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Checking for errors an inconvenience - Bob Ward

Freedom of information laws are used to harass scientists, says Nobel laureate | Politics | The Guardian
Sir Paul Nurse says climate scientists are being targeted by campaigns of requests designed to slow down their research
Bob Ward of the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics said the intention of many of those making freedom of information requests was to trawl through scientists' work with the intention of trying to find problems and errors. "It's also quite true that these people do not care about the fact that it is causing a serious inconvenience," he said.

How awful! The inconvenience of people checking climate scientists' work for errors. Don't they know there is an emergency? What are a few errors to saving the world?


It appears that a great many scientists could use some instruction on the philosophy of science and the scientific method:

Have a hypothesis? Is it falsifiable? Showing your data, it's origin and any adjustments / smoothing / etc? Conclusion time! .... Please be aware that your conclusion can still be overturned by new information / better experimental method / people happening not to make some error that you did / etc.

You want people to "trawl through scientists' work with the intention of trying to find problems and errors", that's how science works and the longer and better your work stands up to such scrutiny the more likely it is to be true and the more kudos you should earn. So the solution to speeding up the time consuming freedom of information process is to publish your data etc, just like a real scientist would.

If you miss out any part of the process then you are not doing science whatever the hell else you happen to be up to, (filling in yet more grant applications for instance).

In the climate modelling research group where I used to work we were so keen to have people look at our data that we made all of the raw data available on the internet; the only restriction the physicists applied was that they expected people to tell them if they planned to publish a paper using this data, and to credit them appropriately. I think there's now a little under 95TB of it so downloading the lot would not be easy, but I see one experiment you could get for about 1.6GB.

Welcome back, Mr E.

I had hoped that FINIS was not the last word!

You seem to be back. If so good news as I the sudden notice of your departure threw me.

The unstated thing here is that FOI requests are even NEEDED.

Back when I worked as a scientist if someone asked me for data , I just gave it. With the "please credit me" caveats.

The issue with these guys is they refuse to show their data & methods with tenacity that is suspicious, and in my field would have tantamount eff3ectively treating all their results as "crap until they prove otherwise, or someone bother to replicate it."

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