A new paper published the National Bureau of Economic Research has given an insight that may explain some of the personal decisions that led to the recent EPA corruption fiasco Massive fraud at the EPA from agency’s top paid climate official (where a top climate specialist defrauded the taxpayers out of millions of dollars and made wild claims about being on CIA missions) and to Climategate, since I see some significant parallels between the two and this study. Links to a story about the paper and the paper itself follow.
As readers know, in a nutshell, Climategate was about the stonewalling of FOIA requests so that independent researchers (such as McIntyre) could not replicate the scientific work. That access for data to allow scientific replication was unreasonably blocked, and someone who was in a position to see what was going on behind the scenes decided that they would do something about it. Virtually every person involved in Climategate emails had some connection to government, either being directly employed by a government agency, or a government funded university.
On 17 November 2009 a large number of emails, together with other documents and pieces of code, from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia were posted on a Russian web server, and announced anonymously at the Air Vent blog, Climate Audit, Real Climate, The Blackboard, and WUWT with the comment:
We feel that climate science is, in the current situation, too important to be kept under wraps. We hereby release a random selection of correspondence, code, and documents.
Hopefully it will give some insight into the science and the people behind it.
Of note, was the immediate deletion of the comment at Real Climate, and then a campaign by Dr. Gavin Schmidt of NASA GISS to convince Lucia at the Blackboard that the release wasn’t to be trusted.
In that release from the “FOIA” leaker, we saw revelations like “Mike’s Nature Trick“. Here is a list of some of the emails and their content.From this Google document page: http://sites.google.com/site/globalwarmingquestions/climategate
Massaging the presentation of data:
- 942777075.txt the infamous “trick” to “hide the decline” in tree-ring data
- 939154709.txt “They go from 1402 to 1995, although we usually stop the series in 1960″ (also referring to tree-ring data)
- 1225026120.txt “I’ll maybe cut the last few points off the filtered curve before I give the talk again as that’s trending down” (referring to recent temperature data).
- 1254108338.txt “So, if we could reduce the ocean blip by, say, 0.15 degC, then this would be significant for the global mean” … “It would be good to remove at least part of the 1940s blip”. This relates to the rapid warming before 1940 followed by cooling after 1940, which the ‘scientists’ would like to remove because it does not fit with their theory.
Attempting to get papers with a sceptical view on global warming rejected from journals, and not referred to in the IPCC reports:
- 1089318616.txt “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is !”
- 1054756929.txt Ed Cook discusses with Keith Briffa how to get a paper rejected even though the mathematics is correct
- 1054748574.txt where Briffa says “I am really sorry but I have to nag about that review – Confidentially I now need a hard and if required extensive case for rejecting”
- 1080742144.txt where Jones “went to town” rejecting two papers that had criticised his work.
Refusing to provide data and supporting information when requested, and deleting emails (all quotes from Phil Jones):
- 1107454306.txt “The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone”.
- 1109021312.txt “I’m getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU station temperature data. Don’t any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act !”
- 1182255717.txt “Think I’ve managed to persuade UEA to ignore all further FOIA requests if the people have anything to do with Climate Audit.”
- 1211924186.txt Tim Osborn informs Caspar Amman that an FOI request has been received from David Holland about papers included in the IPCC report (May 27 2008) ….
- 1212009215.txt Jones suggests what “Keith could say” and “Keith should say” (May 28 2008) …
- 1212073451.txt “Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise. Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? … We will be getting Caspar to do likewise.” (May 29 2008). [Under paragraph 77 of the FOI Act it is an offence to delete information subject to an FOI request].
- 1228330629.txt “When the FOI requests began here, the FOI person said we had to abide by the requests. It took a couple of half hour sessions – one at a screen, to convince them otherwise” … “About 2 months ago I deleted loads of emails, so have very little – if anything at all.”
This LA Times story from November 2013 suggests that there may be a connection between dishonesty and government employment.
Cheating students more likely to want government jobs, study finds
November 18, 2013|By Emily Alpert Reyes
College students who cheated on a simple task were more likely to want government jobs, researchers from Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania found in a study of hundreds of students in Bangalore, India.
Their results, recently released as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research, suggest that one of the contributing forces behind government corruption could be who gets into government work in the first place.
Researchers ran a series of experiments with more than 600 students finishing up college in India. In one task, students had to privately roll a die and report what number they got. The higher the number, the more they would get paid. Each student rolled the die 42 times.
Although researchers do not know for sure if any one student lied, they could tell whether the numbers each person reported were wildly different than what would turn up randomly — in other words, whether there were a suspiciously high number of 5s and 6s in their results.
Cheating seemed to be rampant: More than a third of students had scores that fell in the top 1% of the predicted distribution, researchers found. Students who apparently cheated were 6.3% more likely to say they wanted to work in government, the researchers found.
“Overall, we find that dishonest individuals — as measured by the dice task — prefer to enter government service,” wrote Hanna and coauthor Shing-yi Wang, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
And here is the paper abstract:
Dishonesty and Selection into Public Service
Rema Hanna, Shing-Yi Wang
NBER Working Paper No. 19649
Issued in November 2013
NBER Program(s): DEV
In this paper, we demonstrate that university students who cheat on a simple task in a laboratory setting are more likely to state a preference for entering public service. Importantly, we also show that cheating on this task is predictive of corrupt behavior by real government workers, implying that this measure captures a meaningful propensity towards corruption. Students who demonstrate lower levels of prosocial preferences in the laboratory games are also more likely to prefer to enter the government, while outcomes on explicit, two-player games to measure cheating and attitudinal measures of corruption do not systematically predict job preferences. We find that a screening process that chooses the highest ability applicants would not alter the average propensity for corruption among the applicant pool. Our findings imply that differential selection into government may contribute, in part, to corruption. They also emphasize that screening characteristics other than ability may be useful in reducing corruption, but caution that more explicit measures may offer little predictive power.
In this paper, we offer evidence that the college students who cheat on a simple task are more likely to prefer to enter government service after graduation. This relationship does not appear to vary by ability, suggesting that screening on ability does not change the level of honesty of those chosen for government service among the pool of applicants.
Importantly, we show that cheating on this task is also predictive of fraudulent behaviors by real government officials, which implies that the measure captures a meaningful propensity towards corruption. Given that the existing methods of measuring corruption only apply for those who are already entrenched in the bureaucracy, our validation of a measure of cheating against real-world corruption outcomes offers an important tool for future research on selection and corruption.
These findings are important because they demonstrate that the variation in the levels of observed corruption may, in part, be driven by who selects into government service. In addition, they offer two key policy insights. First, the recruitment and screening process for bureaucrats may be improved by increasing the emphasis on characteristics other than ability. It is important to note that individuals may not want to reveal their characteristics, especially their propensity for dishonesty, so the method of measurement matters. The simple, experimental measure we employed predicted the corrupt behaviors of the government employees, but the game in which corruption was explicitly framed and the fairly standard attitudinal questions had little predictive value. Second, while recent empirical papers have shown that reducing the returns to corrupt behavior decreases the probability that bureaucrats engage in corruption, our work suggests that these interventions may have had even broader effects by changing the composition of who might apply.