The Washington Post produces a bigoted editorial against the public's right to know


WashPost: Freedom of Information Act not for skeptics’ use

In a bizarre Memorial Day editorial, the Washington Post criticized climate skeptics for using the Freedom of Information Act to pry documents concerning Climategater Michael Mann from the University of Virginia.

The Post labeled the skeptics’ FOIA efforts as “harrassing” and “nuisance tactics.”

The Post, however, has been entirely silent on Greenpeace’s efforts to FOIA documents from the University of Virginia concerning Pat Michaels, University of Delaware concerning David Legates and from Harvard University concerning Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas — efforts that are truly “harrassing” and “nuisance” in nature as Greenpeace acted entirely in retaliation to the FOIA request concerning Mann.

The editorial is especially gross coming on the day when America commemorates those who died to preserve everyone’s freedoms — not just those of the politically correct.


And I’ll add the post has been entirely silent on the fact the George Mason University, when asked by USA Today reporter Dan Vergano to produce documents related to the whole vindictive DeepClimate (Dave Clarke) and John Mashey assault on Wegman and Said at GMU. Vergano asked for “expedited service” and requests that “fees be waived”.

Not only did GMU comply, they did so quickly, without complaint, waived fees, and provided everything on a USB flash drive they sent to USA Today’s Vergano.

That is the starkest contrast to the whining , wailing, and gnashing of teeth surrounding the FOIA requests for other universities like UEA and UVA . It vividly illustrates the elitism and bigotry of the organizations and the people who believe themselves to be above the law as well as the organizations who fan the flames by coming to their defense citing “academic freedom”. Bottom line – use of public money makes the process and results open to public scrutiny to all who request the information, no matter who they are. Don’t like the scrutiny? Then don’t take the public money.

Steve McIntyre writes:

The difference in how academic institutions have responded to the seemingly similar requests in respect to Wegman and Mann is quite startling. George Mason gave expedited service to a request for Wegman’s emails; the U of Virginia has done the opposite. George Mason turned over Wegman’s correspondence with an academic journal without litigation; the University of Virginia has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on litigation. Multiple academic lobby groups protested the production of Mann’s emails as a matter of principle; the same organizations were and remain silent in respect to Wegman.

What is doubly bizarre is that apparently this FOIA request has led to the discovery that Dr. Ray Bradley, Mann co-author with the hockey stick paper “MBH98”, apparently committed academic misconduct in his zeal to smear Wegman.

From Climate Audit:

…the README included by George Mason stated the “documents may not be forwarded to a third party”. It also included the GMU policy on academic misconduct, stating Bradley had violated the confidentiality terms – a point not reported by USA Today:

The materials in this USB are being provided in compliance with the Virginia FOIA. Many of the documents are published research papers that are copyrighted by their respective publishers. All other documents are copyrighted by Edward J. Wegman and Yasmin H. Said or by their respective authors. All rights are reserved. These documents may not be forwarded to a third party. Also included in this USB is the George Mason University policy document 4007 on academic misconduct. This policy requires confidentiality for all parties including complainants, in this case Professor Raymond Bradley. This confidentiality requirement was violated by Professor Bradley.

Also, last week, I sent an email to WaPo’s ombudsman, requesting space to rebut Bill McKibben’s senseless bloviation about tornadoes and climate change. No response.

In light of their non-acknowledgement of a similar process by Greenpeace using FOIA laws to get records on climate skeptics Michaels, Legates, Soon, and Baliunas, plus their non-acknowledgement of my request, WaPo’s editorial gist comes across like this:

One rule of use for AGW proponents, another for skeptics.

To me, it smacks of this sort of ugly thinking.

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May 30, 2011 11:31 am

The double sided face of today’s scientific climate.

Bob Diaz
May 30, 2011 11:34 am

So are we just supposed to accept, “Trust Me” for an answer? IF science is to be trusted , it must be open for friend and foe to review ALL the data. IF the money came from tax dollars, there is no justification for witholding any data. IF the scientist wants to keep their data hidden, use private funds.
In the words of Ronald Reagan, “Trust, but verify!!!”

May 30, 2011 11:37 am

They forget that as a tax payer I am paying for the crap that Mann produced, and by law I am allowed to look at it. Now if they actually did what the law required it would not be “harrassing” and “nuisance” since they would already be released and in the public domain where they rightly belong.

John Norris
May 30, 2011 11:42 am

Just one question for the Washington Post editorialist’s. How many FOIA requests has the Washington Post submitted in the last 10 years? Just a count, no detail required. Just looking for a simple answer to a simple question.

Brian H
May 30, 2011 11:44 am

You doone git it. Lib-progs are fer the undermutt, so are inhairuntly always ethical an’ soopearyor. So they cudn’t care less ’bout no FOI laws applied to thimselfs.

May 30, 2011 11:46 am

1. Bizarre for a newspaper to be for withholding information.
2. I hope recipients of any FOIAs from the Washington Post and its journalists cite this editorial when they get them.
3. In any case, this makes it abundantly clear that the Post’s editor’s are clueless about the scientific method, and that its bedrock is openness and sunshine. Shame on the Post!

May 30, 2011 12:04 pm

“Put another way, the company that owns The Washington Post is almost entirely at the mercy of the Federal Government and the Obama administration — the entities which its newspaper ostensibly checks and holds accountable. “By the end of 2010, more than 90 percent of revenue at Kaplan’s biggest division and nearly a third of The Post Co.’s revenue overall came from the U.S. government.” The Post Co.’s reliance on the Federal Government extends beyond the source of its revenue; because the industry is so heavily regulated, any animosity from the Government could single-handedly doom the Post Co.’s business — a reality of which they are well aware:”
….follow the money first
Doesn’t matter much, their readers are trashing them in the comments………….

May 30, 2011 12:04 pm

There are quite a few comment on the WAPO article, obvious Greenpeace flunkies, making drags to Koch. They are so obsessed with the oil and mining industries they don’t comprehend that professional scientists are hired to perform studies all the time. As long as the findings are clean and based on truth, what is the big deal? The irony is that we are seeing the other side of the coin with publicly funded science. What a shame. Now these soiled findings are used in every school system in america, and law is being legislated. Contact your state’s department of education and ask to see their science standards. Ours in SC were change in 2005 under the last Secreatary of Education. It says they have to teach AGW and how to decrease your carbon footprint.

May 30, 2011 12:29 pm

Did I say “the scientific method”? Mea culpa — I meant “scientific integrity”. See Feynman on “scientific integrity” here:

Martin Brumby
May 30, 2011 12:32 pm

It would be interesting to know how many FOIA applications would have been made by sceptics, if the “Team” had put all their data in an accessible archive in the first place.
As allegedly required by the publication policies of many of their favoured journals.

May 30, 2011 12:38 pm

Isn’t the Washington Post famous for uncovering Watergate?
If so, then aren’t they contradicting their own existence?

May 30, 2011 1:05 pm

My experience with journalists is that they place great stock in their own ability to unilaterally *decide* what is right, wrong, true, and false.
Not finding or ferreting out the truth- *deciding* what is true. On the most basic, near-spiritual level.
In case you haven’t heard, it has been *decided* that man-made CO2 is causing CAGW. There is no more debate necessary. Whomever wants to look at Mann’s email is engaging in sour grapes at best, and may well have nefarious ulterior motives.

May 30, 2011 1:11 pm

I get it: If skeptics can’t use the FOIA and believers have no reason, then there’s little use for the mechanism. Good ol’ Washington Post–as usual when their ox is getting gored, coming out looking lame, lazy, licentious, and Luciferian. Or just the capital “L” for LOSER!
Still, about the only things the AGW has going for it are idiots trying to generate fiction, hiding information, and putting out all sorts of excuses.

May 30, 2011 1:20 pm

This post brings to mind the following exchange from the movie “The Professional”:
Tony: Check it. Make sure it’s the right thing.
Léon: I trust you.
Tony: One thing has nothin’ to do with the other – remember that Léon.
Léon: I will.

May 30, 2011 1:56 pm

The FOI applications to GMU and UVa are not comparable. Vergano asked GMU for maybe half a dozen or so specific official emails on paper submission and grants.
The ATI request can be seen here. UVa has tabled the correspondence here, with discussion here.
The ATI request, unlike Vergano’s, was extremely broad. UVa identified 34,000 potentially responsive documents. But it asked, not only for what they had, but a full accounting for what they didn’t have. For example:
“2. If any responsive document requested was, but is no longer in the University’s possession, subject to the University’s control, or in existence, state for each such document:
(a) the type of document;
(b) whether it is missing, lost, has been destroyed, or has been transferred to the possession, custody, or control of other persons;
(c) the circumstances surrounding, and the authorization for, the disposition described in (b) above;
(d) the date or approximate date of the disposition described in (b) above;
(e) the identity of all persons having knowledge of the circumstances described in (c)above; and
(f) the identity of all persons having knowledge of the document’s contents.”

That includes everything he took to UVa, every bit of code, (“Any and all computer algorithms, programs, source code or the like created or edited by Dr. Michael Mann, in the time period from January 1, 1999,”), and “responsive” email that he ever deleted. Even other peoples emails that might have referred to Mann’s correspondence. Imagine filling out that form. And look at the quesations – that can’t be automated.
And if you think “responsive” narrows it down, it includes not only 50 or so named correspondents, but also any emails to “All research assistants, secretaries or administrative staff with whom Dr. Mann worked while he was at the University of Virginia.”.
That’s harassment. WaPO got it right.

May 30, 2011 2:20 pm

You tried that Nick on Climate Audit and almost everyone took you to task on it. If a scientist is paid public money for his work it should be available for public scrutiny period.

Douglas DC
May 30, 2011 2:30 pm

Mighty bold words for the newspaper of Woodward and Bernstein….

Mark T
May 30, 2011 2:35 pm

How did I know the king of all hypocrites would come in defense. You are pathetic.

May 30, 2011 2:36 pm

Bob says: May 30, 2011 at 2:20 pm
So Bob, do you think every scientist should have to jump through those hoops for just anyone who demands. Over and over?
What avtually do we pay scientists to do?

Karen D
May 30, 2011 2:37 pm

I don’t think the cover up efforts are just elitist. I think they must be trying to cover up something very serious.

May 30, 2011 2:44 pm

If you are paid by public money then you should be prepared for the public to inspect your work. Obviously you think only scientists like Wegman and Michaels should have FOI’s on their work. Bottom line any work of this nature that has far reaching implications and paid for by public money should be open to investigation. Show the data or get out of public research.

May 30, 2011 2:51 pm

There are a lot of people who are paid by public money to do their work. Should the public have access to every email, document, code etc. that they ever produce?
What about banks that got bailed out? I’m sure they have lots of interesting documents.

Tom Bauch
May 30, 2011 2:57 pm

So, Nick, do you think the scientists we (I am a US taxpayer) pay for this research are not actually obliged to document their work/correspondence, and that we are not actually authorized to see it? If so, then it’s OK, but I want my money back….

May 30, 2011 2:58 pm

All FOIA requests are equal. But some requests are more equal than others.
Good to see Nick Stokes desperately trying to rationalise all of this in his own mind. Leon Festinger would have a field day if he was still alive.

May 30, 2011 3:04 pm

Nick Stokes says:

So Bob, do you think every scientist should have to jump through those hoops for just anyone who demands. Over and over?
What avtually do we pay scientists to do?

I’ll be sure to pass that along to Big Pharma.

Mark T
May 30, 2011 3:05 pm

Bob is correct. Nick is just mad that basic rules of science – and that little impediment called the law – are being applied to his pet foolishness.

John M
May 30, 2011 3:05 pm

You wanna bet whether the WaPo has filed an foi request or two on the bank crisis?

Bob Diaz
May 30, 2011 3:12 pm

Nick Stokes says:
May 30, 2011 at 2:36 pm
Bob says: May 30, 2011 at 2:20 pm
So Bob, do you think every scientist should have to jump through those hoops for just anyone who demands. Over and over?
What avtually do we pay scientists to do?
With the internet, it’s not that hard. That’s what John Lott did with his study on guns and crime; he made all the data available to anyone with internet access.
IF John could do it, what can’t the other scientists?
(Unless they have something to hide.)
Besides isn’t that the whole point of peer review?
Bob Diaz

May 30, 2011 3:14 pm

Spence_UK says: May 30, 2011 at 2:58 pm
“All FOIA requests are equal. But some requests are more equal than others.”

Some are certainly more demanding than others. That one would have taken years to fulfill. Then when finished, you can start on the next one. It’s a sure way to stop science.
And Bob, yes, I don’t think Michaels’ emails should have been demanded, and I was glad when the demand failed. “Show the data or get out of public research.” This ATI demand was not for data. It was a demand for code and personal emails.

Bob Diaz
May 30, 2011 3:15 pm

I should add that this is the result of the FOIA:

Without it, the deception would go unchecked.
Bob Diaz

May 30, 2011 3:20 pm

I think Nick just said,
They’ve always done it this way, so why should they do it the right way now?
Nick, sorry. This FOIA request might be over the top (or not), it does not matter.
It is what it is….perfectly legal, completely within everyone’s rights.
A lot of grant hogs have been getting away with these things for way too long.
Personally, I would like to see it become common within every field of science that gets public (my) money.

May 30, 2011 3:22 pm

Bob Diaz says: May 30, 2011 at 3:12 pm
“IF John could do it, what can’t the other scientists?”

Mann does put his data online. ATI is demanding personal emails, including an accounting for anything that was ever deleted.. I don’t think John is putting those on line. Or those of Mary Rosh.

May 30, 2011 3:23 pm

In all my efforts to figure out where the accusation that skeptic scientists received fossil fuel money in exchange for fabricated climate assessments, I ran across this gem from the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s web pages, circa 2001
It’s a reprint of their letter to the Washington Post, which contains a swipe at S Fred Singer in its 3rd paragraph, via a link to another of their WashPo letters. Of particular interest is the CSPI note at the top of the web page saying, “Shortly after this letter was sent, and in response to it, Ms. Spayd reminded Washington Post reporters to inquire about conflicts of interest and to disclose them.
A de facto way of marginalizing skeptic scientists, in other words, as readers who see ties to fossil fuel funding would naturally assume the funding is what prompts those scientists’ anti-AGW opinions………

May 30, 2011 3:35 pm

The MSM is very much about covering up for liberals and liberal causes.

D. King
May 30, 2011 3:40 pm

It’s not just where they get their pay checks from, but the policy implications. Banning light bulbs, Smart Meters / Grid, energy prices, new appliances, cost of food, to the type of car you drive are all in the mix, so excuse me if we stick a microscope up there to check you for polyps.

Steve in SC
May 30, 2011 3:52 pm

Now be honest. Are any of you surprised.
This is an indication of the character of the academics populating most major universities. All candidates for hanging for treason.

May 30, 2011 3:57 pm

I don’t know if I’d call the editorial “bigoted”. I think a better term might be “hypocritical”, or “two-faced”, or “poorly though out”, or “sloppy”.

May 30, 2011 4:25 pm

Science is merely a pretext here. Big Green is moving on, regardless of political stripes and those academics are just the tip of the iceberg. They have been made to believe they are at the centre of attention while in fact Big Green has already discarded them more or less. The battle was won at Copenhagen but the war is raging and so far, despite Kyoto, despite little greening of political landscapes, Big Green and their powerful bankers are moving fast into restricting our energy use.
And when power is down, so is the internet, communication and people’s ability to fight them.

May 30, 2011 4:43 pm

Nick Stokes,
It would be very useful to see the email traffic requested in the FOI simply because of what we learned about Mann, his toxic attitude towards those who dared question his work and his clique, and -above all – his methods, all beautifully exposed through the “personal” Climategate emails.
He and his old alma mater better pray there is no evidence of anything resembling malfeasance in the information, because if there is, the justice folks will have grounds to look at that as obstruction of justice. That would get both Mann and the university in a way hotter spot than they are now.

May 30, 2011 5:08 pm

Re: “Academic Freedom” and Virginia Freedom of Information
2010-2011 Virginia Freedom of Information Act
Effective date 7/1/10-6/30/11

§ 2.2-3705.4. Exclusions to application of chapter; educational records and certain records of educational institutions

4. Data, records or information of a proprietary nature produced or collected by or for faculty or staff of public institutions of higher education, other than the institutions’ financial or administrative records, in the conduct of or as a result of study or research on medical, scientific, technical or scholarly issues, whether sponsored by the institution alone or in conjunction with a governmental body or a private concern, where such data, records or information has not been publicly released, published, copyrighted or patented. (emphasis added)

That’s it. There are currently no exclusions allowed for “academic freedom”
under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act.
Material from educational institutions that might qualify for an exclusion
has to be “of a proprietary nature . If not of proprietary nature, then
it won’t qualify for an exemption even if it’s “data, records, or information”
that “has not been publicly released, published, copyrighted or patented”.
What, if any of Mike Mann’s stuff qualifies as “of a proprietary nature”
under Virginia law ?
See the Virginia FOI Act at:

May 30, 2011 5:15 pm

As of last week-end’s G8 meeting, Kyoto and any potential offspring-of-Kyoto are dead. With the new majority government in Canada, cap-and-trade or any other form of overarching carbon taxation is dead in North America. AGW/ACC is now a non-issue with voters in North America and a good number of countries in Europe, and the leading large developing countries have just started to crank up their use of hydrocarbon energy sources.
In spite of self-serving political statements of government support for renewables, Big Green is in fact running into the wall of disappearing subsidies throughout the developed economies. Just ask Jeff Immelt, GE’s CEO -who despite being aS green as green can be and who chairs Obama’s advisory council on “green” energy – just a couple of weeks ago during a press conference with investors publicly reminded himself that it is time for GE to get back to its core [non-green] business. Maybe somebody on his board told him about the reality that governments are broke, not least the US federal government. Without those crucial subsidies Big Green simply has no “business”, becasue as a recent UK study showed, the true cost of wind and solar [on an apples to apples basis] is equivalent to crude at US$500/barrel.
So I think it will be a while yet before Big Green takes over the running of the world.

Steve from rockwood
May 30, 2011 5:16 pm

The fact that publicly funded data is not publicly available makes it worthless immediately. If you believed the world was ending, not making your results available would be the last thing on your mind. They are guarding the castle walls. Mann the catapults…

Steve from rockwood
May 30, 2011 5:31 pm

Nick Stokes wonders what we pay scientists for? Well Nick the scientists who are paid by public funds are paid to be honest and accountable. So put all your data on a public FTP site and get ready to answer some questions.
What do you think we pay scientists for? To talk to each other and ignore us?

May 30, 2011 5:55 pm

I surprised that no one noticed the irony of the Washington Post editorial, when it was a direct result of the Washington Post (Watergate) that made these kinds of FOIA’s possible.

charles nelson
May 30, 2011 6:15 pm

sounds familiar…the Guardian ran a similar story a couple of days ago.
Any regular observer of media can see that there is a centralized or agreed or common strategy in place for hanging on to their bit of ‘high ground’ namely headlines or lead stories in sympathetic media outlets. Think ‘Common Purpose’.
The purpose of these recent stories is to deflect attention from big bad issues…like the collapse of Kyoto. Spin.
The problem with spin of course is that the spinner eventually gets dizzy. And the public get confused about what it true and what is false.
When I tried to comment along these lines I was ‘pre-moderated’ off the Blog.
Removal of opposing opinions from such greenie blogs is good…it enhances the echo chamber effect that finished off the likes of Joe Romm…
Say it loud, I’m correct and I’m proud.

May 30, 2011 6:54 pm

The holy mass of climate science is written in Latin. You peons cannot understand Latin. Just shut up and pay your tithe to Cardinal Mann.
Worms flee the light. Liberty holds her torch high, and spreads the light.

Theo Goodwin
May 30, 2011 7:06 pm

R.S.Brown says:
May 30, 2011 at 5:08 pm
“That’s it. There are currently no exclusions allowed for “academic freedom”
under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act.”
ROTFLMAO! The idea that “academic freedom” merits an exclusion is comparable to what…let me think…The idea that property rights merit an exclusion to property taxes.

May 30, 2011 7:06 pm

Caleb, you might enjoy this.

Theo Goodwin
May 30, 2011 7:10 pm

PaulH says:
May 30, 2011 at 3:57 pm
‘I don’t know if I’d call the editorial “bigoted”. I think a better term might be “hypocritical”, or “two-faced”, or “poorly though out”, or “sloppy”.’
Maybe he should have said “expressing Warmista bigotry,” as in “expressing male bigotry.” Warmista are bigots; otherwise, they would not use their little Marxist/Alinsky creation “Deniers.”

May 30, 2011 7:59 pm

This is hilariously funny, really, since it was a liberal President and Congress that passed the FOIA in ’66. The primary idea was to legalize looking at the files of political rivals, so I suppose that when the tables are turned…..
For how many searches are done under FOIA, a search of this site should be of some benefit:

Mac the Knife
May 30, 2011 9:23 pm

“The Post labeled the skeptics’ FOIA efforts as “harrassing” and “nuisance tactics.”
Yup…. We learn’t it from Water Gatin, Climate Changin, Sierra Clubbin, Green Peas’n, Progressieves. We shore ’nuff did!

May 30, 2011 9:46 pm

Is anybody really surprised that WaPo is opposed to light shining on the CAGW hoax?

Mac the Knife
May 30, 2011 10:02 pm

Bob Diaz says:
May 30, 2011 at 3:15 pm
Big, Big Thanks for the video link, Bob! I will distribute this through several professional engineering and personal social networks. Finally, their peers are stepping forward and publicly refuting their deceits! ‘Hell hath no fury like a scientist that finds out he’s been lied to and made a fool!’
Climategate ‘hide the decline’ explained by Berkeley professor Richard A. Muller

May 30, 2011 10:02 pm

I am sure Richard Nixon would have agreed with them

May 31, 2011 12:58 am

Nick Stokes says:
“That one would have taken years to fulfill.”
Nick, please stop. You’re embarassing yourself. It is the same BS argument that Queen’s University presented when Doug Keenan requested data from them through FOI – it was arduous, excessive, would cost money – the ICO (correctly) pointed out this was just stalling and worked out it would take a small fraction of the time claimed.
Do you really think such pointless hyperbole strengthens your case? It makes you look incompetent. Consider this example: two clerks in a finance department. One diligently files everything away at the end of the day, the other just dumps it all in a big pile. After a few months of this, the boss says there is a dispute on an account and he needs all of the paperwork on that one account. The first clerk simply gets the accounts from the filing cabinet, the second clerk throws up their hands complaining it would take days to do and they don’t have time. Clearly, the reason it takes ages is because the second clerk is incompetent.
At the moment, your hand waving about how hard all this is makes you (and the university, and climate scientists) sound like the second clerk. None of this *should* be difficult, if the people involved were remotely competent.
Finally, and this is pure speculation at this stage, I notice Chris Horner referred to the 34,000 e-mails as containing many “pages and pages of ads” – my guess is that they have folded the spam folder into the e-mails in an attempt to obfuscate and make inept claims about workload. I stress this is just my speculation at this time, although since there seems to be no reason to withhold spam, I see no reason why we shouldn’t get to find out whether this is the case at some later date.

May 31, 2011 2:39 am

If Watergate were to go down today, the Post would be on the President’s side, indicting their own reporter (Bob Woodward) and the information source (“Deep Throat.”)

May 31, 2011 3:14 am

Nick Stokes said
“It was a demand for code and personal emails.”
Wasn’t the code paid for by the public, and haven’t the public the right of access to it? If the personal emails contain requests to delete anything or ask for help in discrediting anyone – yes the public have the right! If climate scientists do not want to behave in a professional manner, then they should stop asking for public money!

May 31, 2011 5:47 am

Why in the world would anybody be left reading a “news”paper, who just editorialized against finding and reporting news?

May 31, 2011 7:18 am

What I find interesting is that the AGW crowd likes to ridicule the skeptics for suggesting any sort of conspiracy, or the AGWers infer a conspiracy from the skeptics arguments where there was no such implication. When the tables are turned and the AGWers must defend themselves, suddenly it’s all about nuisance tactics, harrassment, and efforts by the secret sycophants of the oil industry. I suppose the appropriate response is that the ridicule should be turned back on them with the addition of evidence and arguments to support that ridicule; something the AGWers were never able to supply. I will keep that in mind next time I argue with a Solar Effect Denier.

May 31, 2011 8:25 am

Shorter WaPo:
“Hey, FOIAs are for US to harass YOU, not the other way around!”

May 31, 2011 8:49 am

So Bob, do you think every scientist should have to jump through those hoops for just anyone who demands. Over and over?

When an employees boss says jump, he jumps, or he finds another line of work.
If they had released their data, or at least made them publicly available in the first place, no hoop jumping would have been necesary.

May 31, 2011 8:50 am

Is there any surprise that Nick Stokes props up to defend slimy behaviour? He’s part of that clique.

May 31, 2011 8:51 am

There are a lot of people who are paid by public money to do their work. Should the public have access to every email, document, code etc. that they ever produce?

Yes. (With the exception of documents that would expose private information. For example, the banks should not have to release any information regarding their customers private information.)

May 31, 2011 8:52 am

It’s a sure way to stop science.

What science?

May 31, 2011 9:15 am

And someone should tell Nick Stokes that e-mails sent out from your work server, in your official e-mail ID, are not private e-mails. Those are property of the organisation and are treated as such.
He keeps repeating this discredited canard of ” private e-mails ” all the time.

May 31, 2011 10:16 am

Actually Nick, if Mann hadn’t been implicated by the climategate leak of having been involved in scientific fraud, no one would have asked for his “personal” emails. By using email to conspire to cover up what may have initially been an honest mistake, his emails became fair game. Of course Mann may be really worried about what may be in there, because conspiracy to commit fraud is a crime, though the people making the request aren’t interested in prosecution, rather they want to clear the record and spike Mann’s credibility once and for all.
Scientists really do need to put the data and code up so others can repeat their work. Without the data and code, verification is impossible, without verification, there is no science, just someone’s grandiose musings.

Septic Matthew
May 31, 2011 10:47 am

Nick Stokes wrote: The FOI applications to GMU and UVa are not comparable. Vergano asked GMU for maybe half a dozen or so specific official emails on paper submission and grants.
Wegman’s effort was much more narrowly focused and restricted to a short period of time. Besides that, Mann and his co-authors have repeatedly failed to respond to quite specific requests, as has been amply documented by McIntyre and others. The only consistent difference, manifest now over more than a decade, is Mann et al’s complete unwillingness to be scrutinized.
I agree with a later statement of yours that there is no compelling simple case that “public funding implies public availability”: confidentiality of personal information (as in clinical research), intellectual property rights, national security interests all affect the case for public availability. However, no compelling case for secrecy has been made in this case — it’s about climate, tree rings, R code, data that are available already (but the use of which, or specific version of which, is sometimes obscure), and an already publicly debated public policy question on which Mann et al have taken an extreme stand. And there is the fact that Mann signed the UVA computer use policy, according to which his UVA emails are not in fact “private” as that is usually understood (as his home emails would be, protected by the 4th amendment.)
I’ll add one other thing: there is a history of universities conducting incompetent investigations into allegations of wrong doing by faculty, especially grant-swingers. An interesting recent example was discussed over at Judith Curry’s blog about 10 days ago or so. Like other organizations that we are familiar with (fire departments, unions, police departments, the defense department) there are strong internal pressures to “look clean” while stifling the truth. It usually takes an outside agent with a prosecutorial attitude to ferret out the truth.

May 31, 2011 11:03 am

Yes, you do have to show your work. No, there is no “Don’t you know who I AM?” exemption.

Jeff Carlson
May 31, 2011 11:05 am

2 feet bad, 4 feet good …

May 31, 2011 12:43 pm

“They forget that as a tax payer I am paying for the crap that Mann produced, and by law I am allowed to look at it.”
You forget that you’re not a tax payer, you’re a serf.

Brian H
May 31, 2011 1:56 pm

sigh says:
May 31, 2011 at 12:43 pm
“They forget that as a tax payer I am paying for the crap that Mann produced, and by law I am allowed to look at it.”
You forget that you’re not a tax payer, you’re a serf.

But a serf with a scythe …

Jolly farmer
May 31, 2011 7:35 pm

I’ve tried to comment on the WP site (see below). I get the “unable to locate page” message.
Please tell me that this is normal. The editorial is from Monday, 30th May. But I clicked through from WUWT, and they would have seen the IP address of the “denier”, so subsequent attempts would be blocked. Am I paranoid?
“The crudeness of the words used in this piece is beyond belief.
You say:
Cuccinelli’s demand is “chilling”.
The e-mails are public records in a “technical sense.”
The Climategate scandal was “trumped-up.”
Lines from the e-mails were “misrepresented.”
These FOI requests are “invasive fishing expeditions…pretext to discredit…”
Let me suggest that:
– you find the demand “chilling” because, had the judge allowed the demand, the result would have been more exposure of the idiocy of the hockey stick curve;
– e-mail exchanges on professional matters between professionals funded in part at least by the taxpayer should be in the public domain;
– since there has never been any suggestion that the data ( not just e-mails, but programmes, annotations etc. ) were fabricated, the Climategate affair cannot have been “trumped-up”;
– since the e-mails have been published in full, it is hard to see how they have been “misrepresented.”
– that the best way to deal with “invasive fishing expeditions” or a “pretext to discredit” is to disclose.
Ms Sullivan is reported as saying that Professor Mann will be shielded by “all available exemptions”.
Mann must be shielded. Jones has things to hide.
If you want to understand the true nature of Professor Mann’s work, then start with :

June 2, 2011 7:06 pm

It’s interesting that anonymous internet postings are held in low esteem, but the anonymous Washington Post editorials are for some reason held to a different standard. Why? I’m a WashPost subscriber, and I can assure you, that the paper regularly publishes editorials like the one referenced above that would be labeled “troll bait” if they appeared on a poorly moderated internet site.

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