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« The anger of the climate community | Main | Carbon criminals »

Allen a'tale

Some readers may have seen Der Spiegel's coverage of the Bengtsson affair a couple of days back. I didn't cover it, as I recall because it didn't seem to add much we didn't know already. However, one interesting wrinkle has emerged today. This revolves around a quote from Myles Allen about the Lewis/Crok report:

Professor Myles Allen, a climate researcher at Oxford, says, "The problem is [GWPF's] anti-science agenda, clearly illustrated by the fact that they refused point blank to submit their recent report criticizing the IPCC 5th Assessment Report to the same kind of open peer review that the IPCC report was itself subjected to."

This has prompted a response from Lewis and Crok who describe this alleged 'point-blank' refusal. Crok writes:

I met Myles Allen when he was in The Netherlands for an IPCC meeting in January. I told him about our report and he was quite upset that we hadn’t asked him to review it.  Shortly after that meeting, Allen separately emailed both Lewis and myself asking if he could see a copy of our report. Lewis and I conferred and then responded to Allen indicating no objections to sending him the report on the basis that he would review it and comment on anything he disagreed with...

Unfortunately, Allen would not accept the confidentiality condition. Instead he suggested that Lewis and Crok send their draft to all the IPCC authors mentioned in the report and there seems to have been a certain amount of to-ing and fro-ing, before the report was ultimately reviewed by climatologists who were not involved in the IPCC process. As Crok concludes:

So, yes, Allen is right when he says in Der Spiegel that the GWPF refused to submit our report “to the same kind of open peer review that the IPCC report was itself subjected to”. We disagree about his qualification “point blank”. Allen, having asked for a copy of the report, then refused to review it under what we regard as normal confidentiality conditions. Three other AR5 lead authors were also offered the opportunity to review it. We leave it up to readers to decide if we and the GWPF acted reasonably, and whether this episode provides any evidence that the GWPF has an anti-science agenda.

Indeed. Prof Allen needs to tread carefully I would say, lest people think his tales need to be checked as much as, say, Bob Ward's do.

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Reader Comments (55)

I'm pretty certain that an autopsy would fail to find a sceptical bone in the body of
Myles Allen.

May 27, 2014 at 2:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

What is the purpose of the condifentiality ?

May 27, 2014 at 2:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterTuppence

Who says reports need to be peer-reviewed? Why? And why would Myles impose such a theoretical obligation? Can't he give us his opinions afterward? Or do I mean after Ward?

May 27, 2014 at 2:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda


May 27, 2014 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterTuppence

"What is the purpose of the condifentiality ?"

I assume they mean pre-publication. It would be like giving your book manuscript to a reviewer prior to publication if you're an author and having them plaster parts of it all over the internet before it came out from the publisher. Who would agree to that?

May 27, 2014 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterkcom

If ar5 has been subjected to proper open peer-review as we know it, I am the Prince of Wales.

May 27, 2014 at 2:40 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

"anti-science agenda"

Why would anyone ask Allen to review anything that didn't fit his agenda? Pots and kettles!

May 27, 2014 at 2:43 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

"open peer review that the IPCC report was itself subjected to"

ha ha that's a good one. Nothing like a good joke!

I didn't realise that Myles Allen was such a comedian. Next he will be telling us that climate "science" is a real science.

May 27, 2014 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

When the criticism is all about the process you know the critic has nothing on the substance. Prof Allen comes up empty here. Poor fellow. Sadly he fais to recognize his own problem.

May 27, 2014 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterCoalsoffire

The IPCC report is not subjected to peer review. It still contains grey literature references apparently, and the book review type excerpts that are extracted from those articles that are peer reviewed don't get re-reviewed as such - they just get politically spun to a "consensus" story instead.
Myles Allen is twisting reality.

May 27, 2014 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered Commentermikegeo

That'll be Myles "11 Degrees" Allen?

May 27, 2014 at 3:10 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

May one assume that Myles Allen was equally incensed and vocal about the fact that the Stern report was not peer-reviewed?

May 27, 2014 at 3:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterPolitical Junkie

What we have here is a failure to kowtow.

May 27, 2014 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

Anti-corrupt-science agenda, of course.
Which annoys Myles and the Consensus who support corrupt science.

May 27, 2014 at 3:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterTuppence

May 27, 2014 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered Commenter ssat

You beat me to the punch. I was going to say that the problem is an ambiguity in the phrase "to submit." You nailed it in a simpler way.

May 27, 2014 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

Allen on Youtube.

He has made some commenters very cross. For example:

"...the impression that the whole issue hangs by a thread of evidence ..." Nope. Not even a thread. There is no evidence at all. MODELS ARE NOT EVIDENCE. Sorry to shout, ...

May 27, 2014 at 3:53 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Asking for confidentiality prior to publication is no different than what the science journals do.

The reviewers are not allowed to publish the draft articles they are reviewing, and their work is confidential.

So I don't find Lewis and Crok's request unusual at all.

May 27, 2014 at 4:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterRickA

Clearly, the righteous approach is not so much by the police but by the judiciary - as Martyn pointed out, some crimes have an intrinsically greater carbon footprint than others. So a carbon cost loading onto the sentence seems only reasonable and a carbon cost discount could be afforded the criminal for taking conscious efforts to mitigate his carbon footprint during the committing of the crime - perhaps he used some fuel with ethanol in it for the get away car ? This could be formalised by a set of tables outlining rates of appropriate sentence reductions and a day being set aside before sentencing for various defence and Crown experts to make commentaries to assist Your Honour making a judgement.

May 27, 2014 at 4:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterGerry

Sorry my post to this question was clearly a cut aNd paste effort that landed onto the wrong thread ...I apologise ! Please ignore it on thus thread !

May 27, 2014 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterGerry

Slippery Miles Allen wants to have a chair when the music stops, but if he carries on like he has been no one will want to sit next to him.

May 27, 2014 at 4:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterBets

So Myles Allen objects that the GWPF document wasn't subjected to the same corrupted IPCC peer review and he thinks that is a knock on it?

Knock, Knock.

Who is there?

The IPeCaC.

Go away, we're all plenty nauseated already.

May 27, 2014 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

"Allen would not accept the confidentiality condition"

Of course not. He never intended to review it - he just wanted to cherry-pick, and then had a hissy fit when he was required to sign something preventing it.

May 27, 2014 at 4:43 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

If the GWPF put their reports through the same kind of peer review as the IPCC reports go through, it would look like this: Show it to lots of people and get them to submit comments. Make a great deal of noise about how many reviewers were involved, their expertise, their range of views, etc. Then let the author(s) throw out any and all review comments they either disagree with or can't rebut. And, once the review process is over, let the authors do a complete rewrite without showing any of those changes to the reviewers, even if it involves reversing changes made earlier in response to the review round. Then upon publication, make a great deal more noise about how many reviewers were involved, their expertise, their range of views, etc.

And if someone writes a report documenting the flaws in the review process, dismiss it for not having gone through the same type of review process as the one being criticised.

May 27, 2014 at 5:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss McKitrick

If you live by the sword, you die by the sword.

Allen has taken on the role of being chief UK cheerleader for the IPCC's modelling. That modelling has failed for reasons obvious to any skilled physics' practitioner.

Go figure.....

May 27, 2014 at 5:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpartacusisfree

IPCC reports are finallized and approved by a political process, not by peer review.
Mr. Allen is being a wee bit deceptive in his faux outrage.

May 27, 2014 at 5:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Allen could easily produce a point-by-point refutation of the GWPF report now. Since the science is settled and the outcome, certain, the proof of error should be child's play.

It only takes a couple of graphs to create the "huh?" factor that leads to a skeptic. The GISS temp adjustments over the years, the observed temp rise vs the postulated series, the temp profile as measured and the profile as predicted, the necessary (and predicted) sea-level rise from today to generate the end-result feared, the hurricane and tornado records ...

The predictions and the observations are very clear. You have to believe that nature will cooperate IN THE FUTURE, to keep the belief. But modellers believe that their math is superior to describing the universe than observation. It is for the principles. But we live in the practicalities of actual outcome, which allows for little predictability.

May 27, 2014 at 5:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Proctor

What is being "anti-science" supposed to mean?

And how does not submitting a published bit of work to peer review make you anti-science?

Aside from the facts, these accusations make no sense.

I am resigned to being called a Denier but this anti-science meme is even more annoying. We really should call this people on the basic claims they are trying to make at least as much as the facts they are twisting.

May 27, 2014 at 5:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterTim Hammond

The IPCC 'consensus' is anti-science.

May 27, 2014 at 6:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpartacusisfree

So he was agin a confidentiality agreement with Lewis. he would be OK with the anonymous reviewer of Bengtsson, say, being named? I bet....

May 27, 2014 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

This "tale of Allen" does not seem to show him in a very good light.

The GWPF should remove him from their Christmas card list, maybe from their peer reviewer list.

Who wants him on their list, anyway?

May 27, 2014 at 7:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

"What is being "anti-science" supposed to mean?"

Let's put it this way -- Judith Curry has been called "anti-science" (by Michael Mann, if I'm not mistaken). She's the chair of an entire, hard science department at a highly respected technical university. She's probably lived and breathed science her entire life. So "anti-science" in this context means precisely nothing.

May 27, 2014 at 8:20 PM | Unregistered Commenterkcom

A true scientist would out of curiosity accepted the confidentiality agreement

A lefty political activist on the tax dollar of course not.

May 27, 2014 at 8:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

Once again, Myles Allen has proved his utter lack of principles with regard to the processes involved in the debate about science; making silly allegations about the GWPF and issuing equally silly and wildly untrue protestations about the way in which the IPCC 'does science'.
Myles Allen has destroyed his last shred of credibility.

May 27, 2014 at 9:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

The IPCC report is not peer reviewed.

May 27, 2014 at 9:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

The IPCC report is pal reviewed.

May 27, 2014 at 10:41 PM | Registered Commenterpottereaton

Professor Myles Allen claims that the IPCC report was peer reviewed. I don't expect him to reveal the identities of any of the reviewers but perhaps someone in contact with him, like Lewis and Crok, how many of those reviewers were not also authors of parts of the IPCC report?

In these days of Big Science, some papers from large research institutions like CERN, NASA etc. have a large number of authors. Collaboration between those authors would not normally be regarded as "peer review" because peer review is normally undertaken by someone external who has no connection with the work. Was the "peer review" that Myles Allen claims the IPCC report was subject to, nothing more than the authors discussing early drafts?

May 27, 2014 at 11:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

I found this a useful roundup of the reaction and critical assessment of all concerned. The "Believer" voices tend to lack support or recent findings from 'the plateau', for instance. In contrast to the former "Deniers."

I found the role-reversal amusing - as many here did, too, I'm sure.

May 27, 2014 at 11:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterOrson

Newton, Einstein, Watson and Crick, were not peer reviewed

Peer review by anonymous unpaid reviewers is not a part of the Scientific Method.

Once upon a time the fate of a scientific paper was dependent on an Editor whose reputation depended on making sound decisions about what to publish. Modern science shifted responsibility from a single identifiable editor to an anonymous “committee”. What could possibly go wrong?

May 28, 2014 at 12:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

Oh, my goodness! I wonder why it is that these IPCC stalwarts, such as Myles <The IPCC or us scientists, so to speak> Allen, are such ... hmmm ... poor "listeners"? ... poor "readers"? ... poor "communicators"? [or perhaps all three!]

Those who might have missed his performances the last time Allen decided to cross the great divide (approximately two years ago), might be interested in following some of the links I had provided in my highlights of his "visit", on the somewhat belated heels of a presentation he had made, circa November 2011 to a pre-Rio+20 warm-up (primarily) for journalists, "Communicate 2011: Nature People Economics".

Allen's topic of choice was "Climate Change – So Last Decade".

During the course of his subsequent "visit" amongst the plebes here and at CA, Allen made us all aware of his "acutely sensitive" hearing and/or vision.

For all the gory details, pls see: Of climatologists and cartoons: Compare and contrast

May 28, 2014 at 2:24 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

So when the report is too accurate to rebut, it is time to attack the process?

What has the 'peer / pal / diplomat' word by word 'IPCC review and sans science rewrite' got to do with anything?

Myles Allen attacks science with false bluff, bluster and sophistry!

May 28, 2014 at 4:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

What is this obsession with peer review?

Things are either right or wrong. Again the internet removes almost all of the reasons for journal review systems in the past. (and the reason for the journals themselves)

May 28, 2014 at 7:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Asking a scientist to join the advisory board is surely pro-science by anyones definition.

May 28, 2014 at 8:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

It is amusing to ask someone like Professor Myles Allen to peer review a GWPF report. I'm sure he would want to completely rewrite it, and forbid publication if he could not do so

May 28, 2014 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterCicero

Myles Allen summarises the entire significance of Climategate:
[bits relevant to Climategate highlighted]

(...) yes, you can get Nobel laureates on both sides of the argument but only one of those Nobel laureates will have actually ever done any research on meteorology or [mumble] or climate . And *that* Nobel laureate will be going along with the consensus view of the way climate is changing. [2:55]

But what we see over the past few years is events like this one the sort of whole Climategate email revelations giving the population at large the impression that the whole issue hangs by a thread of - of evidence that a few scientists might have fiddled the data and therefore - and you know - if they are caught out as it were undermines the entire case for human influence on climate. I asked for some Powerpoint because I think you can't really get this one unless you get the visual, which I've got behind me here. Um so this is the impact of the whole UAE email affair - and think about the amount of newsprint, the amount of air time and so forth was devoted to that affair over the past couple of years. This is the *total* impact of that affair on any published data set that is of any relevance to the evidence for human influence on climate.

And to help those of you at the back who may have - um - be missing something, that's the correction. OK? It's about two hundredths of a degree in the late 1870's - OK?

Now, it's important to get these things right and we are grateful to the - arr those who studied over the data and identified a problem with input files which --- resulted in that small correction in this record. OK? But that's the *only* change to any published number that has resulted from this entire affair. Now you wouldn't have got that impression from the way it's been covered in the media. Certainly the public has not got that impression. They are all under the impression basically that it's all up in the air we've really no idea what's going on because people have been caught fiddling the numbers.

Um, in fact again whether [mumble] point that I want to take issue with [mumble] he mentions to you that er that - I think I may have mentioned it - economist models are on a level with the models being used to predict climate (...)

May 28, 2014 at 11:21 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

"economist models are on a level with the models being used to predict climate"

Sounds about right. Did he really mean to say that?

May 28, 2014 at 1:39 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp


Absolutely not. He went on to say

- I'd like to object very strongly to that statement. It's very substantially easier to predict climate than it is to predict the world economy.
(more bullshit follows)

May 28, 2014 at 2:32 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

when we read "professor" people think and annotate different things with it.

Lewandowsky is a professor and this guy needs a manual to go to the bathroom. Myles Allen is a professor he seems
to be not a curious scientist but someone which fits very well in the "consensus wall of thickheads forraging for reasons why we should still believe in massive and costly mis investments from dave and cohorts"

Being professor seems to be something like "being a scholar or being a high priest" without ever defining what it ever means.

It is high time to classify them on a weighted and indicative popularity and have their credibility scores logged in a sort of standardised way. It would help for example to see how many refer to their publications (weighted for different dissenting streams of opinion on a subject) It would help to see if they are lifelong glued to a discipline/institute or a consensus or have a more diverse life spent. It would be interesting to see how their "teachings" have been considered , weighted for impressible juveniles/adult publics/ dissenting adult publics.

Just saying. It is is time to get out of the immediate worship of "a professor" and start defining the thing and start to know "what we buy into", really.

Any "professor" pooped out of the clique of Paul Nurse and the dunces can be immediately classified asuch.
I take them as sort of whatstheclown's name this BBC physics professor with a pommaded face and tight pastel tinted sweatshirts who comes and tells us "I looked at the stars and THIS is why I decided to go and work for Cern, you know!" This is why I should be allowed to travel to exotic places in the worlds at your expense..

May 28, 2014 at 4:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

Thank you, Martin. I wasn't paying attention - normality is restored!

May 28, 2014 at 5:22 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

"It is is time to get out of the immediate worship of "a professor" and start defining the thing and start to know "what we buy into", really."

While usage varies from place to place, "Professor Bloggs" is still usually just a job title and a career choice, not a qualification. When referring to other professors it is common to see the use of the semi-formal "Dr. Bloggs" or simply just "Bloggs".

May 28, 2014 at 6:26 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Professors are not what they used to be.

Because of:

- What used to be technical colleges becoming 'universities'.
- Bigger ratio of professors to senior lecturers and lecturers.
- Bullshit passing for knowledge more than before.
- Dumbing down in general.

May 28, 2014 at 7:04 PM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

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