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The Muir Russell Report is out. Read here in PDF. Unfortunately Russell is another apologist who doesn’t ask relevant questions of both sides, only one side. Even BBC now thinks the CRU wears a halo:
Compare that to:
CRU’s Dr. Phil Jones’s response of 21/02/2005 to Warwick Hughes’s request for Jones’s raw climate data:
“Even if WMO agrees, I will still not pass on the data. We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.“
Here’s some comments around the web, link to the report follows:
I guess the main question coming out of the Muir Russell report is when is he going to be appointed to the House of Lords and his choice of appelation. Lord Muir of Holyrood?
They adopted a unique inquiry process in which they interviewed only one side – CRU. As a result, the report is heavily weighted towards CRU apologia – a not unexpected result given that the writing team came from Geoffrey Boulton’s Royal Society of Edinburgh.
The issue here is whether Wahl and Briffa violated IPCC rules. Asking Overpeck about this is not very helpful since Overpeck is hardly impartial. Muir Russell had to examine what Wahl and Briffa actually did and then examine the conduct against actual IPCC rules, not after-the-fact opinions by parties to the conduct.
The findings of the Fred Pearce Inquiry on this point stand:
These back channel communications between the paper’s authors [Wahl] and IPCC authors [Briffa], including early versions of the paper, seemed a direct subversion of the spirit of openness intended when the IPCC decided to put its internal reviews online.
More from Steve:
Muir Russell said that it wasn’t the scientists weren’t to blame for defamatory language in emails, e.g. calling people “frauds”, “fraudit”, “bozos”, “morons” and so on. It was Microsoft’s fault.
Indeed, some submissions have characterised them as ‗unprofessional‘, or as evidence of CRU‘s contribution to a ‗poisoned atmosphere‘ in climate science.
Muir Russell blamed email itself for the language:
14. Finding: The extreme modes of expression used in many e-mails are characteristic of the medium. Crucially, the e-mails cannot always be relied upon as evidence of what actually occurred, nor indicative of actual behaviour that is extreme, exceptional or unprofessional.
Extreme forms of language are frequently applied to quite normal situations by people who would never use it in other communication channels.
But defamatory language by CRU scientists in emails is still defamatory language. That the scientists wouldn’t use such language face-to-face with the targets of their abuse is no justification. Ask Tiger Woods about email.
UPDATE from Anthony:
Yes, I’m sure Sir Muir didn’t think this was unprofessional…nooo. Pictures are worth a thousand words, but I doubt Sir Muir ever looked at this one:
From: “thomas.c.peterson” To: Phil Jones Subject: [Fwd: Marooned?] Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2007 11:10:02 -0500
I thought you might enjoy the forwarded picture and related commentary below.
I read some of the USHCN/GISS/CRU brouhaha on web site you sent us. It is both interesting and sad. It reminds me of a talk that Fred Singer gave in which he impugned the climate record by saying he didn’t know how different parts were put together. During the question part, Bob Livzey said, if you don’t know how it is done you should read the papers that describe it in detail. So many of the comments on that web page could be completely addressed by pointing people to different papers. Ah well, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it think.
Nature 445, 567 (8 February 2007) | doi:10.1038/445567a
“The IPCC report has served a useful purpose in removing the last ground from under the sceptics’ feet, leaving them looking marooned and ridiculous.”
– Thomas C. Peterson, Ph.D. NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center 151 Patton Avenue Asheville, NC 28801 Voice: +1-828-271-4287 Fax: +1-828-271-4328
Attachment Converted: “c:\eudora\attach\marooned.jpg”
Here’s NCDC Tom Peterson’s (GHCN lead investigator) cartoon diddle:
I think NCDC should figure out how much public funded time Peterson spent on this and dock his pay.
The notion that IPCC reports are supposed to present a selective view of climate science, representing the judgments of a select group of experts is in fact contrary to the mission of the IPCC.
The Muir Russell mischaracterization of the IPCC becomes relevant in the report when it uses the characterization as a criterion for evaluating the efforts revealed in the emails to minimize or exclude certain perspectives. For instance, the Muir Russell report explains with respect to one alleged instance of exclusion of peer reviewed literature from IPCC drafts that (p. 76):
Those within the [IPCC] writing team took one view, and a group outside it took another. It is not in our remit to comment on the rights and wrongs of this debate, but those within the team had been entrusted with the responsibility of forming a view, and that is what they did.
This speaks directly to problems of the IPCC, revealed to some degree by the emails, but of much broader concern. The IPCC is supposed to “identify disparate views” not hide them from view or take the side held by the author team. Had the Muir Russell review actually taken an accurate view of the IPCC, it is likely that its judgment about the appropriateness of the behaviors revealed by the emails would be considerably different.The Register/Orlowski:
Russell was appointed by the institution to investigate an archive of source code and emails that leaked onto the internet last November. The source code is not addressed at all. His report suggests that the problems were of the academics’ own making, stating that they were “united in defence against criticism”. Yet the enquiry found that despite emails promising to “redefine” the peer review publication process, and put pressure on journal editors, staff were not guilty of subverting the IPCC process, and their “rigour” and “honesty” were beyond question.
The panel avoided examining the scientific work of the CRU Team – as have the two other reviews of the leaked archive by Lord Oxburgh, and the Commons Select Committee on science. If the academics had used bats’ wings or tea leaves to create temperature reconstructions, that wasn’t a matter for any of the panels to judge. And this is undoubtedly a shortcoming. The voter is entitled to see the evidence and understand the arguments that may answer the question: “Is this climate thing anything to worry about?”
In the event, the inquiry conducted detailed analysis of only three cases of potential abuse of peer review. And it investigated only two instances where allegations were made that CRU scientists such as director Phil Jones and deputy director Keith Briffa misused their positions as IPCC authors to sideline criticism. On the issue of peer review and the IPCC, it found that “the allegations cannot be upheld”, but made clear this was partly because the roles of CRU scientists and others could not be distinguished from those of colleagues. There was “team responsibility”.
The report is far from being a whitewash. And nor does it justify the claim of university vice-chancellor Sir Edward Action that it is a “complete exoneration”. In particular it backs critics who see in the emails a widespread effort to suppress public knowledge about their activities and to sideline bloggers who want to access their data and do their own analysis.
Most seriously, it finds “evidence that emails might have been deleted in order to make them unavailable should a subsequent request be made for them [under Freedom of information law]“. Yet, extraordinarily, it emerged during questioning that Russell and his team never asked Jones or his colleagues whether they had actually done this.
The investigations thus far are much like having a trial with judge, jury, reporters, spectators, and defendant, but no plaintiff. The plaintiff is locked outside the courtroom sitting in the hall hollering and hoping the jury hears some of what he has to say. Is it any wonder the verdicts keep coming up “not guilty”? – Anthony Watts