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Friday, April 18, 2014

A blow to smear merchants and disinformers

Sou | 2:03 AM Go to the first of 58 comments. Add a comment


Anthony Watts says (archived here) that today's Supreme Court decision (in Virginia) to reject an appeal by the American Tradition Institute to ferret through ancient emails is, as he put it in the headline: "a blow to open science".  I differ, I call it a blow to those who are trying to stifle academic freedom and open science.

Anthony thinks that science is only open if he can read the scientists' emails.  Or more likely, if he can read the interpretation of snippets of other people's emails as made by smear-merchants and disinformers (that was prophetic, see update below).  Anthony is not very knowledgeable when it comes to science.

The issue as I understand it, is an appeal by ATI against a circuit court decision.  It's mainly about ATI wanting to gain access to Michael Mann's emails, that he sent or received during the six years he spent at the University of Virginia.

Here is the summary of the decision of the Supreme Court of Virginia (my paras and bold italics):

130934 American Tradition Inst. v. Rector and Visitors 04/17/2014
The circuit court was correct in denying a request for disclosure of certain documents under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. The purpose of the higher education research exemption under Code § 2.2-3705.4(4) for "information of a proprietary nature" is to avoid competitive harm, not limited to financial matters.
The definition of "proprietary" in prior case law, that it is "a right customarily associated with ownership, title, and possession, an interest or a right of one who exercises dominion over a thing or property, of one who manages and controls," is consistent with that goal and the circuit court did not err in applying that definition. Viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the university that prevailed below, it produced sufficient evidence to meet each of the higher education research exemption’s seven requirements.
Also, in the context of the Code § 2.2-3704(F) provision allowing a public entity to make reasonable charges for its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying or searching for requested records, "searching" includes inquiry into whether a disputed document can be released under federal or state law, and this statute permits a public body to charge a reasonable fee for exclusion review. The circuit court's judgment excluding disputed documents and approving such cost recovery is affirmed, and final judgment is entered in favor of the university.

The full decision is here. It makes for interesting reading. In it, the court noted that:
On January 6, 2011, American Tradition Institute and Robert Marshall (collectively, "ATI") sent a request to UVA, a public university, seeking all of the documents that "Dr. Michael Mann produced and/or received while working for the University . . . and otherwise while using its facilities and resources . . . ."

ATI wanted the lot. It was a pure, unadulterated fishing expedition.  They didn't have a clue what they were looking for or what they might find.  They just wanted all the documents produced or received by Professor Mann. Bear in mind that the newest document would have to be nine years old and the oldest would be fifteen years old. And at the time, to comply with VFOIA, the university would have had to provide the information within five days.

Now Michael Mann was busy during his time at UVA (from 1999 to 2005).  The university wrote to ATI and said they found 34,062 "potentially responsive" documents. They got that down to 8,000 and then worked through 1,000 of those before the ATI's $2,000 prepayment was all used up. They are very efficient workers at UVA.  They said they'd keep going if ATI paid up the balance of the original cost estimate ($8,500).  Which I think it did.

But then there was a bit more to-ing and fro-ing between UVA and ATI.  Before all the material was provided to ATI, Michael Mann intervened.  He argued that the University could not sufficiently protect his interests in privacy, academic freedom, and free speech.  He wasn't objecting to published material and related.  What he was arguing was that his personal correspondence was just that - personal and that his other emails should be exempt under the "proprietary" definition. Or at least that's how I understand it. There's a lot of legalese. There was a lot more to the arguments, including what constitutes "proprietary", which definition the press was keen to narrow. The other argument related to who should bear the costs of getting the information.

Anyway, the upshot seems to be that scientists can continue to communicate by email, at least in Virginia, and be open with their colleagues knowing that the grubby little denier bloggers won't easily purloin snippets of their conversations and twist them beyond recognition. At least until and unless there is a different definition of proprietary in Virginian law.

Moreover, provided no-one steals them.  Anthony Watts yesterday wrote another article on the same subject, in which he said:
With Mann, it’s all about delaying the inevitable, unless of course somebody like the hero of Climategate “FOIA” decides to take matters into their own hands and stop this abuse of the legal system and FOIA law by making an email dump. I don’t underestimate that possibility.

It's heroic to steal personal property in deniersville (just like it's heroic to pretend to be a dog).  But only if you're a science denier.  (I expect Anthony will find his door being knocked upon if anyone does steal emails of climate scientists in the USA.)


Other blog articles


Michael Halpern has written about the Supreme Court decision and the implications, at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

There's also a short discussion of the finding by L. Steven Emmert, who blogs about court findings and appeals. I've archived it here for future reference, because there doesn't seem to be a way to link directly to the article.

Eli Rabett has written about this too.


WUWT update - another email smear


Anthony Watts has just done some more smearing with the help of Eric "eugenics" Worrall.  He's cut and pasted snippets from two stolen private emails, reversing them, to make it appear as one email and to make it look as if it's something it's not.  The two emails don't involve Michael Mann.  They are a query from one scientist to another, asking the first scientist if, under the (then) new FOI laws in Britain, he would be required to hand out to all and sundry computer code prepared (as I understand it) by the second scientist.  The reply was that code might be exempt under property rights provisions. But Anthony and Eric manage to turn it into a smear.  That example is a good illustration of why private emails should be kept private and out of the hands of smear merchants and disinformers. (The article is archived here.)


From the WUWT comments


Many of the commenters at WUWT don't have a clue.  Here are a couple of comments from Anthony's article of yesterday (archived here):

bushbunny has got the situation topsy turvy and says:
April 16, 2014 at 7:21 pm
I thought the university of Virginia were suing him because they want their grant back? Oh the result will be interesting, as it may affect Mark’s case too?

Proud Skeptic is wrong, and needs to learn about what FOIA covers and what is exempt, and maybe think about the result of allowing all government-funded information to be freely available to everyone at any time when he or she says:
April 16, 2014 at 8:14 pm
Maybe I’m naïve but isn’t public money funding Mann’s research? IMHO, when the public is paying the freight then EVERYTHING is public. if you want privacy, then use private money…preferably your own.

 And here are a few from today's article (archived here). Not all WUWT-ers disagree with the decision.

Brad hatches a conspiracy theory about the seven Supreme Court Judges and says:
April 17, 2014 at 7:53 am
Sounds rigged, have to wonder how many judges, or family members, or political contributors, are alumni?
Something stinks…. And Lew-paper won’t make the smell go away.

tim maguire didn't read the decision or the bit about "not limited to financial matters" and says:
April 17, 2014 at 7:42 am
Publicly funded educational research is specifically exempted to protect financial interests? Wouldn’t the right of possession be held by the people of Virginia?
What a strange outcome. 

David in Michigan finds the decision correct and says:
April 17, 2014 at 8:01 am
After reading the decision by the court, I agree that their interpretation is correct. It’s disappointing, yes, but reasonable and coherent. I also note the caveat by one of the judges at the end of the decision write up that there might be unintended consequences of applying the definition of the word “proprietary” to other sections. So it goes….

Paul Coppin says:
April 17, 2014 at 8:06 am
On a quick read through and without looking at the referenced cases, I note two things: ATI probably argued the case badly, and the ruling is a cautious ruling. Th nut of the last part is in the court’s caution over the meaning of “proprietary”, the ambiguous intent of its meaning as derived from the Va legislature in statute (which the court has asked the legislature to clarify), and the consequence, that because of this ambiguity, the court was obliged to follow the narrower definition established by case law in respect of the specific Codes in the VAFOIA. The competitive issue of public schools vs private schools is an interesting wrinkle. The decision is not a failure of the court to uphold access to publicly funded information, it’s a failure of the state legislature to properly construct statutes with consistent common use terminology. 

58 comments :

  1. What is it with deniers and their profound compulsive obsession with Mann, and the hockey stick graph. There are now about a dozen other studies, all have which confirmed the original paper, what, 15 years old now.

    If you want to delve into the crazed and obsessed Bizarro world of the professional misinformer, you can't go past these submissions by the who's who of deniers to the UK Energy and Climate Change Committee.

    http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/energy-and-climate-change-committee/inquiries/parliament-2010/the-ipcc/?type=Written#pnlPublicationFilter

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    1. My suspicion as to the reason that deniers hate Mann so much is that the hockey stick is pretty much game set and match for anthropogenic global warming. It s simple enough a graph that even Lord Lawson and Christopher Monckton can understand it. So if you want to deny climate change you have to show that Mann was wrong. Sixteen years on and Mann is still undefeated. Since he was first, he's the one to knock down.

      Unfortunately, deniers don't understand replication.

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    2. I think I meant game set and match to anthropogenic global warming.

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    3. Sixteen years ago nobody but Mann's friends and family knew much about him. To the likes of McIntyre and the PR-savvy AGW denial team he must have looked like easy meat. Just some geek. Turns out they were very very wrong, and they are surely resentful. McIntyre's assault on Mann was supposed to make McIntyre famous - not Mann.

      I stand in awe of Mann's response, as a scientist and a human being.

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  2. This is a major victory for academics at public universities. The court recognized their and their universities having a proprietary interest in their not being exposed to every idle FOIA appeal, that public universities being exposed to FOIA rampages (Hi Steve) would have a harder time recruiting faculty and more.

    This case and the decision has moved far beyond Michael Mann and climate. UVa today is certainly feeling that the money it spent defending the case was worth every penny. Look for this decision to be adopted in many venues. (Eli has a word at Rabett Run)

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  3. A scientist of Phil Jones' stature talking about hiding behind IPR agreements to avoid releasing data requested through FOIA is obviously of no interest to anyone /sarc.

    Lets not forget Phil Jones actually won the court case to keep all this material secret. It was only due to whoever released the emails that we ever knew about it.

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    1. Exactly, Eric.

      Let's not forget that you cut and pasted your snippets out of order and presented them as if it were from one email when they were from two emails. And now you're telling us that Phil Jones was correct all along in his early interpretation of the new law.

      What a contemptible act on your part. It illustrates the depths to which you and other disinformers will sink. Your actions will disgust many people, but not Anthony and his cronies. (I see that you've managed to raise your profile with Anthony, after he snubbed you, treating you like just another nobody a short while ago.)

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    2. Still insisting emails were released, not hacked? Sharing code with WUWT regulars like Eric Worrall only leads to baseless accusations of betraying complete ignorance.

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    3. Typical Eric "eugenics" Worrall, DS. A "useful idiot" - to the deniosphere. (I'd not be surprised if that's how Anthony Watts thinks of Eric. He may end up getting Wilded one of these days.)

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    4. Indeed, Sou. WUWT "guest authors" should wonder if they're climbing a ladder, or being used as expendable pawns.

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    5. No DS, my reward is the satisfaction of doing a little bit to help to build a better world for my little girl.

      If you guys win, she will inherit a poorer world, bereft of many of the opportunities I enjoyed, a world in which the Age of Reason has been destroyed by a new dark age of unquestionable faith.

      [Sou: Originally posted at 10:48 am and deleted accidentally, hence reposted]

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    6. It's a fine example you set for your little girl Eric. Are you wanting her to grow up to be a maligner, disinformer and deceiver just like her dad? Are you filling her head with your ugly conspiracy theories about eugenics and your fantastical climate hoax?

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    7. No, what I want is for my little girl to be able to make her own mind up, to be able to express doubt about a scientific theory, without someone in a position of authority calling her a "despicable denier" for articulating wrong think. Its called freedom - a concept which some of us prize.

      I certainly hope she takes after her dad, at least to some extent - doesn't every parent hope for this? But if she becomes a fanatic Al Gore fan, she is still my little girl.

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    8. That's a good strawman, Eric. People who articulate 'wrong think' aren't by that fact "despicable deniers". They may be deniers (of right think) but not necessarily despicable.

      On the other hand, people who deliberately select two emails from two different people, snip them of context and present them as one email coming from one person to try to "prove" wrongdoing, so as to falsely malign someone, their action could well be thought of as "despicable". And it is.

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    9. I did nothing of the sort Sou. I presented the original link along with the quotes, clearly marked as such, so anyone who wanted to view the original source material, or see the quotes in context, could do so with a single click.

      There is other interesting material in that particular email, talk of having Lindzen on a panel as a "token skeptic" (their words), my guess is to give a false impression of balance (happy to hear other theories). But I didn't include that, because it wasn't relevant to the point I wanted to make.

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    10. Ah I see the problem - when I say "Climategate Email", I mean one of the files in the archive. Many of the files contain more than one email. I'll keep in mind that some people might not be aware of this distinction next time I publish such material.

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    11. Eric, you did everything of the sort. Your lead in at WUWT (archived here), that I don't see you correcting is:

      ...should consider the following Climategate email.

      And again:
      ...Full email here:

      That's email, singular. And the quote is a single quote with elipses to suggest you've cut some text out of a single email, when in fact it's a composite cherry pick of two emails.

      Not only that but you inverted the order - putting the question (presumably from Tom Wigley) last as if it's a statement of some sort and the answer by Dr Jones first.

      Then you imply wrongdoing, whereas now you say that Dr Jones was correct in his interpretation of property owned by third parties.

      Also, Anthony (if not you) counts on the fact that most WUWT readers don't follow links (I can attest to that).

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    12. Compounding your errors, now you acknowledge it here but choose to let it stand at WUWT. That also counts as "despicable" in my book.

      Your comment should never have been made in the first place, nor allowed to be used as an article. But what else would one expect from a purveyor of stolen emails?

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    13. I have posted a clarification to the WUWT comment thread. And I don't think the order of the quotes makes any difference to my point that Phil Jones had a plan for defeating FOIA requests by hiding behind IPR agreements (his words).

      If I had information about the greatest crisis our civilisation has ever faced, I would be broadcasting my information to the world, not discussing with colleagues how I could hide the information from people who wanted to check my calculations.

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    14. Eric, you've already said above that Phil Jones was correct in his interpretation - and found to be so. You have earned the adjective you don't want for your daughter many times over.

      By the way, now that all the owners of the information have given permission for its release, and now that it was released years ago, what have you done with it? Anything? What has anyone who spammed CRU with FOI requests done with the data?

      Nothing at all, have they. That is strong evidence that deniers were not the least bit interested in the data itself, they simply wanted to smear top scientists of good repute and prevent research from continuing.

      And you continue to smear with no justification. Despicable. An horrific role model.

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    15. I have posted a clarification to the WUWT comment thread

      That's a start.

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    16. Phil Jones won the case to keep the emails secret, but in the wake of Climategate a statement was made by the Freedom of Information Commission that FOIA guidelines had been broken.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_Information_requests_to_the_Climatic_Research_Unit

      Deputy Information Commissioner Graham Smith replied on 22 January 2010 that "The FOI Act makes it an offence for public authorities to act so as to prevent intentionally the disclosure of requested information. Mr Holland's FOI requests were submitted in 2007/8, but it has only recently come to light that they were not dealt with in accordance with the Act. The legislation requires action within six months of the offence taking place, so by the time the action came to light the opportunity to consider a prosecution was long gone."

      Regarding your attitude towards an email which discusses using IPR to hide data, I think if a Tobacco company email was released discussing hiding cancer rates behind IPR agreements, you would have a different attitude to it. But because you happen to agree with the scientist who planned to hide his research, that makes it OK.

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    17. If you owned intellectual property rights and gave permission to someone to make use of your intellectual property, but them alone, and then found they had given it to any Steve, Dick or Dave who asked for it without getting your permission, you'd be rightly aggrieved.

      The analogy you draw is a false one in other ways, too. Remember this was a small unit of researchers who were deliberately targeted, not to get information but to harass. Could they have acted differently? Yes. Yet it's not as if similar data wasn't already freely available (it was).

      These scientists had been plagued by vexatious requests for a long time. See what happens when Steve McIntyre abuses the system. And what happens when he doesn't get his way. It's all there in plain sight on his blog.

      And having harassed abominably, and the scientists having worked to secure permission to release the data - what use have deniers made of it? Nothing. Not a peep.

      This decision of the Supreme Court is absolutely the correct one and should be incorporated into FOI legislation everywhere. Like I said, Anthony's article with your comment is a perfect illustration of why that is so.

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    18. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    19. Eric, I allow a certain latitude here for people who choose to stretch the truth. You crossed even that line with your comment.

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    20. How? All I said was that an official statement had been made that the CRU had breached FOIA guidelines, but it was too late to consider prosecution. I provided a link in a previous comment to the official statement.

      I also suggested it was unreasonable for people who claim that the future of civilisation is endangered without massively expensive remedial action to refuse access to their evidence.

      Which part of my comment stretched the truth?

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    21. No, Eric, that wasn't what you wrote. I redacted the part that went too far. You can read it in the usual place.

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    22. Eric writes
      "A scientist of Phil Jones' stature talking about hiding behind IPR agreements to avoid releasing data requested through FOIA is obviously of no interest to anyone"

      Yep, you actually got that right. How many years ago was Climategategate? Still obsessing over a manufactured 'crisis'? But what else would you expect from a hawker of stolen emails. Besides, the topic was Mann not Jones. Oh no, no one is talking about my favourite pet unnatural obsession, let's segue to Climategategate, so I can hopefully evangelise my fetish.

      Eric, in case you missed it, the world has forgotten and is no longer interested in your perverted hobby horse. Why? Because it's so irrelevant, and has already been done to death. Time to move on dude. Actually provide something new.

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    23. "hiding behind IPR agreements"

      In Eric's world, felony hacking of computing systems is moral.

      Honoring an IPR contract signed in order to get access to data is immoral.

      I wouldn't trust this dude in any position of fidicuary importance, that's for sure.

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    24. Eric, as ever with your crowd this always bears restating: Climategate is over. You lost.

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  4. eric, how do you respond to the fact that all the data that anyone could possibly want is readily available to them literally right now? i mean what the hell is it that they want so bad?

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    1. Really? There are still plenty of instances of scientists refusing data for research, including Lewandowsky's recent refusal to provide complete data for his research.

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    2. Different field, different data and different reasons. The comments so far have been about weather observations and climate science - not personal data and cognitive science. (I hope you're not suggesting that additional information to that already provided, which could allow any old unqualified Steve, Eric or Tony to identify anonymous respondents to an internet survey and pair that information with their individual responses. That would be unethical.)

      Weird how deniers complain when a research paper quotes their public statements directly, and at the same time demands identifying information about people who completed an anonymous on-line survey on the same topic. Mental models that permit double-think - or is it double standards.

      As far as climate science goes (rather than cognitive science), I'd be interested if anyone would challenge the notion that there is *no* field of science that is more transparent, that actively encourages the general public to access data - than climate science and earth sciences generally.

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    3. If climate science is actively encouraging the general public to access data, then why did Phil Jones reply to a request for data with... "Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it."

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    4. Because McIntyre is a lying, cheating, dishonest prick. In short.

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    5. I wouldn't as a rule do this but will make an exception, if only to illustrate the perfidy of fake sceptics.

      Firstly, when that email was written, FOI legislation had only been in effect for around six weeks. In any case the response was not related to an FOI request.

      Secondly, as is usual, Anonymous does not write the comment in context, which demonstrates that the author of the email, although clearly frustrated by the vexatious harasser, did not leave the enquirer hanging, but explained the reasons for not dropping what they were doing and spending time to give him everything he wanted, and instead explained what data he was willing to provide and helpfully pointed him to alternative sources of information, writing:

      I should warn you that some data we have we are not supposed top pass on to others. We can pass on the gridded data - which we do. Even if WMO agrees, I will still not pass on the data. We have 25 or so years investedin the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it. There is IPR to consider.

      You can get similar data from GHCN at NCDC. Australia isn't restricted there. Several European countries are. Basically because, for example, France doesn't want the French picking up data on France from Asheville. Meteo Francewants to supply data to the French on France. Same story in most of the others.


      Thirdly, the following comment illustrates the bind researchers find themselves in when they get targeted by vexatious fake sceptics (from pjclarke)

      You're in real trouble now, Professor. You've come to the attention of The Auditor. He has asked you Questions. You now have two choices:-

      (1) You could assume the questions are posed in good faith, The Auditor is genuinely interested in the knowing the answers, and will make constructive and reasonable use of the information. This would be a category error. It's like those email scams where if you respond the spammers know the address they've hit is real. Next thing you know there will be a second round of followup questions, and so on ad nauseum. Dr Gerald North writes:-

      "This guy can just wear you out. He has started it with me but I just don’t bite. But there are some guys, Ben Santer comes to mind, who if they are questioned will take a lot of time to answer. He’s sincere and he just can’t leave these things along. If you get yourself in a back-and-forth with these guys it can be never ending, and basically they shut you down with requests. They want everything, all your computer programs. Then they send you back a comment saying, “I don’t understand this, can you explain it to me.” It’s never ending. And the first thing you know you’re spending all your time dealing with these guys.”

      Do you really want that?

      (2) You ignore the questions. This will lead to a post at the Audit weblog using words like 'stonewall', 'petulance', 'refusal'. You won't be directly accused of malpractice or fraud, naturally, however the comments will be a playground where those with a desire to speculate about 'What is Lewandowsky hiding?' will be given free rein. There will then be a short hiatus during which you may think your life is getting back to normal, but then the orchestrated FOI requests for any and all emails relating to the paper will start ...

      Do you really want that?

      There is no 3rd choice.


      Finally: any further comments about climategate will be deleted without trace. If anyone wants to revisit the matter you can do so here at the Union of Concerned Scientists. That article also lists some of the enquiries - all of which cleared scientists of wrong-doing.

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    6. "... or is it double standards" - and evil with a fascist to totalitarian aspiration. The sentiment that oozes out of all those climate revisionists is they want to dictate speech and scientific endeavour of which the latter had better be destroyed, because for these people logic is toxic and facts are taboo. Inquisition 2.0 .

      Eric 'Eugenetics' Worrall, what a coincidence - again: so Worrall wants to lead the Brave New World?
      "what I want is for my little girl to be able to make her own mind up" said he, I don't think so and in that post he can't hide what he really wants. He want his little girl to copy dad's malignant mind. Poor girl. Can we invoke a FOIA to check out his parenting, for the sake of science naturally?

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    7. I had a discussion with one of my students about opinion and making your own mind up in science. I pointed out that it is evidence that matters and no one gives a fig what the scientist's opinion is. Eric's daughter ought to have the opinion that the Earth is the centre of the Universe. That's the only sensible conclusion from what she sees with her own eyes. Would he accept that?

      Eric's daughter will have to do much more studying than he seems to have done before she can have a valid scientific opinion based on real evidence. If she turns out not to be a denier, would he feel vindicated that she can think for herself? Interesting to see how that one pans out.

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    8. We will now be chastised for bringing the daughter into the debate ;)

      "If she turns out not to be a denier, would he feel vindicated that she can think for herself? Interesting to see how that one pans out."

      By that time all Worall will be forgotten (never mind, we already know how that 'll pan out). There will be some new, even more crazy scam, as AGW has hit earth for like six to ten more years and if the past few years of world weather escalations are anything to go by we're in for an incredible wild ride.

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    9. eric, what data, specifically, do you want that you aren't able to get because it's being hidden from you? if you got said data, would you do anything with it? what would you do with it? do you honestly think any of these skeptics have any intention of trying to replicate results, or do you think they are on a nitpicking expedition? can you give some examples of skeptics getting the data they think is fraudulent and finding out that it was?

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    10. Doug Keenan has conspicuously failed to find anything 'wrong' with Prof Mike Ballie's hard earned data.

      Perhaps Doug is now, as we speak, trudging accross some stinky, midge infested swamp, in his wading boots, gripping grimly onto his chainsaw in a renewed effort to blow this huge gloabl conspiracy.

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    11. Anonymous, well said.

      I once suggested to a denier who was hot under the collar about Cook and the 97% consensus that anyone could repeat the procedure and publish the results. I got deafened by the sound of tumbleweed. I don't think deniers are interested in the truth, just slowing down the research.

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    12. Anonymous said on April 18, 2014 at 2:25 PM

      If climate science is actively encouraging the general public to access data, then why did Phil Jones reply to a request for data with... "Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it."

      Ask Phil Jones. But my guess is that he knows the difference between "...your aim is to evaluate the data and judge how accurate it is" and "...your aim is to try and find something wrong with it."

      Do you?

      A.

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  5. I see that no-one has identified any other field of science (or any academic field) that is more transparent, that actively encourages the public to access data. Not only that, but it provides tools, frequent updates to make it easy for people to access and understand the information. There are scientific organisations that provide live charts of all sorts of information. There are blogs at which you can directly interact with some of the world's leading climate scientists. There are thousands of person hours volunteered by scientists all around the world, in a giant international collaboration, to compile the latest research into volumes so that people can keep up with current knowledge.

    There is surely no other field of academic interest that is more accessible, where scientists, universities and other research organisations bend over backwards to keep the public informed. With information in a wide variety of formats to make it accessible to people having some and having no scientific training whatsoever.

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    1. Well said. Can you imagine how slow particle physics, for example, would move if finding a 4-quark particle demonstrated the need for significant policy changes or challenges to people's worldviews? (BTW, a 4 quark particle was just found and, no, it won't affect your ability to drive a big car so please don't start FOI requests.) This is what it's all about, right? It's not about the science or ATI/Steve/Eric/etc.'s inquiries would have led to huge advances in climate science, which it hasn't. It's not about the science because, as this specific article shows, it's about requests for emails not data. Finally, it's not about science because the data is transparent as you just said Sou. It's about wasting time to prevent more science.

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  6. At the risk of being deleted without trace, I'd respectfully like to ask Eric to send me the last 10 years of his private email corresponance so I may forensically analyse them, quote mine, and otherwise mangle, to make out he's an intelligent poster acting in good faith and not the pompous waste of space he comes across as.

    Thanks.

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    1. Yes, this has always been amazing to me. If the elementary basis of morality is the golden rule - 'Do unto others...' - how could anyone imagine it was somehow just to force others into making personal disclosures they'd never, ever, voluntarily make themselves? Let alone condone - in fact, relish - its being done by stealth?

      I mean; what couldn't be done with a bit of careful editing - and creative reconstruction! - of a decade or so of Eric's correspondence, or Watts', or Jo Nova's? If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged. as Cardinal Richelieu said...

      Delete
    2. It was funny to watch the whole Tolgate scenario recently. Here was a guy who stated on forums that the Cook et al paper probably was correct in saying that AGW is well accepted and true, but harassed the team for "data." Then, his skin turned thin when demands were made on him because errors were found in his papers. BTW, this example is minor in comparison to asking for years of emails without any good reason.

      Delete
    3. Two points...

      1) In even the most acrimonious scientific debate in the professional literature I've never seen anyone ask holus-bolus for all of their opponent's private emails.

      2) I once blew the whistle on a data-fabricator. In the academic investigation that followed there was no requirement for a wholesale delivery of private emails, despite the intense grilling, interviewing, and procedural review that resulted.

      In fact I would challenge anyone to point to any issue in science where a real, genuinely-instigated investigation has asked for the sort of access to private correspondence that the Denialati ask of Mann.

      Delete
  7. When you think about it, if the best that the deniers can do is drag up hacked emails and fudged attempts at discrediting the hockey stick then the deniers might as well admit they haven't got any real evidence and give up. Would that that were the case.

    By the way, the Hotwhoppery is an excellent way of keeping the discussions under control and not letting the poor, sensitive souls like Stainless Steele and Eric 'Eugenics' Worrall run back to their nanny Watts and cry that you're deleting their posts and how censorship is bad.

    Those deniers sure are desperate. If El Niño does arrive this year, it could be game over for them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Catmando wrote
      "Those deniers sure are desperate. If El Niño does arrive this year, it could be game over for them."

      Na, I don't think so. To paraphrase a famous quote "Climate change denial reduces one funeral at a time"

      It's funny how deniers will often say that they are critical thinkers, or that they 'make their own mind up', or don't follow the 'groupthink', but when some hopelessly unqualified joker, from some 'think tank', or some ex-fossil fuel executive says something like there has been no warming, or the IPCC can't be trusted, they all unquestioningly and blindly fall into unison, like they are 'speaking to me'. Oh, the hypocrisy. There is also another saying that you don't want such an open mind that your brain falls out.

      How many times has WUWT actually had a guest post by an actual professor in atmospheric science. No, they have an unqualified Joe Bloggs, like Steele or Worrall, parading logical fallacies and falsehoods. While most of the population have kicked their Morton's daemon to the curb, deniers actively feed them with the nonsense of quote-mining, stolen emails and character assassination. Ideological bloggers will bombard the scientists with vexatious requests for information, bogging down their legitimate research, and when rebuffed, will cry conspiracy and stonewalling. What we never see is an actual alternate model for the warming, or actual research. They instead will obsessively hold onto outmoded and debunked views, like the MWP was warmer, or the scientists are hiding data. The same sort of thing occurred during late last century, when flat earthers would stand on street corners, abusing everyone who would pass by, and would actually offer rewards to anyone who could actually prove that the earth was a sphere. They never relented and died still holding their wacky beliefs. Unfortunately, human nature hasn't changed, and as Lewandowski wrote in Recursive Fury, trying to interact with thin is fruitless.

      Delete
    2. Dave, I totally agree with you. Reality isn't going to change the minds of deniers. When I said game over, I meant that virtually no one outside their castle walls would take them seriously. A big temperature spike this year would make the it hasn't warmed for x years look silly. Rose in the Daily Mail would be ignored.

      Of course, I am an optimist.

      Delete
  8. "...or that they 'make their own mind up', or don't follow the 'groupthink..."

    I have often thought this rather over-developed and misplaced sense of individualism is part of the problem of denialism. Somehow, only making your own mind up and not listening or not agreeing with the group enhances your rugged individualism. Of course it is an illusion because it is extremely difficult to not build your opinions from other people's, if not impossible.. And it is just as strongly individual to listen to the group and decide the group ideas are correct and agree with them - it does not diminish individuality at all.

    Often when "discussing" with deniers I note that they think discussion and debate is only about winning - not an exchange of ideas and information that may mean you change and adjust your thinking and position in the light of new information. Deniers see it as losing the argument and therefore some sort of reflection that you are weak or lacking in backbone. This is why they appear to get more and more stubborn, entrenched and irrational as the discussion progresses.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The ATI, now called Energy & Environment Legal Institute, is basically a front organisation for the fossil fuel industry.

    It has some very interesting ties, and some very shady dealings. The hypocrisy knows no bounds. One of it's members runs the junkscience blog.

    For further information on this truly vile organisation check this out.

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Energy_%26_Environment_Legal_Institute

    http://www.southernstudies.org/2011/10/special-investigation-whos-behind-the-information-attacks-on-climate-scientists.html

    I for one am glad that this vexatious fishing expedition by a grubby and unethical fossil fuel front has been quashed.

    The fact that people like Worrall, Watts and their ilk support this affront to science is truly disgusting. You can bet that if these emails were released Worrall would be the first to create an app with them (like he did with the climategate emails). He is a truly vile, repugnant and reprehensible individual.

    I think that any more posts by Worrall should be immediately binned, and that he should be permanently banned. He just makes my skin crawl and my stomach turn.

    ReplyDelete
  10. And it's not just emails. They wanted the entire fish tank:

    "15. The scope of this request is to reach any and all data, documents and things in your possession, including those stored or residing on any of the specified or referenced (see FN 1, supra) computers, hard drives, desktops, laptops, file servers, database servers, email servers or other systems where data was transmitted or stored on purpose or as a result of transient use of a system or application in the course of day to day research or product processing work that is owned or contracted for by you or any of your officers, managers, employees, agents, board members, academic departments, divisions, programs, IT department, contractors and other representatives.

    "As used herein, the words "record", "records", "document" or "documents" mean the original and any copies of any written, printed, typed, electronic, or graphic matter of any kind or nature, however produced or reproduced, any book, pamphlet, brochure, periodical, newspaper, letter, correspondence, memoranda, notice, facsimile, e-mail, manual, press release, telegram, report, study, handwritten note, working paper, chart, paper, graph, index, tape, data sheet, data processing card, or any other written, recorded, transcribed, punched, taped, filmed or graphic matter now in your possession, custody or control."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "... and things in your possession ..."

      Shame they didn't think to keep their used toilet-paper; they could have posted that off to ATI first, with a "More follows" note.

      This was never meant to be complied with, of course. The point is to screech "They must be concealing something!" when it's refused. When they do get data, legally or illegally, it's always a disappointment, requiring countless hours of editing and re-arranging to make anything even remotely useful.

      Delete
  11. "SouApril 18, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    Different field, different data and different reasons. The comments so far have been about weather observations and climate science - not personal data and cognitive science."

    To someone like Eric who thinks the scientists are just in it for the grant money directed by political conspiracy or maybe are just "true believers" Lewandowsky is just another facet of the conspiracy so they don't make the distinction.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Some of the comments -- about how the folks whining about personal emails could just do the experiments/research themselves -- remind me of one of the more striking bits from biorhythm history.

    Some 40 years ago, I read an article in Science Digest (now defunct) about biorhythms, and how you had cycles of 33, 28, 23 (or whatever) days that affected your mental, physical, and emotional status. Then ... blah blah, and blah. Striking in the article was mention that there were streamer trunks just full of data making the case, but that they were on a ship which was sunk during World War II (another 30 years previously). Even as someone 40 years younger than my current 25, that rang a loud alarm bell.

    The point of the story, though, isn't that bit of ancient history. It is that 10 years ago or so, when I was teaching astronomy again, I pulled out a couple recent books on biorhythms. They were _still_ bemoaning the loss of those steamer trunks of data, 30 years after the previous books, 60 years after the event. None of the supporters had ever gotten around to collecting new data.

    The whinging about Mann et al. 1998/9 seems a fair bid to challenge the biorhythms. This time with the 'improvement' that since the whingers don't produce anything themselves, just complaints about ever more ancient history, there's no end to the complaining possible. As with the biorhythm people, if they had any scientific point, they could just go collect and analyze data themselves.

    ReplyDelete

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