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« The Hoskins emails | Main | +++Behind the scenes at the Oxburgh inquiry+++ »

The Hand emails

These are the key issues from the Hand emails (excluding the attachments, which will be considered separately).

Some highlights

  • 17 March 2010 16:22 Kelly emails Hand "I have been reading the Briffa papers (2-5 on the list).
    I came across two papers back-to-back in Science on 29 June 2007. I attach them for your convenience. Can you tell me whether this is a storm in a teacup from your perspective or not?"
  • 19 March 2010 10:53 Hand emails UEA (probably Lisa Jardine in Acton's office). "At the end of your suggested list of peer-reviewed publications for assessment, you said 'These key publications have been selected because of their pertinence to the specific criticisms which have been levelled against CRU's research findings as a result of the theft of emails.' Would it be possible to give us details of these specific criticisms before the meeting?
  • 19 March 2010 13:14 UEA replies: "In terms of criticisms, perhaps the university's submission to the Muir Russell and parliamentary select committee reviews would give you some background. Would it be helpful for me to send them on? Also the UEA web page has various statements about the allegations which you might find informative.
  • 22 March 2010 12:04 UEA asks panel not to speak to media
  • 23 March 2010 09:41 UEA sends some comments on Briffa's papers to Graumlich and Hand. These comments were written by Michael Kelly. (See here)
  • 24 March 2010 12:51 Hand asks someone (perhaps a colleague) to get hold of Cook, Briffa and Jones 1994, a paper that is not on the list.
  • 31 March 2010 16:20 UEA (who?) to Hand. The email is entitled "RE: Polar Xdate Docs". It reads: "Please would you note that one of the three attachments sent today (BriffaNatcomm.doc) contains Mcintyre's comment that he submitted to "Nature" criticising Briffa et al. (1995). However, it also includes (after the reference list) what appears to be an early draft of Briffa/Melvin's response to this criticism. I'm advised by CRU that you should ignore that and refer to BriffaNatreply.doc for the final version of their response.
  • 11 April 2010 16:50 Lisa Graumlich emails team to say she agrees with the report
  • 12 April 2010 11:24 Unidentified emailer tells Hand that the report will be released in hardcopy at the press conference and not before
  • 12 April 2010 18:15 Unidentified emailer to Oxburgh, cc Hand: "Ron, You mentioned concerns about Mann. I thought I recognised the name. Here's the report we received from his University's internal review which you may find of interest."
  • 13 April 2010 13:51 Trevor Davies of UEA thanks Hand for his input to the report
  • 14 April 2010 18:46 Mann emails Hand to talk about his remarks at press conference
  • 14 April 2010 21:45 Hand to Oliver Morton (The Economist): "I realised I shouldn't have said I'd like to bang their heads together, but it is true that I did! In fact, I read considerably more than the 11 publications. These were presented to us, but we asked for other background material, and I also downloaded many other papers, and read the ClimateAudit and other websites, and also bought and read Montford's book 'The hockey stick illusion' as well as other books on the subject. I know that other panellists also read widely beyond the chosen 11 papers." This email seems to have been prompted by Morton showing Hand some correspondence with McIntyre (with permission).
  • 15 April 2010 A series of emails trying to arrange a telephone call with Mann.
  • 15 April 2010 14:57 Mann sends Hand excerpts from the NAS press conference. Cites Peter Bloomfield, the NAS panel statistician, who Hand knows and also Doug Nychka (although this is redacted).
  • 15 April 2010 15:50 Email from Bloomfield: "I was sent a link to a piece in the Telegraph that quotes you on the hockey stick, and in which Mike Mann asserts that I reached some conclusion opposite to yours... A quick rereading of the report didn't reveal any place where I or any other member of the committee reached any conclusion with which you would differ. If you're aware of any, I'd be glad of a reminder!"
  • 15 April 2010 Email from Mann recording the telephone conversation they have just had. In great detail. (Does this seem to give it a slight air of threat?)"Key points that I discussed with you were:1. that the PCA centering issue that was raised by McIntye has been shown repeatedly to be a nonissue in practice (see below). 2. That claims to the contrary of McIntyre which were largely parroted by [redacted] have been refuted in the IPCC report and in other peer-reviewed articles (several of  which I've already sent you) 3. That the [Redacted - probably Wegman report] was not considered a legitimate peer-reviewed assessment. [redacted, Wegman?] was appointed by [redacted] challenge the conclusions of the National Academy of Science's own, actual peer-reviewed review. Serious issues have now been raised with the independence of the [redacted, Wegman?] panel and report."
  • 15 April 2010 Unidentified emailer discusses Hand writing an article on the Oxburgh inquiry for Significance, the magazine for members of the Royal Statistical Society.
  • 16 April 201 13:50 Oliver Morton of the Economist emails asking how the papers were chosen. Cites a CA posting.
  • 16 April 2010 14:50 Oxburgh responds: "Thanks for your message - the answer is that I don't know! What I received was a list from the university which I understand was chosen by the Royal Society The contact with the RS was I believe through [redacted - probably Martin Rees] but I don't know who he consulted. [Name redacted], when I asked him, agreed that the original sample was fair."Says they read widely beyond the 11 papers.
  • 16 April 2010 14:53 Hand replies to Morton. "Lord Oxburgh may be able to give you more details on how the 11 core publications were selected by the Royal Society and the UEA, but my understanding was that they were thought to be the central ones in the accusations." Makes the same point about the inquiry being wider.
  • 16 April 2010 19:53 Hand emails Oxburgh. "Could we have an urgent chat?"
  • 16 April 2010 14:04 Tom Heap, BBC Panorama emails Hand re Hockey Stick. "We were at the press conference on Weds where you said that Mann's inappropriate statistical technique' led to exageration. [Redacted] asked if you can give a figure or proportion to that. Can you?"
  • 17 April 2010 15:08 Email that appears to be a reply to Heap. Hand says "I don't know".
  • 17 April 2010 15:12 Another response re Heap? Hand says "it depends".
  • 15 April 2010 16:13 Email from Mann: "Hi David, thanks for bringing this to my attention. I had not noticed this before and honestly I don't actually know which is which---would need to contact [redacted] I had mostly just focused on the fact that the basic result was insensitive to the convention, even in this relatively extreme synthetic example (the [redacted] model simulation has unusually large temperature changes compared with all other simulations of the past millennium).
  • 17 April 2010 15:15 Hand to redacted recipient. Could you ask [redacted] to contact me as a matter of urgency.
  • 17 April 2010 20:36 Hand sends Oxburgh report addendum (re Mann) to Oxburgh.
  • 18 April 2010 13:42 Oxburgh emails [redacted] cc Hand, Liss and Davies. Talks of Hand being "pursued".

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Reader Comments (13)

"■16 April 201 13:50 Oliver Morton of the Economist emails asking how the emails were chosen".
Shouldn't that be "how the papers were chosen"?

[BH adds: Thanks Hector. Fixed now]

Jun 22, 2010 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterHector M.

Too many deletions and redactions. Looks like a Watergate tape. But quite informative nonetheless.

Jun 22, 2010 at 10:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterHector M.

Lots of e-mail communications between Hand and Mann. Looks like Mann did a snow job on Hand, using the NAS Panel press releases. (Hand might have found Joe Barton's Congressional Hearings testimony useful; i.e., under oath, the NAS Panel supported the Wegman findings.) Interesting though that Hand apparently never attempted to communicate with McIntyre or Wegman, or at least there are no e-mail records of such.

Jun 23, 2010 at 3:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterDrCrinum

It's frustrating that David Hand almost grasps the right end of the stick in his email of 19 March where he asks about the selected papers and the specific criticisms.
In response he is given a false answer by UEA.
If he had looked for example at Steve Mcs HoC submission he would have seen what the main specific criticisms of CRU were, and that they related to Briffa 92 and 95. These were not in the Oxburgh list, which might have led him to ask further awkward questions.

Jun 23, 2010 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaulM

Is it just me or does this guy actually know anything about anything? He seems to have no context of the dispute whatsoever and to be asking some very very very basic questions.

No wonder they didn't actually want to talk to M&M.

Jun 23, 2010 at 4:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Pedant-General


One of the things that always surprises me is how little people know about the story we are all following so closely. I think you have to remember that the HS and Climategate is under most people's radar. So if Hand knew nothing, I don't think that's cause for blame. He was asked to take part and did so. As far as I can tell he did an honest job. He took some steps to educate himself on our complaints, by purchasing HSI, although of course there is limited overlap between the book and the CRU.

If there is a measure of criticism it is that the panel should have contacted SM. I wonder if this was discussed by Oxburgh and his team.

Jun 23, 2010 at 6:24 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

@Bishop Hill

Hand did not do an honest job. There are gross statistical errors in the CRU work (even more basic than those underlying the hockey stick): the errors were surely obvious to Hand; yet Hand ignored them.

[BH adds: Doug, the remit Oxburgh gave them was not to look for errors but to look for manipulation of data. They were specifically not assessing the science. I don't think Hand could therefore say anything about the errors in the report. I think one can argue that he should say something now, although I'm not sure of the ethical niceties of using the knowledge he has gained through the inquiry to make statements on not-entirely-related matters.]

Jun 23, 2010 at 7:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan

What one hand giveth, the other taketh away?

Jun 23, 2010 at 10:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Pedant-General

Andrew -- just to clarify: yes, showed him something from Steve with Steve's permission. Should anyone be interested in what came of this: not much. I thought the paper selection was interesting, not vital, and put it aside when Eyjafjalljokull erupted and my priorities were quickly redirected.

Jun 24, 2010 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterOliver Morton


Why not vital?

Jun 24, 2010 at 2:33 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

The question of what work should be considered by Oxburgh et al. surely is vital. I am the sole entity to have made a substantiated allegation of fraud against anyone at CRU: my allegation is against Phil Jones, for his work on the 2007 IPCC report. The allegation was published in a peer-reviewed paper. It was also widely publicized, including in a front-page article in The Guardian.

After I found the evidence for Jones' apparent fraud, I e-mailed Jones, asking for an explanation; I did not receive a reply. After I submitted my paper for peer review, the journal editor sent the paper to Jones for review; Jones had many comments on the paper, but did not attempt to dispute the allegation. After The Guardian published its story, Jones' university issued a press release, to clarify some issues; yet the press release did not attempt to dispute the allegation. In short, Jones has had ample opportunity to defend himself against the allegation, and has not attempted to do so. Indeed, the evidence is conclusive: Jones is guilty.

Surely it is vital for Oxburgh et al. to have considered the work in which Jones is alleged to have committed fraud. They did not do so.

Jun 25, 2010 at 2:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan


I agree. The chief blame should reside with UEA (Acton? Davies?) for asking Oxburgh to peform a review of published papers and not of the IPCC work. It is likely that Oxburgh knew what was going on ("played a blinder") and if so he is culpable too. How much blame, if any, should be directed at the panel members I'm not sure.

Jun 25, 2010 at 4:35 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Andrew says: "One of the things that always surprises me is how little people know about the story we are all following so closely. I think you have to remember that the HS and Climategate is under most people's radar..."

What are pop-corn eating page turning 'climate science' adventure stories to some are mind numbing non-events to others. My wife humors me each time I yell out "you have got to hear this!"

Jul 19, 2010 at 7:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

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