After publishing my post on the CRU and S&TC yesterday, I looked into the IoP’s evidence submission in a bit more detail and was quite surprised. Here is an open letter to the IoP about that evidence:
Dear Institute of Physics
As a member of the IoP I am very concerned about the recent memorandum submitted by the IoP to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.
In my view, it is unfair to criticise the CRU on the basis that they did not comply with data sharing standards that, at present, don’t exist. There is clearly a need for rules regarding openness in relation to data and methods but it is foolish to retrospectively admonish people for not following them! Do the journals currently published by the IoP employ the data policies suggested in your statement?
There also seems to be some misunderstanding in the statement of the particular issues relating to the data that the CRU use in their research and how some of the issues discussed in the private and incomplete email records were resolved in the peer reviewed literature and other open arenas. In particular, point 5 of your evidence is incorrect and irresponsible given that it casts unwarranted doubt over the findings of the IPCC.
Furthermore, your statement gives no recognition to the efforts of the scientists in question to engage with their critics before they were subjected to unfounded attacks on their work and integrity and orchestrated FoI request campaigns.
Finally, I am confused as to why the Energy group was tasked with preparing the statement and not the Environmental Physics group, who would have been more aware of the particular issues in this case.
I realise that a small clarification has been issued but if the IoP continues to stand by this statement then I will have no other option but to reconsider my membership of your organisation.
Andy Russell MInstP
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CORRECTION: The statement was written by the “Energy Sub-group of the IoP’s Science Board” not the “IoP’s Energy Group” as I previously thought. Either way, the IoP has still not been open about who wrote the statement.
UPDATE 5/3/2010: In response to my letter I was sent an email from the IoP standing by the submission and an anonymous statement from a member of the Science Board about the process of writing the evidence submission. Here is that statement:
“The IOP contribution has been widely understood and welcomed – not universally, apparently, but then there is a debate going on. Scientists are sometimes criticised for not engaging, and I hope we can look forward to hearing from professional bodies representing other branches of science.
“The Institute should feel equally relaxed about the process by which it generated what is, anyway, a statement of the obvious. The standard process for policy submissions by IOP – it makes dozens per year – was followed. Typically a call for evidence is spotted or received by IOP HQ. Usually the timescale is tight. A first draft is put together at Portland Place – working scientists just don’t have time to do this. The draft is then emailed round to all members of IOP advisory bodies that might want to contribute, which is where working scientists come in. Science Board is one of several such bodies. When we do respond – my personal strike rate is definitely under 50 per cent – we copy round our responses, so other committee members get multiple opportunities to comment if they wish to. During this phase people can and do say “Sorry, I disagree”. Remember that there is a tight deadline, and by the time it is reached, everyone who seriously wants to comment will have done so. Collective responsibility then kicks in, which is why I am not revealing my identity.”
UPDATE 6/3/2010: apparently not realising that it kind of proves my point about the sort of behaviour Phil Jones has had to deal with for years, I got an email today in response to my perfectly reasonable assessment of the IoP’s evidence submission:
For a physicist you are a bit of a cretin.
However your views on the release of scientific data for verification are positively neolithic.
What kind of blind, bigoted AGW Alarmist tosser are you?
Pull your head out of your arse and smell the coffee!
Have a nice day!