tisdag 2 mars 2010

Standard (Mal) Practice of Science

In the UK MPs Science and Technology Commitee Inquiry into Climategate the key scientist Phil Jones claimed that it was "standard practice" to not release data and computer models so other scientists could check and challenge research. See a summary of the British reaction to the  tragi-comics here. Then compare with the stunning NYT message: Peers Say IPCC Conclusions Remain Sound! Peers.

What Jones says may be true: The standard practice of science may not be what it is supposed to be, as expressed by the Institute of Physics in its submission to the inquiry, namely:
  • The principle that scientists should be willing to expose their results to independent testing and replication by others, which requires the open exchange of data, procedures and materials, is vital.
The "standard practice" seems to be that computer codes and data can be kept as secret belongings to scientists, and that the peer-review process is closed to inspection and biased (corrupted)

Much of science is of little interest to society, politics and people, and  it does not matter much exactly what standards are used in the internal fights between different cohorts of scientists. 

But some science is of critical importance, and then the standards matter. Climate science is
an example where highest standards are required, at least if it as now is supposed to determine global politics. 

A good thing with Climategate is that it exposes scientific malpractice, and can lead to a renaissance of the holy principle of (nonclassified) science: data, codes and methods open to scrutiny by anybody. 

We are still waiting for the Royal Swedish Academy to express its support of this principle, in the foot-steps of the Institute of Physics and the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Royal Society of Statistics, in a withdrawal of its statement of support of the "standard practice" of IPCC and thereby indirectly of the "standard practice" of Phil Jones. When will it come?

In science, credibility is the most important asset of any scientist or scientific organization. 
To hand out Nobel Prizes requires scientific credibility. 

A recent poll gives the credibility of IPCC a 81% F, the worst grade. What would a poll for the Academy give? When will Swedish MPs inquire Swedish climate scientists? Compare Climategate hits Westminster: MPs spring a surprise:
  • MP Graham Stringer had done his homework, and through patience and dogged persistence, he began to swing the chairman behind him. Mirroring the collapse in public sympathy for climate science since the scandal broke, the stalwarts so vocal at 3pm were silent by the close.
It took 2 hours to go from alarmism to scepticism...

The Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Committee giving the 2007 Prize to Gore/Pachauri is now 
in trouble as demands of withdrawing the Prize are being made.

Which Committees, Academies and Societies will sink together with Jones/Gore/Pachauri? So far the Royal Society has said nothing indicating any departure from the sinking ship, nor has the Royal Academy...

But the Royal Society was shaking already on January 23: Royal Society capitulates on climate debate in worst week for global warmers since Climategate and thus can be expected to give in and follow the Royal Societies of Chemistry and Statistics and Institute of Physics any moment...and then the Royal Academy will have to follow as well...Eller hur Gunnar Öquist?

Now NYT! reports: 
  • Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences, the most prestigious scientific body in the United States, said that there was a danger that the distrust of climate science could mushroom into doubts about scientific inquiry more broadly. He said that scientists must do a better job of policing themselves and trying to be heard over the loudest voices on cable news, talk radio and the Internet.
This also applies to the Royal Academy in particular. Let's hear!  

According to NYT at least Pachauri speaks out in an e-mail message:
  • Scientists must continually earn the public’s trust or we risk descending into a new Dark Age where ideology trumps reason.

PS2 To get some perspective take a look at historic reports on climate change.

2 kommentarer:

  1. Jag antar att Vetenskapsakademin är en rätt sluten församling. På vilket sätt kan man finna dess arbetsformer och hitta kanaler för påverkan?

  2. Jo, den är sluten, och det är ju emot öppenhetsprincipen vi talar om.