Losing Glacier Data

On February 27, Gerald “winged it” North emailed me (and several other blogs) instructing us not to mention him in our blogs.

Hi All,
I would appreciate your leaving me out of your blogs.
Jerry North

If he wanted me to not mention him, a good starting point would be to stop saying stupid things. Unfortunately, since Climategate, he’s done exactly the opposite.

A few days before sending me this email, North had ridiculed the idea that some one who had gone to the ends of the earth to get glacier data should go to the trouble of archiving the data before he lost it.

North at the AAAS in February on the imposition of requiring what Oxburgh calls “outstanding and experienced scientists” to archive their data:

The question, Gerald North of Texas A&M University wanted to know, “is just how much is enough?” One glaciologist he knows was asked to track down early glacial-melt data. Which, it turns out, were on the type of punched cards used in computers typical of the mid-1970s. The glaciologist couldn’t even remember where he might have packed away those boxes of cards.

Imagine. What sort of petty mind would expect an “outstanding and experienced scientist” to remember where he packed away his boxes of punched cards.

I presume that North is talking about Lonnie Thompson here. And isotope data (not glacial melt.) But precision is no longer one of Gerry’s strong points. Perhaps this also explains why Lonnie Thompson has refused to archive sample data for Dunde cores taken in 1989 – still an important contributor to proxy studies. He doesn’t know where the data is and doesn’t want to admit it.

Update: Life Cycle of Glacier Data as approved by Gerald North

Ice core samples are obtained at great expense and transported by porters down the mountain (below from Thompson’s Sajama ice core):

Isotopes are then measured in specialized laboratories using mass spectrometers.

And placed in permanent storage.

459 Comments

  1. Skip Smith
    Posted Jun 4, 2010 at 5:26 PM | Permalink

    You should send a note like that to Real Climate and see what they say.

  2. Posted Jun 4, 2010 at 5:43 PM | Permalink

    He didn’t ask me not to mention him. I guess I’m still on the good list, how rare is that.

    “If he wanted me to not mention him, a good starting point would be to stop saying stupid things.”

    Steve’s having a grumpy day. While the comment is funny, I don’t see the NAS reports or the ignorant comments on climategate as stupid, just against reality in favor of political solutions he likes. Say anything for the cause see — he’s a polyscientician.

  3. John Lohman
    Posted Jun 4, 2010 at 5:50 PM | Permalink

    Not sure if the glass of wine I just had has anything to do with it, but this is the most humorous post I recall seeing at CA in a long time. Good job Steve!

  4. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Jun 4, 2010 at 6:05 PM | Permalink

    Actually I was just wondering this morning who it was who made the “winged it” remark. I was thinking that that would have been a more succinct way of summarizing the Oxburgh method that what you received.

    But seriously,… snicker, (sorry about that) just what is the purpose of sending a request not to be included in a blog? There’s no law against mentioning a person on a blog. Surely he knows it will just make him mentioned more often?… or was that the purpose? Sort of a “don’t throw me into the briar patch” remark to get his blog citation index up.

  5. Posted Jun 4, 2010 at 6:11 PM | Permalink

    I still have the punched cards of my very first “Hello World” program, more than 30 years on, stashed in the attic along with all my school books and end-of-term reports. And that’s even after emigrating for a few years and re-immigrating. I’m only holding on to mine for sentimental reasons. I doubt it’ll ever have world economy-impacting implications, unless I were to feed it into someone’s climate model, of course. Then god only knows what catastrophic future impact my little “Hello World” could have! :)

  6. Judith Curry
    Posted Jun 4, 2010 at 6:15 PM | Permalink

    Steve, here i the issue as i see it. Prior to say 1988, we were all conducting academic science. Once the IPCC began, the needs for science changed into a more regulatory framework. For distinction between academic and regulatory science, see

    http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/klamathbasin/science_policy/regulatory_vs_academic.html

    Climate researchers want to influence policy while at the same time apply the standards of academic research. This is where the clash is coming from, and climate researchers can no longer have their cake and eat it too (climategate has been a focusing event for this issue). We need much greater accountability in climate research, but expecting this for research conducted prior to 1990 is fairly futile. We need to formalize this change in the scientific environment for climate research by insisting on accountability in climate research with a similar standard as applied in medical research. The bottom line is that climate research and the institutions that support it have not caught up to its policy relevance, and its high time they did. Climategate has served as a real wake up call, I hope.

    Steve: Judy, that climate scientists want to suck and blow at the same time has been very clear to me from the moment I started in this field. I’ve observed from time to time that I often feel like an anthropologist visiting a strange culture that doesn’t understand that many of its customs are cultural e.g. that journal peer review is a minimalist form of due diligence (this point is often confused with the function being used as POV protection); or that if studies are to be used for policy purposes, then scientists had better consent to the data and methodology being public.

    As to the handling of stale data, there are enough issues with non-stale data to worry about. Nonetheless, the sniggering tone of North’s interview is very offputting. Thompson’s Dunde data, for example, has been reported in multiple inconsistent versions. This is not an incidental series, but is an important Hockey Stick series. To reconcile the inconsistent versions, one needs more detailed sample information than has heretofore been published.

    The reason for archiving data is precisely because people lose things; they forget where the punched cards are. Whatever. The US government established archiving policies for climate data in 1991. Virtually all of Thompson’s data is governed by this policy. However, the NSF has been co-opted by the climate change industry and has abandoned its compliance functions, including ensuring that data is archived.

    It is entirely inappropriate for North to snigger at someone expecting that climate scientists would comply with a policy that has been on the books since 1991.

    • mondo
      Posted Jun 4, 2010 at 6:52 PM | Permalink

      Judith. Your points are of course welcome. And valid.

      However, it seems to me that climate scientist must be able to verify their science by providing archived data, methods, code or accept the reality that it cannot be accepted as valid science.

      Without the supporting data it become simply an assertion.

      To take the position that it is “too hard”, “lost the data” or whatever other excuse is used is simply not good enough.

      Climate scientists want to be respected, listened do, taken seriously? Then comply with usual standards of science.

      • Judith Curry
        Posted Jun 4, 2010 at 6:56 PM | Permalink

        Mondo, my point is that these are NOT the standards of academic science.

        • jmurphy
          Posted Jun 4, 2010 at 8:01 PM | Permalink

          But these are the standards of Science. Your so-called variant “academic science”
          surely isn’t.

          Why do “academics” not understand that the rest of us have to show our work?

        • ianl8888
          Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 12:17 AM | Permalink

          Because academic plagiarism is sufficiently rife to encourage this

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 6:21 AM | Permalink

          The issue is showing your work for a paper that was recently published, versus work conducted in the 1970’s, when there was no permanent data storage methods other than paper. I recall saving all my work in the 1980’s, but it essentially “disappeared” when the 9 track tapes that the data was stored on became unreadable.

          Since the 1990’s digital data storage is now very simple and there are many many archives for scientific data. So my point is that the standards for 1970’s data archival can’t be the same as archival standards for more recent data

        • curious
          Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 7:58 AM | Permalink

          Judith – I think you are over simplyfying to say that permanent data storage methods other than paper did not exist in the 1970’s. Archive to microfiche springs to mind as often used for newscopy for example:

          http://www.libraries.psu.edu/psul/researchguides/matbytype/newspapers/historical.html

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microform

          I think the issue is more one of a recognition of the need for data sets to be preserved and accessible. If the future use of data is known in advance then its preservation is taken seriously. Look to Gov. records for examples where longevity has not been a problem:

          http://www.30yearrulereview.org.uk/background.htm

        • mondo
          Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 8:46 AM | Permalink

          Judith. You make your points strongly and well. And we hear you. Data storage prior to 90s was ‘challenging’.

          However. The pertinent question for you, as a climate scientist, is to what degree are you prepared to trust reports relating to important climate issues for which key supporting data is missing. You cannot verify what you are being told. Do you simply take it on trust?

          I think that what most of us here are saying is that if the supporting data is not available to allow verification, we are less likely to trust assertions made in relation to that data. Especially when those assertions are used to make the case for massive and costly intervention.

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 10:10 AM | Permalink

          Mondo, I totally agree. Scientific progress on a complex issue such as climate can only proceed by building upon prior research. For example, if I need to use a surface temperature data set to advance my research problem, i grab one of them and move forward. I trusted those datasets. Now we can’t trust those data sets (depending on how bad they turn out to be, this issue may or many not be a significant setback). A point that i’ve made many times is that the institutions that support climate research have not caught up with the policy relevance of the topic, and have been lax in enforcing established requirements. Hopefully that is in the process of changing (at least people are talking about it).

        • Harold
          Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 10:58 AM | Permalink

          I think there is another factor to be looked at as well. The classic “Newton and the apple” story illustrates a case where any raw data needn’t be kept – it can be verified by anyone anywhere who could ever need the original data? On the other end of the scale is something like investigating a field failure (including destructive testing) of a single product. In this case, taking and determining the validity of the data before destruction , with subsequent archiving, is of absolute importance. You only have one chance, so it has to be totally right and the data can’t be lost. There’s no chance to go back and check anything. And ther’s always the case where what is being done is just to give suggestions for what to look at or what not to look at. These may have much lower standards, being considered “throwaway studies” – they aren’t really intended to increase knowledge as much as to give some food for thought and / or direction. They don’t really form a brick in a the foundation of knowledge.

          As far as data archiving goes, in the 70s and 80s I was generating about 3200 pages a week of data which all was archived in off-site commercial archival storage facilities. The data was also archived on site in digital format, but that was never the format which could be used for “official” archiving, more for convenience. I do understand that professors generally aren’t used to archiving as intensively as counterparts many businesses, but I also think they should accept the natural consequences of this failure as well – their work becomes assertions, not verifiable facts.

        • Harold
          Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 8:59 PM | Permalink

          “my point is that the standards for 1970′s data archival can’t be the same as archival standards for more recent data”

          The standards I was held to in the 70s were the same ones I was held to in the 90s. I didn’t complain that I had to archive a few thousand pages of data each week, I just indexed it, boxed it up and sent it to archival storage with a dispose of date. I think the data sets that seemed to be such a burden to archive by climate scientists back in the 70s (or 80s or 90s) were much much smaller than what was being routinely archived in lots of places.

          This type of thing makes climate scientists look lazy or sloppy or both. The argument that people didn’t think it was important seems specious to me. Perceived importance isn’t particularly relevant – if it were, people with seemingly unimportant jobs (like putting a bolt in a car) wouldn’t have to perform them correctly.

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 9:15 AM | Permalink

          No one could have archived all the research materials (computer outputs etc) of all academic research in the 1970’s, even if they had wanted to. All of mine alone (say prior to 1990) would have filled a storage space easily of 1000 sq ft. The universities certainly had no space to do this, and we were routinely asked to throw away things we didn’t need so that the university could make more efficient use of its space. Private sector companies or government agencies have very different requirements (and capabilities) than the universities. So criticizing individual academic scientists for not having their research materials from the 1970’s is pointless. Nothing to do with lazy or sloppy.

        • Harold
          Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 7:12 PM | Permalink

          That’s a shift of the argument – nobody here talked about “all research materials”, we’re concerned with relevant material. And specifically, the discussion centered around the fundamental data set underlying scientific publications. I don’t see how anyone would see this as other than sloppy.

          Regarding private sector vs university archiving capabilities, both are free to use the services of companies which specialize in archiving. That this is not routinely part of research budgets isn’t my problem, it’s the universities’ and researchers’ problem. Unless, of course, your argument is that the research is somehow unimportant, so archiving isn’t necessary.

          Even working with large data sets, I’d generally fill 9 filing cabinet drawers in a year with key data, data analysis, etc, If it were a research setting, this would be all that would be needed.

        • Harold
          Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 10:02 PM | Permalink

          My key research information for a year in hard copy would fit in 8-12 file drawers. The non-key information occupied perhaps 70 drawers. Even if you generated 20% key and 80% non-key over your 1970-90 time frame, that’s only 200 sq ft in an office environment, or less than 100 sq ft in an archival storage area. This is very doable.

          There’s a long tradition of keeping important information in science – witness Kepler’s notebooks.

        • Duster
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 12:51 AM | Permalink

          Judy,

          When I started my work on my MA, a great deal of raw data was to be found in the appendices in the backs of dissertations and theses. It can require re-keying, and the work can be monumental, but the data is there and can be accessed at need – or in desperation. The floppy disks I stored my dBase IV data on are no longer readable, but my thesis is. Data is the sine qua non of science. The fact that we are actually losing the ability to read and use or even relocate recent and important data, and still can read Egyptian and Sumerian is a dismal commentary on ANY science where that loss occurs. Yes, the ability to read Egyptian and Sumerian was lost and rediscovered, but the data lost because punch cards were lost, or magnetic weevils ate the disc, or the CD molded will never be recovered and many kinds of historical data like climate data simply cannot be recollected. It is excusable in any form of science, academic, government or private, not to arrange for permanent storage of any kind of important data that is one of a kind and cannot be duplicated.

        • MrPete
          Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 9:20 AM | Permalink

          Re: Judith Curry (Jun 7 09:15),

          Private sector companies or government agencies have very different requirements (and capabilities) than the universities. So criticizing individual academic scientists for not having their research materials from the 1970′s is pointless. Nothing to do with lazy or sloppy.

          Judith,
          I am in strong, partial, agreement with you. The issue is an institutional one, that (as later discussion acknowledges) goes all the way up to NSF and even congress. Individual scientists need to cooperate of course.

          The real issue is one of multidisciplinary understanding. Those of us with data expertise could have solved your storage issue. Hey, a friend of mine was maintaining a global demographic data archive containing 600,000 pieces of primary (paper) source material in the 1970’s. Initial solution for archival and replication: microfiche. It worked. The whole room full of file cabinets shrank down to a banker’s box.

          The issue is one of commitment to the administration of research data. I’ve just returned from a second visit to the ASU Tree Ring lab, where a few very dedicated unsung heroes (and one particular heroine :) ) are just about done with the thankless job of cataloging and marking their tree ring archive. It used to be a horrible, unknown and unknowable mess. Now much better… and yet… if they don’t learn that commitment, all the work will be for naught because new data will not be properly maintained and old data will quickly acquire a higher level of entropy.

          What I tell my clients: if you are not committed to maintaining the data, don’t collect it in the first place.

        • John Daragon
          Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 1:18 PM | Permalink

          ” I recall saving all my work in the 1980′s, but it essentially “disappeared” when the 9 track tapes that the data was stored on became unreadable.”

          Unless you burned, shredded or degaussed it, data on 9 track half inch tape has never become unreadable. You have the tapes? I’ll convert them for free.

          jd

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 1:32 PM | Permalink

          Well I wish you were around when i actually needed the data, since i had backups of backups, and was often told by the computer center that the tapes were unreadable, and that I should have been backing them more frequently. I understand that newer technologies can “fix” these tapes. But they are long gone now. And neither I nor anyone else needs them at this point.

      • Pancho
        Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 6:17 PM | Permalink

        Mondo — minor correction. An “assertion” is a claim backed by evidence… obviously not the case here. A better term would be “declaration” which when you create something from nothing just by claiming it so, as in the Declaration of Independence or, closer to home, the Hockey Stick.

    • Geoff Sherrington
      Posted Jun 4, 2010 at 8:19 PM | Permalink

      Judith, do military scientists also want to influence military strategy? “Look, boss, I just designed a beaut new neutron bomb. Plus, I’ve found someone on whom to use it.”

      Do scientists who invent new perfumes want to influence perfume use strategy? No, they present their ideas to the people entrusted with management of the outcome of scientific research.

      There are two different skill sets required, Judith. You should aim to be either a full-time, dedicated scientist contributing to scientific progress, or ditch your active science and move to the policy arena with a different title. The mixing of the two functions in one person does a disservice to each function by dilution of effort and skill.

      I’ve been to both schools. It does not work in the transition period.

    • Posted Jun 4, 2010 at 9:45 PM | Permalink

      We need much greater accountability in climate research, but expecting this for research conducted prior to 1990 is fairly futile.

      If such research has no accountability, and can’t be verified, then it has no place in policy decisions. Period.

    • MACK1
      Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 1:58 AM | Permalink

      “We need to formalize this change in the scientific environment for climate research by insisting on accountability in climate research with a similar standard as applied in medical research”

      Judith Curry is absolutely right. As someone who teaches post-graduate students how to analyze medical research in terms of internal logic, statistical significance, weight of evidence etc, I can apply those principles to many aspects of climate science.

      Overall I see weak science with unconvincing evidence for cause and effect between CO2 levels and various aspects of climate, particularly tropical storms, ocean temperatures, and certainly for infectious diseases (all the health stuff is particularly bad).

      For example looking at Braithwaite’s “After six decades of monitoring glacier mass balance we still need data but it should be richer data” (Annals of Glaciology 50(50) 2009.) clearly the author thinks the data are sparse – he even puts it in the title! He has 30 years’ data for only 30 glaciers and highlights fundamental issues in the abstract: “This shows that current mass-balance measurements are biased towards wetter conditions than are typical for global glacier cover”.

      Then we have the entertaining Knutson et al “Tropical cyclones and climate change” in Nature Geoscience 3, 157 – 163 (2010) who admit “it remains uncertain whether past changes in tropical cyclone activity have exceeded the variability expected from natural causes”, and then go on in desperate mode to say “However, future projections based on theory and high-resolution dynamical models consistently indicate that greenhouse warming will cause the globally averaged intensity of tropical cyclones to shift towards stronger storms” Sorry guys – until we see some trends in the real world, your theories remain theories.

      Then Mark Cane discusses a couple of specific decadal climate forecasts in Nature Geoscience the other day and says “both studies are less persuasive in showing that their forecasts are significantly better than models that do not use detailed information about the present state of the climate. It is noteworthy that one of the two forecasts predicts that the next five years will be warmer than the past decade, whereas the other predicts the opposite”.

      This stuff wouldn’t get to first base in the medical world. Good that at least one researcher realizes it.

      • Judith Curry
        Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 10:14 AM | Permalink

        The medical research establishment realized a long time ago that financial interests had the potential to adversely influence medical research. The source of the financial interests in medical research are obvious: the pharmaceutical industry. The financial interests that influence climate research are less obvious, they seem to be convoluted with politics and gatekeeping by elite scientists. But the end result is the same, and in the case of climate science, it is more an issue of the assessment reports rather than the individual journal articles, IMO.

        • henry chance
          Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 9:29 AM | Permalink

          The record keeping of the medical industry goes back before the 70’s. They keep x-rays and files. Microfilm is a very old technology. The climate science industry has no excuses. In fact the medical malpractice litigation industry is one of the reasons hospitals keep records. I can’t wiat till some more warming advocates face some real attorneys and huff and puff claiming they felt it unimportant to keep records.
          The CPA industry also can be found guilty of innadequate record keeping.
          You and North have no valid excuses. Much of Enron’s problem came when they took documents to the shredder.
          As a psychologist, when there is fraud, people hide documentation. It is human nature.

        • John Eggert
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 9:44 AM | Permalink

          Ms. Curry:

          First, let me say I appreciate your point of view, but I have little sympathy for it. In my industry (mining in Canada), if we want to publish results, the data must be collected and interpreted according to NI 43-101. If an interpretation was made prior to this, then it cannot be used to say things like ” this particular piece of the earth contains this much copper “, unless the raw data is available. No geologist in Canada can make a statement about how much metal is in a particular piece of the earth without having available the raw data and the method used to interpret it. Further they must follow very strict rules in what method is used. People in my industry look at the complaints from climate scientists about being forced to provide the data they use to make statements and shake our heads. If you can’t produce the raw data, don’t provide an interpretation based on that data. It really should be that simple. If that means throwing out all interpretations of data prior to 1990, then so be it. It doesn’t of course as there is a plethora of raw data available. It may be in an inconvenient form, but it exists. If you were a geologist in Canada, you would need to put that data into a form that is useable before publishing it. I don’t see why climate scientists should be held to a lower standard than moose pasture salesmen.

    • geo
      Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 6:25 AM | Permalink

      Maybe it’s just the embarrassment factor slowing this stuff down, but the reality is a lot of that “old” data is recapturable into modern digitized form if someone is willing to put the time and effort (aka $$) into it.

      Usually such institutions are quick to see a significant revenue/grant opportunity, so embarrassment is the only reason I can come up with for why they haven’t.

      Phil Jones and CRU *must* have known they had a significant problem on this front by the mid-1990s. That they didn’t start acting to address it pro-actively at that time rather than waiting to be dragged into the light on the issue more than a decade later is a real scandal quite aside from differences of opinion on whether “boys will be boys” on their social skills.

      • Tom Fuller
        Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 12:01 PM | Permalink

        I actually think a good part of Climategate comes down to not wanting to show the state of the archived data–it’s not that they thought their science was wrong, they just couldn’t show their work so they stonewalled on FOIA.

  7. PaulH
    Posted Jun 4, 2010 at 6:20 PM | Permalink

    I have a few punch cards from my early computing studies in the 1970s. Some now serve as bookmarks in old books in my library, but most were used as a surface for mixing 5-minute epoxy. It’s hard to imagine today in 2010 that they were once used for storing large amounts of important research data.

  8. Peter Dunford
    Posted Jun 4, 2010 at 6:45 PM | Permalink

    “We need much greater accountability in climate research, but expecting this for research conducted prior to 1990 is fairly futile.”

    If the work was important in the field, it should have been documented and replicated by now.

    I can quite understand that punch cards have been lost or damaged, or the reader doesn’t work anymore. However, there should have been sufficient paper data archived somewhere to recreate and verify the work, if not, then we discount it until it is re-done and verified. Otherwise, right now, it is now merely hearsay, rumor, unreliable evidence, until properly and independently verified.

    In many areas of engineering and scientific endeavor knowledge is being lost because the source of the work has been lost. The people who did it got laid off. The records have been archived somewhere, but not indexed. When you run into this, you have two choices. You accept the received wisdom that says X works, or you get the work re-done. For example, calculations for pull out strengths for screws based on tests done seem to have passed into folklore. It is well known that X screw will hold Y weight to a timber panel, but you try and prove it, it costs.

    The difference with climate science is that it’s no-where near as practical. The science may have been done, but there is no equivalent of the overwhelming anecdotal evidence hundreds of millions of screws holding a freakishly large weight to a timber panel. Climate science has no practical credibility, it’s based on computer models programmed to reflect the prejudices of the programmer, which can’t be verified. (They don’t have the punch cards anymore.)

    • TerryS
      Posted Jun 4, 2010 at 7:58 PM | Permalink

      I can quite understand that punch cards have been lost or damaged, or the reader doesn’t work anymore.

      It doesn’t matter if the reader doesn’t work. It would be a trivial exercise to write to a program to scan the cards and extract the information from them. It would be far more accurate than OCR.

      This sort of exercise is just the type of thing Computer Science students would do for their final year project so it wouldn’t cost anything.

      • scott lurndal
        Posted Jun 4, 2010 at 9:09 PM | Permalink

        Not to mention that the computer history museum in mountain view does have working card readers, which they’re willing to use to preserve old data (albeit generally they are interested in code, not data).

    • Judith Curry
      Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 7:49 AM | Permalink

      One of the issues is that at the time (c.a. 1970’s), no one had any idea that this stuff would be important 30 years later

      I actually discussed this issue with Thompson a few years ago, and I can’t remember what his issue was, I think it was that it would take a very long time (man years) for this data to be put into shape for archival. If this is the case, NOAA has funding to support creation and archival of climate data records.

      In the case of my personal data and model output, the volume is voluminous, I used to have racks and racks of 9 track tapes, all of which were finally ditched in 2002 when i moved and no one could read the tapes.

      The important thing at this point is to rescue all the data we have at this point and get it archived. Again, NOAA will provide funding for this.

      • kim
        Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 7:54 AM | Permalink

        So has NOAA been asked to help archive this? Does Thompson think it is worth saving?
        ================

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 8:33 AM | Permalink

          I have no idea. My point is that there is a mechanism (and funding) in place to do this sort of thing.

        • kim
          Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 9:40 AM | Permalink

          I understand. And my point is that Lonnie Thompson can demonstrate the value he places in his own work by archiving it. As can anyone with any work.
          ==============

        • Jack Linard
          Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 12:28 PM | Permalink

          I am reluctant to comment critically on Dr Curry’s observations as she is obviously trying to bridge a gap.

          There is, however, a limit.

          As an Engineer, I have reached that limit.

          “No one had any idea that this stuff would be important 30 years later” – then wtf were they doing it?”

          I have managed to archive all of my designs from 30 years ago. If one of my dams fails (0% possibility), I would be able to reproduce all background info.

          Pre-1980, not so easy because much of data was on punched cards.

          Pre-1970, all design and other input is available on any civil engineering job in the world because wverything was either hand written or typed and preserved in perpetuity

          “In the case of my personal data and model output, the volume is voluminous”.

          Words fail me!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 12:46 PM | Permalink

          Jack, the issue is science (pure science) vs engineering. Science is often merely curiosity driven, without any particular expectation for an application. Astronomy and astrophysics have no obvious practical applications, for example. Theoretical physics is not motivated by any practical applications, but it provides the basic foundations of our understanding of nature and often ends up having practical applications. The broad field of geosciences is arguably an applied science (well physicists and chemists argue this), based upon principles of physics and chemistry. The objective of pure science is to ask questions and to change the way we think about nature, not to solve societal problems. The public is interested in pure science if it has a “gee whiz” aspect to it. But there is no need for a public “audit” of curiosity driven science.

          So where does that leave us with climate science? The historical surface temperature record (and possibly the paleo record) plus climate models seem now to be in the realm of regulatory science, and different standards need to apply beyond those of academic research in terms of accountability. This is not to say all climate research should be treated this way; not only is it not necessary, but many scientists would leave the field, the ones who want to conduct pure curiosity driven science unfettered by the strictures and mandates of regulatory science. I am still saying that all data used in published papers should be archived (this is simple enough in the digital age), but only a few aspects of climate science need the full “due diligence” approach at this point (this may change depending on how the policy environment evolves).

        • Robbo
          Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 11:07 AM | Permalink

          Judith,you say “The objective of pure science is to ask questions and to change the way we think about nature, not to solve societal problems.”

          This is inadequate. The purpose of science is to change the way we think about nature [b]for the better[/b], ie towards more accurate and reliable descriptions.

          This is why the integrity of the underlying data, and the repeatability of results is crucial to all science, academic and regulatory. Without integrity and repeatability, science does not progress in the direction of accuracy and reliability.

        • GaryC
          Posted Jun 13, 2010 at 2:15 AM | Permalink

          Judith, my last major publication before I got out astronomy and got a real job was published in Ap. J. Supp. (The Astrophysical Journal Supplement) because my coauthors and I decided that we needed to publish the raw data and the derived galaxy spectral curves in tabular form. When I checked 30 years later, that paper has over 1000 citations and is one of the 300 most cited papers in the history of astronomy, because every team trying to map the distribution of galaxies in the visible universe using colors uses our tables, at least as a starting point.

          Science advances by using the prior work of previous generations. People like Lonnie Thompson are crippling future generations of researchers, and do not deserve the title of scientist. The NSF and other funding organizations as well as most journals have the right policies, but refuse to enforce them.

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 13, 2010 at 6:45 AM | Permalink

          Gary this is a very good point, one of the best ways to get citations is to put a good data set out there, something that you think would motivate scientists.

      • Another Layman Lurker
        Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 10:10 AM | Permalink

        Judith

        Re the 1970’s – the November 1976 National Geographic article “What’s Happenning to Our Climate” indicates there was much scientific and public interest in climate. There are quite a few scientists and international institutions mentioned. By happenstance, I discovered last week I had a copy of that issue. It is a fascinating read.

        The article mentions the CLIMAP (past climate reconstructions)and the UN sponsored GARP (Global Atmospheric Research Program, 1967-1982) projects. CA readers will smile wryly when I mention that the White Mountain Bristlecones get a mention as well.

        And when you say funding by NOAA, does that come under its role as the US home of the World Data Centre System (http://www.wdc.rl.ac.uk/wdcmain/index.html)?

        • Al Gored
          Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 7:29 PM | Permalink

          Re the 1970s… “no one had any idea that this stuff would be important 30 years later.” Really? Sorry, but that’s unbelievable. For example:

          TIME MAGAZINE
          Science: Another Ice Age?
          Monday, Jun. 24, 1974

          Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,944914,00.html#ixzz0pyZSEnar

          “As they review the bizarre and unpredictable weather pattern of the past several years, a growing number of scientists are beginning to suspect that many seemingly contradictory meteorological fluctuations are actually part of a global climatic upheaval. However widely the weather varies from place to place and time to time, when meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age.”

  9. Margaret
    Posted Jun 4, 2010 at 10:02 PM | Permalink

    Hi Judith
    I did research in history in the late 1970s and early 1980s and if someone tracks me down and asks for the data, I have it and provide it. It is not in machine readable form but I can provide the raw data for them.

    If I am expected do this for an obscure subject that does not make any claims on the resources of the world,(and even though I have been out of academia since 1984) then I would certainly expect someone who is still within academia, and whose research is making major claims on the resources of the world would most certainly do it.

    I suspect the problem is not that he doesn’t know where the data is, but rather that he doesn’t think it a priority to find it.

    • mondo
      Posted Jun 4, 2010 at 10:39 PM | Permalink

      Margaret says: “I suspect the problem is not that he doesn’t know where the data is, but rather that he doesn’t think it a priority to find it.”

      Or it could possibly be that he knows that the raw data doesn’t support the material that he has put into the public sphere.

      Or that he knows that there are some sloppy elements in his work that will attract the attention of the Steve McIntyre’s of the world with the likely result that he will be exposed for what he is.

      The essential point is that without the supporting data, his assertions are just that, and should be discounted in IPCC work or anything directed at policy.

  10. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Jun 4, 2010 at 11:20 PM | Permalink

    Not having the original and basic data to back up a scientific point being made today for whatever reasons it is no longer available, surely must weaken the acceptance of that point. After all the scientific method requires being able to duplicate results going back to the original data. If the scientific community simply shrugs that off as either expecting too much of the scientists and her resources or it does not matter then I think the problem lies as much or more with the community of scientists.

    Without providing the basic data, the use of the evidence claimed for it in policy considerations, like the IPCC, is even more precarious and the silence of the science community even more troubling than in the first case noted above.
    Unfortunately I see no movement by the climate science community in either of these matters.
    Steve M, I have attempted to put some rationale, rightly or wrongly, on why North would make the request not to be mentioned on specific blogs. It only comes across as weird or at best inane.

  11. Chris1958
    Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 12:12 AM | Permalink

    Not everybody who starts a project and publishes can anticipate that the original data might be of huge significance in a polarised debate twenty or thirty years down the track.

    An old and time tested rule:

    Before conspiracy, suspect stuff up.

    However, once stuff ups reach a critical mass, you start to wonder.

  12. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 12:36 AM | Permalink

    Folks, everyone is missing the nuances here.

    North is overlooking important points. Thompson’s data is used in many analyses. There’s nothing wrong or impertinent in asking for (say the Dunde) data, notwithstanding North’s snigger. The folks at AAAS may have thought that this was funny, but it isn;t.

    A second point. North may know that Thompson’s lost his punch cards, but I’ve never been told that (not has Hu McCulloch). If Thompson’s lost the data, then tell us and we’ll stop wasting our time asking for it. But all that we know right now is that Thompson’s stonewalled these requests for years. And has been abetted in this by the National Science Foundation and by Cicerone of the NAS.

    And if Thompson’s lost precious data, as it now appears that he has, so be it. But then climate scientists around the world should be demanding that he immediately archive whatever data he hasn’t lost. Just in case he gets run over by a bus and even more data gets lost.

    North asked “How much is too much?” In Lonnie Thompson’s case, the answer is simple. Every damn measurement should be archived. Every measurement from every sample. A few thousand measurements per core, ten thousand measurements per core – so what? This is unique data that Thompson was commissioned to get. Before it gets lost or the floppy disks become unreadable.

    North is totally out of line.

    • Russ
      Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 1:58 AM | Permalink

      I totally agree. What are they trying to hide again.

    • Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 5:42 PM | Permalink

      A second point. North may know that Thompson’s lost his punch cards, but I’ve never been told that (not has Hu McCulloch).

      I’m not sure why he would have told me, since I’ve never asked him.

      It is true that it would be fun to ask him after a seminar why he hasn’t archived most of his data if it’s so important, but I’m not aware of any public talks he has given here since the one where I asked him if he was really the author of AIT’s “Dr. Thompson’s Thermometer,” and if not why, as a member of AIT’s Science Advisory Board, he didn’t have some obligation to set the record straight.

      But maybe I’ll get a chance…

      Speaking of which, Thompson actually has archived extensive data for his 2 Quelccaya cores at NCDC, even though his other 2 Andean sites, 3 Himalayan cores, and Bona Chruchill remain fragmentary or nonexistant.

      Would you regard the Quelccaya data as “complete enough”, or does even it have some serious shortcoming?

      And Kilimanjaro?

    • Al Gored
      Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 7:31 PM | Permalink

      Steve, I would appreciate it if you would leave facts and logic out of your blog.

  13. Friar
    Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 1:57 AM | Permalink

    The thrust here is that North thinks it ridiculous that a researcher should go to the trouble of archiving data before losing it.

    It is just incredible! The point of archiving data (or anything else) is ….to ensure that it is not lost or destroyed or …whatever! To keep it safe! To ensure that it remains available for reference. And after all is said and done, archiving is something done to fulfil interests arising in the future. It is not primarily to serve the past.

    Not knowing exactly what these future interests might be is a rationale for expanding the range of what is kept, not restricting it.

    Finally, there is really no point in archiving anything if it is not to be accessible to anyone who may become interested.

  14. Max
    Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 4:47 AM | Permalink

    I am an engineer. Collecting test data from experiments is my job and I have to do a lot of documentation for it so that others in the company can use the results and be sure that they are true to the matter. I don’t really like documentation because it takes time away from doing fun experiments, but I still do it because I know how important it is.

    I am sorry, but if these publicly founded geologists and climate researchers have no “fun” doing documentation and if they think this is just a game, perhaps they should quit. This is a job and in a job you have to do what your boss wants. If you can’t do that, perhaps the job is not for you to do. I can’t stand those lazy people who work on the money of OTHER people who have no way to fire them.

    • Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 6:52 AM | Permalink

      “Max Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 4:47 AM | Permalink | I am an engineer. Collecting test data from experiments is my job

      I too am an engineer. I have worked on safety critical applications. I have written reports of work/projects/investigations I have carried out.

      I use complex electronic components supplied by “reputable” suppliers. These are building blocks (“Black Boxes”)for the systems I design.

      They would correspond to the temperature records/proxy records in climate research.

      I use the data provided by the manufacturer for their black boxes’ inputs and outputs. I do not purchase thousands of their black boxes and individually, personally, characterise each components averaged figures UNLESS I find an inconsistency with the specification (c.f an out of range temperature in climate terms). I have to assume that the black box manufacturers have done their designs correctly (I work to their supplied specifications).

      I certainly do not maintain a database of individual parameters of the “contents” of the black boxes I do not need to. It is held by the manufacturers(c.f. the national meteorological services). How many designers using microcontrollers (microprocessors) to control the breaking on vehicles know the function of individual transistors (or even logic blocks) in the device they are using? The manufactures of the blocks hopefully do (they enter agreements that even a change of fab location has to be given to us). My responsibility is to ensure that black boxes are used within their capability and to environmentally test my collection of black boxes to ensure that they perform to specification beyond that which they see in use.

      In short:

      The source data is held by the NMSs (or the researcher who measured the tree ring width/stalagmite dO18 levels etc) not the user why duplicate?
      The NMSs data is assumed to be correct as supplied (either corrected for uhi,time of obs,etc. or raw)
      My use of the data assumes that the data is valid raw/corrected as supplied.
      My further modification should be adequately documented (either by virtue of my use of others methods or by my own documentation)

      In my industry if commercially sensitive information is supplied by the black box manufacturer (failures of MCU to meet internal specs, production failure rates etc.) I am usually forced to sign a non disclosure agreement. (cf. CRU problem with their data for NMS supplied temperatures)

      The temperature record is what we have – there is no way of finding an actual temperature for one location, in 1835 as would be measured using today’s best equipment. There is not time to obtain another 300 years of data to prove AGW is fact or not.

      If the world is on the path to change (migrate or die) NB NOT CATASTROPHIC then can we wait?????

      • Mark F
        Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 7:37 AM | Permalink

        The Prefect….
        Ahhhh, but given the “unreliability” of the “model” in operation, an auto maker would be shut down by the regulators, and the vendor of the “components” hauled into court. But I don’t expect much traction against a true believer.

      • mondo
        Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 7:44 AM | Permalink

        TFP. A long comment. But can I ask you directly. You seem to think it is OK that the climate scientists fudge, ‘adjust’, manipulate, distort. Always in the direction of OMGIWTWT. Never good news!

        And do you think it is OK not to keep data, provide verification support – archived data, code, methods?

        And you think that we the public should simply accept what these people say, even though the consequences for the household budget could be very signifant?

        Just asking.

      • tty
        Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 10:18 AM | Permalink

        And just which National Meteorological Service should I ask for Lonnie Thompsons glacier data?

        I am an engineer too, in aerospace. There too we only use components from “reputable” (we call them certified) manufacturers, but even so we keep track of every individual component, where it is, what happens to it, flight hours, cycles, installations, removals, maintenance, faults, repairs, modifications and ultimate scrapping. And we keep track of when, and where, and how, and by whom everything was done. And we keep all the data, in an easily accessible form, for decades, until the last aircraft of a type has landed for the last time (and then for two more years, by regulation).
        It makes for a lot of paperwork, and complex computer systems, but I can assure you that the fact that aircraft is the safest form of transportation ever devised is not unrelated.

        Now which is most important: “saving the Earth” or Flight Safety?

      • theperfectfordinspectionservices
        Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 10:59 AM | Permalink

        TFP, sloppy sloppy sloppy work on your part. If you are what you say, you know perfectly well that every “reputable” supplier of “black boxes” will upon request produce complete documentation back to the raw data for said black boxes. As will every subsupplier. There is no “hopefully” about it, if the componentry is significant enough and any supplier/subsupplier can not or will not produce the required documentation, penalties may be imposed.
        I don’t need others to determine if altering the basis of our entire economy is significant I can handle that. I do need others to determine if the AGW data and results driving the proposed changes are valid.
        Thank you to Steve and all the others who are simply asking the AGW establishment to produce the documentation supporting their assertions.

        • Friar
          Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 7:49 PM | Permalink

          I too am an engineer in manufacturing. If my paperwork/records/documentation is not up to the relevant standard, if it is in any way incomplete, I lose certification as a supplier.

          Likewise for all my suppliers. Everything MUST be traceable back to the first supplier. Every change is documented and certified. Inspections are carried out by third party auditors.

          This raises doubts in my mind about TFP’s real world credentials as an engineer in manufacturing.

      • Harold
        Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 9:45 AM | Permalink

        There are at least two fatal flaws in your argument:

        1) The analogy is completely incorrect – your product is a system, so your documentation is system documentation, including the supplier data you used for design inputs. In the climate science realm, the product is an analysis and interpretation of data. The analogy which fits for your experience is that of your supplier (climate science) producing all the qualification and characterization reports (analysis and interpretation of data) which you (politicians, etc.) then use as design inputs for the manufactured parts (legislation). As you should be well aware, raw data, intermediate analyses, and final analyses from all aspects of semiconductor manufacture are kept backed up in offsite data storage locations virtually forever.

        2) The chip supplier is obligated through contract and/or other legal obligations to keep the information and have it available. Climate science seems to have no such legal (or otherwise) obligations.

        In chip design, if there is a problem with an older product, and part of the original design package was lost (let’s say the transistor parameters used for simulation), the entire design would be simulated from scratch using known good transistor parameters. This can be very costly. The analogy with Climate Science is a known good raw data set would be produced, analysed, and used for drawing Climate related conclusions. When is the last time that happened?

        • Larry Geiger
          Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 8:16 AM | Permalink

          “Climate science seems to have no such legal (or otherwise) obligations”

          This may be true of a university professor who just works there and teaches. But what about the researcher that takes public money. Are there no rules? What money did we spend to acquire this data? What were the rules under which that money was received? Those rules may be completely different from the universities normal rules.

          If we spend millions of dollars on researcher’s activities and the only product required by the “grant” or other funding instrument, is a report, then it’s probably the funding process that’s broken. If we spend millions of dollars flying folks all over the planet looking at glaciers, then I would expect that we should require the researcher to produce ALL of the data that he has collected along with his conclusions. In any field of research.

          If there is “no such legal (or otherwise) obligations” then there should be.

          Steve - if existing policies were enforced by NSF, it would remedy 99% of the problems. Reports by NAS and such totally evade this point.

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 8:21 AM | Permalink

          Larry, scientists receiving federal research grants are expected to archive their data with some metadata (not their models, or intermediate steps, just the final data products.) This is not always enforced. The main mechanism for “enforcing” this is to turn down a new grant proposal if the data hasn’t been archived yet from the previous grant. These are research grants, not contracts, and a research grant may not end up generating any useful/publishable data.

          Steve: this varies considerably from agency to agency and even within agency. Some NSF departments have policies along the lines that Judith mentions here. Unfortunately the NSF department controlling paleoclimate grants e.g. Lonnie Thompson has abdicated any efforts to ensure compliance and does not make any attempt at such enforcement. Nor did the DOE department funding Phil Jones. Nor would they do so when asked.

        • Larry Geiger
          Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 8:51 AM | Permalink

          From someone who is not familiar with the process, hearing “This is not always enforced” from someone who is familiar, it is a little bit disturbing, but not surprising.

  15. justbeau
    Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 7:10 AM | Permalink

    It is odd Jerry North wishes to go unmentioned at blogs.
    Of his own volition, North has weighed into the AGW issue and then turned in a remarkably poor performance as an apologist for Michael Mann and an enabling apparachnik in service to the Hockey Team. He has chosen to get involved in whitewashes for Ralph C. of the NAS. North has shown woeful scientific standards.
    Future historians who write about the bubble of AGW hysteria are not likely to look charitibly on Professor North. The unifying theme in many of North’s contributions has been weakness. He just wings it which ever way the winds blow.
    To be generous, maybe it can be said Professor North is an amiable soul. This is a very nice human trait, but he should not serve on panels intended to advise the public.

  16. TAG
    Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 7:12 AM | Permalink

    I certainly do not maintain a database of individual parameters of the “contents” of the black boxes I do not need to. It is held by the manufacturers(c.f. the national meteorological services). How many designers using microcontrollers (microprocessors) to control the breaking on vehicles know the function of individual transistors (or even logic blocks) in the device they are using?

    In any large engineering-based organization, there is a function called “component engineering”. Their responsibility is to set standards and determine the suitability of all components for use in the organizations products. They will also investigate problem reports and determine if any manufacturer’s components are responsible for them. The component engineer will be aware of all of the sensitivities of approved components. if a device is supposed to work in conditions up to 50 or 100 C then, the component engineer will have tested for this during qualification and will continue to test for it.

    There may be an arrangement in which the component supplier’s test facility is inspected and certified to make these tests. However it is still component engineering responsibility to ensure that only qualified parts are placed in their company’s products. Aside from problems caused by manufacturing defects from reputable companies, the component engineer is faced with the issue of fake parts. These are cheap fake devices that are sold as very expensive components. Suppose a fake microcontroller did make it into a major manufacturer’s brake assembly. How can the manufacturer protect itself and its customers. Component engineering is part of the answer.

    • kim
      Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 7:47 AM | Permalink

      The IPCC report could have used a little component engineering. Ford, you missed your calling.
      =============

  17. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 10:30 AM | Permalink

    I guess when climaste scientists say they have moved on they mean moved on and without their historical data. It would appear that a big part of the failure to provide climate data is the fact that it is lost. The evidence provided for science and policy has to be downgraded if original data cannot be provided. Would you agree Judith Curry?

    • Judith Curry
      Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 11:03 AM | Permalink

      I agree to some extent, but it is more complicated when you consider specific examples. Take the paleoclimate data for the last 1000 years. Even Steve Mc agrees that this data has little importance to the overall scientific argument (he was involved in a conversation over at RP Jr’s blog some time ago, this is referenced in Montford’s book The Hockey Stick Illusion), although the public hype factor surrounding the hockey stick was quite substantial. So if this data is lost or unavailable, by this argument the evidence has not been downgraded much if an unimportant piece of it becomes suspect.

      With regards to historical surface temperature data. The data itself has not been lost, it is still obtainable from original sources. What Phil Jones might have done with his early versions of the analysis might be lost. So efforts need to be taken to re-collect and re-analyze the surface data, these efforts are underway at NOAA, by a private sector group, and in the blogosphere. So far, the analyses have not found big problems with the land surface temperature analyses, and efforts to focus on the ocean temperatures are just now underway.

      Steve: Judith, you’re setting up false alternatives here. We are obliged to study the impact of doubled CO2 regardless of whether Lonnie Thompson’s lost his data or whether Thompson’s data is lost in a warehouse of punched cards. But the data is of considerable importance to the 1000-year reconstructions, which are of considerable intrinsic interest and which have not been abandoned by IPCC and others. In 2005, I suggested that the IPCC abandon this line of reasoning if it wasn’t relevant, but the “consensus” seems to have been that it was relevant. Thus, it is entirely reasonable to hold them accountable for locating their data. Again, I’m not saying that policy decisions should be held up pending Lonni Thompson locating his data – but there;s no good reason that this data should not be located if it exists, or, if it’s been lost or destroyed, this should be acknowledged and reported.

      As to the overall reasoning, I quite realize that there are multiple lines of evidence. There were also multiple failsafes in the BP well and it never does any harm to be attentive to issues with each individual failsafe even if you are sure that it doesn’t “matter” because there are multiple failsafes.

      • mondo
        Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 3:04 PM | Permalink

        snip – offtopic. Please don’t expect Judith to solve the problems of the entire world.

      • Kenneth Fritsch
        Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 4:34 PM | Permalink

        Interesting the we got a specific example of what does not count with reference to general evidence that might drive climate policy and not science. It all counts when we relate archiving proper data for science purposes. I would suppose if we have properly handled basic data of current vintage that provides hard evidence that substantially agrees with the older unarchived and/or misplaced data we can forget about the old data. Unfortunately that is hardly the case. The data are either used directly, as noted by Steve M for temperature proxies, or indirectly through a reference in a current paper to the flawed older one to help make a scientic and/or policy point.

        I have a little trouble in differentiating between merely hand waving away a problem from the view that proxies may be flawed but we have all this other evidence and without specifically relating that evidence or what it means in terms of uncertainties and boundaries for predicting future climate. It would appear that one could point to flaws in climate models handling feedback, but make the same statement (hand wave) with the implication that we have other avenues of evidence, like proxies and reconstructions of climate.

        Without valid proxies or models that can handle feedback, we have the straight physics of CO2 warming (without feedback) and an instrumental record, that has not had hard uncertainities attached to it. I judge most skeptics agree with (notwithstanding Steve M’s plea for an engineering type exposition) the straight CO2 model and that nobody is going to get terribly excited over the effects predicted there of with regard to consequences. The contention is
        rather the positive feedback induced warming. It may seem repetitive to state these finer points, but it is better than the appearance of a hand wave.

      • Judith Curry
        Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 5:15 PM | Permalink

        My reply was to what i perceived to be a narrow question by Kenneth. With regards to confidence in the IPCC report in terms of the confidence levels of their conclusions, I have stated publicly (numerous times within the last month, mostly over at collide-a-scape) that the IPCC’s treatment of uncertainty is inadequate and that I think many of their conclusions have confidence levels that are too high (this includes conclusions related to the paleo and historical surface temperature records, particularly with regards to their attribution).

        With regards to the specific importance of the paleo and historical temperature records to the conclusions, I would say that the paleo record doesn’t have much significance unless some sort of serious effort is made to document and understand the variations over the past millenium. Statements like warmest decade or whatever are meaningless without such understanding. WIth regards to the historical record, there is no evidence yet of any major problems with the CRU analysis (other than unrealistic estimates of uncertainty), but that may change as people start focusing on the ocean temperatures.

        • Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 8:45 PM | Permalink

          The importance, or lack thereof, of the Paleo recons is that they show modern warming as nothing out of the ordinary. That is, if we can believe the proxies are valid thermometers. If they are, there’s nothing unprecedented going on. If they’re not, then we know nothing of past temps.

        • David Smith
          Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 9:30 PM | Permalink

          Judith, pardon this slight drift, but I’m very curious about what your graduate students and post docs think about the current turmoil. What do they see as proper scientific behavior and are they apathetic or animated by the issues raised by Climategate?

          The current veterans of climate science will not change. Their ways and views are set and they are not particularly bothered by current practices. There will be a handful of exceptions to this but they will be lone voices and they/you will eventually tire. There may be improvements around the edges but not in the core practices.

          Any change will come from the new generation, if they want change, and no sooner than the generational changing of the guard.

          My view comes not from cynicism directed towards climate scientists but rather from years of watching groups confronted by the need for change. It holds true whether the group is academic or religious or commercial or political or whatever.

          OT, I look forward to your review of the current state of the tropical cyclone / AGW controversy.

        • Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 9:36 PM | Permalink

          More OT: David, didn’t you hear with the Knutson et al. (2010) Nat. Geo. paper that a new consensus was formed on TC+climate change stuff? Look at the author list of the paper:

          Thomas R. Knutson, John L. McBride, Johnny Chan, Kerry Emanuel, Greg Holland, Chris Landsea, Isaac Held, James P. Kossin, A. K. Srivastava & Masato Sugi

          Most of the disparate wings of TC science are represented here from the alarmist rhetoricians, theoreticians, and observationally based forecasters (some mixing of the groups, too). I’d love to post more here, but I have to worry about the Hatch Act.

        • David Smith
          Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 10:15 PM | Permalink

          http://s0.ilike.com/play#Peter%2C+Paul+%26+Mary:Kumbaya:81398:m123633

        • David Smith
          Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 10:37 PM | Permalink

          I wonder how that 2010 Kumbaya paper compares with the 1998 Kumbaya paper:

          ftp://texmex.mit.edu/pub/emanuel/PAPERS/henderson98.pdf

          Excerpt:

          “Since the production of the 1996 IPCC reports, our
          knowledge has advanced to permit the following summary.
          • There are no discernible global trends in tropical cyclone
          number, intensity, or location from historical
          data analyses.
          • Regional variability, which is very large, is being
          quantified slowly by a variety of methods.
          • Empirical methods do not have skill when applied
          to tropical cyclones in greenhouse conditions.
          • Global and mesoscale model-based predictions for
          tropical cyclones in greenhouse conditions have not
          yet demonstrated prediction skill.
          The IPCC “Science of Climate Change” report
          stated that “it is not possible to say whether the frequency frequency,
          area of occurrence, time of occurrence, mean
          intensity or maximum intensity of tropical cyclones
          will change” (Houghton et al. 1996, p. 334). We believe
          that it is now possible to improve on this statement.
          In particular:
          • there is no evidence to suggest any major changes
          in the area or global location of tropical cyclone
          genesis in greenhouse conditions;
          • thermodynamic “upscaling” models seem to have
          some skill in predicting maximum potential intensity
          (MPI); and
          • these thermodynamic schemes predict an increase
          in MPI of 10%–20% for a doubled CO2 climate but
          the known omissions (ocean spray, momentum restriction,
          and possibly also surface to 300 hPa lapse
          rate changes) all act to reduce these increases.”

        • Kenneth Fritsch
          Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 2:07 PM | Permalink

          The article “Tropical cyclones and climate change”, by Thomas R. Knutson, John L. McBride, Johnny Chan, Kerry Emanuel, Greg Holland, Chris Landsea, Isaac Held, James P. Kossin, A. K. Srivastava and Masato Sugi can be linked here:

          http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/Landsea/knutson-et-al-nat-geo.pdf

          And the SI is here:

          http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v3/n3/extref/ngeo779-s1.pdf

          David Smith, I just skimmed back over both review articles, 1998 and 2010 vintages, and I believe the Kumbaya papers are rather similar in the uncertainties that the authors attribute to past and future TC frequencies and intensities. I am not being cynical here either, but if these authors, who all have in common the needs for funding research, said in 1998 that they is much research yet required to find answers to questions with critical importance, then why not do it again after a period of 12 years.

          Actually the papers were very informative and it is good to see a climate science status report. Is this review an annual event? I was wondering if the insurance interests fund much of this type of research?

        • David Smith
          Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 7:55 PM | Permalink

          Kenneth, their review does not appear to be an annual event. I imagine it’s ad hoc.

          I did enjoy their noting that much of the increase in Atlantic tropical cyclone frequency over the years is confined to short-duration storms. That’s an observation we made here at CA well before the referenced study was published – we were “ahead of the times”.

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 8:55 AM | Permalink

          Ryan, I totally agree that we need to sort this out in terms of the new generation of scientists. Peter Webster and I are thinking of offering a seminar next fall on “Uncertainty and Climate Science”, something like that, with a few sessions on history/philosophy of science as it relates to uncertainty, then each week tackle a different topic to try to clarify the uncertainties. We are certainly open to suggestions as to what we might do, and I would be happy to engage with CA in discussing the topics raised in the seminar each week, if there is any interest.

          ryanm: Isn’t the new generation trained by the old generation in strict adherence to the prevailing orthodoxy?

        • Harold
          Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 10:00 AM | Permalink

          Judith-

          I’m not sure how broadly you intend to cover this topic, but given that Climate Science is not very mature, it may be worthwhile to look to some of the more established sciences to illustrate by analogy what can contribute uncertainties. This is fairly highly developed in cancer epidemiological studies, and the University of Washington has what I feel is a good program. They even have some lectures videotaped which specifically discuss sources of error. It may also be more palatable to discuss the issues from a perspective of other branches of science before discussing it from a climate science perspective.

          Learning from others where billions of dollars have been spent on studies for decades and plenty of mistakes have been made should get you on the learning curve faster than starting from scratch. If Climate Science has to make it’s own mistakes before learning, it’s going to be painful for some time.

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 8:53 AM | Permalink

          David and Ryan, I am game to do something with hurricanes. I have a pretty different take on all this than the Knutson et al. consensus review particularly re the model results. Suggestions as to how we might proceed?

        • Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 8:37 PM | Permalink

          I am very curious about your take on the tropical cyclone climate model results, and probably will find plenty of agreement with you.
          I think the entire century-scale scenario simulations is a complete waste of time, man-hours and computer time, government money, and obfuscates the need to adequately monitor the current climate and understand the past climate.

          Regardless, Steve’s blog has become climategate central, and I am hesitant to post hurricane topics now that I am no longer a graduate student. We should conspire and go through the peer-review process as an experiment…

        • David Smith
          Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 8:55 PM | Permalink

          One last OT non-glacier comment – Ryan, I see that your website lists you as “PhD Meteorology”.

          Congratulations, Doctor Maue !!

        • Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 9:06 PM | Permalink

          Thanks David, I am now a Nat’l Research Council Research Associate at Navy Res Lab in Monterey CA. Good byproduct of no longer being a student is evenings and weekends off.

        • Judy Curry
          Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 6:39 AM | Permalink

          Dr. Ryan, congrats on your new status! I hope you return to academia soon (more freedom :) Re hurricanes, what i have in mind probably wouldn’t be published anywhere, more suitable for a blog (not sure which one tho). Lets talk offline

        • David Smith
          Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 8:48 PM | Permalink

          Judith, I’d like to see your review of the Knutson et al paper. Knutson touches the major topics.

          Perhaps you could write a CA post listing Knutson’s topical categories (frequency, intensity, rainfall, duration, tracks, etc) for both the historical records and model projections. It could include a short summary of the Knutson position on each topic and where you veer from their thinking, and why. It’s a rather standard approach but should be digestible by CA readers. I look forward to reading your and (I hope) Ryan’s views.

          Regarding the projections of future activity, I’m not convinced that we understand the detailed workings of the tropical cyclone “machines” well enough to know how macro atmospheric changes would affect frequency, intensity, wind field, tracks, etc. The devil is in the details.

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 6:43 AM | Permalink

          David, thanks for your comments, they are good ones, and I have a slightly broader approach in mind. Not sure whether CA is ready for hurricanes at the moment, esp given Steve’s recent uptick in climategate activity.

  18. D. King
    Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 4:54 AM | Permalink

    Get off my lawn…..now where did I put that data?
    Who said that?…stop talking about me!

    Well, if the data turns up, he can send it here.

    http://punchcardreader.com/

  19. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 8:47 AM | Permalink

    I’ve added an update showing images illustrating the stages of glacier data using the Thompson-North system: (1) carrying the ice cores down the glacier by porter; (2) high-tech measurement of oxygen isotopes using mass spectrometers; (3) data is placed in a national storage facility.

    • RomanM
      Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 8:55 AM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (Jun 6 08:47),

      I assume that the “digitization” refers to the use of the technician’s hand in the middle picture. ;)

    • Hu McCulloch
      Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 5:44 PM | Permalink

      I would have thought the final photo of the “permanent data storage facility” would have been a landfill! :-)

    • Speed
      Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 7:16 PM | Permalink

      From The Antarctic Sun

      But time is running out; the clues in the mystery are disappearing. By the end of the century, Thompson says, most of the world’s tropical and subtropical ice will vanish.

      “It will be gone. And history will be gone,” he says.

      And so will be the cores, the punch cards and the data.

  20. EdeF
    Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 9:42 AM | Permalink

    …..aisle 1078, row 988, level 22. Right behind the Polar Urals data.

    • Larry Geiger
      Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 8:33 AM | Permalink

      …..aisle 1078, row 988, level 22. Right next to the Lost Ark.

  21. Henry chance
    Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 9:55 AM | Permalink

    This from the EPA Browner:

    “Don’t bother looking for any electronic records of Carol Browner’s first stint as a federal government executive. The soon-to-be Obama administration climate czar intentionally didn’t keep many.

    In sworn testimony obtained by The Washington Times, Ms. Browner disclosed that she refused to use e-mail when she served as President Clinton’s Environmental Protection Agency chief in the 1990s for fear of leaving a digital trail. She also ordered her government computer hard drive wiped clean of records just before leaving office.”

    The old methiods of information storage were not very fast for document retrieval and random access.
    Even with microfilm, many hospitals still kept all hard copies and x-rays.

    http://www.undergroundvaults.com/industryanswers/museumartifactsstorage.html

  22. Roger Knights
    Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 11:27 AM | Permalink

    Perhaps North, like other notable warmists, has been getting nasty e-mails, and this was the motivation for his request to keep him out of it?

  23. Barry Woods
    Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 3:18 PM | Permalink

    What is a ‘climate scientist’?

    Rhetorical questions, sometimes lead to interesting answers.

    An expert in all related fields?, atmospheric physics, astro physics, oceanography, etc,etc being some of the fields that encompass the complexities of the ‘climate’

    Or are they they just the ‘jack of all trades’ dipping into fields likes satistics’ to use what fits their theories….

    What is a climate scientist?

    Someone who is interested in every aspect of the climate , all the natural processes at work for billions of years.

    Or does ‘climate scientist’ mean, as I believe, a vocation for saving the planet from man made climate change a bit extra CO2.

    While the hockey stick is but a small part of thescience, it played a huge part in the poltical science, used to persuade politicians and the public of ‘unprecedented’ (man made – they always drop this bit) global warming.

    Similary, the various temperature datasets HADCRUT and others from CRU, that very many climate researchers used, have been used to ‘show’ unprecendented ‘global warming’

    Yet, I have read harry_read_me.txt, and at the very least the data integrity is under severe doubt.. let alone the mess of undocumented spghetti code, that leaves no confidence in it

    Datasets are adjusted (nothing wrong with that) but are the reasons, assumptions known, can they be verified/checked. Is the UHI effect adjustment being correctly applied, is it correct in itself, and what stations are being used, are those assumptions correct?

    We have seen how Russian data stations got dropped ruarl but kept warm..

    Unadjusted new zealand datasets, unadjusted australian data shows 0.07C rise, yet the adjusted data, shows +ve adjustemnets the aerly records positive adjustements to later, to show a steeply rising temp trend per century…

    Reasons why the adjustsment not forthcoming.

    What effect do these adjustemnt (limited southern hemisphere coverage) make on the global set. A warm bias ?

    Who knows, not me, until copenhagen and climatgate I would be considered ‘luke warm’ on man made global warming. accept the theory, sceptical on wwf, grenpeace, oxfam, Al Gore style alrmis.

    Now, with the above, who knows for sure…
    Except I definetly do not trust the ‘poltical consensus’
    Or the ‘cargo cult’ that ‘climate science’ has become.

    except that I have receieved tonnes of abuse, as a ‘deniar’ for even mentioning any of the above..

    An example here at the BBC.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2010/06/weve_had_a_fair_bit.html#comments

    I wonder if anybody here recognises ‘manysummits’ writing style

    • Harold
      Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 8:37 PM | Permalink

      “Yet, I have read harry_read_me.txt, and at the very least the data integrity is under severe doubt.”

      This seems to be assuming the data is good until it is proven bad? That seems the wrong way around to me – I always thought “good data” had to be proven good first, before being accepted as good. And what is a data set that was lost before it was proven good??

  24. Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 5:29 PM | Permalink

    While it’s true that places like OSU haven’t had punched card readers for several years, there are still places like Vintagetech.com that (for a fee) will read cards and other vintage media like Judith’s 9-track tapes, so “they scrapped the card reader” is not an excuse for Thompson and others no to archive important data.

    If the cards still exist, that is, and aren’t water damaged or otherwise messed up.

    I still have a deck of data cards with interwar bond data that I punched as a grad student, and would like to return to some day. I envisioned having to read the faded ink (or worse yet, holes) on the cards and rekey the numbers, but maybe I’ll give VintageTech a call!

    • Tom Gray
      Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 7:50 AM | Permalink

      Another suggestion would be to pass on this task as a suggestion for the third year project in the computer science or electrical engineering programs at the univerisyt of oin one of the programming or electronic technology programs at a local community college. It would seem like a straightforward task to take scanned images in bitmap format of the cads and identify the holes to generate a data file in any suitable format.

      The IPCC appraently has a budget for supplying technical services

  25. Orson
    Posted Jun 6, 2010 at 7:16 PM | Permalink

    I’m only halfway through this fascinating threaded discussion.

    But the relevance of self-interested scientists who obfuscate their data and underlying institutional motives from the public is much more obvious to us over the past year – and no, I’m not talking climate science.

    Rather, I’m talking about WHOs pandemic swine flu, which President Obama twice called a national emergency.

    In Europe, WHO is charged with exaggerating the threat, withholding ties to drug-makers who benefited from their call

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/04/AR2010060403034.html

    Over a year ago, Michael Fumento called the threat wrong on the evidence, and the resulting hysteria phony.

    http://www.fumento.com/swineflu/malpractice.html

    AND

    http://www.fumento.com/swineflu/spanish_flu.html

    And it was. Only some 13,000 died from H1N1 in the US over the past year, roughly one-third of average – and a tiny fraction of the 90-200,000 feared.

    Does this sound like the decade or two of bloviation from similarly publicly funded class of scientists, feeding international institutions, benefiting a class of politically activist environmentalists, called “climate science”?

    Hmmm. Just a thought.

    During discussion at ICCC4, Pat Michaels and I agreed that AGW is also a public choice economics problem. Dispatching these analytical tools could do much to dispel the confusion of interests and conflation of motives discussed in this thread.

    However, having also discussed this problem with a past President of the Public Choice Society, Michael Munger, I had difficulty in getting him to appreciate the problem of scientific corruption from politics. He seemed to think the monies involved were too little to worry about. (Climate science currently gets more than HIV-Aids does in the US – with an agenda potential to be THE single largest global source of governmental income.)

    Therefore, I suggested to Michaels that a campaign of problem and opportunity education directed at rising young public choice economists was needed. This institutional lack of circumspection needs to be turned around, pronto!

  26. Ciardha
    Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 12:09 AM | Permalink

    What’s on Thompson’s lost punch cards that can’t be recovered?

    If his data from lab tests are from ice core samples, which he keeps permanently in cold storage, it seems to me any lost data could be recovered by doing the lab tests again.

    Storing the ice core samples is, IMO, the best way to provide for future research, so I don’t think Thompson should be criticized for lack of archiving.

    Steve: Given that he hasn’t archived his measurements for other scientists, he obviously can be criticized for not archiving. Your point on the ice core archive is fair and mitigates somewhat (for those cores that have been archived – and not all of them have), but does not excuse the failure to archive data.

    • Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 2:33 PM | Permalink

      Storing the cores and/or renalyzing them is very expensive, whereas perpetually archiving the data is essentially free in today’s data environment.

      Ideally one would save the cores forever, just in case someone might think of a new test or want to double check the measurements. But costs are a constraint, and someday budget cuts or power failures or just slow degradation will mandate discarding the cores. Then nothing will be left of Thompson’s legacy, unless he gets busy archiving what he has.

      • Judith Curry
        Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 2:38 PM | Permalink

        Actually, Thompson has a big freezer at Ohio State where the cores are stored, i have no idea if he still has the older cores.

  27. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 4:53 AM | Permalink

    Judith Curry
    Posted Jun 4, 2010 at 6:15 PM

    Steve, here i the issue as i see it. Prior to say 1988, we were all conducting academic science. Once the IPCC began, the needs for science changed into a more regulatory framework. For distinction between academic and regulatory science, see

    http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/klamathbasin/science_policy/regulatory_vs_academic.html

    Climate researchers want to influence policy while at the same time apply the standards of academic research. This is where the clash is coming from, and climate researchers can no longer have their cake and eat it too (climategate has been a focusing event for this issue). We need much greater accountability in climate research, but expecting this for research conducted prior to 1990 is fairly futile.

    Judith, as always, your participation is much appreciated.

    However, I must disagree with you regarding the pre-1990 accountability. Either the data exists or it doesn’t, regardless of when it was collected.

    If it exists, it needs to be archived. Period. If it is lost, the papers based on that lost data need to be discredited and disowned. Period.

    I don’t care what the excuse is, whether it is lack of space to store punch cards, or an inability to read nine-track tapes, or because the ice cores caught fire. Who cares? If the result is that the work cannot be replicated, it is not science, it is just another apocryphal tale of frozen derring-do.

    That’s what is most frustrating about Thompson. He not only refuses to archive the data, he refuses to say if he even has the data. Of course, that allows him to keep up the pretence that what he has done is valid science. It is not. It is just a story based on invisible “evidence”.

    Next, you say:

    The important thing at this point is to rescue all the data we have at this point and get it archived.

    I agree, but that’s only half the task. The other half is to acknowledge what data is lost, and withdraw whatever studies and conclusions are based on that data. Can’t be replicated? Can’t be investigated? Sorry, not science.

    Finally, you say that this is the difference between “Regulatory” and “Academic” science. I disagree. Academic science is the root science. It should be even more concerned about the archiving of data and the replicability of results than is regulatory science. In part, this is because we do not know what part of academic science will someday be important for regulations. But in a much larger part, archiving is a central and vital part of the scientific need for transparency and accountability and replicability. Without that, science is reduced to witch-doctoring, making any kind of fanciful claims based on hidden methods, secret computer codes, and unarchived data.

    Or as it is called today … “climate science”.

    • Judith Curry
      Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 5:36 AM | Permalink

      Willis you are incorrect about discrediting science that no longer has its data available. The objective of academic research is to increase scientific understanding: understanding has increased (or not) based upon a paper, over the course of time and as a result of subsequent research. So science moves forward, and whether old data is available or not isn’t of terribly high relevance for academic research. Yes in some instances it is desirable to have old data available in raw form. The issues you raise are of relevance to regulatory science, not to academic research. The point that i am making is that once the science becomes policy relevant (not just of interest to the public), then much more rigorous standards are needed.

      So why not these very rigorous data archival standards for all of academic research? The general (unofficial, unenforced) standard is that data etc should be kept for 7 years so that people can replicate or examine the study if there is interest. Only a fraction of a percent of publications receive this kind of interest. For the most part, time that would be spent carefully documenting data and methods, writing extensive manuals explaining models, etc. is better spent by moving the science forward; science progresses more rapidly.

      “Moving on” is a good thing for academic research, but for regulatory research the documentation becomes paramount. Back in the 1970’s yes there was public interest in climate issues, but no one was making any policies about this stuff. So the research was purely in the academic realm.

      So should climate modelling groups spend 90% of their time documenting everything and conducting extensive verification and validation efforts? or should they spend their time further developing the model? Clearly there should be a mix. But in a problem as complex as climate modelling, there is a continued (and overwhelming) need to continue model development.

      For data sets, the situation is much more clear cut. Careful documentation is needed. NOAA is leading the charge on establishing carefully documented, totally transparent climate data records (CDRs, they even have an acronym). Now that there is a clear regulatory role for climate information (yes, the federal agencies are a decade or two late in recognizing this), steps are being taking to create robust climate data records with the requisite metadata.

      So back to my original point: expecting these standards (which we only now realize are essential, and lets face it, it has been less than a decade since the public has been demanding transparency in climate data) retrospectively is pointless. I don’t recall the exact issue with Thompson’s old data. But let me clarify the issue with my old 9-track tapes. Its not that that the tape readers don’t exist, but after a few years the tapes themselves degrade, and it is only by continuing to copy them to new tapes every few years that the data and model output could have been preserved. Hardly worth it, and frankly no one has been asking for my data and model output back in the 70’s and 80’s

      • Harold
        Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 9:04 AM | Permalink

        Willis said “Can’t be replicated? Can’t be investigated? Sorry, not science.”

        Dr Curry responded “Willis you are incorrect about discrediting science that no longer has its data available.”

        By this logic, there is no reason to have the data available for review at the time of publishing – it will all be irrelevant because later papers will insinuate it to be right or wrong.

        I make a distinction between getting published and doing science, and it seems the emphasis is getting published is a good enough standard for work product to be called science. In my view, a scientific investigation conforms to certain processes and standards. Apparently, processes and standards don’t matter much in the climate science community.

        In any event, Dr Curry’s framework seems to conform more to an exploratory model, where the work is really to give some direction for further work. It isn’t important because it doesn’t give a definitive answer to any significant question. I always called these “throw away studies”. Dr Curry thinks throw away studies should be kept even when they can no longer replicated / investigated; Willis thinks throw away studies should be discounted if they can no longer replicated / investigated. I’m with Willis.

      • Scott Brim
        Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 11:07 AM | Permalink

        Re: Judith Curry (Jun 7 05:36),

        In the nuclear industry, the electronic data and the computer code which runs the modeling processes are considered to be one thing. They are not two separate things. The two are viewed as subcomponents of the same system.

        Twenty five years ago, in 1985, when I was involved in supplying data, data archiving services, and software development services for supporting hydrologic modeling of groundwater movement for DOE’s nuclear waste repository project, the scientists on that project were directed to stop work on their models and to take the time not only to document and properly archive what they already had, but also to develop new software configuration processes and new data archiving processes to manage the historical record of any future modeling work that was to be done.

        There was vociferous protest from these scientists, their primary argument being very similar to yours; i.e., that the academic research standards of the time didn’t require the kind of rigorous long-term archiving of data and software that was being demanded by DOE’s repository project managers. Moreover, as their argument went, it wasn’t worth the considerable time and expense it would take to bring the existing work up to the new standard; and the impacts on current work activities and current delivery schedules would be significant.

        They lost that argument, big time. DOE management stated in no uncertain terms that the public interest demanded a higher standard, and anyone who didn’t buy in to the new more rigorous philosophy would have no place in the repository project. At that point, possibly twenty percent of the scientific staff said “no thanks” and left of their own accord. However, those who remained buckled down and got the job done — as painful, as time consuming, and as expensive as the rework actually turned out to be.

        I will point out here that one of the State of Nevada’s arguments against Yucca Mountain is that future climate change is likely to result in groundwater being present within the waste repository, where none is present today. Computerized climate modeling forms the scientific basis for that argument.

        In contrast with climate modeling software, DOE’s repository groundwater modeling software is subject to a very high standard of software V&V and software/data configuration management. Configuration management of the data and the software is such that every output data set is tied very tightly to the input data and the software version used to produce it. If that software and data wasn’t managed to these rigorous standards, it couldn’t be used as reference backup for the NRC license application process.

        Let’s ask a tough question. If Yucca Mountain hadn’t been canceled by the Obama Administration, and if the NRC licensing process for the repository had gone forward, could an argument have been made that the computerized climate models cited by the State of Nevada need to be held to the same rigorous software V&V standards and the same rigorous documentation standards that are now being applied to DOE’s own repository groundwater models?

        And if the answer had been yes, and if the computerized climate models had been judged not to be in compliance with commonly accepted professional standards for nuclear quality work, could those models have been introduced into the NRC’s licensing process as the basis for one of the most important and consequential science-based arguments against placing the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain?

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 11:22 AM | Permalink

          Scott I agree with you absolutely, and i have been very vocal in my statements about open data access etc. In the example you provide, there was a real time need for this kind of archival for a publicly important project (and I agree that the scientists were wrong to object). This is very different from a retrospective expectation that people should have archived everything (particularly in the pre digital age), even though at the time there was no apparent interest or need for this.

          Climate models are certainly not in compliance with commonly accepted standards for nuclear quality work (note CA had a discussion on this a few years ago, see http://climateaudit.org/2008/02/03/curry-reviews-jablonski-and-williamson/. If there is a need for climate models to undergo a very rigorous verification and validation procedure, then this should be clarified. At this point, the climate models aren’t sufficiently well developed (and they are under pretty much continuous development), but I personally think additional efforts should be undertaken in climate model V&V. In fact, Patrick Roache’s book on “Fundamentals of Verification and Validation” sits on my desk (recommended to me by Dan Hughes), I am slowly going through this book. V&V isn’t so relevant for academic research, but obviously of paramount importance for policy and regulation. Climate models should arguably be transitioning to a more formal V&V.

        • Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 1:30 PM | Permalink

          > Climate models are certainly not in compliance with commonly
          > accepted standards for nuclear quality work

          By the time the government takes over insuring the fossil fuel industry for its errors, the climate models will have to be brought to the same standard.

          There couldn’t have been a Price-Anderson act and a toxic waste disposal program for the coal industry since Arrhenius — it’s too easy to burn coal, any country can do it. If coal had been from the beginning as obviously dangerous as fission, and as hard to use, only a few countries would have been doing it, and we’d have documentation to the highest standard possible going back to Arrhenius, and perhaps less of a problem with CO2.

          Quality comes after documenting likely problems. Extremely detailed longterm documentation comes after taking responsibility for problems.

      • Sarah Cornell
        Posted Mar 1, 2011 at 4:02 PM | Permalink

        This is the line that made me prick up my ears: “once the science becomes policy relevant (not just of interest to the public), then much more rigorous standards are needed.”
        My first reaction was – WHAAAT? As an academic, it’s my job to meticulously scrutinise and critique the science I see. How else can I build on the body of knowledge? What more rigorous standard can there be? Yet everywhere I look, standards are being smushed in the rush to deliver policy-relevant science. Governments have funded whole programmes to harvest (or selectively pluck) pre-publication – and hence unreviewed – research to bolster their positions in international climate meetings. Yes, feel free to contact me for specifics. Entraining (renowned…) experts is seen as the same as a synthesis of “proper” (by which I mean peer-reviewed, accessible, debatable, critique-able, verifiable, reproducible) science. Scientists are complicit in this process – who can resist the siren’s call of an IPCC authorship/government advisorship in these REF days? But we shouldn’t be. When we are asked to pitch a scientific story, we should be clear about what is robust science and what is a bespoke commissioned set of model runs that nobody else can scrutinise. I disagree that more rigorous standards are needed for policy-relevant science. We just need to hold up our normal high standards (and darn it, we need to stick to them, not sell ourselves and our science for a bit of bling)

  28. Barry Woods
    Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 6:20 AM | Permalink

    The problem here is trust…

    Given that this particular issue has turned into a poltical/social/economic one, trust is particulary essential. This was lost in ‘cliimate science’ totally following climategate, and given the website we are commenting on, it is clear that the trust in climate science had been missing for a number of years.

    ie, ‘ipcc climate science’ trust, not the bulk of sciences, climate scientists draw from

    Which, based on what was shown in climategate, and prior comments ‘why should I give you the data, you just want to find holes in it” prior to all that..

    Something has gone badly wrong in ‘climate science’ the various ‘climategate’ enquiries actually dammed ‘climate science’ with the comment.

    UK parlimentary enquiry said:

    “The focus on Professor Jones and CRU has been largely misplaced. On the accusations relating to Professor Jones’s refusal to share raw data and computer codes, the Committee considers that his actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community but that those practices need to change.”

    Whilst I agree with Judith that it is retrospectical inpractical to expect, pretty dusty areas of reasearch from the 70’s to 80′ that was a bit of a backwater – prior to IPCC set up,etc to still have everything.

    ie safe to assume it was available due to the procedures/prcesses/standards and the limitations/practicalities of data storage of the time, but we could reasonable trust the scientists ie no poltical pressure (subconcious or otherwise)

    It is totally unforgivable, inmy opinion, to use the excuse impractible to archive data for the last 10-20 years..

    The 7 year guidline sure was around before information technology..

    Anybody seriously using punch cards, reel tape,etc, that is a misdirection in the last 15 years. Hard disk have repeatably got cheaper in this time, data format in software stored digitally, just need code to modify them into any new format, and you can keep the original.
    It is just a poor excuse.

    I still have my data and code archived for my MSc, as no doubt does the department concerned from the early 1990’s, it is still totally readible format (the format is also known, and could be used in a newer format data set – whilst still retaining the original.

    This is no more the responsibility of data archving, a routine housekeeping task, that is apparently beneath professors.(even the old stuff) It is also a simple task if set up properly. If of course you are as disorganised as apologists of Phil Jones claimed (bit sloppy, piles of papers in is office, etc) , that task is more difficult, that is hardly a good excuse,

    “I do it badly, so I do not need to make an effort?”

    Of course my experience was computer science department, developing comples computer model (I got tmy MSC, I wouyld n’t use that model to predict anythin though!) the impression one gets particularly from CRU, that the potentail information technology, internet and blogs seemed to have completely passed them by (the 70’s 80’s generation of climate scientists, Jones, etc). ie they (CRU) don’t look at blogs.

    (not even climate audit?)
    I’ve learned a lot at Watts UP, like why for example, that the CO2 station on Mauno loa, is ACTULLAY a very GOOD station, and explains why, it should not be criticised.

    Phil Dennis at UEA, has a blog Harmonic Oscillator, where he describes the intention of open book science, with data, etc freely available. (Phil Dennis of course, at UEA, refusing to sign the met office email/letter after climategate, saying science is not done by consensus)

    It is totally unacceptable to not even confirm whether you even HAVE the data. The world expects much more open and available information.

    This is seen as a threat to some in ivory ‘climate science’ towers, or establishment polticla government/Royal Society type towers, old boys ‘whitewash enquiries’ but it is in fact an opportunity to step down from the these towers..

    When, for example, all the world’s weather stations(or country, county, etc) is available online, how useful for any amateur, or more likelky school or college to run project on real data for their local area or town.

    (You might find very many of these people willing to RUN/FUND their own waether station (to the standrards required) making possible very interesting observations of a small region, UHI effect with many more weather station when previoulsy there were few, or the funding had dried up.

    Even in astronomy the interested amatuer still spots thing that the experts miss, or have had not time or funds to take an interest in.

    No more excuses from the 70’s generation of professors please..
    I cannot imagine, anyone wanting to be associated (co authoring) etc with some CRU scientists, in the future, just by association.

    I’m sure people would be polite about it, but if you are recent phd, would you want to be associated with ‘climate science’ poor past behaviour, freely available ALL over the internet. The old school doesn’t look there so assume it does not matter, or think people will notice. I’m sure Judith Curry’s students noticed.

  29. Craig Loehle
    Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 6:45 AM | Permalink

    It occurs to me that North’s comment might reflect a view of science as mere art, as the creation of status tokens that enhance the prestige of those producing them. That is, it is a game and not about the real world and not about finding the truth. In grad school, the prof in the next office had a poster that said: “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull”. And he did. By this view, the entire game is about producing these sciency tokens by which one accrues status, and thereby the distaste for auditing or holding someone to the facts.

  30. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 8:32 AM | Permalink

    Speaking of losing or destroying data, it’s pretty amazing that Kerry Emanuel has already destroyed his written notes on the interviews with Jones and Briffa. Why would he do that?

    • Judith Curry
      Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 8:35 AM | Permalink

      likely something as simple as cleaning out his briefcase

  31. Barry Woods
    Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 8:47 AM | Permalink

    The UK government are allowing comments on the coalition program regarding climate change.

    I think theyu would benefit from some input from climate audit regulars: (either way)

    “The Government believes that climate change is one of the gravest threats we face, and that urgent action at home and abroad is required. We need to use a wide range of levers to cut carbon emissions, decarbonise the economy and support the creation of new green jobs and technologies. We will implement a full programme of measures to fulfil our joint ambitions for a low carbon and eco-friendly economy.”

    http://programmeforgovernment.hmg.gov.uk/energy-and-climate-change/

  32. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 9:56 AM | Permalink

    Judy and others, my attempts to keep this discussion prioritized have been unsuccessful. As always, people over-generalize. Whenever this sort of topic comes up, we get people saying that they have their data from the 1970s or whenever. That’s fine – bully for you. Then we get responses from Judy or someone else saying that they don’t have certain data and don’t concede that there is any culpability in not having it – again that’s fine too. We’ve been through this sort of exchange and both these positions are well known.

    I prefer an English case law approach to things, rather a Napoleonic code. Let’s limit ourselves to the single case of whether it is reasonable to ask for Lonnie Thompson’s measurements from Dunde ice core drilled in 1987 and Guliya in 1991 or so, which is where this point originated. Not about every meteorological measurement taken in the 1970s.

    And the even narrower question about whether it is reasonable for North to sneer at someone asking for such data. Everyone’s points are at cross-purposes to the issues in this case.

    In my opinion, the fact that many people have preserved data from the late 1980s (and even the 1970s) proves that it’s not unreasonable to ask for Dunde measurement data from core drilled in 1987 and probably measured over the next couple of years. If they don’t have it anymore, then so be it, but it wasn’t unreasonable to ask. Many people would have preserved the data.

    Secondly, given the difficulty and expense of obtaining the Dunde core and repeated concerns about the glacier disappearing and the relatively small size of the data base – a few thousands or tens of thousands of measurements – it seems to me that it’s not unreasonable to have anticipated that extra care would have been taken in preserving data from this expedition. All the more reason wny it wasn;t unreasonable to request the data in this particular case.

    If Thompson placed data on punch cards and can’t find the punch cards, there is every reason for Thompson to try to locate the punch cards before he dies or is incapacitated and every reason for people in the “community” to hold him to account for doing so. Again, no justification for North’s sneer.

    So again, let’s stick to narrow issues. Rather than trying to create a Napoleonic code covering every contingency for every data set from every period since World War II, let’s see if there is a verdict can be rendered on North’s characterization of asking for Thompson’s data and work out from there.

    • Judith Curry
      Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 10:17 AM | Permalink

      I certainly agree that efforts should be made to preserve Thompson’s glacier data, especially since they are not reproducible as the glaciers melt. So what would a useful and productive way to proceed be? I don’t think it is useful to call scientists sloppy or irresponsible in this regard. Making FOIA requests or whatever won’t help. I suggest corresponding with Thompson to find out what it would take in terms of resources to accomplish this archiving. Then write to the relevant NOAA and NSF program managers to drum up financial support to accomplish this archive.

      The individual examples are relevant in terms of whether it is appropriate/reasonable to expect individual university based scientists to have carefully kept/archived research results from more than 15-20 years ago. I have argued that it isn’t. But that if something is important 20 years later, lets figure out how to get this data archived.

      So there is a difference between “holding Thompson accountable” versus working with him to archive his data for posterity. I assume that Thompson values his work and would like to see it archived for posterity, but does not have the resources to do this and does not want to spend his personal time doing this (rather than pursuing new science). So reframing this to figure out how to work with Thompson to accomplish this archive is what i am trying to do

      • kim
        Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 10:48 AM | Permalink

        I’m sorry, Judy, your briefcase comment and this one are just over the top. If Thompson believes his science is worth reading and considering into the future then he needs to archive it. He does not need to have his hand held in order to form this belief.
        =============

      • Craig Loehle
        Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 11:42 AM | Permalink

        I don’t think the response to outsiders offering to “help” will be positive, and probably no reply at all is most likely.

    • Kenneth Fritsch
      Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 10:39 AM | Permalink

      Steve M, what you state below, is of course the essence of the case against both Thompson’s and the community’s lack of communication on rendering the data lost or not, and further if it is available on exactly what would be required to resurrect it to a status capable of it being independently analyzed. Science moving on, as Judith Curry has excused, is only valid if the currently and properly archived data has either been acknowledge to agree or disagree with the evidence provided by the historically abused data.

      A similar case with the HadCRU temperature data and Jones finally resulted in the finding that the data requested was lost. Why it would take all that prying effort to reveal that simple development makes me think (and as the climategate emails do) that these scientists as advocates first and foremost were more interested in what such a development might do to the PR effort towards mitigation policies. North’s sneer is just an alternative to total silence in dealing with these issues.

      And by the way, by avoiding any details about the effort required to provide the requested data, the defense that it is too costly or a waste of science resources can be repeated ad infinitum – and is. I suppose one could even say (but hardly with a straight face or without a wink and nod that) that providing those details takes too much effort.

      “If Thompson placed data on punch cards and can’t find the punch cards, there is every reason for Thompson to try to locate the punch cards before he dies or is incapacitated and every reason for people in the “community” to hold him to account for doing so. Again, no justification for North’s sneer.”

  33. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 10:05 AM | Permalink

    I think perhaps this thread is missing what we often miss when we puzzle over why notes and other documentation in these matters turn up missing. I judge that the participants of these processes do not really take them all that seriously (and certainly not as seriously as some of us do) that they would carefully preserve what was done. If one went into these processes with a foregone conclusion one’s attitude might be let us get this over as quickly and painlessly as possible while preserving the all important integrity of the consensus on AGW and mitigation policy.

    It becomes a boring and tiresome process to the participants who know the outcome but have to weave their ways through and around the facts of the matter. And cleaning out the contents of a briefcase would be considered on the level of taking a shower after a personal unpleasantness occurred in one’s life.

  34. Barry Woods
    Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 10:10 AM | Permalink

    my sister in law gave verbal evidence at a parlimentary emquiry,(an accredited green journalist, and green parlimentary candidate, observing G20 summit violence) transcripts of this evidence and the brief and all written evidence is all avaiable on the governments website..

    why is ‘climate science’ treated differently

  35. Craig Loehle
    Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 10:14 AM | Permalink

    To sneer at someone asking for the data seems to me to reflect a post-modern view, that all that matters is the doing of the science, that there is no real truth to be found — only viewpoints. One can’t of course have this cake and then try to eat it by saying that one’s results are so important that the world must go back to riding horses, though this is what has been going on. This contradiction runs all through post-modern thought and is deadly when it infects scientific work, as it has done in studies of gender (e.g., in education & psychology), sexual orientation, “health” foods, “toxic” compounds etc etc–where the correctness of a result is judged by the use to which the result will be put. A study which says little boys and girls are NOT identical is a “bad” study because someone might use it for a bad purpose. The question of FACTS is not important, and the same type of reaction is given to attempts to audit the work as Steve has gotten.

  36. Judith Curry
    Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 10:31 AM | Permalink

    The National Academies has published a very document “Ensuring the Integrity, Accessibility, and Stewardship of Research Data in the Digital Age”

    http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12615

    The issue is what to do about data from the pre-digital age. Expecting individual scientists at universities to have done much along these lines isn’t going to be productive. Trying to archive it at this point is worthwhile, the challenge is how to proceed productively.

  37. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 10:48 AM | Permalink

    Judy, if the data is important, every measurement should be archived. There are at most tens of thousands of measurements per core. Many of these are probably on digital media of one kind or another already. I’ve made polite requests to Thompson, NSF, NAS, Science over a period now approaching seven years and been generally blown off.

    I did get some data on Kilimanjaro from Science that is online at climateaudit.info and nowhere else. I also succeeded in getting a little bit of data from Dunde, Guliya and a few other sites online, but far short of a full archive.

    However, the existence of summary data from Dunde, Guliya etc in digital form strongly suggests to me that the underlying sample data is also in digital form and the decision not to archive sample data has nothing to do with punch cards, but more with stubbornness.

    • Judith Curry
      Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 11:03 AM | Permalink

      At this point, i think the best strategy would be to work through NCDC Paleoclimate Data Center. Tom Karl is the big boss, but he is pretty tied up with the Climate Services initiative. The World Data Center for Paleoclimatology is in Boulder CO, contact info is here http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/wdc/usa/paleo.html
      He is the appropriate person to work with on this, IMO

      Steve: I’ve had lots of contact with WDC Paleo over the years, especially with Bruce Bauer, with whom I’m on excellent terms. I’ve spoken well of their service when the occasion has arisen. They have no jurisdiction over Thompson.

      • Judith Curry
        Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 12:39 PM | Permalink

        Steve, I agree that WDC has no jurisdiction over Thompson, that isn’t the point, but rather WDC could provide Thompson with funding to hire a data archive person to sort out his old data.

  38. Judith Curry
    Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 12:54 PM | Permalink

    One further point re “pure/academic” science vs “applied/regulatory” science. They have two different purposes. Everyone here seems to understand the “applied/regulatory” science purpose. The purpose of pure/academic research is to ask questions, change the way people think about a particular scientific problem.

    Back in 1970’s, Lonnie Thompson’s ice core research was squarely in the realm of academic science: he was investigating what if anything we could learn about climate from glacier ice cores. Because his research was successful, 2-3 decades later his ice core data is being used in multiproxy reconstructions of paleotemperature that are part of the policy-relevant IPCC. So the transition of Thompson’s research into being relevant for policy occurred over the transition from 1998 to say 2006. Thompson himself wants to continue with the pure/academic science. What is his obligation to deal with issues related to the regulatory aspects? Well, since he works at a university, he has no obligation. So coercion obviously won’t work here, the only thing that might work is to appeal to Thompson’s sense of importance of his own work, and provide him with some funds to do the archive.

    Another example, take climate models. Again, back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, researchers were exploring whether it was feasible to simulate changes in global climate, and what we might learn from such simulations. By the time of the IPCC Third Assessment Report, climate models were clearly being used in the “regulation” context. Climate modelers at NCAR, GFDL weren’t happy about this, since their personal interests as scientists were in model development or application, but they were required by their government employers to spend most of their time on the “production runs” for the IPCC.

    So who do we “blame?” Certainly not the individual scientists. A statement that I’ve made many times before: the institutions that support climate research have not yet caught up to the policy relevance of climate research. Climategate was a huge wake up call in this regard. Lets move forward and try to identify productive solutions, rather than focusing on the blame game. We need to keep up the pressure for transparency, reform the IPCC, etc. The blame game when focused on individuals is a distraction from the bigger picture things that need to be done.

    • Kenneth Fritsch
      Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 2:14 PM | Permalink

      It almost sounds like you, Judith, are making excuses for shoddy scientific practices. Why would Thompson have so little regard for his works and findings that he thought that it would never be duplicated/analyzed by others as is customary in a scientific endeavor and particularly when that endeavor gives evidence for something of importance. The duplication of results comes from science costume and not policy. Policy considerations tend to be more arbitrary and justified with just about any anecdotal evidence. Who is better to judge the worth and future worth of the data than the scientist who initiated and published the results? He would need to inform the institution for which he works and encourage them to assist in archiving material.

      You seem to persist in assuming that making the data available entails a major effort. We do not know this, but the situation would become clearer if the details of the data condition were made public by the involved scientist(s). Why do you think that these scientists have not come forward with these details? I say it is because no one in the community is pushing them to do it and there are any number of people willing to rationalize this lack forthrightness.

      • Judith Curry
        Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 2:37 PM | Permalink

        Kenneth, you are continuing to miss my point. There are several issues here. One issue is the standards for data archival etc. that should be applied in the digital age, vs what is expected retrospectively for data that was collected before the 1990’s. The second issue is data that is of interest to other academic scientists in the context of academic research, vs data that is of broader public interest/relevance in the context of applied research.

        Steve McIntyre is the first person outside of the academic community to request many of these data sets. Other scientists either know how to get similar data from alternate sources, or are more interested in doing their own thing and generating their own new data sets. There are enough problems to work on in climate research so we don’t spend alot of energy replicating each other’s analyses. Steve’s requests pursuant to the IPCC third assessment report mark the public’s interest in this research because of its policy relevance and hence denotes the transition to regulatory science. The fact that there apparently weren’t any requests prior to Steve’s is interesting in many ways. Steve’s requests and subsequent blogging are playing a major role in increasing the accountability of climate research as it transitions into regulatory science.

        By pretending that the standards of regulatory science should have been adhered to by academic researchers in the 1970’s, just in case their research turned out to be important and policies were being developed based on this research at some point decades in the future, just isn’t useful, especially given the challenges of data archival in the pre-digital age.

        Again, good academic science (well important science, anyways) is science that asks new questions and changes our understanding of something. Good regulatory science is about careful documentation of data and models. Rather different animals. Both are important. Scientists garner recognition for academic science. The public benefits directly from regulatory science.

        • Kenneth Fritsch
          Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 8:28 PM | Permalink

          “There are enough problems to work on in climate research so we don’t spend alot of energy replicating each other’s analyses.”

          Judith when you state the above I think it rings quite true for climate science and is reason for the likes of an outsider like Steve M and others to analyze the climate science publications that go unchallenged in the “community. They, the community that is, as you say, are continually “moving on”.

          The point that Steve M is attempting to keep us on here is specifically that of Lonnie Thompson. The pertinent questions are why does he not choose to inform on the state of his data, whether it remains retrievable and if so what kind of effort would be required to retrieve it. By your treating this issue in a very general manner allows you to wave off scientist responsibility by invoking some assumptions of your own. Let us discuss the Lonnie Thompson issue and at least answer the question why pressure has not been put on him by the “community” to at least clear the air on the status of the samples and data taken from them. Then we will immediately allow him to go back to doing science.
          Unfortunately the evidence of sloppy work and handling of that work by Jones had to forced by those outside the community. You keep repeating that nothing untoward has come out of the Jones incident, but I would beg to differ that besides revealing a sloppy approach the China urban temperatures and analyses is very much in question.

        • bender
          Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 9:16 AM | Permalink

          Judith Curry says:
          “By pretending that the standards of regulatory science should have been adhered to by academic researchers in the 1970′s, just in case their research turned out to be important and policies were being developed based on this research at some point decades in the future, just isn’t useful”

          “1970’s” is a straw man. Let’s try “1990’s”. Would you agree to that? Specifically: by 1998 *everyone* should have understood that a transition had taken place toward “regulatory science”.

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 9:31 AM | Permalink

          Bender, I agree that there is no good reason not to have archived data collected since the 1990’s. However, the transition to regulatory science had not occurred in 1998, it is arguably in transition since the publication in 2001 of the IPCC third assessment report. So playing the blame game regarding individual scientists isnt worth it; rather it contributes to a siege mentality as described by the scholars and rogues post http://www.scholarsandrogues.com/2010/06/08/climate-scientists-still-besieged/.

          So at some point this is all counter productive. I agree that data should be made publicly accessible and methods transparent. Aspects of climate science are transitioning to a regulatory environment. The institutions that support climate science need to figure out how to deal with this. Blaming individual scientists accustomed to working in an academic environment is counter productive and not the way to move this forward.

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 9:40 AM | Permalink

          Bender, another point is the responsibilities of government vs university scientists. Government scientists have certain responsibilities that university scientists do not. It seems that most of the problems that the climateauditors have had are with university scientists: Mann, Jones, Thompson, is my perception correct on this?

          Steve: If a paper is being applied for policy purposes, I don’t see why “university” or “government” is relevant. Ammann, Santer, Hansen, Schmidt, Solomon, Martin Manning,… are “government” employees. In my opinion, I’ve levelled sharper criticism against government agencies (NSF) than against scientists.

        • bender
          Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 9:48 AM | Permalink

          TAR as a transition phase – I’m ok with that.
          And, yes, your perception corresponds with mine.

  39. Keith Herbert
    Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 1:24 PM | Permalink

    When I was using punch cards for Fortran programming in the 70s, everyone had their programs and data written out first. It was too cumbersome and unreliable to go straight to punch card. Are there no written notes or computer runs remaining?

    And where is the field data? I don’t understand why punch cards would have been stored but not the original field data.

    As for Gerald North, when he stops giving interviews, he will probably stop appearing on blogs.

  40. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 2:15 PM | Permalink

    Judy,
    many of these issues involving differences between what you call “pure/academic” science vs “applied/regulatory” science are ones that I reflected about when I first became involved in this field, for example, here on disclosure and due diligence.

    One of my underlying premises in thinking about commmunications by climate science to the public as opposed to other climate scientists is that such communications shouuld, at a minimum, adhere to standards governing mining promoters (where there is a considerable legal framework). I say this in a very nuanced and precise sense – I’m not saying that communications by climate scientists are governed by securities legislation nor that securities regulators should take an interest in communications by climate scientists – only that there are important principles to such communications that climate scientists should adhere to e.g. the avoidance of excessively promotional press releases, signing off by qualified independent persons on university press releases (which are often excessively promotional).

    In addition, it seems to me that IPCC can and should enforce require authors to comply with standards for data archiving if they want their studies to be cited by IPCC. In paleoclimate, this is pretty easy to define and should be settled. I know that there are issues as to how to archive model information, but relevant standards need to be defined and enforced.

    I asked Susan SOlomon about this at a workshop in 2005 and she brushed the issue off – saying that that would interfere with journals. Too bad, IPCC has different functions and responsibilities than journals and should enforce its own standards.

    • Judith Curry
      Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 2:19 PM | Permalink

      Steve, I agree. Once climate researchers start participating in assessments like the IPCC and communicating with the public about the IPCC etc., they have left the land of pure/academic research, and these researchers should be operating under the more stringent standards of applied/regulatory science.

      I totally agree with you regarding the need for complete transparency and public availability of all data that goes into figures used by the IPCC.

      • Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 3:38 PM | Permalink

        While the “pure/academic” science vs “applied/regulatory” is useful its rather vague, and the assessments of the IPCC are not much more than academic. A couple of examples to sharpen the focus Eg:

        In the case of modelling, while accuracy is compared in the IPCC, no model is recognized as inadequate. Thats OK in academia where you would report model results as a mean and range say and then discuss, but in the applied world you want to know, Is this model fit for purpose? If not, throw it out!

        As to data archival, while regarded as a ‘good thing’ from academic perspective, might be a case of a personal liability by the person who signs off on it in industry. Consider workplace health and safety with legislated penalties in that regard.

        It seems to me without experience and/or actively working in industry and commerce academia would not or could not feel constrained in that way by the big hammers.

        Steve’s suggestions are rather minimal:

        1. that an independent person in university sign off on press releases: universities should recognise that the excessively promotional press releases in climate science have done considerable damage to science in general. This should apply to the theoretical research as much as applied research.

        This should be regarded as an appropriate response to a recognized RISK, not because they are suddenly operating in an applied/regulatory framework. What excuses are there for excessively promotional press releases in pure/academic science anyway?

        In other ways the standards of applied/regulatory science are LESS stringent than academia. They are just different.

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 3:57 PM | Permalink

          David, these are very good points. The press release thing is a big challenge. Institutions like NASA and NCAR issue press releases ostensibly to educate the public, but also to demonstrate their relevance which is important in maintaining their funding profile. At universities, particularly state universities, a key part of their mission is to educate the public. Active engagement in issues of direct relevance to the state is a plus in terms of the funding base for the university (both from the state and private donors). Journals and professional societies also issue press releases, for similar reasons but slightly different reasons. So any particular press release is made for some combination of these reasons.

          A press release is written collaboratively by the scientist and a science writer from the press office. Press releases from a government agency such as NASA do get significant scrutiny, but those from universities mostly do not (however, any of my faculty members issuing a press release keep me in the loop, so i do have some nominal input/oversight). And the ones from NCAR to me seem to be the most irresponsible (particularly the recent one regarding ocean model simulations of the Gulf oil spill).

          So the press release issue is a tough one, with the First Amendment and all that.

        • Geoff Sherrington
          Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 8:22 PM | Permalink

          Judith,

          Surely the academic press release is to condition the public about findings that are reported more formally in publications. That is, an interpretative spin in the press release is intended to discourage reading of the actual publication (as are paywalls) in case the reader finds that the emphasis in the publication is rather different to the social message of the press release. It follows that future funding is easier if an impression is left that all is worthy, progress is being made and beneficial reults are imminent.

          Is there any other major reason for an academic press release?

          When was the last time you were aware of a press release in your specialist part of climate science that withdrew findings of an earlier publication and declared them void? I would expect there to be a torrent, because so many past papers on temperature were calibrated against records that have changed significantly since publication.

  41. stereo
    Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 6:01 PM | Permalink

    All this from the man who loses information when his website crashes because he has no idea about backups or database integrity.

  42. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 6:27 PM | Permalink

    Judith Curry
    Posted Jun 7, 2010 at 5:36 AM | Permalink | Reply | Edit

    Willis you are incorrect about discrediting science that no longer has its data available. The objective of academic research is to increase scientific understanding: understanding has increased (or not) based upon a paper, over the course of time and as a result of subsequent research. So science moves forward, and whether old data is available or not isn’t of terribly high relevance for academic research. Yes in some instances it is desirable to have old data available in raw form. The issues you raise are of relevance to regulatory science, not to academic research. The point that i am making is that once the science becomes policy relevant (not just of interest to the public), then much more rigorous standards are needed.

    So why not these very rigorous data archival standards for all of academic research? The general (unofficial, unenforced) standard is that data etc should be kept for 7 years so that people can replicate or examine the study if there is interest. Only a fraction of a percent of publications receive this kind of interest. For the most part, time that would be spent carefully documenting data and methods, writing extensive manuals explaining models, etc. is better spent by moving the science forward; science progresses more rapidly.

    Judith, you seem to forget that we are talking, not about a replicable dataset, not about the output of one of your computer model runs, but a very unique thing, one which can never be duplicated – a particular ice core from a particular place and time, one of only a handful of ice cores ever drilled.

    This is a very different thing from something that we can simply go out and remeasure, or a computer run that we can just re-run, or an experiment we can set up again. As such, to me, if we don’t have the original data, then any papers that rely on that ice core cannot be replicated, cannot be checked, cannot be verified, and cannot be validated. And as such, they are not science.

    This is particularly critical in one of the main uses of ice cores, proxy reconstructions, where often (by intention or accident) the shape of the reconstruction depends critically on one or a few proxies. If we don’t have the original data for those critical proxies, then of what scientific value is the reconstruction? And why should it not be discredited?

    One point that you seem to be missing in all of this is that we no longer trust “you”, that is to say, mainstream climate scientists. We have been lied to and deceived too many times. Now you want us to just say “Oh, it’s OK that Thompson ‘lost’ the data, there’s no need to re-examine the various rotten structures that have been built on his results, let’s just move on.” No. I don’t trust Thompson. I don’t trust his scientific methods, I don’t trust his math, if he told me it was raining I’d look out the window to make sure. I am not going to say “Hey, his data is probably OK, that’s not particularly relevant.”

    In fact, Gerald North thinks it’s an insult to even ask Thompson for the data. This was the same claim that Michael Mann made about his data … and not one mainstream climate scientist said a word about that claim, including (as far as I know) you. So I find your blasé, laissez faire attitude about this quite puzzling. You keep saying that you want to restore trust to the equation, as do I, it is crucially important not just for climate science but for science in general. But then you say that missing data is meaningless, we should just let things sort themselves out … been there, done that, too much blood on the sorting room floor for me.

    At some point, climate scientists have to decide whether they have standands, and start adhering to those standards. At some point, you guys have to take a stand. Either claimed results without supporting data are real science, or they are not. Perhaps in your world, “whether old data is available or not isn’t of terribly high relevance for academic research.”

    That’s fine, you can do your work that way if you want … but it ain’t science on my planet. No transparency + no replicability + no data = no science, whether we are talking about academic, regulatory, or even high school science. My high school chemistry teacher, Mrs. Henniger, would be aghast at the idea that “old” data doesn’t matter, she would have beaten you to the floor with her feared red pencil for saying that … but then, she was a real scientist, not a climate scientist.

    • kim
      Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 10:44 AM | Permalink

      I give you Bruce Quantic, my eighth grade science teacher. We built a cloud chamber.

      I think I’ve never heard so loud
      The quiet message in a cloud.
      ============

      • Geoff Sherrington
        Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 4:11 AM | Permalink

        Kim,

        Did your cloud chamber give you positive or negative feedback?

        =================

        BTW, My father and I built a rooftop solar hot water system in 1954 (yes, 1954)and used it for 3 years when we sold up and moved on. The plans came from CSIRO, when it was less into policy distractions than now. The hot water storage tank was double walled, with sliced army surplus greatcoat pieces used for insulation. So, in a way I was a greenie before greenie became a corrupted word.

        A solar heater decades old
        Works fine except the water’s cold.

  43. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 10:42 AM | Permalink

    Judy, the blog post at Scholars and Rogues contains a variety of untrue statements and mischaracterizations. I’ll try to comment on this, but it’s hard for me to pick every spitball off the wall.

    This particular post was occasioned by remarks by North and others at the AAAS forum in which climate scientists were supposedly trying to think about the perceived erosion of public confidence in their work. Instead of looking in the mirror and asking what part of this erosion might be deserved and how they could improve their own performance to avoid such erosion, for the most part, they blamed the malaise on critics and lashed out at them, a type of conduct represented by North’s sneering at the very idea of someone asking for (presumably Thompson’s) data. ( I didn’t fully survey the forum but used North’s comment as an example.)

    I’ve never understood why climate scientists chose to take a stand on data obstruction. It’s a very bad tactic and has blown up on the “community”.

    You say that it’s “counter productive” to continue to pile on to this topic. HOwever, North’s remarks and the remarks of other AAAS panelists, as well as the extraordinary sullenness of climate scientists at present, suggests that little has changed post-Climategate.

    I asked nicely for data long before CLimate Audit and got nowhere. People used to tell me that I didn’t get data because I didn’t ask quite nicely enough. The Climategate letters proved – if it needed proving – that my style of asking wasn’t the issue, the authors had no intention of giving me the data.

    • Judith Curry
      Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 12:23 PM | Permalink

      Steve, from what i understand i would agree with you that there are numerous misinterpretations in the scholars and rogues article. But that is the perception that the climate community has. There is a real element of siege mentality, fueled by the early experiences of schneider and hansen and the more recent experiences of mann and the way these experiences have been portrayed by these individuals. Some bonafide concerns yes, but my hindsight assessment (after having that mentality also for a few years based on the stories i heard) is that it is somewhat paranoid. So when someone gets a politely worded request from you, it is automatically associated with the whole history of the “siege” (particularly the mannian one), and you get stonewalled. Do I defend this? absolutely not. But I am trying to explain this.

      So how do you work around something like this? Not easy, but I think the best way is through the institutions, and there is only so much that you will be able to do in this regard. And there is only a little more that i can do.

      At this point, I think many of these issues have been placed on the “big tables”, we need to let it play out a bit, but keep up the pressure in the blogosphere etc.

      Steve: I don’t think that this sort of paranoia was as pervasive prior to the Team badmouthing me (the Climategate letters presumably being a subset). For example, I once inquired about some oceanographic data from William Curry for example and he apologized profusely that it wasn’t already on line and immediately placed the data on line. Data obstruction doesn’t seem like a very sensible strategy – one of the quickest ways to arouse my interest is to not archive data and then obstruct a data request. On the other hand, Lonnie Thompson has successfully avoided archiving his data for seven years since my first request (and up to 20 years for some data sets) so there’s not a whole lot that can be done against someone who’s sufficiently stubborn and sufficiently important. But I do what I can to keep his data withholding in the sunshine.

  44. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 10:59 AM | Permalink

    In an earlier comment, Judy applied a distinction between “academic” and “regulatory” science that i was insufficiently attentive to and apologize for this oversight:

    Prior to say 1988, we were all conducting academic science. Once the IPCC began, the needs for science changed into a more regulatory framework. For distinction between academic and regulatory science, see

    http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/klamathbasin/science_policy/regulatory_vs_academic.html

    The link that she shows here is worth looking at. The terminology “academic” versus “regulatory” science is a little foreign to me, but the distinction captures some of the issues that I’ve been concerned about. Certainly, I’ve long complained about the inappropriateness of little journal articles as appropriate forms of communication in this field. And longed for “engineering quality” documents – a concept that has frustrated climate scientists, who have had no idea what I had in mind nor was I able to explain it to them in terms that resonated (though Lucia seemed to understand the difference).

    The sort of documents in “regulatory science” may (and I say, may, with some caution) go some way to bridging this gap. In engineering and “regulatory science”, the publication criterion is not some (often faux) originality, as in academic journals, but in precision, care, wall-to-wall documentation – things that I believe to be necessary for climate science at this stage. A one-year moratorium on articles in Nature and Science – replaced by a series of technical reports – would be an excellent start.

  45. Craig Loehle
    Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 11:27 AM | Permalink

    I believe the distinction between academic and regulatory science is a false one. At any particular time, it is impossible to know which obscure topic in science will be built upon by others and/or assume regulatory/policy relevance. Academic research on optics led directly to lasers. If that basic research was flawed, lots of time/money could have been wasted. Academic research on genetics led directly to tests for disease. I reject the distinction. The distinction is particulary to be rejected when it is not possible for others to replicate/evaluate or disprove a result because the data is unique–ie you can’t do your own “experiment” when a single team controls the Greenland ice core data. You need their data to check it.

    • Kenneth Fritsch
      Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 12:43 PM | Permalink

      I agree with Craig Loehle here and I find that what he is saying is being obscured in the discussion by continuing to talk generalities aand not specifics of the case at hand, i.e. Lonnie Thompson’s ice cores.

      If we accept what Judith Curry keeps generalizing about, i.e. the climate scientists involved are blameless because making replication/evaluation of their works an easier task was never part of their charter and attempts by the climate science community to replicate them, or even having the potential for doing so, was never a priority issue. Therefore, we will leave the scientists involved blameless and simply note that the science they did and the community encouraged was not very good – unless of course we can deem their work trustworthy without the costumary science process that in effect says trust but verify – or maybe just verify.

      And, of course, these revealations point very much to the need for an idependent and outside of the community evaluation of what has passed for science before the enlightment – assuming there has been one.

      • Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 7:37 PM | Permalink

        The point of Curry’s distinction is not about future’s applications of a theory, but about the kind of research that (people believe) is being done at the time it’s being done. It provides a description and not an explanation of what might have happened. Theorical, exploratory work is simply not life-critical, engineering work. There is no need to refuse this distinction and argue ad nauseam for an ideal scientific reproducibility. In retrospect, the normative higher ground always win.

        A quote regarding the blamelessness allegedly argued by Curry would be appreciated.

        My vote would go to an independent evaluation of the eventual independent evaluation.

  46. Judith Curry
    Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 12:10 PM | Permalink

    Craig, glacier data obtained from a melting glacier could be a fairly unique situation, in which the experiment may not ever be repeatable. This would be in contrast to laser optics research, which can easily be reproduced. But its hard to believe that Lonnie Thompson has a monopoly on glacier cores? There are other scientists collecting glacier cores and analyzing them. Again, I agree that the data should be archived, but this does not mean all of science needs to change to document everything in case it might someday be useful. The cost in $$ would be enormous, and scientific progress would slow substantially.

    • Craig Loehle
      Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 2:08 PM | Permalink

      Judith: While it might be true that the data going into a climate model is huge and not easily made public (due to formats etc) it is simply not true that this is a big deal for most studies. The data had to be in some sort of shape to even analyze them. The problem is not the $$ but simply that people don’t want others checking their work. Really. And when it does turn out that Jones, as an example, lost the raw data for Hadley that everyone is relying on…well, it isn’t ok until we check it.

    • Kenneth Fritsch
      Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 5:32 PM | Permalink

      Judith when you say the following: What do you see as an archiving method and how do you esitimate its cost and how will it slow scientific progress. Without some specifics your statements are merely hand waving in my view.

      “Again, I agree that the data should be archived, but this does not mean all of science needs to change to document everything in case it might someday be useful. The cost in $$ would be enormous, and scientific progress would slow substantially.”

  47. Judith Curry
    Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 2:23 PM | Permalink

    Craig, with regards to observational data, particularly the historical and paleo surface temperature records, i totally agree with you, scientists should make all data and metadata publicly available. Jones made a very big mistake in what he did, part of the seige mentality paranoia that i wrote about on another post, he is paying a pretty big price (one can argue about whether this is sufficient), and efforts are underway by CRU/HAD to make all this publicly available. But frankly, I don’t think we are really going to move forward on in a significant way in terms of the science until the historical surface data is recollected/recompiled. The original data remains with the original sources, so no original data has been lost. I know of two efforts to recollect the data (one is private sector). So endless debate over what happened in the past isn’t terribly productive at this point. We need a new surface temperature data set, archived, and publicly available.

    • Geoff Sherrington
      Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 2:59 AM | Permalink

      Judith,

      A slight correction to the historical evolution, please.

      If a seige mentality develops, there has to be a seige underway. Phil Jones refused to supply critical data before any seige had commenced.

      If a subsequent seige did develop, it was of his making. He invited combat.

      • Judith Curry
        Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 6:10 AM | Permalink

        If my recollection is correct, Jones’ infamous email to Warwick Hughes was in 2004, well after Mann’s experiences with Steve Mc commenced (that I personally suspect triggered Jone’s email to Hughes).

        Steve: It came in early 2005 before things like the letters from the House Energy and Commerce Committee or NAS Panel. CLimate Audit had just started. Mann had been criticized in an academic publication. Mann ‘s “experiences” to that date amounted mainly to criticism in an academic journal – which they attributed to a “leak” in their failsafe control system (at GRL). Jones was prepared to send data to friends (he had just sent station data to Mann and Rutherford notwithstanding all the fulminating about confidentiality agreements, but didn’t want to send data to someone who might criticize it.)

      • bender
        Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 8:00 PM | Permalink

        A few dozen FOIAs = “siege”? Gimme a break.

  48. barry woods
    Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 3:41 PM | Permalink

    the past is the past….

    What concerns me is that, not a lot appears to have changed..

    A general unwillingness to publish data/code still seems to be evident.

    the data and the code to produce the results, are no different from a mathematician, saying show your workings..

    Unless you show the assumptions, and exactly how you have programmed the assumptions to produce the results, it might as well be a black box, with a science imp inside.

    Academic sicence is largely publically funded (in the UK at least), so arguably it should be more rigoroulsy scrutinised as it is at the behalf of the tax payer as a whole. A business only has it’s shareholders to answer to…

    I imagine ‘academic’ scientists of the 17th, 18th, 19th and early 20th century might disagree with an apparent ‘post modern’ regulatory vs academic distinction, the very best scientists of the time produced meticulous notes, observations and results (darwin, et all)

    Arguably with the explosion if information technology, we should be better at this, what we have avaiable now should greatly ease this and open great potential opportunities.

    Science remains science, attempting to rationalise basic housekeeping tasks (ie I’m talking post say 1995, for digital data and code) is just laziness…

    (climategate hadcrut, Harry_read_me file is 2006 – 2009!)

    CRU for example, had no apparent version control for any software, it was just lying around, who knows what bit of code had been used, if it had been modified, used again, under the same name, etc..

    Similarly data in flat files lying around, same file namse different data, etc.. adjusted, and adjusted again, how to verify if it had allready been processed or was raw, etc. All evident..

    The emails were a problem, to IT professionals the code, and data handling remain the most shocking revelation from this episode.

    Comments like we processed that data, but not sure what we did, it was a few years ago – in the emails – give no confidence, (again 1990’s 2000’s) similaryly with data integrity, management, the lack of procceses and laxness was obvious to any computer programmer even compared to 70- 80’s

    I’ve tried to explain to a climate scientist friend,(IPCC, Met office, Tyndall) why this is important, they just say science is not done this way… My reply is that is why academic code has a very poor reputaion for producing correct accurate results..

    They seeme to think if they get the results they expect that means the code is good. When in fact the opposite could be true.

    A simple coding error, can invalidate the lot.

    Imagine if, a few errors meant that the hadcrut set was UNDERESTIMATING temperatures..

    Given the nature of ‘climate science’, these mistakes can propagate through other datasets, ie finacial risk computer models had very many different models, but over time ideas/people produced ‘independent’ models that said the same thing..

    A simlar closed groupthink prevailed.
    This is a sign that something might be suspect.

    I’ve worked in industry where everything is much more rigorous, big IT /telco banking project, and even with ruthess testing, validating sanity checking, some real horrors still make it through.

    (the wrong handling of neagtive + ve signs, depending on input data, particulrly a risk with – and + temp degrees C readings, are ripe for coding mistakes)

    Unless it is visible, (or at least as in the uk,) much is publically funded, let it be audited to the same RIGOROUS standards as any government funded IT project.

  49. Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 9:51 PM | Permalink

    Dr. Curry:
    Am I to take it from your statement on observational data, that the historical temperature records that Jones ‘apparently lost’ are in fact held in duplicate by CRU and other sources?
    That would be good news, as Phil Jones CRU91, CRU94 and CRU 99 sets contained summaries of data not in the NCDC original forms and which went beyond what is found in the AMS Monthly Weather Reports.

    • Judith Curry
      Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 6:07 AM | Permalink

      Jones collected the data from the original sources, as did NOAA. Their eventual data sets reflects some selection. Regardless of what happened to the original data collected by CRU, the original data remains with original sources, e.g. the national meteorological agencies. NOAA is making some effort to fill in their data base. And yes there is one massive (privately funded) effort that is well underway.

      • D. Patterson
        Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 3:25 PM | Permalink

        “Judith Curry
        Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 11:03 AM [….] With regards to historical surface temperature data. The data itself has not been lost, it is still obtainable from original sources.”

        Please note, your statements such as “the original data remains with original sources, e.g. the national meteorological agencies” are false statements insofar as some undetermined parts of record groups held by the NCDC are reported by the staff to have been and are being destroyed by water damage, insect infestations, and disposal in accordance with records retention schedules. Other national meteorological agencies have also lost and/or destroyed the original observation records used to prepare the data transmittals.

        Furthermore, your comments appear to fail at recognizing the difference between the original observational record versus the data transmission record of an observation. There are often serious discrepencies between the actual observation recorded on the meteorological form versus the data transmittal by the observer or a subsequent third party having no direct knowlede of the actual observation. Your statements misinform the readers by encouraging them to incorrectly believe CRU is using the original observation records from the national meteorological agencies rather than the sometimes inaccurate data conversions, paper and digital.

        Given the sometimes impossible difficulties with provenance of the original observational records,there are many of us experienced in authoring those original observational records who are wondering how anyone can seriously claim to have the capability of reconstructing the CRU, GISS, or other datasets from “original sources” with any reasonable scientific confidence. Frankly, given the circumstances with respect to the original observation record forms, many of us must reasonably suspect misconduct behind the purported reconstructions of the temperature datasets, regardless of who is involved.

        Consequently, your comments about these temperature dataset reconstructions inspire no confidence in the reconstructions and no confidence in your products and opinions that rely upon those faulty datasets.

  50. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 9:52 PM | Permalink

    Judith Curry
    Posted Jun 8, 2010

    Craig, glacier data obtained from a melting glacier could be a fairly unique situation, in which the experiment may not ever be repeatable. This would be in contrast to laser optics research, which can easily be reproduced. But its hard to believe that Lonnie Thompson has a monopoly on glacier cores? There are other scientists collecting glacier cores and analyzing them. Again, I agree that the data should be archived, but this does not mean all of science needs to change to document everything in case it might someday be useful. The cost in $$ would be enormous, and scientific progress would slow substantially.

    1. The cost to archive data in 2010 is trivial, both in dollars and in time. It is totally deceptive to claim otherwise. I’m getting very tired of scientists whining about how hard it is to put a megabyte of data, or even a gigabite of data, onto a server. I do that in my sleep. Your repeating this claim merely makes you look like you are stuck in a 1970’s time warp. Get up to speed, this is 2010, and Thompson’s entire dataset for a given ice core is a hundred kilobytes or so. He already had to collate and organize it simply to analyze it. “The cost in $$ would be enormous”??? Don’t make me laugh.

    2. The issue is not melting glaciers, that is a straw man. It is the collection of unique data sets. There is no way to replicate an ice core, whether the glacier is melting or not. There is no way to replicate a set of tree ring cores, even if you go to the same trees. There is no way to replicate a sample from a given speleothem. Oh, you could get near on all of those … or maybe not. But they cannot be replicated. Do you truly not understand what that means, and the implications of that? You are supporting studies and refusing to withdraw studies that are what in the construction trades we used to call “B on B”, that is to say, “Built on Bullsh*t” … and you wonder why we don’t trust climate scientists?

    That is what makes archiving vital, because the datasets are unique. I can’t believe that the mainstream climate scientists have chosen to fight about this, it is fatally and suicidally stupid. And I am more amazed that you don’t seem to get it either. After the debacle, and the enormous impact, of the Hokey-Schtick, I would have thought that the need for transparency for the data used in all of these claims would have been obvious to the dumbest climate scientists. When one B on B study like Mann’s can have such a huge influence on public policy, you, the climate scientists, have a huge responsibility to the public. You, and no one but you mainstream climate scientists, need to make damn sure that studies like Mann’s don’t get published unless the data and code are made public, or if they do, that you, the climate scientists, develop the balls to publicly disown them.

    But no, the tide is still going out. North is still abusing Steve for even asking for the Thompson data, and you still think the need for archiving and transparency only applies to special cases, like melting glaciers. You still claim that there is no need to withdraw studies based on air, as though they make no difference to public perception and policy. Man, sometimes I feel like I’m watching a slow motion car crash in one of those dreams where you scream and no one can hear you …

    Judith, truly, we don’t care if “there are other scientists collecting glacier cores and analyzing them.” That’s not the point, and if you don’t know it, you certainly should. That’s just another pathetic excuse for the abysmally poor data archiving practices in the climate science field, and it won’t wash.

  51. Larry Huldén
    Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 12:10 AM | Permalink

    Judith Curry said:
    ” … So efforts need to be taken to re-collect and re-analyze the surface data, these efforts are underway at NOAA, by a private sector group, and in the blogosphere….”.
    What is the current state of “efforts are underway? Are there real attempts to recollect original data?

  52. a reader
    Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 9:36 AM | Permalink

    In Mark Bowen’s 2005 book “Thin Ice” p. 152-153, he describes Thompson’s expedition to Dunde in 1987–

    “…the Americans suceeded in drilling three cores to bedrock, all about 140 meters long. The deal called for them to leave one frozen core in China and melt a significant fraction of any they took home, so their take from this expedition consisted of the bottled core that had been split by Mary and Smiley and a second complete core–its upper fifty-six meters, corresponding to the last 150 years, in liquid form, the rest as ice. The Americans refer to the core they left behind as the “sacrificial core,” because nothing was ever published about it outside of China.”

    Later he goes on to say that the isotope ratio of these cores rose dramtically in the last 60 years comparable only to the Holocene Maximum. When his paper was published in 1989 in “Science”, this point was emphasized by the NYT and WSJ. Are these the cores Thompson has not archived?

    Does melting a core in the field rather than testing it as a frozen core affect the isotope ratio? Sounds like China may still have the frozen core?

    This expedition was jointly funded by the NSF and the National Geographic Society as best as I can tell.

    Steve: these are only a small portion of the data that THompson hasn’t archived ( there is some highly summarized data for Dunde, and that came only as a result of my efforts.)

  53. Judith Curry
    Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 10:10 AM | Permalink

    This was just brought to my attention

    http://www.wmo.int/pages/mediacentre/news_members/documents/natureopiniontemperaturesvfinal18052010.pdf

    The World Meteorological Organization is also working on a reassembly of the surface temperature records.

    • Tom Gray
      Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 10:48 AM | Permalink

      With this, one could well wonder what the purposes of the IPCC are. How is it organizing the workd effort on this very important topic? Why is it suffucuent to leave it to any topic that some professor somewhere might find interesting?

      • Tom Gray
        Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 11:31 AM | Permalink

        Note that the coordinating role that the Team is attempting to play is addressing this need. They attempt to control the direction of climate science in regard to the needs of policy makers in regard to AGW. That they are doing this in an ad hoc and opaque manner does not discount the need for this function.

        This function ois necessarily political. What results are needed and what projects should be funded to generate the needed results are necessarily political. This has to be bettter than the current system in which every result is heralded s proof or disproof of AGW

  54. Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 5:23 PM | Permalink

    Past mistakes are not a reason to discard everything that has been done to date for the simple reason that everything that has been done to date is deep, albeit surprisingly informal, knowledge.

    As a person coming in to physical climatology from a master’s level in electrical engineering, I found the teaching and exposition infuriatingly muddled and awkward. Nevertheless, over time, playing with the various little bits of the puzzle, some intuitions developed for how the system works, intuitions that tend to be sound when tested by observations. This amounts to a lengthy apprenticeship in the company of more seasoned scientists.

    All of this remains frustratingly opaque to outsiders. The scaling properties of this approach are terrible, and the currently dreadful relationship between professional and amateur climate scientists that is a constant theme here is the result of that incapacity to scale.

    Dismissing or discarding this knowledge is far too foolish for the powers that be in the academic sciences to contemplate it. It won’t happen.

    How then to make a more careful, diligent, self-contained pedagogical pathway through the materials and especially to the “regulatory” consequences is far from obvious.

    The whole fascination of the topic (not its practical importance, its intrinsic interest) is how tightly coupled everything is; how large scale phenomena emerge from small scale phenomena, and how they can be described. Meteorological and oceanographic science are intellectual pursuits of great value in themselves because they are characteristic of the new levels of complexity we need to face, not only in science, but in social organization as well. But that makes them of great difficulty in communicating even to dedicated apprentices who are in one of the few dozen competent research establishments on a daily basis.

    While we apparently do need to step back and get new minds and more formal methods in on the problem, this must be without throwing away the achievements of the past. The actual distance between the understanding of the material of you amateurs vs someone like Dr. Curry is much larger than most of you give her credit for. There’s a deep (and, in fact, beautiful) science that isn’t just about lousy thermometers.

    If there’s any hope of resolving this, it means, among other things, making the field more attractive, not less, attracting more professionals with a broader set of skills, and applying more resources. And it means more patience, dignity and
    respect on all sides.

    What you are asking for is reasonable, and the scientific community needs to learn that. What you are asking for is nontrivial, and you guys need to learn that. It’s not about disk space; it’s about the underlying incentives and purposes of a large enough swath of the discipline to satisfy the new requirements.

    Finally please note that the person who wrote this article:

    http://ivory.idyll.org/blog/may-10/data-management.html

    was not talking just about climate science. However, this is just satire.

    The problem is not just endemic. It is not understood. The person responsible for such practices would not be able to describe them so clearly, because their understanding of how to use a computer is “poke at the compile options until it runs, then take the output and do stuff to it ’til it looks like a result”.

    But the thing is, scientists really do understand the processes they study, and really do want to understand them better, so the results usually are something that reflects the actual truth of the matter. But it’s not based on publication, it’s based on acquaintance and respect and influence. The really bad stuff gets published and ignored. The insiders know, more or less, whom to pay attention to. Knowledge advances.

    Could it be better? Yes, and it should, but it would be a big change.

    mt

    • John M
      Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 6:28 PM | Permalink

      And we’re expecting politicians and/or bureaucrats to write enforceable laws based on this?

    • Judith Curry
      Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

      Michael, very well said, thank you very much for this post.

    • Craig Loehle
      Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 7:53 PM | Permalink

      Well, Michael, I would suggest there is a deep, and beautiful, understanding of statistics, logic, the scientific method, and ethics among us amateurs which is not sufficiently appreciated by climate scientists. By the way the “amateurs” here include a whole bunch of Ph.D.s. FYI. And sometimes it takes outsiders to see when people are blowing smoke.

      • Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 9:00 PM | Permalink

        Yes, outsiders can easily see when smoke is blowed in logic, the scientific method, and ethics.

    • MrPete
      Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 9:31 PM | Permalink

      Re: Michael Tobis (Jun 9 17:23),
      I’ll extend Craig’s List to include “amateurs” with decades of significant professional and commercial experience in fields for which some prominent climate scientists apparently have little regard. Some of us non-PhD peanut gallery types have a bit of understanding as well… in areas Climate science leans heavily on such as computer science (e.g. numerical and seminumerical algorithms), data management and much more.

      When those of us who know data collection, management and analysis inside and out are told our insights are worthless… we are greatly saddened to say the least.

      What Climate Science in general has not yet understood is the extent to which it is a multidisciplinary field, and the extent to which it has utterly failed to operate with the humility required of those who are breaking ground in a new field.

      • Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 10:44 PM | Permalink

        MrPete, I believe I advocated the precise opposite of dismissing data collection, management and analysis. I believe all the sciences need to learn from professionals in those areas.

        So I don’t know what you are getting so huffy about.

        All I’m saying is that there are people who understand the climate system much better than most of the regulars here, Dr. Curry being the only exception I know about.

        • bender
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 12:54 AM | Permalink

          MrPete’s “huffiness” is easily explained: what you (and Dr Curry) are advocating is not in fact what those “under siege” are advocating. Simple enough?

        • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 1:09 AM | Permalink

          I agree with that. So I think he should huff in some other direction.

        • bender
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 1:14 AM | Permalink

          Why should he “huff” in another direction? It’s you that seems to not understand that those “under siege” do not agree with you and Judy on due diligence and data disclosure. Their paranoid response is, as usual, to circle the wagons whenever FOIA gets invoked. So now you’ve got me huffing in the same direction as MrPete.

        • MrPete
          Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 9:37 AM | Permalink

          Re: Michael Tobis (Jun 9 22:44),
          This is what I was responding to, Michael:

          The actual distance between the understanding of the material of you amateurs vs someone like Dr. Curry is much larger than most of you give her credit for. There’s a deep (and, in fact, beautiful) science that isn’t just about lousy thermometers.

          The fact that you claim the high road or partnership with Dr Curry, while calling us “you amateurs,” is very sad.

          I say that honestly — I’m not feeling huffy at all — I dealt with the anger a few years ago. Now I poke in on occasion to see how it’s going, and see if there’s anything useful I can do to help (with what little time I have.)

          It is incredibly sad to see someone like you, one who apparently has a lot of skill and experience, blowing off an entire (virtual) community as a bunch of know-nothing amateurs.

          We’re quite happy to respect Dr Curry (at least, the vast majority of us.) What makes this dialogue difficult is the presumption that only the “academic” side of this conversation has anything of value to bring to the table.

          If we all had a bit more humility, more progress could be made.

        • Michael Tobis
          Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 9:52 AM | Permalink

          By “amateur” I meant someone who not employed to do the work. It is common to express respect for the contributions to astronomy of “amateur astronomers”. I for one would like to see us reach a situation where “amateur climatologists” in that exact sense see themselves as collaborators rather than opponents. The situation that is evolving in climate science is really unfortunate. In my opinion neither side is entirely innocent. It is not solely the responsibility of the paid professionals that is at fault, nor are we entirely innocent.

          The word was not intended to express contempt in any way. As a PhD in climatology I myself an am amateur in many areas where I have an interest. If someone were to call me an “amateur” journalist I would take no offense, while if they were to call me an “amateurish” one I might.

          Again, no offense was intended. Quite the contrary, I was presuming that most of you are contributing volunteer energy without any recompense, out of some genuine interest. If you can suggest a better formulation to identify the community here I am open to it.

          The perception of a put-down is concerning as part of a larger pattern, but I assure you none was intended.

        • MrPete
          Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 10:26 AM | Permalink

          Re: Michael Tobis (Jun 12 09:52),
          I’ll take your apology at face value. Thanks.

          A suggestion of one way to potentially say it better. Here’s an alternate version of what I quoted above:

          I wonder how many amateur climatologists are able to appreciate the depth of understanding that Dr. Curry has. We all need to communicate how deep (and, in fact, beautiful) this science is! Certainly not just about lousy thermometers.

          – Doesn’t assert that most readers are unable to appreciate Dr. Curry.
          – Doesn’t assert that this community is made up of amateurs with poor understanding of climate science.
          – Assumes readers also love science, and calls them to be more assertive about that.

          Michael, it’s true that most of those here either didn’t choose to make climate science their profession, or have retired from such a role. However, you might be surprised to discover that because we are not constrained by earning a living at it, we’re free to have even more appreciation of the beauty of climate, science and more.**

          You want “a better formulation to identify the community here”? How about saying it that way. This is a community. A multidisciplinary community, to be more precise.

          **Just like when I spent an hour shoveling a huge sand castle at the beach for my daughters. To me, that was fun. To the laborers walking by who suggested I could join them on the next work project if I love digging so much… to them, digging had obviously become a chore. We see this too often in some professional circles. It’s actually what led to the Almagre Adventure: some climate scientists claimed it was just too hard to do basic field work.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 11:21 AM | Permalink

          Re -amateurs. The proxy reconstructions are essentially statistical projects – and fairly interesting statistics if you examine the posts here referring to Brown and Sundberg etc. The level of statistical expertise at Climate Audit on this core topic here is extremely high. You are comparing professional statistical expertise – Jean S, UC, Roman Mureika, Hu McCulloch and me, not even counting Jeff Id, Ryan O, Nic L – against “amateur” statisticians such as Mann, Briffa and indeed the entire paleo reconstruction community.

          While your usage of the term “amateur” may be no more than that the participants are not specifically remunerated for these efforts, its more common code meaning is to disparage the acumen of the parties. The professional statisticians that contribute here are not acting as “amateur climatologists” in their analyses; they are acting as statisticians.

          You say:

          I for one would like to see us reach a situation where “amateur climatologists” in that exact sense see themselves as collaborators rather than opponents.

          I understand that the history of the dispute bears opposing interpretations, but I can assure you that I made practical and sensible attempts to resolve the dispute that were repudiated. For example, Ammann turned down an offer to write a joint statement of what we agreed on, what we disagreed on and how to resolve disputes on the basis that it would be “bad for his career”.

          To this day, despite considerable notoriety, I have received precisely one invitation to speak to a seminar at a climate science department at a university (Judy Curry a couple of years ago). Judy took pains to see that I met climate scientists doing useful work and that not everyone in climate science acted like the folks that I had been unlucky enough to encounter. She managed it quite subtly but the point was not lost on me. Georgia Tech took heat for the invitation, but, as blog readers realize, Judy’s confident enough to hold her ground. I spoke later that year at an Ohio State engineering department seminar – a talk that, to my knowledge, was not attended by any climate scientists at the university.

          There has also been remarkably little participation by climate scientists at this blog. The rareness of such participation unfortunately means that someone like yourself gets overwhelmed with demands on your attention when you do show up. On some occasions, I’ve tried to control access by setting up a special thread for controlled discussion, while leaving a separate thread open for readers. This tended not to work, because the visitor preferred to take on inexperienced commenters and avoid the more pointed controlled discussion.

          But the underlying problem has been the fatwa against this blog, which exacerbates this phenomenon.

    • Tom C
      Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 3:55 PM | Permalink

      Michael –

      Your post brought back poignant, but painful, memories for me. I worked for a medical device firm some years back and was part of an audit by the FDA. When we were unable to produce key information regarding traceability of components I tried much the same explanation that you proffered. I remember using the terms “deep’ and “beautiful” also. Regrettably, the FDA auditors did not possess the requisite sensitivity, nuance, etc. and we were written up. Snark off.

      Steve: Stupak’s statement on BP in mid-May made some important remarks on the traceability of changes to the blow-out preventer.

  55. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 10:27 PM | Permalink

    Michael Tobis
    Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 5:23 PM

    Past mistakes are not a reason to discard everything that has been done to date for the simple reason that everything that has been done to date is deep, albeit surprisingly informal, knowledge.

    Michael, first, I don’t know of anyone who has suggested that we “discard everything that has been done to date”. This is so outrageous a claim that it makes it clear that, far from being the neutral, dispassionate observer that you would like to appear to us, you actually have deep prejudices on this subject.

    Second, it seems like you are saying that we should not discard things that in fact are based on and inseparable from past mistakes because they contain “deep, albeit surprisingly informal, knowledge”. This is handwaving of the highest order. Please elucidate for us the “deep knowledge” that has come from e.g. the Hockeystick.

    As a person coming in to physical climatology from a master’s level in electrical engineering, I found the teaching and exposition infuriatingly muddled and awkward. Nevertheless, over time, playing with the various little bits of the puzzle, some intuitions developed for how the system works, intuitions that tend to be sound when tested by observations. This amounts to a lengthy apprenticeship in the company of more seasoned scientists.

    All of this remains frustratingly opaque to outsiders. The scaling properties of this approach are terrible, and the currently dreadful relationship between professional and amateur climate scientists that is a constant theme here is the result of that incapacity to scale.

    These two paragraphs are what are “frustratingly opaque”. Scaling properties of muddled and awkward teaching and exposition? Un-named “intuitions that tend to be sound when testing by observations”?? What on earth are you talking about?

    More to the point, the “currently dreadful relationship between professional and amateur climate scientists” is not due to some fancied “incapacity to scale”.

    It is because they were lying and cheating and hiding data and producing bogus results, and we caught them doing it. Incapacity to scale? That’s a sick joke of an excuse for people who hate us and fear us because we exposed their unethical, immoral, and in some cases illegal behavior. “Incapacity to scale”, my ass. The “dreadful relationship” is because we caught them with their hands in the cookie jar.

    Dismissing or discarding this knowledge is far too foolish for the powers that be in the academic sciences to contemplate it. It won’t happen.

    What is “this knowledge” are you talking about? Who has said anything about discarding knowledge? And as we have seen, there is little that is “too foolish” to happen in climate science. This current foolish epistle of yours is a perfect example.

    How then to make a more careful, diligent, self-contained pedagogical pathway through the materials and especially to the “regulatory” consequences is far from obvious.

    The whole fascination of the topic (not its practical importance, its intrinsic interest) is how tightly coupled everything is; how large scale phenomena emerge from small scale phenomena, and how they can be described. Meteorological and oceanographic science are intellectual pursuits of great value in themselves because they are characteristic of the new levels of complexity we need to face, not only in science, but in social organization as well. But that makes them of great difficulty in communicating even to dedicated apprentices who are in one of the few dozen competent research establishments on a daily basis.

    Once again … say what? Who are the “dedicated apprentices”? Which are the “few dozen competent research establishments”? I’m sorry, Michael, but without some kinds of examples, that’s just not understandable.

    While we apparently do need to step back and get new minds and more formal methods in on the problem, this must be without throwing away the achievements of the past. The actual distance between the understanding of the material of you amateurs vs someone like Dr. Curry is much larger than most of you give her credit for. There’s a deep (and, in fact, beautiful) science that isn’t just about lousy thermometers.

    Once again, nobody is talking about “throwing away the achievements of the past”, that’s just your straw man. Well … on second thought … nobody except people like Michael Mann, who is quite willing to toss Charles Lamb’s life work in the trash.

    If there’s any hope of resolving this, it means, among other things, making the field more attractive, not less, attracting more professionals with a broader set of skills, and applying more resources. And it means more patience, dignity and respect on all sides.

    What you are asking for is reasonable, and the scientific community needs to learn that.

    Make the field “more attractive”? What are you, a cosmetic surgeon of science? The field doesn’t need to be more attractive. It needs to be more honest. It needs to be more transparent. Hollywood seems to have affected your judgement, my friend. You need to stop worrying about how things look, and start worrying about what is actually happening. The problem is not bad PR. It is rotten substance.

    What you are asking for is nontrivial, and you guys need to learn that. It’s not about disk space; it’s about the underlying incentives and purposes of a large enough swath of the discipline to satisfy the new requirements.

    Oh, please. Other scientists in other fields do all this stuff routinely. But unlike you and Mann and Thompson and the rest, they don’t whine about how “nontrivial” it is. They just do it. I was taught (and forced) to do it by my high school chemistry teacher, and god help us if we lost our log books. If a high school student can do it, for goodness sake, how “nontrivial” can it be?

    Finally please note that the person who wrote this article:

    http://ivory.idyll.org/blog/may-10/data-management.html

    was not talking just about climate science. However, this is just satire.

    The problem is not just endemic. It is not understood. The person responsible for such practices would not be able to describe them so clearly, because their understanding of how to use a computer is “poke at the compile options until it runs, then take the output and do stuff to it ’til it looks like a result”.

    But the thing is, scientists really do understand the processes they study, and really do want to understand them better, so the results usually are something that reflects the actual truth of the matter.

    If you believe that, you haven’t been paying attention. Go re-read the Climategate emails, and come back and tell us how the unindicted co-conspirators were so interested in the “actual truth of the matter.”

    Michael, you want to recast this as some unprecedented, sweeping, “nontrivial” change. You want to pretend that we are asking that someone “discard everything that has been done to date”.

    This is not about the philosophy of data storage. It is not about discarding past wisdom.

    It is about Lonnie Thompson refusing to archive a couple damn pages of data.

    You talk about “non-trivial”, when what we are asking for is totally trivial. We are asking that when someone wants to claim that their results are scientific, that they archive their data (and code if necessary). And all of your high-tone discussions of “deep (and beautiful) science” and “diligent, self-contained pedagogical pathways” are nothing but a pathetic, failed attempt to distract us from the fact that we are not asking for anything complex. We are not asking for anything nontrivial. We are not asking for anything requiring “scaling properties”.

    We’re just asking Lonnie Thompson to archive a few pages of data. And you are defending his not doing so. Oh, you’re doing a good job of it, you use lots of impressive terms and long words, you do an excellent handwave, good enough to fool Judith … but at the end of the day, you are just another apologist for someone hiding their data.

    The issues are not complex. We are simply asking for honest, transparent science.

    • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 12:13 AM | Permalink

      Willis, it was you who suggested, just in your previous post, withdrawing any publication that can’t be replicated, starting with the very rawest of data. Since that is most of what has been published, certainly in the earth and atmospheric sciences, and probably in all branches of science and engineering, that amounts to starting over.

      Presumably you will offer a variance for seismic imaging for oil prospecting on utilitarian grounds.

      • Willis Eschenbach
        Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 12:38 AM | Permalink

        That’s your response? Miss the point much?

        But in any case, neither I nor anyone suggested that we discard “everything that has been done to date”. That was your fantasy, not mine.

        So let’s take a look at a particular field. We’ll go with ice cores, since Thompson’s ice core data is what is under discussion. NOAA maintains a robust and well populated archive of the ice core data. There is also data available at the CDIAC. In fact, almost “everything that has been done to date” in the way of ice cores has been archived.

        Which is what makes your claim that we will have to discard “everything that has been done to date” pure alarmism. It also makes your spirited defense of not archiving data because it would be “nontrivial” a joke.

        • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 12:59 AM | Permalink

          I am not “defending” not archiving data. I am arguing against your suggestion that papers that can’t be replicated from raw data be withdrawn.

          You misunderstood me. Did I misunderstand you as well?

          The elegant and diplomatic paragraph in question is

          The issue is not melting glaciers, that is a straw man. It is the collection of unique data sets. There is no way to replicate an ice core, whether the glacier is melting or not. There is no way to replicate a set of tree ring cores, even if you go to the same trees. There is no way to replicate a sample from a given speleothem. Oh, you could get near on all of those … or maybe not. But they cannot be replicated. Do you truly not understand what that means, and the implications of that? You are supporting studies and refusing to withdraw studies that are what in the construction trades we used to call “B on B”, that is to say, “Built on Bullsh*t” … and you wonder why we don’t trust climate scientists?

          Do you not imply that studies should be withdrawn if the original data is missing?

        • Willis Eschenbach
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 2:58 AM | Permalink

          No, I did say not say that studies “that can’t be replicated from the raw data” should be withdrawn. What I said was that “B on B” studies for which the author refuses to archive the data or supply the code should be withdrawn. If they are “built on bullshit”, as I said, they should not be published. Unfortunately, the AGW crowd can get anything published these days. So if they are published and we notice that the author hasn’t provided the data, if we see that they are “built on bullshit”, the author should either provide the data or withdraw the study.

          You somehow converted that to a claim that I wanted to throw out “everything that has been done to date”.

          But as I pointed out, the overwhelming majority of the ice cores which have been drilled have had their data archived. So how does my call, for the miscreant authors to either put up (their data and methods) or shut up (withdraw their paper), suddenly become wanting to throw out “everything that has been done to date”? Most of what has been done to date has been good science. Some “scientists”, however, want us to take their claims on faith. They hide their data, and refuse to say how their results were obtained. And then they get appointed as a Lead Author for the IPCC, and suddenly the world is enamoured of the Hockeystick.

          When we question them about it, rather than doing the honorable thing and saying “well, that study was mistaken, we withdraw it”, they say “we’ve moved on from there, look at our bright new study”. And a lot of scientists go “Ooooh, shiny!” and are distracted by the new study. But the original study has taken on a life of its own, and will continue to be quoted and cited for years and years unless it is explicitly disowned.

          Now, for reasons you have not explained, you seem to think that instead of disowning such apocryphal “science”, we should just let it go on causing damage. But look at the Hockeystick. Even though top-drawer statisticians have said it is bogus, even though Steve has pointed out in the peer-reviewed literature the exact details of the bad math it is based on, it’s like Freddie in Friday the 13th … “He’s baaaack.” It even appears in the latest IPCC FAR, it doesn’t respond to your “science fixes itself” mantra.

          So obviously, your preferred solution, “Let the scientific process take care of it”, doesn’t work in the world of climate science.

          Me, I think that for such studies, we should publicly bury them at the crossroads and drive a stake through their hearts, so they never rise again. I think that Science and Nature should refuse to publish any studies unless the data accompanies the paper. I think that NSF should never give Lonnie Thompson another dime of my taxpayer’s money until he archives the data he is hiding. Instead, he’s just gotten a new grant to hare off to Papua New Guinea to drill another ice core. Oh, well, at least he’ll have some new data to hide.

          Michael, the part you don’t seem to understand is that we’ve tried your method, and it hasn’t worked. It’s like what people say about my filing the first Freedom of Information act request to Phil Jones at CRU … “Why didn’t you just ask him nicely for the data?” Do I look stupid? Of course I asked him nicely for the data, and got blown off. I tried that, just as we’ve tried your “let the normal scientific process fix it” suggestion. These days, far too often, neither one works. The normal scientific process in climate science is badly broken. It has been distorted and twisted out of shape by AGW activists who have used every method, fair and foul, to push their agenda. The comment from North is a perfect example. It used to be that you didn’t have to ask a scientist for his/her data, they published it. And if they didn’t, you could ask them and they would provide it. Now, North thinks it is some kind of impertinent behavior for Steve to ask Lonnie to follow scientific norms. Like i said, the scientific process is badly broken.

          The definition of insanity is trying something time after time and expecting that somehow it will give a different result if it is just tried once more. Sorry, Michael, but in climate science I’ve seen your “let science sort it out” method fail time and time again. You may hold that somehow, miraculously, it will suddenly start self-correcting and noticing and discounting the bad science next time, or the time after that.

          Now I admit, I’m kinda crazy … but I’m not that insane.

        • kim
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 6:43 AM | Permalink

          Michael’s Song is a Paean to Authority.
          ========

    • Bernie
      Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 7:12 AM | Permalink

      Willis:
      Well said. Michael’s “scaling” issue is utter nonsense. He also seems to have forgotten his earlier defense on these pages of the non-archiving of data and code becuase, according to Michael, it took time , effort and resources that the climate scientists did not have. The continued non-archiving of data and code by folks like Lonnie Thompson is an ongoing embarrassment to climate science and the climate scientists and scientific institutions that let them get away with it.

  56. Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 11:26 PM | Permalink

    I know of a project (not in climate science, in some other science) that had data stored on some odd format, something like Radio Shack Tandy floppy disks. In about 1990, the university announced that it was ending support for a number of media, and I informed my friend that she had better transfer the data to something newer. I volunteered to be the intermediary, and went to the support service. We had two copies of ten floppies. Not a single one of the twenty could be identified by the support services. The data was lost, and a “maybe I’ll write another paper about this someday” thought was abandoned. But any publications to date now stand with the raw data lost.

    Do you think this story is unusual?

    People who have been in the sciences since the 1970s have generated lots of code and lots of data in lots of obscure platforms with no commercial support.

    I have no idea what is going on with Thompson, but likely it is something like this:

    Somewhere there may be a box of punched cards that include Thompson’s data. Or maybe his wife threw them out in a move, or a puppy pissed on them, or an overzealous janitor tossed them, or a kid drew pictures on then and shuffled the deck. Somewhere else there may be some information explaining how the cards are encoded; which card number corresponds to which glacier, which columns to which feature, what the units are. Or maybe not. Somewhere else in some museum there may be a card reader that can still read the cards, and in some hobbyist’s basement a machine that can run the code, and in a vault somewhere a moldering nine track tape with the right code on it, and retired in Florida somewhere the last old guy on earth who knows, on his good days, how to install the required compiler.

    Or you can just go to Thompson’s publications and read the dots off the graph. Why you would trust the other process better escapes me, but you can;t afford it and I don’t want to pay taxes for it.

    It’s a well known problem: data from the 1960s and 1970s becomes irretrievable. We know about it now but we didn’t know about it then. In those days getting anything to work once was miraculous. Nobody thought much about getting it to work twice.

    Here’s a case where somebody thought extraordinary measures were worth it:

    http://is.gd/cJCtO

    If you have comparable energy in technoarchaeology for Dr Thompson’s punched cards, perhaps you should say so. Otherwise you should treat the publications in the way publications were intended to be over the centuries that the form dominated: as the actual archive of the work.

    Should we change this? Yes, I think so, but science is very conservative methodologically. It will be hard.

    Should we get huffy about people in 1970 not living up to the software standards of 2010? Um, seriously?

    OK, 1989? Still. If you haven’t spent twenty years in science you don’t have any idea how many one-off steps you need to babysit through multiple versions of multiple compilers, obscure nonstandard platforms, scripts written by brilliant grad students who left for silicon valley, etc. The scientist usually moves across the country a couple of times, gets new tech support staff who are too busy to port his stuff.

    I keep wanting to translate my thesis code from a vanished platform to MPI, but I never get the chance. At least I still have the source. I think. I haven’t checked for a couple of years.

    In industry, when you leave a company your work stays at the company. In science, when you leave an institution your work theoretically travels with you. In practice, much of it is abandoned never to be exhumed again. Is this good management? No, it is silly. But that’s science for you. Scientists are so uninterested in management that they confuse it with administration. It makes me scream.

    But they aren’t being cagey or dishonest. What you are asking for is extraordinary and difficult in their world, and they don’t see why they should bend over backwards for you. Especially given this talk of lying, cheating and so on. These guys are so absurdly ethical they’ll give you a club to beat them over the head if you ask the right way:

    Question: Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

    Dr. Jones: Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level.

    Yeah, that sounds like a hardened criminal to me.

  57. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 11:35 PM | Permalink

    Michael,
    I was contacted recently by a reporter who said that he wanted to talk to someone who wasn’t “mainstream”.

    My response was that the statistical methods that I used and applied in considering proxy reconstructions were completely “mainstream” – they were methods that could be cited from recognized statistical texts. If he wanted to talk to people that used home-made “non-mainstream” statistical methods, I suggested that he talk to Michael Mann and his colleagues – people who, in your terms, are “amateurs”. People who attempt complicated statistical analyses without having served the required “apprenticeship” under qualified statistical analysts.

    As you observe, there is a disquieting gulf between the practices of these statistical “amateurs” and the methods used by more professional analysts.

    The gap between these amateurs and professional statistical analysts is much larger than you credit. Proper statistical analysis has its own form of attraction.

    YOu say that “really bad stuff gets published and ignored” – unless, of course, the author is also an IPCC lead author and promoting his own material.

    • bender
      Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 1:08 AM | Permalink

      Your statistical methods are mainstream. But your delivery vehicle is not. You eschew the “litchurchur” and associated press releases, and opt instead for self-publishing on the web. That makes you underground and out of the mainstream.

      Looking forward to Tobis’s informed reply on the last sentence.

    • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 1:22 AM | Permalink

      I am defending climate science, not IPCC.

      I think given its constraints IPCC WG I does a creditable job on the whole. I really don’t have an opinion one way or the other on the key controversies of this blog, which is why I usually don’t follow it. Thus honestly I have no comment on the chapters of greatest interest to you. I genuinely don’t consider those matters key to physical climatology or to climate policy.

      I have no defense for the AR 4 WG II volume, which I thought was transparently awful as soon as I saw it, and long before the tedious nitpicking started. I have heard as much from both edges of the mainstream and the middle. But WG II has nothing to do with physical climatology.

      I don’t have any suggestion for whether or how to repair or replace IPCC, as if anybody would care what I thought about such a thing.

      • bender
        Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 1:25 AM | Permalink

        So you plead ignorance. Ok, then. Thanks for playing.

        This thing happened, called “climategate” … where the community’s attitude toward FOIA due diligence and data disclosure was laid bare … never mind …

      • sleeper
        Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 8:19 AM | Permalink

        Re: Michael Tobis (Jun 10 01:22),

        I am defending climate science, not IPCC.

        Then defend levels of uncertainty touted in “mainstream” climate science that would get you laughed at in other science fields. Dr. Curry might be willing to help with that. She’s shown an interest lately. By the way, since “mainstream” climate scientists have decided they can be policy makers too, climate science and the IPCC are inextricably linked.

  58. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 12:15 AM | Permalink

    Michael Tobis
    Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 10:44 PM

    All I’m saying is that there are people who understand the climate system much better than most of the regulars here, Dr. Curry being the only exception I know about.

    Those being the brilliant scientists who bought into the Hockeystick without a single question? Those being the people who “understand the climate system” so well that they nodded their head when the IPCC claimed that coral atolls would sink when the sea level rose, ignoring Charles Darwins discovery over a century ago that coral atolls rise with rising sea levels? The geniuses who thought that Bangladesh would lose land area if the ocean came up?

    Michael, these kinds of -snip- comparisons don’t gain you friends or adherents …- snip . You don’t seem to get it. We took on a number of the brilliant scientists you are so laudatory about, the ones who understand things so much better than we do, and we showed they were wrong. Not evil, just wrong. Bad math. Bad conclusions. Bad logic.

    Then the leading lights of the climate science establishment were exposed by Climategate as not only being wrong, but knowing that they were wrong, and acting unethically and perhaps illegally to try to conceal that fact. Fine bunch of heroes you’ve got there …

    So now you’re standing here, praising people who understand very well how to hide their data, and who are experts at bending the rules to rig the IPCC game, and who are professional at inventing amateurish and incorrect statistical methods to embellish their fantasies, and you are telling us that they “understand the climate system” so much better than us? There definitely are things they understand better than we do … but the climate system is not one of them.

    In fact, no one understands the climate system very well. But there are lots of people who claim they do, who claim the system is so well understood that its evolution can be projected a century into the future, who claim that they know that temperature will increase extreme events (when it hasn’t done so in the past), who claim that not only do they know how the climate system works, they claim that the change of CO2 is the secret thermostat that controls the whole thing.

    You obviously believe them.

    Me … not so much. All you have established with your remark is the extent of your credulity. There are decent, honest scientists in the field, and they will gladly tell you how little they know. On the other hand, anyone who tells you they “understand the climate system” is a liar.

    • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 1:05 AM | Permalink

      I believe that among the points where we disagree is the question of who the leading lights of climate science are.

      My credulity is not the issue. I have some understanding of the climate system myself.

      Physical science is an amazing thing, and the earth is a physical object. It is not, at least in principle, exempt from being studied as a physical object. It would be bizarre if nothing of consequence were known about it by now.

      • bender
        Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 1:11 AM | Permalink

        Michael,
        What about the conflict of interest of an IPCC lead author promoting his own junk science as indisputible fact? One obvious case where the “bad stuff” did NOT get “ignored”.

    • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 10:25 AM | Permalink

      http://initforthegold.blogspot.com/2010/06/lions-den.html

  59. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 3:16 AM | Permalink

    Michael Tobis
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 1:05 AM | Permalink | Reply | Edit

    I believe that among the points where we disagree is the question of who the leading lights of climate science are.

    Pre-Climategate, any list of such lights would certainly have included Phil Jones, Michael Mann, Caspar Amman, Carl Wahl, Gavin Schmidt, James Hansen, and Stephen Schneider. Post-Climategate, not so much.

    My credulity is not the issue. I have some understanding of the climate system myself.

    Physical science is an amazing thing, and the earth is a physical object. It is not, at least in principle, exempt from being studied as a physical object. It would be bizarre if nothing of consequence were known about it by now.

    Certainly, things of consequence are known about climate science. But you didn’t claim that, nor did I deny it. Your claim was that:

    All I’m saying is that there are people who understand the climate system much better than most of the regulars here, Dr. Curry being the only exception I know about.

    Now, if that’s the case, how come I’m the one who has had to point out to those folks, those who understand the climate system so well, that coral atolls float? How come Steve is the one who has had to point out that Mann is using his proxies upside down … and then has to point it out again when none of those folks, the ones you claim understand the climate system better than we do here, noticed that Mann used the same proxies upside down in his next paper?

    I didn’t say nothing of consequence was known about the climate. I said anyone who claims that they understand the climate system is lying to you.

    Finally, since the answers are not in, and since the study of climate is so new, and so much is not understood about the climate, and since climate is an immensely complex, driven, resonant, constructal, tera-watt planetary scale heat engine with five poorly understood main subsystems, relevant scales from nanoseconds to millions of years and micrometres to planetwide, a system with a host of known and unknown forcings and feedbacks … with all of that, how can you climb on your soapbox and start handing out grades like a -snip – college professor, saying this one “understands the climate system” and those ones don’t?
    snip

    • Judith Curry
      Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 7:44 AM | Permalink

      Willis, in my opinion Michael Tobis is one of the most reasonable and thoughtful voices in the climate blogosphere, he actually listens and is prepared to change his mind. He is someone that the CA denizens can have an interesting dialogue with. I suspect he might have ventured over here since I have been saying nice things about CA over at collide-a-scape, in terms of the relatively reasoned dialogue over here. Here’s to hoping that a reasoned dialogue can ensue, minus any insults.

      Michael does make some valid points. In the limited time i have this a.m., i would like to pick up on two points:

      “Pre-Climategate, any list of such lights would certainly have included Phil Jones, Michael Mann, Caspar Amman, Carl Wahl, Gavin Schmidt, James Hansen, and Stephen Schneider.”

      This is a list of scientists that have achieved some combination of fame/infamy in the blogosphere (with Hansen and Schneider having much broader fame). If you asked a large group of climate scientists (physical climatology) to list the 25 top most influential climate scientists, Hansen would make the list (Schneider probably wouldn’t since he does more policy/eco stuff these days). The others likely wouldn’t make the list, Phil Jones might come the closest (Phil was recently made a fellow of the AGU). There is a large number of scientists that are very influential to climate science as indicated by their list of publications and the citations of these publications, their influence on major boards and committees, and the national and international recognition (awards) they have achieved. And unless you are really diligent in reading the primary literature, you have probably never heard of any of these people, most of whom aren’t involved directly in the IPCC and who choose to stay out of the public eye, don’t issue press releases, etc.

      With regards to Michael Tobis’ comments about the field of climate science, he is not doing an “appeal to authority”, but rather is pointing out that scientists who make this topic their life’s work develop a deep, complex understanding of their topic that cant be replicated by someone else’s quick foray into their field. Their expertise should be respected. This is not to say that outsiders can’t make a contribution; in fact insiders often and inadvertently get locked into groupthink and a fresh perspective can spark a breakthrough. Statistics certainly plays a role in climate research, but basic physical science is the foundation. Climate researchers definitely need better grounding in statistics and there are sectors of the field that need better data management (note: NASA is exemplary in its data management). CA and Steve Mc have played a central role in pointing out these deficiencies.

      Overall, more time spent on trying to come up with productive solutions (like writing your congressperson for more support for data collection/archival) would be better than endless accusations against individual scientists

      • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 9:40 AM | Permalink

        Judith, thanks immensely for the kind words about me. I’ll also express complete agreement with the rest of what you say in this comment.

        I’ll also take the occasion to complain.

        I was led to believe that one would receive a polite and thoughtful hearing here. So far this hasn’t been the case at all; most of what has been written in response to me has been shallow and reflexively hostile. Even though I am going out of my way to agree with some of Steve’s core points, any attempt to introduce new ideas is met not only with defensiveness but also with a wall of hostility and contempt. (It’s also been surprisingly ignorant, e.g., WE’s attempt to connect a statement about coral formations in WG II to physical climatology.) I would say the same about the responses I have seen to your comments.

      • Tom Gray
        Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 9:46 AM | Permalink

        With regards to Michael Tobis’ comments about the field of climate science, he is not doing an “appeal to authority”, but rather is pointing out that scientists who make this topic their life’s work develop a deep, complex understanding of their topic that cant be replicated by someone else’s quick foray into their field. Their expertise should be respected

        Dr. Judith Curry writes

        With regards to Michael Tobis’ comments about the field of climate science, he is not doing an “appeal to authority”, but rather is pointing out that scientists who make this topic their life’s work develop a deep, complex understanding of their topic that cant be replicated by someone else’s quick foray into their field. Their expertise should be respected

        In regard to Tobis and the “appeal to authority”, on Lucia’s blog Tobis has indicated that or something quite like that. He even indicated that he will defer to authority by indicating that he changed his view on a topic because of an intervention by Pierrehumbert whom he regarded as much smarter than him.

        The exchange on Lucia’s blog was about a proposal by a woman from Wisconsin for a debate on AGW at her local high school. she invited several noted climate scientists and in return received insulting refusals. Tobis’ point about deference to people smarter than oneself was made in this context. The woman was termed an untrained housewife. Since climate scientists were much smarter than she was she had no business organizing a debate since the climate science had ruled and there was nothing to debate.

        In regard to Tobis and the “appeal to authority”, on Lucia’s blog Tobis has indicated that or something quite likt that. he even inidcated that he will defer to authtority by indicating that he changed his view on a topic because of an intervention by Pierrehumbert whom he regarded as much smarter than him.

        The exchange on Lucia’s blog was about a proposal by a woman from wisconsin for a debatge on AGW at her local high schoool. she invited several noted climate scientists and in return receved insulting refusals. Tobis’ point about ddeference to people smarter than oneslef was made in this context. The woman was termed an untrained housewife. Since climate scientists were muich smareter han she ws she had not business organizing a debate since the climate science had ruled and there was nothing to debate

        • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 10:04 AM | Permalink

          “Smarter” isn’t the issue. Ray’s insights into climate physics are top notch.

          If he explicitly tells me I am wrong about some physical climatology phenomenon, I am sure he can explain to me why. It’s not a matter of “authority” in the sense of obeisance. It’s a matter of respecting his insights, a respect born of experience and admiration.

          I have argued with him about matters of computer science or system dynamics. I might argue with him about policy (if we were ever to have disagreements, though I don’t know of any) or about whether Scandinavian music is interesting (he has odd opinions about that).

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 11:40 AM | Permalink

          Tom, your criticisms of what Michael Tobis wrote somewhere else some time ago are a form of ad hominem attack, whereby somone’s current statements are discredited based on his past statements. Listen to Tobis’ argument, he has something to say.

          Re Ray Pierrehumbert, he is an extremely smart guy, with a snarky streak. If you don’t know something about a topic, your best strategy is to listen to an expert. Part of the problem here is is that the posters don’t realize what they don’t understand in terms of climate science. Yes there are experts in statistics, numerical modelling etc. But climate science is fundamentally about physics, and that kind of understanding is in pretty short supply here.

          Scientists’ unwillingness to debate, and continue to debate, is a big strategic mistake in terms of building public acceptance and trust.

        • Gary McGuane
          Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 12:52 PM | Permalink

          I wonder if Ms. Curry would agree with a rephrasing of her comment: ie. that “Part of the problem here is that the (climate scientists) don’t realize what they don’t understand in terms of climate science.” I think she and Michale Tovis are completely unaware of the tone of condescension that permeates his comments.

          The issue is not how members of a particular subset of science know more about their field than others. The question now is how does “climate science” recover from the recent destruction of its credibility in public opinion. As a member of that public, let me suggest that “because we are climate scientists, and you’re not,” is not terribly persuasive.

        • Tom Fuller
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 2:39 PM | Permalink

          As someone who has fought hammer and tongs with Michael Tobis, and someone who Michael Tobis has repeatedly characterized as ignorant regarding climate science, I’d like to say that I have spent much of the past year wishing he would engage in a forum such as this. I could find a dozen things he has said here that I could disagree with. Maybe more. But I believe he is honest and I believe he has something to contribute.

          Mr. Tobis is not a diplomat and it’s not hard to find quick and immediate evidence of things he has phrased poorly. But, amazingly enough, not all scientists have the communications skills that Judith Curry is blessed with. I’m not at all sure that they all would want them as a Christmas gift.

          I think we should take what Mr. Tobis has to offer us, and weigh it without weighing his personal opinions and mannerisms alongside.

  60. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 7:53 AM | Permalink

    Michael Tobis says:

    My credulity is not the issue.

    On this point, reasonable people can agree. Tobis’ credibility is another matter entirely.

  61. Barry Woods
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 8:17 AM | Permalink

    snip – please don’t try to re-litigate OT issues.

  62. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 10:20 AM | Permalink

    Steve M, I understand why you attempted to keep this thread specific to the Thompson case as the generalities and anecdotal cases presented here would seem to veer the discussion way off the topic at hand. I think all reasonable people would agree that climate science work that cannot be duplicated or readily analyzed with reasonable effort should be downgraded as would any scientific effort that suffers from that problem.

    No one is picking on the individual scientist if they have lost the data, but certainly those scientists need to come forward and admit the data is not available or to state what shape and form it is in. Having MT and JC comment here only reinforces in my mind that these problems of climate science will not be resolved by the current stake holders.

    A climate scientist in order to comment on how well outsiders can judge the work of climate scientists in areas outside their own expertise would have to be as well informed about that area as their own. I doubt that to be the case, and thus when they invoke the knowledge/authority of the scientists that are being criticized, that view comes across to me as a blind faith.

    That is why these discussions have to be aimed at specifics of scientific works and specifics of how readily the data are available. I currently have been doing some research on past works of climate scientists and their efforts to estimate the CIs for temperature data sets. Many different methods for doing this estimation (and with significantly varying results) have been published but they all, in view my suffer from not providing the background information to readily replicate their works. All of these works were completed in the 1990s and 2000s and most in the 2000s.

    Did I miss the Judith Curry reply to what she estimates are the methods and cost and time scientists required for archiving data and making it readily available?

    I also judge that independent thinkers gain more insights about climate science when blogs address specific topics and papers to analyze. And believe when I say that a non climate scientist can judge well the “robustness” of a work by simply applying the sensitivity tests that the climate scientist so often ignore or forget to do.

  63. Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 10:22 AM | Permalink

    Michael Tobis
    Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 11:26 PM
    ….
    People who have been in the sciences since the 1970s have generated lots of code and lots of data in lots of obscure platforms with no commercial support.

    I have no idea what is going on with Thompson, but likely it is something like this: ….

    Thanks, Michael, for sharing your thoughts with this sometimes rowdy crew.

    I’m willing to give Thompson a pass on any 1970s punched cards, even though I bet he really could recover them via Vintagetech.com without much trouble.

    The big issue with Thompson is his more recent data from the disk storage era — say the 7 cores he featured in his 2006 PNAS article, not to mention Bona Churchill. Of these, only Quelccaya is reasonably well archived. The fragmentary data he did provide in his SI for that article doesn’t even add up — See my EE paper and webpage on Irreproducible Results in PNAS, at http://www.econ.ohio-state.edu/jhm/AGW/Thompson/.

    I conclude in my webpage update, “Since Figure 5 is not representative of the data that was used to construct Figure 6, Thompson and co-authors have failed to provide, as required by the PNAS data policy, sufficient data to replicate his results. At a minimum they should identify the archived cores that were used to construct Figure 6, and provide detailed data for any unarchived cores that were used.”

    If he doesn’t do this as required by PNAS policy, then at a minimum the article should be retracted, if NAS is really as serious about science as it purports to be.

    IMHO, anyway. What about you? Or Judith?

    • bender
      Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 10:33 AM | Permalink

      They’d reply, but they have to do some homework first.

      snip – personal comment

      Steve: bender, blog policies do not permit personal comments about other posters.

      • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 10:54 AM | Permalink

        “What’s he doing here?”

        I thought I was trying to advance the cause of openness and replication (which allegedly is the main point around here) while defending the idea that existing climate science is deep and should be valued.

        Apparently this position is such anathema around here that I am to be treated with contempt, and everything I say is to be twisted around to purge it of any meaning.

        Should I go away, then?

        This approach will do wonders to maintain your community’s incapacity to influence science.

        You wonder why people avoid you and pass you off to legal. Maybe you should try checking the default attitude of contempt at the door first?

        Dr. Curry has been trying very hard to engage with you all. Too hard, some of us think.

        I am trying to do the same here to the extent I can manage it. I have all along had sympathy for what you claim is your purpose. I came by to express that.

        Most of the climate-focused people I hang around with claim that your expressed purpose is not your actual purpose. I have to say that my exchanges here over the last day or so support their point of view.

        Steve: this blog is not moderated in advance. Some commenters have breached blog policies on politeness and I apologize for that. However, I notice that you haven’t made much attempt to engage my comments to you – which have been polite – and I urge you to do so.

        • D. Patterson
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 11:48 AM | Permalink

          “I thought I was trying to advance the cause of openness and replication[….] This approach will do wonders to maintain your community’s incapacity to influence science.[….]”

          Can you not see how your own second statement above violently negates the fundamental premise of your first statement and the entire question of Lonnie Thompson’s refusal to disclose his data? Can you not see how your comments provoke reactions and responses from anyone willing to independently investigate and question the methods and conclusions as any good scientist or free citizen, amateur or professional, ought to do?

        • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 11:59 AM | Permalink

          By “this approach”, as any fair reading of my comment will easily reveal, I mean the approach wherein “I am to be treated with contempt” for alleging that there deep knowledge within climate science to be valued.

          Under that reading, no.

          Of course, if you can put anything you want under “this approach”, you can get any answer you want.

          Steve: Michael, ordinarily, I try to keep blog discussions on narrow points, on the basis that there is little point in arguing about the largest possible picture, as otherwise every thread becomes exactly the same. In this case, I’ve been away from the computer for most of this exchange (one of my sons arrived in Toronto last night from overseas). The original issue in this post was whether it was absurd out of hand to ask for Lonnie Thompson’s Dunde data from the late 1980s/early 1990s (which is still used in proxy studies) and his data from other cores in the 1990s. This is the position taken by Gerald North at the recent AAAS Forum and seemingly not disputed by any of the eminent scientists there. This is a different issue then whether Thompson should or should not still have had the data in a digitally retrievable form – he might well have had the data (as some people have managed their older data to maintain it), but he might not have. In my opinion, if it was available only on an obsolete format, then this would be worth knowing and efforts made to recover it before it is lost permanently. All of these are different issues than whether scientists are heroes or not or the sensitivity of climste to doubled CO2.

          Can I ask you your opinion on the original issue: do you agree with North that it was inappropriate to ask for Lonnie Thompson’s Dunde data from the late 1980s/early 1990s (which is still used in proxy studies) and his data from other cores in the 1990s?

        • D. Patterson
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 1:45 PM | Permalink

          “Under that reading, no.”

          With respect to the circumstances of the dispute about Lonnie Thompson’s nondisclosures and the related discussions, your non-recognition of the effects upon the discussion by your own comments and ideas illustrates why the problem exists. Your participation is welcome, whether or not you violently disagree with others in this forum. Until you can recognize how your own comments may be construed as no less insulting and contemptuous as at least some of those comments you complain about, you may evidently be seeing this from only your own perspective and not the perspective of those about whom you complain.

          I would gently and helpfully suggest your discussion about the Lonnie Thompson issues will be more productive if and when you can recognize and acknowledge the need to be frank and willing to see the opposing view without taking offense when others respond in what you see as contempt in their response to what they see as contempt on your part.

          For example, there are some of us who will argue that “our community” created climate science”, and it is your “community” which has been hard at work for something like the last 40 to 50 years destroying what we created. Now, you can react to my comment in a number of ways. I would hope it would be reflective and at least be regarded as a starting point for resolving our differences in views and opinions. In any event, I hope you can at least acknowledge we can discuss Lonnie Thompson and other matters while recognizing a robust and frank discussion can be conducted regardless of whether or not someone decides to take offense at the remarks?

          For example, are there any circumstances under which you can agree Lonnie Thompson has an obligation to disclose his data or the dispositions of that data? If so, what would those circumstances be? If not, why not?

        • Hu McCulloch
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 3:28 PM | Permalink

          The original issue in this post was whether it was absurd out of hand to ask for Lonnie Thompson’s Dunde data from the late 1980s/early 1990s (which is still used in proxy studies) and his data from other cores in the 1990s.

          We’re not exactly certain North was talking about Thompson or Dunde — In fact, unless his reference to mid-1970s punched card technology was a smoke screen, this probably wouldn’t be Dunde, since according to the CC03 and/or PNAS06 SIs, Dunde was drilled in 1987. Guliya was drilled 1992, Huascaran 1993, and Dasuopu 1997. Sajama was post 1990 and Puruogangri was post 1995.

          But even if he did put Dunde on cards, he shouldn’t be using it in 2003 and 2006 papers unless he actually has the numbers.

          I just got a quote from Vintagetech.com — their regular rate for reading punched cards is $50 per box plus $50 setup charge, for a $100 minimum. Of course, the customer would also have to pay UPS fees.

        • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 4:04 PM | Permalink

          “do you agree with North that it was inappropriate to ask for Lonnie Thompson’s Dunde data from the late 1980s/early 1990s (which is still used in proxy studies) and his data from other cores in the 1990s?”

          No, I don’t think it’s inappropriate to ask.

          If Thompson can’t be bothered to respond to your inquiries then he doesn’t have to do so, unless he does have to (say by the publication rules of a journal or the terms of his grant).

          If he does have to, he still has to prioritize it. If he thinks you are not acting in collegial good faith, he will give it a low priority. Perhaps an infinitesimal one. There are always more things that a scientist “has to do” than that he actually gets to.

          If you resort to FOIA, he might pass it on to his lawyers, and they will look for ways to thwart you, because that is what lawyers do when pressed for information.

          I am not saying any of this would be right. I am not saying it would be wrong. I am not in a position to say anything about it.

          Scientists don’t denounce other scientists publicly except in the most extreme cases. Certainly marginal scientists like me don’t criticize prominent ones like Thompson or North on hearsay from a hostile blog.

          What I am saying is that a request for climate data from someone known to have caused great trouble to people who collect climate data will have to compete with other activities for the scientist’s attention.

          It’s a practical concern that can best be dealt with by trying to find some sort of armistice, if your intentions are really constructive. This may mean not just clipping the rudest comments from your followers, but actively seeking to create an environment where competent amateurs and professionals can interact without huge flame wars erupting.

          Unfortunately, matters seem to have become more hostile here since my previous foray.

          Steve: I don’t understand why climate scientists have decided to take a stand on data obstruction. As you say, people like Lonnie Thompson can tough it out, call in lawyers to maintain the obstruction, sort of like Phil Jones. If you don’t understand the self-destructiveness of the policy, then you should reflect on it. Nor should whether you like a person or not be a relevant consideration. In human terms, one understands the temptation, but that way lies CLimategate. On the data issues, the inquiries have come out squarely against Phil Jones. If you think otherwise, then think again.

        • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 12:08 PM | Permalink

          Steve, well, your replies require more thought and – snip – . I will endeavor to reply.

          Steve: It’s disappointing that that you didn’t consider that all the more reason to respond.

          I’ve taken the liberty of snipping a comment that will merely provoke a food fight.

  64. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 10:40 AM | Permalink

    Michael Tobis says:

    I really don’t have an opinion one way or the other on the key controversies of this blog, which is why I usually don’t follow it. Thus honestly I have no comment on the chapters of greatest interest to you. I genuinely don’t consider those matters key to physical climatology or to climate policy.

    While you may not want climate science to be judged on the merit or lack of merit of reconstructions in the style of Mann and Briffa, for better or worse and rightly or wrongly, Mann, Briffa, Hansen, Jones and realclimate are, as you and Judy Curry both realize, the public face of climate science, rather than, say, Isaac Held. And this public face very much includes the proxy reconstructions – where the issues are relatively accessible to specialists from other fields.

    Like it or not, proxy reconstructions are an important “product line” for climate science. If it doesn’t “matter” for the big picture, then the “community” shouldn’t have used it so prominently in IPCC TAR and subsequent presentations to the public by national governments.

    And even more, when issues arose with the “product line”, it should have been of concern to the “community”, who were, like it or not, being judged in part by this product line. If Toyota has a problem with one model, they don’t say – well, it’s only one model and it doesn’t “matter”. They take great pride in their quality and attempt to identify and root out quality problems.

    If people in the “community” were concerned about how they were being judged, they should not have just relied on parties to the dispute (Mann, Jones, Briffa) for answers and should not have allowed a party to the dispute (Keith Briffa) be Lead Author of the relevant AR4 section. And should have taken great care to avoid violations (or even the perception of violation) of IPCC procedures and rules in this section by Wahl, Briffa and others.

    Part of the problem seems to arise because no one within the “commmunity” has responsiblity for belling the cat, if the cat needs belling. Thus the failure to resolve issues that should have been resolved long ago.

    That’s one reason why I’m particularly critical of the failure of the various inquiries to do a proper job, commencing with Gerry North’s “winging it”. I realize that people think it’s impolite of me to criticize this comment by Gerry North, but I find it truly appalling. Such inquiries have serious responsibilities. The “community” should have spoken out against such attitudes, rather than criticizing me for pointing them out.

    • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 11:02 AM | Permalink

      Steve, this is another incrediably valuable thread. Tomorrow I’m having lunch in London with five others about the openness of climate science, two of them well known names in ‘open science’ in the UK. None of the others would be called a sceptic or anything like it. But the stink is rising, because of all you and others have uncovered. And yes, North was wrong to ‘wing it’. He needed to set an example and make an example – of those who refused to give up data and code. But change is afoot.

    • Judith Curry
      Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 11:50 AM | Permalink

      Steve, my point is that climate science as a whole is not accurately reflected by Mann, Jones, et al., in either substance or style. Whether or not they are the “public face” should be irrelevant to a more knowledgeable community such as CA claims to be.

      Changes are needed, and few have worked harder than I have from within the community. But these things take time. CA can play a major role in convincing other scientists and the public for the need for such change, but this effort loses its effectiveness if insults are used, since this only reinforces tribal behavior (such as wagon circling).

      Steve: I quite agree about insults. The blog is not moderated in advance and one of my sons arrived from overseas last night. I would have hoped for more courtesy from blog regulars and the patience not to rise to every slight.

      • bender
        Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 11:55 AM | Permalink

        Minimizing tribal behavior is a laudable objective. But let us not deny that there are in fact tribes. The belief in a FOIA siege by a paranoid community is proof that the gap you seek to bridge is quite wide. Even if the two tribes move closer togehter, there comes a point where you can’t just stand in the middle, but must choose one side or the other absed on rational arguments.

        • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 12:05 PM | Permalink

          I think we were missing the apology there :)

          It’s a very good point about the FOIA seige mentality. It would have been even better if prefaced by the er, aforementioned.

        • bender
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 12:38 PM | Permalink

          I apologize to CA readers for rising to the bait snip . Sometimes I can’t help myself.

        • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 12:05 PM | Permalink

          There are more than two tribes.

          There are tribes that believe that there are only two tribes, though.

        • Tom Fuller
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 2:43 PM | Permalink

          Mr. Tobis, that is one of the smarter things you have written in this thread. I would amend it to read there are some who benefit greatly from making it appear that there are only two tribes.

        • bender
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 2:46 PM | Permalink

          I fail to see the value of this taxonomy, unless you’re going to start enumerating and characterizing the tribes and then outlining a strategy for reforming them. Replace “two” by “n” and my text stands.

    • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 4:12 PM | Permalink

      Interesting. Still pondering.

    • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 9:53 PM | Permalink

      Like it or not, proxy reconstructions are an important “product line” for climate science.

      A fair point. I don’t especially like it. I think the attribution question has been grossly overvalued, and the obsession with recent obs is a reflection of this. This in turn traces back to the public’s misunderstanding of the physical nature of the policy problem.

      The “community” should not have allowed a party to the dispute (Keith Briffa) be Lead Author of the relevant AR4 section.

      I don’t really know how that decision was made. I think it’s all a hangover from earlier days when, at least, there was an open attribution question. But presumably the community associated with each chapter had the dominant voice in choosing the participants. I promise you, though, that nobody asked me.

      Part of the problem seems to arise because no one within the “commmunity” has responsiblity for belling the cat, if the cat needs belling. Thus the failure to resolve issues that should have been resolved long ago.

      Finally an opportunity for unequivocal agreement. Science does not have many of the roles of other institutions. Neither self-defense nor self-correction is properly represented. Managerial efforts are limited to winning grants, allocating funds, and minor custodial issues, and this at the level of the individual institution and similarly at the granting agency. The lack of such roles has led to very poor allocation of intellectual resources at science institutions. This is a case in point. There are no mechanisms for changing the policies that constrain us as individual participants in the system.

      This is the level at which change is necessary.

      But now I’m back to my criticism of you folks. Hurling accusations at well-intentioned individuals and treating science as an alien and sinister institution worthy of paranoia rather than a clumsy anachronism doesn’t help. It’s a very bad model of what the problems are and a very bad model of how to operate in a worlds where uncertainties are large and individuals are torn between larger duties and self-preservation.

      I realize that people think it’s impolite of me to criticize this comment by Gerry North, but I find it truly appalling. Such inquiries have serious responsibilities. The “community” should have spoken out against such attitudes, rather than criticizing me for pointing them out.

      I know nothing of the events in question. Again, I would not publicly criticize Dr. North even if I were certain that your version of the facts were complete and true. It seems wrong in several ways, not least of which that it would achieve nothing of any utility.

      If in fact your complaints are justified, it would be fair to say that there are no real corrective mechanisms. At this higher level of abstraction I am free to discuss matters, and I think it might be fruitful, but I’m afraid you would call it handwaving.

      But if all we get from your crowd is this Sister Souljah stuff: denounce this person, disown that person, etc. there is no motivation for any of us as individuals to participate. We are not doing politics at all; consequently we are not required to denounce one another to avoid offending this or that constituency. On the whole, we are not so inclined.

      Steve: One of the many points that you are missing is that the topic arose from denunciations by Gerry North and other eminent scientists at AAAS Forum. Had North not initiated the criticism, I wouldn’t have written about the topic. At the end of the day, you ended up agreeing with the point that I’d originally made.

      I’m not clear as to what disagreement you have with specific points I made (as opposed to commenters). You concede that critical material is abysmally presented – not in a PR sense, but in a logical chain of argument way. For someone as worried as you about the climate of the future, this is a situation that should concern you greatly. And until people in the field can look into the mirror and say that their job of presenting the chain of argument to the educated public has been done really well (and not poorly), it is very unfair of you to blame the many people who are unpersuaded by what you’ve acknowledged to be ineffective presentations – the vast majority of CA readers are lurkers and probably the majority of them are ready to be persuaded by rational argument.

      Hysterical and over-emotive language like “treating science as an alien and sinister institution worthy of paranoia” does not characterize my attitude in any way and merely diminishes your the credibility of whatever point you were trying to make.

  65. Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 11:08 AM | Permalink

    I thought my 5:23 and 11:26 comments yesterday were substantive.

    Otherwise, I have been trying to understand and deal with what seems to me to be willful refusal to undertake to understand what I was trying to say before dismissing it with contempt.

    • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 11:10 AM | Permalink

      Sorry, the above was in reply to Bender, 11:06 AM in the McCulloch 10:22 AM thread.

    • Judith Curry
      Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 11:26 AM | Permalink

      Michael, i agree that the contempt shown to you by Bender was inappropriate and unfortunate. Eschenbach at least provided some arguments before insulting you. The challenge of spending time over here is to weed out the noise, and pay attention the signal, there is a real signal over here. To those of the CA regulars that want to effect some sort of change in this situation, insulting people who come over here for dialogue is not the way to change anyone’s behavior or influence anything, it only reinforces tribal behavior (on both sides).

    • bender
      Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 1:04 PM | Permalink

      Search the blog and you will find no evidence of “willful refusal” on my part. Please desist in baseless accusations.

  66. bender
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 11:38 AM | Permalink

    snip – c’mon, bender, relax.

    • bender
      Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 12:56 PM | Permalink

      I’m trying to relax, but it’s hard to be patient with someone who waltzes in here claiming to be interested in bridge-building, and then won’t address the substantive issues that are the primary concern of the blog. It’s so illogical that I find it contemptuous to the audience. It’s nothing personal. I just don’t get it. And when I beg for more substance I’m told that was yesterday’s menu. And I’M the one being accused of “contempt”?!

  67. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 1:15 PM | Permalink

    Judith Curry
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    Steve, my point is that climate science as a whole is not accurately reflected by Mann, Jones, et al., in either substance or style. Whether or not they are the “public face” should be irrelevant to a more knowledgeable community such as CA claims to be.

    Judith, Michael Tobin comes in here and tells us that he knows climate scientists who are heaps smarter than anyone here … except you.

    Now, I want you to consider the “accurate reflection” you mention above. Sure, climate scientists are nice to you, just as Michael Tobin is nice to you. But for the rest of us, we never get that “you’re so special treatment.” All we ever see is the “public face”, the face that you think “should be irrelevant”, the face of Mann and Jones Inc.

    But since that is the only face we see, the representatives of mainstream climate science who think you are wonderful and we’re all jerks … how can it be irrelevant?

    Finally, my point is that until mainstream climate science disowns them, Mann, Jones et al. are in fact your (mainstream climate science’s) representatives. You didn’t say a word when they were riding high. You never complained when they were doing their tricks. And more to the point, when Climategate came out, y’all said “Oh, that’s just good old scientist boys talking trash about each other in private, there’s nothing wrong there.”

    Judith, I respect you greatly for your willingness to speak out on these matters, but even you don’t seem to get it. You can’t play the “we’re all nice guys and Mann and Jones don’t represent us” card UNTIL YOU DISOWN THEM. Until then, by your silence, you lambs are stuck with them.

    • Judith Curry
      Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 1:22 PM | Permalink

      Willis, “disowning” someone is a political or financial act, it is not a scientific one. I will continue to read papers written by these individuals, and will assess their arguments based on their merits. That is all that counts. Its about the scientific argument, not about the person making the argument

      • bender
        Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 1:32 PM | Permalink

        Conciliation starts with statements of concession and builds from there. Here, let me give you an example.

        “GN and the experts never should have “winged it” and he sounds like a dummy for thinking that blogosphere is going to stop using his name, however …”

        “No question that LT should have archived his data, however …”

        As for JC’s lexical play on “disownment”, shall we discuss the topic she herself raises: Phil Jones fellowship in the AGU? To do so would be taking a step toward bridging with Willis.

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 1:38 PM | Permalink

          Well this is easy. Here is a list of behaviors that i have denounced publicly:

          1. Denying/thwarting FOIA requests
          2. Not making data available upon request
          3. Messing with the peer review process
          4. Ignoring skeptics and skeptical arguments
          5. A whole host of behaviors by the IPCC

          And there are probably others that i can’t remember off the top of my head.

        • sleeper
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 2:44 PM | Permalink

          Good work. Keep it up. Spend all your spare time denouncing these behaviors with your mainstream climate science colleagues, encouraging them to follow suit, and there will be less of a need to come here and defend your science.
          Ironically, if you were to add “6. The misuse of statistical analysis” to your list, you would have summed up CA’s raison d’etre.

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 3:40 PM | Permalink

          Thanks for reminding me of this. I have spoken out numerous times on inadequate/inappropriate statistical analyses.

        • PDA
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 1:41 PM | Permalink

          Conciliation starts from the willingness to listen. Nothing will happen if both sides are going to wait for the other to concede the argument before starting to talk.

          That’s not a slam at anyone in particular. It seems a perfectly self-evident proposition.

      • Willis Eschenbach
        Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 2:45 PM | Permalink

        Judith, you say:

        Willis, “disowning” someone is a political or financial act, it is not a scientific one. I will continue to read papers written by these individuals, and will assess their arguments based on their merits. That is all that counts. Its about the scientific argument, not about the person making the argument.

        I could not disagree more. In just about any profession, when someone has cheated and lied and advocated illegal acts, s/he gets either censured or thrown out of whatever professional association s/he belongs to. From contractors to CPA to cardiac specialists to congressmen, the same rules apply. Heck, it has even been proposed that meteorologists who dare to espouse climate heresy lose their certification … and you’re telling me that there is no way that climate scientists can express their displeasure against anyone but heretics?

        If nothing else, start a dang petition expressing your displeasure with the harm being done in your name. I don’t care how you do it.

        But until you do it, you can’t say “Mann and Jones et al. don’t represent us”, because until you publicly say they don’t represent you … they do. Yes, you have spoken out against various bad practices. But until some bold soul is willing to do what us crude, unlettered folks who Tobis says don’t understand the climate call “kicking asses and taking names”, you will continue to be tarred with the same brush. (And the “kicking asses” is not the important part. It’s the taking of names that discourages future bad behavior.)

        Because in climate science, at present there’s no downside to lying, cheating, hiding data, or advocating erasing emails. Nobody will call you out. You won’t lose your job. You’ll still be invited to speak at all of the conferences. Oh, sure, a really radical person like Judith Curry will take a brave stand and say “I don’t agree with denying FOI requests”. But none of you noble folks will name names. None of you will say “I don’t want Michael Mann in the NAS”. None of you will kick asses and take names. Instead, you say that naming names is “a political or financial act”, as if that explains it all and makes it reasonable. When is one of you, just one, going to scream “ENOUGH!”?

        But instead of doing that, instead of penalizing bad behavior, people like Tobis and North stand around and make excuses for bad behaviour … sorry, Judith, but you can’t have it both ways. If you want us to believe you disapprove of someone doing something wrong, if you want to claim that Mann and Jones and Thompson are not your representatives to the larger world, you have to name and shame the person as well as the act.

    • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 3:45 PM | Permalink

      It’s extremely rare for a scientist to publicly “disown” another scientist except in the most extreme circumstances. It is just basically against the rules.

      In fact, one of the accusations hurled against the CRU email crowd is that they disowned other scientists privately, (Soon, Michaels). So what’s bad for the goose…

      What scientists usually do is ignore other scientists of whom they disapprove. Even if someone blatantly cheats (in far more extreme ways than is alleged for Jones, Briffa or Mann) and is caught, in practice what usually happens is they probably won’t get cited anymore.

      Meanwhile you guys haven’t succeeded in convincing anybody that there was significant wrongdoing revealed by the CRU emails; all we know is that they don’t like you and you don’t like them.

      This “with us or against us” stuff is obnoxious. It is also strategically idiotic if you have any constructive intent at all.

      Everybody in climate science is a friend of a friend of a friend of somebody you guys are trying to eviscerate. Most people in climate science disbelieve your claim that you are trying to help. Your approach makes cooperation very hard and thereby harms the cause of open science.

      We can talk about changing the structure in future, on what enforcement principles should be in future, on what the role of colleagues should be in correcting other colleagues in future.

      But if my choice is to participate in your retroactive witch hunts to enforce what you think scientific decorum ought to have been, or be demonized around here, as it appears to be, I am constrained by scientific decorum to be demonized.

      Which of course means it was a mistake for me to show up in the first place. – snip politics

      Steve: again, you haven’t replied to any of my points as you had promised to do earlier. I do not vouch for every comment or commenter here and regularly discourage angry posts. Your tactic of taking umbrage with commenters as an apparent pretext for not responding to me isn’t very impressive.

  68. Judith Curry
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 1:31 PM | Permalink

    Trying to veer this discussion into a more constructive direction. Does everyone here agree that the data used in Thompson’s recent PNAS paper should be archived and made publicly available? I assume that everyone will be unanimous in saying “yes.”

    Now how should this be accomplished? First thing to try is contact Thompson making a specific request regarding the data you are interested in, and also ask where/when these data will be archived. Be reasonable in your request; don’t expect to actually touch the ice core itself.

    In Thompson refuses or ignores you, then I would try these things in sequential order:

    1. Contact the World Data Center for Paleoclimatology, and find out if they know of any plans to archive these data

    2. Find out what the policies in this regard are for PNAS. Contact the editor to see what response you get.

    3. I assume the funding came from NSF. If so, contact the NSF Paleoclimate Program Manager, specifically with regards to this issue (not Thompson’s past data)

    4. If you still have not gotten a satisfactory response, contact Tim Killeen, head of the Geosciences Directorate at NSF.

    5. If that fails, contact the Inspector General of NSF (a lawyer).

    I would be most interested in seeing at what point you actually get the data. I would hope that it would come directly from Thompson.

    Steve: I contacted WDC-P long ago; they sympathized but are powerless. I submitted a complaint to PNAS, appealed to Cicerone. They blew me off with untrue assertions by Thompson that they refused to investigate. I wrote NSF long ago and followed it up to the head person at NSF – they also blew me off with untrue statements. Even I get worn out with these things. One of the reasons why I asked CA readers to send FOI requests to U of East Anglia for confidentiality agreements was to convey to them the obstruction was of concern to more people than me. There’s a real value in many people writing – just as there is with letters to a Congressman. If I see a foothold under some legislation, I’ll suggest it to CA readers.

    Having said that, it shouldn’t be up to CA readers to ensure that Thompson archives his data. It’s something that should concern the “community”.

    • Willis Eschenbach
      Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 2:55 PM | Permalink

      Oh, great, once again it’s our job, and you want to tell us how to do it?

      Judith, how about YOU DO IT! I’m sick and tired of doing your work for you climate scientists, and then getting abused for it. Form up the Curry/Tobis killer death commando ninja investigative team and YOU DO WHAT YOU ARE BEING PAID TO DO, clean up the dogshit in your own scientific back yard. I’m sick of doing it for you guys over and over and over again, and then getting pissed on from on high because I didn’t do it right, because I didn’t ask politely enough, because I didn’t say “mother may I”.

      Please report back and let us know how it goes. And if you decide not to actually do something, if you choose not to put your money where your mouth is, if you just want to make plans and never bell the cat, I don’t want to ever hear you say again that you have taken a stand on these matters. We are the ones who have taken a stand on these questions, we don’t need you to lay out a list of the steps that are needed. We don’t need your brilliant plan, we’ve done all of that before, contacted Thompson, contacted the journals, contacted the NSF.

      I await your report on the results of your actions, because we’re way, way past the time for your words and your ingenious lists and plans.

    • Judith Curry
      Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 4:25 PM | Permalink

      Steve, at NSF I would try Tim Killeen, head of the geophysics directorate. Also, i would contact the inspector general at NSF, this is exactly the kind of thing they deal with.

      • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 4:32 PM | Permalink

        Judy, Peter was able to get the Phil Jones temperature data. Perhaps you could coordinate with him to personally request this data as well?

      • Willis Eschenbach
        Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 4:38 PM | Permalink

        Excellent plan, Judith. Please let us know what their reply is when you ask them both.

      • Judith Curry
        Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 5:41 PM | Permalink

        Sorry Willis, this won’t work. I have never read any of Thompson’s papers, no idea what data to request, and I have no personal interest in the data. So people who actually want the data will have to do the requesting. What I can do is try to put pressure on the funding agencies and keep the broader issue of data access and availability on the table. For those of you with specific interest in Thompson’s data, and who have a reason for wanting that data, you will need to make these requests yourselves.

        • Willis Eschenbach
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 6:41 PM | Permalink

          Sorry Willis, this won’t work. I have never read any of Thompson’s papers, no idea what data to request, and I have no personal interest in the data. So people who actually want the data will have to do the requesting. What I can do is try to put pressure on the funding agencies and keep the broader issue of data access and availability on the table. For those of you with specific interest in Thompson’s data, and who have a reason for wanting that data, you will need to make these requests yourselves.

          So cleaning up the mess in climate science’s backyard is not your problem … but heck, why should it be, you’re right, you have no “personal interest in the data”. All you have is an oft-repeated claim of a personal interest in the integrity of climate science, a claimed interest that is obviously not important enough to impel you to clean up your own backyard. Funny, but it seems that no one in the field except a few lunatics like some of us here have an interest in the actual data … curious how that works.

          Judith, the issue is not whether you have a personal interest in the data. The issue is scientific transparency. That doesn’t require that you have read any of Thompson’s papers, or that you know what data to request. You’re willing to make a great list for us, and we’d gladly return the favor, we can make a list for you of what is not archived. Why does it make any difference whether you need the data or not? It should be archived for everyone, from PhDs to grade school students, to read and study and learn from. The issue is not whether you personally need it. The issue is transparency. And the larger issue is that out here in the real world, the actions of Thompson and Mann and Jones are damaging the reputation of all climate scientists, including yours. Surely that must matter to you even though Thompson’s work doesn’t.

          At some point, some of you mainstream climate scientists will have to actually take a stand for scientific transparency. It can’t be one of us here, we just get blown off as “not real scientists” or “troublemakers” or under some other bogus excuse. Some mainstream scientist has to point out the specific examples of the egregious malfeasance that you are all working so hard not to notice because you “have no personal interest”. Not just “keep the broader issue … on the table”, but stand up and ask specific scientists to follow the norms of science. Name names, in other words. I’m extremely sorry to hear that it won’t be you, I actually believed that the integrity and transparency of climate science was as important to you as you had repeatedly said it was. But it turns out that you want us to do your dirty work for you, your involvement will only be to make a list of how you think it should be done. Ah, well. Fool me once, my fault.

          My best to you,

          w.

          PS – You see, Judith, what I have just done here is an example what mainstream climate scientists need to do. Don’t bother with vague theoretical questions and “broader issues”. Instead, publicly ask specific scientists to put their money where their mouth is, as I have done with you. Then we all get to see if they will do it, or if they just talk a good fight …

          So how about you, Michael Tobis? How about you ask Thompson what has happened to the data, and report back with your findings? You can find out if your fantasy excuses are correct, surely that must interest you. Yes, you’re at a disadvantage, before even starting you’ve already lost half of the killer death commando ninja Curry/Tobis dataquest team, so are you willing to pursue this on your own, since you (like Judith) claim that it is so important to you?

          The world wonders …

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 6:57 PM | Permalink

          Willis, you must have missed this statement in the message that you replied to:

          “What I can do is try to put pressure on the funding agencies and keep the broader issue of data access and availability on the table.”

          I have been doing pretty heavy duty on this since November, and even before then I was calling for transparency and availability of the data sets (there is an old post on RC, that people dig up periodically).

          So that is what I can do, and what I have been doing.

        • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 9:28 PM | Permalink

          Here is Dr. Curry’s resume:

          http://curry.eas.gatech.edu/currycv.html

          I suggest that a random internet user making demands on someone like this has got an awful lot of nerve.

          Said random person now makes demands upon me. That is no longer ludicrous, but it’s still rude all the same. Rude to me and rude to Thompson. I don’t have any research interest in the data, so I will make no such request.

          I am entirely in favor of dedicating new funds to archiving and storing everything retroactively, especially in climate related sciences. A boring jobs program, but these days lots of people can’t afford to be picky? A fine idea, and a good time for it.

          Failing that, I see no reason to add additional stress to hard-working scientists and have no reason to expect them to cooperate.

          I’m not remotely inclined to add this to my own pile of overcommitment, never mind Dr Thompson’s.

        • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 9:50 PM | Permalink

          Michael, are you seriously stating that based upon Dr. Curry’s resume, or “someone like this” that data archiving is too much of a demand? Scientists are overworked? I would take the opposite approach and expect “someone” with a resume like this would be not take government money and throw it down a hole by failing to conduct due diligence with data archiving for future research.

          If scientists are so overwhelmed and over-worked to perform this basic function, perhaps they should find less stressful work, like unemployment and let ambitious and motivated folks take over. Few arguments are more pathetic than an overworked government scientist or professor who makes well in excess of 6 figures and has a 7 figure pension with full benefits waiting after retirement. But it seems you made one.

        • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 9:59 PM | Permalink

          Michael, are you seriously stating that based upon Dr. Curry’s resume, or “someone like this” that data archiving is too much of a demand?

          Nope.

          Please reread Willis Eschenbach’s request above.

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 7:17 AM | Permalink

          Ryan, I make any of my datasets available upon request, with the caveat that anything done before 1994 was not archived. For example, the original data tapes for the 1980 Arctic Stratus experiment no longer exist (in any event I was not PI on this, but wrote papers using the data.) I no longer have the older version of SSMI satellite data used in my papers (degraded tapes, but newer calibrated versions are publicly available). When I create a new data set, it is submitted as supplementary information with the publication. When individuals request help in reproducing results, one of my team members helps them. I don’t get many requests like this. So there is full disclosure regarding data I have used in my publications. With regards to numerical models that I have used, I would say again codes before the mid 90’s no longer exist. The only model from that era that has received a significant number of requests is a 1-D sea ice model, i tell people that this is no longer available and point them to a much better, recent model.

        • Willis Eschenbach
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 11:14 PM | Permalink

          Willis, you must have missed this statement in the message that you replied to:

          “What I can do is try to put pressure on the funding agencies and keep the broader issue of data access and availability on the table.”

          I have been doing pretty heavy duty on this since November, and even before then I was calling for transparency and availability of the data sets (there is an old post on RC, that people dig up periodically).

          So that is what I can do, and what I have been doing.

          Not true. That is what you have chosen to do. What you can do is something entirely different. You are unnecessarily limiting yourself.

        • Willis Eschenbach
          Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 12:04 AM | Permalink

          Michael Tobis says:

          Here is Dr. Curry’s resume:

          http://curry.eas.gatech.edu/currycv.html

          I suggest that a random internet user making demands on someone like this has got an awful lot of nerve.

          Said random person now makes demands upon me. That is no longer ludicrous, but it’s still rude all the same. Rude to me and rude to Thompson. I don’t have any research interest in the data, so I will make no such request.

          I am entirely in favor of dedicating new funds to archiving and storing everything retroactively, especially in climate related sciences. A boring jobs program, but these days lots of people can’t afford to be picky? A fine idea, and a good time for it.

          Failing that, I see no reason to add additional stress to hard-working scientists and have no reason to expect them to cooperate.

          I’m not remotely inclined to add this to my own pile of overcommitment, never mind Dr Thompson’s.

          Yeah, I figured you’d have a ready excuse. All of you fine folks are overcommitted, or not interested in the data, or the person asking isn’t suitably qualified, or something oh so reasonable. And gosh, we wouldn’t want to add to Dr. Thompson’s schedule by asking him to follow the bare minimum of scientific standards and actually archive his few pages of carefully concealed ice core data, would we? Besides, you state that to spend three minutes to compose and send an email to Dr. Thompson would overload your commitment circuits, and we can’t have that …

          However, your claim that I am putting “demands” on you and Dr. Curry is another of your … well, let me be Canadian and call them “convenient misrepresentations”.

          – snip –

          However, as they say, actions speak louder than resumes … but don’t get me wrong. I am glad that she is doing what she is doing, it is a good thing. But until mainstream climate scientists start taking some real action, the mistrust will assuredly continue. Just “keeping the issues on the table” is good, but ultimately meaningless. Until there is some cost to breaking the scientific rules, people will continue to flout them.

          – snip –

          I only asked if you were willing to take a stand regarding Thompson in order to see whether you were, as the cowboys used to say on the ranch where I grew up, “all hat and no cattle”.

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 7:10 AM | Permalink

          Willis, I pick my own battles to fight. And I spend a heck of a lot more time (too much time) fighting these battles than I should, given the responsibilities of job as an administrator and faculty member and responsibilities to my grants. Yes I listen to other people, and yes I am prepared to provide some support to other people as they fight their own battles. But the battles that I take on are my own choice, based upon my personal convictions and sense of importance of the battle, my judgment as to whether I have any chance of having an impact, and the “cost” of any action I might make now in terms of losing credibility in future battles.

          The quickest way for me to lose any credibility and effectiveness within the community is to “start naming names and kicking assess.” Apart from personal loss of credibility on my part, it wouldn’t help any of the issues that you are concerned with. The problem is not “bad individuals” but rather an ineffective and anachronistic system.

        • Willis Eschenbach
          Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 2:36 PM | Permalink

          Judith, you say:

          Willis, I pick my own battles to fight. And I spend a heck of a lot more time (too much time) fighting these battles than I should, given the responsibilities of job as an administrator and faculty member and responsibilities to my grants. Yes I listen to other people, and yes I am prepared to provide some support to other people as they fight their own battles. But the battles that I take on are my own choice, based upon my personal convictions and sense of importance of the battle, my judgment as to whether I have any chance of having an impact, and the “cost” of any action I might make now in terms of losing credibility in future battles.

          I am very glad to hear that, Judith. That is an honest and reasonable statement. I much prefer it to your previous one, which was:

          I have never read any of Thompson’s papers, no idea what data to request, and I have no personal interest in the data.

          That one was just excuses. The new one is a clear description of how you choose where to put your effort, as is your every right.

          I find your next statement not as honest, and very disturbing:

          The quickest way for me to lose any credibility and effectiveness within the community is to “start naming names and kicking assess.” Apart from personal loss of credibility on my part, it wouldn’t help any of the issues that you are concerned with. The problem is not “bad individuals” but rather an ineffective and anachronistic system.

          I can understand that you are concerned that you would lose credibility by telling the truth. However, honest people speaking out for honest science will assuredly help the issues we are concerned with. As long as you good, honest, decent folk don’t say a word when bad individuals game the system, they will continue to game it. – snip-

          Here’s the paradox. As long as you good, decent, honest folks don’t speak out because you are scared of losing “credibility and effectiveness”, you will be neither credible nor effective. You may have noted the lack of trust in climate science … do you think it is a coincidence that people don’t find you credible?

          How effective is someone who smiles and nods and allows Lonnie to take the taxpayer dollar without accountability? How credible and effective is someone who refuses to name names, who just shuts up and looks the other way when they see somebody breaking all the scientific norms, and then blames it all on an “ineffective and anacronistic system”? You think you are protecting your credibility? Think again.

          You say that the system is “ineffective and anachronistic”, and you are right. But here’s the next paradox. The more anacronistic and ineffective the system is, the more it is necessary for individuals to speak up. You are merely assuaging your conscience by claiming that it would make no difference for you to take a principled public stand.

          -snip –

          Steve: </em>Willis, you’ve made your point. No need to be-labour it.

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 3:18 PM | Permalink

          Willis, again to clarify the “not naming names” issue. Its not about the person, its about the scientific argument. If a scientists violates a rule that is related to say their university code of ethics, requirements by a funding agency, procedures of a committee, whatever, it is up to that institution to investigate the alleged violation. If the institution fails to live up to its responsibility, then the higher authority (e.g. state government in the case of a state university, inspector general in the case of a funding agency) should investigate.

          For me as an individual scientist to name a name in terms of accusing them of inappropriate behavior would mean at the very least that I had done a careful investigation of the evidence and spoken at length with the person accused. Only by doing this could I come to a judgement that is adequately supported by evidence. Why would I do something like this? Well I can’t imagine a reason for doing something like this. And who would pay attention to me if i did do something like this? Other scientists would censure me and question my motives for doing this. So what would this accomplish? Nothing, other than to damage my reputation.

        • bender
          Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 3:27 PM | Permalink

          “The community” continues to rally around those who hid the decline and then hid the hiding. “Circle the wagons” is still the order of the day. I don’t see this tribalism halting any time soon, as the siege paranoia on their side appears to be deeply rooted. The lack of change in attitude is disturbing. No wonder Willis responds the way he does.

        • Willis Eschenbach
          Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 3:50 PM | Permalink

          Willis, again to clarify the “not naming names” issue. Its not about the person, its about the scientific argument. If a scientists violates a rule that is related to say their university code of ethics, requirements by a funding agency, procedures of a committee, whatever, it is up to that institution to investigate the alleged violation. If the institution fails to live up to its responsibility, then the higher authority (e.g. state government in the case of a state university, inspector general in the case of a funding agency) should investigate.

          First you say the system is broken, or to use your words, “ineffective and anachronistic”. Now you tell us that the system will be the one who will fix things. Please make up your mind.

          And I don’t understand why “It’s not about the person.” Scientific arguments don’t conceal data … people do. How is that not important? What, we’re going to bring the scientific argument to the bar, and convince it not to hide data?

          For me as an individual scientist to name a name in terms of accusing them of inappropriate behavior would mean at the very least that I had done a careful investigation of the evidence and spoken at length with the person accused. Only by doing this could I come to a judgement that is adequately supported by evidence.

          I agree wholeheartedly … which is why I asked you to write to Thompson and ask him where the data is. Your argument is circular. You refuse to write him to find out the information, then you say you can’t act because you don’t have the information.

          Why would I do something like this? Well I can’t imagine a reason for doing something like this. And who would pay attention to me if i did do something like this? Other scientists would censure me and question my motives for doing this. So what would this accomplish? Nothing, other than to damage my reputation.

          Judith, you are the one who claims to be disturbed that people don’t trust climate scientists. You ask, “Why would [you] do something like this?”

          Well, off the top of my head, to prove that there is at least one honest climate scientist out there. To make a difference. To take a principled stand. To clean up your own scientific backyard. To strike a blow for scientific transparency. To stop the rot. To show that your are part of the solution, and not part of the problem.

          If being honest damages your reputation with climate scientists, you are hanging out with dishonest folks … but I repeat myself.

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 3:57 PM | Permalink

          Willis, this conversation is going nowhere. There are two issues: the behavior of individual scientists and issues related to specific data sets, and the broader issue of the anachronistic institutional guidelines. I have stated that I am prepared to tackle the latter, not the former. Your inference that i can only tackle the later by tackling the former is incorrect and nonproductive.

        • Michael Tobis
          Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 9:23 PM | Permalink

          Y’all are seriously missing the point. Well, several points.

          1) Dr Curry and I agree with you on open science going forward, but by being so disagreeable and hostile you don’t contribute positively toward the odds of that happening.

          2) Very few people in science believe y’all have made a serious case of malfeasance among the CRU email crowd. Except for some peculiar talk about (crudely) deleting email, which deletion probably didn’t occur, there isn’t even anything that you have made a solid case for that even looks suspicious. As for the email deletion, someone is being protected from something, and presumably Oxburgh knows what and isn’t saying. So the best thing is to butt out, those weren’t your emails to start with.

          Saying “yeah but climategate” really strikes us as you saying “yeah but mxftsdlkfjlx”.

          3) We don’t refuse to denounce others out of laziness or cowardice. It doesn’t rise to challenge us on those fronts. We refuse because it is inappropriate and unethical to denounce except in the most extreme cases.

          Skepticism combined with a presumption of innocence, and a sense of mutual respect makes the whole idea seem so totally unethical taht the suggestion strikes us as ludicrous.

          Making science into a courtroom drama or a political battlefield is unseemly. Whatever repairs we agree to in updating scientific process will not change this.

          On a fourth point, where I disagree with Dr. Curry:

          4) She is backing you up on FOIA and comparable laws in the UK applying to science. I think that is nuts. Once you resort to FOIA it is between you and the lawyers.

          Push on NSF. Push on PNAS. Push on blogs. I’m all for it as long as you are collegial for real and give everybody the benefit of the doubt. Nobody is in this field out of venality or political ambition. This doesn’t amount to a guarantee of competence, far from it.

          But it means these are people who don’t deserve the way you have treated them, or for that matter, me. If you don’t seriously rethink your approach you won’t be helping matters.

          Once you bring lawyers in, count me out. Once there is a request through legal as opposed to scientific channels I hope they tie you up in court forever.

          Respectfully,
          mt

          Steve: Michael, you’re just making things up. Since when I have advocated bringing lawyers into these things?? I’ve pushed on NSF. I’ve pushed on journals. I’ve pushed on blogs. I’ve submitted a few FOI requests (not through lawyers), some of which have been successful. You say that you don’t deserve the way that I’ve treated you?? What on earth have I done to you?? The idea that I’ve “mistreated” you is beyond absurd.
          ??

        • bender
          Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 9:54 PM | Permalink

          No, Steve, we’all be missin de point. No arrogance here.

          Kudos, in contrast, to Dr Curry for a couple of great suggestions on who to contact about clearing the air.

          Last, I want to point out that Willis’s anger, although perhaps misplaced when directed at Dr Curry – is not unjustified. The problem is he has no one to direct it toward. Dr Curry is largely the lone voice willing to discuss reform here at CA.

        • bender
          Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 9:59 PM | Permalink

          See how MT misinformation feeds the siege mentality? Invoking lawyer scenarios, where none are involved? He’s not trying to break down the tribalism. He’s doing the exact opposite – trying to make sure the wagons stay circled, ready for some imaginary legal onslaught. Talk about big lies.

        • Michael Tobis
          Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 10:34 PM | Permalink

          Steve, this was addressed more to your community, as I have seen it this week, than to you directly. As bender points out, this is a small sample, but ironically bender was prominent among that sample.

        • bender
          Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 10:42 PM | Permalink

          There’s no irony. My attitude in unrepresentative and my bad behavior is not tolerated by Steve. You’ve been treated very well here, except for some well-deserved sharp retorts from me – which seem to have had no effect whatsoever on your ignorance and arrogance.

          If what you want is a monopoly on the blogoshere, then go ahead. I will log off for the summer if that’s what you really want. The floor is yours. Shower us with insight.

        • Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 11:13 PM | Permalink

          After 17 years of debating climate science and policy on the net, I don’t especially have a thin skin. If I keep at it (a matter in some doubt) I will duly discount everything bender says and leave it to Steve to decide what to purge.

          This misses the point. The question is whether this site is intended to exacerbate the hostility between public sector climate scientists and outsiders, or whether it can be used to repair it. So far the only evidence I have seen (on this thread, to be sure; I am not a regular reader) of the latter is Dr Curry’s efforts.

          Anyone coming in from the professional scientist side operates under certain constraints, some of which we see constantly interpreted here in the worst possible light. This is not helpful.

          Demands are placed on us to take your side in particular skirmishes. We won’t. So that isn’t helpful either.

          Some of us are interested in discussing what repairs might be made in the long run that might be satisfactory to you. There are real problems in the field, and it;s important enough that it would be good to try to fix them.

          Attempts to engage in this way are not met with an initial burst of enthusiasm. I can say that for certain.

          Can it be overcome? I am not, at present, optimistic. This approach is written off as handwaving, and met with demands to take your side on your latest skirmish.

          Dr. Curry is not going to do that. I am not going to do that. It’s hard to imagine that any climate scientist outside the half dozen most clearly associated with the “anti” fringe will take you up on that. We’re looking for an armistice, not for an offer to turn our coats.

        • bender
          Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 11:20 PM | Permalink

          You insulted tthree commenters within a day of your appearance here: Willis E, Tom Gray, MrPete. When I explain why your insults are undeserved you tell me to mind my business, that they can defend themselves.

          (So I have no doubt you can “discount” whatever I say. Refuting my arguments will prove slightly more challenging, however – I assure you.)

          I am not here to defend people. I am here to defend the process of fair dialogue. To build bridges. You, in contrast, are here to ensure the wagons remain circled to guard against the threat of imagined scenarios such as a “legal siege”. To play victim, if necessary.

          You think you are not transparent?

        • Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 11:34 PM | Permalink

          For the second time, I have no idea of what “insults” bender speaks.

          As I said regarding the prior accusation, I imagine that if the three gentlemen in question were personally offended they would say so and how so, and I could clarify my meaning.

          I do try to avoid attacks ad hominem, and aspire to attribute benign motives to my opposition whenever I can manage to imagine them. (I’d appreciate the favor being returned.) In any case, if I have caused offense I apologize.

          Steve: you accused me of “mistreating you”. I asked you to provide an example of what I view as an absurd allegation. You’ve also made wide-ranging critical allegations about things that I’ve said at the blog, but failed to provide any examples. I try hard to be accurate in what I write and to correct any inaccuracies if I make a mistake. Can you identify some points of inaccuracy in my posts that occasioned your allegations against me? I’m not asking you to itemize everything in the entire blog, just to start with two or three examples of statements that I’ve made (me, not individual commenters like Willis or yourself) that you believe to be false.

        • bender
          Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 11:46 PM | Permalink

          In a very arrogant tone you accused MrPete of being “huffy” and Tom Gray of “missing the point”. That you didn’t see these remarks as insulting says something about your writing style that others have in fact remarked on. I told you about both incidences, but Steve snipped them. Which is further evidence of the very light treatment you are getting from Steve, compared to, say, me.

          But, please, educate us. Let the content flow. The floor is yours.

        • Michael Tobis
          Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 10:00 AM | Permalink

          Steve, I was Canadian once myself. Perhaps you don’t know that “y’all” is typically only used in the plural and is often used to emphasize that one is talking to a collective rather than an individual.

          As I already said somewhere in this great tangle of a conversation, I have no complaint about how you personally have treated me personally.

        • Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 8:11 PM | Permalink

          > Since when I have advocated bringing lawyers into these things??

          ***

          Willard: Among the thousands of people “having “no prejudicial interest in climate change and climate science””, any names coming to mind?

          Steve: this is essentially a legal matter. Turn it over to lawyers.

          Source: http://climateaudit.org/2010/02/12/royal-society-of-edinburgh-oct-29-2009/#comment-221703

          Steve: I had a different point in mind, though I understand why you made the comment. Tobis was talking about the pursuit of data, in which, as he recommended, I’ve used journal policies, agency policies and blog sunshine to try to get data. For the assessment of the conduct issues that the inquiries are dealing with – legal issues – of course, it’s logical to use people who know how to run inquiries i.e. lawyers. Tobis’ comment was about trying to get data and I haven’t used lawyers for this and have discouraged occasional suggestions by readers to go this route. I’ve had experience with litigation and have little interest in it for getting data. The comment that you quote was about running an inquiry professionally – rather than these sham inquiries with no transcripts, no evidence from critics and in the Oxburgh case, no written terms of reference. In my opinion, an inquiry judge would have done a much better job and the inquiry would not have been as tainted as these ones are. I should have phrased the distinction more carefully.

        • bender
          Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 2:30 AM | Permalink

          If the members of “the community” that produce the litchurchur won’t keep their own backyard clean, then who will? People without such impressive resume’s, I suppose. Lovely logic, turning back on itself.

        • Brendan H
          Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 9:00 PM | Permalink

          Willis Eschenbach: “…but stand up and ask specific scientists to follow the norms of science. Name names, in other words.”

          In principle, this is bad idea. It would open the way to a culture of public accusations of malfeasance against other scientists. As such, it would provide a weapon for those with an axe to grind against their rivals, and would be corrosive of the sort of collegiality and cooperation which is the foundation of scientific practice.

          What’s more, calling out other scientists would not achieve the transparency desired. Take the present case. Many people are currently naming names. The effect has been that the names have circled the wagons, and the bad blood has festered to the point that the namers and the named will probably never be reconciled.

          The best chance for reform, if any is needed, is to focus on reforming institutions and practices.

          Steve: I agree that the institutions are the primary issue – a point that I’ve made on many occasions. I’ve tried to focus on making requests for data under journal policies or funding agency policies and, if they lack policies, asking their boards to establish policies, while publicizing individual instances of data obstruction.

        • Willis Eschenbach
          Posted Jun 14, 2010 at 5:44 PM | Permalink

          Brendan, I basically agree with you and Steve, that the long term solution is to get the Sheriff to straighten things out. However, what should be done when the Sheriff has abdicated his position? Steve principally, but also I and others, have made repeated appeals to the NSF and the Journals to follow their stated policies. These have had no effect … so what should be done then?

          Also, you say:

          What’s more, calling out other scientists would not achieve the transparency desired. Take the present case. Many people are currently naming names. The effect has been that the names have circled the wagons, and the bad blood has festered to the point that the namers and the named will probably never be reconciled.

          As the CRU emails clearly showed, the good folks there were frantically circling the wagons two years before the first FOI request was even received. Michael Mann was hiding his data in his “CENSORED” folder long before Steve asked for it. You seem to have overlooked the fact that “The wicked flee when no man pursueth”. The fact that they were circling the wagons long before anyone “named names” is only evidence of a guilty conscience, not of problems with the naming …

        • Brendan H
          Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 2:12 AM | Permalink

          Willis: “However, what should be done when the Sheriff has abdicated his position?”

          You elect a new sheriff.

          “…so what should be done then?”

          You put together a case and place it before the relevant authority.

          “The fact that they were circling the wagons long before anyone “named names” is only evidence of a guilty conscience, not of problems with the naming.”

          I’ve been following the global warming issue for only three years, but the naming of names was well entrenched by 2007, and a flick through the archives shows that it’s been going on for a long time.

          Willis, I am sure you sincerely believe you are fighting for truth and justice. That said, and staying with the Wild West metaphor, in urging scientists to call each other out, you are in effect calling for vigilante action and a posse.

          But you have yet to persuade the would-be posse that major wrongdoing has occurred, much less persuaded them that vigilante action is justified. That’s why your call is failing to find traction.

        • Willis Eschenbach
          Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 4:06 AM | Permalink

          Brendan H
          Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 2:12 AM

          Willis: “However, what should be done when the Sheriff has abdicated his position?”

          You elect a new sheriff.

          Right, we’re going to elect a new NSF. That’s a big help.

          “…so what should be done then?”

          You put together a case and place it before the relevant authority.

          Perhaps we look stupid here, Brendan, but we’ve thought of that. And we’ve done that. I have personally put a case before two of the journals, Nature and Science. And Steve has pointed out exactly where and when he did that, both in great detail elsewhere in his blog, and in the shortened version here in this very thread. You’re not only nowhere near up to speed on the history, you haven’t even read the thread. Massive fail.

          “The fact that they were circling the wagons long before anyone “named names” is only evidence of a guilty conscience, not of problems with the naming.”

          I’ve been following the global warming issue for only three years, but the naming of names was well entrenched by 2007, and a flick through the archives shows that it’s been going on for a long time.

          2007? Following the issue for three years? Dude, you’re way behind the times. Do your homework. As I said above, the CRU emails show them circling the wagons and scheming up ways to avoid FOI requests two years before I filed the first FOI request. And Jones gave his famous answer to Warwick long before anyone named Jones’s name, before there were any objections to him at all. Unless you believe in time travel, your claims make no sense. You’re just another person in a long list who comes here without actually doing any real research, spouting inanities, and trying to blame us because scientists hiding their data are averse, even allergic, to answering questions about their data.

          Willis, I am sure you sincerely believe you are fighting for truth and justice. That said, and staying with the Wild West metaphor, in urging scientists to call each other out, you are in effect calling for vigilante action and a posse.

          But you have yet to persuade the would-be posse that major wrongdoing has occurred, much less persuaded them that vigilante action is justified. That’s why your call is failing to find traction.

          Yes, I am calling for vigilante action, because the Journals and the funding agencies have abdicated their responsibilities, and because we can’t elect a new NSF or a new Science Magazine. The “would-be posse” knows very well that major wrongdoing has occurred, Judith and Michael and the rest of the players know there are real problems in the field. They have chosen not to speak out against it. That’s their choice and their right … but it has absolutely nothing to do with whether wrongdoing has occurred.

          Look, Brendan, I’m sure you are well intentioned, but truly, you don’t have a clue regarding the subjects you are talking about, and you are talking to people who not only know what happened, but were actors in the events in question rather than retroactive onlookers. As Mark Twain pointed out, you have two choices here. His dictum was “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

          And yes, I’m probably going to end up apologizing for getting upset once again, and yes, I’ll likely go to hell for how angrified my blood is … but man, I’ve had it up to here with being blamed for climate scientists lying and cheating and scheming and hiding their data, and then circling their wagons to keep from being called to account for their actions. That’s on them, Brendan. The lying and the cheating and the circling of the wagons to prevent disclosure, they did it, that’s on them. Not on me, not on Steve, not on anyone else. On them.

        • Brendan H
          Posted Jun 16, 2010 at 3:09 AM | Permalink

          Willis: “Perhaps we look stupid here…”

          Willis, you asked me a question. Now you’re complaining because I answered.

          “Dude, you’re way behind the times.”

          I’m not trying to be up with the times. Clearly, there is a long history of animosity between climate scientists and sceptics. From my reading, the “other side” has its own list of grievances.

          “The lying and cheating…”

          This is probably where you’re losing people, who cannot justify or are unwilling to take this step. If there are “problems in the field”, focus on the problems, keeping in mind that not everybody agrees on what are the problems and solutions.

        • Willis Eschenbach
          Posted Jun 16, 2010 at 4:05 AM | Permalink

          Brendan H
          Posted Jun 16, 2010 at 3:09 AM | Permalink | Reply | Edit

          Willis: “Perhaps we look stupid here…”

          Willis, you asked me a question. Now you’re complaining because I answered.

          Absolutely not, I was glad you answered. I protested that you didn’t look to see whether your recommended course had already been tried, before suggesting something that was already found to be unsuccessful.

          “Dude, you’re way behind the times.”

          I’m not trying to be up with the times. Clearly, there is a long history of animosity between climate scientists and sceptics. From my reading, the “other side” has its own list of grievances.

          I’m sorry if my meaning wasn’t clear. By “behind the times”, I meant that your claims about circling the wagon only went back to 2007. The wagons were being circled long before that, so what happened in 2007 was not relevant.

          “The lying and cheating…”

          This is probably where you’re losing people, who cannot justify or are unwilling to take this step. If there are “problems in the field”, focus on the problems, keeping in mind that not everybody agrees on what are the problems and solutions.

          The CRU emails clearly showed that the un-indicted co-conspirators both lied and cheated to get the “Jesus Paper” into the IPCC report, and also lied and cheated to illegitimately insert information into the IPCC report that falsely claimed to show that Steve’s findings were wrong. The fact that you and others may not understand what happened doesn’t change what happened.

          PS – What are the “list of grievances” that the other side has? That we asked for the data? That we filed FOIs? What crimes have we committed?

  69. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 1:48 PM | Permalink

    Michael Tobis
    Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 11:26 PM

    I know of a project (not in climate science, in some other science) that had data stored on some odd format, something like Radio Shack Tandy floppy disks. In about 1990, the university announced that it was ending support for a number of media, and I informed my friend that she had better transfer the data to something newer. I volunteered to be the intermediary, and went to the support service. We had two copies of ten floppies. Not a single one of the twenty could be identified by the support services. The data was lost, and a “maybe I’ll write another paper about this someday” thought was abandoned. But any publications to date now stand with the raw data lost.

    Do you think this story is unusual?

    People who have been in the sciences since the 1970s have generated lots of code and lots of data in lots of obscure platforms with no commercial support.

    I have no idea what is going on with Thompson, but likely it is something like this: …

    So you don’t know what’s happening with Thompson’s data, and to fix that you’ll make up an imaginary excuse for him? Good plan.

    We take a different tack here, Michael. When we don’t know what’s happening with someone’s data, we don’t make up excuses for them. We ask them “What’s happening with the data?” It’s not as suave and sophisticated as your “make up an imaginary excuse” plan, we just ask them.

    Steve did that. Repeatedly. And got no answer.

    Gerry North claims that it’s on lost boxes of punch cards (for which we have no verification), and abused Steve for having the unmitigated gall to ask him.

    Now you come along, Michael and your solution is fantasy excuses based on what might possibly have happened to someone’s data sometime.

    Judith, which of these is the “accurate reflection” of the position of “climate science as a whole”???

    Finally, Michael, you say:

    OK, 1989? Still. If you haven’t spent twenty years in science you don’t have any idea how many one-off steps you need to babysit through multiple versions of multiple compilers, obscure nonstandard platforms, scripts written by brilliant grad students who left for silicon valley, etc. The scientist usually moves across the country a couple of times, gets new tech support staff who are too busy to port his stuff.

    Yeah, you’re right, Michael, those of us who have spent twenty years in business don’t have any idea how many one-off steps you need to babysit through multiple versions of multiple compilers, obscure nonstandard platforms, scripts written by brilliant assistants who left for a better job, etc. The businessman never moves across the country a couple of times, and never gets new tech support staff who are too busy to port his stuff. We don’t have a clue about the difficulties of maintaining datasets …

    And you wonder, when you come in with that kind of arrogant attitude, why you meet some resistance? That candy-assed “poor me, I can’t keep track of the data I’m paid to collect, it’s my assistant’s fault, and besides, they changed compilers” attitude would get you fired the first time you tried it in business, and you want us to think that’s reason enough to feel sorry for poor Lonnie?

    Michael, consider why it is necessary for both you and Gerry North to make up your fantasies about what has happened to Lonnie’s data.

    Because Thompson HAS REFUSED TO TELL US WHERE THE DATA IS OR IF IT EVEN EXISTS, and you are defending that as acceptable scientific practice.

    Now, you are welcome to try and convince us that his not telling us is somehow good, valid practice in either science or business.

    And Judith is welcome to try to convince us that your attitude, like Lonnie’s attitude, like Mann’s and Jones’s attitude, is not representative of much of mainstream climate science’s attitude towards those of us who are not sycophants, those of us who ask the unpleasant questions that you seem quite unwilling to answer.

    But don’t be surprised when people don’t buy it.

    Remember, you started this discussion off by falsely claiming that I wanted to “discard everything that has been done to date”, simply because I want Thompson to archive his data. You’ve tried the big lie, Michael, and it didn’t work. Now you want to complain that I’m not treating you nice … next time, don’t start off by trying to fool people about what I said, it tends to angrify a man’s blood when someone does that.

    I apologize for when I’ve gone over the line in this discussion, Michael. Sometimes I’m not as nice as I certainly should be, nor as nice as the excellent example set by our host. But you coming in, flat out lying about what I had said, and then getting up like some gospel preacher on steroids and telling us that you are a) qualified to judge who understands the climate and who doesn’t, and that b) mene, mene, tekel, upharsin, we have been weighed in the scales of Tobis and found wanting in our understanding of the climate … well, that is not the way to get people to treat you nicely.

    • PDA
      Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 2:09 PM | Permalink

      You’ve tried the big lie, Michael

      I went back to the exchange, and I don’t see the “lie.”

      Michael Tobis Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 12:59 AM
      Do you not imply that studies should be withdrawn if the original data is missing?

      Willis Eschenbach Jun 10, 2010 at 2:58 AM
      What I said was that “B on B” studies for which the author refuses to archive the data or supply the code should be withdrawn.

      It looks like you’re saying exactly what Tobis says you’re saying. I’m not lying. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding. But unless you have some firm evidence that Tobis understood exactly what you said (despite his protestation that he didn’t, and him providing a quote to show where he had gotten that impression), then calling it a “lie” is unjust.

      Maybe you think he is stupid. Maybe you think I am. You get to call me that, if it’s your opinion. What I don’t think it’s fair to do is to call me a liar.

      • bender
        Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 2:27 PM | Permalink

        You can’t spot the misrepresentation? Have another look. It pays to listen.

        • bender
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 2:35 PM | Permalink

          snip

          This tactic used by MT is called reductio ad absurdum. Make Willis’s argument appear wrong by exaggerating what he said. That way you get to counter a much easier straw man.

          It’s the sort of pea-and-thimble trick we’re used to around here. A key diagnostic of that tribe over there. Stick around and you’ll see a lot of it.

          Steve; Reductio ad absurdum is used in mathematics all the time and is a valid form of reasoning. It’s not the same thing as exaggerating what the other person said to create an easier target.

        • Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 2:47 PM | Permalink

          Almost all science is based in part on earlier science.

          The further you go back in time, the less likely you will be able to find the raw data, the procedures, or the specifications for the equipment. So essentially everything with an observational or experimental component is based on hearsay from people a century dead or more.

          I thought that was obvious enough.

          “Reductio ad absurdum” is actually a sound argumentation principle, and I was indeed using it. But I did not exaggerate what he said, I simply followed it to its absurd conclusion.

          Steve: I agree that reductio ad absurdum is a sound argumentation principle and one used in mathematics. Earlier in the thread and on many occasions, I ask people to try to reach conclusions on individual cases – sort of an English common law approach, rather than the Napoleonic Code approach that academics seem to subconsciously prefer. In a “common law” approach, one tries to get decisions on practical cases without trying to figure out every possible contingency. Should Thompson be expected to archive Huascaran sample data from 1998? OK, what about Guliya sample data from 1992? OK, what about Dunde sample data from 1987?

          Issues of “discarding” should arise only in response to specific procedures. For example, I suggested to Susan SOlomon that IPCC should require authors submitting studies for use by IPCC that they had archived their data. For paleoclimate, this is practical without soulsearching as to how to do it. She said that this would interfere with journals. IN my opinion, this is not a valid answer. IPCC could and should adopt policies that accord with its mandate regardless of the journals. If an author doesn’t want to comply, too bad – IPCC wouldn’t be able to cite his study.

          The other situation is if a journal asks an author for his data and the author refuses. At some point (and I’m not prescribing circumstances), the journal might well withdraw the article.

        • bender
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 2:50 PM | Permalink

          You followed YOUR WORDS to their “logical” conclusion, NOT Willis’s. There’s the lie, PDA. Twice now. See it yet?

        • Kenneth Fritsch
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 5:49 PM | Permalink

          “The further you go back in time, the less likely you will be able to find the raw data, the procedures, or the specifications for the equipment. So essentially everything with an observational or experimental component is based on hearsay from people a century dead or more.”

          This comment rather misses the point that I made earlier in this thread that if intervening work substantiates or discredits the poorly documented work, our concerns are quickly put to bed. In the specific case here of the Thompson data, we see it being used in reconstruction as a more or less stand alone source. Again by generalizing the discussion we get far from the original point.

          I do agree with MT about the hesitation of climate scientists to criticize one of their own. That situation rather well explains why climate scientist will have a difficult time cleaning their own stables and perhaps why they appear, in some of our minds anyway to defend the indefensible in their associates. That this lack of criticism comes from some innate tendency in their make-up is rather readily seen as refuted when they are appear on blogs and get down and dirty in making generalized criticism of other folks.

          Blogs it appears provide an means for criticism that are difficult for scholarly exchanges and published papers do to and that development is why I think the thinking person will say long live the science community and long live the blogs.

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 6:10 PM | Permalink

          well said.

        • Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 10:31 AM | Permalink

          So essentially everything with an observational or experimental component is based on hearsay from people a century dead or more.

          In fact, every chemistry or physics student takes a series of courses called “chem lab” or “physics lab”, largely devoted to replicating classical experiments. So even though modern students have to take it on faith that Faraday, say, really observed the results that he claimed he did supporting his law of electromagnetic induction, they can confirm that they obtain similar results when they replicate his experiment as described, or test his law with a new experiment. In some cases museums even preserve the actual apparatus and lab notes from important experiments.

          In order to make “climate science” a real science like physics or chemistry rather than a faith-based religion, it is important that results be replicable. This means that authors must release their data and reveal their calculations, and not just make an ex cathedra announcement of their conclusions. This duty used to get onerous sometimes, but since the advent of the internet, it has become trival to post data files, photographs, technical reports, and even PDFs of lab notes if they become an issue.

          Thompson’s NSF sponsor goes to great expense to preserve his ice cores in case someone ever wants to resample them. But if he won’t say what he found the first time around, what would be the point?

        • EdeF
          Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 11:39 AM | Permalink

          I have located Thompson’s punch cards……….unfortunately they have been recycled into an IKEA refrigerator shipping box. Sturdy though.

        • penguindreams
          Posted Jun 16, 2010 at 6:29 PM | Permalink

          Hu:
          Your final question is probably rhetorical, but in case it’s serious — there are perfectly good reasons to re-examine a core later, even if the first analysis were lost. (Well, especially then, really.)

          It’s the same reason that archaeologists don’t always dig up absolutely everything at a site.

          At a later date, there will be better methods for analyzing the raw material. And they’re methods that you could not use if the original core (site) were destroyed in the first analysis.

        • PDA
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 2:50 PM | Permalink

          Willis EschenbachPosted Jun 7, 2010 at 4:53 AM
          If it exists, it needs to be archived. Period. If it is lost, the papers based on that lost data need to be discredited and disowned. Period.

          I don’t see any light between that statement and “studies should be withdrawn if the original data is missing.”

          Please point out where I’m in error.

        • bender
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 2:58 PM | Permalink

          You can’t see the lie because you’re willfully looking away from the place where Willis pointed. What more can I say?

          Be it resolved that papers that have been audited and found to check out should be held in higher regard than those that don’t. I’m trying real hard here to find a point of agreement. You’re not helping.

        • bender
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 3:18 PM | Permalink

          You see what all your snipping is doing now, Steve? You’re cleaning the muck of these muck-rakers. Nothing’s sticking. Now they’re emboldened.

        • bender
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 3:21 PM | Permalink

          Please delete this incendiary ad hominem attack. I’ll spare Judge Judith’s precious time and make the request for even-handedness myself.

        • Willis Eschenbach
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 3:00 PM | Permalink

          You are in error because you have refused to actually quote what Tobis said. He claimed that I advocated that we “discard everything that has been done to date”. I said nothing of the sort. I said if it was “B on B”, it should be withdrawn, which is very different.

          Michael wants to pretend that we are not discussing Thompson et al and modern studies (the Hockeystick comes to mind). He wants to pretend that I meant that if we couldn’t locate Aristotle’s lab notes that we should throw out his work. That’s a deliberate misunderstanding. That’s the big lie.

        • bender
          Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 4:04 PM | Permalink

          Oh, Steve, really. He puts words in Willis’s mouth and draws absurd conclusions from them. So he’s combining misrepresentation with reductio ad absurdum. Mathematicians don’t do that.

        • PDA
          Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 7:25 AM | Permalink

          If my comments are to be deleted, can references to me be deleted as well? Thanks.

          Steve – sorry, there was a food fight in which posts were breaking blog rules. will deal with it.

  70. Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 3:59 PM | Permalink

    For these discussion to progress someone has to sit without judging and let others get stuff off their chest until it works around to solutions. So thanks to MT and JC for coming here with that stance. There are so many points and issues but if I could interject once:

    Noone is going to change data practices until there is a RISK to them from not changing. Like the Moose pasture salesman, there is a risk, its not about standards.

    “I don’t see why climate scientists should be held to a lower standard than moose pasture salesmen.”

    Why? Because unlike moose pasture salesmen there is no risk to them from not archiving. Eg., until the NSF starts witholding the final payment of the grant of about 20% until data is archived, its not going to change. Excuses like science is not in a regulatory phase, or public denouement are pointless. Judith and Michael, why not get the right people together in an NSF panel and do the above, or something similar?

    • Judith Curry
      Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 4:22 PM | Permalink

      David, a good post. Getting a NSF panel to address this issue is a good suggestion.

    • See - owe to Rich
      Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 3:41 AM | Permalink

      I too agree that the RISK associated with non-archival should be increased. In medicine, bad practice can ultimately result in doctors being “struck off”. Now, I would not go so far as to suggest that climate doctors should be “struck off”. But what about their papers? If a paper relies on unarchived data, then should *it* not be struck off, and no longer be allowed to be cited?

      Therefore, I propose an NSF committee dedicated to the striking off of papers relying on unarchived data (except where extremely valid reasons exist, of which Dr. Thompson doesn’t seem to have any).

      Rich.

  71. Andy S
    Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 3:41 AM | Permalink

    There have been some comments on this thread referring to the supposedly superior standards of record keeping and reporting of technical interpretations in industry, relative to those prevalent in academic or government-funded research institutes. I have worked for many years as a geoscientist in the oil and gas industry (as well some years at a NERC-funded research institute in the UK) and the record-keeping performance of industry is not always superior, in my experience. True, when mandated by regulations, industry keeps meticulous legal, financial and technical records. But the records kept on individual technical projects are very often incomplete, and the archiving of even expensive-to-acquire data (such as seismic data) is often surprisingly sloppy. Geophysicists often are unable, for example, to locate readable copies of the basic data required to reprocess seismic data. This is not because of past negligence or laziness (although there is that too) but because data archiving and record keeping simply are often not deemed a priority for corporations focusing on adding shareholder value in the short and medium term. Most exploration projects and prospects fail, human and financial resources are scarce, gesoscientists are rewarded for success, not for documenting failure; so, when things don’t work out, they dust themselves off and quickly get on with the next project. Poor record keeping is not not so much a bug as it is a feature, especially in small and medium-sized companies. If shareholders were ever to demand a technical audit on an unsuccessful exploration project from several years previously, they would likely be disappointed.

    This is not to excuse sloppy documentation and archiving practices, in the long term we would all do a better job for shareholders and the public if we were more diligent. However, poor practices in this area by academics are likely also mostly attributable to their particular incentives and culture (ie, publish or perish, not archive or perish), rather than incompetence and malfeasance.

    It’s true that there is a “considerable legal framework” regulating public release of data from mining and oil companies in Canada. This does help keep some of the worst abuses and exaggerations from occurring (and allows the authorities to sanction offenders) but it does not, unfortunately, make the technical reports themselves reliable. Indeed, I make a good part of my living performing a kind of commercial peer-review on such promotional material and, frankly, much of it does not pass a smell test, despite all the regulations. In any case, the fact that there is extensive legislation regulating the reporting requirements for resource industries in Canada is not proof of current high standards of probity in those industries but, rather, its existence is a consequence of egregious practices in the past.

    Steve: Like many others, you’ve totally misconstrued the point. I don’t suggest that mining promoters are models of probity – the reason for requiring regulating promotions is precisely because they aren’t. That’s why there are standards that provide a reference point for potential violations. My point was merely this – no climate scientist has ever suggested that climate scientists should be held to a lower standard than mining promoters.

  72. Mac
    Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 6:20 AM | Permalink

    Can we conclude that, “the current state of climate science is much worse that we first thought”.

  73. penguindreams
    Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 10:42 AM | Permalink

    Kenneth:
    (and the many here who agree with him on this)

    Just what does “clean their own stables” mean? I gather that for someone like Glen Beck, it means that everybody ever associated with the IPCC should literally fall on their own swords. I don’t think that’s what you mean.

    It does sound like something beyond “scientists should adopt good practices today”. Good practices then being something to spend some thought on. But ‘clean their own stables’ sounds more like there are things to be thrown out — papers and researchers, for instance.

    What would have to happen for you to agree that the stables had been cleaned?

  74. penguindreams
    Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 11:05 AM | Permalink

    Steve:
    comments are appearing out of sequence. My reply to kenneth appeared upstream of his comment. The last comment to be in correct time sequence was Judith’s ‘well said’, which followed Kenneth’s ‘stables’ post.

    Kenneth:
    (and the many here who agree with him on this)

    Just what does “clean their own stables” mean? I gather that for someone like Glen Beck, it means that everybody ever associated with the IPCC should literally fall on their own swords. I don’t think that’s what you mean.

    It does sound like something beyond “scientists should adopt good practices today”. Good practices then being something to spend some thought on. But ‘clean their own stables’ sounds more like there are things to be thrown out — papers and researchers, for instance.

    What would have to happen for you to agree that the stables had been cleaned?

    • Kenneth Fritsch
      Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 5:40 PM | Permalink

      Not to worry Penguin. I suspect that JC meant that “well done” for Hu Ms post and not mine. Also the many here who agree with me would have to be some very shy and silent group who never post. If you are familiar with my postings they are seldom replied to and I write them more for my own edification. Please do not read anything into what I say or any assumed agreement by others here.

      In reply to my phrasing of clean the stables, I did have in mind that Hercules was an outsider who cleaned the Augean Stables. It was a dirty job and he had to flush them clean. I currently have major reservations that the climate science community as peopled today will do much to improve the mess that I see made due primarily to advocacy getting mixed with science. I once thought the effort would come from within, and still may, but not from the people currently at the fore front.

      If I had to point to a few manifested problems with climate science that I see on a continuing basis it would be failure to make analysis and replication of their works less difficult and to do simple sensitivity testing on the results of their own works. It often appears that climate papers pay homage to the consensus on AGW when it seems totally out of place and/or not essential to paper. In the meantime in my view a voice from blogs like CA in analyzing and criticizing papers and processes is sufficient to satisfy interested and thinking people.

      • penguindreams
        Posted Jun 13, 2010 at 5:12 PM | Permalink

        Kenneth:
        I did immediately think of Augean Stables. Which means that you still haven’t really answered the question. As I think of it, the translation would be that you mean everybody who has already worked in/on climate should be fired (washed away by the cleansing river, per Hercules in the stables) and every paper ever written should be thrown out (likewise). Climatology should then start over, as did the stables, repopulated only by new, ‘clean’, climatologists who then also policed the stables so that they remained clean.

        But that’s what’s coming to my mind, not your clear statement. As you say, many agree with you (I have no great history here, so don’t assume I’ve seen you, or them, before), so for my interest, it’d be a big plus if you could elaborate on just what you do mean.

        In any case, that version of ‘clean stables’ is quite different than ‘climatologists should henceforth do their work in good ways’ (good being something else to be defined, which you, and CA as far as my bit of looking, haven’t really specified).

        Digressing: Are you related to the Michael Fritsch who used to be at Penn State?

  75. Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 4:47 PM | Permalink

    If I wanted to, let’s say, obtain data from the Helium-Neon-Argon spectra collection from 1975 (or even 1968 for Helium!), I can do so by going to http://www.noao.edu/kpno/specatlas/henear/henear.html.

    Now, I don’t think anyone would claim that Astronomy is a “regulatory science” or that those people new what their data would be used for 40+ years later. Or …?

    I mean, it doesn’t get much more esoteric than that, does it?

    Yet the data is there. And searchable.

    • Michael Tobis
      Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 8:09 PM | Permalink

      Sample bias, much?

      Your argument is unsound.

      Pick an astronomy paper at random from 1968 and go find the data. Don’t go looking online for old data; that only proves it’s possible. It doesn’t prove it’s easy or common.

      Also, obviously, line spectra are broadly applicable. A single ice core has a narrow audience. The situations are not directly comparable.

      Steve; Michael, that was the first comment at this blog ever made by Ken Finney. It’s uncanny the way that someone like you (highly critical of the ground that this blog walks on) is drawn to respond to singleton posts by new commenters, while engaging with me either minimally or not at all. It’s happened on enough occasions to be a small sociological phenomenon. I realize that there’s no reason for you to know that this was his first comment, but, as I noted, people who want to find fault here seem to have an unerring instinct to prefer to debate new posters.

      • bender
        Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 10:29 PM | Permalink

        Yes, this trend has been noted before. Soapboxers choosing to dodge the regulars and engage the one-timers, and then judging the blog on the basis of their own extremely limited and biased sample. It seems to be associated with a fixed set of premises (often false) and a fixed agenda (immutable in the face of facts). I’m not saying this is true in the specific case of MT – but it has been observed before.

      • bender
        Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 10:34 PM | Permalink

        At the risk of being accused of speculating on motive, it seems these people are more interested in proving the existence of a “denialosphere” worth combatting than in understanding what Steve McIntyre has to say about the need for reform in climate science. Again: fuelling the tribalism, not at all breaking it down.

      • Michael Tobis
        Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 10:55 PM | Permalink

        Steve, I don’t think I’ve avoided engaging with you. As I said before, your postings are more challenging than some others’, so I may not respond as quickly. But I have replied, I think, in every case where you have replied to me.

        Somehow I doubt anybody else would have corrected Mr. Finney, but I suppose we can’t really put it to the test.

        Anyway, the fact that I sometimes swing at the easy pitches doesn’t mean I’m just here to do that.

        Steve: When I tried to post at realclimate (a mostly pointless exercise due to their censorship and.or post-burying-by-delay), my interest was in trying to comment on Gavin Schmidt, not with an occasional commenter there. I mention this phenomenon because, as I mentioned, the pattern of engagement with new posters also happened with other commenters who were seeking to have a bad impression. It seems to me to say something about the personalities involved.

        • bender
          Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 11:09 PM | Permalink

          Not an hour ago Steve asked you four questions. No response whatsoever.

        • Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 11:16 PM | Permalink

          Permalink please? There are advantages to this comment structure but it can get confusing.

        • bender
          Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 11:27 PM | Permalink

          Find them yourself, you’re such a diligent reader. Meanwhile, please respond to MY questions here, which you previously dodged:

          http://climateaudit.org/2010/06/04/losing-glacier-data/#comment-231840

        • Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 11:54 PM | Permalink

          Sure!

          Q: If the members of “the community” that produce the litchurchur won’t keep their own backyard clean, then who will? People without such impressive resume’s, I suppose. Lovely logic, turning back on itself.

          A: I don’t know.

          Seriously, what does “keep their own backyard clean” mean, exactly?

          Steve: before you go off on other topics, you made some allegations against me that I want to address. You accused me of “mistreating you”. I asked you to provide an example of what I view as an absurd allegation. You’ve also made wide-ranging critical allegations about things that I’ve said at the blog, but failed to provide any examples. I try hard to be accurate in what I write and to correct any inaccuracies if I make a mistake. Can you identify some points of inaccuracy in my posts that occasioned your allegations against me? I’m not asking you to itemize everything in the entire blog, just to start with two or three examples of statements that I’ve made (me, not individual commenters like Willis or yourself) that you believe to be false.

        • Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 10:01 AM | Permalink

          > I asked you to provide an example of what I view as an absurd allegation.

          Michael Tobis: My credulity is not the issue.

          Steve: On this point, reasonable people can agree. Tobis’ credibility is another matter entirely. http://climateaudit.org/2010/06/04/losing-glacier-data/#comment-231665

          Steve - surely reasonable people can recognize that this was a bit of fun with a malapropism.

        • bender
          Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 11:28 AM | Permalink

          yes, reasonable people can recognize this.

        • Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 11:37 AM | Permalink

          Welcoming someone by making fun of his credibility is surely the safest way to make him feel he will be treated with consideration.

          There are ways to determine what reasonable people believe that goes beyond armchair dismissiveness.

        • MrPete
          Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 11:42 AM | Permalink

          Re: Michael Tobis (Jun 11 23:16),
          Michael, to tame the beast of lengthy and threaded comments, you might find the CA Assistant helpful (see top right corner of any page.)

  76. Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 4:47 PM | Permalink

    Lonnie sent this message to me about quelccaya data:
    “10 March 2004:

    Dear Hans: Just returned from China! Unfortunately, those logs are all
    hand done. These data where not put on electronic format.
    We have just redrilled the Quelccaya ice cap in 2003 and brought back two
    frozen ice cores and will be producing a new log based on
    this new data. Unfortunately, right we are processing Bona-Churchill
    ice cores and the new Quelccaya and Coropuna cores are
    in the cue.

    Sorry I can not be more helpful on these old data sets.

    best wishes,

    Lonnie

    http://members.casema.nl/errenwijlens/co2/quelccaya.htm

    It’s all a matter of priorities. I have the PhD thesis of Aart Labrijn of 1946. Most of it was printed numbers.

    • Willis Eschenbach
      Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 5:22 PM | Permalink

      Hans Erren
      Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 4:47 PM | Permalink | Reply | Edit
      Lonnie sent this message to me about quelccaya data:

      10 March 2004:

      Dear Hans: Just returned from China! Unfortunately, those logs are all
      hand done. These data where not put on electronic format.
      We have just redrilled the Quelccaya ice cap in 2003 and brought back two
      frozen ice cores and will be producing a new log based on
      this new data. Unfortunately, right we are processing Bona-Churchill
      ice cores and the new Quelccaya and Coropuna cores are
      in the cue.

      Sorry I can not be more helpful on these old data sets.

      best wishes,

      Lonnie

      And here we are, six years later, and neither the Quelccaya nor the Bona-Churchill data are archived … yet the NSF, whichrequires archiving, continues to fund our spelling-challenged friend. Go figure.

      And the Chinese logs are hand-done? Cry me a river. This guy has gotten hundreds and hundreds of thousands of my taxpayer dollars, and he can’t OCR a couple pages of data, or pay a grad student to type it in?

      Riiiiight …

      • EdeF
        Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 10:04 AM | Permalink

        I have had an email account with Yahoo! for over a decade and they have managed to save all of my files over that time. Maybe the NSF should hire them.

    • Kenneth Fritsch
      Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 5:49 PM | Permalink

      Quick to move on and slow to provide data. Perfectly logical and acceptable or at least excused – in some circles that is.

  77. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 5:17 PM | Permalink

    Judith Curry
    Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 3:57 PM

    Willis, this conversation is going nowhere. There are two issues: the behavior of individual scientists and issues related to specific data sets, and the broader issue of the anachronistic institutional guidelines. I have stated that I am prepared to tackle the latter, not the former. Your inference that i can only tackle the later by tackling the former is incorrect and nonproductive.

    Judith, thank you for your patience, it is much appreciated. However, I disagree that the discussion is going nowhere. We are learning a lot about the position of the other person.

    I agree that both sides of the equation (personal and institutional) need to be addressed. And I understand (although I don’t approve of) your reluctance to tackle the former.

    Unfortunately, tackling the latter seems to have had absolutely no results to date. And more unfortunately, there isn’t a single one of the mainstream scientists who is willing to tackle the former, your reluctance seems to be contagious … which doesn’t say much for the field. Everyone wants to look the other way and tell me about how they are tackling the latter, everyone seems to be unwilling to say a bad word about the scientific malfeasance and egregious alarmism based on hidden data and concealed codes that has been so rampant in climate science.

    And folks wonder why climate scientists are not trusted? If not one solitary accountant had been unwilling to condemn the Enron practices, would you have trusted accountants after that?

    (The “Reply” function for the previous thread seems to be disabled, too many comments I guess)

    • RomanM
      Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 6:48 PM | Permalink

      I agree that both sides of the equation (personal and institutional) need to be addressed. And I understand (although I don’t approve of) your reluctance to tackle the former.

      Cut Dr. Curry some slack, Willis. Nobody wants or needs to be put in the confrontational position of a self-appointed policeman to solve these problems even though they are in need of solving. She has been reasonable and sympathetic to our viewpoints over the past several tears and it appears to me that you are pushing her into an awkward and undeserved corner.

      The situation will be solved at a less personal level when the appropriate journals and/or granting agencies decide that this is necessary. That is where I feel the pressure should be exerted to bring about change. To some extent this is already happening, thanks to Steve’s and CA efforts.

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 8:14 PM | Permalink

        Re: RomanM (Jun 11 18:48),
        Willis, I agree with Roman. I’ve tried as much as possible to frame things in terms of holding institutions accountable. Suggestions of asking NSF to do a holdback or asking Killeen to re-appraise performance of the paleo section are both good ones and ones that I hadn’t thought of and it’s nice that Judy encouraged these ideas. I also agree with her point that this sort of thing has been a core CA campaign and it’s entirely in line with prior campaigns to pursue these ideas – which I will do. She’s got her own fish to fry. If we get blown off by NSF, then we can re-visit the matter. I think that the exchange, while a little maudlin at times, has resulted in a couple of good suggestions, which doesn’t always happen.

        • Willis Eschenbach
          Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 9:53 PM | Permalink

          Steve and Roman, many thanks for your insightful comments. As I said, I think action on both sides (personal and institutional) are needed. To the extent that this discussion advances either of those agendas, I’m all for it. Sorry for the following example, but I grew up in an Old West town, and I’m a cowboy, or I was one in my youth …

          We are in the position of an Old West town without a Sheriff. You are encouraging the town to get a Sheriff, which of course is the correct long term “institutional” solution … but perhaps very long term. We’ve been fighting this very same fight for a decade now, and the NSF is still pouring money into Thompson’s pockets. Organizational actions as disparate as British investigations and Penn State whitewashes have done absolutely nothing. Congressional inquiries have gotten nowhere. Journals are still not enforcing their policies. Call me cynical, but that don’t impress me much.

          As a result of our total lack of progress on the “institutional” side, I am pushing the “personal” side by encouraging the citizens of the town to do whatever they can themselves to enforce the law. Can’t say I’m having any more success on this side than the other … but I do think keeping up the pressure on both sides is the right way to go.

          As Roman points out, no one wants to be the sheriff … so we end up in the position where “good men (and women) do nothing”. That is a very sad commentary on the state of climate science, that no mainstream scientists will speak out against obvious huge breaches of scientific ethics.

          The part I don’t understand is why mainstream scientists are so unwilling to ask Thompson to archive his data. Where’s the downside? Yes, those scientists who believe in concealing their data will take offense … so? And on the upside, the person who does ask Thompson to archive Bona-Churchill is on record as taking a public stand for decent, honest, transparent science. Again, where’s the downside? Don’t the mainstream scientists know that everyone hates the cops when they engage in this very same behavior, when they refuse to speak out against a corrupt cop? Don’t they know that people despise doctors when they do that, when they won’t say “Doctor X kills more patients than he saves” even when they know Dr. X is a quack?

          How anyone can think that not speaking out increases their credibility is simply beyond me … but then, I’m a simple cowboy, I obviously don’t understand these complex matters.

  78. Theo Goodwin
    Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 7:00 PM | Permalink

    It is really a shame that someone such as Michael Tobis can effectively end this wonderful discussion. In my humble opinion, Mr. Tobis had nothing to say about climate science. I hope that in the future individual contributors will not permit him to derail a wonderful discussion.

  79. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 10:12 PM | Permalink

    Michael Tobis
    Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 9:23 PM

    Y’all are seriously missing the point. Well, several points.

    1) Dr Curry and I agree with you on open science going forward, but by being so disagreeable and hostile you don’t contribute positively toward the odds of that happening.

    You seem to think that not agreeing with everything you say is being “disagreeable and hostile”, or that asking you to take a stand for honest science is being “disagreeable and hostile”. I assure you, as someone who is regularly the target of “disagreeable and hostile”, that this is just the normal rough and tumble of blog discussions. It’s not like lecturing undergraduates. I see “disagreeable and hostile’ all the time, and this ain’t it.

    2) Very few people in science believe y’all have made a serious case of malfeasance among the CRU email crowd. Except for some peculiar talk about (crudely) deleting email, which deletion probably didn’t occur, there isn’t even anything that you have made a solid case for that even looks suspicious. As for the email deletion, someone is being protected from something, and presumably Oxburgh knows what and isn’t saying. So the best thing is to butt out, those weren’t your emails to start with.

    Saying “yeah but climategate” really strikes us as you saying “yeah but mxftsdlkfjlx”.

    Michael, when scientists conspire to break the IPCC rules in order to bring in things they like and keep out things they don’t like, that is serious. The fact that you didn’t notice that in the emails speaks volumes about your credibility in these matters. The UK Parliament Committee said that criminal procedures would have been instituted if the statute of limitations had not expired … so you and the un-named “people in climate science” may sit around and assure each other that it means nothing, but here in the real world, we take a realistic view of what was and was not exposed by Climategate.

    3) We don’t refuse to denounce others out of laziness or cowardice. It doesn’t rise to challenge us on those fronts. We refuse because it is inappropriate and unethical to denounce except in the most extreme cases.

    Skepticism combined with a presumption of innocence, and a sense of mutual respect makes the whole idea seem so totally unethical taht the suggestion strikes us as ludicrous.

    Making science into a courtroom drama or a political battlefield is unseemly. Whatever repairs we agree to in updating scientific process will not change this.

    How is not archiving data, when a scientist has been repeatedly asked to do so and won’t even say if the data exists, not a clear case? And why on earth would you respect someone who does that?

    And I’m sorry if you find “making science into a political battlefield” unseemly … perhaps you could have a heart-to-heart with James Hansen about that.

    On a fourth point, where I disagree with Dr. Curry:

    4) She is backing you up on FOIA and comparable laws in the UK applying to science. I think that is nuts. Once you resort to FOIA it is between you and the lawyers.

    Push on NSF. Push on PNAS. Push on blogs. I’m all for it as long as you are collegial for real and give everybody the benefit of the doubt. Nobody is in this field out of venality or political ambition. This doesn’t amount to a guarantee of competence, far from it.

    But it means these are people who don’t deserve the way you have treated them, or for that matter, me. If you don’t seriously rethink your approach you won’t be helping matters.

    Once you bring lawyers in, count me out. Once there is a request through legal as opposed to scientific channels I hope they tie you up in court forever.

    Respectfully,
    mt

    Lawyers? I filed an FOI request, one which would have been totally unnecessary if Jones had followed scientific norms. I didn’t have a lawyer, Jones did.

    I find your point of view quite astonishing. The FOI laws were created for exactly this situation, where publicly paid individuals refuse to release taxpayer-funded data. It exists solely because your fatuous idea that we should just ask nicely sometimes doesn’t work. Yes, as you say, “Nobody is in this field out of venality or political ambition.” Some people in the field, however, are doing a land-office sideline business in exactly that line of trade. When that happens, all we have left is the FOI … and you would take it away?!?

    Priceless …

    • Another Layman Lurker
      Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 3:29 AM | Permalink

      Willis
      Seems to me that MT does not understand the FOI process.

      He first states “If you resort to FOIA, he might pass it on to his lawyers, and they will look for ways to thwart you, because that is what lawyers do when pressed for information.” (Jun 10, 2010 at 1:31 PM)

      Later he turns this into “4) She is backing you up on FOIA and comparable laws in the UK applying to science. I think that is nuts. Once you resort to FOIA it is between you and the lawyers. (Jun 11, 2010 at 9:23 PM)

      As you said one does not need a lawyer to make an FOI request. The legal aspect, apart from the FOI legislation itself, is that it is highly likely that any organisation or institution receiving an FOI request would have their legal section look at the information/data requested and scrutinise it for legal issues relating to say security, commercial-in-confidence, and libellous comments.

      I would hope this lack of understanding of the FOI process by MT is the reason for his comment –
      “Once you bring lawyers in, count me out. Once there is a request through legal as opposed to scientific channels I hope they tie you up in court forever.” (Jun 11, 2010 at 9:23 PM)

  80. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 11:30 PM | Permalink

    Don’t the mainstream scientists know that everyone hates the cops when they engage in this very same behavior, when they refuse to speak out against a corrupt cop?

    Actually, it’s very hard to get very far against corrupt cops.

    One of my sons was stomped in the head by bouncers at a Toronto club, which was paying off the police. The injuries were sickening and worried the hell out of us (he recovered fortunately). The police did not even take the names of bouncers or open an incident report; the investigating policeman destroyed a witness statement. At a very early stage, I realized that something was off and documented everything. I filed careful complaints, which were blown off.

    In an episode out of Climategate, the policeman’s “private” telephone discussions with criminals were picked up in a wiretap. They were taking bribes from mob figures who owned the Toronto clubs that they were patrolling. Google “william mccormack jr police”. He was charged in April 2004. Even with wiretap evidence of corruption, Internal Affairs never brought the matter to trial and the charges were “stayed” in December 2009.

  81. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 11:47 PM | Permalink

    Except for some peculiar talk about (crudely) deleting email, which deletion probably didn’t occur, there isn’t even anything that you have made a solid case for that even looks suspicious. As for the email deletion, someone is being protected from something, and presumably Oxburgh knows what and isn’t saying. So the best thing is to butt out, those weren’t your emails to start with.

    Obviously, you haven’t read what I’ve written on this topic. I can tell you precisely who and what is being protected. Wahl and Briffa violated IPCC rules in 2006, which resulted in Wahl inserted language about the MM-MBH dispute that had never been sent to external reviewers, departed from what had been sent to reviewers and which purported to “settle” the dispute in Mann and Wahl’s favor. This statement has been relied upon by climate scientists who looked to IPCC for assessment – including, for example, Julia Slingo in her evidence to the COmmons Select Committee.

    At this point, as you say, it’s reasonable to believe that Oxburgh knows and isn’t saying; and that Muir Russell knows and won’t say.

    I have a direct interest in the matter since the reputation of Ross and my work was directly affected by the CRU violation of IPCC procedures.

    The probability of a violation of IPCC procedures had been suspected long ago. That’s what led to David Holland’s FOI request for review comments that had not been placed in the IPCC archive according to their rules, and, in turn, to Jones’ request to delete the emails and his statement that Briffa “should” deny the existence of the Wahl-Briffa exchange to FOI officer Palmer.

    That climate scientists such as yourself are unoffended by such behavior is precisely what is causing problems with public perception.

    • bender
      Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 11:54 PM | Permalink

      Unoffended?! Probably more like unaware. How can you be offended at something about which you are ignorant?

    • Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 12:23 AM | Permalink

      Interesting. Please note that bender is correct that I had not heard this before.

      I have made several attempts to determine what exactly the accusation or accusations were, and yet this is the first I have heard of it. See, for example

      http://initforthegold.blogspot.com/2009/12/thin-kool-ade.html

      Please note also that I am not ignoring your claim.

      Could you point to the exact text in question, please?

      Steve:
      Your accusation was as follows: “But it means these are people who don’t deserve the way you have treated them, or for that matter, me.” at 9:23 pm on the 10th. Reading the language narrowly – perhaps you feel that you and the others don’t deserve to be treated as politely as I have treated you. If you feel, like some readers, that I’ve been too “Canadian” in my politeness, I suppose I could muster up some sarcasm for you.

      • Willis Eschenbach
        Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 3:05 AM | Permalink

        Michael Tobis

        Interesting. Please note that bender is correct that I had not heard this before.

        I have made several attempts to determine what exactly the accusation or accusations were, and yet this is the first I have heard of it.

        Interesting. You have never heard of one of the major items of scientific malfeasance revealed by Climategate, an egregious, underhanded, secret, and unprincipled attack on Steve’s scientific work by four leading mainstream climate scientists (Mann, Jones, Wahl, and Amman), an attack which totally subverted the IPCC rules to insert false statements in the IPCC report, yet you come to Steve’s blog to lecture us on how there is nothing in Climategate that even looks suspicious, saying:

        Very few people in science believe y’all have made a serious case of malfeasance among the CRU email crowd. Except for some peculiar talk about (crudely) deleting email, which deletion probably didn’t occur, there isn’t even anything that you have made a solid case for that even looks suspicious. As for the email deletion, someone is being protected from something, and presumably Oxburgh knows what and isn’t saying. So the best thing is to butt out, those weren’t your emails to start with.

        Saying “yeah but climategate” really strikes us as you saying “yeah but mxftsdlkfjlx”.

        Perhaps you can see now why you are not getting a lot of traction here.

      • bender
        Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 6:56 AM | Permalink

        It’s rather obvious to many here that you lack the necessary background to make the comments that you do. Read this blog (Steve’s entries, not the discussion), and THEN judge it.

      • bender
        Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 7:04 AM | Permalink

        MT says “I had not heard this before”

        That’s because he isn’t listening. Or rather, he is getting his information from sources that aren’t interested in researching the whole truth. Remember what PDA said about the importance of *listening*? Couldn’t agree more. That’s why the whitewash. These “enquiries” are premised on the hope that nobody’s listening.

      • Craig Loehle
        Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 7:53 AM | Permalink

        “had not heard this before” — It is common for people who support a cause to avoid reading about bad behavior by fellow travelers. Thus Gerald North (I believe) not long ago asserted he knew nothing about climategate, as have others who have direct contacts with the key players. I am sure Mann has not delved into the details. Too painful. AGW proponents would tend to believe “nothing to see here, move along” and never find out what is up. Not surprising. Human nature.

      • Michael Tobis
        Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 10:07 AM | Permalink

        Steve, I awake to a plethora of demands scattered through this thread that I indentify where you have offended me. I have already said twice that you personally have not offended me personally, and that I am referring more generally to the tone and attitude with which my participation has been met here. You have not shared in that.

        But as of now you do share in the quickness to misinterpret and take offense. Let me offer you a clue, the prefatory remark
        “did you mean to say…”, which might soften the tone of the conversation considerably.

        As for “Could you point to the exact text in question, please?” I meant the text in the AR4 that you feel is key to the “delete the emails” incident, preferably both the before and the after.

        Steve: see the recent post http://climateaudit.org/2010/06/03/east-anglia-covers-up-their-trick-on-channel-four/ where this is discussed.

        Michael, thanks for observing that I “personally” have not offended you “personally”, but, if you’re commenting at my blog and say: “But it means these are people who don’t deserve the way you have treated them, or for that matter, me.” (9:23 pm on the 10th), I don’t think that it’s unreasonable for me to presume that you’re talking about me. From time to time, people say that I make allegations about the motives and intent of climate scientists, but when pressed, are unable to provide examples. If I’ve made untrue statements about anybody, I’d like to correct them. So if you have any examples of statements in head posts where I’ve made inaccurate statements, I’d appreciate your identifying them, so I can correct them if appropriate.

        • Tim
          Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 10:21 AM | Permalink

          When I explain my scepticim to people who don’t follow climate blogs a question I often get is how could I disagree with ‘thousands’ of scientists.

          The response I give is something like: the overwhelming majority of scientists do not work in the contested areas(paleo, attribution and sensitivity) and simply accept the claims of their collegues without investigation. This means a sceptic with a science background that investigates these issues is unsually more informed than the alleged ‘thousands’ of scientists.

          Tobis certainly confirms this view.

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 10:56 AM | Permalink

          Tim, you make an interesting point. I made a point something like this somewhere in the blogosphere, but can’t find it. If you ask a climate researcher to what extent they agree with the IPCC report, they might say 90-95%. Then if asked what part don’t you agree with, they would state an area where they have expertise. So they are at least somewhat skeptical of the areas where they have expertise, but are prepared to accept that the rest of the document is “ok”. So the consensus on the broad IPCC findings is artificially inflated by this effect. Where does this effect come from? Trust in the IPCC process and/or tribalism are the two explanations that come to mind. Personally, I trusted the IPCC process before climategate struck.

          You are correct that an “amateur” (used in the sense of no degree in a climate related field) skeptic investigating a topic in detail can often far exceed the knowledge base of a substantial number of the “professional” (Ph.D.) climate researchers that have little knowledge of that particular topic.

  82. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 2:49 AM | Permalink

    Michael Tobis
    Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 11:13 PM

    Anyone coming in from the professional scientist side operates under certain constraints, some of which we see constantly interpreted here in the worst possible light. This is not helpful.

    Michael, perhaps you could explain what the “certain constraints” are. Because I certainly don’t see a whole lot of constraints in what the climate scientists are willing to do to defend and advance their chosen agenda. Civil disobedience? No problem. Stack the reviewers to ensure a paper gets into a peer-reviewed journal? Done that. Conspire to keep papers out of the IPCC reports? We have the evidence. Call public officials demeaning names? You’ve done that yourself. Try to get editors fired if you don’t like the papers that they publish? Easy money. Hide from legal requests for their data? Yep. Refuse to archive data that doesn’t support their pet theories? Far too common.

    So tell me … just what are these “constraints” you are talking about?

    Demands are placed on us to take your side in particular skirmishes. We won’t. So that isn’t helpful either.

    Again with the “demands”, we’ve been over that. Nobody has the power to “demand” that you do anything. I can demand that my daughter go to bed at a certain hour. I cannot demand that you do the same. I have asked you, not to take “our side”, but to speak out against dishonest science. You won’t, that’s fine. However, assuming that there is some climate scientist “us” who won’t do what you choose not to do is a step too far. Some might, some might not, and I doubt that they have chosen you to speak for them all.

    Some of us are interested in discussing what repairs might be made in the long run that might be satisfactory to you. There are real problems in the field, and it;s important enough that it would be good to try to fix them.

    Attempts to engage in this way are not met with an initial burst of enthusiasm. I can say that for certain.

    Can it be overcome? I am not, at present, optimistic. This approach is written off as handwaving, and met with demands to take your side on your latest skirmish.

    Michael, if you would list some of the practical, concrete steps that you have taken to “make repairs”, it would be helpful. I don’t know of them, which is likely because I am not familiar with all of your writings. I note that you have hosted a “let’s bash Climate Audit” page on your blog … is that a step towards repair? You claim that “Nothing is more extraordinary in science than to bring ad hominem conversation into substantive debate”, but it seems that doesn’t apply to you and those who post on your blog. More repair? You talk about “Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli’s persecution” and call him “Coochie”, then come here and complain that people are treating you unkindly …

    I see that you have called the “East Anglia Learns Nothing” CA thread “terrifying”. That will repair things.

    After the Heartland Conference invited a couple dozen AGW supporting scientists to speak and only two accepted, you wrote “Apparently Prof. Scott Denning of Colorado State has tricked the Heartland Institute into accepting a talk entitled “Debunking Common Myths About Global Warming” for their annual conference caucus this year.” Yes, that’s being honest, that’s the way to fix the damage. Heartland goes out of its way to invite AGW scientists, something that doesn’t often happen the other way ’round, and you misrepresent the situation in order to fool people about what happened, and to abuse Heartland for it. More repair, no doubt.

    In your attempt to repair the situation, you advise against, not for but against, any attempt to make peace between the two sides, saying

    “But it is absolutely irresponsible to take this moment, the moment when the excesses of the critics of climate scientists are reaching their most extreme crescendo, to be bending over backwards to make peace with them, as Judith Curry advises.”

    Don’t make peace, you say, and then trash Dr. Curry for doing so. Yeah, that’s the ticket …

    But what I don’t find is a single post saying that you have done one single thing to try to repair the damage. I don’t find a single post saying, as you claim that you are saying, that there are “real problems in the field”. I’ve looked for a single blog post about “real problems in the field”. Not only do I not find a post about that, I don’t find a single mention that there are any problems in the field, much less “real problems”.

    Now, I only went back a couple months on your blog, so perhaps I’ve missed the part where you advocated something like that the NSF should actually enforce it’s own policies. Hang on, let me do a search … nope, nothing I can find on that either.

    So, since you are unwilling to actually take a stand against dishonest science, and you claim that you are beavering away on repairing the real problems in the field, perhaps you could point us to what you have actually done in that regard. Because all I see you doing is calling people names, and saying that other people shouldn’t call mainstream scientists names, and inviting your readers to call Climate Audit names, and then coming here and complaining that people are calling you names … and then saying that you are working for peace. Perhaps you are, I might have missed it … but where is your post about making peace, the post about “real problems in the field” and what they might be and how to fix them?

    Dr. Curry is not going to do that. I am not going to do that. It’s hard to imagine that any climate scientist outside the half dozen most clearly associated with the “anti” fringe will take you up on that. We’re looking for an armistice, not for an offer to turn our coats.

    What “that” is it that you are not going to do? Speak out against egregious scientific malpractice? That’s fine if you choose not to do that, Michael, but trying to cast it as a noble stand, and as avoiding being a “turncoat”, is both curious and very revealing. You think that standing up for honest science would make you a turncoat … funny, how one slides insensibly into such a position as that.

    You are free not to speak out against bad science, that is your choice … but why does even asking you to do it bring forth such a frenetic and frantic response, full of “demands” and “turncoats”?

    The saddest part? You are likely 100% right when you say that only climate scientists who are in what you demeaningly call the “anti fringe” will speak out against dishonest science …

    • bender
      Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 6:54 AM | Permalink

      MT does not deserve such surgical treatment. But I’m glad for it.

  83. Judith Curry
    Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 7:27 AM | Permalink

    Its becoming a little difficult to follow the comments embedded in all the replies, but it seems like this is becoming a productive dialogue.

    Here is the dictionary definition of insult:to treat with gross insensitivity, insolence, or contemptuous rudeness. To affront or demean. There have definitely been some insults on this page, most of the real insults have been snipped by Steve. I don’t think things like “huffy” qualify as insults. But the bottom line is that the most effective writing is free of insults, and using insults detracts from your argument. E.g. Willis, your more recent posts are much more effective now that they are absent insults. The problem is much exacerbated in hidden hot buttons and flash points that the person from outside the particular community is not aware of. Even if there are insults, try to overlook them and see if there is anything of interest in terms of an argument. Its not easy, its not comfortable, but this is what it takes to get a meaningful dialogue going that might actually have some beneficial effects.

    Michael Tobis has spend a lot of time here, he seems genuinely interested in what an “armistice” might look like. In order to understand the issues with the CRU emails, the broader hockey stick affair, and other issues of concern to the climateauditors, it takes alot of work to wade through all that stuff. It is much easier just to accept the spin from RC. I have slogged through this stuff sufficiently thoroughly on my owned to be convinced that there are some serious issues. Trying to figure all this out by wading through past CA posts is very difficult. I have found Montford’s book “The Hockey Stick Illusion” to be enormously helpful in this regard. Willis is sorting through “Only in it for the Gold,” which is good, but some sort of guide will help, it is very difficult to get the flavor and identify the most significant posts by cruising though past blog posts

    As far as I can tell, Michael Tobis’ efforts here reflect an honest interest to bridge. Efforts on both sides to point to key posts and make arguments again (even though you’ve made them before somewhere else) is necessary for a productive dialogue

    I guess all this makes me a “tone troll”, but from my perspective this has been a very interesting discussion with possibly some productive outcomes

    Steve: embedding is a problem with wordpress. If you install Mr Pete’s CA Assistant add-on, it unscrambles the threads into chron order (not just here, but for other blogs as well.) For wordpress blogs with long chains, it’s really helpful.

    • sleeper
      Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 8:39 AM | Permalink

      Nothing “trollish” about you Dr. Curry. I doubt there is anyone here who hasn’t the highest amount of respect for you and the way you handle your visits here. I assume you are as well respected among your colleagues. Which suggests to me an idea, perhaps quixotic. You and some like-minded colleagues should float the idea of establishing, say, the National Climate Science Foundation, which would have as part of its charter rules such as mandatory archiving of data, etc. If, as you say, most climate scientists are like you when it comes to research behavior, it would be interesting to see how many “takers” you would get.

  84. Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 8:04 AM | Permalink

    It takes a lot of talking to get to a productive space, if it ever happens. Willis scored a few zingers, but in my book players get points by staying in the game.

  85. Craig Loehle
    Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 8:05 AM | Permalink

    How does one clean house? In an earlier day, there were problems with editors (who at the time handled papers themselves) having too much control and being arbitrary gatekeepers. The “house cleaning” was to institute peer review. There were problems with how to interpret data, and the entire field of experimental design, ANOVA, etc was developed to remove subjectivity. There were problems with bias in medical studies, so the double-blind study was developed. The problem now is the inability to replicate work because it is not from the lab, and the need is for transparency and archiving. Let’s not act like house cleaning has never been needed in science. But: what is required is for enough people to call for a change which must then be instituted by journals and/or NSF and/or universities, and/or professional societies. Circling the wagons is a response totally inappropriate here.

  86. Craig Loehle
    Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 8:16 AM | Permalink

    Another aspect of cleaning house would be for journals to be more welcoming of comments, corrections, and audits of papers. The common reaction of journals to a paper which has found a mistake is to say it is not original research. Nature is famous for refusing to print comments even when the mistake found is outlandish. Others have such a short time frame for allowable comments that no one can meet it or such a short space limitation that you can’t make your point. I submitted a critique of a specialized ecological modeling method and the reviewers were obviously those I was critiqueing. All bad. Science has gotten more complex, not less, and it is easier to make a mistake. It is useful to point these out. Journals should encourage this, not stomp on it.

  87. Judith Curry
    Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 11:22 AM | Permalink

    ***good grief this somehow got posted on CA assistant

    Judith Curry
    Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 11:20 AM | Permalink | Reply
    The growth of “civic/amateur science” enabled by social computing ranks among the most interesting developments so far of the 21st century IMO, and if this can be harnessed into useful and productive activity, it could become one of the most important.

    While people are bemoaning “unscientific america,” in the blogosphere we see citizens taking a great interest in science, not just passively reading blogs but participating in analyses. The educational potential is enormous. But of greater significance, how can innovative social computing/crowd sourcing tools be developed and employed to enable large-scale collective intelligence to address the scientific and policy challenges associated with climate change? Goals: enable complex problem solving, drive public policy innovation, provide transparency, facilitate understanding of complex issues, build trust, empower the public and policy makers to identify and secure their common interests, reduce polarization, identify the best contributions, increase the signal and reduce the noise, etc. So the potential is there, but it is only partially realized at present. The noise, tribalism, insults etc. slow down progress. Blog owners are to be commended for their leadership in this area, and some do a better job than others.

    I personally have developed respect for many of the CA denizens, and I have learned a lot here. The thread “Curry reviews Jablonsky and Williamson” http://climateaudit.org/2008/02/03/curry-reviews-jablonski-and-williamson/ continues to influence my thinking and I intend to write a paper related to some of the thoughts sparked by this exchange.

    One of the keys to making this productive is to keep the anger, insults, excessive snark out of our posts. Steve Mc is something like >90% successful at this IMO, which is a high score for the blogosphere. Some of the posters here score much lower. We should all shoot for a grade of >90% on this, parceling out any venting or strong words carefully otherwise they will get lost in the noise and no one will pay attention.

    The other key point that was made in this thread (i think it was MrPete) was about community. CA is an open community obviously, but people who spend time here will learn the “personalities”, quirks and hot buttons of the various posters, develop loyalties, etc. And with such familiarity its easier to avoid the hot buttons on that particular blog (along these lines, my “building trust” essay inadvertently pushed the hot button by using the word “denier” in a sociological rather than accusatory context, and the readership couldn’t get past this). Another poster mentioned “staying in the game,” i agree that this important.

    We’ve now gotten to the point on this thread where people are apologizing to each other, and the community is enlarged and strengthened as a result

    • MrPete
      Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 11:58 AM | Permalink

      Re: Judith Curry (Jun 12 11:22),
      Some good thoughts, Judy (I still don’t know which you prefer, oh well… :) )

      Another poster mentioned “staying in the game,” i agree that this important.

      Yes.

      In another world, I encountered a set of researchers who had not-gotten-along just fine for more than 20 years, mostly due to misperceptions about one another. I had the privilege of facilitating a growing ability to communicate and eventually collaborate.

      However, their first true collaboration effort was close to a disaster. They shared data for the first time, and in the interests of making rapid progress, published some combined analysis without a lot of data “combing.” The result was incredibly embarrassing for everyone involved. Several were ready to bail on the whole initiative.

      However, an analogy emerged:

      When a baby is born, it is often pretty gross…sometimes they’re even covered with sticky smelly meconium fluid. However, parents don’t just give up. We stick to it, raise babies to become children and then grownups… amazing how well they turn out! :)

      The research team stuck together. They even gained some humility: future data publications admitted the gaps, the need for correction, etc etc etc. It all worked out over time, becoming a solid worldwide research community.

      In theory, that could happen here as well. Why couldn’t there be a number of citizen-science projects taking advantage of extensive volunteer networks as happened with the Surface Stations project? Why couldn’t people be trained to solve tree-ring cross-dating “puzzles” online? Etc…

    • D. Patterson
      Posted Jun 28, 2010 at 10:11 PM | Permalink

      It is always bemusing to see comments rediscovering an interest in science among the so-called amateurs of the general public. Science was originated and sustained by the “amateurs” throughout the entire history of science. Examples of such notables as Benjamin Franklin come to mind. It is only in the recent century or so that a tendency to discount or belittle the contributions and participation of so-called “amateurs” has come into vogue in academia and elsewhere, particularly in what is termed as climate science. This is quite peculiar given the widespread existence of amateur weather and climate observation stations around the world. Whether it is astronomy or the readers of Popular Science, the “amateurs” have been astute participants in science all along. Professional scientists will be profoundly foolish if and when they choose to marginalize or belittle the contributions and support of science provided by the “amateurs.”

  88. Theo Goodwin
    Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 1:04 PM | Permalink

    Willis writes to MT:

    “You are free not to speak out against bad science, that is your choice … but why does even asking you to do it bring forth such a frenetic and frantic response, full of “demands” and “turncoats”?”

    One is free not to speak out against bad science – in the sense that one has the power to so chose – but for a scientist not to speak out against bad science is morally wrong.

    • Michael Tobis
      Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 3:33 PM | Permalink

      Nope. Actually challenging a publication after the fact is very rare and very time consuming. The usual tactic is to emphasize the things one considers right.

      Should this change? Perhaps so. But it’s a deep institutional shift that would be required. Under present organizational structures the ethical constraint proposed would bring all productive work to a halt.

      See http://is.gd/cN0ia for some relevant amusement.

  89. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 2:55 PM | Permalink

    Michael, I just spent an hour over at your blog. It was quite an eye-opener.

    The most noticeable thing for me was how much time you spend trashing Climate Audit, WUWT, Lucia, and all of their heirs and assigns. It appears that you honestly think that the problems in the field of climate science are the fault of us meddling amateurs. Here’s the highest praise you can manage:

    McIntyre, Hughes, Liljegren etc. may be perfectly sincere and well-intentioned. For all the damage they do, I believe that they are.

    More usually it’s something like a fatuous claim that Steve was doing everything he could to win the “Best Science Blog” award:

    Let me add that I think there’s nothing wrong with playing this game to gain attention. What is disturbing is that McIntyre seemed to be playing the game to gain credibility, which is a very different thing.

    or

    I am struck by the confusion of the cerebral and the visceral in the more extreme cases of OCD, and in that way it reminds me of science denialism. In fact, you could argue that it is exactly the same thing.

    We’re all nuts … I was particularly impressed with your clarification of that last one, viz:

    Update: I am NOT saying that everyone who propagates denialism is actually paranoid; some are ideological difference-splitters who simply cannot believe that the truth might not lie in “the middle” of the extremes they perceive. A few are simply psychopathic, though I think that most psychopaths tend to find other games to play.

    Generally, however, it doesn’t rise to that almost-poetic level of artfully calling most of us insane, usually it’s much more run-of-the-mill abuse:

    According to something called the “Daily Tech”, which is the sort of news site that credits Anthony Watts with being a “meteorologist” (he was a TV weatherman for some time; I don’t know if he has an undergrad degree), …

    or

    McIntyre here is just gleefully stirring the pot.

    and of course your classic statement from last month, which I quoted above:

    But it is absolutely irresponsible to take this moment, the moment when the excesses of the critics of climate scientists are reaching their most extreme crescendo, to be bending over backwards to make peace with them, as Judith Curry advises.

    I could go on and on, there’s no lack of examples, but I don’t want to belabor the point, which is that you hardly have standing to lecture us on polite behavior, seeking peace, or confrontational attitude. Or psychology, for that matter.

    More amazing to me, however, is your total lack of any understanding of what was revealed by ClimateGate. Here we have an event where the UK Parliamentary Committee said that some people would have faced criminal investigation if the statute of limitation had not run out. We have people doing everything they can to avoid answering a simple FOI. We have the infamous “trick”. We have a host of different kinds of scientific malfeasance revealed. Yet you describe it as:

    The real story is that there is no story at all at CRU or PSU. No malfeasance, no manipulation of data, no evidence of poorly supported conclusions, no pattern of behavior outside existing scientific norms, no change in the broad scientific picture, nothing scandalous except for the scandal itself and the hacking that precipitated it.

    You claim that the whole thing was just an orchestrated media event:

    The progressive left has been congratulating itself with its grasp of the internet as a marketing tool, starting with the Dean campaign and going through the Obama campaign, but is constrained by an ethical sense which doesn’t burden the opposition. Marc Morano, to the extent he has orchestrated these events, and/or whoever else is behind it, is a political genius unfettered by decency.

    You give your view on what came out of the emails (emphasis yours):

    What Was Actually Revealed

    a rehash of a well-known controversy about how to present tree-ring data

    frustration about too much attention to substandard scientific papers slipped into the literature by marginally qualified people with nonscientific agendas, and discussions about how to handle that
    frustration about opposition by filibuster via freedom of information requests

    a single suggestion about “deleting emails”, without any context, which plausibly does not refer to deleting emails from a server (scientists are probably aware that end users cannot really do this) but rather to deleting them from a response to one of many FOIA requests

    some sloppy code and a pretty sad but perfectly typical lack of understanding of the advantages of dynamic programming languages

    a couple of fudge factors explicitly labeled as such probably used in testing, commented out

    some older data for which CRU is not the originator or primary repository is not in any known dataset at CRU

    about 985 emails and 1995 other files of no apparent interest to anyone

    In other words, (with the possible exception of the email deletion incident, which I imagine the lawyers are fretting about) the only things remotely unusual here are a direct consequence of the existence of a politically rather than scientifically motivated opposition.

    So as I said to start out this post, your point is that the problems with climate science have nothing to do with the climate scientists, it’s all the fault of us meddling amateurs.

    And you call us “denialists”?

    w.

    PS – in my perambulations about your site this morning, I still didn’t find a single thing about the “real problems in the field” and what you are doing to fix them.

    • Michael Tobis
      Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 3:09 PM | Permalink

      Yes, if you choose to take full responsibility for every time I’ve ever been teed off at anybody for anything regarding climate denialism, including the egregious Morano and Monckton and Singer and their ilk, we’re not going anywhere.

      Consider the possibility that I am making a good faith effort to reconsider my opinions about McIntyre and the CA community, and make a case, if you like. Or not.

      • Willis Eschenbach
        Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 3:30 PM | Permalink

        As you well know (or certainly should know), a good faith effort would begin by stopping the use of the terms “denier” and “denialism”, which makes your claim less than believable.

        However, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. I’m still waiting for you to tell us about all that you have done to heal the breach. You said you won’t speak out for honest science, but that was OK because you are working on the problem in other ways …

        What ways?

        • Michael Tobis
          Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 3:42 PM | Permalink

          Are you saying there is no denialism at work regarding climate?

          Or are you saying we need a better word for evidence-resistant ideologically driven gainsaying of some ideologically inconvenient result?

          I am open to the latter but not the former.

          I have always said that not all skeptics are denialists.

          ===

          Did I claim I had found ways to “heal the breach”?

          I absolutely think a genuinely interested group of outsiders could be a huge resource. But the level of mutual hostility would have to be tamed.

          I’m willing to back down on some things I have said if it seems warranted.

          In particular I regret the comment you quoted above about Lucia Liljegren. I think her approach has turned out to be very constructive and a step toward genuine substantive engagement.

        • RomanM
          Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 4:41 PM | Permalink

          Or are you saying we need a better word for evidence-resistant ideologically driven gainsaying of some ideologically inconvenient result?

          I’m all for it! At the same time we might consider finding the antonym to describe the evidence-unsubstantiated and exaggerated ideologically driven advocacy of some ideologically convenient propaganda.

        • Michael Tobis
          Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 4:58 PM | Permalink

          Such people are also considered denialists by people who consider denialism across disciplines. It’s about denying evidence and reason, not about denying or affirming any particular hypothesis.

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 4:49 PM | Permalink

          I’ve been thinking about “taxonomy”, to the extent that such labels are useful:

          “denialist” is the flip side of “affirmist”, both groups are people who won’t change their minds based on evidence and are mostly politically motivated

          “civic skeptics” is the term that characterizes the technical skeptical blogs

          the “consensus” for those generally supporting the IPCC

          The problem is that I no longer have a label that includes myself :)

          How do these words work? These are the ones I am now using. I was using “warmist” for awhile, but I think i will drop that. I have dropped “denier”, but am continuing to use “denialist” as long it is used in the same sentence as “affirmist”. Thoughts or other suggestions?

          Labels are useful for groups, but not always for individuals, whose individual positions may be much more complex

        • MrPete
          Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 6:34 PM | Permalink

          Re: Judith Curry (Jun 12 16:49),
          It’s always complex. This problem, like all problems, has been solved before.

          Someone could have fun coming up with The Climate Science Code. Looking forward to it.

          Here’s the Code for a friend of mine. Much can be said in a small space:

          —–BEGIN GEEK CODE BLOCK—–
          Version: 3.1
          GC/CS/E/H/IT/L/M/MU/PA/P/S/SS/TW/O d(+++)>+ s: a+>++>+++$ C++++$
          UBAHS*++++$ P+++++(–)$ L !E? W+>++ N+++@ K+++>++++++@ w$ !O M->– V–()
          PS+(-) PE(++) Y+ PGP->+ t+() 5 X? R>* tv@ b++>+++ DI+++ D? G(-) e++>+++@
          h—-() r+++ y++++
          ——END GEEK CODE BLOCK——

          It’s easily and automagically decoded.

          43% kidding :-)

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 8:26 PM | Permalink

          Ahhh. . . we clearly have much to learn from the geeks in this regard :)

        • See - owe to Rich
          Posted Jun 13, 2010 at 11:10 AM | Permalink

          Hi Judith (re your 16:49),

          You did give yourself a label not long ago, but it isn’t included in your current list.

          It was “lukewarmer”. We then argued about what range of sensitivity to CO2 might apply for that label. When mine didn’t extend as far up as yours, you called me an “uncertainty denier” – in the best possible taste, of course.

          Anyway, do you want to add “lukewarmer” to your list, so you (and perhaps I) can be covered? I suppose a lot of sceptics are lukewarmers, and it’s just a question of how “luke”.

          By the way, did you really mean “civic skeptics”, or perhaps “civil skeptics”?

          Rich.

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 13, 2010 at 11:19 AM | Permalink

          Rich, if i recall correctly, Mosher said i sounded like a lukewarmer. I replied saying i agreed with lukewarmers re no convincing case of a catastrophe, but I ascribe greater uncertainty to CO2 sensitivity than does the typical lukewarmer. I agree lukewarmer is a pretty good label, doesn’t quite fit myself tho. Re “civic skeptic”, i came across this is a doc, but i see it doesn’t seem to be in wide use at all.

        • Michael Tobis
          Posted Jun 13, 2010 at 1:01 PM | Permalink

          It’s quite arguable that there is “no convincing case” of an impending catastrophe, but there is equally “no convincing case” that there **isn’t** an impending catastrophe. Rationally, the latter is more important in a risk-weighted calculation.

          That is indeed the crucial policy-relevant question.

          To the extent that climate science becomes an applied or “regulatory” science, it should largely concentrate on constraining the worse and worst cases, both globally and regionally, on a very broad spectrum of time scales.

          A customer-focused science (comparable to epidemiology in its social structure) should be designed and carefully created to live alongside theoretical physical climatology, to address these difficult practical matters.

          This applies equally to all plausible global and regional sustainability questions.

          It fascinates me how so many people are motivated by de-constraining the low end best cases rather than by constraining the high end worst cases. I have to call it irrational.

        • Mark F
          Posted Jun 13, 2010 at 1:15 PM | Permalink

          Constraining the feared catastrophe has a cost in lives and liquidity that may, if projections based on “functional” models of how the real world works, be far in excess of said catastrophe – let’s pick a time frame, maybe 50 years? 100? The evidence to support the catastrophe does not, in my opinion, stand up to any serious scrutiny.

        • Michael Tobis
          Posted Jun 13, 2010 at 1:21 PM | Permalink

          A valid question. My intuition on the answer differs, but the question is sound.

          Unfortunately no answer is possible without going through economics, a vastly weaker and more dubious science than physical climatology in my opinion, especially on the long time scales in question.

          I realize this is wandering far off the turf with which Steve is comfortable hosting on this site, but I hope he’ll allow me to mention this: I often wonder who is auditing the economists.

          Steve: I cut my teeth in the 1970s on models of the copper market and was very dubious of the merits of econometric models of the time. I studied some mathematical economics and was offered a PhD scholarship at MIT by the most eminent economist of the day (Paul Samuelson). It’s a topic that interests me. I looked at copper market data recently for the first time in 20 years and was absolutely blown away by it. Maybe I’ll post on some time.

        • Michael Tobis
          Posted Jun 13, 2010 at 1:25 PM | Permalink

          I should have begun by noting that you are using “constraining” in a different sense than I meant it.

        • Willis Eschenbach
          Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 5:46 PM | Permalink

          Are you saying there is no denialism at work regarding climate?

          Or are you saying we need a better word for evidence-resistant ideologically driven gainsaying of some ideologically inconvenient result?

          Neither one. It is not a question of logic, as you seem to think. I am saying that “denier” and “denialist” are emotionally laden terms, because of their obvious ( and sometimes explicitly stated) connection with “Holocaust deniers”.

          Because of this connection, a huge number of people object to the term, as it is fraught with very unpleasant emotional baggage.

          But you knew that … or certainly should have, if you are truly interested in mending the fences. I have stopped using “warmers” because a couple of people objected to the term. I didn’t understand why they objected, I had picked it because it seemed neutral to me, but there you are. So I use “AGW supporters” instead.

          You continue using “deniers”, despite the fact that even the most cursory search finds dozens and dozens of people objecting to it for a very valid reason.

          Your move …

          PS – I find very few serious folks on either side of the aisle who engage in “evidence-resistant ideologically driven gainsaying of some ideologically inconvenient result” … well, except for your convenient blindness about Climategate, of course. Most of the folks I read have serious scientific objections to things like Playstation™ models which are not verified or validated projecting a century into the future, or Hokey-schtick bogus statistics, or the obvious errors in cloud feedback, or the like. I obviously can’t “demand” that you stop calling people who don’t believe that the Emperor is perfectly arrayed “deniers” … but let me suggest that doing so in the same breath where you claim to be trying to mend fences may not be the best tactic.

          In fact, blowing off legitimate objections from people who don’t agree with you by calling them “deniers” has been one of the most foolish tactics of the pro-AGW camp. People around the world see that, and they say “Why didn’t that scientist answer a scientific objection? Why is he calling his opponent names instead of answering?” See RealClimate for a perfect example of this. They censor serious questions at a rate of knots, and as a result, CA and WUWT get many more hits than RC. People want to see the game played out, they recognize that censoring your opponent or labelling them as a “denier” merely reveals that your scientific position is very weak.

        • Michael Tobis
          Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 6:14 PM | Permalink

          I am aware of the objection on the basis of association. But it certainly is a real problem, and “denialist”, like it or not, is the term commonly used among scientists in various fields for irrational opposition.

          I think calling me an “AGW supporter” is ludicrous; I oppose anthropogenic global warming, after all!

          It costs far less to pose an ignorant question, whether the intent was serious or not, than to answer it. Indeed Willis has posed several here, albeit in the form of taunts rather than questions. Also the community in a position to answer the questions is small (this is the scaling problem to which I earlier referred).

          People may “want to see the game played out” but if they simply presume bad faith among scientists and persist in asking enough questions, pertinent or otherwise, the game will inevitably fail to reach any conclusion. Of course, a good fraction of us few think that is exactly the point.

          http://www.treelobsters.com/2010/01/118-skeptics-charlatans.html

          Steve: Upside Down Mann is a term that we’ve used in the past for “irrational opposition”. Caspar Ammann, Texas Sharpshooter, is another. At this site, we support valid statistical techniques and oppose Texas sharpshooting and upside-down proxies. To the extent that you deny statistical protocols, it plays poorly to professionals here, however well they play to unknowledgeable people in other venues.

        • Willis Eschenbach
          Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 10:57 PM | Permalink

          Michael, the issue is not whether the term “denier” is “commonly used”. I know that it is.

          The issue is whether you use, for people you disagree with, a term that you know for a fact they object to for whatever reason. I don’t know why people object to the term “warmers”, for instance, but that’s not the point. They do object, so I’ve stopped using it.

          As I said, if you truly are interested in building bridges (as I am), you would cease using the term out of simple politeness. If you come in and say “I want to make friends with deniers”, you won’t get much traction. And to forestall your usual objection, that’s not a demand.

          People may “want to see the game played out” but if they simply presume bad faith among scientists and persist in asking enough questions, pertinent or otherwise, the game will inevitably fail to reach any conclusion. Of course, a good fraction of us few think that is exactly the point.

          How on earth would we know if that is the point? It is very, very rare that our questions get answered at all. For example, you have not answered mine. That’s why there has been no conclusion on many important issues. It’s not because so many questions were asked … it is because so few were answered.

          Curiously, your same exact claim comes up in the context of Climategate. There, Jones claimed that he was being swamped with FOI requests for the data. (He wasn’t swamped, but that’s a different issue.)

          But all he had to do was to answer my first request for the data, and it would have ended right there. He got more FOIs because he blew them off starting with mine, one by one, and as a result they just kept increasing.

          Similarly, when I ask a question like, oh, say, “Michael, you said you won’t speak out for honest science, but that was OK because you are working on the problem in other ways … What ways?” and I don’t get an answer, I ask again.

          So at this point you could legitimately say that “Willis just persists in asking questions”, and pretend that was the problem …

        • Michael Tobis
          Posted Jun 13, 2010 at 2:14 PM | Permalink

          “It is very, very rare that our questions get answered at all.”

          Well, right. They are often ill-posed. Explaining why a question is ill-posed is always difficult because it requires deeper understanding than the person posing the question has (or is willing to admit to).

          And the number of people in a position to answer is small compared to the number of people in a position to ask. Every answer risks time and patience, as the more effective the answer, the more the “yeah-but” forces come out to counter it.

          As long as the purpose of the questioning is to undermine trust, it is very difficult to make make progress in restoring the trust, and quite impossible by attempting to answer the question directly, especially since it is often ill-posed. (I said that, right?)

          Finally, when (and to be sure this does happen) the critics do latch onto something that could have been done better, there is tremendous motivation not to admit it and little motivation to come clean. This is because the admissions are not treated as graceful efforts to improve process, but as occasions to broadly generalize about motivations and competency, apparently with the intention of further undermining trust.

          It comes down to a fundamental question. Are you interested in improving the world’s and your own understanding the climate system as a physical system, a problem which in principle really ought to be at least partially resolvable? Or are you interested in demeaning and undermining the people who have made the most effort toward doing so?

          If it’s really the former, we can leverage the controversies here toward a solution of some importance that will have positive impacts on many branches of science. If it’s the latter, we are only damaging the prospects of sound policy by engaging. Since it seems to partake of both, it’s a matter of balance.

          Throw in the abuse and contempt that seem to be the way a serious scientist is greeted around here and there is little wonder your “questions so rarely get answered”.

          Steve’s position is that we are obligated to answer. In fact, Naomi Oreskes in a sense agrees. She was quoted as saying “Scientists and academic institutions need to expand definition of what their “real work” is: “The work is not done, in my opinion, until it’s communicated in a way that citizens understand.”

          While I agree with Oreskes here, the opportunities for engaging with hostile and suspicious people has, for whatever reason, reached the point where the hostility bottomless, and the effectiveness of communication with those already hostile appears very limited.

          In fact, it really is some poor sod’s job to do exactly that; to patiently reply on behalf of a regulatory agency to any query about AGW and ocean acidification, no matter how baseless. I wonder what good it does. See http://is.gd/cNVKK and related articles.

          If any of you are more interested in advancing science than in engaging in a filibuster by proxy, let’s talk about what would be needed to constructively repair the processes of science, whether within the institutions or in competition with them.

          This community has succeeded in getting people’s attention, to say the least. It is now up to you,as individuals and collectively, whether to try to make something constructive out of it, or whether you are just interested in prolonging the controversy and filibustering the policy.

          Steve: Michael, as I mentioned to you previously, the longstanding fatwa against participation by climate scientists here has meant that you have to field far more questions than would have been the case without the fatwa. This fatwa existed right at the outset – for the temerity of criticizing Mann et al in the peer-reviewed literature – not for anything that had then been said at Climate Audit. Rob Wilson would get into huge trouble with the “community” when he posted here. That sort of attitude seemed unproductive to me, but it was very widespread. For the most part, it’s even more entrenched now because of the increased sullenness in the “community”

        • penguindreams
          Posted Jun 13, 2010 at 3:04 PM | Permalink

          I was going to ask this already, and Michael’s comment about ‘ill-posed’ questions gives a better illustration of why I am asking.

          Suppose the question you want answered is “What are the chances of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming?”. Reference was made to it, and how the speaker didn’t believe that there would be such a thing.

          That’s ill-posed. I have no idea what you mean by ‘catastrophic’. If you mean, as one person I was talking to did, a warming of 10 C by 2050, I’d say exceedingly low. If you meant 0.01 C by 2100, which I think I’ve seen some people (used to be much more common) use, it’s an awfully high chance.

          So what do folks here mean by ‘catastrophic’ — both amount and time?

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 13, 2010 at 3:19 PM | Permalink

          Penguindreams: “catastrophic” is a value judgement. as is “dangerous”. Some people claim that we are already seeing “dangerous climate change.”

          Apart from the issue of “values” and “societal risk”, how we should interpret the climate model 21st century projections is a topic that is gaining interest from computational physicists and philosophers of science. It is NOT at all straightforward. I am getting deeper and deeper in this literature, if there is any interest, i could provide a list of papers that I am reading on this subject.

        • penguindreams
          Posted Jun 13, 2010 at 9:11 PM | Permalink

          Judith:
          I agree that ‘catastrophic’ and ‘dangerous’ are value judgements. That is part of what makes questions using them ill-posed. The values of the questioner could be different from those of the person questioned. But, since I’m here at the moment, and folks here are talking about there not being, and not being a chance of, catastrophic anthropogenic climate changes, I figure they’re the ones to ask about what they mean by ‘catastrophic’.

          As a personal matter outside this blog, I’m certainly interested in what you’ve found good in the professional literature regarding translating from models to impacts.

        • Tom Gray
          Posted Jun 13, 2010 at 4:23 PM | Permalink

          This is because the admissions are not treated as graceful efforts to improve process

          Admissions? I thought that there was nothing to admit since all of McIntyre’s asssertion had been shown to be incorrect or of neglible effect. I don’t recall any admissions.

        • Willis Eschenbach
          Posted Jun 13, 2010 at 5:34 PM | Permalink

          Michael, that takes the gold. That is far and away the most long-winded manner in which anyone has avoided answering any of my questions, ever.

          You go into why questions are “ill-posed”. You speculate about the number of people in a position to answer questions. You discuss whether you are obligated to answer the question. You speak of leveraging the controversies. You talk about abuse and contempt. In fact, you do just about everything it is possible to do … everything except, of course, to actually answer my question.

          Please consider this as an excellent microcosm, an example of the underlying problem that we face when trying to get a straight answer to simple questions. Here’s how it works. We ask a question. You don’t answer. We repeat the question. You accuse us of various sins of omission and commission. We repeat the question. You discuss the philosophy of questions. We repeat the question. You complain that there are too many questions. We repeat the question. You accuse us of engaging in a “filibuster by proxy”. We repeat the question. You say it is “ill-posed”, but you won’t say why because it would take too long. We repeat the question … lather, rinse, repeat.

          There is an obvious way out of this circle. Answer the question. Since you took the long way around, you may have forgotten what that was. So just in case, here it is again.

          Michael, you said you won’t speak out for honest science, but that was OK because you are working on the problem in other ways … What ways?

        • Michael Tobis
          Posted Jun 13, 2010 at 5:50 PM | Permalink

          Can I presume that the question in question is:

          “Michael, you said you won’t speak out for honest science, but that was OK because you are working on the problem in other ways … What ways?”

          In fact, this is not a well-posed question.

          It’s ill-posed because it isn’t clear what “the problem” is; nor is it clear to me when or in what context I said anything like it’s “OK because [I am] working on the problem in other ways”. If I were to engage with you for some reason it would then be necessary for me to ask you what you mean and what I said.

          It’s not an attractive question for me to engage with, first of all because your approach is clearly adversarial rather than cooperative, secondly because it gives me no particular opportunity to make any points that I think others should take into account, and finally because it intrinsically puts me in the position of defending my own actions, where at best I could break even.

          So in practice I’m indifferent to your clarification. If I were you I wouldn’t bother.

          I have lots of other people I can engage with and I find your question, though unclear, exemplary of counterproductive engagement. So I don’t intend to follow up.

          With that I yield the final words any direct interaction between himself and me to Willis Eschenbach.

      • charles the moderator
        Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 3:40 PM | Permalink

        Re: Michael Tobis (Jun 12 15:09),

        [self snip too snarky]

        …making a good faith effort to reconsider my opinions about McIntyre and the CA community…

        [self snip too snarky, but really funny.]

      • MrPete
        Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 4:29 PM | Permalink

        Re: Michael Tobis (Jun 12 15:09) and Willis Eschenbach (Jun 12 15:30),
        What I’m hearing is that Michael is asking for an opportunity to mend his ways… here, now.

        Michael, a suggestion: you’ve seen that Willis put in some time, searching your site for something good to say about your well-intentioned efforts to take things to a higher level.

        How about you do the same thing? Take a look at some of the math/science threads at CA, and see if you can find something of reasonable value here.

        You may have noticed that J. Curry is still reflecting on one thread she found quite valuable, Here. That might be a good starting point. Or pick a scientific topic from the categories list (top left.)

        Certainly, you will be able to find not-so-great threads. But it shouldn’t take more than an hour to find some good meat. :)

        • Posted Jun 12, 2010 at 11:21 PM | Permalink

          I’m not Michael Tobis but just to say I’m very grateful for the reference to Curry Reviews Jablonowski and Williamson and its long discussion of standard tests and other possible forms of verification for GCMs. Didn’t spot that in February 2008 or since. Thanks MrPete, Jablonowski, Williamson, Steve, Judy and perhaps 150 others. Good work.

  90. Barry Woods
    Posted Jun 13, 2010 at 12:40 PM | Permalink

    On topic, at a tangent some scientific research on glaciers.

    Himalayan ice is stable, but Asia faces drought

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19029-himalayan-ice-is-stable-but-asia-faces-drought.html

    “He found that only the 100-metre-thick glaciers that feed the Ganges are thinning, at a rate of 22 centimetres per year.

    The glaciers that sit at the head of the Indus grew at a rate of 19 centimetres per year on average, while those that melt into the other rivers in the study were unchanged.”

    Remember the IPCC/Copenhagen scare stories…
    Well, ignoring the AGW spin in New scientist.(AGW is their relgion)

    It would appear in the Himalayas, some glaciers are shrinking, some are growing, some are static. Pretty normal behaviour for glaciers..

  91. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Jun 13, 2010 at 5:55 PM | Permalink

    I would like to point out a central and very crucial misunderstanding:

    Michael Tobis
    Posted Jun 13, 2010 at 2:14 PM

    It comes down to a fundamental question. Are you interested in improving the world’s and your own understanding the climate system as a physical system, a problem which in principle really ought to be at least partially resolvable? Or are you interested in demeaning and undermining the people who have made the most effort toward doing so?

    This is the same misunderstanding made by Phil Jones, who said:

    Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.

    Michael, finding things wrong with existing claims is the other half of the scientific process. The first half is that someone makes a claim, and (unless they are a climate scientist) they provide the data, computer code, methods, logic, and observations that support that claim. (If they are a climate scientist, they may or may not find providing the supporting information optional.)

    The second half of the scientific process is that people attempt to falsify the claim. No claim can be proven true, only falsified. This second half, the vigorous attempt to falsify scientific claims, is as important, or perhaps more important than the first half.

    When Jones refuses to reveal data on the basis that “your aim is to try to find something wrong with it”, it is clear that he is not interested in science. When you call the process of taking a critical look at scientists’ work “denigrating and undermining” those scientists, you are missing the point entirely. We are not trying to demean or undermine the scientists. We are calling theirwork into question. It may be that the work is fine. But far too often, when we have turned over the rocks, we find that lots of very ugly things are exposed to the light …

    And at times, these are not innocent mistakes or overlooked items. At times, they are deliberate attempts to skew the results. This does not reflect well on the honesty and probity of the scientists involved … but for you to blame us for that is missing the point. We are not the ones who repeatedly use the bristlecone pines in a vain attempt to prop up the Hockeystick. We are not the ones who have refused to archive the Bona-Churchill results.

  92. John Norris
    Posted Jun 13, 2010 at 9:47 PM | Permalink

    re: “… The glaciologist couldn’t even remember where he might have packed away those boxes of cards.”

    I am sure Thomas Jefferson had higher expectations of us. Gerald North, and in fact Dr Curry, need to take a step back and contemplate their positions as if they had to answer to him. If it is interesting enough to study, it is interesting enough to archive.

    http://wiki.monticello.org/mediawiki/index.php/Weather_Observations

  93. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Jun 13, 2010 at 11:41 PM | Permalink

    Michael Tobis
    Posted Jun 13, 2010 at 5:50 PM

    Can I presume that the question in question is:

    “Michael, you said you won’t speak out for honest science, but that was OK because you are working on the problem in other ways … What ways?”

    In fact, this is not a well-posed question.

    It’s ill-posed because it isn’t clear what “the problem” is; nor is it clear to me when or in what context I said anything like it’s “OK because [I am] working on the problem in other ways”. If I were to engage with you for some reason it would then be necessary for me to ask you what you mean and what I said.

    Michael, I don’t know what you think the problem is. You said:

    Anyone coming in from the professional scientist side operates under certain constraints, some of which we see constantly interpreted here in the worst possible light. This is not helpful.

    Demands are placed on us to take your side in particular skirmishes. We won’t. So that isn’t helpful either.

    Some of us are interested in discussing what repairs might be made in the long run that might be satisfactory to you. There are real problems in the field, and it;s important enough that it would be good to try to fix them.

    That’s the problems I’m talking about. You said that you won’t take a stand against people hiding data. You say you are interested in discussing what repairs might work. You could start by telling us what you think those problems are. Then you could point to somewhere in your blog that shows that in fact you are interested in discussing the repairs, because I could find nothing about that.

    So what are the “real problems in the field”, and what are you doing to repair them?

  94. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Jun 14, 2010 at 1:56 AM | Permalink

    Michael, I’ve been thinking about the nature and evolution of our interaction here. In some ways, I see it as a microcosm of the problems in climate science as a whole.

    The main problem that I see is the idea held by many mainstream climate scientists, that the people who are asking them questions are not “qualified” in some sense to ask the questions. Your following comment encapsulated that attitude:

    The actual distance between the understanding of the material of you amateurs vs someone like Dr. Curry is much larger than most of you give her credit for. There’s a deep (and, in fact, beautiful) science that isn’t just about lousy thermometers.

    Climate science is an oddity. Unlike many sciences, it is broad rather than deep. The climate contains six main earthly subsystems — the hydrosphere, biosphere, atmosphere, cryosphere, and atmosphere, and the electrosphere. It also includes a number of extra-terrestrial phenomena — things like insolation, changes in UV and X-rays, solar storms, coronal mass ejections, cosmic rays, and the interactions between the heliomagnetic and geomagnetic fields. Within each of these there are a host of subfields — atmospheric physics, paleoclimate, oceanic currents, the interaction of electric fields and thunderstorms, the list is very, very long. Finally, there are cross-cutting disciplines like statistics, especially the statistics of non-normal and autocorrelated datasets.

    As a result, nobody can say that they understand the climate. Yes, Judith Curry’s understanding of thunderstorms is very deep … but I would suggest that her knowledge of many of the other important disciplines of climate is very shallow. So for you to claim that she has some kind of automatic advantage over “amateurs” because of her knowledge of thunderstorms suffers from a very narrow focus.

    The breadth of climate science means a few things. The first one is that I can learn something from just about anyone in the field … and so can you, and so can Judith. The idea that her specialization in hurricanes gives her opinion extra weight in one of the most broad, generalized fields of study we know of is simply not true. Certainly, she has things to teach us … but there are things she can learn from us as well.

    I would say that the largest part of what you have termed the “real problems in the field” is that mainstream climate scientists claim that there is nothing to be learned from “amateurs”. In fact, because of the breadth of the field, the mainstream scientists have been bitten again and again because they weren’t willing to learn from “amateurs”, particularly statisticians. Instead of listening to the objections of the “amateurs” here, many of whom are extremely knowledgeable statisticians, they have persisted in making up clumsy, inaccurate “new methods” that have given them very, very wrong answers.

    The mainstream climate scientists persist, in the face of all of the evidence, in ignoring real, serious scientific objections because they don’t approve of the people who are asking the questions. For people who claim that they are scientists, this is suicidal. I don’t care whether a scientific objection to one of my claims comes from someone with a PhD or from a convicted child molester. Read my blog postings. I make every effort to answer every serious scientific question and objection, regardless of who is asking or objecting. That is how science is supposed to work.

    People have asked me why I filed the first FOI request with CRU. I did it because I was outraged by the response to Phil Jones’s reply to Warwick Hughes’ request for data, when Jones famously said:

    Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.

    I was upset that Phil would say that … but I was outraged that not one climate scientist stood up to protest. Not one mainstream scientist said “Hey, that’s not just bad science, that’s anti-science”. That told me that there was something rotten in climate science. Little did I realize at that time how very, very rotten it was …

    This attitude, that mainstream climate scientists don’t have to answer questions, that they don’t have to reveal their data, that they don’t have to deal with objections from “amateurs”, that they are somehow sacrosanct because they have a PhD in Oceanic Peristalsis or some other climate related subject, is at the core of the “real problems in the field”.

    And you know what, Michael? I can’t speak for the others, but I’m getting real, real tired of that anti-scientific attitude. So when you come in here to lecture us “amateurs” on the meaning of Climategate, and it turns out you haven’t done your homework, I fear that my reaction was not all that a Canadian might desire. I apologize for that, it was wrong of me … but I want you to understand that you are only the latest of a long parade of “experts” who want to lecture us without doing your homework. Doesn’t make my tone and attitude correct, it wasn’t, I was wrong to be upset … but I hope it makes it understandable.

    The thing that is most important for you to understand is that the onus is on mainstream scientists to fix this problem. As I have said before, I can’t “demand” that you do anything. I can’t make mainstream scientists see that they need to answer all scientific objections, NO MATTER WHO IS MAKING THEM OR HOW THEY ARE MADE. You guys keep complaining that our tone isn’t right, or we didn’t ask nicely, or my questions aren’t really questions but “taunts”, or I didn’t say “mother may I”, or a hundred other meaningless objections.

    Frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give a damn. Suppose some questioner isn’t nice, or completely free from flaws, or as faithful as a bird dog, or as kind as Santa Claus … so what? We’ve tried asking nice, Steve is the king of nice, read the Climategate emails and compare and contrast his tone and style with that of the un-indicted co-conspirators … and all it has gotten him is heaps of abuse. We can’t fix the problem with more nice, we’ve proven that over and over.

    The only way to solve this is for you guys to get down off of your high horses and answer the questions. If you want to be cutting and sarcastic when you answer them, that’s fine. I’d prefer collegiate and cordial, but the tone doesn’t matter to me, I’ve gotten worse — just answer the freakin’ questions. A good example of the lack of answers can be found in my post “Where the !@#$%^ is Svalbard”. When I was much more naive, some years ago, I tried to get some answers from Michael Mann and Phil Jones regarding a posting at RealClimate. My questions were simple, scientific, and polite … and they just got censored. Read the account of my misadventures, and tell me if my tone was incorrect.

    As I said, I’ve tried polite, and Steve has tried polite, and lots of us have tried polite. Heck, before I filed my FOI with Phil Jones I sent him a very polite request for the data … he didn’t even deign to answer. Lack of polite is not the issue, been there, tried that.

    So the first thing to solve the “real problems in the field” is to answer all of the questions. Treat every serious scientific objection seriously. Stop pretending that the problem is that we’re not polite. Stop claiming that a question that is not peer-reviewed is not worth addressing. Stop saying that the problem is that we are unqualified to ask questions because we are “amateurs”. Stop complaining that the problem is that we don’t show enough respect to Judith Curry and other very knowledgeable PhDs. Stop bobbing and weaving and censoring. The solution is simple. Just. Answer. Each. Question. As. It. Comes. Up.

    And for goodness sake, stop pretending that humanoids understand the climate. Climate science is one of the newest sciences, and it concerns one of the more complex systems we have ever studied. The idea that a quarter of century of study has led to a “consensus” is nonsense. We don’t know what the clouds do. We don’t know the effects of the tides on the climate. We don’t know all the forcings, new ones are discovered with great regularity. A new study just came out in GRL showing a link between variations in solar UV and hurricanes … who knew? Not you, not Judith, not me. We don’t understand the feedbacks. We only found out recently that plankton create clouds to prevent overheating. How big is that feedback, one feedback among many? No one knows. The science is in its infancy, claims of “understanding” are a joke.

    A quarter century of intense study has not narrowed the estimates of climate sensitivity … and to add insult to injury, we don’t even know if climate actually responds linearly to forcings as the “climate sensitivity” concept requires. I say it doesn’t respond linearly, that very little in the climate is linear, and that the lack of progress in narrowing the sensitivity estimates is evidence that our “deep understanding” of forcings vs. temperature is not correct … but hey, what do I know, I’m an “amateur”.

    Yes, we have learned a lot, I am not saying we know nothing … but there is much, much more that is unknown. Judith doesn’t understand the climate, nor does James Hansen, nor Phil Jones, nor any other climate scientist you might name. The unending arrogance of mainstream climate scientists does nothing but piss people off. The general public is well aware of how little climate scientists know, even if you guys aren’t.

    Anyhow, that’s my apology, and my explanation, and my diagnosis of the problem, and my prescription. We can’t fix the problem, only you guys can. The ball is in your court. That’s why I asked (albeit likely not in the proper way) what you are doing to fix it.

    My best to you,

    w.

    • Barry Woods
      Posted Jun 14, 2010 at 5:03 AM | Permalink

      snip – OT

      • Judith Curry
        Posted Jun 14, 2010 at 8:22 AM | Permalink

        Barry, the most interesting solar paper IMO is the recent one by Scafetta

        http://arxiv.org/abs/1005.4639

        Steve: Barry, if you want to discuss solar, better to do so over at WUWT where Leif Svalgaard can comment or some other site.

    • Judith Curry
      Posted Jun 14, 2010 at 6:50 AM | Permalink

      Willis, it is rather difficult to discern a question or question(s) in what you wrote. You state that the “main problem is”, when others think the main problem is what goes on at climateaudit and similar blogs.

      Science is a very broad field (a point that you correctly made) that is very complex and associated with many uncertainties. In terms of “who” knows something about climate, I think that people who have been publishing in the field and teaching courses in the field for decades or more are most likely to have the broadest and deepest knowledge of our current understanding of the field. I note specifically that teaching courses is a key element here, since individual research foci can be relatively narrow. It is the teaching function that broadens the knowledge base and perspective of researchers. I very much value the knowledge on specific topics that people outside the field have, and we should work to integrate this into the broader thread of the science.

      Regarding “answering the questions,” there are alot of ridiculous questions out there, asked by people who don’t want to understand or can’t understand owing to a complete lack of comprehension about science and how it works, and from people who are trying to distract scientists and waste their time so they can’t get anything done. But there are also alot of really good questions out there (the ones posed at climateaudit for example). Too many scientists dismiss all of the questions as “noise,” part of the alleged “politically motivated disinformation machine.” So the “noise” questions are to the detriment of science, but the good questions from technically educated people should be addressed and this population (loosely defined by the technical climate blogs) should be more mainstreamed into the scientific process and dialogue, IMO. So the challenge here is to sound like the signal rather than the noise, and the mainstreamers will start paying attention.

      What has been going on in the climate blogosphere for the last week is very interesting and potentially important. We are seeing some people spend time over here (e.g. MT, penguindreams) engaging with the climateauditors and trying to understand what might be of value here. Brian Angliss has spent some time on the desmog threads, and is actually changing his post based on the arguments here. Lots of “cross tribe” dialogue. This is a good thing, a prerequisite for the climate blogosphere to increase its impact in the overall climate science debate.

      And if anyone actually changes their mind about something as a result of the dialogue (in whatever direction, beyond confirming their own initial prejudices), is a victory for us all.

      • Posted Jun 14, 2010 at 12:54 PM | Permalink

        Re: Judith Curry (Jun 14 06:50),

        Interesting. I now find myself wondering if climate scientists are asking correctly premised questions and are using properly formed hypotheses. One of the things that I am aware of when making decisions under uncertainty is using the differential diagnosis process. For those not familiar with what a diagnosis is, it is a best guess of which one of a number of known processes fit a set of signs and symptoms shown by collecting a set of data, some of which is apocryphal, from an ongoing dynamic system. A diagnosis is never certain in advance and the data collection process is subject to type 1, type 2, and other various errors of measurement.

        This might sound naive, stupid or silly, but I wonder if there is a climate system for planet Earth, and if there is, how is it different from its weather system? It is scaling? And if so, if the weather system is a damped, driven, nonlinear, and deterministically chaotic, how can the climate system not be mathematically chaotic and subject to self-similarity regardless of scale? If it not scaling, then what is it? Also, since the sound analysis of observations, whether physical measurements or not, requires sound statistical procedures; how can the scientists involved not see the value in using known, standardized procedures over inventing new ones whose properties have not been properly characterized?

      • Willis Eschenbach
        Posted Jun 14, 2010 at 3:17 PM | Permalink

        Judith, thanks as always for your comments. You say:

        Willis, it is rather difficult to discern a question or question(s) in what you wrote. You state that the “main problem is”, when others think the main problem is what goes on at climateaudit and similar blogs.

        That’s because there is no question in what I just wrote. It is headed as being some thoughts about my interaction with Michael Tobis.

        As to whether the main problem with climate science is what goes on at Climate Audit and similar blogs, that doesn’t pass the laugh test. That’s right up there with saying the main problem with Phil Jones’s response to Warwick Hughes is that Hughes actually asked for the data, or that the main problem with CRU was the FOI requests …

        Science is a very broad field (a point that you correctly made) that is very complex and associated with many uncertainties. In terms of “who” knows something about climate, I think that people who have been publishing in the field and teaching courses in the field for decades or more are most likely to have the broadest and deepest knowledge of our current understanding of the field.

        I agree with “deepest”. When you can lecture us on say the intricacies of the relationship between the growth patterns of coral reefs and their levels of CO2 that are produced (not experienced but produced) by coral reefs, then I’ll believe broadest. My advantage in this field is that I am a generalist. As such, my knowledge is broad rather than deep, which allows me an overview of the subject and a view of the interrelationships that generally is not shared (or appreciated) by specialists.

        I note specifically that teaching courses is a key element here, since individual research foci can be relatively narrow. It is the teaching function that broadens the knowledge base and perspective of researchers. I very much value the knowledge on specific topics that people outside the field have, and we should work to integrate this into the broader thread of the science.

        Whether someone is teaching or researching is immaterial. In general I don’t find the teachers to have any broader knowledge than the researchers. Climate science comprises dozens of disparate disciplines, with numerous sub-specialties within each discipline. No matter how much you might teach or research about hurricanes, it doesn’t give you any deeper knowledge of oceanic high pressure CO2-carbonate chemical interchanges. Because of that, as you say, everyone has to rely on “the knowledge on specific topics that people outside the field have”.

        Unfortunately, far too often, mainstream climate scientists do nothing of the sort. Instead, they ignore or censor everything that might cast a shadow of doubt on their results, they refuse to run their statistics past actual statisticians, or worse, they work behind the scenes to prevent publication of views from outside the field.

        Regarding “answering the questions,” there are alot of ridiculous questions out there, asked by people who don’t want to understand or can’t understand owing to a complete lack of comprehension about science and how it works, and from people who are trying to distract scientists and waste their time so they can’t get anything done.

        Jones made this identical claim as well, that we filed FOIs with CRU just to distract good scientists from their work, so they were justified in refusing to answer them … I can assure you that that was not my motive in filing my FOI, and I greatly doubt that it was Steve’s motive.

        And as to a “lack of comprehension about science and how it works”, Jones refused to reveal his data because Warwick might try to find errors in it … and not one mainstream climate scientist stood up to say “hey, that’s not how science works”. Not one. The exact same think happened with Michael Mann, when he was asked for his data. Not one single solitary mainstream scientist said “Hey, Mike, science doesn’t work like that, science requires transparency, reveal the data”. Instead, we took heaps of abuse from you mainstream folks for having the unmitigated gall to actually question a noble, pure Scientist. Us stupid amateurs that don’t understand how science works noticed and spoke out in defense of science in both cases, but none of you said one damn word. So please reconsider your assertions about who it is that understands how science works, you guys that keep schtum as scientific honesty and transparency are trampled into the mud are the ones that seem science-challenged to me …

        But there are also alot of really good questions out there (the ones posed at climateaudit for example). Too many scientists dismiss all of the questions as “noise,” part of the alleged “politically motivated disinformation machine.” So the “noise” questions are to the detriment of science, but the good questions from technically educated people should be addressed and this population (loosely defined by the technical climate blogs) should be more mainstreamed into the scientific process and dialogue, IMO. So the challenge here is to sound like the signal rather than the noise, and the mainstreamers will start paying attention.

        Oh, so it’s our fault again, because we “sound like the noise”? I say again, Judith, read my post on Svalbard. I raised clear concise scientific questions which were immediately censored. They knew very well that my questions weren’t noise, that’s not the problem. Stop trying to lay the blame on us, and take a good hard look at your colleagues. The “sound like” problem is not that our scientific questions “sound like the noise”. It is that your colleagues know that if they answer the questions that clearly don’t sound like the noise, they will sound like idiots … so they pick the more pleasing sound.

        What has been going on in the climate blogosphere for the last week is very interesting and potentially important. We are seeing some people spend time over here (e.g. MT, penguindreams) engaging with the climateauditors and trying to understand what might be of value here. Brian Angliss has spent some time on the desmog threads, and is actually changing his post based on the arguments here. Lots of “cross tribe” dialogue. This is a good thing, a prerequisite for the climate blogosphere to increase its impact in the overall climate science debate.

        And if anyone actually changes their mind about something as a result of the dialogue (in whatever direction, beyond confirming their own initial prejudices), is a victory for us all.

        Now, that, I can agree with 100%.

        My regards, and my appreciation for your patience in this. I only get attacked from one side. You get attacked by both skeptics on the one side, and by Michael Tobis and folks on the other side, you have the harder job.

        w.

        • See - owe to Rich
          Posted Jun 14, 2010 at 3:49 PM | Permalink

          Willis,

          I think that Judith is right that in the blogosphere there is a fair amount of noise. But students of ClimateAudit see that there are some contributors who produce very little of that. IMHO you are one of them.

          Kudos.

          I also think that mainstream climate scientists, with all their skills, can actually discriminate the signal from the noise quite well. And sometimes it serves them better to shout back at the noise, sadly.

          I hope this makes some sense.

          Rich.

      • Tom C
        Posted Jun 14, 2010 at 3:38 PM | Permalink

        Dr. Curry –

        The problem with climate science is illustrated by what is being discussed on the other thread right now. Namely, that there is a divergence “problem” with tree-ring data. The fact that this is seen as a “problem” shows how politicized and ideological the climate science community is. In all other fields, maybe phrenology excepted, theories are either confirmed or disproved by data. But in climate science, the fact that data does not fit the theory is seen as a “problem”. Any open-minded person would see that the theory is the “problem”. The climate science mind is so closed that the thought cannot even be entertained. That is the real problem.

      • agw_skeptic99
        Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 10:21 AM | Permalink

        “Regarding “answering the questions,” there are a lot of ridiculous questions out there, asked by people who don’t want to understand or can’t understand owing to a complete lack of comprehension about science and how it works, and from people who are trying to distract scientists and waste their time so they can’t get anything done.

        The belief that people are “trying to distract scientists and waste their time” is at the very root of the hostility that these same scientists experience. What would be the benefits to anyone of such an effort? Do you really believe that any rational person would expect to succeed in such an effort? Isn’t this the ultimate ad hominem attack that you say think is unproductive? There are a lot of people at different stages of learning about these issues, and you can choose to answer ignorant questions or not. Attacking the questioners motives isn’t likely to improve civility.

        I am a computer programmer by trade, and have managed a small business for many years. My conversion to skepticism occurred about the time that I realized that the people you call scientists thought they were above it all and had no need to defend or explain their positions, combined with evidence like the quote from Dr. Phil Jones where he refused to share his data because someone would find errors in his work.

        People who are honest and doing actual professional scientific work for publication in a public document do not need, nor would they want, to hide their data and methods. People who are proselytizing their firmly held beliefs that CO2 is about to ruin the world and that their mission in life is to save the world easily believe that their ends justify their means.

        snip – please do not over-editorialize

        • Michael Tobis
          Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 10:35 AM | Permalink

          “The belief that people are “trying to distract scientists and waste their time” is at the very root of the hostility that these same scientists experience. What would be the benefits to anyone of such an effort?”

          Can you really think of none? That’s odd, considering the value of privately owned fossil fuel reserves. The primary purpose of attacking science is to delay policy. This may not be what motivates individuals, but it is key to the momentum of the attacks.

          “There are a lot of people at different stages of learning about these issues, and you can choose to answer ignorant questions or not.”

          This is true.

          “Attacking the questioners motives isn’t likely to improve civility.”

          Scientists can’t keep up with the innocent and clueless questions. Nor can we police everyone who steps up to answer them.

          “The preponderance of evidence says that the leading lights at the IPCC, the CRU, NASA/NOAA/GISS and more have known for a long time that their data doesn’t justify their past publications and probably their current positions.”

          Well, that depends where you look, doesn’t it?

          “I usually put some of these words in hostile quotes, but have refrained from doing so at the request of some of the posters here.”

          That hardly serves the purposes of such restraint.

          Again, the climate is a physical system. Understanding it is amenable to physical reasoning. What you need to do first in addressing whether the science holds water is to identify who has the clearest understanding of that physics.

        • Artifex
          Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 12:54 PM | Permalink

          Michael Tobias says:

          Can you really think of none? That’s odd, considering the value of privately owned fossil fuel reserves. The primary purpose of attacking science is to delay policy. This may not be what motivates individuals, but it is key to the momentum of the attacks.

          It seems to me that your world is full of overblown generalizations that rest on few specifics. You state that the purpose of attacking the science is to delay policy. You know this exactly how … ? ESP ? You attribute motivations to your opposition that you can’t possibly know from a scientific or logical standpoint.

          I follow many of the technical blog discussions and feel that I have a pretty good read on many of the common posters and have a reasonably good feel for their biases and technical capabilities. I prefer a strong technical discussion to a political echo chamber so I admit I don’t read everything that’s out there. Most of the strong technical attacks against entrenched AGW positions are made by people I have come to know through the world of the on-line blogs. So who exactly is the big oil shill ? I can’t wait to find out.

          You do state that this may not be what motivates individuals. OK, so if you can’t name a single major poster (much less blog writer), there must be some other mechanism, yes ? If “big oil” is “key to the momentum of the attacks”, how exactly does this work ? Can you point to something specific, because I see no data what-so-ever to support your viewpoint. You somehow jump directly from the value of fossil fuel reserves to these forces must be the key. I see this argument a lot and it seems to go with enough handwaving that somebodies eye is going to get put out.

          I have an alternate theory that given Occam’s Razor fits better. There are those of us that like specifics. Michael and his ilk like generalities and make vast unsupported generalizations like the one above. After decades of watching thesis defenses and design reviews the retreat into generalities sets off every BS detector I posses. What is really key to the momentum of the attack on Michaels position ? It has nothing to do with the shadowy forces of the fossil fuel industry, and everything to do with utter failure to argue the specifics convincingly.

        • Steve Reynolds
          Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 1:14 PM | Permalink

          Michael Tobis: “Scientists can’t keep up with the innocent and clueless questions. Nor can we police everyone who steps up to answer them.”

          There appear to be plenty of amateurs available to answer the innocent and clueless questions.

          “Nor can we police everyone who steps up to answer them.”

          Of course, but scientists could police their own blogs to let amateurs politely and correctly answer them (RC could do much better here, especially with the politely).

          The questions scientists need to at least attempt to answer are the ones that are not clueless, but are difficult, may not have good answers, or may tend to show climate science has more uncertainty than you would like. Avoiding these questions greatly reduces confidence in climate science.

        • agw_skeptic99
          Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 2:14 PM | Permalink

          Re: Michael Tobis June 15 10:35

          “Can you really think of none? That’s odd, considering the value of privately owned fossil fuel reserves. The primary purpose of attacking science is to delay policy. This may not be what motivates individuals, but it is key to the momentum of the attacks.”

          So an anonymous blog post that you, or any other scientist, voluntarily decides to read, and then voluntarily decides to answer or not, somehow is part of a mission to interfere with your ability to do your job? Or newspaper articles that attack a scientific or policy position are calculated to do the same? Or talk shows? Does your job require you to pay any attention to any of these if you would rather not?

          Maybe my simple mind is missing the hidden force that accomplishes this interference. From where I stand people like Phil Jones and Michael Mann’s refusal to provide access to their data actually did interfere with their ability to do their jobs and with their ability to influence public policy in a major way. Compare this to asking an assistant to zip the files and put them on a file server with a link. Compare the endless hearings and audits from the past and the predictable future to the cost of doing that now.

          I continue to believe that the most logical explanation for continuing to hide the data is that they believe their professional reputations would suffer more from releasing the data than from continuing to hide it, but maybe my logic is too simple and unsophisticated to understand their reasoning.

          It wasn’t the original question that caused the interference unless the oil companies who presumably are behind all of this somehow anticipated the (to me) completely unpredictable refusal to provide the data that supported the published document.

    • Michael Tobis
      Posted Jun 14, 2010 at 3:59 PM | Permalink

      Willis, your attempted apology is appreciated. If you actually want to talk to me you will have to go further. I ask you never to put the words “climate science” or “climatology” in scare quotes again. (I have just vowed never to waste my time trying to talk to someone who does that.)

      You have now staked out a position that claims that since you lack a specialty, you are a better generalist than people who have one or more specialties within the relevant sciences. This may be satisfying to you emotionally, and it may sound plausible at first glance, but I don’t buy it. It really is the opposite of how deep knowledge works. First you develop a specialty. Then you develop a related specialty. Then you see analogies and distinctions between them. As time goes on, you create an informed view of the multiplicity of components of the system.

      Sorry, you are overvaluing your own insights. Even someone who has only a narrow specialty, say a well-honed postdoc, is free to think about the whole system in his or her spare time, just as you are. But that person will be informed by a depth of information in that specialty, and by years of interaction with people in related specialties, and by years of attendance at lectures and job talks and conferences by peers and experts.

      It’s **not** that I’m insulted. I’m not asking for an apology.

      It’s that you are deeply, fundamentally wrong, and you seem to be committed to this deeply, fundamentally wrong position. It’s pointless to argue with people who are committed to an idea that is incorrect. Such an idea is an ideology, not a hypothesis. So I need you to drop the scare quotes mentally, and consider for a moment that other people might actually have more applicable knowledge than you do.

      That is, don’t just **act** polite, **be** collegial. You don’t have to believe me, but if you want to converse you will have to not reflexively disbelieve me and look to shoot down every word I say. You will have to **believe** that I am arguing in good faith. To be remotely polite, you need to accept the **possibility** that a smart person reading this site and Watts without any training will get a very skewed idea of what the science is actually about, because that is what I honestly believe. If that is unimaginable to you I get nowhere by talking to you.

      Otherwise, I fail to see the point of any exchanges with you. It just seems like I’m giving you target practice.

      • See - owe to Rich
        Posted Jun 14, 2010 at 4:47 PM | Permalink

        Michael,

        I’m sure that Willis can defend himself admirably, but I think a perspective from a third party may be in order here. What, I believe, ClimateAudit seeks to promote, is a combination of intelligence and humility. You are undoubtably intelligent, from your writings, but I don’t see much humility, rather a quantim of arrogance.

        In a way, you have accused Willis of arrogance, in touting his “breadth of knowledge”. But it all comes down to street cred – Willis has established his here with numerous intelligent postings on the actualities of climate science (which phrase I won’t dare to quote in deference to you :-), but unfortunately, at this site, you haven’t established any street cred when it comes to analyzing climate statistics and phenomena. Therefore, to gain any traction here, you need to lose the arrogance and assumption of natural superiority (which you may well in actuality possess), and start discussing some data. That is what CA is about. We enjoyed your preliminaries; now discurse, please.

        Rich. (Ph.D. not in climate science and therefore with no right to pronounce here, apparently.)

        • Judith Curry
          Posted Jun 14, 2010 at 5:41 PM | Permalink

          Rich, good point esp about the humility, however statistical analysis is but one aspect of climate science. Solely with regards to data, underlying knowledge of the measurement systems is also a critical element. Theory and understanding of physical/chemical processes is at the heart of understanding, and challenging this understanding with observations. And numerical simulation also plays a key role. To assume that a climate scientist coming here must do some spreadsheet statistical analysis on a dataset of relevance to the other blog denizens to establish street cred here, well its not something thats going to happen. In my case, i have completely resisted doing this. What I bring here is physical understanding and insight on many aspects of the climate problem, pretty good understanding of simulations and also some understanding of the philosophy of science. My stats cred is minimal. Physical understanding seems in relatively short supply here (although there is a high level of statistical and data analysis expertise and some dendro expertise and apparently simulation expertise also). I will leave it to RT to define his own expertise. But the point i am making is that statistical analysis of relatively small data sets such as conducted here is but a single aspect of climate science.

          Further, on a thread such as this, we are really talking about the politics and policy of science, rather than the science itself. As a scientist in the climate field and host of a climate blog, that should certainly give RT sufficient street cred for people here to consider his arguments.

          So lets not dismiss anyone here until they make a flawed argument, then dismiss the argument and not the person, hope they learn something and make a better argument next time.

        • MrPete
          Posted Jun 14, 2010 at 6:00 PM | Permalink

          Re: Judith Curry (Jun 14 17:41),
          Judith, what you say about the need for both mathematical and physical smarts is 100% correct.

          Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that (mature) commenters here only know stats. Much of the (mature) concern expressed here is over climate scientists who demonstrate too little of either one, even though they may have a degree and publications that would normally suggest otherwise.

          The challenge we face is that much of climate science is decidedly multidisciplinary in exactly the way you describe, requiring math/stats chops, field understanding, AND ability to correctly set up a computer model. Yet too often, those who create the models are weak in one or both of the other areas, to their very great detriment.

          Judith, you have physical understanding in certain areas. Yet, for example, I would guess that you might make few if any claims to understand bristlecone pine issues. Nor actually would most of those who are creating multiproxy models.

          On the other hand, I’m married to someone whose “general” area of expertise is field biology. She herself is not a BCP expert, yet her breadth of understanding is easily sufficient to recognize flawed use of BCP data… most likely better than you can.

          I’m not a (professional) specialist in any area of science, yet I have deep generalized information and data expertise. I can usually smell good or weak data collection, management and use from a mile away. It doesn’t matter what the topic is. That’s why I have been known to walk into a group that’s struggled with a challenge for a month, and even though I knew nothing of their specialty, have helped them solve their issue rather quickly.

          Michael lacks “street cred” here mostly because his primary arguments have had little to do with the science, and much to do with personalities (and unfortunately, the bashing thereof.) And, he’s been digging a hole for himself as one who believes his specialized knowledge qualifies him to comment on things of which he knows very little.

          I’m encouraged in general… all of this “venting” is slowly helping to produce what may become a bit of mutual humility and respect among the participants. It’s hard to do it in “text” but hey, that’s all we have to work with :)

      • MrPete
        Posted Jun 14, 2010 at 5:37 PM | Permalink

        Re: Michael Tobis (Jun 14 15:59),
        Hmmm…. MT raises an interesting question, albeit in the middle of (IMHO) misreading what Willis has said.

        MT:

        You have now staked out a position that claims that since you lack a specialty, you are a better generalist than people who have one or more specialties within the relevant sciences….It really is the opposite of how deep knowledge works. First you develop a specialty. Then you develop a related specialty. Then you see analogies and distinctions between them…. [emphasis mine]

        Michael, I didn’t hear Willis saying he’s a better generalist due to the lack of a specialty. He simply claims to be a generalist, and that this state provides certain advantages.

        What you have described is what I might call a “multi-specialist” — a person who has developed multiple specialties. The smartest guy I know has three PhD’s, is deep in all three, and can connect the dots between all three. Yet that isn’t nearly enough to make him a generalist. He spends most of his time outside those specialty areas. To me, that’s what makes him an amazing generalist.

        Generalists have poured themselves, not into one or two specialties, but into a 30,000 foot view. They pay attention to a lot of arenas. This gives them the ability to draw on many arenas to bring helpful contributions.

        I myself am a bit of a generalist. Partly, it’s because my area of “specialty” is information technology — one of the professions with incredibly broad application. Partly, it’s because in my career I’ve had the privilege of involvement in a rich variety of data initiatives. But mostly, it’s because of the extensive time I’ve spent in completely unrelated fields, from woodworking to sailing, backpacking to small motor repair, field biology, disaster response, photography, color, playing with kids, music, glaciology, statistics, 4WD on narrow rocky mountain paths, international diplomacy, dendritic growth and more. After a while, one learns to observe in new ways.

        My guess: the multidisciplinary view that’s second nature to a generalist is as incomprehensible to a (multi-)specialist, as is depth of specialized understanding to a generalist.

        Rich is correct: we all need more humility.

        [Couple of minor edits a minute after posting.]

        • Carl Gullans
          Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 10:46 AM | Permalink

          he is:

          A jack of all trades
          A master of none
          But oftentimes better
          Than a master of one

        • Michael Tobis
          Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 11:11 AM | Permalink

          I consider myself a generalist, a “master of all trades, doctor of none”. For whatever that’s worth.

        • Willis Eschenbach
          Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 1:18 PM | Permalink

          Michael Tobis

          I consider myself a generalist, a “master of all trades, doctor of none”. For whatever that’s worth.

          It’s not worth a damn thing if you continue to avoid the questions, so far you are just a “master of all questions, answerer of none” …

          You made a very unpleasant attack on Steve. He asked you what you were talking about, viz:

          Steve: You’ve also made wide-ranging critical allegations about things that I’ve said at the blog, but failed to provide any examples. I try hard to be accurate in what I write and to correct any inaccuracies if I make a mistake. Can you identify some points of inaccuracy in my posts that occasioned your allegations against me? I’m not asking you to itemize everything in the entire blog, just to start with two or three examples of statements that I’ve made (me, not individual commenters like Willis or yourself) that you believe to be false.

          You made distasteful allegations, and you were asked by Steve to back them up. You did not do so. Since you seemed to have overlooked Steve’s post, I repeated Steve’s request that you back them up.

          You have done nothing.

          I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at this behaviour, it is so common in the world of climate science that it is one of the topics of this very discussion, but still I am surprised. You come in here, start slinging disagreeable accusations, tell us that we’re the reason that climate scientists are circling the wagons and not answering questions …

          Then you don’t answer the repeated questions about your allegations.

          And you claim that we’re the problem, that we’re the reason the wagons get circled and the questions don’t get answered? My friend … buy a mirror.

          PS – I also asked questions which have gone unanswered. I asked what you think are the “real problems in the field” that you had mentioned, and what you were actually doing about them. You haven’t answered my questions either … but start with Steve’s, they are more important.

          PPS – Now that I think about it, I also asked, since I had answered your question affirmatively as to whether I would stop putting climate science in quotes, if you were willing to stop using the term “denier” and its derivatives … no answer to that question either. Are we seeing a pattern here?

        • Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 4:02 PM | Permalink

          > You made distasteful allegations […]

          Notwithstanding their implied distastefulness (at best a self-defeating epithet), it might be interesting to have a sample of those allegations.

          > You have done nothing.

          As Bender would say, read the blog.

        • Willis Eschenbach
          Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 5:21 PM | Permalink

          willard
          Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 4:02 PM

          > You made distasteful allegations […]

          Notwithstanding their implied distastefulness (at best a self-defeating epithet), it might be interesting to have a sample of those allegations.

          If you want examples, please ask either Steve or Michael. I am trying to get Michael to answer Steve’s question. My interpretation will only muddy the water.

          > You have done nothing.

          As Bender would say, read the blog.

          If Michael has given the “two or three examples” of where Steve has made scientific errors, as Steve requested, I certainly haven’t seen them. Perhaps you could point them out to us. I just re-read the thread and didn’t find those examples … but I certainly might have missed Michael’s answer. You can right-click where it says “Permalink” at the top right of each comment, copy it, and paste it. Here is the Permalink to your comment, for example:

          http://climateaudit.org/2010/06/04/losing-glacier-data/#comment-232353

          So if you could provide us with the Permalink to the comment where Michael answered Steve’s questions, we could get past this issue easily.

          Thanks for your assistance,

          w.

        • Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 5:59 PM | Permalink

          We can see how Willis Eschenbach tries to get Michael to answer Steve’s question:

          > [S]o far you are just a “master of all questions, answerer of none”

          > You made a very unpleasant attack on Steve […]

          > You made distasteful allegations […]

          > I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at this behaviour […]

          > My friend … buy a mirror.

          > Are we seeing a pattern here?

          This persuasive elicitation concerns a question regarding an attack and allegations that Willis Eschenbach is not willing to identify.

          So Willis Eschenbach ask a question without knowing exactly what is being asked.

        • Willis Eschenbach
          Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 9:23 PM | Permalink

          willard
          Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 5:59 PM

          We can see how Willis Eschenbach tries to get Michael to answer Steve’s question:

          Steve asked him nicely first. I asked him nicely second. Third time, not so nice. World works that way. Get used to it.

        • Michael Tobis
          Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 6:06 PM | Permalink

          I **never said or implied** that I had two or three examples of inaccuracy uttered by Steve. This is a most peculiar straw man.

          First, I am not a regular reader. On the basis of this week’s exchanges, I do not intend to become one.

          Second, it would be astonishing if there were NOT two or three examples of inaccuracy on Steve’s part on such a prolific blog as this, so I don’t know what this would prove anyway.

          Third, I do not understand on what basis any contributor is required to reply to certain provocations and to ignore others. It appears one can be criticized either way; I think the rule is that one should always have done the other thing.

          Finally, I specifically expressed on two prior occasions that any criticism I have had on this thread to date is not about anything that Steve himself has done, but only about the tone of the conversation that he encourages.

          My answer to the question is therefore (as is so common around here) that the question is argumentative and ill-posed.

          It’s as if I were insistently required to provide the street addresses of a spotted lynx, a snow leopard and a crocodile on the basis of having claimed to see an a couple of ordinary pigeons and a nasty little dog. When I point out that I never claimed to have any of those other beasts and while confident that they exist I don’t know exactly where, I am treated as if I were non-responsive.

          Now if I had alleged that Steve had made three substantive errors that I knew about, I could see that I would owe him chapter and verse on it. But I never claimed that. So I am baffled by this line of questioning.

        • Willis Eschenbach
          Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 9:35 PM | Permalink

          Michael, Steve asked you for three examples of what you were talking about. You said nothing. I asked you to answer Steve’s question. Nothing.

          How is that like asking for the street address of a spotted lynx? If you think Steve was accusing you unfairly, what most people would do is ask Steve for specifics. But you didn’t do that, you didn’t say “Hey, what is it that you are asking about? What did I say that you are referring to?” You claim to be “baffled by this line of questioning” … but when people are baffled, they simply ask the person for clarification.

          So instead of talking about snow leopards, how about you take the next logical step, and ask Steve what he was talking about? Then we can get past this question and move on to the next one.

          Oh, and speaking of questions … are you ever going to answer my questions? I have not forgotten them. There are three questions that you have stubbornly refused to answer.

        • MrPete
          Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 9:45 PM | Permalink

          Re: Michael Tobis (Jun 15 18:06),
          Michael, just in case you’re considering how to write up an analysis of this thread, please permit me to shine a gentle light on a reality you have so far seemed unable to recognize. This particular “vigorous discussion” became vigorous directly as a result of your provocation.

          You wrote:

          By “this approach”, as any fair reading of my comment will easily reveal, I mean the approach wherein “I am to be treated with contempt” for alleging that there deep knowledge within climate science to be valued.

          Nobody is upset with you for making such an allegation. That’s a strawman.

          What you have alleged, beginning with your very first post in this thread was a hornet’s nest of insinuations and insults towards this community:

          * The CA community is amateur while you are part of the non-amateur group.
          * The CA community is amateur while climate scientists are not.
          * The CA community has little appreciation for the deep knowledge that climate scientists do have.

          Willis’ response to you was polite yet direct, as were Craig and my replies.

          Your reply to Willis (and Craig, and myself)? No apology, but instead accusation of huffiness toward me, and a repeat of the same insult (that people here are not professionals with useful expertise.)

          Yes, it went downhill from there. I’ve yet to see you take responsibility for your part in this. Nor have I seen a change toward more humility. Only a move to make your attitude a bit more subtle (unwilling to accept “jack of all trades” you claimed the upper hand as a “master of all trades”?! Why the one-upsmanship???)

          Michael, you walked in with a chip on your shoulder, and now you threaten to walk away, acting as if you were treated unfairly. I am somewhat hopeful that this message will help you look in the mirror a bit. Here’s hoping :) :)

        • AMac
          Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 9:55 PM | Permalink

          Michael Tobis noted (Jun 15 18:06),

          I **never said or implied** that I had two or three examples of inaccuracy uttered by Steve.

          Having just scanned this (interesting) thread and all MT’s comments: the quoted statement is correct, as far as I can tell.

          It may be that a review of “Only In It For The Gold” would yield a different result. Upthread, Willis Eschenbach offered excerpts that he found objectionable (Jun 12 14:55), but none of them include a direct assertion of inaccuracy on the part of Steve McI.

          Thus, it would be reasonable to specify the text of any “wide-ranging critical allegations about things that [Steve McI] said at the blog,” that have been made by MT. MT could then address those issues, if he chose.

        • Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 10:30 PM | Permalink

          Your “hornet’s nest of insinuations and insults” is one thing repeated twice and another thing. By “amateur” I meant no criticism, as I already explained, and you accepted. You seem to have gone out of your way to forget that.

          However on the point that “the CA community has little appreciation for the deep knowledge that climate scientists do have” I’ve seen no evidence to the contrary. Has there ever been an article here saying “This paper knocked my socks off” “What a brilliant analysis” “This explanation made this particular phenomenon much clearer to me”…

          How many here could even come up with a cogent explanation of the vertical lapse rate in the troposphere? Does anybody know what a Rossby radius is without rushing to Wikipedia? All this obsession with the global mean surface temperature and the attribution problem celebrates a tedious backwater that partakes not at all in the elegance and rigor of the geophysical fluids problems.

          I could be wrong but I don’t see conversation here that is about, you know, physical climatology. And if you don’t know that I could see why you’re all hung up on thermometers, but that’s not what it’s all about at all.

          If most of you don’t understand that, you are likely to put “climate science” in scare quotes and think it is about thermometers and thermometer proxies. It’s a pity, but it’s a fact that you are missing not only the mature science but also the fun part.

          At least in my opinion. Some people have other ideas of what is fun, apparently.

          As for who’s got chips on their shoulders, I’ll simply voice disagreement.

          Anyway, it is kind of you to suggest that my expressing an interest in leaving is a “threat”, as though you might regret it. Unfortunately, it is not a threat, it is an intention. I am waiting for this thread to run out of steam and then I’m out of here.

          However, I will go so far as to say that I never intended to imply “that people here are not professionals with useful expertise”. That’s nonsense; I don’t believe it and would not have deliberately said it. If I left such an impression I sincerely apologize. While I wish you would use your talents in a more productive way, I certainly agree that there are genuinely skilled and smart and talented people here.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 11:00 PM | Permalink

          Michael, when I asked you for examples to support your criticisms, I had in mind, for example, the following allegations that you had made:

          Hurling accusations at well-intentioned individuals and treating science as an alien and sinister institution worthy of paranoia rather than a clumsy anachronism doesn’t help.

          I, for one, do not regard “science” as an “alien and sinister institution”. Quite the contrary. I’ve questioned the validity of various studies that do not use accepted statistical methods using methods that are recognized statistical methods. Nor do I “hurl accusations”. If I criticize something, I try to do so carefully and using authors’ own words as much as possible. Can you provide me with example of posts where you feel that I’ve done the above. If that is the impression that I’ve made in the post in question, I’d like to re-examine the post to see why this effect was created.

          You had also said:

          “But it means these are people who don’t deserve the way you have treated them, or for that matter, me.”

          You partly withdrew the comment by saying “you personally have not offended me personally”, but presumably still hold to the rest of the statement that there are other “people who don’t deserve the way you have treated them”. Could you please provide me two or three examples – so that I can re-examine the situation and try to address the situation as best I can.

  95. Steve Fitzpatrick
    Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 12:03 AM | Permalink

    I have just finished reading this very long thread, and would like to make a few (I hope) constructive comments:

    1. Micheal Tobis – Thank you for your more calm and reasoned comments. I can see that you are trying hard to control your tendency to sometimes make offensive/snarky comments when you disagree with someone. I do hope this continues.

    2. Willis – You made many good and valid points about deficiencies in climate science, and failings among climate scientists. But you too often throw away what you gain with open hostility and anger. Make you valid points, but there is not need to heap on abuse, even if you think it is warranted. I think a more measured approach would be much effective.

    3. Judith Curry – It is clear that you are making an honest effort to improve the “structures” through which climate science is funded and administered, and this is a valuable contribution; I hope that other individuals working in the field will join you in this effort. I think that a specific Federal law requiring disclosure of data and methodology for all Federally funded research might be more effective that a piecemeal approach, especially if that law had teeth… eg. future funding cut off for non-compliance. If scientific organizations were to call for this type of legislation, I believe Congress would pass it. I also understand that public calls for a specific climate scientist to change his or her behavior are very unlikely to be constructive, and so are not worth pursuing. But I do think a frank, off-the-record conversation, by telephone or face to face (NOT by email!), when an individual scientist is clearly acting counter to the interests of climate science might be effective, especially if that scientist heard something similar from more than one of his/her peers. As a smart person once noted “To change behavior, criticize in private, praise in public”.

    • Willis Eschenbach
      Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 1:08 AM | Permalink

      Steve Fitzpatrick
      Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 12:03 AM

      I have just finished reading this very long thread, and would like to make a few (I hope) constructive comments:

      … 2. Willis – You made many good and valid points about deficiencies in climate science, and failings among climate scientists. But you too often throw away what you gain with open hostility and anger. Make you valid points, but there is not need to heap on abuse, even if you think it is warranted. I think a more measured approach would be much effective. …

      Yeah, you’re right, Steve. I’m considering enrolling in the Betty Ford Treatment Center for a six-week mediated intensive retreat focused on how to be more Canadian …

      Seriously, I know that I should be less passionate about all of this, and I am aware of the costs of that passion. But at times, the unthinking arrogance and casual off-hand condescension of otherwise very knowledgeable climate scientists, towards people who have the unsufferable arrogance to question their beliefs, angrifies my blood to the point where I’m not thinking clearly … and as a result, once again I end up having to admit I was wrong and apologizing for stupidly falling into the same trap.

      I used to think that by the time I was sixty I would surely have outgrown my cowboy roots … now, I’m shooting for seventy …

    • Judith Curry
      Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 5:42 AM | Permalink

      Steve, these are indeed wise words “To change behavior, criticize in private, praise in public.” Thank you.

      How to translate this into the blogosphere is a problem tho.

      • Baa Humbug
        Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 8:17 AM | Permalink

        Re: Judith Curry (Jun 15 05:42),

        “To change behavior, criticize in private, praise in public.” Thank you.

        With all due respect, we’re not dealing with changing the behaviour of some recalcitrant teenagers. The core group involved are in it way way too deep to ever change their behaviour. And this behaviour has been demonstrated since day one. It is NOT a response to the demands of some “angry” sceptics like Willis. It is classic behaviour of the guilty.

        And I fully support the passion of people like Willis, yes even their anger. The core group have not engaged, will not engage. They need to be prodded with the verbal equivalent of a cattle prod to get a response from them.

    • Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 6:30 AM | Permalink

      Have you heard of “forming, storming, norming, performing”. I think its a good description of what happens, esp. among academics. Having got through the storming, what of the norming? We could make a list of norms we agree on, and those we don’t, etc.

      You could talk about norms around blog behaviour, but that would be a waste of your valuable time IMHO. Norms around archiving are the subject of the thread, or specifically what is a normal response to a colleague’s non-archival of data, that’s where the difference of opinion is, isn’t it?

      • Judith Curry
        Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 6:42 AM | Permalink

        Haven’t heard of this, interesting. In the present situation, seems like we also need to add “reforming.”

        The norm is clearly stated in the NAS report i referred to previously http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12615. And also in policies of the funding agencies and a few of the journals.

        The issue is that these aren’t adequately enforced, and there are few sanctions that you can use to enforce this among academic scientists (it is easily enforced for govt scientists).

        Most of the pressure for reforming/enforcement is coming from the blogosphere. Blogospheric behavior becomes an issue when it promotes circling of the wagons and stubborn refusals to release the data.

        I agree, it should be simpler . . .

        • Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 7:24 AM | Permalink

          Judith, Yes reforming is more apropo than performing in this situation. I have done a few of these blog-based audits. Recently Tas van Ommen was a real scholar about releasing the data and code to public scrutiny, and even asked the journal if a clarification should be issued on a point I raised. Hennessy released the data after considerable pressure from blogs of Steve, Bolt and others.

          Point is, public shaming on the blogosphere didn’t promote circling the wagons and stubborn refusals. To Tas, scrutiny was a norm. CSIRO may have had some issues with IP, but they got over them realizing it was in their best interest.

          I’ve been fairly critical of both these studies but a blog is just a blog after all. Most working scientists after a while say — well if you have a problem I’ll respond through the journals.

          I think Steve is just as polite as I am. The difference is among the wide range of audits that Steve has done, some have uncovered some fairly bad behaviour — behaviour that many readers agree is not a norm in most professional fields, and also in my experience. And Steve is not shy about calling it out.

          And these are not over norms that are the main technical issues; such norms as addressing the disconfirming evidence equally, publishing a validation of a new methodology before generating a novel result, adopting standard benchmarks, to name a few.

          The main pressure is over perceived unethical behaviour; the perception that has been created that the standards in climate science differ from the general community of professionals.

    • oneuniverse
      Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 10:17 AM | Permalink

      Re: Steve Fitzpatrick (Jun 15 00:03),
      “To change behavior, criticize in private, praise in public.”

      Reasonable people, operating in a just environment, may respond well to the above approach, but not everyone is reasonable, and not every environment rewards ethical behaviour and rebuffs the unethical.

      The climate science ‘community’ has failed to police itself. Politeness, collegiality and deference, while not essential to science, are useful for maintaining clear lines of communication but they can also be taken advantage of by the unscrupulous.

      I find Willis’ contrubution to this debate to be “spot on” (h/t Acton). You’re focusing on his anger, but what I’m hearing is a near zero-tolerance for flawed scientific practice. If enough climate scientists had had Willis’ reaction to the poor quality of the IPCC-orientated science emanating from their field, then we would, I believe, have witnessed a very different emergent behaviour.

  96. Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 11:01 AM | Permalink

    To er is human, so to beatup on a guy who might have lost his punch cards seems ridiculous to me. Maybe that is why in we archive on our computers, now, and backup on disk.

  97. Steve Fitzpatick
    Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 7:45 PM | Permalink

    “oneuniverse
    Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 10:17 AM

    ‘To change behavior, criticize in private, praise in public.’

    Reasonable people, operating in a just environment, may respond well to the above approach, but not everyone is reasonable, and not every environment rewards ethical behaviour and rebuffs the unethical.”

    Of course not everyone responds well to constructive input, no matter the approach, and no matter who they receive the constructive input from; some are beyond hope. But you may be surprised how many do. I do not refute there may exist a few “sociopathological” environments where bad behavior is actually rewarded, and so continues indefinitely.

    My point is a simple one: in most places and in most cases, people (even climate scientists, who I am sure fall in that class) really want to do better, and really do want to act ethically. People being people means they (and we!) often fall short of those goals. The challenge, and it truly is a challenge, is to facilitate them in actually doing better. Publicly “calling out” someone, and offering a critique laced with contempt, anger, and hostility will usually only harden their resolve and bring a counterattack of comparable or worse content. If you doubt this, I hope you will read over this thread and note the pattern of hostile exchanges. Judith seems to respected by most, even those who disagree with her on substantive issues; I think it is not a coincidence that she also consistently avoids hostility and snark.

    I am not suggesting we all need to hold hands and sing a few versus of Kumbaya, there are far too many differences in priorities, philosophy, and politics. I know that I have myself not always been constructive in my blog comments; some of my comments I wish I could take back. But I am quite certain that calm and reasoned arguments, leavened by a measure of humility, are always more effective in the long run than the same arguments couched in arrogance, sarcasm, and anger.

    Steve Mc: I cannot count the number of times that I’ve urged commenters not to be angry. It is against blog rules. It’s impossible for me to enforce this consistently and wastes an inordinate amount of my time.

    • penguindreams
      Posted Jun 16, 2010 at 7:24 AM | Permalink

      Steve (Fitzpatrick):
      I agree with you on the merits of public praise. It’s a surprising, to me, comment to show up on a blog that was founded for the purpose of public criticism, and whose overwhelming activity is public criticism.

      It also doesn’t seem to have much traction with the locals.

      Rather than suggest as strong an idea as you, I’ll suggest something milder, which (I think it was) you also executed: It’d be a plus if the site weren’t unrelieved criticism and condemnation. Anybody who at least recognizes ‘climateaudit’ or ‘Steve McIntyre’ knows that he’s down on Mann and quite a list of others. Only the hard core devotee of CA knows (certainly I don’t, as a very occasional visitor) of McIntyre ever conducting an audit and speaking as publicly, positively, and vigorously about a scientist doing things well as he has complained about the converse.

      The absence of public positive makes it pretty hard to take a McIntyre request as anything other than hostile — a search to find fault, only. Most people are aware that they aren’t perfect, so realize that somebody bent on finding fault will succeed.

      Of course scientific colleagues are sometimes professionally hostile to each other. (But usually, or at least often, go have a beer together after disagreeing entirely with each other in the meeting.) But that is carried out in the journals or other professional venues.

      But it isn’t before the entire world in the no holds barred blogosphere with some a posteriori removal of the worst. Rather different situation, and gets an even less favorable response.

      So some postive notes, indeed not collecting to sing kumbaya or turning this to the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm. But some positive notes so that even casual observers like myself could see that there was an evenhandedness here. And those notes being the main post, not buried in comment 358.

      Steve: Negative attitudes have mostly come from the core “Team”. As readers realize, some researchers have apologized and promptly archived data – I’ve noted that up in the past.

      A couple of years ago, I spent more time canvassing new proxy articles. Some of the most eminent oceanographers in the world complimented (privately) my coverage at AGU 2007. I wish that the “inquiries” had done their job professionally. This failure has a great deal to do with the present adversarial tone of the blog. Unfortunately, I’m not in a position where it’s sensible for me to just ignore these things. Had they done their jobs professionally and shown precisely where CA criticisms were incorrect, that would be one thing; but they haven’t dealt with the actual criticisms, thus leaving the dispute more mired than ever.

      • penguindreams
        Posted Jun 16, 2010 at 6:39 PM | Permalink

        Thanks MrPete. Not least for taking the question as intended. It happens that I’ll be off-net for the next several weeks for other reasons. Add some windage to your guess, and sometime this fall looks fair for my next check in.

        Regarding predictions (variously attributed):
        “It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future.”

        Jumping topic, since from a different comment it looks like you have a hand in how the commenting works:
        No idea if this is actually practical, but I think it was a lot easier to follow threads/discussions back when the comments were numbered. If that could be brought back, it’d make my life easier, particularly where I and others are really wanting to reply to several thoughts in a single reply.

        • MrPete
          Posted Jun 16, 2010 at 8:17 PM | Permalink

          Re: penguindreams (Jun 16 18:39),
          The numbered comments we had before aren’t possible, unfortunately. Yes, they were a bit easier to follow. My dream is a dynamic tool that lets you move a slider to hide dated comments while highlighting new comments, in context. Impossible last I checked, but the tools keep improving…

          If you want to reply to several items, the CA Assistant can be a help. It adds more links to each comment. One of them, “Paste Link,” does exactly what is implied. Here for example are links to your three postings. This took 3 clicks:
          penguindreams (Jun 16 18:29), penguindreams (Jun 16 18:39), penguindreams (Jun 16 18:56).

      • penguindreams
        Posted Jun 16, 2010 at 6:56 PM | Permalink

        erg. I really did make that previous a reply to MrPete, and not to myself or Steve McIntyre. This one is intended to be to Steve’s inline comment on my comment:

        Steve:
        It’s good to hear that you do feel like you’ve had some constructive engagements. It’d be even better if you could link to a couple posts about recent ones. And, while I’m making suggestions, perhaps an index link on the main page to a collection of the ‘good guys’ posts you’ve had over the years. My thought on this last being the casual person who doesn’t really know all the history, and otherwise would only see the dominant, critical, mode and not realize that anyone ever had met your standards.

        Also glad you saw the suggestion as a suggestion. What you actually do, I realize, has to be your decision.

  98. MrPete
    Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 10:20 PM | Permalink

    I’d like to complete the loop on a couple of things.
    Judith Curry appreciated the following insight, and anguished over the lack of a way forward in the blogosphere:

    Steve, these are indeed wise words “To change behavior, criticize in private, praise in public.” Thank you.

    How to translate this into the blogosphere is a problem tho.

    One aspect of that: in the blogosphere, “public” is every blog. “Private” is offline.

    One of the challenges in the interaction between Michael Tobis and others here: I believe Michael’s perception (whether conscious or not) is that only his words “spoken” here should be considered when interacting here.

    I don’t know other’s perception… but I do know this: it is quite difficult to separate what a person says on different blogs. It’s hard enough to remember which postings to “attach” to a given person across the blogosphere! The result: whatever someone says on any blog is likely part of everyone’s memory of that person.

    So, when Michael says on his blog,

    McIntyre, Hughes, Liljegren etc. may be perfectly sincere and well-intentioned. For all the damage they do, I believe that they are.

    … it is remembered as something he said.

    I think that’s a perfectly reasonable example of what Steve McIntyre has termed “wide-ranging critical allegations.” Yes, this could become a vigorous discussion about wordsmithed details (is it what Steve says? Implies? Allows? Nurtures? etc etc) One way or another, MT has accused Steve of doing great damage in that one quote.

    I’m not here to parse Michael’s words. Honest. My primary point is this: a challenge of the blogosphere is that everything said in every related blog tends to melt together as an overall memory of what each person has said.

    My frequent advice to various communities is: in today’s world, we need to live and communicate consistently wherever we are, whoever we’re with. There’s no “here” vs “there.” If you can’t be consistent, you’ll get in trouble. That even goes for “private” email and voice conversations vs “public” statements. It’s amazing how much “private” communication is eventually revealed.

    • MrPete
      Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 11:05 PM | Permalink

      (Attempting to reduce the indent level…)

      Re: Michael Tobis (Jun 15 18:06),
      THAT was a mostly-helpful reply :)

      First item of note: much of what has taken place here (and elsewhere for that matter) since November 2009 has been anomalous. Climategate has been a rather huge distraction for everyone, from their intended objectives. To see CA in equilibrium, you’d mostly have to look through older archives.

      Second item of note: science advances both when something is proven, and when something is disproven. This site is focused on high quality critique not PR, so one should not expect to find a significant amount of “wow what an awesome paper.” (Also, a long-standing unfulfilled desire: an organized, easily traversed index to blog topical history. One of these days… but in the meantime, we all suffer from inability to easily retrieve threads on any given topic or conclusion.)

      As for the particular topics chosen: of course, that’s primarily up to SM. The big picture challenge, as I see it, is this: how do you move on to a new topic when there’s incredible resistance to acceptance and correction of any issue at any level?

      The Hockey Stick ought to have been just one topic that was addressed, reported as having serious errors, errors admitted/corrected/investigative plans adjusted/we all move on.

      BCP’s long ago should have been auto-highlighted in every data set as dangerous for climate proxy use. Yet we still see them showing up.

      Etc etc etc.

      I’m sure Steve would love to move on to something more current and more interesting (and sometimes he does.) Yet the dumb battles go on. Even over the “hide the decline” topic. Steve’s original writeup should have settled the matter.

      Yes, I would regret your “leaving” just as you’ve expressed the same for others on your own blog. The blogosphere is an open community. Retreating to our “safe” harbors may feel more comfortable but does little to encourage healthy communication let alone healthy debate.

      (Perhaps even more healthy: show up in Colorado sometime and I’ll do my best to take you to lunch, whether on Pearl Street down the block from my daughter’s graphic design company, somewhere near the base of Almagre, or whatever :) )

      Michael, I’ve not forgotten, and I do accept your claim that you “never intended to imply “that people here are not professionals with useful expertise.”

      What I’m saying is this. My honest assessment is that your words have made it difficult for a number of people to accept your intended message.

      Here’s a hint from someone who has been online a bit longer than you (ok, I’ll date myself: I was on Usenet in 1985; I had a personal computer in some of the earliest UUCP maps that could fit on one sheet of paper… :))

      We don’t get to choose the meaning of the words we use. Our audience chooses the meaning.

      Michael, you did not intend “you amateurs” as anything negative. Unfortunately, in my experience most people would hear it that way. In the future, I urge you to allow audience perception to guide your choice of words, more than your intent.

      Yes, it’s less academically rigorous and does damage to the English language for those of us who appreciate well-chosen words. So what. The goal is clear communication without unnecessary heat.

      Those of us who have been around a while know that peoples’ natural bent is toward flame wars. It takes a lot of care to avoid the sparks.

      • penguindreams
        Posted Jun 16, 2010 at 6:50 AM | Permalink

        Mr. Pete:
        You write:

        First item of note: much of what has taken place here (and elsewhere for that matter) since November 2009 has been anomalous. Climategate has been a rather huge distraction for everyone, from their intended objectives. To see CA in equilibrium, you’d mostly have to look through older archives.

        I’ll take your word on it. That raises the question, then, of how long I should wait before expecting CA to recover its equilibrium. It’s been 8 months already, so 8 months and 1 week doesn’t seem a likely guess. My usual rule of thumb in such situations says to triple the currently passed time. So would you say 2 years is a fair figure?

        • MrPete
          Posted Jun 16, 2010 at 6:18 PM | Permalink

          Re: penguindreams (Jun 16 06:50),

          My usual rule of thumb in such situations says to triple the currently passed time. So would you say 2 years is a fair figure?

          Heh… For time estimates, my rule is to change units and double, which would say 16 years :)

          I dunno, who can predict the future? My sense is that Steve’s slowly getting to a new equilibrium… maybe a few weeks or a few months?

  99. Steve Fitzpatrick
    Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 11:27 PM | Permalink

    “Steve Mc: I cannot count the number of times that I’ve urged commenters not to be angry.”

    This is clear to anybody who has read your blog. You often snip comments based on lack of civility. My comments about anger and hostility were not at all meant as a criticism of Climate Audit.

  100. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Jun 16, 2010 at 3:33 AM | Permalink

    Michael, thank you for your comments. You say:

    Michael Tobis
    Posted Jun 15, 2010 at 10:30 PM

    Your “hornet’s nest of insinuations and insults” is one thing repeated twice and another thing. By “amateur” I meant no criticism, as I already explained, and you accepted. You seem to have gone out of your way to forget that.

    However on the point that “the CA community has little appreciation for the deep knowledge that climate scientists do have” I’ve seen no evidence to the contrary. Has there ever been an article here saying “This paper knocked my socks off” “What a brilliant analysis” “This explanation made this particular phenomenon much clearer to me”…

    Half of science is putting up claims. The other half is knocking them down. As far as I know, no part of is is saying “This paper knocked my socks off” or the equivalent.

    As the name implies, this site focuses on the second half of science. As such, we don’t waste time congratulating either side of the discussion on their brilliance. We look for errors. So no, in general you won’t find posts saying “Wow, that was great”, for either side of the debate. We’re far too busy just trying to deal with the bogus science to be patting anyone on the back.

    How many here could even come up with a cogent explanation of the vertical lapse rate in the troposphere? Does anybody know what a Rossby radius is without rushing to Wikipedia? All this obsession with the global mean surface temperature and the attribution problem celebrates a tedious backwater that partakes not at all in the elegance and rigor of the geophysical fluids problems.

    I could be wrong but I don’t see conversation here that is about, you know, physical climatology. And if you don’t know that I could see why you’re all hung up on thermometers, but that’s not what it’s all about at all.

    I’m sorry if you think that there are not people who are well versed in the physical climatology. It appears you have mistaken lack of discussion of a given topic for lack of knowledge of that topic by the folks who post here. In general we are looking for errors in the studies which were relied upon by the IPCC, and allied subjects. This is a huge topic, as there are a lot of errors in the IPCC work. But that does not mean that we are ignorant on other topics.

    If most of you don’t understand that, you are likely to put “climate science” in scare quotes and think it is about thermometers and thermometer proxies.

    I put climate science in quotes not for scare, but because the sentence said “it’s called climate science”. For me the quotes were the equivalent of saying that ‘land use/land cover is called “LU/LC” in climate science’. Are those scare quotes?

    You took it the other way, and objected. I thought your objection missed the point, but I agreed not to do it in future. Why? Not because I thought I had done something wrong … but purely because you had objected. I asked whether you would do the same with the term “deniers” and its ilk, for the same reason — because a host of people objected to it. I have not yet seen your answer to my request, although it’s possible I missed it.

    It’s a pity, but it’s a fact that you are missing not only the mature science but also the fun part.

    At least in my opinion. Some people have other ideas of what is fun, apparently.

    I’m afraid that without an example, I’m at sea about what you are calling the “mature science” (note that those are ordinary quotes) that we are missing. It would be good if you would supply a couple of examples that would let us see the fun to be had in the mature science.

    As for who’s got chips on their shoulders, I’ll simply voice disagreement.

    Anyway, it is kind of you to suggest that my expressing an interest in leaving is a “threat”, as though you might regret it. Unfortunately, it is not a threat, it is an intention. I am waiting for this thread to run out of steam and then I’m out of here.

    However, I will go so far as to say that I never intended to imply “that people here are not professionals with useful expertise”. That’s nonsense; I don’t believe it and would not have deliberately said it. If I left such an impression I sincerely apologize. While I wish you would use your talents in a more productive way, I certainly agree that there are genuinely skilled and smart and talented people here.

    Michael, when you say

    The actual distance between the understanding of the material of you amateurs vs someone like Dr. Curry is much larger than most of you give her credit for.

    it is difficult to understand that “you amateurs” as anything but a chip on your shoulder. I understand and accept that you may not have meant it that way, and your apology is most gracious, but when a variety of folks here understood it that way, you need to consider what you really did mean. Telling people something like ‘you amateurs don’t understand the material’ is very difficult to interpret in a neutral way, much less in a positive way. However, as I said, I do appreciate your apology, don’t get me wrong. And you will note that what I perceived (wrongly or not) as your attitude hasn’t stopped me from answering your questions.

    The part I don’t understand is the mainstream climate scientists’ continued unwillingness to answer honest questions. You said there were “real problems in the field”. I thought that was the start of a discussion. But when I asked what those problems were, you didn’t answer, saying it wasn’t a real question but a taunt … and that, in and of itself, is in my opinion one of the largest of the real problems in the field.

    Now it is true that I have been overly hard on you here, and I have apologized for that. But so what? There is this idea in the field that climate scientists should only share their data with their friends, and only answer questions if the people pose them in the proper way, with obeisance and in some polite and proper manner. But we’ve tried asking nice, and that has been no more successful than just asking any old which way.

    You guys don’t seem to realize that you are shooting yourselves in the foot by not answering questions and by not engaging in the debate. How do you expect to win the debate, when by and large very few of you are willing to enter the debate? Yes, the blogosphere is a rough-and-tumble place. But when you don’t step up to the plate, the general public sees that as a sure indication of someone who is uncertain of their ideas and their claims.

    Now, this may not be true … but time after time, climate scientists have refused to stand up and defend their ideas. Instead, you say that we are treating you mean and we didn’t ask right, and so you are not obliged to answer.

    Which is 100% true, you aren’t obliged to answer … but it is very foolish tactics. It makes you look weak, it makes you look afraid to answer. I suspect you’re neither … but if you continue to refuse to enter the debate, if you won’t publicly answer the questions asked about your work and debate and defend your ideas, how will we ever know? Yes, I know that they will be answered in the peer-reviewed journals … so what? The public doesn’t read those, they judge the answer by looking at the public debate. And because of your reluctance, we are winning that debate hands down … and from the comments that I read by mainstream climate scientists, you seem to be mystified as to why we’re winning. You guys think it’s because we’re well-funded, or better at PR, or because scientists don’t understand how to get the word out, or we’re better at writing.

    It’s none of those. The answer is simple. You’re not winning the public debate because you don’t answer questions, and you don’t participate in the debate.

    I write extensively, both at WUWT and here. I put out the ideas that I think are true and valid, and I invite everyone to try to knock holes in them. And people do try, and when they succeed, I admit it, I say “I was wrong”. As I have done in this very thread. As a result, what I say ends up having a lot of weight around the world. Now, it may have way too much weight, because what I have said may in fact be wrong, but no one has shown that because those who might rightly disagree are unwilling to enter a rough-and-tumble discussion. The result of that unwillingness is that everyone loses. I lose, because I’ve put out wrong information that has not been challenged. Climate science loses, because science advances through showing claims are wrong, including mine.

    But mostly, you guys lose, because you lose double. First, you lose because my claims have been falsely upheld, so people believe your claims are wrong. Second, you lose because the public looks at the thread and says, “Well, no one from the other side showed up to challenge Willis, so they must not really believe in what they are saying.”

    I say all of this to encourage you all to stop saying that you won’t participate because people aren’t paying you the proper respect, or because the questions weren’t asked in the right way, or because we’re part of a well-funded anti-science big-oil oligarchy, or because you think the questions are really taunts, or because you don’t like the point of view of the blog, or any one of a hundred reasons. Ignore all of that stuff, it is meaningless, just answer the questions and fight what you think is bad science. If you think my posts at WUWT are wrong, stand up and say so. It will be to everyone’s benefit, mine, yours, and climate science’s.

    Which is why I was sad to hear you say that you are “out of here”, and I urge you to reconsider. That’s more of the same thing, and it doesn’t redound to your credit or advance your position. I’d love to see you stick around to discuss and debate and argue the science. I’d love to find out what you think the “real problems in the field” really are. I invite you to grab your left … mmm … “orchid” for luck, take a salt bath to toughen up your skin, and enter the fray. Your participation is to everyone’s benefit.

  101. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Jun 16, 2010 at 3:34 AM | Permalink

    Man, this blog is strange. No matter where I post, it puts my post somewhere in the middle. Say whut?

    w.

    • MrPete
      Posted Jun 16, 2010 at 6:41 AM | Permalink

      Re: Willis Eschenbach (Jun 16 03:34),
      If you click on “reply” to a comment, the software (in a behind-the-scenes way) positions your reply as part of that comment thread.
      If you post a comment at the bottom of the page, that doesn’t happen.
      You can add (multiple!) links to any comment, using their “Paste Link” links.

      Most of the time, that works well. When debate gets intense and lengthy, as in this thread, it becomes difficult. Solutions:
      – Use the CA Assistant. Even in its current incomplete form, it allows enabling/disabling comment threads (disabled = a single chronological stream, unfortunately without valid comment numbering), and hiding/highlighting of old/new comments. Most seem to find it useful.
      – If a comment thread becomes toooo indented, break the chain by writing a new “outer” comment at the end of the page as I have done above (and Willis too now), and use Paste Link to connect to the message being answered.

      • penguindreams
        Posted Jun 16, 2010 at 6:53 AM | Permalink

        MrPete:
        Wat you describe is how it should be working, but it isn’t. My two notes asking for clarification (one mentioning this problem) from kenneth were both posted at the bottom, yet appeared unthreaded above his comment.

      • Posted Jun 16, 2010 at 9:50 PM | Permalink

        Agree with Penguin. It works the way it’s supposed to some of the time. This should show up as a reply to http://climateaudit.org/2010/06/04/losing-glacier-data/#comment-232424

  102. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Jun 16, 2010 at 12:09 PM | Permalink

    penguindreams
    Posted Jun 16, 2010 at 7:24 AM

    Steve (Fitzpatrick):
    I agree with you on the merits of public praise. It’s a surprising, to me, comment to show up on a blog that was founded for the purpose of public criticism, and whose overwhelming activity is public criticism.

    Unfortunately, you seem to be mistaking scientific auditing (finding errors in scientific work) with criticism. There is no way of, and indeed no point in, doing the former privately. The whole point of science is public examination of ideas. If you want your ideas examined in private, don’t become a scientist. This blog was not “founded for the purpose of public criticism”, that’s a huge misunderstanding on your part. It was founded for the purpose of investigating whether scientists are using proper methods and proper data in their work, and whether they are using them correctly. The fact that you don’t see the difference between that and “public criticism” is disturbing.

    And once again, this is just another in a long line of attempts to shift the blame. Now it’s supposed to be our fault because we don’t praise enough. I say again: we have tried nice, over and over, and it hasn’t worked. Lack of nice is not the problem.

    The present contretemps with Thompson is a perfect example. We’re not here talking about Thompson because Steve and others have not asked him privately and politely to archive his data, we’ve done that. We’re not here talking about Thompson because we have not praised those who promptly archived their data, we’ve done that. We’re not here because we have not publicly noted when people have responded politely to polite requests for their data, we’ve done that as well. Steve is meticulous about that, he’s done it in this very thread.

    We’re discussing Thompson because polite and private didn’t work. We’re here for one reason, and one reason only — because Thompson has not archived his data despite repeated requests. Period. It has nothing to do with whether we are polite, or whether we praise enough, or whether we asked in the right way. We are here discussing this because of Thompson’s actions, not our actions.

    And you want to lecture us on the tone of the blog? I note that you have not said a single word about Thompson’s actions, not one, but you want to tell us that our actions are wrong? I truly don’t get it. You guys are losing the war for the hearts and minds of the public, many of your leading lights have just been caught with their hands in the cookie jar, your scientific work has been called into question, governments around the world are turning away from your preferred solutions, Copenhagen was a dismal flop, both WattsUpWithThat and ClimateAudit are out-drawing RealClimate by large margins, Thompson and others are still refusing to archive data … and instead of saying something about Thompson, you want to tell us what we’re doing wrong???

  103. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Jun 16, 2010 at 12:16 PM | Permalink

    (PS – penguindreams is right about this junky blog software. I can’t post anything at the end of the line, it puts my post where it dang well wants to put it. Somethings badly broken with this WordPress theme. Let me add that I don’t like threaded comments in any case, because I can’t come back after a week and find the new comments. This is a lethal flaw in my book, it turns away the occasional reader. If I used Firefox I could use the CA Assistant, but I don’t, so I find this new threaded look a huge step backwards. And the occasional reader won’t go to the trouble of either using the Assistant or digging through a huge thread in the hopes of finding a new comment. Could we go back to unthreaded, please? Or at least pick a theme where the reader has a choice? Or at least pick a theme that actually works?)

    [Posted at the bottom of the entire thread … but you wouldn’t know it …]

    • MrPete
      Posted Jun 16, 2010 at 6:25 PM | Permalink

      Re: Willis Eschenbach (Jun 16 12:16),
      OK folks… I’ll dig in on the comment sorting issue when I get a chance. It does appear that something has changed.

      Willis, unfortunately we have much less flexibility on the “server” side with this new high-capacity blog host. That’s why I created the CA Assistant as a client-side tool. All of the features it provides are currently impossible any other way :(

  104. Judith Curry
    Posted Jun 16, 2010 at 1:20 PM | Permalink

    Of relevance to this discussion, Gavin Schmidt has posted something at collide-a-scape, its possible that he will engage comments, you might want to pipe in

    http://www.collide-a-scape.com/2010/06/16/the-main-hindrance-to-dialogue-and-detente/

    From Gavin Schmidt:

    One of the pathologies of blog comment threads is the appearance of continual demands that mainstream scientists demand retractions of published work or condemnations of specific scientists for supposed errors or other sins. Most often the issue in question has been discussed dozens of times previously and is usually based either on an irrelevancy, or was acknowledged clearly in the original or subsequent paper or is based on some misperception of the science. [See Mann et al (2008) paper.]

    Nonetheless, these demands are being used as some kind of litmus test for the kind of scientist one can respect and they clearly resonate with people who don’t know anything about the subject. However, for those that do, it serves only to signal that there is no reason to engage since the first explanation should have dealt with the issue. How many times do you need to correct someone’s misperception of a point of science? If they were sincerely looking for truth, the answer would be once. If instead they are trying to find issues with which they can bash scientists for another reason, the answer is apparently infinite. No scientists have time for that, and this kind of continual low-level insinuation is simply too tiresome to deal with.

    Thus what we have is not scientists refusing to engage with serious questions, it is the critics refusing to accept the answer. Since the answer is not going to change, the prospect of actual dialogue is limited.

    • Willis Eschenbach
      Posted Jun 16, 2010 at 1:40 PM | Permalink

      Thanks, Judith. I just posted the following:

      Gavin, many thanks for your comment. You say:

      Most often the issue in question has been discussed dozens of times previously and is usually based either on an irrelevancy, or was acknowledged clearly in the original or subsequent paper or is based on some misperception of the science. [See Mann et al (2008) paper.]

      Could you point out where the problems with the Mann et al (2008) paper are “based either on an irrelevancy, or was acknowledged clearly in the original or subsequent paper or is based on some misperception of the science.” I don’t find, for example, that the use in that paper of the bristlecones, or the use of upside-down Tiljander proxies, fit any of those criteria.

      Thanks,

      w.

      Should be interesting …

    • Baa Humbug
      Posted Jun 16, 2010 at 3:26 PM | Permalink

      Re: Judith Curry (Jun 16 13:20),

      I think I understand what GS is saying. I’ve experienced it many times. e.g.

      Me: Can you give me some empirical evidence that CO2 is/will cause catastrophic warming.
      ProAGW Expert: Sea levels are rising, glaciers and sea ice are melting
      Me: yes they may well be but what evidence is there that CO2 is causing it
      ProAGW Expert: Like I said sea levels…..

      Ad nauseum

5 Trackbacks

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  2. […] climate scientist wants to be left out of blogs, but loses all his data so he can’t be checked, which makes him a target for […]

  3. […] less excusable.] I have spent a lunchtime hour flicking through blogs I have been pointed to (e.g. http://climateaudit.org/2010/06/04/losing-glacier-data/#comment-231990 ). There are many issues but my only comment will be that there is a range of views on how easy it […]

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