Institute of Physics Submission

No mincing of words by the Institute of Physics in their submission to the UK Parliamentary Committee.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

8. As a step towards restoring confidence in the scientific process and to provide greater transparency in future, the editorial boards of scientific journals should work towards setting down requirements for open electronic data archiving by authors, to coincide with publication. Expert input (from journal boards) would be needed to determine the category of data that would be archived. Much ‘raw’ data requires calibration and processing through interpretive codes at various levels.

9. 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. The details of any statistical procedures, necessary for the independent testing and replication, should also be included. In parallel, consideration should be given to the requirements for minimum disclosure in relation to computer modelling.

Are the terms of reference and scope of the Independent Review announced on 3 December 2009 by UEA adequate?

10. The scope of the UEA review is, not inappropriately, restricted to the allegations of scientific malpractice and evasion of the Freedom of Information Act at the CRU. However, most of the e-mails were exchanged with researchers in a number of other leading institutions involved in the formulation of the IPCC’s conclusions on climate change. In so far as those scientists were complicit in the alleged scientific malpractices, there is need for a wider inquiry into the integrity of the scientific process in this field.

11. The first of the review’s terms of reference is limited to: “…manipulation or suppression of data which is at odds with acceptable scientific practice…” The term ‘acceptable’ is not defined and might better be replaced with ‘objective’.

12. The second of the review’s terms of reference should extend beyond reviewing the CRU’s policies and practices to whether these have been breached by individuals, particularly in respect of other kinds of departure from objective scientific practice, for example, manipulation of the publication and peer review system or allowing pre-formed conclusions to override scientific objectivity.

How independent are the other two international data sets?

13. Published data sets are compiled from a range of sources and are subject to processing and adjustments of various kinds. Differences in judgements and methodologies used in such processing may result in different final data sets even if they are based on the same raw data. Apart from any communality of sources, account must be taken of differences in processing between the published data sets and any data sets on which they draw.


  1. johnh
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 1:26 PM | Permalink

    And the Royal Society of Chemistry are more circumspect but still on theme

    · The RSC firmly believes that the benefits of scientific data being made available and thus open to scrutiny outweigh the perceived risks. To this end, scientific information should be made available on request as outlined in the Freedom of Information Act.

    • Jimchip
      Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 2:30 PM | Permalink

      Re: johnh (Feb 26 13:26),

      Ya, but RSC’s, while a good statement of principles, was wimpy by comparison. They ended with

      “How independent are the other two international data sets?
      17. From the information available, the RSC cannot comment on this issue.
      Royal Society of Chemistry”

      The US ACS had a little blowout over a C&E News editorial, lot’s of people commenting.

      meh, it’s good that there good independent comments on the issue. I liked the statements of several submissions at the beginning stating their level of independence or involvement with the issue. A lot of ‘non-stealth’ going on.

    • David Bailey
      Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 5:33 AM | Permalink

      As an ex-chemist, I am sorry they could not do better than this.

      The RSC’s submission reads like something produced by a politician!

      Oh for a world without politicians!

  2. deadwood
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 1:40 PM | Permalink

    Well, there’s no hint of “nothing to see, move along” in this submission. I think they have hit all the major issues raised here and other places in the blogosphere.

  3. Fred
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 1:40 PM | Permalink

    well this is going to hurt . .

    “provide prima facie evidence of determined and co-ordinated refusals to comply with honourable scientific traditions”

  4. Jim R.
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 1:47 PM | Permalink


  5. Severian
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 1:52 PM | Permalink

    I detect the ghost of Richard Feynman in that letter, and I’m glad to finally see someone saying these things.

    • Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 2:25 PM | Permalink

      This has nothing to do with Feynman – it’s basic Science 101. No one needs a physics genius to state the obvious. Methods should be described sufficiently to allow replication. In statistical analysis, data and programs should be available for examination. Like your high school math teacher told you – show your work!

      • Severian
        Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 2:28 PM | Permalink

        True enough, but Feynman was particularly vocal about such things, and in fighting against pseudo-science, more than many scientists unfortunately.

      • AMac
        Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 2:44 PM | Permalink

        Severian was likely referring to Feynman’s widely-read essay on Cargo Cult Science. In that, Severian was on target.

      • Robert Burns
        Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 4:36 PM | Permalink

        Feynman wrote about how he thought science should be practiced. One write up is here

        And you are correct that is not about Feynman, it is about basic Science 101. The point is that it is not talked about and not being done, not being done by most climate scientists, not talked about by the media, not required by the climate journals, not demanded by the funding agencies, not insisted on by the IPCC.

        • anon
          Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 6:07 PM | Permalink

          and as per his cargo cult speech, this stuff was going on back in 1947, eg it’s too expensive to replicate work. Let’s just build upon it. Dedros have that down to a science.

  6. Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 2:03 PM | Permalink

    Not mincing words, are they!

    Trust physicists to know what is and isn’t proper scientific procedure.

  7. PhilJourdan
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 2:04 PM | Permalink

    It seems that real scientists are not being bamboozled by the sycophantic press. They see the danger for what it really is.

  8. vboring
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 2:09 PM | Permalink

    It is good to see the established scientific community throwing the IPCC Climate Science community under the bus for their anti-scientific practices.

    Hopefully, this will spread to climate science. Something along the lines of a new generation of climate scientists throwing off the ways of the old in order to bring credibility to their field.

    It could be as simple as giving greater weight to research based on how transparently it was done. Any climate science journal could gain credibility by changing (and/or enforcing) their data and methods disclosure requirements. This seems inevitable at this point.

  9. Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 2:09 PM | Permalink

    I read the submission and wondered if it was a wind up (before checking the source) – given the fairly ‘pro’ stance taken by the IOP up until quite recently. They say nothing unreasonable, but they do seem to have thought over the implications of repeatability and groupthink in a way that has not been expressed before with any authority. This looks like a determined attempt to distance themselves from a worst-case scenario, not just questioning the methods but also pointing quite firmly at the whole proxy mess and asking if it has any substance.

  10. Patrik
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 2:17 PM | Permalink

    Simply amazing. The main body for physicists in UK and Ireland says what Steve M and everybody has been saying all along.
    Heavy stuff!

    • Shallow Climate
      Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 2:39 PM | Permalink

      Yes! One of the “dogs in the nighttime” in all this Climategate mess has been the silence of scientists in other (nonclimate) disciplines. At last someone speaks up, and forcefully! Rejoice! Hooray!

      • Jeff Wood
        Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 7:03 PM | Permalink

        Now we need the Geologists to turn up, a little the worse for wear, and put a few rocks through certain windows.

  11. geo
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 2:26 PM | Permalink

    This may in fact be the value of these kind of investigations –it gives these kinds of groups/entities a forum that they would find “serious” enough and befitting their own conception of their dignity to come forward in. Swinging elbows on the internet or in the press is just not the style of this kind of organization, y’know?

  12. Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 2:29 PM | Permalink

    It is so true that should be inappropriate for the verification of the integrity of the scientific process to depend on appeals to Freedom of Information legislation.

  13. jv
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 2:38 PM | Permalink

    “This looks like a determined attempt to distance themselves from a worst-case scenario”

    I may be reading their submission wrong but to at least a degree the tone reads to me like they don’t want to get any on them when the bomb goes off. Who could blame them? It wasn’t their mess.

    All of their points seem to be spot on.

    • Duster
      Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 6:58 PM | Permalink

      The concern about “getting any” on them is very real. There is a very clear tendency in much of the printed and blogged literature to confound the “science” of CRUgate with the real thing. Much of the public generally doesn’t know much more about science than that scientists “discover” things. They do not as a rule understand the scientific method, the importance of replication, or that because someone labeled as a “scientist” said something doesn’t make it so. More importantly, they often don’t understand that merely because an individual is a successful scientist doesn’t mean their views on anything outside their discipline should carry anymore weight than the average man in the street. Scientific accumen does not necessarily extend into social issues or mean that someone received an extra helping of common sense. Look at James Hansen picketing coal mines.

  14. Jimchip
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 2:44 PM | Permalink

    There’s an old joke that floats around in science in various iterations.
    ‘If it stinks, it’s Biology. If it blows up, it’s Chemistry. If it doesn’t work, it’s Physics’
    Physics looks like it’s working this time!

    (special note: The iterations are a randomization of where bio,chem,phys are placed in the joke)

  15. Hoi Polloi
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 2:58 PM | Permalink

    Wow, no denial here….

  16. ZT
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 3:04 PM | Permalink

    “provide prima facie evidence of determined and co-ordinated refusals to comply with honourable scientific traditions”

    At last – a scientific establishment perspective that makes sense.

  17. Kevin
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 3:05 PM | Permalink

    Awesome! It’s about time that “integrity” is addressed within the scientific process with regard to climategate. This is better than reality TV. I can’t wait for the natural consequences to proceed…

  18. Craig Loehle
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 3:07 PM | Permalink

    I am particularly pleased that they seem quite clear about the details and not muddle-headed about what has happened.

  19. larry
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 3:14 PM | Permalink

    Thank goodness for that. I was beginning to think the British scientific establishment were trying to turn British science into an oxymoron.

  20. RuhRoh
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 3:19 PM | Permalink

    Herewith (7.)
    they really put their finger on the nub of it;

    “networks of like-minded researchers effectively excluding newcomers”

    How do you spell Overwhelming Consensus ?

    Gimme a G , an R, an O, U, P, T, H, I, N, K

    Check out these traits; (Janis, 1977)
    1. Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.
    2. Rationalizing warnings that might challenge the group’s assumptions.
    3. Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.
    4. Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, biased, spiteful, disfigured, impotent, or stupid.
    5. Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of “disloyalty”.
    6. Self censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus.
    7. Illusions of unanimity among group members, silence is viewed as agreement.
    8. Mind guards — self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information.

    El Predicto sez;

    Climategate will become the dominant didactic example of Groupthink, displacing the ‘Challenger Launch Decision’ and ‘Bay of Pigs’ as something the kids in the class have in their collective memories.

    Am I the only one here who took the ‘Critical Thinking’ class?

    • Ausie Dan
      Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 12:49 AM | Permalink

      Thanks – I no not know of Critical Thinking but I learnt about Group Think long ago, as part of a psychology degree.

      I was intending to post about it here, as it is most apt.
      Good work.

      • Ausie Dan
        Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 12:50 AM | Permalink

        my typing is getting worse.
        I meant to say “I do not know about …..”

  21. JimS
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 3:29 PM | Permalink

    I’m reading your submission but note that the graphical figures are not on the Parliment’s web site. Is your’s available somewhere else?

  22. David Bailey
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 3:47 PM | Permalink

    It is wonderful to read an official comment that is so direct and to the point. It contrasts so wonderfully with the usual climate science waffle!

  23. Shervin
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 3:58 PM | Permalink

    In a word: VOW!

  24. philh
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 4:02 PM | Permalink


  25. Ed Lambert
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 4:05 PM | Permalink

    Where are the rest of the professional scientific societies, especially the ones in the U.S. My own, the IEEE, has been, and continues to be, particularly craven, in my view, on the subject of AGW.

    I have my theory on why this is so, but it would not pass S. McIntyre’s statistical tests, yet.

  26. Phillip Bratby
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 4:06 PM | Permalink

    The submission by Professor John Beddington, Government Chief Scientific Adviser is incredibly complacent (toeing the government line):

    “I believe the integrity of British science stands of the highest order, with a strong framework in place to ensure this.”

    • Phillip Bratby
      Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 4:10 PM | Permalink

      And Beddington shows his ignorance of physics. How do such people get to be chief advisers? Unbeleivable.

      • Another Layman Lurker
        Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 8:04 PM | Permalink

        By watching Patrick Stewart in his role as Professor Ian Hood, GCSC in the original 2005 ITV show ‘Eleventh Hour’.

  27. Barclay E MacDonald
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 4:06 PM | Permalink

    And why have these concepts been so difficult to grasp for the mainstream media and certain scientific journals.

    Again, in my opinion, if it wasn’t for the release to the blogosphere of the emails and data from CRU, and the existence of key internet blogs and bloggers to so publicly interpret and assess their import, the mainstream media would still be mired in its pathetically myopic view of these issues, and we would be nowhere. Indeed, in many cases the media is still struggling to come to grips with how unobjective and wrong it has been.

  28. Joe Crawford
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 4:08 PM | Permalink

    “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.” [my bold]

    This may turn out to be too limiting an interpretation of the damage already done to scientific integrity. I doubt the general population are going to, or be able to, restrict their opinions to just the field of climate science. The public tends to use a rather broad brush when they feel they have been intentionally duped.

    At least the physicists have taken note. It’s just a shame the climate science community, using some rather loose interpretation of Academic Freedom (e.g., one that considers refusal to comply with honorable scientific traditions and freedom of information law as acceptable behavior), refused to criticize, much less censure, the actions of fellow scientists leading up to ClimateGate. Their actions may have just been the first step in ‘leading the goose to slaughter’.

  29. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 4:14 PM | Permalink

    Best to limit comments between the Inquiry and the people submitting at this stage. That way, the Inquiry is not diverted from the full meaning and intention of the submission. BTW, my submission was not dissimilar to the Institute of Physics, perhaps more emphasis on getting to legal action. Re the Royal Society of Chemists, IMO they are correct in commenting thus on the relative agreement of the 3 main temperature sets. There has not been enough time to contrast them adequately, some are land only and besides, they keep changing.

  30. dearieme
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 5:18 PM | Permalink

    “proxy results for recent decades that do not agree with contemporary instrumental temperature measurements….”: how refreshing to see an accurate use of “contemporary”. In an ideal world, they would also have made accurate use of “charlatans”.

  31. Tom
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 5:38 PM | Permalink

    While this submission is good, I am a bit bemused by the general air of optimism about the inquiry. UK MPs have bought into climate-so-called-science-based policy more than almost any other group, and finding that climate scientists have been behaving badly would mean admitting that a whole pile of current government policy is based on rubbish. So what incentive do they have to find that climate science is junk? None. Pretty much no-one from either side will be untarnished if climate science falls in a heap. So don’t hold your breath.

    • curious
      Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 7:42 PM | Permalink

      Re: Tom (Feb 26 17:38), Quite the opposite Tom – what incentive do they have to carry the can for someoene else?

      • Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 9:56 PM | Permalink

        That’s right. There’ll be a trace of cognitive dissonance this weekend and I’m sure the sympathies of every CA reader will be extended to any MP who feels so. But the writing’s on the wall now. None of the members of this committee can afford to be known as the men who received this testimony and swept it under the carpet. Commons Select Committees are keen to assert their independence from the executive and the party system. MPs as a whole have had their names dragged through the mud because of the expenses scandal. These ones might decide they’ve got nothing left to lose and do the right thing for the right reasons. Who knows, they might even become angry at the way they’ve been misled and made to look stupid.

        I’m sure Phil Jones is greatly looking forward to it. I know I am.

    • Tom FP
      Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 10:31 PM | Permalink

      You’re all correct – in that BOTH dynamics are at play and in competition in the minds of warmists and their fellow travellers. Do I stick to my warmist guns, where if disaster occurs it will be widely shared, or do I jump now, and save my/my profession’s skin? The warmists and all whom they have deceived are perched on the wrong end of a branch being sawn off near the trunk – the psychology is delicious.

      While it’s gratifying to see these guys enunciating the principles of science, there’s nothing new in what they say, just simple principles that us layfolk thought were axiomatic to the scientific method. And they could have said them a lot earlier. It was always predictable that the more august scientific scientific bodies would be the first to repudiate the Tree Ring Circus. They have the most to lose from the discrediting of science in general, and the least to lose from the discrediting of climate science in particular, given that they were all probably closet sceptics from the start, and so probably haven’t bet their pensions on carbon credits. Still, they can’t escape the two-edged sword – if it was true then, why are you only saying it now?

      Horns, dilemmas, rocks, hard places – the only ones free of this exquisite torment are those of us who were sceptical from the start. We must remember to show our more gullible brethren no less kindness than they have shown us.

  32. Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 5:52 PM | Permalink

    You can expect RealClimate to do a post like “The Institute of Physics disappoints”.

  33. Mike Allen
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 5:59 PM | Permalink

    I don’t think this is that clear, they are just distancing themselves from the mud. I’m not to sure about point 5, but I’ve never though much of tree rings and I was under the impression that the variations to instrumental data were always publicly admitted (I might be wrong). Point 11 is good we need ‘objective’ rather than ‘acceptable’. This is Science 101 for the politicians.

  34. Brent Hargreaves
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 6:07 PM | Permalink

    Hmmm. If these clowns had had the integrity to show their data and their workings in the first place, we’d have been spared a lot of unpleasantness.
    But then, shorn of its worst excesses, the AGW industry wouldn’t have attracted the funding that it has.

    If these enquiries unearth serious malpractice, let’s hope that the gravy train can be brought to a standstill; as we stand this juggernaut has great momentum, and the politicians who are squandering vast sums of public money on this codswallop may prefer to leave the money-tap open rather than admit they’ve been conned.

    But the past few months have been exhilarating, a vindication of Steve McIntyre’s dogged pursuit of the truth. Steve, I hope that some august institution will honour you one day.

  35. eddieo
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 6:26 PM | Permalink

    I had been contemplating resigning from the IOP over their acquiescence to the politically correct perspective on AGW. If they are unable to acknowledge the inadequacies of the Hockey Stick they are not fit to call themselves physicists.

    When Climategate first broke back in November, I worried about the implications for the public’s perception of non climate science. The affirmation of AGW by the professional institutions was (and remains) almost unanimous. The IOP must have the same concerns and I hope they will further distance themselves from the climate science consensus. Science is fundamentally driven by skepticism not consensus.

  36. R.S.Brown
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 6:27 PM | Permalink

    Actually, I think the Institute of Physics was very professional in their presentation
    to the British Parliment.

    They left quite a bit of bark on the sharp stick they were poking at “climate science”
    practitioners as these researchers portrayed themselves in the CRU emails.

    They left out that many of these same CRU chums are joined at the hip through participation
    the ongoing psuedo-scientific entity, Real Climate. At that web spot they consistantly
    proclaim any non-member’s research, studies and opinions not in sync with their clique’s
    party line – snip

    Special condemndation is reserved for those attempting statistical verification and
    validation of the CRU and associate’s reasearch when the investigators weren’t on the
    invite list to the daisy chained peer-review party.

    It’s my impression that the disappearing/appearing/dog-ate-this-part CRU data sets and the Harry_read_me program are not within the scope of the investigatory committee’s perview.

    Too bad. The Istitute could then have commented on the obvious incompetence of the
    CRU crew as well.

    The Institute of Physics members took a valient stand.

    • eddieo
      Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 6:50 PM | Permalink

      As a memberof IOP I was entirely unaware of being “consulted.” The opinions of the IOP must be set by a small clique of “important” people on committees.

      • theduke
        Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 10:03 PM | Permalink

        Re: eddieo (Feb 26 18:50),

        Where in their statement do they claim to have “consulted” their entire membership. Are you taking the quotation from their charter? Does the charter say every member must be “consulted” before the Institute submits an opinion to a legal inquiry?

        • eddieo
          Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 10:46 AM | Permalink

          I was commenting that as a member I have never been consulted on any policy issue and definitely not on climate issues. Having said that I don’t play an active role in their activities other than at a local level. Their statement makes no claims to have consulted the membership and i am delighted that they have at last started to pay attention to the flaws in the methodology of climate science.

  37. John Carter
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 6:35 PM | Permalink

    I am beginning to have faith in science once again.

  38. Matt Pearson
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 6:50 PM | Permalink

    I am most interested in how Realclimate et al. will respond to this. So far the silence is deafening. Gavin, are you out there?

  39. Foxgoose
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 6:56 PM | Permalink

    On Realclimate just now – “dhogaza” revealed that he’d never heard of the UK Institute of Physics.

    Obviously a man of scientific depth.

  40. Tom P
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 7:24 PM | Permalink

    I have no objections to the IOP submission. The policy implications from climate science require it to be held to the very highest standards. We should expect full disclosure, whether from CRU or CA.

  41. Copner
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 7:39 PM | Permalink

    @Matt Pearson

    They are discussing it over on realclimate. Check out the comments near the end of the “Close Encounters of the Absurd Kind” story (from about comment 300 onwards).

    Of course, they still don’t agree that they should release all the data. Because (a) lots of other data is available, and (b) the wrong sort of people (one of whom is named, but I’m sure you know who they mean, even without looking), might “find fault” with it.

    (yes “find fault” is a direct quote, and Steve McIntyre is named as a person they don’t want to give data too – see moderator Jim comment inserted in message 290).

  42. Theo Goodwin
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 8:42 PM | Permalink

    This is perfect. It includes the detail that the trick hid the divergence between tree-ring data and thermometer data. It asserts the importance of scientific method. The debate over Climategate is not a debate about global warming but about departures from scientific method by Climategaters. Now the ball is in the Climategaters court; for the first time, they must address questions of scientific method, something they have avoided at every turn. I feel that my prayers have been answered. Of course, there remains a long struggle ahead. Thanks to everyone at Climateaudit.

  43. Harry Eagar
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 9:01 PM | Permalink

    Noodling around the IOP site, I found this, which in relation to a Dr. Wilmshurst seems to show that other areas of research need to be transparent with their data also.

    Hope this is not too far OT. It seems parallel to me.

  44. theduke
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 9:49 PM | Permalink

    I like the way they discipline the tricksters in #5.

    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.

    It’s about time someone exercised their authority and rapped some knuckles.

  45. Tom FP
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 10:02 PM | Permalink

    Isn’t it a pity some of these guys didn’t speak up when the perversion of science and scholarship they now complain of was taking place under their noses, instead of waiting until the whistle was blown? They could have got the credit, instead of handing it to the evil denier running-dog eco-vandal (rearrange adjectives to taste) clique.

    • geronimo
      Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 3:05 AM | Permalink

      I think you’ll find Tom that they were unaware of the shenanigans, and, quite rightly from their perspective, took the IPCC as the authority, as most of the learned societies that bought into AGW did. They are academics, they see other academics making statements on their specialist topic and assume that they are following the scientific process, even when they see complaints there first assumption is that academics wouldn’t do such thing. Now they’ve seen the prima facie evidence they have clearly been shocked by the shenanigans.

      • justbeau
        Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 7:53 AM | Permalink

        This seems very plausible.

        • Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 9:06 AM | Permalink

          Re: justbeau (Feb 27 07:53), and this is the line that the politicians can take and I’m sure will take. They expected the august institutions of science to be trustworthy and to put out trustworthy statements.

        • justbeau
          Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 10:09 AM | Permalink

          The problem in the case of climate science is that most of the scholars in this niche were a closed circle. A few spoke out, notably Lindzen. Scientists from many other disciplines did not have the time to appreciate the shoddiness of prevailing climate scientists. Ralph Cicerone is a climate scientist elevated to head the NAS and part of the problem, tapping a climate scientist apologist in Jerry North to soft-peddle and excuse chicanery. Prevailing climate science captured the Royal Academy and the journals Science and Nature.

          But I am very hopeful that this can change, in the years ahead. Enough of the chicanery and group-think has been revealed, so that technically versed people, who are not climate scientists, can become informed and thereby become disgusted. Climate scientist is a job title en route to becoming much less respected than used car salesperson.

  46. Dave L.
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 10:20 PM | Permalink

    Another interesting feature is the absence of certain “Who’s Who among organizations, journals and individuals” from the list of respondents/responders to the UK Committee. I don’t believe that I need to provide names.

  47. HotRod
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 10:33 PM | Permalink

    RealClimate’s take on the submission:

    The IOP say:-

    “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.”

    [Response: This is just not specific enough to warrant attention. With the one exception of the ‘delete the emails’ email (which I have said all along was ill-advised – even if no emails were deleted, and it’s not clear that any were), I don’t see what else they are referring to. The open exchange of data and materials is indeed vital – but it is not the CRU’s fault (as the FOI body eventually ruled) that some of their temperature data was covered by NDAs. And what is this ‘extension’ to international institutions? This is just an insinuation without evidence. I appear in some emails. Am I therefore guilty of impeding the free flow of scientific information? I would like you to demonstrate that if indeed you think that is what they are implying. The point is that there is plenty enough boilerplate outrage knocking around that appears to based on vague feeling that people have rather than specific issues. It’s not clear what the IOP are adding here. We’ve looked into almost everything that people have pointed to and shown that the accusations are usually completely baseless. – gavin]

    • Arthur Dent
      Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 5:04 PM | Permalink

      It is also fairly typical that the immature posters at EC immedietely resort to ad hominem attacks on a body that they know nothing whatever about. They assume that because of what the IoP is saying (which is repeated in principal by the two Royal Societies RSC and RSS) that they must be industrial shills

      Don’t the scientists at RC realise how childish they look. These are three scientific societies that have been representing professional scientists for over 150 years, they are not johhny-com-lately graduate students mor in the pocket of industry, government or the green movement.

  48. Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 11:44 PM | Permalink

    I think it is worth adding that the issues are not unique to science, they relate to any subject of research.

    My field is law. On the very rare occasions I have had an idea that might advance legal analysis it has been put forward with full citation of the relevant statutes, case law and academic papers that touch on the issue. Without reference to that source material my idea cannot readily be tested by others interested in the point. Then, of course, it has been exposed as ill-thought-out twaddle, but that is all part of the fun of the game.

    The same goes in literature, history and the fuzzy subjects like economics.

    Whether we invite readers to accept an inference we draw from source materials or to accept a suggested cause-and-effect consequence of adding one thing to something else, we assert that our conclusion should be accepted because we have taken source materials and applied a process (mental or physical) to them.

    Please chaps, don’t get too science-centred about this. It is about the furtherance of knowledge and understanding and applies in every academic field.

    • Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 7:59 AM | Permalink

      Re: FatBigot (Feb 26 23:44), I’ve always felt that it needed a combination of just law and true science to out the climate science mess: just like you need a combination of hydrochloric acid and nitric acid (“aqua regis”) to dissolve gold.

      • Shervin
        Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 12:03 PM | Permalink


        Why hasn’t been a guideline for “best practices” in the climate science? I know in pharmaceuticals, there are very strict methods of collecting data which is then pored over by bio-statisticians to figure out the efficacy of various drugs. Do you think something like that would help get us out of this mess that we are in?

    • Jimchip
      Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 12:19 PM | Permalink

      Re: FatBigot (Feb 26 23:44),

      Ya, “not unique to science”. One can talk about the “soft sciences” and the “hard sciences”, also. Briefly I’ll define “soft science” as presumably having the null at the norm and then a statistic like standard deviation used to assess the signal. A “hard science” would be that the null is a zero (perhaps of calibration) and the signal norm is far from zero. Of course this simple dichotomy eventually breaks down, even in physics. Climate science seems to have tried to adopt a hard science front while being very soft in many fundamental ways, more akin to sociology. WRT to “fuzzy subjects like economics”, economics looks like a hard science compared to a lot of climate science stuff.

      • JS
        Posted Mar 1, 2010 at 3:24 AM | Permalink

        I more useful distinction for the present purposes would be “experimental sciences” versus “non-experimental sciences”. The statistical techniques required in each are different. The statistical techniques one learns in the experimental sciences are inadequate when presented with non-experimental data. It is this distinction that, to my mind, accounts for a lot of the statistical inadequacy in climatology – you have people coming from experimental science backgrounds trying to deal with non-experimental data. In contrast, those from economics deal with this sort of data as a matter of course and are well placed to apply to correct statistics.

        Because the data in economics is fuzzy, the statistics is very sharp. Because the data in the “hard sciences” is very sharp, the statistics is rather fuzzy.

  49. MikeN
    Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 12:30 AM | Permalink

    Has it been established as a fact that all of the e-mails are legit? They question that in their letter.

    • Ausie Dan
      Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 1:07 AM | Permalink

      I understand that CRU has confirmed them.
      Has anybody got the reference?

    • geronimo
      Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 3:09 AM | Permalink

      MikeN: If they weren’t legit then Dr. Jones and realclimate would have said so. Instead they’ve been explaining the innocence of the emails and that they’ve been taken out of context. Also the UEA has been telling all and sundry that the emails were “stolen”. Look legit to me, I’m assuming the IOP know this and are giving the same message the ICO is, which is that this prima facie evidence is proof of malfeasance.

      • Posted Mar 1, 2010 at 4:04 PM | Permalink

        I am sure to have heard that word before. Yes, it belongs to legal jargon. Shouldn’t it be left to tort lawyers?

    • Tony Hansen
      Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 3:34 AM | Permalink

      Dunno, but it has been 100 days since the release of the emails.
      How long would it take for those involved to check?

    • Jimchip
      Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 12:41 PM | Permalink

      Re: MikeN (Feb 27 00:30),

      1. The released emails that could be verified by comparison with ‘originals’ from senders and recipients like Steve Mc have been seen to be authentic.

      2. As others have mentioned, the best defense against negative revelations would have been to demonstrate a fraudulent example and none of those have come to light. Tim Osborn’s submission to the CCE is par for the course, along the lines of ‘not complete, not random, out of context, targeted selections’. I agree with ‘not complete, not random, targeted’ [thank you, W/B]. I disagree with traps, out of context- CRU could put them all out, leaving out the ‘personal stuff’, instead of just making the claim.

      3. Like others have said, the claim of “hacked” says that they were really on a server by implication.

      4. I think the documents in the documents folder are a little more dicey. Some have no dates, are completely internal in their context (but perhaps sent as attachments) and they are more difficult to verify given the lack of cooperative recipients. The veracity of the emails lends credence to the documents but that’s where any “traps”, if any, will be.

  50. John
    Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 2:23 AM | Permalink

    This is truly amazing. You should see what the American Physical Society is debating right now on this issue.

    • Theo Goodwin
      Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 11:04 AM | Permalink

      Could you provide a link to this APS debate, please?

  51. Lewis
    Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 2:44 AM | Permalink

    If someone has already said the same but, wow, they’ve got the whole picture. Note .5 as regards ‘hide the decline’, par example!

  52. Lewis
    Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 2:48 AM | Permalink

    Fatbigot, it’s good to have your sane voice back. Hope your well.

  53. Lewis
    Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 3:03 AM | Permalink

    And, Steve, with these heavyweight big, ‘establishment’ (being Canadian you will get the subtext, aswell) institutions stating very definative submissions means we might have a true ball game. I know, before, I was somewhat critical of the attention to these enquiries but, apart from not likeing the heat and the somewhat obtuse statements it produces, perhaps I despaired of the outcome. Been there, done that etc. But maybe, just maybe, this might be worth, this time, paying attention. No more cynicism!

  54. Peter Stroud
    Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 3:42 AM | Permalink

    A good start, but the Royal Society must follow suit if the political classes are to be impressed.

    • Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 1:18 PM | Permalink

      Don’t agree. Step at a time. There’s enough here for individual MPs on the Select Committee to be entirely unimpressed with UEA and CRU and to make this clear in the public record. The clarity of the statement from the IoP helps a lot with that.

      When the time comes I hope the spotlight will go back to the Royal Society in two different ways:

      1. The role of Phil Trans B and its editor Georgina Mace in insisting that Keith Briffa publish his data. Without that insistence on normal scientific standards it’s arguable whether any of Climategate would have happened. And it’s worth reprising Andrew Montford’s key contribution in encouraging Steve to contact Phil Trans B. In any case, the Royal Society at that point did exactly what it should and it led to where we are today. It’s well worth having that in mind.

      2. The role of Bob Ward in purporting to speak for the Society about the whole area of global warming in its direct and unprecendented criticism of ExxonMobil for funding so-called deniers. This was agitprop of the crudest sort. There will be many fine scientists of FRS status who will be wanting to put that record well and truly straight on that before long.

      It’s going to happen and you’re right that when it does there’ll be a certain class of lazy politician who’ll finally come over. But there’s enough now for the MPs that matter to get the ball well and truly rolling.

  55. Bryan Sweeney
    Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 3:49 AM | Permalink

    As a graduate member of the Institute of Physics I warmly welcome this submission.
    As Sean Connery says in a recent add “lets get back to common sense”.

  56. Lewis
    Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 4:09 AM | Permalink

    Having spead read every ‘submission’ here (I particuliarlly appreciated ‘Robert Burns’ reference to the Feynman speach) just a point: A Parlimentary Commitee is membered by MPs, that is, politicians – while they can, and often do, give critical or contrary reports, as far as I am aware, ther are very few ‘sceptical’ MPs, and on this committee, none. Therefore, as far as this enquiry is concerned, unless they feel under public pressure, will most likely make a very uncritical report. They must make a report and they must make some advisary statements ( therefore ‘critical’) but it may be not one wishes. Just to warn.

  57. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 4:45 AM | Permalink

    Gavin must have hired a ghost writer of some innocence. Can you imagine that Gavin, of all people, would ask “Am I therefore guilty of impeding the free flow of scientific information?”

  58. James Evans
    Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 5:36 AM | Permalink

    I have to say, this feels like a real tipping point to me. The clarity of these submissions is fantastic.

    How different these reactions are to those of the climate scientists, as so vividly described recently by Willis Eschenbach.


  59. coldlynx
    Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 5:53 AM | Permalink

    Quite funny:
    This is an open peer review of CRU.
    Precisely as a peer review should be.

    I don’t know which is the most unusual in this:
    -Open and CRU in one sentence.
    -Open and peer review in one sentence.
    -Or peer review of CRU.
    And all together is it stunning good news.

  60. DeepFried
    Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 6:39 AM | Permalink

    You can understand why the Instution of Mechanical Engineers of London has not put its head over the parapet, see link…

    I remember that the BBC in Copenhagen interviewed a youth from the IMechE and it was clear that he was totally bound up in the “dealing with climate change” groupthink.

  61. Chris Wright
    Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 7:34 AM | Permalink

    Once more, heart-felt congratulations to Steve M. Hardly a day goes by without further vindication of his work and dogged persistence over the past years.
    I like to believe that the truth will always win in the end. At long last, it’s beginning to look like the truth is winning the battle. We live in extraordinary times….

  62. per
    Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 8:32 AM | Permalink

    The IOP submission puts its case strongly, but it seems to share common ground with the submissions from the Royal Statistical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the RCUK. The common ground is that data and code must be released, with certain caveats, and that this is a fundamental aspect of the proper process of science.

    I think the committee will be able to form their own judgement as to whether the code and data from cru has been released, and the resulting conclusions will be interesting.

    there appear to be numerous other points in the IOP, RSC and RSS submissions which are music to my ears. Things to do with checking published data, auditing published research and this gem from the RSC “The effect on other researchers working in this area such as independent researchers, as well as those collaborating with CRU, should be explored. ” Err, steve mcintyre, anyone ?

    Given that the RSC, the IOP, the RSS and RCUK have made key criticisms in common, the committee is going to find it very hard to avoid scrutinising these issues. CRU may well have a tough time here. They may be able to find salvation by hiding in the detail, and sowing confusion, but this looks a little bit tough when the major scientific organisations are making such straightforward comment.

  63. Arthur Dent
    Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 10:29 AM | Permalink

    The IoP, RSC and RSS have, quite properly not commented on the science relating to climate. These bodies represent the professional integrity of their members and do not usually get involved either in politics or even in scientific controversies. The reason for the submissions, and the similarity between them is due to their concerns over the integrity of science andthe scientific method.

    They didn’t comment before because they trusted their fellow scientists to act ethically, when the CRU e-mails appeared things changed.

    Note In making such submissions the learend societies do not consult all their members, there simply isn’t time to do so. Instead a position will be drafted either by an officer of the society or more frequently by a professional scientist. This will then get circulation for comment amongst those members who are involved in the organisation of the societies affairs. A controversial position such as this one will go through several drafts and may be comprehensively rewritten during the process.

    Although individual members do not get to vote on individual submissions, those who write them take into account the views of the organisation and will be severely criticised if they do not.

    I would be very surprised to see any significant membership revolt about any of these submissions.

  64. RayJ
    Posted Feb 28, 2010 at 11:08 AM | Permalink

    This submission by Anne Stallybrass to the parliamentary enquiry is well worth reading: A Green AGW believer converted by scientific fact! I think her comment about ‘citizen’s science’ expresses well the importance of sites like Climate Audit.

    • Jimchip
      Posted Feb 28, 2010 at 2:32 PM | Permalink

      Re: RayJ (Feb 28 11:08),

      I liked that one.

    • Posted Feb 28, 2010 at 3:21 PM | Permalink

      All three women submitters added something vital – including the stories of how Anne and Susan Ewens came from a AGW-believing background to question AGW orthodoxy. It’s not just us that will have appreciated these submissions – I think it’s very likely they will get through to the MPs on the committee in a way others didn’t. I especially appreciated paragraph 4 from Anne:

      The public face of suppression: I found, with the declaration by Al Gore and others that there was “consensus” among all reasonable scientists, that my hitherto-assumed freedom to question or dissent had vanished. Those who doubted the “consensus” have been likened to holocaust deniers.

      That is vital testimony. And it’s directly related to the issue of scientific integrity. How could any true scientist have allowed such a situation to develop without complaint? Yet how many complaints did you ever hear?

  65. Max Beran
    Posted Feb 28, 2010 at 4:19 PM | Permalink

    But this could have been written by any interested party with some sort of grasp of the type of “soft” climatology that is the stock-in-trade of groups such as CRU located in what had been Geography Departments before being transmogrified into Environmental Science ones.

    What would have been much more valuable to the committee would have been a particular submission that was more clearly flavoured with a physiscist’s perspective. The IOP has an Environmental Physics group and among their members must be the type of “hard” climatologist dealing with the radiation budget and the atmospheric and ocean fluid dynamics that are more at the heart of the future projections of climate than CRU, Hockey Sticklers et al.

    So, why not a submission that points out the dangers presented by the issues uncovered in the Climategate material to the work of their own constitutency and what may be its impact on users downstream of IOP member’s own products? Maybe even a little soul-searching wouldn’t come amiss as. Though as I recall, meteorologists had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the global warming game, and did so mainly after seeing their palaeo and impact colleagues running off with all the goodies of public attention and research funds, once they had joined the party they did so with a relish at least the equal of those other groups.

  66. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Feb 28, 2010 at 6:12 PM | Permalink

    A general observation, directed at nobody in particular.

    The blog process moves much faster than the paper peer review.

    It is asking too much of Learned Societies used to peer review, to make hurried inspections of what begin as minority, controversial submissions and to then pronounce them as the new, valid approach. There has to be time for reflection, for additional investigation and confirmation, for the arguments of those resistant to change…

    In a sense, by asking Learned Societies to act with undue haste, you are asking for a repeat of a path that you have criticised, namely, the initial rapid introduction of the Global Warming concept by storm troopers.

    You have to look on this as a judge, not as a lawyer representing one party or another.

    Be patient, please. The truth will out. Like many, I regret the many who knew that all was not well, but did not act. Many scientists are reluctant to be dogmatic, especially as early adopters of new thoughts, and that is probably good.

    • eddieo
      Posted Feb 28, 2010 at 6:28 PM | Permalink

      Good point Geoff. I suppose they have to act as devil’s advocate on issues that challenge the current “consensus”. However their submission to the inquiry gives me hope that the truth will out eventually.

  67. Posted Mar 2, 2010 at 10:25 AM | Permalink

    I highly doubt that the presence of confidence in the scientific community.
    It seems to me that the freedom of research is severly compromised by economic forces – the system is flawed – under the pretense of justice for all. There is always an element of free market and an element of government control.

  68. Paul
    Posted Mar 3, 2010 at 2:47 PM | Permalink

    The comment posted on the Institute of Physics website:
    as a follow up to their submission is both strange and amusing. They issued the usual type of disclamer: “But the science still holds.” “The conclusions have not changed.” “The overwhelming consensus continues to overwhelm.”

    It’s like saying: “The scientific process is fatally flawed, but its conclusions are still robust.”

    • Tom
      Posted Mar 21, 2010 at 3:00 AM | Permalink

      That comment in full, for those who aren’t interested in clicking the above link. You wouldn’t want to be accused of cherry-picking quotes, now, would you?


      IOP and the Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry into the disclosure of climate data

      5 March 2010
      Institute of Physics News

      The Institute of Physics recently submitted a response to a House of Commons Science and Technology Committee call for evidence in relation to its inquiry into the disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia which has become the focus of media hype.

      We regret that our submission has been seized upon by some individuals to imply that IOP does not support the scientific evidence that the rising concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is contributing to global warming.

      IOP’s position on global warming is clear: the basic science is well established and there is no doubt that climate change is happening and that we should be taking action to address it now.

      More information about IOP’s views

      The evidence to the Committee was focused however on the need to maintain the integrity, openness and unbiased nature of the scientific process. The key points it makes are ones to which we are deeply committed – ie that science should be communicated openly and reviewed in an unbiased way. However much we sympathise with the way in which CRU researchers have been confronted with hostile requests for information, we believe the case for openness remains just as strong.

      Our submission (PDF, 47 KB)

      The preparation of the evidence followed the process we always use for agreeing documents of this kind. We asked the Energy Sub-Group of our Science Board to prepare the evidence, based on their analysis of the material which is already in the public domain. The evidence was then circulated around Science Board, which is a formal committee of the Institute with delegated authority from its trustees to oversee its policy work, and approved.


      It’s not like saying “the scientific process is fatally flawed”. It’s like saying – well, it is saying – that the level of transparency of the scientific process in general needs to be vastly increased in order for the published conclusions to gain credibility (i.e. be verified or rebutted by anyone with the expertise to do so). In that case, the impetus would be on the researchers to ensure that their methodology was sound – not a problem, of course, for any scientist worth his/her salt – and so the truth will out.

      Needless to say, the IOP submission had nothing to say about the conclusions themselves – that wasn’t the point, as mentioned in the above statement. If you want to show that the conclusions are not robust, you need to do that by scientifically robust means. We’ll all be happy to hear it, since your own work will be credible, having been through this same process of transparency and subsequent review by experts and laypeople alike.

  69. Posted Mar 22, 2010 at 7:02 PM | Permalink

    An interesting analysis of the submission:

5 Trackbacks

  1. […] given to the requirements for minimum disclosure in relation to computer modelling. More….. All of it here. Anyone that has spent the time to investigate the climategate e-mails would have all of these […]

  2. […] of the temperature series and proxy reconstructions impossible. The submission was highlighted by ClimateAudit, WattsUpWithThat and BishopHill, where some of the contributors seemed to read it as saying that […]

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  4. […] Institute of Physics has harsh criticism of the UAE motley CRU: The CRU e-mails as published on the Internet provide prima facie evidence of determined and […]

  5. […] Institute of Physics and Royal Society of Chemistry condemned global warming scientists, in large part because activist […]

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