Suppose you read a press release that started… Bleak first results from the world’s largest climate change experiment and continued Greenhouse gases could cause global temperatures to rise by more than double the maximum warming so far considered likely by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), according to results from the world’s largest climate prediction experiment, published in the journal Nature this week. and went on The first results from climateprediction.net, a global experiment using computing time donated by the general public, show that average temperatures could eventually rise by up to 11°C – even if carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are limited to twice those found before the industrial revolution. Such levels are expected to be reached around the middle of this century unless deep cuts are made in greenhouse gas emissions. and lower down said Having found that these extreme responses are a realistic possibility…

What might you make of it?

The answer is obvious. And yes, this is the much criticised press release from CP.net from 2005, celebrating their paper’s part of the Nature Effect. And its all come round again because of Blogs and peer review – two pieces which appeared in Nature. JA‘s response is worth reading.

My views on this are fairly obvious, so I won’t trouble to apologise for being partisan, but I’d like to pick out “Indeed, the only time I know of that one of the bloggers was persuaded to submit their criticisms to peer review, they were duly rejected: proof, the bloggers grumbled, of my malignant influence over the peer review process (journal editors please note). The criticism is still available on his blog. Needless to say, our response is not.” by Myles. The implication people have taken from this is that Myles was censored on the said blog. Of course, as JA points out, this isn’t true. Myles must have known that what he wrote was going to be misinterpreted (its not quite an outright lie, as it can also carry the correct but less obvious interetation that Myles refused to allow his responses onto the blog), just like the press release. Myles’s piece is also deeply hypocritical, because although he is unable to resist flings like the above (and its not the only one) he can’t resist the sanctimonious We just need to remember the basic courtesies and The problem is, without witty and cutting criticisms, what is the point of a blog?.

The BBC, correctly, jumped on the press release as a part of http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4923504.stm which contains the bizarre but apparently correct quote from Myles: If journalists decide to embroider on a press release… when the press release clearly needs no embroidery: its lurid enough all by itself.

Myles is clearly not happy about all this, as he ends up saying Dear Richard (post 19), I can understand that you made your programme with the right intentions, given that you felt the climateprediction.net team was a bunch of dishonest scaremongers from the outset. His defence appears to be that at the press conference “the recollection” is that whenever big numbers were asked about, folk were reminded that the lower end was as likely. But oddly enough, the cp.net site still has the original grossly misleading press release still up, and there is no transcript of the press conference or any other hint that the press release is acknowledged to be bad.

Oh dear… and I nearly forgot to refer you to JF’s witty comment on MA’s views… though please be aware of context: those are re the value of blogging.

Comments

  1. #1 Eli Rabett
    2008/04/06

    Once again Eli would remind you of Ms. Rabett’s nude scientist exam

    This simple test can tell within three sentences whether someone is a scientist or not.

    Talk about any situation of your choice, using no modifiers or exceptions.

    for extra points attempt this in bed with your loved one.

  2. #2 Hank Roberts
    2008/04/07

    > cp.net site still has the original grossly
    > misleading press release still up

    Miles said at RC “I think the offending paragraph was written by long-suffering Natural Environment Research Council press officer who has since moved on to other things.”

    Gavin nailed it in the prior topic — often the press release is all the journalists do read.

    [Bit hard to know what to make of Myles's comment, other than not to believe it. Still, despite all ihis attempts to blame the press officer, he does admit to signing it off, and should have known better than to do so -W]

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