Memorandum submitted by Dr Michael Simons
This submission relates to the implications
of the CRU e-mail disclosures for the integrity of scientific
research. The author submits that the evidence shows that accepted
scientific standards were breached by the refusal publicly to
disclose important scientific data, and also by bringing improper
influence to bear on the peer review and publication processes
so as to suppress contrary views. These failures of proper scientific
practice were generally unchallenged, and hence tacitly condoned,
by much of the scientific establishment. If the integrity of the
scientific process itself is not maintained, there are profound
adverse implications for the future integrity of scientific research.
It is further suggested that the perception that research grants
were selectively directed to units and individuals whose findings
supported one particular narrative might encourage the scientifically
flawed behaviour suggested by the e-mails in order to get the
I write as a (retired) professional scientist
who is dismayed at the apparent perversion of the scientific process
revealed in the CRU e-mails and by supporting evidence, and by
the apparent complicity of the scientific establishment in this.
I welcome the Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee's
examination of these matters, and trust that the committee will
be able to play a part in restoring integrity to the scientific
I studied chemistry at Oxford and Reading Universities,
qualifications PhD, MRSC, CChem. Worked for 40 years as an experimental
research scientist in a major international company, collaborating
with international colleagues, (USA, France, Germany) and am inventor
or co-inventor of some 60 granted patents, and author or co-author
of 4 peer reviewed papers (patents were main publication route,
for commercial reasons).
(i) The scientific process is widely understood
to comprise three main steps:
(a) A study is carried out.
(b) The study is published with sufficient data
and procedural detail to allow independent workers to replicate
the work and confirm or challenge the findings. Normally a peer
review process occurs before publication, to ensure that the work
as published complies with accepted professional standards in
(c) Other scientists can then repeat the work,
and test, challenge, or develop and build on the published findings.
(ii) The key point is that everything must
be independently verifiable, by making sufficient data available
to do so. It is a tough but very effective process. If the information
is not made available, it is not properly verified science.
(iii) In the case of industrial research,
a similar process is carried out within the organisation. If something
is patented, it must be described in the openly published patent
in sufficient detail that a skilled person can independently replicate
(iv) The CRU e-mails show concerted efforts
to avoid publishing CRU data requested under Freedom of Information
(FOI), these data being relevant to published papers by CRU staff.
The reasons are not clear, but what is clear is that it was not
for legal reasons, it was because they really did not want their
data made public. E-mail 1107454306 mentioned deleting data rather
than letting it go public. E-mails 1106338806, 1219239172 and
1228330629 were about ways of avoiding FOI disclosure, and e-mail
1237496573, astoundingly, discussed boycotting Royal Meteorological
Society journals if the RMS continued to insist on full publication
of data for papers published in their journals. (Many climate
journals apparently allowed publication of papers without full
publication of data).
(v) The intent of the e-mails is verified
by actual refusals by CRU, for various reasons, of FOI requests,
by CRU removing previously available data from its website, and
by CRU claiming to have lost its original raw data (Booker, The
Real Global Warming Disaster, Continuum International publishing
Group, London, 2009, pp 347, 348. Further supporting information
on Climate Audit (Steve McIntyre) and Watts Up With That? (Anthony
Watts) Websites). The Deputy Information Commissioner recently
announced that CRU had acted in breach of the FOI Act.
(vi) These efforts effectively to conceal
data are directly contrary to the principles of science. Rather
than pursuing the scientific goal of revealing the truth, they
seem more directed at concealing the truth.
(vii) The e-mails also reveal efforts to
control and manipulate publication of papers in the climate science
journals and beyond. In e-mail 1047388489, Mann to Jones, Mann
suggests boycotting the journal Climate Research which published
a paper contrary to his views, and/or leaning on the editorial
board, and Jones replies "I will be emailing the journal
to tell them I'm having nothing more to do with it until they
rid themselves of this troublesome editor". E-mail 1051190249
also discusses bringing pressure to bear on Climate Research editors.
In e-mail 1106322460 Mann and Wigley discuss getting rid of Saiers,
an editor of Geophysical Research Letters, which had published
a paper contrary to their views. In e-mail 1255352257 Mann discusses
putting pressure on the BBC who had broadcast an item not fully
conforming with their "consensus".
(viii) Such attempts to influence the editorial
policy of a journal to favour one point of view and deny publication
to contrary points of view is a perversion of the principles of
(ix) The effects of these clearly unscientific
actions and intentions are to undermine the integrity of the research
work in question, work which was paid for by public funds and
which has been very influential in forming policy which has enormous
implications on the global economy and on mankind in general.
They have also shamed British science.
(x) On the wider question of the integrity
of scientific research in general, it is imperative that the principles
of the scientific method are re-established, and that Parliament
and the scientific establishment at large roundly and publicly
condemn the malpractices as revealed by the e-mails. It is significant
that non-publication of data, and also non-publication of the
details of climate computer models, were implicitly condoned by
sections of the scientific establishment who did not insist on
publication, and this was happening well before the e-mails came
to light, A few journals did insist on publication, others did
not, but there was no significant objection to non-publication,
nor about the secretive nature of climate science which was being
used to inform very important areas of public policy. Unless openness,
honest dealing and transparency are restored to science it risks
becoming the tool of politicians and special interest groups,
and entirely losing its credibility.
(xi) Finally, there is the question why
might a scientist behave in the unprofessional ways indicated
by the e-mails. There is at least anecdotal evidence (see Booker,
loc.cit.) that climate research funding was preferentially directed
to units whose findings supported one particular narrative (that
there was dangerous climate warming and it was caused by man's
release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere). Such a political
influence would tend to steer ambitious unit directors in that
direction to maintain their research grants, which is clearly
detrimental to the integrity of scientific research.