Thursday 10 December 2009

Mea culpa

I just sent this email to Andrew Bolt & Anthony Watt:



My apologies for leading you up the garden path, but my little excursion into the murky depths of climate measurement has been an interesting and enlightening one.

For starters, it showed how a sceptical mind works. I postulated a theory and a fellow sceptic (Ubique) torpedoed it below the water line within a few hours. This is how an open and inquiring mind works. My fellow sceptic did not care whether we were "on the same side" - I was wrong, and the truth was more important than any political position that we might hold. That is important.

The second thing is that my theory was tested because I published all my data in an easily accesible format. Others were able to immediately check my work (and attempt to replicate it if necessary). I could have only published the graph and not the photos, and we would have been none the wiser. It demonstrates the importance of being open with your source data and reasoning.

The third is the importance of relying on first hand observation in the field, rather than relying on second hand data and a "computer model".

The fourth is the emotional rollercoaster ride this small episode generated. It was fun to be published on two well regarded sites, but that lasted about 5 minutes until the ego bursting comment arrived that knocked my analysis over. It's a humiliating experience, but a necessary one. You get it wrong, you cop the consequences and try to do better next time. Imagine how hard it must be for the likes of Briffa, Mann and Jones - their egos and professional reputations have been pumped up by years of media flattery and exposure to heads of state etc etc. It's not fun having to admit you got it wrong in a small thing - imagine how hard it would be for them to climb down now. The loss of face would be unbearable - I doubt most people would be able to hack it emotionally. It's no wonder they have circled the wagons and are in full denial mode - in their position, I would be doing that too. They can't turn back - they have too much invested in this. Some say "follow the money". To that I would now add, "consider the ego".

In that spirit, I have decided to crush Ubique. I am going to write to every reputable blog and insist that the editors refuse to publish his comments in future. If they don't comply, I am going to campaign to have them removed from running their own blogs. I will also undermine Ubique by stating at all times that his comments are not "peer reviewed", and will attempt to have his credentials as a comment provider revoked. I am also going to take down my photos of the lighthouse, and refuse to release them for at least a decade. If he asks any other blogger to provide the photos, I will tell those bloggers to refuse to provide them, and to delete any email correspondence pertaining to those photos. If anyone asks for them, I'll just delete them. Oh, and by the way, Ubique is in the pay of Big Oil.

Cheers, and keep up the good work. You can publish this is you want to.


Steve D said...

Regarding your last paragraph, you'd better beware of Junior or Monkey doing some whistleblowing in a few years time, once they can't stand it no more!

bikeonaboy said...

I'll make sure that their education includes no references to any FOI legislation!

Ubique of Perth said...

Boab, I stand condemned; my commenting career has been cut short. But every condemned man is entitled to a last wish. Mine is that you'll drop around for a beer and a yarn next time you're visiting Perth. Cheers, Ubique.

Kaboom said...

BOAB, an excellent commentary, and an excellent apology for the errors (what's a few degrees between friends)!

My newest study links sterility and penis size reduction to narrow and uncomfortable bicycle seats.

Can you suggest anyone who may be inclined to "peer review" it?

Cheers, K.

Margo's Maid said...

It's a yucky feeling, BOAB, but so long as you're honest about a stuff-up your cred will always live to fight another day.