Scholars and Rogues

Putting Conspiracy Theories to Rest: Scholars and Rogues puts 'Climategate' in Context

As the stolen emails non-scandal from November retreats slowly in the rear-view mirror, it’s worth a quick re-cap of why it was so exciting in the first place.  Emails without context can be made to fit any story that someone wants to tell, which is one of the reasons we don’t like to release email correspondence that is inherently out of context.  Brian Angliss at Scholars and Rogues gives us an elegant run-through of how the stolen CRU emails are taken hopelessly out of context and cannot, in and of themselves, contribute to our understanding of climate science.

Given the demonstrated unreliability of electronic records that have been sorted or analyzed using automated tools, it’s unreasonable to make firm claims either of scientific misconduct, ethical lapses, or illegality based on only the published CRU emails. It takes full inquiries and investigations where the investigators talk with the involved parties to truly understand the details and the context surrounding claims like those made against the climate scientists mentioned in the published CRU emails. To date, three such inquires have been completed, and while there may be some areas where the inquiries can be fairly criticized, the fact that the results of all three agree with each other strongly suggests that Tim Osborn’s claim, rather than Geoff Sherrington’s, is closer to correct in this case – “It is impossible to draw firm conclusions from the hacked documents and emails.”

There is little that can dissuade someone who is convinced of a certain narrative, but fresh angles and a fresh perspective, such as Angliss offers, are an excellent part of the solution.  Check out the full article for interviews with both skeptics and scientists, and a fascinating look at how a study of computer bug fixes can be used to illustrate the incompleteness of the electronic trail.  See the full post at Scholars and Rogues

ACCCE’s Wild and Crazy Advertising Claims Debunked

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) is running ads on the websites of the Washington Post and The Hill citing a potentially fraudulent survey which claims that “72% of opinion leaders support coal electricity.”

Peer Review and the Science Versus Opinion Smackdown

Peer Review - a process by which something proposed (as for research or publication) is evaluated by a group of experts in the appropriate field. – Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Over the weekend, Brian Angliss posted a piece over at Scholars and Rogues on why scientific peer review matters. He wrote it in response to climate change deniers who like to argue that peer review is useless and therefore, just because climate science is peer reviewed, it isn’t necessarily true.

Unfortunately for the denier community, it’s a little more complicated than that. As Angliss writes:

One major misconception about all varieties of peer review is that the reviews guarantee no errors in the final product.

What peer review does is start a process of finding and correcting errors, which generally continues upon and after publication, Angliss explains. It is another step in the scientific method of gathering data and testing hypotheses to solve a problem or understand an issue. Because of this method, scientific understanding often builds and deepens over time. That does not make the original assumptions or theories incorrect.

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