The Early Days of a Better Nation

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Science prof's office untidy - shock claim

The Mail on Sunday is on the case:
[T]hanks to the row over leaked emails from the Climatic Research Unit, we now learn that this body’s director, Phil Jones, works in a disorganised fashion amid chaos and mess. [...] His colleagues recall that his office was ‘often surrounded by jumbled piles of papers’.
Elsewhere in the paper, we learn the full horror:
According to Mr Harrabin, colleagues of Professor Jones said ‘his office is piled high with paper, fragments from over the years, tens of thousands of pieces of paper, and they suspect what happened was he took in the raw data to a central database and then let the pieces of paper go because he never realised that 20 years later he would be held to account over them’.
Tens of thousands of pieces of paper! Chaos and mess! Jumbled piles! In a scientist's office! Having been inside the offices of many science professors, and having worked for a year with social scientists who've made close anthropological studies of the everyday work of natural scientists, I'm shocked to the core.

Labels: , ,


Some of the most un technical ecology researchers I worked with have all their data books and original data files from their undergrad years in the early 70's. You do not let data wither away even if you are the only one that can understand it.

The grasslands work in Colorado, USA had the data books from the late 1800's. The excuse that I did not think anyone would want the raw data is not a good one.

There is a push in published research lately that unless you release the complete raw data it is not published. The US NSF is requiring this in some cases now.

The data in this case consists of copies of temperature records collected by meteorological services around the world, not by Prof Jones. Keeping the original data is their responsibility, not his.

That makes more sense. Thanks for clarifying that for me.

It is not really a good or relevant defence if the entire essence of your work has been precisely to collect the data from those original sources, calibrate it, and apply particular mathematical transformations to it. Is it really your experience that scientists don't give a damn about reproducibility?

While Colby Cosh is probably right, this still doesn't make it a malign cosnpiracy to hide the true facts about climate change.

Of course scientists give a damn about reproducibility.

As I understand it, anyone who's interested in reproducing the results is welcome to do what the CRU scientists did: go and buy the raw data from national weather services all around the world.

Ken: a propos of nothing in particular: I'll be at The Early Days of a Better Future? event at which you're soon to appear, so you'll be getting back that book you lent me last year. Apologies for holding on to it for so long. ;)

Hey, you're welcome! Hope you've found it interesting.

Yep. It's a good read, although as a simple biography it's more than just a wee bit short on analysis. Still it was grist to the mill of my anti-sectarian analysis. Meanwhile, I picked up a copy of Revolutionary History's Culture and Revolution in the Thought of Leon Trotsky in Foyle's bookshop in London last week- grist to the mill of my efforts to develop an analysis of 'postmodern' geek culture by way of a critique of Trotsky's theories of art and culture. It's a good read too.

Post a Comment