Yet More on Hansen

A comment worth pulling out and highlighting (even if it is somewhat critical of me). Mickey Glantz, whose ideas about climate science and policy and politics I greatly respect, takes me to task for airing Jim Hansen’s draft ENSO paper:

You know that Hansen’s paper was just a draft…. Anyone could (and some did) jump on a bandwagon that was still parked in the barn.

So was it appropriate to air this thing in public, given that Hansen himself was clear that it was just a draft, subject to revision? Or is Mickey right? On balance, I think these discussions are most useful and interesting in full view. But it’s a close call. Comments and discussion encouraged.


  1. John-

    A few reponses:

    1) Jim Hansen sent the original paper to his broadcast email list, which includes journalists. He says that was a mistake, OK fair enough. However, using the channel that he uses for his public statments necessarily means that whatever he sends in that manner will be received as a public communication.

    2) We in academia have well established procedures for identifying work that is not-ready-for-primetime. Many scholars include a header or footer on every page that says something like “Not for Attribution – Working Draft”.

    3) NCAR, where I used to work and where Mickey is, fairly routinely issues press releases on draft papers (i.e., pre-submitted, pre-peer reviewed) so simply being in a “draft” state does not confer any special status or protection.

    Had Jim Hansen sent me his paper, personally, asked for comments OR included some expression of a desire not to further disseminate, I would not have mentioned on my blog. So, I don’t actually see this as a close call. In fact, Jim Hansen probably got a few more comments than he might have otherwise, especially on the El Nino forecast, which may have the effect of saving him from some future grief had his paper gone forward without the benefit of that input.

  2. Roger –

    Thanks for the comments. My reason for thinking it’s a close call has nothing to do with the points you raise. I agree Hansen hung the paper out there in a public way, making it fair game. My concern is whether it was legitimately blogworthy/newsworthy, given the tentative “draft” nature of the argument he was presenting.

  3. Hi John- I understand your point, but there was nothing in the email or paper to suggest “tentative “draft” nature of the arguemnt”. It was quite unequivical (which was one reason for its blogworthiness!). If Hansen felt tentative about his assertion then he should have said so. He routinely sends out papers pre-publication that very soon thereafter appear in print. So in this case I really do think the onus is on Hansen to clearly distinguish what he is sharing, if it is indeed supposd to be interpreted with different standards than everything else that he shares in much the same manner.

  4. Roger,

    There’s a big difference between pre-publication and pre-submission (or even post-submission but pre-acceptance).

    That said, it’s certainly as blog-worthy and (journalists’ call) news-worthy as any other public pronouncement from Hansen.

  5. James- Agreed, 100%. Hansen’s initial email spoke of direction to him from an editor, so I assumed it was post-submission, pre-acceptance.

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