Yamal FOI Appeal

As I reported a month or so ago, the University of East Anglia refused a request under the Environmental Information Regulations for the regional chronology combining Polar Urals, Yamal and other shorter chronologies, referred to in a Climategate email. Their refusal is here UEA Refusal.

The refusal took place on March 28 and I plan to submit an appeal within 60 days. I’ve uploaded my draft appeal and would welcome any comments in the next 2 hours or so, following which I will send it.
Appeal of UEA Refusal

157 Comments

  1. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted May 26, 2011 at 2:44 PM | Permalink

    That looks good, Steve. A minor typo:

    At this time, I am not appealing the request (4) measurement data that is …

    should say

    “the request (4) for measurement data …”

    I look forward to their response … the part I don’t understand is what they hope to get out of their actions. It’s like the old riddle, “What’s the difference between a rat running a maze, and a UEA climate scientist running a maze?”

    w.

  2. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted May 26, 2011 at 2:46 PM | Permalink

    Oh, right. The answer to the riddle.

    That would be, “If you take the cheese out of the maze, the rat stops running.”

    w.

  3. Posted May 26, 2011 at 2:48 PM | Permalink

    Apart from a few typos and duplicated phrases, looks good to me.

  4. Ulf
    Posted May 26, 2011 at 3:10 PM | Permalink

    In the first paragraph: “…for violating both the Environmental Information
    Regulations”, I was unsure whether it was supposed to read “both the Environmental Information Regulations [and ...]“, or “both of the regulations cited in their defense”, or simply “violating the Environmental…”

    In 2.3, the guideline quote: “has to be shown that that the” (“that” is repeated).

    Apart from these minor points, I found the appeal very clear and well argued.

  5. bernie
    Posted May 26, 2011 at 3:13 PM | Permalink

    Steve:
    Excellent response though a bit more combative than most legal correspondence I have seen. I found a few points.
    You wrote:
    “A Climate Audit reader, reading your excuse, observed of your prevarication: “Honestly, I laughed so hard when I read this that coffee came out of my nose.” The reader, a UK barrister, observed that your attempted use of a manifestly inapplicable exemption was itself a breach of
    FOI regulations.”
    This seems unnecessarily provocative. How about simply,
    “A UK barrister on reading your refusal as published at Climate Audit observed that your attempted use of a manifestly inapplicable exemption was itself a breach of FOI regulations.”

    You wrote:
    A URALS regional chronology had been calculated as of April 2006 and, together with its associated list of sites, existed in the form that they then existed.”
    I believe the “they” is confusing and unnecessary.

    Footnote 7 would be clearer with an introductory sentence.

    • Peter
      Posted May 26, 2011 at 6:23 PM | Permalink

      Bernie, my first reaction was the same as yours, but on reflection I have swung the other way. Bureaucrats are risk averse, and they will not like a determined, resourceful adversary adopting a ‘combative’ stance.
      It is quite possible that they realise their initial defense was more bluff than substance.
      it is a judgement call, but I favour ‘socking it’ to them.
      Pete.

      • bernie
        Posted May 27, 2011 at 10:28 AM | Permalink

        I have no real problem with a strongly worded response. The “coffee through the nose” bit just seemed a bit gratuitous IMHO. However, it is also important to let your writing reflect how you feel since this telegraphs the extent to which one is likely to follow through on an issue – which is, as you say, a key consideration among bureaucrats. Steve clearly and as always gave this some careful thought and refined his final submission.
        The UEA FOI folks would be wise to simply provide the data. They by now must realize that Steve has many willing and able supporters who will help carry on any legitimate request for transparency.

  6. Posted May 26, 2011 at 3:19 PM | Permalink

    How picky would you like the comments to be? For instance:

    ‘expansive, but fanciful, interpretation of exemptions’ should be either ‘an expansive…’ or ‘expansive, but fanciful, interpretations…’

    2.: Regulation 6(1)(b) is engaged only if the information “the information is already … change to ‘only if the information “is already…’
    Items 2 and 3 … let alone “easily accessible”. add is for ‘let alone is “easily accessible”’

    2.2: there’s ” instead of “ in “work in progress”
    Similarly, there are mixed quote-marks in ‘“Introduction to EIR Exemptions” states that “furthering the understanding of and participation in the public debate of issues of the day”’ and ‘(“The Public Interest test)”’ in 3.1, and ‘”unfinished or incomplete”’ in 3.2, and ‘”premature release”’ as well as ‘”premature release”’ in 3.3 and another ‘”premature release”’ and ‘”willingness and ability … published research”’in 3.4

    There are double quotes within double quotes (or missing right-quotes) in ‘If you are concerned that the existing “description of how [the regional chronology] was created or why the “selected” methods were chosen”,’ in 3.2

    There’s an ’ommitted’ for omitted in 3.1 (and we must allow your ‘favor’ instead of favour throughout, I suppose).

    I’m available for free proof-reading any time; you have the address.

    • Posted May 26, 2011 at 3:23 PM | Permalink

      Aargh, the non-typographic quotes I mention above have all been changed automatically into left and right quotes.

  7. EdeF
    Posted May 26, 2011 at 3:23 PM | Permalink

    Regulation 6(1)(b) is engaged only if the information “the information is already publicly
    available

    I would say:

    Regulation 6(1)(b) is engaged only if “the information is already publicly available…

    At the end, after your name I would add

    Toronto, Ontario, Canand

    cheers

    • EdeF
      Posted May 26, 2011 at 3:24 PM | Permalink

      Canada

  8. glacierman
    Posted May 26, 2011 at 3:25 PM | Permalink

    You may want to look at this sentence again. It may need a revision:

    “A URALS regional chronology had been calculated as of April 2006 and, together with its associated list of sites, existed in the form that they then existed.”

  9. Posted May 26, 2011 at 3:27 PM | Permalink

    There are a lot of typos and infelicities as noted above; my advice would be that when submitting a document this combative it is important to ensure that it is free of trivial errors. Otherwise it comes over as green ink brigade. Whatever you think about UEA it is important to keep the ICO on side as far as possible.

    More substantially, I would replace “you have also breached UEA’s agreement1 to comply” with “you have also breached UEA’s explicit undertaking1 to comply”.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 26, 2011 at 3:39 PM | Permalink

      some of the typos are in documents that I quoted. i’ve fixed them

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted May 26, 2011 at 3:51 PM | Permalink

        Slightly edited version is now uploaded. I’m going for a coffee and will do a final edit in half an hour.

  10. James J. Hill
    Posted May 26, 2011 at 3:35 PM | Permalink

    Mr. McIntyre,

    Had you not asked for comment I would not presume to second guess your excellent work.

    HOWEVER, having been through the mills in court, my first impression was that IT IS TOO LONG. My second impression is that IT IS TOO COMBATIVE. Heartfelt as they may be, neither of those characteristics is likely to get your cause advanced before either the university or any (theoretically) neutral judge. As Sergeant Friday used to say on Dragnet “we just want the facts ma’am.” Comments on the good or evil thereof is superfluous.

    If you would like I would be happy to furnish you my edition of your document. It would take a number of hours.

    In any case the very best to you and your efforts.

    Jim Hill

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 26, 2011 at 3:49 PM | Permalink

      Unfortunately, I’ve left it too late for major structural editing. It is also my impression that I need to pick each spitball off the wall, as opposed to simply arguing the “main” points.

      • James J. Hill
        Posted May 27, 2011 at 12:40 AM | Permalink

        Your call sir and I enthusiastically endorse it. Sic’em.

  11. matthu
    Posted May 26, 2011 at 3:41 PM | Permalink

    Very well constructed appeal!

    My only correction is repetition:

    Regulation 6(1)(b) is engaged only if the information “the information is already publicly
    available and easily accessible to the applicant”.

    the information is repeated.

  12. Posted May 26, 2011 at 4:01 PM | Permalink

    Anglia(UEA) should be Anglia (UEA); eg in 3.1 should be e.g. (as you have elsewhere)
    Some quote-marks are still mixed.
    Other than that, if you’re in a hurry, it’s fine.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 26, 2011 at 4:24 PM | Permalink

      Final version is sent. The mixed quotes came from cut-and-paste from UK documents. Fixed, I think.

      • chopbox
        Posted May 27, 2011 at 3:01 PM | Permalink

        Would you please confirm that the link at top (Appeal of UEA Refusal) is the version that you have sent off (or change the attachment to be your final version if it is an earlier one such as the “slightly edited version” you posted at 3:51)?

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 3:15 PM | Permalink

          It’s the final version.

        • chopbox
          Posted May 28, 2011 at 12:25 PM | Permalink

          Thanks, Steve.

  13. alistair
    Posted May 26, 2011 at 4:02 PM | Permalink

    This is the killer…

  14. Pluck
    Posted May 26, 2011 at 4:06 PM | Permalink

    Personally, I liked the combativeness but I suppose that measured language would more likely elicit the desired response. I also liked the bit where you said the “argument fails.” There can be no stronger criticism. You should make it clear that the ICO has failed to do his job. No one likes to fail, and that may motivate him. Just my two cents.

  15. theduke
    Posted May 26, 2011 at 4:10 PM | Permalink

    I’ve previously argued that other correspondence of Steve’s was too “combative,” which seems to be the view held by some regarding this letter.

    Now I think it’s finally time to get combative. If nothing else, it will resonate in the court of public opinion. What is going on at UEA is inexcusable.

  16. glacierman
    Posted May 26, 2011 at 4:22 PM | Permalink

    On the tone of the document, I think it is important to get all of the arguments, point by point, into the public record, and to provide a candid refutation of their position, which is hard to do and not sound confrontational. I am not sure the tone of this document is really going to matter from a stand point of influencing the decision. Their mind is probably already made up; they are all in with the decision to not provide the requested information.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 26, 2011 at 4:32 PM | Permalink

      I know that people say that the tone of this sort of response is “confrontational”. I’ve re-read the text and it’s not as though I’m throwing a lot of adjectives around and calling people names. Obviously the letter is confrontational in the sense that I am confronting a series of fanciful excuses and trying to pick each spitball off the wall. I don’t see that any individual response is uncalled for. I realize that there is a cumulative effect, but surely the UEA bears responsibility for proffering a series of invalid excuses.

      As to including a complaint as well as an appeal – I make no apology for that. The legislation requires them to assist, not obstruct. Their intentional obstruction costs me a lot of time in dealing with each one of their fanciful excuses.

      They’ve done this for a long time. They’ve already entered into one agreement with the ICO and immediately are breaking it. The ICO should know about it earlier rather than later.

      • Posted May 26, 2011 at 5:53 PM | Permalink

        Re: Steve McIntyre (May 26 16:32),
        I think it is generous of the British to devote substantial amounts of their taxpayer money to answering FOI requests for foreigners, apparently without cost to them. Accordingly, I can’t imagine any level of bureaucracy to which this appeal will reach where the spectacle of a Canadian lecturing a British FOI officer on his responsibilities under EIR would be seen as, well, appealing.

        Steve: I think that they realize, or should realize, that there is great interest in the topic in the UK. If you think it would help things, who knows, maybe a UK reader might add their endorsement by emailing UEA and ICO.

        • KnR
          Posted May 26, 2011 at 6:15 PM | Permalink

          No matter how good you think a lie is and how just the cause for lying , in the end its still a lie.

        • Peter Wilson
          Posted May 26, 2011 at 6:21 PM | Permalink

          Nick

          Generous my arse! It is merely function of the British taxpayer having already “generously” funded a bunch of shoddy research. As I have said before, the real question is why there should have needed to be ANY FOI requests at all, if these were real scientists all the data would have been provided without complaint or delay.

          Steve’s nationality is entirely irrelevant, both morally and legally, these are decisions with international ramifications. And as for “lecturing” British FOI officers, the facts of this case speak for themselves, and the law requires a certain response – if previous FOI officers have failed in their duty, Steve is entirely justified in pointing this out.

        • JCM
          Posted May 26, 2011 at 7:58 PM | Permalink

          When all reasonable arguments fail resort to the ‘he’s a foreigner’ defence.

        • Posted May 26, 2011 at 9:08 PM | Permalink

          FOI officials are paid whether they do their jobs or not. It’s not going to cost anyone more money to honor these requests than it would to refuse them.

        • JamesD
          Posted May 26, 2011 at 9:26 PM | Permalink

          You’re right Nick. They should just release the f&*#ing data instead of wasting everyone’s time. Isn’t that what science is all about Nick?

        • ZootCadillac
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 7:49 AM | Permalink

          With the greatest of respect Nick, I’m sure that you are quite aware that even if the situation were as I believe it may be in the US, that you have to be a tax-paying resident of a state to request FOI from state funded bodies or that the university adopted a ploy ( which I don’t doubt that they will in future ) that Mr McIntyre’s requests are too frequent and vexatious ( a ploy adopted by the home office with myself and a number of acquaintances pursuing an unrelated matter ), there are a great number of us, tax-paying UK citizens, who would be more than happy to submit all manner of FOI requests on behalf of Mr McIntyre.
          You may see it as a waste of tax-payer’s funds. Some of us see it as a proper way to spend those funds to prevent further waste.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 9:41 AM | Permalink

          Actually, I haven’t submitted as many FOI requests as people think.

        • ZootCadillac
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 9:49 AM | Permalink

          I’m sure that’s the case Steve. I just know from experience that it’s not long before those who want to say nothing use that excuse as a reason to say nothing.

        • Neil McEvoy
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 8:04 AM | Permalink

          FWIW, Commonwealth citizens are not, strictly speaking, foreigners in the UK. They can even vote, if they are resident.

        • ZootCadillac
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 9:48 AM | Permalink

          and regarding the comment
          Steve: I think that they realize, or should realize, that there is great interest in the topic in the UK. If you think it would help things, who knows, maybe a UK reader might add their endorsement by emailing UEA and ICO.

          Not sure whose asking, if that’s a comment to Steve from Fred or a reply from Steve but either way, if anyone would like to help with the wording of such a request (endorsement) so as not to appear identical and therefore vexatious, then I would be happy to submit a similar request to UEA for the same data and contact the ICO to put them on notice of such a request being made.

        • JohnH
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 11:24 AM | Permalink

          That would only play into UEA/CRU hands, UEA/CRU are already on record as saying the few FOI requests they have already had is too many so adding more will only add to that. A letter to your MP would have more effect as it would not add to the FOI requests, not that many of the 650 odd MP’s will take much notice.

        • ZootCadillac
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 11:32 AM | Permalink

          Unfortunately my MP is George Osborne. Any letter to him would be, if I can be forgiven the vulgar phrase, ‘pissing in the wind’.

          n.b. I just notice my awful grammar/spelling mistake in the previous post. I’m not normally so lax but it is Friday and I started on the beer early :) (whose = who’s)

      • Tom Gray
        Posted May 26, 2011 at 6:40 PM | Permalink

        There are a number of lawyers who read this board. Wouldn’t they be a good source of advice on a preferred style and tone for such a document

        • Pluck
          Posted May 26, 2011 at 6:45 PM | Permalink

          I rather think that real emotion is more powerful and more persuasive than anything that can be fashioned by art or by craft. The combativeness of tone seems to me to be both genuine and compelling.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 26, 2011 at 6:52 PM | Permalink

          Yes, there are. But I’ve also got a lot of experience. Short of being a FOI specialist in the UK, it would be difficult for a lawyer in another specialty/jurisdiction to get up to speed with me on the legislation, which I’ve been following for quite a while now. Richard Brearley is a UK lawyer and I looked very carefully at his notes in a CA comment in preparing the letter.

  17. Richard Brearley
    Posted May 26, 2011 at 5:20 PM | Permalink

    FOI/EIR are available for use by anyone.

    That applicant is not required to write like a lawyer. Mr M’s argument is persuasive.

  18. Marine_Shale
    Posted May 26, 2011 at 6:19 PM | Permalink

    I think the response has the perfect balance of nuance and ire.
    I particularly like the citing of Keenan v Queen’s University Belfast
    as precedent. UEA have obstructed, are obstructing and will continue to obstruct any efforts to shine light on their sometimes questionable tree ring methodologies. I think they will understand at this point that the issue is not going away.

    Thank you Steve,

    Marine_Shale

  19. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted May 26, 2011 at 6:22 PM | Permalink

    The tyranny of time zones. Too late for the suggestion that you submit the appeal in Russian language.

  20. Posted May 26, 2011 at 7:35 PM | Permalink

    I have to agree with many who suggested a less combative more professional tone.

    While a combative tone may play to your audience, Steve, I doubt it will play to those officials who will be dealing with this matter, as some of your readers suggest. The tone will have no effect on them for they will or will not release data for reasons altogether unrelated to the tone of your appeal.

    Even if you have contempt for government and the civil service, even if you think the reasons for the denial are spurious, there are still people involved who will have to process the request and do the work. There is no benefit in using a combative tone when it is unlikely to move those who are truly responsible for making the decision to accept or deny requests.

    This may be fun and games for you and perhaps a chance to play the “gotcha game” if you can find some minor error, but it is actual work and cost for those responding to your request.

    As to those like Peter Wilson who think there should be no FOI laws, if there were none, Steve would have less chance of getting the information. FOI laws were created precisely to allow citizens access to data their governments hold, often too tightly, for political reasons — primarily to protect themselves from public scrutiny around policy decisions. I fully support FOI laws as they are a necessary antidote to this tendency and I believe citizens should have the right to access government information.

    That said, there are valid reasons to deny FOI requests. Just as I support FOI, I also support the right to restrict the release of some data for a number of reasons. Governments have the right to deny access based on the existing exemptions detailed in legislation and citizens have the right to challenge such denials.

    Of course, I am not sympathetic to your case. I think that your requests are frivolous in the long run and will be nothing more than wheel-spinning self-serving denial fodder that will not change the science or improve it in any meaningful way.

    • Pluck
      Posted May 26, 2011 at 7:50 PM | Permalink

      You say “Of course, I am not sympathetic to your case. I think that your requests are frivolous in the long run …” This quite surprises me. Should we measure the merit of a case by its long run potentialities, or by it merits as it rests today?

      As for me, I prefer disclosure as such disclosure would not embarrass or discomfit any honest holder of the information.

      • Posted May 26, 2011 at 10:45 PM | Permalink

        Citizens have the absolute right to request access to data held by their governments. Governments have the right to deny some requests for reasons as stated in the legislation. Citizens have the right to appeal and so on.

        We can still evaluate and criticize the requests for access as a separate issue from their right to request access. I’m not denying Steve’s right to request access. I’m critical of Steve’s requests because I see them as part of a denial campaign to discredit climate science and/or gain personal notoriety in a game of gotcha.

        I personally don’t care about the discomfort of any government official. I’m more concerned with the effects of such actions on science and public policy. Raising unfounded doubt through these kinds of attacks undermines science and leads to cynicism.

        Such actions could undermine public and political support for action on GHGs. Which, I suspect, is the goal.

        • EdeF
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 12:06 AM | Permalink

          Susan writes, “I’m critical of Steve’s requests because I see them as part of a denial campaign to discredit climate science and/or gain personal notoriety in a game of gotcha.”

          This is quite ignorant. As anyone here knows, Steve is a rather luke-warm
          skeptic, and sees no reason why government can’t enact GHG legislation. He
          is mainly critical of some of the sloppy science involved. Had the team
          gracefully worked with him from the beginning, it is likely we would not even know anything about him.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 12:19 AM | Permalink

          As I’ve said on other occasions, it is people like Susan who should be writing to CRU, urging them to release the data, rather than litigating. If the public stakes are as high as Susan and others believe, then CRU should willingly provide the regional chronology. Refusing data makes the field look bad, whatever they may think of me. That’s why Susan should urge them to take this issue off the table as rapidly as possible. In practical terms, I doubt that there will be much public sympathy for CRU withholding Yamal data. It’s not a battle that I would choose, if I were in their shoes.

        • Posted May 27, 2011 at 3:57 AM | Permalink

          Re: Steve McIntyre (May 27 00:19), You would think they learned a positive lesson by watching GISS release their code.

        • Posted May 27, 2011 at 7:18 PM | Permalink

          If I accepted that there was a serious question about the science of AGW, I would but I don’t accept that premise. I wouldn’t waste my time and the time of the scientists involved and the public officials involved, nor would I risk and damaging the public’s perception of AGW, by pursuing a witch hunt and inquisition.

          Nothing deniers have claimed — Poor Station Data, the UHI — have shown that the temperature records are erroneous nor has the science of AGW fallen due to the claims of skeptics. I suspect that this tempest in a teapot over hockey sticks and paleoclimate is just more of the same obfuscationism meant to delay action. A lot of false claims have been made by so-called skeptics that have confused the public and provided policy makers with excuses not to act — which is, of course, the whole modus operandi.

        • Posted May 28, 2011 at 10:41 AM | Permalink

          Susan

          You are making a lot of unfounded and highly speculative assumptions and projections there. As an objection to what!? To allow others to evaluate, or even attempt to replicate the proposed reserach!? Why?

          Then you go on about completely different issues, none of which makre (or brake) the central issue you bring up: wether or AGW is a present, a problem or not. Whereafter you go on about policy, wich has nothing to do with this issue.

          In the end, you even implicate that you know what is the right way to act, and that politicians are straying off the righteous path because the skeptics temt them to ..

          That is indeed quite a handful …

        • None
          Posted May 28, 2011 at 11:05 AM | Permalink

          Susan,
          “Nothing deniers have claimed — Poor Station Data, the UHI — have shown that the temperature records are erroneous nor has the science of AGW fallen due to the claims of skeptics.”

          You haven’t been following climateaudit for long, have you ?
          On climateaudit, the main battlefield is not the rising temperature over the 20th C (only around 0.8 deg C – a relatively meager rate) but the mathematical integrity of the “temperature changes over the past one to two thousand years” type of studies which are used to persuade people we are in a period of unprecedented warming.

          If you have any background in science or basic mathematical skill, you simply cannot have read the material on climate audit, and come to the conclusion that these studies are reliable. You will also be disgusted by the covering up behaviour of the climate scientists when presented with these problems. Why don’t you do yourself a favour and educate yourself. Start reading from post 1, and try to understand what is being demonstrated.

        • None
          Posted May 28, 2011 at 11:33 AM | Permalink

          Btw, just to add that the freedom of information claim being discussed in this post is precisely within the context of these “unprecedented warming” studies. There is reasonable evidence to believe that to some degree certain long term CRU published temperature series are not objectively selective in their use of component sub-series, with empirical evidence that adding series they invariably choose not to include decreases the “unprecedentedness” of current warming. The level of resistance they give to providing the full details of their series composition (and the sub results they used to make final selections on series) gives more than a whiff of having something to hide. Why not just release the details ? It is after all publicly funded “science”, and cheaper and easier to release stuff than constantly fob people off through lawyers.

        • Posted May 27, 2011 at 3:49 AM | Permalink

          Re: Susan (May 26 22:45),

          I’m more concerned with the effects of such actions on science and public policy. Raising unfounded doubt through these kinds of attacks undermines science and leads to cynicism.

          Such actions could undermine public and political support for action on GHGs. Which, I suspect, is the goal.

          It seems to me that more doubt is caused by DENYING these requests than by granting them.

          In fact the inquiries agree with me. By playing stupid delaying games CRU brought more trouble on themselves. That’s what we argued in our book. That’s what the investigations found. The denial of data is what amplifies the doubts. And the sick thing is this: there is NOTHING of scientific consequence being hidden. Regardless of tree ring data we know that GHGs warm the planet. The people playing games and causing cynicism are CRU. They need to get over it and release the data.

          If you care about saving the planet why would you play the same stupid game that burned you before.

        • John F. Pittman
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 6:27 AM | Permalink

          Mosher, you stated: And the sick thing is this: there is NOTHING of scientific consequence being hidden. Regardless of tree ring data we know that GHGs warm the planet.

          This is not correct. The CRU and public officials have a lot of political wealth invested in the IPCC. The AR4 used tree-ring chronologies to bolster their case. And in this respect, Susan is also wrong. The enabling of FOIA whether British or American or even the UN itself, speaks of the public good that occurs when citizen’s take an active part of looking into how decisions are made.

          Not that they find wrong, or other possible answers, but encouraging the interest alone is worth the monies. In this respect, Susan seems to give only lip service or at most a surficial reasoning for the comment of Steve’s request as “frivolous.

        • Posted May 27, 2011 at 12:22 PM | Permalink

          Re: John F. Pittman (May 27 06:27), You may think that HS studies are somehow central to the case for AGW. You are still under a spell.
          The elevation of the HS to icon status is the fundamental error here. I’ll put it boldly. It doesnt matter what HS studies show. GHGs warm the planet. If a HS study, could show otherwise, that would be grounds to reject the study because the science underpinning radiative transfer is far more secure than tree-ring-ology.
          The only thing a reconstruction could possible change is a sensitivity estimate.
          Here too, if a tree ring study suggested anything outside the range of all the other evidence, I would question the tree ring study.

          It’s the weakest most suspect data. The confirmation it adds to the theory is marginal. And its not strong enough to change existing understanding.

          The HS occupies this strange land BECAUSE it has been turn into an Icon. As an Icon believers cannot and will not admit to any fault in it. Dis believers also wrongly think that destroying the HS actually has some impact. They TOO live under the delusion that it is of consequence.

          As some who accepts AGW I think it is important that we dispense with Icons. So, I have no problem saying the HS is broken AND AGW is our best understanding of how GHGs warm the planet.

          Few people might agree with me. That’s a good sign in my book.

          Think about how something like the shroud of Turin operates in a belief structure and you’ll get my point.

        • John F. Pittman
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 2:07 PM | Permalink

          You may believe such and I may believe such. But this is not what was stated by CRU via IPCC AR4. With respect to this thread, tree ring chronologies are important, even if overblown in their usefulness. The claim of usefulness is what makes it and issues surrounding it, applicable to FOIA and EIR. This claim of usefulness to a public or policy decision is one of the prerequisites that enables the FOIA and EIR request to be considered.

          But I do disagree about impact. It will effect the impact of the methodology and conclusions of AR4, in particular the correctness thereof. But I do agree that it is an Icon. And in that respect breaking an icon does have impact. And not on the science, which I would assume was the point of the Shroud comment.

        • Posted May 27, 2011 at 4:51 PM | Permalink

          Re: John F. Pittman (May 27 14:07), I dont think it would any impact on the policy recommendations of Ar4.

          the policy depends upon the GCM “predictions”
          those predictions have precious little to do with reconstructions.

          they are wheel that doesnt turn. It makes a lot of noise, but it does not drive policy. Policy is driven by GCM results and those results have nothing to do with tree ring findings.

          That people seem to think they do is of no consequence to me. they are just mistaken.

        • John F. Pittman
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 6:22 PM | Permalink

          Steven, I did not argue that it would impact policy, necessarily. I argued that it was used to support policy as stated by the CRU through the IPCC, and thus enables a request under FOIA/EIR for the data. The confidence attributed to the GMC results was stated by the IPCC in AR4 as dependent on the agreement of the GCM results and the paleo temperature reconstructions.

          Your claim that policy is driven by GMC results and not tree ring findings ignores the attribution of confidence that the IPCC gave to their conclusions based on tree ring findings. Policy and its implementation depend on this confidence. This was the point of calling Santer et al on “not inconsistent with” to task. The claim of confidence is an important part of making policy. Put it on its head, “We have no confidence in the results, but we want to implement it anyway, despite its cost.” Is this a viable policy consideration? The IPCC disagrees with this; confidence was an important part of AR4. In this, the tree rings are important, and important to the thread. Susan’s attempt to portray Steve’s “frivolous” request as approaching vexatious should be and was challenged. IMO, portraying tree ring in a similar light for this thread should be challenged as not factual to the considerations of the thread. It was part of the policy determination.

          From the Summary for Policy Makers where the IPCC makes its pitch for policy, which acknowledges the paleo use:

          Average Northern Hemisphere temperatures during the
          second half of the 20th century were very likely higher
          than during any other 50-year period in the last 500
          years and likely the highest in at least the past 1,300
          years. Some recent studies indicate greater variability
          in Northern Hemisphere temperatures than suggested
          in the TAR, particularly finding that cooler periods
          existed in the 12th to 14th, 17th and 19th centuries.
          Warmer periods prior to the 20th century are within the
          uncertainty range given in the TAR. {6.6}
          It is very unlikely that climate changes of at least the
          seven centuries prior to 1950 were due to variability
          generated within the climate system alone. A significant
          fraction of the reconstructed Northern Hemisphere
          inter-decadal temperature variability over those
          centuries is very likely attributable to volcanic eruptions
          and changes in solar irradiance, and it is likely that
          anthropogenic forcing contributed to the early 20thcentury
          warming evident in these records. {2.7, 2.8,
          6.6, 9.3}

          I disagree on whether it would impact policy recommendations, but this is outside the scope of thread as best I can determine. And my orignal point of the political wealth invested by UEA still stands, irrespective of wheher GMC’s need paleo tree rings or not. In fact, it was your claim that tree rings were “central to the case of AGW,” on my behalf, that is continuing much of the conversation. My claim was the tree rings were used to bolster the IPCC case. Any centrality is whatever the IPCC assigned it, not me. I took task with your claim of “nothing.” The IPCC disagreed with you. They assigned confidence according to the tree ring studies. Confidence in science is something. Something important. Steve’s EIR/FOIA request, such that, hopefully, confidence of the science in certain areas, can be examined, I also claim is something not nothing.

        • See - owe to Rich
          Posted May 28, 2011 at 4:06 AM | Permalink

          Steven,

          As you yourself have pointed out on other threads and other blogs, it isn’t just about acceptance or denial of AGW. It’s about the sensitivity (sorry Roger Pielke I know you disagree).

          Now, the predictions of GCMs are based on high sensitivity levels, which in my view are unjustified (I still go with ~1.5degC per doubling).

          So this is where tree rings come in. It is easier for IPCC et al to justify high sensitivities if they can claim that the present warming is unprecedented – the “what else can it be” argument.

          Unfortunately, the lousy tree ring data are important to the overall argument, which is why UEA wish to obstruct, and why Susan is so waaay of the mark in saying “nothing to see, move along here”. OK, I know those weren’t her own words.

          Rich.

        • Posted May 29, 2011 at 2:02 AM | Permalink

          Mosh wrote:

          “Policy is driven by GCM results and those results have nothing to do with tree ring findings.”

          Hmmm … assuming that these GCM results are those reported in the IPCC’s AR4 (and/or its antecedents), and knowing that the IPCC mandate is to be “policy neutral” or in their lingo “non-policy prescriptive” OWTTE, one would have to be very naïve to assume that “tree ring findings” (as they have been graphically represented and emphasized far beyond their worth) have had no influence on “policy” (not to mention practice).

        • Mark F
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 8:48 AM | Permalink

          I marvel at my great fortune having married the woman I did. I am reminded of this quite frequently, during my daily blog read. I guess the same goes for neighbors, co-workers and others who touch my life.

        • Posted May 27, 2011 at 6:37 PM | Permalink

          If, as you claim, you accept that the science of AGW is valid and GHGs do warm the climate, and if there is no “smoking gun” to be found in Mann’s or Jones’s or Briffa’s emails, all of this FOI charade and dickering about red noise models and calls for “sound science” is just a self-serving sideshow on the part of self-absorbed wannabes — at best — and deniers — at worst — that distracts from a necessary focus on policy options.

        • ZootCadillac
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 6:43 PM | Permalink

          you appear, at least to me, quite rude madam. I’m not sure that’s how educated adults debate.

        • Posted May 27, 2011 at 7:22 PM | Permalink

          That’s like, your opinion, man.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 7:59 PM | Permalink

          As a reviewer of AR4,, I offered the suggestion that, if paleo didn’t matter, that they delete the discussion from the report and try to focus on the things that do matter.

          If it’s your view that presentation and discussion of proxy reconstructions distracts from policy options, then surely you should be expressing these views to the agencies that are funding this sort of activity and to the academics who promote the studies.

        • Posted May 27, 2011 at 8:38 PM | Permalink

          Cute.

          The attempt on the part of self-proclaimed skeptics to discredit paleoclimate studies via innuendo and smear and the efforts to defend against that attack is a distraction from what really matters.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 9:55 PM | Permalink

          I try to be accurate in my commentary, If you think that my commentary has been inaccurate, I’d appreciate it if you would direct me to specific errors so that I can make appropriate corrections.

          My criticisms of the proxy reconstructions here have been detailed and technical. My opinion on the lack of worth of the canonical reconstructions is based on my assessment of their technical and statistical defects, not on “innuendo and smear”.

        • theduke
          Posted May 28, 2011 at 9:16 AM | Permalink

          crickets . . .

        • John Norris
          Posted May 28, 2011 at 9:29 AM | Permalink

          re:”…is a distraction from what really matters.”

          What really matters? Are the data and methods reasonable that are used to assess how catastrophic, or not, the warming is.

          As a skeptic I have been surprised how analysis here, and other sites, have shown a great deal of data and methods to be very reasonable. However some of it has been awful as well. Principle component and bristle cone pine usage come to mind.

          If the data and methods aren’t made public, we have seen that you just aren’t going to get independent scrutiny outside of the small group of like-minded climate scientists. If their output is going to be used to drive global economic direction, it needs to be subject to the greatest scrutiny; it really matters.

        • Posted May 28, 2011 at 7:57 PM | Permalink

          I agree that science used to support public policy should be vetted, and that decisions should be informed by the best science available. It isn’t always the case. Sometimes the best science is ignored for science that serves a political purpose. Sometimes, other factors trump science and rightly so. Where you and I part ways is that I am not convinced that citizen auditors are the way to go to attain appropriate QA in science. I would prefer to see panels of qualified scientists familiar with the whole field and science in general do this work. That’s why I am more likely to trust the NAS and other science bodies over individual skeptics. It is possible that the NAS is wrong and the individual skeptic is right, but it’s more likely that the opposite is true.

          In the end, I don’t think the paleoclimate reconstructions, including sediments, tree rings and other are all that useful for policy makers and citizens who must decide what, if anything to do about the matter. It’s an interesting line of research but the data seems to me, who is only passingly familiar with statistical methods, to be very statistically tortured, uncertain the farther back one goes, and very complex in terms of physical relationships. The level of uncertainty seems to make the paleoclimate data merely suggestive rather than conclusive. When I see the error bars for some of the proxies I feel that people who claim to know what temp was like during the MWP are blowing smoke.

          What seems more convincing to a layperson like me is the physics of the GHE, the data on CO2 increases and sources, the data on other climate forcings or attribution. Paleoclimate recons seem a real stretch which are potentially useful but fraught with problems like divergence, etc. and highly uncertain the farther back one goes in the record.

          However, the existence of uncertainty in the paleoclimate record does not negate the other aspects of climate science. People use these uncertainties as justification for questioning the entire science and its findings, going against all the major science bodies and decades of research.

          As someone with an academic interest in this, I’m interested in their reasons for doing so. People always claim to be motivated by an interest in the truth, and sound science, and just the facts, ma’am but in reality, research suggests that humans tend to be very biased in their assessment of evidence. They look and see that which confirms their pre-existing biases and expectations and interests. It’s very hard to overcome that tendency and truly, modern science is about the best means of overcoming that bias. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we’ve got.

          I haven’t seen anything yet that convinces me that the radiative physics and CO2 data and temperature record have been falsified. What I have seen is a lot of speculation about individual scientists’ motives and integrity and methodological and process debates that I am not qualified to judge.

          I’m skeptical of the skeptics. Overall, that seems to be the safest position to take.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 26, 2011 at 8:10 PM | Permalink

      I also agree that there can be valid reasons to deny FOI requests. However, in the present case, I don’t believe that there are any. If three are, they haven’t provided any.

      The cost of complying with my request is negligible. It takes them far more time and effort not to comply.

      • Fred
        Posted May 26, 2011 at 8:40 PM | Permalink

        Yes there are – you are simply ignoring them. You are asking for an unpublished analysis of publically available data sets which CRU are still working on (per the original response) and for which you have already been given a timeline for completion of that work. You mention none of these points in your appeal and so I guarantee the response will just repeat them.

        You point about the need to provide context and support for any new reconstruction, quoting the ICO, will be answered simply by saying that this is what the literature is for. It is not the role of FOI – which is to release already existing records.

        The public interest defence in this is that researchers have to be given the chance to work up their results for publication before FOI can be applied. Abandonment of that as a general rule – which is what you are arguing for – removes any right for any researcher anywhere in the UK to work up their analysis in private. This is not what the FOI legislation was for.

        You might think this principle is unimportant, but I’m pretty sure most academics won’t. Standing up for it might take more time, but the argument that just giving you what you want and then you’ll go away has long been disproven.

        Steve: Briffa et al 2008 purports to be a publication of regional chronologies. Why wasn’t the Urals/Yamal regional chronology included?

        Their stories are all over the place. They told Muir Russell that they didn’t have to finish it and so they used a data set that was too small for a regional chronology. But now they say that publishing based on incomplete data may lead to misleading results. Please square the circle for me.

        • Posted May 26, 2011 at 9:12 PM | Permalink

          I guess 5 years isn’t long enough for them to come up with another novel statistical method.

        • JamesD
          Posted May 26, 2011 at 9:42 PM | Permalink

          Why don’t you read the appeal first before commenting? He is not asking for an unpublished analysis. I’m sure the last thing he wants to do is read more of their “analysis, i.e. spin and lies.

          He is asking for the URALS chronology created around 2006.

        • TerryMN
          Posted May 26, 2011 at 9:46 PM | Permalink

          Wouldn’t “a reference to an unpublished analysis that was made in a published paper” be more accurate, Fred?

        • Fred
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 2:08 AM | Permalink

          No. This reconstruction has not been presented in any paper.

          JamesD, what part of the word ‘unpublished’ is unclear to you? If this had been published, there’d be a figure in the literature showing it, and undoubtedly Steve would have been showing it. There isn’t and he hasn’t.

          And Steve, answering questions about what does and what does not make it into a paper might be nice, but it has nothing to do with FOI.

        • JamesD
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 11:37 AM | Permalink

          The URALS chronology is finished. It exists. Period. Of course it has not been published. That is the whole issue. And we have strong suspicions of WHY it has not been published.

          Public money was used in creating this chronology. By law, it needs to be made available, not hidden away. By the scientific method it needs to be made available.

        • Richard Brearley
          Posted May 26, 2011 at 10:09 PM | Permalink

          Hi Fred,

          From the Keenan case:

          “However, the Commissioner considers that the exception at regulation 12(4)(d) can not be applied in this way. QUB has advised that the raw data was collected over a period of 40 years, and is now being used for research. This does not suggest to the Commissioner that the data is unfinished or incomplete, rather that, whilst the research utilising this data is ongoing ie the analysis of the data, the data itself has already been collected and is therefore not unfinished or incomplete.”

          The argument about tree ring “incomplete” data just doesn’t succeed – it’s been tried and it failed.

          You say:

          “The public interest defence in this is that researchers have to be given the chance to work up their results for publication before FOI can be applied.”

          I’m not sure this is the case, either. If the information (data) is held and is complete (in the above sense), notwithstanding any future intentions to analyse it or research it etc., then it is subject to FOI.

        • Fred
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 2:19 AM | Permalink

          1) the QUB case was about raw data. This does not apply here since all the raw data are available on public websites. That one of them is in Russian is not germane since FOI is not a translation service. Steve is asking for an analysis of that raw data that has not been published.

          2) you are greatly extending the scope of the FOI legislation. Is it your contention that the minute that a researcher makes a calculation or plots a graph that is FOI-able? If no, then you need to define where the line lies, and if yes, you need to justify why the public interest in having public researchers actually research something has been suspended. ‘openscience’ (look it up) has it’s adherents, but if the govt wanted to mandate that, they would need to be far more explicit than relying on an untested opinion by the ICO.

        • Richard Brearley
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 7:39 AM | Permalink

          Fred,

          (We have been using the tag”FOI” but of course it’s the EIR that apply here).

          1) Published/unpublished. Data/analysis. All covered by the regulations.

          2) I don’t think I am. In principle yes – unless (in the context of this conversation relating to Reg 12(4)(d)) it is an unfinished document, incomplete data or material still in the course of completion and the public authority has to give a full explanation of how it fits within that exception and then apply a public interest test.

          An unpublished analysis which has been done at some time before the request and which relates to data and measurements, etc. which are clearly identifiable in 2006 does not appear to be material still in the course of completion, incomplete data or an unfinished document. The reasoning in the decision of the IC in the Keenan case on the Reg. 12(4)(d) exception applies here but I do agree that there is room for argument on this “unfinished” issue. On one extreme researchers could claim that all chronologies are forever “unfinished” and on the other applicants can argue “if it exists it is complete”. Finding that balance will prove difficult, I fear.

          “…you need to justify why the public interest in having public researchers actually research something has been suspended…” It hasn’t.

          As to the “untested opinion of the ICO” – it is a decision of the Commissioner which as far as I know hasn’t been appealed to the Tribunal (probably because it is considered by QUB to be logical in its reasoning on the Reg. 12(4)(d) exception). Of course that may be tested if Steve’s request finds its way to the Commissioner or the Tribunal.

          The government has expressly created this Commissioner’s Office and a Tribunal process to make judgments about FOI/EIR matters – an explicit way of mandating what it wants.

        • Richard Brearley
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 8:53 AM | Permalink

          Apologies Fred, I meant to add at the end of para 2 above:

          And so we must not forget that the regulations expressly provide for disclosure of an unfinished document, incomplete data or material still in the course of completion if the public interest in disclosure prevails.

        • Fred
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 12:14 PM | Permalink

          The most obvious test of ‘completed-ness’ is publication in the scientific literature. Writing a paper obliges one to cross the ‘t’s and dot the ‘i’s in ways a preliminary analysis does not, and often that leads to changes in the analysis (because of the outcome of a sensitivity test for example).

          Despite your claim above though, there is a difference between raw data and a analysis derived from it. The public interest is clearer in the case of archiving unpublished raw data since without that, no other analyses can proceed even if the originators of the data don’t ever get around to analysing it properly (the QUB case). The public interest in an unpublished analysis of data that is freely available to anyone is much less. Anyone can analyse the same data in whatever way they like and if something interesting is to be found, it might be expected that someone else will find it.

          Steve would get a great deal more respect from the scientific community if he were to do his own analyses and publish them himself rather than harassing scientists to do work for him. The approach taken by O’Donnell et al is much, much better than this (ignoring the post-publication idiocy of course).

        • bobdenton
          Posted May 28, 2011 at 3:32 AM | Permalink

          I’d suggest that the most obvious test of completedness is whether the funding provided for the proposal under which the composite was generated has ceased. Research comes in penny packets and once the work contemplated under each proposal is done that corpus of research is complete.

        • Posted May 28, 2011 at 12:13 AM | Permalink

          “Steve is asking for an analysis of that raw data that has not been published. ”

          But the public did fund the research. Whether the researchers chose to use it as part of their publication is not relevant as to whether it should be made available.

          All they had to do was explain why they chose the very limited dataset they did, and why they didn’t use the expanded data. They didn’t. We want to know why. Is this such a horrible question concerning the greatest disaster facing all of humankind? You apparently think we shouldn’t know.

    • Neil Fisher
      Posted May 26, 2011 at 9:49 PM | Permalink

      “I have to agree with many who suggested a less combative more professional tone.”

      “The tone will have no effect on them for they will or will not release data for reasons altogether unrelated to the tone of your appeal.”

      So why would he want to change the tone – if it won’t make a difference, why shouldn’t he have a little “vent” if he wants?
      Besides, given the history I think anyone else would have devolved into significantly more aggressive language – I know I would have!

      • Posted May 26, 2011 at 10:22 PM | Permalink

        If the response Steve got from the FOI office included a combative tone, do you think it would be effective in changing Steve’s mind about appealing or filing future FOI requests? Of course not. It would only solidify Steve’s opinion that the person responding was a jerk.

        Personally, I don’t care if Steve uses a combative tone — go for it! The more combative the better. :)

        • Posted May 27, 2011 at 1:24 PM | Permalink

          Re: Susan (May 26 22:22), I remain amazed at people’s inability to understand steve’s personality.

          If steve received a combative reply he would not think the other person was a jerk.
          It would be more like ” cool! the fight is ON” The replies that are obsequious and weasely are the ones where you think the other person is a jerk.

        • Pluck
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 1:41 PM | Permalink

          Steven Mosher,

          McIntyre’s personality does not seem combative or aggressive: it seems more of an “Ok, if those are your terms, let’s proceed.” Not threatening unless your bluff is being called.

    • Peter Wilson
      Posted May 27, 2011 at 3:22 AM | Permalink

      “As to those like Peter Wilson who think there should be no FOI laws,”

      No Susan, you have completely misunderstood my point. My view is that, in a world inhabited by honest, ethical and unbiased scientists, whose concern lay with the pursuit of the truth about the natural world, there would be no need for FOI’s, as all data would be archived and shared as a matter of course.

      The real world, and in particular the world of climate science, is not populated by such scientists. Therefore the FOI laws are, regrettably. necessary, and appear to offer the best hope of actually finding out how the current “consensus” view was arrived at. All I was saying is that this is entirely due to the intransigence and parochialism of the climate science community.

      The wish to view the basis of such momentous decision making is entirely understandable, and should be accommodated by the scientists themselves without compulsion – that is not to say I don’t believe compulsion should be possible.

  21. JamesD
    Posted May 26, 2011 at 9:43 PM | Permalink

    Original rejection: “Incorrect or misapplied conclusions could be drawn from the publication of unfinished data and any assessment of the merit of the work should be based upon a final, ***approved*** version of the data.”

    Interpretation:
    If Steve gets hold of this data, the hockey stick will get blown sky high.

  22. JamesD
    Posted May 26, 2011 at 9:49 PM | Permalink

    For anyone just getting to the Show, here is what Steve is requesting:
    “Climategate email 684. 1146252894.txt of Apr 28, 2006 refers to a tree ring composite identified as follows: “URALS” (which includes the Yamal and Polar Urals long chronologies, plus othershorter ones).

    Could you please provide me a digital version of this series together with a list of all the measurement data sets used to make this composite, denoting each data set by ITRDB identification or equivalent.

    For the Polar Urals site, would you please identify the individual data sets used by ITRDB identification or equivalent. If any of the data is not in a public archive, please provide the measurement data.”

    Should be a simple matter. Except that it could be the smoking gun.

    • Posted May 27, 2011 at 11:16 AM | Permalink

      from previous thread:
      Mosher: Now, if Steve McIntyre were Nurse, we would ask steve.

      1. before you made this hearsay claim did you ask to see a copy of the FOIA request. that would be a bombshell! Did you ask this person to get you a copy?

      Using Moshers maxim can you show all your evidence for your claim – “Except that it could be the smoking gun”
      Have you seen the requested documents to be able to say this?

      • Posted May 27, 2011 at 11:29 AM | Permalink

        Re: thefordprefect (May 27 11:16), dear jesus buy this man a logic class.

        Ford, The point was not whether Nurse could show the evidence the point was did he even ASK TO SEE EVIDENCE.

        That said, people who speculate about this material being a “smoking gun” are annoying.

        • Posted May 27, 2011 at 2:10 PM | Permalink

          You, not I, made the statement. This statement is about unsustantiated claims. This statement should not be limited to the anti-AGW crowd. I therefore applied it to one of the many unsubstaniasted claims here. Is this wrong? Did you not mean what you said? Should I not have used it onthis thread?

  23. Posted May 26, 2011 at 10:24 PM | Permalink

    Except that it could be the smoking gun.

    For what, exactly?

    • JamesD
      Posted May 26, 2011 at 11:55 PM | Permalink

      The URALS is supposedly a chronology where Polar Urals was combined with Yamal. It will be interesting to see the results. And if the results bring back the MWP, then the TEAM will have a lot of explaining to do.

  24. AusieDan
    Posted May 26, 2011 at 10:25 PM | Permalink

    Steve is asking for data used in a paper published in 2006. It is now 2011, five years later, if I’m not mistaken.

    These so called “scientists” have been claiming for too long that the world as we know it, is being destroyed by human action. Yet they constantly refuse to make their data available, so we can independently assess their claims.

    I realise that exraordinary claims made by warmist alarmists, certainly do need extraordinary evidence to support them.

    It goes way beyond extraordinary, to just refuse to provide the evidence. But HEY, it’s climate “science”, I nearly did forget. Silly me.

    So Steve is fully justified to forcefully demand that the data be provided without further delay, as stipulated by the UK law.

    • Tim Osborn
      Posted May 27, 2011 at 7:11 AM | Permalink

      AusieDan: “Steve is asking for data used in a paper published in 2006″.

      Do you have the reference for this paper? I’d be interested to know what it is.


      Steve: see my comment below.

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted May 27, 2011 at 9:27 AM | Permalink

        Re: Tim Osborn (May 27 07:11),

        Hello, Tim. Nice of you to drop in. It’s too bad that your suggestions to your associates back in late 2003 weren’t followed.

        Your observation that AussieDan is incorrect on 2006 is, of course, correct. However, Briffa et al 2008 purported to publish regional chronologies. The Polar Urals/Yamal regional chronology obviously met that description and was available to the authors of Briffa et al 2008. Instead, they chose to go with a chronology from a much smaller data set with a pronounced HS-shape. The University of East Anglia recently stated:

        There is little public interest in the release of unfinished or incomplete data – i.e. which does not contain a description of how it was created or why the “selected” methods were chosen – and so does not reflect the full breadth of academic rigour and thought applied to it. The information may well be incorrect, untested, unreviewed and may not accurately reflect the proper outcome of the research. Incorrect or misapplied conclusions could be drawn from the publication of unfinished data and any assessment of the merit of the work should be based upon a final, approved version of the data.

        In the case at hand, this means that Briffa et al 2008 should have contained a description of why the “selected” (and small) Yamal chronology was used in preference to the regional Polar Urals/Yamal chronology. CRU’s explanation to Muir Russell was that it was “unable to complete” the regional Polar Urals/Yamal chronology in time for the article.

        Between these [Taimyr-Avam and Tornestrask-Finland] we had intended to explore an integrated Polar Urals/Yamal larch series but it was felt that this work could not be completed in time

        However, despite CRU apparently being unable to complete the Polar Urals/Yamal chronology in time for Briffa et al 2008, CRU decided to publish anyway, despite the university policy that “. “incorrect or misapplied conclusions could be drawn from the publication of unfinished data”.

        What worries readers (and myself) is that the Polar Urals/Yamal chronology evidently had a “higher peak near 1000 AD” – a point that you mentioned in a 2007 email (780. 1172776463.txt). Under the circumstances, there is concern on my part and on the part of readers that this was a factor in CRU’s decision not to use the Polar Urals/Yamal chronology. I understand that CRU may well argue that its decision to use the small Yamal chronology rather than the Polar Urals/Yamal regional chronology was based on valid reasons. Unfortunately, CRU did not describe this selection process in the text of Briffa et al 2008, as, in my opinion, it should have.

        While the regional chronology has thus far been requested only through FOI, it is my intention to also request the data through Phil Trans B. As you know, in the past, Phil Trans B has been far less sympathetic to data obstruction than a typical climate journal. I think that there is a good chance that they will take the view that the regional Polar Urals/Yamal chronology should be disclosed pursuant to your obligations under Briffa et al 2008. We’ll see.

        One thing that I can tell you – regardless of what climate scientists may tell one another, there is zero sympathy from the public for refusing to provide data, such as the data requested here. Refusing data, particularly when accompanied by implausible excuses, is corrosive to public attitudes towards scientists in your field. I strongly urge CRU to reconsider its refusal.

        Regards,
        Steve Mc

        PS – on other occasions in the past, visitors such as yourself have too often limited themselves to criticizing occasional (and less knowledgeable) commenters from the public, while not responding to me. The pattern has been quite remarkable. Please feel welcome to respond to me as well as to occasional commenters.

        • Fred
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 11:59 AM | Permalink

          Good luck asking a journal to support accessing data that wasn’t in the paper they published. Of course, since this wasn’t in any paper, why not ask all the other journals too? They have exactly the same connection to your quest (i.e. none).

          Good too, to see that you have clearly acknowledged that this is unpublished data (perhaps you can pass that along to Anthony who still appears to think otherwise?).

          However, I fail to see why the fact that the data is unpublished and still being worked on is an ‘implausible excuse’. I reiterate, if the UK Govt. had intended to litigate a completely openscience approach to all UK science (i.e. complete and unfettered access to all works in progress, data and drafts), I think they would have mentioned it before now, and I think the scientific community might have had something to say about it. Given that they haven’t said anything like that, you’re dependence on the QUB decision to imply it, is not likely to bear fruit.

          Neither are your opinions about what should have been in a paper not written by you relevant to anything. You don’t get to use FOI or EIR to dictate what people work on, say or publish. If you want to see a regional reconstruction from the raw data, do it yourself – and let CRU explain why their answer is different to yours in whatever publication they eventually come out with. This is how science works. Demanding that other people do work for you is not.

        • Layman Lurker
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 12:41 PM | Permalink

          Good luck asking a journal to support accessing data that wasn’t in the paper they published.

          Fred, I wouldn’t be so quick in speculating on Phil Trans B’s response when presented with the passage from the climategate email.

        • Fred
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 3:17 PM | Permalink

          No journal’s data sharing policy covers analyses not published in the article in question. But if you are confident that there is some hope for this approach (a probability I put at close to zero), let’s have a little wager – stakes are an online apology (in this thread) either way it turns out. If I’m right, you apologise for wishcasting, and if you are right, I apologise for my ignorance and lack of faith in the Steve.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 3:42 PM | Permalink

          Fred, let me ask you a question about data being “used” in a study. Jacoby’s North American temperature series used the 10 “most temperature sensitive” chronologies out of 36 chronologies. At the time of my interest, Climatic Change did not have a data policy. However, I got them to establish a data policy,. Under the new data policy, I asked Jacoby to supply the other 26 chronologies. He refused, saying that he didn’t “use” the other 26 chronologies.

          From a statistical point of view, it’s black-and-white that he “used” the other chronologies even if they were not included in the final reconstruction. I wasn’t successful in persuading Stephen Schneider of this point of view, but I am 100% convinced of my position on this.

          What’s your view? Did Jacoby “use” the other 26 chronologies or not?

        • Steeptown
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 4:22 PM | Permalink

          Quite right Steve. They had to use all 36 chronologies to know which 10 were the “most temperature sensitive”.

        • Scott Brim
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 5:35 PM | Permalink

          Re: Steeptown (May 27 16:22),

          Precisely ….. And if they were pursuing their analysis in a truly rigorous way — in the way scientists are supposed to be doing it — they would have documented the reasoning behind their selection, even if it was for their own internal use in maintaining an auditable documentation trail of their research activities.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 3:57 PM | Permalink

          Top medical journals now require (I think) protocols to be established ex ante. Otherwise you get into the problem of data snooping that is endemic in proxy reconstructions:

          Data snooping refers to statistical inference that the researcher decides to perform after looking at the data (as contrasted with pre-planned inference, which the researcher plans before looking at the data).

          In the case at hand, it is evident that Briffa carried out his analyses after looking at the different versions of the regional chronology – selecting the version using the small Yamal network rather than the Polar Urals/Yamal regional chronology. Even if there is a “good” reason for picking the version that they did, the inferences were done after looking at the data. It’s classic data snooping.

        • Fred
          Posted May 28, 2011 at 12:30 AM | Permalink

          I’m afraid it is you who is using a logical fallacy. You are assuming what you are trying to prove. Work takes time, and sometimes things don’t get finished by deadline. I have no idea why not, but your insinuations (and Susan is quite right – this is a not a ‘technical point’) about Briffa et al rests exclusively on your initial assumption that they are lying. That may convince the chorus here, but it holds no water.

        • HAS
          Posted May 28, 2011 at 1:04 AM | Permalink

          The initial assumption is that they had the dataset to hand when they decided not to use it, not that they lying – quickest way to kill that insinuation is to release the data.

          What I don’t understand here is, given a presumption for disclosure, there are a number of people here (like Fred) who think it is a “good thing” to enlarge the scope for information not to be released.

          “The data on the houses that were going to be swept away in the next hurricane was ‘incomplete’, your Honour”

        • Posted May 28, 2011 at 6:57 AM | Permalink

          HAS Posted May 28, 2011 at 1:04 AM
          The often used meme “drug companies release their data don’t they” never seems to include the other important bit about – not until they have analysed the results from phase 3 – and this can take many years.

        • John M
          Posted May 28, 2011 at 8:23 AM | Permalink

          The often used meme “drug companies release their data don’t they” never seems to include the other important bit about – not until they have analysed the results from phase 3 – and this can take many years.

          I guess that means Climate Science is not yet ready to be “prescribed” for policy making.

        • Speed
          Posted May 28, 2011 at 9:34 AM | Permalink

          thefordprefect posted May 28, 2011 at 6:57 AM concerning drug company release of data, “not until they have analysed the results from phase 3.”

          A Bing search on the terms phase+one+drug+results+data returned a slew of phase one and two drug test results released by drug companies.

        • Posted May 28, 2011 at 12:58 AM | Permalink

          Re: Fred (May 27 15:17), fred who?

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 27, 2011 at 3:32 PM | Permalink

          I’m not “Demanding that other people do work for [me]“. I requested something that already exists. Nor am I making this request as a form of ideological “open science”. I have no objection to the idea that, in general, unfinished work is unfinished work and entitled to the 12(4) exemption.

          However, there are many special features to the present case. There is widespread public interest in whether CRU was evenhanded in its selection of data versions. The Yamal chronology was used by IPCC. I think that it will be very hard for CRU to win this case. It will be very easy for the ICO to decide this on the public interest override.

        • Fred
          Posted May 28, 2011 at 12:33 AM | Permalink

          Widespread public interest? Maybe we should do a survey and ask 1000 people where Yamal is or what it refers to. You would be lucky to find a single correct answer.

          However, I’m glad to see you now agree with my main point.

        • bobdenton
          Posted May 28, 2011 at 3:22 AM | Permalink

          As the courts keep pointing out “public interest” is not the same thing as “things that the public are interested in”.

        • None
          Posted May 29, 2011 at 5:38 AM | Permalink

          “PS – on other occasions in the past, visitors such as yourself have too often limited themselves to criticizing occasional (and less knowledgeable) commenters from the public, while not responding to me. The pattern has been quite remarkable. Please feel welcome to respond to me as well as to occasional commenters.”

          To quote theduke:

          …crickets…

  25. Barclay E MacDonald
    Posted May 27, 2011 at 12:33 AM | Permalink

    Thank you Richard Brearley and Steve Mc. As you know from experience, the tone and substance of the letter is appropriate, if not required.

    OK, now I have to finally sign up for a paypal account. I’m sure I’m not the only one that would like to provide some help with the never ending cost of simply getting “the team” and “the clique” to permit “members of the public” to see ALL the data and analysis.

  26. w.w. wygart
    Posted May 27, 2011 at 12:51 AM | Permalink

    My advice to Steve,

    Write forcefully, speak thoughtfully.

    In writing it requires forcefulness to cut through the mind chatter and deliver a point from the written page to the reader. Harvey Milktoast loses on the written page. In a written response to a hostile audience, timidity or attempting to ‘read’ as ‘eminent’, or ‘reasonable’ will usually result in your message not being ‘read’ at all.

    The sad reality is that it is almost impossible to change the mind of a hostile and entrenched bureaucrat, it is important therefore to leave them with the lasting impression that you are completely serious in your appeal and that you are not one to be trifled with. [Just don't pull a Michael Tobis]

    In speaking in front of the public on the other hand, live or broadcast, it is usually the opposite, it is the tone of voice that is ‘heard’ first, the argument second [or not at all]. Here being combative, or not in control of your language will usually cost you dearly no matter how good your argument. There is a reason that the monkeys in the media take advanced courses in speech but not in rhetoric, SOUNDING authoritative is more effective than BEING authoritative.

    Sadly, as a collective they remind me of a different tragic character,
    “See, Theoden, here is a snake!… …But it was not always as it now is. Once it was a man, and did you service in its fashion.” [JRR Tolkien, LOTR III]

    your friend,

    W^3

  27. David Anderson
    Posted May 27, 2011 at 1:15 AM | Permalink

    Read it to the end.

    “baldy asserted”, bald = hairless, “boldly” ;-)

    The arguments are rock solid.

    • harry
      Posted May 27, 2011 at 3:02 AM | Permalink

      I read it as alluding to “bald-faced”, and yes baldly can be used to imply shamelessness.

    • Michael J
      Posted May 27, 2011 at 4:03 AM | Permalink

      —- “baldy asserted”, bald = hairless, “boldly” ;-)

      To “baldly assert” is to “plainly assert”, to assert without any equivication or qualifications.

      • David Anderson
        Posted May 28, 2011 at 6:42 AM | Permalink

        Yeah thanks I looked it up, the last definition applied. Both terms could have applied in the context the other being forward, impudent. Perhaps my assertion was the bold one.

  28. Alastair
    Posted May 27, 2011 at 1:31 AM | Permalink

    Hi Steve,

    As a minor point, in future I would narrow the width of your text and increase the line spacing.

    Highly technical documentation tends towards having a maximum of 10 words of text on a single line, making it easier to read and follow – the eye finds it easier to process information whose dominant flow is downwards rather than across. The document may end up significantly longer in page terms, but reading it will be a lot easier. Your text is very dense, indented frequently with italicized sub-text and with the odd bit of bold. Could really do with more “white space”.

    I recommend “Read This! Business Writing that Works” by Robert Gentle.
    Alastair

  29. bobdenton
    Posted May 27, 2011 at 3:29 AM | Permalink

    I think the tone is about right. In the UK, public debate, in Parliament, the courts and press is far more adversarial than in many other countries and the ICO will read the appeal in that context. The allegation is that UEA have not just given undue weight to a, b and c but insufficient weight to x,y and z, they actually have their finger on the scale – they are starting from the premise that the request will be refused and fabricating arguments for refusal. Such an argument cannot be advanced tentatively.

    The letter nicely puts UEA on the back foot. It provides substantive facts which will cause them difficulty before the ICO if they choose not to respond to them.

    Though the law and guidance applied in the Queens University decision won’t change, factually, UEA and Queens University are not in the same situation. Queens were asked for raw, not value added data and dendrochronology is not moribund at UEA. In this respect the arguments advanced in support of public interest disclosure also cut both ways. If the information sought does relate to a hot topic of public interest then it also makes it more likely that UEA will want to use it in future work They will want to use it before Steve does, which he certainly will – unless, and the appeal is premised on this, UEA are actively seeking to conceal unpublished work which is inconsistent with their published work.

  30. matthu
    Posted May 27, 2011 at 5:09 AM | Permalink

    They wouldn’t do that, would they?

  31. LearDog
    Posted May 27, 2011 at 8:50 AM | Permalink

    I don’t see anything combative about the arguments – rather to the contrary. I thought the arguments a model of restraint, and copying the ICO a brilliant stroke.

    I would hate to be on the recieving end of such a letter… Good Lord.

  32. JD Ohio
    Posted May 27, 2011 at 9:11 AM | Permalink

    As a lawyer who practices in Ohio and is obviously unfamiliar with U.K. law, here is my take. Rather than referring to your specific phraseology, I will use my own to keep my points simple. I will add that I believe your combative stance is justified in a rational and moral sense, but I don’t believe it is effective. Taking the combative or moral portion of the debate spectrum in making an argument, simply makes it harder for the person deciding the issue to rule in your favor. For instance, if I say my adversary’s argument is stupid, if a judge believes my underlying legal point is correct, to some extent he will feel like by ruling in my favor he is calling my adversary stupid. To a certain extent calling my adversary stupid makes it more difficult for the judge to rule in my favor. If I instead call my adversary’s position incorrect, it is much easier for the judge to rule in my favor because the judge is more likely to feel that his ruling will be interpreted as purely legalistic as opposed to being partially infused with moral condemnation.

    In this case, the disadvantages of being combative are multiplied because the person to whom the combative criticisms have been made is the person who will make the decision on the issue for which you are seeking relief. In effect, by being combative, you back the decision-maker into a corner. If he rules in your favor, it appears as if he agrees with your combative criticisms. It would be easier for the decision-maker to rule in your favor, if you arguments were phrased in a legalistic non-judgmental manner.

    Finally, I would add that I believe that the UEA’s decision to deny your request is disgraceful. However, arguments of that nature should be made to the appropriate political and legislative authorities as well as the appropriate scientific authorities. No reasoned ground can sustain the UEA’s stance, and over time, it will necessarily fail because the public policy issues are too great for the science to be conducted in a secretive way. However, in this particular instance, I think your approach is counter-productive.

    JD

  33. John T
    Posted May 27, 2011 at 12:25 PM | Permalink

    Reading all the comments about the tone of the response has me wondering -Did the people who wrote the refusal put as much thought into not appearing combative or dismissive or rude or misunderstood or…

    • JD Ohio
      Posted May 27, 2011 at 1:25 PM | Permalink

      “Did the people who wrote the refusal put as much thought into not appearing combative or dismissive or rude or misunderstood or…”

      No they didn’t. However, they have the power to give Steve what he wants. The issue at this stage is what is the most effective way to get the information, not who has the higher moral position.

      JD

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted May 27, 2011 at 2:28 PM | Permalink

        We’ve been around this block quite a few times. I’ve written to people for data saying pretty please with sugar on it. The result is the same. I’d be more concerned if it seemed strident and it doesn’t seem strident to me. Yes, it’s to the point. Business-like letters about a dispute tend to be to the point. Anyway, I don’t think that there would have been any purpose in making the language more orotund.

        • JD Ohio
          Posted Jun 6, 2011 at 12:31 PM | Permalink

          Steve,

          I have been busy, so I am late to comment. You are right in that I am sure that no matter how your request was phrased, it was going to be denied. However, you are involved in a long campaign to increase transparency, and to the extent that those recipients of your appeal perceive it to be combative, they will simply fight you harder. You have done a great job, but my perspective, for whatever it is worth is that the more combative your tone, the more push-back you will receive.

          I would suggest that one way to get underlying data and scientific communications so as to insure transparency is to request that Congress pass a law requiring, as a condition of receiving federal climate research monies, that those doing the research must release all of their data and code from now on. Additionally, I would add to the law that as a condition of receiving climate research monies, any institution that intends to receive money in the future, must qualify itself by releasing all PAST data and codes. Since some of that money went to the UEA, I believe a law could be written that would require them to be transparent or give up American funding. Those in the U.K. could possibly seek a similar law to be passed by parliament.

          JD

  34. Stacey
    Posted May 27, 2011 at 12:55 PM | Permalink

    Steve

    For what it’s worth the appeal is fine. I do not think it is combatative but challenging which is the correct approach.

    I read it as being emotionless and professional.

    Typos I can accept Pyots are too black and white ;-)

  35. Craig Loehle
    Posted May 27, 2011 at 12:58 PM | Permalink

    If you do several experiments, and only publish the ones whose answers you like (sadly not unheard of), this calls into question your results. If you do several regional chronologies, and only publish those whose answers you like…which is why Steve is asking for this data. To do an analysis like URALS and not publish it is cherry-picking (unless there is a good reason the data are corrupted or something, which no one has shown for the URALS analysis).

  36. Mark
    Posted May 27, 2011 at 2:02 PM | Permalink

    I think Steve’s draft is fine. He’s more than justified in being a bit snippy. Also, there is another audience for this document; the press, policy makers, lukewarmers and the general public. It’s appropriate that Steve maintain an incredulous tone. He’s merely responding to behavior that appears to any observer to call for nothing less. As CRU continues their bizarre obstruction, this travesty will only get more and more public attention.

    As the expanded global audience becomes aware of the events that have transpired in this matter, the net effect grows to be nearly as bad for CRU and the associated scientists as whatever outcome they believe they are avoiding by stonewalling. If there *isn’t* something quite substantially suspect in the data, they are making a terribly self-damaging strategic misstep by dragging this out. Perhaps someone there will be able to get past the indignant feelings long enough to realize this and begin acting in their own long-term best interests.

    • mpaul
      Posted May 27, 2011 at 2:22 PM | Permalink

      I agree with this. Let’s face it, no matter what Steve puts into this appeal letter, UEA will reject it. The real purpose here should be to create a public record of their misconduct. At some point, a body of evidence will be created that will demonstrate their willful lack of compliance with the undertaking that they signed with the ICO.

  37. Paul
    Posted May 27, 2011 at 2:35 PM | Permalink

    Impressed by Steve’s letter & by the comments made by everyone!

    Am regular on this blog and many others on the same topic, but don’t often comment because I’m not a scientist or statistician, so not sure if my contribution would add much value. Although occasionally add my opinion when it seems opinions are called for, hence my current post. Like the letter & impressed by observations & contributions.

    I also try to keep my comments positive :)

    • Pluck
      Posted May 27, 2011 at 3:28 PM | Permalink

      Dear Paul,

      As a long reader, I welcome and enjoy all comments posted here. Though I can qualify as a scientist and a statistician, neither qualification is much of a test on the right to post for this sort of thing. Your affirmation adds to the accumulation of support which, unless the ICO is horribly blind, should induce the release of the desired information. If the information were not damaging, I cannot see why they would not release it. So what if the data some warts. That’s not a big deal. Experienced analysts know how to deal with warts. This is either a trust problem or a concealment problem. Time will tell.

  38. RGN
    Posted May 27, 2011 at 3:50 PM | Permalink

    I’m an English citizen by birth, resident in Mississauga, so Steve, if the question ever arises that you are not a proper person to make these requests, I will be happy to make them instead.
    I’m also a lawyer.

    I do not think your tone is combative. I do think that you use passive sentence structures and soft verbs too much….”Regulation 6(1) is engaged”!!@ I didn’t know he had a girl-friend! Seriously, that was backwards. Better: “Regulation 6(1) provides an exemption from the general requirement of direct provision of information. Where the information is already publicly available, a Respondent is relieved of the obligation to provide the information directly, and may provide a reference to the public source instead. In this case the Respondent has neither provided the information nor a reference.

    And so on. If you would like free advice (worth what you pay for it!) you know where to find me. (Mississauaga!).

    • John F. Pittman
      Posted May 27, 2011 at 4:19 PM | Permalink

      I always liked the curse: Not that you will have to answer, but that your boss will have answer for you, in front of an angry public.

  39. srp
    Posted May 27, 2011 at 8:46 PM | Permalink

    With great reluctance, I must say that on the substance I can’t agree that CRU should have to come clean here (even though I am very curious about what they knew and when they knew it). Busting people for cherry-picking their data is a fine thing, but if you can get access to the same raw data they used and run your own analyses that should be more than adequate to the task.

    Forced disclosure of authors’ own conflicting intermediate analyses only makes sense when dealing with private experimental data, such as tissue biopsies of rats in a treatment group and the like. For publicly available data series, critics are best served to prove cherry-picking via independent and more complete analysis.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 27, 2011 at 10:02 PM | Permalink

      I showed a regional chronology for Polar Urals/Yamal here. It yielded a curve looking like this.

      Figure 1. “Yamal_All” is the Briffa version; “Vaganov Data” black is a regional chronology with Polar Urals, Yamal PLUS Vaganov sites as described in the post. (The nomenclature isn’t very apt – sorry about that.)

      Any regional chronology that blends Yamal with Polar Urals and other sites in the region is going to look more like the black curve than the red curve – with variations in between depending on the weighting of the Yamal sites.

      It’s not as though I haven’t done the calculations. In their testimony to Muir Russell, CRU said that they didn’t have time to complete a Polar Urals/Yamal regional chronology for Briffa et al. I don’t believe this. I was able to do the calculations pretty quickly.

      The Muir Russell inquiry was supposed to investigate cherry picking. I identified the regional chronology as something that they needed to look at. They negligently failed to do so. Had an actual inquiry been conducted, then none of this would linger on.

      I’m convinced that the withheld regional chronology does not have the big HS of the reported Yamal chronology. I fully expect CRU to fight tooth and nail against producing their regional chronology for that reason.

      And given that “cherry picking” by CRU was a topic put to an “inquiry” and considered at least in passing by a Parliamentary Committee and that the Yamal chronology was illustrated in IPCC AR4 and used in multiple multiproxy studies, I think that the “public interest” test of FOI is fully engaged.

      You say “but if you can get access to the same raw data they used and run your own analyses that should be more than adequate to the task”. I don’t think that it does the same thing at all. Regardless of what you or I may think, it is not a criterion under the Environmental Information Regulations. The test there is (1) whether the exemptions apply; (2) whether they are offset by a public interest in disclosure. Whether or not I can run my analyses is not relevant to their obligations under EIR/FOI.

      • ZootCadillac
        Posted May 27, 2011 at 10:22 PM | Permalink

        how inconvenient. That is of course if ever anyone capable of changing the landscape is ever made to acknowledge such data.

      • Mark
        Posted May 27, 2011 at 10:49 PM | Permalink

        Steve – Thanks for posting a link to this again. I’d read your post in April but it was a late night and it didn’t stick as well as it should have.

        If the data you’ve requested looks anything like the Vaganov data, then it will be highly problematic indeed. I’d forgotten how many other papers incorporate the ‘cherry’ Yamal data selection. To me it seems quite clear that they’ll have to eventually give the taxpayers the data the taxpayers paid for. It should be interesting.

        Steve: The series denoted “Vaganov data” includes Yamal,. Polar Urals plus Vaganov series plus the “new” Yamal data. It’s not a mystery that a series with more data looks like this – this is “decline” country.

  40. StuartR
    Posted May 28, 2011 at 2:52 PM | Permalink

    Steve has mentioned adjectives as if they are rationed for a cause. I say don’t use any. I think they stand out as superfluous and the case doesn’t need them. So I think all anyone should do is point out any adjectives?

    I’ll second the one that someone else has mentioned

    “Your final “public interest” is baldly asserted as follows: ”

    Mmmm, OK…

    “Your final “public interest” is asserted as follows: ”

    Why more than that?

  41. Hank McCard
    Posted May 28, 2011 at 4:23 PM | Permalink

    Susan states:

    “I’m critical of Steve’s requests because I see them as part of a denial campaign to discredit climate science and/or gain personal notoriety in a game of gotcha.”

    Did you political science research reveal this insight to you?

  42. Posted May 28, 2011 at 5:08 PM | Permalink

    The British are obliged to respond to FOI requests from anyone, otherwise they are in breach of the Aarhus Convention which has force of law in the European Union, of which the UK is a member and thus obliged to abide by all its laws and regulations.

    As I have pointed out previously, should Steve get tired of continually dealing with obstructionism or be unjustly denied the information he seeks, and were he to have properly documented it (which I’m sure he has), he would be in a position to bring them before the UNECE court, which would most likely enforce compliance.

  43. Posted May 29, 2011 at 2:04 PM | Permalink

    You obviously have a fundamental misconception as to what science is and how it works.  You seem to confuse science with opinion, data with ideology.  You seem to think this is about Quality Assurance, which implies that the ‘product’ (a scientific hypothesis) is essentially valid.  Why would you trust the NAS and other ‘science’ bodies whose controlling committees take positions unsupported by their memebership?  These are not science bodies, they are organizations with political agendas.  Surely you understand the difference between a scientific opinioin and the opinion of a scientist?  You seem to be advocating for uncritical public acceptance of statements made by a small group of scientists who have an agenda tey wish to further.  Why would a statistician not be qualified to criticize the statistical methodology used in a scientific paper?  Why would a mathematian not be qualified to review the conclusions reached through formulas?  On the one hand you seem to be arguing that only experts in the field should be allowed to critique a paper or hypothesis, yet you deny the ability or right of other experts to do the same thing in their field of expertise.  The reason the people you dismiss as ‘citizen auditors’ want the information they are requesting is precisely because they are experts in the field of statistics and have consistently found serious errors and misunderstandings by the climate scientists – who are not expert statisticians – in their use of statistics.  There are physicists, statisticians and others who are far more expert in their field of study than the climate scientists and why should they not be entitled to comment and point out errors in the field they are expert in?

    Some of the people posting on this blog and others like it are experts in physics, climatology, statistics and engineering to name just a few disciplines.  Please also consider that throughout history the scientific establishment and its ‘concensus’ has been wrong far more often than it has been right, its track record is very bad compared to that of the individual scientist or citizen scientist.

    On the one hand you dismiss paleoclimate reconstructions, and on the other hand you obviously accept those done by proponents of AGW, as you state that you believe in the CO2 and temperature data.  Fortunately for the MWP & the LIA there are a preponderance of other records, cultural, anecdotal and scientific which prove their existence.

    snip – it is an editorial policy of this blog that commenters should not try to prove or disprove AGW in a few paragraphs. Otherwise every thread becomes the same.

    • Posted May 29, 2011 at 6:26 PM | Permalink

      I think I have a pretty good idea of the difference between science and opinion. I trust scientific opinion — that is, opinion informed by science and the opinion of scientists working in the field. I trust it far more than opinion informed by politics or economics. Much skepticism is clearly motivated by political and economic interests. I’ll stick with the majority of scientists rather than the tiny minority who also have economic or political ties to the FF industry.

      QA seems to be a big issue with Steve and his followers. They claim that peer review is insufficient and want engineering-level QA done on any science used in public policy. As someone who works in public policy, I agree that only the best science should be used for public policy, and should be vetted thoroughly by experts in the field.

      When it comes to opinion on climate science, I trust the opinions of scientists and their learned societies far more than semi-retired mining execs or unemployed social scientists or weather forecasters. But hey, if you don’t, fine with me.

      Please provide me with evidence that the consensus has been wrong more than right.

      I don’t dismiss paleoclimate reconstructions. I think they are highly uncertain. I think the temperature record has already been checked by several independent groups and been found to be sound, so I feel pretty good about our knowledge of temps in the last 150 years. Also, no one has yet shown that radiative physics and the GHE are invalid. Until they do, skeptics will have to explain why they reject both.

      From what I have read, the LIA was likely global, but the evidence for a global MWP is not as clear. In some areas, it was colder during this time, IIRC. Cultural and anecdotal evidence is not of the same value as scientific. We need more scientific evidence to confirm whether the MWP was as warm globally as the CWP.

      Steve: this has nothing to do with the Yamal FOI request. As I’ve said on many occasions, it is an editorial policy of this blog that discourage attempts to prove or disprove AGW in a few paragraphs as otherwise all threads become the same. I’ve given you more leeway than “supporters” but would appreciate it if you would adhere to this policy.

      As I’ve said on many occasions, and many readers do not agree with me on this, if I were a policy maker, I would defer to advice from learned institutions, particularly if I had to make a decision in the next 5 minutes.

      For the most part, I avoid discussion of policy at this blog, other than policies on data perhaps. There are many venues where you can discuss policy if that is your primary interest and I’d appreciate it if you commented on the topics of the individual threads.

      • HAS
        Posted May 29, 2011 at 8:06 PM | Permalink

        I don’t dismiss paleoclimate reconstructions. I think they are highly uncertain.

        Just out of interest which scientific studies helped you form this opinion about the measurement of the uncertainty in paleoclimate reconstructions?

  44. Posted May 30, 2011 at 5:16 PM | Permalink

    snip

    Steve; As I’ve said on many occasions, it is an editorial policy of this blog that posters are requested not to try to prove or disprove AGW in a few paragraphs. Otherwise, every thread becomes the same.

  45. Posted May 30, 2011 at 5:20 PM | Permalink

    Sorry Steve, didn’t realize your policy wrt OT discussion, I’ll desist.

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  1. [...] Accurate, Detailed and Technical Commentary May 29, 2011 Susan Leave a comment Go to comments Over at CA, Steve McIntyre wrote this in response to one of my posts: Here’s Steve: Steve McIntyre Posted May 27, 2011 at 9:55 PM | Permalink | Reply [...]

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