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« Intelligence squared debate on scaremongering | Main | Geoffrey Boulton and the IPCC »

To submit or not to submit

Doug Keenan in the comments wonders if sceptics should make submissions to the Russell Review, now it seems clear that its representations on the independence of the panellists are hollow.

Please feel free to discuss here.


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Reader Comments (39)

Submissions should be made on the universal justice principle of a fair inquiry. In a democracy you have to assume that you will get a fair hearing somewhere down the line. Submit the evidence now and somewhere and somehow it will have its moment of truth.

Who would have thought resignation letters from many years ago would have a bearing now? Or a Telegraph article from 1995? Or any number of documents that are being trawled up by resourceful 'deniers'?

Get the information out now. Whether the inquiry uses it or not is moot. That information will serve some purpose at some point down the line.

Always remember Watergate. Sometimes the dots cannot all be joined at once, and some do not show on the page until later. Patience.

Feb 17, 2010 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

Perhaps all those making submissions could organise their own web-site (or sub-section of a current site)? Get everything into the public domain independent of the inquiry?

Let people make their own mind up, rather than let the inquiry do it for them.

Take the initiative.

Feb 17, 2010 at 9:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

OT, but please spread the word about this debate

Feb 17, 2010 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered Commenteroptimist

Jiminy Cricket, it appears that you are trying to organise a lynch mob.

Feb 17, 2010 at 9:40 AM | Unregistered Commenterjosh

Jiminy Cricket, it appears that you are trying to organise a lynch mob.

What a strange thing to say. Please point out to me the legal jurisdiction this inquiry has? it is a self appointed inquiry that determined its own terms of reference.

You are also effectively saying all skeptic blogs are nothing than more lynch mobs.

When I try to subvert constitutional Justice (capital J) in the UK then raise the subject again.

Actually, if I remember correctly all submissions are confidential. So if they became public the inquiry has said it will ignore them. Afterwards there is no reason they cannot be collated for the public record.

Lynch mobs indeed.

Feb 17, 2010 at 9:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

I thought that a condition of making a submission was that the submission was not published elsewhere, so making a submission and discussing it at the same time would not make sense. However, if one does not make a submission, how can one claim that said submission was not given fair treatment? There is also a possibility that the lack of impartiality is due to the population from which the panel is drawn have chosen to present certain views in the past, regardless of their personal views. A leopard may not change it's spots, but a politician takes on the mannerisms of whoever is most likely to feed him next.

Feb 17, 2010 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterSean Houlihane

I think working scientists should submit on professional standards of data management they used 20 years ago. IMHO the whole MR Inquiry is a PR exercise already pushing the line that 20 years ago things were done differently WRT audit and data quality.

See for example yesterday's Guardian piece:

"This error isn't evidence of research misconduct or fraud, however, as has been suggested elsewhere. As lead author on the paper, Jones should have been confident of the quality of the data sets. But twenty years ago, standards for collecting and archiving data simply weren't what they are now and these sorts of data were hard to come by. At worst, the current evidence seems to point to sloppy record-keeping, something that I suspect more than a handful of scientists are guilty of. "

Same "view" is quoted on the MR Inquiry FAQ page and was used by Boulton at the PR event as reported at CA.

As JC says above, submit solid evidence so it is on the record and I suggest copy elected representatives so it will be on the public record and subject to FOI if req. MR is meeting in private with publication after the event and they have given no firm commitment to meet FOI requests. Submit without expectations for any meaningful outcome - this is a time for truth to be on the record.

Feb 17, 2010 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

I think anyone with any concern for truth should have NOTHING to do with this inquiry which before it has even begun has been exposed as a sham. After the revelations about Boulton no inquiry with him on board is acceptable. Don't play this game, the result is a foregone conclusion.

I think the ONLY answer is a rival inquiry. An appeal should be made for suitably qualified people to come forward to conduct a genuine inquiry in the interests of rescuing the integrity of science in general and British science in particular.

In a sane world, the CRU would have been shut down with the revelations which have already emerged.

Also in a sane world, Harrabin and Shuckman would by now have been moved from their environment briefs in which they have so lamentably failed. (Voicing up press releases from pressure groups and government-funded bodies is not journalism; failing to report major controversies in your field over many years is negligent; failing to seek alternative views before regurgitating wild claims by ecozealots is lazy and irresponsible. I believe the BBC has a College of Journalism - maybe they should attend a few of its classes, or do a stint on local papers to relearn the fundamentals of their trade.)

Feb 17, 2010 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered Commentercool dude

My own view on this is that submissions should be made. If we don't then it's our fault if they don't cover everything. If we do and they whitewash it then the public will draw their conclusions accordingly.

Feb 17, 2010 at 10:20 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Agree with Jiminy's first comment.

We can go on about Geoffrey Boulton's pre disposition ad-nauseam, but his inclusion in the inquiry Team does not appear to be negotiable. Paraphrasing Nigel Lawsons statement on the matter;

Geoffrey Boulton has stated that he will act objectively and fairly. Ok, Lets see.

Quote: Deeds, not words shall speak me. (John Fletcher)

Feb 17, 2010 at 10:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterGSW

I think submissions should be made.

But the main thing to realise about this inquiry is that it is there purely as a publicity event, not to change or get at the truth but to try and move everybody involved, and especially the IPCC, from the bad smell these emails have left.

At the most extreme, Jones will be thrown under the bus, but the bus itself will continue on its route. A more likely scenario is that the opinions already kited by the Gaurdian and others (i.e. evidence of poor data keeping and passing failures of judgement when dealing with data requests) will prevail. Gentle slaps on the wrist all round and then its quietly dropped. Probably Jones will be allowed to retire on full pension and another tree ring alarmist will take over. Maybe even Boulton ?

Some of the media have published the background of the panelists and pointed out the errors, but I sense the general public is being led away by other events - a pending election in the UK for one. The media is building this up now, the beeb has taken far more interest in politics than it has for a long time.

I predict that when the inquiry reports - bet its in the middle of the election build up - the BBC (probably Shuckman with his credibility declining each day) will play it up big time - "the inquiry finds the science is still sound" - and the odious Boulton and/or hapless Russell will be given a friendly soundbite or three. Of course the BBC won't give the same balance to those who illegally had their requests refused. But thats what we expect isn't it ?

So why do I say submit ?

Like most of us I have to deal with idiots, mendacious officialdom and petty rules and regulations enforced by brain-dead jobsworths every day and the the most valuable advice you can take is not to descend to their level. We know that submissions that do not conform to the pre-determined outcome will be ignored or played down.

And when that happens those of us with interest in the subject will be able to point this out. Just as the skeptics with more knowledge than most of us have poked holes in a lot of the science already.

But as CA and elsewhere has shown keep everything in writing, everything on the record. And when they try to spin it they just tie themselves up in knots.

As an aside did anyone else notice that Justin "Ethical Man" Rowlatt got a lot of stick for daring to suggest in a Radio 4 program that some have taken to climate change as a religion, and whether this damaged the pro-AGW argument ? I also noticed he appeared on BBC news 24 as a normal newsreader for a while too. Wonder if he's been moved to a siding whilst this all blows over... Just pondering.

Feb 17, 2010 at 10:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris

Chris, an important aside. They hate anyone they thought was a friend likening them to a religion. But it's a likeness that won't go away. It walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck. I've so internalised the idea that it is a religion that I found Rowlatt's observations very tame. But inevitably, like all religions, the apostate is treated worst of all. Respect to the guy.

Feb 17, 2010 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

I agree that submissions should be made from sceptical scientists. However, like many, I am certain that this enquiry will be little more than a whitewash as it is to be held in secret, no coverage of the details will be permitted, & the findings will be kept secret save for the conclusions that no wrong-doing had taken place, it's all a big misunderstanding, & that certain preocedures should be tightened up in future. Everybody is happy carry on as usual, it's purely perfunctory! The House of Lords called for the IPCC to be disbanded years ago after hearing testimony from Richard S Linzen, Paul Reiter, etc, but its findings were simply ignored by the establishment. What hope here?

Feb 17, 2010 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

It will be a whitewash whatever we do. A boycott and a rival enquiry is the smart and media savvy option.

Feb 17, 2010 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered Commentercool dude

I agree with those in favour of making submissions. I shall submit for the record, even though, like submissions I have made to various government consultations, I know the outcome is a foregone conclusion.

Feb 17, 2010 at 10:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Sir David King, the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, convened a small working group to help him consider the issues around developing a universal ethical code of conduct for scientists. "Rigour, respect and responsibility: a universal ethical code for scientists" was the product of the group's work. Sir David King asked the Council for Science and Technology (CST), to look at how the code could be disseminated more widely and how, in practice, it could have a useful role.

Prof Geoffrey Boulton was part CST group that drafted "Rigour, respect and responsibility: a universal ethical code for scientists".

The code is here;

The code states:

The Universal Ethical Code for Scientists

Rigour, honesty and integrity

• Act with skill and care in all scientific work. Maintain up to date skills and assist their
development in others.

• Take steps to prevent corrupt practices and professional misconduct. Declare conflicts of interest.

• Be alert to the ways in which research derives from and affects the work of other people, and
respect the rights and reputations of others.


Respect for life, the law and the public good

• Ensure that your work is lawful and justified.

• Minimise and justify any adverse effect your work may have on people, animals and the natural environment.


Responsible communication: listening and informing

• Seek to discuss the issues that science raises for society. Listen to the aspirations and concerns of others.

• Do not knowingly mislead, or allow others to be misled, about scientific matters. Present
and review scientific evidence, theory or interpretation honestly and accurately.

This is a benchmark for assesing not just how UEA-CRU has behaved in the past but it is also a useful benchmark for how Sir Muir Russell's review is now being conducted.

It raises the question does Prof Boultion practices what he preaches?

Quote, "Our social licence to operate as scientists needs to be founded on a continually renewed relationship of trust between scientists and society. The code has been developed in my Office to help us meet this challenge." Sir David King, Government Chief Scientific Adviser
and Head of the Government Office for Science Rigour

Feb 17, 2010 at 10:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

More information on CST and the code can be found here.

CST group members who drafted the code:

Sir David King (Chair), Dr David Coles, Dr David Fisk, Baroness Onora O'Neill, Professor Michael Reiss, Professor John Uff QC; and Council for Science and Technology (CST) members: Professor Geoffrey Boulton, Professor Janet Finch, Professor Kathy Sykes, Sir Paul Nurse, Dr Mark Walport.

Feb 17, 2010 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Regardless of submission rules, maybe we can send the hat around to buy each reviewer autographed copies of the Hockey Stick Illusion and Climategate; The Crutape Letters. Courtesy of the concerned public (and future generations of tax payers).

Just saying.

Feb 17, 2010 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterCuriousScott

I'm with CuriousScott at the moment. I'm not sure if I'll submit. My instincts are to focus on Parliament, initially Phil Willis and his select committee. But it's a very fluid situation, what with a general election and all. I agree with Nigel Lawson that all we can do with the UEA inquiry at this stage is take Mr Boulton at his word - and wait and see.

Feb 17, 2010 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Isn't it the case that the submissions for the PARLIAMENTARY enquiry are to be kept from publication? I haven't seen the same of the MR. Please correct me if I'm wrong about this.

The MR is going to be held in secret, and the results of the enquiry are the only things going to be made public by MR. This is obviously akin to the now-long-established climate sciences' pattern of publishing conclusions/graphics without publishing supporting data. If we don't make submissions, and if we don't publish our submissions ourselves, we will be complicit in a practice that we profess to abhor.

We HAVE to make submissions, so that when the enquiry result is published we can, ourselves, prove that the MR result and the supporting data don't match.

IF they don't match. See? I'm pre-disposed to concluding that the MR result will be a whitewash. But there's believing that it will now, and being able to prove it with data later.. which is preferable?

Feb 17, 2010 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterSimonH

It is essential that those with detailed knowledge make submissions.
If these are taken into full account, then the findings may be fair.

If the findings are not fair, then we will be able to make that clear to all the world.

Eventually a fair hearing will be held, either this one or the next.
That's how these things always play out in the end.

If nobody makes firm submissions then the committee will have no option but to say that there is no real evidence against the Team and their findings will reflect that sad fact.

Feb 17, 2010 at 11:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterAusieDan

Someone needs to manage/mediate/control the debate. If some authority is corrupt or questionable, it is the people's responsibility to take a stand. That is democracy, sanctioned or not. How they take that stand is up to them.

Human posturing is fun to watch, though. All due respect to the bureaucrats...

Feb 17, 2010 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

C'mon AusieDan, there's the Climategate emails, source code and Harry's desperate cry for help, for goodness sake - which they admit they haven't even bothered to read in their entirety. If this inquiry had been the least bit interested in the extremely complex, devious and convoluted backstory they would have contacted people like Steve McIntyre, Doug Keenan, David Holland, indeed his grace our host way back. All I know for sure is that they hadn't contacted Steve and Ross McKitrick a couple of weeks back. That was enough for me.

It's a matter of individual conscience, as far as I'm concerned. I bless and pray for everyone that does submit. But I sure don't put any public pressure on those that think they may have better uses for their time.

Feb 17, 2010 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

When I sent an email to the Review on Monday regarding Boulton's suitability, using the contact link on the Review's website, I had an auto-reply which I'm sure said that all submissions would be published. I've already deleted it, but it's easy enough for anyone to check.

Feb 17, 2010 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

After the inquiry reports, the news agenda then becomes about the inquiries results, and whethey should be accepted by the public or not. The inquiry thus frames the subsequent discussion.

I would suggest setting up a rival inquiry - that goes into all the issues not covered by the Russell Review - but be sure to announce it BEFORE the Russell Review reports, otherwise it just looks like sour grapes.

Feb 17, 2010 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterAWatcher

My current opinion is that it is worth making a submission, as long as that submission is carefully argued and well thought through.

One reason for this is that (as DaveS says) all submissions will be published. From the website, Review Workplan:

The Team will operate as openly and transparently as possible. It is establishing a website which will eventually display all of the submissions received, correspondence, analyses and conclusions.

Feb 17, 2010 at 1:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaulM

If people have something relevant to the review, then I think they should submit it. I intend to submit on lax data management given the financial implications, and it's a problem that seems common to GISS.

Feb 17, 2010 at 1:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Sir John Houghton, Chair IPCC WG1 - 2000

"Three widely accepted principles will govern the international agreements needed to meet the threat of climate change. The first is the Precautionary Principle, already clearly embedded in the UNFCCC agreed at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. This states that the existence of uncertainty should not preclude the taking an appropriate action. The reason for such action is simply stated as the stabilisation of the concentrations of greenhouse gases (such as CO2) in the atmosphere in ways that allow for necessary economic development. The second principle is the Polluter Pays Principle, which implies the imposition of measures such as carbon taxes or carbon trading arrangements. The third is the principle of Equity, both intergenerational and international which is the most difficult to apply. However a proposal by the Global Commons Institute that is being widely discussed applies these principles by allowing eventually for the allocation of carbon emissions to nations on an equal per capita basis while also allowing for emissions trading."

The GCI Archive (10meg)
Note Contraction and Convergence Strategy

Feb 17, 2010 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterbrent

Richard Drake—I confirm that no one with the Russell Review contacted me. AFAIK, I am the only person to publicly allege that Jones committed fraud and to back that up with real evidence. My allegation was well known: it was reported in a front-page story in The Guardian and re-reported in many other media outlets, both in the UK and elsewhere; it was also published in a peer-reviewed journal, and widely blogged about.

Feb 17, 2010 at 2:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan

You be careful, Keenan. My boy Phil's got a bigger bruvver. Know wot I mean?

Feb 17, 2010 at 6:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterProf Jones's Mum

I just can't believe that some of you trust this process. There's enough on this thread alone to suggest it's as bent as the CRU and the IPCC and as objective as a BBC environment correspondent/analyst.

Feb 17, 2010 at 6:40 PM | Unregistered Commentercool dude

Hey Brent;
your second tinyurl link doesn't seem to work for me.

I keep getting;
Error: Unable to find site's URL to redirect to.

Feb 17, 2010 at 8:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterRuhroh

Insofar as i think that the enquiry panel has been carefully chosen in order to minimise the damage to the hockey team, i think that it would be reasonable to use all the means at our disposal in order to ensure that their eventual findings are scruitinized by as many people as possible. To that end, i wish i was capable of producing one of those e-mails which seem to spread like wildfire in order to alert as many people as possible that this enquiry is taking place and that there is considerable skepticism as to the quality of the participants. If this is successful, it may be a way of having some influence on the outcome, limiting the ability of the TEAM to completely whitewash the outragious activities of these people. Any offers? just a thought!

Feb 17, 2010 at 8:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

Sorry if this was already posted.

Feb 18, 2010 at 12:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterPetewibble


Second Link should be


Sorry about the tinyurl. Don't know what I messed up

Feb 18, 2010 at 1:38 AM | Unregistered Commenterbrent

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