"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." Richard P. Feynman

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Guardian Out to Whitewash Climategate - Back To Their Old Tricks!

The Guardian of old is back with David Adam doing a whitewash on Climategate which was really very naughty but what can you do? A great review of the article is done by MoveAnyMountain in the comments section which I take the liberty to reproduce here in full:
At the heart of the issue are the locations of weather stations in developing China, which provided data for the study. Jones and his colleague Wei-Chyung Wang cannot produce records to verify some locations, and this rightly raises questions. Jones admits it is not best practice. Wang has already been investigated and cleared of misconduct by his university.
He was not investigated. They simply produced a whitewash. They talked to no one except Wang. And it is not that they cannot produce some records. They can produce nothing. This data is supposed to cover the Cultural Revolution - there is no way that there was any reliable data produced in that decade. None.

Almost three years after Jones published all the location data he had for the stations on the internet, Nature has yet to receive any such complaint.
All the location data he had. Well that's the problem isn't it? Yet again the dog ate his homework and he does not have the data any more. So no one can check it. So it is worthless.

Briffa says there was no such attempt, and that he was reminding an overdue referee that he needed the report urgently, which the referee had already indicated would be negativ
Well he would, wouldn't he?

In another example, Jones supposedly unfairly rejected a paper that questioned his own results
Why is Jones reviewing someone who is reviewing his work? This is a gross conflict of interest and a violation of peer review.

To view peer review, and the behaviour of working scientists, only through the prism of these private emails, and then diagnose fault and demand change is naive and misguided.
Really? I'd love to know the logic behind that claim. Not that the author gives any reason why this ought to be true. Their private e-mails clearly show a problem. And it is precisely the reality that matters.

Fraudulent, or just plain wrong, papers get caught, often when competitors cannot reproduce the reported results.
Which is precisely what should have happened - Wang, Jones and Biffra have all "lost" their data and refuse to release their sources so that others cannot reproduce their results. And journals have let them get away with it.

It is true the East Anglia emails suggest that Jones and other scientists did not enter the brave new world of open data and Freedom of Information requests with gusto. In fact, they fought it tooth and nail.
Something it seems the Freedom of Information enforcement people think broke the law. This is not a brave new world either. It is basic science. You have to let other reproduce your results. You cannot refuse to release your data and then claim everyone ought to trust you. This is not science.

Any failure to comply with the regulations should be punished, but equally we should not forget the context in which many of these emails were sent. ... a time when well-funded climate sceptics faked scientific papers, hijacked debate and routinely spread disinformation about scientists and their work, in far greater numbers than we see now.
I am sorry but I find it hard to be polite about this. It is simply flatly not true. There were and are no well funded climate skeptics. They were not faking scientific papers. They did not hijack debates or spread misinformation. This all started when Steve McIntyre and some others asked nicely for their data. They refused to provide it. They were not snowed under in demands - a few dozen at most. They were not being smeared. They simply did not like SM's views and were determined not to let him look at their work. This is a fantasy version of the real world. Name the names.

Climate scientists, left to fight this pretty much alone, were seriously angry with those who they saw as engaged in a systematic effort to undermine their profession.
There is no evidence for this either. They liked to misrepresent this as a Manichaean fight but in fact they were simply wrong. And it is a mistake to defend them even by inference.

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