Shollenberger calls Cook's and University of Queensland's legal bluff!

UQ_Cook_SueThe 97% Thunderdome is revving up! Brandon Shollenberger has issued a direct challenge to Cook and UQ, and has published the threatening letter about that “secret” data for Cook’s “97% consensus” study that was published under an “open” Creative Commons License. From that “openness” Jo Nova made the hilarious graphic at left for her essay on the fiasco. Send her chocolate.

Shollenberger writes:

As most of you know, I recently received a threatening letter from the University of Queensland. This letter made a variety of threats and demands. The the strangest one was it suggested I’d be sued if I showed anyone the letter. Today, I intend to challenge that claim.

Some people suggested I should have immediately published the letter. I understand that view. It was my immediate reaction upon receiving the letter. The idea of a university from another country suing me because I published a letter in which they threatened to sue me was laughable. It was as empty a threat as I could imagine.

Still, I’ve been told I let myself get baited too easily. It seemed unwise to act hastily rashly when the issue of a lawsuit was at hand. I thought taking a few days to think about matters was sensible.

I have now, and I’ve talked to a number of people about this. Everything I’ve seen and heard agrees: The threat against me publishing the letter was bogus and pathetic. It might have even been unethical.

Until I do, I want to challenge the University of Queensland to stand by what it has said. I’m calling their bluff. I’ve published their letter, and I await the legal proceedings we all know will never come.

…So here’s the challenge I want to propose to the Skeptical Science team, to the University of Queensland, and to anyone else who thinks I shouldn’t release the data I possess:

Tell me what material I possess could cause harm if disseminated. Tell me what agreements or contractual obligations would be impinged upon if that material were released to the public.

If you are unable or unwilling to meet such a simple challenge, I’ll release the data and you can bite me. I mean, sue me.


Read it all here as well as see the letter:

In other news: Popcorn futures are expected to open at record highs tomorrow at the Chicago Board of Trade. Here’s last week’s closing numbers:



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Rick K
May 18, 2014 5:59 pm

This is gonna be good…

Eric Webb
May 18, 2014 6:02 pm

Really looking forward to this…

May 18, 2014 6:03 pm

Go for it Schollenberger! 🙂

Mr Zee
May 18, 2014 6:03 pm

Is there a law that can be used against them for intimidation?

José Tomás
May 18, 2014 6:06 pm

Popcorn futures will open with a wide opening gap 🙂

May 18, 2014 6:11 pm

Absolutely loved the graphic!
And let’s hope when they serve Schollenbarger… Sheldenberger… Sholonborger… Shollenberger… whatever… they get they right name on the papers. That would be the ultimate hoot if they served papers with the wrong name.

May 18, 2014 6:21 pm

This is going to get exciting. I’ve got the popcorn in. Can’t wait to see what the UQ reaction is. A public tantrum, probably. Cook won’t be happy, either.

Charles Nelson
May 18, 2014 6:22 pm

University Challenge.

May 18, 2014 6:22 pm

I am getting really tired of popcorn.

May 18, 2014 6:23 pm

Righteous !
Turn the nob to 11 !
Ha ha.
Oh ! BTW. Track RSX (Gasprom) on the NYSE for this week … BIG DEAL … Yea it is a BIG DEAL .. Brewing (Strange Brew) in China (Russia + China Natural Gas Deal is brewing !). Should be loads of FUN ! HA HA.
Be ready for “saturation trading” on NYSE … It will be HARD and FAST use Wavelet Filters at the Nanosecond level.
Be ready !
Gear Up !
Cheers All.

May 18, 2014 6:25 pm

Publish or persish. Publish and Flourish

May 18, 2014 6:26 pm

My My My, could be a 97% chance they get their panites in a wad now.
Obama will issue another strongly worded letter and stop trade with Mr.Shollenberger forth with.
snark to the 10th power

May 18, 2014 6:29 pm

I read he’s in the United States, good luck sueing him for publishing a letter voluntarily sent to him in the land of the free.

May 18, 2014 6:31 pm


Brandon Shollenberger
May 18, 2014 6:32 pm

I just want you to know, I did see you misspell my name.
REPLY: Hi Brandon, that particular mispelling, it’s ingrained. Like you, I grew up in the Midwest, and I went to school with large families of kids that were named Scholle and Schoeff. There were no “Sh….” sans c families in my town. At least this time I caught it on my own. – Three’s a charm. – Anthony

May 18, 2014 6:36 pm

It is my understanding that when someone send you a letter, it is yours to do with as you please. The sender can not control who you choose to share it with unless there is an agreement made before they sent it.

Alan Robertson
May 18, 2014 6:37 pm

May 18, 2014 at 6:23 pm
. _ . . . . _

Patrick B
May 18, 2014 6:47 pm

Mr Zee says:
May 18, 2014 at 6:03 pm
Is there a law that can be used against them for intimidation?
Based on my experience, it’s not law that would be most threatening – what you want to do is get the interest of the politicians that can affect funding to the university. As soon as a university hears that some position they have taken is bringing unfavorable attention from politicians who can affect its funding, the university backs down.
So, where does Queensland University get its funding and who can influence it?

May 18, 2014 6:53 pm

Good on you.
It is time to call out the dysfunction of AGW.

Brandon Shollenberger
May 18, 2014 6:54 pm

Anthony, no problem. Everyone does it. I’ve seen people copy and paste my name then go back and add the ‘c’ because they were sure it had been misspelled.
Besides, that’s mild. Earlier today, I got an e-mail which addressed me as “Ms. Shollenberger.”

May 18, 2014 7:00 pm

Part of my faith in humanity has been restored.

TBear - Sydney, Australia
May 18, 2014 7:03 pm

What an excellent decision by Mr. Shollenberger.
Good luck.

Travis Casey
May 18, 2014 7:05 pm

It’s a popcorn futures hockey stick and it’s worse than the models predicted.

May 18, 2014 7:08 pm

Brandon Shollenberger says:
May 18, 2014 at 6:54 pm
Besides, that’s mild. Earlier today, I got an e-mail which addressed me as “Ms. Shollenberger.”
I once had a newspaper article award me a non-existent wife.
I guess there are some cultures where standing within arm’s length of a woman in a press photo means you are married.

Brandon Shollenberger
May 18, 2014 7:11 pm

artwest, to make things more confusing, I’ve been mistaken for a female twice in the last month. I’ve also had one (drunk) women come up to me and ask if I was a man or woman.
That reminds me, I forgot to respond to that guy’s e-mail. I should go do that.

Cold in Wisconsin
May 18, 2014 7:12 pm

Excellent decision. I believe you will be safe and your position will be vindicated. If the data were sound the University and the authors would not give a hoot about you exposing it, in fact they would have done it themselves.

Brandon Shollenberger
May 18, 2014 7:13 pm

Doh. That should have been woman, not women. She may have been drunk enough to be seeing double, but I wasn’t.

May 18, 2014 7:13 pm

The much better picture of Cook is the one where he shows his inner nazi. Just saying.

May 18, 2014 7:14 pm

They’re going to need a Cook for all that popcorn….maybe 97% of the kernels will pop…

May 18, 2014 7:19 pm

Sell popcorn. It will now go very quiet…

May 18, 2014 7:33 pm

Rdcii says:
I am getting really tired of popcorn
Try beer nuts.

May 18, 2014 7:46 pm


Mark Hladik
May 18, 2014 7:47 pm


May 18, 2014 7:48 pm


May 18, 2014 7:54 pm

Brandon: First, thanks for everything you have done, and will soon do regarding this. Second, if an attorney or two is diverted from their work for the state penn, please let us know. I have provided support for others facing legal threats, and am prepared to do it again.

May 18, 2014 7:58 pm

Data on a publicly accessible server is considered published. Published data is open for analysis, analysis is open for critique, issuing threating letters or electronic mail with malicious intent is a crime.

Will Janoschka
May 18, 2014 7:59 pm

clipe says: May 18, 2014 at 7:33 pm
Rdcii says:
I am getting really tired of popcorn
Try beer nuts.
You may be on to somthing, Beer nuts futures are way down!
Perhaps more popcorn must be converted to ethanol!

May 18, 2014 8:09 pm

for whom does Jane Malloch solicit?

Will Janoschka
May 18, 2014 8:22 pm

Will Janoschka says: May 18, 2014 at 7:59 pm
clipe says: May 18, 2014 at 7:33 pm
Rdcii says:
I am getting really tired of popcorn
Try beer nuts.
You may be on to somthing, Beer nuts futures are way down!
Perhaps more popcorn must be converted to ethanol!
Please understand the unusable discards, of the popcorn hydrocarbon to ethanol process are called “beer nuts”! “Eat them and die”

May 18, 2014 8:35 pm

The letter doesn’t say “we will” do anything, it says they “reserve the right” to do something. This is called “posturing” and is a sign of an empty threat.
I’m most curious though about their demand not to contact Mr Cook. Since the information was obtained from a SillyKidsSite, and Mr Cook could most certainly be contacted through that site, the university is in effect not only speaking for Mr Cook (without stating that he has given them authority to speak on his behalf on the matter) but also demanding that they be allowed to control communication between two parties when they have no authority to speak for either. Perhaps next they will tell Obama if he can speak to Putin about the Ukraine?
But I expect this plays nicely into Abbott’s hand. Committed to slashing funding for climate hysteria, he now has a perfect reason why. U major university withholding data, storing it on a 3rd party site they don’t control, then making hysterical threats about it being theirs and taking legal action if anyone sees it. That prompts the obvious question from the Australian tax payers, what is there to hide? If the university will not disclose the data, there must be a reason why they don’t want it to come to light, and that is sufficient reason to slash their funding.

May 18, 2014 8:37 pm

The warmer-mystic-gangsters seem to be a sue-happy bunch.
I expect the next threat of legal action will be to threaten to sue any researcher/organization that publishes research that contradicts the warmer-mystic meme.
AGW SLAPP in action.

May 18, 2014 8:38 pm

“You are advised that publication of defamatory comments about the University of Queensland or its employees on a publically accessible website such as a blog is a matter which University of Queensland takes seriously. ”
Well they don’t take it that seriously, otherwise they would not take actions that appear to be intimidation, coercion and blackmail.
Neither do they take it seriously enough to ensure that their employees do not leave confidential material whose disclosure would allegedly leave them open to attack on a publicly accessible server.
Brandon: “Cook kept a ton of access logs for Skeptical Science. I imagine he did the same for his other sites as well. If so, it could be possible to make a strong case I’m the only “unauthorized” person who accessed the data.”
It seems pretty obvious that the “forensic investigation” is nothing more than reading the server access log. If Cook has write access to those logs they will have no more legal standing than his word that he has not changed them. Indeed, since there seems to be considerable subterfuge in setting up the site and who owns it, establishing just who does or does not have write access may be unclear.
If “The University” wishes to take action penalising the public diffusion of the alleged IP, then they need to start at the source of the problem, with those who made the files publicly available on an unprotected server. That act has already taken place, trying to close the stable door after the horse had bolted will not restore confidentiality or put the genie back into the bottle.
Any action taken against a third party without suing the those who caused the problem would be perverse.
Now, I’m sorry if this is going to sound “defamatory” but the HYPOCRISY of “The University” on this STINKS.

May 18, 2014 8:41 pm

hunter says: “The much better picture of Cook is the one where he shows his inner nazi. Just saying.”
For those who imagine themselves in the service of planetary purity, the inner Nazi runs deep. There is no deed too evil to be rationalized by these ecoterrorists. The 10-10 video is a window into their minds.

May 18, 2014 8:46 pm

I was about to call this day done when I had a second thought on this topic.
Which has a more secretive culture? The CAGW culture or the North Korea government?

May 18, 2014 8:46 pm

davidmhoffer says: “The letter doesn’t say “we will” do anything, it says they “reserve the right” to do something. This is called “posturing” and is a sign of an empty threat.”
Not quite:
“Furthermore, you are advised that any publication of this letter and/or any publication of defamatory about the University of Queensland by you will be the subject of action by The University. ”
So they do say “will be” the subject of “action”. WOW. What action? They did not say legal action, so maybe they meant they will have a coffee and bitch about it. Any way we can rest assured that there will be some ACTION.
What a bunch of jerks. (Oops, there I go being all defamatory again).

May 18, 2014 8:49 pm

“I’ll release the data and you can bite me. I mean, sue me.”
Classic! Absolute CLASSIC line man. LMAO.

May 18, 2014 8:50 pm

Brandon Shollenberger,
In publishing the UQ letter today you are being subtler that just appears on the surface. : )
Your strategy now appears to be to publish the UQ letter before UQ has a chance to issue a backdown / correction letter (or a public statement) in which they could say they had inappropriately threatened you to not publish the original UQ letter.
You are maximizing UQ loss of credibility / face due to Cook’s secretive tendencies and robust ineptness in his ‘Consensus’.

May 18, 2014 8:52 pm

Do the UOQ actually have any Lawyers advising them or is there just some jumped up commie writing angry letters using the logo?

May 18, 2014 8:55 pm

crosspatch says:
It is my understanding that when someone send you a letter, it is yours to do with as you please. The sender can not control who you choose to share it with unless there is an agreement made before they sent it.
You can send someone a letter in a sealed envelop marked “Private and Confidential”.
if you have something private and confidential to send you do not send it written on the back of a post card or send it in plain text via an open network.
Nothing which is contained in an email is either private or confidential.

May 18, 2014 9:09 pm

“The University of Queensland has contractual obligations to third parties regarding the IP.”
What kind of “contract” could that be? The survey _may_ have had some assurance that identifiable information would not be published, but since there is no signed agreement, this is nothing more than an assurance on a web site, it is not “contractual”.
The publisher of a paper usually gets copyright to the text of the article but this paper and the part of the data given in the SI was published under creative commons licence and is thus freely copyable.
There may be a legal obligation under privacy laws but that is not “contractual” either.
So exactly what are these “contractual obligations”?
IMHO, they are lies and BS.

May 18, 2014 9:10 pm

I suspect a bluff, and this threat could be cause for a counter suit due to the fear and anguish they caused you….if of course you could fake that part.

Brandon Shollenberger
May 18, 2014 9:15 pm

Windsong, I’m glad to. I’m also glad for your offer of assistance, though I don’t expect to need it.
davidmhoffer, there is nothing inherently remarkable about withholding data. Sometimes it makes sense to. Sometimes it’s necessary to. The problem in this case is they’re not just withholding data, but refusing to explain why it needs to be withheld.
TRM, that line is actually what made me write the post. I typed it, then I had to write a post so I could use it.
John Whitman, I’m flattered you think I’m that clever.
Greg, copyrighting a digital letter amuses me because the letter, as a digital media, will be copied over and over again in transit.

Micheal Max
May 18, 2014 9:18 pm

Of course the UQ will be harmed if you publish their data: they’ll be exposed as biased and incompetent, among other things…

May 18, 2014 9:20 pm

Reading through all of this, it is clear that the University of Queensland has now officially been defamed. But wait…they have defamed themselves.

Mac the Knife
May 18, 2014 9:20 pm

Apropo, m’thinks!

A. Scott
May 18, 2014 9:23 pm

I think we need an FOIA on any communication related to Brandon and UWA …
Hey UWA … your actions show you to be a ground without morals, scruples and with a significant lack of professional ethics.
PLEASE sue me.
You may serve papers at:

May 18, 2014 9:27 pm

Jane Malloch (solicitor for the University of Queensland) wrote in the threatening letter to Shollenberger,
“You are advised that publication of defamatory comments about the University of Queensland or its employees on a publically accessible website such as a blog is a matter which University of Queensland takes seriously. ”

– – – – – – –
Jane Malloch,
It is hard for me to imagine anything more defamatory to UQ than your letter to Shollenberger on UQ letterhead, unless it is the defamation of UQ’s scientific reputation by the secretive data management of the lead author (John Cook) of the ‘97% Consensus’ paper.

May 18, 2014 9:37 pm

Lee@ 8.09 pm 05/ 18 , boy that’s hard on a key board and a screen LOL

May 18, 2014 9:39 pm

Sent Joanne a full pound of Newhuas finest…
Kick butt and publish their names!!!

May 18, 2014 9:45 pm

… and to think Obama read this sh!te from a teleprompter with a straight face. Add that to the legacy.

May 18, 2014 9:52 pm


May 18, 2014 10:07 pm

Just a thought. who has an account from the university that would appear official? wouldn’t that be fraud to use it on behalf of the university?

May 18, 2014 10:09 pm

Brilliant graphic. For some reason I keep seeing Akmed the Dead Terrorist, instead of pretty boy Cook.
However the message is the same from either.
“Silence! I Kill you”
Funny how as the mask slips off of the Consensus Seekers, they become ever more difficult to parody.
I thought Creighton in his last book was stretching it a bit, as his eco-nasties seemed a bit over the top. Well here several years later on, I have to concede he was understating their mendacity.

May 18, 2014 10:17 pm

In myopinionCook’spapercarries no weight at all. This is because Cook’s paper appears to have been produced in co-operation with Skeptical Science.
I have previously commented on the Skeptical Science at some length. However when I asked them difficult questions, they first of all tried to swamp me with irrelevanciesand when I persisted they quite quickly spammed me. My questions were quite reasonable, the only catch was that if answered truthfully, they would have exposed the “reasoning” exhibited on their websitef or the nonsense that it is. Unfortunately for them I always keep a copy of these conversations and many of them are published at The Skepitical Science one is at I moved the conversation to my blog for obvious reasons.
Needless to say, any opinions or “facts”, published in any way by these people and their cronies are completely unreliable andtherefore Cook, in my opinion, is tainted by the same brush.

May 18, 2014 10:24 pm

davidmhoffer, there is nothing inherently remarkable about withholding data. Sometimes it makes sense to. Sometimes it’s necessary to. The problem in this case is they’re not just withholding data, but refusing to explain why it needs to be withheld.
Well you have seen the data, so you are a better judge of that than I.
That said, if they hold data that shows that the world is on the cusp of disaster, it would be criminal to withhold it, would it not? On the other hand, if their data doesn’t support the disaster meme, it would be equally criminal to say otherwise.
Now I doubt that either extreme is applicable in this case. But for a group of scientists insistent that the world is in dire straights unless we take drastic action that will send billions into darkness and death, they are remarkably reluctant to release the very data they insists proves their case. Jones and Mann and Cook are cut of the same cloth, insistent as to the conclusions of their data, but when asked to produce it, insist that it is their intellectual property. One can only assume that they are either the most selfish people on the planet on an (dare I say it?) unprecedented scale, or somewhat disingenuous in regard to their claims.
So all of us must ask… what is it about their data are they so strenuously trying to keep confidential? It was after all, just a study about other studies. Hardly original science and hardly something that rises to the level of intellectual property by most people’s definition (though a legal definition might certainly be more nuanced.) In the meantime, the common man increasingly smell’s a rat, and the ability of the politicians to cut their funding is fueled by this behaviour, even if it turns out that there was nothing damaging to release in the first place.
I’m enjoying the spectre of them twisting in the wind. They are clearly in full panic mode, and the longer this plays out the worse it gets for them.
Congrats on all of you’ve done, I would not have had the patience to drag this out for maximum impact.

Alan Robertson
May 18, 2014 10:48 pm

I tried popping this batch in coconut oil- mmm, just like at the movies.

May 18, 2014 10:53 pm

Likely Brandon will be sued. Last years total resources for this universtity was close 1.7 Billion Australian Dollars.
It’s also a very old “sandstone” university, so is part of the group of 8 coalition in Australia who have enormous influence.
Do you really think a highly regarded university would make hollow threats? It’s possible I guess.
If a university expects only the highest integrity from its researchers then you can bet they expect the same in return….Maybe they’ll use the exercise of sueing Brandon as a study topic?
My advice is this: If popcorn is the only benefit from publishing the IP data then don’t publish. Looks like WUWT has your back whatever road you take.

Proud Skeptic
May 18, 2014 11:09 pm

munch, munch, munch…

May 18, 2014 11:14 pm

Scumbagerous wallyflops!

May 18, 2014 11:15 pm

Brandon Shollenberger
i was really hoping that you were just toying with their afflictions – because any 3 yr old child of 2 knows the difference between ‘may’ and ‘can’t’.
as mr whitman says, you are maximizing the damage – as borat would say: very niiiiice.

May 18, 2014 11:35 pm

Brandon, as said elsewhere some days ago, if push comes to shove (which I doubt, as you clearly also do) there are a lot of lawyers willing to do pro bono on your behalf. Two already volunteered. Plus, as Steyn has showed, crowd sourcing the right kind of lawsuit is actually constructive ‘fun’.
Give it a few days. Then if you do not hear specifics (very specifics) to your questions from Cook or UQ, put the data out there for all to see. You have already hinted at several clever mechanisms. My recommendation is accompanied by an email to UQ saying done given their non-responsiveness to gravely substantive matters concerning academic integrity and University adherence to own policies and Aus law. Maybe JoNova can suggest extra special OZ tweaks.
Bravo to you going for it.

Brandon Shollenberger
May 18, 2014 11:36 pm

A. Scott, it’s funny you say that. I received an e-mail from an individual who has filed an FOI request for any correspondence with or regarding me.
sonic, you’re welcome.
davidmhoffer, I think a better question would be how can they argue against releasing the IDs associated with ratings when authors of the paper said things like:

It may be helpful to have some stats., for example, the percentage of certain ratings that we have done compared to the group overall. This may reveal some systematic bias of certain individuals, well, maybe not bias but failure to grasp the criteria correctly. Eg, I have awarded very few #1’s and it’s entirely possible that others have understood the criteria differently and perhaps more correctly than me.

In private. Authors of the paper called for certain tests to be done, yet they now resist releasing the data which would allow people to perform those tests!

May 18, 2014 11:46 pm

Brandon, all the best with your decision. I am not sure you will receive a response, there is much political trouble here with the budget cuts proposed by the current federal Govn’t inparticular to institutions like universities. There is no mention of it in MSM that I have seen and may just get swept aside with all the cage rattling going on at the moment.

May 18, 2014 11:46 pm

Re-pro-duc-i-bil-i-ty is not some ancient city mere intellectuals might debate about. If you enter science without offering it, on the public dime, you have committed a crime.

May 18, 2014 11:58 pm

The take home message I got from this is that the University of Queensland were and are directly involved (Paid for?) this worthless project.
Can they seriously defend a paper such as this, either for the way it was planned or compiled or analysed? If so it does not say a lot for their academic rigour and says even less for their transparency.
Hopefully, if the report is true that climate funding in Australia is to be drastically reduced-that the UOQ will find their funding also severely cut which might help to prevent a repeat of this worthless and misleading project.

May 19, 2014 12:03 am

I have reposted the threatening letter here:
This is a time to stand up and be counted. I implore everyone else to repost it on their own blog. Bullies work by fear. Stand up to them, shine a searchlight on their misbehaviour, and they scurry back into their holes.

May 19, 2014 12:23 am

HI Brandon
A little way down this link is a photo of the person who sent you the letter. Obviously a keen cyclist
She seems a nice ordinary person so I hope that will be remembered by all concerned as this plays out. She is tasked with defending the indefensible. I wonder how much she knows about the background to this whole matter as opposed to what she has been told?
The UOQ are more closely associated with this project than I had previously believed, having thought it was just another mad venture by the Skeptical Science team.
If I were Jane Malloch-the legal person involved- I would be embarrassed at the seeming lack of control by the University over what increasingly looks like is (at least in part) their project. Their Funding? Computer time? Research facilities? Advice? Analysis? Promotion? Who knows.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but lets keep it civil and professional. The last thing we need is for anyone to send silly messages to any of the players.

M Courtney
May 19, 2014 12:28 am

Just a reminder that the 97% consensus paper was widely reported and even publicised by the Twitter feed of the President of the USA.
Therefore, if the supporting data is obviously flimsy, the authors of the paper would have some interesting conversations to come.
For example, why did they not correct any misapprehension before ensnaring foreign politicians?

May 19, 2014 1:04 am

as a queenslander, with popcorn at the ready, i say good for u, Brandon.
just for fun, here’s an amusing excerpt from the letter writer’s LinkedIn:
LinkedIn: Jane Malloch
Head, Research Legal at University of Queensland
Jane Malloch’s Experience
Commercial Officer
Rio Tinto Alcan …
1996 – 1999 (3 years) …

Alan Robertson
May 19, 2014 1:42 am

M Courtney says:
May 19, 2014 at 12:28 am
Just a reminder that the 97% consensus paper was widely reported and even publicised by the Twitter feed of the President of the USA.
Therefore, if the supporting data is obviously flimsy, the authors of the paper would have some interesting conversations to come.
For example, why did they not correct any misapprehension before ensnaring foreign politicians?
Won’t matter to him. Just listen to some of the other stuff that comes out of his mouth.

May 19, 2014 2:05 am

I had a letter from the VC of UWA – they insisted it was private and confidential.
As I had never been contacted by the sender in the past I published it.. (they didn’t try the copyright trick)
Now that the Recursive Fury paper has been forcibly retracted by the journal.. doesn’t this look silly
Dear Mr Woods,
I write with reference to the complaint you lodged in relation to published works of Professor Stephen Lewandowsky. The issues have been considered in accordance with the University’s policy on Managing Alleged Breaches of the Code of Conduct for Research Misconduct. The University has determined that there has been no breach of the code, and as a result, there is no case of research misconduct.
As you may be aware, the University received a number of complaints regarding the paper entitled Recursive Fury: Conspiracist Ideation in the Blogosphere in Response to Research on Conspiracist Ideation. Some complaint matters also referred to an earlier publication entitled NASA Faked the Moon Landing – Therefore, (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science. The University was also advised of other complaint matters by the editors of the two journals and by Prof Lewandowsky. The University was therefore in a position to consider a wide range of concerns raised in regards to the two publications,
The preliminary investigation undertaken by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) considered all the issues identified and determined that there has been no breach of the code, and therefore no case of research misconduct has been identified. However, one issue raised was of a perceived conflict of interest in relation to the identity of proprietors and significant contributors to blogs. A recommendation has been made to Prof Lewandowsky to identify these individuals with a footnote at the start of each research publication. Several other criticisms have been made in relation to the methodology used in the study and these have been referred back to the journals for peer assessment and are not part of the University investigation into responsible research practice.
The policy and procedure required to consider the issues has been appropriately followed and there are no further internal processes available. The University will not engage further with you in regards to these matters and this correspondence is now closed.
Yours sincerely,
Prof Bill Louden
Now that the Recursive Fury paper has been retracted by the journal.. doesn’t this look silly
especially as the co-founder of Frontiers has publicly said (he said a lot more privately)
Henry Markram
My own personal opinion: The authors of the retracted paper and their followers are doing the climate change crisis a tragic disservice by attacking people personally and saying that it is ethically ok to identify them in a scientific study.
They made a monumental mistake, refused to fix it and that rightfully disqualified the study.
The planet is headed for a cliff and the scientific evidence for climate change is way past a debate, in my opinion. Why even debate this with contrarians? If scientists think there is a debate, then why not debate this scientifically? Why help the ostriches of society (always are) keep their heads in the sand? Why not focus even more on the science of climate change? Why not develop potential scenarios so that society can get prepared? Is that not what scientists do? Does anyone really believe that a public lynching will help advance anything? Who comes off as the biggest nutter?
Activism that abuses science as a weapon is just not helpful at a time of crisis.” – Markram

wat dabney
May 19, 2014 2:22 am

Shollenberger simply engaged in a what’s known as ‘URL hacking’ and, as he himself has pointed out, Google does exactly the same thing:
Reuters also does exactly the same, and indeed, when a US prosecuter declined to take any action on a (serious) complaint, is quoted as being ‘happy with the outcome and that any different approach would seriously have limited Reuters ability to search for news items online.’
Should the “university” of Queensland be foolish enough to throw Australian taxpayers’ money at lawyers, I suspect Google and Reuters would not wish to see the current understanding of the law change in any way.

May 19, 2014 2:30 am

hunter says: “The much better picture of Cook is the one where he shows his inner nazi. Just saying.”

The charitable interpretation is that the initials of their website suggested this dress-up, as a bit of silliness.

May 19, 2014 2:51 am

Although it could be great fun , in the end sadly I expect a ‘Clarification letter ‘ in a back down with a little throwing of someone under the bus, along the lines of ‘make they aware of university policy ‘ Unless they are really dum or ‘Mannish ‘
It’s the harm in public that has the long-term impact, and of course should any politician be looking to score points they may find this action useful.

May 19, 2014 3:56 am

The University might just sue. The amount of money in the “climate” industry is sufficient to attempt to “chill” speech via lawsuits. At worst, a “climate” plaintiff is looking at civil penalities if the case is really, really frivolous. It’s even possible a lawyer or two might be sanctioned. What’s a few thousand, even a few hundred thousand, compared to billions?
It’s the suit that’s filed that will make the initial headlines and be repeated for a few days so everyone understands the risk of being sued by the “climate” cadre. All the Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) notewithstanding, since, in many countries, the judiciary is part of the cadre as well. See the Steyn case, for example.

James formerly from Arding
May 19, 2014 4:12 am

Hey Anthony! Want a really big conspiracy theory? P-)
What if this was not just about Brandon Shollenberger and the UQ – and they were after bigger fish like Jo Nova or yourself? Had either of you published the letter (particularly Jo) quite possibly the big legal guns would have been wheeled out!!
Just a whimsical thought after reading the letter and the bit that said “or persons acting in concert with you” :-).
BTW – I like the new blog format.
REPLY: That’s just as nuts as Cook’s 97% belief – A

May 19, 2014 4:33 am

There is a famous ‘case’ in the UK, ‘Arkell vs. Pressdram’ that has long been used as shorthand for an appropriate response to complaints of this nature. It’s worth a read…

May 19, 2014 5:13 am

Good work, Brandon. There’s a 97% chance this could get VERY interesting.

May 19, 2014 5:34 am

To all of you that are bored with just pop corn….. the unsettled scientific thought has now said that butter is ok. Enjoy!

The Other Phil
May 19, 2014 5:44 am

Can we retire the “popcorn futures” trope? It has jumped the shark. (So has “jumped the shark” for that matter.)

D. B. Cooper
May 19, 2014 6:20 am

I think we just found the dumbest lawyer in Australia. Plumbing new depths of stupidity.

James McCown
May 19, 2014 6:45 am

What I want to know: When will we get to see the data?

Arfur Bryant
May 19, 2014 7:14 am

You have my respect for your fortitude.
[” The problem in this case is they’re not just withholding data, but refusing to explain why it needs to be withheld.”]
Rather than worry about their intimidation (and I see you are not), I would be inclined to send Malloch’s letter and a covering letter of your explanation to every university/faculty newspaper in the world just to show them how free and courageous people deal with bullying.
All the best,

Olaf Koenders
May 19, 2014 7:18 am

The text in the letter from UQ should read:

“Furthermore, The University of Queensland has concocted a forensic investigation..”

Note that only those properly trained in computer “forensics” could embark on such a task and if UQ were to forensically “investigate” themselves then it wouldn’t hold up in court because they could say anything, which they have.
Brandon, such a matter requires independent forensic examination.
I’d demand all relevant copies of said “investigation”, because they “say”:

“ appears that the site where the IP was housed was hacked.”

Something that “appears” to be may not be the case at all. You’re innocent until proven guilty – the burden of proof is on them.

May 19, 2014 7:19 am

I fully expect any response from the University of Queensland to read something like:
“The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about FIGHT CLUB”

May 19, 2014 7:23 am

Oh, great, as far as I know, coercion is a criminal offense. Publish or perish …

May 19, 2014 7:30 am

I think the legalities on this matter are a little more murky than you might think. I was involved in litigation with Fox regarding original copies of some Simpsons episodes that I obtained from them as part of a liquidation. My attempt to sell them raised flags and the net effect of their threats was that I could own them, use them for my own private purposes but could not charge for their viewing or produce any copies for anyone other than myself. The “data” at issue may be viewed likewise. Brandon may be able to view it, play with it and come up with a report on it, but be unable to share those results with anyone else much less publish them.

May 19, 2014 7:41 am

James Pickett (@fjpickett) says:
May 19, 2014 at 4:33 am
James, in my 30 plus years in the business I had never come across that case (Arkell). Thank you so very much, you have made my day!

May 19, 2014 7:46 am

You can smell the panic on the far-left. Publish it all.

May 19, 2014 7:54 am

As I am sure you have concluded by now, nobody can write you an unsolicited letter and demand that you not show it to anyone. That makes no sense whatsoever, and illustrates the thorough and profound bogosity of the rest of their claims.
It’s like those marketing gimmicks where they send you something you didn’t order, then threaten to refer you to a collection agency and/or sue you if you don’t pay. Or the “parking tickets” issued by a privately-owned parking lot business.
In no case is any such shyster deserving of even the most perfunctory of responses.

Alan Robertson
May 19, 2014 8:36 am

Darragh McCurragh says:
May 19, 2014 at 7:23 am
“Oh, great, as far as I know, coercion is a criminal offense….”
Did you forget your sarc tag?

Alan Robertson
May 19, 2014 8:44 am

James formerly from Arding says:
May 19, 2014 at 4:12 am
“Hey Anthony! Want a really big conspiracy theory? P-)
What if this was not just about Brandon Shollenberger and the UQ – and they were after bigger fish like Jo Nova or yourself?…”
Have you seen anything at all which might lead you to believe that anyone in the climate fearosphere is that smart? We’re talking one, maybe two moves ahead…

May 19, 2014 8:47 am

Do you really think a highly regarded university would make hollow threats?
The first reason being that universities do not hire top-tier lawyers.

May 19, 2014 8:57 am

“Do you really think a highly regarded university would make hollow threats?”
But of course, we’re not talking about a “highly regarded university” here, are we?
Uncle Joe Bob’s Skewl of Pickin’ & Grinnin’ has higher academic standards than they do.

May 19, 2014 9:03 am

Obviously someone at the University of Queensland doesn’t understand the Creative Commons licence.

May 19, 2014 9:09 am

“So they do say “will be” the subject of “action”. WOW. What action? They did not say legal action, so maybe they meant they will have a coffee and bitch about it. Any way we can rest assured that there will be some ACTION.”
They will stamp their widdo feets on the ground and they will hold their breath until they turn blue. THat’ll teach ya!!!

Brandon Shollenberger
May 19, 2014 9:19 am

Patrick, thanks! I don’t actually expect a response.
tonyb, I’m not convinced the University of Queensland had any involvement with this project. For their sake, I hope they didn’t.
As for Jane Malloch, she may be a “nice ordinary person,” but she’s a trained professional. She has no excuse for writing a letter like this. I have no problem forgiving people for making mistakes. I just expect them to be accountable for those mistakes.
But yes, people should definitely keep this civil. Attacking her as a person is pointless. Not only is it bad in general, it’ll sabotage any efforts people might want to make.
cedarhill, there may be a lot of money in the “industry,” but that doesn’t mean there is a lot of money available from it at the University of Queensland. Most organizations don’t like to spend money filing lawsuits.
Arfur Bryant, thanks! I like that idea, but trying to contact that many people would be a huge pain. I’m not sure I’m up to it.
Kate Forney, I agree, except I believe a perfunctory response is sometimes inadequate. This letter contained a number of claims. While I agree about dismissing the copyrighted letter aspect, I believe the rest of the points ought to be called into question.

May 19, 2014 10:01 am

I wouldn’t give these wailing watermelons a second thought Brandon as the University of Queensland’s action here is symptomatic of of the left in general in Australia at present. After a long spell in Opposition under the Howard Govt, they were naturally ecstatic at having a Labor Govt at long last and the outpouring of emotionalism and hope for the future and a brave new world as usual, was quite tangible.
It all started out with a marvellous kumbayah gabfest of ideas and then it was all downhill from there as usual. When PM Rudd was deposed as a maniacal psycopath at the time (yes he was their measured, sober choice of leader to begin with), they consoled themselves that replacement Gillard was a first woman PM and things would be different but again it was the same old same old. Lots of policy thought bubbles and promises of the vision splendid with disastrous outcomes due to poor management and any real business experience and it all turned to manure and they were swept out of office in no uncertain terms. You guessed it. Oz by this time was racking up deficits at a rate of knots that Europeans would have been proud of, although Labor had been left with a zero debt Treasury and a substantial annual surplus.
With the bitter disappointment of a Labor/Green coalition by that stage they were left to sulk and lick their wounds. They’d largely blamed Abbott, Abbott, Abbott for it all rather than the sheer incompetence and buffoonery of their champions so all they could do was whinge and snipe at the object of their misery as they viewed it. Well the Abbott Govt has just announced its first Budget with a rather mild attempt to get the finances back in shape and that means trimming back the big ticket items like health, education and welfare largesse and all Hell has broken loose. There’s no doubt a lot of that has to do with the fallout from Copenhagen and the demise of their hold on the commanding heights of being seen to be Green, but with their overall fall from grace they have become catatonic at lashing out at all and sundry, Anything but self introspection; and you, Brandon, have copped a taste of it from UQ. Forget these people as they’re just frustrated watermelons, spitting bile and venom at all and sundry, in order to hide their own inadequacies and incompetence. The thought they could mount a serious international court case of any consequence is laughable under the overall circumstances.

May 19, 2014 10:04 am

Brandon, you made the right decision. Checking it out before you published was prudent.
Machiavelli wrote, “Men are bad, unless compelled to be good.” Your action in publishing the letter will at least compel them to stop making empty threats.
Both Cook and the university are despicable. WUWT is always far ahead of them in traffic. The truth is that the ‘consensus’ is right here. Cook and realclimate heavily censor, and most people dislike that. It shows in the numbers.

May 19, 2014 10:16 am

And besides we’d crowd source them financially back behind their secret society cloisters again and with even modest budget cuts they wouldn’t have much truck for the fight 😉

May 19, 2014 10:18 am

What is very interesting is the lack of any news from SKS. If, as UoQ claims then SKS are in the shit too for not protecting IP. Perhaps they would like this problem to just go away.

May 19, 2014 10:23 am

Admad (re. Arkell)
You’re very welcome. It’s nice to have an opportunity to use it!

Matthew R Marler
May 19, 2014 10:32 am

Brandon Shollenberger: The problem in this case is they’re not just withholding data, but refusing to explain why it needs to be withheld.
I am glad that you emphasized that.
Good Luck!

May 19, 2014 10:50 am

Lets say I’m some random person and I spot a empty parking lot. Even though I have no connection to the parking lot, set up a stand to collect parking fees. No one challenges me because I look official. This is a form a fraud — a confidence scam.
What is the basis of UQ’s claim that they are property owners? That is not a rhetorical question. I haven’t been following this extremely closely, but is UQ listed as a grantee on the CC license? If not, then either Cook gave a license for something he didn’t own or UQ is playing a confidence game. Either way, the University has a duty to clarify. This is a question they can not simply ignore.

May 19, 2014 11:01 am

read the letter, copied it to my young son to indicate how not to do science,
can they sue me too please ?

Tom In Denver
May 19, 2014 11:05 am

It looks like it is too late for that UQ department. Based on the recent headline, the conservative coalition is cutting their budget on Global Warming studies from 5.75 billion doen to 500 million.

May 19, 2014 11:12 am

One approach would be to write the University a letter in which you furnish a copy of the Creative Commons License that Cook issued. You inform the University that you have a valid license to the data. You tell them that if they believe that Cook has improperly licensed it to you, then they will need to provide you with (1) documentary evidence to their claim and (2) a copy of a cease and desist letter that they would be obligated to send Cook.

Lauren R.
May 19, 2014 11:31 am

If it was published under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license, why not go ahead and make it available for anyone to download? Let’s wikileaks this, let the whole world have copies of it . . . except it isn’t “leaking” because it was made publicly available in the first place until they changed there minds. I’d like a copy, please.

Tom J
May 19, 2014 11:34 am

You’ll never guess this. I was driving down the street to my favorite fast food restaurant. Now, since I’m semi-retired, ‘fast’ is not really a criteria for my restaurant choices, ‘cheap’ is. Anyway, fast food aficionados may remember when the Angus burger was all the rage. Well, now it’s the Shollenburger (yeah, I know the spelling’s different but a burger is not a berger). Anyway, the fascinating thing with the Shollenburger is that it’s not Cooked. No, the Shollenburger actually cooks the Cook. How do you like your Cook: well done; medium; medium rare; or rare? Doesn’t make any difference really. It’s ’cause you just have to have the nerve to eat it and spit it out.

May 19, 2014 11:40 am

Brandon Shollenberger
” A millennia ago we abandoned our belief in the supernatural , Now you are asking me to sabotage that achievement …. to send us back to the dark ages of superstition and ignorance and fear? NO!”
I have slightly changed it

May 19, 2014 11:58 am

@ mpaul says: May 19, 2014 at 11:12 am
Interesting. That would mean that the author did not have rights to the data that he used. That would be the only logical way that the Uni could rightfully claim ownership of it. It also begs the question of why haven’t they sued him or given him a dismissal for ethics violation(s).

May 19, 2014 12:00 pm

Tom In Denver It should have been cut to ZERO dollars not 500m its ridiculous money for a non-event..

James Strom
May 19, 2014 12:15 pm

I see a new twist in crime stories. The criminal sends someone a death threat, and in paragraph two he claims copyright to the letter and threatens criminal charges if the receiver shows it to anyone.

May 19, 2014 12:34 pm

I doubt they will sue you Brandon. If they’ve learned anything from the Mann suits they will not. But if they do, as soon as they do, file discovery motions for all of the data. I suspect it will have to be made public for the “trial”. Since that is what they are trying to avoid in the first place…well…maybe all those perfessers can figger it out…

k scott denison
May 19, 2014 12:34 pm

So, if the University of Queensland scores [an] “own goal” by use of their own letter as being defamatory to themselves when published, do they sue themselves? Just wondering.

k scott denison
May 19, 2014 12:36 pm

Mr. Shollenberger, thank you. Can’t wait to see all the tweets this will generate from the left, #ThatBrandonIsSuchAStinker, no doubt.

May 19, 2014 12:39 pm

What exactly is it that 97% of “climate scientists” is supposed to “believe”. If it’s that 1) humans are definitely responsible for most of whatever warming has actually been observed since 1850 & 2) future man-made warming will definitely have major catastrophic effects, then IMO this number is totally bogus. Not that it would matter scientifically even if true.

k scott denison
May 19, 2014 12:45 pm

With all due respect to Ms. Malloch, I have to ask how many others thought of the old Saturday Night Live point/counterpoint skits when reading this… “Jane, you ignorant slut.”

May 19, 2014 12:45 pm

IP rights are the legally recognised exclusive rights to ‘creations of the mind/intellect’
Does ‘data’ satisfy this definition – or did they really create something -that they don’t want published. Is there a discernable ‘creation’ in this data set. You don’t create data, you collect it. As such it might come under some other article (of law or moral code) The UQ, along with other U’s have a duty and mission statment to diseminate (at least, this type of ) knowledge for the good of society
Publishing the IP…will expose UQ to civil actions from third parties. But same paragraph states that the UQ owns the IP. This and the rest just don’t add up.
So lets run with this a little…they are holding some form of creative work that is or is not the ‘data’, for someone else. If they have been found to have ‘lost’ it, those to whom it belongs will be angry and sue them. They are a University – the top rank of intellectual brains (some would challenge) in society. How embarassing?
They are claiming they were hacked and perhaps suggesting that is the reason why a third party got hold of it – i.e. you have received proceeds from a crime, and should sort of just keep quiet and hand it back.
In regard of the letter Mallock sent, claiming copyright, etc – I have no doubt that any judge worth his/her salt would avail of a chance to bring good order and conduct to his/her court room with a ‘public’ admonishment, with the express purpose of promoting professionalism among those who may appear before him/her. Any solicitor so bold or otherwise would be seen to get what they deserve. It would be a humiliation. Mallock would run a terrible risk, bringing a case against Shollenberger re the letter she sent being published.
Not only that but if it is later quite clear that the ‘IP’ was falsified, adjusted inappropriately, intellectually/deliberately biased or whathaveyou, so seen in respect of the common good, political influence, academic funding issue related, etc, etc, then I would suspect that Mallock will not only NOT sue, but be looking for a new job, career even, perhaps even under a new name.
That she advises (foc obviously) against defamatory comment suggests she knows ahead of time that there is cause for same. I would politely tell her ‘thanks for the advice, but it was not needed, and not to trouble herself in this regard, others of higher calibre are providing wonderful councel. Forthcoming comments will be appropriate and accurate, she can be assured of that!
That letter was a real gamble, if it works it was worth it, but if it doesn’t, heads will roll. Lots of strutting with big words and worrying ‘threat’ references typical of a desperate bully effort. Rather a silly gamble I would think, but then the info to be revealed might be so damning as to warrant such stakes at the table. I’m sure it won’t work, it was academic suicide from the beginning. Not disimilar to the banking crisis, once they started on the slippery slope, they all went down it, had to – and they knew the ending was not going to be pretty.
‘Those that can do, those that can’t teach’ I sense someone who can’t, in a teaching institution, trying.

May 19, 2014 12:55 pm

RobertInAz says:
May 19, 2014 at 12:24 pm
Thanks. Good to have a US legal opinion.

Rhoda R
May 19, 2014 1:04 pm

You know, it might be a hoot for someone to e-mail the link to the u-Tube Hitler satire that was shown on Jo Nova’s site to both the University chancellor (with a snark along the lines of “Thanks for the entertainment”) and to Tony Abbot, the Prime Minister of Australia. Let the powers that be know what kind of fools they’re looking like on the world stage.

May 19, 2014 1:18 pm

There is another dimension to consider.
Inquiry and encouragement should be given to ERL (Environmental Research Letters) who published the John Cook et al 2013 paper entitled ‘Consensus’ (‘Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature’).
Suggest some inquiry to ERL and also some encouragement to ERL regarding:
a) Why did ERL publish the John Cook et al 2013 paper ‘Consensus’ with the names of raters identified in it when the University of Queensland has an issue with Brandon Shollenberger potentially publishing data with the names of those same raters previously identified by ERL’s journal publication? Note: ERL published paper has the names of raters who participated but not the timestamps of each rating nor the identity of the raters for each paper that was rated; whereas Shollenberger may be considering revealing that info withheld from the ERL paper; or Shollenberger may be considering at least using a pseudonym for each rater’s name in order to effectively anonymize rater information and timestamps.
b) Did ERL receive full disclosure from UQ regarding third party contracts? If so how did ERL reconcile conflicts between SKS possessing the data that UQ claims ownership of? Or is UQ conveniently just making this third party contract story up now in the past week after the paper has been published in ERL for a year?
c) Full data has been requested several times of all parties (ERL, John Cook and UQ) over the past year since the paper was published one year ago. To date no data has been provided due to various reasons: non-response to requests; ongoing / pending evaluation of requests; refusal of requests. Interested parties should perhaps write to ERL asking them to consider, it having been a year and no data has been provided, to put ‘Consensus’ on a new status of ‘about to be temporarity withdrawn unless full data is made available to the public forthwith’.
d) What publishing license does ERL have on file for the John Cook et al 2013 paper ‘Consensus’? Is ERL aware that the paper’s authors are not in compliance with their license terms and conditions?
e) Request ERL to disclose, , in the spirit of open science that should be subject to transparency, the ‘Consensus’ reviews by ERL peer reviewers, reviewer communications, author communications during review and editorial communications with reviewers and authors. Likewise, there should be requests to ERL to encourage them, in the spirit of open science that should be subject to transparency, to consider getting voluntary public self-identification of all the reviewers of ‘Consensus’.
Just my thoughts.

May 19, 2014 1:31 pm

Shouldn’t they be aiming for 99.7% ?
That was the Anschluss plebiscite figure.

May 19, 2014 2:00 pm

Good point about the possible “con man” aspect, pretending to own and sell what one has no right to claim as property.
If that does prove to be the case here for UQ’s claim about IP, then their fraudulent audacity could be compared to the original great con man who is responsible for the meme, “I’ve got a bridge to sell you!”
George C. Parker, “selling” the Brooklyn Bridge:

May 19, 2014 2:53 pm

Cease and desist letters have found to be copyrighted under US law.

Chip Javert
May 19, 2014 3:03 pm

Patrick B says:
May 18, 2014 at 6:47 pm
So, where does Queensland University get its funding and who can influence it?
Let me take a stab at this:
1) “…where does Queensland University get its funding…”: – money from taxpayers is funneled through a mind-numbing number of political bodies;
2) “…who can influence it…” – well, actually, nobody.

May 19, 2014 3:51 pm

To many those it may concern,
Likely young grad students of climate studies and or legal studies are reading here for the big boys who have their collective tails in the ringer.
Of some note for all of the young and the older ones who have this unintended consequences raging about.
Today this poster who knows both U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and U.S. Congressman Ralph Hall contacted said gentlemen. They and their staff know me and they know I bring facts and truth.
They have now reviewed the post herein on the 97% study.
Congressman Hall put his Energy Committee staff on these new facts and will keep up via this site and other means to get a better understanding of the entire operation.
Each of you need to know yourselves better and not tilt towards windmills with the wind in the wrong direction. You can see that even the fine American Bald Eagle can come into a bad deal regarding miss placed windmills and misused data and such.
A time comes for a culling of the truth from the lies. Seek shelter is what I recommend.

May 19, 2014 3:55 pm

Ben Adler/Grist host the White House Google+ Hangout on climate – it’s a tech comedy in the first five minutes i’ve watched so far:
VIDEO: 46 MINS: Join EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, and Grist for a #WHClimateChat on the steps we’re taking to reduce carbon pollution, prepare for the impacts of climate change, and build a clean energy economy

May 19, 2014 4:02 pm

drifter says:
May 19, 2014 at 2:53 pm
“Cease and desist letters have found to be copyrighted under US law……”
The link you provide is to the Press Release by the lawyer involved in the case. Looking at other references to the case seem to indicate the judge did not rule on the merits of whether one could enforce a copyright on such a letter, but only acknowledged the lawyer had registered the copyright and for the purposes of the case would not rule on the merits of said copyright. It sounds like this was one small part of the hearing that was going on.
Here was a link with more info:

May 19, 2014 4:12 pm

it’s worth posting the Grist page on the Ben er-um Adler Q&A, if only for the comments, by about 20 commenters only:
19 May: Grist: Watch our live chat with Ernest Moniz and Gina McCarthy

Eamon Butler
May 19, 2014 4:14 pm

Good call, Brandon. Right about now I’d say they are beginning to understand there’s not going to be any suing. Yes you could be in serious trouble. They might just send you to your room.
Regards, Eamon.

May 19, 2014 4:47 pm

Are we up to 3 or 4 “97%” papers now? When one is destroyed, they just release another one with the exact same premise and conclusion and different random junk between them.
I’d bet that if this one is withdrawn because the data is never shown, another will be released within a few months, and its raw data will also be withheld.

May 19, 2014 5:11 pm

May 19, 2014 at 3:51 pm | apachewhoknows says:

Love your work 😉

May 19, 2014 5:51 pm

get ready to get screwed! or not…
19 May: WaPo: Gail Sullivan: Climate change: Get ready or get sued
“This is a new kind of storm associated with climate change,” Tom LaPorte, spokesman for the Chicago Department of Water Management, told Medill Reports on day two of the April flood. Extreme flooding is part of a pattern that has emerged in the last two decades, according to Illinois State climatologist Jim Angel.
Now a major insurance company is suing Chicago-area municipal governments saying they knew of the risks posed by climate change and should have been better prepared. The class-action lawsuits raise the question of who is liable for the costs of global warming.
Filed by Farmers Insurance Co. on behalf of itself, other insurance companies and customers whose property was damaged by the surge of storm water and sewage overflow, the lawsuits allege the governments of Chicago-area municipalities knew their drainage systems were inadequate and failed to take reasonable action to prevent flooding of insured properties…
These lawsuits are the first of their kind, Michael Gerrard, director of the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School in New York, told Reuters. Gerrard said he expects to see more like them.
“I think what the insurers are saying is: ‘We’re in the business of covering unforeseen risks. Things that are basically accidents,’” Ceres insurance industry analyst Andrew Logan told NPR. “‘But we’re now at a point with the science where climate change is now a foreseeable risk.’”…
The insurance companies are in for an uphill battle. Daniel Jasica of the State’s Attorney’s Office in Lake County, which is named in the Illinois state court suit, told Reuters that the localities will claim government immunity protects them from prosecution.
“Even if a city is likely to win a lawsuit, it still is going to have to spend quite a bit in defending itself,” Robert Verchick, who teaches environmental law at Loyola University in New Orleans, told NPR. “And it might just be better for everybody involved for cities to take climate change seriously.”
19 May: CBS Moneywatch: Aimee Picchi: Not ready for climate change? Your town may get sued
Farmers Insurance is suing the city of Chicago and about 200 local municipalities for allegedly failing to adequately prepare for the impact of climate change, in what’s described as the first-of-its-kind legal argument…
The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago said it had no comment since it hasn’t been served with the lawsuit…
If the lawsuit is successful, it’s likely that local residents will end up footing the bill, Daniel Jasica of the State’s Attorney’s Office in Lake County, told Reuters. Lake County was named in the lawsuit.
“If these types of suits are successful — where is the money going to come from to pay the lawsuits? The taxpayers,” Jasica said.

Brian H
May 19, 2014 9:51 pm

Legal puffery. The letter has no value being protected.

May 19, 2014 10:01 pm

Has anyone ever compiled a list of all the times someone has had issues getting data and all the related issues on various papers on this general topic? I know steve m has had issues as well and remember hearing of a few others.
Perhaps someone could relate this to known cases of people having issues getting data in other fields?? Kinda seems like it is more common within the AGW theory then others… but perhaps I just hear about it more.

Brandon Shollenberger
May 20, 2014 4:04 am

I don’t have the words to comment on the latest development. I’ve written myself dry. You’ll have to read for yourself. I assure you, it’s at least mildly interesting:

May 20, 2014 4:16 am

Well Done Mr. Shollenberger!

May 20, 2014 4:18 am

I know you discounted it when I suggested it upthread but surely the UOQ are more closely involved with this survey than has previously been implied?
They seem to me to be covering their backs, as at the least they surely had an input ranging from tacit to overt. Tacit could be merely verbally agreeing something, overt could include actual assistance with compiling or analysing the data. Something is being hidden, but how big that ‘something’ might be is difficult to gauge from here.

Clovis Marcus
May 20, 2014 4:32 am

I have mirrored the letter here. And in a few other places that are less findable.
Better put me on the list for takedown notices…
…good luck with that.

Brandon Shollenberger
May 20, 2014 4:37 am

tonyb, I didn’t discount the idea, but I’m still not convinced the University of Queensland actually owns this data. I know they’re acting as though they do, but I can’t see a reason to trust them on that point when they’re wrong on basically every other point. I’m going to remain skeptical until there’s something more than people waving their hands on the point.
As for something being hidden, I get the impression there is no “smoking gun” here. At most, I think some people just don’t want everyone to know how poorly done the study was.

May 20, 2014 4:44 am

As I wrote on your blog, the UQ is really stretching it by claiming that the raters are research participants that need to be protected due to ethics approval. Why would they need ethics approval for rating scientific papers, unless the raters themselves were the object of the research? There is something very rotten about this. I assume that they are trying to use the alleged ethics approval in order to block attempts for falsification of their ratings. All the more reason to react since otherwise this will be the start of a new trick to keep climate science immune against falsification. Someone needs to dig up the ethics approval…

May 20, 2014 5:20 am

Brandon said
‘At most, I think some people just don’t want everyone to know how poorly done the study was.’
I am not suggesting a smoking gun but something very much along the lines of what you suggest, with the added possibility that therefore IF they had something to do with the survey, at the least it shows them up as slip shod and at worst as not following any scientific method and trying to obscure the facts..

May 20, 2014 7:37 am

{just posted this comment at Brandon Shollenberger’s blog}

The following is a statement from UQ acting Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and International) Professor Alastair McEwan.

[regarding the John Cook et al (2013) paper ‘Consensus’ published in ERL]
“Only information that might be used to identify the individual research participants was withheld.
This was in accordance with University ethical approval specifying that the identity of participants should remain confidential.”

– – – – – – – – –
Alastair McEwan,
Then perhaps you should talk to the ‘Concensus’ paper authors John Cook et al about their violation of the University ethics approval for their paper, because they identified some “individual research participants” (the raters) in their paper. Here is a quote from the paper identifying some raters by name.

From the Cook et al (2013) paper published in ERL,
Thanks to James Powell for his invaluable contribution to this analysis, Stephan Lewandowsky for his comments and to those who assisted with collecting email addresses and rating abstracts: Ari Jokimäki, Riccardo Reitano, Rob Honeycutt, Wendy Cook, Phil Scadden, Glenn Tamblyn, Anne-Marie Blackburn, John Hartz, Steve Brown, George Morrison, Alexander C Coulter, Martin B Stolpe (to name just those who are not listed as (co-)author to this paper).”


Brandon Shollenberger
May 20, 2014 7:48 am

A couple commenters at my blog noticed something that had escaped my attention while writing my last blog post. The University of Queensland’s recent press release says certain data was hidden in accord with ethics approvals of the paper.
As far as I know, that’s the first anyone has heard of the John Cook getting an ethics approval from the university. It’d be interesting to see the documentation for it.

Larry Logan
May 20, 2014 10:52 pm

Brandon, wish you had a PR person to help set up interviews with Australian press. Maybe someone on the side from Heartland or JoNova?

May 21, 2014 1:06 am

“John Cook .. ethics”
Rarely seen in the same sentence!

May 21, 2014 6:47 am

william says:
May 19, 2014 at 7:30 am
yes, if you have copies of the the simpson’s tapes you can’t publish them, but you certainly can publish a report on why you found them good or bad.
why assume that Brandon can’t publish a report on what he learned from viewing the data? So long as Brandon takes steps to not name names, this would appear to satisfy ethical concerns.

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