Another UK climate data withholding scandal is emerging

As many WUWT readers know, Steve McIntyre’s tireless quest to get the raw data that makes up the gridded Hadley Climate Research Unit HadCRUT dataset has been fraught with delays, FOI denials, and obvious obfuscation. In some cases the “dog ate my homework” is the excuse. The UK Register has an excellent summary of the issue.

A similar issue has been brewing in parallel over tree ring data in the UK. Doug Keenan tells us the story of getting the “ring around” for over 2 years trying to obtain what many would consider a simple and non controversial data request. – Anthony

Guest Post by Doug Keenan

Queen’s University Belfast is a public body in the United Kingdom. As such, it is required to make certain information available under the UK Freedom of Information Act. The university holds some information about tree rings (which is important in climate studies and in archaeology). Following discusses my attempt to obtain that information, using the Act.


When a tree is cut, you can often see many concentric rings. Typically, there is one ring for each year during which the tree grew. Some rings will be thick: those indicate years in which the environment was good for the tree. Other rings will be thin: those indicate the opposite.

http://www.msstate.edu/dept/geosciences/CT/TIG/WEBSITES/LOCAL/Summer2003/Harman_Pamela/tree%20rings.JPG

Image courtesy Mississippi State University Dept of Geosciences

Scientists study tree rings for two main purposes. One purpose is to learn something about what the climate was like many years ago. For instance, if many trees in a region had thick rings in some particular years, then climatic conditions in those years were presumably good (e.g. warm and with lots of rain); tree rings have been used in this way to learn about the climate centuries ago. The other purpose in studying tree rings is to date artefacts found in archaeological contexts; for an example, see here.

Tree-ring data from Northern Ireland
One of the world’s leading centers for tree-ring work is at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), in Northern Ireland. The tree-ring data that QUB has gathered is valuable for studying the global climate during the past 7000 years: for a brief explanation of this, see here.

Most of the tree-ring data held by QUB was gathered decades ago; yet it has never been published. There is a standard place on the internet to publish such data: the International Tree-Ring Data Bank (ITRDB), which currently holds tree-ring data from over 1500 sites around the world. QUB refuses to publish or otherwise release most of its data, though. So I have tried to obtain the data by applying under the UK Freedom of Information Act (FoI Act).

I have submitted three separate requests for the data. Each request described the data in a different way, in an attempt to avoid nit-picking objections. All three requests were for the data in electronic form, e.g. placed on the internet or sent as an e-mail attachment. The first request was submitted in April 2007.

QUB refused the first request in May 2007. I appealed the refusal to a Pro-Vice-Chancellor of QUB, who rejected the appeal. The primary reason that the Pro-Vice-Chancellor gave for rejection was that some of the data was in paper form and had not been converted to electronic form. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor additionally claimed that after data was converted to electronic form, “It is then uploaded to the International Tree Ring Data Base”. There might indeed be some small portion of the data that is not in electronic form. My request, though, was for a copy of the data that is in electronic form. So, is all data that is in electronic form available at the ITRDB, as the Pro-Vice-Chancellor claimed?

QUB has in the past published the results of various analyses of its tree-ring data (most notably its claim to have sequences of overlapping tree rings extending back in time many millennia). In doing the analyses, the sequences of tree-ring data are analyzed statistically, and the statistical computations are done by computer. This is well known, and moreover has been stated by QUB’s former head tree-ring researcher, Michael G.L. Baillie, in several his publications. (Indeed, Baillie and his colleague Jon R. Pilcher, also at QUB, wrote a widely-used computer program for tree-ring matching, CROS.) Obviously the data that was used for those computations is in electronic form—and it has not been uploaded to the ITRDB. Thus the claim by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor is untrue.

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor further claimed that to organize the data in “the very precise categories which [I] have specified” [in my request] would entail a vast amount of work. My request, though, was merely for the tree-ring data that had been obtained and used by the university; that hardly seems like precise categorization. Moreover, I later submitted a second request for “the data about tree rings that has been obtained by [QUB] and that is held in electronic form by the university”. That request was also refused. And a third request that was very similar to the second was refused. All three requests were refused in whole, even though the university is required to make partial fulfillment when that is practicable.

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office
After half a year of trying to obtain the information from QUB, I appealed to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The ICO is charged with ensuring that the FoI Act is enforced. My appeal to the ICO was submitted on 24 October 2007. The ICO notified me that an officer had been assigned to begin investigating my case on 14 October 2008. Such a long delay is clearly incompatible with effective working of the Act.

The ICO then contacted QUB, asking for further information. QUB then admitted that almost all the data was stored in electronic form. Thus QUB implicitly admitted that its prior claims were untruthful.

QUB now asserted, however, that the data was on 150 separate disks and that it would take 100 hours to copy those disks. (These were floppy disks—the type that slide into computers and, prior to the internet, were commonly used to carry electronic data.) It takes only a minute or two to copy a floppy disk, however; so the claim of 100 hours to copy 150 floppy disks is an unrealistic exaggeration.

QUB also said that it considered photocopying a printed version of the data, but that this would take over 1800 hours. As noted above, all my requests were for data that is in electronic form; moreover, I have repeated this point in subsequent correspondences with QUB. The statement from QUB about photocopying is thus not relevant.

On 22 December 2008, the ICO sent me a letter rejecting my appeal, on the grounds that the time needed by QUB would exceed an “appropriate limit” (as stipulated in the FoI Act). The ICO had accepted QUB’s explanation for refusing to release the data without question, and without discussing the explanation with me. I telephoned the ICO to raise some objections. To each objection that I raised, the ICO case officer gave the same reply: “I’m satisfied with their [QUB’s] explanation”.

I also offered to visit QUB with the case officer, to demonstrate how quickly the data could be copied (e.g. from floppy disks), and to copy the data myself. This seemed particularly appropriate because the officer had told me when she started on the case that she would visit QUB as a standard part of investigation, yet she had not made such a visit. The officer, though, declined my offer, again saying that she was satisfied with QUB’s explanation.

There is a mechanism to appeal an ICO decision, to a tribunal. I told the case officer that I wanted to do so. The officer replied that, in order to file an appeal, I would need a formal Decision Notice from the ICO. I requested a Decision Notice. The officer then informed me that the ICO would send a Notice, but that, because they were busy, it would take about two years to do so.

Environmental Information Regulations
I discussed the above with a colleague, David Holland. Holland said that my request should not have been processed under the FoI Act. His reasoning was that the information I was requesting was about the environment: environmental information is exempt from the FoI Act and requests for such information should instead be processed under the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR). He pointed out that the tree-ring data clearly fits the definition of “environmental information” given in the EIR. It also clearly fits the common (dictionary) definition.

I had been aware that the EIR existed, but had assumed that the EIR was essentially the same as the FoI Act. After the discussion with Holland, though, I checked and found that there is one major difference between the EIR and the FoI Act: under the EIR, there is no limit on the amount of time that a public institution requires to process a request. In other words, even if QUB’s original claim that some of the data was only available on paper were true, or even if QUB’s revised claim that copying data from disks would take 100 hours were true, that would still not be a valid reason for refusing to supply the information.

I am not an expert in how to apply the EIR or FoI Act, though. So I telephoned the ICO headquarters to ask for guidance. There I spoke with a Customer Service Advisor, Mike Chamberlain. Chamberlain told me the following: that the information seemed obviously environmental; that there was no limit on processing time that could be used to refuse a request for environmental information; that I could freely visit a site where environmental information was held in order to examine the information; and that it was the duty of the public authority (i.e. QUB) to determine whether the EIR or the FoI Act was applicable. Chamberlain also confirmed everything that he told me with someone more senior at the ICO.

It is regrettable that I had not realized the above earlier. My initial request to QUB, in April 2007, had stated the following.

It might be that this request is exempt from the FOIAct, because the data being requested is environmental information. If you believe that to be so, process my request under the Environmental Information Regulations.

QUB, however, had not processed my application correctly. I should have caught that.

There is another issue. I had described the information to the ICO case officer by telephone and also by e-mail (on 24 November 2008). Hence the case officer must have known that the information was environmental, and thus exempt under the FoI Act and only requestable under the EIR. Why did the ICO not act on that? On 29 January 2009, I e-mailed the case officer, citing the above-quoted statement from my request to QUB and saying “I would like to know the reasoning that led to my request being processed under the Freedom of Information Act, instead of EIR”. Initially, there was no reply.

The EIR was enacted pursuant to the Aarhus Convention, an international treaty on environmental information that the UK promoted, signed, and ratified. Failure to implement the EIR would constitute a failure by the UK to adhere to the Convention. So, a few weeks after e-mailing my question to the ICO, and with no reply, I contacted the Aarhus Convention Secretariat (ACS), at the United Nations in Geneva. The ACS has a mechanism whereby individuals can file a complaint against a country for breaching the Convention. I had an initial discussion with the ACS about this. That turned out to be unnecessary though. The Assistant Information Commissioner for Northern Ireland contacted me, on 10 March 2009: he was now handling my case and, moreover, he had visited QUB and seen some of the data.

On 22 April 2009, I received a telephone call from the Assistant Information Commissioner for Northern Ireland. The Assistant Commissioner said that he was preparing a Decision Notice for the case, and he made it clear that the Notice would hold that the data should be released under the EIR. The next I heard anything was on 13 July 2009, when it was announced that the Assistant Commissioner had been suspended. On 13 August 2009, I telephoned the ICO: I was told that a new officer would be assigned to the case within the next few days and that a draft Notice, which had been written by the Assistant Commissioner, was in the signatory process. I am presently awaiting further word.

Another example—Gothenburg University
I have previously been involved with obtaining tree-ring data from another institution: Gothenburg University, in Sweden. Sweden has a law that is similar to the UK’s Freedom of Information Act (the Swedish law is the Principle of Public Access). In 2004, Swedish courts ruled that the law applied to research data held by universities. In a famous case known as the “Gillberg affair”, a researcher at Gothenburg University refused to obey the law. As a result, both the researcher and the rector of the university were convicted of criminal malfeasance. (The researcher received a suspended sentence and a fine; the rector received a fine.)

Gothenburg University does substantial tree-ring research. On 10 April 2007, I requested their tree-ring data. The university’s lead tree-ring researcher repeatedly resisted, claiming that it would take weeks of his time, and that he was too busy to do it. On 22 April 2008, I sent a letter to the (new) rector of Gothenburg University, saying that if the data was not supplied, I would file complaints with both the Court and the Parliamentary Ombudsmen of Sweden. The next day, all the data was submitted to the ITRDB.

What transpired with Gothenburg University exemplifies the importance of laws on Freedom of Information for tree-ring data.

Motivations for withholding data
Some people have asked why QUB does not want to release the data. In fact, most tree-ring laboratories do not make their data available: it is not just QUB and Gothenburg that have been reluctant. The reason for this was elucidated by Peter M. Brown, in April 2007. At the time, Brown was president of the Tree-Ring Society, which is the main international organization for tree-ring researchers. Following is an excerpt (the full explanation is here).

… they ARE my data. Funding agencies pay me for my expertise, my imagination, and my insights to be able to make some advance in our understanding of how nature works, not for raw data sets. … It is the understanding and inferences supplied by the scientist that funding agencies are interested in, not her or his raw data.

In other words, even if the research and the researcher’s salary are fully paid for by the public—as is the case at QUB—the researcher still regards the data as his or her personal property.

There are only a few tree-ring laboratories where attitudes are different. One example is the University of St Andrews, in the UK. Almost all tree-ring data held by St Andrews is freely available in the ITRDB.

It is notable that QUB continues to withhold its data even though, in 2009, the tree-ring laboratory at QUB was effectively closed. The closure was primarily due to the lab lacking funds, which presumably resulted from having almost no research publications (i.e. the lab had not been producing anything; so funding agencies declined to support it). The dearth of publications occurred even though the lab has some extremely valuable data on what is arguably the world’s most important scientific topic—global warming (as outlined here). This problem arises because the QUB researchers do not have expertise to analyze the data themselves and they do not want to share their data with other researchers who do.



Correspondences

Date Sender Summary (with link)
2007-04-10 DJK My first request for the information held by QUB (sent by e-mail).
2007-04-16 QUB Acknowledgement of request.
2007-05-11 QUB E-mail saying that there will be a delay in responding to the request (which is required to be within 20 business days of my request), but that QUB would respond by May 18th.
2007-05-21 DJK E-mail to the ICO, about the lack of response from QUB; Cc’d to QUB.
2007-05-22 QUB First refusal of the request for information.
2007-05-22 QUB E-mail with attached description of how to appeal the refusal (this was sent following a telephone call to QUB in which I noted that they are required to send me such).
2007-05-23 DJK E-mail to the ICO, noting that QUB had responded.
2007-05-24 DJK Appeal of the refusal, submitted to a Pro-Vice-Chancellor of QUB.
2007-05-25 QUB Initial response to the appeal, saying that appeal to a Pro-Vice-Chancellor should be resorted to only if QUB’s Information Compliance Officer and I are unable to resolve things ourselves.
2007-06-02 ICO Acknowledgement of my prior e-mails, correctly noting that the ICO should not act at this time.
2007-06-21 QUB Second refusal of the request for information.
2007-07-13 DJK Appeal, submitted to a Pro-Vice-Chancellor of QUB.
2007-07-26 QUB Notification that a response to my appeal to a Pro-Vice-Chancellor will be delayed until the second half of August.
2007-08-15 QUB E-mail from a Pro-Vice-Chancellor, saying that a response to my appeal will be sent by September 30th (i.e. about seven weeks after the four-week limit).
2007-09-28 QUB Rejection of my appeal by a Pro-Vice-Chancellor.
2007-10-24 DJK Appeal to the ICO.
2007-11-27 ICO Acknowledgement of appeal, saying that it might be several months before I hear from the ICO again.
2008-05-15 DJK Second request for the information held by QUB.
2008-05-15 DJK Third request for the information held by QUB.
2008-06-12 QUB Rejection of my second and third requests, by the Head of the Registrar’s Office.
2008-06-19 DJK E-mailed reply to the Head of the Registrar’s Office at QUB.
2008-07-01 QUB Acknowledgement of my last e-mail, by the Head of the Registrar’s Office.
2008-07-15 DJK E-mail to the ICO, notifying them of the rejected second and third requests for the information.
2008-10-14 ICO E-mail notifying me that an officer has been assigned to my case and asking me to confirm that I would like to proceed.
2008-10-15 DJK E-mail to the ICO, confirming that I would like to proceed.
2008-11-24 DJK E-mail to the ICO, briefly synopsizing how tree-ring dating works (this followed a telephone call, in which the case officer had said that might be helpful).
2008-11-24 ICO Acknowledgement of my last e-mail and notice that QUB’s response had been slightly delayed.
2008-12-22 ICO Rejection of appeal.
2009-01-21 DJK E-mail summarizing telephone call with the ICO; during the call I was informed that it would take roughly two years for the ICO to issue a Decision Notice on the case.
2009-01-21 ICO Letter acknowledging my request for a Decision Notice (this was sent 43 minutes after my last e-mail, and its content appears to be independent of that).
2009-01-29 DJK E-mail to the ICO, asking why my requests for information had been processed under the FoI Act, instead of the EIR.
2009-03-02 DJK E-mail to the ACS, alleging a breach of the Aarhus Convention by the United Kingdom.
2009-03-10 ACS Reply from the ACS Legal Support Officer, concluding that the evidence substantiating the allegation is sufficient for the ACS to proceed with a review.
2009-03-10 ICO E-mail from the Assistant Information Commissioner for Northern Ireland, saying that he was handling the case and he had visited QUB (this was concomitant with a telephone call, which elaborated).
2009-03-11 DJK E-mail to the ACS, saying that the ICO was now progressing things, and so my allegation was unnecessary.
2009-03-11 ACS Acknowledgement of prior e-mail.
2009-03-25 ICO E-mail from the Assistant Information Commissioner, saying that he was continuing with work on the case and would contact me again after Easter.


109 thoughts on “Another UK climate data withholding scandal is emerging

  1. Tree ring data is bull**t except for extremely local information. I can not find a single study of tree ring data which included a sufficently broad (continental) element that would render it consequential in any of the climate information data. Somebody got better evidence? Prof Mann?

  2. Secondarily, the idea of jousting with functionaries about data held by some governmental office is absurd. Those clowns no longer even know how to apply their makeup. You could sift a million of them and not find one scientist.

  3. Tertially. Beloved people of the United Kingdom. Exercise your rights under the Treaty of Runnymeade. Now.

  4. Ho Hum. I cannot get excited anymore. This lack of the most basic scientific protocol has been going on for YEARS! I just hope that some folks are very embarrassed at this unbelievable travesty! Proper England, even, LOL! Even the Queen should be very ashamed (if she has ANY idea of reality on this planet!).

  5. “Beloved people of the United Kingdom. Exercise your rights under the Treaty of Runnymeade. Now.”

    But if we did that, wouldn’t there be chaos? It’d be just like Chicago during Prohibition on every street.

    Can’t we just sit in our own homes and let them take away any semblence of freedom in order to protect us from evil people who want to take away our freedoms? It’s worked for the last thousand years and so far, we have lived in perfect peace and safety.

  6. You miss the point Don S….. Those people need to be held accountable to the laws that govern them…. That data is public information, paid for by the public. They are public servants.

    These people are taking the money of the British Taxpayer on false pretenses otherwise….. and breaking the law to boot.

    That the Bureaucrats tasked to over-watch and administrate seem complicit in helping them with their obscurification, is also alarming.

  7. I wonder how hard all the various gov’t officials were laughing when they enacted these various acts, knowing full well they’d never give out any important information.

  8. Don S. (21:03:05) :
    Runnymeade, indeed! Runnymede, it is; notable for its association with the sealing of the Magna Carta.

    “Exercise your rights . . .”

    Is this not what Doug Keenan is attempting to do? With the national laws and international agreements, it seems that “exercise” in this context is figuratively more akin to a marathon than a literal exercising of one’s rights.

    I’m sure others will have more colorful (colourful) ways of expressing their feelings.

  9. Don S. (20:53:39) :

    “Tree ring data is bull**t except for extremely local information. I can not find a single study of tree ring data which included a sufficently broad (continental) element that would render it consequential in any of the climate information data. Somebody got better evidence?”

    I encourage you to read the evidence summarized at

    http://www.informath.org/apprise/a3900/b910.htm

    (this is also linked in the post). The key point is that, while it is obviously not possible for trees at a single site to directly proxy large-area temperatures, it seems that such trees can proxy the energy flux from an adjacent ocean (because the flux is also related to precipitation, cloud cover, etc.). In this way, the trees can be well correlated with hemispheric temperatures, even though they are more weakly correlated with local temperatures. Thus the trees from western Ireland have very large value.

    There is a also dendrochronology that is a good proxy for the Indian monsoon (though the data is unpublished). Hence if some site could be shown to proxy the energy flux from the North Pacific (Sheep Mountain?–I have not looked at its climatology), then there would be proxies for the fluxes from all three oceans. That would be enough to produce a very good temperature reconstruction for the hemisphere (c.f “hockey stick”).

  10. Another UK climate data withholding scandal is emerging

    Another pillar of the foundation has been exposed.

    Ba-da-ba-ba-ba, I’m lovin’ this. Let’s see what they’re made of.

  11. But the nobles who,er”encouraged” the (somewhat reluctant) king to sign that Magna Carta also had the (locally and very prominently displayed) “sharp instruments of persuasion” that could also be used to cut through the red tape.

    And the red veins of those who didn’t want to cut their red tape.

    Here, it is the light of publicity that is your best weapon. What has your local (member of the House of Commons?) been able to do for you?

  12. “for instance, if many trees in a region had thick rings in some particular years, then climatic conditions in those years were presumably good (e.g. warm and with lots of rain); tree rings have been used in this way to learn about the climate centuries ago.”

    I know this isn’t the point of the thread but one of the things which annoys me to no end is that dendro’s tend to assume that temperature or precipitation is dominant in determining tree ring width, and always has been-which is manifestly absurd. A warm year which was very dry will be judge to either be cool or wet, depending on the assumed relationship, if for whatever reason the importance of one variable fluctuates relative to the another such that the opposite of the assumed dominance of temperature or precipitation occurs sometimes. Such assumptions are risky to say the least and barely scratch the surface of dendro issues.

    But there’s another funny thing-if indeed trees grow better when it’s warmer, AGW must be good for them, and if the are effected primarily by precipitation and recent upticks really are unprecedented, alleged links between warming and drought CAN’T be correct! And under more reasonable assumptions about the relative importance of precip and temps, in order for trees to unambiguously show the temperatures or precip are unprecedented, warming must mean MORE precip, or else tree rings couldn’t show “warming”. About the only thing which tree rings are really good for is telling how happy the trees were. Whether they give unambiguous information about climate is not merely debatable must frankly absurd!

  13. John A (21:15:52) : Whatever the “quote of the week” is/was, this will be MY quote of the week!

  14. Douglas J. Keenan (22:02:35) :

    Don S. (20:53:39) :

    “Tree ring data is bull**t except for extremely local information. I can not find a single study of tree ring data which included a sufficently broad (continental) element that would render it consequential in any of the climate information data. Somebody got better evidence?”

    Problem is, Mann (and HIS proxies!) are trying to do with what tree rings themselves are very poor at.

    Tree rings – when “calibrated” year-by-year through the centuries with other trees of the SAME LOCATION can yield extremely accurate chronology of when the TREE itself went through each year-to-year season.

    OK, that’s fine. tree rings are very reliable for that: This piece of wood (this section of the tree) can be specifically dated to an exact year (+/- 1 or 2 years) all the way back for thousands of years. Show me a tree from the same area that was cut down (maybe in a church roof or buriedin peat swamps) and I’ll tell you when it was cut down.

    BUT – Mann goes waaaaaay past this accuracy by ASSUMING that “fat rings” are ONLY due to warmer climates,

    AND that the degree of “fatness” is DIRECTLY proportional to how warm the climate was at that time,

    AND that NO OTHER factors (low CO2 or better rain or less clouds or a serious of closely spaced droughts or a nearby “clearing” of a few trees due to insects or windfall) affected the tree that summer at all.

    But for simply figuring out what date an event in that tree happened, tree rings are accurate.

    Mann, however, is NOT accurate.

  15. Reading this brought to mind a couple of my favorite quotes from H. L. Mencken,

    “Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under”

    “Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.”

  16. Motivations for withholding data
    Some people have asked why QUB does not want to release the data. In fact, most tree-ring laboratories do not make their data available: it is not just QUB and Gothenburg that have been reluctant. The reason for this was elucidated by Peter M. Brown, in April 2007. At the time, Brown was president of the Tree-Ring Society, which is the main international organization for tree-ring researchers. Following is an excerpt (the full explanation is here).

    ” … they ARE my data. Funding agencies pay me for my expertise, my imagination, and my insights to be able to make some advance in our understanding of how nature works, not for raw data sets. … It is the understanding and inferences supplied by the scientist that funding agencies are interested in, not her or his raw data.”

    In other words, even if the research and the researcher’s salary are fully paid for by the public—as is the case at QUB—the researcher still regards the data as his or her personal property.

    Let us examine this point of view.

    Suppose that the person funded is an artist.
    He may be funded for a specific work, a portrait of the queen, for example. Even in this case, though the portrait will belong to the Queen or government, you cannot ask the artist for his raw data, i.e. how he came up with the portrait. You take the end results.

    More so if the artist is generally funded as by a post in a university.

    That is the attitude displayed above and it is the attitude of the discipline I belong to, experimental elementary particle physics. It is one of the reasons why there are multiple experiments on the same thing : one does not take a singular raw data set and call it a world data set, one does a new experiment to corroborate or disprove a discovery/statement.

    Here is the crux, that temperature records cannot be produced by “a new experiment”, and where the trouble is since climate has become politics on a large scale.

    Tree ring records could be produced by new experiments though.

    I wonder if this freedom of information act would apply to the discovery of the Higgs, and if we would get various groups grappling over the same data as a result, trying to prove each other as bad data users, instead of doing a fresh experiment to measure the Higgs again, as is the traditional scientific method.

  17. Then it’s easy to believe
    Somebody’s been lying to me
    But when the wrong word goes in the right ear
    I know you’ve been lying to me
    It’s getting rough, off the cuff
    I’ve got to say enough’s enough
    Bigger the harder he falls
    But when the wrong antidote
    Is like a bulge on the throat
    You run for cover in the heat
    Why don’t they

    Do what they say, say what they mean
    One thing leads to another
    You told me something wrong
    I know I listen too long
    But then one thing leads to another

  18. Considering the amount of time and resources we are spending to study the history of Earth’s climate, I am very surprised by the dearth of credible temperature reconstructions available online. The most common type of chart out there seems to have been designed specifically to be misleading and confusing:

    The use of overlapping reconstructions makes them difficult to evaluate and the light green reconstruction on both comparisons seem to indicate that Earth’s temperature has varied by less than .2 degrees in the last two millennia.
    This site shows various other reconstructions that are in use:

    http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/List_of_temperature_related_images

    It seems like the Warmists are trying to suppress accurate temperature reconstructions, lest more people realize the tremendous natural variability that exists within Earth’s climate system.

  19. The main problem with dendrochronolgy is one of small sample size. As a forester, who specialises in forest measurement, I can state that within any stand of trees, managed or not, there is always variation within the stand with competition between trees being the main player. Sure annual weather events will influence the stand as a whole, but often this will be masked by the within stand competition. If the dendro gets the sample wrong then any inferences that they might make about the past weather are also incorrect.

    Besides the number of variables and their permutations are too great to set much store in the conclusions of many dendrochronological exercises. Smallthings such as species, aspect and elevation can have a greeater impact than say the amount of rainfall that falls within a catchment or the soils chemistry and its reaction to the volume of rainfall and soar radiation.

    I shake my head everytime someone quotes from another dendro study, when will they ever learn?

  20. anna v (23:02:38) :
    “I wonder if this freedom of information act would apply to the discovery of the Higgs, and if we would get various groups grappling over the same data as a result, trying to prove each other as bad data users, instead of doing a fresh experiment to measure the Higgs again, as is the traditional scientific method.”

    Can you provide literature supporting your contention that holding on to data is part of the traditional scientific method?

  21. >>>BUT – Mann goes waaaaaay past this accuracy by ASSUMING
    >>>that “fat rings” are ONLY due to warmer climates. AND that the
    >>>degree of “fatness” is DIRECTLY proportional to how warm
    >>>the climate was at that time.

    Surely it would be relatively simple to check modern tree rings against local climate (and world climate) to see what the best growth and retardation factors really are. Has anyone done this?

    .

  22. Some rings will be thick: those indicate years in which the environment was good for the tree. Other rings will be thin: those indicate the opposite.

    I suppose that almost everybody knows that statement is a huge oversimplification. (The simulacrum cartoon illustration of a tree cross-section above should reinforce that point to the uninitiated.)

    A thousand and one things can impact tree ring widths, especially competition from neighboring trees. Nobody (but nobody) knows the competitive situation of individual trees in the distant past (100, 200, 300+ years ago).

    Even in competition-free situations, ring width diminishes with distance from the pith. Actually, ring width (diameter growth) follows sigmoid growth patterns, just as does top growth (height) and volume growth. Anybody familiar with biological growth patterns knows what a sigmoid growth curve looks like.

    Hence isolating weather conditions from tree rings is fraught with uncertainties, assumptions, and confounding factors, even with the best of data sets. Many (thousands) of contemporaneous trees across broad regions should be analyzed, but typical data sets contain 20 or fewer trees from a small area.

    I speak as a forester who has examined tree rings on zillions of stumps and cores. Weather events and conditions are not at all obvious in tree rings. Heck, even fire scars are difficult to discern and fires often leave no mark at all on individual trees. An unusually mild winter, dry spring, or a hot summer are all virtually impossible to detect, even if thousands of contemporaneous ring series are measured to a gnats eyebrow and compared.

    Withholding the data may have a more prosaic explanation: the data are worthless and reveal nothing, all the analyses by the tree ring labs are poppycock (science fraud), and any unbiased outside examiner would discover that immediately.

  23. Sad if true that data which presumably took thousands of man hours to collect is left on floppy disks in a box somewhere. Sadder still that if the lab has closed the boxes will probably be tossed as the new occupants take over.

    They may have been better of handing you the disks on condition that you copy whatever you manage to retrieve into the ITRDB.

  24. >>>Even in this case, though the portrait will belong to the
    >>>Queen or government, you cannot ask the artist for his
    >>>raw data, i.e. how he came up with the portrait. You take
    >>>the end results.

    Wrong analogy. The raw data was also funded by the government (through educational funding), who paid for the field trips to dig up the tree trunks, for the laboratories in which the studies were made and for the salaries of the personnel. Thus the raw data is all government property.

    .

    As an aside, the tree ring data is not 100% certain even about the age of wood samples. To go back 7,000 years, you need to match one trunk against another (through their tree ring signatures) to join them up into a series that goes back that far. There are no 7,000 year-old trees in Ireland.

    However, many commentators indicate that the standards applied to matching these signatures is not very high. Thus you might think that trunk ‘a’ comes immediately before trunk ‘b’ in the long sequence, but that is not entirely certain. If that chain of signatures is broken – by even one poor match – then the entire sequence running back 7,000 years is false.

    That is what I would like to see from Queens – the reliability of the trunk matching (and where each trunk was taken from, in the stratigraphy of the bog). I want to see if there is any ‘forcing’ of these signatures, to make trunk ‘a’ match with trunk ‘b’.

  25. The Dog in the Manger is a fable attributed to Aesop, concerning a dog who one afternoon lay down to sleep in the manger. On being awoken, he ferociously kept the cattle in the farm from eating the hay on which he chose to sleep, even though he was unable to eat it himself, leading an ox to mutter the moral of the fable:

    Sounds like an exact description of the shenanigans at QUB.

    Incidentally, shenanigans is most likely an Irish word. See http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/shenanigan

  26. anna v, supposing you worked for a corporation and did the same work. How could you possibly think you owned the data personally?

    Why should publicly funded institutions and projects be any different?

  27. Whether or not the dendrochronological data QUB holds is considered private property, it doesn’t excuse the lies spoken in order to continue witholding said data. This is so bloody typical of academic politics and protectionism.

    On a different note, given the content of this article, I found the following whimsically ironic…

    http://www.heritagemp.com/titles.asp?cstk=248702

  28. Don S. (21:03:05) :

    Tertially. Beloved people of the United Kingdom. Exercise your rights under the Treaty of Runnymeade. Now.
    ——————————————–
    Errrr Wot?

    What does the Magna Carta have to do with Freedom of information act (2000).

  29. evanmjones (23:12:08) :

    Then it’s easy to believe
    Somebody’s been lying to me

    ———————————–

    Lying? Are you prepaired to publically state that Queens University has been lying? About what exactly then, or is this poem just a bit of snideness never intended to be publically questioned?

  30. One more thing, I take it WUWT contacted the relevant people at the institution and gave them a chance to offer their side of the story. I mean WUWT would never impune people reputation without giving them a chance to put thier side of the story.

    That would be the worst kind of tabloid journalism.

    Reply: Who ever said that these posts are investigative journalism? After you’re done knocking down that strawman you seriously need to consider modifying your tone or I will start deleting your posts. ~ charles the moderator

  31. I don’t often use floppy disks these days, but there are USB disk readers available. They are slow (even slower than the old computers), it can take a few minutes to read a disk if it’s full but once it’s read, a microsecond to copy it onto a modern computer. The longest time they’d have to spend would be to check content, which will give them something to do.

    If they are so “busy” is there no retired contributor to this blog living in Belfast who could offer to do it for them?

  32. ralph ellis (00:19:59) :
    Sure: Check out these two comments to answer your question “How accurate are modern records based on tree rings?”

    1) Pnadanus (23:36:44) :

    The main problem with dendrochronology is one of small sample size. As a forester, who specialises in forest measurement, I can state that within any stand of trees, managed or not, there is always variation within the stand with competition between trees being the main player. Sure annual weather events will influence the stand as a whole, but often this will be masked by the within stand competition. If the dendro gets the sample wrong then any inferences that they might make about the past weather are also incorrect.

    2) Mike D. (00:28:04) :

    Some rings will be thick: those indicate years in which the environment was good for the tree. Other rings will be thin: those indicate the opposite.

    I suppose that almost everybody knows that statement is a huge oversimplification. (The simulacrum cartoon illustration of a tree cross-section above should reinforce that point to the uninitiated.)

    A thousand and one things can impact tree ring widths, especially competition from neighboring trees. Nobody (but nobody) knows the competitive situation of individual trees in the distant past (100, 200, 300+ years ago).

    Even in competition-free situations, ring width diminishes with distance from the pith. Actually, ring width (diameter growth) follows sigmoid growth patterns, just as does top growth (height) and volume growth. Anybody familiar with biological growth patterns knows what a sigmoid growth curve looks like.

    Hence isolating weather conditions from tree rings is fraught with uncertainties, assumptions, and confounding factors, even with the best of data sets. Many (thousands) of contemporaneous trees across broad regions should be analyzed, but typical data sets contain 20 or fewer trees from a small area.

    I speak as a forester who has examined tree rings on zillions of stumps and cores. Weather events and conditions are not at all obvious in tree rings.

    …..

    So, is Mann “accurate” in being able to tell us – to within .1 degree or 1.6 trillion dollars (whichever comes first) – what the climate was between 1050 AD and 1890? (This is assuming, of course, that Mann and Jones are intersted in bein accurate.)

  33. I’m remided of the the late great Tony Hanncock’s speech, “Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you, di she die in vein?”!

    If I’ve said this before, it’s a bit OT but illustrates the point I am trying to make, forgive an 51 year old man getting older by the minute, but in the 1950’s Britain had 6 statutory instruments for entering someone’s property, by force if necessary! By the 1980’s, it was an order of magnitude more at 60. Today, err, err, I feel rather ashamed & embarrassed to say, we have 266 with a possible 267th in the pipeline! Sure they were all well intentioned laws to get at the criminals/terrorists, whether drugs, prostitution, money laundering, or a combination of all three, but they all had function creep attacehd to them. To date very few anti-terrorist laws have been used against terrorists, only the ordinary people trying to go about their normal business. A warning, you’re next!

  34. Re: anna v (23:02:38) :

    I wonder if this freedom of information act would apply to the discovery of the Higgs, and if we would get various groups grappling over the same data as a result, trying to prove each other as bad data users, instead of doing a fresh experiment to measure the Higgs again, as is the traditional scientific method.

    I would expect both scenarios to occur. More experiments with the LHC and the data from the experiments being examined. I recall a small experiment from several years ago where replication the physicists experiment was attempted and the raw data was examined. It was called cold fusion.

    The difference between physics experiments and tree rings is vast. With physics if you repeat the experiment you are likely to get the same results (hence the same data). With tree rings if you take a second core from the same tree then you are likely to get differing results.

    As an example, in the image above a core taken at the 3 O’clock position shows (counting from outside to inside) a nice large -3 year and a poor thin -7 year. Take a core at the 2 0’clock position and both these years are approximately the same.

    What this boils down to then is that tree ring data is unique, it can not be reproduced by experiment or even by going to the same trees as the original samples.

  35. I’m sure Christopher Booker will be on the case of all the UK-taxpayer-funded institutions/organisations withholding data and obfuscating (delaying, lying, whatever other practices they employ).

  36. Pnadanus (23:36:44) “As a forester, who specialises in forest measurement […] […] I shake my head everytime someone quotes from another dendro study […]”

    Good points – but I urge you to consider that you are going too far with your criticism. I appreciate your background because I’ve taken the same courses & put in my share of time in the bush (& back in the lab …& analyzing the data), but I think it’s fair to acknowledge the serious challenges faced by paleoecologists. Judgement is a key skill in paleoecology. Suggested: Just filter off the grant-seeking fluff when reading the papers. Responsible people aren’t basing conclusions on just one paper — people are looking at 1000s of papers in the online age and looking for consistencies that are robust across methodologies. If your main concern is that the general public lacks an understanding of forest/environment factors (& so cannot judge papers responsibly), you make an ABSOLUTELY SOLID point.

  37. Universities the world over seem to be becoming more politically and comercially concious and a lot more possessive about data.
    It could be a case of protecting their data; or it could be a case of protecting papers presented using the data from being checked and challenged, because the institution knows the papers were not robust, or could be flawed.

    Handing data to an individual or organisation who might analyse the data in a way which challanges the existing political agenda within the university would also be fought to the bitter end.

  38. It always strikes me as strange that we can take highly suspect proxies (such as tree rings) as the height of science but actual observatioins made at the time by real people are ‘anecdotal’ and dismissed.

    We have temperature records to 1660 from thermometers.
    We have diary observations from people such as Pepys and Thomas Jefferson.
    Records fropm the great landed estates.
    Chaucers observations
    Distribution of farms and crops in the Donmesday book
    The Anglo Saxon Chronicles.
    Byzantime empire records
    Numerous records from the Romans
    First hand research on dwellings of bronze age huts with their grain barns

    In short our ancestors from way back are tellking us that the climate oscillates from warm to cold and back again and instead of them we believe in slices of tree.

    Its a funny old world.

    Tonyb

  39. ralph ellis (00:36:13) :
    “To go back 7,000 years, you need to match one trunk against another (through their tree ring signatures) to join them up into a series that goes back that far. There are no 7,000 year-old trees in Ireland.” and ” I want to see if there is any ‘forcing’ of these signatures, to make trunk ‘a’ match with trunk ‘b’”.

    Matching is exactly what QUB did, gradually, painstakingly and with high accuracy. And this was done long before anyone thought of climate change. It was a dating technique for paleoarchaeological use to examine early man’s activities and influence in Ireland. The risk of errors was well known and these were academics with no motivation other than to be very accurate. I remember Jon Pilcher as an undergraduate so this work was substantially complete by the early 1980s. I remember this area because the subject was made interesting and the people teaching it were great. A friend of mine did an undergraduate research project on this with Mike Baillie and Mike Brown. The whole research group was very impressive, but as mentioned above Jon Pilcher and Mike Baillie have now retired.

    I remember one of the points made to us was about tree ring growth and weather – water and temperature. Irish oak, in a wet climate where whole seasons dry enough to restrict tree growth are rare, is a better indicator of temperature than some species-systems.

  40. From this one cross-section one can see a core taken at 12 O’clock, 4 and 8 would give 3 very different ‘climate histories’. That the rings are there each year makes this valuable for dating, but variability in ring width hides any climate signal in noise.

  41. As a footnote to the above, actually I am surprised that that data is not in the international tree-ring database.

  42. anna v (23:02:38)
    I wonder if this freedom of information act would apply to the discovery of the Higgs, and if we would get various groups grappling over the same data as a result, trying to prove each other as bad data users, instead of doing a fresh experiment to measure the Higgs again, as is the traditional scientific method.

    I’m just guessing, but I think Higgs data would end up in a
    kind of bureaucratic Black hole.

  43. In Charles Dickens’s novel __Little Dorrit__ there is a government bureau known as the Office of Circumlocution.

    It is not only tree-rings that are apt to give inquirers the run-around.

    Franz Kafka, thou should’st be living in this hour!

  44. “ralph ellis (00:36:13) :
    As an aside, the tree ring data is not 100% certain even about the age of wood samples. To go back 7,000 years, you need to match one trunk against another (through their tree ring signatures) to join them up into a series that goes back that far. There are no 7,000 year-old trees in Ireland.”

    Irish Bog Oak? 5000+ years.

    http://www.russianwolfstudios.com/Bog-Woods.php

  45. brazil84: My work, and that of my colleagues was scrutinised by many people. The process of verification, checking and review meant that work was carried out to a very high standard. Everybody is allowed to make mistakes, but multiple scrutiny ensures that very few errors remain undetected. People who regularly make mistakes and do not learn from the process, soon become side-lined as unreliable. If you’re afraid of scrutiny, you shouldn’t be doing the work.

  46. Where I work, data collected using government instruments and facilities is the property of the scientist for a short period (I’d have to guess about a year, could be less). After this time, the data is available on-line. The proprietary period is to allow the scientist time to analyze the data for original research and discovery. After that, everyone gets a crack at it.

  47. Glenn (23:48:46) :

    anna v (23:02:38) :
    “I wonder if this freedom of information act would apply to the discovery of the Higgs, and if we would get various groups grappling over the same data as a result, trying to prove each other as bad data users, instead of doing a fresh experiment to measure the Higgs again, as is the traditional scientific method.”

    Can you provide literature supporting your contention that holding on to data is part of the traditional scientific method?

    No.
    Just my over 40 years experience in publishing in my field, nobody has asked to see the original data. It would be an unthinkable request, and I would never ask to see the original data of others.

    It is only in this climatological debacle that such a question has arisen.

    Alan Wilkinson (00:56:27) :

    anna v, supposing you worked for a corporation and did the same work. How could you possibly think you owned the data personally?

    Why should publicly funded institutions and projects be any different?

    And how many Van Gongs does a corporation fund?

    That is the difference between creative scientists and application scientists. The reason the public funds scientific research is because societies have realized the value of the “divine fool”, the obsessed and dedicated scientist, to society as a whole. It is from these persons that new scientific discoveries will come, and up to now, society cultivates them in the hopes that a small percentage will come out with break through results opening new horizons. Corporations do not work that way.

    TerryS (02:16:31) :

    Re: anna v (23:02:38) :

    The difference between physics experiments and tree rings is vast. With physics if you repeat the experiment you are likely to get the same results (hence the same data). With tree rings if you take a second core from the same tree then you are likely to get differing results.

    As an example, in the image above a core taken at the 3 O’clock position shows (counting from outside to inside) a nice large -3 year and a poor thin -7 year. Take a core at the 2 0′clock position and both these years are approximately the same.

    You are saying that the data are useless for climate studies anyway.

    What this boils down to then is that tree ring data is unique, it can not be reproduced by experiment or even by going to the same trees as the original samples.

    D. King (03:52:35) :

    anna v (23:02:38)
    I wonder if this freedom of information act would apply to the discovery of the Higgs, and if we would get various groups grappling over the same data as a result, trying to prove each other as bad data users, instead of doing a fresh experiment to measure the Higgs again, as is the traditional scientific method.

    I’m just guessing, but I think Higgs data would end up in a
    kind of bureaucratic Black hole.

    Not really.
    All the data in experiments I have been with at CERN exist somewhere and could be accessed by the groups that created them, and I suppose after a time when there are no surviving researchers by any physicist interested enough to dig into old formats. Data that can be used in current research are guarded closely. If one needs to look at it, one has to join the group that has them ( not very hard to do this)

  48. I’ve been in and around the Northwestern USA woods most of my life,did some logging,
    Student work in College, and Aerial fire fighting.There is so much variability from one area to the next,microclimates,even soil, can ,make a big difference.Trees like Douglas
    Fir-for instance can be a valuable timber resource on one side of the Cascades and a
    nothing but a fungus and bug ridden trouble on the other.
    I’ve held tree rings are not a real good proxy,because of the varibles…

  49. I can’t believe that the majority of their studies are stored on floppy disks and only on floppy disks. They were joking, right?

  50. I am not connected with this department in any way, but I do know some of those who work there. I understand Doug Keenan’s frustration but I am appalled that this matter is being discussed in this way and I suspect that the actual ‘what is going on’ is far from an attempt to withhold information for protectionist reasons but is more procedural and cost-related. That probably does not excuse it, but I can imagine a few alternative perspectives.

    Looking at the website of the department, it is not up-to-date; it is a department in which there has been a lot of change. Several people that are still listed in the Environmental Change group have moved on or now work for other departments. There seems to be little active research in dendrochronology and a glance at the current grant funding and PhD projects confirms that. Even if it is not up-to-date, it suggests the department evolved research-wise quite a few years ago. Apart from the Prof Emeritus Mike Baillie, and I don’t know how much he is still around, there seems to be one person still who did the original work still active as a researcher (not academic), and his funding almost certainly now is for work on other things. The data and discs are probably in an archive box.

    Mr Keenan’s original request seems not un-reasonable, but he perhaps does not realise how much he has asked for. A quick search found me this: http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/advance10k/workprog.htm
    This (1994) lists QUB’s resource as 1,500 Irish and 600 English samples.

    Here is the request from the link above:
    “I request the following data, for each tree that has been used in any way in any publication by any current faculty member of the Department of Archaeology and Palaeoecology who (i) was wholly or partially responsible for measuring the widths of the tree’s rings and (ii) was a faculty member at the time of measuring:
    * widths of the rings of the tree;
    * list of years in which the tree rings grew (if known);
    * description of precise location of where the tree was found.
    It might be that this request is exempt from the FOIAct, because the data being requested is environmental information. If you believe that to be so, process my request under the Environmental Information Regulations.”

    This is over 2000 samples, multiple researchers each using their own filing system (times many, many more rejected trees that can’t be matched) – easily more than 100 hours just to convert and collate and make sure you‘ve not missed anything. And if you are not familiar with the data is is easier to make a mistake. I can quite understand the refusal.
    “OMG this goes back decades. How much data is there? How can we comply with this easily? I don’t know. It would be easier to refuse the request then? Yes much easier! Hmm, can we do that?”

    That the data is not deposited in the International Tree-Ring Data Bank, I can only suggest a lack of funding to prepare and submit it or a lack of thought for the need to apply for such funding. Most funding bodies expect some actual research outcome or ‘finding’. The international tree ring data bank appears to have been set up in 1994. If the QUB data was generated in the 1970s and 80s, then that is when the active research and data collection and handling was funded. Making use of it for subsequent research does not necessarily mean working with original data, if you are sure of its quality, so it is possible that the data is not compatible with the ITRDB.

    This is a great site, and this issue at QUB may seem like all Doug Keenan has made it out to be, but I don’t think it is. The data should be made available, the question is who would pay to have someone convert it. Now THAT is what university research has come to these days.

  51. It is irrelevant to the case to moralise that data ought to belong to the government, therefore it does. That is silly for two reasons: first, ought doesn’t imply is; more importantly, the Act says whatever it says, so that moralising about ownership is neither here nor there.

    Nowadays IPR ownership will indeed typically be carefully defined before a project begins, but even that means only that the IPR belongs to whomever has been agreed to be its owner. But 30 years ago in British universities it was not unusual, in my experience, for the ownership of some IPR to be indeterminate, or never really considered, or to rely on a vague understanding, on a convention or just on an assumption. If there was a policy, it would probably have been different for different universities. It may be that QUB owns the IPR for all the data in that collection; I don’t know, but I wouldn’t just assume it.

    All this, of course, may have no bearing at all on their misbehaviour over the FOI request – for the University to break the law is shameful. That, it seems to me, is fair game for moralising.

    In case it is of interest: when the FOI Act came in, we in the British Universities had a a year (or some such period) to sort ourselves out with a “Data Retention Policy”. On my recommendation the Lab where I worked destroyed much of its “data” because I persuaded my colleagues that we could never expect to have the manpower or money required to dig through our records, edit them and deliver them on the scale and timetable that might have been necessitated by a request under the Act. The destruction was of “data” about teaching, examining and administration; decisions on research data were left to individual academics. How much of that was destroyed too I have no idea. I certainly got rid of quite a lot of mine.

  52. anna v (23:02:38) :
    I can understand that particle physicists want to keep the data that they collected private, so as to analyze it. But I do not agree that the data is the property of those physicists. It is the property of the LHC corporation, or of the governments that fund the corporation–whichever is specified in the relevant contracts. And the data owners have granted the physicists the right to use that data in confidence for some limited time (I hope!).
    Also, dendrochronology differs from particle physics in that it is not a replicable science. In dendrochronology, you might get lucky and find some old trees that allow constructing a time series of ring widths–or you might not. A big find for the QUB dendrochronology was when one of the chief researchers (Baillie) was on a train, looked out the window, and spotted a bog that looked promising. Trees preserved in that bog turned out to be crucial: without them, the QUB series would have a big hole. The bog has now been excavated, and it might well have been unique; so replicating what QUB did would be extremely difficult and might be impossible.

    ralph ellis (00:36:13) :
    The tree ring series from QUB appear to be highly reliable. As independent evidence, the rings show a very strong environmental event occurring in 1627 BC [Baillie & Munro, Nature, 1988]. This event also shows up in other series, such as in the south-western USA and in Sweden. (The event is now believed to be due to the volcanic eruption of Aniakchak, Alaska.) The event was spotted in the QUB series after the series was constructed. So that gives very high confidence of reliability back to 1627 BC. There are also comparisons with German series that go back millennia earlier (for details, see the book A Slice Through Time, by M.G.L. Baillie [1995]).
    High reliability does not hold for all dendrochronologies (I have written about this elsewhere), but does seem to hold for QUB.

    dorlomin (01:29:02) :
    Regarding giving QUB “a chance to offer their side of the story”, I would add, to what Charles wrote, that copies of all the correspondences that I had with QUB, as well as with the ICO about QUB, are linked to in the posting. So you can read QUB’s own words to me and summaries of what QUB told the ICO.

    Lastly, a few comments have been made that criticize dendroclimatology. I encourage reading the subpage at

    http://www.informath.org/apprise/a3900/b910.htm

    The discussion there is simplified (as it was originally written for the ICO and ACS), but it at least partially addresses those comments.

  53. anna v (23:02:38) :

    Let us examine this point of view.

    Suppose that the person funded is an artist.
    He may be funded for a specific work, a portrait of the queen, for example. Even in this case, though the portrait will belong to the Queen or government, you cannot ask the artist for his raw data, i.e. how he came up with the portrait. You take the end results.

    Umm, Art is Art. Science is Science. Art is 100% individual abstraction, even in group arts, such as symphony orchestras. The raw data is 100% imagination.

    That’s my entire problem with “consensus science.” People take tax-funded data, then abstract it (creative process indeed), then don’t even use any scientific method, and then expect us to respect tham as CREATIVE ARSTISTS, inscrutable, offended that we dare “call them” on “their art.”

    We’re not paying them to be creative ARTISTS. We’re paying them to be creative SCIENTISTS. BIG DIFFERENCE.

    I have Master Degrees in Music (performance) and Math (education). I happen to believe that Math is a CREATIVE ART, and I teach it that way. I encourage use of emotion and imagination, just as my music teaching.

    But SCIENCE (the SCIENTIFIC METHOD) is completely differnt. Rigid. Unwavering. Ignorant of concensus. For sure, creativity is still #1, and teams of scientists might come up with a consensus APPROACH to a testable method, but damn, I’m totally flabbergasted and confuzzled at how these self-proclaimed modern Earth prophets can claim that their public existence exempts them from scrutiny and transparency! Your are SCIENTISTS using tax-funded instruments, with tax-funded facilities, and using that data to make tax-funded governments make tax-funded policies affecting the freaking TAX BASE.

    Damn…I have to stop.

  54. Chris Knight (22:38:27) :

    In the figure of the tree rings – why would a forest fire occur at the end of a rainy season?

    Couple of ways. You just had a big rainy season early in the year, after which the precipitation cut off ( Like El Nino’s are want to do in the Pacific NW), there was plenty of ground water to grow excessive ground cover and the dry climate after the El Nino hit ensured plenty of fuel.
    What you really want to know is solar proxy to line up with that tree ring data fire. You’ll have a much better chance of determining if you are dealing with a warm/wet year or a cool/wet year.
    You also need to check the tree rings of the whole area. A lightning strike on the single tree, or a forest fire?
    Tree ring data by itself is not too awfully significant, but like climate, forms a part of the picture. That’s it’s value.
    If one is looking for critical year-specific data, one is barking up the wrong tree. Long term patterns is the best fit.

  55. It would be interesting to see the long-term tree ring data from the UK.
    Here, we have 2000 year old trees, and not one but several species of them.
    Giant Sequoia, Giant Redwood and BristleCone Pine.
    But, that is really too bad about science data-sitting bogarts. They are not helping anyone, building moats around knowledge. What were they planning on doing with the publicly-funded data? Did they get lost in analysis paralysis?

    “Omigod… look at this noisy stuff…we can’t write a finding on this mess. This is all your fault. We’ll be famous, you said. Now what are we going to do, sell it on E-Bay? That’s it, I’ve had it. I’m outta here, write your own stupid finding”.

  56. timetochooseagain (22:19:37) I agree. There is no way to differentiate warm from wet in dendrology. Especially considering forests try to mantain an optimal temperature for themselves:

    http://www.sciencecentric.com/news/article.php?q=08061131

    Unless warm climate is also always wet climate, and cold always means dry climate, the rings are fairly meaningless. Further, even if this were the case, how much is the variability of climate temperature dampened by the forests’ attempts to optimize temperature in this proxy record? This has been brought up here and at CA in quite some detail.

  57. “Suppose that the person funded is an artist.
    He may be funded for a specific work, a portrait of the queen, for example. Even in this case, though the portrait will belong to the Queen or government, you cannot ask the artist for his raw data, i.e. how he came up with the portrait. You take the end results. ”

    The problem with this example is that no one will be using the portrait of the Queen to impose their political/social ideology on the rest of us. When that happens, we all better damn well be able to see all the raw data along with how it was used. Results and conclusions also need to be independently verified.

  58. So these people think they own the data because they did the work to gather it and process it while employed by a public institution? They need to get out of academia and into the private sector for awhile. At any private company I’ve ever heard of, including the one I worked at, you don’t own anything you produce on the job, even if you invent something that makes the company millions. If you’re employed at a public institution, any work you produce there is owned by the public. If you want to own your work, do it on your own time with your own money.

  59. Moderator: You might wish to substitute this spell-checked version:

    [Done ~ Evan]

    Welcome to my world!

    I once used the U.S. Truth in Information Act to extract an environmental report from a California state agency. When ordered to produce the report, the agency repeatedly machine-copied and then copied the copies until the report was unreadable and that’s what they sent me.
    After a second round of legal proceedings and a year delay, the agency finally forked over a readable copy of report. As I had suspected, conclusions in the document were exact opposites of what the agency had testified those conclusions were in my construction permit hearings. In the meantime, I was out probably $10 million in project delay costs with no “cure” remedy available (government agents effectively wear a “cloak of immunity” to liability lawsuits).

    The ethical trap of “the end justifying the means” appears especially attractive to those who have convinced themselves they are saving the world from profiteering “evil doers”. Ironically, the project delayed and almost terminated in this case was probably the most environmentally benign renewable energy plant ever devised by man.

    Claude Harvey

  60. Lying?

    Covering up, at the very least. It amounts to the same thing.

    We saw the same thing with the original hockey-stick data. It took a crowbar to get the info, and when Mann finally released it, it was found to be very seriously flawed. And rather than accepting this fact, Mann dug in his heels and waged a publicity war against those who wanted his data.

    This looks like the same-old-same-old runaround with the ultimate objective being to deny, delay, minimize data to the point of access impossible/impractical for those whom they deem might be critical of their conclusions.

    It is incomprehensible to me that we are expected to take measures that will negatively affect all of mankind without full access to the data and methods which assert the necessity. In fact, the more urgent the problem and the more farreaching the change, the greater the necessity for open data and methods, one would think.

    Point?

  61. The public believed in Mann’s tree-ring conclusions and his hockey stick because he told them what they want to hear at the time, i.e., humans are the cause of the environmental degradation they see advertised in the media. When all this CO2 hoopla results in legislation that causes economic upheaval and unemployment, they’ll lean towards the other point of view, as we are seeing currently. Fads come and fads go.

    The argument over what climate data is accurate and who should have access to it will go on forever, but is essentially irrelevant if it doesn’t tell the public what they want to hear. When the temperature anomaly only amounts to .6C degrees, it can hardly be distinguished from background noise. Much ado about nothing.

  62. @dorlomin “what does the Magna Carta have to do with Freedom of Information act (2000)”

    I think of the Magna Carta as the first year growth ring in the massive tree that is English Common Law.

  63. RACookPE1978 (22:26:29) :
    . . . BUT – Mann goes waaaaaay past this accuracy by ASSUMING that “fat rings” are ONLY due to warmer climates, AND that the degree of “fatness” is DIRECTLY proportional to how warm the climate was at that time,

    The Graybill tree ring study that Mann so incredibly overweighted in his hockey stick was intended to show CO2 fertilization in the latter 20th century, which it could conceivably demonstrate, if there were not suspicions that he cherry picked samples from his data set and failed to archive the samples that disagreed with the hypothesis. The Ababneh study ably revealed the flaws in Graybill’s work, producing no hockey stick from a much larger sample set that overlapped the limited Graybill set.

    I doubt that Graybill ever thought that it would be (ab)used for warming. Too late to ask.

  64. Ralp Ellis (00:19:59),

    “Surely it would be relatively simple to check modern tree rings against local climate (and world climate) to see what the best growth and retardation factors really are. Has anyone done this?”

    Check out Climate Audit and look for information on the ‘Divergence Problem’ and ‘Keith Briffa’.

    Basically tree ring widths declined in the latter part of the 20thC whilst temperatures were increasing. So people like Briffa have postulated that there is some ‘unknown’ human caused mechanism that has had this effect so they ignore recent history! Unbelievable.

    .

  65. If those data are really valuable and only available on floppy discs QUB should certainly be forced to copy them, and soon, because in another few years they will probably be irrecoverable. If the floppies have been improperly stored they may already be unreadable (is this what they are trying to hide, one wonders?)

    And anna v, I must say that particle physicists seem to have rather strange ideas about how to handle their data compared to other disciplines. In paleontology for example the original finder of a specimen of course has first crack at publishing it, but once published it *must* be properly identified and placed in a collection where it is available to other scientists. This rule has been increasingly strongly enforced in recent years, to a point where most reputable journals simply refuse to publish papers that do not conform to the rules.

  66. Lindsay H (02:38:58) “[…] in a way which challanges the existing political agenda within the university would also be fought to the bitter end.”

    Innovation is resisted on principle.
    Priority 1 is convenience.

    The university administrator’s preferred tactic:
    Build in delays.

  67. The appearance of thorny issues secures the value of crusty university administrators.

    Lengthy disputes (of this nature) help the university draw in funding.

  68. Don S. (11:59:23) :

    @dorlomin “what does the Magna Carta have to do with Freedom of Information act (2000)”

    I think of the Magna Carta as the first year growth ring in the massive tree that is English Common Law.
    ———————————————
    You wot?

    Is this a joke I am not getting? Common law predates the Conquerer (1066 and all that). Magna Carta is an Americanism, it was pushed to being something special during the revolution (in America) to justify their ‘ancient’ rights. In terms of the development of the real English historical law it was little more than one among many punctuation marks. It is normally invoked with Haebus Corpus but even that is a pretty gross misrepresentation of history.

    Dont mix metaphors. Tree rings dont need to be confused with the mess of English law, no matter how messy climate science is.

  69. Phillip Bratby (02:21:52) :

    I’m sure Christopher Booker will be on the case of all the UK-taxpayer-funded institutions/organisations withholding data and obfuscating (delaying, lying, whatever other practices they employ).
    —————————————-
    [snip – not relevant to this thread, don’t mention religious issues again]

  70. INGSOC (22:54:59) :

    I am reminded of the scene in the Terry Gilliam film “Brazil” involving the heating repairmen.

    Thank you for this moment of deserved comeuppance.

  71. Don S,

    Forget Magna Carta and even the 1689 Bill of Rights — our governments pissed on their spirit, wiped their arses with them and flushed them down the pan long, long ago. In fact they’ve been meaningless for centuries. They certainly didn’t do the Americans any good, did they?

    No, I think we need something a little more ……. well, in a word ……. robust.

    Someone once wrote:
    … all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed….

    I think the evils of the dictator classes in this country (one could hardly dignify them with the labels of ‘government‘, ‘parliamentarians‘ or ‘legislators‘) are now pretty much insufferable and that people are close to the point at which they are no longer disposed to put up with them and certainly not the evil doers themselves.

    Now. That writer also had a plan to rectify things. And better yet, it worked. I have a sneaking suspicion you might be familiar with it. ;)

    Either way, it’s what we need in the UK now. As far as I’m concerned the sooner we adapt it to our current circumstances and put it into effect the better. Yes, it is now time for us to to effect our own safety and happiness. Let me add that I think any scruples we might have about how we should go about the task ought to be ditched right now. They’d only be an impediment. In particular, the cruel and unusuals should not only not be avoided they should be positively encouraged while the score is being settled. Amen.

  72. Response to:

    P Walker (17:09:04) :

    Claude Harvey : (9:54:27)
    Was your project willing to hire union workers ?

    Interesting question. No it was not. I paid union-scale wages and benefits, but none of my employees or contractors were unionized.

    Claude Harvey

  73. Let me take another angle on this “rights on raw data”.

    It is evident from the discussion that different disciplines have different codes of how to treat this.

    In physics, the emphasis being on repeatability of experiments, data itself is not important, except if somebody has faked them. Another experiment with new and better data will prove/disprove the point.

    The problem arises where the repeatability of the experiment is impossible, since it depends on a single specimen, or very difficult. It seems then that the individual disciplines have to develop a code of how to treat and store these data for future checks.

    tty (12:22:50) : In paleontology for example the original finder of a specimen of course has first crack at publishing it, but once published it *must* be properly identified and placed in a collection where it is available to other scientists. This rule has been increasingly strongly enforced in recent years, to a point where most reputable journals simply refuse to publish papers that do not conform to the rules.

    Paleontology seems to have done so.

    Climate “science” is so new that it is in the painful process of doing so. This would not matter, they will find a way, if it were not for the politics attached to climate at the moment.

    My opinion still is that for our society not to stagnate in technological development creativity in science has to be nurtured despite the apparent “waste” of resources on inconsequential subjects. This can only be done through public funding at present.

    Roses bloom out of a lot of manure, and the army of scientists whose outputs gather dust in the chronicles of science have provided the fertilizer necessary to get a few people with the out of the box thinking that is necessary for real advances in science.

  74. NI Researcher (06:24:59) :
    “I suspect that the actual ‘what is going on’ is far from an attempt to withhold information for protectionist reasons but is more procedural and cost-related.”

    All Keenan seems to be asking for is a copy of the floppy disks. There is no precedural or cost-related excuse. There is no excuse at all. And the university is clearly trying to avoid the law.

  75. Re: dorlomin (17:56:50) :

    Magna Carta is an Americanism, it was pushed to being something special during the revolution (in America)

    I don’t think so. The Magna Carta predates the American revolution by over 500 years. It laid out certain basic rights for freemen including the right to due process. Hence its association with Habeas Corpus. There is nothing “American” about it.

  76. >>>We have temperature records to 1660 from thermometers.
    >>>We have diary observations from people such as Pepys and
    >>>Thomas Jefferson.
    >>>Records fropm the great landed estates. etc: etc:

    And lets not forget the numerous Nile flood records, which go all the way back to the beginning of the 18th dynasty – 1550 BC (or more). They must tell us something about climate.

    ,

  77. >>>There are no 7,000 year-old trees in Ireland.”

    >>>Irish Bog Oak? 5000+ years.
    >>>http://www.russianwolfstudios.com/Bog-Woods.php

    You misconstrue my point.

    What I meant is that there is no one tree that is 7,000 years old. You have to take many trees from many different eras, and join them into a chain reaching back 7,000 years. Each match (from tree to tree in the chain) is given a level of accuracy, and some of those scores were not that high – meaning there may be a mismatch.

    .

  78. >>>Here, we have 2000 year old trees, and not one but
    >>>several species of them.
    >>>Giant Sequoia, Giant Redwood and BristleCone Pine.

    And in the UK we have the Fortingale Yew, which is thought to be some 5,000 years old. But its not too good for dedrochronology, as Yews don’t have a solid core.

    .

  79. simmering one (01:41:26) :

    Suppose all the floppies containing the files aren’t in one box, clearly labelled.

    Imagine one professor who has used students’ work for >20 years to build a database. Once each student’s work goes into the database, the lab books, files and floppies go in a box, no need to look at them again. They may be far from neat and require interpretation (when you started using a computer what was your file labelling system? how quickly now could you locate and identify a single file from 10 years ago?).

    In this case there could be 20 years of data, going back to the 1970s. I’m guessing that this is more about having to find the individual files. If the whole single data sequence had been requested it might have been harder to refuse.

    Choose any 10 professors whose work in a single area goes back this far, and ask them for 2000 individual files from >20 years ago. I reckon most would say this would take ages to collate and provide the data.

  80. ralph ellis (03:21:30) :

    And lets not forget the numerous Nile flood records, which go all the way back to the beginning of the 18th dynasty – 1550 BC (or more). They must tell us something about climate.

    These were the inspiration for Benoit Mandelbrot to propose (1/f) noise in the climate system. If the system is dominated by (1/f) noise, the central limit theorem does not apply; and, then there are some interesting conclusions regarding things like “mean temperature.”

  81. re: applicability of tree ring data to global climate. One of the most productive areas of research on tree ring data has to do with trees that sit within the path of the jet stream. That would mean that tree ring data obtained along the west coast of the US would hold absolutely invaluable information about PDO shifts. I am not as familiar with how the AMO/PDO works in terms of jet stream position (as the interplay between the two is complicated, giving rise to nor’easters and whatnot). I would imagine that it would be a productive study as well. So tree-ring data is not just a local climate entity.

    re: owning raw data. I have been there done that. The research lab has the electronic data. I kept my original hard copies and have them still. It serves as a double check on the use of that data in subsequent publications (as you know, raw data can generate many, many papers over the course of many, many years). Some scientists develop a wise attitude towards the entity they work for (or have worked for in the past) and find it necessary to keep copies of raw data or even the originals for reasons I shall not explain here. It isn’t always about the individual scientists but about the research facility.

  82. Kevin! I lurv fractals! We used to generate them on our lab computers over night as a precurser to screen savers. Whether or not it did any good I don’t know but it was fun coming into the lab in the mornings to find a new pretty picture.

  83. It seems that the internet may have prompted researchers and labs to start charging for all their stuff, thus this notion that it can be privately “owned”. In the past, the only ones who read journals got to do so for free because they were available at the University library they attended. No one else bothered or cared. Now the public cares and wants to read what they produce and don’t want to travel to a University, get a card, and read the stuff there. So articles sit behind a paywall. But only to the general public. You can still go to a University (the closest one that has a substantial library on climate science is in Washington, 100’s of miles away from me) and read the stuff for free. Raw data is another think entirely but I think the current paywall for articles has prompted researchers to want to offer raw data for money as well.

  84. Sandy (03:23:10) : From this one cross-section one can see a core taken at 12 O’clock, 4 and 8 would give 3 very different ‘climate histories’.

    Look carefully. The “cross-section” is a cartoon, an artist’s rendering, a symbology rather than anything real. Whatever climate history it implies is strickly an artifact of art, not reality.

    Which is telling. Reading tree rings for climate history is like reading tea leaves or chicken bones for foretelling the future. It is a misuse of the word “reading”. It is closer to ouija than science.

  85. anna v (23:02:38) :

    I tend to agree except for one point.

    The tree ring data can never be exactly reproduced.

    On long lived trees, rarely are the tree ring data taken by cutting down the tree, but from bores from the tree. This apparently came out when they took new bores from trees used in the original hockey stick. The new results were completely different, though I cannot recall where I read that.

    In this kind of instance, where the original experiment may not be reproducible and the data was part of the paid for experiment; the data belongs to the paymaster.

    DaveE.

  86. Watch your language ther mister !

    I take a dim view of people shoing pictures like that tree ring section above, and then describing the rings as “concentric”.

    A few minutes studying just these “Concnetric” tree rings will reveal that they are anything but concentric. And the growth conditions if that is what determines the ring thickness, evidently vary from radial to radial and over the years.

    So on to anna v’s observation that tree ring data on long lived trees are normally obtained by core boring, rather than by slaughtering the entire tree.

    So pick your favorite radial angle to core bore the ring sample above; what sort of scientific balderdash are you going to discover by core boring this tree. Might I suggest that the tree ring core boring community buy a good text book on the general theory of sampled data systems; and READ it.

    Of course you are all familiar with the sad story (as detailed by National Geographic some years ago) of the recent graduate in Botany from some southern California University; (with a Masters Degree no less). So he decides to make his fame and fortune by finding an old tree; specifically a bristle cone pine in the White Mountains of the Nevada/California border.
    So this new genius heads up the white mountaint to look for old looking bristlecone pines. He finally settles on a candidate, and proceeds to cut it down; and cut a section out of it, to lug all the way back down to SoCal, to the lab so he can count the rings. It was somewhere in the 4500 to 5000 years old; much older than anyone thought trees got to be.
    So he proudly announced his new famous discovery to his colleagues; some of whom are horrified, and ask the chap if he has ever heard of core boring to sample the age of a tree, instead of murdering the tree.

    So our hero hies back to the white mountains armed now with a core borer, and a blighted ego. He core bores bristle cone pines till he is blue in the face, and takes them back for study,

    He never ever found another tree that came within 500 years of the age of the oldest tree on earth that he had cut down. The Nat Geo article had a picture of the forlorn stump of that old tree left as a monument to the stupidity of some people who call themselves scientists.

    Yeah; tree rings are a great way to develop a proxy for temperature; if you kill enough of them; but how are you properly going to dsample them with the boring tool, without killing the tree or violating the Nyquist criterion.

    Remember that trees have a height variable, as well as a radial angle variable; you’d have to bore more holes than a whole forest full of woodpeckers; just to sample one tree.

    George

  87. Dendrochronology is a very long word. I can make lots of word out of it but I’m stumped when trying to extract ‘proxy’ from it!
    Maybe I’ll get more success in finding ‘wind-velocity’ from ‘atmospheric hot spot’?

  88. George E. Smith (14:18:34) :

    I think you’re kinda touching on my point that the core bores are irreproducible.

    DaveE.

  89. Anna V.
    Your analogy clearly falls short. If an artist is commissioned to paint a portrait of the Queen and the finished work shows her hair is magenta and her skin is puce, it is clear from the raw data that (her actual appearance) his interpretation is inaccurate. The artist, however, can claim artistic license in creative interpetation of the Queen’s appearance. No credible Scientist can make that claim.

    The fact that you believe the taxpayer should pay for the identical services repeatedly, makes me wish I were a plumber when your pipes break. If the job were to be completed in 10 days, I could extend that time indefinitely by assessing the jobsite (acquiring the raw data) at the beginning of each work day. I could easily quadruple the cost to you to finish the job.

    timetochooseagain,
    I believe your are mistakenly equating presumption and assumption. We have very good meteorological data for the last 50 or 60 years. If we can identify the conditions that led to growth in trees of that time and can identify similar growth in historic trees, there is a presumption of correlation rather than an assumption of same.

  90. Mike R (18:32:44) :

    The fact that you believe the taxpayer should pay for the identical services repeatedly, makes me wish I were a plumber when your pipes break. If the job were to be completed in 10 days, I could extend that time indefinitely by assessing the jobsite (acquiring the raw data) at the beginning of each work day. I could easily quadruple the cost to you to finish the job.

    The taxpayer can choose: live in a stable stagnating society, the way the chinese society lasted for thousands of years, or nurture scientific creativity to continue the rapid technological advance ( rather than the usual plumbing) that we have lived through the past century. There is a cost, you get what you pays for.

  91. “”” DaveE (16:26:42) :

    George E. Smith (14:18:34) :

    I think you’re kinda touching on my point that the core bores are irreproducible.

    DaveE. “””

    Kind of shocking isn’t it DaveE ? We all understand the conservational concept of core boring trees; but that one crossection shown in this essay points to the flaw in that methodology. And as I mentioned trees have a height variable as well, so what would another section of this same tree show if taken at a height say two metres different in height from this one.

    When you read any article on paleontology or archeology and the like; it is always intriguing to see just how ingenious are practitioners in all these sciences at prying “information” out of seemingly nothing samples or data. They gladly reconstruct a whole dinosaur incuding the color of its eyes from a broken chip off one tooth.

    While one can applaud the attempt to gain information from scarce evidence; this simple tree ring problem; demonstrates that as a source for quantitative information it is sadly lacking.

    Plant growth depends on a lot more factors than just temperature, water supply, CO2 levels, soil mineral content, etc etc; so it is a wild leap of faith to use any of this information for climate proxies.

    The story of the bristlecone pines recalibration of the C14 dating scale, is well known.

    The one reasonably dependable thing about tree rings seems to be that they do grow a new ring each year. So dating trees by counting rings is reasonably safe even with core boring.

    It used to be assumed that the rate of production of C14 in the upper atmosphere by cosmic rays and the like was absolutely constant. This led to the dating of ahses from ancient kilns that were used to date pottery fragments, and make assumptions about the spread of technology. That process had certain advanced pottery techniques spreading out of Mesopotamia into southern Europe (Spain). But with a bristlecone pine core, you can actually radiocarbon date each individual ring of the core; whose real age you are fairly sure of.
    When this was done, it was found that the radiocarbon production rate was anything but constant; and when the tree ring ages were used to calibrate the caron age scale, it was found that the European pottery artifacts were in fact older than the ones from the middle east; showing that the technology actually propagated the opposite direction from accepted history.

    But you see; none of that saga relied on making any climate assumptions about any of those tree rings; they were simply dated by two methods; one of which was rather rock solid; depending only on our ordinary methods of counting years.

    I suspect that corals, and oceanic mud cores all have the very same hazards, as does the tree ring method. Apart from the link between ring properies and climate being somewhat uncertain; the core boring method of sampleing clearly violates the Sampling theorem; so the results are a crap shoot.

    George

  92. Meanwhile, the arctic ice red line for 2009 is safely across the 2005 green line, and on its way towards the 2002 line. The artic temperature did kick up a tad over zero though. Looks like we might be heading for a ho-hum ice year; but only time will tell.

  93. Conspiracy or Arrogance?BOTH!!!!!!!I hope you get the data you want buti doubt you will.I’ve found that all Beurocracies are like Fascist states,desperately trying to justify their existance.FOR YOUR GOOD……Also i’d like ask the people that seem to think “Organised Filing Systems”are somehow only possible with a computer system.What do you think they did before computers?????Any competent secretary knows how to “WORK” a filing cabinet!!P.S. to the genius that thinks the “MAGNA CARTER” is an “AMERICANISM”,what can i say!LOL seems inadeqate.In the future when your next epiphany arrives,you should GOOGLE it first before writing your thoughts down and then no-one will suspect that your really an idiot….Bring on the global warming,i’m bloody freezing.

  94. Personally i think it’s arrogance. Look back through history and you’ll find plenty of examples of it. A great one is when Ignaz Semmelweis claimed that washing hands between operations could result in a reduction in ward deaths. Not the scientific consensus at the time, so he got flung into an asylum.

    This idea that releasing data will result in a copier, UK universities have plenty of measures in place to ensure that data is handled properly and that plagiarism does not occur.

    Unfortunately it is often the case that the consensus view is wrong. If you want a really controversial one – haemophiliacs started dying from AIDS in large numbers from 1987 onwards – there really is a hockey stick in the stats there. But was it AIDS that killed them? 1987 was the year that haemophiliacs began to be prescribed AZT as a preventative……and before the deaths started occurring.

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