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What is the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund?

Posted on 14 July 2012 by Doug Bostrom

'Would gravity be overturned if we could see Sir Isaac Newton’s personal letters?' -- Scott Mandia

The Cavalry Arrives

A year ago Professors Scott Mandia and John Abraham witnessed with growing dismay burgeoning legal attacks on scientists performing climate related research. Mandia and Abraham had discussed for some time how they might help defray legal costs incidental to inconvenient research results being borne by scientists; the pair were catalyzed into action upon learning that Dr. Michael Mann was dipping into personal funds to defend himself against a litigious fishing expedition by the extremist anti-regulatory American Tradition Institute. Mandia and Abraham crystallized their thinking into concrete form and action with the inception of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF).

Launching the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund required a conjunction of several key parts: the idea of formally organizing a combat fund, initiative to put thoughts into action, and most importantly the right people to start the process. John Abraham is the celebrated veteran of a prolonged verbal skirmish with the eccentric yet CSDF Logocuriously influential Christopher Monckton. Scott Mandia shares with Abraham the distinction of being threatened with a lawsuit by Monckton, a campaign ribbon in the weird world war of climate reality versus climate fantasy.

Within 24 hours of Climate Science Legal Defense Fund's announcement over $10,000 dollars were raised for the cause of allowing Michael Mann to proceed with his research with less distraction and worry. This wouldn't have been possible without the bona fides brought to the project by John Abraham and Scott Mandia.

It wasn't long before a third participant applied elbow grease to CSLDF. Joshua Wolfe is a professional photographer, coauthor with NASA-GISS scientist Gavin Schmidt of a pictorial illustration of climate change. Wolfe has proven instrumental in driving CSLDF forward. Managing a prolonged fundraising effort with proper accounting, a 501(c)3 imprimatur for tax deductible donations and all the trimmings of a not-for-profit is a lot of work. Mandia and Abraham began their fund as a simple PayPal account but the response to their request for help was overwhelming; with day jobs as professors the two needed a way to scale the fund. Joshua Wolfe forged a partnership between The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, PEER. Joining with PEER taps into a productive, efficient and nonduplicative structure, eliminating a lot of costly overhead. 

Joshua Wolfe also instantiated a highly successful fundraising module for CSLDF at the crowdfunding site RocketHub. The Climate Science Legal Defense fund RocketHub fundraising tool has found a warm reception, raising over $11,000 for the fund's work.

With over $50,000 raised in the year of its existence the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund has swiftly become an important bulwark protecting guileless scientists inadvertently colliding with powerful ideological and commercial interests.

Hitting the ground running, CSLDF helped defray Dr. Michael Mann's expenses incurred when ATI jumped Mann as part of a seemingly endless process of retailiation for Mann's elucidation of the famous climate "hockey stick."While Mann is still dealing with lingering costs from ATI's mugging, CSLDF was instrumental in defending him against ATI's pointless prying, transforming a lopsided fight into something a bit more fair.

More importantly for the long run, Mann's defense served as a test case for the utility of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, lighting the way ahead for improvements.

At the most recent AGU Fall conference the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund presented a session detailing lessons learned and suggestions for better equipping scientists and institutions with the tools necessary to counter increasingly frequent brushes with litigation mills disguised as "thinktanks." CSLDF is building a core of institutionalized knowledge about FOIA requests and other legal arcana for ready access by individuals and institutions and is developing a core group of legal talent familiar with the particular needs of CSLDF. 

Looking forward, the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund sees the need for more human resources devoted purely to protecting scientists from gratuitious lawsuits, institutional support via grants and-- not to put too fine a point on it-- simply more money to counter a fad for SLAPP-style offensive maneuvers showing no sign of diminishment. The organization wants to hire a suitable FTE to take the reins from the group of part-timers now juggling their time between professional and personal lives and CSLDF.

It's safe to say that for people who care about the integrity of climate science, money contributed to CSLDF is an excellent investment, a fine way to transform frustration into positive energy.

Warning: Science-free Zone

With all this time, effort and money being spent on defending scientists from extra-curricular actors the question naturally arises, 'what's it all about?' What's the connection between trawling for scientists' correspondence and financial records with science and healthy skepticism pertaining to scientific research findings?

Taking the American Tradition Institute as an example of organizations rooting around in stale email and dusty accounting records, we find no connection with science at all. Let's allow ATI to speak for themselves:

American Tradition Institute v. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (records of Dr. James Hansen, Freedom of Information Act Petition filed June 21, 2011)

On June 21, 2011 American Tradition Institute’s Environmental Law Center filed a lawsuit in federal district court in the District of Columbia to force NASA to release ethics records for Dr. Hansen. The action followed NASA’s denial of ATI’s federal Freedom of Information Act request (PDF) with NASA, seeking records detailing whether and how ‘global warming’ activist Dr. James Hansen of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) has complied with applicable federal ethics and financial disclosure laws and regulations, and NASA Rules of Behavior.

American Tradition Institute v. University of Virginia (records of Dr. Michael Mann, Freedom of Information Act Petition filed May 16, 2011)

American Tradition Institute’s Environmental Law Center and Virginia Delegate Robert Marshall asked a Prince William County judge, under the Commonwealth’s Freedom of Information Act, to expedite the release of documents withheld by the University of Virginia that pertain to the work of its former environmental sciences assistant professor Dr. Michael Mann.

These cases are notably devoid of any connection with scientific research; ATI does not engage the published works of Hansen or Mann on a scientific level, ATI makes no attempt either to refute Hansen and Mann's scientific output or to extend or improve the published work of Hansen or Mann. So, no science and no scientific skepticism are visible; ATI is concerned strictly with matters of character.

These two cases stand as textbook illustrations of 'ad hominem' attacks on scientists; the target of ATI's thought and argument is not the scientific work of Hansen and Mann but rather their personalities.

Let's remember what Scott Mandia asked: 'Would gravity be overturned if we could see Sir Isaac Newton’s personal letters?' No, of course not; refuting Isaac Newton's observations and predictions would require an attack on his published findings, not on what chit-chat he wrote to whom on what date. In fact, even if Sir Isaac had not been Warden of the Royal Mint of England and instead had been a small time grifter during off-hours between bouts of inspiration such a fallibility would have left his science intact, open to legitimate attack only via scientific methods.

ATI has not found anything particularly intriguing in their fishing expeditions; we'd surely know by now if Hansen or Mann exhibited any juicy, gossipy character flaws to trumpet. No, ATI's trophy wall includes various breathlessly hyped tidbits about speaking fees, imaginative reinventions of climate scientists by ATI's senior litigator and much else. But no science-- ATI has no argument against the findings of any of the scientists in whose dumpsters it frolics.

Climate science is the foundation of ATI's entire legal fiasco. ATI offers no factual argument against climate science.

Global Cooling of Speech

Barren of useful results with Hansen and Mann, ATI now entirely abandons any pretense of interest in the practice of science. As covered in the press ATI has announced a new campaign of litigious aggression to be inflicted on scientists who dare communicate their anxiety about the increasingly urgent problem of climate change. These efforts on ATI's part are plainly naked of any connection with research. ATI openly acknowledes what many of us suspected all along: this persistent litigation campaign is about ideology, politics and-- ultimately-- preserving status quo in the energy sector.

Cues to acceptable freedom of speech vary widely. In Canada scientists bringing uncomfortable facts to the public square have been muzzled by the Harper government in a way that is quite transparent; Canada's government has made it policy that scientists must communicate with the public via 'public relations specialists' or minders, their expert words filtered by persons reporting to political appointees. In the US despite past half-hearted attempts no such policy has been made practicable. However there are alternatives for imposing silence on concerned citizens; one such means is to create instructively punitive examples of what happens when scientists convey the 'wrong' information containing uncomfortable facts to journalists.

We see from the absence of science in its legal agenda that ATI either doesn't understand or does not care about the scientific topics with which it's interfering. Knowing so, when ATI seeks to invade communications between scientists and journalists we must dismiss any notion that ATI is attempting to improve the state of science and instead consider other motivations. As described in the Guardian two scientists are presently being harassed by ATI thanks to their temerity in communicating with journalists. In the absence of other reasons we have to consider that ATI is using professors Katharine Hayhoe and Andrew Dessler as teaching tools for the rest of the scientific community. While Prof. Dessler himself speculates that ATI is mainly intent on seeking damaging information, any scientist watching this process will naturally wonder if keeping clam against journalist contacts would be the wiser course. 

ATI's wasteful invasion of Hayhoe and Dessler's work is exactly the style of extra-curricular, unscientific and ad hominem attack on scientists that the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund is intended to ameliorate.

It's easy to lose perspective on just how bizarre a pass we find ourselves with regard to climate research. Let's view this situation from a slightly different angle.

We've established that unchecked climate change due to reckless fossil fuel combustion is a threat to public health. Forgetting geophysics and climate for a moment and thinking of this instead as a public health problem, imagine that a virologist had an important finding affecting public hygiene and communicated that to journalists. We'd consider it folly to have that researcher then tied up with unproductive friction having nothing to do with virology, inflicted by some oddly pro-epidemic faction of society. We'd be happy if there were an organization dedicated to protecting virologists from enthusiasts of unchecked plague. That's where we find ourselves today; scientists communicating their concern about a ballooning public health threat are encumbered by people with reckless disregard for the hazards they're promoting, but happily there's an organization in place to deal with the problem.

With each of our days measuring 24 hours in length and time being money, FOIA safaris such as ATI's impose a real cost on the productivity and efficiency of scientists and research instituions. Dr. Dessler estimates that some 20 hours of his time was pointlessly dissipated dealing with ATI while his institution (Texas Agricultural and Mechanical University) was forced to devote many more hours playing ATI's gotcha game. This is time and money that could be expended on productive work.

Fruitless waste of time is a factor for researchers to consider when wondering if they should engage the public square with their expertise. Their hesitancy becomes our loss; we support research with the expectation that findings important to the public good will be made known to us. To the extent ATI silences that process waste is compounded.

As with the imaginary public spirited virologist, with Hayhoe and Dessler vs. ATI we have a case of scientists attempting to communicate findings of vital import to journalists only to have their email exploited for op-ed fodder and their personas rebranded as suspect 'activists' by silver-tongued lawyers. For conveying facts, the persons and characters of these scientists are being smeared not on the merits of their communication but for daring to communicate. This is an entirely new low in ad hominem attacks and one that needs to be vigorously rebuffed. The Climate Science Defense Fund was created to fill exactly this need. 

Everybody Has A Hand On the Dial

In the torrid atmosphere of the climate blogosphere we read and write endless passionate words about commitment to science and the importance of science. Most of us play peripheral bit parts in the central climate science drama; we're not researchers, we're not hired guns with law degrees and we're not titans of industry. Pipsqueaks we may be but if we remember one key fact our roles easily upstage those of the leading members of the cast.

The weightiest part open to most of us witnessing this novel struggle to acknowledge facts-- the universal script for significantly affecting our future climate-- is that of readily opening or closing our wallets at appropriate moments. ATI's preoccupation with protecting outmoded industries shows us how the bones of our fortune will be cast; the ebb and flow of money will set the temperature of the world going forward.

Long ago I worked in public radio here in the US. One of my preoccupations with this work was fundraising; workers must be paid and transmitters fed with electrons and most of the money for doing those things came from listeners. Obtaining money from listeners is not easy; the fate of workers in the US public radio industry is to enjoy enthusiastic feedback from listeners for about 340 days of the year, only to have most listeners fall silent when it came time to pay for their pleasurable listening. Talk is cheap, as the saying goes.  

In the US public radio arena we considered ourselves to be doing well if 15% of our listeners contributed to the station of their choice. We can't expect better in this online world but we're left to ponder that if a small fraction of people who are angered by ATI were to contribute to the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund a powerful message would be sent to ATI and its ilk.

If each time ATI launched a character assassination attempt on another scientist they found they were once again filling the coffers of a fund dedicated to defending the very scientist in their crosshairs, what would happen? I suggest that that not many people would need to participate with CSLDF before ATI became tired of kicking the ball into their own net.

Who are the people who can change ATI's expectations? Here's a hint: don't look for them to your left or right; paradoxically, for the system to work you must assume you're the only person participating. Why not pay the Climate Science Defense Fund a visit today and make a contribution?

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Comments 151 to 200 out of 200:

  1. I see there has yet to be any pushback on my thesis that any remarks using a derivative of the phrase "to defame" are premature without a specific behavior attributed to a specific person, or a defense of all behaviors named. Nor has anyone said anything to combat the notion that "promulgated misinformation" is a subjective phrase marking an opinion and not under any purview of defamation, legal or otherwise. Karoly is allowed to have opinions, whether or not he chooses to defend them, take them down, or take his time on a decision to escape real or alledged legal ramifications is up to him. These points should mark a turning point in the discussion. Is not using the word defamation wrongly or prematurely a large part of the issue?
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  2. JBowers: "How many researcher salaries could be covered in 1985 or 1990 by the cost of a GB of storage? How many field trips, even?" and note that that's just for space on a single disk. you'll also need at least one backup. and then you need to park the disks in a carefully controlled environment. or in a server (in a carefully controlled environment). several carefully controlled environments, in fact, because data doesn't exist unless it's in at least two places, preferably far apart. and, because rust can't keep spinning forever, you need to copy all of that data to new disks every couple of years. more frequently if the drives spend a lot of time sitting unplugged. all the while making sure that none of it gets corrupted along the way -- fill up a modern hard-drive, and there's approximately a 1% chance you won't get it all back in one piece. you'll need to pay someone to do all this, natch. and sysadmins aren't cheap (i should know, i play one in real life). it's been a while since i last read them, but i seem to recall that those Ars Technica articles WheelsOC linked to up-thread gave a really good overview of all the things that always seem to get missed when this topic comes up. the actual hardware is only a tiny fraction of the total cost.
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  3. Let Eli see, if one study gets a global warming rate of say .18 C/decade +/- 0.08 and a later one .17 C/decade +/- 0.02 has the second falsified the first? Popper has done a lot of damage, or more precisely Popper as interpreted by your average junior high school teacher and the squads of Galileo's roaming the INTERNET. Einsteins special theory of relativity did not falsify Newtonian mechanics, it just set limits on its range of use.
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  4. 1) People might want to read about Jim Tozzi and the Data Quality Act in Chris Mooney's "The Republican War on Science." It is a well-established tactic to try to consume scientists' time to lessen the amo8unt of inconvenient research done. As usual, the tobacco guys led the way. 2) If people want to talk about defamation and typical steps in starting defamation proceedings, I'd observe that Canada (where McIntyre is) and Australia (where Karoly is located) are not identical, but are certainly more similar than they are to US or differently to UK. See CCC p.184 or as a start the Wikipedia reference. Even better would be to read "the book": Canadian Libel and Slander Actions, by Roger D. McConchie and David A. Potts, 1000 pages. Chapter 6 is especially relevant. If you don't have a copy handy, here's McConchie's useful website. 3) People might Google: "concerns notice" defamation OR defamation "notice of intended action" In general, that is the usual first step towards a possible defamation lawsuit, because {CA, or AU} have time limits. One has to send a notice to the potential defendant claiming defamation, explaining why ,etc ... but need not have an explicit threat to sue. In fact, such may likely be better omitted from that notice. 4) McIntyre writes at CA: "In addition, in order for a law suit to have any purpose, the plaintiff should have suffered actual financial damages – an element that does not appear to be present, for example, in the Michael Mann libel suit against Tim Ball, which, in my opinion, involves nothing more than personal vanity." McIntyre is of course free to express his opinion, which is in direct contradiction to the advice in McConchie and Potts (p.21 of my well-marked copy) and to well-established Canadian law: financial damage is simply not required I wonder if McIntyre knows AU defamation law better than CA's. Likewise, I wonder if others lining up behind him on this have bothered to read any of the law or consult relevant lawyers before offering opinions. 5) McConchie, of course, is the lawyer representing Mann versus Tim Ball, and Andrew Weaver versus Ball (read item 11 on p.15), and separately the National Post. Read items 64-66 on pp.43-44. In general, defamation proceedings start with a request to retract and/or apologize, and if a lawsuit is brought, such is cited to show the court that a reasonable effort was made short of a lawsuit.
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  5. Fully evolved anti-science litigation in New Zealand; custom dummy trust created to serve as a firewall against taxpayers recovering costs of failed litigation against an NZ governmental research unit. Covered at HotTopic: When Asses Go To Court The legal action is being brought by the NZ Climate Science Education Trust, described by the NZ Herald as “a branch of the NZ Climate Science Coalition”. The trust was formed at the same time as the case was announced1, and appears to have been created solely to protect its trustees from bearing the costs of a failed legal action. In the nearly two years since it was formed, the NZ CSET does not appear to have been granted charitable status, and has made no discernible efforts to act as an “educational trust”. All it has done is pursue this legal action against NIWA and its climate scientists. The Heartland-funded NZ Climate “Science” Coalition is chaired by Barry Brill, a retired lawyer and former National party politician. Since he assumed the chairman’s role, the Coalition has discovered an enthusiasm for legal action. It’s an approach to climate affairs that Brill hopes to export to the rest of the world. Describing the genesis of the NIWA case at the Heartland Institute’s sixth climate sceptic networking event, held in Washington last year, Brill said “We are going to need to do this all round the world.” Who needs to hallucinate a conspiracy theory when Heartland's on the scene?
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  6. JohnMashey @154, my understanding is that under Australian law, to establish a case of defamation you must establish either that you have suffered material damages, or that your reputation has been damaged. The Communications Law Center, says of Australia's uniform defamation laws (Laws enacted by each state but having the same effect to avoid inconsistency between jurisdictions), for material to be defamatory
    "Finally, the material published must be defamatory. If the published material: exposes a person to ridicule, or lowers the person's reputation in the eyes of members of the community, or causes people to shun or avoid the person, or injures the person's professional reputation, then the published material is defamatory."
    McIntyre's opinion on this legal matter, as also his opinion on whether his communication constituted a legal threat, is without foundation.
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  7. dubious at 23:08 PM on 16 July, 2012 Phil Jones's 2005 email (not to McIntyre) is notorious on this topic: "I should warn you that some data we have we are not supposed to pass on to others. We can pass on the gridded data – which we do. Even if WMO agrees, I will still not pass on the data. We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it. There is IPR to consider." Alternatively, google McIntyre Crowley and take the first result. You'll see McIntyre spending about a year and a half of his time trying to get data, starting with very polite emails which were generally ignored and maintaining a much greater level of civility throughout - and persistence - than many people would have managed. Crowley then (2005) wrote an article making a number of allegations about McIntyre, which McIntyre said were untrue. dubious, The data-set in question was released to the public by the CRU *nearly a year ago*. You can get it all here. Now, the big question is, what have McIntyre and Co. done with it in the 11+ months since it was released? Can you point me to any results they've published on-line? Can you tell me whether their results contradict or confirm the CRU's published results? If not, why not? You guys seem to be *very concerned* about Phil Jones and others not releasing their data quickly enough, but you don't seem to be very interested in doing anything with it once you've gotten it in your hot little hands. If McIntyre was so interested in getting that data that he invested a year and a half of effort to get it, then why hasn't he (or any of the rest of you skeptics) done anything with it in the 11+ months since it was all released?
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  8. Tom: The data-set in question was released to the public by the CRU *nearly a year ago*. Yeah, and I'm wondering if the blauditors helped with the hold-outs? Also, will they help sweep up the mess created by unilateral publication of the raw data by the UK? The end result is that all the records are there, except for Poland's. Davies's only worry is that the decision to release the Trinidad and Tobago data against its wishes may discourage the open sharing of data in the future. Other research organisations may from now on be reluctant to pool data they wish to be kept private. Thomas Peterson, chief scientist at the National Climatic Data Center of the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and president of the Commission for Climatology at the World Meteorological Organization, agrees there might be a cost to releasing the data. "I have historic temperature data from automatic weather stations on the Greenland ice sheet that I was able to obtain from Denmark only because I agreed not to release them," he says. "If countries come to expect that sharing of any data with anyone will eventually lead to strong pressure for them to fully release those data, will they be less willing to collaborate in the future?" OK, climate sceptics: here's the raw data you wanted (New Scientist) Who cares? The intended effect was accomplished-- a ruckus was raised. Don't hold your breath waiting for any useful outcome.
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  9. doug_bostrom @158, most of the data withheld by national weather services was withheld because it was commercial information, normally sold at a profit to fund the operations of the weather services. It was only supplied to the CRU free on condition that it not be distributed thereby undercutting their market. This illustrates the hypocrisy of those calling for free access to scientific data. Almost without exception such people make exceptions for commercial and military data. But if free access to the data is a requirement for good science, it follows that when a exception is made for commercial and military applications, what they do should not be considered science, and should not be permitted to be published in scientific journals. What is more, what is considered commercial is fairly arbitrary. As the examples of those national weather services shows, there is a commercial demand for climatological data. Indeed, the fact that Steve McIntyre want the data so much shows the existence of demand for that data, and there would be nothing wrong in principle with UEA "monetizing" that demand by charging McIntyre for the data he wished to access; thereby decreasing the cost of the research to UK tax payers. If Phil Jones first response to McIntyre had been, we would be delighted to provide you with the data over which we have intellectual property rights, and the price will be 10,000 pounds, McIntyre would in theory have no come back. By his own standards it is appropriate to withhold scientific data when commercial interests are in play. This is why the purported standard of free access to data is a con. The sin qua non of science is replicability, not auditability; and as Caerbannog notes, replication is not McIntyre's stock in trade. I personally like it when scientists freely share data. Science is enriched by the practice. But I always recognize it for what it is - a courtesy, not a right. Once you begin filing FOI requests you are abusing courtesy, and being rational, other scientists should simply freeze you out as a person not fit to be associated with.
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  10. JohnB @102:
    @97 Bob. I don't know where you are but with a population of 35 million it isn't Oz. Australia is a Democracy and we have a Parliament that sets the rules. After the next election, how about we change the rules so that anybody who won't go the "Archive your data" road gets no further funding? Since Parliament represents ALL of the people, that saves trying to divide the work into tiny packets.
    I, too, live in a parliamentary democracy, but not Oz. Yes, our parliament sets the rules. And yes, archiving data is a standard procedure - legislation sets down what types of records must be kept, for how long, etc. And I have worked on programs that actively submitted data to international, publicly-available archives. ...but the laws also set down rules on who has the authority to enter into agreements to share data. It is rarely the scientist - (s)he can propose, but people further up the food chain make the decisions. And parliament has also set the rules on how others can obtain information (e.g. FOI). As for current decisions: the duly-elected parliament has decided to cut funding in many science areas, including getting rid of staff that know what much of the data means and what to do with it. Programs are being shut down, and the staff that ran them are being dispersed to the winds. I still get requests for assistance regarding publicly-available data, but it is no longer my job to work with that data, and it's nobody else's job, either. This is what the attacks on science are accomplishing. If the individuals that are suing climate scientists, or attempting to prosecute them, or are inundating them with FOI requests spent their efforts lobbying politicians to improve resources for these time-consuming archiving processes, then I'd accept their motives a little easier. Until then, it just looks like a witch hunt and intimidation. For an illuminating view of what politicians often really do, take John Mashey's advice in #154, and get a copy of "The Republican War on Science" and read up on the Data Quality Act. If you really want good science, then stop the politicians from destroying it.
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  11. doug_bostrom@99: if ya need help with that clapped-out Jaguar XJ, cawl me. I recently finished my E-type and need direction....;)
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  12. Eli astutely observes:
    Popper has done a lot of damage, or more precisely Popper as interpreted by your average junior high school teacher and the squads of Galileo's roaming the INTERNET.
    I've been engaging in exactly this discussion with a Galileo over at Judith Curry's. I note that in Skeptical Science's 'Most Used Climate Myths' there is a post (#66) rebutting the claim that AGW has been falsified, but there appears to be nothing adressing the converse claim that AGW isn't science because "it can't be falsified". Perhaps it is time that this particular canard was dismantled by SkS for the nonsense that it is.
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  13. vroomie: If ya need help with that clapped-out Jaguar XJ, cawl me. Er, I'm sorry, that was a silly narrative artifice. I'm a red block Volvo guy myself; why didn't I pick a P1800? Tip w/paleo-Jag: find everything marked "Lucas" and replace it. You'll have no more troubles. :-)
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  14. Thanks you for the reply to my comment at 18:11 PM on 16 July, 2012, and forgive my dyslexic mangling of the CSLDF acronym throughout my last post! If I could ask a further couple of questions or ask for thoughts? In your reply you say:
    “CSLDF does not have any plans for proactive litigation but does not rule it out if the benefits of so doing appear to be worthwhile.“
    Now for me it seems the goal of a fund offering to defend financially vulnerable people is always a worthy idea and I can’t see anyone arguing against it, but it becomes harder to support if the purpose later changes or morphs into something else. In this case possibly tactical litigation. For instance I read in your link to the upcoming CSLDF presentation at the AGU.
    Climate scientists are playing an increasing role in litigation as expert witnesses in cases related to governmental response to climate change as well as being embroiled in litigation surrounding their own research.
    My emphasis above. This is the *first* thing mentioned as a putative goal here and clearly indicates plans for involvement in proactive litigating. Is this part of the goal of CSLDF? If it is the case that proactive litigation for climate scientist was a goal why not state this more upfront or instead create a specific organisation for this purpose along the lines of PEER who currently seem to fulfil the role of proactive litigators for public employees in climate debates?
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    Moderator Response: If it is the case that proactive litigation for climate scientist was a goal...

    But that's not correct. As CSLDF replied to me and I relayed in my earlier response, proactive litigation is not a goal of CSLDF. I can only repeat what CSLDF replied to me: They are not contemplating launching any litigation themselves but do not rule it out.

    Embroiled in litigation describes Mann's situation, which is not a case of his seeking out trouble.

    Serving as an expert witness in a trial is not litigation. Scientists are frequently asked to serve as expert witnesses in trials, after all, for legal disputes the specifics of which they may know nothing. -- Doug Bostrom
  15. tlitb1 @164, I think you are reading too much into that. Climate scientists are sometimes called as expert witnesses, and when they do so, they may require advise or representation to ensure they do not compromise their own interests or rights in their role as witnesses. It also seems clear that the CSLDF will support climate scientists seeking independent standing in cases that vitally affect them, but in which they are not respondents, as in this case. I see nothing to suggest the SCLDF fund will support climate scientists bringing civil suites. Indeed, Michael Mann is currently bringing a suite for defamation, and the SCLDF does not appear to be supporting him in that endeavour.
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  16. If it matters to anyone, tlitb1 has made a clear declaration where his partisan loyalties lie. Given that, the possibility that a well resourced organization might allow climate scientists to obtain redress against those who slander them may well be genuine. It is doubtful, however, that that concern would be due to an unwanted use of money he donated, because I doubt very much he would be donating any in any event.
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  17. @Tom Curtis at 19:05 PM on 17 July, 2012 Tom Curtis can I talk to you? What do you mean by "well resourced organization"? Also can I ask you about this statement?
    It is doubtful, however, that that concern would be due to an unwanted use of money he donated, because I doubt very much he would be donating any in any event.
    I am not clear if the "he" in that sentence above refers to me. Do you mean me? If so, for the puposes of saving time, I would answer I would donate to such an organisation if its remit could be strictly and cleanly shown to be purely for defending financially vulnerable people against organisations or persons intent on silencing them. I would do this because it would help illustrate my desire to be seen to be deflating the elements of partisanship in climate debates - an adopted posture if you will. E.g. I supported (only morally I'm afraid) Simon Singh in his case against the homeopathists. I am at the stage of hypothetical in that path I admit, and my questions here should illustrate my purpose without too much extra interpretation I think. To be clear though I will say I do sense if someone like me were to donate then my requirements could be seen as limiting or egregious if I was to complain about mission creep into tactical litigation, or spending too much time and money worrying about FOI defences which are the reponsibility of the public bodies not individuals (in the UK at least). BTW. As for your opinion about my "loyalties" just for the record - so silence isn't considered consent - I'm just going to state I don't submit to agree to anything you may mean by that. But I am not interested in further debating what you may mean by that.
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  18. Well, I'm grateful to the skeptic effort for one thing. McIntyre may have not have downloaded the CRU data, but I did. My own reimplementation of the CRUTEM3 algorithm gets the same result as Steve Mosher, that CRUTEM3 very slightly underestimates recent warming (although the effect is small compared to the coverage bias). If I had time, I'd look into it, along with half a dozen other small effects (e.g why is BEST so much cooler in 2002? What causes the disagreement in records from ~1900-1935's?). But the question still stands - why do the people who call for the data to be released generally not do anything with it when it is? (I think it is because they are not interested in the science.)
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  19. tlitb1 @167, you took the opportunity of an appreciative but uncritical audience to slagg off a climate scientist when he was not present to defend himself. That makes it quite clear, in my mind, that your side is not that of the climate scientists or climate science. Rather, you have sided with those like McIntyre who make the CSLDF necessary.
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  20. This has become a very long thread, so I hope that the moderator's will permit me to repost two questions I asked earlier of people posting here to defend Mr. McIntyre and others like him who harass scientists. 1) Can they "…bring themselves to acknowledge that it is a travesty that a legal defence fund is required (out of necessity) to protect the rights, integrity and academic freedoms of certain climate scientists following repeated harassment, threats, bullying and intimidation from certain "skeptics" and certain individuals and groups who deny the theory of AGW." 2) "Do you support the scientists or those who bully, intimidate, threaten and harass them?" tlitb1 has very clearly demonstrated that he/she does not share our concerns and stated that his/her allegiance lies with the likes of Mr. McIntyre. So what about Carrick, Lucia, dubious and dougz?
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  21. Actually I understand titlib1's concerns. If an organization were to recklessly launch a litigation effort then large amounts of money could be expended pointlessly. That's not the case here, however; there's no sign of aggression on CSLDF's part. They've said they have no plans to launch any litigation. So why would CSLDF not rule out litigation on their own part? That's not hard to figure out. Cease and desist letters are one possibility, obviously. Leaving aside what exactly constitutes a death threat, if somebody sends to a scientist a letter connecting the scientist's family, uninvited visits to the scientist's home and some implication of violence then ensuing and makes the mistake of including identifying information in that communication, they should expect to hear from either the authorities or somebody representing that scientist and telling the offending party to stop. Other milder forms of harassment might also benefit from a cease and desist letter. It's not hard to imagine some other scenarios where a little bit of legal help beyond pure defense against litigation might be appreciated. There are other less drastic forms of proactive legal work short of cases making it to court.
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  22. I should add, a cease and desist letter is not litigation but it points in that direction as a possible consequence; not much point in communicating "please stop harassing my client or nothing bad will happen to you."
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  23. @doug_bostrom at 02:34 AM on 18 July, 2012 OK I can understand that it isn't reasonable to rule any possible future scenarios of proactive litigation but I think for the time it has existed the CSLDF really should have had their remit laid out in a more clear and definitive way by now. In a spectrum from nebulous to chiselled on stone, right now the remit seems to be at the vaguer end. However now that I know about the existence of CSLDF I will be following its progress with interest. Thanks
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  24. Peace, or protective orders are possible for the more unrestrained.
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  25. tlitb1 ...but I think for the time it has existed the CSLDF really should have had their remit laid out in a more clear and definitive way by now. Three part-timers; how about we cut 'em some slack? Anyway, let's look at the Campaigns page of CSLDF's site, which nicely describes what the organization is doing and leaves little doubt as to their objectives: Litigation: The Climate Science Defense Fund is taking an active interest in litigation. Currently several climate scientists have litigation in the courts. The Climate Science Defense Fund will play an active role in helping raise funds for their defense, serving as a resource in finding pro-bono representation, and providing support during difficult litigation proceedings. Education: The Climate Science Defense Fund will work to educate the scientific community about their rights and their responsibilities with regard to legal issues surrounding their work. Knowledge Bank: The Climate Science Defense Fund will serve as a clearinghouse for information related to legal actions taken against scientists. Our goal is to provide lawyers representing scientists with information about past cases and strategies. I don't see a problem, other than the "Campaigns" description might do equally well in the About Us page. I probably should have included all of this in the original article. Sorry about that.
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  26. The point is: 1) ATI seems to exist to litigate. 2) Cuccinelli&Ruseell seem to exist to litigate. 3) But for CSLDF, it may be necessary, but it's not the primary purpose.
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  27. doug_bostrom at 09:42 AM on 18 July, 2012
    I don't see a problem, other than the "Campaigns" description might do equally well in the About Us page. I probably should have included all of this in the original article. Sorry about that.
    No need to apologise I had no problem finding my way to the CSLDF page via your link and read all I could. As I said found it be rather sparse. In fact you reminded me of another part of interest in CSLDF. When I first asked whether other litigants were being supported by CDSL, I quoted the key section in the campaigns page you quoted:
    Currently several climate scientists have litigation in the courts.
    I asked since the association with CSLDF of those several litigants seemed passively worded to me on that page. You replied:
    Regarding people directly benefiting from CSLDF assistance, so far the roster includes Mann, Hayhoe, Dessler.
    I would suggest a further detailing of these other ongoing cases would be an ideal addition to lend more information. Currently the "Press" page currently only has 9 old references which refer to Cuccinelli's pursuit of the inquiry into grant money used by Michael Mann. Back in September 2011 Scott Mandia is quoted in one of those press cuttings (thinkprogress) as saying:
    All funds that are in excess of those currently needed for Dr. Mann will be placed into this entity for future use defending other scientists.
    If it is the case and the excess funds are now being used to support other scientists then, regarding suggestions for improvements or updates to the CSLDF site, I would suggest this fact should be made evident to help show some progress of the organisation since September last year.
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  28. Tlitb1, all I can really offer to your points is that CSLDF organization is presently an all-volunteer outfit numbering only three part-time workers; without meaning to sound snide, if some of us in the wider world strongly believe some improvements can be made then it seems incumbent on us to volunteer either by making suggestions or offering labor. There's a contact page on CSLDF's site and that would probably be the best place to start. That, or contribute money to help CSLDF hire some staff support!
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  29. I have decided to make an additional post, although I am not sure this is wise. I will try to respond to some but not all of the many issues raised since my original post @3 nearly a week ago. 1. I received an email from Steve McIntyre claiming that I had made an “untrue and defamatory statement” about him in a book review I had written that was published in the Australian Book Review July edition. He requested that I “withdraw the allegation with an apology”. I have not replied to him. 2. As far as I can tell, the McIntyre post at CA includes an accurate copy of the email he sent me. It contains misinformation, some of which I describe below. 3. McIntyre’s email to me did not mention legal action. However, a first part of legal action on defamation in Australia is often to send a request to the author of the material, requesting that they withdraw it and apologise. Hence, I felt that it was a reasonable assumption that McIntyre was starting a course of legal action. 4. As has been noted in several responses, McIntyre’s statement in his post is wrong that a successful defamation action in Australia needs to show that “the plaintiff should have suffered actual financial damages” from the publication of the defamatory material. It is much more common that a successful defamation action shows that the published material “lowers the person's reputation in the eyes of members of the community, … or injures the person's professional reputation”. Of course, running a legal action on defamation is expensive, as is defending one. 1st example of misinformation. 5. It is much harder to prove defamation if the person making the claim publishes the material themselves. If they actually believed that the published material damaged their reputation, then they would not be distributing it. I guessed that McIntyre could not resist the temptation of published the so-called defamatory material on CA, and I guessed right. If he is to proceed with legal action against me for defamation, it will be much harder now. 6. 2nd example of misinformation. On his post, McIntyre states that I removed the article. I did no such thing. The Editor of Australian Book Review moved the online copy of my review behind the paywall at their web site, where it remains available online. Apparently, this is their common practice for a review that attracts interest. The review is also available in the print version. It has not been withdrawn. 7. Two examples of misinformation from McIntyre in one post. This appears to support what I wrote in my review. I am confident that an SkS reader will alert McIntyre to this post and that he will respond on CA.
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  30. Dr. Karoly, Thank you for posting and for clarifying. Why am I not at all surprised that in trying to attack you again, Mr. McIntyre only succeeded in proving your point about him being amongst those who promulgate misinformation about climate scientists and their work. Additionally, for someone who claims to be an "auditor" is it laughable that Mr. McIntyre was unable to determine the true fate of your article. As I have noted before, you do not owe Mr. McIntyre an apology, in fact, he owes you an apology. I expect much squirming and hand waving and obfuscating and perhaps more misrepresentations to ensue at Mr. McIntyre's blog and by his apologists. Or maybe, just maybe, he will do the honourable thing and issue you a sincere and caveat free apology? I am not holding my breath though. To quote from a recent post here at SkS: "Nil Illegitimi Carborundum" [Don't let the bastards grind you down]
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  31. Thanks for piling some weighty information on the squishy balloon of speculation we'd built here, David. The balloon has gone quite flat, with a raspberry noise.
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  32. Thank you for the follow up post, Dr Karoly. It is absurd that you had to write it, given your high standing in the science community and your reputation for utmost integrity. Another one in the eye for the pseudo-science blogs that make a habit of denigrating scientists - proving your original point.
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  33. It is good to get some clarity from Dr Karoly. Personally I don't consider that a "threat of legal action". Even Dr Karoly cannot bring himself to repeat that expression, saying "I felt that it was a reasonable assumption that McIntyre was starting a course of legal action." For example, if a policeman tells me to "move along" it might be true that a consequence of me not moving along is that he would arrest me and perhaps the penalty could be a fine or even prison. Asking someone to "move along" is the first step to arresting someone for failing to move along. That doesn't mean that the policeman has threatened me with arrest, or with a fine, or with prison. He has simply asked (or even told) me to "move along". Personally I wouldn't then tell people I had been threatened with all these things - to me that would be an exaggeration - but I can imagine that some people might do.
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  34. Dubious, in only quoting a portion of Karoly's expansive reply you do him further injustice. The full quote:
    "McIntyre’s email to me did not mention legal action. However, a first part of legal action on defamation in Australia is often to send a request to the author of the material, requesting that they withdraw it and apologise. Hence, I felt that it was a reasonable assumption that McIntyre was starting a course of legal action."
    Emphasis to the pertinent omitted text added. Thus, you distort his expression of his opinion. That you yourself have a different opinion has no bearing on this sad chapter, as you are not the individual in question. The fake-skeptics, as is their wont, have again much much ado about nothing. A tempest in a teapot, if you will. Be appropriately dubious about their agenda, for they lead many astray.
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  35. dubious @183, there are two questions you need to ask. 1) Did McIntyre intend to commence legal action against Karoly if Karoly did not comply with his requests? 2) Was it reasonable for Karoly, who did not know McIntyre's intentions, to conclude that the probability of his being sued by McIntyre was greater given that he had received the letter than the probability of his being sued if he had not received the letter? On McIntyre's say so, the answer to (1) is no. But given that the letter had the form of a legal document used as a prelude to suing, the answer to (2) is clearly yes. Therefore the letter constituted a threat of legal action (ie, the answer to two was yes) even though it did not threaten legal action (ie, contain the words, " and if you do not comply I will sue" or the equivalent). The key point is that the claim in Karoly's first comment would have been true if the answer to either (1) or (2) was true. Ergo it was not a false claim. This is a very simple point that everybody gets when it is not inconvenient for them to do so. If I say that, " Were I on the beach, a tidal wave would be a threat to my safety" neither you nor McIntyre would argue that my sentence was false because tidal waves don't have intentions, and besides which the tidal wave has never communicated any intention to drown me. You would understand immediately what was said, because it is plain English. It follows further that you understand perfectly if I say that undersea earthquakes just off shore constitute a threat to the safety of people on the shore. In other words, they are a threat to safety, even if (as is normally the case) a tidal wave does not eventuate. In the exact same sense, the claim that Karoly "... received a threat of legal action" was true. If he had said, instead that McIntyre had threatened him with legal action, his claim would have been false. As it stands, however, it is not. Finally, as to not repeating the statement - repeating the true but minimally informative information in the original statement when Karoly had far more explicit information that McIntyre had no intention to sue would have been deceptive.
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  36. Unfortunately we're still missing a little bit of information, causing us to begin vigorously attempting to reinflate the squashed balloon of conjecture left us after David's visit. Did David take advice from a lawyer? I'll add a couple of strokes to the speculation pump and say that his description leaves me thinking he didn't just guess or use wiki.answers to assess the situation. Maybe we'll actually learn what happened, again? I must say ABR's migration of the review behind a paywall because of high traffic left me both surprised and amused. I'd never have guessed that was the answer; hats off to value-add by the McIntyre groupies! Equally humorous was the long delay on this thread of comments before that matter was cleared up, long enough for some folks to go way out on a limb, too far in some cases.
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  37. doug_bostrom at 18:09 PM on 18 July, 2012 I have taken your advice and posted a query at the CSDLF contacts page along the lines suggesting that they should update their page with more up to date information about their current work and inform us about supported scientists other than Michael Mann. My curiosity about the status of a fund for supporting victims is based on my feeling that the funds other unintended effect could outweigh its primary overt purposes i.e. could the fund’s actual existence reach a stage where it outweighs it actual current usefulness? Once you realise this as a possibility (and I think it is possible for all such bodies) then I think it is fair to ask about its continuing status, and suggesting that making it clear that it is working for more than one single person on one issue is a start towards that. The appearance of a dynamic functioning entity involved in continuing work means, like a shark, it is moving and keeping itself alive. The hyper fine debate over whether David Karoly really thought he was about to be legally victimised being run in parallel on this page makes me think that the appearance of being threatened can sometimes be more important than the actuality. Doug Bostrom has used the metaphor of a balloon inflating, deflating and reflating to track this saga; I would offer to modify it to a quantum wave function collapse. The wave functions’ existence could appear more important than any disappointing single reality it may collapse to once observed ;)
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  38. tlitb1: I would offer to modify [thread evolution metaphor] to a quantum wave function collapse. The wave functions’ existence could appear more important than any disappointing single reality it may collapse to once observed ;) Hah! That's great, much more fun and usefully descriptive than a sagging balloon!
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  39. Daniel Bailey @184: I really don't think I was "distort(ing) his expression of his opinion" given that: 1) his words were just 4 comments up and 2) I quoted the strongest part of what he actually said - the part which came closest to supporting his "threat of legal action" claim. Let's look at what people have actually said here. Tom Curtis @185 asks: "Was it reasonable for Karoly, who did not know McIntyre's intentions, to conclude that the probability of his being sued by McIntyre was greater given that he had received the letter than the probability of his being sued if he had not received the letter?" and argues: "even though it did not threaten legal action (ie, contain the words, 'and if you do not comply I will sue' or the equivalent)." it was (reasonable to conclude the probability was greater) and "ergo" that "it was not a false claim" (that this was a "threat of legal action"). While I'm sure Dr Karoly appreciates Tom Curtis's support, I doubt that even he actually believes that line of argument. Effectively, there is nothing that McIntyre could have said to Dr Karoly which would not fall into that definition. "I think you're wrong" would be a "threat of legal action" on that definition. "Please tell me where I have promulgated misinformation" would pass the same test. "I would be grateful if you would support your allegation" would also pass the test. There would be almost no step McIntyre could have taken, if he believed Dr Karoly had been unprofessional in posting an inaccurate review, which would not have passed Tom Curtis' test for being a "threat of legal action". Similarly any contact with Dr Karoly asking that he meet basic norms of professional behaviour to withdraw an inaccurate allegation and apologise would have passed Dr Karoly's definition ("a request to the author of the material, requesting that they withdraw it and apologise"). Almost the only way of NOT meeting Dr Karoly's definition would have been to not contact him at all. Or to go back to an alternative to the example I suggested earlier. Suppose your landlord tells you that he is not renewing your lease. Suppose a "first part of a legal action" to evict you from the house you rent is to tell you that the landlord does not want to renew the lease. The landlord doesn't quote any aspect of tenancy law, or refer to lawyers, or the law at all, or consequences if you refuse to vacate the property. There is no threat. There is simply the statement of fact, that the landlord does not want to renew the lease. I don't consider that it would be reasonable to say "I've just received a threat of legal action" even though that is a likely consequence of failing to leave the house. I would consider it an exaggeration to say "I've had a threat of legal action" or even "I've had a threat of eviction" because - quite evidently - there has been no threat. As I said, even Dr Karoly cannot bring himself (and I think most/all the commenters here) cannot bring themselves to actually repeat the claim (and it is to their credit that they can't) that Dr Karoly had "just received a threat of legal action".
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  40. I should add that there is a marked difference between McIntyre's behaviour, when he finds something he posted is inaccurate, and many people here. As soon as McIntyre heard the suggestion that the book review had been moved behind a paywall, he posted that news (giving full credit to Dr Karoly for the new information). When people later doubted that it had in fact been moved behind a paywall, he confirmed it had, posting "the article is presently in the $6 current issue." How many people here have corrected their posts suggesting that Dr Karoly took the article down on the advice of his lawyers? Tom Curtis posted earlier "the more reasonable inference is that Karoly was instructed to take them down because his universities (sic) legal department did not want the expense of defending them." doug_bostrom posted the more cautious: "Karoly may have asked ATR (sic) to remove the piece, or ATR (sic) itself found the comments generated by the piece to be a distracting waste of time to moderate. I see from the archived copy that the article had already attracted some ire; perhaps ATR (sic) didn't like the noise it encountered. "Point is, we don't know what happened. It would be helpful if we did but in the meantime let's not make the mistake of substituting with our imaginations what actually happened." McIntyre corrected himself immediately. In contrast Dr Karoly has left it completely open and mysterious what role McIntyre's ClimateAudit blog played in uncovering the errors which led to the withdrawal of the Gergis article. Would Dr Karoly like to shed light on that?
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    Moderator Response: [Albatross] I am now removing myself from this thread to moderate. As Philippe noted, this three dis being driven off topic. And the attempt by dubious to further debate Gergis when it is not even mentioned in the OP is part of that problem. So while McIntyre's original posts did contain factual errors that needed to be corrected, there is nothing concerning Karoly or Gergis et al. that news to be corrected in this OP. Everyone, please post comments on this thread. Any subsequent posts containing discussion of, or speculation about Gergis et al., or attempts to divert attention away from the main post will be deleted. Thank you.
  41. This thread has effectively been hijacked and degenerated into a "look, squirrel" type of distraction. It is unfortunately typical, and indicative of the difficulty of conducting any kind of useful debate when faced with certain methods. Whether or not Karoly or McIntyre said this or that, the reality is that scientists in a given field are under such pressure that CSLDF became necessary. I find it regrettable that there are multiple threads active right now with vastly more interesting stuff than this, yet this ends up being the most active. McIntyre is quite good at using language. His website is full of half veiled allegations, innuendo and so forth. That's the recent stuff. A few years ago, the messages were much crude and clear. Commenters at his site have had no problem attributing the worst of motives to scientists whose work they hardly understand. Meanwhile, humans are being a geological force of unprecedented speed, unearthing -in a century and a half- billions of tons of carbon that took millions of years to sequester. And this is what we talk about. Truly concerning.
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  42. Phillipe: I completely agree with your assessment. Thank you for posting it.
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  43. So I asked four colleagues to parse McIntyre's letter and tell me if they thought it was a threat of legal action. Based on:
    "It has come to my attention that you have made the following untrue and defamatory statement about me..." "...the failure of these panels to explicitly identify errors speaks strongly against your allegation of promulgating “misinformation”." "I request that you either provide me forthwith with specific examples of the “misinformation” that you allege that I’ve promulgated or withdraw the allegation with an apology."
    three of them said that they would take it as a threat, or at least forward it to Legal. The last one, who had familiarity with McIntyre, said he doubted that McIntyre would "have the balls" (because it would initiate 'official' scrutiny of McIntyre's errors), but if it had been someone else he would have asked for Legal's opinion. That aside, I find the subsequent paragraph:
    It is evident that the error had not been discovered by the authors or by peer reviewers at the time that Climate Audit raised the issue of screening procedure in Gergis et al on May 31, 2012 here, a discussion that quickly identified the error. I do not believe that you identified the error independently of the discussion at Climate Audit and accordingly it is my opinion that your failure to acknowledge Climate Audit in your public statement constitutes the use of ideas and/or work derived from Climate Audit without the appropriate acknowledgement.
    as an extraordinary example of hubris. Not only does McIntyre have no evidence to support his allegation, but he somehow turns the use of Karoly's own data into an act of plagiarism by Karoly. My colleague's opinion of McIntyre's legal bravado might be dim, but it takes some big ones to demand that he be credited when someone else has simply scrutinised their own work. Oh, and anyone who relies on the Wegman Report, so ably mascerated by John Mashey and Deep Climate, as a defense of competence needs to start doing some serious reading.
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    Moderator Response: [Albatross] Bernard J we cross posted, so I have to give your reference to Gergis et al. a pass. Everyone, please move any responses to BernardJ's comments about Gergis et al. to the suggested thread. As for Wegman, that discussion can be carried out here.
  44. dubious @190, I am growing tired of this endless discussion of a trivial issue. When I say trivial, I think it is absolutely absurd that McIntyre made a blog post on the issue, and even more so that having done so he got every fact of legal interpretation wrong. But, given that it is so tiresome, I will be dropping out of any further discussion of the issue, after making one point. You said,
    "Effectively, there is nothing that McIntyre could have said to Dr Karoly which would not fall into that definition. "I think you're wrong" would be a "threat of legal action" on that definition. "Please tell me where I have promulgated misinformation" would pass the same test. "I would be grateful if you would support your allegation" would also pass the test. There would be almost no step McIntyre could have taken, if he believed Dr Karoly had been unprofessional in posting an inaccurate review, which would not have passed Tom Curtis' test for being a "threat of legal action". Similarly any contact with Dr Karoly asking that he meet basic norms of professional behaviour to withdraw an inaccurate allegation and apologise would have passed Dr Karoly's definition ("a request to the author of the material, requesting that they withdraw it and apologise"). Almost the only way of NOT meeting Dr Karoly's definition would have been to not contact him at all."
    That claim is simply absurd. All that McIntyre needed to do so that the letter did not have the form of a concerns notice under Australian law was to drop the phrase "defamatory". By excluding that word, the letter no longer makes a claim of defamation and therefore no-longer clearly presents claims of defamation. Further, McIntyre's claim that his only intention was to persuade Karoly to "behave as a professional" is dubious. A professional, and certainly a scholar is concerned to b truthful. Simply alleging that Karoly's claims where untruthful would have been sufficient if McIntyre's purpose had only been to persuade Karoly to desist from allegedly unprofessional conduct. Given that, the only point in including the term "defamatory" would appear to be to make Karoly (at a minimu) reflect on his legal situation - and if that was the intent it was definitely an implicit threat. On McIntyre's say-so I will accept that his letter was poorly drafted for his stated intent. But as drafted, it was legally a "concerns notice" and as such represented a threat of legal action.
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  45. To return to the original subject of the post, here is another article on ATI's latest FOIshing trip, in Texas. Climate science attack group turns sights on Texas professors Andrew Dessler is the target, Katharine Hayhoe was hit last year. I note the irony that ATI is a "charitable" organisation, allowing their funders a tax break so that they can squander taxpayers' money by wasting the time of climate scientists, by forcing them to comply with vexatious FOI requests. In the article, Climate Science Legal Defense Fund attorney Jeff Ruch is quoted as saying: "Before they were going after interactions between individual scientists. This is basically a spying operation to see who are you talking to, but presumably the idea is the same: to find material that is potential[ly] of use in discrediting a scientist."
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  46. Gee, wonder if I can get the CSLD Fund to comp me for my time lost on this thread? (after all, time is money) It is transparently obvious, the inherently fact-impoverished position of denial. Witness the arduous contortions evident in this thread alone needed to both manufacture debate where none exists and to then resuscitate an argument that was dead before it arrived (DBA).
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  47. Just donated $50.00. I am sorry that this is a necessity but, I gladly contribute
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  48. Breaking news: Michael Mann has announced on FaceBook that ATI has lost the ATI/UVa FOIA case, where they demanded all emails and communications between Mann and the university - apparently hoping to rake through them and find something, anything, with which to attack Mann and his findings:
    ATI loses ATI/UVa FOIA case. Judge issues final order. Affirms the university's right to withhold scholarly communications and finds that the documents & personal emails of mine demanded by ATI were indeed protected as the university had contended.
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  49. Yah, here's the mainstream from WaPo.
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  50. ATI has already said they plan to appeal, but the language the judge cited from the FOIA seems to clearly state that it does not cover correspondence or even 'work product' behind scientific research... only the final published result. Which, in most cases, is publicly available anyway.
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