IOP: we were hopelessly wrong

Scientists cleared of malpractice in UEA's hacked emails inquiry says the IOP, which isn't quite the headline I chose, but once again you'll have to forgive a little poetic licence on my part. The Grauniad says much the same, as does Aunty. Perhaps more tellingly, The Torygraph and Times have ignored it entirely.

The report itself is here. Thankfully, it is quite short.

[Update: other views:

* Eli
* TL
* Keith Kloor - for the "opposition"
* HT
* mt - this is well worth reading for mt's thoughtful take on what is and what is not worth noting about the report.
* CA - McI is deeply miffed that Oxburgh doesn't love him.

Update: as noted in the comments, this report picks up on a point the weaselly MP's evaded, that Monbiot still hasn't realised and that JA blogged: that the main problem with data availability comes from the gummint. So we may quote conclusion 3:

It was not the immediate concern of the Panel, but we observed that there were important and unresolved questions that related to the availability of environmental data sets. It was pointed out that since UK government adopted a policy that resulted in charging for access to data sets collected by government agencies, other countries have followed suit impeding the flow of processed and raw data to and between researchers. This is unfortunate and seems inconsistent with policies of open access to data promoted elsewhere in government.

Ha ha, I was too kind on the Torygraph: the toerags have gone for 'Climategate' scientists criticised for not using best statistical tools (mind you Nurture is a bit crap too). They even manage to stuff up the main conclusion: However, there was no evidence of "deliberate scientific malpractice", meaning the conclusion that mankind is causing global warming is probably correct. is wrong, too. But even they can't find a septic to stand up and be counted. Come on Lawson, where are you when you're needed?

Oh, and

We have not exhaustively reviewed the external criticism of the dendroclimatological work, but it seems that some of these criticisms show a rather selective and uncharitable approach to information made available by CRU. They seem also to reflect a lack of awareness of the ongoing and dynamic nature of chronologies, and of the difficult circumstances under which university research is sometimes conducted.

is nice to have, too.



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This was nice to see:

"We agree with the CRU view that the authority for releasing unpublished raw data to third parties should stay with those who collected it," the report said.

It did criticise the government's policy of charging for access to data. "This is unfortunate and seems inconsistent with policies of open access to data promoted elsewhere in government."

So, it's regrettable that this stuff's not freely available but ... it's not CRU's call, and CRU was right to refuse to release stuff that's not freely available.

It was also nice to see them point out that CRU consists of a very small group of researchers, saying "as with many small research groups their internal procedures were rather informal."

As is also true of small businesses, small NGOs, small groups of people working together in any field.

Of course the Guardian feels compelled to finish the piece with this:

You can read Fred Pearce's full investigation into the hacked climate emails here.


1# I read that sentence as suggesting that the scientists should have some descretion as to who they give the data out to, as per Myles Allen:

"There was an assumption within the climate science community that we could use our professional judgment to distinguish between professional scientists and activists or members of the public."

"The big implication in all this for science is that the [FOI Act] is taking away our liberty to use our own judgment to decide who we spend time responding to. And that has a cost," he said.

I sort of wonder if the truth of FOI is more along the lines of - let's face it - academics are pretty lazy (as opposed to those who have real-world jobs) and FOI requests mean more work which means they are slowly (if ever) responded to. Plus coupled with from what I've read of McI's requests, he didn't even say the magic word "please", it was all along the lines of "You must comply with my request pursuant to the FOI Act of 1993" etc.

[Why single out academics? Most people, correctly, don't want to do work they know is pointless and think they can get away with not doing. McI, I think, went out of his way to be impolite as a deliberate strategy, since he *wanted* a kerfuffle -W]

"But even they can't find a septic to stand up and be counted."

R4 had Peiser whining about it. Which was a bit like interviewing Wallace when NASA announced finding water on the moon. :|

[They should have asked Gromitt? -W]

no evidence of "deliberate scientific malpractice"

but non-deliberate scientific malpractice is most amusing and is the norm.

By thomas hine (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

[Redacted - WMC]

Of course the IOP writers have problems too. From the same page:

"Space storms could not knock out National Grid and Sat Navs

Space storms caused by the Sun could knock out power supplies and satellite navigation systems in Britain, claim scientists."

"They should have asked Gromitt?"

Wallace would have said the moon is made of cheese, whilst Gromit might have raised an eyebrow.

lighten up hank-

i'll forgive the "idiot" remark purely because you led me to the "teabonics" link and I can't stop laughing.

[I've cut it. I assumed you were being humerous, and even if you weren't I do try to enforce civility, albeit not especially fairly or impartialy. And of course I don't enforce it on myself. However, I would ask (everyone) to be polite to all the commentators here - if I haven't banned or blocked or removed your postings in their entirety, it is probably because I think you aren't an idiot :-) -W]

By thomas hine (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

Gromitt is the brains of the outfit

This farce is beginning to resemble a go round Eli had with the senior Pielke who was moaning that various superannuated state climatologists were not getting any respect from the local governors.

Eli pointed out that the best solution was to fund the entire effort nationally as part of NOAA rather than every state rolling their own. Senior hated that but Eli is pleased to report that that looks pretty much what is going to happen

It will be interesting to see who gets behind putting extra money in to archive all that stuff. The Bunny may put up a collection box on his site.

Hank, I think any new books trying to take advantage of the CRU/IPCC kerfufflii have missed the boat. For the next while we may hope to benefit from media exhaustion from having kept too small of a ball in the air for too long.

OT: Has Atmoz lost patience with WP?

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

My apology. Poe's law strikes again.

I've seen many comments on the report claiming that bad science is the norm. I'd started to imagine they weren't jokes.

I hope they've first grilled the computing staff at UEA, because from the time-span of the emails it seems obvious it's probably a disgruntled IT person there, who has access to old system backups etc. Or else if they keep 10-15 year old emails online there for Russian hackers to access over the Internet, it's a pretty crazy policy!

[If this was unix mail (and I think it probably was) then the old stuff hangs around if you want it to -W]