So, from the hacked CRU email, what has Team Hockey Stick* been up to. The emails have been posted several places and some dedicated folks have been plowing through them. Early on, some conclusions are being drawn about Team Hockey Stick’s activities over the past 10 or so years. One posting by Ian Murray on the Pajamamedia.com blog pretty concisely gives us a view of the three things that everyone should know about Team Hockey Sticks’ activities. From his blog,
First, the scientists discuss manipulating data to get their preferred results. The most prominently featured scientists are paleoclimatologists, who reconstruct historical temperatures and who were responsible for a series of reconstructions that seemed to show a sharp rise in temperatures well above historical variation in recent decades.
Secondly, scientists on several occasions discussed methods of subverting the scientific peer review process to ensure that skeptical papers had no access to publication.
Finally, the scientists worked to circumvent the Freedom of Information process of the United Kingdom.
To read Ian Murray’s full posting click here
How much hot water might Team Hockey Stick be in? Right off the top we are hearing from prominent scientists saying that they should resign their positions, should not be allowed to work on any future UN climate study work, etc. We also know that they may be in legal jeopardy as well. Senator Inhofe is planning investigations. A friend told me he believes that Representative Joe Barton may do so,too. The English are considering a Panel of experts to investigate.
A lawyer provided the Wall Street Journal several lines of legal inquiry.
Tortious interference. For researchers and academicians, publication in peer-reviewed journals is important to advancement, raises, grant funding, etc. Wrongful interference with the ability to publish has monetary and reputational damages. If that interference is based not on editorial judgment of worthiness for publication, but rather on protecting reputations, scientific positions, political goals or “places in history” (as mentioned in one email), then it could give rise to liability in tort for the individual scientist and possibly for the university or organization for which he works.
Breach of faculty ethics standards or contracts. Most universities and research organizations have ethics clauses in their faculty/employee manuals and in their contracts with faculty/researchers. If (as suggested by the purloined emails) these individuals cooked data or manipulated assumptions to achieve preferred outcomes, or denied others access to data essential for replication of result that is essential to the scientific method, they could have violated university or organizational ethics standards.
State-chartered universities. Some of these individuals appear to work for state-chartered and state-funded institutions, and might well be classified as state employees (and thereby eligible for generous state benefits). The conduct suggested by the purloined emails might violate state ethics or funding policies. State governments and legislatures therefore might have a basis for inquiry and oversight.
Federal grants. Federal grants typically have ethics/integrity clauses to assure that the research funded by the grant is credible and reliable (and to assure that the agency can avoid accountability if it isn’t). As noted, the purloined emails suggest that data might have been cooked and assumptions might have been manipulated to generate a predetermined outcome. If true, and if the work in question was funded by federal grant, the researchers in question might well have violated their federal grant contracts–for which there are legal consequences. Inspectors general of the grant agencies should be in position to make inquiry if the data/assumptions in question could be linked in time and topic to a contemporaneous federal grant to the researchers in question.
To read the full WSJ article click here
In my trip through the blogs, I think there is a consensus that Dr Phil Jones is very likely in trouble for violating English Freedom of Information law.
Keep tuned, I think, and hope the scope of this inquiry continues to grow.
* Team Hockey Stick–I wish that I had coined that name, but I saw it somewhere on the web and can not find that site again. Sorry . Team Hockey Stick includes Phil Jones, Michael Mann, Tom Wigley, and the usual suspects.