This post will be a top sticky post for a day, new stories will appear below this one.
While this issue was covered previously on Climate Audit, I thought this needed the exposure that WUWT could afford.
There’s a famous quote from CRU’s Phil Jones to Warwick Hughes that pretty much sums up the entire issue of climate science, saying essentially that the work is above reproach and there’s no reason to allow it to be questioned by providing access to raw data for replication, especially by climate skeptics, even though it was done on public funds:
“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.”
As readers know, a few people have been trying to get access to the poll data from Lewandowsky’s “moon landing hoax” paper (the one where he hid his involvement and the poll was mostly posted on climate alarmist sites, and WUWT wasn’t even asked) and have been stonewalled. This response about data access from Professor Paul Johnson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Western Australia takes stonewalling to a whole new level, and is a close second to that famous quote from Phil Jones.
Some foreword might be helpful to understand the context as to why this sort of behavior exhibited by Jones, and now Paul Johnson, is broadly damaging to the reputation of science.
The issue with Lewandowsky is unscientific and unethical behavior by creating an advance conclusion (all climate skeptics are conspiracy nutters) followed by attempts to hide his association with the study to people who were polled, selective distribution of the poll, mainly to websites who are advocates of climate action, then outright mocking of the very people who was supposedly studying, then actually writing in his own conclusions to an ethics investigation that was supposed to be done independently.
One cannot imagine a more egregious abuse of the scientific process as we have witnessed with Lewandowsky’s vilification of climate skeptics using the journal Psychological Science as a bully pulpit.
Dr. Judith Curry’s thoughts about Michael Mann’s behavior seem germane here, simply substitute Mann with Lewandowsky:
For the past decade, scientists have come to the defense of Michael Mann, somehow thinking that defending Michael Mann is fighting against the ‘war on science’ and is standing up for academic freedom. Its time to let Michael Mann sink or swim on his own. Michael Mann is having all these problems because he chooses to try to muzzle people that are critical of Mann’s science, critical of Mann’s professional and personal behavior, and critical of Mann’s behavior as revealed in the climategate emails. All this has nothing to do with defending climate science or academic freedom.
Barry Woods advises me of this gobsmacking response from UWA’s Vice Chancellor, Paul Johnson, and provided all the emails from the timeline to me for inspection. It is important to know that Lewandowsky has left UWA where his paper was originally approved, data gathered, written, and published from, and is now at the University of Bristol.
Barry Woods writes:
I wrote to Lewandowsky last September, & eventually got a response via a Bristol Uni press officer referring any concerns to UWA.
Woods also wrote to the journal editor Eric Eich, asking for access to data so that a comment could be sent to the journal:
I wrote to Maybery (UWA) in early March (and a couple of reminders), then received Paul Johnson’s email.
…One of the lessons of Climategate was that even most scientists agreed on was ‘data transparency’. I can’t believe the VC of University of Western Australia’s response to me. AND that he would put it in writing! Four and a half years on from Climategate, and we still have universities refusing to share data with critics.
Here is the letter from UWA’s vice-chancellor as a screen-cap. The bolding was done by
I have pixelated the email address for Mr. Woods (which is private) so that he doesn’t get attacked/spammed, and the other email participants by cc: are not on display due to them being in Mr. Woods contact list, only their names display. Johnson’s email address is also pixelated for the same reason.
I also verified that the email is genuine, by looking at the email headers within it.
And, it appears that by the UWA’s own published policy they are quite open to data sharing:
In the “Code of Conduct for the Responsible Practice of Research”, it becomes clear that Vice Chancellor Paul Johnson’s statement of “It is not the University’s practice to accede to such requests” is a bald faced lie:
Steve McIntyre and others have suggested that some of Lewandowsky’s poll data may have been falsified, and they want to test that assumption. UWA Vice Chancellor Paul Johnson’s response puts him at odds with the 3.4 and 3.8 sections above.
We also have a clear case from UWA’s own records obtained via FOI law that Lewandowsky Ghost-wrote Conclusions of UWA Ethics Investigation into “Hoax”.
So, the “investigation” supposedly done by UWA into the research of Lewandowsky was actually done by Lewandowsky himself.
This episode is turning into quite an ethics quagmire for UWA, I can see why Johnson would purposely violate their own policy by telling Woods that UWA won’t share the data. The data itself must be damning for them to want to protect it this much in violation of their own policy; perhaps with data even showing that some of the responses to the poll that McIntyre wants to examine came from within the University itself, creating another, more culpable conflict of interest and violation of UWA’s own research policy.
When a university administrator decides that “It is not the University’s practice to accede to such requests”, because of the perceived ‘attacks on science’, it seems they believe the work of colleagues rather than check the issues being raised. It is clear Johnson is more trusting of a former colleague vs the ‘anti-science forces of denial’, as climate skeptics are often falsely characterized as.
No matter what you think about climate science, or science in general, I would hope that you would embrace the need for transparency of data as the most important issue of science, because it is within the data where truth lives. Without the verification and replication of science that data access allows, science runs the risk of falling victim to the human emotional condition of opinions, agendas, tribalism, and personal vendettas acted out via the process of noble cause corruption.
I believe that is what we see here and it is a sad day for science when administrators in two universities and a journal editor circle the wagons to protect a science paper that may not only be wrong, but is likely based on an emotional response turned into a vendetta by the principal investigator, Lewandowsky, we all lose.
In cases of public malfeasance, it if often the cover-up which gets more attention for prosecution than the original infraction, and this looks to be the making of just such a situation.