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« Fred Pearce | Main | The Parliamentary Report »
Wednesday
Mar312010

Stephen who?

Has anybody noticed how little attention the committee gave to Steve McIntyre's evidence? I said at the time that their failure to invite him to give evidence smacked of not wanting to know the truth. In particular, SM's evidence put the Nature trick in clear perspective, but despite that the committee concluded there was no case to answer.

It looks as though my original surmise was correct.

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Reader Comments (11)

Roger Harrabin gives you a mention here.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8595483.stm

Climate sceptics on the sceptic website Bishop Hill ridiculed the MPs' findings. One asked: "Is it April fools already?" Another commented: "No-one with half brain cell will view this conclusion as anything other than a hasty and not very subtle establishment cover-up."

Mar 31, 2010 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil

Yep - I noticed this glaring omission as well, especially since they did quote Professor McKittrick at one place.

One might interpret this omission as the committee being scared of having their cosy world view disturbed by someone who is definitely not 'establishment', 'one of us', as e.g. being a professor, even if not a 'proper British' one, and whose fame as auditor precedes him worldwide.

I can't help wondering if there hasn't been some arm-twisting going on behind the scenes as to whose evidence needed to be heard.
The submission by the IOP also seems to have fallen by the wayside.

Mar 31, 2010 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

If the MPs had thought they could criticise Steve McIntyre's evidence they would have done so.

Perhaps they didn't understand it, perhaps they did, perhaps they feared the clarity of such evidence, perhaps they understood the dangers it represented if they referred to it.

The MPs in the end employed their own 'trick' - they ignored Steve McIntyre's evidence, and in so doing they allowed Phil Jones off the hook.

Mar 31, 2010 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

JMurphy

I don't know about your first point - it's the first time I've heard of this.

I think the second point is wrong. The code refers the Briffa bodge, which is reported in the literature by Briffa re Tornetrask.

Mar 31, 2010 at 11:40 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

I hate to say something on the CRU leak that may seem at variance with a lot of people that I respect greatly - even including the great Richard Lindzen - so I want to go carefully here.

John Graham-Cumming got it right, in a excerpt quite properly highlighted by the committee:

the organization writing the [other] code did not adhere to standards one might find in professional software engineering. The code had easily identified bugs, no visible test mechanism, was not apparently under version control and was poorly documented. It would not be surprising to find that other code written at the same organization was of similar quality.

My emphasis added.


Because there's no test suite (the worst thing of all), no version control and poor documentation (and the documentation and test suite should themselves be under version control) one has no idea if the code you are reading and analysing is the final one that was used. I was always intensely aware of the defence that was bound to be put up: that this code (whichever file one chose) wasn't the final version, it was merely an exploration/prototype/early stage work/done by an incompetent we sacked soon afterwards (delete as appropriate). It was always for me a false dawn therefore to rest too much on the source code included in FOIA2009.zip. And that comes from bitter experience, in many, many badly organised software projects, including for some household names that should know a whole lot better.

One of those projects was the time series development using ARMA and AIC described in the now-notorious 'strawman' thread, also known as Josh 14. (And it is a great cartoon, my friend, let me say that again, sorry that this too got lost in the melee.) Without going into gory details, we had a similar problem, of knowing which parts of which source code we inherited were the 'real thing'. It took longer to sort that out that than an earlier developer had said it would take him to produce the final product. At least six months after that time had elapsed the person paying had nothing to show for his excellent entrepreneurial instincts. The first thing I did when I arrived on the scene was to set up a fail-safe way of discovering which parts of what we had been given were core to the effort we were now embarking on. It was, as it never should be but often is in the real world, far from trivial to discover. But in the end a $550 million hedge fund existed where none had before. That was a nice form of verification.

I boast about it, yes, because every now and then you do your job well and the result is there for all to see. But such experience always led me towards caution as far as resting too much on the efforts of Harry of any other poor benighted soul at the coal-face in CRU.

Mar 31, 2010 at 1:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Bishop Hill wrote :

The code refers the Briffa bodge, which is reported in the literature by Briffa re Tornetrask.


I was referring to the fact that, as stated in the link I gave :

"...there exists no evidence of any published research that may have used the output of the Briffa_Sep98_E program specifically referred to by McIntyre."

Mar 31, 2010 at 1:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterJMurphy

People do miss the point a lot. "Hiding the decline" shows that they are crooks. The standard of their software shows that they are duds. Once you know that they are dim and crooked, there is really no reason to believe a word they say. Start again.

Mar 31, 2010 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

JMurphy

If we accept your contention that this particular piece of code was not used in published papers, your problem is that it would still mean that McIntyre's criticism, that artificial correction had entered the CRU toolkit still stands because Briffa describes just such an artificial adjustment in his Climate Dynamics paper of 1992.

Mar 31, 2010 at 2:06 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

dearieme and Bishop Hill, I agree completely. That is the proper way to argue it. Case closed ... and now data and source code open. That will be like a whirlwind. Can't wait.

Mar 31, 2010 at 2:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

We obviously won't agree, because I think McIntyre's use of Briffa_Sep98_E as 'evidence' ("'Bodging' then seems to entered into the CRU toolkit to get reconstructions to 'look' right, as evidenced by the Climategate documents containing annotations that the method contains 'fudge factors' or 'very artificial corrections for decline' (e.g. http://di2.nu/foia/harris-tree/briffa_sep98_e.pro)), means that his assertion is unproven.

Mar 31, 2010 at 3:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterJMurphy

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