Climatic Research Unit scientists cleared (again)

Another day, another exoneration for climate scientists. Here’s the Guardian’s headline on the findings of the inquiry panel, which was led by Lord Oxburgh, the former chair of the House of Lords science and technology select committee:

Scientists cleared of malpractice in UEA’s hacked emails inquiry

Researchers ‘dedicated if slightly disorganised’, but basic science was fair, finds inquiry commissioned by university

Scientists who are “slightly disorganised”? Off with their heads! (see “Sen. Inhofe inquisition seeking ways to criminalize and prosecute 17 leading climate scientists”)

Last month, the House of Commons exonerated Phil Jones: Based on their inquiry and evidence, “the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact. We have found no reason … to challenge the scientific consensus … that ‘global warming is happening [and] that it is induced by human activity’.”

This is a busy day for me, so I’ll just repost BigCityLib on the latest exoneration:

Story about Lord Oxburgh’s inquiry into CRU practices here. Some excerpts:

The scientists at the centre of the row over the hacked climate emails have been cleared of any deliberate malpractice by the second of three inquiries into their conduct….

The report concluded: “We saw no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit and had it been there we believe that it is likely that we would have detected it. Rather we found a small group of dedicated if slightly disorganised researchers who were ill-prepared for being the focus of public attention. As with many small research groups their internal procedures were rather informal.”… The panel was not tasked specifically with looking at the way CRU handled access to its data and Freedom of Information requests from members of the public but it commented that there were “a host of important unresolved questions” arising from the application of FoI to academic research. “We agree with the CRU view that the authority for releasing unpublished raw data to third parties should stay with those who collected it,” the report said. It did criticised the government’s policy of charging for access to data. “This is unfortunate and seems inconsistent with policies of open access to data promoted elsewhere in government.”So, this puts Oxburgh’s panel at odds with the Parliamentary Inquiry, which seems to want the data handed out willy-nilly. Furthermore, a number of climate scientists have noted and expanded upon the issue raised in this last couple of (bolded) sentences, including James Annan:

Let me introduce you to the NERC policy on Intellectual Property. Short version: “Who owns the intellectual property? We do.” The UK Ministry of Defence (who run UK Met Office and therefore the Hadley Centre) is orders of magnitude worse in its defensive and bean-counting approach to the supply of, well, just about anything that they have and anyone else wants. The bottom line is (or certainly was, when I worked there) that NERC employees are under pressure to sell anything that can be sold. And if someone asks for something, that means it must surely be worth something, right? Of course this is an attitude that the scientists — who know that they can’t really get any significant price for their work — have always implacably opposed, but we don’t really count for much when the politicians are demanding budget cuts and percentage returns on investment.

There were some complaints about CRU’s statistical practices:

The panel did raise doubts about the statistical input into scientific papers authored by researchers at CRU. “We cannot help remarking that it is very surprising that research in an area that depends so heavily on statistical methods has not been carried out in close collaboration with professional statisticians,” it concluded.

…which the University of East Anglia responds to as follows:

The Report points out where things might have been done better. One is to engage more with professional statisticians in the analysis of data. Another, related, point is that more efficacious statistical techniques might have been employed in some instances (although it was pointed out that different methods may not have produced different results). Specialists in many areas of research acquire and develop the statistical skills pertinent to their own particular data analysis requirements. However, we do see the sense in engaging more fully with the wider statistics community to ensure that the most effective and up-to-date statistical techniques are adopted and will now consider further how best to achieve this.But otherwise, a clean bill of health…. [T]he usual suspects … are, at this very moment (taking into account the Penn State investigation of Mann), batting 0-for-3.

The entire report can be read here.

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