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Climate jiggery-pokery

Graham Stringer, Blackley and Broughton MP, on the failure of scientific integrity

Published on March 14th 2011.


Climate jiggery-pokery

THE ‘MMR’ scare is one of the most shocking scandals of recent times.

Twelve years ago the now disgraced Dr Wakefield produced a piece of fraudulent research for his own financial gain which purported to show a link between the triple vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella and autism.

As well as carrying out unnecessary and painful invasive procedures on 12 children, this fiddled research led to a huge drop in vaccination levels. Now there are hundreds of thousands of un-immunised children who are vulnerable to measles, which is again endemic in the UK.

Wakefield was not exposed by the academic, medical or scientific establishment but by the extraordinary and determined efforts of Brian Deer, a Sunday Times journalist. It took him twelve years.

Reading his account of how he achieved his success I was struck by enormous similarities with the investigation into the leaked emails from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in November 2009 – the so called Climategate scandal.

Remember how badly the emails read: ‘hide the decline’ and ‘delete any emails you may have had’ looked like a straight forward case of scientific jiggery-pokery.

Let me be clear I am not accusing Professor Phil Jones and his colleagues at the Climatic Research Unit of the UEA of Wakefield-style fraud but I am concerned that the two investigations into the leaked e-mails suffered from the same flaws as the medical and scientific investigations into Wakefield.

Brian Deer was concerned that when he approached the Royal Free Hospital and the Editor of the Lancet, that it led to an investigation “where the accused were investigating themselves.”

There was also a two year long investigation by the General Medical Council (GMC) cumulating in Wakefield being found guilty of some 30 charges and together with his colleague Walker-Smith being struck off the medical register.

Deer was still not satisfied, “the regulators main focus was ethical, mine was whether it was true”.

The Vice Chancellor of the University of East Anglia seemed to share Deer’s desire to get at the truth when he announced an independent review which would “reassess the science and make sure there is nothing wrong”.

Lord Oxburgh who was appointed to chair this panel, disappointed everybody. He explained that the Vice Chancellor was new and did not understand what he had promised.He soon made it clear that he would not reassess the science but he was just going to satisfy himself as to the integrity of the scientists. After a cosy chat with the Climatic Research Unit scientists he decided that they were decent chaps.

Interestingly however following a Freedom of Information Request notes taken by one of the panellists, Professor Kelly from the University of Cambridge, indicated that while there was no “blatant malpractice” it was impossible to show that the Climatic Research Unit scientists had not cherry picked their statistics.

Graham Stringer

He thought their methodology was “turning centuries of science on its head”. Oxburgh also quietly damned the climate team by saying “it is very surprising that research in an area that depends so heavily on statistical methods has not been carried out in close collaboration with professional statisticians”

This is the equivalent of claiming medical competence whilst operating on a patient without an anaesthetist.

The other review carried out by Sir Muir Russell, a Civil Servant responsible for overseeing the huge over expenditure of the Scottish Parliament building, had even greater resonance with Deer’s concern about the accused investigating themselves. His review was charged with looking at the e-mails themselves. One of the main charges against Professor Jones was that he deleted e-mails that would show he was up to no good scientifically.

In a situation that is almost beyond parody Muir Russell stated that he didn’t ask Jones whether he had deleted the e-mails because they would have had to interview Jones under caution. What was the solution then? The Vice Chancellor asked Jones whether he had deleted the e-mails. This rather negated the purpose of having an independent Inquiry when the only person to ask the crucial question was the Vice Chancellor who saw his prime responsibility to the good name of the University. The accused investigating themselves again.

The work of the research unit is central to the manmade global warming thesis. There are proposals to increase worldwide taxation by up to a trillion dollars on the basis of climate science predictions. This is an area where strong and opposing views are held. The release of the unit’s e-mails from the and the accusations that followed demanded independent and objective scrutiny of the science by independent panels. This did not happen.

We now know that the work done at Climatic Research Unit barely qualified as science; they kept it secret to stop other scientists checking it; thus breaching one of the foundations of the scientific method.

To stop politicians cheating, athletes taking drugs and financiers embezzling, we have increasingly strong regulators. We cannot assume scientists come from a higher moral plane.

Deer’s solution of an Inspectorate of Research Integrity has to be part of the solution to restore the reputation of science.

Graham Stringer is the present MP for Blackley and Broughton and previously MP for Blackley. He entered Parliament in 1997, having previously been the Leader of Manchester City Council.

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16 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

simon12234March 14th 2011.

Green types often tell us we can't trust government employed scientists when they say nuclear power, cloning and GM foods are safe but we can trust them completely when it comes to global warming!

Green science isn't based on facts and figures. It's a matter of faith.

RobertCMarch 14th 2011.

Hi Graham,
Thank you for summing up the situation at the UEA CRU here, at ManchesterConfidential.co.uk.

Surely, the next step is to repeat this on BBC1, ideally on the Evening News or Newsnight.
If they are not willing, this would be news in itself and should be made known to the public.
You have many well informed people waiting for this to break in the mainstream media.

tickleMarch 14th 2011.

This is a gross and irresponsible over-simplification of the situation at UEA.
Graham, I believe you are shamelessly taking advantage of people's misunderstanding and distrust of science, and their willingness to believe that climate change science is false.
The information and clear explanation of what happened at the CRU is out there for anyone who cares to do a little bit of reading around, rather than buying into the idea that it's a giant conspiracy to raise taxes.
If human-caused climate change is a fact, and if articles like this cause society, governments and business to ignore it, the consequences will be on your conscience.

Simon - there's no such thing as 'green science' - there are biology, ecology, meteorology, and many other completely legitimate sciences that 'green types' draw from, all of which are based on 'facts and figures'. Sorry you didn't learn any of these at school, but please don't drag the rest of us down to your level. The potential effects of climate change may be too important to react to in ignorance.

neilcraigMarch 14th 2011.

Actually, if anything, Stringer is being overly kind to Jones and co. Wakefield produced a credible theory and did some real, though I am assureed erroneous research without personally profiting. His disqualification came on issues of how he did the research (ie not telling the children the details) rather than any fraud. His main error sems to be to have developed a theory governmebnt found inconvenient.

Jones on the other hand has received £13.6 MILLION for "research" whixch involved quite deliberately "hiding the decline" in global temperature to promote the catastrophjic warming fraud. A fraud funded by government to increase its power over us.

I note that Tickle makes no attempt to descend from denouncing sceptics to actually pointing to any evidence whatsoever of catastrophic warming. That is because there isn't any. None whatsoever.

Tudno Gareth WatkinsMarch 14th 2011.

Graham Stringer, the only politician with a serious science background, seems to be the only MP to understand the enormity of 'climategate' and the ludicrous whitewash inquiries.
The whole of 'climate science' and the scientists involved, who refuse to release data and methods, need to be investigated by a truly independent inquiry before our scientifically illiterate politicians ruin our country by pursuing energy policies that even Cervantes would have been proud to write.

TickleMarch 14th 2011.

You noticed that I didn't do something that is quite beside the point of what I was saying? Well, aren't you the observant one! Have a frigging gold star, eagle eyes.

Even a brief look into the issue shows that they were not 'hiding the decline' in temperature - there was NO decline in temperate recorded - that quote refers to a single proxy for temperature indicators which would normally correlate to the temperature, but in fact contradicted the temperature that was actually recorded and was in fact rising. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divergence_problem - written with proper references)

By selectively quoting the facts in your interpretation of what has been presented, you elevate yourself to the level of that renowned genius Sarah Palin. If you've got any dignity, try harder:
Get the facts. Think for yourself. Think clearly and logically. That is what science does. If you can't manage that, please... leave it to those who can.

Patricia SolarMarch 14th 2011.

Many thanks to Mr Stringer for having the integrity and determination to ask probing, direct questions.

It seems he was about the only one involved who was not intent on sweeping the whole issue under the carpet.

As he so rightly points out the situation is beyond parody. The "independent enquiries" where neither independent nor enquiries.

Happily he does not seem to be inclined to let the matter drop. More power to him and his kind.

Many thanks Mr. Stringer.

simon12234March 14th 2011.

Tickle, I was quite good at science when I was at school. I've got a science degree too - in a proper science, not a noddy, wishy washy environmental science type subject.

Greens tell us that government scientists are wrong about all sorts of things but strangely always correct about global warming.

What these dim/blinkered greens fail to realise is that government scientists say what their employers wants them to say, just like all employees have to.

Government science has to fit government policy and expedience. The reason government paid scientists are a never ending source of gloom and doom about the climate is that lots of green taxes can be justified on the back of it. The money raised can then be spent on dole payments, schools, hospitals, nuclear weapons, new roads etc etc.

Fortunately the Climategate afair has exposed how the government's hired scientists have to fudge, lose and refuse public access to data to make the science fit their employer's cynical tax raising climate theories.

Good on Mr Stringer for adding to the growing backlash against pseudoscience which greens use to push their misanthropic and authoritarian fads and fancies.

Eur Ing Robert ChristopherMarch 14th 2011.

Tickle 14 March 2011, 20:18:01
"Even a brief look into the issue shows that they were not 'hiding the decline' in temperature - there was NO decline in temperate recorded - that quote refers to a single proxy for temperature indicators which would normally correlate to the temperature, but in fact contradicted the temperature that was actually recorded and was in fact rising."

But THAT was the problem! The temperatures recorded by thermometers, after 1960, went UP, but the 'temperatures' arrived at by using the proxy went DOWN after 1960.

This showed that the proxy used didn't always give the correct temperature. So how did they know that it worked from around 1000 AD to 1850 AD, which is when reliable temperatures start being available?
Well, they didn't, which meant that all their results, and their use of the proxy, should have been reassessed. No wonder they wanted 'the science to be settled'!

TickleMarch 14th 2011.

Ecology, meteorology and biology are 'noddy'? No scientist worth listening to would belittle fellow disciplines so readily. Perhaps you do well in your specialism and struggle with the nuances of the less hard sciences? Different minds cope with different subjects well, and reasoned thinkers don't build themselves up by dismissing areas outside their expertise. That's for fragile egos and defensive minds. Pretty sad and embarrassing to see it.

How many years did climate scientists make the case for human-caused climate change before governments started listening? The idea that climate change science flourishes because of a government conspiracy to take advantage is a self-serving myth.
I could assume your scientific detachment has been undermined by bitterness at seeing scientists in soft, 'wishy washy' fields get funding.

Robert C - yes... thanks for the fuller details of the issue - not sure why you're telling me, I was just making the point that the quote had been taken out of context and totally misunderstood.

David HollandMarch 14th 2011.

For Tickle and anyone else that thinks this is much ado about nothing.

There are a number of strands to Climategate. You can read here why one scientist in the UK asked colleagues in the USA to delete emails that I had made a FOIA request for: http://tinyurl.com/2656ppl

Manchester is fortunate to have an MP with common sense and a science degree

Kevin KingMarch 14th 2011.

If anyone here still believes the members of the hockey team are honest and scrupulous I would suggest they watch this video. It's given by Richard Muller, a high grade physics professor and a member of the JASON Defense Advisory Group so he's no dummy.

http://www.youtube.com/v/8BQpciw8suk?fs=1&hl=cs_CZ

Recall this is the graph Al Gore used in "An Inconvenent Truth" and which figured so prominently in many IPCC reports(though now withdrawn).

If you remain unconvinced having seen the above, I suggest you read the emails(and don't just comment on them as if you had) and then buy "The Hockey Stick Illusion". Thereafter if
you still insist these crackpots are honest, scrupulous men, you are either
a politician or a half-wit.

Michael Rodney CunninghamMarch 15th 2011.

Tickle, you ask "How many years did climate scientists make the case for human-caused climate change before governments started listening?" They started agitating about anthropogenic global warming in the mid-80s, after 15 years of scaremongering about an imminent ice age were discredited. Don't like that scare? Don't worry, we have a converse one. Governments were soon on board - I was briefed on AGW in 1989 by Sir John Houghton, the IPCC's chief scientist.

JohnMarch 15th 2011.

All professional bodies exist solely to serve their members ( see the Law Society and the GMC for details ) so, of course those pukka chaps at UEA were exonerated by their peers, what else would you expect? The whole field of "climate change science" is now such a goldmine that no rational person would expect any integrity from it. When anyone who disagrees with their conclusions is labelled a "climate change denier" then you know that this is no longer a credible scientific debate but rather a defense of vested interests. The funny thing is that when the green movement started several decades ago with the completely laudable aim of fighting pollution they were labelled "hippies and tree huggers" and subjected to total derision but once the subsidies and research grants started to arrive that all reversed. I'm a firm believer in alternative energy and have worked in that field but when climateologists can't get a localised weather forecast right even with the help of a supercomputer, I fail to see why I should believe them when they claim that human caused carbon emmissions will result in global warming.

simon12234March 15th 2011.

Tickle, you say

'I could assume your scientific detachment has been undermined by bitterness at seeing scientists in soft, 'wishy washy' fields get funding.'

You could assume that. Nobody can stop you! You are quite typical of many greens. You seem to think that attributing negative qualities such as greed, bitterness and ignorance to anyone who doesn't agree with you is a valid way to argue your case.

Many of us are coming to the conclusion that such silly tactics are because you can't argue on the science or the facts.

PS.

Don't make accusations of bitterness. There's no better way of appearing bitter yourself.

David HollandMarch 15th 2011.

Pst!
Would you like to make a real difference and save yourself thousands of pound over the next few years as well?

Even if you really are convinced that climate change caused by human activity is as bad as a few well paid career scientists and environmentalists claim, do you really believe that the thousands of pounds, that the Climate Change Act will cost each one of us, will make significant difference to global temperatures in 2100?

Do you think the Climate Change Act and windmills are a better investment right now than health, education, roads, policing and all the other things for which funds will be restricted in the next 5 years?

If you do, I wish you the best of luck. If you don´t why not sign the petition and make a difference! You also get the chance to give Mr Cameron a piece of your mind – only 500 characters mind you. Sign here!

http://www.gopetition.com/petition/43914.html

And get all your friends and family to do the same!

Come on Manchester - Lead the way!

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