date: Thu, 04 Dec 2008 17:51:56 -0800
from: Ben Santer <santer1atXYZxyzl.gov>
subject: Many thanks!
to: Peter Thorne <peter.thorneatXYZxyzoffice.gov.uk>
Thank you for your support and advice. Both are greatly appreciated.
The Director of PCMDI (Dave Bader) has responded by email to the U.S.
DOE official who accused me of tarnishing Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory's scientific reputation. LLNL's Associate Director of
Physical and Life Sciences (Bill Goldstein) has also responded to the
DOE official in question. While I am not privy to the full content of
these communications, I believe their general tenor is that:
1) Steven McIntyre's blog should not be considered a source of reliable
information on climate science issues;
2) The primary model and observational used in our International Journal
of Climatology (IJoC) paper are freely available to any researcher,
including Mr. McIntyre. If Mr. McIntyre is truly interested in
replicating the calculations performed in our IJoC paper, and
determining whether our conclusions were justified, he has all of the
information necessary to do so.
Given the Lab's response, and after careful consideration of your
advice, I have decided that I will NOT seek to publish a letter in
Nature or Science, outlining my position on Mr. McIntyre's requests for
"climate model time series". Anything I write would be viewed by some as
a self-serving attempt to "promote" our IJoC paper. As several of you
have pointed out, there is also the real danger that focusing further
public attention on this issue would exacerbate an already difficult
The irony here is that I do not seek or enjoy public attention. I am
happiest when I'm in my office, simply doing science. I had hoped that,
after expending a lot of time and energy on the response to Douglass et
al., our IJoC paper would be published, and I could simply continue with
my life and scientific career.
That was an incredibly naive expectation. You would think that I'd be a
bit smarter by now. The MSU issue has assumed iconic status for those
who deny the reality of human effects on climate. No scientific evidence
that we could provide - no matter how compelling - will ever alter the
views of S. Fred Singer, Steven McIntyre, David Douglass, and John
Christy. They need to preserve the icon.
I still think that there is a need for some public airing of the issues
raised by Steven McIntyre's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
We are seeing a pattern of behavior here - a pattern that began with Mr.
McIntyre's "auditing" of Mike Mann, and then continued with
investigations of Phil Jones, Jim Hansen, and Gavin Schmidt. Yesterday
it Mr. McIntyre audited the hockey stick; today it's the GISS and CRU
temperature datasets, and our comparison of modeled and observed
temperature trends. Mr. McIntyre is not using FOIA requests as a vehicle
for true scientific discovery. He does not seek to understand what we
did, and why we did it. He has no interest in rational scientific
debate. His intent is purely destructive - to suck us into a
never-ending stream of requests for data, programs, explanations,
emails, and even more data.
I fully endorse the idea of writing a commentary on this matter in
Nature or Science. That commentary should be written by someone outside
the main circle of protagonists; by someone who can look at these issues
a lot more dispassionately than I can. The commentary should cover the
issue of what is - and what is not - legitimate game for FOIA requests.
The commentary should also address the issue of how one determines the
"reproducibility" of a scientist's results. Is it reasonable for
Scientist B (or Citizen C) to request all of Scientist A's data,
programs, experimental apparatus, etc., in order to replicate Scientist
A's results? Should the "auditing" of Scientist A be done on Scientist
B's publicly-accessible blog, in the 21st century equivalent of a public
hanging? Who audits the auditor, and determines whether Scientist B or
Citizen C has the expertise necessary to conduct a fair and impartial
investigation of Scientist A's data, methods, and findings?
I'm very angry about the events that have unfolded after publication of
our paper, but have to find some way to "move on". I'm hopeful that I'll
now be able to return to my research. That's all I want to do.
Once again, many thanks for all your support and wise counsel. They mean
a lot to me.
With best regards,
Benjamin D. Santer
Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
P.O. Box 808, Mail Stop L-103
Livermore, CA 94550, U.S.A.
Tel: (925) 422-3840
FAX: (925) 422-7675