Lessons Learned?

This week should bring us a flood of one-year anniversary stories on the stolen email scandal known as “climategate.” Looks like Nature is first out of the box with its profile of Phil Jones, who agreed earlier this month to

talk at length about his experience. He proved largely unrepentant.

Anthony Watts is annoyed that the story didn’t extract a pound of flesh from Jones:

It seems to be mostly a sappy rehabilitation piece where Dr. Jones gets to play the victim and the reporter is fully sympathetic.

That’s not my reading of the Nature story, especially with passages like this:

So why did he urge colleagues to delete messages in which they discussed, among other things, the preparation of a report for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change? An attempt to thwart critics, perhaps? “That was probably just bravado at the time,” he says. “We just thought if they’re going to ask for more, we might as well not have them.”

Then Muir Russell was correct? Had Jones broken the spirit of the law? “Not necessarily, if you’ve deleted them ahead of time,” he says. “You can’t second guess what’s going to be requested.” Jones goes back and forth on his motivations. Deleting e-mails would simplify his life if people requested them in the future, but that was not why he got rid of them, he says. “I deleted them based on their dates. It was to keep the e-mails under control,” he repeats.

Seems to me that David Adam, the Nature reporter, did his job right there. He also elicits other curious responses from Jones that are sure to raise some eyebrows, such as this one:

The whole point about trying to pervert the peer-review process is that it is impossible to do it. There are so many journals and if people are persistent enough, they can get their papers published.

Despite inexplicably calling the Nature profile a “rehabilitation,” Watts does appear to have walked away with the correct impression left by the story:

Dr. Jones seems to have fully rationalized everything that has happened in the past year.

74 Responses to “Lessons Learned?”

  1. Larch says:

    You honestly can’t read the comments at WUWT and not wonder why Jones felt the way he did?  The hatred is palpable.  It is nothing to do with science. It is nothing to do with inquiry.  It is to do with finding ways to bring scientists down, as publicly and bloodily as possible.
    The attitude is comparable to blaming the victime of a rape.  Jones was ‘asking for it’.

  2. Pascvaks says:

    Re – Larch Says:
    November 16th, 2010 at 6:51 am

    Blogs are like people.  They’re all different.  Each has its own special ‘something indiscribeable’ as the French say.  Reference your question, nope can’t understand why Jones felt the way he did. Especially with respect to WUWT.  Jones is like many people you meet in life.  There used to be a book that seemed to describe their problem perfectly, it was called “The Peter Principle”.  Remember?  Jones may have been ok in the research department years ago, but then some idiot went and promoted him and look at the mess he made. 

  3. Bishop Hill says:

    Some developments on this story in the comments thread at my site.

  4. Nahh Keith, Stoat-commenter David Adams – and everybody else, surely, including you – knows that the email from Jones, titled “IPCC & FOI”, to delete emails between Wahl, Briffa, Amman and Mann regarding AR4 was not written pre-emptively, it was written after receipt of David Holland’s FOI request for precisely those emails. In this very important regard, the motivation certainly was not mere bravado.

  5. Ugh. Follow the Bish’s link. I was on the phone chasing my own FOI request (not climate-related) when I should have been pressing “submit”.

  6. MackemX says:

    Interesting that no mention was made of the subject line for that email “IPCC & FOI” and the fact that it was sent very shortly after receipt of an FOI request from David Holland.
    But then that would have put the lie to  “You can’t second guess what’s going to be requested.” as he didn’t need to, the request had already been made.
    Do you imagine this might have affected peoples’ opinions of the journailsts thouroughness?

  7. Keith Battye says:

    @Larch
     
    Anthony Watts asked for information both directly and through the FOI and Dr Jones refused or ignored these requests along with others from several skeptics. The reason given by Jones was that it would be a pointless waste of valuable time as all Watts et al wished to do was destroy the AGW edifice.
     
    Watts, and many others feel that Jones was being arrogant and intent on hiding his data and methods from hostile scrutiny. Why should the Jones et al process be exempt from hostile scrutiny if it is correct and provable? As for the valuable time of scientists being wasted , really. What was wrong with allocating the task to some drudge?
     
    Watts and many skeptics feel that Jones acted in a bizarre fashion for a scientist. He resisted scrutiny by hostile people and that’s wrong. He destroyed emails and hid data and process information and that’s wrong. You wonder why Watts despises Jones. Just think about it

  8. Shub says:

    Larch
    Read the emails – it is easy to understand the palpable outrage at WUWT.  Everyone knows emails were not being deleted just to keep them under control. That is why Jones’ comments in the Nature article come across like howlers.

  9. Steven Sullivan says:

    Shub,
    Learn the history.  It’s easy to understand why Jones et al.  were hostile to and contemptuous of the FOI naggers, who were never really interested in the science.  Regardless of that, and alas for us, that science marches on, affirming the reality of AGW.   You could sack and jail the every name in the  ‘From:” lines in those emails,  and that would remain true.  So, what are we going to do about it?
     
     
     
     
     

  10. Steven Sullivan says:

    And of course entities like ‘Bishop Hill’  and Watts aren’t really outraged by the Jones interview.  They *want* the conversation to be about Phil Jones and his naughty, naughty (but apparently still not actionable) emails as much as possible;  they can milk it for site hits and book profits from the reliably and comically rage-ready ‘skeptic’ blogoisie.   Which is easier and more fun than honestly engaging the scientific literature.
     
    (That said,  I hope these ‘skeptics’ never go away completely, because then we might be deprived of Denial Depot.
    http://denialdepot.blogspot.com/
    )

  11. Steven, it’s simply not possible to reconcile your assertion with the historical record. “Learn the history”? You’re quite plainly disingenuous, sir. Offensively so.

  12. Bishop Hill says:

    Steven Sullivan

    “…of course entities like “˜Bishop Hill’ and Watts aren’t really outraged by the Jones interview.”

    Why would anyone think I was outraged?

  13. Marlowe Johnson says:

    Simon you’re faux outrage is tedious. The backstory on the hockey stick wars does matter.  much as McIntyre wants to protray himself as a paragon of civility and honest inquiry, a modest perusal of his  blog entries and the topics he chooses to ignore or highlight, suggests otherwise.
     
    Jones was a lot more polite than I would have been under the circumstances.  But counseling people to delete emails is dumb.  specially in a networked environment that have server backups.  guess he’s a techno-putz and a mean person eh?

  14. JMurphy says:

    The sad thing about all this (apart from watching the so-called skeptics run around in circles and shout themselves hoarse, believing that AGW was going to be falsified by a few emails) is that scientists are now not going to use emails to discuss their work – in case someone tries to obtain what they have written, selectively release them and try to make something of them that was never there in the first place. That can’t be good for science or the progression of ideas.

    Even sadder is seeing people make money out of all this by publishing books (and using their blogs) to contribute disinformation, misinformation and political obstructionism.

    Nothing has changed, in other words.

  15. Shub says:

    Steven,
    The FOI requests are a pain if you have to work hard to avoid complying.

    It weighs on the conscience to come up the excuses about how nasty the bloggers are, in order to bend the law.

  16. Gene says:

    What I find interesting is the lack of outrage on the part of the pro-mitigation group, Monbiot excepted (and the reaction he elicited was rather sharp).  Last year’s events haven’t done any damage to the science, but they’ve eviscerated any chance of political action.

    Assuming the main actors are, in fact, innocent of any wrong doing, then their behavior was reckless and unnecessary.  Why break the law to hide that which isn’t illegal?  To steal from Talleyrand, “It was worse than a crime, it was a mistake”.

  17. Steven Sullivan says:

    FOI requests (thanks for using the plural)  are surely a time suck  if you work hard to comply with them, too, especially if the requesters are, shall we say,  *predisposed to be hard to satisfy*.
     
    Does using FOIs to harass scientists whose work you’re trying to undermine, count as ‘bending the law’?  I imagine that *would* weigh on one’s conscience.
     
     

  18. Marlowe, faux outrage? I’m not at all outraged. More incredulous eye-rolling, really, at the stupidity of trying to defend the behaviour of Jones and the team. The timeline of requests for information, Jones’ discussions with the UEA FOI officer, the purportedly (but disputed by the ICO) “vexatious” requests for confidentiality agreements, all point to abysmally poor behaviour by the team. From the outset. Even the ludicrous enquiries couldn’t deny this, even though, as evidenced, they didn’t exactly dig very hard on this topic.
     
    I think it’s utterly stupid, but quite evidently a pattern, to point to the wholly unprofessional and in places unlawful behaviour of the scientists and blame it on the sceptics. But you do. Fine, but don’t expect respect or indeed anything but incredulity in response.

  19. Steven Sullivan says:

    Gene,
    As the Guardian articles correctly note, Copenhagen wasn’t much affected by the emails, other than a laughably pathetic use by the Saudis to claim that AGW wasn’t happening.  So whatever caused the ‘evisceration’ of political action, it was already happening before the hack was publicized.
     
    As for ‘reckless and unnecessary’ behavior, you’re talking about *a selection of emails over the course of ten years, that the scientists assumed would be private*, right?   It was a mistake for them to converse normally?   Because I’m pretty sure that ten years worth of any scientists’ emails would contain *some* evidence of human frailty.
     
    The ‘skeptics’ have lost on the science/data end, so of course they want to focus on the PR war.  And they’re good at that.  That’s what all this ‘framing’ of the ‘narrative’ is about.    Too bad the natural world doesn’t know from ‘framing’.
     

  20. It is for the ICO to determine if FOI requests are vexatious, not for the UEA. The UEA may initially reject on the grounds of FOI requests being vexatious but, ultimately, if the ICO disagrees with that claim then the UEA must satisfy the request. So cough it up, please, where the ICO has concurred with the UEA’s claim that a FOI or group of FOI requests to the UEA has been identified as vexatious by the ICO.
     
    The UEA had 5 years to prepare for the FOI Act being enacted. I suppose you think they should have had more time? Cry me a river.

  21. Shub says:

    FOI requests have to be complied irrespective of your opinion of those requesting being predisposed in any manner.

    Jones was able to convince people at the Information office and the University that, they could avoid the requests, by showing them something on a computer screen. It was a systemic failure.

    Jones mobilized four other scientists to delete emails relating to the paleoclimate chapter. Three of them were outside CRU. How did it concern him the troubles these scientists might have in complying with FOI when the request was not even addressed to them?

  22. Boris says:

    News stories and blog pieces about Climategate: 6,498
    Number of papers that have been withdrawn or invalidated due to Climategate: 0
     
     

  23. Steven Sullivan says:

    Pardon, has anyone at UEA been indicted or convicted of breaking any laws re: response to FOIs?

  24. Gene says:

    Steven Sullivan (19)

    Actually the “reckless and unnecessary” behavior was the attempt to circumvent the FOIA.  Human frailty (eg. Santer’s rant re: Pat Michaels) can be forgiven.  Blatantly calling for someone to delete emails requested under FOI should not.

    And regarding (23), I believe the ICOs pronouncement was pretty unequivocal.

  25. Steven, #23: You and I both know that the reason nobody has been prosecuted is not because the law was not broken but that it was not reported within the statutory 6 month period after the crime was committed. You and I also know that the ICO made it quite clear that it is “difficult to imagine more cogent prima facie evidence” of a crime being committed. With the help of clarity from David Holland’s submission, the damning evidence has only increased.
     
    See, this is why I point out that you are disingenuous. You’re not interested in what is right or wrong, only what you hope to fool others into believing, wholly regardless and in spite of what is true.

  26. larch says:

    Shub
    The outrage and demands for blood have been constant from day one.  It didn’t matter what they scientists did, they were loathed and hated before climategate at WUWT.  Jones became well aware what he was up against.
     
    The thing is, he and his fellow scientists were not the type of people to seek this attention or controversy, and would have done anything to avoid it.  Instead, they stood up, and sacrificed themselves for what they believed the scientific evidence was telling us.
    All the while there have been  continuous allegations of conspiracy and fraud, well before ‘climategate’.    How do you fight a war against science that is coming from many fronts, that knows no rules, that has no consistency, that demands blood.  Jones didn’t know, he was a scientist.  That could have been part of the reason he was singled out.

  27. Shub says:

    It is the clash of David Brin’s ‘Net Tourettes’ and the reflexive-anxious climate establishment.

    Climate scientists, as evident in the emails, seemed exquisitely sensitive to online trench warfare and currents in public opinion.

    Climate scientists should not have tried to anticipate which one would been of ‘greater harm’ – they should have engaged with the skeptics right from the beginning – sharing some data, acknowledging their presence, neutralizing them with charm, smiles, a few bones thrown their way, a joint-paper or two, invitation to talk etc.

    Many scientists it seems believe in ‘big oil’ and other conspiracies. They richly deserve what’s coming their way. Grow some smarts,…

  28. Jay Currie says:

    larch, Jones was not particularly “singled out”. It happened a) that the UHI effect was, wrongly in many peoples’ view, dismissed based on a paper for which Jones has now admitted the data has been lost, b) his institution was responsible for the compilation of a widely cited temperature data set which tuns out to have significant errors and is to be redone.
    Had you read Climate Audit you would realize that Steve McIntyre asked, politely, (as behooves a Canadian) for data that Jones had (or should have had.) He was stiffed. Which was the proximate cause of the assorted FOI requests which Jones was legally and ethically obliged to answer.  That Jones failed to answer would, in a reasonable institution, be grounds for immediate dismissal.

  29. keith kloor says:

    Shrub (27), on this much that you say I agree with:
    “…neutralizing them with charm, smiles, a few bones thrown their way, a joint-paper or two, invitation to talk etc.”
    I don’t think this would have ended the wars but I believe it would have “neutralized” them, as Shub says, and I’ve made similar points before on this blog. I don’t know which post it was I said this, but I have recalled Hillary Clinton’s ability to disarm her nastiest detractors not long after she became a senator. She did it with charm and humility.

  30. larch, #26: “The outrage and demands for blood have been constant from day one.  It didn’t matter what they scientists did, they were loathed and hated before climategate at WUWT.”
     
    This is imaginary nonsense and bears no relation to the actual sequence of events leading up to, or following, Climategate. What you describe as “demands for blood” were requests for data and meta-data in order to facilitate replication of scientists’ results. These requests were not unreasonable, they were entirely in-keeping with the spirit of traditional scientific research. What was peculiar was the early development of belligerence and wagon circling by “the team”.
     
    So a detective asks you “Where were you on the evening of 19th November?” How do you respond? Do you immediately demand counsel? Do you refuse to tell the cop anything? Do you pretend you don’t understand the question? Or do you tell the cop where you were?
     
    What possible reason can one have for refusing to answer a simple question? And, if you refuse to give an answer, or refuse to give a straight answer, why would you imagine the cop will just wander off and leave you alone? Why be surprised if he turns up with a warrant to search your premises? Why would you be surprised if he calls for back-up?
     
    This is just straight-forward reasoning. It would require a case of rapid on-set Asperger’s to not get why this whole thing escalated, and where the blame for the escalation lies. Let’s be clear, there never was – nor is there still – any GOOD reason to deny citizen scientists access to ALL data, meta-data and methodologies pertaining to publicly-funded climate research. And any rational person can easily see why there is GOOD reason to be suspicious of an individual or group that is either obstructive in providing, or refusing to provide, that information.

  31. Brendan H says:

    Shub: “Climate scientists…should have engaged with the skeptics right from the beginning ““ sharing some data, acknowledging their presence, neutralizing them with charm…”

    A charm offensive might have worked. And then, maybe not.

    The way I see it, Jones and co made some poor decisions in an area where the practice was not clear or uniform. The likes of McIntyre then began playing to a gallery with insinuations of wrongdoing, climate scientists felt under attack from the “echo chamber” effect, and the situation escalated to the point where the likes of Watts Up casually feature accusations of lying, cheating and stealing; fraud, hoax and scam.

    So the issue has gone far beyond science into the culture wars, and many climate sceptics want blood. I don’t think this atmosphere is very conducive to rational discussion, But nor do I see that climate sceptics can easily resile from their claims of lying, hoax etc.

  32. Huge Difference says:

    “Seems to me that David Adam, the Nature reporter, did his job right there. He also elicits other curious responses from Jones that are sure to raise some eyebrows, such as this one:”
     
    Nah, the reporter failed to ask the obvious and displayed his ignorance/incompetence.
     
    Does the university have a data retention policy? What is the university’s data retention policy?  Was Jones briefed on the data retention policy?  What was the backup policy?  Did the data still exist on backup servers, and if not, why not?
     
    The reporter was an incompetent boob as far IT goes.
     
    This is why reporters need to be more transparent, and especially why articles should have real interaction between reporter and readers, not just the one way pretend nonsense most newspapers and journals make available.

  33. Huge Difference says:

    A lawyer could tell you if Jones would have been guilty of a crime by destroying data that he could reasonably assume could be the subject of an FOI.

  34. Conspiracy to delete emails subject to FOI is not, as far as I can tell, statute-limited by the same 6 months as the criminal act of deletion itself. Though it’d be up to the Director of Prosecutions to pursue, I think there’s still a few years’ mileage in that potential case. Jones, therefore, is probably still under judicial threat of political mood-swings, but unless climatology really unravels dramatically I don’t think that threat is particularly tangible.
     
    I’m not interested in seeing Jones or anyone prosecuted under any law for email deletion or conspiracy to delete, I’m merely interested in their compliance with the law. But if, as it appears, Jones and/or Acton and/or the UEA intend to continue to fiddle the system as they have before, as if the law doesn’t apply to them, I’ve little doubt that my tolerance will be short-lived. Despite Acton’s recent protestations to the contrary at the House Of Commons Science & Technology committee, it appears that FOI requests at UEA are still being knocked back with reasons given that, as has been made clear to the UEA by both the ICO and the HoCSTC, are not valid and not in keeping with the spirit of the FOIA.

  35. To be clear, the 6 month limitation is not explicit in the FOIA. In fact there is no explicit statute of limitation in the FOIA, which is why – in the absence of an explicit period – the limit defaults to 6 months.

  36. NewYorkJ says:

    The Nature article is pretty good.  It allows Jones to describe the frivolous intrusive nature behind the FOI requests that led to the single email to colleagues requesting email deletion, something Jones clearly did out of frustration.  To me, the worst part of the CRU email theft is the following:
    “I’m a little more guarded about what I say in e-mails now,” he says. “One thing in particular I’m doing is not responding so quickly. I might have got an e-mail in the past and responded with an instant thought in the next 10 to 15 minutes, whereas now I might leave it a day.”

    Scientists now are less likely to communicate openly an freely with each other, as anything they say can be stolen, propagated, and taken out of context by political hacks.  So that’s a small win for those seeking to inhibit science.

  37. Huge Difference says:

    If that had been anyone in the Bush administration’s response, I and many other liberals (and possibly even Judicial Watch as well) would have been up in arms over Jones actions, and cared not one whit about how frustrating FOIA requests are.
     
    I am curious as to what pro-AGW journalists think of government agencies deleting files in advance because FOIA requests are frustrating (or embarrassing) .
     
    And yet, since Climate Science and AGW is a putative liberal issue, we get a pendulum swing and see alleged progressives encouraging the destruction of these emails and other files.
     
    Someone should ask Glenn Greenwald his take on that.  (Acknowledging Jones was in the UK and subject to FOI not FOIA.)
     
    Sad or amusing or obvious.

  38. Shub says:

    NewYorkJ
    It was not a single email – it was an entire series.
     
    Secondly, Jones never wanted to comply to FOI even before he had a single request from the CA audience.
     
    The CRU gang pulled all kinds of tricks on Willis Eschenbach and David Holland – it is embarrasing, this behaviour of an establishment towards individuals.
     
    Your spin is dizzying.

  39. larch says:

    The CRU gang pulled all kinds of tricks on Willis Eschenbach and David Holland ““ it is embarrasing, this behaviour of an establishment towards individuals.
    You can’t pull tricks on them, they entirely capable of making idiots of themselves without any help.

  40. charles says:

    Adam “did his job right”?
    No, completely wrong, he missed the key point and let Jones off the hook. As pointed by Simon H, Jones asked colleagues to delete emails AFTER the FOI request from Holland. That’s why the subject line of the email was “IPCC & FOI”.
    Why do we have no competent investigative journalists these days?
    Regarding ‘lessons learned’ – clearly none at all.  Jones is still trying to mislead people, and getting away with it some of the time.
     

  41. Lazar says:

    lessons learned… by Phil Jones?… seems like not a lot… by everyone else?… some scientists aren’t Feynmen models… and this will be blown out of all proportion… what didn’t we know already 🙂
     
    Boris #22 is worth repeating…
     
    “News stories and blog pieces about Climategate: 6,498
    Number of papers that have been withdrawn or invalidated due to Climategate: 0”

     
    … in 20 years time, who will remember Phil Jones and his FOIA evasion… who will remember Mike Mann and his desire to boycott a journal for publishing nonsense… who will remember that a few scientists weren’t Feynman models… and who will care… probably not the thousands of scientists working day after day, month after month, decade after decade, publishing over ten thousand papers each and every year… the timebomb continues to tick… understanding continues to increase…
     
    Palm, S. P., S. T. Strey, J. Spinhirne, and T. Markus (2010), Influence of Arctic sea ice extent on polar cloud fraction and vertical structure and implications for regional climate, Journal of Geophysical Research, 115(D21209), doi:201010.1029/2010JD013900
     
    Wramneby, A., B. Smith, and P. Samuelsson (2010), Hot spots of vegetation-climate feedbacks under future greenhouse forcing in Europe, Journal of Geophysical Research, 115(D21119), doi:201010.1029/2010JD014307
     
    Wang, Y., Z. Yan, and R. E. Chandler (2010), An analysis of mid-summer rainfall occurrence in eastern China and its relationship with large-scale warming using generalized linear models, International Journal of Climatology, 30(12), 1826-1834, doi:10.1002/joc.2018

     

    Li, T., M. Kwon, M. Zhao, J. Kug, J. Luo, and W. Yu (2010), Global warming shifts Pacific tropical cyclone location, Geophysical Research Letters, 37(L21804), doi:201010.1029/2010GL045124
     
    Butchart, N. et al. (2010), Chemistry-Climate Model Simulations of Twenty-First Century Stratospheric Climate and Circulation Changes, Journal of Climate, 23(20), 5349-5374, doi:10.1175/2010JCLI3404.1
     
    … just a few papers, from a few journals, from the latest month… Republican politicians want to talk about climategate again again again

  42. NewYorkJ says:

    Shub: Secondly, Jones never wanted to comply to FOI even before he had a single request from the CA audience.

    But wait…I thought the contrarian spin was that Jones specifically didn’t want to face criticism from “honest” auditors like the CA crowd.  But now he was averse to FOI in general?  Get your narrative straight.

    As for your other narrative, McI and his followers are not poor victims.

    http://shewonk.wordpress.com/2010/02/08/interesting-note-on-the-fois/

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2010/02/amoeba-gets-underfoot.html

    Since one cabal was clearly not operating in good faith, Jones appears incredibly patient and reserved in that light.

  43. Gene says:

    NewYorkJ (42)

    And yet the ICO didn’t seem to see it that way…or did I miss their retraction?

  44. Shub says:

    NewYork J

    There is no narrative.

    Jones jokes about the FOI Act in more than one instance.

    Many scientists I know personally, feel the same way about FOI and I agree with them. But they wouldn’t act out the way Jones did – that is the difference

  45. NewYorkJ says:

    I’d personally be tempted to make public the harassment and bad faith requests I was facing on a regular basis from the McI cabal.  Jones, if anything, was too reserved, and let the same harassers set the public narrative when CRU emails were stolen and propagated.

  46. NewYorkJ says:

    A nice piece at ClimateSite provides a pretty good summary.

    http://climatesight.org/2010/11/17/the-real-story-of-climategate/

    Although I think the summary overplays the effect on policy or public opinion, this part echoes my primary concern:

    “Perhaps the most wide-reaching impact of the issue was the realization that private correspondence was no longer a safe environment. This fear only intensified when the top climate modelling centre in Canada was broken into, in an obvious attempt to find more material that could be used to smear the reputations of climate scientists. For an occupation that relies heavily on email for cross-national collaboration on datasets and studies, the pressure to write in a way that cannot be taken out of context ““ a near-impossible task ““ amounts to a stifling of science.”

  47. Huge Difference:
    “If that had been anyone in the Bush administration’s response, I and many other liberals (and possibly even Judicial Watch as well) would have been up in arms over Jones actions, and cared not one whit about how frustrating FOIA requests are.’
     
    ..perhaps influenced by  1) the prior behavior of the B ush administration and 2) you feelings about the Bush administration.
     
    Along with a righteous desire for truth.  Of course.
     
     
     
     
     
     

  48. Shub says:

    Heh NewYork, the ‘narrative’ bit is bothering you much?
     
    Do you think it is possible for rank amateurs to create a ‘narrative’ out of thin air, or was it all done by fossil-fuel funded retired bloggers, Barnacleboy and Mermaidman?

  49. larch says:

    <i>

    keith kloor Says:
    November 16th, 2010 at 4:58 pm
    Shrub (27), on this much that you say I agree with:
    “”¦neutralizing them with charm, smiles, a few bones thrown their way, a joint-paper or two, invitation to talk etc.”
    I don’t think this would have ended the wars but I believe it would have “neutralized” them, as Shub says, and I’ve made similar points before on this blog. I don’t know which post it was I said this, but I have recalled Hillary Clinton’s ability to disarm her nastiest detractors not long after she became a senator. She did it with charm and humility.

    </i>
     
    Scientists are not good politicians.  Who would have thunk it.  I guess we should take politicians and make them scientists instead.

  50. PDA says:

    Do you think it is possible for rank amateurs to create a “˜narrative’ out of thin air?
     
    Yes.

  51. Shub says:

    You mean – the news print and TV media, the think tanks and their 4C ventures, the Science Communicators, the brutal pressurehead of flows through quangos and pressure groups and their high-quality pamphlets

    couldn’t create the ‘narrative’,

    but thumbless, clueless beginners did it?

  52. PDA says:

    Shub, if you have a point, maybe you could make it succinctly. I’m not sure what to make of your freight train of bogeymen and am loath to try.
    I don’t know what you think a “narrative” is, or how one evolves. I didn’t say that the news, print etc. etc. didn’t play a part in creating one narrative. I merely stated to (to me, anyway) obvious and uncontroversial fact that McI and the blogs also started a different narrative.
    “Yes, but Climategate” will be a standard riposte for years, if not a generation, to discussions of climate and policy. That’s a narrative.

  53. Shub says:

    PDA,
    Thanks for providing focus. In the context of the discussion upstream, it was clear that what Jones/CRU did, cannot be a part of any “narrative” – it is what it is, he did what he did. We have Jones’ own words. Which is why I responded to NewYorkJ
     
    “There is no narrative”.
     
    I think NWJ would be more inclined to this view, since you have joined me on this, as well.
     
    I do not believe that, just because we have Jones’ words, showing his motivations at the time, we should bash him for eternity. Nor do I believe that ‘Climategate’ is just ‘standard riposte’ material either.
     
    When Jones/Mann engage in an honest exchange, admitting their past errors, ‘Climategate’ will die its natural death. From Jones’ defensive attitude and his ‘unrepentant’ stance, any prospect for that is gone. No lessons have been learned.

  54. PDA says:

    When Jones/Mann engage in an honest exchange, admitting their past errors, “˜Climategate’ will die its natural death. From Jones’ defensive attitude and his “˜unrepentant’ stance, any prospect for that is gone. No lessons have been learned.
     
    Shub, that is “a narrative.” I understand that you can recognize it when others engage in it but not when you do; that’s common to all humans.
    Nevertheless, your narrative about what Jones’s words mean is just that. The narrative (in the links NYJ provided) that McI instigated and organized a campaign to harass CRU is another. I understand if you don’t accept that narrative, but you can’t just wish it away. The fact that you believe in it strongly is not, in and of itself, evidence that your narrative is the only correct one.

  55. Shub says:

    OK, let me try another approach – in order to avoid further semantic lockups.
    Jones is unrepentant – I believe this. This is what he told David Adam at Nature. No narrative there.
     
    Jones did not comply with FOI requests. He did not want to. This is a fact. I believe this too. We have his emails showing this to be so. No narrative there.
     
    NWJ resorts to his narrative “McI instigated and organized a campaign to harass CRU” to in an attempt to explain Jones’ motivations.
     
    I do not have a problem with the mere fact that he is coming up with a narrative.
     
    It is just that:
    1) there is a need to resort to narratives when one needs to strings up facts to put together a story when the motivations of the main actors is not clear
    2) there is a need to resort to narratives when the main facts on the ground themselves are not clear.
     
    Coming up with this narrative of “harassment” fails on both of these points above.
     
    What CRU did with Willis Eschenbach’s, David Holland’s, Steve McIntyre and the CA audience’s FOI requests is part of official record. The reasons, excuses and motivations for Jones not complying with the requests are available via Jones’ emails. Dave Holland, Eschenbach and McIntyre have clearly stated their reasons and motivations for putting in FOI requests. The reasons for why a handful of commenters requested station data for 5 stations each is clear.
     
    Why come up with alternate explanations of ‘contrarian spin’ and ‘naratives’?
     
    A simpler overall explanation seems that Jones, Mann and the CRU gang read CA and other ‘denier blogs’, and were emotionally affected by the constant stream of snark and attack-mode blogging and their stances harden never to help or interact with such people. A sub-heading in this are Mann beliefs about fossil-fuel funded campaigns, strengthened no doubt from his experiences with the Soon and Baliunas papers. Such close-minded defensiveness found only support and cheering from elder climate statesmen like John Holdren and Stephen Schneider.
     
    With respect to the above one-para narrative – nothing spectacular, nothing exciting, no ‘evil scientists’, but nothing to make Jones and Mann look good as well – and all entirely explained by their emails.

  56. Keith Kloor says:

    I’d like to weigh in on these competing narratives, but no time today. Still, one minor correction for Shub (55):

    Jones did not tell David Adams at Nature that he was unrepentant. That was Adam’s impression from his interview with Jones. It’s an important distinction.

  57. Shub says:

    You are right, KK. But I would to point out an important sub-text.
     
    Jones has now declared openly that he has no intentions of revising, withdrawing his 1990 urban heat island paper, while simultaneously agreeing that part of the data for this paper is not available.
     
    He now says he made his earlier offer “under the effect of medication”. Adam’s assessment about Jones’ unrepentant frame of mind is therefore grounded in fact.

  58. Huge Difference says:

    “Along with a righteous desire for truth.  Of course.”

    Along with a belief that it’s a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people, and an outdated notion we are a nation of laws, not man.

  59. PDA says:

    Jones is unrepentant ““ I believe this. This is what he told David Adam at Nature.
    This is a narrative.
    Dave Holland, Eschenbach and McIntyre have clearly stated their reasons and motivations for putting in FOI requests. The reasons for why a handful of commenters requested station data for 5 stations each is clear.
    This is a narrative.

  60. Shub says:

    Dave Holland, Eschenbach and McIntyre have clearly stated their reasons and motivations for putting in FOI requests. The reasons for why a handful of commenters requested station data for 5 stations each is clear.
     
    This is not a narrative. The reasons they state – that may qualify as a narrative in your eyes.

  61. PDA says:

    “The reasons… is clear” is a narrative. It is a judgment, not a fact.
     
    You – of course – have the right to your own subjective judgments. Merely asserting that those judgments are “facts on the ground,” however, don’t make them such.

  62. Shub says:

    PDA you are nitpicking.
     
    The reasons are clear – is a statement of fact. Whether those reasons for these people are convincing or not, is a different thing and perhaps open to discussion.
     
    It is clearly not the case where unnamed individuals have thrown requests for data without stating why they did so, and continue to hide their reasons.
     
    For example, Mashey has offered his analysis, his set of reasons, for why Mcintyre might have pursued CRU and Mann.
     
    Thanks for trying to lose the point.
     

  63. PDA says:

    Look, if you’d rather not discuss this, it’s fine. I started by asking a question you threw out there. You don’t like my response, and are turning this into a tennis match where you’re also the referee, calling “points” lost and won. It’s just not a very interesting exercise.
     
    You’re trying to assert that your presentation of events is a factual one, free from any narrative. You’ve presented only subjective judgments in support of that assertion. I hardly think it’s ‘nitpicking’ to point out that fairly glaring inconsistency.

  64. Shub says:

    We have to be clear on whether McIntyre reasons are not reasons, or whether they were not clear. That is what I want to know.

  65. PDA says:

    McIntyre states what his reasons are. That is his narrative. I may interpret them differently. That would be my narrative.
     
    Jones replied to questions in an interview. That is his narrative. You characterize them in a particular way. That is your narrative.
     
    The only ‘facts’ here are that people said things. Interpretations of what was said, whether it was clear, believable, etc… these are subjective judgments that support a particular narrative. They are not facts and shouldn’t be argued as such.

  66. Brandon Shollenberger says:

    How many posts can be made about the use of the word “narrative”?  A narrative is just a story.  There is nothing inherently insulting about the word, so there is nothing wrong with calling things narratives.  It seems Shub takes issue with the word “narrative” due to him finding it to have derogatory connotations.  While I don’t think this is reasonable, it is quite clear what he is thinking.
     
    On the other hand, the responses to him haven’t made much sense either.  In #54, PDA quotes some of what Shub said, calling it “a narrative,” but what was quoted isn’t “a narrative.”  It is a conditional statement, followed by a descriptive statement, followed by a declaratory statement.  There is no story in it.
     
    A similar problem arises in #59, where PDA quotes single statements, calling each “a narrative.”  Typically speaking, single statements are not narratives.  The rhetorical mode these fall under is description, not narration (the last quote PDA called “a narrative” also includes argumentation).
     
    But all of this is just semantics, so people shouldn’t be so caught up on it.

  67. Perhaps one lesson learnt is that climate scientists should take self defense classes in case a next wave of harassment tries to emulate the previous one?

  68. Brandon Shollenberger says:

    #67, am I missing a joke, or did you seriously just suggest people may decide to assault climate scientists?

  69. Gene says:

    Brandon (68)

    Perhaps the concern is people “attacking science”. 

    I’d think a more careful analysis would point to the need for classes in ethics, legal compliance and data management.

  70. Bart, that sounds like a big story. We’ve not heard anything about this assault, as far as I know. Please do share with us who it is that’s been harassed and in precisely what way.

  71. Lazar says:

    I think Bart is speaking metaphorically… at least, not about self-defence from physical violence… jujitsu has been used around here previously to mean something like skillful debate…

  72. willard says:

    The way of the word is called rhetorics.

  73. Steven Sullivan says:

    Oh dear, there goes Bart V ‘hiding the decline’.  Look what he said!! Alert the ‘skeptical’ media! !!
     
    Please, people, get a clue. The last year has indeed demonstrated that  climate scientists might benefit from training with how to deal with aggressive, PR/character assaults, both privately driven and crowd-sourced.    At the same time, some scientists *have* been threatened with *physical* violence — is all of this really news at this point?
     
     
     

  74. Steven Sullivan says:

    Oh, and btw, Simon Hopkinson, your love for ‘precision’ is admirable but for now these samples will have to suffice:
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article7017905.ece
    “February 7, 2010
    The leak was bad. Then came the death threats”
     
    http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101115/full/468362a.html
    ” [Phil Jones] received some 200 abusive or threatening e-mails, the most troubling of which targeted him and his family. “Someone, somewhere, will hunt you down,” read one. “You are now blacklisted,” read another. “Expect us at your door to say hello.””
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/health-science/climategate-scientist-phil-jones-regrets-emails-but-stands-by-global-warming-conclusions/story-e6frg8y6-1225954228600
    “[Phl Jones] received more than 400 abusive emails: “There were some saying you should kill yourself and others saying ‘we know where you live’. I did feel physically threatened at times. …I tried to forward them to the police but they were bounced back by their computer because they were too obscene. So I had to print them.””
     
    http://abcnews.go.com/WN/Media/climate-scientists-threat-global-warming-proponents-face-intimidation/story?id=10723932
    Climate Scientists Claim ‘McCarthy-Like Threats,’ Say They Face Intimidation, Ominous E-Mails

    Climate scientist Michael Mann says he has received hundreds of them — threatening e-mails and phone calls calling him a criminal, a communist or worse.

    Climate scientist Michael Mann says he’s received hundreds of threatening e-mails and phone calls calling him a criminal, a communist or worse.
    (ABC News)

    “6 feet under, with the roots, is were you should be,” one e-mail reads. “How know 1 one has been the livin p*ss out of you yet, i was hopin i would see the news that you commited suicide, Do it.””
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.