Wednesday, November 25th 2009, 2:18 AM EST
Dear all, who are so indignant about ClimateGate,
A question: how to phrase conclusions with not too much emotion?
So far only a single newspaper gave attention in the Netherlands. The KNMI has not given a reaction. Next Monday a journalist will visit me, and ask my opinion as a ‘specialist’ on judgement of allegations of scientific fraud. In the past I dealt with the Lomborg case for his defence. At other occasions I have been the ‘prosecutor’. I learnt to be a bit forgiving. Everybody makes mistakes, also scientists. Now, how to summarize for laymen the situations that has arisen?
With respect to what happened Monckton gave in my opinion a good summary:
“Astonishingly, what appears to have emerged is that (a) the (AGW) scientists have been manipulating the raw temperature figures to show a relentlessly rising global warming trend; (b) they have consistently refused outsiders access to the raw data; (c) the scientists have been trying to avoid freedom of information requests; and (d) they have been discussing ways to prevent papers by dissenting scientists being published in learned journals.”
Major question, is it fraud? What is de definition of scientific fraud? We have a whole list of items which rank violations of Good Scientific Practice, e.g. selective use of data, selective or misquotation, misuse of statistics, plagiarism. That is not by definition ‘fraud’. It may be just stupidity. When judging fraud it is a prerequisite to prove an intend to deceive. That is not always easy. When McIntyre showed selective use of data by Mann, Briffa at all, that was an indication of bad Scientific Practice. But now the climategate e-mails are in my opinion proof of an intend to deceive.
The consequences? It is up to the science administrators who are responsible in institutes, to take decisions and measures. If they do not we may have to raise a public protest. (At Copenhagen?)
But there is more to be considered. What is the scientific quality of all the scientists in the world who accepted uncritically the proclamations on ‘Mann made global warming’? (Note Mann is spelled with double n). And than in particular, of those who were involved in assessment studies for governments as basis for policy making? I am afraid the ‘case’ does not end with condemnation of the major players around HADCRU. Next, what to think of the politicians (and journalists) who accepted uncritically the advise of apparently, mediocre scientists? We have to analyse how this situation could have arisen, for the sake of credibility of science but also science journalism . I am going to focus attention now on this issue. I welcome any contributions.
Arthur Rörsch, The Netherlands
PS Please feel free to distribute this opinion and request for help outside CS.