Missing the Point, Perhaps on Purpose

Anthony Watts has a statement from the American Meteorological Society about the Hadley CRU emails.  The basic message is “nothing to see here, move along:”

For climate change research, the body of research in the literature is very large and the dependence on any one set of research results to the comprehensive understanding of the climate system is very, very small. Even if some of the charges of improper behavior in this particular case turn out to be true — which is not yet clearly the case — the impact on the science of climate change would be very limited.

I sent this letter to their executive director:

I really believe your group’s statement is missing the point.  Your group’s position seems to be that this episode can be safely ignored as it taints only a small volume of a large mass of research.  But a large body of research is not useful if that body systematically excludes any work critical of the orthodoxy.  In fact, you should re-reread this paragraph from your own letter:

The beauty of science is that it depends on independent verification and replication as part of the process of confirming research results.  This process, which is tied intrinsically to the procedures leading to publication of research results in the peer-reviewed literature, allows the scientific community to confirm some results while rejecting others.

The Hadley emails describe a large conspiracy to corrupt exactly this process.  We see scientists conspiring to keep secret results and working papers that would have allowed their worked to be checked, verified, and replicated.  We see researchers working to prevent publication of any research that might falsify their work.

Sure, we see a few examples of researchers fudging their work.  But the issue is not necessarily the specific cases of fudging — in fact, I don’t care if its sloppiness or chicanery — from a science standpoint it almost doesn’t matter.  The problem here is the creation of a system and a culture where such fudging and sloppiness can occur without any of the independent scrutiny you seem to laud as part of the scientific process.  How much more exists?  We’ll never know, until organizations like yours stop enabling this climate Omerta and start demanding true scientific openness.

  • Fred from Canuckistan . . .

    someone the “American Meteorological Society” needs some serious ethics training in ethics.

    Anyone or any group that says a little bit of fraud is ok is just plain wrong.

    Maybe Congress needs to look into the AMS operations.

    After all, where there is ethics smoke, there is likely to be fraud fire.

  • hunter

    I think their position sums up the state of modern climate science perfectly:
    A little bit of unethical behavior, in the cause of the popular consensus, is OK.