Friday, May 27, 2011

Royal Society: those beastly Deniers are asking for us to show our work

Quick, break out the smelling salts:

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.

Nobel laureate Sir Paul Nurse told the Guardian that some climate scientists were being targeted by organised campaigns of requests for data and other research materials, aimed at intimidating them and slowing down research. He said the behaviour was turning freedom of information laws into a way to intimidate some scientists.
Those brutes!  I mean, who would have the effrontery of asking a Scientist for his data?  Especially in Climate Science, where it is well known to all Right Thinking People® that the data is classified Top Secret.  Need to know and all that.  But it gets worse:

Myles Allen, a climate scientist at the University of Oxford, said he has been involved in many long-running exchanges with people making freedom of information requests for his data. "In the case that went on the longest, I answered all the guy's questions. I spent half a day writing a long email explaining the answers to all his questions, but it wasn't really that which he was after: he was after some procedural questions about IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change]. He wanted some evidence that an IPCC statement had been changed – it wasn't about science at all; it was about procedure."
The bounders.  I mean, who would ever suspect that the IPCC reports would be filled with lousy science and used for political ends.  Really, it's more than a Scientist can bear.

It's all here, including references to the whitewash investigations of the "Hide the decline" crew that called no skeptical witnesses, and put the obligatory "of course, we should all strive for more transparency" blather in paragraph sixteen.  Somehow, it never gets to the point that if the scientists didn't hide their data, they wouldn't have to answer FOI requests from people looking for their data.  The article hilariously stumbles across this, but seems not to notice:
Bob Ward of the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics said the intention of many of those making freedom of information requests was to trawl through scientists' work with the intention of trying to find problems and errors.
Gee, ya think?  Or do these "scientists" not have to worry about pesky little trivialities like getting things right?  Criminey, and Nobel Laureate Sir Paul Nurse wonders why the public doesn't trust the scientific establishment or the press any more?  I guess you don't need to be all that smart to win a Nobel, then.

It's drivel of a quite shockingly low caliber.  Sir Paul, I'd like a higher caliber drivel, please.


Jose said...


I'm asked once or twice a month to "to trawl through scientists' work with the intention of trying to find problems and errors."

The request comes from associate editors at various academic journals and is called "peer review."

Once papers are through the review process, most journals in my field require that authors make data available to the profession as a condition of publication. (Special cases, like data collected with a commercial partner, may get a waiver of this request, but age generally frowned upon.)

Do climatologists expect people to trust them when they show less openness than business researchers?


Midwest Chick said...

The audacity of the proles! The sheer effrontery it takes bog down the brilliance of the scientific mind by asking for facts.

Don't we know that our elitist overlords are above such things as being able to prove a hypothesis or actually being able to replicate results in a separate and independent model without cherry-picking data to adhere to the foregone conclusion necessary to receive further grant dollars?

Anonymous said...

In my 'Authority' poster I use these phrases to sum up the FOIA situation:

• Data deletion
righteously protects
selfless heroes.

• FOIA requests are harassment
by “data terrorists.”

I present The Quick Glance Guide to Global Warming:

Anonymous said...

Ah, here are live links:

I present The Quick Glance Guide to Global Warming:

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