A NASA Request for Review

Here is an account of an intriguing review carried out by NASA in response to a civilian Request for Review.

NASA’s webpage on the Data Quality Act states:

In accordance with the President’s Management Council, NASA implements the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) following requirements for quality of information. Section 515, “OMB Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated by Federal Agencies” and NASA Guidelines for Quality of Information.

The latter document contains clauses permitting affected persons to request correction of information disseminated by NASA as follows:

D.1. Requesting Correction of Information by NASA: If an affected person believes that information disseminated by NASA does not meet the guidelines for quality (utility, objectivity, and integrity), he or she may seek correction of the information

The webpage includes a report on a Request for Correction and their disposition of the request. In a separate category, they also report on a Request for Review and their disposition of this request. The Request for Review is entitled <a href="http://www.sti.nasa.gov/rfr_10-28-06_mars_exploration_rover.pdf (73K) and the Response RFR_Response_10-28-06_Mars Exploration Rover (102K) Here are the allegations dutifully investigated by NASA:

In response, NASA carried out the requested review concluding that “none of the Rover behaviors alleged in this web article are true”.


  1. Larry
    Posted Jan 3, 2008 at 11:15 AM | Permalink

    Steve, can you shrink that image? It’s unreadable on my browser; it goes under the right-side bar, and out the other side.

  2. kim
    Posted Jan 3, 2008 at 11:19 AM | Permalink

    ONE wonders what day in April the civilian request was received.

  3. Larry
    Posted Jan 3, 2008 at 11:20 AM | Permalink

    Or, if anyone wants to read it, you can right-click the image, and open in in another tab.

  4. bender
    Posted Jan 3, 2008 at 11:28 AM | Permalink

    The link is broken (extra characters). This request was prompted by an article in “The Onion” (which NASA thought was “The Orion”). Google The Onion. The point is (1) there is an interesting mechanism here to get NASA’s official reponse on issues, (2) they will actually comply, even if the request is ridiculous.

  5. Larry
    Posted Jan 3, 2008 at 11:35 AM | Permalink

    4, but that doesn’t guarantee that the response will be responsive. If you made a request wrt climate science, you could expect a realclimatesque response.

  6. Posted Jan 3, 2008 at 12:42 PM | Permalink

    Here’s the actual link to the NASA memo:

    Click to access rfr_10-28-06_mars_exploration_rover.pdf

    And the link to The Onion article:


    People get took by Onion articles all the time. I wonder if they keep a tally.

  7. Posted Jan 3, 2008 at 12:48 PM | Permalink

    Soooo, has anyone made a request to review the GISS data???? Has NASA been prompted by any formal request to review its temperature gathering procedures and equipment in light of Anthony’s findings to date???? Given that you guys are the scientists who study climate and use their data, clearly you are an individual affected??? It seems to me that in the interests of accuracy you are being very methodical in your procedures but how is that proportional to the whole issue of climate and Hansen’s behavior? It seems to be a double standard, on one hand we have Hansen making assertions and covering them up with psudo science resting on known corrupted data gathering equipment and on the other we have you guys meticulously crossing tees and dotting eyes. There has to be some balance here and playing by the same set of rules.

    The time has come to take off the gloves, pick up the 2 x 4 and wack these people on the side of the head. Of anyone here that would be considered of standing before NASA or any other government agency, it is you Steve and Anthony. File a complaint if you haven’t done so already and start the ball rolling.

  8. Larry
    Posted Jan 3, 2008 at 12:54 PM | Permalink

    6, people get took by AIT, too.

  9. Posted Jan 3, 2008 at 1:34 PM | Permalink

    “It’s time to take off the gloves, pick up the 4 x 2 and whack these people on the side of the head.”

    No, lets just keep throwing board pins at the oncoming dragon, I’m sure eventually he will tire.

  10. Mike H.
    Posted Jan 3, 2008 at 4:51 PM | Permalink


    Since we’re on the subject of humor and earth sciences, has anyone seen this?


  11. Carl Wolk
    Posted Jan 3, 2008 at 5:10 PM | Permalink

    This seemed like a good post to ask an irrelevant question. Scientist Nasif Nahle wrote this artice on his website biocab.org. I was wondering if anyone had the expertise to comment on it.

  12. Silence Dogwood
    Posted Jan 3, 2008 at 6:24 PM | Permalink


    meticulously crossing tees and dotting eyes

    I think you really mean “crossing eyes and dotting tees”

  13. Another Larry
    Posted Jan 3, 2008 at 6:52 PM | Permalink

    Gah! then I screwed it up! (Prably why I never made it as a comedian….

    “crossing eyes and dotty trees?”

  14. Denny
    Posted Jan 3, 2008 at 6:55 PM | Permalink

    Re; #10…Mike H.

    THANK YOU for the link…..haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.

  15. Pat Keating
    Posted Jan 3, 2008 at 8:36 PM | Permalink

    Nasif posts here quite a lot so he would probably be a good candidate :>)

  16. Mike H.
    Posted Jan 3, 2008 at 8:53 PM | Permalink

    Entirely welcome.

  17. Posted Jan 3, 2008 at 8:58 PM | Permalink

    # 15, # 16

    Pat Keating, Mike H.,

    Thanks, but I cannot express an opinion on my own work, so I let you to examine it and I’ll try to explain how I got the conclusions or ammend them if I’m wrong. A better explanation and references will be found here. 🙂

  18. Mike H.
    Posted Jan 3, 2008 at 10:34 PM | Permalink

    Nasif, I’ll defer to Pat’s understanding since I have enough ability to follow the conversation but no ability to further it. My main contribution is humor. Yours is science. You talk I’ll listen.

  19. Mike H.
    Posted Jan 3, 2008 at 10:35 PM | Permalink

    Nasif, I’ll defer to Pat’s understanding since I have enough ability to follow the conversation but no ability to further it. My main contribution is humor. Yours is science. You talk I’ll listen.

    [This comment has been optimized for snipping.]

  20. Mike H.
    Posted Jan 3, 2008 at 10:37 PM | Permalink

    Sorry for the clutter Steve.

  21. steven mosher
    Posted Jan 4, 2008 at 11:57 AM | Permalink

    Since this is a humerous thread, I’ll post something serious about data and methods
    researchers refusing to disclose data and bias.


  22. Larry
    Posted Jan 4, 2008 at 12:37 PM | Permalink

    22, Bodyaudit?

  23. cookie
    Posted Jan 4, 2008 at 1:25 PM | Permalink

    Nasif, a small point: the article linked in #11 labels nitrogen incorrectly as N rather than N2, as per oxygen on the same graph.

  24. Posted Jan 4, 2008 at 2:02 PM | Permalink

    It’s a mistake to be diverted by the amusing aspects of how some people misuse the error correction procedures that NASA has — and all US federal agencies are required to have — under the federal Information Quality Act and its associated implementing guidelines. The process for submitting error corrections is very democratic — any “affected person” may petition — and there is no threshold of interest that distinguishes who is “affected.” So agencies are bound to get a few bizarre requests that they are entitled to treat as frivolous and simply ignore. (We can speculate about why they don’t just ignore the frivolous ones, but it’s not relevant here.)

    NASA is obligated by law to disseminate only information that is substantively and presentationally objective, terms that the Office of Management and Budget (which wrote the implementing guidelines) has summarized as “accurate, reliable, and unbiased,” and “presented in an accurate, clear, complete, and unbiased manner.” Information that is inaccurate, unreliable or biased, or presented in an inaccurate, unclear, incomplete or biased manner does not have “utility” under the Information Quality Act, meaning that it lacks value for the purpose for which it was or would be disseminated.

    Stripping away the legalese from all this, the notion is a simple one in the context of global climate change: Scientific information that may be used for making important public or private decisions ought (and by law in the USA is required) to meet these standards.

    If you believe that NASA’s global warming FAQ page that started this discussion (or any other significant document it has disseminated) does not meet these standards, then you should submit a well-crafted request for correction. I can’t guarantee that NASA will respond appropriately, but by law it has to respond. It is easy to respond to Mars Rover silliness; will it be as easy to respond to you?

    The FAQ page actually might be small potatoes is the grand scheme of things. I do information quality issues all the time, and I hear a lot of complaints about various IPCC documents. If any agency of the US Government disseminates any IPCC information, and does so in a way that conveys to a reasonable person the agency’s endorsement, then the IPCC information becomes subject to the same information quality standards as if the agency itself had originally disseminated it. The agency cannot disavow responsibility by attributing it to the IPCC. Rather, by endorsing it, the agency must “stand in the shoes” of the IPCC with respect to Information Quality Act compliance.

    Requests for correction are not hard to prepare, but they require specialized expertise in the Information Quality Act as well as technical expertise in the subject matter area. It’s a mistake for global climate change experts to write these petitions on their own, and a mistake for information quality mavens to write them without access to technical expertise in global climate change.

    For more information on how to do this, contact me offline through the email link at my blog: http://neutralsource.org, click on the “About” tab.

  25. steven mosher
    Posted Jan 4, 2008 at 2:27 PM | Permalink

    re 25. Wow. Thanks Richard.

    As you know Anythony Watts ( see the side bar left) as been surveying the stations
    run by Noaa ( commerce dept, I believe)to collect weather and climate data.

    The stations have a siting guideline to ensure quality data, yet a survey of the stations
    is indicating that over half are out of compliance with their own standard.

    This data is used by Noaa to issue their state of the climate studies. This data is supplied to
    Nasa and hadley.

    Further, Noaa have admitting that the climate monitoring system is out of date and needs to
    be modernized and quality controlled.

    Still, data from the non standard stations is supplied to the public.

    Would it be possible to make a legal demand data from non compliant sites not be released?

    We have argued that researchers should not use this data as it comes from non standard sites.
    Would it be possible to bar Noaa from releasing this data until the sites are brought up to standard?

    Loved your site.

  26. Pat Keating
    Posted Jan 4, 2008 at 2:27 PM | Permalink

    17 Nasif
    My comment was directed at post #11 by Carl Wolk, not at Mike H.

  27. Posted Jan 4, 2008 at 3:42 PM | Permalink

    # 27

    Pat Keating,


    # 24


    Thanks, I noticed the error after the page was published, but I was not able to change the graph. I’m rewritting the corrected article that will be published as another page, but with the same URL. I noticed another mistake with respect to NO2, which was translated like nitrous oxide, when it must be nitrogen dioxide or nitrogen peroxide.

  28. Pat Keating
    Posted Jan 4, 2008 at 7:31 PM | Permalink

    Hi, Nasif, no apology needed. The numbering is often very tricky here. Happy New Year!

  29. Posted Jan 4, 2008 at 7:42 PM | Permalink

    Thank you, Pat 🙂 The same for you.

  30. bender
    Posted Jan 4, 2008 at 8:37 PM | Permalink

    #21 mosher, very interesting.

  31. John Creighton
    Posted Jan 4, 2008 at 11:50 PM | Permalink

    The second link doesn’t work and what is the point of this thread?

  32. Posted Jan 5, 2008 at 12:05 AM | Permalink

    # 31

    John Creighton,

    Here is the correct link: http://www.sti.nasa.gov/rfr_10-28-06_mars_exploration_rover.pdf

    I think the reason of this link is to discuss about how a respectable institution, like NASA, has seen its good position being deteriorated because of not being clear on disclosing data for a suitable scientific review.

  33. Posted Jan 5, 2008 at 12:14 AM | Permalink

    A humorous thread, that’s all.

  34. John Creighton
    Posted Jan 5, 2008 at 1:43 AM | Permalink

    I thought NASA provided an immense amount of data the public. I’ve seen much of NASA’s data used to reconstruct virtual reality immense of MARS in various sorts of media. The compositional data is of course wildly used as well but not always as flashy as pictures.

  35. welikerocks
    Posted Jan 5, 2008 at 8:02 AM | Permalink

    SteveMac and everyone,
    I got a reply on Jan 3rd about my concerns (I used the form supplied on the website)from NASA Earth Observatory Project Manager at the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD regarding Real Climate and Gavin being referenced on their Global Warming info page. It is really very telling, and only makes my personal concerns in regards to the matter even greater. I don’t know if you want to see it (or if you want me to post it here) Let me know. I’ve had computer problems (Mac user and Tiger/FireFox issues) so I couldn’t tell you all sooner about it. The reply came really fast. The web page states it could have taken up to five weeks to get one. What a can of worms it is, and don’t know if you want to hash it all out here however, I would urge everyone to use that form and ask the tough questions, if I had only one thing to say about it all. Cheers!

  36. steven mosher
    Posted Jan 5, 2008 at 9:28 AM | Permalink

    re 35.. You should know that hansen also refers to his own personal site from
    the nasa web site

  37. Posted Jan 5, 2008 at 12:02 PM | Permalink

    I would stand on a protective position of NASA because I have obtained some educational benefits from the institution, although NASA doesn’t need holidaymakers’ help. I’m subscribed to some educational programs and I’ve got many ideas for teaching to my students; however, it seems that the political hairs-splitting of a group of high influence within NASA have worked in the sense of applying filter-selection on all information that contains data which is contrary to the ideas or sickly ideology of that group. Outside the US, few people respect NASA, and they distrust of every statement related with climate or global warming generated by NASA.

  38. Posted Jan 5, 2008 at 3:46 PM | Permalink

    #21: Mosher, I was once somewhat involved with an amatuer online group that scoured medical journals in search of novel medical uses for drugs and other natural compounds. It was well known that the Lancet was a garbage journal with virtually no publication standards or peer review as evidenced by fatally flawed study after fatally flawed study published there. In this week’s The Economist, there was a reference to “the venerable The Lancet”, and I had a good laugh at that… what do journalists know of medicine, physics, or statistics?

  39. steven mosher
    Posted Jan 5, 2008 at 3:59 PM | Permalink


    I merely offer the example of lancett up as a brick in the wall.

    Refusal to supply source data and methods should be a prima facia case
    for dismissing the scientific claims.

  40. John Creighton
    Posted Jan 6, 2008 at 1:47 AM | Permalink

    #37 do you have any proof of your assertion? It was my understand that all raw NASA data from the planetary missions was available to the public for free.

  41. Posted Jan 7, 2008 at 10:29 AM | Permalink

    The incident on Mars was caused by the Martian hippies, see the photograph here:


  42. Posted Jan 10, 2008 at 10:02 PM | Permalink

    # 40

    I’m referring only to climate related information, although some information on climate science is not biased.

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