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What is the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund?

Posted on 14 July 2012 by doug_bostrom

'Would gravity be overturned if we could see Sir Isaac Newton’s personal letters?' -- Scott Mandia

The Cavalry Arrives

A year ago Professors Scott Mandia and John Abraham witnessed with growing dismay burgeoning legal attacks on scientists performing climate related research. Mandia and Abraham had discussed for some time how they might help defray legal costs incidental to inconvenient research results being borne by scientists; the pair were catalyzed into action upon learning that Dr. Michael Mann was dipping into personal funds to defend himself against a litigious fishing expedition by the extremist anti-regulatory American Tradition Institute. Mandia and Abraham crystallized their thinking into concrete form and action with the inception of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF).

Launching the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund required a conjunction of several key parts: the idea of formally organizing a combat fund, initiative to put thoughts into action, and most importantly the right people to start the process. John Abraham is the celebrated veteran of a prolonged verbal skirmish with the eccentric yet CSDF Logocuriously influential Christopher Monckton. Scott Mandia shares with Abraham the distinction of being threatened with a lawsuit by Monckton, a campaign ribbon in the weird world war of climate reality versus climate fantasy.

Within 24 hours of Climate Science Legal Defense Fund's announcement over $10,000 dollars were raised for the cause of allowing Michael Mann to proceed with his research with less distraction and worry. This wouldn't have been possible without the bona fides brought to the project by John Abraham and Scott Mandia.

It wasn't long before a third participant applied elbow grease to CSLDF. Joshua Wolfe is a professional photographer, coauthor with NASA-GISS scientist Gavin Schmidt of a pictorial illustration of climate change. Wolfe has proven instrumental in driving CSLDF forward. Managing a prolonged fundraising effort with proper accounting, a 501(c)3 imprimatur for tax deductible donations and all the trimmings of a not-for-profit is a lot of work. Mandia and Abraham began their fund as a simple PayPal account but the response to their request for help was overwhelming; with day jobs as professors the two needed a way to scale the fund. Joshua Wolfe forged a partnership between The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, PEER. Joining with PEER taps into a productive, efficient and nonduplicative structure, eliminating a lot of costly overhead. 

Joshua Wolfe also instantiated a highly successful fundraising module for CSLDF at the crowdfunding site RocketHub. The Climate Science Legal Defense fund RocketHub fundraising tool has found a warm reception, raising over $11,000 for the fund's work.

With over $50,000 raised in the year of its existence the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund has swiftly become an important bulwark protecting guileless scientists inadvertently colliding with powerful ideological and commercial interests.

Hitting the ground running, CSLDF helped defray Dr. Michael Mann's expenses incurred when ATI jumped Mann as part of a seemingly endless process of retailiation for Mann's elucidation of the famous climate "hockey stick."While Mann is still dealing with lingering costs from ATI's mugging, CSLDF was instrumental in defending him against ATI's pointless prying, transforming a lopsided fight into something a bit more fair.

More importantly for the long run, Mann's defense served as a test case for the utility of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, lighting the way ahead for improvements.

At the most recent AGU Fall conference the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund presented a session detailing lessons learned and suggestions for better equipping scientists and institutions with the tools necessary to counter increasingly frequent brushes with litigation mills disguised as "thinktanks." CSLDF is building a core of institutionalized knowledge about FOIA requests and other legal arcana for ready access by individuals and institutions and is developing a core group of legal talent familiar with the particular needs of CSLDF. 

Looking forward, the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund sees the need for more human resources devoted purely to protecting scientists from gratuitious lawsuits, institutional support via grants and-- not to put too fine a point on it-- simply more money to counter a fad for SLAPP-style offensive maneuvers showing no sign of diminishment. The organization wants to hire a suitable FTE to take the reins from the group of part-timers now juggling their time between professional and personal lives and CSLDF.

It's safe to say that for people who care about the integrity of climate science, money contributed to CSLDF is an excellent investment, a fine way to transform frustration into positive energy.

Warning: Science-free Zone

With all this time, effort and money being spent on defending scientists from extra-curricular actors the question naturally arises, 'what's it all about?' What's the connection between trawling for scientists' correspondence and financial records with science and healthy skepticism pertaining to scientific research findings?

Taking the American Tradition Institute as an example of organizations rooting around in stale email and dusty accounting records, we find no connection with science at all. Let's allow ATI to speak for themselves:

American Tradition Institute v. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (records of Dr. James Hansen, Freedom of Information Act Petition filed June 21, 2011)

On June 21, 2011 American Tradition Institute’s Environmental Law Center filed a lawsuit in federal district court in the District of Columbia to force NASA to release ethics records for Dr. Hansen. The action followed NASA’s denial of ATI’s federal Freedom of Information Act request (PDF) with NASA, seeking records detailing whether and how ‘global warming’ activist Dr. James Hansen of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) has complied with applicable federal ethics and financial disclosure laws and regulations, and NASA Rules of Behavior.

American Tradition Institute v. University of Virginia (records of Dr. Michael Mann, Freedom of Information Act Petition filed May 16, 2011)

American Tradition Institute’s Environmental Law Center and Virginia Delegate Robert Marshall asked a Prince William County judge, under the Commonwealth’s Freedom of Information Act, to expedite the release of documents withheld by the University of Virginia that pertain to the work of its former environmental sciences assistant professor Dr. Michael Mann.

These cases are notably devoid of any connection with scientific research; ATI does not engage the published works of Hansen or Mann on a scientific level, ATI makes no attempt either to refute Hansen and Mann's scientific output or to extend or improve the published work of Hansen or Mann. So, no science and no scientific skepticism are visible; ATI is concerned strictly with matters of character.

These two cases stand as textbook illustrations of 'ad hominem' attacks on scientists; the target of ATI's thought and argument is not the scientific work of Hansen and Mann but rather their personalities.

Let's remember what Scott Mandia asked: 'Would gravity be overturned if we could see Sir Isaac Newton’s personal letters?' No, of course not; refuting Isaac Newton's observations and predictions would require an attack on his published findings, not on what chit-chat he wrote to whom on what date. In fact, even if Sir Isaac had not been Warden of the Royal Mint of England and instead had been a small time grifter during off-hours between bouts of inspiration such a fallibility would have left his science intact, open to legitimate attack only via scientific methods.

ATI has not found anything particularly intriguing in their fishing expeditions; we'd surely know by now if Hansen or Mann exhibited any juicy, gossipy character flaws to trumpet. No, ATI's trophy wall includes various breathlessly hyped tidbits about speaking fees, imaginative reinventions of climate scientists by ATI's senior litigator and much else. But no science-- ATI has no argument against the findings of any of the scientists in whose dumpsters it frolics.

Climate science is the foundation of ATI's entire legal fiasco. ATI offers no factual argument against climate science.

Global Cooling of Speech

Barren of useful results with Hansen and Mann, ATI now entirely abandons any pretense of interest in the practice of science. As covered in the press ATI has announced a new campaign of litigious aggression to be inflicted on scientists who dare communicate their anxiety about the increasingly urgent problem of climate change. These efforts on ATI's part are plainly naked of any connection with research. ATI openly acknowledes what many of us suspected all along: this persistent litigation campaign is about ideology, politics and-- ultimately-- preserving status quo in the energy sector.

Cues to acceptable freedom of speech vary widely. In Canada scientists bringing uncomfortable facts to the public square have been muzzled by the Harper government in a way that is quite transparent; Canada's government has made it policy that scientists must communicate with the public via 'public relations specialists' or minders, their expert words filtered by persons reporting to political appointees. In the US despite past half-hearted attempts no such policy has been made practicable. However there are alternatives for imposing silence on concerned citizens; one such means is to create instructively punitive examples of what happens when scientists convey the 'wrong' information containing uncomfortable facts to journalists.

We see from the absence of science in its legal agenda that ATI either doesn't understand or does not care about the scientific topics with which it's interfering. Knowing so, when ATI seeks to invade communications between scientists and journalists we must dismiss any notion that ATI is attempting to improve the state of science and instead consider other motivations. As described in the Guardian two scientists are presently being harassed by ATI thanks to their temerity in communicating with journalists. In the absence of other reasons we have to consider that ATI is using professors Katharine Hayhoe and Andrew Dessler as teaching tools for the rest of the scientific community. While Prof. Dessler himself speculates that ATI is mainly intent on seeking damaging information, any scientist watching this process will naturally wonder if keeping clam against journalist contacts would be the wiser course. 

ATI's wasteful invasion of Hayhoe and Dessler's work is exactly the style of extra-curricular, unscientific and ad hominem attack on scientists that the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund is intended to ameliorate.

It's easy to lose perspective on just how bizarre a pass we find ourselves with regard to climate research. Let's view this situation from a slightly different angle.

We've established that unchecked climate change due to reckless fossil fuel combustion is a threat to public health. Forgetting geophysics and climate for a moment and thinking of this instead as a public health problem, imagine that a virologist had an important finding affecting public hygiene and communicated that to journalists. We'd consider it folly to have that researcher then tied up with unproductive friction having nothing to do with virology, inflicted by some oddly pro-epidemic faction of society. We'd be happy if there were an organization dedicated to protecting virologists from enthusiasts of unchecked plague. That's where we find ourselves today; scientists communicating their concern about a ballooning public health threat are encumbered by people with reckless disregard for the hazards they're promoting, but happily there's an organization in place to deal with the problem.

With each of our days measuring 24 hours in length and time being money, FOIA safaris such as ATI's impose a real cost on the productivity and efficiency of scientists and research instituions. Dr. Dessler estimates that some 20 hours of his time was pointlessly dissipated dealing with ATI while his institution (Texas Agricultural and Mechanical University) was forced to devote many more hours playing ATI's gotcha game. This is time and money that could be expended on productive work.

Fruitless waste of time is a factor for researchers to consider when wondering if they should engage the public square with their expertise. Their hesitancy becomes our loss; we support research with the expectation that findings important to the public good will be made known to us. To the extent ATI silences that process waste is compounded.

As with the imaginary public spirited virologist, with Hayhoe and Dessler vs. ATI we have a case of scientists attempting to communicate findings of vital import to journalists only to have their email exploited for op-ed fodder and their personas rebranded as suspect 'activists' by silver-tongued lawyers. For conveying facts, the persons and characters of these scientists are being smeared not on the merits of their communication but for daring to communicate. This is an entirely new low in ad hominem attacks and one that needs to be vigorously rebuffed. The Climate Science Defense Fund was created to fill exactly this need. 

Everybody Has A Hand On the Dial

In the torrid atmosphere of the climate blogosphere we read and write endless passionate words about commitment to science and the importance of science. Most of us play peripheral bit parts in the central climate science drama; we're not researchers, we're not hired guns with law degrees and we're not titans of industry. Pipsqueaks we may be but if we remember one key fact our roles easily upstage those of the leading members of the cast.

The weightiest part open to most of us witnessing this novel struggle to acknowledge facts-- the universal script for significantly affecting our future climate-- is that of readily opening or closing our wallets at appropriate moments. ATI's preoccupation with protecting outmoded industries shows us how the bones of our fortune will be cast; the ebb and flow of money will set the temperature of the world going forward.

Long ago I worked in public radio here in the US. One of my preoccupations with this work was fundraising; workers must be paid and transmitters fed with electrons and most of the money for doing those things came from listeners. Obtaining money from listeners is not easy; the fate of workers in the US public radio industry is to enjoy enthusiastic feedback from listeners for about 340 days of the year, only to have most listeners fall silent when it came time to pay for their pleasurable listening. Talk is cheap, as the saying goes.  

In the US public radio arena we considered ourselves to be doing well if 15% of our listeners contributed to the station of their choice. We can't expect better in this online world but we're left to ponder that if a small fraction of people who are angered by ATI were to contribute to the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund a powerful message would be sent to ATI and its ilk.

If each time ATI launched a character assassination attempt on another scientist they found they were once again filling the coffers of a fund dedicated to defending the very scientist in their crosshairs, what would happen? I suggest that that not many people would need to participate with CSLDF before ATI became tired of kicking the ball into their own net.

Who are the people who can change ATI's expectations? Here's a hint: don't look for them to your left or right; paradoxically, for the system to work you must assume you're the only person participating. Why not pay the Climate Science Defense Fund a visit today and make a contribution?

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Comments 51 to 100 out of 111:

  1. Carrick @38,

    It was not my intention to label you as a denier, but to point out that you accept the use FOI as a harasment tool against climate scientists (as deniers do). You misread my comment or I wasn't clear enough, in any case I appologise.

    I do my research for a private company rather than a uni so my understanding of IP issues may be different than yours. I concur with you that the funder of the project is the owner of any code and data. However, the key issue is who is this funder or "funding agency". I'd like to learn what NSF can say about it but your link do not work.

    Your claim that "anything related to public policy decisions... should be seen as publicly owned" means to me, that if the results of any given research is choosen by policy makers to justify their actions, then said research automatically becomes public, any prior IP ownership is expired. Is that what you mean? That does not make sense. Politicians, with their decisions, cannot change the ownership of the research they read.

    If you mean "public is the funder of the research from its conception, therefore public is its owner", that is a moot statement for me. We are talking about "funding agencies" here. Therefore only funding agencies or people affiliated with funding agencies can claim the rights to the research. In the example of McIntyre vs. Karoly we are considering here, McIntyre cannot be affiliated with any funder. Even by the broadest possible definition of funding affiliation supporting Karoly's research (an Australian taxpayer - a very generous asignment) McIntyre cannot be so named because he's not an Australian taxpayer.
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  2. JohnB @42, as an Aussie myself, I believe that no individual taxpayer pays for scientific grants, so no individual taxpayer has a right to set the conditions of those grants. Rather, it is the elected government acting for all of us that sets those conditions; and those conditions as set are the ones that apply.

    You may wish to forgo those small virtues of Australian political life - democracy and the rule of law - because you are an Australian taxpayer. I do not.
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  3. McIntyre's letter to Karoly, by his own admission, states in part:

    "It has come to my attention that you have made the following untrue and defamatory statement about me

    ....

    I request that you either provide me forthwith with specific examples of the “misinformation” that you allege that I’ve promulgated or withdraw the allegation with an apology."


    Let's start with "defamatory" which the Collins English Dictionary defines as:

    "defamatory [dɪˈfæmətərɪ -trɪ]
    adj
    (Law) injurious to someone's name or reputation
    defamatorily adv"


    Note that the term "defamatory" is a technical term from the practise of law. By using a legal technical term, not to mention the later additional use of legal language "forthwith", "promulgated", "allege". It is clear, therefore, that McIntyre drafted his letter with the clear intent of making it look like a legal letter. What is more, as such letters are often the first step in defamation actions, if Karoly showed the letter to the legal officers of his university, they would no doubt have advised him to treat it as the first step in a defamation action; ie, as a threat of legal action. To do otherwise might well compromise their defence if McIntyre in fact proceeded to take such action.

    I think it is probable that Karoly did in fact show the letter to the Universities legal officers. I even suspect there is a university policy that requires him to do so. I further suspect that he was advised by said legal officer to take down the article, but to not apologize (which is taken as an admission of fault and could compromise any future defence). It would also not surprise me that he has been advised not to comment on the issue. These would all be very standard actions in the case of a threat of legal action.

    It is irrelevant to all this that McIntyre says he was not threatening legal action. He wrote a letter deliberately drafted to look like the first step in a legal action, and did not in that letter state that he had no intention to pursue any legal action over the matter. He thereby implicitly threatened Karoly with legal action.
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  4. Dubious @48:
    I think that if McIntyre sent a plagiarism claim to *any* university in this case, it would more than likely be dismissed right away. Pointing out an error does not constitute a novel idea or original work.

    However, it still constitutes, in my opinion, a legal threat.
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  5. As another Australian tax payer I completely agree with Tom Curtis' comment at #52. Paying tax is a part of a contract with society to maintain the cohesion of said society; it's not carte blanche to pry into and hinder every aspect of public servants' work.

    Imagine if the same attempt to gain this unfettered access were to be given willy-nilly to all members of the public. The whole system of government would soon be bogged down with vexatious claims from every Tom, Dick and Harriet which a chip on the shoulder.

    This said, there are already channels in place for people to gain access to information as long as they follow appropriate procedure, and if they can demonstrate a valid need. This winnows the wheat from the chaff, and prevents the aforementioned hamstringing of the work of millions of people.

    And as much as the "auditors" pretend otherwise, science has its own procedures for oversight, and those procedures work more efficiently than could the ideologically-driven witch-hunts of non-professional lobbyists, bloggers, and sundry fringe-dwellers.

    On the matter of Karoly's letter, at most (if not all) of the institutions where I've worked the response would be just as as Tom describes in #53. McIntyre might claim otherwise, but 'Legal' would see it as exactly a threat, no matter the velvet glove of feigned "who, me?", and instigate the procedure that Tom outlines.
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  6. In reference to JohnB's claim that, as an Australian taxpayer he had license to examine any fruits of tax monies spent:

    (a) Taxes aren't equity. They are expenses.

    (b) Even equity, in and of itself, doesn't get one unlimited rights to information, or unlimited rights to interfere in the day-to-day operations in the organizations in which one holds it. I could own shares in one or more of the national banks where I live (Canada) - indeed, I probably do - but I would still be tossed out if I were to walk into a local branch and start treating it as my personal property.
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  7. dkaroly at 08:06 AM on 14 July, 2012
    ..... In Australia, I have just received a threat of legal action from Steve McIntyre in Canada and am currently dealing with 6 different FOI requests.

    Tom Curtis at 20:29 PM on 15 July, 2012

    I further suspect that he was advised by said legal officer to take down the article, but to not apologize (which is taken as an admission of fault and could compromise any future defence). It would also not surprise me that he has been advised not to comment on the issue. These would all be very standard actions in the case of a threat of legal action.

    Nice analysis Tom.
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  8. chrisinoz:
    It was not my intention to label you as a denier, but to point out that you accept the use FOI as a harasment tool against climate scientists (as deniers do). You misread my comment or I wasn't clear enough, in any case I appologise.
    I don't accept the use of FOI as a harassment tool against scientists.

    Where did I say that?

    My viewpoint is you wouldn't see as many legitimate FOIs if people were to follow what I consider to be solid practices in research, like the public archiving of their data and analysis software (with the caveat there are cases where the software can't be shared, because it is copyrighted by the university or other legal body, matlab is an example of that... I can't share matlab, though I can give my scripts and say "you have to purchase matlab plus the signal processing library" to use it). There are some who say we need to use R because then everything is public domain. There is a limit of how far even I am willing to go in that direciton.

    I've no problem with legitimate FOIs, but obviously find FOIs that can legitimately be said to be harassing to be problematic. in that regard, I wish people who make claims of harassing FOIs would publicly air those FOIs so the rest of us can make up our own mind whether we see it in the same light. And I wish more people would be willing to come down on the side of reason, rather than just agreeing with somebody's view that it is harassing because it serves their needs for a particular political debate.

    Your claim that "anything related to public policy decisions... should be seen as publicly owned" means to me, that if the results of any given research is choosen by policy makers to justify their actions, then said research automatically becomes public, any prior IP ownership is expired.

    You left out an important clause here. The point related to research paid for by the public, not research in general. And leaving that out totally changes the meaning of what I said.

    Privately paid for research generally can remain private (though it is not always in their best interests to do so). You aren't even under an obligation to file patents or write papers in that case. The same goes for work performed for the public that is seen to have marketable value. I have work that is considered privileged intellectual property and the only way to get to that is via a NDA with my university. (In the US, this is based on the Bayh-Dole act.)

    If you mean "public is the funder of the research from its conception, therefore public is its owner", that is a moot statement for me. We are talking about "funding agencies" here. Therefore only funding agencies or people affiliated with funding agencies can claim the rights to the research
    You're getting to quasi-legal theory at this point. Ultimately, in the US, any of the Congress, the Judicial branch or the executive branch could make a mandate that certain research results, paid for by public money, be made publicly available. The Judicial branch on a case-by-case basis, can similarly require that data and code be made available for review (even if not public), as in fraud cases.

    Generally I think your point is right that it is the funding agencies that establish the guidelines for when data, methods etc should be made public. NOAA is very hard-assed that way in terms of the requiremenst for sharing. But even then, Congress can always tell them to change their guidelines, so can the administration, and the judicial branch could tell them their guidelines are illegal, etc.

    Even by the broadest possible definition of funding affiliation supporting Karoly's research (an Australian taxpayer - a very generous asignment) McIntyre cannot be so named because he's not an Australian taxpayer

    Again you're dipping into quasi-legal theory here. Whether McIntyre has any rights depends on treaties in place with other countries and how binding those treaties are in Australia. It appears that McIntyre has legal rights in the State of Australia, otherwise Karoly wouldn't have worried about any legal threats from McIntyre (and as you are probably aware foreign companies and individuals file lawsuits all of the time).

    The legal theory of how you would exclude him from certain legal rights that are not explicitly written into the the law in question (Australia's FOIA) would be a complex one. I would guess ultimately, if the FOIA isn't written that way, he has the same legal rights to petition for particular information as any other individual.

    Furthermore, the question regarding "who is paying for this" addresses "who owns this". It is a complicated question, but if the data and code are ultimately judged to be owned by the state, it is up to the state to decide whether it is in the state's interests for an individual (of their or any other nation) to have access to that code.

    I also work with data that are under export control, so I see that side too. There are data and code I cant' share with foreign nationals without getting the permission of my sponsor. Sometimes it's as simple as "this data came from a jet fighter but I can't tell you which one."

    (Generally we get permission to share part or all of the data when requests come in, but that illustrates the chain of ownership here.)
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  9. Carrick,
    Any code or data related to public policy decisions that is paid for by the public should be seen as publicly owned. Period.
    Absurd.

    I've seen this and things like it said so often, and it's literally laughable.

    Would you demand that every closed door session of the executive office or legislature, paid for by democratically elected officials, should also be open for review?

    Would you demand that you be allowed to read all e-mails and monitor all phone calls of any public office you choose, to make sure they're not wasting your tax dollars?

    Feel like driving a tank and firing the gun? After all, your tax dollars paid for it.

    The whole thing is a typical simpleton's fantasy. Take a few basic concepts, and grossly mix them together to reach an illogical conclusion -- in this case the basic concepts of democracy, taxation and ownership extending to the idea that you "own" parts of the government.

    People do not collectively own everything paid for with taxes. Even the government does not collectively own everything. The concept of ownership does not apply. The world is far, far more complex and nuanced than that. Claiming otherwise is like a child claiming that the sun must be a rubber ball because it's round and it bounces up and down.

    If you wish, look at your taxes as a membership fee. You have paid to belong to a country club. You get whatever benefits that the club agrees to bestow upon you, and nothing more. You do not own part of the grounds, rooms or furniture. You cannot choose to walk out with the silverware. You do not get to read through all of the files to make sure the club is managed exactly the way you would like.

    You are a member. You get the declared benefits of membership. Period. End of story.

    Simple syllogisms using basic, real world concepts tend to result in Alice in Wonderland conclusions, and that is where the "my tax dollars paid for it, so I get to see it" nonsense comes from.

    The whole argument is exemplary of the denial position.

    You want to be able to look at everything you can, because you hope that you can find some better excuse to argue against the science, and so you are motivated to misinterpret and misrepresent the situation, consciously or unconsciously, so that you can find even more excuses deny reality.

    It is utterly and completely insane that we are even discussing any of this. Scientists, thousands and thousands of them over the course of more than a century, have identified a problem, one which is quite probably the greatest danger faced by civilization since we discovered atomic weapons, and possibly ever. It is a problem which could completely reshape the face of civilization.

    And somehow this has actually been translated into an environment where some people really believe that there is some vast conspiracy, that scientists are purposely and maliciously misrepresenting the data, and that scientists should be subject to anything other than praise and gratitude, or at least common respect, for their efforts.

    I am just amazed.

    And appalled.
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  10. Carrick,
    Furthermore, the question regarding "who is paying for this" addresses "who owns this". It is a complicated question, but if the data and code are ultimately judged to be owned by the state...
    More complete drivel. This entire position is based on a ridiculous premise, and is of no value. You can stomp and rant all you want. This isn't happening, it never has happened, and it won't happen. It's a waste of everyone's time.
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  11. doug_bostrom at 03:30 AM on 15 July, 2012

    Begging the question, "Or what?" What happens if Karoly ignores McIntyre?

    The most plausible thing to imagine is Steve McIntyre, a blogger, would write a blog post mention that he'd requested an apology and Karoly had ignored him. Karoly might not like this outcome but it is hardly a threat of legal action.

    As to any statements about Steve Mc Karoly took down: if Karoly believed he could defend his previous statements, I think he should have done so. As it stands it appears Karoly took them down because he could not defend them.
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  12. Carrick you say that software like MATLAB obviously can't be given away by universities, becuase the university does not have a licence to distribute copies. How about data that the university has licence to use, but not to distribute?

    I only ask as much of the data that has been requested by FOI, the university in question (mine) did not have a licence to distribute. Yet this was what the "skeptic" were making all the fuss about.

    I am broadly in favour of public bodies making as much software and data available, provided the funding is made available to support this additional activity. Public institutions, such as universities, these days are required to be good value to the tax payer, and part of this comes from exploitation of intellectual property, such as data and software. If you want to prevent them from exploiting this source of revenue, then the tax payer will need to replace it somehow.
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  13. I am an Australian lawyer and I agree with Tom's points @53. I would have viewed the letter as a legal threat and advised Professor Karoly to take the same view.

    Several people in this comments thread have used Professor Karoly's comment to criticise him but that is the exact opposite of the purpose of this post, which is about a legal defence fund for scientists such as Professor Karoly who are harassed using the law and FOI procedures.

    Personally, I greatly admire Professor Karoly's work and his courage in engaging in the public debate about climate change.
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  14. Lucia: As to any statements about Steve Mc Karoly took down: if Karoly believed he could defend his previous statements, I think he should have done so. As it stands it appears Karoly took them down because he could not defend them.

    "Karoly took them down" and words to that effect concerning the ATR article are speculation, unless somebody has an authoritative confirmation that Karoly was responsible for the disappearance of the piece.

    Most of us will probably agree that Karoly does not have administrative privileges at the ATR website.

    There are a couple of realistic possibilities. Karoly may have asked ATR to remove the piece, or ATR itself found the comments generated by the piece to be a distracting waste of time to moderate. I see from the archived copy that the article had already attracted some ire; perhaps ATR didn't like the noise it encountered.

    Point is, we don't know what happened. It would be helpful if we did but in the meantime let's not make the mistake of substituting with our imaginations what actually happened.

    As to whether Karoly's remarks were "over the top" please do read Albatross' comment.

    For my part the thing I find most striking about the ATR imbroglio is that a fellow who writes and permits the sort of descriptive language found on CA should be so seemingly thin-skinned.
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  15. Come to think of it, as long as we're continuing to explore and thus emphasize the unscientific nature of "auditing" another thing we could learn and which is easily within the power of "auditors" to disclose is the content of the FOI letters sent to Karoly.

    Transparency is good; we've been told that everything should be published. Does anybody know where copies of the FOI letters to Karoly are made public?
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  16. I've been babbling about "ATR." That's ABR.
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  17. Dikran, most FOIAs allow for cost recovery. In principle, this cost recovery can be added to the university overhead account, and could even become an additional revenue stream.


    Oh, really? How much money has the CRU collected from McIntyre to recover their costs? How about the FOI's submitted by his followers? Were any of them billed?

    The CRU had to spend some time dealing even with *this* FOI request (linky here):

    I hereby make a EIR/FOI request in respect to any
    confidentiality agreements)restricting transmission of
    CRUTEM data to non-academics involing the following
    countries: [insert 5 or so countries that are different
    from ones already requested1]
    1. the date of any applicable confidentiality agreements;
    2. the parties to such confidentiality agreement,
    including the full name of any organization;
    3. a copy of the section of the confidentiality agreement
    that "prevents further transmission to non-academics".
    4. a copy of the entire confidentiality agreement,


    How much did the CRU bill this particular FOI requester for time/expenses?


    Dr. Dessler mentioned that he spent a good 20 hours of his own time dealing with FOI requests. To whom did he bill his time?
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  18. For those here (and elsewhere) who insist on defending Mr. McIntyre's repeated harassment and intimidation of certain scientists.



    [Mr. McIntyre]

    Surely if you have been paying attention to this sorry saga you would know in your heart of hearts that it is an establish fact, a truth, on the public record even that Mr. McIntyre is in the unfortunate habit of frequently promulgating misinformation and much worse too. It is not even a matter that is up for debate anymore. That Mr. McIntyre seems to believe in his letter to Dr. Karoly that he has never "promulgated misinformation" demonstrates that he is either being incredibly disingenuous or is out of touch with reality and needs to re-read everything he has written. I'll provide a few examples, there are many more:

    1) Mr. McIntyre has said that:
    "However, as CA readers know, the resulting Yamal chronology with its enormous HS blade was like crack cocaine for paleoclimatologists"

    As DeepClimate shows, this accusation/insinuation is not only inflammatory, but it is also simply not true, and as such Mr. McIntyre is promulgating misinformation. Dr. Karoly is correct and has nothing to apologize for. There are many paleo reconstructions out there that do not use dendro data, never mind the much contested Yamal data. RealClimate also addressed McIntyre's misinformation on this issue.

    2) McIntyre also repeatedly accuses pale climate scientists of "cherry picking" (ironic given how his code identified only those chronologies that have hockey-shapes to falsely claim that Mann's method produced a hockey stick even when fed persistent red noise).

    3) Mr. McIntyre has also misrepresented facts about Dr. Trenberth. DeepClimate exposes Mr. McIntyre's distortion of facts and misinformation here.

    4) Mr. McIntyre made false accusations about one of the figures in the Third IPCC assessment report-- that is, misinformation. Again, exposed by DeepClimate.

    5) Here is an example of Mr. McIntyre being exposed for misleading readers in the Mail on Sunday.

    6) Here is Mr. McIntyre exposed for promulgating misinformation and false claims to none other than the UK parliamentary committee investigating the theft of emails from UEA. Mr. McIntyre misinforming a parliamentary committee...!

    7) Here is Mr. McIntyre exposed for cherry picking and quote mining text from the stolen emails to fit his narrative. That is misinformation on the part of Mr. McIntyre.

    8) Here Mr. McIntyre is exposed for promulgating misinformation about Dr. Briffa's work and using it to (wrongly) insinuate fraud and misconduct.

    9) McIntyre exposed for spreading yet more misinformation about Dr. Briffa, misinformation that was happily gobbled up by some denier pundits in the media.

    10) "Here is Mr. McIntyre being exposed for falsely claiming that he had not been provided data and that pale scientists were withholding data from him, when in fact he had been in possession of the data for almost 5 years!

    There is much more of course, for example Mr. McIntyre being exposed for quote mining-- the net result being misinformation, by Deltoid

    Now Mr. McIntyre and his defenders of can choose to ignore such inconvenient facts, but that will not disappear them. As I show din my posts above, Dr. Karoly has nothing to apologize for, Mr. McIntyre does, and a lot too. If anything this whole saga shows Mr. McIntyre to either be incredibly disingenuous or completely out of touch with reality.

    As for the Gergis affair, even McIntyre himself advised his readers noted that the problem/s with the Gergis paper may not be of much consequence, or something to that effect. So once again, we have what is probably an inconsequential error that will not dramatically alter the paper's primary conclusions being elevated and spun as something much worse by "skeptics" and those who deny the theory of AGW.

    But that has not stopped McIntyre from trying to squeeze something to his benefit out of the Gergis issue. It is actions, such as this letter by Mr. McIntyre to Dr. Karoly, that have forced the formation of the climate defense fund. Ludicrous as this is, it is sadly the truth.
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    Moderator Response: [DB] Resized picture.
  19. Carrick Your evasive reply is a great example of the problem with the climate debate. You completely ignored the substantive point of my post (that much of the data requested was not actually owned by CRU and they only had access to it on terms that did not allow distribution - just like their access to MATLAB - the topic you brought up), and chose to discuss the funding issue instead. Sadly I noticed the evasion.

    As to the finance issue, I wasn't talking in that paragraph about FOIs, I was talking about making code and data available as an ongoing activity (as some other posters were suggesting). That does have a cost, and it isn't trivial.

    Now, are you going to asnwer my original point?
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  20. Making scientific data available is definitely not trivial, in terms of either cost or effort.
    Ars Technica has a series of articles about some of the bigger issues related to data retention and sharing, it might be worth a read for those not extremely familiar with the challenges. It was partly inspired by the CRU incident and questions people have about data availability, but it's more about the sciences generally than climate science specifically.
    Preserving Science Part 1 looks at raw materials. Part 2 looks at questions about what is actually relevant for retention and analysis. These issues have to be dealt with before data collection even starts, and continue after the immediate studies are published. Part 3 looks at the problem from the standpoint of digital data formats and storage hardware, which is not trivial to address. It also touches on some of the restrictions on data sharing that get in the way of this "I paid for it, it's mine!" mentality some folks seem to be displaying. Part 4 jumps from there into the problem of actually using old data (or even recent data from someone else's lab enviroment).

    A separate but relevant article, How Science Funding is Putting Scientific Data at Risk, examines who is expected (or expects not) to pay for indefinite data curation.
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  21. Lucia @61, the more reasonable inference is that Karoly was instructed to take them down because his universities legal department did not want the expense of defending them.

    Without evidence to the contrary, any speculation beyond that may well be slandering Dr Karoly.

    As it happens, Dr Karoly would have not difficulty in defending his claims, as Albatross @17 and @68 shows.
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  22. I would like to draw everybody's attention to Chris McGrath's comment @63, referring to my comment @53. Let me state that this is not a legal opinion, but I have no doubt that Chris McGrath could draft that up as a formal legal opinion if so desired. Therefore, in the absence of a formal legal opinion by an Australian Lawyer to the contrary, anybody suggesting that McIntyre's letter did not constitute a threat of legal action is doing so in despite of the evidence, not based on it. In particular, McInyre is not a lawyer. His opinion as to his intention is decisive. He did not intend to make a legal threat, but his opinion as the the legal effect of his actions is irrelevant. Once he started using legal language, and legal forms in his letter, whether or not his letter constituted a legal threat became a legal issue; a topic on which he is not qualified.
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  23. WheelsOC: Making scientific data available is definitely not trivial, in terms of either cost or effort.

    How about a testimonial?

    Our notionally two-car garage is 1/3rd occupied floor-ceiling by a polyethylene-tented enclosure equipped with a dehumidifier and containing ~100 boxes (and still growing) of papers, notebooks, diskettes, Zip disks, optical disks, old hard drives and antiquated laptops. It's effectively a museum of obsolescent data storage technology. We're maintaining a tomb for data that might need to be resurrected; King Tut would be proud. That's one researcher's work product dating back to ~1985.

    Best of intentions: "We'll scan the papers and dump the data to some sort of redundant disk arragement." Sure, right. Scan -all- of it? And "who's we," Kimo Sabe? And what about that PowerBook 170 that's not been fired up in 17 years? If it doesn't cough up data when asked, is it down to negligence?

    Nobody pays for this space and the electric bill is on us; NSF et al are coasting on our dime.

    Don't mention it, you're welcome. :-)

    This problem reminds of the article in the Journal of Irreproducible Results describing the isostatic adjustment of the East Coast of the US due to accumulating back issues of National Geographic.
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  24. Further to Albatross's post @68, Gavin Schmidt weighs in on Real Climate.
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  25. doug_bostrom @73, this testimonial reinforces why the repeated FOI requests by unappointed auditors constitute harassment. Should you get an FOI request for data from a study completed in 1988, for example, even if you were able to charge the time taken to satisfy satisfy the requests as costs (which is not the case in all jurisdictions), the time involved would be wasted time with regard to your current research. If only one or two FOI requests where involved, perhaps you could wear that. But with a half dozen (Karoly) or much more (UEA) the quantity of FOI requests could keep a researcher from active research for months or more. Nor, given the time limits set for satisfying FOI requests, can the FOI request be dealt with in available free time. It would need the highest priority.

    My personal opinion is that anybody who demands FOI requests of scientists should voluntarily make themselves available for FOI requests from all comers, and let it be known. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the ganda; and taking advantage of the fact that scientists are subject to FOI requests without taking on the equivalent administrative burden themselves smacks of hypocrisy.
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  26. Tom: My personal opinion is that anybody who demands FOI requests of scientists should voluntarily make themselves available for FOI requests from all comers, and let it be known.

    Well, sure. Fair is as fair does; if transparency is good then FOI initiatives themselves should be fully transparent.

    After all, one of the justifications for FOI requests is to expose possible potential waste of taxpayer funds. FOI requests cost taxpayer funds to satisfy, so of course it follows that the FOI itself should be fully transparent so taxpayers may understand their money is not being wasted.

    Full transparency would of course involve all email contacts even remotely related to the promulgation of a particular FOI, any private discussion of the FOI (for after all, it's not really a "private" discussion when taxpayer funds are involved), any communications whatsoever concerning FOI requests.

    All of that information could be volunteered, used by FOI enthusiasts to set a good example. Really, to make the deal complete these people would offer third-party access to their personal records, right?

    Who'll volunteer? Any takers?
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  27. Point is, we don't know what happened. It would be helpful if we did but in the meantime let's not make the mistake of substituting with our imaginations what actually happened.


    Fair enough. One thing that certainly didn't happen is SteveMc did not threaten Karoly with legal action.
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  28. doug
    Lucia @61, the more reasonable inference is that Karoly was instructed to take them down because his universities legal department did not want the expense of defending them.

    Oh? I'm a bit puzzled by your rather speculative notion that this yours is a reasonable conclusion to jump to. Is "australianbookreview.com.au/" a branch of his university? I suspect not. So would the university be required to spend any money defending statements a faculty member posted on a 3rd party web site?

    I'm not familiar with Australian law, but the notion that a university would be required to defend defamatory statements made by an employees on non-university web sites seems rather amazing to me.

    Also: Do you have any evidence to suggest Karoly withdrew this on the advice of his employers attorneys? I'd be interested in reading that.

    doug_bostrom
    Point is, we don't know what happened. It would be helpful if we did but in the meantime let's not make the mistake of substituting with our imaginations what actually happened.

    Sure.
    Come to think of it, as long as we're continuing to explore and thus emphasize the unscientific nature of "auditing" another thing we could learn and which is easily within the power of "auditors" to disclose is the content of the FOI letters sent to Karoly.

    Transparency is good; we've been told that everything should be published. Does anybody know where copies of the FOI letters to Karoly are made public?


    Karoly appears to be the source for this story. Maybe he knows.
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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] "the notion that a university would be required to defend defamatory statements made by an employees on non-university web sites seems rather amazing to me.

    Please provide a link for these supposed defamatory statements. Or withdraw the supposition

  29. One thing that certainly didn't happen is SteveMc did not threaten Karoly with legal action.

    Jumping the gun again. There's only one person who really knows the fact of intentions but it turns out intentions are not really pertinent; for what a recipient of the communication might perceive and how that person should respond see Chris McGrath, above.

    I'm not Steven McIntyre, I'm not David Karoly and I'm not a lawyer; I'm ignorant of the true facts of the situation.

    Failing having better, more concrete information I'll go with expert opinion. The expert on scene here says the letter was easily interpreted as a threat and should have be treated as such.
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  30. Lucia: doug
    Lucia @61, the more reasonable inference


    I believe you're addressing Tom there.
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  31. One certainly cannot judge Karoly's perception of the strength of his position in a case where legal action is possible, when the University legal department is involved: They have decisive authority, and potentially much wider interests than just one staff member.

    A personal example: I once worked in a corporation in a managerial capacity, and an employee who was both incompetent and uncooperative attempted to get out of the situation by accusing me of sexual harassment. I was mad as hell, and was ready and willing to go to court on the matter. However, the head of the legal department took me aside, and said, "She's got nothing, and if our company were not involved, and I were you, I'd tell her to go s__t in a hat. But our company IS involved; and the problem is that the case will end up being, NOT about what YOU did or didn't do, but about how THE CORPORATION handled this situation. It makes a big difference: Even if her lawyer were to win the case against you (very unlikely), they wouldn't get much; but if they win the case against the corporation for not handling this 'appropriately', they're going after very deep pockets.

    "So we need to deal with this in an 'appropriate' 'managerial' way."

    Their final solution was to separate us into different departments. I was still pissed off; but it probably saved everybody a lot of trouble.

    The moral of the story: When an institution and a legal department are involved, the visible conflict may be just the tip of the iceberg. The actions will be taken with consideration for the whole iceberg; if you're just thinking about the tip, they may not make much sense.
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  32. Lucia: Karoly appears to be the source for this [FOI] story.

    No, the folks who transmitted the FOI requests are the source of the story. Whomever was involved in created and sending the FOI requests could publish them. As champions of transparency why wouldn't they?
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  33. One thing that certainly didn't happen is SteveMc did not threaten Karoly with legal action.


    Jumping the gun again. There's only one person who really knows the fact of intentions


    That person would be SteveMcIntyre who says he did not threaten legal action. The words he wrote also do not convey any such threat. Saying so is not "jumping the gun". Steve said he did not send a threat, he posted his letter and it contains no threat.

    but it turns out intentions are not really pertinent; for what a recipient of the communication might perceive and how that person should respond see Chris McGrath, above.

    Whether or not SteveMcIntyre intended to threatened legal action and whether his words conveyed such a threat is certainly pertinent to determining whether any such threat occurred.

    (-Snip-)

    It is quite clear there was no threat of legal action. The threat is simply not there. It is not jumping the gun to say so it was not there. It is merely reading what is in the letter SteveMc wrote and reading what SteveMc said he intended.
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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Please note that posting comments here at SkS is a privilege, not a right. This privilege can be rescinded if the posting individual treats adherence to the Comments Policy as optional, rather than the mandatory condition of participating in this online forum.

    Please take the time to review the policy and ensure future comments are in full compliance with it. Thanks for your understanding and compliance in this matter.

    Inflammatory snipped.

  34. Law of Unintended Consequences at work.

    This comment thread and in particular the Karoly subtopic is a lovely illustration of the degrading effects of swerving from science and off into the la-la-land of fact-free imagination. The devil in me celebrates the emergence of this accidental model of the wasteland I was attempting to describe in my original post.

    FOI and FOIA and all the rest of the legal Kudzu swarming over climate-related geophysics and an ever-widening swath of other research specialties are all based on imagination run wild, the notion that hidden forces are at play in the world of climate science.

    Thank you.

    Here's where we stand, and it's not complicated as long we don't let our imaginations run away with us:

    -- Steve McIntyre sent a letter to David Karoly requesting in unmistakable terms and using words that might be found in a formal legal request that Karoly perform certain actions. We have McIntyre's word as to what his intentions were; McIntyre says he intended no threat.

    -- David Karoly received a letter from Steve McIntyre requesting in unmistakable terms and using words that might be found in a formal legal request that Karoly perform certain actions. We have Karoly's word on what was his interpretation of McIntyre's intentions; Karoly found the letter's language threatening.

    -- A lawyer-- Chris McGrath-- reads McIntyre's letter as one that may reasonably be interpreted as a legal threat and thus should be treated as such. Having no reason to believe otherwise we must take McGrath's word that he's provided a sound opinion on a topic within his scope as an expert.

    All of these people can simultaneously be correct.

    Making a definite declaration that any of these people are conveying untruth relies on speculation. As well, it's an accusation of dishonesty, necessarily unfounded because none of us are telepathic.
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  35. This situation is being talked about all wrong. Let's parse the statement and use some logic. In his review, Karoly said:

    Commentators with no scientific expertise, ranging from politicians such as Republican congressman Joe Barton from Texas, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, or Republican Senator James Inhofe from Oklahoma, to blog writers Stephen McIntyre and Marc Morano

    This denotes a group of people. Notice the important words, "commentators with no scientific expertise", "ranging from" and "to". So now we can all agree that Karoly was talking about a group of people, a few of which he named . Right away, McIntyre is not the only person who Karoly believes has done the following:

    repeatedly promulgated misinformation and sought to launch formal investigations into Mann’s research, claiming professional misconduct

    So now, I'm sure we can all agree, there are a range of behaviors for a range of people, none of which has been specifically attributed.
    1) promulgated misinformation
    2) sought to launch formal investigations into Mann’s research
    3) claiming professional misconduct

    So knowing we have several people and a range of behavior, how could McIntyre accuse Karoly of defamation without knowing which behavior Karoly ascribed to him? At the very least, McIntyre would need to defend each of the three behaviors mentioned before writing that letter, or at least include more than just a defense of "promulgated misinformation". Or, write the letter to find out which behavior is his.

    And that, to me, is where it gets even weirder. The "promulgated misinformation" is a rather subjective phrase. There are many people who believe McIntyre does that all the time. McIntyre may disagree, but that is meaningless in this context. So all I see is a strangely worded letter, that uses legalese and objects to someone's opinion.
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  36. Clarifying my 11:35 AM on 16 July, 2012 comment:

    -- Feelings never lie. Karoly says he felt threatened by the letter. Claiming otherwise is to claim Karoly is lying.

    -- McIntyre says he intended no threat. Declaring otherwise is to say McIntyre is lying.

    -- McGrath says as a lawyer that regardless of the letter's sincere intentions it's his considered opinion that as expressed the demands in the letter conveyed a threat. At a minimum to disagree with McGrath is to impugn the truthfulness and/or sincerity of his opinion.
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  37. lucia @77 and @78, I must complement you that, among your many other accomplishments you have become an expert in Australian Law. How do you find the time?

    Regardless, the actual situation so far as I can determine is analogous to a person how points an unloaded gun at another persons head. Such an act is a threat of violence. It is irrelevant whether the person pointing the gun intended to shoot or not. It is irrelevant whether they even intended to threaten violence. What matters is, given only the information available to the person who had the gun pointed at them, could they form a reasonable belief that violence, ie, the firing of the gun, would follow should they fail to comply with the requests of the person pointing the gun.

    In this case, it is not a gun, but a letter, but having received that letter Karoly certainly had reasonable grounds to believe that not complying with McIntyre's requests would result in legal action. Further more, as I understand it, have "respectfully requested a retraction" (as McIntyre plainly did) a person intending to sue for defamation can go straight to court, so that the next communication with the alleged defamer would be a summons issued by the court.

    The situation that Karoly and his lawyers or university legal officers (if he consulted any) was that a letter indistinguishable from the first step in the process of suing for defamation had been received, and no indication had been given that this was not the first step in a suite for defamation.

    That is a threat of a legal action for defamation. I am happy to accept that that is not what McIntyre intended. He, however, should man up, and admit that he accomplished more than he intended by phrasing his letter in legalese while not knowing what he was doing.

    If he can't man up, and do that, I believe the correct interpretation is that he is using legalese in his letters to scientists so that they will indeed feel threatened, even though he has no intention to carry through on the threat.
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  38. grypo: So all I see is a strangely worded letter, that uses legalese and objects to someone's opinion.

    All sound and fury, conveying nothing?

    It was indeed strikingly generous of McIntyre to volunteer responsibility for the entire list of offenses.
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  39. doug_bostrom @84, well summarized.
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  40. doug bostrom, grypo, Tom Curtis & lucia:

    Indeed, the purpose of writing a strongly worded letter (redolent with legal terminology) is to convey a sense of menace, whilst committing oneself to as little as possible.
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  41. Wow, defensive bunch around here. Some clarification required I think. In my last comment I did use the word "I" but I actually meant data access in a general sense.

    My thoughts on data ownership are based on the idea that the person paying the bills owns the data. The researcher gets first dibs at publishing obviously but he doesn't "own" the data. If we take it away from climate for a minute you'll perhaps see what I mean.

    What if the Oz taxpayer funds an archaeological dig somewhere, to whom do the artifacts belong? The idea that the taxpayer should pay the archaeologist a salary AND fund the digs, all so that the archaeologist can expand his private collection of artifacts is plainly ludicrous. In this case data is analogous to the artifacts.

    If the paying public do not own the data then when do they get to see what they have paid for? When the authors grandchildren decide to release it? Or should the public have to buy the data? The funding public deserve to get more for their money than just a warm fuzzy feeling that a researcher has a high publication count.

    I believe that "after first publication" is as good a time as any for the release of data etc.

    The opposite view is to say that the researcher expects the public to pay him a salary (presumably for life), provide him with equipment, offices, staff and some possibly very expensive toys, and get nothing tangible in return. Somehow I don't see this as a very fair arrangement.

    That funding should be made available for large amounts of data storage etc is a given. Doug Bostrom in #73 gave a testimonial which demonstrates how difficult things have been in the past and how inconvenient it can be today. However Doug, if the data etc is yours, then storage is your problem, why should the taxpayer help? The taxpayer doesn't pay for storage of my personal items, why shoould they pay for yours? but if it ultimately belongs to the taxpayer then of course they should pay for storage.

    As to who gets to see emails through FOI, the principle is rather clear. The employer has the right to monitor emails. The person who pays the bills is the employer. In a democracy like Australia and when talking about public funded things the employer is the Government of Australia representing the people of Australia. So ultimately the people are the employer.

    This means that if you are working on public money I get to see your emails. Because I do not work for you, you don't get to see mine. These are the virtues of a representative Democracy which has a Rule of Law, things that I will always defend. Others only defend them when it is "convenient".
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  42. Doug @84 and Grypo @85,

    Well stated. Additionally, it seems that one person here who is loyally defending Mr.McIntyre is much less objective than they would perhaps like to have readers think. In contrast, unlike said commentator, I for one (and probably other's here defending Dr. Karoly), do not know Dr. Karoly, nor have I corresponded with him, never mind enjoyed dinner with him as said commentator has done with Mr. McIntyre. Furthermore, said commentator has not offered a shred of evidence, not one iota of substance to support her claims, all we have is her opinion which is confidently stated as fact. Now perhaps given her ties with Mr. McIntyre she is privy to some information about this that we are unaware of. But as yet, nothing more than unsubstantiated claims have been presented in the defence of Mr. McIntyre.

    Mr. McIntyre can of course clarify a lot about this by having an independent party audit all his correspondence in which he refers to or discusses Dr. Karoly and/or Dr. Gergis and/or Gergis et al. (2012). But curiously enough, while Mr. McIntyre passionately and aggressively demands transparency and openness of others and the opportunity to read their correspondence (even stolen correspondence), he at the same time does not apply he same criterion/standards to his own endeavours and communications. I would like to take Mr. McIntyre's word for it that he has not threatened legal action against Dr. Karoly, but given Mr. McIntyre's unfortunate propensity to be less than accurate in presenting the facts or forthcoming with the facts in the past (as DeepClimate and Dr. Schmidt have illustrated above), to unequivocally determine that would require an audit of Mr. McIntyre's communications. For that, Mr. McIntyre has no-one else but himself to blame.

    With that all said, I doubt very much that Mr. McIntyre or his loyal supporters here would agree to such an audit. If they do not, then they of course come across as being highly hypocritical and having a gross double standard.

    Finally, I doubt very much that the "skeptics", self-styled lukewarmers and those who deny the theory of AGW would be able to bring themselves to acknowledge that it is a travesty that a legal defence fund is required (out of necessity) to protect the rights, integrity and academic freedoms of certain climate scientists following repeated harassment, threats, bullying and intimidation from certain "skeptics" and certain individuals and groups who deny the theory of AGW.

    Then again, maybe they will prove me wrong and go on the record in adding their support to the scientists who have been the victims of the above mentioned actions. In this case, I am only too happy to be wrong....

    "Skeptics" et al.., the ball is in your court. Do you support the scientists or those who bully, intimidate, threaten and harass them?
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  43. Whether or not SteveMcIntyre [sic] intended to threatened legal action and whether his words conveyed such a threat is certainly pertinent to determining whether any such threat occurred.


    You've already been corrected on this multiple times, but you're still not getting the message. If either Karoly or his institution's legal department perceive the letter as containing implications of legal action, it becomes a threat of legal action.

    McIntyre's intentions are irrelevant - he might genuinely have had no thought of taking it to a legal footing, or he might have intended exactly that it be perceived as a threat but one where he wrapped it in plausible deniability to exactly the end currently manifesting.

    It's no different from an act of assault, where such may be validly perceived as occurring even if the act was not intended to be followed through by the assaulter. As the saying goes, and as Tom observes at #87, one's right to swing one's fist ends where another's nose begins. It is irrelevant that McIntyre claims that he was merely flapping at a fly.

    If McIntyre didn't want to finish the manouevre, he should not have started it.
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  44. JohnB at #91:

    This means that if you are working on public money I get to see your emails.


    Good luck telling that to anyone in Parliament House, or in Defence, or Treasury, or Immigration, or ASIO, or...

    Do tell us how you manage with that.
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  45. "This means that if you are working on public money I get to see your emails."

    Perhaps the most unintentionally funny statement I've seen this year. My former employers with the US Department of Defense would also find it very humorous.

    There exists a vast gulf between being employed at the public expense and being subject to every vapid whim of the public.
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  46. JohnB @91, your analogy is inapt. Under Australian law, if a private individual, privately funded undertakes archeological work in Australia, any artifacts they find belong to the Australian government by law. Nor will that fact give any private citizen the right to view those artifacts in any way. The artifacts will be kept in a museum or university, or on site, and access to the artifacts will be strictly the perogative of the person responsible for maintaining the collection. So, clearly your analogy does not apply, and if it did it would not support the notion that you or any other citizen or tax payer can demand access to the data.

    Further, if we take a more apposite example, the analogy clearly works against your case. Specifically, in an Australian lecturer or professor writes a text book on university time, it is they, not the university and not the Australian government who retain copyright. It is one of the compensations for Australian academics that they typically retain the intellectual property rights to the product of their labours. That is both to encourage such intellectual activity (which all Australian's benefit from in the long run) and as part compensation for the typically lower wages paid to academics compared to equivalently qualified people in the private sector.

    In fact, this is necessary because Australian academics are typically not payed hourly rates. Rather, they are payed a salary so that the distinction between "study on their own time" and "study on the University's time" is vague at best.
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  47. JohnB certainly seems to have a strange view of who owns what. I happen to work for a government. That government (which I think can legitimately be referred to as "democratically elected") has a whole raft of regulations on retention of documents, who can see them. etc. There are a whole range of security classifications from basically no security at all up to "top secret" and beyond. People have to have a reason (and appropriate security clearance) to see most of them, and a good way to get into trouble is to not keep secure documents secure.

    As for things like computer code and data - yes, these can be shared, but my department has an Office of Intellectual Property, and a set of regulations that require many things be considered before code or data be provided to outside sources. Typically, some sort of agreement must be signed by outside agents, accepting the various Intellectual Property rights and acceptable use for the data.

    There are two issues here:
    - all people requesting code or data must be treated equally and fairly.
    - the code and data is owned by all the citizens, regardless of how much they may have paid in various sorts of taxes. It is perfectly fair and reasonable to keep things private if it is in the interest of all citizens to preserve Intellectual Property, the rights of other citizens, and for security reasons.

    You don't just give anything out to any blowhard that thinks they deserve access to everything.

    ..but if JohnB happens to be one of the people that paid taxes to help pay for my work, I'll be glad to send him one thirty-five-millionth of my code and data, because that's all he's paid for.
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  48. "..but if JohnB happens to be one of the people that paid taxes to help pay for my work, I'll be glad to send him one thirty-five-millionth of my code and data, because that's all he's paid for. "


    ROFLMAO
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  49. JohnB: Doug Bostrom in #73 gave a testimonial which demonstrates how difficult things have been in the past and how inconvenient it can be today. However Doug, if the data etc is yours, then storage is your problem, why should the taxpayer help? The taxpayer doesn't pay for storage of my personal items, why shoould they pay for yours? but if it ultimately belongs to the taxpayer then of course they should pay for storage.

    The clue to the answer is here:

    NSF et al are coasting on our dime.

    I'll spell it out: it's your data but I'm paying to store it, forever according to the rigorous standards set by the "blauditor" community.

    Imagine that a year or so from now I decided to unleash my inner child, obtain a clapped-out Jag XJ and nurse it back to life. I'll need some room for that. Casting my eye around I see that not only do I not have room for a restoration project but my treasured table saw is already jammed in the corner of my garage because the space is stuffed with moldering research components. Well, it's all years old and frankly I'm sick of taking care of the taxpayer's data and not being paid for it. Out it all goes and in comes the rusty XJ.

    Now let's suppose somebody (we'll call him Stan McSwain) notices publications built on the termite attractant in my garage as a bit player in a gripe he's got with another researcher's work. McSwain needs to call into question the publications sourced from the moldering mound as a means of undermining the target in his sights. He can't find anything overtly wrong with those publications so he needs some other means of casting doubt on the work. Suppose a mistake was made in the analysis of the fusty source data? There's no reason to believe that's the case but that doesn't really matter; doubt is the product here, not scientific progress.

    McSwain asks to see the data but not before publishing suspicions and speculations about errors in the work based on the data. The reply he gets is "Sorry, pal, no can do; NSF's free ride ended a little before you got here. And you're a rude SOB so don't expect a box of chocolates as a consolation prize. Buzz off."

    For McSwain this is the perfect situation; now he can go on a sermonizing crusade about feckless scientists not preserving their data, martyr himself for being mistreated by the object of his bile while simultaneously farming doubt about whether the publications in question are properly founded.

    For me, it's a bad arrangement. I have to store the data for free, forever, because if I don't I run the risk of a deranged McSwain invading my life and smearing me in public, forever.
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  50. I should add the final twist to the waxy data buildup situation in my garage: it's not even my data. My garage is choked with my SO's work product, not mine.

    That's ok; I'm signed on to the scientific enterprise, joined in holy matrimony for better or worse. I understand the value of the data and I'm committed to playing my little role in helping the scientific enterprise along by tending the data dehumidifier and stacking more boxes in my garage.

    But when a Stan McSwain comes along, disparages my kitchen, asks for a free sandwich and then either doesn't get his free sandwich because it turns out lunch is not actually free or complains that his sandwich is no good, he's not going to earn my sympathy and cooperation.
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