Trevor Davies on the “Oxburgh Eleven”

Stringer (at about 9.53) observed:

A lot of the papers that the controversy was about – the multiproxy papers – were not included.

Trevor Davies answered:

I will dispute that.

Trevor Davies then proceeded to make a lengthy statement that did not, in fact, contradict Stringer’s point that the multiproxy papers in the most controversy were not included in the Oxburgh Eleven. He also tried to argue that I, of all people, had failed to adequately draw the multiproxy papers to the attention of the SciTech Committee. As so often with the Team and their apologists, you have to watch the pea under the thimble.

Davies asserted that there was “little comment” about which papers should have been on the list. While there has been more discussion about the long drawn out process in which it was discovered that Trevor Daves made the list (not the Royal Society, as Oxburgh had claimed), there was no instant of delay on my part in saying what should have been on the list. On April 15, 2010, the day after the release of the Oxburgh Report, I reacted immediately to their stupid list with a list of papers that had been at issue as follows:

Aside from CRU activities at IPCC (the sections in AR3, AR4 and AR4 Review Comments), the most prominent CRU articles criticized here are the following nine: Briffa et al 1992 (the Tornetrask chronology and “Briffa bodge”); Briffa et al 1995 (Polar Urals), Briffa 2000 (passim introduction of Yamal, Taimyr); Briffa et al 2002 (the famous cargo cult “assumption”); Mann and Jones 2003; Jones and Mann 2004; Osborn and Briffa 2005 [typo for 2006]; Rutherford et al 2005; Jones et al (1990) on UHI.[Oct 27: also obviously Jones et al 1998].

The Oxburgh Eleven includes five tree ring articles (Briffa et al, Nature, 1998; Briffa et al, Roy Soc Lond 1998; Briffa 2000; Briffa et al 2001; Briffa et al 2008). Four of these articles were noted relatively favorably in my May 2005 post in which I first drew attention to the “trick” A Strange Truncation of the Briffa MXD Series (see image below). I had no complaint with the original Briffa articles – it was the IPCC spaghetti graph with its false rhetorical effect that bothered me. Even for veteran watchers of peas under thimbles, it’s pretty amazing that four CRU articles – that not only had had not been the subject of criticism, but had been used to locate the trick – were chosen as somehow “representative” of the CRU corpus, while the articles that had actually been criticized here were for the most part excluded. Every CRU hockey stick article (Jones et al 1998; Mann and Jones 2003; Osborn and Briffa 2006) was excluded.

Trevor Davies mentioned this list in his testimony, but complained that the list Davies stated that this list was provided “after the Oxburgh report came out”. Well, that was the first occasion on which we got a chance to comment on the Oxburgh Eleven. Neither Oxburgh nor the University published a list of eleven publications and asked people whether these were the right ones. (Correspondence obtained through FOI shows that the UEA press office expected the list to be criticized; instead of being open and transparent about the list in advance, they did not announce the list in their press release.)

Stringer’s assertion – that Davies purported to “dispute” – was that the multiproxy papers (and my list seems to be common ground here) – were, for the most part, not in the list that Oxburgh was asked too review. Notwithstanding Davies purporting to “dispute” this point, it is self-evidently true as a simple comparison of the above list to the list of Oxburgh references shows.

Trevor Davies’ first attempt to create a dispute was by raising an irrelevant assertion. Davies said that “most” of the articles in my list were in the CRU submission to Muir Russell. I agree that “most” of the articles in my list were cited in the CRU submission to Muir Russell (the only omissions are Jones and Mann 2004; Rutherford et al 2005), but I fail to see the relevance of this to the list that Oxburgh was asked to assess. The Oxburgh panel did not list the CRU submission to Muir Russell in their references. It’s not established (or disproven) that the CRU submission to Muir Russell was sent to all Oxburgh panelists. Against this is the fact that David Hand’s detailed response to an FOI did not include any emails in which Oxburgh or UEA distributed the CRU submission to the Oxburgh panel. (It is possible, but not established, that Hand may have separately received a copy of the CRU submission in a separate email though it was not included in the list of Hand attachments.) But regardless of whether the CRU submission to Muir Russell with references to multiproxy articles was actually distributed to the Oxburgh panel or not, the fact remains that the vast majority of articles at issue were not in the list sent to Oxburgh (not that the two articles of actual interest were examined by Oxburgh with any care, but that’s a different story.)

Trevor Davies then argued that the references in my submission to the Sci Tech Committee were “covered” in the Oxburgh report, giving a rehearsed answer that Stringer was not in a position to contradict. Needless to say, you have to watch the pea under the thimble.

First, my submission to the Sci Tech Committee was a 3000-word submission directed to the terms of reference of the Muir Russell. In my submission to the Sci Tech Committee, I observed:

CRU scientists (and Climategate correspondent Michael Mann) were coauthors of all three reconstructions in the IPCC 2001 report and coauthors of six (of ten) multiproxy reconstructions in the IPCC 2007 report.

While I did not list these six reconstructions, they are easy to identify from IPCC AR4 and overlap with my April 15 list: Jones et al 1998, MBH99, Briffa 2000, Briffa et al 2001, Mann and Jones 2003, Rutherford et al 2005.

Trevor Davies’ position seems to be that by not providing specific citations for these six reconstructions in a 3000-word submission (where the citations affect the word count), this got both Oxburgh and UEA off the hook from having to deal with the multiproxy reconstructions actually at issue. This argument is absurd. The obligation to deal forthrightly with the articles actually in controversy rests entirely with UEA. Had the Oxburgh panel asked me (or even the public) for submissions on a list of articles, I would have given a list along the lines of my April 15 post. My submission to the Parliamentary Committee was not designed as a list of publications at issue, though any reading of the submission clearly showed that the multiproxy reconstructions were at issue. My submission began:

Reconstructions of temperature over the past 1000 years have been an highly visible part of IPCC presentations to the public. CRU has been extremely influential in IPCC reconstructions through: coauthorship, the use of CRU chronologies, peer review and IPCC participation. To my knowledge, there are no 1000-year reconstructions which are truly “independent” of CRU influence.

This is explicit notice that the multiproxy reconstructions were at issue and no fouling of the waters by Trevor Davies alters that. In addition to my submission, I had even sent a separate letter to the Committee observing that the proxy reconstructions should be more clearly distinguished as a point at issue in the terms of reference.

In my Sci Tech Committee submission, I also discussed problems arising out of Briffa et al 1992 (the Tornetrask chronology and “Briffa bodge”), Briffa et al 1995 (Polar Urals) and Yamal (Briffa 2000) and their knock-on impact on multiproxy studies both by CRU and others. Davies said that the Tornetrask chronology of Briffa et al 1992 was “covered” in Briffa 2000, an article on the list. He made a similar statement about Briffa et al 1995, the Polar Urals chronology, which he said was “covered” in Briffa 2000.

As always, twisting. None of the issues raised in my submission about Briffa et al 1992 or Briffa et al 1995 were addressed or “covered” in the Oxburgh panel. The issue with the Tornetrask chronology was the Briffa bodge – not discussed by Oxburgh. The issue with Polar Urals was the failure to update the Polar Urals chronology. Again, not covered by Oxburgh, who “commended” CRU for continually updating their chronologies, without asking why the Polar Urals chronology at issue wasn’t updated.

As to Davies’ “dispute” of Stringer’s observation that the multiproxy articles in controversy were not in the Oxburgh list. The observations in my April 15 post remain valid. It is a simple matter of fact that the articles most at issue (and discussed at length at CA) were not on the Oxburgh eleven. Nothing in Davies’ statement changes that fact. Nor should the SciTech Committee or anyone else accept Davies’ attempt to blame omissions from their list on people who were never asked to comment on Davies’ ill-designed list.


  1. jim edwards
    Posted Oct 27, 2010 at 12:17 PM | Permalink

    At ~ 9′ 30″ in->

    Q: “Was Prof Jones involved with the selection of the papers ”

    Davies: “No, not for the Oxburgh Panel…”

    But, earlier, Davies said:
    “The submission for the Oxburgh panel was based upon the prior submission to your committee.”

    So the unasked [except at CA] Q remains:
    Was Jones involved in the selection of papers for the prior Parliamentary committee submission ?

    • mpaul
      Posted Oct 27, 2010 at 4:49 PM | Permalink

      The MPs will need to conclude that there’s enough smoke here to warrant a serious independent investigation, or not. So far, UEA has demonstrated that they are willing to obfuscate, delay, misdirect, and interfere in any investigation. Continuing to have 2 hour Q and A sessions is a fool’s errand. At some point, the MPs need to commission a special investigation if they want to get to the bottom of this.

  2. Posted Oct 27, 2010 at 12:43 PM | Permalink

    He also tried to argue that I, of all people, had failed to adequately draw the multiproxy papers to the attention of the SciTech Committee


    but excluded you from the review? Words fail me.

  3. Posted Oct 27, 2010 at 12:53 PM | Permalink

    Trevor Davies’ position seems to be that by not providing specific citations for these six reconstructions in a 3000-word submission (where the citations affect the word count), this got both Oxburgh and UEA off the hook from having to deal with the multiproxy reconstructions actually at issue

    Gag Steve, then say, well, Steve didn’t say anything. Again I’m gobsmacked.

  4. Navy Bob
    Posted Oct 27, 2010 at 12:56 PM | Permalink

    In a perverse way, you have to admire their dogged defense. They’re like the evil twins of the brave Spartans at Thermopylae. Completely outnumbered by facts, they nevertheless soldier aggressively on with the only weapons they have – brazen lies, bluster and vast smokescreens of misdirecting irrelevancies. The problem is that, unlike the inexorable forces of Persia, their parliamentary opponents are pathetic boobs whose tentative sallies collapse immediately upon meeting the slightest resistance.

  5. Posted Oct 27, 2010 at 1:56 PM | Permalink

    There’s a perverted habit of ‘blame the victim’ here. That’s the way it’s always seemed to me, from the moment I took a look at the hockey stick story, briefly, years ago. Of course McIntyre hasn’t suffered the way some victims in history have. But to always seek to demonise and blame him is much more than standard spin or PR. It’s reason enough to reject everything these people stand for, catastrophic global warming theory included. I’m sure I’m not alone in that visceral reaction.

    snip – too much editorial

    • TAG
      Posted Oct 27, 2010 at 2:14 PM | Permalink

      snip – OT editorial

    • Posted Oct 28, 2010 at 4:39 AM | Permalink

      Er, sorry about that. Visceral reaction was a good place to stop!

  6. theduke
    Posted Oct 27, 2010 at 2:12 PM | Permalink

    In the end, it appears we have had inquiries for their own sake, the goal of which was to look in the wrong direction for nothing.

  7. Posted Oct 27, 2010 at 2:23 PM | Permalink

    As always, Steve, thanks for wading through all this sh-t, keeping it all straight, making cogent observations, and (usually) keeping your sense of humor.

    As for Trevor Davies….

    “Oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.” — Voltaire

  8. stan
    Posted Oct 27, 2010 at 2:56 PM | Permalink

    It should be obvious now to even the most die-hard alarmist that the investigations in the UK and by Penn St are nothing more than corrupt whitewashes. What is so fascinating, however, is the sheer incompetence of the efforts. They haven’t even mustered a weak try at covering the bases before issuing the pre-determined report. Pathetic.

    Has everyone noticed that the whitewashes bear a striking parallel to the sloppy science they purport to clear. They are history repeating itself as farce only with an exponent. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such consistency of dogged incompetence. It’s really quite remarkable.

    • AllenC
      Posted Oct 28, 2010 at 6:22 AM | Permalink

      The only thing that is every “obvious” to zealots is that everyone else is wrong.

      I tried a couple of times to engage with the zealots on other blogs and have learned that the only thing to do with them is watch in mild amusement as they live in their world.

  9. Daniel
    Posted Oct 27, 2010 at 4:03 PM | Permalink

    A one and a half hour hearing conducted by non professional MPs is nothing compared to a several hour examination by a QC….Look, each major issue at stake would require one hour per witness to come to the bottom of it !

  10. michel
    Posted Oct 27, 2010 at 6:00 PM | Permalink

    I really do recommend re-reading ‘Penguin Island’ by the neglected Anatole France. Its a fictional account of the Dreyfus case, witty and pointed and in places very funny indeed, and the social phenomenon of Dreyfus and its development with the twists and turns in the discovery of the facts is the closest parallel you will find to the present twists and turns in the hockey stick affair.

  11. michel
    Posted Oct 27, 2010 at 6:08 PM | Permalink

    Book VI, Modern Times.

    • clazy8
      Posted Oct 27, 2010 at 7:01 PM | Permalink

      Thanks, Michel, I had just gone looking for it.

  12. GolfCharley
    Posted Oct 27, 2010 at 6:22 PM | Permalink

    Apologies for being o/t, but UEA say that US EPA confirmed the science of UEA based on Oxburgh. UEA say that the science of UEA was confirmed by US EPA. Oxburgh never checked the science, this was confirmed by UEA

    No one has checked or confirmed the science of UEA / Cru.


  13. PhilH
    Posted Oct 27, 2010 at 7:44 PM | Permalink

    I have watched a good part of the hearing and I agree with Daniel. These folks should have been examined by a competent counsel.

    They remind me of a case I once tried with an opposing lawyer who was a flashy dresser and an equally flashy talker. At one point the Court asked him a question. After the guy had talked smoothly for about ten minutes without ever answering the court’s question, the judge, a smart, no-nonsense type fellow, interrupted him to say, “You know, Mr. Smith, I think I should tell you that I feel you have missed your true calling.” “Yes, Your Honor,” he said, “and what would that be?”

    “You should have been a cake decorator.”

    • j ferguson
      Posted Oct 28, 2010 at 6:01 AM | Permalink

      Are not UK legislative bodies, if that’s the proper descriptive, composed mostly of attorneys (Barristers) as are ours here in the US? You don’t see people getting away with this kind of evasion here unless it’s intended that they do.

  14. AusieDan
    Posted Oct 27, 2010 at 8:24 PM | Permalink

    It is obvious that it is now time for a Royal Commission.
    I suggest that UK citizens now press their MP’s for one.
    Time to clear the air.

  15. Will Gray
    Posted Oct 27, 2010 at 11:02 PM | Permalink

    Royal Commission into climate science claims bring in on.
    Here in Oz we had a great succeess regards the RC into Police corruption, is spread nation wide.

  16. ray toster
    Posted Oct 27, 2010 at 11:06 PM | Permalink

    I think surprisingly that the Guardian reporter has the story a little wrong. After looking through the video of the proceedings again and replaying Davies comment about Jones saying he didn’t delete any emails (occurrs at 10.03) several times. It is fairly clear that the reporter added the bit regarding “that were released from the university last November”.

  17. Huub Bakker
    Posted Oct 28, 2010 at 12:06 AM | Permalink

    I liked Acton’s answer to the deletion of emails question! 1) “They told me that they didn’t delete any emails, 2) the emails are available.”

    This does not discount the possibility that 1) they lied and 2) the emails were retrieved from backup.

  18. inversesquare
    Posted Oct 28, 2010 at 1:29 AM | Permalink

    Talk about the elephant in the room…..

    1) Where are these emails that haven’t been deleted?

    2) Case closed….. verdict, GUILTY

    How much time, money and effort has been put into delaying the inevitable? It’s really quite a joke…..

    How sad are these people?

  19. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Oct 28, 2010 at 5:03 AM | Permalink

    Pardon the length please, but my oipening statement to the Russell Inquiry read –


    Here, I discuss one paper to provide examples. It dealt with Urban Heat Island effects in East Australia, China and parts of Russia.

    Reference: Jones, P.D., Groisman, P.Ya., Coughlan, M., Plummer, N., Wang, W-C. and Karl, T.R., 1990 “Assessment of urbanization effects in time series of surface air temperature over land.” Nature 347, 169-172.

    In later years, such early CRU work has been found to be troublesome.

    Some of the confusion about the Australian part is described below as a main part of this submission.

    Controversy has arisen about the Chinese part, with direct allegations of data fabrication, for example at

    The Russian part has been questioned also, e.g. in the Newspaper “Kommersant” of 16th December 2009.
    “Climategate has already affected Russia. On Tuesday, the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change based at the headquarters of the British Meteorological Office in Exeter (Devon, England) had probably tampered with Russian-climate data. The IEA believes that Russian meteorological-station data did not substantiate the anthropogenic global-warming theory. These examples from each country align with the present Terms of Reference, notably being “….. at odds with acceptable scientific practice and may therefore call into question any of the research outcomes.”
    There is no contained inference that these are the only relevant examples in this submission.

    In the fullness of time and disclosure, they might be found to have explanations. At present, it is not possible to judge. In part, this is because the first public release of CRU temperature data was made partially by the UK Meteorological Office at Hadley on or about 8th December 2009 with more on 4th February 2010.

    There has been inadequate time for detailed CRU/Hadley data study. Also, these data are named “value added” by Hadley, because they have been adjusted from raw values. The raw values appear still to be unobtainable; but earlier graphical data and selected tables have ample evidence of selective data use.

    This is more evidence of neglect of contentious papers.

  20. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Oct 28, 2010 at 5:14 AM | Permalink

    It was galling to hear the trio expressing their earnest approach to open sharing of data when they had the final part of my submission to the Russell Inquiry.


    In particular, the statement by Professor Jones that “We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it. There is IPR to consider” is one of the most anti-science statements by a prominent scientist in my lifetime.

    Taken together with other evidence of unlawful attempts to avoid FOI law and copyright law, expressed in other disclosed CRU emails, there should be a high level police investigation on the general basis of fraud, including the uncertainty of whether the emails were “hacked” or “divulged”.

  21. T G Watkins
    Posted Oct 28, 2010 at 4:45 PM | Permalink

    I have every confidence in the British system of Parliamentary inquiries. Confident that they will duck and dive, sidestep and swerve better than any legendary Welsh outside-half (Rugby).
    Eventually, the ‘truth’ will emerge, battered and torn, and wearing a black or gold jersey. (New Zealand or Aussie).
    Somewhat obtuse but wait and see.
    I’m also a senior squash player, Steve, and appreciate your international status.

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