A more transparent approach

A recent statment from the Royal Society of NZ has drawn out some comment. Entitled Science, Climate Change and Integrity it is by  Professor Keith A Hunter.

Of course some of the local climate change deniers have been busy raking up pseudo-scientific arguments to discredit the article (see Errors in Royal Society of NZ climate change paper and Emanations from Royal Society less than lordly). We have come to expect this. But they have been so busy arrogantly trying to discredit the Royal Society they missed the most important content – the comments on disclosure of information and adopting a more transparent approach.

Keith deplores the:

“attacks on the integrity and professionalism of scientists themselves, usually in circumstances where they are unable to defend themselves, or unwilling to make themselves the target of personal abuse. Some prominent climate scientists have even received threats of violence against them or their families.”

But he does see the positive side of “climategate.” The lessons that can be learned:

“If the intensity of the personal attacks on climate scientists over recent months are to have any positive effect, it will be the adoption of a more transparent approach to the dissemination of information. In this regard, the Royal Society of New Zealand intends to play its part by developing a Code of Practice for Public Dissemination of Information that it hopes will assist the various New Zealand science organisations in improving their practices.

At the same time, of course, it is only fair to expect the critics of the mainstream scientific views on climate change (and other contentious areas of science) to adopt an equally transparent approach with their own information, and with their own use and re-analysis of data entrusted to the public domain. They should also subject their findings to rigorous peer review. Opinion, however forthrightly expressed, will not change the laws of basic science.”

This is heartening. I think most scientists will welcome such a “Code of Practice.” The public dissemination of scientific data has developed on a more or less ad hoc basis. There have been technological issues as well as problems with the whole free market ideology inherent in NZ science over the last 20 years which inhibit freedom of information. After all, our managers were desperately searching for ways to “capture” intellectual property and to make a profit.

The “climategate” inquiries into Michael Mann at Pennysylvian State University and Phil Jones at the Climate Reasearch Unit, University of East Anglia confirmed the importance of this issue, while finding no evidence of scientific misbehaviour (see Spinning exoneration of Dr. Michael Mann Into “Whitewash” and Climate scientist Phil Jones exonerated). I expect those inquiries which have yet to report will also confirm this analysis.

I hope the Royal Society calls for input from NZ scientists during the development of this code. I also hope that the Society will be able to incorporate procedures related the use of public data by crtics. Ways of ensuring that they “adopt an equally transparent approach with their own information, and with their own use and re-analysis of data entrusted to the public domain. They should also subject their findings to rigorous peer review. Opinion, however forthrightly expressed, will not change the laws of basic science.”

Critics avoid transparency themselves

Talking about transparency and responsibility. Ever tried to get data and/or methodology from these critics? I tried to get information from Richard Treadgold, author of the discredited climate change denial report “Are we warmer yet?” Produced by The Climate Science Coalition, the Climate Conversation Group this misrepresented NIWA science, disgracefully attacked NZ scientists and made completely unwarranted scientific claims. My analysis indicates that the data they used was also problematic, either not being the same as the NIWA data or massaged in a strange way.

However, no luck. Despite their demands that NIWA reveal data and methodology they are just not prepared to do so themselves. have a look at the record of my attempts and their constant avoidance in the emails which can be downloaded (deniergate emails).

See also: Thoughts on Hunter’s statement on Science, Climate Change and Integrity


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7 responses to “A more transparent approach

  1. There is little transparency in a smoke screen but you can see the smoke.
    Some of it may be from people heating up.
    Friction ?


  2. Regarding ensuring others are as transparent with the data, something like the GPL could be adopted. “This data/code is provided for anyone to utilise, as long as the results/modifications are likewise placed in the public domain with this same licence.”


  3. Fragment – that could be a good way to do it.


  4. Keith Hunter

    Thank you for your comments. I’m glad that some people can see the point of my article.


  5. Pingback: Officially a fake scandal from science perspective « Open Parachute

  6. Just a reminder that anyone wanting to see Ken Perrott tested on his claims is welcome to read this:


    To date, Ken has not provided a single iota of evidence to back up his claim that he applies the same rigorous “prove it” stance to NIWA.

    Just keeping you honest, Ken 😉


  7. Hi Ian -a bit far from home, aren’t you?

    Yes it would be nice if we could subject Tradgold’s organisation to the same sort of scrutiny that Phil Jones has undergone.

    Of course, we know right from the kick off that Treadgold would score zero on the scientific rating (unlike the CRU who have been shown not to lack scientific integrity – Treadgold doesn’t even know the meaning of the term).

    And we also know he would rank zero on the transparency issues (have a look at the deniergate emails)

    Bring on the time when we can impose some sort of responsibility on people like Treadgold who use (and in his case abuse) publicly owned data.


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