Cicerone Then and Now

Ralph Cicerone, President of the US National Academy of Sciences, has weighed in on the CRU and data sharing controversies – he’s now in favor of data sharing. While it’s nice that he’s seen the light, he has previously (in best Sir Humphrey style) manipulated the NAS panel terms of reference to avoid having to report on data problems in paleoclimate,
failed as President of NAS in ensuring that PNAS set an example of excellence in data archiving for paleoclimate articles and to use his personal prestige as President of NAS to request co-operation from paleoclimatologists who had refused to archive data used in the NAS panel report.

Cicerone writes today:

Contention over paleoclimatic data was at the heart of the UEA/CRU e-mail exchanges.

and that

Clarity and transparency must be reinforced to build and maintain trust

So it’s interesting to look back at how Cicerone himself has previously acted when he had opportunities to help build and maintain such trust, especially in respect to paleoclimate data.

In 2005, the House Science Committee sent a list of questions to Cicerone, which they wished to see resolved – including issues pertaining to MBH that were then the topic of controversy, including the mundane question of whether the “information required to replicate their work has always been available”.

Instead of establishing terms of reference that actually answered the questions asked by the House Science Committee, in best Susan Hassool-style, Cicerone re-framed the terms of reference, taking the House questions off the table. As previously noted, both at the time and recently, this created consternation at the NAS Panel presentations, when von Storch tried to answer the House questions – questions that many in the panel had apparently never seen and some didn’t want to address. See CA contemporary report here, where I reported:

Von Storch’s introduction of the Boehlert questions prompted a discussion about whether these questions were within the scope of the panel’s mandate. Von Storch criticized MBH replicability giving a very categorical answer to one of the Boehlert questions that was identical to ours. So the panel has testimony on the matter. We also pointed out that presenters D’Arrigo and Hegerl had not archived their data and had refused to make it available as part of the IPCC review process. This sparked responses from both D’Arrigo and Hegerl purporting to justify this and concerns by the chairman [Gerald North] about whether replication and data archiving was going off topic and distracting from the questions that they were charged with answering, even though these were obviously questions specifically asked by Boehlert.

My contemporary post included the following account of a statement by a staffer from the House Science Committee in the public discussion at the end of the first day’s proceedings:

Goldston, representing the House Science Committee, closed off the first day’s proceedings by observing as a public comment that the Science Committee realized that there were many large questions associated with climate change and recognized that there were many big and contentious issues still to come in the future. However, the Science Committee had intentionally asked some finite questions associated with current controversies [e.g. data availability], since they wanted to take at least a few small issues off the table.

I urge readers to re-read the Sir Humphrey post. As a result of this controversy, there was a slight change in the terms of reference of the NAS panel (see CA post here), which resulted in the North panel making a few references to data archiving, but they did not investigate such issues and their comments did not amount to more than pieties.

The NAS report of 2006 relied on many studies with unarchived data. I wrote to Cicerone (See CA here) , excerpt as follows:

In many cases, I have corresponded both with the authors and the journals in an effort to obtain such data without success. In some cases, the correspondence has gone on for nearly three years without resolution. In several cases, the NAS Panel relied on such studies, even hearing personal presentations, but did not take the opportunity to request the authors to archive their data. However, now that the NAS has relied on these studies, it is of paramount importance that these studies are closely examined to determine if their conclusions are robust, or have limitations such as the NAS panel described for Mann’s work.

I believe that a letter to authors who have refused to archive data and methods in a complete manner, coming from you in your capacity as President of the National Academies, which has just published a study relying on their reports, might be effective in achieving the mutually desired goal of inspiring the authors to archive their data and methods. In Lonnie Thompson’s case, since some of the results have recently been published in the Proceedings of the NAS, the request could also be made via the journal.

In an Appendix to this letter, I have set out missing and pertinent data for six authors. Considering all of the above, I request that you promptly write to each of the authors asking that they promptly archive the data at the World Data Center for Paleoclimatology or other archive acceptable to the NAS. Thank you for your consideration.

Cicerone refused to take any action on the grounds that he could not “command” the authors to do so, which I already had expressly acknowledged – I merely asked him to request that they do so. The post goes on to say:

I then wrote to Gerry North who, to his credit, agreed to write to the various authors.

This praise seems to have been undeserved, as North’s purported agreement seems to have been a “trick” – in fact, he seems to have done nothing.

In 2007, I tried to obtain Lonnie Thompson’s data following his publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences see CA here. Despite clear policies that on their face require the archiving of large data sets, PNAS refused to require Thompson to provide a comprehensive archive of his sample data. The complicity of PNAS in Thompson’s evasion is reported at CA here.

But today’s a new day. In my original post, I quoted Sir Humphrey as follows:

“It is axiomatic in government that hornets’ nests should be left unstirred, cans of worms should remain unopened, and cats should be left firmly in bags and not set among the pigeons. Ministers should also leave boats unrocked, nettles ungrasped, refrain from taking bulls by the horns, and resolutely turn their backs to the music.”

Cicerone wisely realizes that this will no longer work:

In the wake of the UEA controversy, I have been contacted by many U.S. and world leaders in science, business, and government. Their assessments and those from various editorials, added to results from scattered public opinion polls, suggest that public opinion has
moved toward the view that scientists often try to suppress alternative hypotheses and ideas and that scientists will withhold data and try to manipulate some aspects of peer review to prevent dissent. This view reflects the fragile nature of trust between science and society, demonstrating that the perceived misbehavior of even a few scientists can diminish the credibility of science as a whole.

Cicerone in best bureaucratic tradition has called for yet another meeting, this time calling for an outcome with “explicit actions”:

Later this month, at the 2010 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Diego, NAS and AAAS will lead a discussion of these important issues, examine points raised by the UEA/CRU situation, review best practices, and encourage scientists to develop standards for data access that work in their fields. The outcome of this special session must be explicit actions, as scientists must do much more now, and with urgency, to demonstrate that science is indeed self-correcting and worthy of the public’s trust.

I noticed two other Sir Humphrey quotes from my original post which seem timely in relation to climate science.

Sir Humphrey anticipating climate scientist obstruction of information on methodology and data:

“If people don’t know what you’re doing, they don’t know what you’re doing wrong.”

Sir Humphrey summarizing exchanges between realclimate and climateaudit – something here for both sides:

“Almost anything can be attacked as a failure, but almost anything can be defended as not a significant failure.”


  1. Skip Smith
    Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 6:03 PM | Permalink

    Is there a link to what Cicerone said today? I can’t find it in the post.

  2. You know who
    Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 6:45 PM | Permalink


    Steve: No food fights please as they are of no editorial interest to the general readership.

    • RomanM
      Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 7:04 PM | Permalink

      Re: You know who (Feb 4 18:45),

      Chucky’s back!…

      It’s called historical context. Try something new and different – for example, discussing the issues.

      • You know who
        Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 7:27 PM | Permalink


        Oh…on topic on the issue. It’s not Ciccerone’s responsibility to fight Steve’s battle or “use his prestige”.

        Steve: I only asked Cicerone to speak out on data availablity – an issue that he now says is urgent. I didn’t ask him to investigate nuances of tree rings.

        • windansea
          Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 8:14 PM | Permalink


        • Ron Cram
          Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 8:17 PM | Permalink

          The terms of reference had to do with data archiving and data sharing. You write as if they are two different issues. They are not.

  3. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 7:07 PM | Permalink

    For one liners on strategy, try Napoleon translated as “The whole art of war consists of a well-reasoned and extremely circumspect defensive followed by a rapid and audacious attack”.

    Seems to me you know this.

  4. Follow the Money
    Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 7:26 PM | Permalink

    I think you really would like this January 26 lecture by Cicerone:

    Finding Climate Change and Being Useful

    Great name, eh? Climate Change and Being Useful. It sounds..profitable!

    The lecture has infamous graphs and displays a firm acquaintance, and before the NAS Report, with the non-Mann, non-tree ring hockey sticks used in the report to validate Mann–at least in the “executive summary” type of thinking. Not only head of the NAS, but an expert at “being useful.”

    • Follow the Money
      Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 7:27 PM | Permalink

      Mistake corrected:

      Finding Climate Change and Being Useful

      Should not drop the most enigmatic word!

  5. Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 8:21 PM | Permalink

    Baby steps baby, baby steps.

  6. Gary
    Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 8:36 PM | Permalink

    Who’s going to the 2010 annual meeting of AAAS in San Diego to see that the discussion stays on topic?

  7. vg
    Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 9:04 PM | Permalink

    Climategate leak may have been found

    Steve: I strongly doubt that Paul Dennis was involved in the leak. His only connection is that he is at UEA, that he posted from time to time at CA and sent me an email wondering WTF was happening at UEA on Nov18 and sent a paper on isotopes to Jeff Id. I’m trying to figure out why his name was released. Was it because he wouldn’t sign a pro-Jones petition?

    • Charlie A
      Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 2:06 AM | Permalink

      The leaking of his name as being under investigation has a rotten smell about it. I think there should be an investigation into who leaked info about Paul Dennis.

      It’s sad when things have deteriorated to the point where a scientist is being singled out as a suspect for 1) sending you an e-mail regarding rumors and a widely disseminated staff memo, 2) sending a copy of a paper to Jeff Id, and 3) failing to bow to peer pressure and sign some petitions.

      Where aren’t all the UEA faculty out there screaming about academic freedom?

    • Alberto
      Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 2:35 AM | Permalink

      On Biship Hill’s blog, Paul Dennis denies this:

      “I have no idea how, who or why the files were released.”

  8. You know who
    Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 9:07 PM | Permalink

    Very first sentence refers to Cicerone as “Sir Humphrey”. About at the level of calling Tea Party advocates, Teabaggers. Oh…but no foodfights wanted, right?

    OK to be flippant as long as you are the one doing it, right. As long as it is on your “side”.

    Steve: However I agree that irony is difficult to handle and doesn’t always work. Many commenters on my “side” can’t pull it off and I often snip such comments. I think that I’ve got a lighter touch than most participants on either side. But I recognize that efforts at irony don’t always work and I’ve responded from time to time to reader requests to edit out such rhetorical flourishes. And I try to avoid such flourishes in technical posts. But it’s not a matter of whose “side” it’s on. Virtually all of the posts that I snip or delete are “supportive” of me, but are piling on. I’ve adopted a much harder editorial policy on such things than I used to have. I’m far less likely to snip or delete adversarial posts, unless they become repetitive. I think that the Sir Humphrey analogy rises above mere name calling in this case as it illuminates Cicerone’s action. On reflection, I agree with your point against its use in the first sentence and have removed this use. (I haven’t marked the deletion with a strikethrough, because in my view that is itself a form of namecalling and if it’s right to remove the use, then it should be removed in the text and noted in the comments as I’ve done here.)

    • You know who
      Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 11:15 PM | Permalink


      Now give a link (or at least a reference) for where the recent Cicerone comments were made. Remember that this is the whole excuse to hang the rerun on…without it, it really is 100% rerun.

      • You know who
        Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 11:32 PM | Permalink

        Here is the Science editorial where Cicerone’s remarks are quoted: (readable with free registration)

        I think Cicerone’s remarks are reasonable.


        • Pat Frank
          Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 9:04 PM | Permalink

          The irony likely driving Steve’s attention is that Cicerone’s statements of principle now are at ethical variance with his actions previously.

          One is legitimately led to wonder whether the turn-about is for public consumption and driven by an endangering exposure. On a positive note, the article shows that Dr. Cicerone is, after all, familiar with the ethical standards of science.

          We’re now in a position to ask him why they were not previously enforced at PNAS, or asserted by the NAS, when the need was immediate.

  9. justbeau
    Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 9:38 PM | Permalink

    I do not know any reason for Pauchauri to re-sign. He only works for a UN advisory group.

    Since Cicerone is head of the National Academy of Sciences, vastly more should be expected. Cicerone has demonstrated lack of respect for the methodologies and practice of science. Given an opportunity to uphold these, he did not. Cicerone seems vastly more unfit for his responsibilities than is the UN’s Love Guru for his.
    One former president of the NAS, Frederick Seitz, understood the Global Warming theology for what it is. Seitz offers a far more honorable example and will be more kindly remembered by historians.

    • Not really
      Posted Apr 30, 2010 at 10:55 AM | Permalink

      Well, not really. Seitz is going to be remembered for going off the rails on the climate issue and being wrong.

  10. Oslo
    Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 9:45 PM | Permalink

    “Sir Humphrey” is obviously an overlooked poet in the pre-victorian style, except for the lack of rhyme and meter in his fluffy rambelings.

  11. PhilJourdan
    Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 10:04 PM | Permalink

    vg – it is not Dennis. I think it was on Anthony’s site they discussed this, and basically Paul Dennis is very amused by the whole thing.

    As am I.

  12. derek
    Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 10:22 PM | Permalink

    All i have to say is if scientists climate work could potentially influence world policy ( your work should be able to be reviewed)for accuracy.

  13. John D
    Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 10:22 PM | Permalink

    If this improved air of openness and sharing does occur, what shape will it take? Will it include just the data? How will we know if it includes all the data? How will they reconcile data that has been lost or deleted?

  14. Brian Macker
    Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 10:34 PM | Permalink

    My grammar processor exploded on that second sentence and I’m still blotting blood from my nose. You might want to do something about that.

    Steve: Yup. I tried a re-write, but it’s stll ugly, but not as ugly.

    • Paul Penrose
      Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 11:13 PM | Permalink

      That is a mouthful, isn’t it?

  15. Pat Frank
    Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 11:15 PM | Permalink

    Let’s also recall that Ralph Cicerone, as president of the NAS, was also the reviewer of Hansen’s ‘warmest in a million years’ article in PNAS (free access), which Steve posted on here and here, showing that Hansen, et al., spliced an Indian Ocean foraminiferal Mg proxy with a resolution of ~1000 years, onto the modern temperature record with a resolution of 1 year; connecting ~4300 BP with 1870 CE. Guess they had identical annual temperatures with a 4000 year hiatus.

    Steve observed that, “Hansen’s alignment of 1870 SST to the lowest value in the Holocene Optimum is completely arbitrary – on what basis can this alignment be justified? 1870 is still emerging from the LIA; why couldn’t 1870 SST be significantly lower than Holocene Optimum values? If the alignment were different, then it’s really hard to say what the relationship is between modern warming and the Holocene Optimum.”

    Hmm . . . a completely arbitrary splice decorating a reviewed paper in PNAS. Guess this central disqualifier somehow wasn’t relevant to Ralph Cicerone, president of the NAS, while operating in his disinterested reviewer mode.

    I recall thinking at the time that it was so nice to see Ralph Cicerone, president of the NAS, arbitrarily and in an unbiased way, grant such kind personal attention to a manuscript submitted to PNAS.

  16. vg
    Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 11:37 PM | Permalink

    Steve you are 100% correct. Shows we/myself shouldn’t be jumping to conclusions based on overeager journalists ie Delingpole
    From the man himself
    Taken from Bishop Hill blog just now
    “I have no idea how, who or why the files were released. The police were perfectly civil and indeed very interested in some of my science.
    February 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commenter Paul Dennis

  17. You know who
    Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 11:41 PM | Permalink

    Hey Steve, I know you can’t “command” Anthony Watts to do anything…but how about requesting that he:

    *disavow the Basil solar analyses (that are still supposedly being researched…off there with Dan Rather looking for the memos maybe and OJ looking for the real killer).

    *finish his paint screen experiments or pull back from the leading remarks he gushed out with.

    *stop running all those “it was cold today stories”

    *put the info back on line of the results to date of his site survey

    [This is in analogy to your wanting Cicerone to write scientists for you.] 🙂

    • Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 1:07 PM | Permalink

      You know who —

      Why don’t you ask Anthony directly, rather than pestering Steve?

      Could you be trying to score rhetorical points?


      The more crap you put up with, the more crap you are going to get.

    • Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 7:04 PM | Permalink

      Re: You know who (Feb 4 23:41),

      And this contributes exactly what to the issues at hand? The survival of the planet does not depend on whether Anthony Watts plays nice with others on his own blog. If all you have to contribute is petty whining, maybe you should move on.

  18. jae
    Posted Feb 4, 2010 at 11:55 PM | Permalink

    snip – please don’t get into this sort of OT argument

  19. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 12:17 AM | Permalink

    I’ve tried over the years to maintain some focus on the various enablers of prima donna behavior by scientists – the bureaucrats at NSF who’ve abandoned their obligations to require scientists to comply with federal regulations on data archiving; bureaucrats like Cicerone who ask for yet another study on data archiving rather than even enforcing PNAS policies. I think that I’ve made it clear from time to time that I have a greater disdain at the bureaucrats not doing their job than to the scientists taking advantage of the abysmal compliance administration. At the same time, I try very hard not to be angry about such things and ask and recommend and ask that readers not to be angry.

    In the present situation, I think that it’s entirely valid to recap Cicerone’s actions. People like Mann and Jones have flourished in an environment fostered by Cicerone and his ilk. Cicerone had the opportunity to do things – not because I asked for them, but because they were the right thing to do. They were exactly the things that Cicerone is now saying should be done. I see no harm in writing about this.

    • You know who
      Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 12:48 AM | Permalink

      That’s actually a decent point. And I am in sympathy to it. But just doing a rehash is not the way to be non-angry and make points, Steve. It comes across a lot more like you are just using your blog as a trumpet.

      • theduke
        Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 12:57 AM | Permalink

        Re: You know who (Feb 5 00:48),

        Oh how trite. “Non-angry?” LOL. I’ve never seen Steve angry except at those of us who post off topic or on policy.

        Blogs are trumpets. Some sing louder than others. Deal with it.

      • Pat Frank
        Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 1:43 AM | Permalink

        Pious posturing by accessories before the fact should be publicly and widely noticed. Steve is entirely right to bring that notice, and you entirely wrong to dismiss it.

      • geronimo
        Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 2:19 AM | Permalink

        Actually YKW I think you’re nitpicking. Keep to the big picture. If you want to see Isaac Newton’s data and methods, all his notebooks, workings and conclusions are available for you to read. The same for hundreds of thousands of scientists, because it is normal scientific practice to keep them available for other scientists and the public to see. (In fact it is a little self-serving because every scientist wants to be so successful that future generations will want to see how they got to their conclusions). What we have here is the deliberate and wilful refusal to share data and methods with others, which if not a scientific “crime” flies in the face of thousands of years of real scientific practice. The guardian of this practice in the US is Cicerone (like the Royal Society in the UK) and he’s signally failed to do this part of his job. The comparison with Sir Humphrey is apt and accuraate. As well as being funny, Cicerone has let science down, being laughed at is probably the least of his problems now, history is unlikely to be as sympathetic as you are.

      • Another Layman Lurker
        Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 7:56 AM | Permalink

        Actually, I thought it more like a clarinet with several noteworthy recapitulations.

        Coincidentally, I’ve been checking the Australian Academy of Science website in the last few days hoping for some statement along the lines that Cicerone has made. BTW, Steve’s link to his statement worked for me. Nothing there which is not surprising given its stated position on AGW, but disappointing as I agree with Steve about it being the right thing to do for a science peak body.

        One other comment re the opening sentence. Dot/numbered points overcome Germanic length sentences.

      • DaveG
        Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 9:22 AM | Permalink

        YKW is right here, I think. This post has nothing new to say and has the rather unpleasant, personal and sneering tone characteristic of the worst of Steve’s posting. It reads like a grudge being nursed rather than an insight into anything useful.

        Steve, I thought your blog improved a lot after your visit to Georgia Tech. You started to stick to science and left out the personal stuff. Lately, you have been slipping back. Try to stick to the facts and let them speak for themselves. Perhaps even publish a paper or two?

        • Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 10:20 AM | Permalink

          I find this post on the NAS President informative. For me, as a scientist who may consider PNAS for publication of future papers, it is important to know what type of policies are conducted there (with respect to data archiving and in general) and who is conducting them. As an external observer, I found nothing personal in this post, just a an accurate description of what people should have done and what they did not. Demagogy and bureaucracy flourish when people around are silent. If these evils are scrupulously, methodically exposed and brought to sunlight, things may change for the better. Doing this does demand time and energy, so people who are writing papers in the meantime should, in my view, be grateful to Steve McIntyre who is doing the job the scientific community should have been doing themselves.

          Perhaps OT: “Publishing papers” and “sticking to science” are not the same things. My guess is that quite many “scientists” concerned about “publishing papers” may not have ever in their lives “sticked to science” as closely as Steve McIntyre is doing in his blog.

        • Jimchip
          Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 1:24 PM | Permalink

          Re: Anastassia Makarieva (Feb 5 10:20),

          This is just anecdotal evidence from conversations with a few inside NAS and outside NAS scientists but publication in PNAS requires 1. A NAS member collaborator and 2. ?, Hmmmm…

          There isn’t much “gauntlet of peer review”. Maybe some clean-up the grammar stuff. Or, maybe a chance for some infighting amongst the NAS club. It’s the NAS ‘club journal’, and admittedly, the club are prestigious scientists.

        • TomY
          Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 11:10 PM | Permalink

          The topic of this post seems highly relevant to me. The principal finding of the Climategate emails is that the “consensus” seems to have been cooked, at least in part. How did that disastrous state of affairs come to pass?

      • Patrick Garcia
        Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 3:56 PM | Permalink

        It appears that many times bureaucrats/scientists say things like the data if publicly available when it’ not,or make public statements of the importance of sharing data for verification but do the opposite. Climategate has provided the opportunity to change this in a big way but letting these people get off the hook by simply making great sounding press releases may result in a missed opportunity for real change. CA is about accountability so I belive Steve is correct in bringing these points forward.

    • Jimchip
      Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 12:52 PM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (Feb 5 00:17),

      Let me put in a plug for the recaps, the backstory references, etc. It’s one thing to read climateaudit (I mean topics from the past…the deep, ancient, past) and then a different thing trying to recall the ‘ancient’ relevant topics for the sake of the ‘newest’ topic. In normal conversation people will say, “Remember when [whatever]” as a clue to the backstory so that it can be carried forward.

      And (this is no joke, IMO), lot’s of CRUTeam papers were written by adding one new data point to the old dataset and saying in Nature or Science “Wow, Look what we did again”. That’s not check-kiting and I don’t have the term but that scientific tactic is more appropriate to a one-year summary in the grey lit rather than a ‘wow’ paper.

      • TSL
        Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 1:53 PM | Permalink

        I think the term you’re looking for is LPU, Least Publishable Unit.

        • Jimchip
          Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 4:09 PM | Permalink

          Re: TSL (Feb 5 13:53),

          That’s too sciency. I’m trying for something financial or business like. Steve Mc’s “check-kiting of data” was so apropos.

  20. theduke
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 12:33 AM | Permalink

    From, April,2009:

    Congress has asked the U.S. National Academy of Sciences to conduct special studies through the year 2010 – focused on climate change. Here’s National Academy of Sciences president, Ralph Cicerone, speaking at a March 2009 summit centered on America’s climate choices.

    Ralph Cicerone: This is a study that was requested by the United States Congress basically to analyze the latest information on climate and to give some policy guidance to the federal government on what actions they should take to deal with climate change to limit its scope and to adapt to whatever does happen.

    Cicerone said the urgency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels is clear.

    Ralph Cicerone: It’s really long overdue because the United States has wasted a lot of time in getting started. Probably what’s going to be required is a series of actions, a lot of them having to do with energy efficiency and energy technology that are not going to happen in one month.

    EarthSky asked, what’s the most important thing about climate change people today should know?

    Ralph Cicerone: That it’s real. We’ve seen the big signs. Now we’re trying to figure out better what’s happening in everybody’s individual geographical region and then to try and limit it. It’s going to take from everybody. That’s the big message: how much understanding and cooperation and commitment it’s going to take from everybody.

    Our thanks to:
    Ralph Cicerone
    National Academy of Sciences
    Washington, DC

  21. Charlie A
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 12:38 AM | Permalink

    Steve, it sounds like Lonnie Thompson and you have a history with the PNAS stuff and all.

    So you might appreciate the humor in him being the 2nd in the list of authors of Mass loss on Himalayan glacier endangers water resources”, Kehrwald, etal (with et al including Lonnie Thompson). Geophysical Research Letters Vol 35.
    doi:10.1029/2008GL035556 and available freely as pdf at

    Click to access Kehrwald%20et%20al%202008.pdf

    It has many serious errors, including:

    “The surface area of glaciers across the TP is
    projected to decrease from 500,000 km2 measured in 1995
    to 100,000 km2 in 2030 [Cruz et al., 2007],”

    Cruz et al 2007 is AR4, WG2, Chapter 10 of Himalayan Glacier fame.

    The Kehrwald/Thompsom article also uses the a 2003 CD put out by the World Resources Inc as the source for
    “These glaciers seasonally release meltwater into tributaries of the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra Rivers with glacial melt contributing up to
    ~45% of the total river flow”

    The science on looking for the remnants of fallout from atomic bomb tests to determine mass loss looks good, but then the article uses AR4 and to jump to spectacular, alarmist conclusions about the effect on glacier disappearance, and the effect glacier disappearance would have on the water supply.

  22. theduke
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 12:52 AM | Permalink

    The “Cicerone writes today:” link is not working.

  23. You know who
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 1:04 AM | Permalink

    Steve, you write: “I then wrote to Gerry North who, to his credit, agreed to write to the various authors.
    This praise seems to have been undeserved, as North’s purported agreement seems to have been a “trick” – in fact, he seems to have done nothing.”

    Seems very en passant wandering thought. First you use Cicerone’s editorial as an excuse to rehash previous kvetches…then North gets included as well?

  24. mark
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 4:18 AM | Permalink

    Thought you might like to have a read of this article written in the Spectator.

    Matt Ridley salutes the bloggers who changed the climate debate. While most of Fleet Street kowtowed to the green lobby, online amateurs uncovered the spin and deception that finally cracked the consensus…..

    ….Stephen McIntyre, a retired mining consultant and keen squash player in Toronto. Because he keeps catching errors in their work, McIntyre is the sceptic the climate scientists most love to hate, even though he is scrupulously polite and insists that the followers on his website,, are too…..

  25. dearieme
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 4:38 AM | Permalink

    Years ago a leading British politician said that she’d had experience of four types of politics- National, Local, Medical and Church: of these the dirtiest was Church politics. I wonder where she’d have rated Science politics?

  26. Faustino
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 6:41 AM | Permalink

    Having long public service experiemnce in central agencies, I often found Sir Humphrey too close to the bone to be funny – more doumentary than satire at times. A follow-up series based on the IPCC et al rather than Whitehall would be worthwhile.

  27. Jimchip
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 8:06 AM | Permalink

    Re: “Later this month, at the 2010 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Diego, NAS and AAAS will lead a discussion…”

    I’ll be interested in reading the AAAS president’s Keynote Address wrt any climate science. Last year’s, repeated as a rehash in a Dec. Science, IIRC, wasn’t quite as bad as some recent Nature editorials but compared current debate wrt to Climate Science to the debates wrt to Evolution. My take on it was ‘climate deniers’=’evolution deniers’. The address raved [hey, it was The Year of Darwin] about evolution and then segued to the consensus view of climate change. Recent Science news and/or commentary on papers [not the papers themselves, e.g. Morris Bender, et al] are still spouting the old party line.

    The discussion anticipated will be reported on in Science. It will be one thing to be at the meeting (I predict one should get there early, SRO) and then to read about the consensus reached when AAAS and NAS tackled those tough issues.

    Spin, spin, spin.

  28. EdB
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 9:21 AM | Permalink

    Steve, you are a funny guy! Your reporting of this history is VERY important for the thousands of journalists who now visit this site. They need to see the tricks used by the establishment to keep everyone dumbed down, including the journalists themselves!

  29. Dave
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 9:25 AM | Permalink

    I wonder if this is a good time to remind people what was said in one of the CRU emails.
    To: Chapter 10 LAs — Congbin Fu , GIORGI FILIPPO , Bruce Hewitson , Mike Hulme , Jens Christensen , Linda Mearns , Richard Jones , Hans von Storch , Peter Whetton
    Subject: On “what to do?”
    Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2000 16:58:02 +0200 (MET DST)
    To: Chapter 10 LAs — Congbin Fu , GIORGI FILIPPO , Bruce Hewitson , Mike Hulme , Jens Christensen , Linda Mearns , Richard Jones , Hans von Storch , Peter Whetton
    Subject: On “what to do?”
    Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2000 16:58:02 +0200 (MET DST)
    First let me say that in general, as my own opinion, I feel rather
    unconfortable about using not only unpublished but also un reviewed
    material as the backbone of our conclusions (or any conclusions).
    I realize that chapter 9
    is including SRES stuff, and thus we can and need to do that too, but the
    fact is that in doing so the rules of IPCC have been softened to the point
    that in this way the IPCC is not any more an assessment of published science
    (which is its proclaimed goal) but production of results.
    The softened condition that the models
    themself have to be published does not even apply because the Japanese
    model for example is very different from the published one which gave results
    not even close to the actual outlier version (in the old dataset the CCC model
    was the outlier). Essentially, I feel that at this point there are very
    little rules and almost
    anything goes. I think this will set a dangerous precedent which might mine the
    IPCC credibility, and I am a bit unconfortable
    that now nearly everybody seems to think that it is just ok to do this.
    Anyways, this is only my opinion for what it is worth.

  30. TAC
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 9:55 AM | Permalink

    I think Steve has pegged Cicerone correctly. Cicerone is smart, articulate and politically astute, and he is now being forced to face a very difficult situation. Michael Mann’s misbehavior has created a nightmare for him. Sir Humphrey may offer his best chance for survival.

    By chance, in July 2006 I found myself sitting next to Cicerone at the Barton Committee hearing. The Committee was hearing testimony about the validity of the “hockey stick”; the witness list included Wegman, McIntyre, von Storch, North, Tom Karl and Tom Crowley (filling in for Michael Mann, who could not attend because, IIRC, he was “on vacation with his family” [??!!]).

    I told Cicerone that I was surprised he was not “up there testifying.” He looked stunned — as if the idea had never crossed his mind.

    My interpretation then, and now, is that Cicerone saw clearly what was going on, and had already decided that the safest strategy was to pretend to be an innocent bystander.

  31. Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 9:57 AM | Permalink

    If any AAAS members are reading this, please consider lobbying for improvements to access.
    “Later this month, at the 2010 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Diego, NAS and AAAS will lead a discussion of these important issues, examine points raised by the UEA/CRU situation, review best practices, and encourage scientists to develop standards for data access that work in their fields. The outcome of this special session must be explicit actions, as scientists must do much more now, and with urgency, to demonstrate that science is indeed self-correcting and worthy of the public’s trust.”

    I created a strawman from the journals Nature & Science. I have taken exerpts from Science and Nature publication policies, deletions are lined out and insertions are in bold. I welcome comments.

    From Nature & Science,
    An inherent principle of publication is that others should be able to replicate and build upon the authors’ published claims. Supporting data, defined as all data,methods & software necessary to understand, assess, replicate and extend the conclusions of the manuscript must be available to any reader.

    From Science:
    Science supports the efforts of databases that aggregate published data for the use of the scientific community. Therefore, appropriate supporting data sets (including microarray data, protein or DNA sequences, atomic coordinates or electron microscopy maps for macromolecular structures, and climate data) must be deposited in an approved database, and an accession number or a specific access address must be included in the published paper.

    From Nature:
    Supporting data must be made available to editors and peer-reviewers at the time of submission for the purposes of evaluating the manuscript. Peer-reviewers may will be asked required to comment on the terms of access to materials, methods and/or data sets; Nature journals reserve the right to refuse publication in cases where authors do not provide adequate assurances that they can comply with the journal’s requirements for sharing materials. have not archived all supporting data in an approved publicly available database.

    The following paragraph from Nature, if the previous paragraph is adhered to, should be unnecessary:

    “After publication, readers who encounter refusal by the authors to comply with these policies should contact the chief editor of the journal (or the chief biology/chief physical sciences editors in the case of Nature). In cases where editors are unable to resolve a complaint, the journal may refer the matter to the authors’ funding institution and/or publish a formal statement of correction, attached online to the publication, stating that readers have been unable to obtain necessary materials to replicate the findings.”

    Granted, there may be exceptions, and the one from Science should be included.

    “Any restrictions on the availability of data or materials, including fees and original data obtained from other sources (Materials Transfer Agreements), must be disclosed to the editors upon submission. Fossils or other rare specimens must be deposited in a public museum or repository and available for research.”

    Personally, I had a 40 year career in engineering where we went through paper records, microfilm, microfiche, and computer tapes to today’s digital storage. Today it is so simple and if one is well organized and disciplined, files can be arcived in minutes and available worldwide. The key to the advancement of science is beinge able to build on previous work. As Newton said, “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

    I personally would like to see the source of funding stated in the abstract of any publication.

  32. Dr Iain McQueen
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

    Ralph Cicerone is President of the United States National Academy of Sciences. That is a substantial and very influential position to hold. When, as here referred, he gives evidence to the public of taking a new position personally in regard to the openness of scientific debate, it must be regarded as a fundamental shift in the establishment’s viewpoint. The issue about independent assessment of science concerning a matter of universal importance to humanity (so we are told) is crucial. Cicerone is acknowledging this, in contrast to his previous behaviour.
    It is highly noteworthy, and certainly merits this review. Steve may be appear to be ‘crowing a little’, but this is not the point, nor I suspect his intention. It so happens that he has been through it all before, and furthermore at the very front of the battleground, and here is a little vindication. But this is a vitally important shift in the reaction of the establishment which deserves attention. If ‘big time science’ is trying to encourage objectivity and reduction in partisan reaction, and is heard to do so in this context, a very important step in the way the politicians will behave has occurred, provided the PNAS follows it through.
    I have no problems with a little gentle irony, and find it remarkable and laudable that Steve can retain a quiet humour concerning the whole debacle.

  33. Snapple
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 10:48 AM | Permalink

    CRU scientists are posting about you.

    [RomanM: This is indeed old news. Try looking here for a post by Steve on this issue.]

    • Dave Dardinger
      Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 11:34 AM | Permalink

      Re: Snapple (Feb 5 10:48),

      I suspect there will be a new posting by Steve on this rather soon. But now I need to read the actual article by Briffa, etc.

      • Dave Dardinger
        Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 11:43 AM | Permalink

        Re: Dave Dardinger (Feb 5 11:34),

        Oh never mind. This paper came out in Oct, 2009. Steve has already discussed it. If someone would be so kind as to provide the citation for Snapple.

    • Skip Smith
      Posted Feb 6, 2010 at 4:21 AM | Permalink

      Don’t even give this guy any traffic. He’s an insignificant latecomer trying to attract attention to himself.

  34. Dr Iain McQueen
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 11:04 AM | Permalink

    There are two things at the heart of this:
    1. The need to review the anthropogenicity of possible uncontrollable global warming – is the matter settled or not?
    2. The unhindered ability to do so – ie access to the data and methods.
    That is why this is so important

  35. brent
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 11:24 AM | Permalink

    If you’re going to do good science, release the computer code too

    • Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 7:00 PM | Permalink

      Re: brent (Feb 5 11:24),

      So, if you are publishing research articles that use computer programs, if you want to claim that you are engaging in science, the programs are in your possession and you will not release them then I would not regard you as a scientist; I would also regard any papers based on the software as null and void.

      It’s nice to see someone, somewhere finally take the line Steve has been proclaiming for years now. One would have thought that it would have been a given.

  36. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 11:59 AM | Permalink

    People are far too quick to interpret posts as evidence of “grudges”. I think that I stay pretty cheerful, so I don’t know why people interpret anger in things that I write. In this particular case, I didn’t, for example, have a “grudge” about Cicerone re-framing the terms of reference. This sort of thing interests me as an activity. It’s also worth reporting. Look, I expect Sir Humphrey’s to be Sir Humphrey’s. It doesn’t bother me or make me angry or lead me to hold grudges. It’s the way the world works.

    After the NAS panel report (and this was after my Sir Humphrey post), I wrote a thank you letter to Cicerone expressing my appreciation for their work, recognizing that the panel had done their work in good faith, something that I didn’t necessarily attribute to all people in the field. Cicerone responded with a nice letter acknowledging the thank you note – mentioning that such a note was a rarity. We had a nice conversation at the second House Energy and Commerce Committee session.

    As to the post, I do chronologies like this all the time to keep things in context. The events mentioned in this post are spread over several years and multiple blog posts. Yes, they repeat past history, but it’s history that’s relevant in the present context. And yes, there’s a personal aspect to the history – mainly because that’s what I know and what I can write about quickly. At present, I have no plans to research all of Cicerone’s past pronouncements on data archiving; IMO the present information is enough to shed light on his prior views.

    • You know who
      Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 1:02 PM | Permalink

      Whole lot more “then” and a lot less “now”.

      You have about 20% of the post on the new comments by Cicerone, and then the last 80%, several-paragraph post is just a rerun. This is using your blog as a trumpet to just sound a cry again. You could have written a shorter post and just noted the new article and given some links to the previous postings. Instead, you just wheeled the whole thing out of the garage again. And you didn’t even have a link or a REFERENCE to the Science editorial up for the first half day or so.

      • Neil Fisher
        Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 4:28 PM | Permalink

        Re: You know who (Feb 5 13:02),

        Heh. It’s somewhat amusing and extremely ironic that you keep making posts explaining over and over again that Steve is repeating himself, rather than simply posting a link to your previous comments about this, as you suggest Steve should do.

        Just sayin’…

    • Michael Smith
      Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 2:20 PM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (Feb 5 11:59),

      Steve, I for one appreciate these recaps — because even though I’ve been a fairly regular reader of the blog for the past few years, there is still much I don’t know about the “backstory” that forms the context of today’s events. I almost always learn something new from these summaries, so that makes them useful to me.

    • Fred Harwood
      Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 3:29 PM | Permalink

      Recapitulations are very helpful to busy long-term readers.

  37. David L. Hagen
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 12:07 PM | Permalink

    Potential History of Science dissertation topic:
    Interdependence of science policies and public opinion regarding climate science.

  38. CharlieT
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 1:06 PM | Permalink

    OT- But there is a cheering article by Matt Ridley in this weeks Spectator magazine, titled “The global warming guerrillas”

  39. rational optimist
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 1:33 PM | Permalink

    Interesting piece in the Guardian by a software engineer at a university criticising the failure to archive computer code

  40. Stacey
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 1:49 PM | Permalink

    @Charlie T

    Dear Steve

    This post by Charlie T above is about one of the best articles I have come across in the MSM about your work, Anthony Watts and others.

  41. Stacey
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 2:04 PM | Permalink

    @ You Know Who

    This blog is by Steve McIntyre and of course he can wheel any car out of any garage at any time, even a Toyota.

    I understand your frustration, now that your belief system is in imminent danger of collapsing but having read your posts above, you really need to lighten up, become more positive and not so hyper critical about this blog. Hey you could even try to contribute something positive.

    Have a good weekend.

  42. Grumpy Old Man
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 2:26 PM | Permalink

    Dear Steve. Came here after reading Mountford, “Climategate and the Corruption of Science.” If I sit in the corner and don’t make a noise, can I join?

    • Another Layman Lurker
      Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 9:23 PM | Permalink

      The Antipodean corner of the Lurker’s Gallery welcomes Grumpy Old Man. Good book that, keep it handy while lurking.

      • Grumpy Old Man
        Posted Feb 6, 2010 at 3:06 PM | Permalink

        Thanks for the welcome, though as my ancestors never raised rebellion or met Judge Jefferies, I’m not sure I qualify.

  43. Manfred
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 2:44 PM | Permalink

    Here are some exerpts from the Texas A&M University Code of conduct:

    “As members of the Aggie Community – whether as students, faculty or staff – we aspire to excellence in all that we do.”

    “System board members and system employees have the responsibility to conduct themselves in accordance with the highest standards and to embrace the principles of honesty, accountability, respect and trust. They must ensure that their integrity is of the highest caliber and their conduct is indisputable and beyond reproach.”

    [B]System board members and system employees:

    “6. Shall act impartially and not give preferential treatment to any private or public organization or individual.”[/B]

    Click to access 07-01.pdf

    no try to combine this with Gerald North’s conduct, assuming he:

    – ackowledged the Wegmann findings only under oath

    – did not even read the CRU emails or know about the software

    – does not follow climateaudit or try to verify/falsify their findings,
    despite all claims of climateaudit were proven to be correct in 2006,
    despite Michael Mann’s analysis at that time was labeled in sum as “bad science”, and his failure to share data was strongly critizised,
    despite this site is known to claim to have rejected the results of most if not all subsequent hockeystick studies.

    – evaded to comment on the importance of the divergence problem to tree ring analysis in general.

    Wouldn’t this be sufficient to report wrongdoing?

    • WillR
      Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 4:49 PM | Permalink

      Re: Manfred (Feb 5 14:44),

      More to the point for this thread is this section on Good Lab practices and similar.

      However, I went through the A&M codes and ethics compliance it is not without flaws, but overall it is a good foundation for everything from study and lab standards to compliance and enforcement. A&M has done a pretty good job in my opinion — especially re quality control officers and compliance officers. They are serious it seems.

      Perhaps Steve could make a recommendation to Cicerone after a review.

      A lot of this would be more relevant to the previous thread.

      What I did not see were standards for data access for study duplication — but I suspect they are there — I only had abut 10 minutes to review the pdfs.

      For compliance etc. see the code of conduct as suggested.

    • Craig Loehle
      Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 7:43 PM | Permalink

      Even under aggie code of ethics, hiding one’s head in the sand does not appear actionable.

  44. geo
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 4:33 PM | Permalink

    Re Cicerone, one must always allow for the possibility of a “late vocation”!

    If the primary longterm fallout of Climategate is a significant, broad-based, and long-lasting improvement in data/code archiving to allow for relatively easy replication and analysis of the appropriateness (or otherwise) of data and methods used, then it will be a major victory for science, whatever the fallout on our understanding of what is happening, and how sure we are about being able to prove it, about the climate. There would be no need for FOIA in this area if that were done. There would also be a lot better work being done, because these guys would document their work *in advance* of publication rather than be embarrassed. And really, it ought to be axiomatic that if the method and data can’t be proven to be “robust”, than neither can the results. . .

  45. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Feb 5, 2010 at 5:34 PM | Permalink

    Anastassia Makararieva, you might want to reconsider the case for the perpetuum mobile with my case in point, You Know Who. Once set in motion, and often by attention garnered from Steve M , there appears to be no definite end.

  46. Barclay E MacDonald
    Posted Feb 6, 2010 at 5:16 AM | Permalink

    Steve M. I’m trying to figure out why you are so attentively responding to YKW’s posts. They are nothing more than a series of personal attacks against you that are completely unpersuasive and add nothing to the respective thread.

    You are indeed patient and focused. Yes, this post is a helpful refresher of previous posts, nicely puts current statements in context, and saves readers the trouble of having to research posts from many months ago, but permits us to do so, as our interest and time constraints permit.

    • Grumpy Old Man
      Posted Feb 6, 2010 at 3:20 PM | Permalink

      Look at the way Steve constructively uses YKW’s posts. For Steve, YKW is the gift who keeps on giving.

  47. Michael L Geronime
    Posted Feb 6, 2010 at 9:53 AM | Permalink

    Steve McIntyre,

    I love your use of Sir Humphrey, from the show “Yes, Minister,” to make your point. I loved Sir Humphrey in that excellent, intellectually stimulating show. By bringing it up, a lot of good memories of Sir Humphrey and his Minister have been coming back to me. Thank you.

    BTW, I am not a scientist, just an interested observer. I read about you, and Ross McKitrick, “the two M’s” (and your troubles in getting the climate change scientists to behave like real scientists, accepting challenges to their hypotheses) in the article “Two Inconvenient Canadians: The Unlikely Men Who Shook Up Global-Warming Science” in National Review (February 8, 2010).

    Keep up the good work! We need more real science in this debate — snip

  48. David L. Hagen
    Posted Feb 6, 2010 at 8:58 PM | Permalink

    To understand Cicerone’s “clarity and transparency must be reinforced to build and maintain trust” see Terence Corcoran: If the IPCC were Toyota February 06, 2010 National Post

  49. Another Layman Lurker
    Posted Feb 7, 2010 at 7:59 AM | Permalink

  50. Eric Rasmusen
    Posted Feb 9, 2010 at 10:55 AM | Permalink

    Cicerone said, “Clarity and transparency must be reinforced to build and maintain trust.”

    That’s a classic example of why the passive voice is bad writing style (sorry, scientists, I know you’re taught to write badly on purpose). It allows the writer to avoid saying WHO does the action. What we’d like to see is:

    “Someone should reinforce Clarity and transparency to build and maintain trust.”

    or, better,

    “Authors of articles should reinforce clarity and transparency to build and maintain trust.”


    “Journal editors should reinforce clarity and transparency to build and maintain trust.”

    or, better,

    “The National Academy of Sciences should reinforce Clarity and transparency to build and maintain trust.”

    or, best,

    “I should have reinforced clarity and transparency to build and maintain trust.”

    • Grumpy Old Man
      Posted Feb 9, 2010 at 5:00 PM | Permalink

      Dear Eric. This is the way bureaucrats are taught to write. It avoids the taking or giving of responsibility and allows the bureaucrat to maintain the fiction of being an advisor to the Executive rather than being an executive himself. This is why things happen in time-lines of glacial movement in bureaucracies. If a bureaucrat makes a decision, terms of reference have been overstepped.

  51. Posted Mar 17, 2010 at 12:06 AM | Permalink

    Thanks for putting up a freely and openly available copy of the editorial by Ralph J. Cicerone in Science magazine “Ensuring Integrity in Science” at

    Note that the abstract is here:

4 Trackbacks

  1. By Top Posts — on Feb 6, 2010 at 7:08 PM

    […] Cicerone Then and Now Ralph Cicerone, President of the US National Academy of Sciences, has weighed in on the CRU and data sharing […] […]

  2. By Weblog » The Passive Voice and ClimateGate on Feb 9, 2010 at 10:59 AM

    […] a comment of mine at Climate Audit about the President of the National Academy of […]

  3. […] And you still don’t seem to get it. You approvingly quote Ralph Cicerone about the importance of transparency … Cicerone?? That’s a sick joke. […]

  4. […] And you still don’t seem to get it. You approvingly quote Ralph Cicerone about the importance of transparency … Cicerone?? That’s a sick joke. […]

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