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Congressman Seeks Scientists' Personal Data 632

jfengel writes "The Washington Post reports that House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX) has requested raw data and personal financial information on three scientists who published a paper which claimed that temperatures rose precipitously in the 20th century. Colleagues (including other Republicans) are calling the investigation 'misguided and illegitimate.' Barton has long been an opponent of government action on global warming."
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Congressman Seeks Scientists' Personal Data

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  • by FTL ( 112112 ) * <slashdot@@@neil...fraser...name> on Saturday July 23, 2005 @09:52PM (#13147211) Homepage
    Every time a study comes out saying that Windows is more secure, faster and cheaper than Linux, the first thing Slashdotters ask is "Who funded this study?" Which is exactly what the Chairman is attempting to establish. Are these scientists unbiased, or are they in the pocket of some lobby group. It's a critical question. Having said that, it can also most definitely be a form of harassment.

    Based solely on the editorial, it looks like in this case it is more the latter than the former. But we don't know the whole picture. In fact that one-sided editorial is an excellent example of bias; nowhere does it even outline the Chairman's view.

    It comes down to an interesting question. If personal and professional finances are off-limits, how else can politicians determine whether a complex statistical report has been "paid for" by an interested party?

    • Maybe the congressman should disclose in who's pocket he is.
      • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @10:08PM (#13147287)
        Maybe the congressman should disclose in who's pocket he is.

        Agreed - the kind of stuff Barton is asking for is way above and beyond the kind of information that required by campaign finance reporting laws.

        Additionally, and this is key here - scientists, by definition, work via the scientific method and thus bogus conclusions will be challenged and repudiated.

        Politicians, by definition work by demagoguery and hot air and thus bogus claims will often go unchallenged and even supported by specious argument and distraction.

        Barton is using the later to try to attack the former, which to anyone with even a hint of scientific training, is ridiculous.
        • EXACTLY!!! This congressman is really on to something. We SHOULD demand to see all of the personal financial information of our country's "leaders." This is a GREAT idea, even if it means doing the same for the scientists. Somehow, I imagine the "dirt" dug-up about the scientists would be far less, well, fertilized.
        • by selfdiscipline ( 317559 ) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @11:27PM (#13147583) Homepage
          Yes, of course he's not using scientific method, because most politicians don't have scientific training. Which makes the fact that they run the country a little unsettling. There's one job a politician absolutely has to be good at: getting the most people to vote for them. Too bad skills for that job aren't really transferrable to any responsibilities in running the country besides diplomatic issues.
          If it wasn't too easy to introduce bias into the scientific method, I'd say our government should be more meritocratic.
        • Somehow, Slashdot disagrees with you. [slashdot.org]

          If scientists use the scientific method "by definition," as you assert, then one-third of the published authors are not scientists. This throws the whole "peer review" process into question.

          When the challenges to conclusions are themselves repudiated without argument (that is, simply dismissed out-of-hand), as politicians and other egoists-in-white-coats attempted with Bjorn Lomborg [lomborg.com], the god-like stature of "scientists" loses its credibility with the people who ha
        • by JesterXXV ( 680142 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {ekdartj}> on Sunday July 24, 2005 @12:58AM (#13147983)
          Conclusions will be challenged and repudiated, but then those counter-claims could be challenged and repudiated, and THOSE could be challenged, and so on, and the general public will lose interest and/or side with whichever conclusion they're predisposed to accept. The scientific method is swell and it would be perfect if it were utilized by cold, objective automatons. But it's used by emotional, flawed, biased individuals, so it's not like it exists on some higher plane of existence than politics.

          Science *should* be objective, but then again, so should journalism.

      • From another post,

        http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/indus.asp?C ID=N00005656&cycle=2004 [opensecrets.org]

        Oil&Gas as expected.
      • by Viadd ( 173388 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @12:17AM (#13147825)
        Maybe the congressman should disclose in who's pocket he is.

        http://opensecrets.org/races/indus.asp?ID=TX06&cyc le=2004&special=N [opensecrets.org]
        Top Industries
        2004 RACE: TEXAS DISTRICT 6
        Joe Barton (R)*
        Oil & Gas $224,398
        Electric Utilities $221,951
        Health Professionals $205,650
        Pharmaceuticals/Health Products $151,276
        TV/Movies/Music $93,500
        • by yukio ( 457122 )
          It gets better... you have to wonder why the man has alomst as much money coming in from _outside_ his district as he does from inside.

          Top Metro Areas

          2004 RACE: TEXAS DISTRICT 6

          Joe Barton (R)*
          DALLAS $213,805
          WASHINGTON, DC-MD-VA-WV $133,649
          FORT WORTH-ARLINGTON $120,032
          HOUSTON $110,500
          SAN ANTONIO $30,500
      • by shark72 ( 702619 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @09:36AM (#13149439)

        "Maybe the congressman should disclose in who's pocket he is."

        He's a Republican from Texas, and is the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. For Timo and our other friends in the UK: put together "Texas" and "Energy" and you have "oil." He worked in the oil industry before he was elected to congress. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the oil industry is his top contributor [crp.org] -- they gave him nearly a quarter million bucks in 2004.

        In an interview on NPR, he stated that he wanted to collect the raw data so that he could pass it along to his own "experts" -- that is, scientists in the employ of oil companies. In other words, he wants to use the scientists' own data against them.

    • by it_flix ( 808213 ) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @09:59PM (#13147244) Homepage
      Every time a study comes out saying that Windows is more secure, faster and cheaper than Linux, the first thing Slashdotters ask is "Who funded this study?"
      The paper was published in the Nature magazine. It doesnot matter who funded the studies, it has been peer reviewed and the results agreed upon by a majority of the author's peers who know the subject matter best. The day Microsoft comes out with a clear test methodology and peer reviewed comparision analysis, which is not likely, is the day slashdotters would stop asking the question.
      • Mod parent up! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by khasim ( 1285 )
        The GP is wrong. It doesn't matter who funded you as long as you reveal your methodology and data.
        • Re:Mod parent up! (Score:3, Insightful)

          by WhiplashII ( 542766 )
          I wish that were true - it does matter who funded the study when explaining complex things to "common" poeple. The data and test procedure may not be in question, but the simplified explanation given to the average Joe may be. This doesn't even speak to the problems of sample bias, such as the vast majority of environmental scientists strangely enough are environmentalists...

          One of the things I love about the scientific method (I consider myself an engineer, not a scientist) is how it is based on a know
          • Re:Mod parent up! (Score:3, Informative)

            by Ichoran ( 106539 )
            Who says you have to pretend that you're "proving" anything (in the mathematical sense)? And anyway, disproving something is proving not-something, so either you can prove things or you can't. (For the record, you can't, in the mathematical sense.)

            Rejecting the null hypothesis is a method for gaining confidence that something interesting is happening. If there are other competing hypotheses, you test those too.

            I suppose that your characterization of perception is true, but that doesn't mean that scienc
          • The resolution to the perplexities of positivism is Bayes' Theorem.

            Where p(A|X) is "the probability of A given X" and ~A means "not A"
            p(A|X) = [ p(X|A)*p(A) ] / [ p(X|A)*p(A) + p(X|~A)*p(~A) ]

            Much knowledge can be derived from applying that: quantum mechanics, statistics, AI theory, the scientific method and more.

            This article is long, so here's the relevant bit
            from "An Intuitive Explanation of Bayesian Reasoning" by Eliezer Yudkowsky
            http://yudkowsky.net/bayes/bayes.html [yudkowsky.net] :

            Previously, the most popular
      • by drerwk ( 695572 ) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @10:22PM (#13147343) Homepage
        It does not matter who funded the studies
        Actually, Nature requires that you disclose financial interest when you publish. http://www.nature.com/nature/authors/policy/compet ing.html/ [nature.com] Including: "Funding: Research support (including salaries, equipment, supplies, reimbursement for attending symposia, and other expenses) by organizations that may gain or lose financially through publication of the paper."
      • The only real test (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 23, 2005 @10:43PM (#13147409)
        The paper was published in the Nature magazine. It doesnot matter who funded the studies, it has been peer reviewed and the results agreed upon by a majority of the author's peers who know the subject matter best.

        Passing publication review is important. But it is not meant to be a judgement about the correctness of the paper's results -- instead, it is about whether the paper ought to be published or not.

        In science, the only real test is reproducibility.

        For example, the paper "Observation of Cold Nuclear Fusion in Condensed Matter" [1] passed peer review, as it should have. But its results could not be reproduced reliably, so as of this moment its authors' conclusions are considered to be (at best) flawed.

        Or for another example, take pentaquarks. Some experiments claim to have unambiguous evidence of their creation in certain production channels. Other experiments claim to unambgiously show that they are not produced in similar -- often, nearly identical -- production channels.

        The research on pentaquarks, from both sides, is quality work and certainly worthy of publication. But it is almost certain that someone's experimental methodology is flawed. So the status of pentaquarks remains controversial, as it should.

        The ultimate scientific test is to continue trying to reproduce results with improved methods, and to see what nature tells us. This is the essence of peer review.

        Publication review is an important part of this mechanism, but it is only one part of the entire cycle of peer review.

        [1] S.E. Jones et al., "Observation of Cold Nuclear Fusion in Condensed Matter," Nature 338: 737-740 (1989).
    • by garcia ( 6573 ) *
      It comes down to an interesting question. If personal and professional finances are off-limits, how else can politicians determine whether a complex statistical report has been "paid for" by an interested party?

      What if that interested party is the Federal government's current ruling group is financially tied to the results of these negative studies and the results of their own "studies"?
    • by Quarters ( 18322 ) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @10:02PM (#13147262)
      If personal and professional finances are off-limits, how else can politicians determine whether a complex statistical report has been "paid for" by an interested party?

      There is no "if" about it. There is no need for a congressman to have the personal financial data of these people. There is no investigation of a crime and there is no court order. It's a 4th amendment violation.

    • More likely, this congressman is funded by some oil or coal company.
    • Bad analogy (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geophile ( 16995 )
      Every time a study comes out saying that Windows is more secure, faster and cheaper than Linux, the first thing Slashdotters ask is "Who funded this study?" Which is exactly what the Chairman is attempting to establish.

      No, a slashdotter asking such a question is more like a working stiff asking who contributed to the congressman's campaign. What the congressman is doing is more like a Microsoft executive asking who funded a study favorable to Linux.

      These days, a republican supporting this Administration'
    • by recoiledsnake ( 879048 ) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @10:22PM (#13147341)
      You don't need *personal* financial information to find who funded the study.
    • And yet, it moves (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @11:07PM (#13147514) Journal
      Amazing that you would think that this is the same thing. The congressman is not interested in just these 3 scientists. He has been shown to be after anybody who has said that we are in a global warming esp. if they state that it is caused by man.

      Basically, we are looking at an inquisition. We have them every so often. The catholics (and most Christians) had theirs against science.

      We had it during the 50's with the red scare. And yet, we do not learn our lessons. So, as was muttered "And yet, it moves"
    • by NitsujTPU ( 19263 ) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @11:12PM (#13147535)
      Read the article, this is absolutely black and white:

      The scientists, co-authors of an influential 1999 study showing a dramatic increase in global warming over the past millennium, were told to hand over not only raw data but personal financial information, information on grants received and distributed, and computer codes.

      This absolutely outrageous. Congressman Joe Barton is trying to destroy scientists who are practicing good science (getting published in Nature is incredibly prestigeous), not even because he has reason to disagree with the results, but because it's good for his campaign fund to do so.

      Joe Barton should be ashamed of himself, and his constituents should demand that he be removed from office.

      There is a big difference between calling a study garbage, especially when it's only credentials come from the company that both funded and benefits from it, and this.

      This is more like the FSF funding raids on the houses of Microsoft employees, because they don't like that Windows has more users.
    • Who funds who? (Score:3, Informative)

      by TapeCutter ( 624760 )
      Joe Bartons 2006 campaign funding [opensecrets.org].

      Scientists funding history is detailed in thier individual responses to Barton [realclimate.org]. (not to mention 'Nature' requires this info before publication).
    • by coaxial ( 28297 )
      Geez, some people will go to any length to defend the indefensible.

      There's nothing wrong with asking for the raw data, and who funded the study. Many times the funding of papers are included in the acknowledgements section. The abuse of power comes from asking for the personal financial records of the scientists. Unless a corruption (i.e. bribery) or some crime is suspected, which none is, then the move is nothing more than harasment.

      It comes down to an interesting question. If personal and profession
  • by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Saturday July 23, 2005 @09:52PM (#13147213)

    By using such despicable harassment techniques against these scientists, all Joe Barton has managed to accomplish here is to certify their findings.

    After all, if their results could be disputed rationally, there would be no need for such underhanded tactics.
    • Had any good Welsh wine [stanford.edu] lately?
    • The resopnses to Barton can be found here. [realclimate.org] The site is apolitical, thier editoral on the matter ends with these very sane words...

      "The real question we are faced with is not whether humans are changing climate. The science on this is clear, and decades of research have culminated in a scientific consensus on this point. The real question now is what we need to do about it. A Congressional committee concerned with energy could be - and indeed should be - a key player in exploring policy options to deal w
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Saturday July 23, 2005 @09:54PM (#13147216)
    Many scientists and some of Mr. Barton's Republican colleagues say they were stunned by the manner in which the committee, whose chairman rejects the existence of climate change, demanded personal and private information last month from researchers whose work supports a contrary conclusion.

    I was lucky to recently attend Al Gore's presentation [startribune.com] on Global Climate Change [lazylightning.org]. While I don't care about Global Warming at all (I see it as an eventual end of society and part of the Earth's history) but I did find that Al Gore's excellent multimedia presentation to be full of the very evidence that proves Global Climate Change is occurring and increasing in speed.

    Why are these leaders creating issues for scientists unless they are trying to strongarm them? Were they seriously thinking that this data was created from false research? Antarctica is losing large slabs of ice at an alarming rate but it has nothing to do w/temperatures rising?

    Again, Global Warming is something that's going to happen and it's inevitable, but we don't need to be harassing science because our political survival depends on it.
    • by Hack Jandy ( 781503 ) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @10:03PM (#13147270) Homepage
      I don't think anyone is arguing that Global Warming isn't occurring; the debate is to why it is occuring. The largest of these debates centers around whether or not Global Warming is manmade or not.

      • "The largest of these debates centers around whether or not Global Warming is manmade" - Yes it is now the "largest [public] debate", maily because of people like Barton and the recent G8 pronouncement by Bush. The scientists [realclimate.org] Barton is attacking have no doubt and are now debating the magnitude of it's effects.
      • Really, I think even this doesn't get to the heart of the matter. I don't think anyone questions the humans had an effect (though some question the size of that effect) - the real questions are predictive questions. One study predicts that once a certain point is reached, the temperature rise will accelerate. Others disagree. If there is a breaking point, then it makes sense to forcibly halt human progress to avoid it (this means lots of people dying, etc.). If there isn't a breaking point, then by con
  • by Saeed al-Sahaf ( 665390 ) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @09:55PM (#13147221) Homepage
    He can "seek" anything he wants, but that doesn't mean anyone will take him seriously, or that he'll get it, I don't think the "law" supports that kind of fishing. Much about nothing here, there are a ton of nut-cases in Washington from Texas...
  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) * on Saturday July 23, 2005 @09:56PM (#13147226) Homepage Journal
    I've asked this before, and I'll ask this again: can anyone show me one piece of evidence, one absolutely concrete fact based argument - not speculation, but facts- that proves that human beings are causing Republican Congresses?

    I know, I know, the liberal scientists will probably talk about hot-air and inflammatory rhetoric causing electoral heating. Some say that if we don't curb emissions like this one [slashdot.org], we may have an increase in heated opinions, leading to an increase in Republicans. Many blame the continued use of fossil fools [house.gov] for this problem.

    But there's little evidence to show this. For one, Michael Crichton says these governments are purely cyclical. Over time, you get Republican Administrations, then Democrat Administrations, then Republican again. Apparently there's a wealth of historical evidence to show this fact.

    Then there's the so-called scientists and how their theories change. According to many back in 2004, we were supposed to get a Democratic administration! Now they're saying we're having Republicans. Why should we believe them now?

    Anyway, if Joe Barton can discredit the notion that human beings have anything to do with Republicanism, and he's doing a fine job right now let me tell you, I think this will be a great thing.

  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @09:57PM (#13147235) Homepage
    House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-Tx) has requested raw data and personal financial information on three scientists who published a paper which claimed that temperatures rose precipitously in the 20th century.

    Republicans have perfected the strategy that if you don't like the message, seek to discredit the messenger.

    Apparently the Republican party was in charge when Jesus was on earth because that was the same strategy the local political powers pursued against Him.

    • Exactly. Utter spite from the Lee Atwater playbook.
    • by CyricZ ( 887944 ) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @10:03PM (#13147266)
      "Republicans have perfected the strategy that if you don't like the message, seek to discredit the messenger."

      Professional debatists and philosophers have a term for that: ad hominem attacks.

      Indeed, due to the declining education standards in most of the Western world, many younger people are not aware of such a concept. That is why those politicians, regardless of their political affiliation, who resort to the use of such logical fallacies are not held responsible for their faulty debatery.

      • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @10:59PM (#13147478)
        The commonly mentioned categories of logical fallacy, such as ad hominem, actually have more validity than they're typically ascribed. The problem is that much of the arguments in those cases are tacit.

        For example, take the case of the original post. In an ideal world, we'd have the time to investigate the claims and arguments of everyone. But really we have to be selective because we just can't afford to dedicate a lifetime of research into every claim someone makes. Thus, we really benefit from having a fast way of deciding who's worth paying serious attention to and who's not.

        An ad hominem attack is valid in the sense that is says, "Joe Schmo isn't worth your time to consider. He's biased, so you can't take his claims as automatically true, and so you shouln't waste your time on them. Save your time for source of information that are less biased." The problem is, ad hominem is rarely described in this way because the real argument is different than the alleged argument.

        And in this sense, ad hominem's tacit logic regards a 2nd order issue (the nature of a debate) than a 1st order one the content of the debate). So it makes for a lousy sound bite, regardless of how valid an argument it is.
    • by demachina ( 71715 ) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @10:41PM (#13147402)
      Imagine my shock when I learned that a Congressman from Dallas, Texas would be trying to stifle information on global warming. I don't think Joe's Arlington district includes Irving, Texas but its right next door.

      What's in Irving, why the headquarters of Exxon Mobile, one of the corporations most rabidly fighting any suggestion their products might be wrecking the climate. I doubt you are going to find many politicians from Texas, including the President, who are going to give global warming a fair hearing if they value there political careers and their power base in Texas.

      Exxon is the one who hired Philip Cooney, Bush's chief of staff of the Council on Environmental Quality the day after he quit amid controversy. The irony of a former and now once again oil man heading anything on enviromental quality. He resigned when it was exposed that he had been repeatedly altering, or maybe doctoring is a better word, government reports on global warming to downplay it, to suppress data showing it might be happening and that burning fossil fuels might be contributing to it.
  • That's Fine. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 23, 2005 @09:58PM (#13147238)
    While we're at it, let's make ole Joe's real financial backings public. Nothing to hide, right?
  • I was wondering if someone could point me to a publication in a respectable scientific (pop-sci not included) journal that disproves global warming, with proper computer simulations.

    I'm aware of many publications that show the opposite.

    • by gvc ( 167165 ) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @10:13PM (#13147306)
      You don't understand the concept of "fair and balanced." It means that for every person who expresses an accepted and scientifically justifiable opinion, you give equal or greater weight to selected whackos who disagree.

      Then, once it becomes accepted that there is "no consensus" you split the difference, and find some even more extreme whackos to skew the "middle ground" even further. Eventually those with well-considered opinion are completely marginalized.

      An honest scientist cannot win in this environment, because he or she is not willing to take ever-more-extreme positions to maintain "balance".
  • Joe Barton is a Boob (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 23, 2005 @10:04PM (#13147274)
    When I graduate student in Texas and Joe Barton was first elected to the House, he had no respectible credentials at all. He did, however, have a father that was the editor of the local newspaper. And, gee whiz, he won the local election! Who would have guessed?.

    At the time, I laughed when he was elected. Now, I'm not laughing anymore.

  • by Nikkos ( 544004 ) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @10:08PM (#13147290)
    From the abovementioned paper:

    Spatially resolved global reconstructions of annual surface temperature patterns over the past six centuries are based on the multivariate calibration of widely distributed high-resolution proxy climate indicators. Time-dependent correlations of the reconstructions with time-series records representing changes in greenhouse-gas concentrations, solar irradiance, and volcanic aerosols suggest that each of these factors has contributed to the climate variability of the past 400 years, with greenhouse gases emerging as the dominant forcing during the twentieth century. Northern Hemisphere mean annual temperatures for three of the past eight years are warmer than any other year since (at least) AD 1400.

    While I think asking for personal data and computer codes is pretty far out of line, I think a review of the raw data and a detailed analysis of the "Spatially resolved global reconstructions" may not be asking too much.

    A peek at the "multivariate calibrations" might be a good idea as well.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 23, 2005 @11:00PM (#13147484)
      Sorry, scientific journal articles are not written for your "fifth-grade" audience. You see, scientists are actually educated and communicate with each other in English using words that have precise meanings. Furthermore, the abstract is supposed to present an overview not elucidate the details. Read the actual article if you care, retard. But that would actually require that you absorb some complicated information and understand it before you rattle your jaw, which is anathema to most of you Republicans.

      Furthermore, asking for computer codes is ABSOLUTELY NOT out of line. In fact, there is a small controversy regarding the stability of the SVD routine used to process the data in this paper. All of this has been published and is part of the scientific literature and ongoing research.
  • by jamesl ( 106902 ) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @10:09PM (#13147294)
    For a different perspective on the same news:
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=274#more-274/ [climateaudit.org]
    The head of the Energy Committee is asking for the source code for the statistical calculations that "prove" we're experiencing global warming. Code that was developed with US Government money.

    No more than an open source advocate would expect.

    The source has now been released.

    • "The source has now been released."

      The source was never "hidded" it's been in the public domain for years, There is a link to it on this page. [realclimate.org]

      From the above link- "...A Congressional committee concerned with energy could be - and indeed should be - a key player in exploring policy options to deal with the global warming threat. We hope that after studying the responses by the scientists, they will make a start."

      "No more than an open source advocate would expect."

      Not everyone who programs a comp
  • by thelizman ( 304517 ) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `kcattaremmah'> on Saturday July 23, 2005 @10:10PM (#13147296) Homepage
    If a study came out tomorrow that said cigarette smokers were 20% less likely to catch cold or flu, then it was revealed the next day that the study authors received money from 'big tobacco', would anyone blink?

    Scientists aren't above bribery. If someone is publishing data and has an axe to grind, thats one thing. If someone is publishing data that is correlary to how much money their getting from someone with an axe to grind, that is another.

    Public policy should be based on facts. So before scrubbing some clown, ask yourself: Did they follow the money? Or did they grind their own axe?
    • by Edmund Blackadder ( 559735 ) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @10:21PM (#13147335)
      So your theory is that there is some nefarious secret ultra rich organization that loves the earth so much that they are bribing scientists to alter their studies in favor of environmentalism.

      That would be really great but I doubt it.

      BTW scientists are trained to describe their studies in detail and ensure they are repeatable. The way to check a scientist's veracity is to repeat the study and see if you come up with the same results.
      • The organizations he's looking for aren't "nefarious secret ultra-rich" whackos but ordinary environmentalists. If he finds that the money comes from World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, or even better one of the anti-globalization action groups, he'll accuse them of being anti-corporate (and, by extension, anti-American).

        There do exist groups whose primary goals are some sort of reordering of the world society along what are essentially socialist wealth-redistributive lines. These groups use global warming
    • Yes, but the facts should speak for themselves. The request for raw data is perfectly reasonable. If that data is subsequently found to be falsified, THEN ask for financials. The raw data should be peer-reviewed first... not the scientist's bank records.
  • To be fair. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SlayerofGods ( 682938 ) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @10:22PM (#13147340)
    We request the same infomation from politicians to make sure they don't have conflicts of interest.
    Should scientists who's reports can have a very real effect on policy be so diffrent?
    For example we like to know if scientist is working for drug companys while writing reports on those drugs.
    Just my 2 cents.
    • Re:To be fair. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RayBender ( 525745 )
      We request the same infomation from politicians to make sure they don't have conflicts of interest. Should scientists who's reports can have a very real effect on policy be so diffrent?

      Small difference; the request was intended mostly as harassment. The raw data used always was publicly available at a number of websites (including nature.com). The list of grants received is something that every scientist who submits a grant proposal has to compile. The NSF has said as a matter of policy that source codes

  • From the article, "[they] were told to hand over not only raw data but personal financial information, information on grants received and distributed, and computer codes."

    I think the scientists were mainly incensed over the request of personal financial information and not their funding sources, computer codes, or raw data.

    In fact, ANYONE who requests the materials and methods of a published work is usually given them. In order to verify and repeat the results of the work, other scientists need that information.

    But, I think the two zany Republicans overstepped their bounds by asking for personal financial information. They're clearly looking for a relationship between the scientists and some environmental organization (the wackier the better). I doubt these guys took personal money from their research grants. But the Republicans seem intent on spinning the published work in any way they can: discredit its authors, its methods, and its funding sources.

    Though, the attempt to discredit their methods is not unusual nor wrong! Science is all about critically questioning the work of others until you are convinced of their correct results.
  • by millennial ( 830897 ) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @10:30PM (#13147365) Journal
    A Texas Republican who doesn't take global warming seriously. That's sort of like a Catholic Pope.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @10:42PM (#13147406) Homepage
    The top industries supporting Joe Barton [opensecrets.org] are:
    1. Oil & Gas $224,398
    2. Electric Utilities $221,951

    Top contributors

    1. Anadarko Petroleum $55,000
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    6. Valero Energy $15,000
    7. TXU Corp $14,250
    8. Lyondell Chemical $13,250
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    10. El Paso Corp $11,998

    Any questions?

  • Read all about it (Score:5, Informative)

    by uncadonna ( 85026 ) <mtobis@gmaREDHATil.com minus distro> on Saturday July 23, 2005 @11:12PM (#13147534) Homepage Journal
    here [realclimate.org]

    Some main points that don't seem to have come out so far in the Slashdot discussion so far are that

    • the congressman is parroting criticisms from a certain Canadian gadfly who has been proven on several occasions not to be well educated on matters of physical climatology.
    • these criticisms have been picked up by the Wall Street Journal (in an editorial piece that was severely flawed in other ways as well), but carry no weight in the scientific community, and any serious investigation would show this to be the case.
    • The letter was accusatory in tone and onerous in its demands. It wasn;t the request for clarification that is at stake, it is the punishment for results that are out of line with what the congressman wants
    • The individual result is illustrative of the seriousness of the situation, so it has received a lot of attention, including from the IPCC. Opponents of the scientific consensus, being political rather than scientific, decided this was an opportunity. They are attempting to tar the entire field with the brush of this purportedly bad article
    • It's not clear why the authors took so ling to release the code. However, if this means that conservative elements in congress are going to support a mandate for a purely open source tool chain in non-military science, that will certainly be a silver lining!

    Anyway, follow the link and read what the main scientific institutions think of this episode before you come to your own conclusions please.

    Also, if you don't mind signing in, see the recent editorial [nytimes.com] in the New York Times. It includes the following:

    Sherwood Boehlert of New York - a fellow Republican who is chairman of the House Science Committee and an enlightened moderate on environmental issues - seemed much closer to the truth when he described Mr. Barton's inquisition as "an effort to intimidate scientists rather than learn from them, and to substitute Congressional political review for scientific peer review."
  • by Skippy_kangaroo ( 850507 ) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @11:24PM (#13147579)
    You simply can not believe everything you read in a paper. The article summary is simply wrong. No personal financial information was requested. You can verify this for yourself if you go and read the actual letters at this [house.gov] link.

    You will see that what was requested was:
    2. List all financial support you have received related to your research, including, but not limited to, all private, state, and federal assistance, grants, contracts (including subgrants or subcontracts), or other financial awards or honoraria.

    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.

    That is not personal financial information - that is information that bears directly on his disclosure responsibilities. NSF grants require disclosure of the resultant products (data and algorithms). Asking about funding serves to establish what disclosure obligations result.
    • Read it again... (Score:3, Insightful)

      Well, they could look up whether NSF/NIH funded them - that is a matter of public record. There is no need to ask for it. What the letter says is:

      List all financial support relating to your research, including but not limited to private, state and federal assistance...

      They asking for all funding sources, not just public and private which, IANAL, but to my eyes *does* include personal financial information (i.e. that which is not available publically). Furthermore they seem to want information regard
  • I went here: http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=274#more-274/ [climateaudit.org]
    and followed some links and read some papers (well skimmed).
    My understanding is that there is data missing, data that might go against the idea of global warming (something about R2....).

    I would imagine that if there is a call on his tax records and financial records and such that maybe what is being looked for is if he took any pay in exchange for making the data work out like it did.

    I think it raises an interesting question.
    If he produced these results for a private entity with private money I would say that his finances are his business.
    But he used public money to produce the data for public use. I want to know if MY DATA can be trusted.
  • Fair is fair (Score:4, Informative)

    by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @01:57AM (#13148160)
    I could give a damn either way if global warming is happeneing and at what level. I root for the ELE asteroid, after all.

    But all that was really asked for was the financing of the research. See Skippy's post for details. Whenever someone claims there is no warming, or no human caused warming, there's always questions by the other side about who funded the research.

    So now we have someone asking who funded the research that said warming is happening. Is this so unfair? Full disclosure of funding for ANY research should be mandatory.

    Along with that, the research itself should receive the most scrutiny. Too often research is dismissed because of the funding source. Well, maybe, just maybe, someone funds research because they are actually right, and wish to prove a point before vast policy decisions get made based on myth and lies.

    In the end, the problem is too much politics and ideology in the sciences.

    On the other hand, according to a friend in Texas, Barton is a bit of a tube steak.

  • by bryanbrunton ( 262081 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @02:53AM (#13148297)
    The world's scientific community has created theorized a number of severe and nearly catastrophic harms that will result from global warming.

    But wait! No one has considered what could be the worst of all possible outcomes from global warming:


    When the sh*t really hits the fan, when confonted with regular daily temperatures in the 140 degree range, we will be faced with a massive northern migration of Texans, such as this Joe Barton cracker, throughout the greater continental United States.

    Good God, we must to stop global warming now! If we can just make people aware of the dire consequences of having large numbers of Texans living outside of Texas, then surely everyone will come to their senses and start solving this problem.

  • reps (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kisak ( 524062 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @03:39AM (#13148414) Homepage Journal
    The GOP is a in a sad state these days, but at least one Republican has some moral backbone in this story; Rep. Sherwood Boehlert at least recognice McCarthyism when he sees it [usatoday.com].

    "purpose seems to be to intimidate scientists rather than to learn from them, and to substitute Congressional political review for scientific peer review."

"The greatest warriors are the ones who fight for peace." -- Holly Near