Nature and the Inundation Legend

Climategate 2.0 emails shed remarkable light on the role of Nature news “reporter”, Olive Heffernan, in the development of a “legend” to place CRU data obstruction in a better light.

They show that Jones had candidly admitted to Heffernan that his real reason for refusing data was simply to obstruct potential critics – a position essentially unchanged from his notorious 2005 refusal on the grounds that “we have 25 years invested in this”. Instead of reporting Jones’ admission, Nature attributed Jones’ data obstruction to an imaginary “inundation” of data requests following an initial supply of data in 2002.

In today’s post, I’ll review the development of the legend and Heffernan’s role in the process.

The curtain rises for today’s post on Aug 7, 2009 about two weeks after the FOIA/Mole incidents discussed in the past few posts. Heffernan asked Jones (721) whether Jones had sent supposed confidential data to Webster, but refused to send it to me. And, if so, on what grounds.

… I have one other question: McIntyre claims that you sent data to Peter Webstre at Georgia Tech, but that you would not supply him with the same data. Is that true, and if so, what was the reasoning?

This was one of the important questions that Muir Russell negligently failed to examine.

Jones’ reply to Heffernan (Aug 9 – 3497) was a pastiche of disinformation and unresponsiveness, none of which should have been accepted by a responsible reporter, but which passed unchallenged by Heffernan.

Jones commenced:

I did send some of the data to a person working with Peter Webster at Georgia Tech. The email wasn’t to PW [Webster], but he was in the CC list. I don’t know how McIntyre found out, but I thought this was a personal email.

As we’ve already seen, Jones knew precisely how I had found out as, a few weeks earlier, he had quoted (4531) in full a comment at Climate Audit by Peter Webster reporting that CRU had sent station data to Georgia Tech:

I also see from looking at Climate Audit that this request results from Peter saying on CA that he’s not had any difficulty getting data from CRU (see what he said below on June 24).

In that earlier email, Jones had also argued that he had provided data to Webster in a “personal” email, a claim that Palmer had rejected (1320). Despite Palmer’s explicit rejection of the email being “personal”, Jones stubbornly continued to take this line in his correspondence with Nature.

Jones then made the completely untrue claim that this was “one of the first times” that CRU station data had been sent to a third party:

This was one of the first times I’d sent some data to a fellow scientist who wasn’t at the Hadley Centre. As I said I have taken pity on African and Asian PhD students who wanted some temperature and precipitation data for their country.

In fact, CRU’s original collection of station data was financed by the US Department of Energy under a contract that obliged CRU to deliver station data to the US Department of Energy, which then placed the data online (where it remains online to this day). CRU itself had placed CRUTEM1 station data online in 1996 (which remained online until July 29-30, 2009). Jones had sent station data to Mann and Rutherford and even, in 2002, to me.

Jones then segued into characteristic self-pity, falsely claiming that he’d been “driven” into being “less helpful”:

The email has only gotten me grief, so this is another reason for being much less helpful to people emailing CRU. This goes against my nature, but I’ve been driven to it. You’d better not say this, otherwise McIntyre will request the emails where to prove I’ve been unhelpful! I should have just said to the GA person – use GHCN, like I do to everyone else.

The idea that Jones had “been driven” to being obstructive was a legend that was readily adopted by the climate establishment. But it was untrue. Somewhere along the way – perhaps in response to Mann’s encouragement, as Mosher and Fuller argue, or perhaps on his own – Jones chose , using his own free will, to withhold data from potential critics, – a decision notoriously explained in his Feb 2005 email to Warwick Hughes (shortly after the publication of McIntyre and McKitrick 2005) as follows:

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.

Jones’ next sentence in his email to Heffernan shows that no change from the attitude in his 2005 refusal to Warwick Hughes:

I also don’t see why I should help people I don’t want to work with and who spend most of their time critisising me.

Here Jones candidly admitted the real reason why he had sent data to Georgia Tech and to Mann and Rutherford, but had refused to send the data to Warwick Hughes, Willis Eschenbach or me. It had nothing to do with confidentiality agreements from the 1980s that had been mysteriously “lost” during an office move. It had everything to do with Jones’ belief that he had the right to send data to pals and to refuse data to critics.

Jones’ failure to appreciate that publication of scientific articles entailed an obligation to provide data to potential critics, as well as to pals is exemplified in his subsequent whinging complaint:

Years ago I did send much paleo data to McIntyre but have also had nothing but criticism on his blog ever since. As I said, this criticism on blog sites is not the way to do science. If they want to engage, they have to converse in civil tones, and if people don’t want to work with them, they have to respect that and live with it.

There are multiple problems with this paragraph. Yes, Jones had sent me some paleo data, but it was untrue that he had “nothing but criticism” at Climate Audit ever since. On a number of occasions, I had complimented Jones for being somewhat responsive to requests.

A more serious issue is Jones’ view that merely providing data that had been used in an article relied upon by IPCC was a special favor that placed me under an obligation to refrain from criticism of the article. It was my view then (and remains my view) that archiving of supporting data was an obligation of the author, rather than an act of grace.

Nor do I accept Jones’ premise that asking for data constitutes a request to “work with” the originators of the data. It is no such thing. A request for data is simply a request for data. While much emphasis has been placed on FOI, FOI is really a last resort. An obligation to produce supporting scientific data arises on a number of grounds: journal policies; policies of funding agencies; policies of the institution of employment (including FOI); and, most notably, as an obligation of the scientific method.

Jones was criticized not because offence had been taken about Jones not wanting to “work with” the person requesting the data, but because Jones’ failure to provide data (particularly in the context of the repugnant explanation to Warwick Hughes) was not in compliance with any or all of the above obligations to provide data, a problem exacerbated by fabricated and untrue excuses by CRU and the University of East Anglia to FOI requests.

In his email exchange with Heffernan, Jones did not mention the supposed confidentiality agreements that he had long ago planned to “hide behind” – a strategy set out within a few weeks of the introduction of the FOI act in 2005 (see Climategate 1.0 email 490. 1107454306.txt).

Heffernan sent her planned quotes to Jones (Aug 10 – 3497) telling Jones to “shout asap if you see any problems” – a courtesy not extended to me, though I was also featured in the interview.

On Aug 12, Heffernan published an article and associated blog post that were instrumental in the creation of the FOI Inundation Myth, casting Jones as a heroic modern-day Noah.

Heffernan’s article and blog post conspicuously omitted Jones’ petulant desire not to be criticized. Instead, Heffernan attributed Jones’ refusal to an imaginary inundation of requests commencing in 2002:

Why won’t Jones give McIntyre the data?

Jones says that he tried to help when he first received data requests from McIntyre back in 2002, but says that he soon became inundated with requests that he could not fulfill, or that he did not have the time to respond to.

This claim was a total fabrication. After my (successful) 2002 request, I had no further contact with Jones until 2004, when I requested some unavailable data used in Jones et al 1998 (a legitimate, unobtrusive and successful request.) In the Climategate correspondence between Jones and Heffernan (thus far), Jones himself did not advance the “inundation” legend. Perhaps Jones himself introduced the legend in a presently unavailable email or in a telephone interview and the legend was uncritically accepted by Heffernan. It also seems possible that Heffernan herself contributed to the development of an explanation of Jones’ conduct that was more dignified than Jones’ petulance. Although there wasn’t a shred of evidence for Heffernan’s “inundation” story, it quickly became a widely accepted legend in the climate “community”.

Nature re-iterated Jones’ untrue claim that CRU had entered into confidentiality agreements that prohibited sending data to non-academics – a claim that East Anglia itself later abandoned – (see e.g. their response to my appeal here).

He [Jones] says that, in some cases, he simply couldn’t hand over entire data sets because of long-standing confidentiality agreements with other nations that restrict their use… Although these data are made available in a processed format that shows the global trend, access to the raw data is restricted to academics…

Nature also regurgitated Jones’ untrue claim that their ability to provide data was restricted by confidentiality agreements “mislaid” during an office move in the late 1980s – a claim also later abandoned by the University of East Anglia:

Jones says he can’t fulfil the requests because of confidentiality agreements signed in the 1990s with some nations, including Spain, Germany, Bahrain and Norway, that restrict the data to academic use. In some cases, says Jones, the agreements were made verbally, and in others the written records were mislaid during a move.

Nature falsely claimed that I was “especially aggrieved” that Jones had sent the data to Peter Webster and, in a remarkable conflation of cause-and-effect, fostered the legend that “as a result of this” [in the context, the July 2009 FOI requests], Jones had become “markedly less responsive”:

The dispute is likely to continue for some time. McIntyre is especially aggrieved that Peter Webster, a hurricane expert at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, was recently provided with data that had been refused to him. Webster says his team was given the station data for a very specific request that will result in a joint publication with Jones. “Reasonable requests should be fulfilled because making data available advances science,” says Webster, “but it has to be an authentic request because otherwise you’d be swamped.”

Indeed, Jones says he has become “markedly less responsive to the public over the past few years as a result of this”.

More disinformation. I wasn’t “aggrieved” in the least that Jones had sent station data to Peter Webster. My sentiment was almost exactly the opposite. Jones’ action provided an opportunity to test CRU’s so-called confidentiality agreements.

Heffernan’s final sentence (which had been cleared with Jones) created a confusion between cause and effect that was quickly adopted by the climate community. In context, “this” (in the phrase “as a result of this”) could only be construed as the July 2009 FOI campaign seeking the mysterious confidentiality agreements. These requests were made in late July 2009 and were the result of Jones’ unresponsiveness “over the past few years”, rather than the cause of his prior unresponsiveness.

This non-sequitur appears to have originated with Heffernan rather than Jones, as the phrase occurred first in Heffernan’s email 3497 but not in Jones’ prior email interview (797).

In conclusion, the role of both Nature and Nature reporter Olive Heffernan is disquieting. Nature suppressed Jones’ candid admission that he simply didn’t see why he should provide data to people that wanted to criticize him and substituted a fabricated explanation more suitable to a hero of the revolution. Had Nature placed Jones’ actual answers on the record, the evolution of events might have been different. In this episode, Nature news reporting unfortunately seems more concerned about hagiography of its principal constituency (institutional scientists) than with accurate reporting.


  1. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 1:11 AM | Permalink

    Steve, Money is a fundamental driver of strange acts. I supect that as you continue to dig, you will find – if not already apparent – at least one wealthy and powerful person known to UEA whose outside income-producing activities might benefit greatly from connections with banks, the IPCC and other friends. It would be unusual for Jones not to be pressured to follow certain courses, especially more intensively post January 2001. I’m not wanting to preempt your steady course, but let me know if you seek private elaboration. Geoff.

    • Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 9:34 AM | Permalink

      Money is a great motivator but I would also put “blind devotion” or ideology up there too.

      • ChE
        Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 11:10 AM | Permalink

        And group dynamics. Never underestimate the power of the tribe.

        • Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 11:52 AM | Permalink

          ABSOLUTELY !!!!!
          A perfect example of “group think” !!

  2. Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 3:36 AM | Permalink

    Now we have Nature accused of fabricating at least part of a story. If they keep silent about it, it’ll be easy to infer where the dishonesty lies.

  3. Peter Whale
    Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 4:26 AM | Permalink

    Steve you have proved the scurrilous nature of Jones and others and have been IMO to easy with them. I think now is the time to vent as much vitriol and scathing condemnation on their unscientific actions and appeal to all engineers and scientists to do the same.

    • stan
      Posted Jan 9, 2012 at 12:58 PM | Permalink

      Far more effective to simply let the facts speak for themselves. The falsity of the claims by Jones and Nature are self-evident. Steve Mc need not worry with attaching adjectives and adverbs to it all.

  4. Stephen Richards
    Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 4:32 AM | Permalink


    I do frequently but I have to say that I think it is wrong to do so and it would be completely out of character for Steve Mc

  5. Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 4:45 AM | Permalink

    The battle for open access goes beyond climate change

    If I were paranoid I’d say there is a perfectly logical explanation for why Nature would untruthfully report on Jones’ withholding of the data. A commercial explanation that is.

    • Charlie H
      Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 3:11 PM | Permalink

      H.R. 3699 would hide NIH funded studies behind pay walls.

      The bill (H.R. 3699) is a big deal at least in my little part of the medical research world.

      Having NIH funded studies be avalible as full PDF for free is a good thing. is a wonderful example of something that government did well, making information easier to get to.

  6. KnR
    Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 6:42 AM | Permalink

    Bottom line , Jones planned to avoid FOI requests before he got a single one , he clearly regards has his right to do with the data , some of which is not even his , what he likes and dam the scientific method and the requirements of publishing . And for that the blame can also be laid at the feet of other who kept their mouths shut over this . The irony is that becasue of this the ‘Team’ may actual have more protection they it would otherwise , for there are those that know full well what they should have done but did not , and now know if Jones and Co fall they ,although a ‘Team’ member , could well fall with them.

  7. Stacey
    Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 7:02 AM | Permalink

    Dear Steve
    In an earlier post It was pointed out that the pantomime song goes “There’s a hole in my bucket Dear Lilah Dear Lilah”
    I am still puzzled to understand does Honest Phil still have the original data or was that lost during another office move?

  8. Speed
    Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 7:38 AM | Permalink

    Comments so far have been limited to rehashing criticism of Phil Jones. Steve’s post is about Nature News and Olive Heffernan.
    Nature news reporting unfortunately seems more concerned about hagiography of its principal constituency (institutional scientists) than with accurate reporting.

    The best outcome would be that responsible people at Nature News and perhaps Olive Heffernan read this post and publish something more … balanced.

    • Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 7:56 AM | Permalink

      Speed – I did make another comment about Nature early on (Jan 8, 2012 at 3:36 AM) but it’s still “in moderation”.

      Olive and Nature News have been asked questions via Twitter already. Chances they’ll answer a thing?

      • Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 9:35 AM | Permalink

        Not only Nature, will the environmental mainstream media look into it.. I tweeted my followers, who include, NYTimes and Guardian journalists…..

    • KnR
      Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 1:07 PM | Permalink

      To some extent Nature was lead by the nose by Jones , they may have been willing in this but its still Jones ,as McIntyre shows, that lied to Nature over what happened over FOI etc that is way the origin of the problem is , And in turn its others turning a blind eye and deaf ear to ‘the Teams’ behavior which has crated the feeling in Jones and co that they really can get away with it and that this is ‘scientifically acceptable ‘

  9. Stacey
    Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 9:03 AM | Permalink

    It is interesting that Nature’s original mission statement put the public first, it was revised in 2000 and now puts scientists first.

    I’m guessing, but its revenues are probably almost wholly dependent on the public sector for sales and advertising revenue. So it probably will never bite the hand that feeds it.

  10. justbeau
    Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 9:39 AM | Permalink

    This is a nice essay that illustrates: 1) the antiquated cloister of Jones’ view of the world, in which compatible and unaccountable academics decide what is smart; 2) in which scientific journals also participate as co-conspirators; and 3) mere non-academic “bloggers” are presumed to be less smart and disparaged, even though a Web blog actually holds itself open to receive criticisms or insights from many directions. In reality, web-networked thinking can be more rigorous and powerful than the antiquated clubby cloister of compatible, self-selected academics and journalist accomplices.

    • justbeau
      Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 10:10 AM | Permalink

      This is also a useful essay because it illustrates Nature’s one-sided, uncritical support for the Team.
      Reporters working for the New York Times, for instance, will likely have done the same sort of thing with Hockey Team scientists vastly more times, since the NYT is a newspaper monopolistically aligned with serving one political party.
      However, traditionally, I would have hoped a scientific and less mainstream journal like Nature would think more critically and carefully, less like just another knee-jerk cheer-leader in service to the Team. So it is valuable to note one-sided reporting by avowedly scientific journals.

  11. LearDog
    Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 11:03 AM | Permalink

    Wow. Context and more context….. Steve, thank you so much for stitching this all together. This leaves one has to wonder what it will take for an honest administrator (presuming they exist) at UEA or Nature to investigate.

    Their actions besmirch entire organizations. If they care…..

    • Neil Fisher
      Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 9:12 PM | Permalink

      Wow. Context and more context….

      Indeed – amusing that the very defense of CG1 (and 2) emails relies on context. Even more amusing given the context supplied by SM in previous posts. You can be sure someone somewhere will also claim “context” in this case too. It will be revealing who jumps to the defense using this excuse, how soon they do so, and how critically they examine the context (if they do so at all).

  12. Brooks Hurd
    Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 11:26 AM | Permalink

    As most people who work in scientific endeavors realize, science as seldom “settled.” The scientific method when correctly used typically leads to more questions rther than absolute truths.

    Steve, you continue to show from your personal experience combined with CRU emails that we are not dealing with a form of science which would be recognizable to the great scientists. The “team” as you and others are showing is pushing an agenda supported by a perverse and distorted science whch conceals data so as to present the part of the total picture which supports the agenda. You have shown here clear evidence that the part of the media which supports the agenda also provides cover for the perverse science and intelectually dishonest “scientists” who support the agenda of catastrophic and unprecedentic climate change requiring economically disasterous taxation and penalties in spite of the fact that the IPCC forecasts that such mind numbing costs will have almost no effect on the global temperature.

    Thank you for continuing to show that deception and distortion are rife not only throughout the agenda climate science community but also in the agenda press which provides them cover.

  13. j Solters
    Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 12:14 PM | Permalink

    Every journalist slants news somewhat to fit personal career goals, beliefs, friendships, cult memberships et cet. That’s how the human condition functions. Problems arise when journos step over the line where clearly unethical conduct becomes fact. Nature’s writer stands publicly accused of intentionally stepping over this line. Nature can respond and deny the facts, reiterating its objectivity standards. The writer can do likewise to protect a professional reputation. If neither responds the public can make its own conclusions. Public exposure of this incident again draws a red circle around the Team’s veracity, ethics and reliability/credibility which are under heavy assault from many directions. Only a steady barrage of fact finding issues made public, exactly like this blog endeavor, will over time change the way climate science conducts business. Each Team member needs to be called out into the realm of public opinion on a continuous basis, at every opportunity, to test their personal and scientific integrity. Where it not for the Team’s goal to rule the world through IPCC sponsored political initiatives, this vetting process would be much less crucial.

  14. Pat Frank
    Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 1:08 PM | Permalink

    This comment, “Nature news reporting unfortunately seems more concerned about hagiography of its principal constituency (institutional scientists),(my bold)” and the various shots taken at “academics” among the comments (e.g., by justbeau), are unfair.

    Dick Lindzen is an institutional scientist and an academic, but no one would suppose that Nature and Phil Jones consider him among their principal constituency. Likewise, Carl Wunsch, Chris Essex, Roger Pielke Sr., Chris Landsea, Will Happer, and, indeed, Ross McKitrick.

    Nature’s principal constituency used to be, in principle anyway, anyone who carried out science. Their foundational ethic of science automatically selected their constituency. Nature, however, has betrayed their foundational ethic in their partisan bias toward AGW. Their new constituency, therefore, is not institutional scientists or academics. It’s AGW partisans, among whom is Phil Jones. This has been the clear recent history of Nature, and fully explains the behavior of Ms. Olive Heffernan.

    UEA’s behavior is not about academic arrogance; nor is UVA’s. Their behavior is about arrogance camouflaging itself in academic robes. The analogy is of a quack posturing as a physician and arrogating medical ethics in service to quakery; except that in the case of Nature, UEA, and UVA, the physician has actively converted himself into the quack.

    I wish people would be subtle enough to see this distinction. Steve M., you’re usually so careful with your language, but in this one case you have almost invariably tarred without much distinction.

    I know many academic scientists, and have spent my professional life among them. They are by-and-large dedicated, very hard-working, and of high professional integrity. No more among them are arrogant, in my experience anyway, than among the general population. It pains me to see them casually slandered as a class, and I think the tendency is dangerous.

    Phil Jones, Michael Mann, Gavin Schmidt, and the rest of the “Team” have, in my opinion, brought serious damage to science and to the reputation of scientists. Taking their example and spreading it onto scientists in general brings the entire enterprise into general disrepute. Science is our only route to a better future, and one could argue that the credibility science brought to rational thinking has powered the ascendancy of the Enlightenment value of rational ethics. Science is our only barrier to irrationalism. Starkly: wreck science and bring back witch-burning.

    So, I wish you folks would be more careful about your uncritical tarring of academic scientists. It may make you feel better, but such attacks spread widely could produce a social milieu corroding science into ruin, and our slender grasp on the rational along with it.

    Just as a PS, my impression is that the culture of trust is so deeply embedded as to be second nature among scientists. Dishonesty brings down the whole enterprise. It is the ultimate forbidden. The idea that others could be engaging deliberate fabrications and falsehoods is so foreign that I believe most scientists automatically reject this idea outright, and with some inner horror. This, I think, is why so few scientists speak up against what is going on in climate science. The possibility of conscious dishonesty in science is just too cognitively dissonant for most of them to easily contemplate. My guess is that eventually, when the danger is mostly past, many of them will be able to accept what we all here already know.

    • WasteNot
      Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 2:51 PM | Permalink

      I agree that one should not paint with too wide a brush. But, institutional scientists have known about this behavior for quite some time. I personally know some nationally recognized, and well published physicists who observed the AGW stonewalling and manipulation of peer review more than a handful of years ago, and they brought it to the attention of many others in academia. The silence in response was deafening to hear them tell the story. Judith Curry’s decision to call out the improprieties revealed by Climategate 1.0 may have loosed a torrent; we shall have to wait and see. But, at the time that Olive Heffernan was papering over Phil Jones’ most disgusting admission as to his motives, most scientists remained silent. That overall attitude permeated organizations/institutions such as AGU, Nature and others, and still seems to do so.

      Let’s not lose the forest for the trees. Steve’s point is crystal clear, and it really does not concern scientists as a group. It involves reporters, particularly one with a scientific publication. Though Phil Jones flat out told that reporter that he determines with whom to share scientific data based on presumed hostility to his views, that reporter wrote Jones up as a heroic figure courageously facing the flood. Frankly, the story should have been the reverse – Jones is a cowardly and craven alchemist fearful of sharing his data with others who might identify the flaws in his reasoning and the claimed support for it. So cowardly was Jones, in fact, that he refused even to comply with the law after forcing others to rely on it and then lied as to reasons for refusing to deliver requested information to avoid giving skeptics the very data on which he relied. I credit Steve’s earlier posts for not calling Jones out as a blatant liar and sneak. Unfortunately for Jones and his crew at UEA, Steve, as good trial lawyers frequently do, simply allowed the jury to hear the facts and look at the documents and thus draw its own, more forcefully held, conclusion.

    • Craig Loehle
      Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 3:58 PM | Permalink

      Pat Frank: unfortunately it is my experience that many of the big name scientists in Ecology, with which I am most familiar, have the type of arrogance that goes with huge success and high IQ–they do not readily admit they are wrong, and do not recognize when they stray into areas about which they know little. Not to say I have seen such extreme levels of this type of fabrication, etc, but one can not be naive that all scientists are angels either.

      • Pat Frank
        Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 8:09 PM | Permalink


        • Craig Loehle
          Posted Jan 9, 2012 at 10:10 AM | Permalink

          snip OT

          Steve- I’ve snipped some OT editorializing in several comments.

        • Pat Frank
          Posted Jan 10, 2012 at 1:07 PM | Permalink

          Steve, if you leave Craig’s point, it’s only fair to leave the core of my reply.

    • Pat Frank
      Posted Jan 9, 2012 at 2:18 AM | Permalink

      I don’t disagree with you, Tom. In my original response I named AGW advocates as Nature’s new constituency. It was once whoever did science. Not any more.

      But naming institutional scientists as Nature’s constituency in a post uncovering Nature’s mendacity, is to defame institutional scientists as a class. It was to that, I was objecting.

      Having said that, I agree with your point. Nature is damaging the reputation of institutional scientists. Even more, they are corroding the integrity of science itself. So is UEA, and in my opinion, so are UVA and Penn State, and SUNY Albany in side-stepping Doug Keenan’s charges.

      • JohnA
        Posted Jan 10, 2012 at 8:04 AM | Permalink

        It’s difficult not to be sympathetic with Pat Frank on the damage a very few bad apples are having on the reputation of scientists as a whole, but unless there is widespread anger and a willingness of a large number of scientists to stick their head above the parapet and say “Enough” then it will continue.

        I suspect that the activities of the Team will end with a whimper rather than a bang – the slashing of funding in climate science and related environmental disciplines by the US Federal government, being the first step.

        For those of us who have followed the descent of Nature, New Scientist and Scientific American over a number of years into propaganda and hypemongering, none of this comes as a surprise.

        • Pat Frank
          Posted Jan 10, 2012 at 1:26 PM | Permalink

          Thanks, John, but as Steve M. points out it really is worse than that. Nature(London) has itself become partisan. So has Science magazine. So has the NAS, the APS, the AGU and the AMS, not to mention the Royal Society itself (though perhaps a little less now than previously). Major institutions of science have taken prejudicial positions that strictly betray their fundamental ethic. This means the scientists themselves who run these institutions and compose the positions thereof, have also betrayed their professional ethics.

          It’s not a few very bad apples. It’s a few very bad apples and many apples who have actively embraced rot infecting many apple barrels. <a href=""<Punksta is right, that the reputation of science will depend on how many stood up in the midst of the outrage, not who expressed regrets after it’s over. Fortunately, we have the petition project, the NIPCC, and folks like Larry Gould and the indefatigable Pat Michaels to whom and to which we can point as evidence that scientists did stand up, when the going was rough, and protest the willful corruption of their profession.

        • Bernie
          Posted Jan 10, 2012 at 2:35 PM | Permalink

          Pat Frank:
          Pat above provides a link to a couple of videos of Olive. Combined the videos indicate to me that Nature has become highly politicized. Her spin on Jones’ non-release of data is not surprising in the least. A look at her PhD dissertation would be interesting.

        • Matt Skaggs
          Posted Jan 10, 2012 at 5:29 PM | Permalink

          It is trivial compated to the august bodies you mention, but even CSICOP, which publishes Skeptical Enquirer Magazine, betrayed their mission to become CAGW advocates. One would think that for an organization dedicated to skepticism to even consider using the word “denier” would be unconscionable, but some of their columns on climate were as bad as any you will find:

          “Global warming deniers don’t stand a ghost of a chance when forced to defend their views before knowledgeable experts. With the science against them, their best hope is to change the terms of the debate by subjecting climate science to an adversarial trial before an unknowledgeable public with the frequent nastiness and misdirection that ensues.”

          -Skeptical Enquirer, Derek C. Araujo, June 3, 2010

          To his undying credit, the late James Randi, a regular contributor to Skeptical Enquirer, never drank the kool-aid.

        • Pat Frank
          Posted Jan 10, 2012 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

          Matt, you’re right about CSICOP. I recently submitted a manuscript to Skeptical Inquirer, thoroughly rooted in the peer-reviewed literature and analytically skeptical of AGW science. Kendrick Fraser, the editor of SI, replied that he couldn’t consider it unless it was reviewed and passed by accredited climate scientists.

          So I sent the manuscript to three climate scientists, who suggested some constructive changes and passed the science. The revised ms included their names in a new Acknowledgement. When I submitted the revised ms to Kendrick Fraser, he responded by ceasing all communication with me. I tried follow-up emails for 3 months before yielding to his silence.

          Kendrick Fraser totally failed the test of principle. As regards AGW, the Skeptical Inquirer is the Partisan Bugler under Kendrick Fraser.

          I didn’t know that James Randi has died. I met him at a Humanist conference in LA awhile back. He was a nice guy and had lots of stories.

        • Pat Frank
          Posted Jan 10, 2012 at 10:04 PM | Permalink

          Hmm, anticipating James Randi’s response, ‘Reports of my death have been premature.’

          He’s giving a lecture in San Francisco in two days time. Appropriately, there’s a Randiesque conundrum in the making. If he’s actually dead and still shows up, he’ll win his own 1 million $ JREF Challenge prize. 🙂

    • Punksta
      Posted Jan 10, 2012 at 1:20 AM | Permalink

      Wrongly tarring climate scientists in general with Team dishonesty

      As alluded to above, the real worry is their deafening silence.

  15. Tom Fuller
    Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 1:30 PM | Permalink

    It would be useful to note how many FOI requests CRU received annually to put this in context, and note how few they are in comparison to other agencies. IIRC, prior to the 60-odd blast for confidentiality agreements, there may have been less than a dozen in a decade.

    Inundation? Hardly.

  16. Don McIlvin
    Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 2:13 PM | Permalink

    The logic that he can’t respond (to requests for Data or FOIRs) because he is “inundated” (and doesn’t have time) can be logically argued as factually untrue on another ground (beyond who said what to whom). He and his associates spend an enormous amount of time trying to thwart the requests. If it was simply a matter of time, responding to the request readily would be much less time consuming than all the time and effort they put into their refusal.

  17. Noblesse Oblige
    Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 2:53 PM | Permalink

    “It was my view then (and remains my view) that archiving of supporting data was an obligation of the author, rather than an act of grace.”

    This is the distilled essence of the issue. The idea that conveying data to requesters is an act of noblesse oblige is anathema in science. For example, in biophysics, if you do not make available your experimental critters (e.g., bacteria) for others, you are dead meat, and rightfully so.

  18. pouncer
    Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 3:02 PM | Permalink

    To reprise an observation I have made elsewhere:

    U.S. Navy and ExxonMobile oil companies promptly provide requested data sets to “the Team” upon first request.

    This appears to be a one way courtesy…

    The US Navy reaction is particularly interesting. Asked for a particular dataset on Solar Irradience, the Navy researcher promptly (I mean, within the week) sent the data. More, the Navy said (I paraphrase from memory) “you know, there’s more than one way to get hold of this elephant. We have other measures of other angles over other date-ranges. If you’ll tell me what you’re trying to do, I’ll help make sure the dataset you get, and use, best matches your project. ”

    If the team asked for a better-matching set or availed themselves of the offered expertise, it is unrecorded in the email cache.

    The long ago Wegman report noted that the climate community was inconveniently insular. They didn’t ask for — or permit themselves to get — help from statisticians. Or the tree ring guys. Or the mosquito-epidemiology guys. Or the sea level guys. Or, in the present instance, the solar-influx gal. It seems to go beyond cherry-picking. It’s more like glory-grabbing. The team will request and use YOUR the fruit of your data collection efforts willy nilly, right side up, upside down, or sideways; adjusted, smoothed, filtered or fudged. But if you or anyone else cares to examine what ingredients are baked into that recipe by what process — YOU are the one being “unscientific.”

  19. Jeff Norman
    Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 3:48 PM | Permalink

    Professor Jones said: “As I said, this criticism on blog sites is not the way to do science. If they want to engage, they have to converse in civil tones, and if people don’t want to work with them, they have to respect that and live with it.”

    LOL – The reason Climate Audit exits is due to the way Steve was poorly treated at Real Climate because Steve dared to defend his peer reviewed criticism of MBH98.

    While Climate Audit occassionally lapses into a less than civil tone it is only in response to the very uncivil behaviour on their side.

  20. kramer
    Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 6:47 PM | Permalink

    With all of this information becoming available with Climategate 2.0 and the story becoming clearer, you’d think by now some real reporter(s) of a major MSM would look into what we found out, investigate, and start writing about it.

  21. Pat Frank
    Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 7:57 PM | Permalink

    Daublin, you’re explicitly equating the Team and its defenders with academic scientists in general. The first category does not come anywhere near to exhausting the second. I’m protesting the tarring of academics exactly in line with the false equivalence you’re asserting.

    Further: every single technological company depends critically upon academic scientists and engineers to train and provide their source of professional employees. I live in Silicon Valley, and the coupling of academic science to corporate technology transfer and technological innovation is hugely and abundantly evident.

    To the north of me is a rapidly growing ‘Biological Valley,’ which is again sparked and fed by academic scientists and will undoubtedly spur a social-technological revolution of its own.

    That academic scientists (and engineers) bring large benefits to society is rationally undeniable. Your dismissal is facile and factually wrong.

    Even further, I dispute your claim that the class of academic scientists — the entire class, which is what you imply — display (“house”) “as much idiocy and immorality as it does the good stuff.” My direct experience is that they display at least as much integrity as virtually any other professional class. If they were as immoral and idiotic as you suppose, the flow of successful results emerging from universities and driving our technology would be a trickle, rather than the wide river we actually experience. Your attack on their reason and character, as a class, is again facile and factually unsupported.

    • Bernie
      Posted Jan 9, 2012 at 10:53 AM | Permalink

      snip – OT

      The post raises questions as to what drove Heffernan’s selective and inaccurate reporting, how her editiors at Nature overlooked the gaps and inconsistencies in her story and how widespread is this apparently agenda driven reporting at Nature.

  22. Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 8:23 PM | Permalink

    Just how legal is trial by hearsay and blog?

    • stan
      Posted Jan 9, 2012 at 1:47 PM | Permalink

      “trial by hearsay and blog” — sounds like fun, let me know when it happens.
      Steve posting the contents of Jones’ emails is not a trial, and the contents do not constitute hearsay.

    • steven mosher
      Posted Jan 9, 2012 at 2:18 PM | Permalink

      more legal than lying about confidentiality agreements

    • EdeF
      Posted Jan 9, 2012 at 6:10 PM | Permalink

      ford….what specifically is wrong with any of the facts that steve has presented? Please provide the confidentially agreements.

      • Matt Skaggs
        Posted Jan 9, 2012 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

        “Nature re-iterated Jones’ untrue claim that CRU had entered into confidentiality agreements that prohibited sending data to non-academics – a claim that East Anglia itself later abandoned – (see e.g. their response to my appeal here).

        Jones’ claim is unsubstantiated, but it has not been show to be untrue. When Steve says that “East Anglia” abandoned it (there is no link at the “here”), he is most likely referring to the legal opinion that the UEA scientists are not authorized to enter these types of agreements, and therefore that argument cannot be used for FOI/EIR. Again, none of this proves that Jones did not sign on the dotted line, authorized or not. I am a bit dismayed that this theme keeps getting repeated when the conclusion is so much stronger than the evidence (same reason I am an AGW skeptic, actually).

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Jan 9, 2012 at 8:06 PM | Permalink

          In their response to my appeal, the University of East Anglia conceded that the claim was untrue – they said that it had been made “in error”. If UEA conceded the error, I think that one can safely say that the claim has been demonstrated to be “untrue”.

    • Posted Jan 9, 2012 at 8:21 PM | Permalink

      Re: thefordprefect (Jan 8 20:23), It’s a question that should be asked. See here:

      “So McIntyre does not want the data he just wants others unamed to have the data.
      Webster got the data because it will result in a joint Jones Webster publication.
      seems different conditions to me ”

      Trial by Blog? Allright!

    • Punksta
      Posted Jan 10, 2012 at 1:27 AM | Permalink

      Just how legal is trial by hearsay and blog?

      Right – it would be so much better if we great unwashed were just told what to think, rather than delve into it ourselves.

  23. hcubed
    Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 8:51 PM | Permalink

    “…confidentiality agreements from the 1980s that had been mysteriously “lost” during an office move…”

    Does anybody have information exactly where they moved FROM and TO? Was it cross-country, or down the hall?

    • DaveS
      Posted Jan 9, 2012 at 7:43 AM | Permalink

      UEA, as far as I’m aware, has one main campus, so I doubt CRU have ever moved very far.

  24. Stephen Pruett
    Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 9:57 PM | Permalink

    snip – OT

    Let me be clear; I am not surprised in light of the climategate 1 emails, but I am disappointed to learn here about the complicity of a formerly well respected journal like Nature in the Team’s program of deception. As Pat noted, a group of climate scientists have damaged the public perception of all scientists world wide, and I am not happy about it. Very little of their behavior is in any way scientific, but the public is not in a position to know that scientists in other fields would typically not tolerate this type of thing. My first reaction upon reading some of the climategate 1 emails and seeing the rabid defense of them unfold on Real Climate was absolute jaw dropping shock. This is like nothing I have ever seen or imagined in biomedical science.

  25. Gary Hemminger
    Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 10:46 PM | Permalink

    By the way, if you haven’t read Walter Russell Mead’s “Failure of Al Gore,” you really should. Google “Failure of Al Gore.” It is a 3 part essay and it is very good. He also has another one on the Green job myth…

  26. gallopingcamel
    Posted Jan 8, 2012 at 11:56 PM | Permalink

    The “Climategate 2” emails are not the only leaks from the CAGW Titanic. I am looking for people to participate in a “Citizens Audit” of the IPCC’s AR5 “Zero Order Drafts” that were leaked on December 12, 2011.

    You are a pretty savvy bunch on this site. You are great debaters but I am hoping some will want to get involved in an audit of the IPCC’s AR5.

    Once the AR5 is published it is a little late. The IPCC is not going to change a syllable. Won’t it be more fun to start the debate 18 months early?

    Here is a link to the ZOD files:

    Ooops! None of the links to the ZOD files are working. I just grabbed my ankles and submitted to the IPCC’s “Cease & Desist” request. However, if you sign up as a reviewer I might find some testicular fortitude and send you the files.

    My public email address is

  27. Alan Wilkinson
    Posted Jan 9, 2012 at 1:13 AM | Permalink

    Steve, I think your post is missing a link at the end of this sentence?:

    “Nature re-iterated Jones’ untrue claim that CRU had entered into confidentiality agreements that prohibited sending data to non-academics – a claim that East Anglia itself later abandoned – (see e.g. their response to my appeal here).”

  28. David Anderson
    Posted Jan 9, 2012 at 3:53 AM | Permalink

    In her blog post Olive twice makes veiled suggestions that Steve is seeking to cash in via his statistical expertise.

    “Any thoughts on who might offer such services?” (statistical services)

    “Asked if he would take on the challenge, McIntyre said that it’s not a priority for him, but added “if someone wanted to hire me, I’d do it”.”

    The first example in particular is indicative of her having taken a side; no such swipes at Jones despite ample cause. As usual Steve is too nice.

  29. pat
    Posted Jan 9, 2012 at 4:19 AM | Permalink

    too many science mags are now full of CAGW advocates:

    in this EPA-sponsored talk in Dublin, Heffernan sounded Irish, said she was glad to be back in Dublin, and mentioned she previously working in Fisheries Research. found this helpful info, because there is little info online about her prior to her joining Nature Climate Change:

    18mins08secs: Framing science: climate and the Media – Dr. Olive Heffernan, Chief Editor, Nature Climate Change

    MARBEF EU Network of Excellence
    Olive Heffernan
    Ecoserve, Unit B19 KCR Industrial Estate
    Kimmage, Dublin 12 Ireland

    MarBEF, a network of excellence funded by the European Union and consisting of 94 European marine institutes, is a platform to integrate and disseminate knowledge and expertise on marine biodiversity, with links to researchers, industry, stakeholders and the general public.

    • Bernie
      Posted Jan 9, 2012 at 1:09 PM | Permalink

      Thanks for the link. It was very informative as was the addition link to her WIP video that appears at the end of the initial link. My takeaway is that Olive has strong opinions in this area and that any misrepresentation that occurred is likely to be reflective of her own choices and not anything that Jones said. She is an “origin” in this case study, not a “pawn”.
      I found it very interesting that she had recourse to the “framing” meme.

  30. Punksta
    Posted Jan 10, 2012 at 1:38 AM | Permalink

    As regards alleged ‘inundation’, how long would it have taken, for example, for Jones to send Webster that data ? 5 mins? An hour? That, too, is presumably how much time he saved by not sending it to Steve.

    And had he not refused Steve, how many subsequent FOIs looking into the facts behind the refusal could he have been avoided?

  31. Robert S.
    Posted Jan 10, 2012 at 1:16 PM | Permalink

    Has Olive Heffernan formulated a response to this new information yet? I’ve checked her blog but haven’t found any relevant information yet.

    • Squanto McButterpants
      Posted Jan 10, 2012 at 2:21 PM | Permalink

      Has anyone contacted her to let her know about this blog post?

      • sleeper
        Posted Jan 10, 2012 at 7:54 PM | Permalink

        Re: Squanto McButterpants (Jan 10 14:21),
        Who knows? Maybe in the next batch of emails released we’ll find an email from P. Jones notifying her of this blog post and encouraging her to delete all relevant emails she may have kept.

  32. Cameron
    Posted Jan 10, 2012 at 6:05 PM | Permalink

    I think you will find that “the late James Randi” is alive and well and still going strong!

  33. Brian R
    Posted Jan 11, 2012 at 5:50 PM | Permalink

    The use of the word “academic” could have a couple of definitions in these confidentiality agreements. The first that Jones is pushing and most are using. Academic, meaning someone in an scholarly setting using the information for further study. The second definition, which I think is correct in this context, Academic as in non-commercial. The companies or government agencies funding this research do not want their money spent doing the basic ground level data gathering for a commercial for profit company/enterprise.

    By using the first definition Jones is allowed to keep data from anybody not within an “Academic” setting. As most skeptics are not currently working for universities this means them. I think that it could be pushed pretty hard that the second definition is correct in this setting. As long as the requesting party only wishes to use the data for further study, then all is good. There would be no breaking of confidentiality agreements.

  34. barn E. rubble
    Posted Jan 13, 2012 at 9:03 AM | Permalink

    RE: “The post raises questions as to what drove Heffernan’s selective and inaccurate reporting, how her editiors at Nature overlooked the gaps and inconsistencies in her story and how widespread is this apparently agenda driven reporting at Nature.”

    I believe the following email demonstrates quite clearly that actual ‘reporting’, as many believe the term to mean, was never an issue or even a concern.

    August 13, 2009

    From: Phil Jones
    To: Michael Mann , Gavin Schmidt
    Subject: Nature Aug 12
    Date: Thu Aug 13 09:13:53 2009

    Mike, Gavin,

    REDACTEDSee the attached – odd quote by McIntyre in the middle of this .. he is not interested in challenging the science of climate change or in nit-picking, but is simply asking that the data be made available. “The only policy I want people to change is their data-access policy”
    I must have been in a parallel universe for the past 7-8 years!
    The CRU web page referred to in the article is this one.
    I’m off at noon today – back in on Aug 20. I’ll be checking email once a day, but will not be looking at blog sites.

    Olive Heffernan at Nature expects the Nature blog site to be hijacked by the deniers.
    She also said she would put up an expanded article, but I can’t see this.

  35. AntonyIndia
    Posted Jan 27, 2012 at 9:06 AM | Permalink

    “Nature news reporting unfortunately seems more concerned about hagiography of its principal constituency (institutional scientists) than with accurate reporting.”

    Read “Top 100 Stories of 2011 #59: The Mismeasure of Stephen Jay Gould” (Looking deeper into Stephen Jay Gould’s claims has revealed he was guilty of the same sins he decried in others.) in Discover Magazine for a similar case of subjectivity disrupting Scientific Truth finding.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] in this Nature article in 2009, which was also covered in several Climate Audit posts (see here for example). In the Nature article Jones said: “We’re trying to make them all […]

  2. […] in this Nature article in 2009, which was also covered in several Climate Audit posts (see here for example). In the Nature article Jones said: “We’re trying to make them all available,” […]

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