Global Warming: Follow Up on Mann, Bradley and Hughes

I noted not too long ago that the Committee on Energy and Commerce sent letters to Mann, Bradley and Hughes (authors of the studies that introduced the no famous hockey stick) asking some questions. Some of the questions were pretty typical (i.e. provide a copy of your vita), but others were not. In particular there were questions about releasing the computer code used in Mann, Bradley and Hughes [1998] (hereafter MBH98).

Well Mann, Bradley and Hughes have responded. In regards to computer code the justification for not releasing the code seems to be:

“Sorry, it is our private property and you can’t see it. Nyah, nyah!”

Okay, the response wasn’t exactly like that, but that pretty much sums it up. The problem though is that while the computer code might very well be Mann’s private property that does not mean he cannot present it when asked…especially by an entity with supoena power. Imagine you are in a court of law and the prosecution asks to see some property that is related to a crime. Saying, “Sorry that is my private property, so you can’t see it,” will work about as well as using a dixie cup to cross the Atlantic. This is why we have intellectual property laws so that people can present their intellectual property in a public manner for others to see, read, use (with proper royalties/permission obviously), and build upon. So when Mann writes,

A(Q5D): My computer program is a piece of private, intellectual property, as the National Science Foundation and its lawyers recognize. It is a bedrock principle of American law that the government may not take private property “without [a] public use,†and “without just compensation.â€

it is a laughably weak argument. Presenting code does not void any intellectual property rights. If this were so, then this post would not be protected by intellectual property laws (it is) since anybody with a browser and internet connection can see it. In any event, it seems that now a new bit of source code has been released, but it literally took an act of Congress. So much for the open and honest scientific process surrounding global warming/climate change. Sheesh.

FILED UNDER: Climate Change, Science & Technology, US Politics, ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.


  1. cirby says:

    “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”

  2. John Burgess says:

    Patriotism isn’t the last refuge of the scoundrel, appeals to the courts are.

  3. Doug says:

    *********!!!READ CAREFULLY!!!*****************

    You have to really read carefully to follow this story. My headline would be:

    !!**Climate Change Community Fails To Back Key IPCC Finding**!!

    The fact based article at this link explains it:

    I tried emailing the link to Congressman Joe Barton, but could not because I am not in his district.

    Here is the email I wanted to send:


    Your inquiry may have been more effective than you realize. I have written a fact based article which shows that the scientists appear to realize something is terribly wrong with one of their findings. It also shows very specificly that they are not at all eager to admit it.

    I include a link:


  4. Azael says:

    Steve, either you are ignorant about how science works, or you are an intellectually dishonest political hack.

    It’s perfectly obvious that you don’t need his source code to replicate his results. It’s like saying you need my volt meter to replicate my measurements. If you know what a frickin’ volt meter is, how it works and what it does, you can build your own. What you’re implying is completely false on its face. And you either know this and don’t care that you’re lying, or you’re ignorant and shouldn’t be talking about things you have no clue about.

    And as to intellectual property and copyright law, I’m surprised to hear that you’re an expert in this area. You apparently don’t understand the basics of it. Having been in the computer software business for almost 2 decades now, I can telly you that presenting code *does* void the intellectual property rights. It’s called “trade secret” and is voided if you reveal it. Copyright has nothing to do with it. Oh, and to head off the predicted silly argument, no. A trade secret would have nothing to do with the science. For example, my voltmeter can be 1/10th of the cost of anyone elses, and how I do that is a trade secret I don’t want you to find out. But the scientific principles of measurement are *not* the trade secret and keeping my technique for reducing cost a secret in no way pollutes the science.

    Again, you’re either ignorant of the area or a political hack who simply doesn’t care what he says as long as he gets his story out to the fawning zombies.

  5. Steve Verdon says:


    Sure a trade secret would be a good reason not to divulge source code. But there are two problems for a dimwitted jackass like yourself.

    1. Mann claimed no trade secret, merely intellectual property.
    2. Trade secrets in publicly funded research, at publicly funded universities, for the purpose of formulating public policy sounds like a bad, bad idea. It is too conveinent a dodge to hide behind.

    Sure, generally speaking asking for source code is a bit extreme. But when using the methodology in writing your own code yeilds different results looking at the source code is one approach. I do it all the time at work with the code I write. Another group does similar calculations and then they use my code as a check since my code has been thoroughly tested and examined.

    So Azael, bite me.

  6. Azael says:

    Wow, trade secrets aren’t intellectual property! Who knew. Again, your argument doesn’t even make the slightest sense. As to your number 2, like the potty version, it stinks as well. There are zillions of examples of publically funded universities who have trade secrets. Get a grip, dude.

    And it’s not a dodge. If it takes the actual source code to reproduce the results, then something is actually fishy. Good science would demand that no one would have to have the exact source to reproduce the results.

    You’re still an intellectually dishonest hack who’s purposefully misrepresenting the facts.

    I’ll decline the offer to bite you, as I’m pretty sure I don’t want to pick up whatever it is that’s infecting that brain of yours.

  7. Steve Verdon says:

    Wow, trade secrets aren’t intellectual property!

    Now you are lying? What a shock. Where did I write that trade secrets are not intellectual property?

    Again, your argument doesn’t even make the slightest sense.

    I wouldn’t expect it to make sense to somebody like you.

    There are zillions of examples of publically funded universities who have trade secrets. Get a grip, dude.

    That deal with public policy that could easily cost trillions of dollars? Sure.

    And finally, this whole issue of trade secrets is a red herring since it is not what Mann is claiming. You are bringing it up because you have nothing else to stand on.

    And it’s not a dodge. If it takes the actual source code to reproduce the results, then something is actually fishy.

    And that is one of the things that has been indicated. Further, in looking at the source code McIntyre has noted that some statistics were calculated but not reported. Further, that Mann’s new line on those statistics is that they are not important. This immediately raises the questions:

    1. Why calcuate them at all?
    2. Why not discuss why they are unimportant in the article?

    Surpressing statistics that is contrary to one’s hypothesis, if this is what Mann et. al. did, is reprehensible.

    Good science would demand that no one would have to have the exact source to reproduce the results.

    But yet, McIntyre and McKitrick suggest there are problems. They wanted to know how certain things were done and Mann refused to produce anything that would answer the questions. Not because of any trade secrets, but for because–and these are his words–he wont give into intimidation.

    So you have nothing. No go play with your volt meter.

  8. Azael says:

    Look Steve. I’ve been doing code for over 20 years now. I’ve worked at NCAR doing climate and chemical modeling in FORTRAN. My wife is a chemical engineer who did emissions modeling for various regions across the country. I do have some small knowledge in this area.

    You are basically saying that without the code, one can’t do the science. This is simply bullshit. You’re now falling back and saying that because M&M found some problems, they need to see the code. Bullshit again. If M&M find they are getting different results, then there may be a bug or just crap in Mann’s code. It’s immaterial in any event because the methodology and data that went into the model are what’s important – not the frickin’ code. If Mann is wrong, then you prove it not by examining his code, but by showing that the results don’t follow from the data and methods.

    As to M&M themselves, they are – quite frankly – a joke. Anyone who can’t figure out the difference between radians and degrees deserves to be publically humiliated for the idiocy it takes to do such a thing. Anyone who understands the mistakes these jokers have made in their jihad against Mann and still thinks that Mann has the credibility problem… Well, that person is either a fool who doesn’t understand science 101 or is a political hack who’s trying to purposefully confuse the issue.

  9. Marcia L. Neil says:

    “…the scientific process surrounding global warming/climate change…” must take into account the existence of an oracle-shown set of worldwide plant life — preserved as images within a tiny mucousal oracle-bead chronicle. The oracle bead chronicle — a tiny archeological artifact –has not yet been contained or housed in a museum.
    Both humans and other creatures accord special attention to those oracle-shown locations within which those plants can be found.

  10. Michael Jankowski says:

    As to M&M themselves, they are – quite frankly – a joke. Anyone who can’t figure out the difference between radians and degrees deserves to be publically humiliated for the idiocy it takes to do such a thing.

    The “M&M” you refer to with the radians/degrees error is Michaels and McKitrick. The M&M who have found errors in Mann et al is McIntyre and McKitrick. Please try to stop spreading misinformation and correct whoever informed you. Also, the only reason the error was found was that Michaels and McKitrick shared their code. If they had used the Mann et al method of stonewalling, nobody would even know they messed-up!

    Also, the M&M you refer to do know the difference between radians and degrees. It was confusion over which units to use in that instance, and they used the wrong ones.

    BTW, Mann et al used cosine(latitude) for a weighting function instead of the square root of cosine(latitude). Surely you feel that Mann et al should be “publicly humiliated” for not knowing the difference between the powers of “1” and “0.5?” Should this not also make them “quite frankly a joke” in your eyes?