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On the media

The big story in the UK (or at least in Westminster) is the phone hacking scandal and new lines of inquiry are still being opened up. Today the noise on Twitter is that while he was editor of News of the World Andy Coulson paid the Conservative bigwig William Hague 200,000 a year for a weekly column. Coulson later joined the Conservative administration as Prime Minister's spokesman.

It's all slightly nebulous but it certainly doesn't feel right does it? £4000 for a (short) article is preposterous money.

So what has this got to do with our normal fare here at BH? Well, in the wake of the BBC's report on science coverage, I was struck by the revelation that the wife of the report's author makes television programmes for a living. Repeating myself, it's all slightly nebulous, but it doesn't feel right, does it?


Public investigations

After the charade of the House of Commons investigation into Climategate, one has little confidence that anything coming out of the Palace of Westminster is worth the time of day. However, two new inquiries have been announced that may be of interest to readers here.

Several readers noted yesterday that the House of Commons SciTech Committee are going to investigate Science in the Met Office.

More intriguingly, the House of Lord SciTech Committee is going to investigate the role of Chief Scientific Advisers:

“The Committee is keen to gain a clearer understanding of the ability of departmental Chief Scientific Advisers to provide independent advice to ministers and policy makers within their departments and find out more about their influence across government. We would encourage anyone with any interest in this issue to contact us with their views and experiences on the role that they play.”

Some of the questions to be addressed are:

  • How do CSAs ensure that departmental policies are evidence-based?
  • What is the range of expertise provided by the network of CSAs across government departments?
  • What influence do CSAs have over research spend?

BBC review is out

The BBC review of science coverage is now out.

Readers may remember that Tony Newbery (of Harmless Sky) and I made a submission to the review. In it we demonstrated that the BBC Trust had misled the public over a seminar discussing climate change coverage back in 2006.

Obviously this was quite a serious allegation and one that should have raised some important questions for the review. This is how Prof Jones chose to address our allegations in his report.

A submission made to this Review by Andrew Montford and Tony Newbery (both active in the anti‐global‐warming movement, and the former the author of The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science) devotes much of its content to criticising not the data on temperatures but the membership of a BBC seminar on the topic in 2006, and to a lengthy discussion as to whether its Environment Analyst was carrying out BBC duties or acting as a freelance during an environment programme at Cambridge University. The factual argument, even for activists, appears to be largely over but parts of the BBC are taking a long time to notice.



Shub and the IPCC renewables report

Shub Niggurath has been looking at the nitty-gritty of the IPCC's renewables report and, in AGW parlance, "it's worse than we thought".

...the situation is analogous to a biological experiment where some of the control cases also appear in the study group or the use of a new experimental methodology where a fraction of the target subjects are themselves used in the training set. An even more accurate analogy would be like attempting to compare two clinical studies: the first one, where a small number of patients with good outcomes are selected and the study examines patient records retrospectively to see that such patients received quality healthcare at substantial healthcare costs, and a second prospective study which aims to attain the same for all included patients, with the exact same good outcomes operating as constraints. Healthcare costs (akin to CO2) in the second study would necessarily be high! The result is circularity of inference, and the root of the problem lies in the cross-inheritance of input parameters between scenarios of fundamentally opposite types.


What's the deal with Norfolk Police?

Updated on Jul 19, 2011 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Updated on Jul 19, 2011 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Norfolk Police have decided to disclose the £10k invoice that they sent UEA at the start of the year.

The covering letter for the FOI disclosure is here. The constabulary's explanation for the transaction is as follows:

Whilst conducting their investigation into the acquisition of data from the computers at the University of East Anglia, the Investigation Team engaged the services of a company with the ability to forensically examine the relevant server from the UEA. The Independent Review, chaired by Sir Muir Russell, subsequently requested access to certain data on this server and the Constabulary facilitated the request by acting as a conduit to confirm the requirement and the cost of meeting it. Norfolk Constabulary was subsequently invoiced for all work undertaken and UEA subsequently reimbursed the Constabulary for the work that had been completed at their request.

Click to read more ...


The National Press Club debate 

An interesting debate between Monckton and an economist called Richard Dennis.


BBC review of science coming

Updated on Jul 19, 2011 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

The long-awaited BBC review of science coverage is going to be published tomorrow according to the Mail.

According to the article, the BBC is going to challenge sceptics much harder, but there is no word of Brian Cox's Orwellian solution - having any programme that challenges mainstream science flagged as a minority view. I wonder if this means that they have stepped back from the edge. I for one have no objections to being challenged, as this gives the audience a better opportunity to judge how sound one's arguments are.

Click to read more ...


Tinfoil hat time

OK, this is slightly tinfoil hat-ish, but look at this video of Sir David King speaking just after Climategate.

At about seven minutes, he speaks of the hacking being incredibly sophisticated, and mentions not only disclosure of data but accessing of phone records.

Funny coincidence.


(H/T Tallbloke)


The bulldog that didn't bark

Tamino has been looking at the question of statistical significance in the temperature records. The good news is that he appears to agree with many on the sceptic side of the debate that AR1 is not a suitable model - it's always nice to find some cross-party consensus, particularly when this suggests that the IPCC is wrong. Tamino's preference is for an ARMA(1,1) model.

However, Doug Keenan emails to say that he has been trying to leave a comment suggesting another model:

The statistical model used above is a straight line with ARMA(1,1) noise.  I do not know of a good justification for that model, and it is easy to find alternative models that have a far better statistical fit to the global-temperature data. 
One alternative model is fractional Gaussian noise (also known as "Hurst-Kolmogorov").  Good justification for fGn has been presented by Demetris Koutsoyiannis.  In particular, fGn arises as a consequence of the second law of thermodynamics [Koutsoyiannis, Physica A, 2011].  The AIC value of fGn is also far lower than that of the model used above—you might check this for yourself.  For more details, see the post at Bishop Hill:
The fGn model has no trend.
Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to have made it through moderation.
Ho hum.
(Peter Gleick is also riffing on statistical significance, pushing Phil Jones' recent claim that the trend since 1995 is significant - we never did find out what basis this had in fact).

HSI on Kindle

Hockey Stick Illusion is now available on Kindle! (Finally!).  It's available from: Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Please spread the word.


Guardian: "No agenda"

The Guardian has an interesting thread in which it appears to deny having an agenda on the AGW issue. Or sort of denies it:

"I don't think that there is any deliberate skewing of our reporting to suit a particular set of beliefs that are at odds with editorial guidelines"



Gagging the sceptics

Nigel Calder is reporting the remarkable news that CERN is forbidding its scientists from "interpreting" the results of Svensmark's CLOUD experiment. In other words, if it's a success, one is not permitted to note that it makes a big dent in arguments for catastrophic global warming.

H/T Matthu


A quote for Paul Nurse

I came across this quote in the transcript of the Guardian Climategate debate last year. It's McIntyre's summing up of the importance of the failure of the inquiries to address the allegations made about the CRU scientists.

If climate scientists are unoffended by the failure to disclose adverse data, unoffended by the `trick' and not committed to the principles of full, true, plain disclosure, the public will react, as they have, by placing less reliance on the pronouncements from the entire field.

The thought struck me that you could delete the word "climate" at the start and the whole thing would stand quite nicely as a message for Paul Nurse, spelling out his responsibilities to science as a whole.


Days of yore - Josh 113

I might be tempted to say "Gotcha' but that would be inappropriate and unkind...

Cartoons by Josh


Illegitimate IPCC

A devastating paper by Jane Goodwin on Iowa State university is discussed at Judy Curry's blog. The subject is the IPCC consensus:

We shall argue that consensus among a reference group of experts thus concerned is relevant only if agreement is not sought.  If a consensus arises unsought in the search for truth and the avoidance of error, such consensus provides grounds which, though they may be overridden, suffice for concluding that conformity is reasonable and dissent is not.  If, however, consensus is aimed at by the members of the reference group and arrived at by intent, it becomes conspiratorial and irrelevant to our intellectual concern.

Both the paper and the blog post are must-reads.