Scientists at East Anglia vindicated by U.K. House of Commons
After months of having allegations of fraudulent behaviour trumpeted in the media (huge spread in the Globe and Mail, and Margaret Wente erroneously claiming the emails were “leaked”, similar triumphalist coverage in the National Post, on all our television networks), you may have missed the nearly invisible coverage of the vindication of the scientists.
I found some coverage in the on-line Globe and Mail and National Post, but could not find it in the hard copy edition. I may have missed it on the national news, but I think not. A search of the CBC website yielded zero results.
We are in the classic phase of media coverage: allegations of wrong doing get big coverage. The subsequent “nothing to look at here, move along,” tends to be buried in the back pages. Judy Sgro and pizza allegations created one such media flurry, Ralph Goodale and income trusts, or going way back, John Fraser and Tuna-gate. The allegations and initial media feeding frenzy are always orders of magnitude more attention-grabbing than the truth. Mark Twain had it right: “a lie makes it ways half way round the world while the truth is lacing up its boots.”
So clearly, this media phenomenon is not restricted to climate science, but just this once, with so much at stake, one would hope that the national and international media would pay more attention to the exoneration.
On December 3, 2009, I blogged:
“Dr. Phil Jones who headed up the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia has just stepped aside during the investigation. My money is on a full exoneration for him.”
On March 31, 2010, the Science and Technology Committee of the UK House of Commons issued its report into the allegations of dishonesty at the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University.
Their key finding:
“The scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact... We have found no reason in this unfortunate episode to challenge the scientific consensus."
Desmogblog (http://www.desmogblog.com/phil-jones-exonerated-british-house-commons) has provided this summary of findings:
“The focus on Professor Jones and CRU has been largely misplaced. On the accusations relating to Professor Jones’s refusal to share raw data and computer codes, the Committee considers that his actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community but that those practices need to change.
On the much cited phrases in the leaked e-mails—“trick” and “hiding the decline”—the Committee considers that they were colloquial terms used in private e-mails and the balance of evidence is that they were not part of a systematic attempt to mislead. Insofar as the Committee was able to consider accusations of dishonesty against CRU, the Committee considers that there is no case to answer.”
Even if the data that CRU used were not publicly available—which they mostly are—or the methods not published—which they have been—its published results would still be credible: the results from CRU agree with those drawn from other international data sets; in other words, the analyses have been repeated and the conclusions have been verified.
On the matter of Dr. Jones’ use of the phrase “trick” in an email referring to Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick graph, the Committee concludes:
"Critics of CRU have suggested that Professor Jones’s use of the word “trick” is evidence that he was part of a conspiracy to hide evidence that did not fit his view that recent global warming is predominately caused by human activity. The balance of evidence patently fails to support this view. It appears to be a colloquialism for a “neat” method of handling data."
On the matter of Dr. Jones’ email including the phrase “hide the decline”, the Committee concludes:
"Critics of CRU have suggested that Professor Jones’s use of the words “hide the decline” is evidence that he was part of a conspiracy to hide evidence that did not fit his view that recent global warming is predominantly caused by human activity. That he has published papers—including a paper in Nature—dealing with this aspect of the science clearly refutes this allegation. In our view, it was shorthand for the practice of discarding data known to be erroneous."
The Parliamentarians also found that 95% of the raw data had always been in the public domain, but criticized the scientists and their university administration for being resistant and hostile to a deluge of FOI requests, which, they correctly saw as part of a propaganda war against their work. As my December 3 blog pointed out, the scientists had figured out they were being targeted and that the FOI requests were not from legitimate scientists but part of an effort to a attack their work and reputations. The U.K House of Commons report is clear that that motivation should not have impacted the access to information made available. On that score, the committee thought the administration of research institutes would need to re-think their approach and ensure full transparency and accountability.
There will be more reports. But the damage done in this well-financed pro-carbon campaign, the theft of emails, the exquisite timing of release right before Copenhagen has done serious damage. The criminals are still at large. We know the scientists are innocent. Can we direct some investigations to unmask the burglars?
You can find the whole report at:
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