Saturday, December 05, 2009

There's Probably a Perfectly Good Explanation

Okay, so the data set from the East Anglia CRU is perhaps hopelessly compromised. Doesn't matter, we are assured, because there are corroborating data sets that confirm the AGW theory. And because one of the most important data sets is in the hands of NASA, it should be easy to get and share, right?


The fight over global warming science is about to cross the Atlantic with a U.S. researcher poised to sue NASA, demanding release of the same kind of climate data that has landed a leading British center in hot water over charges it skewed its data.

Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said NASA has refused for two years to provide information under the Freedom of Information Act that would show how the agency has shaped its climate data and would explain why the agency has repeatedly had to correct its data going as far back as the 1930s.

As longtime readers of this feature likely know, I'm a big fan of Occam's Razor, also known as the Principle of Parsimony. In a nutshell, what William of Occam postulated was this: the simplest explanation is usually the best explanation. In this case, I can think of two Occam's Razor reasons for the 2-year delay in responding to this FOIA request. They are:

  1. NASA, like any government agency, is riddled with unresponsive bureaucrats and the delay is the result of typical government red tape; or
  2. NASA has something to hide.

Under ordinary circumstances, if I were a betting man I'd put my marker on explanation #1. Given today's context, #2 is uncomfortably possible.

According to the article, NASA is trying to respond:

Mark Hess, public affairs director for the Goddard Space Flight Center which runs the GISS laboratory, said they are working on Mr. Horner's request, though he couldn't say why they have taken so long.

"We're collecting the information and will respond with all the responsive relevant information to all of his requests," Mr. Hess said. "It's just a process you have to go through where you have to collect data that's responsive."
Given that the deadline for complying to FOIA requests is 20 days, and given the way things are currently playing out, I'd humbly suggest that someone light a fire under Mr. Hess's ass.


W.B. Picklesworth said...

[I'm going to just set all those funny circumstances aside because it doesn't help my argument to confront widespread malfeasance. And I'm going to trot a gentle ad hominem.]

Don't you think that's venturing a little close to conspiracy talk? C'mon, you're jumping to conclusions. We need to focus on the science.

Mr. D said...

We need to focus on the science.

Kinda like Thomas Dolby!

Bike Bubba said...

Now if they can't access the data to meet a FOIA request, how the heck can they actually USE it and back it up?

Sorry, but Ockham's cutting at the "they've fudged the data and don't want to be found it" side very strongly here. At the very least, if they truly cannot access the data readily, then they're going to have trouble using it themselves.....

....and we arrive at the same point; their work is worthless, scientifically speaking.