UEA circus, continued

The HoC inquiry into the CRU hack has reported. Judging from BBC radio 4 this morning (which interviewed Acton and then Lawson, no, not the wobbly one) the results are good: I say this because Lawson showed a distinct disinclination to talk about what the report actually said :-).

I'll expand this post later with more, so don't complain if it changes. My initial impression is that is is fairly good, and certainly provides the right headlines, but I can't yet endorse it whole-heartedly - it looks like they have made some errors (in the matter of blaming Jones for the data sharing). But I need to read the thing (courtesy CP) before saying more.

Milambre, Octagon has spoken though, and the headline says it all "Phil Jones exonerated". HT goes for the same. Eli also opines and has some more useful links. Romm too.

And the current version of the wiki page says The first review to become available, conducted by the House of Commons' Science and Technology Committee, largely vindicated Jones and the CRU (and no, I didn't write that). That is sourced to yahoo news (are they a WP:RS?); James prefers The Times. The Grauniad isn't quite so fulsome: Climate researchers 'secrecy' criticised - but MPs say science remains intact.

[Update: those toads at the IOP have the gall to trumpet this as Climate science must be more open, say MPs. Evil slimey little toerags. JA points out why they are wazzocks, without actually talking about them.

Moah: does this report pass the "Wattsupwiththat? test"? - yes, with flying colours. Watty can't even bring himself to make any comments on it, and all his commentators hate it :-). McI hates it too, which is a bonus. Anyone else got any nose-out-of-joint septic blogs to link to? But I did learn that the division of the committee members is interesting. Look at p56, for the votes. On all issues, "Graham Stringer" stands alone (on the septic side). Who is he? I don't know (uupdate: Fred Pearce clearly doesn't know either: in his latest rubbish the best he can do for a link to GS is this fairly useless comment).

Speaking of slimy toads, if you look at the inquiry video around about 31:38 you see Benny Peiser complinaing that the satellite records don't make thier methodologies fully available! Yes, that's right - he is (although he is very careful not to do so by name) attacking UAH and Spencer and Christy. They are eating themselves -W]

* Deep Climate - Climategate investigations, round 1: CRU exonerated - has some interesting dissection of Stringer.
* Nurture wades in with "Parliament committee calls for more transparency in climate science" which is crap.
* Cruel Mistress goes for "Data Valid", which is what the NYT said and I think this is a good headline - it is, after all, the fundamental point. Transpancy and reputations matter, but the bottom line is, was the research valid, and the answer is "yes" (ah, and as I can see that could easily be misinterpreted, whilst I'm happy that the HoC have said that, I don't really think they are a competent authority to decide that. Who is competent? Probably the overall scientific community via peer review, who have said the same thing, implicitly).

More like this

Yes, I picked up fairly quickly on the data sharing aspects of the report, gaining the same feeling about it as you. Perhaps a deeper reading over Easter will change my view.

Frankly, IMHO, aspects of the report stink. But I suppose that's the result of a committee with varying ideological baggage in tow and varying stances on the truth of anthropogenic climate change (ACC) to contend with.

Phraseology such as (my emphasis)

38. ... But Professor Jonesâs failure to handle helpfully requests for data in a field as important and controversial as climate science was bound to be viewed with suspicion. ...

on p. 14 propagates the contention that there's serious debate over ACC.

Though there are genuine scientific differences over matters of interpretation on things like future hurricanes, rate of disappearance of arctic ice, etc., there is no scientific controversy over ACC. Such controversy as is portrayed in the above extract, though, is of the faux variety manufactured by the various ideologically bankrupt organisations funded by vested interests (like the Kochs) and those self-appointed "expert" (not!) individuals and their DK-afflicted sycophantic acolytes.

And IMHO the BBC's initial reporting (Climate science must be more open, say MPs) leaves a lot to be desired. It took them until paragraph 4 to say that a man who had been castigated and pilloried from pillar to post for months had been exhonerated! It should have been the effing headline!

I think the committee did a good job. Given the content and tone of many of the submissions they received, I think they did a great job. Their conclusions:

1. Misplaced focus on Jones and CRU. His actions were in line with common practice.
2. On dishonesty: no case to answer.
3. Climate science is important and must be irreproachable.

This is all good. I have quibbles with some of the details, but overall I think it's fine.

By Nick Barnes (not verified) on 31 Mar 2010 #permalink

Doh! Please sir, can I change exhonerate to exonerate?

45. The conspiracy claims were fuelled by CRUâs refusal to share the most detailed aspects of its methodologies, for ...

More bullspit, if they mean "conspiracy", as I think they do, in its latter-day perjorative sense.

That anyone sane would think that a worldwide conspiracy could be perpetrated by any group -- particularly one (i.e. scientists) that is more open as a group about its output than just about any other group in the world and is more collaborative than most across institutions and continents -- borders on lunacy. There were no lunatics on the committee were there? Just MPs? Oh...

Their bold-type sentences/conclusions following on in para 45 are at least partly coloured by this conspiracy nonsense.

PS. I admit I'm looking more at the negative aspects of the report here. Exoneration (see, I can spell!) of Prof. Jones is a major plus of the report, as I hope I inferred in my earlier post.

For what it's worth, the Guardian report looks pretty fair to me. That said, you can count me amongst those glad to see Phil Jones exonerated, and I think it's a positive development to see the UEA itself called to answer. I agree; Phil Jones has been made a scapegoat here.

By Alex Harvey (not verified) on 31 Mar 2010 #permalink

This is a good news day for Phil Jones and I'm happy for him. That said, the real thing is Muir Russell.

By Gavin's Pussycat (not verified) on 31 Mar 2010 #permalink

I would expect the Graun to take the line they have - as that's pretty much the line they've been taking all along (with the occasional wobble), including in Fred Pierce's upcoming 'book'. If the report can be spun as 'guardian position vindicated on every front', that's the way they'll go... (And given the slamming they've been taking on RC lately over the whole thing, they are bound to want to stress the more critical aspects of the report.)

The fault dear Stoat lies with us for not putting in comments when we had a chance, and since you are a Brit, it really is your fault. The committee only had the denialist crap to work with and that gave one member leverage. Let's not make that mistake again

Hey, hey, Eli. I made a submission with my colleague David, and so did some other non-denialists.
And much of the denialist material came from your side of the pond.

By Nick Barnes (not verified) on 31 Mar 2010 #permalink

Further to W's comment on that radio interview this am, it appears that Lawson seems to think that because the word "reprehensible" appears in the HoC report, that means that the committee actually considered Jones' conduct to fall to that level.

However, a quick check of the document reveals that the word "reprehensible" appears twice. Once in relation to a quotation from...Lawson's own submission [p.20] and once nested within another quotation taken from 'Bishop Hill' Montford's submission [p.28]

Disengenous B****r! Especially after Lovelock spoke so highly of him too!

It's mostly good. Two things in particular:

- it exonerates Jones
- declares the science solid, built upon good peer reviewed research

Some of the FOI stuff is interesting, but of peripheral interest to most punters. The key take home is the work of the CRU, and by extension climate science - is solid.

Note too that the UK ICO gets a wrist-slap:

"Whilst acknowledging concerns about FOIA request support, we also note the conclusion that the Information Commissionerâs Office made a statement to the press which led to much adverse comment, but could not be substantiated."

That's from last night's presser. Its even nastier in the report itself.

That the committee mostly dodged the FOI issue other than a Caesar's wife act aimed at UEA is IMHO explained by Parliament's own recent FOI-induced expense scandal (IIRC the biggest Parliamentary scandal in at least decades) and an expectation that Russell won't let the ICO off the hook. The latter assumes that UEA staff were clever enough to document their interactions with the ICO. Per Graham Smith's statements, the ICO takes the position that they can advise a public entity to take a course of action and later rule against them for doing so!

The committee did at least tell the ICO that they couldn't use the excuse of the statute of limitations expiration to avoid staking out a formal position on whether a violation occurred, which is helpful. Even if the ICO fails to do that, I expect Russell will do the analysis for them. With the HoC also calling for Russell to take testimony in public, it will be interesting to see the ironically-secretive ICO try to wriggle out of the hot seat.

What did the ICO know (and advise) and when did they know it?

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 31 Mar 2010 #permalink

Voter consensus counts. Not science consensus. So as long as you lab coat consultants of modern science keep criminally hiding the climate crisis in far off places like the poles, deep in the oceans, high atop mountains and in far off jungles, we the voters will have to be actually crawling to the poles in a climate crisis to approve the personal sacrifices and taxes. If you don't see global dooming as unsustainable in public voter support, well, YOU are the new denier. It's not a conspiracy, it's just wrong, ok, a mistake then. Climate change has done to science what the WMD's from Bush did to the neocons. We don't have to trust you anymore. This media feeding frenzy of climate change has exposed science for what I it is, just as prone to greed and dishonesty as politics and eventually crime as the science leaders driving us to a world war against a non existent enemy will surely be prosecuted.

Re 8# - I'm glad some people did put in comments, but Eli does have a point - if you have a committee of MP's looking at a subject they still think of as 'controversial', then they will look at at how many submissions there were for each side. It will be a matter of 'don't look at the quality, feel the width'.
The deniers got in early, used back channels and front groups, and made their case, both to the commitee and the media. If the MP's had any notion of accuracy or truth from those giving evidence, why was that toad Peiser allowed anywhere near the place? He was there because they didn't know any better.
The scientific community didn't get their act together to nearly the same extent, and although the MP's came up with the right answer, lessons have to be learnt. The whole CRU debacle should be a wakeup call. It should be a call to arms.


Contrarians took comfort in maverick Labour MP Graham Stringerâs objections to some of the findings. But even here, there is little for the contrarians to cheer about, as Stringer appeared at pains to avoid any appearance of endorsing the plausibility of any of the specific accusations of dishonesty. Thatâs just as well, because it turns out that Stringer appears to be relying for his understanding of the issues, not on the submitted evidence, but rather â wait for it â the âquickieâ book on Climategate written by Steven Mosher and Thomas Fuller.

There's lots more on Stringer ...

MikeB: Peiser was there because Lawson was there, and Lawson was there because he's Lawson. Most of the written submissions were unsolicited, as you can tell by browsing them.

I still say the committee did pretty well in the hearing and in the report. They haven't been hoodwinked by denialists: they are clear that the science is sound, and that there is no evidence of dishonesty.

I just regret not getting our submission in early enough to have much influence on the report. I infer from various tea-leaves that the report itself has been delayed by the slow start of the Oxburgh panel.

By Nick Barnes (not verified) on 01 Apr 2010 #permalink

My personal denialist bugbear, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, has adopts a wierd definition of even-handedness that involves dismissing the submissions from Phil Jones and the UEA:

"Regrettably, the report lacks even-handed consideration of all submitted evidence. Interested observers will therefore have to look at the submitted evidence independently rather than rely on the committee's political assessment to get to a more balanced picture.

There is not much analysis in the report - it is mostly a 'he said this and he said that and we believe Phil Jones' type of report. Overall, it is far too kind to Phil Jones, accepting everything he said without question."

Someone needs to mount a challenge to the GWPF's status as an 'educational charity'.

Anyone else got any nose-out-of-joint septic blogs to link to?

Here's Iain (wth kind of name is that, anyway?) Murray from the Contempful Exxonlies Spinstitute:

It's amazing how downright astonished / angry he seems that people accepted the true explanation of "Nature trick to hide the decline". Nothing annoys a carny-barker more than a crowd he can't trick.

I came across the argument that Stringer was the only scientist on the committee. This is plain wrong and in fact he is not even the most qualified scientist on the committee (if I can link to myself ;)


By John Cross (not verified) on 01 Apr 2010 #permalink

@John Cross:
Not only that, but he's a conspiracy nutter, too. He belives dyslexia is a hoax...

Hmmm ... There's also immunology reseacher Dr. Doug Naysmith, PhD who was not present at the committee session voting paragraph by paragraph, but did partcipate in the hearings. Definitely was a working research scientist before entering politics.

william...thanks for posting a link to the "inquiry video"
...very much enjoyed....

By Wayne Williamson (not verified) on 02 Apr 2010 #permalink

Bishop Hill gets a bit upset about the report, particularly the "...hide the decline..." bit. But then I suppose his book largely depends on this stuff being suspicious. By the way, has anyone reviewed the hockey stick book?

There's a nice analysis about the bits on "openness" on James Annan's blog.

Wow. What kind of bishop is this guy? He's really frothing.

Committee Report:
"it was shorthand for the practice of discarding data known to be erroneous."

"Do the committee really think it's fine to hide important information from policymakers so long as you report it in the literature?"

Er, no:
The committee said it's fine to omit data known to be erroneous in reports to policymakers so long as you report it in the literature.


Simple enough.