Comments on Mother Jones

Some comments on Kate Sheppard’s piece.

Before discussing her article, note that accounts of Climategate are also starting to filter into the academic (“peer reviewed”) literature. Some of the academic accounts so far (e.g. Nerlich 2010; ….) seem academic in the worst sense – disconnected from reality and little more than mythology promoting the class interest of academics. On the other hand, Kate Sheppard has a reasonable handle on the major chronology. As a result, while her take on events is biased – not surprising given the publication – it bears enough resemblance to reality that it’s interesting to observe her blind spots – the things that she doesn’t notice illuminate that bias. And conversely to consider potential blind spots on my own part. (In contrast, Nerlich 2010, a peer reviewed publication, cited recently in Nature as a reference on Climategate, tried to analyse Climategate through the prism of the blogs, but instead of discussing Climate Audit, WUWT, Bishop Hill, Jeff Id and Lucia, looked instead to blogs like Dakota Voice and PA Pundits, whose involvement was so peripheral that I, for one, had been unaware of them until Nerlich’s article.)

While her understanding of the main sequence is much better than Nerlich, far too often, she uncritically accepts self-serving Team assertions as authoritative. For example, she uncritically accepted the Team’s spin on the NAS panel report. We’ve discussed this at length on other occasions. The NAS panel did not disagree or dispute any of our findings. And North pointedly said that he agreed with Wegman (at the committee hearing). Even though the NAS panel avoided the most pointed issues (e.g. withholding adverse verification statistics), Eduardo Zorita’s take at the time was that it was as harsh as was possible at the time.

She spends lots of time on angry and threatening emails. Fortunately, I haven’t been the target of such despicable behavior. At this blog, I urge people not to be angry and it disappoints me that people engage in such unacceptable conduct.

Sheppard mentioned that Mann keeps a hockey stick signed by Middlebury College’s championship team “to show support for his work”. CA readers may not realize that this was a women’s hockey team, the captain of which was the daughter of two of our best friends and who played on rep teams in Toronto with our daughter. (There is a CA post on Mann’s visit to Middlebury). From first hand knowledge, I am quite confident that the Middlebury College hockey team did not have strong views on principal components, verification r2 statistics or strip bark bristlecones, but, in the absence of more positive endorsement by the NAS panel or the Wegman report, I do not begrudge Mann taking comfort in the perceived support of the Middlebury women’s hockey team.

Sheppard describes me as “genial in interviews’, but says that my tone “towards the scientists” on the blog ranged from “inquisitive to openly hostile”. I recognize “inquisitive”, but do not believe that it is fair to say that my tone towards Mann and other scientists is “openly hostile” or even covertly hostile. I try very hard both not to convey such a tone or to have it. From time to time, people make similar accusations at the blog and I ask them to identify occasions where they believe that I’ve lapsed into such conduct. People have a very hard pointing to specific incidents and generally don’t respond. I recognize that there is considerable hostility on the other side towards me, but I’d like to think that I’ve avoided holding that attitude myself. I recognize that that may be a blind spot on my part and, if so, I’d like to understand it better so that I can exercise more self-discipline. Having said that, I distinguish between the “scientists” and the “inquiries”. I think that the failure of the inquiries to observe even the remotest vestige of due process has gotten under my skin more than I’d like.

She at least recognized that my interest in climate has cost me money in lost income – this is usually a complete blind spot for most activists, who presume that a critic must necessarily be in someone else’s pocket. She also correctly characterizes me as someone who is not ideologically opposed to government. As to “lukewarmness”, I wouldn’t say that I hold this view nearly as strongly as (say) Dick Lindzen, the prototype lukewarmer, and do not exclude the possibility of a conventional estimate of climate sensitivity, even if the position is not presented to the professional standard that the situation clearly calls for. I do not have enough personal understanding of cloud feedbacks to feel that I’m in a position to have a personal opinion. As I’ve said frequently, I strongly believe that IPCC has failed to provide the sort of analysis that third parties require. That five-year literature reviews have become more of a shout-out to all the climate scientists in the world rather than the comprehensive exposition that third parties are entitled to.

She seems to take exception to our work getting a lot of attention, referring particularly to Wall St Journal coverage. But it wasn’t just the Wall St Journal. Our 2005 articles were discussed in Nature, Science and many European newspapers. There was a long article in a Dutch science magazine and I was interviewed on Dutch television. Yes, it was a lot of coverage for a single article, but the same thing could be said even more forcefully about the original Hockey Stick article – something that they didn’t comment on.

Like other environmentalists, the think tanks are a bugbear for her. From my perspective, I think that she over-rates the importance of think tanks in our story. There’s no question that the think tanks loved the idea of someone undressing Mannian statistics and were eager to tell the story. That didn’t mean that our criticisms were wrong – a point that activists seem to lose sight of. In my opinion, the greater fault lies with scientists and IPCC authors who uncritically presumed that Mann and the rest of the Team were right about the dispute, without ensuring that the issues were fully assimilated.

I can understand that most climate scientists’ eyes glazed over when they heard about strip bark bristlecones and Yamal and principal components and did not wish to wade into the matter themselves. However, had the same situation occurred in a business, someone independent would have been assigned to try to resolve the dispute rather than letting it fester unresolved and corroding the business itself.

Sheppard loses her way on CRU chronology. I had contacted Jones in late 2002 about station data. He had promised to send me data when Jones and Moberg (2003) was published, but didn’t. It wasn’t a primary interest of mine and I didn’t follow up. (Ironically he did put up station data following the publication of Jones and Moberg 2003, though this wasn’t publicized or linked. This was the subject of the “mole” post in summer 2009). Willis Eschenbach had asked them for station data under FOI and I followed his efforts with interest. However, I didn’t personally ask CTU for CRUTEM station data until June 2009, when I learned that they had sent the station data to Peter Webster and I asked for precisely the same data. Neither Mother Jones nor any of the inquiries seems to have asked Jones about the opportunism of invoking supposed confidentiality agreements when asked for data by critics, while readily sending data to “friends”.

She also has a tin ear towards the corrosive effect of CRU’s mendacious response to my FOI request – a piece of mendacity that none of the inquiries dealt with either. CRU made the laughable and untrue excuse that they had confidentiality agreements that permitted them to send the data to Webster but prevented them from sending the data to me. There were no agreements containing this narrow prohibition, a point conceded by UEA just prior to the release of the dossier. Climate Audit readers rightly disbelieved this fabrication and requested copies of the supposed confidentiality agreements under FOI. Nor did Phil Jones argue at the time that these FOI requests created an unmanageable burden. A Climategate email shows that he was able to dispose of the matter with a short webpage. The “burden” excuse came much later, and again was accepted uncritically by Nature and the credulous climate community.

Too often, Sheppard accepted untrue statements by the Team at face value. She repeats Santer’s wild accusations. In fall 2008, I’d quickly shown that some of its results were invalid using up-to-date data. When I sought further data to test other parts of the paper, Santer went ballistic. Nonetheless, my request was reasonable. Santer’s results were relied upon by assessment reports. In a Climategate email, even Wigley thought that archiving the results would be a good idea. Indeed, Santer’s boss, David Bader, emailed me and said that they had planned to archive the results all along. And while Santer accused us of not using the data, I had written numerous posts at CA on the topic. Further, Ross and I submitted a comment to the originating journal showing that key results were incorrect. The submission was rejected – one of the referees appears to have been a Santer coauthor – but we could not be faulted for not submitting to an academic journal, an untrue allegation that Santer has continued to make. Many months later, Ross managed to get an article on the topic into a statistics journal.

Although realclimate was part of the Climategate network almost from its startup in December 2004, Sheppard does not mention it in her chronology until Sep 2009, when she characterizes it has having been launched to “fight back against sceptics”. In fact, it was started in December 2004, with Climate Audit being started soon thereafter to fight back against attacks from realclimate.

Sheppard is right to observe that the resistance of climate scientists to providing data only “egged” me on. Instead of being frustrated about it, I documented these refusals in detail on the blog. The Team didn’t like their obstruction being placed in the sunshine, but so what?

Sheppard is pretty accurate on the details of how the emails became known. A notable omission was Gavin Schmidt’s realclimate post on November 20. As someone that took a lot of calls that day from mainstream media, it seemed to me that Gavin’s post was far more important in breaking the Climategate story than contemporary posts by Chris Horner or NewsBusters, which Mother Jones mentioned.

She observes that the controversy was quickly picked up by Jon Stewart, but did not do full justice to Stewart’s commentary, which, in my opinion, was far more insightful than any of the “inquiries”. Stewart neatly lampooned the Gavin Schmidt defence of the trick to hide the decline:

It means nothing…He’s just using a trick to… hide the decline. It’s just scientist-speak for using a standard statistical technique for calibrating data in order to …. trick you…into not knowing about ….the decline.

Staring into the camera, Stewart also sharply criticized the scientists for not adhering to the best possible standards in something important. He realized that this would fuel to right-wing critics and lamented the shoddy conduct that gave rise to it. George Monbiot expressed similar regret a few days later.

While Climategate handed a club to the think tanks (as Stewart had feared) and the think tanks were quick to pile on, as someone who had a battlefield perspective, it doesn’t seem to me that the think tanks had anything more than a peripheral involvement, though Mother Jones and their allies fervently want to think otherwise. Sure the Cato Institute was happy to boast that Pat Michaels was at the “center” of the Climategate controversy, but, from my vantage point, his role seemed peripheral. Nor was Chris Horner very ”central”. The story was taking place on the climate blogs – Climate Audit, Bishop Hill, Jeff Id, Lucia and WUWT.

Sheppard briefly considered the unsolved question of who released the emails, noting speculation on the one hand that it was internal to CRU and on the other hand that it was an outside hack. The timing seems to me to develop out of the FOI dispute in summer 2009, but I concede that reasonable people can be more impressed by the timing relative to Copenhagen. There’s a playfulness to the initial uploading to realclimate and the initial announcement that seems to me to be more consistent with students than with secret services, but again I concede that reasonable people can differ.

Mother Jones uncritically accepts some discredited piffle from the University of Victoria as evidence of a wider conspiracy. Yes, someone did try to steal computers at the University of Victoria from a climate scientist, but there were also attempts to steal computers from the anthropology and other departments. They refer to Wikileaks about an attempt to hack into US diplomatic cables. I haven’t seen any previous commentary purporting to link the two events. The Wikileaks incident describes a method for taking control of a remote computer – is there any evidence of this at CRU? No one’s described any yet, but we haven’t heard from the police yet.

Sheppard uncritically accepts the inquiries at face value – not commenting on their failure to interview critics, their failure to provide transcripts, their failure to examine or report on the issues that had been raised at Climate Audit. She laments:

But none of the exonerations mattered: The scientists had lost control of the narrative.

This may be the most important line of the article. If so, this may testify to the common sense of the general public, as compared to the ideological wishful thinking of the climate science community, over-eager for vindication. In addition, perhaps the climate science community might consider welcoming Judy Curry’s outreach efforts rather then stoning a heretic.

Sheppard reports a hardening of the political divide on the issue – a hardening that is paralleled on the blogs. While “climate communicators” blame this on the think tanks or on the public themselves, my own take is that most of the blame rests with the lack of self-discipline in the climate community. I don’t perceive the malaise as being due to malificent orchestration by the think tanks (much as they would like to take credit for it), but due to almost epic mismanagement of the file by the climate science community, where no one stepped up to provide “adult supervision”. In my opinion, there were opportunities where Ralph Cicerone or Gerry North or some other elder statesman might have accomplished something by exercising moral authority. But no one did.

The “inquiries” made matters worse. The climate science community was far too hungry for a “vindication” and was far too quick to accept their reports despite conspicuous failures of process and findings that flew in the face of facts known to thousands. In a pre-internet world, maybe academics could get away with negligent inquiries like Oxburgh or Muir Russell or Penn State. But they seemed totally unprepared for the fact that the inquiries would be parsed by people outside the cloisters of East Anglia. And that there were thousands of people who were more familiar with the nuances of bristlecones and Yamal than the scientists of the inquiry.

The inquiries seemed to think that they could “control the narrative” through PR and captive coverage in the mainstream media. Muir Russell invested heavily in PR contracts. But all the PR in the world couldn’t make up for things like exposing Muir Russell not attending the interviews with Jones and Briffa and the panel not even asking about the deletion of emails. Nor did Oxburgh and Muir Russell seem to contemplate the possibility that they would be recalled to the Parliamentary Committee. (No one seems to have asked how that came about.) Both of them made embarrassing appearances. Although the Parliamentary Committee grudgingly decided to move on, their dissatisfaction with both the university and the inquiries was very clear.

The blogs, especially Bishop Hill and Climate Audit obviously provided a continuing medium for exposing the shortcomings of the inquiries, with WUWT picking up the more notable stories.

In my opinion, if the climate science community wanted to get back on their narrative, they would have served their own interests better by including critics or representatives of critics in the inquiries and by ensuring that the issues were dealt with. This is not new to climate science; it’s how inquiries succeed in dealing with issues. By excluding critics and failing to deal with the issues, the “inquiries” arguably made the problem even worse – a point that Sheppard is blind to.

In May last year, I commented on the conundrum of the community’s failure to be offended by Climategate conduct at the Heartland conference as follows (and the comments still seem apt):

But there’s a price for not being offended, because the public expects more. If climate scientists are unoffended by the failure to disclose adverse data, unoffended by the trick and not committed to the principles of full, true and plain disclosure, the public will react, as it has, by placing less reliance on pronouncements from the entire field – thus diminishing the coin of scientists who were never involved as well as those who were. This is obviously not a happy situation at a time when climate scientists are trying to influence the public and many have lashed out by blaming everyone but themselves, using the supposed exonerations by these ineffectual inquiries as an additional pretext.

To the extent that things like the trick were sharp practice, the practices needed to be disavowed. The scientists do not need to be drummed out, but there has to be some commitment to avoiding these sorts of sharp practice in the future. George Monbiot suggested early on perceived that apologies were necessary on the part of the climate scientists involved both to the targets and to the wider community – something that, in my opinion, would go a long way to achieving some sort of truth and reconciliation in a difficult situation. Right now, this seems less likely to happen than ever.

Sheppard’s own diagnoses seem wrongheaded in the extreme. She says that climate scientists were unprepared to deal with the news circus. However, climate scientists have been issuing news releases for years. Indeed, as someone used to mining promotions, I was amazed at how promotional these press releases were. The Climategate scientists had inside tracks to the most influential science reporters in the world and used those connections without a second thought.

Her other conclusion – that it’s just a problem of finding a “better communication” strategy – is one that we hear more and more. Nor does it seem to me that the establishment of another Team, this time the Climate Science Rapid Response Team, is really what the situation calls for. After all, realclimate started out its existence with a similar objective, but, in my opinion, it has dissipated much of its original franchise by the attitudes and condescension of its principals, conduct that has arguably created more sceptics than WUWT.

Linking back to Mother Jones. As I’ve said on many occasions, many of the most important “communication” problems for the climate science community are elementary ones that should have been learned from their mothers. Don’t be untruthful – the mendacity of excuses by climate institutions in refusing data was easy for third parties to understand and corrosive to public respect for the institutions. Answer the questions that are asked (Lucia has written eloquently on this.) Disclose data without arguing – if you’re asking the public to take actions, you can’t simultaneously attempt to protect supposed intellectual property rights to data collected with public money. Disclose adverse results and data on your initiative without them being dragged out of you. Above all, be polite.

It shouldn’t take a Climategate to understand such simple things.


111 Comments

  1. Tom Fuller
    Posted Apr 23, 2011 at 6:34 PM | Permalink

    I think a narrative explanation that walks us chronologically through events is immensely valuable coming from you, especially for those of us who haven’t followed CA for the requisite number of years to be thoroughly familiar with all of the details referenced casually in your posts.

    I would urge you to use this as a beginning rather than an end to a casual, conversational approach to what happened and your opinion on why.

  2. Nicholas
    Posted Apr 23, 2011 at 6:39 PM | Permalink

    Sheppard describes me as “genial in interviews’, but says that my tone “towards the scientists” on the blog ranged from “inquisitive to openly hostile”. I recognize “inquisitive”, but do not believe that it is fair to say that my tone towards Mann and other scientists is “openly hostile” or even covertly hostile. I try very hard both not to convey such a tone or to have it.

    You’ve never been hostile but you do frequently insert tongue-in-cheek jabs at various people, making fun of their contradictory statements and so on. I think there is the possibility that someone reading your posts who comes here with a preconception that you’re a bad guy could incorrectly read those as being mean-spirited.

    Actually I think it’s more of a willingness to believe that your jabs are mean-spirited because they’re so well targeted. You’re hitting a sore-spot, so to speak.

    It’s also possible that your relentlessness in pursuing data and methods could be misconstrued as hostility.

  3. Peter
    Posted Apr 23, 2011 at 6:52 PM | Permalink

    Steve,
    Some feedback for you. I read your blog for three principle reasons:
    1) You religiously tackle the issues and not the person.
    2) You actively discourage intemperate remarks and never engage in putdowns your self.
    3) What you write is always worth reading.
    Now, I have stopped reading RealClimate because the spite and vitriol wears you down, and at the end of the day all I want to do is read about the issues and inform myself.
    Thanks,
    Pete.

  4. MarkB
    Posted Apr 23, 2011 at 6:55 PM | Permalink

    “many of the most important “communication” problems for the climate science community are elementary ones that should have been learned from their mothers. Don’t be untruthful…”

    There – that’s it. That’s all you need to know. Your mother told you, tell the truth. Making data available is telling the truth. Publishing adverse data is telling the truth. Submitting to the questioning of critics and skeptics is telling the truth. Do what would make your mother proud.

  5. Doug Badgero
    Posted Apr 23, 2011 at 7:01 PM | Permalink

    “In my opinion, there were opportunities where Ralph Cicerone or Gerry North or some other elder statesman might have accomplished something by exercising moral authority. But no one did.”

    Coming from a culture that prides itself on the ability to self correct, this occurred to me shortly after I began to read the climategate emails. How different might the result have been if the young post doc Mann had been “coached” early in his career on what was and was not acceptable scientific practice?

  6. srp
    Posted Apr 23, 2011 at 7:17 PM | Permalink

    Part of the Team’s problem is weakness of character, but the other part is an inappropriate carryover from the traditions of pure science to a high-stakes policy environment. Not revealing all the details of how you did something and withholding raw data have been customary in many fields; that’s why apprenticeship was always so important in science: You revealed as much as you thought you needed to gain credibility and get others to try to repeat your work and move beyond it. If you did reveal details about how you did something, you weren’t necessarily expected to justify them; they were part of the “black art” involved and you were the presumed expert who had gotten the experiment to work. To quote one source describing the difficulties of replicating published work, cited in Eric von Hippel’s classic article on “sticky knowledge,”

    “It’s very difficult to make a carbon copy [of a scientific apparatus].You can make a near, but if it turns out that what’s critical is the way he’s glued his transducers, and he forgets to tell you that the technician always puts a copy of Physical Review on top of them for weight, well, it could make all the difference.”

    But that was standard practice, and one can make an argument that in the case of pure science each investigator has the right incentives to internalize the costs and benefits of disclosure, i.e. incentives that tend to maximize the rate of discovery. Critical to that argument is that the readers of papers have the right incentives in deciding whether to believe the results, since they bear the costs of being wrong. In the case of policy-relevant science, that “invisible hand” argument collapses, because the costs and benefits of believing results are largely external to the researcher and borne instead by sponsors and the public.

  7. TAC
    Posted Apr 23, 2011 at 7:53 PM | Permalink

    Steve, you describe the situation exactly as I see it.

  8. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Apr 23, 2011 at 8:06 PM | Permalink

    So SteveM, would you classify Sheppard’s journalism in this matter a valiant attempt to get the story correct but lacking the technical and/or journalists skills to do the job right or was she doing her journalism with an end result in mind? Do you judge her to be naive in only presenting/publishing answers to her questions from the consensus scientists? Perhaps she felt somewhat deficient and unsure of herself in these matters and thought the safest way to muddle through was to rely on what she thought was conventional wisdom of the “experts” in the field.

    I fail to see a good reason for taking any comfort or solace in a journalist going through the motions that on the surface appear more diligent than those of the investigative committees only to come to the same conclusions as those committees did and conclusions that one would have to be naive to anticipate would come out any differently – given the sources.

    • theduke
      Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 7:59 PM | Permalink

      The irony is that in the end her investigative journalistic method is just as sloppy and riddled with confirmation bias as the scientific method as practiced by those she purports to investigate.

  9. Big Dave
    Posted Apr 23, 2011 at 8:06 PM | Permalink

    Steve,
    Thank you for your honest thoughts and unbending resolve. 

    While reading your above post, I was reminded of Markham’s poem. 

    “He drew a circle that shut me out — heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But love and I had the wit to win: we drew a circle that took them in”

    by Edwin Markham

    You have my highest regards. 

    Dave VanArsdale

    • Eric
      Posted Apr 23, 2011 at 11:52 PM | Permalink

      Nice one Dave!

  10. Posted Apr 23, 2011 at 9:06 PM | Permalink

    Steve you should link to and make a brief comment on your “Jaeah’s Investigation” post in case people come here first since this post is title “Comments on Mother Jones” it is going to turn up in searches more readily.

  11. James Lane
    Posted Apr 23, 2011 at 9:14 PM | Permalink

    In a rather wonderful blog, I would rate this as one of your best posts, Steve.

    • Posted Apr 23, 2011 at 11:39 PM | Permalink

      Seconded.

      • Eric
        Posted Apr 23, 2011 at 11:52 PM | Permalink

        thirdsies

        • Jeroen B.
          Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 2:07 AM | Permalink

          Fourthed!

        • Johan C
          Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 7:03 AM | Permalink

          Fifthed!

        • Viv Evans
          Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 7:39 AM | Permalink

          Sixteth!

        • J. Bob
          Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 9:53 AM | Permalink

          7th

        • TerryS
          Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 11:06 AM | Permalink

          nth

        • danj
          Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 11:22 AM | Permalink

          If Steve McInyre didn’t exit, he would have to be invented…

        • Geoff Sherrington
          Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 3:00 AM | Permalink

          Nah. You are downplaying the computational blogs, like Steve’s part in deconstructing Steig and Santer.

  12. EdeF
    Posted Apr 23, 2011 at 9:30 PM | Permalink

    “The story was taking place on the climate blogs – Climate Audit, Bishop Hill, Jeff Id, Lucia and WUWT.”

    I remember the Telegraph was doing a good job of reporting Climategate in the
    MSM….but most of the other big time players, NY Times, LA Times, etc were
    silent.

  13. Posted Apr 23, 2011 at 9:36 PM | Permalink

    I’d add a couple of observations on the article. First, like Steve, I was pleasantly surprised by the conscientious tone and lack of ad hom; you expect worse after a while, and this was way better than I would have expected. Still, there are some inaccuracies that arise from unfamiliarity with the material and the failure of the journalist to cross-examine Team information.

    Page 1: Mann is portrayed as the innocent lamb whose work got promoted far beyond what he would have considered prudent if he’d had any say. In other words it’s all the IPCC’s fault. But the article fails to mention that Mann wrote the portion of the IPCC report that promoted his work and he showed no reticence after the TAR in promoting his conclusions and attacking any work that gainsaid them even in part.

    Page 1: The asterisk on the mention of An Inconvenient Truth leads to a footnote that retracts the claim that the hockey stick appears in AIT. Well, the retraction needs to be retracted, it is there, it just isn’t labeled as such due to a clerical error.

    Page 2: Sheppard fails to note that Barton’s first action was to write letters to M, B & H requesting their data and code, after it had been reported in WSJ that Mann refused to disclose these things. This led to Cicerone writing to Congress and Boehlert (Chair of the Science Committee) asking the NRC to set up a panel. Boehlert put a set of specific questions to the NRC, including ones that asked for their assessment of the criticisms of the Mann hockey stick. The NRC drew up terms of reference that excluded the specific questions Boehlert had asked. So when Barton approached the chair of the NAS Committee on Theoretical and Applied Statistics (Wegman) to take up the matter it was not the case that he circumvented the NAS. The reality is they were asked to deal with the issue and they were not willing to.

    Page 3: The part about CRU withholding data out of fear and frustration amidst a barrage of hostile disclosure requests is contradicted by the facts. The full chronology is explained, with sources, in paragraphs [48] to [62] in my submission to Muir Russell. The decision to refuse to release data clearly precedes the requests; the main request from Steve and others was for the list of WMO station identifiers, not the actual data, which Jones had long promised to disclose but never did; the blizzard of requests in summer 2009 was not for data but for the confidentiality agreements the CRU claimed forbade the release of the data. CRU dealt with these as one request, subject to cc’d pro forma responses. Etc.

    Page 3: Sheppard neglects to point out that Santer’s boss moved quickly to release the data in question, since he deemed it was appropriate to do so. It was Santer’s refusal that was inappropriate.

    Page 5: Seven inquiries? I count five. And Sheppard might at least have noted that Muir Russelll conceded that the Hide the Decline graph was “misleading.” But of course as Steve notes, an investigative piece like this should at least have made some effort to understand why the exonerations didn’t matter. It is not simply that climatologists lost the narrative, but that the inquiries were so obviously flawed that they ended up reinforcing the narrative of a closed clique unable to assess its own work and conduct objectively.

    Page 6: “But climate scientists don’t tend to be adept at politics, and most of them didn’t enter the field expecting to land in the middle of a controversy over the future of industrial society.” Riiiiiight. You’d be hard pressed to find a field so full of politically adept players who know perfectly well what is at stake when they work out those exquisite cut lines for the IPCC Summaries. James Hansen might be an extreme example of an adept political communicator, but he only differs from his senior colleagues in degree, not in kind.

    Page 6: Mann provides the obligatory “aw shucks we have a communication problem” summary. Honestly, Ms Sheppard, what more could any field of scientific study ever hope for in terms of communication support? Al Gore, the Stern Review, the IPCC, Hollywood, countless media documentaries and news items, endless government information campaigns targeting everyone from kindergarten to the geriatric wards, etc. etc. We’ve been suffocating in climate science communication strategies. To suggest that the only problem is we need more of it is just ludicrous. In any case, I suspect Kate knows this.

    PS, Steve, our Santer article is not in a stats journal, it’s in Atmospheric Science Letters.

    • Posted Apr 23, 2011 at 11:56 PM | Permalink

      Re: Ross McKitrick (Apr 23 21:36), I’m gonna start with this brilliant comment because the main post is just too good in too many areas …

      So when Barton approached the chair of the NAS Committee on Theoretical and Applied Statistics (Wegman) to take up the matter it was not the case that he circumvented the NAS. The reality is they were asked to deal with the issue and they were not willing to.

      That’s very helpful to understand, thanks for the chronology.

      You’d be hard pressed to find a field so full of politically adept players who know perfectly well what is at stake when they work out those exquisite cut lines for the IPCC Summaries.

      Indeed. All the commentary on page 6 is spot on. And it’s very interesting to see Sheppard’s misgivings about Earth Day in the light of Nisbet’s post mortem on the failure of cap and trade. I’m sure you’re right that by now ‘Kate knows’ that more communication ain’t even half the answer to the manifold woes of the environmental movement.

      It’s the way she cuts loose from the sticky paws of the consensus-makers that’s most striking to me, not the many places she remains either genuinely misled or unwilling to upset that part of the applecart – for now. The exonerations not mattering has to do, in Shappard’s narrative, with public perception. I heartily agree. If she’d said that the inquiries don’t matter I wouldn’t be half so happy but the exonerations, oh yes. That’s close enough to be true in my reading of the UK public – and the part that isn’t I wish to become vanishingly small. I’m delighted to applaud what is surely considered deviancy of the worst kind back at consensus HQ.

    • Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 12:01 AM | Permalink

      Well said and you paper should be read by all,

      Santer et al. (2008) – “Consistency of modelled and observed temperature trends in the tropical troposphere”

      – Panel and multivariate methods for tests of trend equivalence in climate data series
      (Atmospheric Science Letters, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp. 270–277, October/December 2010)
      – Ross McKitrick, Stephen McIntyre, Chad Herman

      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/asl.290/abstract

      http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0908/0908.2196.pdf

    • geronimo
      Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 1:26 AM | Permalink

      Ross, FOIA came into being in the UK in January 2005. Between January 2005 and January 2009 the CRU received SIX requests for information 4 in 2007 and 2 in 2008. I believe Steve’s requests for the contracts resulted in 58 requests in 2009 and a further 15, the provenance of which I don’t know, were requested before 9 November 2009. The rest were post Climategate. The “scientists crushed under the weight of FOIA requests” meme was introduced before Jones appeared at the SciTech committee meeting, presumably to get sympathy for this poor innocent scientist hounded by deniers, and has subsequently been accepted by the MSM, who seemingly too lazy to check facts coming from the CRU, accepted it.

      • KnR
        Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 4:21 AM | Permalink

        Indeed its worth noting that Jones planned to aviod FOI request before he even got one ,oddly after Jones expressed his desire to avoid them , he they went on to claim he did not known about the FOI .
        This helps to tell us how CRU seems to have been rather proactive in the way its tried to deal with FOI requests, working out ways to refuse them before their made. A habbit they are still very much addicted too.

  14. John
    Posted Apr 23, 2011 at 9:46 PM | Permalink

    Steve, you aren’t hostile. You are very frank. You call them as you see them. Some people can perceive frankness as hostility. It isn’t, and yours isn’t, but when you are on the receiving end of blunt criticism, some people will take it that way.

    It’s their problem. They may not have the self confidence to understand that frank criticism isn’t hostility. Perhaps they were in an academic cocoon too long??

    • SteveGinIL
      Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 11:37 PM | Permalink

      Steve, as an auditor, is SUPPOSED to be direct, asking for missing information or explanations for why certain data is used or left out. As he has said so many times, in business, people try to hide inconvenient data, and it is the auditor’s job to recognize what should be there and isn’t, or when curves are just too pretty. No one pays auditors to be nice guys or wafflers. They pay them to find out if the data can be trusted, and that takes directness. Less than that, and I don’t think an auditor would have a reputation worth beans.

    • Bob Johnston
      Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 8:40 PM | Permalink

      Re: John (Apr 23 21:46),

      SM’s posts are considered to be hostile only because they’re embarrassing to the team. When someone piercingly and logically focuses daylight on the BS you thought nobody would ever question it’s difficult to not get emotional.

  15. Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 12:31 AM | Permalink

    From first hand knowledge, I am quite confident that the Middlebury College hockey team did not have strong views on principal components, verification r2 statistics or strip bark bristlecones, but, in the absence of more positive endorsement by the NAS panel or the Wegman report, I do not begrudge Mann taking comfort in the perceived support of the Middlebury women’s hockey team.

    How could they call this writer hostile? His concern for Michael Mann’s welfare shines out in every paragraph. And although that’s very funny, it’s also true.

    • Gary
      Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 8:15 AM | Permalink

      He shoots. He scores!

    • CMD
      Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 9:40 AM | Permalink

      this is the precise paragraph I intended to point out when Steve sincerely requested writing samples that may be perceived as hostile. Steve I think you’d agree that tongue-in-cheek comments like this are not uncommon in your posts. I can go back and identify other examples like this if its helpful. To be clear, I’m a huge fan of yours and love your writing style and have been convinced for years that you are “right” in your assertions against the team. That said, you seem to be authentically and plaintively seeking samples of what could be perceived as hostile, and I do believe if you recognized it, you would make best efforts to remove any “hostility” from your blog.

      This is not the first time you’ve asked for samples of “hostile”- and each time it comes up and someone provides an example or 2, you tend to defend why a given turn of phrase is NOT hostile, or you have on occasion claimed that the stonewalling you’ve experienced has earned you the right to a wry comment or 2 in your writings. I agree completely that you’ve earned the right- but I’d argue that in many cases, those wry comments are precisely what could be perceived as hostile.

      Now if your inclination is to dig up specific wry comment examples and prove that each of them is justified or grounded in fact, first I’ll say I agree with you, but then I’ll suggest that you just because a victim of your blind spot again. It seems undebatable to me that discussion about whether a given comment, turn of phrase or blog or author is “hostile” is unavoidably and patently subjective. Perhaps you assume “hostile” is something that can be precisely defined like an r2 statistic. I would argue that it is a flawed assumption. Perhaps the best we can do to remove the subjectivity is a dictionary definition- here’s what I find online: “hostile: unfriendly; antagonistic; opposed;” Surely you see that your blog may be perceived as being “opposed” to the team?? Yes your blog is one of the most civil, most fact-based, most rigorous, etc, etc, blah blah. All those things can be true while also producing a climate of being “opposed” to the Team.

      Again, to be clear, I personally don’t think you should feel badly about your style, or change. But you seem sincere is desire to understand this, so I humbly offer these thoughts in case they help a guy I greatly respect.
      -Chris D

      • StuartR
        Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 9:53 AM | Permalink

        Re: CMD (Apr 25 09:40),
        “perceived as hostile”

        It is not hostile in reality because the debate here has every element open to discussion especially when it is technical, the post on this page allows some non-technical disussion that I think I can comment on.

        My comment is that I think Steve McIntyre does not claim innate unquestionable authority.

        This point could be a winner on its own.

        You could respond by saying “Well who does?” if you want to.

        If any genuine technical critique has appeared here that has been cut – point to that. That would be a strong case. I think I will see it if you point to it. Every time I see that Steve has been “too” snarky or disrespectful I think I hear a submissive non-thinking person.

        • CMD
          Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 11:12 AM | Permalink

          I like the litmus test of “does not claim innate unquestionable authority” as you suggest and I do think this test favorably distinguishes Steve’s from other blogs. Like you, I also would be very unpleasantly surprised to learn that a technical critique was ever cut here. I think your characterization that any “too snarky” beliefs must be from “submissive non-thinking person” goes a bridge too far and is an example of judging a person rather than an idea, and taking this bridge is an example of the blind spot of not recognizing what could be perceived as hostile. One may argue that “submissive non-thinking” can be somehow measured scientifically therefore are purely objective. While that’s true, it doesn’t change the fact that someone may feel insulted by such a label.

          Are other blogs morehostile? Absolutely. Is climate audit devoid of hostility? I suggest this is a red herring question- hostility is a matter of perception.

        • StuartR
          Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 11:40 AM | Permalink

          Re: CMD (Apr 25 11:12),

          I hear you. There may be a gradation of hostility you see that I am not showing sympathy towards, I apologise if I have been seen to be hostile. But I (as I suspect many others) have seen worse in the real world.

          The most hostile thing you can do to anyone on a blog is not listen to them. Or assist that effect. End of ;)

        • chris1958
          Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 2:20 AM | Permalink

          I do think Steve’s expectations of the enquiries were unrealistic – hence his inordinate disappointment with their outcome. I would recommend a thorough viewing of those British Classics of the late eighties – “Yes Minister” and “Yes Prime Minister” which providing bitingly witty satire of the lengths to which governments and the civil service will go to conceal truth. For example, one should never hold an enquiry or Royal Commission into any area if the answer is not preordained.

          For my part, I find the “exoneration” by the British enquiries thoroughly predictable. The AGW “Team” triumphantly cites these on its blogs – especially those which eschew any notion of criminal or malign intent. However, the findings are politely scathing when it comes to commenting on the sloppiness of the scientists and their willingness to comply with the spirit of FOI. No scientist wanting to advance his or her career would want those comments on their CV when applying for a job. However, the scientists in question all had the good luck to be in tenured positions and hence the comments, while actually quite damning (as in “damning with faint praise” or “masterly understatement”), made no difference in the long run to their careers.

          Part of the problem, of course, is that “Team-like” behaviour is rife through much of science though the issues involved just aren’t all that newsworthy. Of course, there are very many scientists and scientific faculties which are very honourable exceptions. I suspect however that the enquires simply couldn’t afford to make the “Team” accountable without setting precedents which would have ramifications across the scientific spectrum (more the pity but that’s precisely the way politics works). And science, like every other field, cannot escape politicisation whether within at the level of the “teacup” of the local faculty and the preferences of its Dean or on the grand scale of “The Future of Our Planet.”

      • Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 10:03 AM | Permalink

        The alternative view is that the people concerned need to grow up. When the necessary correction is delivered with such wit, everyone should be a winner, self-importance and pomposity the only victims. And any Mann gains by losing those.

        The only area where I agree with Steve’s self-examination is that he became too obsessed with the inquiries, after the initial, flawed parliamentary one. I felt that from early 2010. I was very aware that by expecting nothing from Russell and Oxburgh I was much less disappointed than others. But we come to these things with different assumptions and ideals. And there was nothing wrong with the ideals.

        • StuartR
          Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 10:24 AM | Permalink

          Re: Richard Drake (Apr 25 10:03),
          “The only area where I agree with Steve’s self-examination is that he became too obsessed with the inquiries”

          proscription, proscription, proscription

          I see too many “toos”

          It *can* be documented and critiqued. It *should* be documented and critiqued.

          It should be noticed.

          But don’t let me proscribe otherwise ;)

      • Jeremy
        Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 10:18 AM | Permalink

        I agree that tongue-in-cheek comments are not overtly friendly. When the standards of adult interaction are set so low by other blogs that are critical of Steve’s work, this really seems like little more than whining. I mean, lets grab some context here. Career scientists get to publicly insinuate that skeptics should be rounded up and jailed and no one from the team bats an eye. On the other hand a light amount of sarcasm from Steve is something that we’re going to obsess over? What a joke.

        Yes, he probably should minimize such sparring, but I think he already does. It does little good to call for a more civil tone from Emily Post when she’s chatting with Dennis Rodman.

        • CMD
          Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 11:29 AM | Permalink

          agree 100%. The important nuance is simply acknowledging there are some comments that could be perceived as hostile. Admitting this in no way means Steve doesnt do great work keeping snark to a minimum. He does do great work. I only spend time “obsessing” on this point because Steve seemed to be authentically and explicitly inviting feedback on this precise point. Like I said originally, I don’t think he should change a thing.

        • Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 8:27 PM | Permalink

          Any time you criticize someone’s work, there will be the perception of hostility, no matter how nice you are.

    • Eric Anderson
      Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 2:31 PM | Permalink

      This paragraph from Steve is not hostile, it is sophisticated humor. Hostility is name calling, ad hominem, foul language, degrading labels, etc. I think I have seen Steve occasionally lapse on those fronts, but it is exceedingly unusual and you would be hard pressed to find very many examples.

      Making a very valid point (as he does with this paragraph) in a sarcastic and humorous way is not something that should be eliminated. I, for one, find these kinds of paragraphs extremely humorous and welcome. Please keep it up, Steve.

  16. Richard
    Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 3:06 AM | Permalink

    Steve,
    Keep up the good work, but don’t think for one minute you’ve behaved badly in any way. The barbs and arrows flung in your direction have been significant, but also unfairly flung. Yes, it would seem that the various inquiries have got under your skin, but the fact that Jon Stewart can work it out in a 30 second take puts their incompetance (or even downright dishonesty) in perspective and your frustration is very understandable.

  17. Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 3:30 AM | Permalink

    They haven’t learned much about communication.. ie more of the same against sceptics.

    A quick look at the European Rapind Resonse team, The Carbon Brief is actually more worrying that the USA ‘team’ is evidence of that, whilst claiming to be impatial – hey are funded by the muliti million Euro funded European Climate Foundation (goal 80-95% reduction of co2 in the EU by 2050..

    http://www.carbonbrief.org/profiles/hockey-stick

    and a very csreful ‘critique’ of Energy and Environment, carefully implying not peer reviewed.

    http://www.carbonbrief.org/profiles/energy-and-environment

    http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2011/04/energy-and-environment-900-papers

    VERY professional media management at work…

    The Europaen Climate Foundation has funded many organiations lobbying the EU parliamnet.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/18/the-carbon-brief-the-european-rapid-response-team/

    • SteveGinIL
      Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 11:57 PM | Permalink

      This “communication” issue on their part —

      What they have is that they were caught in a lie. Actually more than one. Te plain language in the Climategate emails that everyone can read shows their lying, in several ways…
      1. Lying about being overrun with FOIAs, when they clearly state they are going to not respond, and even delete their data rather than turn it over.
      2. Lying scientifically, by controlling approval of submitted papers, even to getting rid of editors who don’t toe their line.
      3. Lying in the code itself (the stepped values in the code that raise recent values more than older data)
      4. Lying scientifically in terms of “hiding the decline”
      5. Lying scientifically in terms of “Mike’s Nature trick”

      Lying scientifically means fudging the data, mostly. And no other scientific filed would give that a pass.

      Once someone has lied and been caught at it, what “communication” is going to be believed? Being caught in a lie in court means that NOTHING you say after that will be believed. Muller’s video, in which he states that he would not read their papers anymore, is an example of this: You lied, therefore, nothing you say after that can be trusted. When you’ve shown that you lie, all the communicating in the world won’t bring your reputation back. In worrying about “communication,” CRU, Mann and the IPCC are barking up the wrong tree (no pun intended).

      The real way all this should have been handled is that the IPCC should have said, “Okay CRU, you have shown you are not honorable scientists, and we need to replace you and hopefully your replacements will do a better job.” Then at least there would have been the appearance of “doing the right thing.” But for the IPCC to keep the same people at the top? That is just a BAD decision, strategy-wise and PR-wise. The IPCC needed to clean house.

      In other words, without throwing CRU and Mann under the bus, the IPCC lost too much credibility. By sticking with them, the IPCC only tarnished itself. (Glaciergate, et al, didn’t help, either.)

      The scandal was about LYING (in its many forms). The IPCC allowed CRU to frame the scandal as being about “We wuz robbed!”

      The inquiries have been shown to be such patent cover-ups, and cover-ups are lies, as well. Masking lies with more lies – ask Richard Nixon’s ghost about that.

    • Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 7:28 AM | Permalink

      snip – OT. I may have missed another OT post, but no need to rise to every bait.

      • Posted Apr 28, 2011 at 10:47 AM | Permalink

        Why are you allowing the “bait” to be posted then? Either let me defend my site or remove the link above.

  18. Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 4:03 AM | Permalink

    When challenging flawed authority is viewed as hostility, one needs to wonder. Sheppard’s definition of hostility is actually the advancement of science. The conclusions of the NAS didn’t come by themselves.
    Dragging in peridpheral players is only to distract the audience from the real issue: dubious scientific methodolgy.
    Concerning exonerations, Sheppard may want to read the latest online Telegraph piece:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/8469883/Lobbyists-who-cleared-Climategate-academics-funded-by-taxpayers-and-the-BBC.html

  19. KnR
    Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 4:07 AM | Permalink

    In one way at the heart of this is the problem that climate science went from a little none and less cared about area of science to a area with huge public profile the results from which had massive implications for just about everyone. In this process what did not change was the way the area was run, it stayed as a closed network of self-referring and self congratulation academics who had got to used to running the show how they liked. In pimping themselves out to the press and enjoying the money and fame their new status brought them , climate scientists stopped doing science and started to do advocacy. In this they left behind good scientific practice and the short of sound academic practice they would ironically demand of their own students.

    In short , it may take a new generation of climate scientist to come along before this stable can be cleared out , as the current group are far too deep in their own ‘malpractice’ to change their ways .

  20. Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 4:37 AM | Permalink

    Steve wrote, “I had contacted Jones in late 2002 about station data.”

    Almost a decade. Remarkable.

  21. Speed
    Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 6:49 AM | Permalink

    From Mother Jones.

    A MAN WITH A CONVICTION is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.” So wrote the celebrated Stanford University psychologist Leon Festinger (PDF), in a passage that might have been referring to climate change denial—the persistent rejection, on the part of so many Americans today, of what we know about global warming and its human causes.

    The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science

    • steven mosher
      Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 1:43 AM | Permalink

      Re: Speed (Apr 24 06:49), funny, I read mooneys piece and thought he should have used the inquiries as examples of refusing to see things

  22. Peter Whale
    Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 7:19 AM | Permalink

    Any amount of communication will not make bad science good. There are too many hard nosed engineers and true scientists who know replication is the way of science.
    Steve this is an excellent summary and I thank you for it.

    • Yancey Ward
      Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 3:44 PM | Permalink

      Any amount of communication will not make bad science good.

      Precisely!! In the information age, this is more true than ever, and it is the one lesson that some (certainly not all) climate scientists refuse to learn, and, even worse, their political supporters simply don’t understand.

  23. Noblesse Oblige
    Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 7:49 AM | Permalink

    We continue to see efforts to improve ‘communications,’ as if what we have in climate science is only a failure to communicate. The idea of real reform or improvement of the science process or the IPCC’s management of the science is never on the table. (Witness IPCC’s ignoring of the InterAcademy Council’s recommendations). On the other hand, in the long history of climate science, we have not seen a single example of an acknowledgement that ‘perhaps this result (is incorrect, is overstated, needs further data, etc.). Instead we have scientific infallibility combined with continual throwing of sand in the air, as if any admission is to be avoided simply because it would give skeptics a victory. Yet infallibility is eroding their credibility and gives skeptics more fodder than any single admission would do.

    • ianl8888
      Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 9:50 AM | Permalink

      >Yet infallibility is eroding their credibility and gives skeptics more fodder than any single admission would do<

      I think it's deeper than that

      The continued line that the "basic science is settled" and so no public debate will be entered into simply entrenches sceptical determination to continue asking pointed questions (witness SMc's tenacity). The deliberately studied insult of refusal to debate is the root cause of hardening of views

      "Failure to communicate effectively" is simply code for increased efforts to engender feelings of fear and guilt in the mass of the populace – if these efforts are successful, informed opposition is simply swamped … that's how democracies work

  24. Ken
    Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 10:06 AM | Permalink

    Thanks for this post. It’s great.

    But I’m a bit confused on one point. As someone who has read you for years, I’m unaware of what WUWT contributed to the climategate chain of events? You include that site along with a bunch of other blogs that all posted original, pertinent research to this kerfuffle. I understand he gives you hits and attention, but it’s not exactly a symbiotic relationship from my perspective. That site has become a cesspool of people who think there’s been “global cooling since 1998″/”global warming is a giant hoax” and other nonsense…and Anthony panders to them on a constant basis because it drives hits. I think any strong link with that site will potentially put a dent in your credibility going forward.

  25. el
    Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 10:09 AM | Permalink

    “She seems to take exception to our work getting a lot of attention, referring particularly to Wall St Journal coverage.” — that’s rich. I don’t know when journalism became so partisan, perhaps it has always been so, BUT! as long as the mainstream media continues to ignore valid news about a politically corrupted scientific endeavor, partisan rags like the Wall Street Journal are needed to air the side that partisan rags like Mother Jones are only too willing to ignore. Why do people on the left believe they should be able to control the dialog in a country founded on freedom of the press? Especially someone working for a minority leftist magazine like Mother Jones.

  26. suyts
    Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 10:19 AM | Permalink

    Steve, many people can’t distinguish the difference between brutal honesty and hostility. And, while you don’t typically show anger in the tone and tenor of your postings, there have been times when it seemed you were justifiably indignant. I can state with certainty, that after all of the dirty tricks played on you, the ad homs, the outright lies stated about you, the refusals….etc all of it, you handled it with better grace and dignity than anyone could have hoped for. Introspection is a necessary thing, but in as far as your writings here or elsewhere, you don’t have to worry about being too “angry”. In fact, if I were to give this blog any criticism, it would be that I often find you too generous and reserved towards your detractors.

    One other observation……. you stated, “As to “lukewarmness”, I wouldn’t say that I hold this view nearly as strongly as (say) Dick Lindzen, the prototype lukewarmer,….”
    While it is easy for skeptics to distinguish the difference, warmists, typically, do not. I think this is intentional, but it may be that their views don’t allow for this distinction. You are viewed as every bit of a “denier” as say Steve Goddard in most cases, even though, the difference in the blogs as to tone, tenor, and content, are as night and day. The same may be stated about Dr. Lindzen. They simply don’t distinguish between Drs Lindzen, Singer, Spencer, Christy, etc…. they are all lumped together and labeled with the same stamp……”denier”. I don’t know if this insight helps anything or changes anything, but I think it worthwhile to understand where, when and how the label “lukewarmer” is applied and what it means to different people.

  27. DEEBEE
    Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 10:25 AM | Permalink

    IMO there has always been an almost Clintonian response to skeptics, namely, slog it out. This is not necessarily meant to denigrate Clinton, but to highlight the political prism through which all is perceived.
    Even though the underlying issues could easily have been kept in the scientific realm, but a decision — deliberate or not — was made to engage at the political level, which is where things currently sit. So the response to re-double communication efforts is not surprising. After a election whipping neither political side admits to a bad message, but only a bad message transport, while they retool the message. At least that is my hope.

  28. nvw
    Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 10:45 AM | Permalink

    One would hope that Mother Jones, a publication born of activism and of speaking truth to power, would want to know how one man and his website could question the activities of powerful cartels. One would expect that on the issue of FOI requests in both the US and UK, Mother Jones would be for free and open access to the information. Similarly one would think Mother Jones would want to get to the bottom of insiders conspiring to hide inopportune data from the world at large. Sadly this was not the case. Lenin said it best that in order to advance the revolution one needs “necessary idiots”; this article seems to fit the description nicely.

  29. jae
    Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 12:05 PM | Permalink

    Great summary/rebuttal. The politicians would do well to study this whole saga, as they, too, are obsessed with PR and “the narrative,” often to the exclusion of the truth and common sense. People notice these things way more than many realize.

  30. JCM
    Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 12:13 PM | Permalink

    Very good article. Nice summary of past issues and easily understandable to the layperson.
    Please provide an update on the 18 months investigation by Norfolk Police and National Domestic Extremism Team (NDET).
    We need to know if the emails were leaked or hacked.

  31. SteveGinIL
    Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 12:35 PM | Permalink

    Steve M:

    But none of the exonerations mattered: The scientists had lost control of the narrative.

    This may be the most important line of the article.

    Oh, isn’t this it, all wrapped up in 25 words or less!

    The monopoly before Nov 2009 was almost total, especially in the MSM. Outside of CA and WUWT, which till then had been mainly landing sites for “skeptics”/”deniers”, there was a virtual monopoly on the dissemination of perspectives (not just information, but perspectives on that info) on climate change.

    With the imminent start of Copenhagen, the world – skeptics included – was looking forward to a (Himalayan) avalanche of spin on warming. Then, BOOM!

    Thank you, CRU Deep Throat, whoever you are! What a good deed was done that day! The monopoly on CAGW was broken, in one fell swoop.

    “And all the king’s horses, and all the kings men…”

    • SteveGinIL
      Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 12:47 PM | Permalink

      Also:

      It was not the skeptics who brought down CRU and the Team’s monopoly. It was the peek behind the curtain, that was there for anyone to read and take at face value.

      Their own plain language sank them. They have no one to blame but themselves.

      One must hearken back to those Hollywood film moments, when the bad guy has captured the outgunned hero or heroine, and – obviously thinking there is no harm in admitting the evil plan, since the hero is going to be dead in just a few moments. There is nothing to be gained but gloating, right?

      The Climategate emails are just that – the CRU/Mann gloating – because they had the world by the tail. Everyone could hear the glee in their voices, as they conspired to shaft any and all who stood in their way. They had the control of the situation, and they knew it.

      Steve M? He was the scrawny 97-pound weakling, and they were laughing as they kicked sand in his face.

      THAT is what they had, what they thought, and what they BLEW. They had world dominance. And they lost it, in one day,.

      • Latimer Alder
        Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 1:56 PM | Permalink

        Re: SteveGinIL (Apr 24 12:47),Re: SteveGinIL (Apr 24 12:47),

        I’ve seen Steve speak in London, and he’s a lot bigger than a 97 pound weakling! Both physically and intellectually.

        • SteveGinIL
          Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 12:06 PM | Permalink

          Just in case you missed my point, I was saying that that was the attitude of The Team, as the emails showed.

          Even though Steve was a participant in IPCC, they considered him marginalized and easily blown off. Hence my reference to kicking sand in his face.

    • Yancey Ward
      Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 3:52 PM | Permalink

      Thank you, CRU Deep Throat, whoever you are! What a good deed was done that day!

      And keep working at it, too.

  32. JCM
    Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 1:59 PM | Permalink

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/8469883/Lobbyists-who-cleared-Climategate-academics-funded-by-taxpayers-and-the-BBC.html

    Shines a light on the deeds of certain well known people.

    • Don B
      Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 8:46 PM | Permalink

      One of the really interesting things about this Telegraph article was that it lagged by 13 months similar information in various blogs, as detailed by Richard North.

      http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2011/04/hail-msm.html

      The Mother Jones and Telegraph articles illustrate that the story of Climategate is extraordinarily important, and won’t die.

  33. StuartR
    Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 2:50 PM | Permalink

    When Steve says that he has seen worse I sympathise after he mentioned this report I hadn’t heard of but found a copy of…

    Nerlich (2010)

    I could also quote this bit:

    Ordinarily, the cognitive linguistic approach (see Lakoff and Johnson, 1980), which studies such pervasive conceptual metaphors or metaphorical mappings between two domains of experience (in this case: life and journeys), tended to focus on single sentence examples of metaphors, not whole discourses, and it tended to favour made-up examples, rather than examples collected in naturally occurring discourse. In keeping with newer trends in cognitive linguistics (see Frank et. al., 2008), I focus here on metaphors as part of political discourse, and collected in situ, and as having a distinctive social relevance.

    This is from the peer reviewed literature that is supposed to be “dealing” with stuff so us common lay people will trust them.

    I liked the enquiries. They were better.

    In comparison, relatively – Sheppard is pulling off the lid and showing us more – like where to look even if she didn’t ;)

    • Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 3:39 AM | Permalink

      Re: StuartR (Apr 24 14:50), Brigitte Nerlich, Institute for Science and Society, School of Sociology and Social Policy. Her Abstract says it all:

      Climate scepticism in the sense of climate denialism or contrarianism is not a new phenomenon, but it has recently been very much in the media spotlight. When, in November 2009, emails by climate scientists were published on the internet without their authors’ consent, a debate began in which climate sceptic bloggers used an extended network of metaphors to contest (climate) science. This article follows the so-called ‘climategate’ debate on the web and shows how a paradoxical mixture of religious metaphors and demands for ‘better science’ allowed those disagreeing with the theory of anthropogenic climate change to undermine the authority of science and call for political inaction with regard to climate change.

  34. StuartR
    Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 4:01 PM | Permalink

    Yancey you read Nerlich 2010?

  35. Bill Drissel
    Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 5:42 PM | Permalink

    “… but, in the absence of more positive endorsement by the NAS panel or the Wegman report, I do not begrudge Mann taking comfort in the perceived support of the Middlebury women’s hockey team.”

    Wow, if someone of SM’s footprint wrote that about me, I’d have to consider seppuku.

  36. Tony Baloney
    Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 7:03 PM | Permalink

    Like most good reporters Sheppard also possesses mind-reading capability, as well as a time machine and X-ray glasses. She knows the emails were obtained by a “hacker” and that this hacker searched through emails using using keywords like “Mann,” “hockey stick,” and “Phil Jones” and then sorted them accordingly.

  37. theduke
    Posted Apr 24, 2011 at 7:50 PM | Permalink

    Steve writes: “Linking back to Mother Jones. As I’ve said on many occasions, many of the most important “communication” problems for the climate science community are elementary ones that should have been learned from their mothers.”

    And from their professors, who presumably understood that ethical conduct is crucial to the integrity of the scientific process.

  38. Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 12:27 AM | Permalink

    I recognize that there is considerable hostility on the other side towards me, but I’d like to think that I’ve avoided holding that attitude myself. I recognize that that may be a blind spot on my part and, if so, I’d like to understand it better so that I can exercise more self-discipline.

    Steve – In the spirit of this inquiry, I consider the following to be an example of gratuitous hostility towards a scientist (me): “http://climateaudit.org/2011/02/18/publishing-review-comments-the-crowley-incident/”>(1) Attributing to me an opinion precisely and demonstrably opposite to the one I hold; (2) publicly ridiculing that imaginary opinion, and, explicitly, my personal moral standards, while (3) not even bothering to fact-check first with me despite an ongoing and seemingly cordial exchange of emails.

    Your blog does a lot of good (I’ve said, for example, that the Climategate revelations didn’t surprise me because I was already familiar with the incidents from reading ClimateAudit), but interacting with you through your blog does require a thick skin. If I had not already been prepared for it from hearing of the experiences of others, I would have been amazed.

    Steve: I totally reject the idea that my attitude towards Nielsen-Gammon was hostile. In a post immediately prior to the one criticized, I stated:

    I welcome John’s comments, which have been constructive and interesting, but I don’t think that he has fully thought through what happens when the scientist wishes to talk to the public.

    That was the only comment that strikes me as personal and it expresses the total opposite of “hostility” to Neilsen-Gammon as an individual.

    On the other hand, Neilsen-Gammon had publicly criticized Ryan O’Donnell. The issues concerning public commentary by peer reviewers, especially in the Steig case, are convoluted. I thought that Nielsen-Gammon’s doctrine – which I characterized as “justified disingenuousness” didn’t make any sense and sharply criticized it:

    There has to be something wrong with a policy that results in or condones a climate scientist talking “disingenuously” to the public.

    Scientists may expect “disingenuous” conduct from other scientists, but the public doesn’t. The last thing that the climate debate needs right now is more climate scientists being “disingenuous” in their communications with the public – there lies the road to “hide the decline”. In the case at hand, I think that N-G goes wrong on his premise:

    lf you are a reviewer and wish to remain confidential while remaining engaged in scientific discourse

    It seems to me that a reviewer, wishing to engage in public discourse on the reviewed paper, should disclose that he was a reviewer. If he does so, there is no need for dissembling. If he doesn’t want to disclose that he was a reviewer, then he doesn’t need to make public commentary. (I present this as a suggestion, rather than a settled position.)

    In the case at hand, before criticizing Nielsen-Gammon’s ideas, I thanked him for “constructive and interesting” ideas. That he should misinterpret the exchange as “hostility” requiring a “thick skin” puzzles me.

    Speculating sociologically for a moment (and this is speculation only), it seems to me that academics become accustomed to deference from students and junior faculty in the somewhat sheltered university environment, and sometimes confuse a lack of deference from independent adults with hostility.

    • StuartR
      Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 9:35 AM | Permalink

      Re: John N-G (Apr 25 00:27),

      Thanks for that reminder of Crowley’s Apology

    • Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 9:43 AM | Permalink

      The thin skin of the climate scientist is that of the juvenile. John N-G did better than many. But any attack on the principle is at once taken as an attack on the person. It isn’t. Scapegoating of informed critics will prevent climate science reaching any kind of maturity. The baby-talk needs to be put away for good, as Richard Muller has indicated.

    • Jeremy
      Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 10:11 AM | Permalink

      @Steve’s reply

      A very wise man once said to me… “The reason things are so hostile between professors at universities is because there’s so little at stake.”

      I think he was quoting someone else, but I laughed and cried.

    • Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 10:20 AM | Permalink

      Steve – I didn’t say that you were always hostile; indeed, the shifts in tone are quite unsettling. You were gracious in the post you quoted, but in the post I quoted you said:

      Let’s review these events under Nielsen-Gammon’s moral compass.

      Under Nielsen-Gammon’s world, the offence was the publication of the correspondence and review comments, not the original publication of false statements. Perhaps in the bizarro world of climate academia, but not in the real world.

      Your response has addressed neither (1), nor (2), nor (3). Ironically, your response was to repeat (1) by claiming that I misinterpreted other, non-hostile statements as hostility when I demonstrably did no such thing.

      • James Smyth
        Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 7:57 PM | Permalink

        You made a general accusation with a reference to a full post, and McIntyre apparently made the effort of at least looking for an example. For you to then say that this is “demonstrably” not the specific example which you didn’t even provide is completely specious. And perfectly consistent with what I remember of your contributions to previous posts.

    • Duster
      Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 2:45 PM | Permalink

      “Disagreement” frequently requires a thick skin among the interested parties, where any outsider might be wondering what all the “tears” were about. A “scientific” disagreement means that one, if not both, of the parties involved are in error, and ego far more than money drives science.

  39. James
    Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 1:17 AM | Permalink

    Steve,

    Why not go on the Mother Jones website and make a public offer of an exclusive interview with the skeptic that “started it all”.

    If she is really interested in understanding the details, and finding the truth, how could she refuse?

    J

    • Chris D.
      Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 2:29 PM | Permalink

      I’d wager that with his help, she could find the pea, write it all up, and have it posted in time to enjoy a nice Starbuck’s in the afternoon!

  40. 2dogs
    Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 3:47 AM | Permalink

    Forget “hide the decline” and “the trick”. Climategate cut through with the public because it focused everyone’s attention on one simple, uncontested fact:

    Climate scientists had refused FOI requests.

    The climate scientists continue to underestimate the damage done to their argument by this action; nothing that might have been revealed by answering the FOI requests could have been worse than refusing them.

    • mpaul
      Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 11:25 AM | Permalink

      To use a historic analogy, many people really never understood the intricacies of Watergate. All they knew was that Nixon got on TV, eyes darting, sweating profusely and looking to all the world like a crook, while professing his innocence. The world judged him to be a crook because he looked like a crook. The Team’s actions (rejecting FOIs, lying about the reasons for withholding data, hiding the decline, rigging the peer review process) made them look like crooks. At that point, assembling groups of insiders with obvious conflicts of interest to officially state that “we, err sorry, ‘they’ are not crooks” could not save them.

      In my mind, the only way for the Team to redeem themselves (assuming, as they state, that they are not crooks) would be to have an inquiry that the public would judge to be truly independent and that would meet the standards of jurisprudence in the UK or the US.

  41. Jeremy
    Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 9:31 AM | Permalink

    The think tanks were simply looking for something, anything, to paint this issue as a political effort rather than a scientific one. Because the scientists involved in the core of the IPCC claims behave less like curious men, and more like people with something to defend, the think tanks were guaranteed to eventually get exactly what they wanted. The short of it is there’s always a scavenger or two waiting in the bushes come harvest time. The think tanks have next to nothing to do with any of the hypocrisy that has been exposed, then or now.

    Also, Steve:

    However, I didn’t personally ask CTU for CRUTEM station data until June 2009…

    You work with CTU? How have they been doing since season 8? :)

    …The timing seems to me to develop out of the FOI dispute in summer 2009, but I concede that reasonable people can be more impressed by the timing relative to Copenhagen. There’s a playfulness to the initial uploading to realclimate and the initial announcement that seems to me to be more consistent with students than with secret services, but again I concede that reasonable people can differ.

    I think associating Copenhagen with the release is a reasonable viewpoint, but assigning conspiracy to it’s release begs too many questions. None of the developing nations would do this, they stood to get rich. Russia would not have done this, they also stood to gain wealth. China and India simply don’t care, and were going to do their thing regardless as they are currently generating lots of wealth on their current trajectories. The developed West supposedly wanted Copenhagen to succeed to appease their guilt. So where is their motivated conspiratorial party? All political parties wanted this to happen. If this was a conspiracy of a government entity, where are they and what is their motivation? The only motivated party I can think of would be the “skeptic blogosphere”. So by calling it an exterior conspiracy they are implying we orchestrated it. It’s just another finger pointed at the teams perceived enemy from an ivory tower with no mirrors.

  42. Dennis Wingo
    Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 1:32 PM | Permalink

    Steve, apologies but I would really like to repost your last paragraph as it is the meat of the matter from my perspective.

    Linking back to Mother Jones. As I’ve said on many occasions, many of the most important “communication” problems for the climate science community are elementary ones that should have been learned from their mothers. Don’t be untruthful – the mendacity of excuses by climate institutions in refusing data was easy for third parties to understand and corrosive to public respect for the institutions. Answer the questions that are asked (Lucia has written eloquently on this.) Disclose data without arguing – if you’re asking the public to take actions, you can’t simultaneously attempt to protect supposed intellectual property rights to data collected with public money. Disclose adverse results and data on your initiative without them being dragged out of you. Above all, be polite.

    It amazes me that these simple homilies have been abandoned. Science must be about the truth or it is indistinguishable from religion or politics.

  43. Keith Herbert
    Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 6:53 PM | Permalink

    Steve,
    You and Ross must have read a different Sheppard article than I did. I cannnot fathom why you think it was anything other than an apologist’s hit job.

    A reader would glean that you and all “skeptics” are oil coated shills who have no interest in the truth. She portrays you, in particular, as only pursuing climate science for the giggles you get from aggravating others.

    And there are no scientists who agree with you in her article, only oily congressmen http://motherjones.com/environment/2011/04/field-guide-climate-change-skeptics .

    You don’t have to be so nice, they will call you hostile anyway.

  44. mpaul
    Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 7:15 PM | Permalink

    … if you’re asking the public to take actions, you can’t simultaneously attempt to protect supposed intellectual property rights to data collected with public money.

    Its hard to reconcile the position of the Team when you read statements by Michael Mann (from his books) like these:

    Climate change impacts on agriculture, livestock and fisheries may jeopardize our ability to provide adequate food for a growing population.

    For the purposes of argument, let’s stipulate that global warming will cause a lack of adequate food supplies in the future, and, by implication, will lead to mass starvation. The Team’s failure to publish its data has brought the public policy debate to a standstill. It would seem to be the smallest possible act of charity for the Team to publish all of their data in order to advance the public policy debate. Why would the pecuniary interests of the Team (specifically, their ability to monetize their research in the future) come ahead of the societal benefits of saving millions of people from starvation? For that matter, why would ‘academic freedom’, be given higher moral ground than the avoidance of mass suffering? One would think that a publication like Mother Jones would be attuned to such an argument and would be agitating for the Team to end its practice of holding this essential data as proprietary.

    • FredT
      Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 8:17 PM | Permalink

      I’m curious, what data on “climate change impacts on agriculture, livestock and fisheries” that “may jeopardize our ability to provide adequate food for a growing population” do you think is being withheld? Who is doing such a thing? and where do they say it is because of a selfish pecuniary interest?

      • mpaul
        Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 9:50 PM | Permalink

        FredT, Climategate is a controversy that began when the University of East Anglia repeatedly refused to release station lists and data set versions necessary to reproduce aspects of the Hockey Stick. Their justification for their refusal to produce the necessary data can be found here:

        http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/availability/

        As you will see, their reasons are mostly pecuniary considerations.

        • FredT
          Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 10:49 PM | Permalink

          I’m looking, but I don’t see any data on “climate change impacts on agriculture, livestock and fisheries” that “may jeopardize our ability to provide adequate food for a growing population”. All I see is historical temperature records, that they are restricted from passing on because of commercial pressures from the National Met Offices who want to sell it to people.

          And perhaps our host will also point out to you, the CRU station lists and instrumental data have nothing to do with the ‘hockey stick’ by which I assume you mean the results from Mann et al, 1998 and 1999.

          Oh, and the station lists appear to be here in any case:

          http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/landstations/crustnsused.txt

          So, I’ll ask again, what data that so crucial for future food security are being withheld, and by who?

          Steve: The list http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/landstations/crustnsused.txt was given grudgingly in response to Willis’ FOI and only after several refusals. The supposed commercial obligations did not prevent CRU from sending station data to their pals e.g. Mann, Rutherfor; they were invoked only against critics.

        • mpaul
          Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 11:13 PM | Permalink

          FredT, I can only assume that you have been in a comma for the last 6 years. The instrument record was used during the calibration and verification step of the hockey stick. In addition, they grafted the temperature record to the end of the proxy record. Therefore, complete replication requires a knowledge of how the temperature record was constructed.

          If, as you mistakenly allege, the complete station list is available, then why did CRU just (today) refuse a FOIA for this exact information? http://climateaudit.org/2011/04/25/cru-refuses-foi-request-for-yamal-climategate-chronology/

          In their refusal, CRU states that

          Release of some of the requested information would adversely affect the intellectual property rights of CRU staff

          Further, they say:

          In regards to Regulation 12(5)(c), it is our contention that there are intellectual property rights in the form of both copyright and database right in the composite data sets. Creative work went into the selection of the site locations to include, and the arrangement of the data within the data sets, thus leading to a database right. Additionally, the data itself within the composite data sets represents the intellectual effort of developing the processing of the ‘raw’ data obtained from the site datasets themselves and therefore attracts copyright. The ‘adverse affect’ to intellectual property
          rights is based upon the fact that release of these data sets and the methodology used in their construction would, effectively, be publication of the creative work of the CRU staff. This would seriously reduce the likelihood that any high impact journal would publish the results pertaining to this work, thus effectively causing the University financial harm via adverse impact upon reputation, ability to attract research funding, and funding arising from the citation of the publications within the REF process by which universities in the United Kingdom receive funding based on the quality of research undertaken.

          So, the Team holds the belief that millions of people will soon die from starvation due to climate change unless action is taken, but won’t release the data necessary for replication because they want to be the first to write about it in a “high impact journal”.

        • Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 7:46 AM | Permalink

          Steve what did those who received the data do – did they post it all over the web? What would you do if you had received the full data? I suspect it would have appeared in your references page.

          You have already stated that you have no desire to audit the CRU temp record, so why do you need it?

  45. mpaul
    Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 11:17 PM | Permalink

    Correction, site lists for tree ring chronologies refused today, not station lists.

  46. James Allison
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 1:18 AM | Permalink

    “(The “trick”—substituting recorded temperature data when proxy data become unreliable—isn’t intended to deceive; it’s an acceptable practice in paleoclimatology, since most proxy data sets end around the 1980s, and recorded temperatures are more reliable, anyway.)”

    ==========================================
    Why attempt to hide the decline if the above is true.

  47. Faustino
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 1:31 AM | Permalink

    No comment here from Kate Sheppard. Steve, in case she’s missed it, I think you should send her your wonderful piece and Ross’s comment.

  48. Shevva
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 8:15 AM | Permalink

    ‘I think that the failure of the inquiries to observe even the remotest vestige of due process has gotten under my skin more than I’d like.’

    As a citizen of the UK it scares the hell out of me, how an investigation can be so obviously a white wash and not a single member of the political elite not say a word is worrying.

    Then again free speech against the government in the UK is now becoming an idea of past generations enforced by a bunch of hooligans:-

    http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2011/04/dont-know-nuffink.html

    http://bristol.indymedia.org/article/704202

  49. Michael Ozanne
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 8:16 AM | Permalink

    “This is not the first time you’ve asked for samples of “hostile”- and each time it comes up and someone provides an example or 2, you tend to defend why a given turn of phrase is NOT hostile, or you have on occasion claimed that the stonewalling you’ve experienced has earned you the right to a wry comment or 2 in your writings. I agree completely that you’ve earned the right- but I’d argue that in many cases, those wry comments are precisely what could be perceived as hostile. ”

    In a formal communication I’m as good at complete factual dryness as anyone else, rare indeed are the times that a system or activity has been so ineptly conducted that my finely honed laconic wit can slip in a few jabs without compromising professional integrity. CA on the other hand is a blog, its supposed to have wit and personality, better to be thought a little hostile than completely boring.

    I personally am amazed at Mr McIntyre’s restraint. As one who has had his life “Enhanced” by externally imposed quality systems and management practices. The idea that you could produce an analysis based on a method that you can’t calibrate against your best and most recent instrument data; then claim that its “standard practice” to conceal the fact; justifies a whole truckload af sardonically witty whup-ass. It’s the sort of cloth eared inanity that would do credit to Gonzo the Great and the mock-Swedish chef. First class intellectual Onanism, just plain dumb. To suggest, when you notice you’ve queered the pitch, that all you have is a need for a better “communications strategy” is the bit that justifies endless and loud urine extraction until they wise up and smell the metaphorical coffee, assuming of course that the whiff of pseudo-intellectual bovine excrement that hangs around them can be sufficiently dispersed.

  50. Phil
    Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 6:48 PM | Permalink

    I would say that the “need for better communication” should not necessarily be taken literally or in good faith. Rather, it seems that the word “communication” is being used in the sense of the warden in Cool Hand Luke (IIRC): “What we have hear is a failure to communicate.” In other words, the recipients of the “communication” have failed in their duty to obey and comply with a directive. In this sense, shouldn’t the emphasis on the “need for better communication” be interpreted as a restatement of directives that the recipients have obviously not understood needed to be complied with without question or resistance? And doesn’t this apparent attitude dovetail quite nicely with the use of the term “deniers?”

    Second, maybe the inquiries would have had more credibility if members of the public at large had been included, as one was in the investigation of the accident at Three Mile Island. Unfortunately, she went on to publish a minority report, Item 1 of which seems relevant this many years later:

    The President’s Commission on the accident at Three Mile Island

    ITEM 1

    This item represents the feelings of the undersigned and a majority of her circle of citizens who lived through the TMI accident.

    The report concluded that the errors and sensationalism reported by the news media merely reflected the confusion and ignorance of the facts by the official sources of information. It further concluded that the press did a creditable (“more reassuring than alarming”) job of news coverage.

    In fact, these conclusions are not generally supported by the staff reports. There were reliable news sources available. Too much emphasis was placed on the “what if” rather than the “what is.” As a result, the public was pulled into a state of terror, of psychological stress. More so than any other normal source of news, the evening national news reports by the major networks proved to be the most depressing, the most terrifying. Confusion cannot explain away the mismanagement of a news event of this magnitude.

    It is requested that the news media undertake a self-evaluation on an individual basis and review their role in this accident which was not limited to equipment damage but also included psychological damage. ……..

    Anne D. Trunk

    October 25, 1979 (emphasis added)

  51. Gary Hemminger
    Posted Apr 29, 2011 at 8:55 PM | Permalink

    I think the answer to the FOI request denials is rather simple actually, but might be difficult to be done. In the standards community, it was widely practiced by many vendors to get their standard in place, then force the other vendors to license their technology. this was solved by forcing vendors to make their standards submissions available free of charge in perpetuity.

    Government grants should come with a contractual stipulation that FOI requests must be met.

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