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Paul Dennis on the trick

Someone called Paul Dennis is commenting on the Simon Singh thread. I assume this is the paleoclimatologist of that name who works at UEA.

He agrees with my take on the trick to hide the decline.


Judy is climatologist of the year

Judith Curry has been acclaimed as climatologist of the year at the post-normal science conference in Lisbon. Her prize - a Josh t-shirt!


Met Office in big trouble

A blogger called Katabasis turns out to be the first person to get his hands on the Met Office's correspondence with the Cabinet Office - this was where the Met Office is alleged to have warned the government of a cold winter ahead.

As readers here learned the other day, this alleged warning was hard to construe as, well, a warning, but the correspondence that Katabasis has obtained shows that the situation is actually even worse. The line agreed between the Met Office and the Cabinet Office was that there was nothing clear in the forecast:

Someone at the Cabinet Office wrote to the Met Office to tell them what the official position would be: "The Met Office seasonal outlook for the period November to January is showing no clear signals for the winter". The Met Office writes back - "That is fine." - also note the first mail sent my the Met Office, these are their "initial thoughts" (!)

It seems clear that the public were lied to over this issue. But this is, of course, the public sector, so expect nobody to be responsible, especially not Mr Napier, the environmentalist who is in charge at the Met Office, nor Mr Hirst the chief executive, and glad receipient of a 25% pay rise last year.


More Horizon fallout

Updated on Jan 29, 2011 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Updated on Jan 31, 2011 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

There is more fallout from the Horizon programme, some of which is more in the realm of tittle tattle than science and some of which isn't.

The tittle-tattle first. The famous pop-sci author, Simon Singh and the blogger/lawyer/libel reform guru, David Allen Green are trying to pressure James Delingpole into doing another interview, in which Singh gets to bring along a climate scientist to support him. This strikes me as a tad ungentlemanly of Mr Singh. What would be interesting is if Singh and Dellers both got to bring their chosen expert along - given that the Horizon programme majored on Climategate, we could have Phil Jones and Steve McIntyre to discuss the trick to hide the decline, for example.

Click to read more ...


Best commentary on Nurse

Ben Pile has just posted up what may be the most intelligent commentary to date on Paul Nurse's Horizon programme. There is some pretty bilious stuff on this programme doing the rounds of the web, and Twitter has to be seen to be believed. This is the antidote. It makes Nurse's efforts look rather shallow.


Commenting difficulties

A couple of people have said they have been having slowness and/or errors. This is a problem with Squarespace, but they seem to be on the case.


Funding the blog

As the blog grows - and we're up 25% in the last two or three months - it is occupying an increasing proportion of my time. With trying to earn a living in a very hard marketplace, supervising small children, as well as writing another book, I am stretched very thin, and I'm in danger of taking my eye off the ball.

The tip box is very helpful and readers have been very generous (thanks everyone!), but I am wondering about possibilities to make the blog pay for itself in a more reliable way.

There's advertising of course, although I like having an ad-free site, and I'm not sure how much it would actually raise.

Another idea I've wondered about is a "subscriber's club", where you make regular payments and in return get the next book serialised ahead of full publication (plus, say, a limited-edition signed hardback when it does finally appear). Maybe also access to bits of information that I don't want to put out as a full blog post for one reason or another.

Lastly I could try standing outside Exxon's offices and wait for the cheque to be dropped into my hand.

Thoughts on any of these would be welcome, particularly the subscriber's club idea. How much, if anything, might people pay?

In the meantime I've put up the tip box again. 


Bishop Hill for mobile devices

I want to get a handle on how many people are using the Bishop Hill for mobile devices thingy at

Mofuse are moving to a new platform and I'll need to recontruct my site on the new one. Not sure how much of a priority this is though. If you are using the Mofuse version of the site, can you let me know.


Scepticism on the up

It's not just UKIP that's on the up, but global warming scepticism too. According to the Daily Mail, the number of people unconvinced by Messrs Pachauri, Mann and Jones has doubled.

The number of climate change sceptics has almost doubled in four years, official research showed yesterday.

A quarter of Britons are unconvinced that the world is warming following successive freezing winters and a series of scandals over the credibility of climate science.


UKIP on the rise

The UK's only sceptic political party of any note is apparently shooting up the political charts, and is now polling at levels it has never reached in the past. According to Ed West, the party is even beating the LibDems in some age brackets.

With the Tories on the Science and Technology Committee voting for whitewash rather than the truth, I would expect plenty more people to abandon the Tories for Farage's anti-establishment party.


SciTech committee to investigate peer review

This could be interesting:

The Committee has today launched an inquiry into peer review. The committee invites evidence on the operation and effectiveness of the peer review process used to examine and validate scientific results and papers prior to publication.

The Committee welcomes submissions on all aspect of the process and among the issues it is likely to examine are the following:

  1. the strengths and weaknesses of peer review as a quality control mechanism for scientists, publishers and the public;
  2. measures to strengthen peer review;
  3. the value and use of peer reviewed science on advancing and testing scientific knowledge;
  4. the value and use of peer reviewed science in informing public debate;
  5. the extent to which peer review varies between scientific disciplines and between countries across the world;
  6. the processes by which reviewers with the requisite skills and knowledge are identified,  in particular as the volume of multi-disciplinary research increases;
  7. the impact of IT and greater use of online resources on the peer review process; and
  8. possible alternatives to peer review.

The Committee welcomes submissions from scientists whose material has been peer reviewed, those who commission peer reviews and those who carry out peer review.

The Committee invites all written submissions on any of these issues by Thursday 10 March 2011.


Josh 71

More cartoons by Josh here.


The Haldane principle and global warming

A scientist called Adam Leadbetter has written a thoughtful piece on the Paul Nurse programme. He is writing from a mainstream standpoint and therefore gets some of the Climategate facts wrong, but his conclusions about data openness are worth a look.

In passing he makes reference to the political control of scientific funding:


Science journalism needs to be more responsible

The Daily Express, The Daily Mail and The Guardian were shown by Paul Nurse to have reported the outcomes of the investigation into Climategate in completely different ways. Yes, newspapers have different editorial lines and I will choose to read one newspaper based on how it fits with my political standpoint and you may choose to read another. Fine. It is also true that scientific funding bodies may choose which projects are deserving of their money based on a political agenda set at a national governmental level. Despite that, however, the results of a scientific programme should be apolitical and as such deserve to be disseminated, at what ever level of detail, in an apolitical, factual way and not spun out of all recognition to the tone a newspaper editor finds most appealing.

The idea that politicians direct scientific funding is, I think, at least mainly incorrect. There is a long-standing convention - the Haldance principle - that scientific funding is directed by scientists, or perhaps more accurately by scientific administrators. So while we might be concerned about scientific funding being directed to support the ambitions of politicians, I'm not sure that things are any better with the science bureaucracy running the show. The bureaucrats, like the politicians have little or no incentive to direct funding towards projects that will further the interests of the public. Their economic incentive is simply to get more funding.

We can see the results of these perverse incentives in the pages of New Scientist every week.



Josh 70


A Russell bug

John Graham-Cumming emails to point me to his latest blog post, in which he outlines a small bug in the code used by the Muir Russell panel in their (kinda, sorta) replication of the CRU temperature series. This was spotted by someone called David Jones, who I think is something to do with Nick Barnes' Clear Climate Code project. The problem appears to be that the Russell version of the code doesn't weight cells by area.

The impact doesn't seem to be enormous.

The warming trend shape doesn't change, but the temperature anomaly does alter. In recent years the unweighed average is greater than the weighted. For example, grabbing 1998 to 2008 at random the differences ranges between 0.02C and 0.07C with an average of 0.06C. So the upshot of the ICCER bug is that it makes things seem slightly warming.

The story of McIntyre's correspondence with the university is remarkable for its similarity to the emails between Palmer and Eschenbach, with the university simply pointing the Canadian to the same pair of data repositories. Knowing what had happened to Eschenbach, McIntyre responded by filing a complaint with \nature\, the journal in which Jones had published the paper back in 1990, and shorly afterwards Jones relented and released the list. [data?]