Monday, November 30, 2009

Climategate Update 7: IPCC's Mao Plays The Obama Card, Peer Review Analyzed, Scientific Method Exlplained For Paul Krugman

We have several updates to the Climategate saga. The IPCC's Chairman Mao makes some outrageous remarks and defends the validity of climate science on the grounds that Obama is coming to Copenhagen. Shannon Love gives a brilliant analysis of the problems of peer review in the climate science arena. And Dr. Dan Easterbrook has some choice words for Paul Krugman on how scientists conduct their business.

The IPCC's Chairman Mao, Rajendra Pachauri (see Climategate Update 5 below) takes the CRU scientists to task - for being so stupid as to write down what they did in the e-mails instead of just phoning the comments to each other. The Chairman claims no investigation is warranted of the e-mails - though of the leaker, that's another story. Lastly, he states that the leaked tranche of e-mails and data from the CRU are of no importance, noting that Obama agreed to come to Copenhagen and commit the US to carbon reductions after the CRU tranche was released to the public:

. . . Pachauri was responding to one email from 2004 in which Professor Phil Jones, the head of the climatic research unit at UEA, said of two papers he regarded as flawed: "I can't see either … being in the next Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. Kevin [Trenberth] and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"

Pachauri said it was not clear whether the wording of the emails reflected the scientists' intended actions, but said: "I really think people should be discreet … in this day and age anything you write, even privately, could become public and to put anything down in writing is, to say the least, indiscreet … It is another matter to talk about this to your friends on the telephone or person to person but to put it down in writing was indiscreet. If someone was to say something like this in an IPCC authors' meeting then there are others who would chew him up."

Jones has denied any suggestion that he tried to suppress scientific evidence he disagreed with or that he manipulated data.

Some commentators, including the former chancellor Nigel Lawson and the environmental campaigner and Guardian writer George Monbiot, have called on Jones to resign but Pachauri said he did not agree. He said an independent inquiry into the emails would achieve little, but there should be a criminal investigation into how the emails came to light.

Pachauri said he doubted that trust in the IPCC would be damaged by the affair. "People who are aware of how the IPCC functions and are appreciative of the credibility that the IPCC has attained will probably not be swayed by an incident of this kind," he said.

He pointed out that five days after the emails were made public, Barack Obama announced a major commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions ahead of the UN climate summit in Copenhagen.

(emphasis added) Read the entire article. All of that is so over the top ridiculous I am forced to laugh through my outrage. And as an ancillary question, does this cement Obama's position as the most useful of idiots?

Shannon Love has written an insightful article regarding peer review in the context of climate science where so much now relies on complex computer programs to arrive at finished data. Peer reviewers do not have the time to review the programs and, in any case, are never provided with them. This effectively negates any claim that peer review is a gold standard - let alone any standard - for the reliability of the data and conclusions in the article. Ms. Love's solution is very practical:

Eric S. Raymond, the famous computer scientist and writer, has called for open source science. I think this is the way we should go. In the past, it cost too much to print out all a study’s data and records on paper and ship that paper all over the world. With the internet, we have no such limitations. All scientific studies should upon publication put online all of their raw data, all of their protocols, all of their procedures, all of their records and the code for all of their custom-written software. There is no practical reason anymore why only a summary of a scientist’s work should be made public.

Scientific software has grown too large and complex to be maintained and verified by a handful of individuals. Only by marshaling a scientific “Army of Davids” can we hope to verify the accuracy and precision of the software we are increasingly using to make major public decisions.

In the short term, we need to aggressively challenge those who assert that studies that use complex custom software have been “peer reviewed” in any meaningful way. In the long term, we have a lot of scientific work to do over again.

Noted climate scientist far left polemicist Paul Krugman appeared on Meet the Press over the weekend. He dismissed the e-mails as typical harmless banter among academics and explained to America that, despite what they may have read, there was nothing in the CRU e-mails that amounted to a "smoking gun." That brought a heated response from actual scientist Dr. Don Easterbrook:

I've spent four decades studying global climate change and as a scientist I am appalled at [NYT's Paul] Krugman's cavalier shrugging off the Hadley email scandal as 'just the way scientists talk among themselves.' That's like saying it's alright for politicians to be corrupt because that's the way they are.

Legitimate scientists do not doctor data, delete data they don't like, hide data they don't want seen, hijack the peer review process, personally attack other scientists whose views differ from theirs, send fraudulent data to the IPCC that is used to perpetuate the greatest hoax in the history of science, provide false data to further legislation on climate change that will result in huge profits for corrupt lobbyists and politicians, and tell outright lies about scientific data.


Prior Posts:

Climategate and Surrealism
More Climategate Fallout
Climategate Update 3
Climategate Update 4: CRU Records Worthless
Climategate Update 5: IPCC's Chairman Mao
Climategate Update 6: Climategate In Video


OBloodyHell said...

> "People who are aware of how the IPCC functions and are appreciative of the credibility that the IPCC has attained will probably not be swayed by an incident of this kind," he said.

Probably true, since the only people who gave the IPCC any credibility before ClimateGate were drooling lickspittle sycophants and blatantly self-serving charlatans....

GW said...

Heh. Well said.

OBloodyHell said...

> Legitimate scientists do not ... personally attack other scientists whose views differ from theirs...

Oh, they do, for sure -- certainly there are personal attacks that go back and forth between individual scientists and their ideologically or conceptually perceived nemeses. This has happened a vast number of times in the history of science -- but the difference from that which has been revealed by ClimateGate is that it's been done in the past on an individual level, and thus does not damage the process as a whole.

What the CRU emails show is that it's not occurring here on an individual level at all, but has been a part of a concerted effort by a large and powerful group to openly suppress the opposition's voice, and THAT is fatal to not just to science but to The Truth.

The former represents a failure of an individual to properly distance themself from the issue at hand -- unfortunate but hardly catastrophic.

The latter is a failure of the system as a whole to properly distance itself from the issue at hand. And that is a flaw which will never, ever be able to produce accurately, reliably valid knowledge.