Get Yer IOP Porkies here!

This post is all about the IOP’s submission and its misinterpretation in traditional media and on the net.

Here, for reference, is the IOP’s statement clarifying its position on global warming in order to counter the denialists’ misinterpretation:

Here, for reference, is the IOP’s submission.

What are the implications of the disclosures for the integrity of scientific research?

1. The Institute is concerned that, unless the disclosed e-mails are proved to be forgeries or adaptations, worrying implications arise for the integrity of scientific research in this field and for the credibility of the scientific method as practised in this context.

Fair enough — the emails do look bad in places, but if all the emails had been released instead of a select few we would likely see the actions and ideas and views of scientistis trying to do their work in difficult times.  We would likely see views and behaviors that the hacker/leaker didn’t want us to see, hence the selective choice of only those emails that they believed support their case against the CRU and AGW.  The hacker/leaker was building a case and selected those emails that contained references to issues of interest to that case.

The issue to me is, what was done, not what was said in emails.

I do not support any wrongdoing, no matter who does it. If data is fraudulent, we need to know. If the laws were broken, the law must be followed. If there was too much tribalism, there needs to be more openness. If data is sloppy, it needs to be cleaned up.

But there should also be more context provided. There should be more coverage of how the denialists have been trying to discredit climate science so we see the other side.

I am loathe to indict climate science on the basis of the emails. They are but one piece of evidence needed to draw valid conclusions about the conduct of the scientists and the quality of their science.

There is a basic and fundamental inequality here — the scientists are public servants and covered by FOI laws, but it is very difficult to get hold of the emails of those who are actively trying to smear and raise unfounded doubt about the science of AGW. We don’t have their emails so we can see what nasty things they say about climate scientists. We don’t see their notebooks and how they do their calculations.

As Ben Santer said in a post on Real Climate:

My research is subject to rigorous scrutiny. Mr. McIntyre’s blogging is not. He can issue FOIA requests at will. He is the master of his domain – the supreme, unchallenged ruler of the “ClimateAudit” universe. He is not a climate scientist, but he has the power to single-handedly destroy the reputations of exceptional men and women who have devoted their entire careers to the pursuit of climate science. Mr. McIntyre’s unchecked, extraordinary power is the real story of “Climategate”. I hope that someone has the courage to tell this story.

Of course, it’s a laudable goal for scientists to provide their data and methods to interested researchers in a timely manner. A review should be done on each discipline in science to see how open they are with data and code and how soon they publish their data and methods on the net. This would provide a good context for understanding how normal/abnormal climate science or the CRU are compared to their colleagues in other disciplines.

There has been much ado about the “trick” and “hide the decline” but I am convinced that this is just a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. The threats to change peer review is just Dr. Jones letting off steam. The ‘bodge’ was reported so it is not academic fraud. The errors found in data — errors I’ve made in using data before. I think climategate is a mountain made out of a molehill for the purposes of casting doubt on global warming. Yet as we see from the IOP’s statement, it accepts that global warming is real and that action is needed now to mitigate it.

2. The CRU e-mails as published on the internet provide prima facie evidence of determined and co-ordinated refusals to comply with honourable scientific traditions and freedom of information law. The principle that scientists should be willing to expose their ideas and results to independent testing and replication by others, which requires the open exchange of data, procedures and materials, is vital. The lack of compliance has been confirmed by the findings of the Information Commissioner. This extends well beyond the CRU itself – most of the e-mails were exchanged with researchers in a number of other international institutions who are also involved in the formulation of the IPCC’s conclusions on climate change.

Of course, we know that the Commissioner has not ruled on this, so this is in fact not a valid statement.

Here’s the original statement:

“The emails which are now public reveal that Mr Holland’s requests under the Freedom of Information Act were not dealt with as they should have been under the legislation.  Section 77 of the Freedom of Information Act makes it an offence for public authorities to act so as to prevent intentionally the disclosure of requests for information.  Mr Holland’s FOI requests were submitted in 2007/8, but it has only recently come to light that they were not dealt with in accordance with the Act.  The legislation requires action within six months of the offence taking place, so by the time the action taken came to light the opportunity to consider a prosecution was long gone.”

If you are unwilling to retract your statement, which from our conversation I believe would be the case, I would ask that you confirm in a press statement that:

1. in your consideration of the case you have not yet reached a position where you can provide the University with the opportunity to respond to any alleged breaches, and that no decision notice setting out the details of any breaches and the University’s rights of appeal has been issued;

2. breaches of the FOI Act  can range from technical or trivial to more serious, and it is not possible to draw any conclusion from your statement that any breaches that you feel may have occurred would fall into the “serious” category;

3. your statement cannot be taken to mean that there has been a demonstrable breach of Section 77, which is a breach of the FOI which can result in prosecution;

4. the frequently made assertion by the press that a breach of the Act in itself could lead to an unlimited fine is unfounded, it is limited to level 5.

Here’s the UAE Brian Summers’ response:

Your clarification that the press cannot infer from your statement to the Sunday Times that it has been established that the University (or indeed any individual associated with the University) has breached the terms of the Freedom of Information Act is welcome.  As your observations related to the Holland case the reference in some of the papers that your statement referred to “refusing to hand over raw data” must also be incorrect, as were the references to unlimited fines.

That issue aside, let’s return to the IOP:

3. It is important to recognise that there are two completely different categories of data set that are involved in the CRU e-mail exchanges:

· those compiled from direct instrumental measurements of land and ocean surface temperatures such as the CRU, GISS and NOAA data sets; and

· historic temperature reconstructions from measurements of ‘proxies’, for example, tree-rings.

4. The second category relating to proxy reconstructions are the basis for the conclusion that 20th century warming is unprecedented. Published reconstructions may represent only a part of the raw data available and may be sensitive to the choices made and the statistical techniques used. Different choices, omissions or statistical processes may lead to different conclusions. This possibility was evidently the reason behind some of the (rejected) requests for further information.

This refers to McI’s requests, I expect.

5. The e-mails reveal doubts as to the reliability of some of the reconstructions and raise questions as to the way in which they have been represented; for example, the apparent suppression, in graphics widely used by the IPCC, of proxy results for recent decades that do not agree with contemporary instrumental temperature measurements.

This is clearly wrong — the IPCC WG1 reports did include reference to divergence and to the truncation of data in the Briffa reconstruction. I think the IOP is mixing up the WMO graphic with the spaghetti graph in the TAR and AR4.

I think the IOP should clarify it.

6. There is also reason for concern at the intolerance to challenge displayed in the e-mails. This impedes the process of scientific ‘self correction’, which is vital to the integrity of the scientific process as a whole, and not just to the research itself. In that context, those CRU e-mails relating to the peer-review process suggest a need for a review of its adequacy and objectivity as practised in this field and its potential vulnerability to bias or manipulation.

In my view, this is very naive. As has been shown in Ben Santer’s case and as Climate Progress has shown and Deep Climate has shown, scientists should be wary of the denialist machine.

Here’s a quote from Climate Progress on Morano’s view of climate scientists:

“I seriously believe we should kick them while they’re down,” he said. “They deserve to be publicly flogged.”

It is clear from the disinformation spread about the blogosphere and in the really shoddy press that lies really do get half-way round the world by the time truth is getting out of bed. Denialists take inconsequential errors as those in the various “IPCC Gates” and spread them through the media but there is rarely if ever any retraction when the lies or untruths are pointed out.

A lot of this statement by the IOP is, to me, grandstanding. It’s intellectual motherhood and apple pie.

There is no context, and no understanding of the politics of the climate wars. Once again, it’s not balanced. Truly, the denialists and contrarians have captured the discourse and they have control.

7. Fundamentally, we consider it should be inappropriate for the verification of the integrity of the scientific process to depend on appeals to Freedom of Information legislation. Nevertheless, the right to such appeals has been shown to be necessary. The e-mails illustrate the possibility of networks of like-minded researchers effectively excluding newcomers. Requiring data to be electronically accessible to all, at the time of publication, would remove this possibility.

Yikes! Networks of like-minded researchers excluding newcomers! The stench of Wegman is strong in the IOP submission.

McIntyre is hardly a newcomer and if you want to speak about networds of like minded, how about the cadre of contrarians and denialists and their collaboration? He’s a retired minerals exec who thinks the IPCC and Kyoto were based on a Bre-X style fraud! He’s not a newcomer hoping to make a contribution to science but instead to discredit it, auditing it to look for fraud akin to Enron. He’s made the analogies directly on his own blog for all to see and in his submission to the Inquiry.

Here’s a post from CA:

My interest in climate change derived in part from experience in the stock market where “consensus” is not infrequently established in favor of opinions that are completely incorrect. And, in many cases, the people promoting the views are competent and serious people. How are such things possible? I read about the Bre-X and Enron failures, trying to distinguish between the “shame on you” and the “shame on me” components – i.e. yes, the original misconduct and deceit was deplorable; but at what point should proper independent due diligence have been able to detect misconduct? At what point were regulatory agencies negligent? Obviously we’re going to see a new spate of such inquiries in the wake of the recent collapses.

I was particularly intrigued in the cases of Bre-X and Enron failures by the tremendous acolades meted out to the promoters right up to the eve of their collapses.

I don’t want readers to start piling on with accusations or making uninformed comparisons of climate change to these corporate failures. For once, I want to be able to be nuanced statements without provoking a lot of piling on. I personally am unimpressed by “consensus”, especially when there is no independent due diligence. That doesn’t mean that I’m impressed by “skeptic” proposals either (BTW).

One of the curious aspects to Enron’s rise to prominence is that nobody understood how they actually made money. That’s one of the reasons why I’m so adamant about wanting clear A-to-B explanations of how doubled CO2 leads to 3 or more deg C and why excuses for not providing such explanations are so disappointing. I believe that forcing oneself to provide such an explanation would be very healthy for the AGW community.

Again, we see this dog whistle posting — making an analogy and then backing far enough away that he appears clean but then his followers make the case for him.

WUWT has a post on the IOP submission:

“Clearly a sleeping giant has awakened.”

Not much from Watts, but look at his following:

What really surprises me about this whole thing is the lack of noise from the media. Yes – there are the occassional reports, but, frankly, given the SCALE of this thing I’d expect wall-to-wall coverage from all kinds of angles. The general collusion of the media is running in second place for the scandal of the century. At least the Piltdown man was reported.

~~~

Your first line is so true, and on more than one level, who would have thought, a charity without a left wing agenda!, great news for the taxpayer, the momentum is growing, perhaps emails, and letters to all MPs/ senators and reps from as many of us as can, just incase they only read “news”papers, give them links to here and the other spearheads of this expose.

~~~

36,000 Physicists now THAT is a real political number, lets just hope this is reading week.

~~~

Wow! I may have to join the IOP. It sure beats the APS. Of course, they’re only saying what every other scientist says when they get the facts on this case. It baffles me what’s holding back the APS & other organizations. I guess people still want to publish in Science, Nature & Sci. Am. (of all places).

~~~

It appears that the damage that the Team has done and is doing to the credibility of all of the scientific community is finally being felt by the members of that community outside of climate science. I’ve tried to resist getting too excited by any of the numerous individual revelations that have emerged since last November because the response from general scientific community has always seemed rather muted. This one might even get a tingle going up my leg. It’s hard to see how any of the lad’s canned dismissals are going to work against this.

~~~

Glad to see representatives from the ‘hard science’ of physics shining some light on the climate change superstitions.

~~~

I agree with Andrew Bolt that Climategate represents the greatest scientific scandal of our lifetime, but scandals tend to involve either sex or money and I suspect the amount of (taxpayer) money poured into ‘climate science’ had to corrupt the process. Barring the Manhattan project and the space race I don’t think any other scientific issue has soaked up a similar volume of taxpayer dollars. Since the previous endeavours had to work they had to be legitimate. Climate science, however, tends to be based on sheer speculation. A scandal was inevitable. Cross your fingers it starts to unravel.

~~~

Simplified English translation:

What these pinheads did was commit fraud.

Here’s Andrew Bolt:

This submission in effect warns that this recent warming may not be unprecedented, after all, and those that claim it is may have been blinded by bias or simply fiddled their results and suppressed dissent.

I’ll repeat: Climategate reveals the greatest scientific scandal of our lifetime.

I’ve already covered CA and the chorus:

Here’s Bishop Hill’s coverage.

One of the Bishop’s denizens gets my award for mentioning Al Gore:

Just looked at the IoP submission. This is staggering stuff and surely cannot be ignored, even by our half-wit, fraudulent, in-it-up-to-their-eyeballs MPs. Of course it is what His Eminence and many of us have been saying for ages, based on irrefutible logic, data analysis, common sense and the scientific method itself – but MPs need to see a ‘prestigious’ source saying these things! Climate science will surely be taking a much needed turn for the better shortly!

I would love to see Al Gore’s face when he finds out about this (or even Dave Cameron’s/Tim Yeo’s for that matter).

Yay! Another Al Gore mention. Boy, do these contrarians hate him.

More later…


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About Policy Lass

Exploring skeptic tales.

15 Responses to “Get Yer IOP Porkies here!”

  1. Based on the IOP submission to the HoC Science Committee hearings, I’m assuming that the IOP now has a formal policy in place for all its members, reflecting their submission. In particular: “Requiring data to be electronically accessible to all, at the time of publication…”.

    I can see all scientists who are members of the IOP scrambling to prepare their data, workings, algorithms, models etc in a suitable format so that it can be posted on the internet at the time of publication.

    I also assume the IOP was not singling out scientists working in areas related to climate science. Based on the comments at the Hearing, such a policy would apply to all scientists who receive public funding, working in any field. (The IOP is presumably talking about all scientists, not just those receiving public monies.)

    Do you think the UK Government will set up a department who will take responsibility for storage and retrieval of all data and associated material for every scientific organisation in the UK? There will be many issues to address, such as how for long is the data to be publicly available, are there any standards of presentation, what precisely is to be made available, are science grants to include an allowance for administration to cover the time and effort needed to prepare and submit all data and workings in a suitable format, what is the protocol for updating the material and contact person, who is liable for erroneous data – the archivist or the submitter, what about shared data and international collaborative research, etc etc.

  2. Further on in the IOP submission there is another important recommendation:

    “Where the nature of the study precludes direct replication by experiment, as in the case of time-dependent field measurements, it is important that the requirements include access to all the original raw data and its provenance, together with the criteria used for, and effects of, any subsequent selections, omissions or adjustments.”

    It’s a little unfortunate, therefore, that Steve McIntyre cannot even tell us what were the selections for the proxy reconstruction in his submission to the Select Committee. From Climate Audit:

    Tom P: Whatever point Steve is trying to make, he should be clear exactly what data is going in to his submitted version.

    Steve: Thanks for noting the inconsistency. I re-used a graphic and will have to check against the generating script to see which I did.

  3. Sou – sounds like FOI time … find a paper by just one IOP member who receives UK grant money and go for the data …

  4. dhogaza:
    Already past tense. The IOP tells us which group wrote the submission, but declines to tell the press who the members of that group are…so much for their call of sharing.

  5. Marco :
    dhogaza:
    Already past tense. The IOP tells us which group wrote the submission, but declines to tell the press who the members of that group are…so much for their call of sharing.

    Be interesting to see what Parliament has to say about that. Given Lawson fibbing, McIntyre not being able to verify his own data on his own submission so far, and the IoP needing to clarify its own submission, I see the IoP being given no choice in the matter. It may well turn out that the IoP submission was written by a few individuals with an axe to grind, Oregon petition style.

  6. There’s an interesting observation on the IoP, written
    HERE. Hmm, where have I seen that kind of description and statement before?

  7. “The submission details our response to the questions listed in the call for evidence, which was prepared with input from the Institute’s Science Board, and its Energy Sub-group.”

    So the Guardian can’t find anyone on the Science Board that agrees with the statement…and I just saw this over at Stoat. The founder of the Energy Group is a fanatical denier.

    Terry Jackson BSc Msc MPhil

    (founder of the Energy Group, Institute of Physics, London) Bangor

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/letters/sammyrsquos-right-man-is-not-responsible-for-global-warming-14184375.html

    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2010/03/the_iop_fiasco.php

  8. Marco,

    I was right to think that the IOP was being naive. But I was wrong to think their naivety extended to having their submission crafted by someone such as Jackson. I should have realised something smelt when an institution which I respect comes up with a submission I must admit I had some difficulty supporting.

    It really is worse than I thought.

  9. MarkB :“The submission details our response to the questions listed in the call for evidence, which was prepared with input from the Institute’s Science Board, and its Energy Sub-group.”
    So the Guardian can’t find anyone on the Science Board that agrees with the statement…and I just saw this over at Stoat. The founder of the Energy Group is a fanatical denier.
    Terry Jackson BSc Msc MPhil
    (founder of the Energy Group, Institute of Physics, London) Bangor
    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/letters/sammyrsquos-right-man-is-not-responsible-for-global-warming-14184375.html
    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2010/03/the_iop_fiasco.php

    But in all honesty, Terri Jackson doesn’t have *that* much influence anymore, considering that they decided not to publish one of Jackson’s articles. Of course, it could have been *reeeeeeeeaaallly* bad / over the top.

    @Tom P: I think the IoP is going to suffer a backlash for putting such a poorly and apparently hastily crafted comment. In all their concern for science and integrity, they’ve hit themselves in the head.

    Maybe an external review is in order 😉

  10. There may be a few nits to pick in the IOP submission, but for the most part it strongly supports the standards of science in a clear way. You can hardly criticize the IOP for that.

    The fact the IOP asked a known skeptic to craft the submission will be seen as good news by skeptics. I read that several members of the group did not offer any comments on the submission because they had not read the emails. Those who had read the emails strongly supported the final version of the statement initially written by Jackson.

    You must also remember the submission by the Royal Chemical Society also upheld the standards of science in a clear way. While that submission appeared to have some sneering remarks aimed in the general direction of skeptics, none of those comments had any real substance or were directed at any particular skeptic. In fact, the statements were written in a way in which most any skeptic could support the statement while wondering who exactly was the target.

    The submissions by these two bodies have nothing whatever to do with the “politics of the climate wars.” The submissions had to do with the standards of science, what is acceptable practice and what is not.

    Susann, your comment about the IOP not understanding the politics of the climate wars makes it sound as though you think they should have lowered the standards of science in order to not lose points in the political war. I do hope that is not a well-considered opinion of yours. You don’t really think science should be corrupted to win political points, do you?

  11. Ron Cram :
    The submissions by these two bodies have nothing whatever to do with the “politics of the climate wars.”

    There you go with your war talk again, Ron.

    Your comment on the submissions alludes to special insight into other peoples’ minds which I very much doubt you have, sorry.

  12. J Bowers
    I was referring to a comment made by Shewonk in the head post. Perhaps you missed it. Try rereading.

  13. Ron Cram :
    I was referring to a comment made by Shewonk in the head post.

    Compare and contrast, with our emphasis:

    Ron Cram :
    Susann, your comment about the IOP not understanding the politics of the climate wars makes it sound as though you think they should have lowered the standards of science in order to not lose points in the political war. I do hope that is not a well-considered opinion of yours. You don’t really think science should be corrupted to win political points, do you?

    Since Ron Cram explicitely stated elsewhere (https://shewonk.wordpress.com/2010/02/27/a-note-to-readers/#comment-1641) that he have not called names or launched any personal attacks on commenters here. And so he relies to more subtle means to get under people’s skin.

    Then he retreats.

  14. Journalist David Adam keeps plugging away…

    “Climate emails inquiry: Energy consultant linked to physics body’s submission

    Evidence from Institute of Physics drawn from energy industry consultant who argues global warming is a religion”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/mar/05/climate-emails-institute-of-physics-submission

    Love the last line:

    “Evan Harris, a member of the science and technology select committee, said: “Members of the Institute of Physics … may be concerned that the IOP is not as transparent as those it wishes to criticise.””

    The reputation of the IOP is sinking fast. Let’s hope enough members are willing to rescue it.

  15. The Times Higher Education supplement, article ‘Institute denies censoring ‘global cooling’ article’.
    http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=407763

    Have a read of the comments section, where the IOP’s Terri Jackson, Peter Gill, and Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen have a ding-dong with another commenter.

    E.g.:
    “# Terri Jackson 31 August, 2009
    there is overwhelming evidence that the earth has been cooling since 2002 having been static since 1998. look at the proceedings of the World conference on climate change held in New York in March last and you will see that they all agree with me. these include Lindzen, Akasufu and other world names the very cream of climatology. several nobel laureates etc Look at the papers by Easterbrook, Corbyn etc. any warming effect there may be is NOT caused by humans.
    […]
    # Peter Gill 22 November, 2009
    When you get back from your most recent walkabout Mark try googling CRU and Phil Jones. Poor old CRU have been seriously hacked. The e-mails and other files are all over the Internet and include how to hide atmospheric cooling, how to deal with freedom of information requests and other stuff that I feel sure you will find of interest. All the best as always.”

    The other comments are pretty candid. Terri Jackson most certainly felt wounded by the rejection by the IoP of the article she wrote for the Belfast Telegraph.

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