Difference in Yamal Versions “Not Insignificant”

In July 2003, Tim Osborn advised Tom Crowley that there were multiple versions of Yamal (and Tornetrask) and that he needed to contact Briffa prior to using:

The other files are “tornad.rcs” and “yamal.rcs” which are RCS-standardised tree-ring width series. I would really strongly suggest that you contact Keith Briffa about exactly what these series are and what the primary reference to them should be. The reason is that there are multiple version of Tornetrask and Yamal series and the differences are certainly not insignificant!


Something that people might bear in mind before assuming that the Yamal version used for corridor standardization in Hantemirov et al 2002 would also be used for RCS standardization.

On March 31, 2006, Osborn of CRU told the editors of Science:

We did not use tree-core measurement data in our paper, only chronologies that had previously been assembled by others from core measurement data. I don’t have any core measurement data and therefore have none to give out!

Contrary to Osborn’s claim not to have any “core measurement data” for Yamal, the Climategate documents show that CRU had an extensive collection of Yamal measurement data – see the Climategate Yamal directory. [Note: this website only lists the files, but doesn’t contain the files. The files are in the original download.]

Not only did CRU actually have Yamal measurement data (which it had had since the 1990s), the CRU letters showed that CRU had funded collection of the Yamal data (at least in part).

I haven’t parsed the Yamal measurement directory yet, but have glanced at it and readers will be interested in the results when I get to them.

[Update/Jean S:  FOIA files are online here: http://junkscience.com/FOIA/]


  1. Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 9:23 AM | Permalink

    In my admittedly humble brain, this seems significant to me. (smile)

  2. R. Sharp
    Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 9:38 AM | Permalink

    Maintaining records that comprise “multiple version of Tornetrask and Yamal series” seems to have the same ethical purpose as keeping two sets of books in the business world.

    Steve: Not necessarily. Different versions can arise as more data is added. I don’t object to the existence of different versions per se.

    • henry
      Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 10:12 AM | Permalink

      Agreed. On of the things that keeps reappearing is the call to update the proxies.

      Multiple versions can show how well the proxies are following what “signal” they’re searching for. Any divergence between proxies needs to be examined before conclusions can be made.

      Steve: Fair enough but OT.

  3. R Rodger
    Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 10:05 AM | Permalink


  4. Larry Huldén
    Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 10:12 AM | Permalink

    None of the files in the Yamal directory can be opened!

    Steve: Hmm.. This website only lists the files, but doesn’t contain the files. The files are in the FOIA.zip zipfile.

    Jean S: All the files are online (individually and as a zip/rar file) here: http://junkscience.com/FOIA/ Varsågod.

    • Rebivore
      Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 1:19 PM | Permalink

      Some of the files can be opened – e.g. sf2.txt, sf2note.txt and yamaltree.doc.

      Btw, ref different versions of files: in any self-respecting IT shop I’ve been associated with, if files are not versioned by the tool handling the files, then the files are given an explicit version number as part of the filename – most often a date, although I prefer a specific version number (in case a file is changed twice on the same day).

      I can’t believe, with such important data, that files are not properly versioned. Their IT data management really does look like 101 Amateur Hour, without brains.

  5. geo
    Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 11:44 AM | Permalink

    I’m not sure it’s fair to treat Osborn in the kind of manner one might treat Briffa and Jones re his response to Science. He’s clearly responding in the context of his specific paper, and just because he works at CRU doesn’t necessarily mean he has the keys to the kingdom in the same manner as Jones and Briffa, does it? Even if he did, I don’t see why where he works would have any impact on the appropriateness of his response –if he relied on published sources, he relied on published sources.

    Steve: Briffa is coauthor of Osborn and Briffa(2006).

    • geo
      Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 4:38 PM | Permalink

      Ah, apologies, I missed that very salient fact the first time. These people have the ability to slice, dice, parse, and recombine their standards in really frightfully effective if perverse manners.

      When did the “data archiving” provisions of the journals start coming into effect? I’m wondering if the game here was to try to claim grandfathering of pre-data archive standard articles for use in post-data-archive standards articles (even when the (co-)author, such as Briffa, must clearly have the data from the original). To some degree, that self-corrects over time (tho perhaps decades) as newer and preferred data becomes the standard, and thus must be archived with its original appearance.

  6. HotRod
    Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 12:36 PM | Permalink

    Might be OT but Bishop Hill has some news on IJoC data policy regime, not sure how significant.

  7. HotRod
    Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 12:51 PM | Permalink

    May be OT but Bishop Hill has an IJoC data policy update.

  8. Ron Cram
    Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 1:17 PM | Permalink

    I may be missing your point here. It seems Osborn is saying that he did not do any field work himself. He relied on the work of others and so he cannot give out something that does not belong to him (even if he had access to use it himself). Isn’t possible this statement is accurate?

    The ownership or control of data funded by CRU may reside with Briffa or Jones and not Osborn. If so, Osborn could have been more helpful. Possibly, that is your point?

    Alternatively, Osborn did have ownership, of sorts, or at least control, because CRU funded the fieldwork and his comment to Science was disingenuous. If this is the case, is Osborn facing any penalty for not being honest with the editors of Science?

    Steve: CRU had the data. Osborn and Briffa had access to the data.

    • Craig Loehle
      Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 1:36 PM | Permalink

      “is Osborn facing any penalty for not being honest with the editors of Science?”

      surely you jest. Who would penalize him? (assuming facts per above)

      • Ron Cram
        Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 2:24 PM | Permalink

        If I was the editor being lied to, I would certainly be unhappy. However, lying to an editor of a journal would probably not rise to the level of academic misconduct. Is there some lesser action which may be appropriate? I don’t know, which is why I asked.

      • Ron Cram
        Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 2:26 PM | Permalink

        Oh, I see now I left out a word. I meant to have written:

        “Alternatively, if Osborn did have ownership…”

    • jim edwards
      Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 1:38 PM | Permalink

      I agree that Osborn’s statement appears to be accurate, but probably not designed to help get questions answered.

      If you look at the linked e-mail, Tim Osborn appears to be answering for the authors, collectively [writing in the plural], then suddenly answers the key question for himself, alone [not for Briffa or CRU].

      His language:
      “WE clearly state…
      WE state…
      WE replaced…
      WE favoured…
      WE clearly did not use…
      WE did use…
      The source WE gave for these three series is Briffa (2000).”

      Osborn then adroitly states, “I don’t have any core measurement data…”.

      He sends a carbon copy of the e-mail to Keith Briffa, leaving it to Briffa to volunteer additional assistance, or to Brooks Hanson to pick up the sudden switch from the plural to the singular [which might prompt a separate request to Briffa…].

      Steve: Science wrote to him as the corresponding author for Osborn and Briffa. If Briffa had the data in his directory (as opposed to Osborn), isn’t this so-to-speak a trick? And not a very good one.

      • Ron Cram
        Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 2:32 PM | Permalink

        Good point.

        • ianl8888
          Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 5:18 PM | Permalink

          Osborn thought so, too 🙂

    • Paul Penrose
      Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 1:46 PM | Permalink

      What Osborn said was “I don’t have any core measurement data and therefore have none to give out!” The simplest interpretation of that statement is that he was not in possession of any core measurement data. I think you have to bend over backwards a ways to come up with your interpretation.

      • Ron Cram
        Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 2:31 PM | Permalink

        The interpretation of the statement by itself is not problematic. The problem arises once we learn CRU funded the field work. Who then owns or controls the data?

        • WillR
          Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 3:05 PM | Permalink

          Re: Ron Cram (Jan 4 14:31),


          I can’t tell you who owns the source data, or the resultant work. But… it goes like this in three parts…

          1) Copyright and moral rights reside with the creator of the “work” and also in this case the collector of the data. Read this to be the scientist who “owns” the project.

          2) If there is an agreement with their employer, then this takes precedence — as per the agreement. Many mistakes are made at this stage and ownership often remains in the employees hands — but usually moral rights are not covered and become a bone of contention.

          3) If there is an external funding agency — control of the data and work product may p[ass to them. You need to see these agreements — again mistakes are often made.

          Many people also interpret the Employment Acts of various countries to mean that the employer typically owns the work. This opinion is typically based on the Master/Servant relationship expressed in the body of common law and of course custom. I prefer to have agreements to sidestep all of this. It’s simpler.

          I suspect that is no help but it is what I know.

          Give me all the agreements and I can make a good guess — otherwise…

          Regardless — that tells you what documents to look for.

          Steve: It is pretty much a blog policy that discussion of copyright law will not be permitted. Whenever this rears its head, it provokes a lot of discussion – none of which has ever been successfully IMO to the issues at hand. This applies here as well.

        • WillR
          Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 3:19 PM | Permalink

          Re: WillR (Jan 4 15:05),


          Was trying to show the flow of ownership more than anything.

          The question was obliquely raised by yourself. Ownership and denial thereof seems to be key.

        • JET99999
          Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 4:53 PM | Permalink


    • Norbert
      Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 3:57 PM | Permalink

      If one reads the whole email, Osborn writes that he considers it not “appropriate anyway” that the editor asks for the core measurement data. He might not even know which specific data file was used in the derived data (“chronologies that had previously been assembled by others”).

      Apparently the editor, or someone else, already made the mistake to try to use the data form Esper et al, even thought he paper states “explicitly” that this data wasn’t used.

      He obviously doesn’t consider himself to have an “obligation” to go look for some (possibly arbitrary) measurement data on some CRU server, if he doesn’t already have it personally, and perhaps wouldn’t even want give it out, in this case, to avoid further confusion such as with the Esper et al data.

      Steve: Puh-leeze. Journal editors deal with the corresponding author. If his coauthor Briffa had the data, then Osborn shouldn’t have told Science that “he” didn’t have the data. In respect to Science, OSborn and Briffa are “coauthors” and Osborn is speaking for the “partnership” and have joint liability.

      • Norbert
        Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 4:04 PM | Permalink

        To make that point a bit more clearly:

        He points out that the editor is asking for the wrong data. And not only that, but also that there have already been problems due to attempts to use other wrong data. He obviously doesn’t want to add to that confusion by further going down a wrong path (which he has stated he has no obligation to do).

      • Norbert
        Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 4:12 PM | Permalink

        Steve, You wrote “Puh-leeze.”

        It doesn’t really matter if anyone had “the data”, since “the data” wasn’t used in the research paper, and it would be a misrepresentation of the research to give it to the editor in this context, especially given that there was already confusion about which data was used int he research paper.

        • bmcburney
          Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 5:02 PM | Permalink


          Is it your position that Osborn has the right to mislead Science as to whether he had access to or posession of the data if Osborn (1) did not claim that he collected the data, or (2) believes the data is irrelevant, or (3) believes that others have used the data in “inappropriate” ways?
          Please explain.

        • Norbert
          Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 5:06 PM | Permalink


          please see my response to geo below (https://climateaudit.org/2010/01/04/difference-in-yamal-versions-not-insignificant/#comment-214231)

        • bmcburney
          Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 7:06 PM | Permalink


          Is it your position that, once Osborn was asked to produce the data, Osborn had the right to mislead Science concerning his ability to comply with that request, provided that he also contends the data was not relevant to a proper analysis of or replication of his paper?

        • Norbert
          Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 7:45 PM | Permalink


          I think you are completely misunderstanding what I am saying. My point is that Osborn tried to explain to the editor that the data the editor was asking him for, was the wrong data to ask for. The editor thought that data was the data they were using in the research paper, but it wasn’t. It was wrong of the editor to ask him for that data in the first place. (See the two emails, and my further reponses to “geo” below). And that is what Osborn tried to explain to him. It is much easier to undnerstand if you read the emails after erasing from your memory which sentence was highlighted by SteveM.

        • bmcburney
          Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 8:46 PM | Permalink


          As nearly as I can tell, I have understood the point you wish to make. However, that point does not address the question I am asking.

          I understand that Osborn contends that the requested data is not relevant to a proper understanding of his paper. I understand that he gives reasons for that and that you agree that those reasons are valid and convincing. For some reason, however, Osborn evidently felt it necessary or advantageous to bolster those arguments with the additional assertion that, regardless of whether the requested data should have been requested, he could not supply that data. At best, that assertion appears to be misleading.

          Is it your position that it is ok for Osborn to mislead Science concerning whether the data was available (if he also has reasons for thinking that Science should not be asking for this data)?

        • Norbert
          Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 11:37 PM | Permalink

          No, I think if you had understood what I already said, you wouldn’t try to nail me down on this secondary issue as if there was nothing more important.

          The implication of the sentence (again, we are debating a single sentence), is that if the core measurement data was in any way relevant to the matter being discussed, then he would “have” it in a sense of that phrase which would be meaningful in this context. However, he doesn’t, which is his way of underlining the fact that it is not relevant. Whether or not, for example, coauthors have such data on a CRU server is irrelevant, since the editor is asking for the wrong data. The point is to imply that he himself would “have” the data if it were relevant, but he doesn’t. It does *not* imply that he would not be able to obtain the data if he had a good reason to do so. Right next to that sentence, he emphasizes that he would consider it inappropiate to give out the data. The email explained that he already saw a problem in false conclusions being drawn, in the past, from looking at data other than that which had been actually used in the research paper.

          Steve: The editor was not asking for the “wrong” data. I had asked for the measurement data – that is what is relevant to the calculation of a chronology. Osborn said that he didn’t have the measurement data – it was a trick and Sciencemag fell for it. CRU had the measurement data all along.

        • Norbert
          Posted Jan 5, 2010 at 12:28 AM | Permalink

          Steve, that question was coming from you?

          Brooks Hanson wrote: “I therefore request measurement data used by Osborn for the following sites: Polar Urals, Tornetrrask, Taymir and Athabaska.”

          Osborn’s reply is that they didn’t use measurement data: “We did not use tree-core measurement data in our paper, only chronologies that had previously been assembled by others from core measurement data.”

          The sources for these are, as far as I can tell, “Luckman and Wilson” and “(S3)” / “Briffa (2000)”.

          For Osborn, those sources are not “core measurement data”. Obviously, he didn’t consider it his (personal) obligation to provide data from those sources.

          You need to consider that Osborn didn’t know your reasons for asking for the data, only what was written in the email. Therefore, the points I made are unaltered by what you said. (At least so far, but perhaps you can add more information than I found to this point).

        • bmcburney
          Posted Jan 5, 2010 at 12:42 PM | Permalink


          Do you really, sincerely, believe that Osborn’s assertion that the data are unavailable is simply “his way” of saying that the data are irrelevant?

          Have you considered the possibility that Osborn, recognizing his assertion that the measurement data are irrelevant is unlikely to be convincing (to anyone but his fellow team members and their most devoted fan), attempted to end further attempts to obtain the measurement data by simply denying that he (or he and his co-authors) had it? If you have not even considered this, how were you able to rule out this possiblity?

          Regardless of what you believe actually happened in this case, do you think it would have been wrong for Osborn to mislead Science regarding his ability to produce the data if Osborn also believed that McIntyre might “misuse” the data if he got his hands on it? Is that ok with you?

        • Norbert
          Posted Jan 5, 2010 at 2:29 PM | Permalink


          I sincerely believe that you are asking wrong questions, with effectively misleading implications, while Osborn’s email wasn’t.

          The editor was asking for data in the context of *reproducing* the research papers results. The core measurement data would not have allowed reproducing the results (or not easily and not exactly). It is the wrong data to ask for, and it would have been misleading (or, in Osborn’s words, “inappropiate”) to send the measurement data to the editor as a response to this email, even if he had it.

          Instead, he did the correct thing, which was to point the editor to the correct data, and to its sources, which directly or indirectly included Briffa (his coauthor and as far as I know, a colleague at CRU, who he explicitly mentioned).

          It is only of secondary importance that Osborn did *not* say that the data is not “available”, but on the contrary, from his email I would assume that some of the data is available from Briffa, who coincidentally happened to be a coauthor on the research article, and who probably would be the correct person to ask for that data in case it is on some CRU server, and other data from Luckman and Wilson and/or “(S3)”. Therefore your assertions about some hidden and unexpressed meaning are doubly wrong.

          Furthermore, I see no indication for *your* assertion that Osborn might consider his email possibly “unconvincing”, only perhaps that he may be concerned that the editor might still not understand that the the persons to go to for the data are the sources mentioned in the article, not him.

        • bmcburney
          Posted Jan 5, 2010 at 5:29 PM | Permalink


          I am not attempting to debate Osborn’s conduct, I think its clear that we see that conduct differently. My questions were really designed to better understand your thought process with respect to this.

          Do you really believe that when Osborn claims “I don’t have any core measurement data and therefore have none to give out!” that was just “his way” of saying, again, that it would be “inappropriate” to provide that data?

          Rightly or wrongly, Science asked that the measurement data be provided. If you agree that “possibly” Osborn was concerned that the editor would continue to disagree with him regarding the need to provide the data, how did you conclude that Osborn was not attempting to mislead Science by claiming he had “none to give out”? Isn’t it true that if Science was convinced that he “had none to give out” that would effectively avoid the possiblity that measurement data might be provided to team critics?

          Regardless of what actually happened in this case, do you agree, in principle, that it would have been wrong for Osborn to mislead Science concerning whether data was available if misleading Science was the only way to prevent Steve McIntyre from obtaining the measurement data?

        • Norbert
          Posted Jan 6, 2010 at 3:03 AM | Permalink


          I can’t find anything in your questions that I haven’t already answered. I disagree that we see conduct differently. What we see differently is, apparently, who the editor should ask for which data.

          Some relevant points:
          1. The editor was asking for “measurement data” which would allow to “replicate the Osborn version”. He did not ask for measurement data in any way unrelated to that purpose.
          2. Osborn clarifies that “measurement data” is *not* the data which would allow to do that.
          3. Osborn referred the editor to the sources which were Luckman and Wilson, and (S3)/Briffa(2000).
          4. The fact that Osborn refers the editor to Briffa, and others, does not mean that *any* data would not be available. On the contrary, it supplies information that the proper way to obtain additional data is, for example, via Briffa(2000) (and/or, therefore, via Briffa himself).
          5. According to everything we know, Osborn did his best to give the editor all the relevant information about any data. There was no data (as far as I can tell) for which Osborn did not provide the information for obtaining that data.

          Your last question is just too far out hypothetical, and if it was a question purely in principle, then it shouldn’t even use actual names. And then, it is not a question which would appear to deserve an answer.

        • bmcburney
          Posted Jan 6, 2010 at 1:42 PM | Permalink


          I am afraid this is now a test of wills rather than a productive discussion (if it ever was that). Let’s see if we can find an “exit strategy.”

          I note your assertion that you are unable to discover anything in my questions which you have not already answered. Of course, this assertion is directly contradicted by your refusal to answer my third question (“too far out hypothetical”) and the absence of any actual response to the others.

          Nevertheless, since there are no direct answers to my question in your prior comments, I assume you mean that you have provided information sufficient to allow me to infer the answers you would give if you were inclined to give answers to my questions. Therefore, rather than continuing as before (me repeating my questions, you repeating your talking points), I will tell you what I am able to infer from your comments thus far. If my inferences are correct, we can let the discussion stand. If my inferences are incorrect, an effective rebuttal would be to simply answer the questions.

          As to my first question, I infer that you do not sincerely believe that Osborn was attempting to reiterate his assertion that measurement data is irrelevant when he stated he “had none to give!” To be charitable, your contrary claim in the discussion above was a “rhetorical flourish” which you are unable to support and which you probably did not expect anyone to take seriously.

          As to my second question, I infer that you have no real basis for your conclusion that Osborn was not attempting to mislead the editors of Science. At best, your argument is that Osborn’s comments are sufficiently ambiguous that it is possible he was directing the editor to Briffa rather than denying that the data was available at all. By your own account, however, Osborn had something to gain by misleading Science concerning availablity of the measurement data (preventing “misuse” of the data by others). If so, the asserted ambiguity of Osborn’s statements, if it exists at all, is more likely strategic than accidental. From this, I infer that you actually believe that Osborn was being deceptive but that he was doing so in a good cause.

          Thus, the answer to my third question is that you do not believe it is wrong for Osborn (or others) to act deceptively if doing so is necessary to prevent the release (and subsequent “misuse”) of important data. In this instance at least, you believe the end of preserving “consensus” justifies the means of “strategic ambiguity” deployed against a mere Science editor.

          From this, in turn, I infer that your own participation in this discussion has not been in good faith and that the whole thing has been a waste my time. I will check the thread again. Please surprise me by dealing with the issues in an honest manner in your next post.

        • Norbert
          Posted Jan 6, 2010 at 3:41 PM | Permalink


          I’m very surprised that you could even contemplate the possibility that I might agree with any of your inferences.

          The reason that I can’t answer your question “directly”, is that they are a) wrong questions, and b) based on assertions and a framing that I do not share. (I tried to indicate this earlier.). In fact, those assertions and that framing is exactly what i disagree with. Effectively, you are maneuvering me into a somewhat similar situation that Osborn was in.

          So I was looking to extract something (“find something”) “in your questions” that I might be able to answer, rather than answering those wrong questions themselves, which is impossible in my understanding of the situation.

          Therefore there is no contradiction here.

          I do not have the time right now to address your points (“questions”) in detail, but hope to do so later.

          So let me first ask you a counter-question:

          Why would it be in any way misleading that Osborn refers the editor to Briffa and others? This is leading him in the correct direction. To simplify it, he effectively says “You need to go to the sources (including Briffa), I don’t have anything to give you other than what I already gave you.”

        • Norbert
          Posted Jan 7, 2010 at 1:00 PM | Permalink

          Additional note: bmcburney, while it appears you haven’t checked back on this thread yet, I’d like to add another thought to my previous message:

          There was the question (asked by others) why he switched from “we” to “I” when he said he doesn’t have core measurement data: that is very simple: The fact that Briffa is a coauthor on the Osborn article, doesn’t mean that Osborn is a coauthor on Briffa[2000]. So he can’t say that “we” don’t have that specific data, since Briffa, as the author of Briffa[2000], might have that data (and know which data and which version was used, etc.).

          I think this should resolve any remaining doubts that he was answering the questions as correctly as he could.

          What I can say to your latest round of “questions”:
          1. When Osborn said he had no data to give out, I believe he meant exactly that.
          2. I believe Osborn was neither misleading not ambiguous, but answering the editor as correctly and appropriately as he could.
          3. There is no reasonable basis to consider a possible deception.

          If you wish to continue this discussion, please also read my previous response (I wrote two in sequence), and try to clarify your understanding of the situation by answering the “counter-question” which I asked there.

          Steve: As John McEnroe says “You can’t be serious!” Osborn’s answer was not as “correct and appropriate” as “he could”. A correct and appropriate answer would have been that they had the measurement data, but did not believe that Science had the jurisdiction to require them to disclose it.

        • Norbert
          Posted Jan 7, 2010 at 1:03 PM | Permalink

          (Additional note to point (1.): When I said “no data to give out”, it should mean “no additional data”, or “no other data”, since as the editor writes, Osborn had already sent previously requested data.)

        • Norbert
          Posted Jan 7, 2010 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

          Steve: I am serious. It would be wrong for Osborn to side-step Briffa in relation to any data related to Briffa[2000]. Osborn had no business interfering in matters related to Briffa[2000], and certainly not in response to the email we are discussing..

          On the contrary, I believe it to be inappropriate to ask Osborn for that data in the first place.

        • bmcburney
          Posted Jan 7, 2010 at 6:08 PM | Permalink


          “1. When Osborn said he had no data to give out, I believe he meant exactly that.” 
          I admit to being gratified to learn that my inference regarding your initial contention (i.e., your claim that when Osborn said he had “none to give out” it was just “his way” of saying the request was “inappropriate”) was correct.  Sadly, however, this also means your arguments have been presented in bad faith from the very beginning. 
          “2. I believe Osborn was neither misleading not ambiguous, but answering the editor as correctly and appropriately as he could.”
          No, you don’t believe any such thing.  Among other things, if you actually believed this, it would not have been necessary for you to fabricate and attempt to defend the preposterous contention discussed above.  If you had taken your present position from the beginning our discussion would have centered on whether Osborn’s contention was plausible given that he works at CRU which financed the data collection and that Briffa was his co-author on the very paper at issue and that his 2003 e-mail had expressed a familiarity with the Yamal measurement data.  Your views on those subjects might have been interesting or insightful but you decided not to do that.  As a result, you have made a fool of yourself and we have both wasted our time. 

          “3. There is no reasonable basis to consider a possible deception.”
          I disagree but, as you know, my question does not seek information concerning that issue.  My question attempted to elicit your own opinions on what is right and wrong.  Ultimately, I was attempting to find out whether you were likely being deceptive in your other assertions and, at this point, I guess I have my answer.
          In the end, Science asked for measurement data which Osborn either actually had in his posession or had easy access to for the reasons discussed above.  Although his paper relied on chronologies rather than measurement data, the validity of its conclusions depended on the measurement data just as much as if he had published the Yamal chronology himself.  We now know the Yamal chronology he was using was seriously flawed and, at a minimum, he knew at the time that different versions of the data were different in way which were “not insignificant!”  (You can’t quote Osborn without the exclaimation marks.)   

          So, no, Osborn was not answering the editor “as correctly and appropriately as he could.”  The most reasonable interpretation of the evidence is that he was attempting to avoid the disclosure of data which he knew would tend to undermine the conclusions of his paper. 
          “Why would it be in any way misleading that Osborn refers the editor to Briffa and others? This is leading him in the correct direction. To simplify it, he effectively says ‘You need to go to the sources (including Briffa), I don’t have anything to give you other than what I already gave you.'”

          Assuming he did not actually have access to the data, it would not have been misleading had Osborn actually directed the editor to Briffa. It would have been passing strange under the circumstances, but not misleading in itself. However, you have not “simplified” what Osborn said, you have changed it. Of course, the foregoing assumes that Osborn did not actually have access to the data; this would be a problematic assumption for the reasons discussed above.

        • Norbert
          Posted Jan 7, 2010 at 8:44 PM | Permalink

          [My response, Posted Jan 7, 2010 at 7:50 PM ,turned out to be on a higher level, replying to one of my own comments. In case respond, please switch to the higher level.]

        • Norbert
          Posted Jan 7, 2010 at 7:50 PM | Permalink


          I don’t see anything that would have changed in my view, other than gaining an additional clarity about why Osborn has changed from using “we”, to using “I”, in his email.

          Regarding (1.): You are construing a difference that doesn’t exist. If I had any “bad faith”, then I would still have the same “bad faith”, because nothing in that regard has changed:

          He mentions that he doesn’t “have” the core measurement data in order to underline the fact that he doesn’t have any “to give out”. But even if he had it, it wouldn’t be his to give out. It would be Briffa’s job and privilege to give out any such data from Briffa[2000], along with relevant instructions and meta-data, in case the editor were still interested in it, despite learning that it is not used in the Osborn [SM: and Briffa] article.

          Regarding (2.): Since there is no “preposterous contention” in (1.), your argument about (2.) falls apart.

          While Briffa was a coauthor on the Osborn [SM: and Briffa] article, Osborn was not a coauthor on Briffa[2000]. Whether Osborn works at CRU or not should not really enter this discussion, since Briffa[2000] is a separate article from the one we discuss here. It is irrelevant, and should only be mentioned, if at all, to point out that it is irrelevant. Certainly that is my own consistent position.

          Regarding (3.): My relevant opinion about right and wrong, is that it would be wrong for Osborn to side-step Briffa about matters related do Briffa[2000]. He should not even consider doing that.

          The right thing for Osborn to do was, and is, to refer the editor to the sources, including, but not only, Briffa[2000].

          I have said this all the time and that is still what I say.

          You wrote: “In the end, Science asked for measurement data which Osborn either actually had in his posession or had easy access to for the reasons discussed above.”

          I don’t know where you get the idea that Osborn might have had the data in his possession, although I could imagine that he might have had access to the data. But that doesn’t mean that would know which data exactly was used in Briffa[2000] (and which part of it in which way), and even if he did know that, he would still not be the right person to give it to the editor. He should still have to refer the editor to Briffa[2000], and the data would still not be his to give out.

          But we should not even discuss that, since Osborn referred the editor to Briffa[2000] and others, and that is the one and only thing he should have done in this regard, and which he has actually done very clearly.

          You are constructing some alternate reality in which Osborn[SM: and Briffa] ‘s article would have a direct relationship to the data in Briffa[2000]. Osborn made it clear that this is not the case, and that is the major point of his email.

          Excuse me for using bold for emphasis, I feel that the important points needed to be highlighted here.

          Steve: You can’t be serious.

        • bender
          Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 11:02 PM | Permalink

          Norbert says:

          He mentions that he doesn’t “have” the core measurement data in order to underline the fact that he doesn’t have any “to give out”. But even if he had it, it wouldn’t be his to give out.

          I agree that that is probably the correct interpretation of Osborn’s words. And yes, I am serious. But in contrast to Norbert, I think Osborn is being intentionally ambiguous, not at all clear. This coy pattern of engagement is one we have seen numerous times in past cases where data ownership & access are murky issues.

          Steve: For coauthored papers, the corresponding author is, in effect, the operator of a joint venture (sort of like general partner of a partnership). He is jointly and severally responsible to the journal. It is misleading for a corresponding author to purport to answer in an “individual” capacity rather than on behalf of the joint venture.

        • Norbert
          Posted Jan 8, 2010 at 3:23 PM | Permalink

          Steve, I suppose your mere repitition of the phrase “You can’t be serious” means that you point back to your previous statement: “A correct and appropriate answer would have been that they had the measurement data, but did not believe that Science had the jurisdiction to require them to disclose it.”

          The big problem here is your phrase “they” : Osborn made it clear that there is no “they”. Here a quote from the very email we are discussing:

          And in my first reply I explained 
why I didn’t think that this was appropriate anyway, since I consider 
that our obligation is limited to providing data to allow the 
replication of the steps reported in our paper, none of which 
involved any processing of core measurement data.

          Osborn states explicitly his understanding of an appropriate handling of this matter, and it is more than obvious that any statement about himself not “having data” doesn’t imply that Briffa[2000]-underlying data wouldn’t be available. On the contrary, he went at lengths to clearly separate those matters explicitly. Furthermore, the sources are more than just Briffa[2000].

          I decidedly agree with Osborn’s assessment of a correct handling of this situation, but even if I didn’t, Osborn made his understanding more than explicit enough. And on the basis of his understanding of how the situation is to be handled appropriately, he did a surprisingly good job of communicating the whole matter.

      • geo
        Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 4:51 PM | Permalink

        I agree with Steve now that I realize Briffa was co-author (which I missed originally). I do think it is very interesting the way Osborn switches between “we” and “our” vs “I” in that email. Other than the first appearance of “I”, which is him taking responsibility personally for responding to their questions, everything else is “we” and “our” right up to the core data where suddenly it is “I” again.

        In other words, it does rather appear he tried to hide behind “I” right there, even tho he should have known that “we” was jointly responsible.

        Osborn’s broader point, other than the sleight-of-hand on whether the co-authors jointly had access to that data, still strikes me as sound –if you assume that two entirely different co-authors not associated with CRU had submitted that paper, relying on published chronologies, would that be an acceptable paper or one that was not acceptable because the raw data was not provided?

        Which is not to excuse the sleight-of-hand, btw, but it is a valid question it seems to me.

        • Norbert
          Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 5:04 PM | Permalink

          My point, which you don’t even respond to, is that Osborn made it clear that such data was not used in that research paper, not at all. The article (according to the email) states “clearly” what the data sources were, but it is neither Esper et al. (a previous assumption which already led to problems), nor the core measurement data (the new assumption, which will obviously lead to similar problems).

          First there was the wrong assumption that data source was Esper et al. That caused a failed attempt of reproducing the results.

          Now there is the wrong assumption that the data source is the core measurement data. Following the request for that data would lead down the wrong path again!

          The editor is asking for that data in the false assumption that the research is based on it. It isn’t, and therefore it would false and only adding to the confusion to produce that data.

          First, the editor needs to understand which source the research is really based on!

          Am I getting my point across now?

        • ianl8888
          Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 5:52 PM | Permalink

          Continue trying to split hairs with an axe, Norbert

          Here is the point, made by Brooks Hanson, that Osborn was trying to avoid:

          ” … The HadCRU2 data set contains temperature data for the gridcell 37.5N,
          >117.5W commencing in 1870. However, the gridcell information provided
          >by Osborn commenced only in 1888 and the differences are material to
          >the final result (0.045 versus 0.18 reported). What is the reason for
          >commencing this comparison in 1888 rather than the available 1870? Since
          >there is a material difference in this example, could you please provide
          >the gridcell temperature sets in a comparable format for the other 13
          >Osborn and Briffa series”

          [Bolding is mine]

          And please do not try the “quote the email in full” dodge – everyone can easily read it in full from the link in the opening post

        • Norbert
          Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 6:07 PM | Permalink

          Not split hairs, but an entirely separate question to which the email responds by saying:

          “I will reply next week regarding the second question/request.”

          Your accusative tone is absolutely misplaced.

        • geo
          Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 7:01 PM | Permalink

          Dunno. Seems to me your point is Osborn dissembled on a non-germane point rather than just meeting it head-on. Sounds like most defense attorneys I’ve heard “He didn’t do it. . and if he did do it, it wasn’t illegal. . .and we won’t ever do it again”.

          Surely it would have been better for Osborn to just meet the point head-on rather than play three-card monte with it?

        • Norbert
          Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 7:37 PM | Permalink

          He didn’t “dissemble”, it just looks that way because SteveM’s quote puts a sentence of secondary importance in bold, while leaving out the much larger part of primary importance!

          Maybe he would have been have been better off just without that sentence, or saying instead: “I’m not going to give that data to you since that will only add to your confusion about the fact that we are not using that data at all.”. But I think the sentence is there in order to further highlight the fact that that data is of no relevance at all.

        • Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 10:12 PM | Permalink

          Why were so many wrong assumptions made by the editor? Didn’t the paper precisely describe the data sets used?

  9. alex verlinden
    Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 1:52 PM | Permalink

    lol …

    Difference in Yamal Versions “Not Insignificant” … this title shall be hard to better as “irony of the year”

    a happy new year to all people of good will …

  10. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 3:21 PM | Permalink

    HEre is a relevant definition of one form of academic misconduct. The term “falsification” is used here in its tort law sense and has a different meaning than most academics think. The “research record” is very broadly defined. Omitting information can be an offence. It seems to me that answering questions from a publishing journal is part of the broader “research record”.

    Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record [i.e. the record of data or results that embody the facts emerging from the research, and includes, but is not limited to, research proposals, progress reports, abstracts, theses, oral presentations, internal reports, journal articles, and books].

    • Norbert
      Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 4:08 PM | Permalink

      If there was any attempt to misrepresent the research, it is in the questions which the editor was passing on to Osborn, as these questions were misguided. (As I have further explained above.)

      • TerryMN
        Posted Jan 5, 2010 at 1:17 AM | Permalink

        Not sure what is more entertaining – the verbal gymnastics by Osborn or Norbert?

        How on earth does a question being asked misrepresent the research? This boggles the mind – please explain.

    • hotandcoldEV
      Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 5:55 PM | Permalink

      I’m sorry, Steve, but I think this time you’re bolding the wrong phrases.

      From the NEH document you quote the key phrase is “Falsification is manipulating … [b]such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record[/b]

      From the email from Osborne the key phrase is “[b]We did not use tree-core measurement data in our paper[/b], only chronologies that had previously been assembled by others from core measurement data.”

      Whether a lawyer could argue that being economical with the truth in an email to a journal editor could be both part of the research record and “a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community” (!!!) is irrelevant unless Osborn and Briffa did in fact “use tree-core measurement data.” (And you aren’t arguing that they did in this thread (at least).)

      Steve: Osborn said that he didn’t have the measurement data. If Briffa had the measurement data, Osborn should have said so to Sciencemag.

      • Norbert
        Posted Jan 5, 2010 at 12:57 AM | Permalink

        Osborn did refer to Briffa(2000) (among others).

        • hotandcoldEV
          Posted Jan 5, 2010 at 6:53 AM | Permalink

          @Steve: I was addressing your point about possible academic misconduct, not whether Osborn & Briffa had the tree-core measurement data. (Although I agree that it was unwise to say they didn’t have it if in fact the did.)

          I take it you are quoting the NEH guidelines just as an example. (Or did Osborn and Briffa acknowledge support by the NEH in their paper?) However taking it in the spirit I think you intend it, it seems reasonable to argue – *on the basis of what Osborn says in the rest of his email about the use or not of such data * – that associating tree-core measurement data with the paper in the research record would make the research less accurately represented.

          That’s quite a separate point from whether the tree-core measurement data should in any case be publically available. (Imo it pretty clearly should.)

          Steve: You’re missing the nuance. The term “research record” is not limited to the data set. It seems to me that the answers provided by an author to a journal constitute part of the “research record”. Thus if Osborn hypothetically omitted relevant information in an answer to a journal, it seems to me that that distorts the “research record”. I’m talking about a narrow issue.

        • hotandcoldEV
          Posted Jan 5, 2010 at 5:44 PM | Permalink

          Hmmm – look I’m generally sympathetic, but I think in this case it is a real stretch to think that correspondence between an editor and author or an editor and referee would be part of the research record. Fwiw, in my field what is divulgable is made explicit, the rest is not public correspondence. My opinions tto the editor when acting as a referee are confidential – there will of course generally be feedback to the author(s). Conversely if I want to comment to the editor on what a referee writes that will be to him alone unless I explicitly ask him to pass the comments on. But maybe climate science has different conventions.

          But that’s all moot in any case because the paragraph you quote is not about whether the “research record” (in your sense) per se is distorted. What is addressed is that *the research* itself is accurately represented in the record. And it’s consonant with what Osborn says in the email that including the data would or may distort *the research* and not including it will not distort the research.

          Now it could be that it simply was untrue that they didn’t use the data. But (a) that wasn’t where we came in, and (b) otherwise I don’t think you have traction here.

          [OT: someone please help a clueless noob and tell me how to (i) quote) and (ii) both/italic in wordpress. :picard:]

        • Jimchip
          Posted Jan 7, 2010 at 2:52 AM | Permalink

          “It is something of a waste of time, therefore, to have to write another answer, but here goes anyway…” expresses an attitude that is frequently seen in other emails. Related emails also show that other members of the “community” got confused about either what datasets were being used or what the content of the datasets was.

          It certainly was not unreasonable for an ‘outsider’ to ask for clarification given that fact that the ‘inside’ team members needed clarification from each other. One more example of an attitude like ‘We’re great and we were crystal clear in our reports. We are too busy to repeat the obvious’ while also emailing each other (on the back-channel) saying, in my opinion, the opposite.

  11. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 5:18 PM | Permalink

    Is not it a compelling comment on the state of climate science when we need lawyers or would- be lawyers to decipher what was meant/intended and what might legitimately pass some legal or standard of conduct hurdle? Science was intended to be clear and concise and scientists are intended to make it that way.

    Politicians and their defenders are a different matter. Could that confusion be part of the dilemma that requires the constant deciphering of what the science/scientists is telling us?

  12. Ray Boorman
    Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 6:54 PM | Permalink

    Beats me how it can be called scientific research when you don’t collect the data yourself, but more pointedly, you don’t even analyse the raw data yourself either. As stated by Osborne, they used chronologies created by others. I haven’t read the paper myself, but how valid can your results be if you rely on input data that has been created from raw data in a process over which you have no control?

  13. jim edwards
    Posted Jan 4, 2010 at 9:04 PM | Permalink

    Re: Steve M. said:
    “Science wrote to him [Osborn] as the corresponding author for Osborn and Briffa. If Briffa had the data in his directory (as opposed to Osborn), isn’t this so-to-speak a trick? And not a very good one.”

    Yes, it would seem so, and it appears to meet both the scientists’ definition of trick as “a neat way to solve a problem” and the layman’s definition of trick as “a way to put one over on somebody, generally through deception or misdirection.”

    One would hope Osborn would tell the editor, “I don’t have it, but I’ll see if I can get it from Keith.” -or even, “Keith has those, but I’m not going to bother him with the request. There’s no reason for us to provide them.”

    Steve M. also said:
    “In respect to Science, Osborn and Briffa are “coauthors” and Osborn is speaking for the “partnership” and have joint liability.”

    More precisely, Briffa has to explain to the editor why he didn’t provide requested data, after making Osborn his agent for communication and then having actual knowledge that Osborn appears to have misled the editor re: how much data the authors have in their collective possession.

  14. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jan 5, 2010 at 9:46 AM | Permalink

    Here was a contemporary comment of mine about Science’s attempts to deal with the Team:

    I get the impression that Hanson is really making an effort to get the data problem to go away. In his shoes, I’d be a lot tougher with the Hockey Team, but he’s probably inexperienced at dealing with systematic obfuscation.

    … One angle that needs to be nipped in the bud is the cheque kiting between journals. In the particular case, Briffa [2000] published 3 chronology results in QSR relying then on measurement data without archiving the measurement data. Now Osborn and Briffa [2006] seek to avoid archiving measurement data on the grounds that they used the chronologies from Briffa [2000] rather than the measurement data and that jurisdiction over access to the measurement data lies with QSR. Science should cut through this jurisdictional issue and say – we’re the big dogs; if there’s anything grey in your chain of evidence, clean it up if you want to publish with us.

    If I were Hanson, I would really lay down the line with these guys. I’d tell them that I have other things to do besides babysit the production of data. I’d say – here’s the list, here’s a deadline, if you don’t have done it done by then, we’re retracting the paper. We’re in a post-Hwang era; get with the program.

    • hotandcoldEV
      Posted Jan 5, 2010 at 6:02 PM | Permalink

      I basically agree with what you say here. “Morally” this has to be right and Hanson probably had the freedom to do this (although I’m not sure).

      But that’s not the way the process is set up to operate. And unfortunately everything has become so rule/law bound that it’s hard to know how to draw the line in an enabling, non-overly onerous way.

      Maybe an extreme example, maybe not: If you know that one set of authors in fact have the data from another set of authors, but the intersection of the sets is empty and the data itself is not used, only conclusions from it, should it be possible to involve the editor of a journal into trying to get the data divulged before he’ll permit publication of the first set of authors’ paper? (Eg, Clearly we don’t want authors (A) to have to have the good will of authors (B) before they can mention their results.)

    • Jimchip
      Posted Jan 7, 2010 at 3:44 AM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (Jan 5 09:46),

      Steve, there is the phrase, “The methods of this widely accepted approach” in your “Collated Against March 17, 2006 Request.” There is ‘cheque kiting’ by multiple parties (not just one individual using multiple ‘banks’) but also the claim “widely accepted”, or similar (in other emails) meaning, in my opinion, ‘those same parties use the same approach’. Cooperative, “community”, ‘self-justication’ could trick a diligent editor if one did not know how close the team is.

      BTW, I fouled up some threading in my comments on this topic. They may appear nonsensical because of the lack of context.

  15. jim edwards
    Posted Jan 6, 2010 at 3:32 PM | Permalink

    Whether Hanson didn’t figure out Osborn’s word-game, or just got tired of playing word-games, Steve M. did figure out Osborn’s word game at the time and got the linguistic runaround from Briffa, as well. According to Steve’s thread, when Steve asked if Briffa HAD the data, Briffa answered/deflected that the data were PRODUCED by somebody else.

    See Thread: Science – Email #39 [May 11, 2006]

    “Request re Briffa 2000

    Since Science said to contact the “other authors” in respect to measurement data, on April 28, 2006 , I wrote to Tim Osborn as follows:

    Science said that you did not directly use the measurement data for Polar Urals, Tornetrask, Yamal and Taimyr, but chronologies previously published and therefore took no responsibility for obtaining this data, directing me back to you or to the original journal. While I disagree with this decision and may pursue it with Science if necessary, to simplify matters would you voluntarily provide the measurement data used for the above sites in calculating the chronology in Briffa [2000].
    Thanks, Steve McIntyre

    On May 23, Osborn responded:

    Steve – Science are correct to say that I “did not directly use the measurement data for” those sites. Not only did I not use them, I don’t actually have a copy of them. So I cannot help you.

    OK, he didn’t have the data, but that didn’t mean that Briffa didn’t have the data. So on May 23, I wrote to Briffa one more time:

    Dear Dr Briffa,
    On April 28, 2006, I asked Tim Osborn for the measurement data for Polar Urals, Tornetrask, Yamal and Taimyr sites, supporting the chronologies used in Osborn and Briffa [2006]. Osborn says that he does not have the data, but did not say that you didn’t have the data. Do you have the data? If so would you please comply with the request below and voluntarily provide the measurement data used in Briffa 2000, and relied upon in Osborn and Briffa 2006, for these sites.
    Thank you for your attention. Steve McIntyre

    On May 28, 2006, Briffa replied:

    Steve these data were produced by Swedish and Russian colleagues – will pass on your message to them]
    cheers, Keith

    That was the last I heard from him. By this time, I’d exchanged over 40 emails with Science and others and figured I’d done all that I could do.”

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