I thought I'd set down my thoughts on one aspect of Eric Wolff's email to Neil Clark - namely the millennial temperature reconstructions. Eric has adopted what I called the "NAS defence" when I discussed it in the Hockey Stick Illusion. This is the idea that, whatever the failings of the Hockey Stick itself, a series of other temperature reconstructions have reached broadly the same conclusions - Mann may have used in appropriate data and a biased methodology but he still reached the correct conclusions.
Eric Wolff has sportingly responded to Neil Craig's emailed list of questions and Neil has equally sportingly acknowledged that he could have worded things more delicately. So we've had a hiccup, but everyone is being grown-up about it and making an effort to engage constructively.
Eric's response is here at Neil's site. I hope everyone can keep a lid on things over there.
This was sent in February 2010 when the furore over Climategate was still at its peak and before the inquiries got under way. It consists of a summary of the science of global warming sent to Beddington by Julia Slingo, the chief scientist at the Met Office. Slingo, you may remember, later appeared at the SciTech committee hearings alongside Beddington.
There is an interesting live chat at Sciencemag with Laura Manuelidis, a scientist who opposes the prion theory of BSE. Her story has a familiar ring:
Unfortunately, self-interest makes a few "expert" powerful scientists less than open to those who disagree with them. In TSEs, they populate most of the grant committees and are also the same people who are on the the editorial boards of most journals. Anonymous "peer" review allows people with a clear conflict of interest to make false statements. Without transparency they can never be held accountable. Their success is a poor ethical model for young scientists. And it also limits financial support for more creative approaches to a problem
Some discussion of the Hockey Stick and the Hockey Stick Illusion at the website of scientist Lee Klinger, a former NCAR researcher. Klinger has queried the presentation of Mann's graph at a conference about the Gaia hypothesis without mention of the controversy.
(H/T Jane Coles in Unthreaded)
Maurice Frankel, the head of the Campaign for Freedom of Information has a letter in the Guardian repeating many of the points I made yesterday about the strange claims Paul Nurse made in his speech on freedom of information.
The president of the Royal Society calls for changes to freedom of information laws to prevent them being misused (Data laws 'misused' in climate change row, 26 May). However, existing safeguards address many of his concerns. Deliberate attempts to "intimidate" scientists, if that is what they are, can be refused under the Freedom of Information Act's safeguards against vexatious requests. Unreasonable requests for all pre-publication drafts of scientific papers can be refused under an exemption for information due for future publication. Explanations of why changes to successive drafts were made do not have to be provided unless they exist in writing. Multiple related requests from different people, if they are co-ordinated, can be refused if the combined cost of answering exceeds the act's cost limit.
Times Higher Education understands that Imperial College London previously paid an annual subscription of about £3,000 to the lobby group, which was widely credited with helping to secure a ring-fenced, flat-cash research budget in last October's Comprehensive Spending Review.
Updated on May 26, 2011 by Bishop Hill
The Guardian has one of those articles with no comments thread, usually a sure sign that they have written something...disputable. The subject is an interview they have done with Sir Paul Nurse about FOI and scientific research. You can probably guess the contents.
Freedom of information laws are being misused to harass scientists and should be re-examined by the government, according to the president of the Royal Society.