Former CRU chief: Hiding data is a critical part of science!

posted at 11:36 am on March 2, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

So much for transparency in science!  Dr. Phil Jones, the former chief of the East Anglia CRU, testified yesterday before the British Parliament’s committee on Science and Technology to defend himself after the exposure of e-mails from the climate-research team reaching back a decade.  Jones admitted sending the “pretty awful e-mails,” but insisted that the MPs didn’t realize that secrecy is a critical part of the scientific method:

But yesterday Professor Jones – in his first public appearance since the scandal broke – denied manipulating the figures.
Looking pale and clasping his shaking hands in front of him, he told MPs: ‘I have obviously written some pretty awful emails.’
He admitted withholding data about global temperatures but said the information was publicly available from American websites.
And he claimed it was not ‘standard practice’ to release data and computer models so other scientists could check and challenge research.
‘I don’t think there is anything in those emails that really supports any view that I, or the CRU, have been trying to pervert the peer review process in any way,’ he said.

But yesterday Professor Jones – in his first public appearance since the scandal broke – denied manipulating the figures.

Looking pale and clasping his shaking hands in front of him, he told MPs: ‘I have obviously written some pretty awful emails.’

He admitted withholding data about global temperatures but said the information was publicly available from American websites.

And he claimed it was not ‘standard practice’ to release data and computer models so other scientists could check and challenge research.

‘I don’t think there is anything in those emails that really supports any view that I, or the CRU, have been trying to pervert the peer review process in any way,’ he said.

And down the rabbit hole we go.  The peer-review process refers to the very mechanism where scientists release data and computer models so other scientists can check and challenge research.  If that isn’t what happens in peer review, then what are scientific peers reviewing?  Page numbers?  Grammar?  If Jones blocked other scientists from seeing his data and his methodology, then he’s not just perverting the peer-review process, he’s killing it entirely.

The scientific method requires data sets to be available for full review and a complete disclosure of methodology.  Without that, other researchers cannot duplicate results in independent studies, which is what scientists in every other field require before accepting conclusions in any degree, let alone to the point of making them “settled science.”  Jones knows that — and his attempts to hide his data and methodology strongly implies that he knew that his results were fraudulent.

Last week, the Institute of Physics wrote to the Science and Technology Committee that if the East Anglia CRU e-mails were not forgeries, it would have dire implications for the entire field of climate science, emphases mine:

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. The lack of compliance has been confirmed by the findings of the Information Commissioner. This extends well beyond the CRU itself – most of the e-mails were exchanged with researchers in a number of other international institutions who are also involved in the formulation of the IPCC’s conclusions on climate change. …

4. The second category relating to proxy reconstructions are the basis for the conclusion that 20th century warming is unprecedented. Published reconstructions may represent only a part of the raw data available and may be sensitive to the choices made and the statistical techniques used. Different choices, omissions or statistical processes may lead to different conclusions. This possibility was evidently the reason behind some of the (rejected) requests for further information.

Now we have prima facie evidence that Jones wasn’t conducting science at all.  He was generating propaganda and a self-perpetuating industry dependent on government action.

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