Sunday, March 6, 2016

WUWT Weirdos: Anthony Watts is hoping for email science

Sou | 8:24 PM Go to the first of 16 comments. Add a comment
More desperation from deniers. Anthony Watts is very hopeful of getting his grubby paws on some more emails. The mindset of conspiracy theorists is mind-bogglingly stupid - and rancid.  The Peeping Toms among the denialati can't read or understand science, but they can spread snippets of emails all over the internet, provided someone tells them how to misinterpret them. Anthony starts off badly with a wrong headline:
Uh, oh, Mann’s MBH98 ‘hockeystick’ emails ruled fair game by judge

That wasn't remotely like the ruling of the appeals judge, according to the article Anthony linked to. He ruled that trial judges are to determine what documents the University of Arizona is to release to E&E Legal Institute. That organisation, E&E, seems to specialise in tying up the courts' to try to get access to scientists' email so that they can pore paw through them to try to prove that climate science is a hoax. Utter nutters.

An appeal to unreason

Anthony Watts has picked up on an article in the Arizona Daily Sun, which reported that an appeals judge, Judge Joseph Howard, has ruled that "trial judges must actually examine the records to determine whether making them public really would harm “the best interests of the state’’ as the university is claiming."

According to the article in the Arizona Sun:
The university said it was withholding emails “to protect either the confidentiality of information privacy of persons, or a concern about disclosure detrimental to the best interests of the state.’’

In the original decision, which was overturned by the appeals judge, it's recorded that:
The primary reason AzBOR [Arizona Board of Regents et al - or the University of Arizona] claims as the basis for not producing these documents is that to do so would have a chilling effect on the ability and likelihood of professors and scientists engaging in frank exchanges of ideas and information. AzBOR enlisted the help of an impressive array of scholars, academic administrators, professors, etc., who, by way of affidavits, provide compelling support of its position.
E&E counters that the chilling effect cited by AzBOR is contrary to fundamental scientific principles of openness and transparency which promote public confidence in scientific research. E&E argues that, given the importance of the climate change question and the potential magnitude of the debate surrounding it, the interest in the content of the contested emails to the public at large greatly exceeds any potential reduction in collaboration between some scientists and professors at public universities, including the University of Arizona. E&E also asserts that the claimed chilling effect is speculative and AzBOR has presented no real evidence to support its claim that any harm to the state will actually manifest if the emails are released. Like AzBOR, E&E has provided several affidavits from the well-credentialed professionals to support its position.  
And continued:
Consequently, the question before this Court is not whether E&E was more persuasive than AzBOR or vice versa. Instead, the question to be considered is – in denying E&E’s records request, did AzBOR abuse its discretion or act arbitrarily or capriciously? 
And Judge James Marner found that it didn't. Then on appeal, Judge Howard said that trial judges will decide what documents are to be provided to E&E Legal Institute.

The Arizona Sun article reports that the University of Arizona "provided more than 1,600 pages of records and a log describing about 1,700 records it was withholding". That wasn't enough for Energy and Environment Legal Institute which, not finding anything they could use in the 1600 pages, wants the rest. Well, they might or might not get the rest. It will be up to the trial judges what more they can have.

The end result of the appeal isn't that E&E will be handed more private and personal emails, but that the process will be extended and some trial judge will have to do more work, much of which it seems to me was already done by Judge Marner.

Alphabetically-challenged Anthony Watts

As for Anthony Watts, he's displayed he is alphabetically-challenged. He showed his abysmal ignorance once again. He wrote:
As WUWT readers may know, Mann wrote the original Hockeystick paper in 1998 with Jonathan Overpeck and Malcolm Hughes, hence the MBH98 moniker. AEI and others have tried to get Mann’s emails from Penn State, but were blocked by political interventions claiming science would be harmed, among other things. Damn right it would, but not how they think.
No, Anthony. Jonathon Overpeck wasn't a co-author of the MBH98 paper by Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes.  And I'd be very surprised if the content of any emails between those authors harmed science in the way Anthony thinks. The harm comes from the stifling of communication between scientists. The fact that ugly organisations like the E&E Legal Institute can't understand science but are eager to twist private and personal communications for their nefarious purposes. They are pervs like Peeping Toms - who would regard a person showering in their own bathroom with the door shut as evidence of pornography.

Anthony Watts wrote:
Jonathan Overpeck demonstrates his heavy political bias on his own Twitter feed daily, and does Mann. If the emails are even remotely like the Twitter feeds of these two, it’s going to look very bad for their science indeed. Now comes the next wave of legal arguments.

Denial is political

Most of Jonathan Overpeck's tweets are about climate science and weather. There's the occasional bit of humour, too. Jonathan Overpeck retweeted something from Alan Margolin. Perhaps Anthony regards being a science denier a political act?

Do I need to point out that there are now oodles of hockey sticks?

Thoughts from the WUWT conspiracy den

Anthony Watts' band of conspiracy nutters are salivating at the unlikely prospect of getting their grimy hands on some 1,600 pages of emails and up to 1,700 more records. They haven't woken up to the fact that E&E obviously didn't find any incriminating snippets in the first 1,600 pages so they've asked for the rest.

Tom Halla thinks that Mark Steyn will be the one to overturn 200 plus years of science. He's deluded.
March 5, 2016 at 6:06 pm
And I thought it would be the Mark Steyn case that sank Michael Mann et al.

Aphan is also hopeful of Mark Steyn "sinking" Professor Mann. Fat chance! Does she know that it's Michael Mann who is suing Mark Steyn for defamation?
March 5, 2016 at 6:13 pm
This case is about two Arizona scientists who have worked with Mann. Steyn’s case is the most likely to sink Mann….unless the tubular moron does it himself.

Steve Oregon is another nutter who starts from assumptions that "something must be wrong" and "nefarious intent" - two of the key ingredients of conspiracy ideation:
March 5, 2016 at 6:28 pm
Gosh how interesting. Their noble cause would be disrupted if their corruption were revealed.
They really do feel their mission is so lofty that they must remain insulated from ethics and laws that apply to lesser folk.
Let’s hope this new ruling pushes humpty climate dumpty off of the wall.

kramer also has very weird notions of what climate scientists (or anybody) write to each other by email:
March 5, 2016 at 7:18 pm
I hope that we get to see those emails because scientific truth and integrity is good for science. Getting access to Mann’s would also be good for science. 

Thank heaven's these weirdos aren't running the country. Oh - how could I forget - some of the same sort of nutters are perilously close to running the US of A :(

References and further reading

Article on the appeal ruling in the Arizona Daily Sun (I couldn't find the ruling itself on either of the two Arizona Appeals Court websites).

Previous ruling from Arizona Superior Court, Pima County - Judge  Marner

Mann, Michael E., Raymond S. Bradley, and Malcolm K. Hughes. "Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries." Nature 392, no. 6678 (1998): 779-787. doi:10.1038/33859 (pdf here - and corrigendum here)

Mann, M.E., Bradley, R.S. and Hughes, M.K., "Northern Hemisphere Temperatures During the Past Millennium: Inferences, Uncertainties, and Limitations", Geophysical Research Letters, 26, 759-762, 1999. DOI: 10.1029/1999GL900070 (open access)

From the HotWhopper archives


  1. Now if the E&E Legal Institute requested the emails of the Republican candidates and their staff, they could be at least providing a useful service to the citizens of the state of Florida.

    "Mayors of 21 cities in Florida on Friday called on the moderators of next week’s presidential debates in Miami to ask candidates how they would deal with rising sea levels caused by climate change, a concern of the state’s coastal communities."


    I know. It is not going to happen. But it does highlight whose interests are being pursued here in the persecution of climate scientists and it is not the ordinary people.

  2. Nutters seized a bird sanctuary in Oregon at gunpoint. Onre of their beliefs was that evidence of government malfeasance existed in the institution's files. They took all the files out of the cabinets, rifled through them, threw them all over the office , and found nothing. It seems that belief in hidden evidence is part of right wing delusion.

    1. Isn't it because they have been fed disinformation by that part of mainstream media that is supporting the pollutocrat's campaign to repeal anti-pollution legislation? These people are bat shit crazy, but their madness is being deliberately stoked up.

      Oh, and an unrelated note. Engineers got a mention on BBC radio this morning. Apparently they form a surprisingly large proportion of jihadis relative to their numbers in the general population.

    2. Millicent, that would appear to be an impressive piece of support for the Salem hypothesis.

      Do you perchance have any links?

    3. I have seen this consistenty reported but have no idea how accurate the research is. the key players are described here: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/why-are-engineers-prone-becoming-jihadi-terrorists-middle-east-1530669

    4. Aspergers. In certain circumstances the frequently associated simplistic, Manichean world-view can lead to passionate attachments to all sorts of 'crusades'.

    5. The absence of confirmatory evidence is proof of how cunning are the conspirators. That a conspiracy theory has not a shred of support proves the motives and methods are more hidden than most mere mortals could manage. A true evil genius must be behind the nefarious silence.

      Once all the documents are in hand, and can be shown to contain nothing damning, we will then know for certain just how thoroughly all the damning evidence has been scrubbed.

    6. precisely, only in conspiracy land is an absence of evidence seen as actual evidence in itself

      they process the same data but turn it 180deg from reality

  3. The lack of anything incriminating being found is, of course, evidence of conspiracy because why else would someone hide the evidence so well?

  4. Mention of the Mann case reminded me to check on whether the DC Court of Appeals had issued any ruling (they haven't) and also whether any of the other anti-SLAPP cases being decided were relevant. My preferred legal blogger on anti-SLAPP issues is here:


    This most recent post points out that the various Federal circuits have conflicting interpretations of these laws. The implication is that some issues will need to be resolved by the SCOTUS. The post also mentions that the Mann case has been in the DC Court of Appeals for 14 months. One wonders what's going on. I don't know enough about that court to speculate.

    The appeal (as a reminder) has nothing to do with the substance of the case but is all about procedural issue that could be very important in anti-SLAPP cases - which explains all the amicus briefs from media and first amendment groups. The appeal is not about the libel or the science.

  5. It is unclear why this has come up at this time. The appeals court ruling (pdf) was last December.

    The ruling remands the case back to the Superior Court concluding:

    "In sum, although the public official has discretion to deny the request initially in order to prevent “substantial and irreparable private or public harm,” the trial court must determine whether that was the correct decision and if, in fact, the records must be produced. In doing so, the court must apply the presumption favoring disclosure and may, if necessary, balance that presumption against “the countervailing interests of confidentiality, privacy or the best interests of the state.”

    Nothing in the decision releases any emails. I simply says the judge has to look at them and decide afresh whether they should be exempt.

    The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) filed an amicus curiae brief defending the University and explain why intrusive requests for unpublished scientific deliberations are damaging to academic freedom and privacy. They They also posted a summary of the appeals court decision.

  6. Is Watts dreaming of a high-level government appointment (such as NOAA Administrator) in a future Cruz or Trump Administration?

    The prospect of Watts landing a high-level appointment in a future GOP Administration is scary thought indeed. And it is not out of the realm of possibility given how absolutely nutty the GOP has become...

  7. Fine post as ever, with one grammatical glitch : you say they can "pore through" but the correct usage here is "paw through", much like a dog going through a bin-liner in search of things smelly or tasty. In fact, exactly like that.

  8. 1) FOIA laws are well-intended, but also vary greatly by state in US, and this kind of thing is a side-effect of something that can be useful. AS best as I can tell, state governments have yet to sort out rules that easily distinguish between reasonable FOIAs and this kind of fishing-expedition that is asymmetric warfare, in which somebody like Schnare can impose large costs.

    There is perhaps a remedy to encourage state legislatures to sort this out. As a Federal taxpayer, I don't like seeing research money wasted ... so if a state can't get its act together, I'd suggest eliminating new Federal research grants until they do.


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