Archive for March 30th, 2010


Data Valid

March 30, 2010

The AP reports that the UK panel charged with investigating the use of CRU data has found that the representations were valid.

LONDON (AP) — A parliamentary panel investigating allegations that scientists at one of the world’s leading climate research centers misrepresented data related to global warming found no evidence to support that charge, a panel announced Wednesday.

But the Science and Technology Committee of the British House of Commons did fault scientists at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit and its director, Phil Jones, for the way they handled freedom of information requests from skeptics challenging the evidence for climate change.

The panel said that Professor Jones and his colleagues could have saved themselves a great deal of trouble by aggressively publishing all their data instead of worrying about how to stonewall their critics.



March 30, 2010

While I often say that graduate school cured me of my fiction affliction, and my wife will attest that it did — I read a fiction novel now about once every several years, in contrast to my several books a month during and immediately after undergraduate college — this new novel from Ian McEwan looks mighty interesting. Here’s a write-up. Might well pick this up as soon as the semester draws to a close.


Say Something Philosophical

March 30, 2010

I was once out to dinner with some friends when an acquaintance, whom I had just met, paused and asked me to “say something philosophical.” Occurrences like that happen more often than I care to recount, but here’s a nice overview of a recent poll distributed to philosophers (including me) that tells much the same story.

The PhilPapers study, by David Chalmers of the Australian National University and David Bourget of London University, surveyed academics at 99 leading philosophy departments around the globe, over 90% of them in the English-speaking world and nearly two-thirds in America. Some 91% of the respondents thought they belonged to the analytic tradition and 4% the “Continental” one. When asked which dead philosopher they most identified with, a clear winner emerged, with 21% of the votes: David Hume, the 18th-century thinker, historian, sceptic and agnostic who was a close friend of the economist Adam Smith. Aristotle, Kant and Wittgenstein took second, third and fourth places. The next six spots went to philosophers from the 20th century, most recently Donald Davidson, an American who died in 2003. Plato made 13th place and Socrates limped in at 21st.

Read the article for more… and if you’re really brave, you’ll check out the actual poll results.


Mann on E-mails

March 30, 2010

Climatewire offers a quick peek into Michael Mann’s regrets about the CRU e-mails.

“I wish in retrospect I had told him, ‘Hey, you shouldn’t even be thinking about this,'” Mann, a prominent climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University, said in an interview with The Morning Call. “I didn’t think it was an appropriate request.”


“There are a lot of things we could look back at and say, ‘Gee, I wish I had done this or that,'” Mann said. “The important thing is, I didn’t delete any e-mails. And I don’t think [Jones] did, either.”

The article opens with “Michael Mann has a regret.”

No doubt about it. The question is: what’s the nature of this regret? Is it a regret stemming from the political hysteria that has ensued following the release of the much-ballyhooed e-mails? Or is it a regret about the mistake of not trying nip Phil Jones’ actions in the bud?

Frankly, I think there’s good reason to believe that it’s the former, and I can certainly understand that why it would be the former, the question for me as an ethicist, at least, is how to impress upon other scientists — not just in climate science, but in all branches of the sciences — that it is mighty important to self- police on matters such as this for reasons that extend beyond the potential political repercussions.