An Open Letter to Dr. Subra Suresh

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Dear Dr. Suresh:

My sincere and heartfelt congratulations on your being appointed Director of the US National Science Foundation (NSF). It is indeed an honor for anyone. In particular it is a great achievement for you, considering the long road you traveled to eventually attain the post.

Photo Source: Science Magazine

With the honor of your new post, of course, comes the responsibility. And according to Science Magazine (paywall) , you are already moving on that:

Even before his Senate confirmation in September to the 6-year post, Suresh began asking colleagues about the myriad issues that he will face at NSF.

I laud this effort. And I hope you will pardon me for using this venue to add another issue to your already-long list. However, it is a very important one.

Here’s the thing. It’s not complex or hard. You guys need to stop funding scofflaw scientists.

What do I mean by “scofflaw scientists”? The NSF has long-standing policies regarding the sharing and archiving of data that is gathered with NSF-distributed taxpayer funds. The earliest policy I know of is the 1989 NSF adoption of the recommendations of the National Science Board Report “Openness of Scientific Communication” (NSB 88-215). It says (emphasis mine):

1. Open Scientific and Engineering Communication

The NSF advocates and encourages open scientific communication. The NSF expects significant findings from research it supports to be submitted promptly for publication, with authorship that reflects accurately the contributions of  those involved.  It expects investigators to share with other researchers, at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time, the primary data, samples, physical collections, and other supporting materials created or gathered in the course of the research.  It also encourages awardees to share software and inventions or otherwise act to make such items or products derived from them widely useful and usable.

NSF will implement these policies in ways appropriate to the field of science and circumstances of research through the proposal review process; through award negotiations and conditions; and through appropriate supportand incentives for data cleanup, documentation, dissemination, storage, and the like.  Adjustments and, where essential, exceptions may be allowed to accommodate the legitimate interests of investigators and to safeguard the rights of individuals and subjects, the validity of results, and the integrity of collections.

This very straightforward language from NSF has been clarified, and strengthened since then. For example, in 1991, the NSF U.S. Global Change Research Program said:

For those programs in which selected principal investigators have initial periods of exclusive data use, data should be made openly available as soon as they become widely useful. In each case the funding agency should explicitly define the duration of any exclusive use period.

These requirements for archiving and sharing have been repeated in other NSF statements (see here and here for details and discussion of these NSF policies.)

Despite this, NSF continues to fund scientists who openly flout the policy and refuse to archive their data. The poster child for this group could be the glaciologist Dr. Lonnie Thompson. How bad is he? Well, let me say that I wouldn’t be surprised to see photos of his missing data on the sides of milk cartons.

Steve McIntyre’s now seven-year unsuccessful quest for Thompson’s elusive data, such as the widely cited but unarchived Himalayan ice core information for Dasupo, Dunde, and Gulaya, is detailed (inter alia) here, here, herehereherehere, and here.

Despite Thompson’s years and years of dodging requests for his data, NSF has continued to fund him. Here’s a record of how much of our tax money has gone to Dr. Thompson and his wife (they often apply jointly for grants).

Most of the grants are either solely to Dr. Thompson (pictured), or to him and his wife. Only in a few grants are there other “co-investigators”. Data Source: NSF

Now let me be very clear here. I have no problem with the NSF funding scientists, as long as you keep President Eisenhower’s warning “that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite” firmly in mind.

I’m also not concerned about the amount of the money that has gone to Dr. Thompson. Eleven megabucks is a big pile, it’s true, but a) that’s over 38 years, and b) it’s not cheap to mount an expedition to go to places like the Himalayas (pictured) and drill ice cores. I don’t think he’s getting rich off the NSF, to the contrary I suspect he’s squeezing the bucks to get more ice cores per dollar.

And curiously, I don’t even have much problem with Dr. Thompson being a scofflaw scientist. I don’t like it, but as long as there are rules and money in the same system, we can guarantee that somebody will try to game the system rules to get the money. This time it’s Lonnie’s turn.

But Dr. Suresh, I must tell you frankly, it angrifies my blood mightily when you keep funding scofflaw scientists like Thompson. I wax wroth, and utter venerable Anglo-Saxon imprecations, when the NSF doesn’t follow its own policies. And to my wife’s embarrassment, I confess that at times I find myself audibly urging anatomically inventive but ultimately improbable acts of sexual auto-congress on those government employees who are allowing this to happen.

Unfortunately, the NSF is not alone in this. Science and Nature Magazine, the flagship journals of scientific research, both have execrable records of enforcing their own policies on data archiving. The same is true of PNAS.

This is a part of the reason that the American public is so disenchanted with climate science. Fortunately, you are in a position to completely fix your agency’s part in the problem. The cure is simple:

1. Every time someone applies for a grant, you explain to them that they have to archive their data. If the applicant has had a grant before, ask them where the data sets from each of the previous grants have been archived. If they have unarchived data, no grant until they archive. To save your graphics department some money, here’s your new recruiting poster:

It’s not difficult. It doesn’t require Twelve Steps, it’s a One-Step program. As I said above, you need to stop funding scofflaw scientists.

So that’s my issue, and I trust you will see it right.

Next, my free advice, which is worth at least what you paid for it, perhaps more.

My advice is quite simple. Be public about what you do. If you decide to follow your own policies regarding data archiving and sharing, make an announcement. If a scientists’ funding is being held up until data is archived, make that fact available. This is the age of the internet and the Freedom of Information Act. If you expose all of your actions to the light of day, you don’t have to worry about them being exposed later (as they assuredly will be). Use the blogs such as WUWT to your advantage. Always remember that you are spending our money, so we are owed any and all information on how you are doing so. Answer requests from the public about data and policies promptly and without evasion. In short, make the operation of your agency as transparent as all good science should be.

My best wishes go with you. I do not envy you your new job, but given your track record I suspect you will do it well.

w.

(PS – My thanks also to Steve McIntyre for his untiring efforts in the long quest to get Dr. Thompson to archive his data. It is a travesty that folks like the IPCC continue to rely upon Dr. Thompsons results, when he has consistently and repeatedly refused to show his work. That attitude wouldn’t make it past my high school chemistry teacher, and has no place in modern science.)

97 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Dr. Subra Suresh

  1. Willis, why make it an open letter?
    Send it to him.

    REPLY: Better yet, why don’t we ALL send it to him? From their about page:

    The National Science Foundation’s street address is: 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22230

    – Anthony

  2. As the saying goes “Good luck with that”.

    I really do think that publicly funded data ought to be public property, but I’ve also noticed that the present trend is for organizations, foundations, and government agencies to be packed with folks with “an agenda” first, and a moral compass second… so I don’t see a lot of hope in this.

    But still, with luck. And may the (cold) wind be always at your back.

  3. Darn. I was just about to submit a grant proposal to the NSF for a 3 year research project for $3Mil.

    The research would involve quoting a large group of scientist’s previous work, walking around and remaining stationary at beaches in tropical climates and comparing my observations against similar efforts in winter locations often referred to as “resorts”.

    When completed, the research will show whatever the NSF would like it to. I’ll follow Dr. Thompson’s standards of archiving, and data will be readily available to all my friends.

    Willis….could you hold off on sending that letter for awhile? I’ll even buy you some carbonated hops and barely based bottled alcohol cleaning substance in Belize if I get my grant!!

  4. Anthony: great idea. As for “good luck with that,” that’s a real problem but not a reason not to try. And in fact the whole theme of Transparency is big and only going to get bigger. When science is done with secret data that makes it hard or impossible to replicate, it’s bad. When the science was paid for by the public, it’s unacceptable.

  5. Well said.
    The pressure must continue to be applied on both sides of the Atlantic. The ‘weather’ is certainly helping and, of course, another 5 or 10 years will decide the issue.
    The urgency to expose this scientific misadventure is entirely economic; to prevent suicidal energy policies and the transfer of wealth from “the poor of rich countries to the rich of poor countries” (great quote, not mine).

  6. Publicly funded anything is public property. In my view anyone who holds public property hostage is committing an act of theft. Theft is immoral in most philosophical systems and against laws in just about everyplace unless of course you are above the laws of man and these philosophical systems. What pisses me off more then anything is the obvious attitude of Lonnie Thompson and others (he is not alone here) that he is exempt from the ethical and moral codes of science. I am less then pleased with the leaders of funding and publishing organizations that simply refuse to follow their own operating rules and guidelines.

  7. A very clear and brave attempt to repair what’s very, very wrong for a long, very long time. But to be honest with you, Dr. lonnie Thompson is a “difficult” case and his contributions are as far from science as Jupiter to Mars.
    Even with a dozen pink glasses it will be difficult to see the end of the tunnel.

    What we’re dealing with here is rotten ice, rotten scientist, a rotten ideology, rotten directives financed by rotten State money.

    You can’t solve that by archiving the data alone.

  8. The more and more I read and then investigate ~ the more and more respect
    I have for your genuine, heart-felt, mind-engaged, efforts, Anthony, et al.

    The integrity and sincerity on display for ‘all to see’ is astounding… I applaude
    each of you who take part in maintaining & regaining whatever vestiges remain
    of true Scientific Thought ~ of ‘Science in general’. You are indeed, Gentlemen &
    Scholars. I’m proud, in fact, to ‘read’ what you ‘write’.

    Lastly ~ for YOU specifically, Anthony and secondarily, to all your ‘science buddies’.
    Here’s a poem I penned. May it serve as a reminder and bless you and your families this Christmas Season.

    There is a place within my soul
    Where thoughts as if wild seeds are sown
    Into fertile soil rich dark and deep
    It’s where I rest where I may weep

    In my Father’s garden where every prayer
    Is tended to with utmost care
    As I sit amongst the flowers
    I’m refreshed within the time that’s ours

    I find such beauty – hence unknown
    Feel such comfort as I’m shown
    That all my pain and all my cares
    Turn into each precious flower there

    In this private place where I am known
    In my Father’s garden – where I am grown

    Be encouraged. You are cherished, indeed.

    from a friend who prays for you and respects your calling

    C.L. Thorpe – jus’ hangin’ out with the sheep

  9. Real scientists reveal their data and methods.

    Scofflaws & scam artists weave, dodge & obfuscate.

    What a legacy Dr. Thompson will leave . . . . a poster “scientist”

  10. The other side of the coin is for architests of public policy to stop using conclusions from undisclosed data. This is as insane as would be the IRS accepting self-assesment of tax based on undisclosed company accounts.
    I guess Judith Curry’s response to congress has advocated this.

  11. we will believe it when we see it if thay don,t come up with the past research than throw them in jail all of them

  12. Interesting bit here…..a friend sent me Sen. Bernie Sanders’ website & mailing address information, and it has this proviso:

    “Please note that due to heightened security in the U.S. Capitol, mail service to my Washington, D.C. Senate office is significantly delayed. If you have any correspondence that is time sensitive, please use alternatives such as e-mail, phone, or fax.”

    http://sanders.senate.gov/contact/contact.cfm

    …I hadn’t heard about anything in particular, but in light of recent events (bombing in Sweden was an eye-opener), I can’t say I’m surprised. Email should do it.

  13. Oh, sure – plead for the cannibals to give you the cooking instructions. How much sense does that make?
    Wtf do you think it’s all about, eh, science or something? Speaking of poster kids – how about that NASA?
    That, my friend, is the face of publicly funded seance. Look hard, look long, look deep.
    Make your expectations conform to reality as proven – and don’t try to tell me that one good deed redefines the bugger – or you may as well pay lip service to Mike’s Mannhood.

  14. I’d rather the government stop funding all scientists. As long as the government is doing the funding, science will be corrupted by politics. It’s not possible for it to be otherwise.

  15. Willis: Wonderful, truthful, factual, on-target post. Oh, I hope NSF pays some attention. But I am not going to hold my breath…

  16. Send hard copies of your letter to NSF, with cc’s to both Senators and your Congressman.

    That will make a pile of paper! ….Lady in Red

  17. CRS, Dr.P.H. says: at 4:35 pm
    due to heightened security in the U.S. Capitol, mail service to .

    Some years ago I read that all mail and packages to the Washington elite is “processed” by mere mortals before it is sent to the offices listed as the mailing address. A senate office would qualify as elite.

    ——–OTHERS——–
    I second “write your own letter” and add — make it brief.

  18. It seems that Steve McIntyre has not been able to get the data that he wants from Lonnie Thompson, and some of Thompson’s older data may have been lost. So he is trying to discredit Thompson’s work, despite the fact that he is one of the world’s leading glaciologists and has won many prizes for his scientific work. His integrity and ability are accepted by the scientific community, even if McIntyre doesn’t admire him.

    The fact is that the most important part of his work is actually in an archive at Ohio State University. There is a huge freezer with preserved ice cores. These are a great source of paleoclimate data and since the technology for analysis of this data is evolving, it is important to preserve these ice cores so that more can be learned from them.

    It also seems that the logistics of drilling ice cores at high elevations is complicated, and it is no wonder that a lot of money is needed to fund the effort.

    http://blogs.chron.com/climateabyss/2010/04/weekend_conversation_lonnie_thompson.html


    “How long does an expedition take?

    Anywhere from one to two and a half months, depending on accessibility, the thickness of the ice, and the logistics. In Hualcàn, we were out of range of helicopters, so we had to hire fifty mountaineers and porters to move our equipment from the valley to the summit of the mountain, not to mention food and medicine.

    The entire expedition has to be self-contained and self-sufficient. At the end of the day, if anything goes wrong on the summit, nobody’s going to come and get you, so you have to be able to rescue yourself. Every place has its own challenges, with different bureaucracies and logistical issues to deal with. When you’re moving that much equipment and ice, you must be sure that the system works effectively, or you could come away with nothing.”

    REPLY: Bullshit! – none of your argument is any excuse WHATSOEVER for not archiving your base data, and making it available to other scientists for replication. – Anthony

  19. eadler says:

    “It seems that Steve McIntyre has not been able to get the data that he wants from Lonnie Thompson, and some of Thompson’s older data may have been lost. So he is trying to discredit Thompson’s work, despite the fact that he is one of the world’s leading glaciologists and has won many prizes for his scientific work. His integrity and ability are accepted by the scientific community, even if McIntyre doesn’t admire him.”

    There are plenty of people who don’t admire Lonnie Thompson. Adler has the black hat on the wrong head. He says Thompson has “part” of his data archived. Well, isn’t that special. Michael Mann also has part of his data archived – and part of it is in a “censored” ftp file that falsifies his Hokey Stick. These grant hogs with both front feet in the public trough are all alike: they show the public only what they want the public to see – and call it science.

    It is the unethical Thompson who is wrong here, not Steve McIntyre. As a taxpayer I view people like Thompson as nothing more or less than kleptocrats. They flout the rules while pocketing tax money that I earned. What gives him the right? Is he someone special?? Adler’s defense of thieves only shows his own lack of character.

    eadler continues: “It also seems that the logistics of drilling ice cores at high elevations is complicated, and it is no wonder that a lot of money is needed to fund the effort.”

    Adler obviously didn’t read the article, or he would have seen that Willis specifically addresses this very point. Maybe it’s because eadler clogs the blogs with his pseudo-expertise. He’s the Barrie Harrop of blogland, and just as much of a pest.

    Tell ya what, Adler, why don’t you pay Thompson’s grants and salary? Then we won’t be concerned that he “lost” his taxpayer-funded data, or that he refuses to publicly archive the rest.

  20. CRS, Dr.P.H.,
    Very possibly Bernie Sanders email, and that of many congresscritters, is screened due to the justifiable concern that information counter to his worldview may make his head explode.

  21. Is not a scientist’s integrity in question when he stonewalls for this long? Isn’t it time we start calling a spade a spade?

  22. REPLY: Bullshit! – none of your argument is any excuse WHATSOEVER for not archiving your base data, and making it available to other scientists for replication. – Anthony
    ——————————————
    sums up the whole AGW theory really and only took 2 lines

  23. Sully says:
    December 12, 2010 at 7:28 pm
    CRS, Dr.P.H.,
    Very possibly Bernie Sanders email, and that of many congresscritters, is screened due to the justifiable concern that information counter to his worldview may make his head explode.

    REPLY:
    Heh! You may be right! More probably, it is due to the vast volume of threatening chatter the FBI is picking up.

    I have years of experience in working with DC, don’t waste your time with emails or snail-mail. The absolute BEST way to reach those folks is via fax. Here’s Suresh’s contact stuff:

    http://www.nsf.gov/staff/staff_bio.jsp?lan=ssuresh&org=NSF&from_org=

    If we all start sending faxes, well, it will gum up the works & he’ll notice. Not that I advocate that type of activity or anything….

  24. Vast porn surfing problem at NSF via FOI documents, 9/29/09 Washington Times, “Porn surfing rampant at US Science Foundation.”
    “Employee misconduct investigations, often involving workers accessing pornography from their government computers, grew sixfold last year inside the taxpayer-funded foundation that doles out billions of dollars of scientific research grants, according to budget documents and other records obtained by The Washington Times.

    The problems at the National Science Foundation (NSF) were so pervasive they swamped the agency’s inspector general and forced the internal watchdog to cut back on its primary mission of investigating grant fraud and recovering misspent tax dollars.

    “To manage this dramatic increase without an increase in staff required us to significantly reduce our efforts to investigate grant fraud,” the inspector general recently told Congress in a budget request. “We anticipate a significant decline in investigative recoveries and prosecutions in coming years as a direct result.””…
    NSF cash to M. Mann in 2009: Per a WSJ report, Jan. 20, 2010, “Michael Mann’s Climate Stimulus,” Michael Mann received more than $2.4 million from the NSF in 2009 alone.

  25. Interesting when people try to defend the indefensible … and amusing. Even better when people like eadler try to make out that Lonnie is some intrepid adventurer from days gone by… no doubt many of the lady folk swooned when reading the post.

  26. I sent my e-mail to Dr. Suresh. It was polite and to the point about making research data and methods available to the public, when the funding was granted by NSF or any other government entity. Suresh is taking on a big job. Passing out $7.4 billion per year is not easy work. I also laid out a few of my ideas on how some of the bundle of money should be allocated. I have a long association with India so tried to use it to good advantage in my approach. Suresh’s biography looks good to me. No question that he is a doer.

  27. Smokey smokes
    ———–
    It is the unethical Thompson who is wrong here, not Steve McIntyre. As a taxpayer I view people like Thompson as nothing more or less than kleptocrats. They flout the rules while pocketing tax money that I earned. What gives him the right? Is he someone special??
    ————-
    I concur that the research data should be shared.

    But claims of theft are lies until you can prove otherwise.

  28. Scientists, to take an Australian expression, “for some unknown bloody reason”, sometimes seem to think they are above the normal working rules of the rest of society. I saw alot of this in academia, where scientists would occasionally be exempted from certain rules, procedures, stated policies, societal values etc etc. Part of the reason I saw was because the adminstrators of such generally think it doesnt really make much difference. They are WRONG. Science, by nature, is very sensitive-its sensitive to initial condtions, sensitive to cultural prejudices, sensitive to politics and moral values, and sensitive to researcher bias.

    The quicker the academic-cultural tendency to be lax in following and monitoring normal rules and procedures, including stated ones, which the rest of society also follows, the quicker this disappears from science, the better.

  29. Dr. S. Suresh will know that in his country of birth science done under government funding barely receives scrutiny from the financier. PhD research is just going through the motions to get the desired paper.
    In his (present) country of residence he can now show that the US is not a “developing nation” thriving with lack of supervision, corruption, quota’s and nepotism.

  30. This letter is banging on open doors. Starting January 18, 2011, all NFS proposal has to contain detailed data management plan explaining, how data resulting from the proposed research will be archived and disseminated.

  31. steven mosher says:
    December 12, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    I suggest you write your own letters. Be orginal. polite. factual.

    Right, Steven. A jillion copies of the same letter will get a lot less attention than 10,000 individual notes with different subject lines.

  32. I like the funding graphic. Notice the up-curve around about 1992? Rio Earth Summit anyone?

    I’d be interested in other “scientists” grants charted like this one. I’m guessing there will be enough hockey sticks to supply an Olympic Ice Hockey competition.

  33. Rule number 1: Show. Your. WORK!

    I learned this in Grade 2 math class. Unfortunately, some “scientists” have yet to figure this out.

  34. Mark says:
    December 12, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    I’d rather the government stop funding all scientists. As long as the government is doing the funding, science will be corrupted by politics. It’s not possible for it to be otherwise.
    __________________________

    Seconded!

    Tax-and-spend crowd would argue that today science cannot be done at your table with a piece of paper and a pencil. They would tell you that one needs large sums of money (and, therefore, government financing) to do any technologically advanced research. They would smother you reciting breakthroughs and advances achieved at the taxpayers’ expense.

    There’s an answer to that:

    Just a few days ago Elon Musk and his SpaceX company launched their Falcon 9 rocket to space, put the first privately developed spacecraft, Dragon (carrying cheese as a sarcastic payload) to orbit, and achieved a successful splashdown several hundred times cheaper than NASA bureaucrats could do it in their happiest dreams.

    Surely, financing by NASA played a role, since NASA is one of SpaceX’s potential customers. But everyone knows that Musk would do the same without any NASA involvement. He actually put in over $100 million of his own money into it.

    Large and expensive scientific and technological projects can and should be financed privately. Only then could we hope for truth in science, and for useful, not wasteful results.

    Is glaciology really worth all of us paying for it without our consent? And being left on the dark about methods and unadulterated results? Let the free market decide.

  35. I often like to cite cold fusion and Pons and Fleischmann as a fairly good example of when science goes wrong and then corrects itself. The failure of Dr. Lonnie Thompson to archive much of his ice core data and make it available to others to try to replicate his results means to me he has something to hide. Take heed!

    …….Pons and Fleischmann provided very little technical data from their experiment, and they had no proof of their 5 year research on cold fusion……..A combination of foolishness, greed, and carelessness played a role in creating one of the biggest scientific blunders of the century……Because of the scientific reputations they had made for themselves, the public, especially Chase Peterson, came to believe in their cold fusion claim……Pons tended to withhold details of his experiments from the scientific community…..

    http://www.nuc.berkeley.edu/courses/classes/NE-24%20Olander/cold_fusion.htm

    Does this ring a bell?

  36. Dr. Subra Suresh,
    Would you take medication from a drug company whose medication was NOT tested in drug trials? The IPCC, govenments and the public is being asked to take Dr. Thompson’s results (drug) simply on trust. We would not allow any drug company to sell drugs based on trust.

    Perhaps the NSF should make it clear in its policies that data gathered using public funds belongs to the public who funded it and base data should be made freely available as soon as a paper is written.

  37. Balazs says:
    December 12, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    This letter is banging on open doors. Starting January 18, 2011, all NFS proposal has to contain detailed data management plan explaining, how data resulting from the proposed research will be archived and disseminated.

    Thanks, Balazs. As I detailed above, there have been protocols and procedures and paperwork and policies in place since 1989 to handle this very problem. Now you tell us of a new NSF protocol and a new piece of paper… sorry, but like the song says, “that don’t impress me much”.

    The problem is not lack of NSF paper or protocols or policies. It is lack of NSF enforcement of their own long-standing policies.

    I’ll believe NSF is serious when they force Thompson to archive his data, and not a minute before.

  38. Alexander Feht says
    ————
    Large and expensive scientific and technological projects can and should be financed privately. Only then could we hope for truth in science, and for useful, not wasteful results
    ——————-
    Sure Alexander. And where do you think the technology base for SpaceX came from?

    Apparently the good old ideology filter has obliterated most of history.

  39. It may be a great open letter, but it’s addressed to a completely closed institution. One can only conclude that the NSF supports and encourages this behaviour to deliver it’s own agenda outcomes.

    Nice try anyway !

  40. The normal rules do not apply to these Gods of science.
    Earlier this year , in a house of commons inquiry , it was found that Dr. Phil Jones’s actions in not disclosing his base data, despite FOI requests, were ‘in line with common practice in the climate science community’

  41. Wonderful initiative, Willis.
    Freedom and its closest associate, democracy, are very tender flowers that require the light of absolute honesty and openness at all times. Anything less kills both incredibly quickly. Scientific modes of thought lifted Man out of the dark ages – to allow the private hoarding of publicly-owned data is an open invitation to the dark forces of the pre-scientific world to regain power again, putting that power back in to the hands of the gatekeepers of unreason and privilege and giving rise to new versions of Lysenkoism. There is too much at stake for the world to progress back to the past.

  42. Jimbo:

    We would not allow any drug company to sell drugs based on trust.

    Really? We allow to sell drugs based solely on water. And a huge consumer base trust them.

  43. EternalOptimist says:
    December 13, 2010 at 12:31 am
    ‘not disclosing his base data, despite FOI requests, were ‘in line with common practice in the climate science community’’

    That’s precisely the point both of this post and of the entire fraudulent agw scam. The climate science ‘community’ you defend is utterly corrupt, unaccountable and, above all else, non-scientific.

  44. LoL… Excellent letter.

    It’s kinda sad that they can’t even enforce their own rules and guidelines…. They are utterly useless….. Well better late than never. Maybe the new broom will sweep clean, ‘eh?

  45. One thing puzzles me about Thompsons apologists, they say that we want to discredit him and his work. I work as a computer programmer and when my application is finished, I hand it over to the testers. The better the tester, the happier I am, the more problems they find, the happier I am.
    The worst thing that can happen, is for problems to slip by, under the radar. These testers are not discrediting me or my work, they are an absolutely crucial part of my work.
    If any scientist thinks he can push stuff out without the testers scrutiny, then he is a fraud.

  46. Ah, yes, “my (Al Gore’s) friend” Lonnie Thompson.

    Gore produced the infamous CO2-Ice Hockey Stick which people often forget about – while fully aware of Mann’s infamous Temperature Hockey Stick, thanks to Steve McIntyre and Andrew Montford. The Ice Hockey Stick has not (yet) received similar attention.

    When Al Gore was rising to the roof on his little podium, it was the CO2-Ice Hockey Stick he was pointing towards, NOT the temperature Hockey Stick. And if you look closely, not only is there the unholy splice between ice records and Mauna Loa records, there is also an unholy further projection.

    I’m sure that this icon is what people are still subconsciously remembering. Of course such a ridiculous recent CO2 rise has to be manmade, it cannot possibly be natural… until you consider that maybe the ice CO2 levels are ALL artificially depressed, owing to CO2 escapes – Jaworowski shows how many ways there are for this to happen.

    If this is true, it would be no wonder that Lonnie doesn’t want the cat out of the bag.

  47. Dr T G Watkins cited: ….”to prevent …the transfer of wealth from “the poor of rich countries to the rich of poor countries” Wonderfully put, buyt it runs further.

    In this enterprise it doesn’t matter how much wealth you transfer to poor countries they will remain poor, because by design or misadventure they are unable to create wealth. They are poor for a reason. They cannot or will not make or do anything that anyone else wants and who will pay them for it. With no engine of wealth creation, when the transfered wealth is gone, they go back to being poor.

    The basic premise of eco-driven global communism is flawed at the outset. They have no data that it works. Its just an idea that makes them feel better about themselves.

  48. Mark said:

    “I’d rather the government stop funding all scientists. As long as the government is doing the funding, science will be corrupted by politics. It’s not possible for it to be otherwise.”

    I’d rather they not – but rather try hard and separate it from the politics (Don’t ask me how, rethink in progress!)

    Because a very real and very worrying alternative is to have science utterly corrupted by corporate interests. If you think politics is ruthless, you ought to see the kind of things shareholders try!

    As in all things, balance is a much preferred alternative; and Willis’ letter is a great place to start from.

  49. “I confess that at times I find myself audibly urging anatomically inventive but ultimately improbable acts of sexual auto-congress on those government employees who are allowing this to happen.”

    :)

  50. I’m all for governments funding scientists, as long as they’re held accountable for their funding, and that means archiving data and code, and independent auditing.

    If scientists are funded privately, it is up to them as to what agreements they have.

    Regardless of where the funding comes from, if it is something they claim will have an affect others, unless the work can be verified skepticism should remain.

    Einstein alluded that it takes only one scientist to prove a million others wrong, and I should add: regardless of what expertise they have, or how well renowned they are. Thompson has been hiding data, so the odds are stacked against him even more.

  51. Temps in Cancun just hit a new december low with 10 °C/50 °F.
    Just 3 degrees C above the all-time-low at 7 °C.

  52. EternalOptimist says:
    December 13, 2010 at 2:02 am

    One thing puzzles me about Thompsons apologists, they say that we want to discredit him and his work. I work as a computer programmer and when my application is finished, I hand it over to the testers. The better the tester, the happier I am, the more problems they find, the happier I am.
    The worst thing that can happen, is for problems to slip by, under the radar. These testers are not discrediting me or my work, they are an absolutely crucial part of my work.

    Me to. Total agreement!

  53. LazyTeenager says:
    December 12, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Sure Alexander. And where do you think the technology base for SpaceX came from?

    Apparently the good old ideology filter has obliterated most of history.
    ___________________
    Sure, Teenager. All of the technology base ultimately came from individual scientists working without any involvement of the government, starting with the Renaissance, and ending with the beginning of the 20th century.

    Apparently the good old ideology filter has obliterated most of history, indeed.

  54. Jimbo:

    I often like to cite cold fusion and Pons and Fleischmann as a fairly good example of when science goes wrong and then corrects itself. The failure of Dr. Lonnie Thompson to archive much of his ice core data and make it available to others to try to replicate his results means to me he has something to hide.

    Thompson’s real glory is that collecting ice cores is so expensive that there aren’t going to be multiple people double-checking his work. They have to accept his say-so. Even if someone decided to double check, then it’d just be a he-said-she-said issue.

    This is as opposed to “cold fusion”, where any lab with a coffee cup and some measuring equipment could try to replicate it and do it quickly. You had a few inconclusives and a load of negatives.

  55. A parallel aproach would be to ask the incoming Congress to defund the NSF until NSF accepted Willis’ openness policy. So maybe sending a copy or as Mr. Mosher advacated your own letter to all in Congress.

  56. I support the request for raw data (not anomaly, not homogenized, etc., etc., etc.)

    Naive demands for software, although genuine, are unacceptably misguided. All we need is raw data. Choosing battles wisely (differentiating between wants & needs) is the sensible option.

  57. Always remember that you are spending our money…… “remember”? I’m sure that will come as quite a shock to Dr. Suresh – – if he believes it! I have never met a career public administrator or politico that gave one nano-second of thought to where “the money” comes from or who it belongs to and did NOT have an elitist attitude about where and how to spend it. And i have met A LOT of them….. opps, wait. There was one and he said – The taxpayer – that’s someone who works for the federal government but doesn’t have to take the civil service examination. Ronald Reagan And I’ll add – and never gets a reasonable “paycheck” in return.
    And Willis therein lies my problem with your statement – I’m also not concerned about the amount of the money that has gone to Dr. Thompson. Because it seems to me the REAL question is – seeing as the world has NOT come apart at seems in spite of not having Thompson’s (our) data, what has our 11 million + bucks paid for?
    In other words, how dumb are “we” for funding the gathering of ice core data, when not having the data for the last 30+ years hasn’t made one damn bit of difference! The REAL problem is, when politicians (governments) are funding the research, nobody gets fired for producing zilch, so the ONLY need and incentive is to create new reasons for more funding! And the politicians love it!
    Government always finds a need for whatever money it gets. Yup. Ronald Reagan again.

  58. eadler: excuses, excuses, excuses. Pathetic.

    “Show your work” was drilled into me in high school. Go ask ANY high school science teacher and ask if they require students to show their work. This is a basic principle of science, and there are no excuses. Period. Stop shifting blame and making excuses.

  59. Jeroen B: At least corporate funding of science has a profit motive. If it doesn’t work, no profit. Even drug companies have to verify results, if only to avoid lawsuits. SpaceX is in it to make money. That’s powerful motivation.

    Capitalism is far from perfect, but it is the only system that generates wealth.

  60. I note that Earle Holland has posted on the Earlier Lonnie thread:

    Earle Holland says:
    December 13, 2010 at 8:32 am

    MacIntyre and Thompson have been in correspondence for years and I know for a fact that Thompson has forwarded data to him with the directive that once he publishes in a peer-reviewed journal related to that data, then Thompson will share more. Regardless, their entire data sets are stored at the World Data Center for Paleoclimatology at Boulder.

    May be worth checking out?

  61. tallbloke says:
    December 13, 2010 at 10:43 am

    I note that Earle Holland has posted on the Earlier Lonnie thread:

    Earle Holland says:
    December 13, 2010 at 8:32 am

    MacIntyre and Thompson have been in correspondence for years and I know for a fact that Thompson has forwarded data to him with the directive that once he publishes in a peer-reviewed journal related to that data, then Thompson will share more. Regardless, their entire data sets are stored at the World Data Center for Paleoclimatology at Boulder.

    May be worth checking out?

    Well, Earle had a choice. He could have stayed silent and had us think that he didn’t do his homework, but instead he decided to speak and remove all doubt …

    No, Earle, that’s nonsense. Thompson (AFAIK) made no such demand. More to the point, if you think Thompson’s claim that he’s the gatekeeper of the data makes sense, then you are as clueless about science as you are about Thompson and McIntyre. Scientists don’t get to decide who they want to share their taxpayer funded data with, that’s your fantasy about science. Real scientists are open and transparent, and provide their data to other researchers. As Thompson was REQUIRED TO DO under the NSF policy.

    And no, Thompson’s entire data sets are not “stored at the WDCP at Boulder”. That’s the problem. Either you simply made that up, Earle, or you have been lied to, or you truly have not been following the story. After years of being requested to do so, Thompson has archived a few datasets. Only a very foolish person would mistake that for full disclosure …

    Read through Steve McIntyre’s account of the Thompson saga, Earle, beginning to end. Bring your pencil and take notes. Come back when you understand what happened, and I’ll be glad to discuss it with you.

    Until then, I would recommend the old “learn and listen” path, silence is your friend.

  62. In the real world, when business requires a bank or banks to fund a project, it presents a feasibility study detailing all aspects of the project, including making all the raw data available.

    The bank sends in a bunch of hard nosed sceptical analysts/experts looking for flaws and reasons for not providing funds. If the information is not credible, such as missing critical raw data, the funding is refused.

    This very simply is good business practice, a concept alien to most government departments and all ‘climate scientists’.

  63. Jimbo’s quoted assertions about Pons and Fleischmann and cold fusion are completely incorrect. I have a collection of 1,200 peer reviewed journal papers on cold fusion, copied from the library at Los Alamos, and 2,500 others from proceedings, national laboratories, EPRI, the NSF and other sources. This literature describes thousands of positive replications of cold fusion. I suggest that readers review it before commenting on this research. See:

    http://lenr-canr.org/

  64. Thanks, Wayne.

    It’s guys like you, all of you, male and female, who inspire me.
    I’m so very glad I’ve found this site. It’s refreshing. I don’t feel
    ‘so alone’ anymore…….and even if ‘the not-so-omnipotent, ‘they”
    take down the internet’s ‘freedom’ ((just found out yesterday that
    the behaviorists call it their ‘skinner box’ (and who didn’t JUST LOVE
    Lil’ B.F.??? (besides his daughter…?)) well……..then……..the knowledge
    I’ve gotten from reading all of these words ~ will never be lost.
    They’re in my heart, forever. No one can take that from us, Guys.

    C.L. Thorpe
    A humble & pragmatic Believer…while admittedly being a ‘scientist’ with a decidedly ‘little c’…

  65. Have a look at the NSF’s new policy and procedure guide guide, effective 18 Jan 2011:

    http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=nsf11001

    In particular see Chapter II.C.2.j, Special Information and Supplementary Documentation, which “contains a clarification of NSF’s long standing data policy. All proposals must describe plans for data management and sharing of the products of research, or assert the absence of the need for such plans. Fastlane will not permit submission of a proposal that is missing a Data Management Plan.” (Fastlane is the electronic submission process.) One of the paras in that section says, “This supplement should describe… policies for access and sharing including provisions for appropriate protection of privacy, confidentiality, security, intellectual property, or other rights or requirements.” (Privacy and confidentiality refers to human subjects data.)

    FWIW, I’ve been on NSF panels for another area (not climate stuff) for five years. The requirement for data archiving was on our (the panelists’) mind for all that time, but it was distressingly impractical for several of those years: the funding to maintain a long-term archive is not to be sneezed at. It’s not a simple matter of putting the data on CDs or DVDs, for example, because those media deteriorate, data formats change, and a host of other reasons. My own dissertation, done in 1984 and transferred to magnetic tape (I made two copies for safety), is probably no longer readable even if I could find one of those giant readers. And that’s not that long ago. (OK, maybe it is a long time ago, but it doesn’t *feel* that long ago!) Only now has the availability of true archiving caught up to the need for it in my area.

  66. Earle Holland says:

    “MacIntyre (sic) and Thompson have been in correspondence for years and I know for a fact…” & blah, blah, etc.

    Earle can’t even spell Steve McIntyre’s name correctly. He’s winging it.

    Willis is giving Earle some very good, common sense advice: get up to speed on this issue before commenting on it. Anyone who reads Climate Audit knows that Steve McIntyre would not spend countless hours of his time trying to get Thompson’s data and methods – and then report on his complete lack of progress due to Thompson’s stonewalling.

    It all goes back to the climate clique’s protecting their grant gravy train by avoiding the scientific method. And without the scientific method, all that the public receives is self-serving political advocacy. In other words: climate-scare propaganda.

    It is my personal belief that Dr Suresh was very carefully vetted and selected to head the NSF – just as Muir Russell was vetted and selected – because they can be counted on to keep the government grant money flowing. I sincerely hope that I am wrong.

    This is certainly not intended to disregard Willis Eschenbach’s very good advice to write to Dr Suresh, requesting that Suresh use his top administrative position to require the public archiving of all the data, metadata and methodologies used to arrive at Thompson’s conclusions. The same requirements should be required for any scientist who expects to receive public funding through the NSF.

    We will see if Dr Suresh has the moral character required to make certain that the NSF’s specific, written rules must be followed – or whether Suresh is just another good old boy, like Muir Russell or Lord Oxburgh, protecting the status quo from the truth in order to keep the taxpayers’ grant money flowing.

    I have faxed my letter to Dr Suresh. Maybe it will have some effect. Or maybe Dr Suresh is already bought and paid for. It won’t take us long to find out.

  67. Mike Maxwell says:
    December 13, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    FWIW, I’ve been on NSF panels for another area (not climate stuff) for five years. The requirement for data archiving was on our (the panelists’) mind for all that time, but it was distressingly impractical for several of those years: the funding to maintain a long-term archive is not to be sneezed at. It’s not a simple matter of putting the data on CDs or DVDs, for example, because those media deteriorate, data formats change, and a host of other reasons. My own dissertation, done in 1984 and transferred to magnetic tape (I made two copies for safety), is probably no longer readable even if I could find one of those giant readers. And that’s not that long ago. (OK, maybe it is a long time ago, but it doesn’t *feel* that long ago!) Only now has the availability of true archiving caught up to the need for it in my area.

    Mike, the World Data Center for Paleoclimatology is where Thompson has archived some of his work, including some from as early as 1976. The WDCP was established in 1992 for the express purpose of providing a free repository for a variety of climate datasets such as Thompson’s. Since that was 18 years ago, I’m afraid your excuse for Thompson not archiving his data simply won’t wash.

  68. @Retired Engineer:

    “At least corporate funding of science has a profit motive. If it doesn’t work, no profit.”

    Not necessarily true. Even if it doesn’t work or there is no practical application or use, there’s still a profit opportunity by giving it the right amount of spin — let’s not forget the ‘swine flu scare’ if you want a great example of industry profiting from selling a solution the world didn’t need! (For that matter, history is rife with short-lived fads and hypes that have each left a mark – and not all of them that positive!)

    Again, separating the research from the politics (and MSM publication sadly has become an intensely politicized tool, rather than an informative one!) will aid more in providing an honest solution to a serious problem …

    But I do agree that corporate funding does tend to produce better/more efficient results, and I do agree that SpaceX is indeed the poster child of this!

    I had a few other thoughts, but I lost my train of thought and I can’t seem to find another connection …

  69. Aside from questions of efficiency there is another reason to have concern about concentration of activities under government.

    When corporations sin there is a higher power here on earth that can call them to account. When leviathan sins there is no bigger fish in this life to nip at its fins.

    Bernie Madoff is in jail for carrying out a few hundred million dollar Ponzi scheme. Last I heard no one has gone to jail for perpetrating the few hundred billion dollar Fannie Mae Ponzi scheme. And do you expect any government official to go to jail when the multi-trillion dollar Social Security Ponzi scheme unravels?

  70. Willis Eschenbach wrote: “I’m afraid your excuse for Thompson not archiving his data simply won’t wash.”

    C’mon, I said not one word about Thompson. This was a posting about the NSF and their policy. Go back and re-read it.

  71. LT;
    Musk was at pains to acknowledge the work done by NASA that SpaceX depended on. ON THE OTHER HAND, he was also explicit that the reason SpaceX designed and built every piece of their own hardware was to escape legacy errors and legacy costs. As he said several times, “if you recycle existing hardware, you also recycle existing costs”.

    And that’s why the entire budget for his company since Day 1 is 1/10 of the total spent to date on the cancelled and incomplete “Orion” spacecraft: $0.4 bn vs $4 bn.

    And already his Dragon 7-passenger capsule has flown and landed, and could make ballistic entry to Mars’ atmosphere, which would leave Orion in charred shards.

    “If one rejects laissez faire on account of man’s fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action.” “Manufacturing and commercial monopolies owe their origin not to a tendency imminent in a capitalist economy but to governmental interventionist policy directed against free trade and laissez faire.” Ludwig von Mises – Austrian Economist 1881 – 1973

  72. P.S. The gubmint COTS bureaucrats assigned to check the “fix” on the flare skirt that showed cracks were agog at how fast and complete the data and action plan given to them were. They looked like they’d seen a few dozen people casually walking on water.

  73. Mike Maxwell says:
    December 14, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Willis Eschenbach wrote:

    “I’m afraid your excuse for Thompson not archiving his data simply won’t wash.”

    C’mon, I said not one word about Thompson. This was a posting about the NSF and their policy. Go back and re-read it.

    Sorry for my misunderstanding. You said:

    The requirement for data archiving was on our (the panelists’) mind for all that time, but it was distressingly impractical for several of those years: the funding to maintain a long-term archive is not to be sneezed at. It’s not a simple matter of putting the data on CDs or DVDs, for example, because those media deteriorate, data formats change, and a host of other reasons. My own dissertation, done in 1984 and transferred to magnetic tape (I made two copies for safety), is probably no longer readable even if I could find one of those giant readers. And that’s not that long ago. (OK, maybe it is a long time ago, but it doesn’t *feel* that long ago!) Only now has the availability of true archiving caught up to the need for it in my area.

    Now, if that is not an excuse for someone (not Thompson, unmentioned, but someone) to not archive their data, then you’ll have to tell me what it is. The freakin’ ice core data repository has been open since 1992, it’s free, and it’s easy. So complaints about how hard it is and how expensive and the lack of facilities are nonsense in the case under discussion … which chances to be Thompson’s. Who you didn’t mention. And who you weren’t talking about.

  74. Eschenbach again. “Who you didn’t mention. And who you weren’t talking about.” How you got “who” from my posting instead of “what”, I’ll never know. What, Willie, what. As in NSF and the its new policy.

  75. Mike Maxwell says:
    December 15, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Eschenbach again. “Who you didn’t mention. And who you weren’t talking about.” How you got “who” from my posting instead of “what”, I’ll never know. What, Willie, what. As in NSF and the its new policy.

    I didn’t get “who” from your posting. As I said, you didn’t mention Thompson, so how could I?

    Instead, I got it from what is usually known as the “context”, which in this case is a thread on Thompson, archiving, and the NSF. As in, when you say in that context that the NSF data archiving is “impractical” and needs funding, I am perfect within reason to apply that to Thompson, and to point out that your caveats do not apply to him. The archive for his material is free, and it is easy to use.

  76. My own dissertation, done in 1984 and transferred to magnetic tape (I made two copies for safety), is probably no longer readable even if I could find one of those giant readers.

    With due respect, this is not a relevant statement. You did NOT know those tapes would be unreadable nor that those giant readers would not be available at some time in the future, at the time of you making those backup tapes.

    Researchers who believe their data will be usefull at some stage in the future will record those on the available medium of the time, be it papyrus, magnetic tape or DVD.

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