Curry on the “Inquiries”

The majority of the climate science “community” appear to be so desperate for affection that they’ve proclaimed wind utility chairman Oxburgh’s love to the rooftops merely because of a few sweet nothings whispered in their ears. (Words of love so soft and tender.) Their gratitude is so great that they are willing to overlook the embarrassing brevity of Oxburgh’s report, Oxburgh’s negligible due diligence and failure to address any of the questions that were actually at issue.

Judy Curry has not compromised her standards.

Uniquely among the “community”, she’s noted the embarrassing brevity of the Oxburgh “report”:

When I first read the report, I thought I was reading the executive summary and proceeded to look for the details; well, there weren’t any.

Uniquely within the “community”, she realized that Oxburgh avoided the questions that were at issue:

And I was concerned that the report explicitly did not address the key issues that had been raised by the skeptics. … I recall reading this statement from one of the blogs, which seems especially apt: the fire department receives report of a fire in the kitchen; upon investigating the living room, they declare that there is no fire in the house.

She even picked up on an interesting loose end – that the provenance of the selection of the eleven “key” papers (the ones in the living room) remains “unknown”. (Thus far, the Royal Society has been highly evasive, to say the least, when asked to confirm Oxburgh’s claim that the eleven “key” papers were selected on the advice of the Royal Society. Despite supposed commitments to openness and transparency, the Royal Society has refused to identify the person at the Royal Society who made the selection or what criteria were used or to repudiate the claim in the Oxburgh report that the eleven were selected on the “advice of the Royal Society”.)

But the “community” doesn’t care about such things. It’s springtime and Oxburgh loves them. And the newspapers will respect them in the morning.

Read Judy’s trenchant comments in full.


  1. justbeau
    Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 10:14 AM | Permalink

    It could seem a little bit of a PR problem for spinmaster Gavin when another climate scientist offers ethical doubts about the whitewashes and shows an independant streak.

  2. Ted Swart
    Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 10:33 AM | Permalink

    Although Judy Curry’s trenchant comments are a delight to read I am still completely puzzled by the lack of emphasis on the heart of the matter. Why is there so little discussion of the overarching claim that it is possible to forecast the climate, many decades into the future, with sufficient accuracy to be practically useful? CAGW supporters are now saying that CO2 reduction targets are inadequate to ensure a less than 2C increase in the GMT over the coming decades. And,even if all the targets are honoured we will “probably” see a 3C rise in temperture.
    Even if there had been no data “hiding” using various “tricks” and even if the use of proxies was totally out in the open for all to see and even if land based temperature readings had been properly screened where would this have got us?
    It is hard to discern a valid defense of the notion that greater transparency would have resulted in sufficiently reliable forecasts that can honestly distinguish between 2C and 3C rises in overall mean temperature. Even the graphs published by those talking about the 3C rise have nothing less than a staggering level of uncertainty.
    Unless and until this problem is faced head on no Oxburgh or any other inquiry has a hope of arriving at the truth.

  3. MDAdams
    Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 11:14 AM | Permalink

    Obviously, Dr. Curry has performed serious investigation of the well documented questionable behavior of some of her peers. Her willingness to go on the record with frank criticism is laudable. It’s somewhat discouraging, however, that she is not joined by more climate scientists in questioning some very obvious unscientific behavior. I’m reminded of Plato’s cave allegory…

    • Gord Richens
      Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 11:53 AM | Permalink

      “Her willingness to go on the record with frank criticism is laudable.”

      Sadly, it is apt to cost her as well. While the inferences that she draws from the evidence may differ sharply from others who comment here, she nonetheless is respectful and honest.

  4. stan
    Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 11:36 AM | Permalink

    I think she has spent a good bit of time lately reading blogs and getting up to speed on the problems. She is obviously much better acquainted with them than she was a few months ago. We can also see from her comments that she realizes that “the science” has a whole lot more problems than she was originally inclined to believe. I think she, like most of her community, wanted to believe the “consensus”. The more she looks behind the curtain, however, the less she likes what she sees. She still clearly wants to believe, but I sense that she is losing confidence in the narrative and is actually willing to entertain the possibility that when the smoke clears there is going to be some pretty serious wreckage.

    Gutsy lady.

    • Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 8:35 PM | Permalink

      As far as I know, Judith Curry still toes the consensus line. I see most of her comments as simply placating. She does seem to believe the questions should be addressed, but I doubt she thinks the answers will make any difference to the CAGW juggernaut. She just wants to questions answered so the consensus can continue.

  5. geo
    Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 12:24 PM | Permalink

    Judith Curry for head of the IPCC.

  6. Dave L.
    Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 12:29 PM | Permalink

    Regarding federal research funds, I believe Lindzen sums it up the best:

    “In brief, we have the new paradigm where simulation and programs have replaced theory and observation, where government largely determines the nature of scientific activity, and where the primary role of professional societies is the lobbying of the government for special advantage.”

    Click to access 0809.3762.pdf

    It is my contention that reliance upon federal research grants is a major reason why more scientists are not speaking out about Climategate and the problems with the IPCC process. It takes a lot of courage for Dr. Curry to buck the politics operating behind the scenes at DOE.

    • Arn Riewe
      Posted Apr 24, 2010 at 9:30 AM | Permalink

      Dwight Eisenhower forecasted this problem in his farewell:

      “Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded.

      Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

      Who knew he would be such a prophet.

  7. bubbagyro
    Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 12:37 PM | Permalink

    It is refreshing that someone from the good old boys community (maybe because she is not a boy) has risked all to enlighten us with the truth. As a scientist of 40+ years myself, and with a reputation as a maverick in my field, I have managed to achieve much by bucking the consensus, whatever that might have been at the time, to deduce what Nature was trying to tell me.

    The majority of climate scientists, it appears to me, are what I would call “FAGTs” (Feeders At Government Troughs). FAGTs always run the show, until they come to the edge of the fjord and run off the cliff into the sea following their peer leaders.

    Cheers for those with chutzpah, like Judith.

  8. Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 12:40 PM | Permalink

    This analogy makes no sense:

    “I recall reading this statement from one of the blogs, which seems especially apt: the fire department receives report of a fire in the kitchen; upon investigating the living room, they declare that there is no fire in the house.”

    There would be smoke — lots of it that you can’t miss. Dr. Curry wrote an interesting Bulletin of American Met Society paper in 2006 discussing the Tropical Cyclone and Climate Change issue with part of the title being “mixing politics and science”. While this is not a topical political blog, there are plenty of others that correctly tie the two together. I would appreciate Dr. Curry updating her paper in BAMS with what she has observed/experienced in the past 4-years. Her advice has largely been adhered to in the tropical community and plenty of introspection occurred across the discipline. However, the opposite has occurred with the political agendas and advocacy of the scientists being inextricably linked with the media and the funding agencies.

    • Coalsoffire
      Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 2:35 PM | Permalink

      Judith misremembered the analogy slightly. I think it was to the effect that the inquiry behaved as if they were police summoned to a house on a complaint that there was a murdered body in the basement and having searched the kitchen they declared no body or crime was found and left the scene. However, on reflection, I like Judith’s analogy better. There is a ton of smoke throughout the house. The people on the inquiry had to do more than just not look around in the house, they had to hold their noses, close their eyes and hold their breath to escape the obvious proof (smoke) of the fire that is producing the ashes of the AGW theory.

  9. ZT
    Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 12:54 PM | Permalink

    More power to her.
    One can’t help but wonder what QCs Schmidt and Mann will make of this.

  10. Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 1:37 PM | Permalink

    Fine but I am not sure whether it’s wise to present the situation in this way.

    It shouldn’t be shocking that one can find one person in the “community” who reacts a little bit decently. Still, the “community” as a whole has been discredited and its reaction is disgraceful.

    The fact that the Oxburgh report is a whitewash not deserving much attention is clear and must be clear to anyone who looks at the situation at least a little bit impartially.

    It’s equally clear why the “community” would be happy about an arbitrarily content-free and illogical verdict as long as it is positive for this community. But most of the “community” has to be disbanded and I don’t find it overly helpful to promote the “overwhelming support” for dishonest whitewashes by the community.

    We should grow up and people should realize that such things are simply not impartial and should be viewed as irrelevant. In fact, I think that most people do realize that. This includes not only the general public but also the scientific community outside the climate and environmental sciences.

    I am giving many hours to reading various climate news and sources every day but I completely admit that I haven’t read the full Oxburgh report – because the summaries I have seen just confirmed what I expected, namely that it wouldn’t be worth reading. (I wasn’t interested in this panel to start with.)

    A large fraction of the “mainstream politics” in many key Western countries including the U.K. is a part of the broader “community” that has become equally invested in the agenda as the climate scientists themselves.

    These politicians should be investigated themselves – by someone else.

    It’s ludicrous to ask them to investigate the climatologists. The “bath” from which the right “judges” should be chosen should be much bigger than the sum of the climatological community and the “mainstream parties” that are known to have jumped on the AGW bandwagon.

    These groups of people are big but they’re still heavily biased.

  11. TAC
    Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 1:48 PM | Permalink

    Not to take anything away from Judy, but the simple fact is that Judy took the time to do one thing right, a scholarly thing that is hugely important: She read Steve’s blog and considered his arguments with a reasonably open mind. What she discovered, as did I and countless others before me, is that ClimateAudit sets forth in meticulous detail the absurd nature of Team practices: Corrupt processes; Corrupt data; Corrupt ethics; and corrupt methods. My hat is off to Judy for having the courage to write about it..

  12. Keith Herbert
    Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 2:01 PM | Permalink


    I am heartened to hear your change in tone. I remember reading this article you co-authored and thinking you were blaming the ignorant masses for the inability of scientists to convince the public of their message.

    See especially the section, “Case Study: Mixing Politics, Climate Science, The World Wide Web And The Media” which begins at the bottom of page 1032.

  13. BruceA
    Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 2:08 PM | Permalink

    Regarding “…, Jones, Briffa et al. can be relieved that they have been vindicated of charges of scientific misconduct.” and “…I don’t disagree with their conclusion about finding no evidence of scientific misconduct…” – I have a book recommendation for you Ms Curry:

    • philh
      Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 5:11 PM | Permalink

      I believe she has read the Bishop’s book.

  14. Jay
    Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 2:23 PM | Permalink

    Ms. Curry’s comments are certainly refreshing.

    But why all of the surprise that Oxburgh’s report was wholeheartedly embraced by mainstream climate scientists? Clearly, the entire investigation (inquiry?) and Oxburgh’s report conformed to IPCC standards….which is to say a conclusion was determined, articles and testimony supporting the conclusion were considered, and a summary report was published, omitting any and all dissent.

  15. stephen richards
    Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 3:12 PM | Permalink

    You have to admire Judith Curry for her bravery, yes bravery, in speaking outside of the community’s accepted line. I can’t say that have have agreed with her all the time but I can respect someone’s honest opinion if I believe it to be honest even if not a little mis-guided. I cannot say the same for most of the community, of which she WAS an ardent member.
    Congrat Judith and all the best for your future.

  16. Peter Whale
    Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 4:16 PM | Permalink

    I give unqualified admiration and a vote of thanks to Judith Curry for being courageous to see the flaws and omissions in the Oxburgh’s report.

  17. Judith Curry
    Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 4:56 PM | Permalink

    Ryan and others, I have been thinking of doing an update to my BAMS article on hurricanes and global warming (a blog post at CA, not an actual journal article). If there is interest in this let me know, target date would be June 1.

    • John Norris
      Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 9:02 PM | Permalink

      Obviously you are going to take some further short term hits for this from your academic colleagues. As long as you are sure you are right, it does pay off in the long run to go ahead and make a stand and get on the record. Hats off to you for clearly doing that. I predict short term pain, but followed by long term respect, particularly in the postmortem’s that will undoubtedly occur in 10 or 20 years.

    • Keith Herbert
      Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 11:03 PM | Permalink

      Though you may be dodging flying tomatoes from all sides, you have a strong advantage; everyone is listening to you.

      I for one would be very interested in an update of your 2006 article given the unforeseen outcome in the climate science community. However, I’m sure you’re aware I’m of miniscule consequence in the climate debates.

    • Hector M.
      Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 11:13 PM | Permalink

      By all means, Dr Curry, do it.

    • David Smith
      Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 11:29 PM | Permalink

      Hello, Judith. I, for one, am interested in your proposed article. And, thank you.

    • Judith Curry
      Posted Apr 24, 2010 at 6:29 AM | Permalink

      Ok I’ll check with Steve Mc and see if he would like to host this at CA.

  18. Robert
    Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 5:58 PM | Permalink

    Hats off to Dr Curry. She’s showing a lot of courage and leadership by speaking frankly and openly about these issues. Let’s hope it encourages a few more from academia to do the same!

  19. Carddan
    Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 7:30 PM | Permalink

    I applaud Dr. Curry. Although in the past she spoke of AGW as a presupposed fact, she has recently been holding the line for honest scientific inquiry. Her statements that the “science is not settled” were encouraging. I would be very interested in her current assessment of the relationship between global warming and hurricane activity.

  20. AussieDan
    Posted Apr 23, 2010 at 9:47 PM | Permalink

    I have been a supporter of Dr Curry since she first started speaking out, at first tentatively, some months ago.

    It only takes one honest (wo)man to bring the whole rotten edifice crashing down.

  21. Hector M.
    Posted Apr 24, 2010 at 12:18 AM | Permalink

    Judith Curry on Real Climate, comment #378 at, posted 18 April, 2:57 PM:

    “I agree, it is difficult to sort through all the crazy statements and identify the substantive arguments. So I will help you out. I have seen no mention on RC of Andrew Montford’s (Bishop Hill) book “The Hockey Stick Illusion.” If Montford’s arguments and evidence are baseless, then you should refute them. They deserve an answer, whether or not his arguments are valid. And stating that you have refuted these issues before isn’t adequate; the critical arguments have not hitherto been assembled into a complete narrative. And attacking Montford’s motives, past statements or actions, etc. won’t serve as a credible dismissal. Attack the arguments and the evidence that he presents. I for one would very much like to see what RC has to say about this book.”
    Response by Gavin is also worth reading, just to see how he repeats himself no matter what.

    • Posted Apr 24, 2010 at 12:44 AM | Permalink

      Wow, RC commenters are twice as vicious as any other I’ve seen. Gavin always says everything has been refuted, but never provides links to the refutation. If he did that he might not have to repeat himself so much. Methinks he doth protest too much.

      • Dave Dardinger
        Posted Apr 24, 2010 at 1:18 AM | Permalink

        Re: Jeff Alberts (Apr 24 00:44),

        I’ve tried tracing RC “refutations” before. They amount to absolutely nothing. Typically they are misleading claims that Steve Mc had presented wrong data (when in fact the wrong data was in fact supplied by the climate scientist to Steve) and ignore his later work once the proper data was obtained. It might be interesting fun to produce a document refuting the supposed refutations of Steve, but actually documenting stuff. Not that all the needed material isn’t already here on the site, but it’s spread over thousands of threads and thus difficult for nubies or casual viewers to find. Someday soon I hope to get hold of the Bishop Hill book and see how well he does presenting the data. Right now my wonderful wife has ordered the new Roy Spencer book, so I’m looking forward to reading that one.

        • Tim
          Posted Apr 24, 2010 at 1:54 AM | Permalink

          Alarmist seem to take the attitude that if they can find one error that everything subsequently produced by the person is also wrong. I have seen this with RossMc and his radians goof and Spencer/Christy with the diurnal drift problem. The fact that the people in question acknowledged and fixed the error seems to be irrelevant.

          This attitude may explain why they refuse to concede a single point because they expect others to treat them the same.

        • Posted Apr 24, 2010 at 2:06 PM | Permalink

          To be fair, many skeptics also take this stance in relation to AGW proponent scientists. While in some cases it may be warranted, they then feel that all climate scientists are then not to be trusted.

    • Judith Curry
      Posted Apr 24, 2010 at 6:27 AM | Permalink

      The Bishop has asked me to review his book. I will post my eventual review on BishopHill. My review will likely include a list of issues that I recommend the RC guys respond to. Will be interesting to see if/how they respond.

      • Eddie O
        Posted Apr 24, 2010 at 4:10 PM | Permalink

        Great Idea Judy and thank you for engaging in Bishop Hill and here at CA. If the debate is going to be taken forward lets provide a forum for the discussion. If RC don’t take up the challenge in a rational way we can draw our own conclusions. One thing is certain, the debate is not over.

      • Posted Apr 24, 2010 at 8:19 PM | Permalink

        I think I can predict how they will respond. Completely without arguing the facts, while slandering the source.

        • Adam Gallon
          Posted Apr 26, 2010 at 2:42 AM | Permalink

          I doubt if they’ll even pass mention of it,or maybe claim there are errors that a 2nd year student could spot, without saying what these are.

  22. geo
    Posted Apr 24, 2010 at 8:31 AM | Permalink

    For the first couple years, I assumed that pure arrogance was responsible for the official climate scientists refusal to engage on issues instead of just attacking motives and CV, and cynically pointing at the more objectionable blog comments as if they represented the entirety of the critique. It’s the intenet after all –who doesn’t “get” that at this point in history? I didn’t like it, but I’m old enough to recognize the reality of the human condition. Scientists are people too, and all us people have feet of clay on this issue or that.

    But the longer that refusal to engage persisted, in the face of an obviously rising storm, the more I came to the conclusion that they just couldn’t dismiss the criticisms of people like Steve with pure science and reasoned argument based on the data available to us today. Intimidation was what was left as an option, so they took it.

    I consider myself a “lukewarmist”. I have an open mind. I support continued research on a generous basis and some common-sense efforts on C02 reduction that are entirely useful to make for their own reasons (like energy independence). I have the optimism of history to think that we will know more tomorrow, with greater confidence, than we do today. I suspect that within 10 years there *will* be consensus on C02’s role in warming, even if there are a few strained smiles in the kumbaya senior class picture of 2020 at “AGW High”.

    But you’ve got to work the process, and that means patiently addressing criticisms rather than trying to intimidate critics and denying them a level-playing field on access to data and traditional means of communicating their analysis results. The advantage is, once you do it effectively on a given issue you can put it on the net and link it when necessary the next time it comes up. This is also a well-understood process –no invention of new means of communicating is necessary.

    There are very intelligent and proud people on both sides of this issue who are legitimately doing their best as they see it. Recognize it, act like it, and it’ll work itself out.

  23. Posted Apr 24, 2010 at 1:42 PM | Permalink

    ABC’s Nightline on Thursday had a look at Climate Change and Skeptics and interviewed a few folks. Here is a relevant exchange: Wright is ABC narrator

    WRIGHT: But, Mann insists the science is sound.

    MANN: There’s no serious debate within the scientific community about the reality of human-caused climate change.

    WRIGHT: And yet, part of your job is to convince all of us, isn’t it?

    MANN: I don’t see my job as convincing anybody of anything. I see my job a scientist to make sure that the public discourse is informed by an accurate understanding of the science.

    This is the new meme: “serious debate”. Dr. Curry is not considered serious (by RC, Mann, Gavin). Can’t ask Kerry Emanuel, since he was on one of the Whitewash panels. Dr. Peter Webster is in possession of the CRU-temp data and has raised plenty of skepticism about its quality. I look forward to Dr. Webster, the new President of Atmospheric Science (AGU), to really get involved in what he campaigned on…

    Webster statement: “A critical issue is the accessibility of science, scientific methods, and data. The issue of global warming is so important for national and international policy and economics that all of climate science has to be transparent and open. I propose to work with AGU and other scientific and professional societies toward generating policies of “glasnost” in data, methodology, and models to increase the credibility of climate science by the broader scientific community, the public, and decision makers.”

    I couldn’t agree more!

    • Peter Webster
      Posted Apr 24, 2010 at 3:20 PM | Permalink

      It turns out that I do feel very strongly about these issues and I will work to the best of my abilities to do something that helps clear the air and the procedures of science. Regarding the former, it is disturbing to me that the events since last November haven’t led to greater discourse across the wide range of opinions on climate issues. I think it may have been an opportunity missed. I feel equally passionate about the issue of openness of data and the (particularly) methods used to render data into the products that appear in reports and published documents. I am not a laboratory scientist but I have insisted that every graduate student I have advised keeps a careful log of what they do on a day by day basis so that they themselves can check and reproduce their work and calculations and so that anyone else who is interested can do the same. Perhaps we can extend these simple expectations and requirements I have for my group to scientific publication.

      Of course, it is easy to promise “a chicken in every pot” or “an end to the current partisan standoff in Washington”. But I hope to be remembered as a nag!

  24. Barclay E MacDonald
    Posted Apr 24, 2010 at 1:48 PM | Permalink

    This blog and many of its contributors, both actively and passively, have long criticized members of the climate science community, indeed the entire science community, for its lack of any overt criticism of mediocre climate science. Most of us now agree that Dr. Curry is courageous in being among the first to actively and publicly step forward. And no, we don’t have to agree with everything she thinks or believes to greatly respect her efforts.

    But when Dr. Curry and others are attacked for their courageous, public positions criticizing mediocre science, will we actively support them or will we fecklessly rely on benign neglect to right unjust criticisms? For instance, long time Climate Audit readers will well remember Steve Bloom. I see he has appeared again here: to distract from the key issues and criticize Dr. Curry, though I see no evidence of him returning to CA.
    Thanks again Dr. Curry for your efforts to lead the way. We all know that what we really want is for the science to be credible with full disclosure of data and analysis for all to see.

    • Brooks Hurd
      Posted Apr 27, 2010 at 3:13 PM | Permalink

      From reading Bloom’s comments, I can see that he has not changed since we engaged years ago.

  25. Lewis
    Posted Apr 24, 2010 at 1:50 PM | Permalink

    Steve, I don’t want to double post, but did my post get posted! I can’t tell.

  26. Posted Apr 24, 2010 at 2:07 PM | Permalink

    OT, but for some reason the comment form isn’t remembering my name, email, and web address any more. Did something change?

  27. Lewis
    Posted Apr 24, 2010 at 2:17 PM | Permalink

    Looks like it didn’t post properly ( if it did forgive me ) but I think this is sufficiently reasonable to try again:

    I’m sorry to say but i don’t think people understand what ‘corruption’ might mean in this context, probably because they’re wrongly thinking of political corruption. To put it quite simply, in climate science, the checks and balances that we should normally expect, may not be quite right: This is not to imply any particular ’malfeasance’ on behalf of any particular person but a general ‘process’ problem. Perhaps, even a ‘cultural’ problem. No one, seriously, has implied lying or direct dishonesty on the part of any ‘climate scientist’ – despite what you might believe: you can serach both Steve Macntyres and Andy Watts site and, despite the comments ( which all bloggers must suffer! ), there is no article or statement that even implies as much. Corruption, in this case, is a matter of ‘mind’ and, as such, in the opinion of many, well attributed!

  28. Posted Apr 24, 2010 at 4:32 PM | Permalink

    “But I hope to be remembered as a nag!”

    Cool! You GeorgiaTech guys are really cool.

    If you look at the same thread, where Gavin is busy fisking Mosher, he says “ho hum, papers get special treatment all the time”.

    So Gavin can say it, but if Dave Holland says it – it is libel?

  29. Barry Woods
    Posted Apr 25, 2010 at 7:38 AM | Permalink


    Judith Curry comment 48:

    “One element of scientific integrity is when to speak up vs when to stay silent.”

    “The Georgia Tech students and alumni expected me to speak out on this issue”

    When others failed to speak up, I felt that I needed to step up to the plate.

    Not a sceptic:

    “I guess the problem is that i am a “moderate warmist” without a policy agenda. My lack of a policy agenda regarding CO2 mitigation means my focus is on worrying about the quality, integrity and uncertainty of the science than about saving the planet based on this highly uncertain scientific research. I seem to lack the hubris of some of my peers in this regard.”

    Maybe, other scientists will now speak up, as Judy says above, they did not at the time..

  30. Judith Curry
    Posted Apr 25, 2010 at 9:48 AM | Permalink

    The issue of Wegman has come up over at Kloor’s site. Not sure if you have seen the post over at

    Here is what i wrote over at Kloor’s site:

    Sou, its interesting to understand what you find to be credible. Re the deepclimate post, yes this is the same Edward Wegman. Here is his biosketch from the wikipedia:

    Edward Wegman is a statistician, a statistics professor at George Mason University, and past chair of the National Research Council’s Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics. He holds a Ph.D. in mathematical statistics and is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association and a Senior Member of the IEEE. In addition to his work in the field of statistical computing, Wegman is noted for contributing to theCommittee on Energy and Commerce Report investigation which inquired into the Hockey stick controversy.

    Deepclimate accuses Wegman of plaigarism. A very serious charge, that would constitute scientific misconduct. So what is the actual accusation? They accuse him of plaigarizing the definition of “social network” from the Wikipedia, and then complain that the word changes that Wegman made pervert the original meaning of the wikipedia definition. Huh?

    To set the record straight: a google search of social network definition yields over 18 million hits. I clicked on a few, and they all seem to agree generally with the wikipedia definition.

    As per the wikipedia article on plaigarism:
    “Plagiarism is presumably not an issue when organizations issue collective unsigned works since they do not assign credit for originality to particular people. For example, the American Historical Association’s “Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct” (2005) regarding textbooks and reference books states that, since textbooks and encyclopedias are summaries of other scholars’ work, they are not bound by the same exacting standards of attribution as original research and may be allowed a greater “extent of dependence” on other works. However, even such a book does not make use of words, phrases, or paragraphs from another text or follow too closely the other text’s arrangement and organization, and the authors of such texts are also expected to “acknowledge the sources of recent or distinctive findings and interpretations, those not yet a part of the common understanding of the profession.”

    So even if Wegman did copy his definition from the wikipedia (which is extremely unlikely, since the meaning of his definition is slightly different), this is not regarded as plaigarism and as per the wikipedia’s own entry on plaigarism, such commonly held knowledge (i think 18M definitions qualifies as common knowledge) is not something that can be plaigarized.

    Let me say that this is one of the most reprehensible attacks on a reputable scientist that I have seen, and the so-called tsunami of accusations made in regards to climategate are nothing in compared to the attack on Wegman.

    Wegman is very unpopular with the warmists because his 2006 NRC report was very critical of the statistics used by mann et al. in the creation of the hockey stick. Prior to summer 2006, Wegman had no apparent interest or involvement in climate science or politics. He was asked to chair this effort by the NRC since he was Chair of NRCs Committee on Applied Statistics. When asked to explain the greenhouse effect, he really didn’t know anything about the physics of how it worked. So I don’t think you could have gotten a more unbiased person to do this review.

    To see such a respected academic accused in this way (with the accusations so obviously baseless) is absolutely reprehensible. And if you read the CRU emails, you will see some very interesting reactions to the Wegman Report. Too bad they didn’t learn anything from this report.

    • Boris
      Posted Apr 26, 2010 at 7:19 AM | Permalink

      Dr. Curry,

      There is no doubt that Wegman (or some member of his committee) plagiarized Bradley in his report.

      I might also suggest that you review the definition of plagiarism. Yes, common knowledge does not need a citation, but there is a prohibition in academics that you do not copy the language or even the basic sentence structure of a source. I can’t speak for the Wikipedia examples, but the examples that DC has noted from Bradley are 100% plagiarism. At Lucia’s I offered a $500 bet that any director of Freshman composition would agree with my assessment. No one took me up on the offer.

      Wehgamn et al’s plagiarism is obvious and an academic of his stripe should know better.

      • TAG
        Posted Apr 26, 2010 at 1:22 PM | Permalink

        And this is pertinent to the climate science issues, in what way?

      • oneuniverse
        Posted Apr 26, 2010 at 2:34 PM | Permalink

        Re: Boris (Apr 26 07:19),

        Wegman et al. could’ve been more diligent about the attribution of the background material, even if this was an ad hoc report. Still, the committee’s findings on MBH’s statistical work, and MM’s analysis of that work, stand unrefuted.

        Thank you, Dr. Wegman for following Steve and Ross into the firing line in pursuit of the truth, and Dr. Curry for coming to his defense.

  31. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Apr 25, 2010 at 10:13 AM | Permalink

    Re IPCC and the Wegman Report: after the Lead Authors’ meeting in Bergen in June 2006, they sent out a notice inviting reviewers to submit additional relevant articles, I submitted the Wegman Report (and the North Report). The Wegman Report was not cited, whereas Wahl and Ammann 2007 was (even though it had been severely criticized by Wegman, who stated that it had “no statistical integrity”). A few weeks ago, David Holland learned that the Wegman Report had been excluded by IPCC from their list of articles forwarded to chapter 6 authors. In recent followup with IPCC, they say that they destroyed their correspondence and have no records of what they sent.

    In breach of IPCC procedures (as shown by Climategate emails), Briffa engaged in extensive surreptitious correspondence with Wahl on details of how this section should be written and how he should respond to critics. Based on this correspondence that violated IPCC procedures, Wahl and Briffa inserted a finding in the final draft that was very adverse to our work – one that had not been presented in the prior drafts, one that we disagree with strongly and one that we would have objected to strenously. This “finding” has been relied upon the community as somehow discrediting our work, but in reality was inserted by Wahl and Briffa without any external review.

    This email correspondence between Wahl/Ammann and Briffa was precisely what led to Jones’ request to Wahl, Ammann, Mann and Briffa to delete email correspondence pertaining to IPCC and JOnes’ instruction to Briffa to (untruthfully) tell the UEA FOI officer that he did not have any relevant correspondence with Wahl and Ammann.

  32. Mesa
    Posted Apr 25, 2010 at 12:34 PM | Permalink

    It’s my impression that the RC guys are not too interested in defending the validity of paleo climate science reconstructions per se – as they maintain now it’s not relevant to the modeling arguments for future warming. They do seem pretty adamant in refusing to criticize any suspect behavior except Jones’ request for email deletions. And they do have a strange way of saying essentially that both paleo reconstructions make no difference to the forward looking arguments, but criticisms developed here and other places about paleo reconstructions also make no difference to the validity of the paleo reconstructions. It’s an odd rehetorical device I think…

  33. curious
    Posted Apr 25, 2010 at 1:39 PM | Permalink

    Hi Judith –

    Re: the Wegman Report – I wouldn’t worry too much. I think any thinking person who reads it will see measured, informed and supported argument and criticism of Mann’s work. The more attention that is drawn to it the better IMO. Best response is to tell them to read it and point to the link here on Steve’s site. I think it is also worth pointing out that Oxburgh’s recent memo reached pretty much exactly the same conclusions as Wegman, though Oxburgh’s position on data availability strikes me as confused.

    Re: your position and current involvement – as an observer it is refreshing and heartening to see an active scientist speaking out on some of the shortcomings in the IPCC/CRU’s work. However a word of (maybe unwarranted) caution on playing the role of honest broker: The people who need to get the message on the issues are the policymakers and the law makers. Genuine scientists will follow the path of sceptical inquiry and they will test the evidence as a result. IMO you risk putting yourself in a very unrewarding position for trying to mediate with those who have no interest in mediation. Lets face it, DC has not refuted Wegman’s maths (AFIK Wegman’s analysis was also supported by G North) and so he has taken to trying to undermine and attack the work on grounds which are pretty similar to accusing someone of plagiarism for using words which already appear in the dictionary.

    Threatened organisational systems are dangerous beasts – all sorts of outcomes are possible without personal responsibility: Take care whilst you seek truth! Best wishes C

  34. Barclay E MacDonald
    Posted Apr 25, 2010 at 5:45 PM | Permalink

    Yes, Dr. Curry, in addition to Curious’ caveat above, note that what they are doing with Wegman is the same thing I believe some are now doing against you: Distract from the real issue(s) and personally attack you. Dealing with it will be stressful, but you have every reason to be self-confident and to continue to rise above it.

    • zeb
      Posted Apr 25, 2010 at 7:39 PM | Permalink

      First They Ignore You, Then They Laugh at You, Then They Fight You – an then You Win

  35. Posted Apr 26, 2010 at 1:02 PM | Permalink


    “Things get more interesting when Steve McIntyre gets involved here , although i can’t find the original post of interest. When i first spotted this, I mentioned to my colleague Peter Webster that people were having difficulty getting the data from Phil Jones. This motivated Peter to post at climateaudit to say that he had no problem getting the data from Jones, and that maybe they weren’t asking nicely (we both fully expected Phil Jones should give him the data). This motivated further FOIA requests with increaingly bizarre replies….”

    Dr Curry provides more context, for the emails to be taken ‘out-of-context’ of…

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