Could this study on honesty and government service explain the EPA climateer fraud and 'Climategate' ?

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:


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.

Full story here:

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.

The full paper:

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January 8, 2014 9:26 am

I do not think/believe that there is any doubt that corruption and fraud have been the mainstay of “climate science” for the last ten or twenty odd years. There is ample evidence for this even prior to climategate but amply confirmed by the e/mail releases.

January 8, 2014 9:27 am

Quite appropriate that the dice test involves inflating the actual numbers (for personal gain too)! Very apt for the climate data keepers??

January 8, 2014 9:33 am

Given the competitive nature of the government recruitment system and the reliance on documentation and oral interviews, if there are two equal candidates, the cheater will naturally have the advantage. As such, this may be a second selection step further assuring a propensity to cheat in government employees. I have been a federal government employee, so don’t know what this says about me!

John W. Garrett
January 8, 2014 9:33 am

Thanks. It’s good to have links to the original Climategate emails handy.

Philip T. Downman
January 8, 2014 9:35 am

Could this study on honesty and government service explain the EPA climateer fraud and ‘Climategate’ ?
It could, but as the conclusion seems to have a political implication it makes one a bit suspicious, doesn’t it

Reply to  Philip T. Downman
January 8, 2014 10:32 am

Why would the conclusion be political? Does one group within our society favor government employees? I am shocked, I tell you, shocked!

William Sears
January 8, 2014 9:41 am

I think that 6.3% is way too small a number to read anything into this. Even more so given the indirect method of determination.

Rob aka Flatlander
January 8, 2014 10:01 am

Wikipedia used to be a self correcting (maintained accuracy) until the Climate Warmest Gang hijacked the “climategate” section. At the least if wiki had ANY credibility they would at least post the above climate gate snippets to the NOT SO STUPID public could form their own opinion on whether or not their actions were fraudulent, misleading, biased, scientific, above board etc.
Great post, great paper.

January 8, 2014 10:06 am

I have no problem with the hypothesis that government work may be more attractive to dishonest people (at the least, I would modify the old observation to say that corruptible people seek power more so than power itself is corrupting), but this experiment seems pretty weak. I just glanced through it, so maybe I missed it, but was there any analysis done on the sensitivity of choosing a particular threshold for cheating? A 6.5% difference in preference seems small; if the 98th or 97th percentile was used rather than the 99th, do the results change?

January 8, 2014 10:09 am

Good to see Climategate kept on the front burner. The protestations of the enablers who excuse the blatant examples of corruption are a classic example of the “Black is White” mentality.
Jones, Briffa and the rest are thoroughly dishonest, and no whitewashing by equally dishonest committees can change that fact.
Even worse, the present system results in crooked government employees who have no problem falsely asserting that a tiny trace gas is a “pollutant”. They lie through their teeth. And don’t forget: the chief administrator of the US is a government employee.

January 8, 2014 10:10 am

William Sears
6.3% is too small but yet a .25C change in temperature compared against an anomaly calculated from a “normal” period of 1979 forward can be directly attributable to a causation from CO2? Its hardly detectable from noise and certainly not outside any error bar (since they dont even show error ranges in climate studies generally).
I agree with you. We should we not read anything into all the statements of impending doom due to climate change based on such small, error prone models which by the way have not shown any temperature increase in 17 years thus invalidating them as models with any predictive value for the earth we actually live on.

January 8, 2014 10:12 am

William Sears says:
“I think that 6.3% is way too small a number…”
Me, too.

January 8, 2014 10:15 am

I wonder if there is a ‘lazy’ axis as well? Why go to all the trouble of rolling the die and adding up the numbers. Just roll it a few times and put down some number you like… Would also explain some things I’ve seen in “Goverment Work”…
FWIW, I’ve never lusted after a Government Job. I did once spend a couple of years working for the State Government, but that was because they bought the hospital where I was working and it took me a while to escape…
Maybe that urge to escape says something about compulsively honest folks not fitting in with Govt. and politicians…

January 8, 2014 10:27 am

Government has more rules, but repercussions on cheating. The old adage about killing some one in order to get fired is true. So the dishonest would tend to gravitate to where they were given “more chances” after being found out for cheating. Besides, the profit motive being non-existent, the cost to the organization for shoddy work is smaller so they get away with more.
How many companies would remain in business after spending $600 million on a web site that did not work?

Scott Scarborough
January 8, 2014 10:29 am

Yes. 6.3% is too small. And 0.75 Deg per century is too small. No concern in either case.

Gail Combs
January 8, 2014 10:31 am

The study needs a lot more follow-up.
What is interesting is the rampant cheating in universities to start with. This is the real problem, although I am not surprised the cheaters then head into government where the demand is for arse-kissing and not producing original work. The cheaters have already proved they can’t do original work. If they do go into industry, they are the ones who swipe your work and end up in management because they are good at politics.
The Shadow Scholar

…. In the past year, I’ve written roughly 5,000 pages of scholarly literature, most on very tight deadlines. But you won’t find my name on a single paper.
I’ve written toward a master’s degree in cognitive psychology, a Ph.D. in sociology, and a handful of postgraduate credits in international diplomacy. I’ve worked on bachelor’s degrees in hospitality, business administration, and accounting….
You’ve never heard of me, but there’s a good chance that you’ve read some of my work…. Somebody in your classroom uses a service that you can’t detect, that you can’t defend against, that you may not even know exists.
I work at an online company that generates tens of thousands of dollars a month by creating original essays based on specific instructions provided by cheating students. I’ve worked there full time since 2004. On any day of the academic year, I am working on upward of 20 assignments….
my company’s staff of roughly 50 writers is not large enough to satisfy the demands of students who will pay for our work and claim it as their own.
You would be amazed by the incompetence of your students’ writing….

January 8, 2014 10:36 am

Dishonesty and politics are indeed prevalent in government. It was not evident to me in my younger years of service, but the fog lifted. However, I have made the choice to remain and fight from the inside.

stewart pid
January 8, 2014 10:44 am

How dare you skeptics question the “CIA missions” …. they were all peer reviewed at the highest level!!

January 8, 2014 10:45 am

Those with a Marxist world view desire power which motivates them to seek possitions in government. Those with a Marxist world view beleve “the ends justify the means” and in relative truth which prevents them from seeing anything wrong with their lying (or even to recognoze that they are lying).

January 8, 2014 10:46 am

E.M.Smith says:
January 8, 2014 at 10:15 am

I wonder if there is a ‘lazy’ axis as well?

Lazy can be good.

Men are basically smart or dumb and lazy or ambitious. The dumb and ambitious ones are dangerous and I get rid of them. The dumb and lazy ones I give mundane duties. The smart ambitious ones I put on my staff. The smart and lazy ones I make my commanders.

lurker, passing through laughing
January 8, 2014 10:46 am

There is a proverb to the effect that best trick of the devil is to convince people he is not there.
It seems to me that the AGW community’s trick of convincing major media to effectively ignore climategate and to accept the obvious whitewashes was a very good trick indeed.
The low level of interest expressed by major media over the confessed fraud of the EPA’s top climate bureaucrat is of a similar vein.
No matter how many signs point to fraud and deceit, our media and governments for the most part work hard to ignore the consistent pattern the AGW community produces.
I think Bernie Madoff would have liked to be able to use this same trick a few years ago.

January 8, 2014 10:52 am

Reblogged this on Public Secrets and commented:
Key quote: “‘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.” Dan Mitchell at International Liberty is probably claiming vindication even now.

January 8, 2014 11:05 am

I suspect the Hanna-Wang study is competently done. However, the data are for Bangalore. Attitudes to what we call cheating and corruption are different there, both in general and in government. We cannot extrapolate these results to the UK or the USA.

January 8, 2014 11:07 am

The research of Rema Hanna and Shing-Yi Wang reminds me of thoughts from the classical Austrian School of Economics.
I paraphrase a quote from Ludwig von Mises,

My paraphrase of Ludwig von Mises => “If one rejects private individual activity on account of mans fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action.”

Here is Ludwig von Mises’ original quote:

“If one rejects laissez faire on account of mans fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action.”
From Ludwig Von Mises in ‘Planning for Freedom’ p. 44


Peter Champness
January 8, 2014 11:41 am

What has happened to the climategate part 2 emails?

January 8, 2014 11:51 am

The key thing is the incentives, as usual.
In industry, the incentives are mainly to get it right. Get the results and the customer service right, or they will start picking someone else.
In government, not so much. There, the obvious incentives are to build a big organization underneath you. Of course, some people have more internal drivers.
Whatever gets rewarded gets fed and repeated. It’s mighty hard to change the behavior without changing the game first.

January 8, 2014 11:57 am

Just another observation of the corollary to Lord Acton’s admonition that “absolute power corrupts absolutely”, which is “power tends to attract the corruptible”.

January 8, 2014 12:00 pm

One need only look at the work of Harry Anslinger to see how corrupt the foundations of government are. It got so bad Harry had to tell one of his underlings to tone it down. On the basis of Harry’s initial work millions have been jailed and medical research has been set back decades.

January 8, 2014 12:01 pm

Thanks Anthony. Very good article.
The paper “Dishonesty and Selection into Public Service” by Rema Hanna, Shing-Yi Wang is very interesting, but I’m not sure the conclusions are universal. They sure look like they apply to all the countries I have worked in, all of them “democratic”, all corrupt to some extent.

January 8, 2014 12:03 pm

Richard Tol (@RichardTol) says:
January 8, 2014 at 11:05 am
I suspect the Hanna-Wang study is competently done. However, the data are for Bangalore. Attitudes to what we call cheating and corruption are different there, both in general and in government. We cannot extrapolate these results to the UK or the USA.
Spoken like a true Marxist.

January 8, 2014 12:10 pm

Thanks John Whitman for reminding of von Mises and the Classical Liberals of old.
An Introduction to the Major Writings of Ludwig von Mises is at

Questing Vole
January 8, 2014 12:16 pm

Richard Tol @ 11.05 am
Agree. Can’t extrapolate Bangalore results to UK or USA.
They may mainly reflect the local students’ expectations of opportunities for corrupt behaviour in a government post rather than actual levels they might encounter if they got one. I doubt that they would be matched if the survey were run on students here.
And I’m sorry, Anthony, but I can’t see any valid read-across between the Bangalore study and the behaviour exposed in Climategate. The EPA fraud case may be a closer match.

January 8, 2014 12:27 pm

It’s amazing that most warmist still won’t admit to the bad science behind the hockey stick. RealClimate still won’t admit that short centering is wrong in its Dummies Guide to the Hocky Stick:

4) What do different conventions for PC analysis represent?
Some different conventions exist regarding how the original data should be normalized. For instance, the data can be normalized to have an average of zero over the whole record, or over a selected sub-interval. The variance of the data is associated with departures from the whatever mean was selected. So the pattern of data that shows the biggest departure from the mean will dominate the calculated PCs. If there is an a priori reason to be interested in departures from a particular mean, then this is a way to make sure that those patterns move up in the PC ordering. Changing conventions means that the explained variance of each PC can be different, the ordering can be different, and the number of significant PCs can be different.

January 8, 2014 12:29 pm

42 Die rolls ?
I heard Al Gore got 41 sixes and two sevens

January 8, 2014 12:33 pm

Andres Valencia on January 8, 2014 at 12:10 pm said,
Thanks John Whitman for reminding of von Mises and the Classical Liberals of old.
An Introduction to the Major Writings of Ludwig von Mises is at:

– – – – – – – –
Andres Valencia,
¡Por nada! {you’re welcome} : )

January 8, 2014 12:38 pm

Peter Champness says:
“What has happened to the climategate part 2 emails?”
They were posted. Did you mean CIII?
Roberto: the missing ingredient in government is competition. Competition makes the Universe work, whether you’re talking about the valence of atoms, or business. But you can’t go to another government and get a better deal. There is only competition between governments, never within a government for the benefit of its citizens.
So we end up asking the government to cut taxes — when it is the government itself that pockets the taxes.
The government is the enemy of its citizens. The Founding Fathers understood that all government is evil. Some government is a necessary evil. But they are never our friend. They represent their own interest, which is diametrically opposed to the citizens’ interest. Sometimes the interests are in alignment, like in wartime. But never for very long.
Since the end of WWII, the gov’t and the Left have conspired to rob the citizens. They have both learned to game the system, and for now it works for them [witness the gov’t climate grant recipients profiting from the Chicken Little “carbon” scare]. But it will not always work.
At some point the left will find out that they are no longer necessary to the government. Then they will be liquidated like everyone else who objects or protests. But for now, it is an unholy alliance of two evils working in collusion to fleece and dominate the citizenry.
Anyone who reads a lot of history sees where it’s going. And where it will end up.
Government never gets smaller. Taxes never go down. Citizens never remain free for long.

Tom J
January 8, 2014 12:41 pm

Richard Tol (@RichardTol)
January 8, 2014 at 11:05 am
‘…However, the data are for Bangalore. Attitudes to what we call cheating and corruption are different there, both in general and in government. We cannot extrapolate these results to the UK or the USA.’
In regards to the second sentence in the above quote may I ask how you know that? In regards to the final sentence may I ask, “why?”
In closing, may I say that, “If you like your health care plan you can keep your health care plan. If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor. Period.”

January 8, 2014 12:43 pm

To see corruption ‘at home’, it sometimes helps to read foreign newspapers. One example is the US and my state government’s war on tobacco, from which much money was made by govt. ‘Second Hand Smoke’ became the reason for city-wide bans, and no mention was ever made in the US newspapers of the truth about the study done on such. The following explains

January 8, 2014 12:56 pm

To be honest you have to make a consented effort to stop calling it ” Carbon Footprint” and start calling it “Carbon Dioxide Footprint”. Along the current un-scientific terminology way of thinking, “Diamond Footprint” makes as much sense as “Carbon Footprint”. Diamonds are made of 100% carbon. The use of metaphors in the climate debate is only meant to confuse and brainwash the general public into believing Climate Change is their fault, when natural climate change has been happening for over a billion years. If you mean “Man-Made Global Warming” or “Man-Made Climate Change” in the discussion, then say the whole phrase and stop being lazy or deceitful.
I understand billions of dollars have been invested in brainwashing the general public into believing the greatest conspiracy theory of all time, CAGW, but get over it. The general public has shown they aren’t that stupid and ain’t buying it.

M Seward
January 8, 2014 1:04 pm

You know it makes sense.

January 8, 2014 1:25 pm

This is a long running and well known issue for anyone seeking a job recently(say last 10 years) in HR. HR reps only care about the proper buzzwords being spoken and certain displays. They claim it to hire the best people and that “studies” back them. The problem is that its easy to identify the buzzwords and such they look for and many many books are written about it. Cheaters simply read the book and say the most buzzwords during the interview and thus get the job. Honesty is about the lowest thing on the HR list of things they look for. Anyone who has been is the job market will tell you that responding honestly or in your own words to HR questions will lose you the job every time.

January 8, 2014 1:25 pm

Perhaps, as the ultimate public service is to work as a law maker, then, if the results of this study remain valid, law makers AKA politicians are the most corrupt!

January 8, 2014 1:29 pm

““Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Luke 16:10
Also, “Character is destiny.” -Heraclitus

Stephen Richards
January 8, 2014 1:30 pm

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.
So that SteveMc could not attempt to replicate the work 🙂

January 8, 2014 1:31 pm

The Democrat presidential nominee in 1988, Massachusetts Governor Michael S. Dukakis, said about the ethical standards of the Reagan Administration, “There’s an old Greek saying … the fish rots from the head first. It starts at the top.” Dukakis went on to say that scandal and misconduct had become “almost an epidemic. It’s the guy at the top who has to be held accountable.”

January 8, 2014 1:33 pm

“there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.” -Mark Twain

Gary Pearse
January 8, 2014 1:33 pm

I guess it was too politically correct to say why. A talented cheater may well appear to have ability. Certainly, a cheater who never got caught is logically going to have the trappings of ability, certainly over what he would have had, had he not cheated. This would explain the no apparent bias between talented and ordinary. Also, a corrupted PhD in something knows that his skills are not going to be under the microscope like they would be in a production environment. “Hey Fred, how come non of your designs work? You have a higher engineering degree.” In government, Fred can study the problem and recommend that a consulting firm be engaged for this important project.
I’ve known a lot of talented, hard working government employees – geologists, metallurgists, mining engineers and other technically oriented people – whose very professions are not sought out much because of the demanding and productive nature of the work and the fact that your stuff is out there in full view. I’m sure the majority of government workers are honest, many honest but without much motivation. Look for it mainly in the group who spend all their time hanging on to the ladder.

Brian H
January 8, 2014 1:35 pm

The corruptible and ambitious gravitate to government posts with influence over internal standards and enforcement, where they substitute an emphasis on protection of “accused” for protection of the public. When it is necessary to focus on the latter, as in “whistleblower” cases, they use internal networks to deflect and nullify the threat to security and power.
Occasionally, a sacrificial offering is made of some egregiously corrupt individual like Beale whose cover slips. Even then, it is minimized and distorted to keep attention away from the systemic rot.

Aki Basho
January 8, 2014 1:38 pm

Whatever happened to the climategate 3.0 release? wuwt and all the other blogs received the password to the final tranche of emails in March but have been conspicuously silent since then.

Brian H
January 8, 2014 1:39 pm

The case of Wagner also comes to mind. He had to choose between his publishers, protecting their right to maintain some level of editorial standards, and the power-broker Trenberth. We all know the choice he made. It may have been rational, given the state of the field.

January 8, 2014 1:42 pm

It is good to have the ClimateGate emails at the forefront.
The form of violence and corruption may change but I doubt the nature of it changes.
Julie Novak, Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), Australia posted a very worthwhile read on Catallaxy Files
Union violence in the unfolding French tragedy, then and now
In his book The Tyranny of Socialism, published in 1894, the French economist Yves Guyot describes the sheer horror and mayhem accompanying strikes and protests by French unions during the nineteenth century. One of the more shocking episodes of union violence was the Decazeville coal mine strike of 1886.
source: <a href=

Henry Clark
January 8, 2014 1:42 pm

The test method is innovative though still just scratching a surface.
For reasons which would be lengthy to get into and delve enough into ideological-political alignments to be a relatively unsuitable topic for WUWT posting, I have a suspicion the difference might be more than 6.3% if conducted in the U.S. and, more importantly, if not talking about all government jobs in general but rather:
(1) those inclined to work for the EPA
(2) still more so, those inclined to work in climatology where it basically requires working for the CAGW movement
(3) very most all, the subset of #2 who are relatively well on their way and experienced, e.g. the equivalent of having seen while still wanting others to believe claims about CAGW & about manmade CO2 as the pretend prime climate driver
The core of the CAGW movement is like a religion but not one for which honesty was ever a cardinal commandment nor seen in its saints.
Separate from (or in addition to) a desire for money, there are some who have particular desire to bring down others of ideologically disliked groups (and/or general anti-human bias), even aside from whether any gain to themselves, or to exercise power without good purpose for it — and some way to measure variation in willingness to cheat for the latter goals, not just variation in willingness to cheat for money, would probably be still more illuminating.

January 8, 2014 1:44 pm

‘Dishonesty and Selection into Public Service’ by Rema Hanna and Shing-Yi Wang 2013

– – – – – – – –
Let’s start a process for inference.
1. The above research about “hundreds of students in Bangalore, India”
2. There are common essential characteristics that are fundamental to every government that exists.
3. There are common essential reasoning capabilities and action potentialities that are fundamental to all human beings
4. There are common essential economic factors within the extent of countries active in the global economic sphere. India is a major participant is in that sphere and has been for at least a generation.
5. There are commonalities among cultures shown by comparative cultural studies
The identification of the characteristics / capabilities / factors in #2 through #5 allow inference.
Next step before inference begins is to identify and confirm them . . .
Then infer away . . .

Gail Combs
January 8, 2014 2:00 pm

Steve Richards says: @ January 8, 2014 at 1:25 pm
…. politicians are the most corrupt!
And this is news?

January 8, 2014 2:07 pm

Possible alternate interpretations are that people who want to go into government work don’t care as much about being caught, are measurably more gullible, or do not have basic intuition skills. The obvious intent is to detect who will lie for gain. It could not be more obvious without a video of Admiral Ackbar shouting “it’s a trap” on repeat. As a known measurement of an absurdly indirect system, the value of the result is dubious and as a method of screening, useless. In an interview setting, people are on their best behavior and say and do what the interviewer wants to hear. They would be scrupulously honest about the results in an interview, even if they put all 6s down when unmonitored.
A better measurement would be to have students perform an unrelated task (waiting tables, for instance), and then be responsible for their review cards, written in pencil (unkown to them, written beforehand and carefully tallied). Then, they’d be left alone to review their cards and make any notes (also, with a pencil). They want to impress the teacher, so the dishonest would increase their scores. Something where they don’t know the cheating is being monitored.

January 8, 2014 2:24 pm


January 8, 2014 2:31 pm

Recognition that taking the public dollar brings with it accountability of a public servant, but arrogance and indifference of the governments themselves has allowed the arrogant and deceptive to avoid the accountability and elevate themselves in their own perception to be a protected species who cannot be questioned.
Bring back the concept of public service, the humble public servant, who strives to serve our best interests and of course make FOI mean exactly what it should!

January 8, 2014 2:39 pm

What are the error ranges for the dice study? Somehow, I do not find significance where a study ‘assumes’ student culpability without absolute verification or any controls. Coupling this study with climategate is injurious to rational attention to fraud exposed in climategate.
I remember one game that showed up in our house where, at first, everyone wanted to use the dice for all games as they tended to come up sixes and fives. Then after everyone thought about it, the dice were trashed and casino dice became the favorites for their dependable randomness.
A career in a government occupation has not disposed me to think many civil service employees are criminally inclined. Incompetent and/or arrogant, all too often; but people inclined to criminal actions in the United States Government usually expose themselves early in their careers.

January 8, 2014 2:41 pm

There are problems in the study venue that weaken any potential generalization. Once you reach Asia Minor and proceed eastward, baksheesh is standard. So there’s no wonder that in the subcontinent cheaters will gravitate toward areas of enterprise where they can benefit from it – and east of the Mediterranean, that’s the government, ranging from the local constable to the prime minister. Going east the situation doesn’t improve until you reach Japan. By “improvement” I mean that people are not out right dying as a result of corruption. People are not killed by collapsing buildings or poisoned foods as a matter of course, or because a local warlord owns the police and has decided you occupy space that could be put to better use.
Our cheaters are comparative amateurs.

January 8, 2014 3:22 pm

Yeah,, speaking of valid inferences, of conspiracy theories and of FOI requests, let me throw another data point on the pile … er, curve … trajectory:
Navy blunders in sending reporter details on how to avoid his FOIA request
“A US Navy official mistakenly forwarded an email to a local news reporter this week outlining the Navy’s method of avoiding the very Freedom of Information Act requests that reporter had filed.”
Is our bureaucrats learning?

January 8, 2014 3:31 pm

I used to believe in taxes until I worked in a large government deportment. The idiocy and outright obstructionism is incredible. I would estimate government departments to be about 10% efficient. That is in comparison to my estimate of large private sector organisations at about 50% efficient, and small ones at about 80%, although all these figures may be a tad generous.
That is 45c of the 50c in each dollar I estimate I pay in tax being p!$$ed up against the wall. As a friend of mine is wont to point out, if they could tax us at 100%, they would still spend it all and need more. The USSR proved that point.

January 8, 2014 3:42 pm

Gave you a link along with some further comments:

Rob aka Flatlander
January 8, 2014 3:48 pm

The “hockey stick” shot the goal that scored for the warmists. Doesn’t matter now that the hockey stick was declared illegal. The game is over in the minds of the general public. That’s why they continue to use “The Science is Settled” even though they have to adjust it yearly. That’s why they continue to say the models say global warming, even though the models don’t work, at all, ever, … but the public still accepts them. This gift of north american arctic temperatures, the gift of scientists stuck in the antarctic ice. Have to be pointed out over and over and over so the public starts to wake up to the scam. None of it is settled, there is no global normal temperature, its not heating, its not cooling. 34 years of satellite data, 150 years of temperature recording, historic high periods, historic low periods, all add up to nothing is new. But they scored the first goal with an illegal hockey stick and that’s what people remember, not their own recollection of childhood temperatures, or the stories of parents and grand parents. Just big fat Al Gore and incorrect descriptions of polar bears playing on summer ice and a stupid hockey stick. BTW the 30 year satellite trend is the same as the hockey stick a chart with .5° up and down range over 34 years is not a valid chart. Not when the normal range of the data creating the chart is -65°C to +45°C.

January 8, 2014 3:53 pm

or because a local warlord owns the police and has decided you occupy space that could be put to better use.
That is in fact enshrined in the Kelo Supreme Court decision.
Or how about New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and a contributor to his mayoral campaign Steve Nislick, a real-estate tycoon with an eye on the stables. What stables you ask? The stables for the horse drawn carriage horses that will be vacated with the banning of the carriages by the mayor. The Mayor of course will be ending the cruelty to the animals.

john robertson
January 8, 2014 3:59 pm

Anyone who has ever been present at a government policy meeting, knows the nature of the beast.
If you do not know what is being discussed, do not ask. Nod and sagely go along, as you would not want anyone to suspect that you are ignorant.
I am not sure cheaters predominate or if this study comes close to supporting its conclusion.
But govt provides a haven for those who want to do as little as possible for the most constant reward.
The lazy and incompetent run interference or act as cover (involuntary) for the regulation lovers, people without skill or competence who know(No self doubt at all) they are the supreme authority, on some tiny irrelevant set of regulations. And they rule supreme in their bubble of authority, obey all the processes and cripple all producers who come into contact with their tiny reign.
Followed by the natural bureaucrat, who holds it all together, from a situation of few rules and free transactions between adults, to now where only those permitted activities will be tolerated.
Crooked, evil intent are not required, natural stupidity, incompetence and good intentions are enough to create climate science as practised by the IPCC.
Science by committee, what could go wrong?
Who amongst our senior bureaucrats would challenge the science?
They have to trust their scientists, they appointed them.
How many can even describe the scientific method, or proper procedure for policy documents?
“This opinion came from our scientists, it is the best science.”

Old Ranga
January 8, 2014 4:16 pm

Most employee behaviour relates to the closeness of the connection with the employer who pays them.
If that employer is a person they talk to every day, they’ll do what the boss asks or lose their job quick smart. If that employer is Joe Public the taxpayer, they’ll never meet him or talk to him, because of course he’s not real. So they can rearrange their job to suit themselves as much as that’s possible.
Why not? That’s what human beings have always done with their personal environment.

Gail Combs
January 8, 2014 4:18 pm

KenB says: @ January 8, 2014 at 2:31 pm
….Bring back the concept of public service, the humble public servant, who strives to serve our best interests and of course make FOI mean exactly what it should!
AND make civil servants and politicians obey the same laws as we do.
If a cop blows a guy away he should be placed on trial like everyone else. Congress doesn’t get any special treatment….

January 8, 2014 5:15 pm

Get your 3D glasses. This is what they’re after:

January 8, 2014 5:23 pm

Perhaps I have not been following the aftershocks of Climategate closely enough. I have yet to find a definitive wrap up of who got a hold of the computer files and who released them. First, I think whoever did it deserves our never ending thanks and appreciation. The revelations stopped the momentum in its tracks of a deceitful and exaggerated thesis of man made global warming. The Copenhagen conference was about to transfer the wealth of the western world to the corrupt third world dictators all in the name of global warming. That didn’t happen.
Certain aspects have never been explained and I am a loss to find information about it. Specifically, I recall reading about 3 or 4 months before Climategate either on this site or Climate Audit that someone tried to access the secure files at the East Anglia site in the middle of the night and found the door open. Was this an oversight at the university, or had someone hacked into the site and the writer stumbled into the open files coincidently? Or was this a governmental project? At least 4 nations likely have the technical ability to access these files. Some had reason to expose the fraud. My recollection is the British police investigation came up with no conclusions, but again I haven’t followed this very closely.
If any of you reading this knows of any stories about “who dunit”, please post the links in the comments section here.

BC Bill
January 8, 2014 5:32 pm

I am a public employee who never wanted to be a public employee. It was the only job I could find that allowed me to use my education in a small town. I could still be corrupt so you will have to take my observations with a grain of salt. I worked for many years in the private sector before becoming a public employee. I can’t see any difference in the general honesty of people in the two sectors. The commonality that I see is that big organisations, whether public or private, provide niches for the incompetent or dishonest to hide.
The primary difference between the two sectors is that the private sector overtly states that they are out to get money by whatever means society allows them to, so nobody is surprised by rampant lying in the private sector with regards to such things as cosmetics that don’t work as they promised, patent medicines that don’t work, obscene markups on goods of all kinds but most notoriously substandard goods and fake and real medications made in Asia, massivie markups on food while fixing prices to producers at unsustainably low levels, inadequate safety procedures on drilling and other industrial operations, lying about the danger levels associated with goods transported by train etc., etc. etc. What would be considered immoral behaviour is normal business practise in the private sector and we don’t even notice it anymore. The only people who are really held up to scrutiny for their moral behaviour are public servants, and not surprisingly some of them are to varying degrees less than perfect. I can say with a pretty high degree of certainty that if I came to work each day with the primary intent of maximizing my profit I would be considered a complete failure as a public servant.
From my viewpoint science has failed because it has become a money making enterprise. We are encouraged to go into science because it will get us good jobs. Science as a philosophical pursuit barely exists anymore, universities and campuses in the US and Canada are filled with on campus businesses. If you want to see where science is going, just look at what is happening with pharmaceutical research. As soon as big money gets involved, then the temptation for big corruption exists. This is probably part of what went wrong with the climategate people, some of it was probably noble cause syndrome and another part was probably that they never ever had a philosophical devotion to the truth.

January 8, 2014 5:53 pm

corkyboyd says:
“If any of you reading this knows of any stories about ‘who dunit’, please post the links in the comments section here.”
Nah, let’s not. That would be dropping a dime on him [for younger readers, that means being a snitch, after the old 10¢ phone booths that used to be everywhere].
He did a great public service. If he wants to out himself, he can at any time.

January 8, 2014 6:33 pm

What’s really sad is the number of people who still try to claim that the ClimateGate e-mails actually exonerated the warmistas.

john robertson
January 8, 2014 6:49 pm

@BC Bill, so in the trenches of the govt, a paranoid view of private enterprise also lives?
Having worked in both, most private businesses still depend on their word being their bond, ethics are important.
But the companies who service government contracts, even ethical tradesmen are corrupted when dealing with officialdom, the process is obscene, an honest bid, will fail to compensate for all the obstruction, interference and time wasted by the government people overseeing the job.
I used to use x3 for time but now its x5 to just break even.
Of late I refuse to bid, the waste and corruption is too much, the endless paperwork, compliance requirements are not worth dealing with.
Given a choice between spending hours to do the work of a few minutes, then having to file endless forms to be partially compensated, or working for people who want their work done, help anyway they can and pay on time, it is no contest.
The most corrupt private companies I have been involved with specialized in contracting to the government.

January 8, 2014 7:09 pm

EW3 says:
January 8, 2014 at 1:31 pm
The Democrat presidential nominee in 1988, Massachusetts Governor Michael S. Dukakis, said about the ethical standards of the Reagan Administration, “There’s an old Greek saying … the fish rots from the head first. It starts at the top.” Dukakis went on to say that scandal and misconduct had become “almost an epidemic. It’s the guy at the top who has to be held accountable.”

What was most ironic was that Reagan was ramping up drug prohibition at the same time his minion Ollie North was bringing in Kilos of something to support the CIA/Contras. I supposed the black market price was better with stronger enforcement. And let us not forget the arms deal with Iran as part of that three cornered trade. In case you have forgotten – Iran/Contra – was the name of that episode. I would be surprised if something similar wasn’t on going in Afghanistan.
But the rotten head at this point is our current President. Which is to say that they have all been rotten for quite some time.
Just think about the NSA vetting all or political candidates.

January 8, 2014 7:23 pm

john robertson says:
January 8, 2014 at 6:49 pm
The most corrupt private companies I have been involved with specialized in contracting to the government.

I worked as a contractor for Stewart Warner and I must say – although I’d rather not explain the episode – that was very true. I got fired for uncovering what was done. My worst sin – I wouldn’t participate. I wasn’t about to blow the whistle – too many unknown forces – but obviously they couldn’t trust me if I didn’t have my hand in the cookie jar.
Stewart Warner is now defunct.
It was so bad the government didn’t like them. Not because of the corruption but because of the potential for embarrassment.
A lot of it has to do with the government paperwork requirements. Requirements generated by previous bouts of corruption.

January 8, 2014 7:36 pm

lying about the danger levels associated with goods transported by train
How about those oil trains from Canada. They are real killers. Warren Buffet has a stake in them. Pipelines would be safer. Warren couldn’t do it without the assistance of the left and the government.
I was looking for old news of a destroyed Canadian town. And here I come across breaking news:–canada-us-

January 8, 2014 7:41 pm

Here is the train derailment that killed 47 people in Canada last July.

January 8, 2014 7:45 pm

As the nation’s gas prices skyrocket, critics argue that President Obama’s recent rejection of the $7 billion, “shovel-ready” Keystone XL oil pipeline, followed by his continued vow to “double down” on green energy, is a clear sign the administration plans to do little of substance in terms of American oil exploration. The move has also stirred controversy about the president’s real intentions concerning job creation and reducing pain at the pump for everyday Americans. But could there be a more sinister reason behind denying the pipeline’s requisite permits — namely, to benefit billionaire Obama-supporter Warren Buffett?
The evidence does seem to be mounting.
Note: there is a Buffett company I like: Mouser Electronics. I do business with them regularly. Good service. Decent prices.

January 8, 2014 8:05 pm

The lazy and incompetent run interference or act as cover (involuntary) for the regulation lovers, people without skill or competence who know(No self doubt at all) they are the supreme authority, on some tiny irrelevant set of regulations. And they rule supreme in their bubble of authority, obey all the processes and cripple all producers who come into contact with their tiny reign.
For a time I was part of the 1553 committee ( a military bus – low speed by today’s standards). And I saw that in spades. About 1/2 the committee was incompetent. Flat out ignorant of electronics. Funny. I never went to school for electronics and I could run circles around the majority. Fortunately the better minds prevailed. I’m sure it is not always so. I did get a free trip to Disney World out of it – for me and my family. Maybe my input was worth it. But ultimately the taxpayer paid.

January 8, 2014 8:58 pm

As regards the suggestion that there is a link between government service and a greater tendency to be dishonest, I suspect the reason for this is that those who seek the comfort and safety of government service feel less able to survive in the non-government economy and are therefore more desperate to secure their place in government service. They see it as their one and only chance for economic security.

January 8, 2014 10:36 pm

@Tom J
Corruption etc has been subject of a very substantial research effort for a few decades now. Best visit the World Bank website to get a sense of that.
Although the USA government is not always completely honest, other governments are not always completely dishonest; India is somewhere in between.

Mindert Eiting
January 9, 2014 2:36 am

Some years ago a friend of mine bought a house in Indonesia. When everything was settled, two civil servants knocked on his door because they had to do some final measurements on his house and garden. After doing the measurements, they told him that he had to pay them a certain amount of Rupiahs each, the amount being subject to negotiation. When the negotiations were done, and he was about to pay them, he saw about twenty men walking through his garden. These were the other civil servants of the same housing department and they entered his home as well. He had to pay all of them the negotiated amount, making the final stage of his enterprise pretty expensive.
Corruption is endemic in Indonesia because civil servant are under-paid and must earn their money by donations from the public. I do not put much value on this kind of research. Perhaps people differ a bit as to honesty but corruption is an aspect of the system. For corruption in climate science we have to look for incentives in the institutions, journals, and peer-review. There is no reason for much optimism. If corruption has become endemic, it is better to make a completely new start in stead of trying to heal the old institutions.

Gail Combs
January 9, 2014 5:46 am

john robertson says: @ January 8, 2014 at 6:49 pm
…. Of late I refuse to bid, the waste and corruption is too much, the endless paperwork, compliance requirements are not worth dealing with….
In our little niche of children’s entertainment we have found not only the endless paperwork but “preferred vendor” Unless you specialize in being the admins nephew you don’t stand a chance. A big campaign donation to the winner of course would help.

Steamboat Jon
January 9, 2014 6:46 am

Well publicized issues with some officials from the EPA (or IRS, NSA, DoD and on and on) aside, I don’t see anything that indicates a higher level of corruption amongst government employees vs. public sector workers. As a long time government employee I find it more common place for strict adherence to government wide and agency specific regulation. Not always as avoidance of work/responsibility, but mostly as a function of self-preservation (“CYA”). More danger exists from well-intentioned legislation that expands government into the minutia of the lives of its citizenry. The problem from my perspective has always been one of size/scale and scope/mission creep. A feature aspect of bureaucracy is to grow itself, to that end it is necessary that it increases its reach to the extent it will be allowed to by the public that supports it. The larger the bureaucracy grows, the more it must consume. The more it consumes, the larger the bureaucracy grows. The only limit being the increasing drag the bureaucracy has on the public it serves. I speculate that at critical mass a bureaucracy will either collapse the society from which it grew or the bureaucracy will be drastically reformed (by the public it serves, if sufficient cohesive political will exists).

john robertson
January 9, 2014 8:58 am

@Steamboat Jon 6:46.
I agree, history seems to favour the former,collapse over effective reform.
The cost of compliance has moved from a minor irritant to a major expense, nothing not permitted is the attitude. The drain on public treasure is measured in Billions and Trillions borrowed against the work of our grandchildren, it is in their economic interest to collapse this system.
Whilst bureaus are necessary for the function of necessary government,to maintain the illusion of civilization, they are a cancer and as soon as govt takes on unnecessary functions, that cancer blooms.

January 9, 2014 9:15 am

Like Tol, I think the study is competent, just useless. The p-value for the 6% figure is 0.1 (not even the usually proven worthless 0.05). Even at that, 6% is nothing….without some other dealing with confounding data, particularly since we are dealing with a culture very much different than ours. Post-empire India is not not not to be confused with the USA or Europe or the UK.
Attitudes about working for the government are very different there than here with nuances that vary by class and caste, if I recall my university studies on Indian culture correctly.
All of these kinds of studies done with paid college students are suspect unless a great deal of care is taken to deal with the skewing of results expected and elements added to the study to discover how the students will skew the study because they are student and poor.
Those of us who were in university in the 1960’s can attest to the truth of this — remember back to reporting to the Psych building or Sociology building–sometimes even the Biology building–to take part in some test for which one could receive the magnificent sum of $25 for a single hour’s subjection to test or examination! One sometimes fortified one’s self for the experience with various substances guaranteed to enhance the experience and simultaneously “stick it to the man”.
In some cultures, such as the Dominican Republic, where I have recently spent many years, a student would most likely see maximizing the monetary return from the student testing as a moral obligation not a dishonesty, an obligation to bring a little more money back to his family, or to relieve his family of a little financial burden. In the DR, a real government job (not a political appointment, but a civil service job) is as close as one gets to a guaranteed lifetime job, this study would be quite different.
So, to answer the title question, to wit : “Could this study on honesty and government service explain the EPA climateer fraud and ‘Climategate’ ?” ==> No, to even ask is nonsensical ans a smear on all the deicaded giovernment workers that keep a nearly impossible system limping along somehow.
Some bits of some governments (like the NY State and Florida DMVs — Go DMVs! ) are actually getting better!

January 9, 2014 10:47 am

BC Bill says:
The primary difference between the two sectors is that the private sector overtly states that they are out to get money by whatever means society allows them to, so nobody is surprised by rampant lying in the private sector with regards to such things as cosmetics that don’t work as they promised,…
No, the primary difference is that businesses that run themselves that way tend to not stay in business, unless they have the helping hand of government to keep them around. In Government, there are no consequences for dishonesty.

Gary Hladik
January 9, 2014 12:48 pm

If Obama had participated in the experiment, he would have reported 42 7s. 🙂

January 9, 2014 9:55 pm

Gore’s Global Warming Secret
You’ll never guess what initially inspired Al Gore’s “temperature” mania – the one that’s raised our tempers.
Well, Gore is from Tennessee where you can hear Bible belt preachers warning about “Hell fire” in the next life.
And Gore, concerned about this life, is surrounded by those who also know about the prediction in Revelation (chapter 16) of the coming time when a change in the sun will result in humans being “scorched with great heat”!
It wouldn’t be convenient if folks were to discover that Gore, a liberal, was influenced by the handbook closely associated with Christian fundamentalists!
If Tennessee fundy preachers could look at the same predictions-packed apocalyptic book and stretch forward in time some future events, Gore could surely do the same thing and stretch forward the “great heat” and turn it into cold cash.
All of us are well aware of the incredible influence that the Gore-orrhea plague has had on the whole world including the White House!
But Gore’s overlooked another Bible verse which says that “there is nothing hid that shall not be revealed.”
The real “inconvenient truth” is that the SS Al Gore is now stuck in ice – and what we need is a Gorebreaker!

more soylent green!
January 11, 2014 9:54 am

Our children get 12-16 years or more of indoctrination that the only successful people in this country made their way by cheating everyone else. Is it no wonder we see academic cheating and academic fraud on the rise? And for a government job, it has great benefits,with no accountability.

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