Affidavit AWFWY wrong

In November 2009, about a week before the international climate change conference in Copenhagen, the CCG and the NZCSC (the Coalition) released a paper we’d been working on for some time — “Are we feeling warmer yet?” (AWFWY).

On pages 13 and 14 of his affidavit to the High Court, Dr Wratt devotes six paragraphs to our paper and contrives to misrepresent it – obviously trying to give it a bad name. First, he correctly quotes a sentence from the paper:

There are no reasons for any large corrections.

Then he observes:

“NZCSC members… appear to ignore the fact that good scientific practice requires adjustment for site changes before temperature series are analysed for long-term changes.”

Thus he establishes two things:

1. The paper finds no reasons to make large corrections, but it should.
2. The paper makes no corrections, but it should.

Fairly straightforward and not hard to understand. Except that:

  • Point 1 is far from the truth. It’s a fabrication, because the paper makes it clear that we found no reasons IN NIWA’s OWN METADATA to make corrections. Sorry, David, but in trying to make us look bad you were misleading the judge.
  • Point 2 misses the whole point of our paper, which was to show that NIWA made corrections but didn’t tell anyone. NIWA and its supporters have ignored this point for three years.
  • To perform this deception under the nose of an astute High Court judge, NIWA got pretty crafty.

The paper makes it crystal clear that there were no reasons IN THE STATION HISTORIES to make large corrections (though there are now – they’ve corrected their omission). Again, on page 3:

What did we find? First, the station histories are unremarkable. There are no reasons for any large corrections.

When people don’t mention the station histories, they fabricate the wrong meaning to the “there are no reasons” statement, which has been quoted just like that for three years by people desperate to twist our meaning and avoid confronting the issues the paper raises. It seems that David Wratt was tempted to do the same, though the stratagem is easily rumbled.

I find it incredible, but these Queen’s Counsels and NIWA scientists have been caught out attempting to deceive a High Court judge. But Judge Venning must have concurrently failed to check our paper. If he had, he would surely have seen Dr Wratt’s selective quotation.

But what “craftiness” came into it? Well, incredibly, Dr Wratt managed to avoid selectively quoting from our paper himself by quoting instead one of the Coalition’s own scientists casting doubt on it. But only because the scientist concerned was ambushed by the same selective quotation.

In an apparently benign email interrogation in December 2009 by Ken Perrott, Dr Vincent Gray said he should have questioned the statement There are no reasons for any large corrections. Having reviewed the paper just once, Dr Gray was not totally familiar with it, but, tellingly, in asking him, Perrott slyly quoted the “there are no reasons” statement without mentioning our vital reference to the station histories.

We should hardly be surprised that Dr Gray disapproved of the statement as it was given to him, nor that he might have trusted Perrott, for why would he not quote the paper correctly? In fact, Dr Gray was fearlessly honest in “admitting” to what he saw as a lapse in judgement. His memory might have let him down, but it was Perrott with the lapse in judgement.

The upshot was that NIWA could now put to the judge an adverse impression of our paper by quoting our own words. Brilliant. Unethical, even vile, but displays a wicked brilliance.

They can hold their hand on their heart and profess no wrongdoing. But the affidavit leaves out Perrott’s deception in withholding from Dr Gray the essential mention of station histories to give him a deliberately false picture of the paper’s drift. No wonder he expressed doubt about it. He had been presented with a lie.

And Dr Wratt and his legal team, if they have read our AWFWY paper (and how could they deny that, since they cite it in evidence), are themselves fully conversant with the contents and so they know beyond a shadow of doubt that we were commenting on the metadata on NIWA’s web site, not making a general observation about the temperature readings.

In hindsight I’ll readily admit to faulty writing. It should have said “There were no reasons in the station histories for any large corrections,” then the sentence couldn’t have been quoted to so drastically change our meaning — in my innocence I never thought the paper would be cited anywhere. But in reality, it was presented to our Parliament the next day, and within about four days it was presented to the European Parliament. It has been a thorn in NIWA’s flesh ever since and helped push them to reconstruct the national temperature record. Now it’s cited in a court case…

I’ll keep perusing the legal documents. There’s no telling what more they will reveal.

Affidavits are for ever.

Views: 431

19 Thoughts on “Affidavit AWFWY wrong

  1. val majkus on 12/09/2012 at 10:04 pm said:

    can we please have a copy of NIWA’s affidavits including Dr Wratt’s and its list of exhibits

    • I was just uploading a copy to the blog and wondered why it was taking so long. The file is 13MB! Sorry, I’m not uploading that one. It’s so big because it’s an image, not text. Frustrating. I’ll see what we can do. Remind me.

  2. val majkus on 12/09/2012 at 10:59 pm said:

    don’t worry if it’s too hard, I know your High Court hasn’t brought in electronic filing yet

    Is the transcript going to be in electronic form?

  3. Richard – porkies again.

    Anyone at all interested in my email correspondence with Richard and Vincent Gray can check out who is being dishonest by downloading the material from

    Rather desperate to claim deception on my part because I referred to a “paper” that Gray acknowledged In his reply as:
    “the paper “Are we Feeling Warmer Yet” was circulated for approval to myself, and to several other well-qualified scientists.”

    And Richard your response to Gray’s comments:

    “If Dr Gray says the paper was circulated in the manner he describes, then it’s true. I cannot tell you who reviewed the study.”

    Is the process of “approval” in your outfit to read the document “just once” and “not (be) totally familiar with it”?

    No wonder you guys go prancing of to the high court so unprepared. Expensive business though.

    Be a man Richard, admit your cock up and stop blaming others. that “paper” was a disaster, aimed only at political purposes, and has come back to bite you on the bum.

    By the way, it is very childish to use academic titles for some people and purposely ignore them for others.

  4. val majkus on 12/09/2012 at 11:21 pm said:

    never mind, I and others I know would love to see the transcript but if it’s not in electronic form you’re not going to be able to post it

  5. As for you idea of adding “in the station histories” to correct your mistake. That doesn’t wash. One would have to be very naive not to see the need for adjustments with site changes. As I said in my post High Court riled on integrity not science ( referring to your (originally anonymous) coauthor and self proclaimed statistical expert Dedekind:

    “He claimed to be an expert in statistical analysis – yet a simple statistical analysis of the data he presented in “Are we getting warmer yet?” would have clearly shown site effects which required adjustments! (Bugger me – a simple glance at plots for the different stations would have shown that fact! – See below for Wellington).”

    • Bob D on 13/09/2012 at 11:18 am said:

      Poor Ken. He still doesn’t get it, and tries vainly to make his tiny point about the wording in one sentence. RT has admitted he could have worded it better. Happy now?

      AWFWY showed that the steep warming trend was purely the result of NIWA’s adjustments. Each station was presented in turn, unadjusted versus adjusted, and everybody saw the effects of the adjustments – almost always in the same direction, introducing a warming trend. No adjustments for UHI even though almost all the sites are urban – many people commented on this.

      The station metadata didn’t show reasons for the adjustments, and NIWA wasn’t telling. True, here and there there were stations at different altitudes, but the adjustments were inconsistent. Kelburn is higher than Thorndon, and the adjustment makes the trend steeper – all well and good, but Mangere is lower than Albert Park, and the adjustment there went the other way, again making the trend steeper. Same for Hokitika, Aero is higher than the Town site (as it was then – NIWA discovered an error in the published data) and once again instead of following the expected altitude adjustment the actual adjustment went the other way.

      So once again, our question was – why the adjustments? What was the reasoning behind each one? It was a real shock, to be honest, when they eventually had to admit that they didn’t know.

      Remember, at that time we had little to work with – NIWA weren’t providing us with the information we needed (not surprising, with hindsight – they had no idea), and the published data provided no clues. Once we published AWFWY they had no choice but to respond, and at last the New Zealand public got to see what was behind the curtain, when the Review was published in 2010. Another shock came when we discovered that, even though they continually cited RS93 as their methodology, they didn’t use it in their Review, choosing instead an unpublished, untested (and frankly, primitive) method from a student’s thesis in 1981.

      The original 7SS graph was displayed prominently on their website, and the caption gave the impression that these were long-running, completely stable stations we could all rely on. No mention was made of adjustments, nor that the steep warming trend was the result of these adjustments.

    • Andy on 13/09/2012 at 11:52 am said:

      Ken, I enjoyed your remark here

      But the frantic activity on Treagold’s blog, their blinkered discussion and hostility to “outsiders” really demonstrates how such Internet silos can become ideological ghettos.”

      and then scrolled up to see Cedric’s comment.

  6. Stanley on 13/09/2012 at 1:05 am said:

    Ken – How nice to see you back! And just as temperate and rational as ever. Quick response, too – you must read this blog every day.

    Last time I saw your name in connection with AWFWY was here:

  7. Alexander K on 13/09/2012 at 8:40 am said:

    Personal experience of our justice system many years ago informs my cynicism about the nobility and purity of the Law and its practitioners.
    The whole thing is a game, dontcha know, and ‘playing a blinder’ to protect the Establishment (quotation from Vice-chancellor Acton of UEA during the HOC enquiry) is far more important than any foolish and innocent notions of actual truth and justice.

    • Rob Taylor on 13/09/2012 at 12:01 pm said:

      Really? I’m sure you would be singing a different tune had NZCSET actually won its ill-prepared case…

  8. Richard C (NZ) on 13/09/2012 at 10:23 am said:

    I see comment levels at CCG have risen significantly since the J Venning decision. Google Reader stats are at 98.5 comments per week from 15th Aug to 13th Sept but on 7th Sept there were about 85 comments in the one day:-

    Details and statistics
    Feed URL:
    Posts per week: 98.5
    Subscribers: 6
    Last updated: 10:04 AM (57 minutes ago) A fetching error was encountered.

    The stats are graphed for the last 30 days and the fetching error is today 13th Sept but that has been resolved and it’s all go again.

    Disappointing that there’s only 6 subscribers because anyone not taking the feed is missing a great deal.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 13/09/2012 at 10:32 am said:

      That URL is not the Google Reader feed BTW so I guess there would be a lot more people than just 6 getting the comments feed – encouraging.

  9. Alexander K on 13/09/2012 at 12:24 pm said:

    I suspect that R Taylor was annoyed by my comment about justice, but it has to remain a suspicion as it’s quite difficult to discern as to whom his remarks were addressed.

  10. Pingback: Internet silos become ideological ghettos | Open Parachute

  11. Pingback: Internet silos become ideological ghettos | Secular News Daily

  12. Stanley on 21/09/2012 at 12:20 am said:

    “The legal profession has not always been able to take the best out of science and apply it to practical law. Conversely science has not always appreciated the nature of legal proof. The early use of dna evidence in criminal proceedings is an example. Looking back at the way statistics and probabilities were used shows that in some cases lawyers and scientists were not looking at the science the same way. Although some scientists bemoaned this mismatch the result was that lawyers forced scientists to be more rigorous when their opinions and judgments were tested in courts and often found wanting. Because science hadn’t done so itself the legal profession brutally weeded out speculation from fact. Science benefited from this rigour.” – Dr David Whitehouse

    So much for those (usually neither scientists nor lawyers) who dogmatically declare that science should NEVER be tested in the Courts. If it cannot be raised to the bar which every citizen needs to face in their everyday actions, then is it really science?

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