Thursday, February 02, 2012

Email 1653, July 2004: Steve McIntyre schools Phil Jones on replication and checking

Email 1653

Again, thanks for your continuing courtesy in this. Replication and checking are fact of life in business (where most of my experience lies), especially when you are communicating with the public. There are very formal processes for this; auditors and securities lawyers, who are among the most highly paid professionals in our society, do little more than replicate and check. If you wish to offer securities to the public, you get used to dealing with questions from them. The corresponding processes in paleoclimate studies (and probably most academic pursuits) seem very casual to me. When studies get used for policy purposes, it seems to me that there is a material change in the level of due diligence is required. This leads to a conundrum: many scholars seem quite happy to have their studies quoted in big reports (like IPCC), but then fail to make arrangements for public archiving of their results and methods and become defensive if they are asked for their data. In the offering of securities, there is an interesting stage that deals with this - if a report by an indepenedent professional (e.g. a geologist) is used in a prospectus, the independent professional has to provide a consent letter authorizing the promoters of the prospectus to refer to his report and to supply the consent letter to the securities commission. The terms of the consent letter impose disclosure requriements on him. This would deal with the situation of someone like Crowley, whose study is quoted by IPCC, but who repeatedly and persistently refuses to disclose his proxy data versions. In a prospectus situation, if the IPCC wished to use Crowley's report, Crowley would have to agree to make his data pulic if asked (which he should probably do on alternative grounds).

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