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Congressman Seeks Scientists' Personal Data

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the everything-is-fair-i-guess dept.

Privacy 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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Not black and white. (5, Insightful)

FTL (112112) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147211)

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?

Re:Not black and white. (3, Insightful)

Timo_UK (762705) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147236)

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

Re:Not black and white. (5, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not black and white. (5, Insightful)

it_flix (808213) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147244)

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! (2, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147301)

The GP is wrong. It doesn't matter who funded you as long as you reveal your methodology and data.

Re:Not black and white. (1)

daniel23 (605413) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147320)


very much to the point.

Re:Not black and white. (5, Interesting)

drerwk (695572) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147343)

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."

Re:Not black and white. (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147441)

Which means that there is no need for the Congressman to be investigating this issue. He should have just asked Nature magazine who funded the study.

Re:Not black and white. (1)

hypnagogue (700024) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147376)

Hmm. Seems there is some debate [slashdot.org] about that.

Re:Not black and white. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13147396)

Interesting. When someone puts blind faith in God, you call them brainwashed. When someone puts blind faith in science, you call them rational.

Whether it's religion or science, the argument persists: follow the money. These scientists are not charities. They have families to feed, a career to pursue.

It's impossible to reconcile the claims that religion is all about money because it's run by people, but science is not all about money because it's also run by people. "Peer reviewed" can easily be translated into "says the right things" in a not-so-insignificant number of cases. (It's funny how often we mock the P.H.B.s that are also Ph.D.s, but treat them like gods when they present a study.)

Ultimately, money is all that matters. To anyone.

The only real test (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#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).

Re:Not black and white. (2, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147247)

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"?

Re:Not black and white. (1)

Emperor Cezar (106515) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147257)

Thank you.
It is nice to see that someone understands that just because you are a Republican or Democrat that you're not evil and retarded. For the most part, each person is trying to do what they think is best and right.

Re:Not black and white. (4, Interesting)

sugarmotor (621907) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147281)

Take a look at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?Sectio nID=41&ItemID=8336 [zmag.org] "It is the people who tolerate the government, which in turn tolerates opposition within the framework determined by the constituted authorities," Marcuse wrote. "Tolerance toward that which is radically evil now appears as good because it serves the cohesion of the whole on the road to affluence or more affluence. The toleration of the systematic moronization of children and adults alike by publicity and propaganda, the release of destructiveness in aggressive driving, the recruitment for and training of special forces, the important and benevolent tolerance toward outright deception in merchandising, waste, and planned obsolescence are not distortions and aberrations, they are the essence of a system which fosters tolerance as a means for perpetuating the struggle for existence and suppressing the alternatives...."

Re:Not black and white. (4, Insightful)

Quarters (18322) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not black and white. (2, Insightful)

Emperor Cezar (106515) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147289)

*sarcasm*
The constitution is a living document and must change with society. We do not live in the same world that the founding fathers did.
*sarcasm*

Re:Not black and white. (2, Funny)

bryan8m (863211) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147275)

More likely, this congressman is funded by some oil or coal company.

Re:Not black and white. (1)

HardCase (14757) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147283)

While that could be true, I think that the most likely story is that because there are 435 representatives in Congress, there is a pretty high percentage of reactionary nuts in there. It's not just Republicans - there are just as many Democrats that ought to make everyone scratch their collective head.

I'm sure that it's all part of the fallout from the insane political polarization these days.

-h-

Re:Not black and white. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13147292)

So what if it was funeded by someone?

That doesn't mean that the study was wrong.

He should be attacking it on scientific merits, not finicial strawmen. Thats the difference between scientific papers and Microsoft's studies. All the methodologies are published in the paper and should completely reproducable.

If the Microsoft studies are detailed enough to be reproducable, then there should be no need to find out who funded it.

Re:Not black and white. (1)

powerspike (729889) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147293)

but isn't that the point, i'm quite sure congress don't want everyone knowing that the oil companys funded WMD report that lead to bigger things :P can't have it both ways ..

Re:Not black and white. (1)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147308)

"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 that is not what the Chairman is trying to establish, he knows very well which universities the scientists belong to, because that's listed in their by-lines. Any persons or organizations that provided additional funding are generally also listed in scientific papers.

And while I have been reading slashdot for eight years now, I have never read a comment where a slashdoter was seeking personal data on the author of some windows TCO study. At most slashdotters care about proffessional data -- i.e. what other studies that person has participated in what other articles he/she has written. So this is a really bad analogy. BTW if the Chairman wanted to get such data on the scientists he only needs to do a wuick lexis search for their other publications.

And of course there is the usual accusation of bias. That is getting pretty silly in my opinion but hey if that Senator cannot get his voice heard in the "liberal" media (something very hard to believe coming from a US senator) he can always post on slashdot. I will change my filter to -1 just in case slashdot is biased too.

Bad analogy (2, Insightful)

geophile (16995) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147316)

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's position on any scientific issue, against any credible scientist is highly suspect and does not deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Re:Not black and white. (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147317)

Are these scientists unbiased, or are they in the pocket of some lobby group. It's a critical question.

The real question is, "do their data hold up under close scrutiny"? Whatever axe they may have to grind, their claims should be judged on the facts.

-jcr

Re:Not black and white. (1, Insightful)

mcgroarty (633843) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147318)

The study in question is generally cited as "the" definitive proof of global warming. The "hockey stick graph" with a recent uptick in temperatures was discredited when peers demonstrated that feeding even white noise or parallel downward sloping lines into the researchers' plotting program as temperature data produced graphs with a large uptick at the end. Initially the researchers withdrew the study after these findings, then reinstated the study without comment.

I don't know nearly enough to understand everything in play here, or whether the complaints against the study were subject to review as well -- they could very well be errors themselves. I do understand however why that kind of strange history, combined with the importance of the research, makes it such an attractive target.

Not that the above excuses anything like researching the scientists unless there's strong reason to believe a crime occurred!

Re:Not black and white. (4, Informative)

recoiledsnake (879048) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147341)

You don't need *personal* financial information to find who funded the study.

Peer reviewed (2, Informative)

chipmeister (802507) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147429)

A study, paid for by whomever, certainly could be biased and get published somewhere. However, this is one of the toughest journals out there. It's pretty difficult to just slip in a neatly packaged point of view without serious science to back it up.

Global Warming Confirmed. (2, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Global Warming Confirmed. (1)

_Sharp'r_ (649297) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147233)

Had any good Welsh wine [stanford.edu] lately?

Re:Global Warming Confirmed. (1, Troll)

Reverend528 (585549) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147328)

Is it really "harassment" to ask for the sources of funding for a research project?

Re:Global Warming Confirmed. (1)

BenJCarter (902199) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147372)

How can findings be disputed rationally without the raw data?

So that's how findings get certified? (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147382)

Wow! You must be a real scientist! I always thought that findings became accepted by replication. I didn't understand that mere opposition could be sufficient to make some scientific result certain.

Dang, I wish you moderators had the choice of "Too Sarcastic", because my posting certainly deserves it.
-russ

Your doing the same thing you accuse Barton of... (1)

Whyte (65556) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147391)

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

As with every investigation of a phenomenon, be it natural or political, don't you think the evaluation should be based on the contents? It is a relatively common occurance to have the question asked "Who funded your research?" when considering the context of that reports contents.

"After all, if their results could be disputed rationally, there would be no need for such underhanded tactics."

And likewise, if the scientists which produced the study were above board this investigation will likely prove as much. If Barton's investigation itself is flawed, that too will provide us a public service - allowing us to remove a flawed congressman from office.

Welcome this investigation. This type of investigation is one of the few ways to remove some of those tin foil hats. How much stronger will their study be when it is revealed that they conducted their research in an ethical and responsible manner? And if they didn't the public is likeways served by exposing their study's short comings.

Re:Global Warming Confirmed. (1)

BroncoInCalifornia (605476) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147393)

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.

There is no doubt in the scientific community about global warming. In the early 1990s there was still some doubt. The only people who now think global warming is not real get their science from Rush Limbaugh.

How do you tell if a scientist is a crackpot? (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147404)

Q: How do you tell if a scientist is a crackpot?
A: He disputes the existance of Global Warming.

No, really, the political climate is such that any scientist who questions any portion of the litany of global warming is treated as a pariah, ideologue, and crackpot. So no wonder you see a 100% consensus on global warming: every scientist who has doubts keeps them to himself. That only leaves the politicians to dispute global warming, and of course they're not going to use science, they're going to use politics. Disagree? Look at what happened to Lomborg. His credentials going back to his elementary school diploma have been questioned.
-russ

Scientists have responsed to Braton. (2, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147430)

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 with the global warming threat. We hope that after studying the responses by the scientists, they will make a start."

This BBC artice [bbc.co.uk] quotes one of Barton's cronnies as saying "it's about time the science was put on trial". WTF - To be "science" means it is permanently "on trial" but this moron wants to "settle it in a court of law".

Al Gore's presentation... (5, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

The problem (2, Insightful)

NaCh0 (6124) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147261)

is that an anti-climate change group could give a similar "excellent multimedia presentation" with similarly gathered evidence and reach the opposite conclusion. Just like the coming ice age of 40 years ago. In summary, don't be dazzled by the flashing powerpoint slides.

Re:The problem (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147280)

Just like the coming ice age of 40 years ago. In summary, don't be dazzled by the flashing powerpoint slides.

So, the Government shouldn't be dazzled by those opposing viewpoint presentations either and they certainly shouldn't be going after science because they don't agree w/the findings due to their political beliefs.

Re:Al Gore's presentation... (3, Informative)

Hack Jandy (781503) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147270)

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.

HJ

Doesn't Mean He'll Get It... (3, Insightful)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147221)

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...

Ahh, the US Government (1)

rob_squared (821479) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147223)

I'm not sure how to say this without coming off as a troll. But what is the intent here? In the past they tolerated German rocket scientists, why are these scientists being signaled out?

Re:Ahh, the US Government (1)

narkotix (576944) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147245)

because it doesnt help their cause to be portrayed as environmental killers. Its easy to destroy someone's life by digging up some dirt on them.

A giant hoax (5, Funny)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147226)

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.

Re:A giant hoax (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13147334)

Actually the Republican Congress is a subspecies of Homo Sapien, Homo Headus Rectus. The unusual placing of their heads explains their inability to read reports on global warming.

Typical Republicans (3, Funny)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147235)

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.

Re:Typical Republicans (1)

connorbd (151811) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147259)

Exactly. Utter spite from the Lee Atwater playbook.

Re:Typical Republicans (0, Troll)

Rick Zeman (15628) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147264)

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

If it's good enough for Karl Rove, it should be good enough for you, too.

Debatists have a term for that. (5, Insightful)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Debatists have a term for that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13147339)

The trick is that Republicans often attack their opponents by claiming that their opponents have attacked them.

In fact, to an outsider (non-American) it is almost dizzying to see just how wonderfully the Republicans can manipulate truth time and again to claim the Democrats are doing the very things they themselves are guilty of...
(Recent tidbit - watching Fox News and being "informed" that Karl Rove has been "the only honest person so far in all of this" (direct quote) in relation to the Plame naming scandal).

I've given up on trying to understand why people fall for it, and have come to believe that the majority of the world doesn't want truth - they just want a convenient means to justify pre-existing prejudices... Even when it doesn't make any sense.

Re:Debatists have a term for that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13147417)

You have no sense of humor, lighten up! As a fairly conservative Christian I know when to laugh, you should too.

Re:Typical Republicans (0, Troll)

jkmartin (816458) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147307)

The Republicans didn't come to govern, they came to rule.

No, it's Democrats that reflexively attack Christ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13147347)

While giving a free pass to paganism, Jersey curb worship, and religions that preach the murder of "infidels".

Too damn bad we can't listen to Winston Churchill:

"How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities - but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome."

--Sir Winston Churchill, from The River War, first edition, Vol. II, pages 248-50 (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1899).

Explains a lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13147367)

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.

Wow, now I know why Pontius Pilot is credited with founding the Republican Party. 2,000 years and still going strong! And they still crucify anyone that disagrees with them.

Re:Typical Republicans (1)

modecx (130548) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147368)

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.

Indeed.. It always seems to be conservatives vs. hippies.

Peace, guys!

Re:Typical Republicans (1, Offtopic)

Nikkos (544004) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147385)

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.

Yea, Like those Republicans who ban smoking everywhere, pass laws to prevent me from modifying my car, raise my taxes in order to alleviate health-care costs for illegal immigrants, and try to prevent me from buying firearms... Oh wait, those aren't Republicans.

Either you're too dense to see that both parties suck, or you're just another democratic undergrounder who smells an opportunity to chant the "I hate Republicans" mantra.

Either way you're too dumb to see the forest through the trees, and so are the mods who chant this tripe with you.

Re:Typical Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13147413)

Perfect. Rather than discuss the Republican party's penchant for attacking the messanger rather than confronting an issue, you abandon the topic and belch out a canned anti-liberal rant. QED.

Re:Typical Republicans (4, Interesting)

demachina (71715) | more than 9 years ago | (#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. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13147238)

While we're at it, let's make ole Joe's real financial backings public. Nothing to hide, right?

Here you are (4, Insightful)

tunabomber (259585) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147390)

Of course he's got nothing to hide [opensecrets.org] ...

*cough,cough*

scientific review (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13147243)

You don't get how the process works. If one scientist is compromised, they get jumped on by the others for poor research, which then compromises the first guy's ability to get funded or published at all and calls into question the legitimacy of any previous work.

The problem here is that Barton is seeing this from the perspective of a politician. As a politician, he has no frame of reference for a process with built in integrity. Congressman should have their personal and campaign finances reviewed. Why? Because they trade off of lies and misdirection. There is no integrety in their world.

Evil Empire (0, Flamebait)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147246)

Who was surprised this preparation for an obvious revenge attack, against scientists inconveniently interfering with oil policy, was the hatchet job of a Republican, or a Texan? Maybe Barton (R-TX) was hoping to learn the scientists' wives were covert CIA/WMD operatives. Then, of course, Barton could just discard national intelligence security as the cost of discarding national environmental security. Two great Texas Republican tastes that go great together!

Read a book, Barton (1)

bryan8m (863211) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147249)

Boiling Point [amazon.com] absolutely destroys the argument against taking action on global warming. When greenhouse skeptics can't find any flaws in the work of real scientists, they turn to discrediting the scientists through personal information.

How bout Mr Bartons records in return (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13147258)

Would be interested in seeing who's paying for his viewpoint.

perhaps a climatologist can help me (1)

vlad_petric (94134) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147267)

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.

Re:perhaps a climatologist can help me (4, Insightful)

gvc (167165) | more than 9 years ago | (#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".

Re:perhaps a climatologist can help me (1)

J. Random Luser (824671) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147369)

I don't think there's a great problem with global warming per se, the big game now is finger pointing. Major industry is reluctant to accept the contribution of greenhouse gases, so it funds studies by astrophysicists to prove the sun is at fault. Here's the abstract referred above for those too lazy to click thru:

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.

Short of forkin' out $30, anyone seen the full text of how these guys apportion responsibility among their chosen three bad guys??

Joe Barton is a Boob (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Never been so sorry... (1, Offtopic)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147276)

I've never been so sorry to share this yahoo's last name. Not only that, but I live near his district in Texas. The next time someone asks me if I'm related to him, I won't say "No."

I'll say "Hell no."

Who is investigating Barton ? (1)

zymano (581466) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147286)

Anyways.

Has anyone wondered about the public utilities not encouraging energy conservation ? Yeah , they seem to want people to consume more energy.

This is where private enterprise fails. We need to SLOW down consumption and use more clean resources like SOLAR.

We all need to put solar cells on our houses but you see the 'public utilities' who are now 'private' may not want that.

It will take big lobby money to change ways.

Re:Who is investigating Barton ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13147414)

Where I live in the midwest, our power company runs ads on television asking people to conserve energy. They will also come to your house free of charge and do an energy audit. They will make energy saving suggestions and even give you a couple of compact fluorescent light bulbs. It is in their best interest for people to save energy because it means they will not have to build up their infrastructure as quickly.

Big words != Factual Paper (3, Interesting)

Nikkos (544004) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Big words != Factual Paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13147379)

"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."

That'll never happen. Critical review is not part of the Washington game.

And in the other corner ... (5, Informative)

jamesl (106902) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Ignore the Spin; Follow the Money (2, Interesting)

thelizman (304517) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147296)

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?

Re:Ignore the Spin; Follow the Money (5, Insightful)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Ignore the Spin; Follow the Money (1)

SlayerofGods (682938) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147444)

You never know... those wind, solar, and water power company lobbyists are a crafty bunch ;)
There's always someone who want's something their way.

Re:Ignore the Spin; Follow the Money (3, Insightful)

Bandraginus (901166) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147353)

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.

Re:Ignore the Spin; Follow the Money (1)

ta ma de (851887) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147408)

I have been a smoker and a non-smoker, and I think there might be something to that. Qualitatively, it seemed like I got less colds as a smoker, however, a cold is preferrable to cancer and emphisemia (can't spell sorry). Though, I will go and buy a pack of Winstons right now if HN51 comes this way, and smoking provides resistance.

Re:Ignore the Spin; Follow the Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13147416)

You don't discredit flawed studies by critisizing funding sources. If the research is crap it'll probably be rejected through the peer review process before publication. If a crap study does make it through and it is crap scientists don't attack the funding source they attack the flaws in the study.

It might not happen immedietely, but as science marches on the crap falls away. You cannot bribe the entire scientific community.

This isn't fuzzy bullshit like "is windows more secure than linux". This is real science with precise documentations of procedures, reasoning, and conclusions.

Anyone want to sponsor me? (1)

tulare (244053) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147319)

I need to emmigrate. Enough is enough. This country has gone so far down the path of corrupt rubbish that I don't think it's reversable anytime soon, and I really don't want to raise my child in the mess that ensues (assuming such a mess is survivable, which you can argue either side of equally well without the use of a tinfoil hat). The glass marble award applies.

Anyhow, the shortest version of my resume is that I'm technically very skilled in a number of disciplines, and would prefer residency in an EEC country if at all possible.

Good Luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13147348)

Most countries don't have our kind of immigration policies. Instead of posting your resume, why not a picture and traits that make you attractive to a Canadian [marryanamerican.ca] ? You may have better luck marrying into another country than working your way in.

Then again, it is wartime. You can always simply renounce your citizenship [state.gov] and let luck carry you where it will.

Now, now; let's not be hypocrites. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13147322)

Of course people that believe that humans are causing global warming typically discount any evidence provided by scientists in the "pocket" of private industry.

For God's Sake (2, Insightful)

ta ma de (851887) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147337)

So, is the official either too stupid or too lazy to refute the report based on evidence and methods? Why else would he resort to underhanded methods? The climate is changing, get over it. Carbon and Oxygen double bonds absorb IR, get over it. We should reduce Carbon dioxide, get over it. For god fucking sake why does this have to turn into a lynching just because some douche doesn't like reality. I wish they would quite being babies and live in the world we have; instead of the "world we should have," which we are never going to get.

To be fair. (2, Insightful)

SlayerofGods (682938) | more than 9 years ago | (#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. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13147411)

Opps apparently I forgot to include (I know I'll get moded down for this) to keep the fucking trolls with mod points from moding me down despite the fact I have a vaild point that just happens to go aginst the common view point.

insanity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13147351)

i'd like to see Barton's mental health record; more relevant on this than the researchers financial data he's after.

3 out of the 4 requests are actually quite normal (3, Insightful)

Salis (52373) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147362)

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.

Wow. Big surprise. (2, Funny)

millennial (830897) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147365)

A Texas Republican who doesn't take global warming seriously. That's sort of like a Catholic Pope.

Re:Wow. Big surprise. (1)

ActionJesus (803475) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147392)

Or an american who doesnt give a rats ass about the planet.

(not trying to troll, honest, but ditch the SUVs and sign the fucking kyoto treaty. its not that hard)

I wish the government would stop picking ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13147380)

I wish the government would stop picking on scientists.

Damn straight! Today, the mad scientist can't get a doomsday device, tomorrow it's the mad grad student. Where will it end?

on trial (1)

zephc (225327) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147395)

Joe Barton: [to jury] Yeah. I mean think about it. Why else would he be so obsessed with proving that *we* did it? And I don't blame 'im. If I was in his world-murdering shoes I would do [shakes scientist's shoulder] the exact same thing. I'd get a lotta [picks up and shows charts and diagrams to jury] evidence [puts them down and walks towards jury] and witnesses and I would try to pin it on some decent, hard working, honest *guy*. [rests arms on jury stand and head on arms]

Thinking human: [stands up from chair] Is it alright if we find the defendant guilty now?

(Apologies to The Kids in the Hall for that one [kithfan.org] )

Why should anyone vote Republican? (-1, Offtopic)

revscat (35618) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147399)

Serious question, not trolling: For what concrete reasons should I or anyone else vote Republican? I'll be very upfront here and say that I am a partisan Democrat, but part of the reason for this is that I asked myself this very question during the Clinton administration and couldn't come up with any good answers. But things like what Barton did here -- which I find to be utterly reprehensible -- are completely OK for the Republicans; "politics as usual", as it were.

So again I ask: What concrete reasons are there for voting Republican? Because most of what I see posing as reasons are fear mixed with shallow cynicism and zealotry.

Politics and science (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147405)

That's typical politician-think. If a scientist publishes something you either don't have the brains to understand, or don't agree with, then dig into the guy/gal's past and try to smear and discredit what they say THAT way.

Thank God we REAL scientists are a lot smarter than politicians, and don't give a damn if the guy is gay or smoked pot or doesn't pay his bills. The only thing that counts is the reasonable explanation for the data and hopefully a way to experiment so everyone can get the same results and come to the same conclusion (although this is hard to do in some fields).

Rep. Joe Barton financial stats (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147406)

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
  2. SBC Communications $20,550
  3. Comcast Corp $19,000
  4. Dominion Resources $16,000
  5. Reliant Energy $15,000
  6. Valero Energy $15,000
  7. TXU Corp $14,250
  8. Lyondell Chemical $13,250
  9. Texas Industries $13,000
  10. El Paso Corp $11,998

Any questions?

Re:Rep. Joe Barton financial stats (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13147440)

Ummmm.. He is the House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman. Who do you expect these industries and contributers give their money to?

Ummmm... not a big deal. (1)

krautcanman (609042) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147407)

First of all, this should not be that big a deal. His biggest problem is the way in which he's asking.

has requested raw data and personal financial information on three scientists

Secrecy only makes the research appear to be more questionable. The personal financial information is nothing more than conflict of interest information, trying to determine if they were paid by any special interest groups or not.

Re:Ummmm... not a big deal. (1)

ta ma de (851887) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147442)

The post just above you suggests where Barton's money is coming from. Everybody's hand is in some sort of till. So who is more credible: Science guy or Say-anything-to-appease-supporters-to-get-elected guy? That was kind of a leading question, consider it withdrawn.

Luddites (1, Insightful)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147422)

Science has shown truths about the natural world that are unpleasant to the fundamentalist Republican masters of the United States (e.g. evolutionary biology, global warming.) Since they can't attack these realities that conflict with their world view, they attack the messengers. They want to ban the study of anything that bothers their religion, which seems to be an unholy marriage of Biblical litteralism and corporate dictatorship. The message here is that if you discover something that the religious overlords don't like, they will come after you with all of the power of the state.

A few questions before passing judgement... (1)

BenJCarter (902199) | more than 9 years ago | (#13147451)

What's wrong with requesting raw data?

What finacial information, exactly, was requested?

How much impact, exactly, does increased solar output have on Global Warming?

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/sun_output_0 30320.html [space.com]

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