Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Busting scientists' chops

Chris Mooney has an interesting post on harassment of some scientists by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Joe Barton. He asked Michael Mann (of RealClimate fame) a series of questions, among the more unusual requests:

3. Regarding all such work involving federal grants or funding support under which you were a recipient of funding or principal investigator, provide all agreements relating to those underlying grants or funding, including, but not limited to, any provisions, adjustments, or exceptions made in the agreements relating to the dissemination and sharing of research results.

4. Provide the location of all data archives relating to each published study for which you were an author or co-author and indicate: (a) whether this information contains all the specific data you used and calculations your performed, including such supporting documentation as computer source code, validation information, and other ancillary information, necessary for full evaluation and application of the data, particularly for another party to replicate your research results; (b) when this information was available to researchers; (c) where and when you first identified the location of this information; (d) what modifications, if any, you have made to this information since publication of the respective study; and (e) if necessary information is not fully available, provide a detailed narrative description of the steps somebody must take to acquire the necessary information to replicate your study results or assess the quality of the proxy data you used.

5. According to The Wall Street Journal, you have declined to release the exact computer code you used to generate your results. (a) Is this correct? (b) What policy on sharing research and methods do you follow? (c) What is the source of that policy? (d) Provide this exact computer code used to generate your results.

6. Regarding study data and related information that is not publicly archived, what requests have you or your co-authors received for data relating to the climate change studies, what was your response, and why?

7. The authors McIntyre and McKitrick (Energy & Environment, Vol. 16, No. 1, 2005) report a number of errors and omissions in Mann et. al., 1998. Provide a detailed narrative explanation of these alleged errors and how these may affect the underlying conclusions of the work, including, but not limited to answers to the following questions:
a. Did you run calculations without the bristlecone pine series referenced in the article and, if so, what was the result?
b. Did you or your co-authors calculate temperature reconstructions using the referenced “archived Gaspe tree ring data,” and what were the results?
c. Did you calculate the R2 statistic for the temperature reconstruction, particularly for the 15th Century proxy record calculations and what were the results?
d. What validation statistics did you calculate for the reconstruction prior to 1820, and what were the results?
e. How did you choose particular proxies and proxy series?
8. Explain in detail your work for and on behalf of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, including, but not limited to: (a) your role in the Third Assessment Report; (b) the process for review of studies and other information, including the dates of key meetings, upon which you worked during the TAR writing and review process; (c) the steps taken by you, reviewers, and lead authors to ensure the data underlying the studies forming the basis for key findings of the report were sound and accurate; (d) requests you received for revisions to your written contribution; and (e) the identity of the people who wrote and reviewed the historical temperature-record portions of the report, particularly Section 2.3, “Is the Recent Warming Unusual?”
They also asked for his CV and funding records. Mann has used tree ring data to demonstrate a clear trend in annual temperatures across the last millenium. This is an anti-climate science Congressman trying to get material for a smear against Mann. He wants to stir up controversy about the availability of data and computer code, he wants to toss a concocted controversy around, any other dirt that can impugn the gold standard IPCC report.

I like when people make their data and computer code publicly available. It's a nice thing and good for science, but it isn't necessary nor terribly common. It certainly doesn't merit Congressional involvement.