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I’ve now had a change to review the S&TSC report into Climategate, which is pretty much as expected. Here are a few thoughts.

Was data deleted? – The committee report (12) Sir Edward Acton’s reply to their letter, in which the UEA boss said that “none of the adjusted station data referred to in the emails that have been published has been destroyed”.  Given that it was the raw data that everyone was after, it was disingenuous of Sir Edward to respond in this way and disingenuous of the committee not to report his evasion.

Availability of data – The committee report that CRU was bound by confidentiality agreements (32) and was therefore unable to release its station data. They do not discuss how CRU was able to make the data available to sympathetic scientists like Peter Webster.

Was raw data available elsewhere? (31) Who cares? It is the raw data as used that is required for replication. I think I’m right is saying that Phil Jones’ published list of stations used is not complete.

Computer codes – Here the committee lurches into willful ignorance. They unquestioningly accept Jones’ argument that the details of his adjustments were published in journal articles and continue: “We note that the research passed the peer review process of some highly reputable journals.” The implication seems to be that we should accept the findings without further question. Evidence about the inadequacy of peer review was available to the committee and so their hiding behind it looks wholly culpable.

Replication (47) – The committee almost sound like they are singing from the CRU hymnsheet here. Replication is not necessary because there are other groups reaching the same answer.

Mike’s Nature Trick (66) – The committee’s conclusions are eyewatering:

66. 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. We expect that this is a matter the Scientific Appraisal Panel will address.

I’m struggling to say something polite about this.  By way of an illustration, can you imagine the reaction if a scientist reported in the safety literature that there was a critical flaw in the design of a nuclear power station, but told policymakers that everything was fine? Do the committee really think it’s fine to hide important information from policymakers so long as you report it in the literature? Astonishing.

The independence of the Russell Review (113) “We accept the assurances that Sir Muir Russell has given about the independence of the Independent Climate Change Email Review and we expect him to be scrupulous in preserving its impartiality.” Sir Muir says it’s independent, so it’s independent. Really, our parliamentarians think we are quite stupid, don’t they?

Bishop Hill, 31 March 2010