The Questions That Were Never Asked

Andrew Montford’s FOI request for emails between the UEA and Outside Organisation ( who were represented by Neil Wallis, charged in the phonehacking scandal) has turned up a remarkable list of questions, the questions that should have been asked by one of the “investigations”, but were never answered.

On February 22, 2010, Alan Preece, an administrator at UEA, completed collation of a list of questions for preparation of Acton and Phil Jones for their March 1 appearance before the Select Committee. See here – more correspondence here.)

Bishop Hill reader TerryS has collated the questions from the pdf. Had these questions been asked and answered, this affair would have been over long ago. Some of the most obvious and important questions have never been asked or answered.

The list of questions also shows that UEA administration clearly understood the sort of questions that needed to be asked. They accordingly know that Muir Russell didn’t ask those questions. Perhaps that was their strategy – sort of like hiring a Inspector Clouseau confident that he would never stumble across the real plot. Or perhaps it was a serendipitous result from administrators wanting to whitewash the situation.

(Dig here: the correspondence was to and from the notorious Neil Wallis of the phone hacking scandal. Wallis had been working as a PR consultant less than a year when retained by UEA. During Wallis’ consultancy for UEA, he was being concurrently paid by the police and by the News of the World. See here.)


Area 1: Are the terms of reference and scope of the Independent Review announced on 3 December 2009 by UEA adequate?

What was your thinking in setting up an independent Review — Penn State conducted their enquiry into Michael Mann internally?
Isn’t it an inadequacy of the terms of reference that you have felt obliged to set up a second panel to re-assess the science?
Do you still have confidence in the independent Review?
Are you still convinced by its independence?
Why has it been necessary for a separate review to be set up to reassess the science?
Why did the university not insist that the independent Review assessed the science?
Why has the independent Review been so slow to get started?
Have you had any input into the selection of panel members?
Why has one panel member resigned?
Why do you think another panel member (Boulton) is under pressure to resign?
Was it sensible to appoint a panel member who has worked at UEA for 18 years and whose CV claims he contributed to the IPCC?
How do you respond to the many commentators who feel the Review is fatally tarnished by the resignation of one panel member and the comments of Bouiton?
Did you consult – or consider consulting – with the ‘sceptic’ community when setting up the independent Review to ensure buy-in from all sides?

Area 2: What are the implications of the disclosures for the integrity of scientific research?

Would you agree that you have let science down?
Would you agree your mishandling of emails/security has let science down?
Would you agree your handling of data has let science down?
Would you agree your FOIA failures have given rise to scandal that has damaged confidence in science?
Don’t you think you reacted too slowly to the allegations arising from the emails?
Should you not have organised instant rebuttal?
Would you agree that the University made errors/mistakes?
What would you do differently in retrospect?
What lessons have been learned at UEA?
What action have you taken to ensure there is no second breach of IT security at UEA?

Have you or your colleagues in CRU ever lost important data?
Have you ever destroyed important data?
Have you ever manipulated any data?
Has CRU kept all raw data relating to its key scientific papers? If not, why not?
Has CRU kept all of its own datasets relating to its publications? If not, why not?
How transparent were you in terms of your data?
You have been criticised for being extremely disorganised – to the extent that your science is compromised. is this the case?
Why are you so unwilling to share your data with others? Isn’t this part of good science?

What were your reasons for being so vehement in not wishing to share data with ‘sceptics’?
Why did you want to “hide behind” agreements with NMSs – as you state in your emails?
Have the NMSs now all agreed to the release of their data?
Why has the university refused to respond to FOI requests?
The Information Commissioner has said you contravened the FOIA. Do you agree?
Why did you urge colleagues to delete certain emails?
Did you actually delete emails, as you said you would?
Did your colleagues delete emails, as you urged them to?
Did your university encourage you to withhold data and frustrate the efforts of FOI requesters?
Were, as is implied in the emails, all those directly involved in handling FOIA requests part of an agreement to frustrate requests for data?
Do you accept that the attitude expressed in the emails is inconsistent with the spirit of the Act as well as against the need for transparency in science?
You have admitted in recent media interviews that you did not conduct FOI requests properly. in what way were the requests wrongly handled?

It looks plain from your emails that you attempted to manipulate the peer~review process by obstructing articles that you did not agree with. Is that correct?
Do you agree there has been harmful ‘tribalism’ and a ‘bunker mentality’ in climate science?
You say that you stand by your science which has been peer-reviewed, but you have subverted peer review, so why should we believe that the science is correct?
The community of scientists working in elements of climate change – particularly those working with temperature and tree rings – is very small. How can you ensure that peer review is not a cosy club?
Should peer-review be overhauled? How?
Should the IPCC be overhauled? How?
Should bloggers/sceptics now be brought into the mainstream scientific debate more? if so, how?

What do you say to those who claim you cherry-picked data to fit your theories?
Is it ever right to cherry-pick data?
How can you justify the use by CRU of samples from just a handful of trees to support major theories of global warming?
How do you respond to claims that your 1990 Nature paper was flawed, misleading and even fraudulent – because it did not take proper account of the urban heat island effect on Chinese weather stations?
Why did the paper state there were “few if any changes” in stations, when many were moved, including one which moved five times over a distance of 41 kilometres?
Why was it necessary to ‘hide the decline’ (or ‘divergence’ between proxy data and temperature data) in the famous hockey-stick graph?
Why not just show the divergence clearly?
If proxy tree-ring data cannot be trusted for the 1960s, why trust it for earlier periods?
1 Have you changed your views on the Medieval Warm Period?
Have you changed any of your views on AGW?
Has Prof Jones personal integrity been damaged by the emails released?
Will you be releasing your code as well as data?
How do you respond to severe criticisms of your computer code?
How can you separate the quality of your code and of your data security from ‘the science’; surely it is at the heart of the integrity of your research.

Personal attacks:
Why do you think somebody ‘stole’ your emails and released them on the internet?
How do you feel about climate sceptics and bloggers like Steve McIntyre?
Do you feel your treatment of people who do not share you views has been acceptable?
Can it ever be acceptable – even as a joke – to express pleasure at the death of someone who does not agree with you?
Would you agree that many of the emails suggest a small and privileged group of insiders acting in concert to deride and exclude people with genuine interest in climate change?

Public trust/PR disaster:
A recent polled showed the public are beginning to lose faith in the idea of AGW.
How much responsibility do you accept for the weakening of public trust in science – and in the IPCC?
What will you – and others – do to help reinstate public trust?
With the benefit of hindsight, what – if anything – would you have done differently?
Why did UEA/CRU put their ‘head in the sand’ when the story first broke?
Have you at any time felt gagged by the university?
How do you feel the university has handled this whole issue?
Do you understand why there has been so much interest, controversy and anger? Why didn’t the University get on the front foot more quickly to protect its integrity and that of the science – the head of the Science Media Centre has said that they would have got scientists out and talking much more quickly?
We have seen a recent spate of interviews with Prof Jones – why now?
Given the global impact of this and it impact on UK science what have you done to manage the story globally?
Has this matter fatally undermined the reputation of CRU and the University?
Would you agree this affair has damaged the University’s reputation?
How is public con?dence in climate science to be restored/strengthened?
In your opinion, why has there been such a furore since the email disclosures?

Have you paid for professional advice on how best to give evidence before the Select Cttee?
What did the VC know about this issue and when?
Given what the ICO calls ‘prima facts’ evidence of illegal acts and the evident seriousness of several allegation why were Prof Jones and others not suspended pending enquiry?
Was the University’s Council consulted on the response to this issue?
What other advice has been taken in handling this matter?
How do you know your academics comply with the codes of good conduct governing research?
How will you deal with it if it is established that (a) individuals and/or (b) the University contravened the FOIA?

Collaboration is based on trust – how have colleagues and institutions responded to the security breach that has compromised personal details and comments as well as data?
Would stakeholders, including funding councils, be right to think twice before trusting UEA with information in the future?
What assurances can you give that this breach of security will never be repeated?
Have any of your current collaborators indicated their concerns about the security issues involved?
Has the University lost any research funding as a result of this incident?
What has the University done to improve data security since this incident?

What does the future hold for you and for CRU?
How do you think history will judge you?
Can you continue as Director of CRU?

Area 3: How independent are the other two international datasets?

Can you explain the key differences and the key similarities between the three data-sets?
Have the GISS and NCDC data sets been manipulated in any way?
How can GISS, NCDC and CRUTEM be independent when they overlap to such an extent?
How do you respond to claims that all three data sets have been assembled by a small cabal of like-minded ‘warmists’?
Should GRUTEM now be abandoned?
Should CRUTEM be removed from CRU and transferred to the Met Office


  1. Nick
    Posted Jul 21, 2012 at 1:21 PM | Permalink

    Hi Steve,

    This is off topic, but I’m hoping you can direct me to an article you are aware of that discusses this assertion on the NASA website:

    “The global average surface temperature in 2011 was the ninth warmest since 1880, according to NASA scientists. The finding continues a trend in which nine of the 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record have occurred since the year 2000.

    NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, which monitors global surface temperatures on an ongoing basis, released an updated analysis that shows temperatures around the globe in 2011 compared to the average global temperature from the mid-20th century. The comparison shows how Earth continues to experience warmer temperatures than several decades ago. The average temperature around the globe in 2011 was 0.92 degrees F (0.51 C) warmer than the mid-20th century baseline.”

    I see a lot of comments on the various skeptic sites that claim there hasn’t been warming in the past decade on a global scale. It may be I am mixing up the comments with the idea that the models predictive ability was very inaccurate going back to, say 1998. As a layperson who occasionally discusses climate change with others, this NASA statement is difficult to dispute, given NASA’s credibility (in the eyes of the public, at least). I’m aware of the letter some of the scientists wrote recently, but that is often dismissed as a group of scientists who are not PhDs in climate studies.

    I know you have been criticized due to your ‘background and training’ as well, so I am sure it is a subject that activates you, but my hope is to be led to other interpretations of what global temps have been in the past 10-12 years vs the timescale NASA uses (1880). I am aware that Hansen lacks credibility.

    Thank you,

    • rogerknights
      Posted Jul 21, 2012 at 5:18 PM | Permalink

      We’re walking across a tabletop mountain–a plateau if you like–heading for the downslope on the other side.

    • Rud Istvan
      Posted Jul 22, 2012 at 8:57 AM | Permalink

      Nick, …

      snip – because it’s OT.

      • RomanM
        Posted Jul 22, 2012 at 9:35 AM | Permalink

        I would strongly suggest that this thread is pretty much off-topic to the content of the post.

      • Nick
        Posted Jul 22, 2012 at 6:25 PM | Permalink

        I got what I needed via the suggestion to go to Climate Skeptic, thank you. Please feel free to snip my question, I can’t see a way to pull it.

  2. Skiphil
    Posted Jul 21, 2012 at 1:51 PM | Permalink

    Great list of questions, now if only we could have the Jones and Acton “practice” answers to compare to genuine accurate answers! My naivete sometimes still stuns me, because I can still think “of course the inquiries would ask sets of questions much like these” — it is also stunning how easily all the relevant inquiries and panels got away with dereliction of duty.

  3. Armand MacMurray
    Posted Jul 21, 2012 at 1:54 PM | Permalink

    Nick, pretty much everyone agrees that global temps are on average higher now than a century or 130 years ago. However, that’s a different question from whether or not global temps have on average been rising for the past 10 or 12 years. The answer to the latter question is likely “no” or “very little”.

    Thus, IMHO, Nasa resorts to the cumbersome and confusing “warmest years” phrasing to imply that it’s making a statement about the latter question (trend during past 10-12 years) when it’s really only making a statement about the former question (difference between recent temps and 100-130 years ago).

    Bottom line: both the Nasa statements and the “skeptic” comments you mention are likely correct.

  4. TerryMN
    Posted Jul 21, 2012 at 2:11 PM | Permalink

    Pretty good list of questions. It’s too bad they’ll never be answered by Jones, or asked by any of the Science Journalists™.

  5. Posted Jul 21, 2012 at 2:12 PM | Permalink

    These questions are excellent; detailed and pointed
    A pity that few indeed rose to an ask
    The once-“cosy” Team (here, the “club” of Anointed)
    Would have done more for science if taken to task

    But some other, new questions arose from the fray
    As they ended the process — the “sophistication”
    Suggested that someone “inside” had a say
    Just what did the logs say in this situation?

    They clearly don’t know if the source of “attack”
    Came from inside or out — and their “screening” was weird
    But they planned here for diligence practice did lack
    The result is less useful than it first appeared

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  6. Posted Jul 21, 2012 at 5:08 PM | Permalink

    I have only fairly recently become aware that some journal papers are summaries or analyses of the work of others.

    This list of questions seems to be a framework for just such a paper. The whole papers is laid out already. I think someone should tackle it with point-by-point answers as they are gleaned from what information is out there. Sourcing would be pretty simple and straightforward.

    Climategate is such a watershed moment and needs to have some journal appraisal about its fallout. The entire issue is probably too big for one paper. The mindset of those in the Hockey Team seems a pertinent are of inquiry. The behaviour of the panels would be another. The behaviour of the sceptics/bloggers is another. This list of questions seems appropriate for probing into the mindset of those on the Hockey Team.

    Steve Garcia

    • rogerknights
      Posted Jul 21, 2012 at 5:21 PM | Permalink

      Excellent suggestion!

  7. PhilH
    Posted Jul 21, 2012 at 5:20 PM | Permalink

    Since Nick got this thread O/T, I’ll add another. Where in the hell is Bender?

  8. rogerknights
    Posted Jul 21, 2012 at 5:45 PM | Permalink

    This list of questions, in its original format (to increase its impact) should be sent to all MPs, or at least to members of the relevant committee and those associated with its inquiry. There should be a one-word cover sheet: WELL?

    • rogerknights
      Posted Jul 21, 2012 at 5:51 PM | Permalink

      PS: Send it to journalists too.

      • Posted Jul 22, 2012 at 4:31 AM | Permalink

        Roger, I agree the press should be made aware of this, however, the press need to be shown how they can make an article out of it. Being realistic, we are talking a few short paragraphs, so this whole list would need condensing into a few interesting paragraphs which someone with no previous knowledge can understand between bus stops. That is a major exercise!

        However, the Scottish Climate & Energy Forum does do this from time-to-time as resources permit. But we need more help. So, if you or anyone else can suggest how to put this over to the press, we would be very pleased to hear from you.

  9. Jerry Haney
    Posted Jul 21, 2012 at 7:06 PM | Permalink

    Yes, where is Bender. I miss his intelligence.

  10. Adrian
    Posted Jul 21, 2012 at 7:18 PM | Permalink

    It’s a nice list, but it is missing the following questions;

    – Do you think there was an effort to hide uncertainty in paleo data?
    – Do you think there was an effort to suppress alternate views in the the peer reviewd literature?

    And less to do with CRU,

    – Do you think the NAS panel agreed that the paleo “recontructions” were anything more than “merky” earlier than about 1600…

    • Don McIlvin
      Posted Jul 22, 2012 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

      In forming these fantasy questions, you need to consider how brazen a guy like Phil Jones is. He would simply answer the three questions – “no”. Then what? It would be better to have questions that take facts and presume guilt and use the facts as boxing gloves.


      On (X-Date and Time) you asked Mike Mann and others in an email to delete all AR4 related recorded communication, this after receiving an FOI request on (Y-Date) just prior. Why did you attempt to illegally obstruct the FOI process?

      What can he say, your facts are wrong? No.

      But such would require an obtuse intensity and will not present on the Panels.

  11. Dave L.
    Posted Jul 21, 2012 at 7:35 PM | Permalink

    Even had the questions been asked by Inspector Clouseau, I doubt the answers would have revealed any nefarious details. After all, the principals had already rehearsed answering these questions, including playback/feedback and “training”. In other words, they already had been coached to give “pat answers” to these questions. Sort of like preparing accused criminals to give evasive, non-incriminating answers when questioned before the jury by the prosecuting attorney. Of course, if pressed on the issue, there is always the “I don’t recall” answer to fall back on.

  12. Skiphil
    Posted Jul 21, 2012 at 7:39 PM | Permalink

    another pair of questions:

    Before the summer of 2009 there were very few FOI requests: do you agree that unjustified obstruction of those few requests led to the increased numbers of requests which you then complain about?

    Why do you play martyr about problems of your own creation?

    [ok a bit tendentious but I would like to see P. Jones asked those questions!]

  13. Posted Jul 21, 2012 at 8:02 PM | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Climate Ponderings.

  14. Jeff Alberts
    Posted Jul 21, 2012 at 8:12 PM | Permalink

    “Had these questions been asked and answered honestly, this affair would have been over long ago.”

    There, fixed. 😉

  15. Posted Jul 21, 2012 at 8:40 PM | Permalink

    Holy cow! Somebody over there is thinking. Who would have thought that this list would have come from inside UEA. Obviously, they didn’t ask these questions because they knew the answers, and the institution could not allow the truth to get out. It is almost like the Penn State Joe Paterno fiasco. Of course, Penn State gets honors with their very own Climmate Gate fiasco, too.

  16. Posted Jul 21, 2012 at 9:34 PM | Permalink

    You provided a comprehensive set of emails one of which contained this fine list of questions.
    When you scan through these emails there are lots of redactions.
    Do you wonder what was redacted and why?

  17. P. Solar
    Posted Jul 22, 2012 at 1:54 AM | Permalink

    Does this new information have any relationship to the FOIA request that UEA avoided by not being in possession of the server?

    Was that one of A Monford’s requests or was that someone else?

  18. TAC
    Posted Jul 22, 2012 at 8:18 AM | Permalink

    The questions are excellent, and it’s a shame that we may never see formal responses. Going down the list and answering each question for myself, and then imagining how Jones, Mann, etc., might have responded, is itself a revealing exercise. When historians of science write the final chapter on the deplorable history of early 21st century climate science, the failure to address these questions may well be the main theme.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Jul 22, 2012 at 10:02 AM | Permalink

      One of the process questions that interested me: their awareness that they had excluded CRU critics from any representation in the inquiries and that this prevented “buy in” by critics. David Eyton of BP had an excellent article on the importance of ensuring that all interested parties are involved in a task force seeking to resolve a dispute, but did not ensure that the Muir Russell did so. Muir Russell himself sneered at the idea when asked by Roger Harrabin.

      The list of questions also shows CRU’s awareness that the terms of reference of the Muir Russell inquiry, especially as narrowed in the Muir Russell work plan, did not cover the questions of actual interest.

      • Don McIlvin
        Posted Jul 22, 2012 at 2:02 PM | Permalink

        I have to conclude the goals of the panel’s were not “to resolve a dispute”. To do that one needs to get way into the factual details that matter. It seems evident they had no intention of doing so. The thorny details suggest to me the goal was to put up a conclusion favorable to UEA and CRU, and it didn’t matter to them whether critics, skeptics and the like disagree with their conclusions. They were not the audience that mattered to “them”.

        They succeeded at accomplishing something else.

        Time and time again I have seen various institutional decisions removed from the climate science community itself rely on the inquiries conclusion when questions in this area are raised. If I recall correctly the recent US Court decision on whether the EPA can regulate CO2 is an example. Also I think the Inspector General report that brought out the Whal AR4 email deletion – similarly did so.

        It seems to me what ever orchestration of the Panels occurred, it looked at how it would play out on the grander scale. With the inquiry results established a wall of presumptive prestige protects the conclusions.

        Contrarian argument against the Panel’s absolution can’t overcome the wall. Disagreement that depends on a field of weedy facts is something an institution has neither the time or inclination to delve into.

        What they accomplished at the institutional level is a favorable closure.

    • dougieh
      Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 5:44 PM | Permalink

      these rehearsal questions kind of explain to me anyway why PJ was so nervous at the “COMMONS INQUIRY”, he was expecting the worst (his mind would have been racing, feel sorry for the guy even though he mostly brought this on himself)
      imagine the relief when he got exonerated & back in the old job again.

      ps. Steve, these questions look a lot like all your concerns over the years (along with others) & your name appears prominently, your blog appears to be read by some interesting lurkers, keep on doing your Audits.

  19. Craig Loehle
    Posted Jul 22, 2012 at 8:24 AM | Permalink

    This list of questions makes it clear that someone at least understood EXACTLY what the issues were and what UEA/Jones were accused of by sceptics. This blows up the defense that the whitewashes resulted from cluelessness/carelessness.

    • kim
      Posted Jul 22, 2012 at 10:18 AM | Permalink

      Yes, this is a very damning document. It reveals a guilty conscience.

  20. Skiphil
    Posted Jul 22, 2012 at 9:53 AM | Permalink

    Is someone able to compile a similar list of questions that Michael Mann still needs to answer?

    In light of his egregious book and “hockey stick wars” book tour and insouciant refusal to actually address most of the questions that should have been answered long ago, it may be a good time to pursue parallel lines with Mann/CRU on “whitewash inquiries and unanswered questions”…. something like that.

    • eyesonu
      Posted Jul 22, 2012 at 1:04 PM | Permalink

      I would venture to say that a similar list of questions have been compiled for mann to answer. If he doesn’t answer them in a more credible venue than the Muir Russell inquiry then maybe Climategate 3 will. Mann appears to be committing himself to the US court system and the whitewash will be more difficult. The end result may be in doubt but the questions will be asked.

  21. Skiphil
    Posted Jul 22, 2012 at 12:00 PM | Permalink

    If the Muir Russell panel was supposed to provide UEA/CRU with a pretense of restored or demonstrated credibility, it has done the opposite (for anyone honest enough to look):

  22. Posted Jul 22, 2012 at 6:39 PM | Permalink

    Am I surprised that UEA knew exactly what should be asked and that Neil Wallis was incolved in prepping Jones and Acton? Not at all.

    Am I surprised that this has come out through a FOI request? Yes. Another positive in favour of such legislation. And thanks a bundle Andrew and TerryS.

    Implications of the disclosure? The inquiries were a deliberate con. (Maybe) Some people in UEA really want to clean house now.

  23. Posted Jul 22, 2012 at 9:52 PM | Permalink

    Here is a direct link to TerryS’s comment. (Direct links to Bishop Hill comments do in fact exist, you just have to grub around in the HTML for them.)

  24. hunter
    Posted Jul 23, 2012 at 12:08 AM | Permalink

    Here is a question:
    How does one distinguish between what was done as revealed in climategate with an organized effort to deceive people?

  25. hunter
    Posted Jul 23, 2012 at 12:16 AM | Permalink

    Dear FOIA,
    Please release the codes for part 3 soon.
    It is time to have this charade and coverup brought to an end.
    Respectfully yours,

  26. michaelozanne
    Posted Jul 23, 2012 at 4:53 AM | Permalink

    It’s always the questions *not asked* that tell you the purpose of an official inquiry. As a long standing example Lord Cochrane commanding HMS Speedy, bent/broke his escort orders and burnt three Spanish merchant ships. This drew the attention of a French Squadron and Speedy was captured. As there was a need to prevent exposure of a corrupt arrangement regarding despatches and mail, at no point in the enquiry was Lord Cochrane asked how he came to be in such a vulnerable position (embayed with light and variable winds). See “Cochrane:Britannia’s Sea Wolf” by Donald Thomas Cassell and Co 1978 ISBN 0-304-35659-X or Patrick O’Briens “Master and Commander” for a more entertaining fictionalised, but essentially accurate account.

  27. justbeau
    Posted Jul 23, 2012 at 6:59 AM | Permalink

    It must have been Alan Preece’s idea to hire Wallis. Preece had been hired as a director of marketing by the University of East Anglia in 1996. Climategate has really helped make UEA better known. Great work by Preece.

    • justbeau
      Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 7:34 AM | Permalink

      Preece’s penetrating questions illuminate the gap between what UEA would acknowledge versus what some of its managers knew.
      Many universities once saw their mission as searching honestly, even if imperfectly, for knowledge and truth.
      Now some universities mar their reputations, ironically in the cause of trying to protect these reputations, by being less than forthright and via the spinning of their PR professionals.

  28. Mark McNeil
    Posted Jul 23, 2012 at 8:27 PM | Permalink

    Mann’s after National Review over this article:

    • Skiphil
      Posted Jul 23, 2012 at 9:39 PM | Permalink

      as Bishop Hill notes, Michael Mann has had years of practice at nasty defamatory ad homs:

      @robinince Mind you, Mann does a pretty mean ad-hom attack himself.

      In that case (at link) he did not even pretend to address any of the issues!

  29. mpaul
    Posted Jul 23, 2012 at 9:25 PM | Permalink

    I don’t know how the UK system works, but perhaps Graham Stringer could be nudged into sending a letter to the UEA asking for written answers to each of the questions on the list.

  30. jazznick
    Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 3:54 AM | Permalink

    Your Clouseau analogy falls down I’m afraid.

    Don’t forget that despite the bumbling and incompetent Inspector Clouseau making a farcical
    attempt at an investigation he always ended up with a conviction – (by accident rather than by design, you kneau !)

  31. Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 12:46 PM | Permalink

    I’m [sarcastically] surprised that the UEA chose not to run with these [softball] questions. If I were under investigation myself, these are precisely the types of questions I would hope to be asked – that is unless I felt I could get away with answering no questions at all.

    In general all of the questions are so non-specific that the respondent is allowed to define the scope question with his answer. None of the questions directly reference a single demonstrable fact or behavior, or incident. Also, questions such as those that begin with “Would you agree..?” are asked that way so that they can be answered with a ‘No’. Unfortunately all of these questions can be interpreted as open-ended invitations to fairytale telling.

    Call me skeptical, but hiring a tained, shyster PR hack such as Neil Wallis, one who is known is his business as “The Wolfman”, does not indicate an institution’s intention to deal directly or honestly with an issue. It is usually an indication of the opposite. People like Mr. Wallis, who has been under investigation for several serious ‘ethical lapses’ and have been employed by scandal ridden organizations are not retained despite their past misdemeanors, [or felonies as the case may be] but because of them. The people who hire them [for significant sums of money] are hoping for just such ‘effectiveness’ in his dealings with their own situation.

    In this matter what we seem to have is a tangled web of institutional [co]dependencies where no one institution seems willing to deal strongly with the situation at hand because of the potential for embarrassment [or worse] for their own institution caused by the wrong doing of the other institutions in their network.

    All of this should lead to larger questions about how institutions can and should be investigated, and where and who draws the line in determining the ‘independence’ of investigations.

    It should be apparent to all by now that no institution can be trusted to investigate itself. Question is in the post-post-modern age, where does one institution end and the other begin?


  32. Brandon Shollenberger
    Posted Jul 27, 2012 at 12:38 AM | Permalink

    It’s always amazing just how far people will go to whitewash things in “climate science.” A recent example can be found on Skeptical Science where we are told:

    “Mike’s Nature trick” referred to the technique of plotting recent instrumental temperature data along with historical reconstructed data.

    Michael Mann himself links to this article on his Facebook page. Either he didn’t bother to read the article, or he knowingly promoted false claims about his work. I suppose that shouldn’t be surprising, nor should Skeptical Science’s false description (which they’ve promoted before).

    It just goes to show, if people never have to answer real questions, they can say anything they want.

    • Brandon Shollenberger
      Posted Jul 27, 2012 at 12:47 AM | Permalink

      I’ve left the following comment on that Skeptical Science post:

      Your description of “Mike’s Nature trick” is false. The trick is not merely “plotting recent instrumental temperature data along with historical reconstructed data.” If it were, there’d be no problem.

      The trick actually consists of splicing instrumental data onto the reconstructed series (starting at 1980), smoothing the resulting series, then truncating the series at the point the instrumental data had been appended. That is nothing like what you describe.

      For more information on the subject of “tricks,” I highly recommend readers look at this post.

      I can’t imagine how anything in that comment would violate their comments policy, so it should be interesting to see if the moderators allow it to stay.

      • Brandon Shollenberger
        Posted Jul 27, 2012 at 6:42 AM | Permalink

        Wow. dana1981 deleted my comment with an incredible response:

        Brandon Shollenberger, I draw your attention to the comments policy which states:

        ” Some comments, while strictly on topic, may relate to issues discussed in more detail in some other thread. Extended discussion of those points should be carried out in the more appropriate thread, with link backs to reference the discussion as needed. Moderator’s directions to move discussion to a more appropriate thread should always be followed.”

        It is very evident, that, for example, this thread would be far more appropriate to discussing the specific meaning of “Mike’s Nature trick”. I find, however, that your focus on such trivial inconsequentialities rather than the campaign of abuse and misinformation about climate scientists speaks volumes about your priorities. Regardless, if you want to discuss “Mike’s Nature trick”, take it to where it is the main point of the discussion.

        Look at the reason dana1981 says my comment was deleted. Now look at my comment. Does anyone here feel my comment constitutes an “extended discussion” of any point? It was six sentences long!

        In any event, I re-posted the comment on the thread dana1981 directed me to. I then posted a new comment on the newer thread with a link to it, saying this:

        In following the instructions given in the moderator’s response to my #1, I’ve posted a comment here which discusses a factual error in that appears in this (and that) post. Interested readers should follow the link.

        I don’t expect this comment to last very long, but I’m dying to know what excuse dana1981 comes up with for deleting it. I mean, if a single comment with just six sentences can be deleted for being an “extended discussion,” who knows what other craziness will happen?

      • Brandon Shollenberger
        Posted Jul 27, 2012 at 6:50 AM | Permalink

        A comment of mine which discusses the deletion of that submitted comment is in moderation, but I’m sure it’ll be freed up shortly. In the meantime, this remark by dana1981 amuses me:

        I find, however, that your focus on such trivial inconsequentialities rather than the campaign of abuse and misinformation about climate scientists speaks volumes about your priorities.

        Apparently, in dana1981’s mind, issues like what Mike’s Nature trick actually is are “trivial inconsequentialities.” I’m not sure how to reconcile that with the fact the article spends several paragraphs discussing exactly that. I mean, something like half the post is spent on defending Mann against accusations of fraud. Surely examining those accusations is meaningful.

        I point out dana1981 made things up about the argument he is attempting to rebut. He says that matter is a trivial inconsequentiality (and smears me for it).

        • Posted Jul 27, 2012 at 8:32 AM | Permalink

          Your resposted comment on the old thread at is in fact out of context there, since it is based on a quote from the new thread.

          Just for fun you might add a clarifying comment on the old thread explaining this.

        • Brandon Shollenberger
          Posted Jul 27, 2012 at 9:10 AM | Permalink

          I’ve already made more comments there than I’d care to, so I don’t think I’ll bother. It’s true my quote was from a different thread, but both threads have almost identical sentences:

          The “trick” is the technique of plotting recent instrumental data along with the reconstructed data.

          “Mike’s Nature trick” referred to the technique of plotting recent instrumental temperature data along with historical reconstructed data.

          I don’t think the minor differences are enough to require comment. Normally, I’d do it anyway, but I with the responses I’m getting, posting anything on the site at all is unappealing. I mean, moderation issues aside, just look at this comment by Tom Curtis. A small excerpt:

          Clearly McIntyre has not even got the reconstruction of Mann’s smoothing method correct. His supposition that he can deduce from his flawed reconstruction of Mann’s smoothing method the nature of the “Nature trick” is absurd. Specifically, McIntyre gives no evidence that the trick relates to the smoothing function as opposed to appending of the full instrumental record as claimed by Mann.

          4) Assuming Jones was referring to his graph for the WMO report, he did not do anything like what Mann did in his Nature article (MBH 98). Consequently the name of “Mike’s Nature trick” is a complete misnomer. Fake climate-auditors, however, insist on using it, and in trying to suggest that Mann did something similar. Clearly the purpose is not to criticize Jones’ techniques, which stand or fall on their own merits. Rather it is an attempt to try and tarnish as many reputations as possible on no substantive basis.

        • Brandon Shollenberger
          Posted Jul 27, 2012 at 10:53 AM | Permalink

          This is too good not to share. Besides, I think Steve should know that over on Skeptical Science, it’s been proven his work on figuring out “Mann’s Nature trick” has been proven wrong. After posting a blown up version of MBH98’s Figure 5b, Tom Curtis said:

          Please note that the smoothed curve terminates around 1973, not 1980. Clearly, therefore, McIntyre’s reconstruction of Mann’s “third step” is incorrect. You will note, of course, that no matter how carefully we examine McIntyre’s code, it will not make the smoothed curve MBH 98 terminate in 1980.

          I was so amazed I could only marvel in awe at his brilliance, saying:

          that’s a dashed line. You are saying a gap in a dashed line means the series terminated earlier than I say.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Jul 27, 2012 at 1:09 PM | Permalink

          It is amazing how they thoroughly they deny every criticism, no matter how well-documented and well-founded.

        • Brandon Shollenberger
          Posted Jul 27, 2012 at 10:54 AM | Permalink

          Oops, I forgot the link.

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