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Why You Can No Longer Trust British Science Journalism

Tomorrow the Association of British Science Writers begin their annual conference in London. Browsing idly to see what they were up to, I chanced upon a podcast of a session of their first conference in 2010, in which they discussed Climategate.

It really is amazing stuff. Here’s a brief summary of what was said

Bob Watson

  • Seems under the impression that Climategate was about CRUTEM
  • Says inquiries reported that there was no perversion of peer review, no perversion of IPCC process, no scientific wrongdoing
  • Uses the d-word

Myles Allen

  • Also seems under the impression that Climategate was about CRUTEM
  • Says von Storch, Christy and Zorita can all get CRU data
  • Says he picks and chooses who to send data to
  • Discusses the “only tiny change to CRUTEM” graph that was discussed at BH a few weeks back

Fiona (? – questioner)

  • Mentions that Watson did 12 interviews after Climategate but couldn’t shed any light on the contents of the emails [readers here know that’s because Watson didn’t read the emails]

Oliver Morton (The Economist)

  • Understands that Climategate involved tree rings
  • Uses d-word
  • Notes that Watson has got the inquiry findings wrong
  • Says Climategate doesn’t really matter

James Randerson (Guardian)

  • Trots out the “out of context” line
  • Says Steve McIntyre has genuine contribution to make
  • Says CG reveals uncomfortable things about peer review

Tom Clark (Channel Four)

  • Says Pearce should have checked his facts.
  • Clark phoned Gavin Schmidt and got confirmation that CRUTEM in line with GISS
  • Phoned Briffa and found that he was editor not peer reviewer [not sure which incident this refers to]
  • Clark tried to ignore Climategate for 2 months
  • Only started to get involved when ICO investigation began
  • Watson on Channel Four several times unopposed
  • Unfair of scientists to respond to all requests for data
  • Scientists need to engage with citizen scientists

Alok Jhan (Guardian – questioner)

  • Said Fred Pearce articles on Climategate should not have been done
  • Spent hours trying to persuade editors not to look at Climategate

Myles Allen (again)

  • Pearce should have showed the “only tiny change to CRUTEM” graph
  • Scientists receiving “entrapment” emails for data

Clive Cookson (FT)

  • Fiona Harvey accused of being biased in favour of greens by her editor
  • Other scientists saying better data needed, less reliance on models
  • Lack of funding for data collection work is a scandal