Lord Russell of Holyrood

I guess the main question coming out of the Muir Russell report is when is he going to be appointed to the House of Lords and his choice of appelation. Lord Muir of Holyrood?

They adopted a unique inquiry process in which they interviewed only one side – CRU. As a result, the report is heavily weighted towards CRU apologia – a not unexpected result given that the writing team came from Geoffrey Boulton’s Royal Society of Edinburgh.

In his press conference, Muir Russell said:

We’re not going to get anywhere if this is just an ex cathedra proposition.

Thus far, I’ve only seen the Report itself, which is more or less an ex cathedra proposition. It refers to supplementary information at the website, but, to my knowledge, this was not made available at the same time as the report (and is not available as at 8.45 am eastern).

Anyway, let’s review the issues that I said yesterday that I would be looking for. For now, I’ll post on IPCC rule violations.

Violation of IPCC Rules and Procedures
Fred Pearce in The Climate Files spoke out strongly on this issue:

These back channel communications between the paper’s authors [Wahl] and IPCC authors [Briffa], including early versions of the paper, seemed a direct subversion of the spirit of openness intended when the IPCC decided to put its internal reviews online.

My most important complaint about these back channel communications was that they resulted in an important change in the IPCC assessment of the status of the Hockey Stick dispute from the version presented to external reviewers. Whereas the assessment in the Second Draft was that it was “unclear” whether there was a “marked impact”, the assessment was changed to language that was in favor of Mann, Wahl and Ammann. In testimony to the Parliamentary Committee, Julia Slingo, for example, relied on the assessment as re-written by Wahl -so the point had consequences.

Muir Russell totally misrepresented these events, stating:

The evaluation of this issue was very similar in both the second order and final, published versions of Chapter 6.

Yes, of course, most of the paragraph was unchanged – it was the changes that were at issue and which should have been examined. Because Muir Russell failed to report the changes, they didn’t examine what happened.

They report Briffa’s answers to various points, including his statement that he asked Wahl for comment as “a knowledgeable and objective arbiter”:

Briffa asserts that Wahl was asked for comment on text as a knowledgeable and objective arbiter and as such was a wholly reasonable judge of whether the responses were appropriate.

Wahl, of course, was a party to the controversy and obviously not “objective” – if anyone were in any doubt on this point, Wahl’s request that Briffa join him in wishing Mann “all good thoughts for strength and clarity” in his forthcoming testimony.

Remarkably, the Muir Russell inquiry ruled on this issue without actually citing IPCC procedures. I don’t know how you go about assessing possible violations without examining the rules. Instead of examining IPCC rules, they asked John Mitchell, the Review Editor, for his opinion. Mitchell, needless to say, was a Climategate correspondent, who gave untruthful answers when refusing David Holland’s FOI request for materials. Even Mitchell commented that Briffa’s email was “problematic”.

Muir Russell didn’t seek a response from me or David Holland or anyone else on Briffa’s replies. Nor were Briffa’s replies part of the record during the two-week submission window. Muir Russell re-frames:

Was there breach of confidentiality in having Wahl comment on draft text of the
report and does this reflect determination to sustain a predetermined line?

and finds:

“Briffa‘s e-mail stressing confidentiality does imply an awareness of
questionable conduct, the e-mail correspondence with Wahl stresses in several
places Briffa‘s concern to be fair to sceptical views. We see no evidence in the
correspondence of anything other than a detailed determination to resolve a
scientific issue. Nor do the IPCC Review Editor‘s comments to us suggest that
what would normally be regarded in the research community as conventional
requests for advice and help, were ruled out.

Muir Russell notably failed to connect these exchanges to the later “delete all emails” request and Jones’ email saying that “Keith should say” to FOI officer Palmer that the Wahl correspondence did not exist.

Look, Wahl and Briffa didn’t change the assessment to favor their own findings out of a “concern to be fair to sceptical views”. Briffa may expressed such a thought, but, on other occasions, e.g. TAR, Briffa’s emails express sensible caveats, only to give in to stronger-willed associates.

The issue here is whether Wahl and Briffa violated IPCC rules. Asking Overpeck about this is not very helpful since Overpeck is hardly impartial. Muir Russell had to examine what Wahl and Briffa actually did and then examine the conduct against actual IPCC rules, not after-the-fact opinions by parties to the conduct.

The findings of the Fred Pearce Inquiry on this point stand:

These back channel communications between the paper’s authors [Wahl] and IPCC authors [Briffa], including early versions of the paper, seemed a direct subversion of the spirit of openness intended when the IPCC decided to put its internal reviews online.

28 Comments

  1. Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 8:39 AM | Permalink

    Steve, don’t know how you do it. Well done.

    • TA
      Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 12:45 PM | Permalink

      sod,

      You say, “will “sceptics” accept any investigation by anyone?”

      To which I say, “will ‘believers’ reject any pseudo-investigation, no matter how obvious the whitewash?”

  2. sod
    Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 8:54 AM | Permalink

    Phil Jones back to work. good news.

    will “sceptics” accept any investigation by anyone?

    • Jimmy Haigh
      Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 9:06 AM | Permalink

      Maybe it is. Maybe the ‘new’ Phil Jones – who now believes that 1000 year reconstructions of temperature such as Mann’s are not possible – will now start to do some worthwhile research?

    • stephen richards
      Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 9:23 AM | Permalink

      I sometimes think that people like you are not using/reading your first language. Yes, it would be good to see Jones back at work if he has learned to apply the full scientific method, if he has appointed a database management expert, if he has appointed a data management and control expert, if he has learned some basic laws of physics, etc. I don’t see that happening. Climate science will never be a science until they stop ‘philosophying’ with the data. I am still waiting for the physical, mathematical model of the planet that will allow computer models to be used as the factual medium that the likes of Jones think they are and failing to see that, I want to see the data management structure within ALL climate projects published with their papers. NOTE/ I am not asking for data here, just the management method.

      YES, I will accept any enquiry that is honest, thorough and inclusive. We haven’t had one yet !!!

      The amount of whitewash that has been wasted recently could have been used by the agw halfwits to paint every mountain on the planet white.

    • Paul Penrose
      Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 11:43 AM | Permalink

      Sod,
      Your question implies that you believe it is more important who conducts the inquiry, and not how it is conducted. That is why you, and so many of the AGW supporters put so much weight on the so called, “scientific consensus” propagated by the IPCC. This attraction to authority, while the easy way out, will not lead you to the truth. But of course, you can’t accept that because I’m a skeptic and thus evil.

    • TA
      Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 12:46 PM | Permalink

      Oops, I hit the wrong “reply” button. Let’s see if I got it right this time.

      sod,

      You say, “will “sceptics” accept any investigation by anyone?”

      To which I say, “will ‘believers’ reject any pseudo-investigation, no matter how obvious the whitewash?”

  3. Gilbert K. Arnold
    Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 9:16 AM | Permalink

    Steve:

    I’ve been following CA for about 3 months now and I am still amazed that all of the investigations have refused (deliberately or not) to ask any of the central characters about the e-mails and their behavior regarding skeptics and the data requests. Perhaps the only way to get the answers most of us here on CA is to have a completely independent investigation under the auspices of some NGO that has a measure of credibility. I am not holding my breath that it will happen soon. I guess the only thing left is to keep on pursuing the mistakes and errors in the papers presented in the IPCC reports. Keep up the good work.

  4. Stacey
    Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 9:20 AM | Permalink

    It is good news that Phil Jones is back at the totally discredited CRU at East Anglia University where he belongs.

    Every time he makes a statement then it will remind people of the dishonour.

    I guess he will be retired within a year with a big pension?

  5. Ulf
    Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 9:33 AM | Permalink

    @sod: “will “sceptics” accept any investigation by anyone?”

    What do you think? The criticisms cited above give some indication:
    – they interviewed only one side
    – they didn’t actually cite the IPCC rules when trying to assess whether
    they had been breached.

    These reflect some pretty basic requirements on an impartial investigation:
    hear both sides, and actually consider the facts. Any time I’ve been
    involved in investigations that have been accused in advance of being biased,
    we have always gone out of our way to be not just impartial, but to also
    strengthen the appearance of fair play as much as possible.

    BTW, my email load is 100-200 incoming/day, and I write lots and lots of
    emails. I do not find it difficult to keep a civil tone and never resort
    to plotting to get people ousted, longing to beat the crap out of someone,
    and other “extreme modes of expression”. They are rather common in newsgroups
    and IRC channels, but hardly in professional email correspondence.

    I would suggest that it is rather the opposite: as it is easier to be
    misunderstood in written correspondence than in verbal dialogue, it is more
    important to be clear and consistently correct and courteous when writing
    emails. That there are many trolls, spammers and bullies on the web is
    no excuse for an internationally acclaimed scientist.

  6. stan
    Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 9:44 AM | Permalink

    It would appear that the quality of the investigation matched the quality of the work being investigated.

  7. Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 9:55 AM | Permalink

    My preliminary response is here.

    • Benjamin
      Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 12:30 PM | Permalink

      Your Table 1: Evolution of LOSU ratings in IPCC AR4 is very very impressive and should be widely circulated to show how uncertainty estimates based on no now scientific evidence can evolve….

    • cicero
      Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 11:25 PM | Permalink

      Maybe at some point, I hope that either Steve or Ross will comment on the substance of Chap 6 and App 7 in the report.

      These sections of the report read basically that the Russell panel with a little help from a programmer was able to do in 2 days using data from other sources what skeptics have been trying to do for years butting heads with CRU and that there was never a need to bother with the FoI’s.

      I’m confused about this… but I sense that the Russell panel is also.

  8. Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 10:21 AM | Permalink

    For those of you affected by the outcome of this panel, some consolation and food for thought: Link

    Kind regards and keep up the good work

  9. stan
    Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 10:23 AM | Permalink

    Does anyone think that the blatant inadequacy of these investigations is deliberate? That those involved are not happy with being tasked to perform a whitewash so they sabotage the work by performing a joke investigation. Sort of like the way that unions work to rule — they are following orders, but gumming up the works anyway.

    This may seem like a crazy idea, but I’m struggling to understand why the quality of each of these efforts is so bad. They don’t even make the effort to appear impartial. They don’t even make a pretense of interviewing any skeptics. Surely they have to know that the sloppy process impugns their conclusions. Don’t they?

    • Tim
      Posted Jul 8, 2010 at 9:07 AM | Permalink

      I think you give them too much credit. If they were capable of that level of planning they would do a lot better. Fact is they know that 99% of the people will only read the headlines or listen to the soundbite news so as long as it says “CRU Cleared” that will be the end of it.

      The press has been reduced to a bunch of “monkeys with microphones”. They are unwilling or incapable of serious investigative journalism. That is left to a very few brave souls who nail down the facts and usually in the new media (web, blogs etc).

  10. ZT
    Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 10:24 AM | Permalink

    This is an amusing piece of po-faced positioning….

    “On the allegation that the references in a specific e-mail to a „trick‟ and to
    „hide the decline‟ in respect of a 1999 WMO report figure show evidence of
    intent to paint a misleading picture, we find that, given its subsequent iconic
    significance (not least the use of a similar figure in the IPCC Third
    Assessment Report), the figure supplied for the WMO Report was
    misleading. We do not find that it is misleading to curtail reconstructions at
    some point per se, or to splice data, but we believe that both of these procedures
    should have been made plain – ideally in the figure but certainly clearly
    described in either the caption or the text.”

    So the allegation (let’s not call it a ‘fact’ – though, of course, it is a fact) that the truth was hidden was misleading, but only because of the subsequent use of the figure in question, and in general it is not misleading to splice data from different sources with an intent to deceive.

    The 1999 WMO report splicing was not abstruse ‘science’ – it was dishonesty that everyone can understand. The fact that the inquiry seeks to ‘position’ this dishonesty speaks volumes about the inquiry.

    One hopes that Muir et al will be similarly open minded when their stockbrokers decide to employ such techniques in communicating the financial records of their investment portfolios.

  11. BenS
    Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

    It would seem that the only way to get a fair hearing on the subject of climate science is to go to court; yes, an actual court where evidence, raw data and associated arguments are presented and examined. In this way, claims can be challenged, data examined and mathematics reviewed by qualified mathematicians and scientists with opposing views. Review by self serving public groups such as we have seen recently (universities and public institution) reviewing their own work and the work of their cronies is a waste of resources. The mainstream media will never get it right. The lawsuit in Virginia brought by the state AG appears to be the only way forward in this debate

  12. Dave L.
    Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 10:56 AM | Permalink

    The reason that no inquiry panel has interviewed Steve McIntyre is that the panel members lack sufficient expertise in statistics, computer modeling, and the contents discussed in the Climategate e-mails. It would be humiliating for them to question him because their ignorance would stand out like sore thumbs. Also, by not interviewing Steve, they hope to portray him as someone outside the realm of important scientists in climatology; i.e., an indirect slap in the face.
    Cover-ups though are generally ineffective; arrogance predisposes that others are too stupid to be able to figure out the truth. Cover-ups can cause the intended outcome to boomerang on the conspirators.
    I will always regard the UK and Penn State inquiries as “whitewash”.

    • johnh
      Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 12:41 PM | Permalink

      ‘The reason that no inquiry panel has interviewed Steve McIntyre is that the panel members lack sufficient expertise in statistics, computer modeling, and the contents discussed in the Climategate e-mails.’

      Have to disagree, the reason none of these inquiries have spoken to Steve was simply because as soon as they did they would have to answer the real questions, by not speaking to Steve they could simply ignore these questions and answer the questions with lower/less adverse implications.

      See no evil speak no evil.

  13. Ed Caryl
    Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 10:57 AM | Permalink

    “The amount of whitewash that has been wasted recently could have been used by the agw halfwits to paint every mountain on the planet white.”
    Or every Stephenson Screen in the world, probably a better idea.

    The order of the day seems to be: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

  14. Barry Woods
    Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 2:25 PM | Permalink

    Lord Lawson, former Chancellor of the Exchequer under Margaret Thatcher, when interviewed on the BBC News at One o’clock today pointed out that, despite his repeated requests,
    (1) the Muir Russell hearings were held in secret, without any public access, and
    (2) no known sceptic was permitted (let alone invited) to give evidence.

    Under those circumstances the only wonder is that Russell did manage to come up with some criticisms of CRU, albeit mild.

  15. Dave
    Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 4:04 PM | Permalink

    Can we make a big thing of asking the CRU lot when they plan to sue for defamation/libel, on the back of this ‘clear evidence’?

    • dougie
      Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 6:39 PM | Permalink

      point well made.
      that will be a good one.

  16. Sundance
    Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 6:55 PM | Permalink

    You have enough information to write a best seller on the entire affair. We will know in 20 years if October/November 2009 was a tipping point in history.

  17. Sean
    Posted Aug 24, 2010 at 11:06 AM | Permalink

    By way of contrast, here’s how Harvard treated an unrelated case of scientific misconduct:

    http://harvardmagazine.com/breaking-news/harvard-dean-details-hauser-scientific-misconduct

7 Trackbacks

  1. By » Muir Russell rapport - Climategate.nl on Jul 7, 2010 at 10:13 AM

    [...] 17:12 http://climateaudit.org/2010/07/07/lord-russell-of-holyrood/ [...]

  2. [...] Steve McIntyre: I guess the main question coming out of the Muir Russell report is when is he going to be appointed to the House of Lords and his choice of appelation. Lord Muir of Holyrood? [...]

  3. [...] Climate Audit's McIntyre on Climategate report: It 'adopted a unique inquiry process in which they i…'…a not unexpected result given that the writing team came from Geoffrey Boulton's Royal Society of Edinburgh. Remarkably, the Muir Russell inquiry ruled on this issue without actually citing IPCC procedures…Instead of examining IPCC rules, they asked John Mitchell, the Review Editor, for his opinion. Mitchell, needless to say, was a Climategate correspondent, who gave untruthful answers when refusing David Holland's FOI request for materials' [...]

  4. [...] Climate Audit’s McIntyre on Climategate report: It ‘adopted a unique inquiry process in …‘…a not unexpected result given that the writing team came from Geoffrey Boulton’s Royal Society of Edinburgh. Remarkably, the Muir Russell inquiry ruled on this issue without actually citing IPCC procedures…Instead of examining IPCC rules, they asked John Mitchell, the Review Editor, for his opinion. Mitchell, needless to say, was a Climategate correspondent, who gave untruthful answers when refusing David Holland’s FOI request for materials’ [...]

  5. [...] Muir Russel 6 For those who expected a positive outcome from the Climategate email review chaired by Muir Russel, knew that nothing good would come out of it, but hoped in a tiny corner of your hearts [...]

  6. [...] hebben hun eerste indrukken van het rapport reeds op het net gezet. Zie hier, hier hier en [...]

  7. […] 6.20pm: The sceptic big guns have weighed in. Steve McIntyre says: […]

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