The sight of a government chief scientific officer on the warpath is not a pretty one. Sir John Beddington, for it is he, is all a-quiver, enraged with the antics of pseudoscientists of all complexions:
We are grossly intolerant, and properly so, of racism. We are grossly intolerant, and properly so, of people who [are] anti-homosexuality... We are not—and I genuinely think we should think about how we do this—grossly intolerant of pseudo-science, the building up of what purports to be science by the cherry-picking of the facts and the failure to use scientific evidence and the failure to use scientific method."
"One way is to be completely intolerant of this nonsense," he said. "That we don't kind of shrug it off. We don't say: ‘oh, it's the media’ or ‘oh they would say that wouldn’t they?’ I think we really need, as a scientific community—and this is a very important scientific community—to think about how we do it."
Now, we sceptics have been mightily concerned about cherrypicking. Indeed, we raised the issue with several of the Climategate inquiries. Of the investigations into Jones et al, it was the Oxburgh inquiry, that of course had the most reason to investigate the question of cherrypicking at the Climatic Research Unit: who can forget the selection of proxy series for Osborn and Briffa, for example? That was certainly one that raised a few eyebrows.
But as we know, Lord Oxburgh and his panel decided not to look at this paper and their report is silent on the question of cherrypicking.
And how did Sir John Beddington react? I'm sure readers here remember that he wrote to Lord Oxburgh telling him that he had "played a blinder". Perhaps being inside a university gives you some kind of immunity from Sir John's wrath.