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Legal unpleasantries

It looks as though we are about to have some legal drama: Andrew Weaver is going to sue Tim Ball for libel. Ball apparently said that Weaver doesn't know much about climatology.


Metcalfe votes for cover-up

Autonomous Mind notes a comment left at Climate Audit and apparently here too (I seem to have missed it), concerning somebody who asked Stephen Metcalfe MP why he voted against Graham Stringer's amendment to the SciTech Committee report on the Climategate inquiries. Metcalfe's response to detailed questions was to blank and evade.

This is remarkably similar to the approach taken by Phil Willis when I wrote and asked him about his reasoning for his decisions on the original SciTech report into Climategate.

Their refusal to explain their reasoning suggests strongly that they know the truth but, for whatever reason, choose to vote to keep it quiet.

I wonder what is motivating them?



Peer review isn't working

I'm grateful to reader Steve for pointing me to this article by Carl Phillips, an epidemiologist, who is looking at the efficacy of peer review. The whole article is worth a look, but here are some choice quotes:

Do the reviewers ever correct errors in the data or data collection?  They cannot – they never even see the data or learn what the data collection methods were.  Do they correct errors in calculation or choices of statistical analysis?  They cannot.  They never even know what calculations were done or what statistics were considered.  Think about what you read when you see the final published paper.  That is all the reviewers and editors ever see too.  (Note I have always tried to go the extra mile when submitting papers, to make this system work by posting the data somewhere and offering to show someone the details of any analytic method that is not fully explained.  This behavior is rare to the point that I cannot name anyone else, offhand, who does it.)

Does this mean that if you just make up the data, peer review will almost certainly fail to detect the subterfuge?  Correct.

Does this mean that if you cherrypick your statistical analyses to exaggerate your results, that peer review will not be able to detect it?  Correct.

 But it serves just fine for justifying the uprooting of the economy.


Integrity in the internet age

Barry Woods has interviewed James Delingpole about his experiences with the BBC and the results are up at WUWT. James' own take on the affair is at the Spectator.

The big news from the story is the degree to which Delingpole was misled about the programme by the Horizon producer, Emma Jay. This is the extract from the letter she sent to Delingpole:

“The tone of the film is very questioning but with no preconceptions. On the issue of who is to blame no-one will be left unscathed, whether that is science sceptics, the media or most particularly scientists themselves.   Sir Paul is very aware of the culpability of scientists and that will come across in the film. They will not be portrayed as white coated magicians who should be left to work in their ivory towers – their failings will be dealt with in detail.”

Note the words "most particularly the scientists". It's funny, but I don't remember any scientists coming out of the programme so much as ruffled, let alone scathed. In fact, we were presented with the rather unedifying prospect of the President of the Royal Society apparently giving the seal of approval to the practice of hiding uncertainties from policymakers, the great man standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Phil Jones and discussing the wicked sceptics.

It's hard to escape the conclusion that Emma Jay grossly misled Delingpole as to the nature of the programme.

It does occur to me though that in the internet age, this kind of thing, while remaining possible, will be hard to sustain in the long run. Anyone who is ever approached by Ms Jay can immediately put her name into Google and discover that she cannot be taken at her word. In the internet age a TV producer or journalist stands or falls on their integrity.

Emma Jay's looks to be gone, as does that of Rupert Murray, the guy who dissembled his way into Monckton's confidence. I wonder what these question marks over their trustworthiness will do for their career prospects.


Josh 72 redux


Bob's strawman at CoJo

Bob Ward is commenting on the thread below Fiona Fox's piece on the Horizon programme. So far, two gross misrepresentations of sceptic views. First this:

To claim that carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas is to promote a demonstrable falsehood, not just a point of view.

Has anyone claimed that it isn't? Not to my knowledge. And then this:

Both James Delingpole and Christopher Booker have claimed that the Horizon programme was wrong to suggest that man-made emissions of carbon dioxide are more important than emissions from natural sources such as volcanoes. In fact, human activities emit at least 100 times more carbon dioxide each year than volcanoes, as the United States Geological Survey points out here:

Do you see the lovely, seamless elision from "natural sources such as volcanoes" to "volcanoes".



Jones in Lincs

Phil Jones is speaking tomorrow to the Spalding Gentlemen's Society. There is a brief story in the local paper here.

One interesting snippet from the article is this quote by Jones:

I received a lot of nasty emails from November to March/April last year from people threatening to kill me among other things. I passed them on to Norfolk police who said they didn’t fulfil the criteria for death threats.

I'm slightly bemused by this - a death threat that doesn't meet the police's criteria for death threats. I can't help but be reminded of the poor chap who sent a joke tweet about blowing up an airport and received the full penalty of the law.


Could be a long wait

I was just wondering when all those signatories to the Ofcom complaint about the Great Global Warming Swindle were going to launch a similar action now that we know that the BBC has misrepresented the science of global warming in the Horizon programme the other day. As I remember it, the people involved were not political campaigners but were concerned with climatology being correctly relayed to the public.

Can anyone recall who was involved?


Orwell prize

The Hockey Stick Illusion has been entered for the Orwell Prize, Britain's premier literary award for political writing. The (very long!) list of competing titles is here.



After the Paul Nurse programme the other day, eyebrows were raised over one of the claims in the show, namely that emissions from fossil fuel burning dwarfed natural emissions. Here's an excerpt from the transcript:

Bob Bindschadler: We know how much fossil fuel we take out of the ground. We know how much we sell. We know how much we burn. And that is a huge amount of carbon dioxide. It's about seven gigatons per year right now.

Paul Nurse: And is that enough to explain...?

Bob Bindschadler: Natural causes only can produce - yes, there are volcanoes popping off and things like that, and coming out of the ocean, only about one gigaton per year. So there's just no question that human activity is producing a massively large proportion of the carbon dioxide.

Paul Nurse: So seven times more.

Bob Bindschadler: That's right.

Click to read more ...


Fred Pearce on Lisbon

It seems like everyone who attended the Lisbon reconciliation conference wants to have a say on what happened. Fred Pearce's take is here.


Briggs on tree rings

Statistician to the stars, Matt Briggs, casts his gaze over the science of tree-ring temperature reconstructions and wonders whether, in a world of rapidly rising temperatures, tree ring growth could respond in a linear fashion.

Good question.


More commenting

Can someone who is seeing the commenting problems report:

1. The error message

2. When it happens

3. Browser and  version



Commenting problems

Josh emails to say he is getting captchas every time he comments. Is this true for everyone? How much of a problem is it?


Josh 72

More cartoons by Josh here.