An Open Letter puts the University of Queensland in a dilemma over John Cook's '97% consensus' paper

Rud Istvan, sends this open letter along for publication and writes: This puts UQ on the horns of a terrible dilemma. The preferred political response is always to sweep such a situation under the rug and ignore it.

The letter follows.

Prof. Alistair McEwan, Acting-Pro-Vice Chancello, University of Queensland

Ms. Jane Malloch, Esq. Head Research Legal, University of Queensland

Mr. Graham Lloyd, Environmental Editor, The Australian

Prof. Richard Tol,  University of Sussex


Prof. McEwan:

On May 20, 2014, you issued a formal statement concerning the controversy published by The Australian on 5/17/14 surrounding Cook et. al, 2013 Environ. Res. Lett. 8 024024, ‘Quantifying the Consensus’, hereinafter QtC. That statement presents the University of Queensland (UQ) with an ethical and legal dilemma. I call your attention to it expecting UQ will do the right thing.

Your statement makes it quite clear that UQ considers QtC was done under the sponsorship of and with support from UQ. This is indisputable. The solicitation for volunteer raters for the analysis that became QtC was: UQ released a statement about the importance of QtC in the UQ News on January 16, 2014 headlined, “UQ climate change paper has the whole world talking.”

Your 5/20/14 statement said in part:

“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.”

And that is precisely your dilemma.

The published paper itself identified all the individual research participants (raters). They were either named authors (with affiliations provided, for example second author Dana Nuccitelli affiliated with UQ associated website SKS, as noted in UQ’s 1/20/14 news release, or were specifically named without affiliation in the paper’s acknowledgement. Lest you doubt this, following is that portion of the paper as originally published.



Your dilemma is this. If the UQ ethical approval exists as you officially stated, then the paper as published grossly violated it. QtC is therefore unethical according to UQ policy, and should be withdrawn forthwith.

We need not cite here all the governing Australian principles that UQ is obligated to follow under such unfortunate circumstances. Those include but are not limited to

There is 2014 retraction precedent concerning another unethical climate related paper from the University of Western Australia. If, on the other hand, there was no such ethical approval, or that approval did not require concealing rater identities, then you have officially misrepresented grossly invalid grounds for withholding the anonymized additional information needed for replication, such as date and time stamped ratings by anonymous rater. Said information has repeatedly, formally been requested by Prof. Richard S.J. Tol (Sussex University (U.K.), and an IPCC AR5 lead author) for his legitimate research purposes concerning what UQ said is a seminal paper. That data should still exist, and should be provided to Prof. Tol under UQ Policy 4.20.06a §8.2 and §9.1 (as last approved 11/28/13).

Either way, you and UQ both appear in a very bad light. It appears that UQ congratulates itself on gross ethical breaches (especially when basking in so much notoriety), while at the same time withholding anonymized primary data underlying a self admitted important research paper in contravention of UQ written research data policy. Either retract the admittedly unethical paper, or retract the grossly mistaken excuse and release the requested data to Tol.

I note in passing there is a third possibility, to wit Tol’s requested data does not exist. In which case, QtC should be retracted for being unsupportable if not also unethical. As you are probably aware, there have been many recent instances of unsupportable research subsequently retracted. These include but are not limited to papers from Ike Antkare in 2010, and many recent papers from the SCIgen group (which interestingly bears surficial similarities to SKS) now being retracted by Springer and by IEEE. Those two precedents may be particularly germane to UQ’s instant dilemma.

This letter is as copyrighted as those Ms. Malloch writes concerning this matter on UQ behalf. You and anyone else in the whole wide world are hereby granted permission to freely reproduce it in whole or in part. I suspect some may.

I look forward to whichever decision (retraction or data provision) you think best for UQ under the aforesaid circumstances.

Sincerely yours, s/s

Rud Istvan, Esq., JD/MBA

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Ken Hall
May 22, 2014 1:47 pm


Jonathan Abbott
May 22, 2014 1:50 pm

I’ve kept the link to retraction watch I made for Recursive Fury as a bookmark….
Not sure I’ll need it in this case, but here’s hoping.

Mark Bofill
May 22, 2014 1:54 pm


May 22, 2014 1:55 pm

Ha ha – an absolutely top drawer response to the idiots at UoQ ! Well done Sir

May 22, 2014 1:57 pm

Oooooh, tricky one. I also note that the Minister of Education is aware of UQ’s conduct.
Here’s how they will respond:
1) ignore it
2) say the author has no standing
3) say “I know YOU are, but what am I?”
Meanwhile Lewandowski will conclude that the author is mentally ill, and write Recursive, Recursive Fury.

May 22, 2014 2:01 pm

Excellent letter, but what’s next if they ignore it?

Matthew R Marler
May 22, 2014 2:02 pm

Did you actually mail the letter to the addressee?

May 22, 2014 2:05 pm


May 22, 2014 2:09 pm

My goodness. That is one beautiful example of clear and concise logic. I am very interested in how this is going to come down. Surely the university can not ignore it.

george e. conant
May 22, 2014 2:10 pm

popcorn anyone??

May 22, 2014 2:15 pm

I like it. What’s the betting, though, that they’ll just ignore it. They can’t answer it without admitting some fault on their part, and they sure won’t want to do that.

May 22, 2014 2:17 pm

The University of Queensland folks will ignore the letter. After all, it is copyrighted and they cannot admit they have read it.

May 22, 2014 2:25 pm

Doesn’t “research participants” refer to the subjects of the research, i.e. the authors of the papers reviewed, rather than the raters?

May 22, 2014 2:25 pm

I am just a simple Red Neck. I understand the ethics here, but what about the “science”? Most will find the ethics issue somewhat trivial. Since the “science” is not mentioned, it must be “OK”??
Steamboat Jack (Jon Jewett’s evil twin)

May 22, 2014 2:27 pm

Ignoring it will just prove implicitly that they know they screwed up royally. Thinking I could really use a cold beer with all that popcorn. Gonna be a long season….

May 22, 2014 2:30 pm

Maybe they can download a copy from mediafire or rapidshare and say they didn’t know it was copyrighted.

May 22, 2014 2:34 pm

Mods, not sure if the error is in the original or through transcription, but the addressee at The Australian is ‘Graham Lloyd’.
[Changed, thank you. .mod]

May 22, 2014 2:34 pm

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.

Mac the Knife
May 22, 2014 2:39 pm

Rud Istvan,
A masterful analysis!

May 22, 2014 2:42 pm


May 22, 2014 2:50 pm

They will ignore it and hope it goes away. To the left, Integrity is a quaint, outmoded notion; PR is all that matters. “Create your own reality” and such assorted bumper-sticker drivel are examples of the vacuousness of progressive philosophy.

May 22, 2014 2:55 pm

THis is the ONLY way to deal with these people. They WILL take notice because most likely it will appear in major Australian newspapers..I for one as an UQ ex alummi will not be donating any more funds to UQ until all the higher staff and AGW fanatics Vice-chancellor etc are removed as well as Cook et al.

May 22, 2014 2:56 pm

Will any Australian newspaper publish Rud Istvan’s letter?
Will any radio or tv station do news item on it?
Will any member of Parliament bring the letter up in a session?
All of the above I Hope.
Great job Rud Istvan,

May 22, 2014 3:05 pm

here we go

Chad Wozniak
May 22, 2014 3:09 pm

@Eliza –
Good for you, not contributing to UQ so long as it engages in these shenanigans.
I cut off my alma mater, University of California, Santa Barbara, after learning of the extent to which this institution has been subverted by the left and is touting global warming. Not a red cent will they get from me till they clean house of these people.

May 22, 2014 3:17 pm

I love this – the analysis many many intuitively ‘got’ put into ‘woids’. From L. visc M. to Rud – the actual print via conductor WUWT. As others intimate, see other media now pick up and run with it – at the end of the day the media love a story, whatever ‘conflict’ they can comment on, which ever way they want to sell it, it’s all a ‘reveal’ on the dispicable deed(s).

Nick Stokes
May 22, 2014 3:20 pm

The ethics process was designed to protect participants. I can’t see anyone taking up Mr Istvan’s concern for their welfare if they have no complaint.
Retraction is for the journal. They would retract if asked by the authors, but it’s unlikely they would do it at the behest of UQ.

Roger Dewhurst
May 22, 2014 3:24 pm

Ms. Jane Malloch, Esq.
Oh dear!!!!!!!!!!!

Rud Istvan
May 22, 2014 3:24 pm

Eliza, I have regrettably done the same for my 3x alma mater Harvard over Oreskes.
Donitkin, it was a transcription error. Plus. I obtained his actual email through LinkedIn, as Google won’t provide it. Trust me (heck, not me, Internet servers) he has it.
Earwig42 perhaps. Prof. Tol is himself on the case per three emails to me yet today very late his time. We both hope it can reform the scientific process. It was sent to UQ first with Tol cc’d. I gave them oh, about an hour to reply before…
All, I will not let UQ ignore it. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. And, it will become another essay in my forthcoming next book, several ‘readers digest’ draft essays from which are already posted over at Climate Etc.
Regards to all fellow sceptics. It was never about the science. So let’s play Chicago style politics.

May 22, 2014 3:24 pm

Not all requests need have responses …. as long as the requester does not pursue and obtain legal direction from the courts to make a response.
The simplest way lies, misdirection and error continue their merry lives is if the ones responsible simply stonewall, look blankly and say nothing. I works for marriages (heading for divorce, that is).

May 22, 2014 3:24 pm

The biggest criticism I had about Cook’s study was the fact that it was so stupidly designed, almost as if he wanted there to be as much subjectivity as possible, which I’m sure he did. Surveys of opinion should never be carried out by anyone with a personal involvement in the outcome.
If Cook and the U of Q really wanted an answer to their question, they should have turned it over to the university dept that would be qualified to conduct such an opinion survey (probably someplace in their business school). The first problem I see is that the data Cook was using (research papers) was almost certainly obsolete and not relevant for the question of what climate scientists believe at the present time. I don’t think anyone cares what they thought 10 years ago, or whenever those papers were written. This, in and of itself, is reason enough for rejecting Cook’s survey. But there’s more. If you want to determine what a person believes about a subject, you ASK HIM. You don’t grab some papers he has written, probably years ago, and engage in what amounts to reading tea leaves in order to determine his opinion as of today.

May 22, 2014 3:28 pm

Brad says “Ignoring it will just prove implicitly that they know they screwed up royally. ”
I doubt it. I suspect that they will take the stance that the open letter doesn’t warrant a response.
It’s the same argument they use as to why they won’t openly debate skeptics.

May 22, 2014 3:29 pm

With due respect to Mr. Istvan there were raters that participated in this project who were not listed as authors or acknowledged in the paragraph he cites. Further, not all of the folks in the acknowledgement section were raters.
The identities of two of those people are known via info from the leaked forum. The others identities are not known and it is entirely possible that they requested their identities not be revealed.

May 22, 2014 3:46 pm

See here.
17 of the 24 raters identities are known via publicly available information.

Green Sand
May 22, 2014 4:01 pm

Nick Stokes says:
May 22, 2014 at 3:20 pm
They would retract if asked by the authors, but it’s unlikely they would do it at the behest of UQ.

Pressure, Nick, pressure, just like it builds in the atmosphere nobody knows just how it builds, nobody can yet “model” it!
Precise enough?

James (Aus.)
May 22, 2014 4:08 pm

Has UQ any wind farm investments?

Rud Istvan
May 22, 2014 4:09 pm

DGH, in the event you are correct, that is yet another reason for having the paper retracted. it’s very acknowledgement was false. Thank you, although that was probably not your intent,
My advice when playing Chicago style chess is, ‘think ahead’.

Green Sand
May 22, 2014 4:15 pm

DGH says:
May 22, 2014 at 3:46 pm
With due respect to Mr. Istvan…

Three Musketeers Sir!
All for one, one for all! Is a “rater” immune? Does one “rater” leave his publicised comrades to take his share of the accolades? Nyet comrade!

May 22, 2014 4:21 pm

Green Sand says:
May 22, 2014 at 4:15 pm
does one Rater make a paper be ? ;>)

May 22, 2014 4:24 pm

I would not believe word one from Dana or John even it that talked out of their […] like the pet Detective . ;>)

Ursa Felidae
May 22, 2014 4:28 pm

I’m confused…..
The project, so I thought, was to read abstracts and declare belief/or not in CAGW.
Are the researchers in this case also the research participants?
So are we to judge the mental states of said research participants then?
Perhaps the 97% is simply the bias of the researchers/research participants?

M Seward
May 22, 2014 4:37 pm

Think about this – the people at UQ are supposed to be the smart ones, part of our intelligentsia! At this rate academic intelligence is headed for oxymoron status like army intelligence. Except it won’t be a cheap joke, it will be accurate.

May 22, 2014 4:45 pm

Well put, Mr. Istvan!
Perhaps UQ will now experience the “missing heat”…..
Certainly some light needs to be shed on this purported “science”….

Rud Istvan
May 22, 2014 4:47 pm

Ursa Fidelae, that but one of the reasons Dr. Tol requested the underlying data. But one.

May 22, 2014 4:48 pm

The art of spankage. Bravo. It even makes my butt hurt reading it.

May 22, 2014 5:10 pm

Perhaps this will cause Ms Malloch to reach for the Maalox.

May 22, 2014 5:12 pm

@Steamboat Jack
If the methodology is unsound, there is no science.

May 22, 2014 5:18 pm

what is it with our aussie universities?
20 May: Guardian: North Korea: an unlikely champion in the fight against climate change
Pyongyang is cooperating with global strategy on climate change, writes Dr Benjamin Habib. The question is, why?
(Benjamin Habib for The Conversation, part of the North Korea network)
(Dr Benjamin Habib is a lecturer in politics and international relations at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia.)
***Renewable energy may be the most appropriate vehicle for increasing generation capacity because unlike large centralised fossil-fuels, renewables can be scaled locally which reduces their up-front cost.
For example, a UNDP-sponsored project is installing small-scale wind energy systems at sites across North and South Pyongan Provinces, helping to alleviate energy shortages affecting these areas by decoupling them from reliance on the coal-generated electricity grid…
Most significantly, renewables offer North Korea considerable scope for technology transfer, infrastructure upgrades and income through the Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol.
Technology transfers for such projects do not violate the import restrictions of dual-use technologies listed under the UN Security Council sanctions regime against the DPRK. The income potential derives from the carbon credits generated by North Korea’s renewable projects, which can be traded on international carbon markets…
***Together, the projects already online in North Korea account for 193,475 carbon credits. At the EU spot price for carbon credits of $5.66/ton (3.36 pounds/ton) as of July 2013, North Korea’s current portfolio of carbon credits are worth a mere $1m per year.
LaTrobe: Staff profile – Dr Benjamin Habib. Lecturer
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
School of Social Sciences and Communications

Chip Javert
May 22, 2014 5:20 pm

Col Mosby says:
May 22, 2014 at 3:24 pm
The biggest criticism I had about Cook’s study was the fact that it was so stupidly designed, almost as if he wanted there to be as much subjectivity as possible, which I’m sure he did.
I think most of us strongly agree with Col’s point about the trivial nature of this supposed research.
I suspect this was intentionally done so a “97% consensus” figure could continue to be published for consumption by the large audience of fairly uninformed population.
I’d bet the strength of the worldwide push-back to this academic cow-pie has come as a huge and unpleasant surprise to UQ and the authors. The resulting pseudo legal activity may simply be yet another attempt to play to the (presumed) larger uninformed audience.

May 22, 2014 5:21 pm

pat says:
May 22, 2014 at 5:18 pm
This is a case of not knowing whether to laugh or cry. North Korea surely helps fight CO2 by having virtually no economy & causing the premature deaths by starvation of most of its population, thereby reducing emissions of the evil gas.
On reflection, I see that North Korea is really the dream world of CACA advocates, if only they were its rulers instead of violent psychopathic totalitarian monarchists. Oh, wait…
Never mind.

May 22, 2014 5:56 pm

Hall – I am not sure it is checkmate,but I think their only option left is to sacrifice the queen.

May 22, 2014 5:58 pm

philjourdan says:
May 22, 2014 at 5:56 pm
I strongly concur. The best move for UQ now would be to sacrifice the Red Queen, ie Cook.

May 22, 2014 5:59 pm

Or Black Queen, given his penchant for Nazi storm trooper uniforms.

Nick Stokes
May 22, 2014 6:06 pm

“The best move for UQ now would be to sacrifice the Red Queen”
else we’ll send in the Black Knight!

Mike Smith
May 22, 2014 6:21 pm

UQ will sure ignore this and hope it goes away.
However, I assume the UQ Administration is accountable to some body or persons but really have no clue about how such things are organized down under. Perhaps Rud Istvan’s excellent letter could be sent those in a position to ensure that UQ doesn’t just bury the thing?

Mark Bofill
May 22, 2014 6:28 pm

Nick Stokes says:

May 22, 2014 at 6:06 pm
“The best move for UQ now would be to sacrifice the Red Queen”
else we’ll send in the Black Knight!

LOL. +1 Nick.

Mike T
May 22, 2014 6:33 pm

Roger Dewhurst says:
May 22, 2014 at 3:24 pm
Ms. Jane Malloch, Esq.
Oh dear!!!!!!!!!!!
I saw that and thought it odd, too. Perhaps the legal world has archaic honorifics that normal mortals know little about? Of course “Esquire” is masculine, but may be applied to those who have reached a certain level in the legal food chain, and since in medieval times women were not part of the legal world, the archaic honorific is applied now regardless of gender.
The thing about Cook et al’s study that interests me is its self-evident poor quality. I’m not currently involved in any area of university study where the Cook study would fall within its ambit, but if I were, and I were marking the paper as if it were a submitted assignment, it would get a fail. That UQ could approve of, and tout the results as if they are startling news, when in reality the paper would be a big fat fail for a third year geography student, says a lot about UQ policy in my view. Or lack of ethics, more likely.

Chris in Queensland
May 22, 2014 6:38 pm

James (Aus.) says:
May 22, 2014 at 4:08 pm
Has UQ any wind farm investments?
Don’t know about wind farms, but they have 2 huge sola PV installations. ( for experimental work and Grants )

May 22, 2014 6:54 pm

I did you the favor of politely informing you that the premise of your open letter is wrong. You have no cause to question my intent. Further, your suggestion that a paper ought to be retracted on the basis of an error in the acknowledgements is silly.
I appreciate your advice vis thinking ahead. I might return the favor by suggesting you think in the first case.

May 22, 2014 7:00 pm

Here’s one of climate skepticism’s most well regarded bloggers on the matter,
“Steve McIntyre
May 19, 2014 at 10:31 pm
Brandon: you say “I’ve so far found public records showing 16 of the 24 raters’ identities”. YOu counted Honeycutt twice – you only listed 15. Other SKSers commenting in the The Consensus Project forum include Brian Purdue, Daniel Bailey. rustnever – is shown as a George Morrison.”
One or two more have been identified but the count is nowhere near “all.”

May 22, 2014 7:23 pm

“The ethics process was designed to protect participants. I can’t see anyone taking up Mr Istvan’s concern for their welfare if they have no complaint.”
This comment just highlights the very disjointed, non-sensical relationship between the nature of the paper and the UQ’s comments on it. The only standing the raters could have to make a complaint is if they were subjects of the paper, if they were being studied. In that case, it’s not a study of climate papers at all, but of how people rate climate papers. You can’t even assume they have the expertise to do that job if they are the subjects.
But if they were recruited to analyze the papers and given the training to do so with the view to getting an accurate assessment of the papers themselves (and not the raters ability), then they aren’t the subjects of the study (the papers are). They are, in effect, (limited) co-authors. And since when is the ethics process designed to protect authors. It would be like me going to court to get a restraining order against myself. And if the raters somehow do need to be covered by an ethics agreement for working with John Cook, what does that say about him? Will all co-authors need ethics protection from each from here on out? Can Lars Bengtsson get ethics protection from the co-author who threatened to pull out of their paper (in effect bad-mouthing him)?

May 22, 2014 7:27 pm

Some Aussie sites who question CAGW who will gladly reprint your open letter:-
Interesting places, there are plenty more, I will give them the link.

May 22, 2014 7:28 pm

This POS was a literature study, conducted by a team of researchers, not a psychological study of people who volunteered as research subjects. There were no research “participants.” Referring to the assistant researchers as “participants” is a red herring, a totally unsupported allegation by the University.

Brandon Shollenberger
May 22, 2014 8:05 pm

I’m wrapped up in some other things right now, but I need to point out Rud Istvan’s response to DGH:

DGH, in the event you are correct, that is yet another reason for having the paper retracted. it’s very acknowledgement was false. Thank you, although that was probably not your intent,
My advice when playing Chicago style chess is, ‘think ahead’.

Is wrong. This is what the acknowlegment of the paper said:

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).

Nothing about that claims everyone listed (there or as co-authors) rated papers. The most anyone can claim is this incorrectly says the listing is complete. That criticism could be entirely addressed by adding the words “some of” between “just” and “those” in the last sentence. Misusing a single pronoun is hardly a flaw so significant the paper needs to be retracted. It certainly doesn’t parallel the claim made in this post as Istvan uses it.
As for the wrongness of the rhetoric, I don’t think that needs to be explained. Well-mannered corrections should be embraced, not reacted to with hostility.

May 22, 2014 8:47 pm

But I thought any research more than 2 years old was outdated? (as a warmist wrote in the Garudian the other day). 20 year old data?

george e. smith
May 22, 2014 8:50 pm

What species of deer is that, out there in my headlights ??

May 22, 2014 9:54 pm

Rud Ivstan, UQ has Code(s) of Ethics which are required if the they are complying with the Queensland Public Sector Act because the Act includes Universities and all public financed education establishments. The minimum content of the Code of ethics is all the items specifically mentioned in the act. The Act says “The ethics obligations apply to all public officials”. Those who breach the Act by not full filling their obligations can be referred to a Misconduct Tribunal under the Criminal Justice Act.
I would suggest that the letter from UQ Lawyer authorised by Prof Harris could be consider to breach the Public Sector Act on a number of points such as a) issuing a threat, b) accusing Brendon of Hacking, c) being impolite to a member of the public (ie not repecting persons ) d) this point (should not improperly use his or her official powers or position, or allow them to be improperly used) and e) this (11. In performing his or her official duties, a public official should ensure that public resources are not wasted, abused, or used improperly or extravagantly)

The definition Guy
May 22, 2014 11:08 pm

Why are we even discussing consensus? It doesn’t matter how many people believe a wall is brown. If it’s blue they’re all wrong. Being an expert on the color brown doesn’t make them less wrong. Science by popular opinion went out with the ancient Greeks. If we had clung to science by consensus we’d all be sure that we live in the center of the universe and that the sun and planets circle us on crystal spheres. We’d have no radio, TV, GPS, cell phones of other modern technology. The science to create such things would be outlawed.
This forum wouldn’t and couldn’t exist.
Here’s a clear hypothetical example of the superiority of the scientific process over the idiocy of science by consensus. A group of scientists who have lived underground all their lives start arguing about the color of the sun when directly overhead at noon. One young scientist suggests they open an ancient window and observe the sun directly. The other scientists all scoff at the naiveté of the lone heretic. Studies are undertaken to analyze the effects of how different gases in the atmosphere affect the way the sun might look from earth. After 25 years and billions of quatloos spent, a vote is held and 97% of the scientists agree that the sun is lime green. Done, science settled, consensus. No one may question the dogma.
The sheer idiocy of this so called science is that a single, real world observation would obliterate the accepted scientific truth in less than one second. No major studies or peer reviewed articles required. A single piece of empirical evidence that contradicts the consensus demonstrates the inestimable idiocy of science by vote.
The only reason anyone shouts about consensus is to distract you from the fact that if you have actual, observed evidence to support your theory then you don’t need to poll scientists in the first place.
So why are we even entertaining this moronic concept that was dismissed as scientific nonsense over 2,000 years ago?
To paraphrase Einstein, “two things are infinite. The universe and human stupidity. And I’m not certain of the universe.”

May 23, 2014 12:46 am

I doubt the UQ will readily take part in any “discussion” on this – more like they will try and ignore it.
But what a tremendous example of a total lack of joined up thinking!
The UQ has the chance to come clean on this – if they do not – they will be seen for what they are by people who have an open mind.

May 23, 2014 1:30 am

The bottom line is the ‘need’ to blindly support the mythic 97% tells us much about the area under review. Normal science accepts that if it makes a claim, it can be challenged and if found incorrect, the claim is changed or dropped. Special climate ‘science’ view is that once something as entered into its ‘dogma’ its unchangeable or unchallengeable even if , has in this case , it fails a on its basic maths let alone its logic , and most be defend unto death.
That Cook work was poor from top to bottom , and would not have been met an acceptable standard for undergraduate handing in an essay in any other area of study not that seems a problem for ‘research’ in climate ‘science’ . Is just icing on what is already a rather awful mouldy long past its sell by date cake.

May 23, 2014 2:03 am

Although the logic is fine the letter could be better written. There is at least one error in the sentence below.
“These include but are not limited to papers from Ike Antkare in 2010, and many recent papers from the SCIgen group (which interestingly bears surficial similarities to SKS) now being retracted by Springer and by IEEE. ”
Where Rud Istvan wrote surficial similarities he presumably meant superficial similarities. Furthermore, assuming that he was referring to the papers from the SCIgen group, he should have stated that they bear (not bears) superficial similarities to SKS. If he was referring to the paper by Antkare then bears is correct but in that case the sentence is ambiguous.
Although this is a bit pedantic mistakes like that create a bad impression in an important letter sent to very senior university staff. Of course, if English is not Rud Istvan’s first language then my criticisms are rather harsh because many native speakers could have made similar mistakes, and although I am reasonably fluent in a couple of foreign languages I know how difficult it can be to avoid minor errors in writing.

May 23, 2014 2:32 am

‘Esq’ as a suffix for a female looks curious to much of the English-speaking world. However, it seems to be standard practice in USA as an honorific for a qualified lawyer, regardless of sex. The language changes, as different people use it in different ways. (In the 19th century, English solicitors – qualified lawyers who do not normally speak in Court, and were somewhat looked down – were said to be ‘gentlemen by Act of Parliament’!)

Mike T
Reply to  osseo
May 23, 2014 6:21 am

Solicitors talk to the client, the barrister talks to the judge. In local/magistrates courts in this country (Oz) solicitors regularly speak in court.

May 23, 2014 2:36 am

I would reckon that the UQ international rating has just plunged to below third world level. Perhaps courses by correspondence in brown paper bags or the equivalent via internet is its future? Terribly sad really, but would you enrol your kids at UQ now?

May 23, 2014 2:55 am

Yeah Roy… putting a comma between pedantic and mistakes…..
Or did you mean “pedantic mistakes”?

May 23, 2014 3:44 am

kcom says:
May 22, 2014 at 7:23 pm
Interesting point. Exactly what is a study “participant”?

May 23, 2014 3:46 am

mem says:
May 23, 2014 at 2:36 am
I would reckon that the UQ international rating has just plunged to below third world level.
Mmmm, no. I don’t take exception to your estimation of its rating, only the “just” part.

Crispin in Waterloo
May 23, 2014 4:44 am

What goes around comes around. Stewing….own juices… It is hard not to laugh. It is not the fact that they are in this unenviable position, it is the fact they deliberately created it and repudiated those who sought to protect the common weal – from them!

May 23, 2014 4:52 am

I note in passing there is a third possibility, to wit Tol’s requested data does not exist.

It had better exist. First the boast.

University of Queensland – 29 June 2012
First partners announced for research ‘big data’ project
A $50 million Federal Government project that aims to transform the storage of research data has revealed the location of its first five nodes — in Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide and Hobart.
The University of Queensland (UQ) is leading the program on behalf of the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE)……

Bob Kutz
May 23, 2014 6:20 am

If they should choose to ignore this, you have a very serious case for ethics violations here, either in regard to the naming of the ‘anonymous’ raters, a case for which you may have trouble establishing standing, or in regard to their fraud in representing a duty to protect the anonymity of the raters. A case for which your standing should be self evident.
Either way; expect to be sued. They’re backed into a corner and have little choice but to cause you discomfort in hopes that you will lose interest and go away.
At least you have a cause and standing for a countersuit.

May 23, 2014 6:24 am

What the definition guy said.
+ 100
This “cargo cult” of lost weather data depends total on humans being stupid and easy misinformed.
It is only about taxes and the power to spend the taxes.

Mark Bofill
May 23, 2014 6:42 am

Brandon, DGH,
I get your points, but lest we forget – it’s fairly obvious that UQ is hiding behind a bogus excuse with the confidentiality thing.

May 23, 2014 7:47 am

The open letter to UQ by Rud Istvan (Esq., JD/MBA) will keep the light shining into the UQ ‘s academic hive. Thank you.
It looks to me like the hubris in this matter shown by UQ may be intended to be a substitute for scientific professionalism and integrity. The net result is that the public sees that UQ has morphed into the role of a fawning and subservient apologist for John Cook.
Rud Istvan, I particularly like this closing part of your open letter to HQ,

This letter is as copyrighted as those Ms. Malloch writes concerning this matter on UQ behalf. You and anyone else in the whole wide world are hereby granted permission to freely reproduce it in whole or in part. I suspect some may.

That is rubbing her nose in it.

May 23, 2014 8:00 am

I agree with John above – love the copyright snark. A brilliant paragraph…

Mickey Reno
May 23, 2014 8:21 am

“If I have seen further than others, it’s because I’ve stood on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton.
The only people who will stand on the shoulders of Cook, Nuccitelli, Marriott or Lewandowsky are propagandists, political hacks, and PR spin-meisters .

May 23, 2014 8:51 am

Mark Bofill
Firstly, let me say that whether or not the University is hiding behind the confidentiality thing this post is completely wrong. You’ll note that there are 23 names (9 authors, 12 acknowledged, 2 advisors) listed in the paper but there were 24 participants in the rating process.
‘m not here to defend TCP. It’s junk. And it’s clear from Brandon’s blog that the data that was withheld calls into question the methodology the SKS Kidz employed. To the extent that Cook claims he can’t release any more data without making it possible to identify the participants then I guess I can agree that he’s making excuses.
However, there is some substance to their claim regarding confidentiality. The only reason we have most of the information about who rated papers was the leaked forum. That information does nothing to contradict their explanation regarding confidentiality. From the progress charts that were released with the leak (and until recently remained live at SKS) we know the identities of two participants who were not acknowledged in the paper. The others remain anonymous.

May 23, 2014 9:01 am

I’m not normally superstitious, but the figure “97” is gathering something like mystical significance. First Doran and Zimmerman used it, then Cook, and now, bizarrely, it appears that Jens Soentgen and Helena Bilandzic decided to review “97 climate skeptical non-fiction books.” Has anyone noted other 97s in play? Is it a secret message (meaning, perhaps, “the following is utter nonsense”)?
NoTricksZone has the story on Soentgen and Bilandzic:

Jan Christoffersen
May 23, 2014 10:58 am

Is Wendy Cook, one of the acknowledged participants in the study, related to John Cook?

May 23, 2014 11:11 am


Mark Bofill
May 23, 2014 11:11 am

I see your point now.

Brandon Shollenberger
May 23, 2014 11:17 am

Mark Bofill, DGH, the issue of rater identity is a canard.
Suppose we ignore the lack of any evidence there were any confidentiality agreements regarding rater identities. Suppose we ignore the fact the raters actively broke any supposed confidentiality with one another. Suppose we ignore the fact (perhaps more than 200) people not participating in the study had access to information about rater identities. Suppose we ignore the fact a dozen rater identities were posted in a publicly accessible location, then left there for over two years after they were publicly discussed. Suppose we ignore all that and just accept the identities of the raters should be kept confidential.
It’s still not relevant. Anonymizing the raters would be easy. The only problem anyone has actually raised with me is anonymized rater data would still allow people to associate some raters with the ratings they performed. That’s only true for those raters whose identities are already known.

Michael J. Dunn
May 23, 2014 12:54 pm

The seance is settled.

May 23, 2014 2:45 pm

I am in medicine but this literature “review” would never pass muster in a journal club with residents (baby docs who are learning about research). Reviews are usually done on papers less than 5 years old unless a paper is considered a seminal work in the field. When you cull papers down to those that meet your study criteria, you look at the study design and rate the studies accordingly based on the entire paper, not just the abstract. A literature review whose sole purpose is to look at abstracts to divine how many researchers support a particular point of view is pretty useless. Conventional wisdom for years held that peptic ulcers were caused by stress related factors and the lone researcher whose work identified H. pylori as the cause was ignored in favor of the “consensus”. Consensus actively discourages independent thought and is dangerous in any field.

May 23, 2014 2:56 pm

Precedences in Queensland suggest there will be an application to the State Government by UQ to have legislation changed to protect there stance. If the State Government is sufficiently embarrassed, the legislation will go through. I expect UQ to try and involve the Government if ignoring the letters fails to make the situation with Cook go away. There is no corruption in Queensland, the Government says so.

May 23, 2014 3:41 pm

The thing is, they won’t stop until they are stopped

May 23, 2014 4:34 pm

The fact is none of these UQ boozos have bothered to look at the current state of climate. The newest posting here is saying that even NOAA is admitting that NH is likely to be ABOVE anomaly this winter (as I predicted last year on this site last year… ahummm), but remains to be confirmed of course. BTW with both SH way above normal and in a consistent trend AND NH also this will be a huge blow to the whole AGW agenda. For those of you expecting a sudden demise FORGET IT it will still take I guess another 2 years for total abandonment of the C02 driven AGW theory. LOL

Rud Istvan
May 23, 2014 8:25 pm

Fun to poke at bonfire embers. Although this fire is very far from out, I assure you all.
JW and Fabi, the swipe at Ms. Malloch took hours to polish. Shollenbergers revenge, if you will. Glad you appreciated it. Now research the paragraph above for an even bigger swipe at UQ. Hidden devastating sarcasm.
Roy, you remind me of a college room mate now a high school English teacher, who has been editorializing some essays from my next book. Surficial is a valid word with a meaning slightly different than superficial. Skin surface is not the same as appearance even though appearances are from the skin surface. And ‘bears’ referred not to the papers generated, but rather the generating organizations. Singular related to originating organization was meant and intended. But you have to know what SCIgen is to get the buried joking insult. I deliberately chose not to be clearer, so you of course could have confused the two and come to your gramatically correct conclusion for the wrong intended construction. You really should volunteer to copy check UQ PR.
Brandon and DGH, you are both right. With hindsight I would have deleted the two words ‘all the’ in the letter and have avoided this issue entirely. Such is life. I move on,there are bigger plays afoot.
JohnD, you are correct that ‘they’ won’t stop until stopped. So this an opening salvo about stopping, period. Will not be the last, since mere venting on blogs has not stopped much. UQ crossed a red line with their cease and desist ploy. Unlike Obama, to me that means war. So be it. Begun. Now organizing serious army troops, not just skirmishing via this letter.
For those of you who relish this sort of ‘humor’, reread The Mouse That Roared. ‘Quattrium’ 4He is involved in the UQ situation. I just oiled my chain mail armor and sallied forth. Long live the Grand Dutchy of Fenwick, and also the royal realm of WUWT! (Steyn is more a music aficionado, but will still probably grok this allusion as he also sallies forth against the Mann.)
Regards all

Brian H
May 23, 2014 9:18 pm

It’s too late now, but your letter includes an unclosed parenthesis: “(with affiliations provided, …”

May 23, 2014 10:42 pm

What to do when UQ ignore this letter?
The paper:
discusses how students can gain redress from errant Australian Universities.
Although it views issues from the student viewpoint, it indicates opportunities for methods of redress in this case perhaps?
A The University Visitor
B Parliamentary Ombudsmen
C Student Ombudsmen within Universities
A Judicial Review under Statutory Regimes
B Judicial Review under the Common Law”

May 24, 2014 12:24 am

mods, I’m am late to the game, but is:
“Prof. Alistair McEwan, Acting-Pro-Vice Chancello, University of Queensland”
the correct title or a typo?

May 24, 2014 2:59 am

These unethical propagandists need to be exposed & ridiculed relentlessly ie:
Mass letter campaigns (Write not email) to *all* government members (state & federal) repeatedly and relentlessly such that they are continuously buried in snail‐mail (which takes up much physical space, and takes many paid workers to open, read, forward, respond to, and file), and we must not stop until they really do actually listen and take real (not ‘token’) action.
Also write to print, radio & tv media, especially when they promote alarmist fiction as though it’s fact. Flood their comments, twitter etc etc etc too.
They (politicians and media) all know that most people have a pathetic 2 second attention span these days, so if we *all* are not as, or even more relentless than the IPCC and other climate alarmists, they will just ignore us and laugh at us…
Our efforts should also be documented on facebook, twitter, blogs, *everywhere* and be continuously updated, so that *nobody* can ever forget what’s going on and what we’re doing (relentlessly) to stop it.
This is a fight that we cannot afford to lose! If you don’t believe that then you don’t know the full scope of what the UN, IPCC and their shady associates wish to implement via deliberate false pretenses.

May 24, 2014 6:24 am

sKeptical science will have a re-buff posted somewhere.LOL They maintain they are NEVER wrong about ANYTHING
The consensus project
Propoganda at ALL costs.

May 24, 2014 6:30 am

It appears that, due to John Cook’s public silence in this matter for approximately the last month, the UQ could have told John Cook to shut up (gagged him). If that is the case, it may mean UQ simply does not trust John Cook. If the UQ is smart they should probably tell Nuccitelli to shut up too.
{the above comment was also posted at JoNova’s place}

Lloyd Martin Hendaye
May 24, 2014 11:55 am

Contemptuous of their own standards, let us suppose that UQ’s grunting troglodytes drop their paper portcullis, brandishing blue pencils from embattled Cloud Cuckoo Land. What then– will Tony Abbott
seize the day, chopping crony socialist Stuff Buddies’ emoluments by half? We presume not… and since crass-and-vulgar public-monies are Warmists’ sole remaining stock-in-trade, why should UQ dreckmeisters care one whit what scandals may ensue?

May 27, 2014 11:01 pm

Almost without exception , only the Murdoch newspapers in Australia publish information that questions the ‘consensus’, and that goes for all except the sceptic blogs which are sneered at and dismissed—-so other newspapers —rabidly warmist as they are—probably won’t run with this and it will die a slow death.
We sceptic bloggers have written about the reality of the 97% paper that’s very often quoted here—but to do so can get you banned from some of the most prominent blogs , such is the stranglehold the Left has on the subject of CAGW in Australia.
Tim Flannery’s Climate Council, established with crowd funding after his Climate Commission was defunded and closed down by the new Abbott government—is fully in the tank with Cook et al on that and everything else.
They will tolerate no sceptical questions.

May 27, 2014 11:15 pm

Lloyd Martin Hendaye,
Tony Abbott is doing what he can without risking annihilation.
It’s been made effectively compulsory for a politician in Australia to express belief in CAGW whether he believes it or not—or be politically ruined.
This is why UQ and Cook et al and SKS prevail—– no matter how ridiculous their claims.
Tony Abbott is in the process of dismantling most of the expensive CAGW bureaucracy built up by the disastrous Socialists who preceded him, and is completely committed to removing their 23% carbon tax that has crippled manufacturing and everything else in Australia.
However, Labor and the Greens and a few independents have the numbers in the Senate, and have vowed to prevent the repeal even though they had announced prior to the election, their intention to repeal it themselves, in favor of an ETS..
Tony Abbott is nobbled, hog-tied and hostage to the Socialist numbers in the Senate and our partisan Socialist MSM at the moment.

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