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« Is New Scientist making things up? | Main | Snippets »
Thursday
Jul292010

Willetts transcript

The transcripts for the questioning of Science minister David Willetts by the Science and Technology Select Committee are now available here. The extract relating to Climategate is as follows:

Q46 Graham Stringer: What lessons can be learned from the leaked emails from the University of East Anglia from the Climatic Research Unit there? Has that damaged the image of British science?

Mr Willetts: We have now had three inquiries into that episode and on many of the allegations I think the UEA and the research community there have come out essentially cleared of any of the allegations that were made of them but, equally, there are some lessons. Not everything was right, including proper data-keeping. The Government attaches a lot of importance to transparency, making sure that research data are accessible to the wider public as easily and quickly as possible. The latest investigation suggests, as I understand it, that most of their raw data could be accessed, I think the phrase is, within two minutes, but it is very important and people think that it is absolutely clear that that kind of data should be accessible and perhaps a certain defensiveness got hold amongst some scientists at the UEA precisely because of the criticism and attacks they were under from sceptics on the blogosphere. Instead of advancing forward and wanting to engage, it made them think, "What is this mischief maker doing and why the hell should we correspond with that?" I think there is a lesson for all of us in that.

Q47 Graham Stringer: Finally, is the image of British science damaged by this episode?

Mr Willetts: I hope not. Clearly the initial reporting of the original concerns went round the world, but we have now had three investigations covering different aspects of this, and although there are lessons to be learned I think they show that when it comes to the conduct of the science the work that was done at UEA, as I understand it, has passed muster when assessed by independent experts to check whether anything went wrong. My view is that their scientific work stands. There are lessons about how they engage with members of the public and others coming to them asking for data and information about what they are doing.

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Reader Comments (10)

Willetts has either had the wool pulled over his eyes by the establishment and/or his advisers, or he doesn't want to acknowledge the truth. We have to keep up the pressure concerning these whitewash inquiries.

Jul 29, 2010 at 8:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

To use a technical term: Crap!

Jul 29, 2010 at 8:14 AM | Unregistered Commentermondo

According to his own website:

http://www.davidwilletts.co.uk/about/

"David is the Shadow Minister for Universities and Skills"

Jul 29, 2010 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterDocBud

Bish, I wonder sometimes if we're missing an important part of an established process of tradition. For most of the time, we're merely observing the communications of civil service bobble-heads who have a very clear agenda, but are not directly involved in countering misinformation at the political level. Do we need to request a regular dialogue with MP Dr Stringer. to communicate concerns regarding false or misleading statements made in these committees? Do you have such a dialogue established? Or are we relying on Stringer happening occasionally on this blog?

I'm within spitting distance of Graham Stringer's constituency but I don't know how much time he spends there, and I would imagine that if he holds surgeries he'd rather be talking to locals about issues in his own constituency. My gut feeling, though, is that he'd probably be interested in sitting down and talking about points of interest with regard to legitimate science-sceptical concerns.

I might invite him out for a beer next time he's in the North West.

Jul 29, 2010 at 11:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterSimonH

DocBud, then his website hasn't been updated since the recent election. He is now the Minister of State for Universities and Science... sadly, on this evidence.

Jul 29, 2010 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

SimonH
It has been my experience that authors, academics and politicians are, with notable exceptions, willing to engage when approached in a civil and respectful on a subject with which they are familiar and interested. If Mr Stringer has not been so approached by others, I say go for it. However, I would first check out whether he likes beer, wine, Scotch or abstains!!

Jul 29, 2010 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterBernie

Bishop. I think that Andy's post may be spam. Perhaps someone who understands Russian could tell us but the site he links to looks suspicious. Apologies if I'm wrong.

Jul 29, 2010 at 12:38 PM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

Artwest - nearly all .ru sites are suspicious, although sometimes they contain useful caches of emails.. :-)

Jul 29, 2010 at 2:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

James P

Artwest - nearly all .ru sites are suspicious, although sometimes they contain useful caches of emails.. :-)

And usually contain all sorts of really nasty computer viruses.

Bishop I would delete the link Andy put up.

Jul 29, 2010 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

The latest investigation suggests, as I understand it, that most of their raw data could be accessed, I think the phrase is, within two minutes,...

The point often overlooked is not that the data is available but WHICH data did the 'climate scientist' use (and then spindle, fold, etc) to obtain their results.

Aug 5, 2010 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Trigge

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