Seen elsewhere
Twitter
Support

 

Buy

Click images for more details

Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing
Links

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« IPCC declares itself above the law | Main | Hollywood scientists »
Tuesday
Dec132011

Dark Matter: What's science got to hide?  

Billed as the "Data debate: Is transparency bad for science?" the event was held at Imperial College and the speakers were Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, George Monbiot, Guardian columnist , Baroness Onora O’Neill and David Colquhoun, UCL. Jo Glanville, Editor of Index on Censorship, chaired the debate.

Josh and Richard Drake were in the gathered throng.

Only it was more a panel of agreement - data should be freely available and science should be transparent… well, yeah duh!

But an interesting fight developed between Onora O’Neill and George Monbiot. Onora questioned whether everyone was competent to see scientific data, seeming to introduce the idea that maybe data should be tailored to the competency of the receiver. This rightly outraged George who asked Onora whether she meant that data should only be available to someone deemed 'competent'. Onora denied that was what she said but explained herself by repeating the same idea. Not a good tactic. She might not have been saying what we thought she said but sadly we never found out what she actually meant. Maybe we can tease it out on a second listen.

In the discussion time Richard Drake read out the Phil Jones email about how much time the retired bloggers have to digest and dissect data - bloggers who, we now know, are a great deal more competent than the scientists who hold the data.

Sadly the debate was short - with more time we might have got more depth. Here is what should have been emphasised.

Open and transparent science should involve three things:

1. raw data
2. the code that processes it
3. the resultant data, including metadata, as used in published papers.

As David Colquhoun, the only real scientist there and brilliant throughout, said "Give them everything!"

Click the image for a slightly larger version.

 

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    [...]- Bishop Hill blog - Dark Matter: What's science got to hide? [...]

Reader Comments (62)

This is the missing blockquote:
"a strange thing Monbiot did say: that Steve McIntyre was only interested in the numbers, as a stats geek, and didn't have the slightest interest in climate. Steve confirmed this in person to George, we were led to believe."
The previous post is my comment on it!

Dec 14, 2011 at 5:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterSkeptical Chymist

Skeptical Chymist:

To what extent a (very) intelligent commentator can stay sitting on the fence is a matter for speculation- my take would be that SMc would say he now erects "Chinese Walls" in his mind!

Indeed. Great comment, pity about the blockquotes! I'm happy with either Pearce's characterisation of Steve, especially with Simon Hopkinson's spin on it, or Monbiot's, with yours. All I know is that Chinese Walls are better than Chinese Whispers, which is what the guy has suffered from far too much up till now. He should have been heard in person by every single one of the Climategate inquiries and I would be happy to say this to Geoffrey Boulton's face. (I noticed him looking at me quizzically at the Royal Society do in June but decided that wasn't the time to make his acquaintance.)

I have my own tentative theory about Monbiot's characterisation of Steve, however, and that has to do with honour and shame. For Monbiot it is a dishonourable thing to be interested in climate and not subscribe to the political programme that goes with it, yet he realises that McIntyre is an honourable man, not least because McIntyre starts with very much his own soft-left political assumptions.

But there is also shame. Underneath, and especially since Climategate, Monbiot has known that all is not well with climate science and that Steve has been treated very badly. I believe the way he speaks of Steve now is as much as anything a plea for clemency. And knowing Steve, he will probably receive it.

Dec 14, 2011 at 6:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

" . . . philosophers discussing the Trolley Problem do not believe that people should be killed on railway tracks!"

Yes, we do.

But we're not proud of it.

Dec 15, 2011 at 5:50 AM | Unregistered Commenterbobby b

These retired bloggers are merely doing for no financial reward, what employed scientists get a tax-funded salary for. So what's the beef exactly?

Dec 15, 2011 at 6:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterPunksta

These thugs should be ashamed of themselves. My taxes go towards their obviously overinflated salaries so WE are entitled to see their work because it belongs to US.

Dec 15, 2011 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

That fact that there was a panel debating transparency for an unelected political organization full of "rule the world Blackbeards{ working on disparate Govt dimes is, in itself, a parody of the sad state of affairs. Reminds me of the days when the bible was not printed, but only read by the preists. Somebody needs to nail a list of demands on their door, or perhaps on them.

Dec 15, 2011 at 1:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Richard Drake:

All I know is that Chinese Walls are better than Chinese Whispers, which is what the guy has suffered from far too much up till now. He should have been heard in person by every single one of the Climategate inquiries ...

I entirely agree, but I can't help feeling (and this provoked my inverted post) that the Great and the Good would have taken more notice if, from the start, people had spoken of Steve Mc as a (very) Professional Statistician instead of both sides tacitly accepting the characterization of him as an Amateur Climatologist, each for their different reasons.

Dec 15, 2011 at 2:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterSkeptical Chymist

Skeptical Chymist: Sorry only to have spotted this just now. Among other things I've been spending time with some friends with whom I did Maths at Cambridge, where there was unanimity that AGW science is bollocks (a technical term among old Cantab men).

I can't help feeling ... that the Great and the Good would have taken more notice if, from the start, people had spoken of Steve Mc as a (very) Professional Statistician instead of both sides tacitly accepting the characterization of him as an Amateur Climatologist, each for their different reasons.

Interesting in two ways. First, the debate is framed too often by the side with all the institutional and PR fire power. How much have 'McIntyre and his minions', as Mann likes to describe us, acquiesced in this particular aspect? Good question. There is the issue with Steve not having gone the academic credentials route since his degree in Maths and post-graduate stint in Oxford I suppose.

Second, as you say, the impact of not characterising him, from the start, as a VPS. That's a profound point in its own right, as well as shedding further light on Monbiot's statement in the debate.

Still, I come back to the fact that, precisely because of Steve's years in the messy business of mining and exploration, he is very aware of the limitations of statistics if you don't understand the grimy details of the real world features numbers claim to represent, from shear zones to bristlecones. He is not uninterested in climate - he's much too on top of the subject for that.

Dec 16, 2011 at 2:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Just watched this and am appalled at the all too familiar attitude of the Baroness.

She deliberately creates a problem where there is none. It is the thought processes of the natural bureaucrat: "Ordinary people cannot be trusted to think for themselves. If they do, they will realise we are useless."

Dec 17, 2011 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-record

If your scientific paper does not contain sufficient detail for someone else to re-create what you did, and reproduce your results, it is not science that you are practicing. Once you allow unsubstantiated results to enter the debate you are into the 'take my word for it' realm of pseudo-science. This principle is so important to science it became central to the establishment of the Royal Society. As its website states:

'The Royal Society's motto 'Nullius in verba' roughly translates as 'take nobody's word for it'. It is an expression of the determination of Fellows to withstand the domination of authority and to verify all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment.'

Reading that makes you realise how far short of the founding members' standards the current leadership of the RS falls. Sadly, this same cancer is eating away at many other scientific institutions.

Dec 18, 2011 at 2:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

Dark matter is the same as Higgs boson itself.
The high velocity values of the particles cause fluctuation on bend of space-time,
this action is Dark energy itself.

Jan 7, 2012 at 4:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterDobai

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>