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Climategate and the Need For Greater Scientific Openness

July 11th, 2010 07:22 admin Leave a comment Go to comments

The Guardian follows up on the recent news that CRU climate scientists were cleared of scientific misconduct with an article that focuses on how the controversy could have been avoided, and public trust retained, had the scientists made more of an effort to be open about their research. You may recall our discussion of a report from Pennsylvania State University; that was followed by another review with similar conclusions. Quoting:
“The review, led by Sir Muir Russell, does not mention the media. Instead, it examines the reaction of the scientists at the UEA’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) to the pressure exerted by bloggers: ‘An important feature of the blogosphere is the extent to which it demands openness and access to data. A failure to recognize this and to act appropriately can lead to immense reputational damage by feeding allegations of cover-up.’ The review adds: ‘We found a lack of recognition of the extent to which earlier action to release information might have minimized the problems.’ Pressure on the scientists, whose once esoteric work creating records of past temperatures had gained global significance, was intense. In 2005, CRU head Phil Jones replied to a request: ‘We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?’ But, the review implies, the more they blocked, the more the Freedom of Information requests flooded in.”

Source: Climategate and the Need For Greater Scientific Openness

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