Bob Ward, who you may remember as the author of various complaints from the U.K. Royal Society, is now employed at Risk Management Solutions Ltd. In his business capacity as Director, Global Science Networks, Risk Management Solutions Ltd., he has filed a complaint about Swindle under a section of the broadcasting code which states: “Views and facts must not be misrepresented”. I could understand Ward complaining as an individual citizen, but I’m surprised that he is doing so in his capacity as an employee of Risk Management Solutions. It’s intriguing that Risk Management Solutions perceives itself as having a business interest in suppressing the distribution of Swindle as it stands.
In addition to Ward’s initial complaint, on April 24, 2007, a number of scientists – including Myles Allen of climateprediction.net and Phil Jones – piled on with an Open Letter to Martin Durkin published online here in which they stated:
However, we believe that it is in the public interest for adequate quality control to be exercised over information that is disseminated to the public to ensure that it does not include major misrepresentations of the scientific evidence and interpretations of it by researchers.
Now I happen to agree with that particular sentence. This type of standard applies to mining speculations and I’ve consistently advocated that climate scientists should, at a minimum, meet standards applicable to mining promoters. (By saying this, I’m not advocating any particular system of enforcing such standards, only that this is a reasonable standard to at least measure non-compliance. ) I’m pleased that such an eminent set of British scientists has endorsed a standard advocated for such a long time at climateaudit. Perhaps we’re turning a corner here. Obviously there is no shortage of candidates for Ward’s Truth Squad to consider.
As a start, if a scientist claimed that his reconstruction had skill and that the verification r2 statistic was considered in evaluating the “skill” of a reconstruction, this claim would be a major misrepresentation of the scientific evidence if the verification r2 statistic was ~0. If a scientist said that he did not calculate the verification r2 statistic when he actually did, that would be also be a major representation of the scientific evidence. If a scientist claimed that his reconstruction was “robust” to the presence/absence of all dendroclimatic indicators, when he knew that the reconstruction was extremely sensitive to, say, the presence/absence of Dulan junipers or other subset, that would be a major misrepresentation of the scientific evidence. If scientists NN said that the verification r2 of a reconstruction was ~0, and scientists AW issued a press release that the claims of NN were “unfounded” knowing that the verification r2 of a reconstruction was ~0, then that would be a major misrepresentation of the scientific evidence.
So I welcome the interest of the British Truth Squad in investigating incidences of major misrepresentations of scientific evidence.
Complainant Jones has been mentioned previously at CA on many occasions. I won’t review the sorry history of Jones’ attempts to obstruct the identification of even the stations used in HadCRU3 – even including serial refusals under the UK Freedom of Information Act.
Let’s consider complainant Myles Allen, who we’ve mentioned only in passing. One of the rules for mining promotions is that it is illegal to simply mention the highest value from sampling in a press release. See slide 63 here . If this policy is applicable to mining promotions, a Professor from Oxford University who is concerned that ” adequate quality control to be exercised over information that is disseminated to the public” should obviously voluntarily comply with a similar standard in climate press releases.
Allen and associates issued a press release on climate simulations that clearly violated this standard by mentioning only the highest value as follows:
The first results from climateprediction.net, a global experiment using computing time donated by the general public, show that average temperatures could eventually rise by up to 11°C.
Chief Scientist for climateprediction.net, David Stainforth, from Oxford University said: “Our experiment shows that increased levels of greenhouse gases could have a much greater impact on climate than previously thought.”
Climateprediction.net project coordinator, Dr. David Frame, said: “the possibility of such high responses has profound implications. If the real world response were anywhere near the upper end of our range, even today’s levels of greenhouse gases could already be dangerously high.”
This press release was so highly inflammatory and promotional that it was even criticized by realclimate in How Not to Write a Press Release:
Looking at the press release, one could have predicted with high confidence that much of the coverage would focus solely on the 11⹃ number and that they would assume that this was a new prediction.
When it came to selling the story to journalists, the press release only mentioned one figure – 11C.
The ensuing broadsheet headlines were predictably apocalyptic, from “Global warming is twice as bad as previously thought” to “Screensaver weather trial predicts 10C rise in British temperatures”.
Allen blamed the media for not consulting the original articles:
“If journalists decide to embroider on a press release without referring to the paper which the press release is about, then that’s really the journalists’ problem. We can’t as scientists guard against that.”
If journalists repeat a claim made in the press release, that can hardly be characterized as “embroidering”. Had the same sequence of events occurred in mining promotion, the blame would have been laid entirely on the mining promoters and not on the journalists. In any event, if Myles Allen now believes “that it is in the public interest for adequate quality control to be exercised over information that is disseminated to the public to ensure that it does not include major misrepresentations of the scientific evidence”, obviously he should start by removing the beam from his own eye.
I am also pleased by the new interest of these scientists in due diligence. Because journals have such limited capacity for due diligence, archiving data and code is obviously one effective measure of protecting the public interest by ensuring quality control of information disseminated to the public through journal articles. And yet complainant Phil Jones has refused requests to provide station data and even the identity of stations. The complaining scientists cite the NAS Panel apparently without considering North’s description of their manner of carrying out “due diligence: that they “didn’t do any research”, that they just “took a look at papers”, that they got 12 “people around the table” and “just kind of winged it.” He said that’s what you do in these sort of expert panels. See CA post here .