You Can’t Be Serious!

One of the most famous emails was Jones’ request to Mann, Briffa, Wahl and Ammann to delete AR4 emails (including the surreptitious Wahl-Briffa exchange) a day after David Holland’s FOI request for AR4 emails. It read:

29th May 2008: ―Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment – minor family crisis.
Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new
email address. We will be getting Caspar to do likewise”.

This is the email that the ICO said to offer the most cogent prima facie evidence imaginable.

Muir Russell says that they “have seen no evidence of any attempt to delete information in respect of a request already made”, noting two emails relating to deletion including the famous one cited above:

There seems clear incitement to delete emails, although we have seen no evidence of any attempt to delete information in respect of a request already made. Two e-mails from Jones to Mann on 2nd February 2005 (1107454306.txt) and 29th May 2008 (in 1212063122.txt) relate to deletion:

2nd February 2005: ―The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for
years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I
think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone”.

29th May 2008: ―Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re
AR4? Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment – minor family crisis.
Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new
email address. We will be getting Caspar to do likewise”.

This is getting stupid. Jones’ email came immediately following David Holland’s FOI request.

Plus, Muir Russell evaded discussion of the equally damning “Keith should say” email. 888. 1212009215.txt where Jones says that Briffa should deny the existence of the Wahl correspondence:

Keith should say that he didn’t get anything extra that wasn’t in the IPCC comments.

As John McEnroe said, You can’t be serious!


  1. Craig Loehle
    Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 4:02 PM | Permalink

    Muir Russell said: “have seen no evidence of any attempt to delete information in respect of a request already made”, because they were preemptively deleting the emails, knowing the wolves were closing in. Corporate executives who smell legal problems coming and delete emails get in big big trouble. I am beginning to get the concept of this “Sir Humphrey” thing–not having ever seen it on TV. I guess it was taken as a training manual by some?

    • ianl8888
      Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 11:42 PM | Permalink

      “Yes, Minister” is a truly brilliant piece set of English satire … all politicians and public (civil) servants constantly use the techniques so finely drawn in this classic TV show

      It is such a pity that the US and Canada do not much use razor-edge satire and don’t appear to place much value on it. I interact constantly with Canadians and Americans in my work, and always feel uncomfortable with their non-comprehension of satire. I have this uneasy feeling (which is incorrect) that they are a brick short of a full load

      The core truth here is that these “Inquiries” are designed to show how powerless informed criticism is, since it is practised by such a limited population. A Sir Humphrey staple.

    • geronimo
      Posted Jul 8, 2010 at 1:29 AM | Permalink

      Craig, all the series are available on Amazon, get yourself a copy, it’s very funny, but mainly because it’s so close to the truth. Mrs. Thatcher used to complain that none of her cabinet colleagues were available to speak to her when the show was on, although I do believe she watched it herself. Every episode is loaded with gems, one that springs to mind is Sir Humphrey explaining, quite logically, to the hapless Jim Hacker why it was appropriate to have a fully staffed hospital with no patients.

      Watch them you’re in for a treat.

      • QBeamus
        Posted Jul 8, 2010 at 10:01 AM | Permalink

        My personal favorite is Sir Humphrey’s explanation to Bernard why they were supporting the EU, when Bernard thought (and Sir Humphrey had just confirmed) that British foreign policy called for a disunited Europe.

        “Bernard, it is necessary to get behind someone, before you can stab them in the back.”

  2. See - owe to Rich
    Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 4:07 PM | Permalink

    By the way, the correct McEnronian inflection is:

    You *cannot* be serious!


  3. Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 4:40 PM | Permalink

    ‘Muir Russell says that they “have seen no evidence of any attempt to delete information in respect of a request already made”’

    Come on, you’ve got to have got that wrong. I can’t believe Muir Russell would have written that, because such an assertion would be utterly ridiculous and incredible.

    • woodentop
      Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 6:00 PM | Permalink

      That comment from the report reads like a legal judgement, which is all very well until one considers that evidence was “led” from only one side.

      What a farce.

  4. Anthony Watts
    Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 7:49 PM | Permalink

    The investigations thus far are much like having a trial with judge, jury, reporters, spectators, and defendant, but no plaintiff. The plaintiff is locked outside the courtroom sitting in the hall hollering and hoping the jury hears some of what he has to say. Is it any wonder the verdicts keep coming up “not guilty”?

    • Posted Jul 8, 2010 at 2:35 PM | Permalink

      It’s a wonder that the press isn’t objective enough to see what’s going on.

      Did anyone notice how many left wing papers are covering the exoneration of climategate that never actually covered the event itself?

  5. Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 8:49 PM | Permalink

    It’s somewhat ironic that of the 4.5 reports (U.K. Parliamentary Committee, Oxburg, Penn State[a. & b.] & Russell) only the U.K. Parliamentary Committee (for all its shortcomings) even approximates being deserving of a passing grade.

    The others support the hypothesis that if you ask the wrong questions of the wrong people, you are well on your way to securing the right answers.

  6. John Meech
    Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 11:33 PM | Permalink

    Great comment on the Muir Russell report on The Scotsman web site:

    Lenzie 08/07/2010 00:11:00

    There is an old joke (before it wasn’t PC) about a Scotsman: A man comes along and finds an Scotsman crawling about under a lamp post. The man asks: “what are you doing”, “looking for six pence” (a considerable sum in those days). The man offers to help, but on not being able to find the sixpence he asks: “where exactly did you loose it” … “over there (point a long way away from the light)” … “so why are you looking here”, “because this is where the light is”.

    Muir Russell “exonerated” (which is not exactly true) the scientists because he chose to investigate where the light was and not where the problems lay.

  7. geronimo
    Posted Jul 8, 2010 at 1:13 AM | Permalink

    Oliver: “Muir Russell is obviously serious and he is not a fool.”

    What word would you use to describe a man who presided over a project with a £40M budget and brought it in at a cost of £400M?

    As ever Oliver you are being kind, Russell’s report and the way it was conducted is littered with mistakes and omissions. FWIW my guess is that he’s new to the climate change debate, and, like Oxburgh and Willis before him, had swallowed the alarmist propoganda and assumed that those questioning the “scientists” were a bunch of creationsists and troofers who could be safely ignored. Hence the careless way all three enquiries were conducted, although I detect a bit of revisionism from Lord Willis who is claiming that the Parliamentry Committee rushed its report because of lack of time. It also lacked penetrating questions and Lord Willis fawned over Prof. Jones, clearly thinking he was the victim of some right wing stitch up.

  8. Gary
    Posted Jul 8, 2010 at 8:01 AM | Permalink

    There are none so blind as those who WILL NOT see. Steve, they are every bit serious and you will have to make it so plain that even a five year old can understand. In fact, if you don’t they will continue refusing to see and blame the complexity of your argument as obvious evidence of bad intentions.

    • bender
      Posted Jul 8, 2010 at 10:10 AM | Permalink

      the complexity of your argument

      Apparently, Phil Jones admitted that temperatures 1000 years ago are unknowable with much precision. So how is Steve’s argument “complex”? His argument is simply that the only way you can fabricate a statement to the contrary (i.e. the only way to generate hockey stick shaped temperature graphs) is by torturing the data. Which the cliamtegate emails make clear was done. This is not “complex”.

  9. PhilJourdan
    Posted Jul 8, 2010 at 9:22 AM | Permalink

    It appears that there was not even an attempt at honesty in the investigation. If there was, at best they would have attempted to explain away the incriminating emails, and at worst ignored them. But to point them out and then to try to deny the words written indicates a politician was creating the final report, not a man of intelligence or learning.

  10. Posted Jul 8, 2010 at 9:38 AM | Permalink

    These people must know that their interpretations are indefensible in front of impartial observers. They have just given up all these attempts and all honesty. They want to define the new “truth” that must be respected by anyone who wants to live at places that they control.

    For example, they want to make it clear that the people in the Academia will face trouble if they state the obvious – e.g. that Mann is a [snip]ar. They don’t need to search for the truth or convince anyone “outside their system” about it: it’s enough for them to make a small group of fanatical fundamentalists more radical than before. So they can post an explicit e-mail where lots of e-mails were ordered to be erased at several places, and immediately say that nothing like that has ever happened.

    They think it’s enough for their [snip] to survive. They became a standard sect of [snip].

    • bender
      Posted Jul 8, 2010 at 9:40 AM | Permalink

      urgent snip required

    • Posted Jul 9, 2010 at 2:48 AM | Permalink

      Dear Oliver,

      ours are very pessimistic appraisals of the reality. Still, it’s possible for the people who actually know what’s going on – and who have no vested interest for these matters to remain on the edge of crime – to isolate themselves from the infected segments of the society, and try to contain the contagion from outside.

      Best wishes

  11. RickA
    Posted Jul 8, 2010 at 9:59 AM | Permalink

    RealClimate is filtering comments again!

    I don’t know if anybody else has noticed this – but Realclimate is again filtering comments they don’t like.

    I left the following comment (which I thought was entirely reasonable) – and it never came out of moderation:

    RickA says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    7 July 2010 at 4:17 PM
    Let us hope that all the scientists in the climate arena will take the recommendations of the Muir report to heart!
    I hope that everybody sees the importance of archiving data, standardizing the metadata for locations, providing enough information as to methods and the data for proper replication, being really descriptive and accurate about figure descriptions and being cooperative with requests, even if they are trying to find fault with the conclusions of a paper. That is just good science.
    The Muir report shows that climate scientists need to step up in these areas.
    I especially hope the scientists take the recommendation to heart about putting uncertainty on a proper statistical footing. A lot of the battle really revolves around statistics, and being rigorous will only help.
    My observation is that a lot of the problems come from trying to persuade (like the WMO and AR documents), rather than merely reporting the science.
    To much spin, in my opinion.
    Anyway – good luck with your future work.

    Anybody else having trouble getting their comments through at RealClimate?

    • Posted Jul 8, 2010 at 4:15 PM | Permalink

      I don’t even attempt to post anymore at RealClimate.

  12. pesadilla
    Posted Jul 8, 2010 at 10:38 AM | Permalink

    I am baffled by the statement in the report which indicated that the enquiry was not able to read any of the 99.07% of the e-mails, which they apparently requested. According to the report, these e-mails are still held by the police and therefore not available. How long is the police enquiry going to take?
    Are they perhaps holding onto these e-mails to ensure that they cannot be accessed under a FIO od ICO request!

  13. kim
    Posted Jul 9, 2010 at 6:51 AM | Permalink

    Order in the Court. Monkey wants to speak. Speak, Monkey, Speak.

One Trackback

  1. […] and urge each other to delete rather than release correspondence, […]

%d bloggers like this: