When I wrote yesterday's piece about Fiona Fox, I expected little or no reaction, but a number of science commentators are now reporting the story, including Climate Audit, The Blackboard and the Guardian's Science Notes column.
Some of the commentators on CA were quite critical of Steve for discussing the story, even though he had made clear Fox's involvement in the Oxburgh report. To that we could also add her involvement in the recent Royal Society statement on climate change or the involvement of her various colleagues at the Science Media Centre in sceptic-bashing activities: Bob Ward's various smear campaigns need no introduction of course, but there were also the roles of Mike Granatt and (briefly) Philip Campbell in the Russell review.
I had been particularly interested in the press release issued by the SMC at the time of the Oxburgh report. The centre's choice of experts and their remarks on the inquiry were very interesting:
- Bob Ward, who described Oxburgh's five page report "rigorous" and "thorough";
- Sir Brian Hoskins, who had rubber-stamped UEA's selection of papers for the inquiry and then described the report as "thorough and fair"
- Lord Rees, who had helped select a chairman with a conflict of interest and a biased panel and who had allowed the Royal Society's name to be used to disguise the fact that UEA had chosen their own papers. Rees described the 5-page report as "thorough".
- Myles Allen, a very vocal critic of climate sceptics, wisely made no comment on the thoroughness or otherwise of the report.
Given that the report was so embarrassingly short, for the SMC to put forward a series of people who were willing to describe the investigation as thorough suggests strongly that they are a propaganda outfit rather than a body that helps journalists get at the truth. One commenter at CA suggests that SMC is the "public relations arm of establishment science" in the UK. That may well be right and journalists might do well to consider that possibility when they are fed stories by Fiona Fox and her chums.