if Dr. Bader were to clarify, but under the conditions I don’t think he will. I think that the “mis-impression” he was addressing was that the data was released on January 27th, because of the paper’s submission on January 26th. I really think that was his whole point. He is very clear to say that he discussed with FOIA officials whether the data being prepared would meet their requirements. They said it would, so he felt that posting that data would resolve the matter. He also implies that their time table was moved up by the request as he asked whether January 15th would meet their needs. Thus it seems to me that he increased the priority on the matter, and released earlier than planned based on the FOIA request. This clearly explains the folder name.

    There is no explanation for why this “low priority” activity was begun other than the statement that it was not originally in response to an FOIA request. It does seem based on Dr. Santer’s response that he didn’t originally intend to publish the data, so this was a change of viewpoint by someone. I also don’t know enough about the details of FOIA requests to know when Mr. McIntyre needed to be notified of the response.

    As to my personal opinion I think that intermediate data and code should always be published. Replication is a fundamental element of science. People have speculated on cases where the data might be proprietary, but it seems to me that this would be extremely rare, and that if it were to occur the author’s would need to explain and provide the contact information so that the data could be obtained. FOIA requests should never be necessary.

    • Phil
      Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 9:09 PM | Permalink

      Re: Nicolas Nierenberg (#108),

      Replication is a fundamental element of science.

      To all whom it may concern,

      Please write the above statement one hundred times on the blackboard.

      That will be all.

    • Geoff
      Posted Feb 6, 2009 at 12:50 AM | Permalink

      Re: Nicolas Nierenberg (#108), Your inaugural comment showed clear thinking and good judgment.

      You say

      As to my personal opinion I think that intermediate data and code should always be published. Replication is a fundamental element of science. People have speculated on cases where the data might be proprietary, but it seems to me that this would be extremely rare, and that if it were to occur the author’s would need to explain and provide the contact information so that the data could be obtained. FOIA requests should never be necessary.

      This is also my opinion and I’m sure it’s Steve’s and many others. How to take this idea from a few opinions to reality?

      This is actually the crux of the disagreement with Dr. Santer. No one disputes Dr. Santer’s claim that the “primary model data” is publicly available, and it is possible to reconstruct something plausibly similar (as done by Douglass, et.al, 2007) but there is a strong case to be made that intermediate results, e.g., collation of such data and the relevant code should be made available in studies such as this one, since there is an important possibility of errors in trying to replicate such a collation. The archiving of such intermediate results is required for economics journals, among others.

      For example the Journal of Political Economy:

      For econometric and simulation papers, the minimum requirement should include the data set(s) and programs used to run the final models, plus a description of how previous intermediate data sets and programs were employed to create the final data set(s). Authors are invited to submit these intermediate data files and programs as an option; if they are not provided, authors must fully cooperate with investigators seeking to conduct a replication who request them. The data files and programs can be provided in any format using any statistical package or software, but a Readme PDF file documenting the purpose and format of each file provided, and instructing a user on how replication can be conducted, should also be provided.

      (link here).

      This is not an especially radical idea, and is echoed in the medical journals. In “Reproducible Epidemiologic Research” (2006), Dr. Peng writes:

      An attainable minimum standard is reproducibility, where
      independent investigators subject the original data to their
      own analyses and interpretations. Reproducibility calls for
      data sets and software to be made available for 1) verifying
      published findings, 2) conducting alternative analyses of the
      same data, 3) eliminating uninformed criticisms that do not
      stand up to existing data, and 4) expediting the interchange
      of ideas among investigators.

      (link here).

      Similarly, Dr. Laine says in “Reproducible Research: Moving towards Research the Public Can Trust” (2007):

      Reproducibility involves methods to ensure that
      independent scientists can reproduce published results by
      using the same procedures and data as the original investigators. It also requires that the primary investigators share their data and methodological details. These include, at a minimum, the original protocol, the dataset used for the analysis, and the computer code used to produce the results.

      also

      The inclusion of statistical code in this initiative may
      also serve to remind investigators to keep an exact record of
      the statistical procedures performed and the portions of the
      data set that the authors analyzed with statistical software.
      Most statistical software packages have some method for
      storing the analysis code, which facilitates examination by
      statistical editors or other researchers and modification of
      the analysis for subsequent projects. Universal data archiving
      is an essential basic component of research accountability
      that researchers often neglect. We urge all authors, even
      those who are reluctant to share their data under any
      terms, to archive their data.

      (Link here).

      What do you think could bring agreement and harmonization on the definition of “recorded factual material commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings”? I’d also be interested in the views of Admiral Foley. Would he be able to help form a “Blue-Ribbon” panel to review this issue and recommend clearer standards such as indicated above?

  75. Mark ZIBILICH
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 5:14 PM | Permalink

    FOIA? Might it be “Forfend Ontario’s Indefatigable Auditor”?

  76. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 5:29 PM | Permalink

    #108. Your observation makes sense. I don’t think that the data release was related to the submission of the article and have added the following text to the post.

    for “clarification”, I do not imply that the data was released “because” of our journal submission on Jan 26. The CA reader in question had been on a lengthy business trip. As noted below, he had been informed on Jan 14 that Livermore was planning to release the data and that he would be informed of the url when available; he followed up upon return from his business trip on Jan 26 and obtained the url on Jan 27, whereupon he informed me. Had he not been traveling, he might have learned the url on an earlier data. Livermore did not inform me of either their plans or the actual archiving and I had knowledge of the situation other than from this CA reader

    I’m satisfied that the process had begun earlier. Santer’s documentation is dated Jan 5, 2008 and obviously preceded the submission of the article. I have no reason to dispute Bader’s statement that the data was made available on Jan 14, 2008 – but equally, they did not inform of this and I received the stalling FOI response after Jan 14 though it was issued on Dec 10 or thereabouts. There was no reason for me to trawl through PCMDI every day just to see if they might have been joshing in their prior refusals to provide the data.

    • John M
      Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 5:42 PM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#110),

      Livermore did not inform me of either their plans or the actual archiving and I had knowledge of the situation other than from this CA reader

      Should be “I had no knowledge of the situation other than…”?

    • Jon
      Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 12:49 AM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#110),

    • Jon
      Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 12:52 AM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#110),

      I’m satisfied that the process had begun earlier.

      I’m sure we’ll all rest easier knowing that.

  77. W F Lenihan
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 5:30 PM | Permalink

    Mr McIntyre: If I knew your e-mail address I would have used it for this message.

    Before retiring 7 years ago, I spent considerable time dealing with a few Federal agencies, including use of FOIA. Unless the rules have changed a written response to all FOIA requests must be made within 30 days. Data and file production may take longer, depending on volume and complexity. However, the agency must justify the additional time objectively. Agencies can be compelled to respond when they refuse to or are untimely. Final recourse is a by suing the agency, who can be compelled to respond and pay reasonable attorneys fees and litigation expenses. When the agency knows that you know the rules and remedies they usually comply.

    These agencies had several nasty habits regarding written communications. Undated letters and memoranda are not uncommon. They will predate letters and then mail them later in order to appear to be prompt.

    In order to prove recalcitrance, use a date stamp or write the time and date you receive every written communication. Make notes about all phone conversations. One way to prove the time and date of receipt of mail is to send it “certified mail-return receipt requested” if that service is available in Canada. Upon receipt of mail, attach the post marked or metered envelope for proof of the date of mailing.

    You are frequently dealing with weasels in our Federal government. If you have any questions or need clarification, let me know.

  78. DJ
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 6:15 PM | Permalink

    Steve,
    Thought I would help and list all the quotes up to Post 109.

    Here’s the Latest FOIA Stands for listing:

    Post 11 For Oregonians In Arizona
    Fine Oranges in Alabama
    Fortran Operational Interior Architecture

    Post 19 Fresh Out of Ideas Again

    Post 23 F*** Off Inpertinent Auditor

    Post 26 Freely Offered Information Actually

    Post 39 Foo-fiddly,Oh-diddly,Iee-tiddly,Auh-piddly

    Post 42 Fobbing Off Inquisitive Auditor
    Found Obscuring Illustrious Auditor
    Found Obsequiously Illuminating Auditors

    Post 46 Fatwa On Inquisitive Auditors

    Post 64 Forbear Our Inconsistent Answers

    Post 66 For Others In Attendance

    Post 92 Full Of Inscrutable Adjustments

    Post 98 Found Our Information Afterall

    Post 102 For One Inconvenient Auditor

    Post 109 Forfend Ontario’s Indedatigable Auditor

    This is what we have so far! My two picks are Post 19 & Post 98

    Hope this helps out!

    DJ

    • Patrick M.
      Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 7:23 PM | Permalink

      Re: DJ (#113),

      98 has got to be the winner so far, although I like 46 also.
      :)

      • DJ
        Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 8:07 PM | Permalink

        Re: Patrick M. (#121), Yes there are some good ones coming in. I figuired you would like that one Patrick. It goes with the way you think! Awe, I’m going to keep you guessing on that statement!

        Regards,
        DJ

  79. Greg F
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 6:37 PM | Permalink

    Considering the tone of Santer’s response to Steve’s original request…

    Forgive Our Indignation Auditor

  80. Terry
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 6:39 PM | Permalink

    Feeble Obfuscation? Internet Accentuates.

  81. StuartR
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 6:45 PM | Permalink

    StuartR (#72), I should have just did that . Wow clicking on the right hand side number is great.

  82. Guy
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 6:48 PM | Permalink

    ‘Fraid Of Internet Amateur

  83. jeez
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 6:49 PM | Permalink

    Bader’s response reminds me of a cat that fell off the table and the look they give you immediately afterward.

    Why are you looking at me? I meant to do that!

  84. Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 8:09 PM | Permalink

    Ferreting
    Out
    Interesting / Ignorant / Ill-mannered / Illustrious
    Arguments / Auditors / Authors

    What about the converse to FOI, freedom from misrepresentation – and I mean the real problem with the MSM?

  85. Gary Palmgren
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 8:14 PM | Permalink

    I work in an industrial lab and a couple years ago the company paid a tidy sum to have some intellectual property re-examined by outside council. A kind of an audit. This was done to verify that we had what we thought we had. The company did not pay a lot of money for a light weight evaluation. It was a hard nosed poke holes in it and find the loopholes type of evaluation. It was not some lightweight “peer” review.

    If I found something that I thought was dangerous, I would welcome an audit. The best thing that could happen is that I would be shown to be wrong. When dealing with a complex subject an audit and preparing for an audit is a wonderful chance to make sure things have been done right and a chance to show you do good work. It also brings in others, with hopefully a fresh look, that might help solve some issues.

    Steve has been doing a great audit on a very difficult subject and the “team” should be welcoming a thorough examination of their work. If global warming is dangerous and we can actually do something about it, then the “team” should be grateful that their work can be verified and validated. Especially since it is being done for free. Without validation, it will be difficult to initiate any unpleasant action.

    Of course if the work has been poorly done with invalid statistical tools and questionable data, the “team” may have different feelings about an audit if they know of feel their work cannot stand up to scrutiny.

    Their actions seem to answer the obvious question.

  86. Alan Wilkinson
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 8:28 PM | Permalink

    I’m sorry, but Dr Bader hadn’t been properly briefed by his staff and it really means
    “For Our Internet Archive” and had nothing whatever to do with the Steve’s FOI request.

    And pigs might fly.

    The whole point of Dr Bader’s attempt to save face for his department was that his funding depends on his reputation and his ability to claim to be the leading science group in their field. To be exposed as trying to block access to their data in violation of both the law and their own policies opens a big vulnerability to their political and professional rivals or enemies and he was however ineptly trying to protect that flank.

    Having failed so dismally you will hear nothing further since there is no upside and plenty of downside in his continuing to keep this alive.

  87. Reid
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 8:46 PM | Permalink

    FOIA = File of Independent Auditing

  88. jeez
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 9:02 PM | Permalink

    Festinatio Obvolvo Illac Aranea

  89. jae
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 9:23 PM | Permalink

    I vote for 98: Found Our Information Afterall

  90. MartinGAtkins
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 10:04 PM | Permalink

    For Obstinate Irritating Ars****.

  91. Robert
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 11:03 PM | Permalink

    For Outside Inquiry Assignment
    Assessment
    Appropriation

    • MartinGAtkins
      Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 12:25 AM | Permalink

      Re: Robert (#131),

      I like Assessment, it’s polite and professional. What about.

      Found Out I Acquiescent

  92. Jon
    Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 1:52 AM | Permalink

    Can you explain why prior posts are getting flagged as spam when I only linked back to CA posts?

    [Who knows the mind of SpamKarma? (the spam killer) :-) It's hard to say. At one point, you tried to post something that it really did not like, giving you a score of -38. That gave you an automatic blacklist black eye for a while. No idea why it did that. FYI we're very agressive with the anti-spam. This site sometimes gets dozens of spam hits per second, although that level is unusual.]

  93. Mike N
    Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 2:26 AM | Permalink

    There are times in threads where Steve will ask people to refrain from ‘piling on’, IMHO this is one of those threads where I wish he would have. Dr. Bader was at least cordial and responsive, even if he didn’t have to be. That’s miles ahead of many. I give him respect for that.

  94. Geoff
    Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 3:59 AM | Permalink

    It’s worth noting that most US government agencies that fund science are now operating under OMB (US Office of Management and Budget) Circular A-110 (see here). Under Subpart B, Property Standards, point .36(d), you can see:

    ….in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for research data relating to published research findings produced under an award that were used by the Federal Government in developing an agency action that has the force and effect of law, the Federal awarding agency shall request, and the recipient shall provide, within a reasonable time, the research data so that they can be made available to the public through the procedures established under the FOIA. If the Federal awarding agency obtains the research data solely in response to a FOIA request, the agency may charge the requester a reasonable fee equaling the full incremental cost of obtaining the research data. This fee should reflect costs incurred by the agency, the recipient, and applicable subrecipients. This fee is in addition to any fees the agency may assess under the FOIA (5 U.S.C. 552(a)(4)(A)).

    Additionally, under the same Subpart, Reports and Records, .53(f) we read:

    Unless required by statute, no Federal awarding agency shall place restrictions on recipients that limit public access to the records of recipients that are pertinent to an award, except when the Federal awarding agency can demonstrate that such records shall be kept confidential and would have been exempted from disclosure pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552) if the records had belonged to the Federal awarding agency.

    These requirements are still not requiring data and code archiving as a matter of policy, but this is likely to come in the future.

    Steve
    : there are other relevant policies that would seem to require data archiving if NSF bothered administering them.

  95. Chris Schoneveld
    Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 6:08 AM | Permalink

    Hans Erren, January 31st, 2009 at 4:09 am:
    “I see a fundamental difference between industry and science.
    In industry you prepare software and data for a client and the report is of lesser interest, the client primarily wants the software and data.
    In science you prepare a report for a journal and the data and software are of lesser interest, the journal wants the report and usually is not interested in the data and software.”

    Hans, I suppose your comment only apllies to the industry that revolves around preparation of software for clients, not the vast industry that performs high level (fundamental as well as applied) research for their own perusal, which often doesn’t get published.

  96. Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 7:11 AM | Permalink

    Cris
    Sure, but even though that product is not intended for third parties, it is still fully available for internal auditing and review.

  97. Paul C
    Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 9:02 AM | Permalink

    A couple of thoughts (without addressing Bader’s comments directly)… Its possible you got the response you did From Bader because one of Santer’s correspondents contacted him as a heads-up to a likely ensuing FUBAR.
    On FOIAs – these are major pain in the butt for most departments, due to lack of funding to support the work necessary to respond to them, and most particularly, there is quite the little bureaucracy in most agencies involved in handling them. Ford may be a nuisance at other times, but in calling up possible 3rd party considerations he may well be correct. In Canada, ATIAs(FOIAs) have to scrutinized in accordance with the Privacy Act and PIPEDA, in addition to whatever other legislation has dominion over the info. Bader might very likely not have been privy to the FOIA (or the archiving of the data, at this point) as this would decidedly clerical to his function and not on his particular radar. The Santer issue may well have been his bell-ringer, and he’s simply having to be the janitor.

    • Craig Loehle
      Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 9:37 AM | Permalink

      Re: Paul C (#141), I can see the email now: Warning, impending FUBAR. Respond to FOIA ASAP.

  98. Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 9:25 AM | Permalink

    “… I see no reason why I should do your work for you,”

    To update the old joke:
    1 + 1 = 2
    Ergo, E=mc^
    The intervening steps are left for SM to do as an exercise.

  99. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 9:49 AM | Permalink

    It’s funny that Steig has decided to play the same game with the AVHRR monthly data, where the situation is almost identical. They constructed monthly data sets that were essential to their temperature reconstructions, just as Santer did with PCMDI data. Steig’s at a university and FOI may differ there but Comiso’s at NOAA. Also unlike Royal Meterological Society, Nature has policies and seems much less interested in protecting stonewalling authors now than they were with Mann a few years ago.

    I don’t think that the Santer case study offers much encouragement to Steig in his efforts not to archive their monthly AVHRR results.

  100. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 11:38 AM | Permalink

    I have one last FOIA interpretation and then let’s call it quits:

    Fortran Output In ASCII

  101. DJ
    Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 11:39 AM | Permalink

    Steve,

    Here’s the Latest FOIA Stands for listing:

    Post 11 For Oregonians In Arizona
    Fine Oranges in Alabama
    Fortran Operational Interior Architecture

    Post 19 Fresh Out of Ideas Again

    Post 23 F*** Off Inpertinent Auditor

    Post 26 Freely Offered Information Actually

    Post 39 Foo-fiddly,Oh-diddly,Iee-tiddly,Auh-piddly

    Post 42 Fobbing Off Inquisitive Auditor
    Found Obscuring Illustrious Auditor
    Found Obsequiously Illuminating Auditors

    Post 46 Fatwa On Inquisitive Auditors

    Post 64 Forbear Our Inconsistent Answers

    Post 66 For Others In Attendance

    Post 92 Full Of Inscrutable Adjustments

    Post 98 Found Our Information Afterall

    Post 102 For One Inconvenient Auditor

    Post 109 Forfend Ontario’s Indedatigable Auditor

    Post 114 For Obama If Asked

    Post 115 Forgive Our Indignation Auditor

    Post 116 Feeble Obfuscation Internet Accentuates

    Post 118 Fraid Of Internet Amateur

    Post 123 Ferreting Out Interesting Auguments
    Ferreting Out Ignorant Auditors
    Ferreting Out Ill-Mannered Authors
    Ferreting Out Illustrious Authors

    Post 126 File Of Independent Auditioning

    Post 127 Festinatio Obvoluo Illac Aranea (Translation Please!)

    Post 130 For Obstinate Irritating Ars****

    Post 131 For Outside Inquiry Assignment

    Post 132 Found Out I Acquiescent

    These are the latest Postings! I feel there’s a Tie between Post 98 & Post 131. A lot of good one’s!!!

  102. kim
    Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 11:58 AM | Permalink

    Found Out I Acknowledge, AKA touche.
    ===================================

  103. cirby
    Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 12:21 PM | Permalink

    I’m just a little curious, though…

    Why would it possibly take several months to “archive” less than 100 files, taking up less than 20 megabytes uncompressed? Especially if that data was the core information used to run their simulations (and should have been in one directory in the first place)? This should have been a five minute job for someone, at most.

    The total effort of collecting and compressing those plain text files would have been trivial in comparison to replying several times to the email messages asking for the files.

    • Jonathan
      Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 1:12 PM | Permalink

      Re: cirby (#147), most scientific research is done in a pretty slapdash way, and the files don’t exist the way you think they do. For my last submitted paper I acquired data on a commercial unix system, transferred the data files (which are in a proprietary format which I don’t entirely understand) to a windows XP system and pre-processed to get it into a standard matlab data format using a freeware package. I don’t recall what version of the package I used, and since then I have upgraded my system so it would be difficult or impossible to find that out. The pre-processing requires a few parameters, the values of which I have written down in a notebook somewhere. I then processed the data further in matlab, using a program which I subsequently discovered miscalculates all the frequencies by a factor of two (the exact definition of the Nyquist frequency is easy to get wrong!). Of course I should have rewritten the program but I didn’t bother; instead when I sent the data to my co-worker who makes the pretty graphics I told him to double all the frequencies. He then made the figures, I know not how (I did of course check that they basically match the data I sent him). I acquired multiple data sets, and I’m not quite sure which one we finally used, though I could find this in an email somewhere or other.

      I suspect this is not that unusual an approach. Indeed I was advised by a wise old colleague that equipment etc. should be just good enough for the results desired as anything better than that is a waste of resources, and a similar argument could be made for data handling.

      That said I do think higher standards should be practised in climate research, as they already are in clinical trials for example. My manuscript is interesting (it’s currently under review at Science) but nobody is proposing to redesign the economies of the western world based on my results.

      • Pat Frank
        Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 1:50 PM | Permalink

        Re: Jonathan (#149), I work at a DOE National Lab, and don’t know anyone who works so slap-dash as that. Also, I can’t imagine any experimental scientist saying that an instrument should meet only minimal requirements. Everyone I know wants the highest resolution possible. No one knows beforehand what the data will reveal. Less noise and more accuracy is always highly desirable.

        As we all know, in science (and engineering) the devil is in the details. We don’t know where the devils will be in a new data set, but high precision and accuracy give them fewer places to hide. And carelessness gives them a real opening for mischief.

      • Richard Sharpe
        Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 1:55 PM | Permalink

        Re: Jonathan (#149),

        Jonathan makes an admission against interest above, but inadvertently points out why lots of criticism of business is just so much empty froth.

        We in business have to keep lots of information about what we did. Those of us involved with software development, and I suspect companies that build cars and jet airliners and so forth, must be able to produce the source for each and every release we make as well as the environment/tools to build those releases. Indeed, we can build our software to any single change in between.

        It is a shame that scientists do not live up to the standards we are required to adhere to.

        • Richard Sharpe
          Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 4:12 PM | Permalink

          Re: Richard Sharpe (#152),

          Jonathan, I withdraw my earlier remark. Your description of your work makes it clear that you focus on the most important things, which is to ensure that others can repeat your experiments and calculations.

        • Jonathan
          Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 4:22 PM | Permalink

          Re: Richard Sharpe (#157), thanks for this – on first reading my statement probably comes over as a little extreme! And I am a bit obsessed with the importance of independent repetition over other quality measures – I am horrified by the way some “scientists” study modified systems without first showing they can repeat the original work on the original unmodified system. Your remarks have, however, made clear to me one little thing I can and should do to improve my record keeping, which I will implement for that manuscript tomorrow.

      • mondo45
        Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 2:38 PM | Permalink

        Re: Jonathan (#150),

        Jonathan. That is surely satire? Isn’t it?

        • Jonathan
          Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 3:07 PM | Permalink

          Re: mondo45 (#153), I’m afraid not – it’s an accurate description of my last submitted manuscript. And with methods like that I have built a successful scientific career with tenure at a major university and multiple publications in leading international journals.

          Attention to details matters, but in most fields only certain details matter, and others can safely be largely neglected (for the experiment above I controlled some parameters to better that one part in 10^9, but others I made no attempt to control and simply calibrated out). What matters – the thing that makes it science – is that the results can be repeated by independent workers. And that’s certainly true in my case as the bits that really matter are very carefully described. Indeed most of what I do is technique development, and the whole point of my work is to describe experiments, which I apply to model systems, that other people can apply to their own systems – if they didn’t work I would soon be found out!

          In some branches of science repeating the experiment is impractical or horribly expensive, and in such cases it is important to ensure that the data is recorded really carefully. But we should be honest: this is not replication, it is simply reanalysis, and is a poor substitute. Audit is important in climate science only because proper repetition is so difficult.

        • Jonathan
          Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 3:31 PM | Permalink

          Re: Jonathan (#154), sorry, that should have read “better than one part in 10^9″.

          I should add that this is why I am not particularly impressed by Gavin and friends: I know how science is really done, I know how slapdash it can be, and I know how ineffective peer review is.

      • cirby
        Posted Feb 3, 2009 at 12:46 AM | Permalink

        Re: Jonathan (#150), I know how disorganized some science can be. I worked on some studies in college (many years ago), and have seen how some of those are cobbled together.

        However…

        I keep better and more organized records of my amateur photographs than what we’ve been talking about in this thread. Literally thousands of photos, gigabytes of information, with data embedded and sorted into directories by location, subject, or date. If I need one particular photo, I can find it in less time than it took me to type this.

        On a similar note: my business and personal records are organized into directories and placed in one subfolder, which I back up a couple of different ways on a fairly regular basis (automated and burned to CD/DVD). I have a ten year collection of pertinent emails, which can be searched in no time. My total effort in this adds up to no more than four or five hours per year over the last decade.

        So why does this well-trained scientific organization have a data archiving and indexing policy that reminds me of an episode of “The Office?”

  104. oakgeo
    Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 1:00 PM | Permalink

    Nicolas Nierenberg’s thoughtful interpretation is convincing to me. It does seem like Bader is a stand-up guy for his subordinates/colleagues, and Santer is fortunate to have him in his corner. Bader has Santer’s back in that he seems to know how to play the professional-political game (a polite professional response in a conciliatory tone is so refreshing). I would never minimize that skill because it has been in such short supply in many of the responses to Mr. McIntyre’s past requests for data and information.

  105. Bob North
    Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 4:03 PM | Permalink

    Several thoughts –

    First, technically, the DOE has not yet responded to Steve’s FOIA request. To do so, they must either directly provide him with the requested data or directly notify him of where the data has been made available. Steve or any other FOIA requestor should not be expected to rely on recieving emails from other posters or consitently checking a website to see if the data has been made available.

    Second, in somewhat defense of Bader, there may be legitmate reasons whey archiving the data takes some time. First, the researchers may have been using and storing it in a different format than DOE requires for data archives. Second, there may have been some level of final QA/QC that needed to be done prior to the final archiving of said data. (Of course, one could reasonably argue that this archiving process should have begun immediately upon final acceptance of the paper.)

    Third, Bader’s language regarding the voluntary release of the data may in fact be technically correct. However, provided that the data was subject to FOIA, it is not has if they had any choice. Regardless of whether or not they were “directed” to release the data, once a legitimate FOIA request was received, they were obligated by law to abide by that request (again provided the data was deemed subject to FOIA) and could have been “directed” to release the data if they did not comply.

    Finally, regarding the definition of snark and snarky, the urban dictionary provides the following:

    snarky –
    “Any language that contains quips or comments containing sarcastic or satirical witticisms intended as blunt irony.”

    “The adjective snarky is first recorded in 1906. It is from dialectal British snark, meaning ‘to nag, find fault with’, which is probably the same word as snark, snork, meaning ‘to snort, snore’. (The likely connection is the derisive snorting sound of someone who is always finding fault.)”

    Snark –
    ” Combination of “snide” and “remark”. Sarcastic comment(s).”

    “Biting, cruel humor or wit, commonly used to verbally attack someone or something.”

    So, yes, particularly using the first definition, many posts and comments here could be considered “snarky” but I am not sure that is a bad thing. Nothing wrong with a snide remark or biting sarcasm every now and then. Probably better than the out and out insults thrown around at other blogs (on both “sides” of the AGW issue).

  106. Richard Sharpe
    Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 4:16 PM | Permalink

    Bob North said:

    Second, there may have been some level of final QA/QC that needed to be done prior to the final archiving of said data. (Of course, one could reasonably argue that this archiving process should have begun immediately upon final acceptance of the paper.)

    In the real world, QA/QC are done before the product is released. To do otherwise risks lawsuits that could bankrupt the company.

  107. DJA
    Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 5:56 PM | Permalink

    How business is done in industry, science and the civil service is completely different. The trouble with climate science is that it is run by civil service mentality. The civil service is never wrong. Sir Humphrey rules when climate science bureaucracy has to deal with the general public. Such dealings follow a number of well defined paths. You can’t expect the civil service to voluntary reveal information, revealing information is losing power.
    The steps are:-

    1. The initial reply is a standard GF1 letter. It usually says something like “your request is being considered and we will get back to you” this reply eliminates more than 95% of requests.

    When they don’t get back to you and you write another more demanding request :-

    2.a standard GF2 letter is sent back, “thank you for your request, we assure you that we treat all requests for information very seriously, your initial request is with our legal department etc. we will reply to your request when a reply from the legal department has been approved, or your request has been placed in line and we will attend to it shortly. ” etc.etc.

    When there is no reply and a third more demanding letter is sent,

    3. GF3. “your initial request has been considered by our legal department and we regret to inform you that is it necessary for your request to comply with regulations. Section 12(6) of the Local Government Act covers your case and the form you need to submit your request can be obtained from our office. We feel it necessary to point out to you that our mandatory procedure states that letters containing impolite or obscene language are destroyed immediately.”

    So my advice in future is to forget the polite preliminaries, write a FOI request directly to the most senior civil servant in the department preferably on a legal letterhead, it saves time.

    Trouble has been caused by Steig not being in the bureaucracy, his initial letter was obviously or probably not approved by the legal department and now he will be schooled as to the correct procedures in dealing with requests from the general public

  108. cwc
    Posted Feb 1, 2009 at 7:29 PM | Permalink

    Found Output, Input Adjusted

  109. Colin Davidson
    Posted Feb 2, 2009 at 12:45 AM | Permalink

    I am very happy that Dr Santer has been dragged, kicking and screaming (well, maybe not kicking, but definitely screaming after Dr Bader had done with him!) out of the Artist’s camp (original work, but not reproducible) back into the Scientific fold.

    Congratulations Dr Santer! You are a Scientist once more – your work can now be replicated.

  110. MJW
    Posted Feb 2, 2009 at 2:34 AM | Permalink

    Not that it really matters, but I question the supposed origin of “snark” as a combination of “snide” and “remark.” Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition (1996) lists the word “snarky” as synonymous to “crotchety” or “snappish.” The origin is given as: “dial. snark to annoy, perh. alter. of nark to irritate.” The word is older than I would have supposed, with the first known usage listed as 1906. (The word seems to be unrelated to Lewis Carroll’s 1876 poem “The Hunting of the Snark.” Coincidentally, Carroll did coin the word “chortle” by combining “chuckle” and “snort.”)

  111. DJA
    Posted Feb 2, 2009 at 5:23 AM | Permalink

    Re #160 ,sorry last paragraph should read trouble has been caused by SANTER ETc.
    My apologies to Dr Steig.

  112. Tim C
    Posted Feb 2, 2009 at 8:51 AM | Permalink

    Anyone who can contact Steve M. please ask him to contact me re: AGW stations before he posts a new blog, there is something important he might not realise. (comments are now closed on the other blog)

    Steve:
    OK, it’s taken a little longer to do my post. So I’ll reopen the other thread, but I’ll ping you by email.

  113. jim edwards
    Posted Feb 2, 2009 at 9:32 AM | Permalink

    Fellative
    Opacity
    Inhibits
    Apostasy

  114. Posted Feb 2, 2009 at 11:47 AM | Permalink

    RE MJW #163, etc,

    The Wall St. Journal for last Friday had a review of a new book entitled Snark: It’s Mean, It’s Personal, and It’s Ruining Our Conversation, by one David Denby.

    The reviewer (Toby Young of Top Chef and author of How to Lose Friends and Alienate People) concludes that if Denby agrees with the jiber’s point of view, he regards it as clever wit, but if he disagrees, it becomes loathesome snark.

    • Kenneth Fritsch
      Posted Feb 2, 2009 at 1:51 PM | Permalink

      Re: Hu McCulloch (#168),

      The reviewer (Toby Young of Top Chef and author of How to Lose Friends and Alienate People) concludes that if Denby agrees with the jiber’s point of view, he regards it as clever wit, but if he disagrees, it becomes loathesome snark.

      The above noted conclusion is so observably true that I wonder (Lucia has pointed to this effect several times here at CA) why a few visitors to this blog feel it is so important to convince others of the snark content. It is almost always another way of the visitor saying, I have a differing POV and your comments/attitude make me mad as hell. Actually such a statement would be more direct than some I have read and clear the air to get on with more substantive discussion.

      I think there are other factors in what one labels as snark, given the above circumstance, and I think one’s sense of humor and whether they have a bad day/week/year can affect their labeling.

  115. W F Lenihan
    Posted Feb 2, 2009 at 1:10 PM | Permalink

    Re #144, Steve McIntyre:

    Washington State’s FOIA is nearly identical to the Federal law. U of Wash is obviously a public institution that is subject to this law.

  116. Bob KC
    Posted Feb 2, 2009 at 1:55 PM | Permalink

    Found Out I can Archive!

  117. MJW
    Posted Feb 3, 2009 at 12:41 AM | Permalink

    I hope this isn’t too far off topic, but yesterday I mentioned that the word “snarky” was older than I would have thought. Tonight I was watching the PBS show “Antiques Roadshow,” and they had a short feature on a marionette collector. One of the marionettes in the collection was named Snarky Parker. A bit of Googling revealed that Snarky was created by the famous puppeteers Bill and Cora Baird, and starred in a 1950’s TV western, “Life with Snarky Parker.” The show’s director later appeared in a few westerns of his own, such as “The Magnificent Seven.” He was Yul Brenner.

  118. MJW
    Posted Feb 3, 2009 at 12:45 AM | Permalink

    Correction: Bil Baird and Yul Brynner.

  119. Harry Bergeron
    Posted Feb 5, 2009 at 7:46 AM | Permalink

    If you’re still wondering what FOIA means:
    Foolish Officials In Action.

  120. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 13, 2009 at 9:07 PM | Permalink

    I am very happy to see that … the discussion is continuing in peer-reviewed journals, where it belongs.

    It’s a free world. People can discuss things wherever they want, including blogs.

    If, as Dr Covey says, the discussion “belongs… in peer-reviewed journals”, I take it that Dr Covey and his colleagues will, in the future, set an example by refraining from issuing press releases and keeping their own discussion “in peer-reviewed journals, where it belongs.”

    • jae
      Posted Feb 13, 2009 at 9:13 PM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#182),

      LOL. This is just the sort of “ivory tower” remark that hurts the elitists, and which might eventually actually make “peer review” a Jay Leno phrase!! Snobs are not popular in modern culture, something that seems to be lost on most university professors and government employees. Self-snip about the political parallels of the moment….

    • Curt Covey
      Posted Feb 14, 2009 at 1:29 PM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#182), certainly “People can discuss things wherever they want, including blogs.” I read blogs like CA and realclimate (and even press releases) to be alerted about new ideas. In my opinion the old-fashioned journals provide necessary details and allow the ideas to develop rationally. For this purpose the peer-review system is far from perfect, but it’s the best thing we’ve got.

      Steve: Fair enough. Thank you for clarifying that. Often, slights are intended and one gets one’s elbows up a little; it’s nice of you to take the trouble to say that no slight was intended.

      As someone who has considerable experience with other forms of due diligence than that practiced by academic journals (e.g. securities commissions, financial audits, qualifying reports), it seems to me that the terms of reference for climate journals peer review would do well to place more emphasis on ensuring that materials accompanying articles were sufficient for replication and less emphasis on POV gatekeeping, but that’s a long and separate discussion.

  121. Posted Feb 14, 2009 at 1:35 PM | Permalink

    Curt Covey–
    The peer reviewed system is undeniably valuable. It’s good to see issues discussed in both venues. If that’s what you mean, then I think you’ll find many people agree with you.

  122. bender
    Posted Feb 14, 2009 at 2:00 PM | Permalink

    In a free world discussion belongs everywhere. Let the ivory towers fall. Farewell to kings.

  123. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 16, 2009 at 10:41 AM | Permalink

    I received a snail mail response from Carolyn Bucknell of the DOE National Nuclear Security Administration FOI by registered mail today, postmarked Jan 27, 2009 (the same day as this prior post) but dated Jan 21, 2009, in which they stated:

    I contacted the Lawrence Livermore Site Office (LSO) that has oversight responsiblity for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)about your request. LSO asked LLNL to search for any responsive records. LLNL searched and stated to LSO that the requested records are public records and can be obtained by going to the URL http://www-pcmdi.llnl.gov/projects/msu/index.php and following the directions. The requested records are contained as ASCII files in the GSIP archive called tam6.tar.gs that can be downloaded.

    I wonder if she thinks that the data was there all the time.

  124. MarkB
    Posted Feb 16, 2009 at 12:39 PM | Permalink

    Regarding “where scientific discussion belongs…..” – any working scientist knows that the vast majority of scientific discussion goes on in lab meetings, over faculty lunches and office visits, and by phone and email. Publication is more a form for getting professional credit than anything else. One of the big problems for young scientists is that the network of insiders in your field will see pre-prints long before publication, so it’s hard to follow up on someone else’s work without being beaten to the punch by senior people. The peer review gate is just be beginning of discussion – the internet has simply allowed the old lab meeting analysis to be carried out on an international scale. This democratization of scientific criticism is probably the biggest change in science since the standardization of peer review itself. The reason for the reaction against “blog science” is obvious. In the past, published papers were rarely called out publicly. Work recognized as flawed was simply ignored and bypassed. Now, every data point can be put under a public microscope. Ouch! The old “gentlemen’s agreement” to play nice – and protect each other’s professional standing – has been replaced with a free-for-all of criticism from anyone with interest and an internet connection. Sunshine is good. Peer review has it’s place as well, but it is not superior to open discussion.

  125. John M
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 9:45 AM | Permalink

    Re: Ed. McKenna (#56),

    Is it acceptable for a public servant in the US to write to a foreign government in this wa?.

    I guess the first question is whether he implied or stated that he was speaking for GISS or for NASA. I believe he is entitled to express his personal opinion, but only if it is clear that it is just that.

  126. DJ
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 6:34 PM | Permalink

    Re: StuartR (#114), Yep you just missed it! If Steve doesn’t mind, I’ll check the further responses tomorrow. Tomorrow is Super Bowl day so I doubt if I have to…we’ll see. Good one StuartR!!!

4 Trackbacks

  1. [...] for Santer’s trend data or programs under the Freedom of Information Act. But, this weekend, SteveM posted two emails from Bader, Santer’s boss. I found Bader’s second emails interesting, [...]

  2. [...] Director of NOAA’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison, wrote McIntyre (source): Dear Mr. McIntyre; I want to clarify several mis-impressions on your [...]

  3. By FOI Myth #1: USA « Climate Audit on Dec 28, 2009 at 10:31 PM

    [...] in response to a CA post, Dave Bader, Santer’s supervisor, notified me by email as follows (see here) that the archiving of the data was not in response to my FOI request and that Livermore had always [...]

  4. [...] The Steve McIntyre versus NOAA cage match is on. [...]

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