Planet Gore

When the Penny Dropped

Climate Audit’s Steve McIntyre was profiled in Macleans yesterday.

[I]n 2003, when McIntyre first saw the hockey stick graph, it reminded him uncomfortably of some stock promoter’s over-optimistic revenue projection. McIntyre asked lead “hockey stick” author Michael Mann for the underlying data and was startled when Mann had trouble remembering where he had posted the files to the Internet. “That was when the penny dropped for me,” McIntyre says. “I had the sense that Mann was pulling together the data for the first time — that nobody had ever bothered to inquire independently into the hockey stick before.”

To McIntyre, a scientist’s data and code stand in the same relationship to a finished paper that drilling cores do to a mining company press release. “If you’re offering securities to the public,” McIntyre observed in a May 2008 talk at Ohio State University, “there are complicated and expensive processes of due diligence, involving audits of financial statements, independent engineering reports, opinions from securities lawyers and so on. There are laws requiring the disclosure of adverse results.” Peer review in scientific journals is good, he suggested, but it is limited and vulnerable to compromise. “There is far more independent due diligence on the smallest prospectus offering securities to the public than on a Nature article that might end up having a tremendous impact on policy.”

The rest here.

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