Institute of Physics Nosedive

Is the Institute of Physics “prestigious” ?

Well, of course, they are highly honoured, and have prestige, but I’m talking about the other meaning, of a sense of cunning, that lingers on in the French word for conjurer or magician : prestidigitateur : the speed of thinking gives capacity to move the fingers almost undetectably to create an illusion.

Several commentators have remarked on the similarity between the Institute of Physics submission to the Science and Technology Committee on “Climategate” and the arguments of several noted Climate Change sceptics.

The fact that James Delingpole loved it up should have been a clue to all the bug hunters out there that all was not well with the submission from the IoP :-

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100027748/the-real-reason-for-agw-post-normal-science/

“The real reason for AGW: Post Normal Science : By James Delingpole Politics : February 27th, 2010 : I promised I would write about Post Normal Science. The Institute of Physics has given me the perfect peg. It has just made the following devastating submission to the Parliamentary investigation into the Climategate scandal. It argues that the behaviour of the scientists involved has “worrying implications” for “the integrity of scientific research in this field and for the credibility of the scientific method as practised in this context.”…”

I attempted to unpack some of the problems with the submission here :-

http://www.joabbess.com/2010/03/02/fred-pearce-still-crucifying-phil-jones/

“Fred Pearce : Still Crucifying Phil Jones”

The hearing of the S&T Committee was on Monday 1st March, and it didn’t take long before a number of commentators sunk their teeth in, so much so that the IoP had to make a “clarification” :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/mar/02/institute-of-physics-emails-inquiry-submission

“Institute of Physics forced to clarify submission to climate emails inquiry : Strongly worded submission to the parliamentary inquiry is being used to imply the institute questions the scientific evidence for climate change, statement says : David Adam, environment correspondent, guardian.co.uk Tuesday 2 March 2010”

Now we are beginning to see a range of other views, suggesting that the Institute of Physics submission may have been written after consultation of the most biased nature :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/mar/05/climate-emails-institute-of-physics-submission

“Climate emails inquiry: Energy consultant linked to physics body’s submission : Evidence from Institute of Physics drawn from energy industry consultant who argues global warming is a religion : David Adam, environment correspondent, guardian.co.uk Thursday 4 March 2010”

http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2010/03/iop_i_hate_it_when_they_do_tha.php

“IOP: I hate it when they do that : Category: climate communication, climate tripe : Posted on: March 5, 2010 by William M. Connolley : The ever-vigilant BigCityLib has spotted some revisionism by the Institute of Physics: they have silently updated their “clarification”: the link http://www.iop.org/News/news_40679.html now points to a statement dated 5th March, instead of the original, which was 2nd march. What a bunch of slimy little toads: they pretend to believe in openness, they won’t tell us who wrote their statements, then they silently airbrush out embarassing words afterwards…”

http://andyrussell.wordpress.com/

“Institute of Physics S&TC evidence submission – what’s actually wrong with it? : March 6, 2010 by andyrussell : There’s clearly some interest in the IoP evidence submission and my original letter to the IoP didn’t really go into my objections in great detail. I thought I should go through the evidence submission in one place instead of explaining my views in response to blog comments. Overall, I’m not objecting to the statement because I disagree with it (although I do). I object to it because, for an evidence submission, it contains no evidence and it is judgemental. The IoP should be embarrassed to have its name associated with it and, in my opinion, should retract this evidence statement. Here are my thoughts on why the first 8 points from the submission are inadequate:…”

Read the submission for yourself :-

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/memo/climatedata/uc3902.htm

and remember : quite a number of statements in the document seem to be based on unfounded claims from the Climate Change Science Obstructers – those who deny that Global Warming is caused by Economic activity – those who style themselves as “sceptics”, but who don’t do Science themselves so have no basis for their position.

The Obstructers use propaganda techniques to make Climate Change Science and Climate Change Scientists smell bad – they are continually occupied trying to throw any accusation they can invent at Climate Change Science and Climate Change Scientists.

Let us try to remember that electronic mails, e-mails or emails, are not authoritative scientific literature – they portray the full spectrum of normal human messaging activity, but anything that is published as science is subjected to a wide review by the author’s peers (“peer review”), who may well critique it negatively, and force it to be submitted to corrections.

If the Institute of Physics wants its submission to the Science and Technology Committee to stand as its official, scientific view on the stolen e-mails from IEA CRU, then it must be subjected to further correction from those with the knowledge to remove unfounded accusations and factual inaccuracies.

Do that, or possibly face a nosedive in reputation, my dear old IoP chaps.

Let me just point out one such problem :-

“2. The CRU e-mails as published on the internet provide prima facie evidence of determined and co-ordinated refusals to comply with honourable scientific traditions and freedom of information law. The principle that scientists should be willing to expose their ideas and results to independent testing and replication by others, which requires the open exchange of data, procedures and materials, is vital.”

To make just a very short response to this statement (that I consider borders on science fiction), there has been no evidence from the CRU e-mails that there were “determined and co-ordinated refusals to comply with honourable scientific traditions”. This is just muck-throwing of the most unpleasant kind.

2 thoughts on “Institute of Physics Nosedive”

  1. Jo, the IOP submission isn’t about climate-change denial, it’s about the science being seen to be good science. Nobody at the IOP is saying that human activity doesn’t affect the climate, the issue is how much, and how AGW stacks up against other threats such as pandemic, energy security, overpopulation, etc. The threatened extinction of the tiger in the wild isn’t down to climate change, nor is the rape of the seas. The root cause is human selfishness and greed, the kind of thing that results in the tragedy of the commons. Ideally cool rational impartial science will help save us from that, but if people think it isn’t impartial, they won’t listen, and then we’re in trouble.

    Despite that, the public aren’t stupid. They know they’re being subjected to a propaganda campaign here. All one has to do is buy two newspapers to see that. The reaction to the IOP submission has been counter-productive because it reinforces the notion that propaganda rather than scientific fact has put AGW into the hole it’s in. So please stop digging.

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