Wednesday, July 21, 2010

IOP Sees Errors Of Its Ways

If you remember, one of the sub-stories to come out the frenzy around the CRU email hack was a controversy over the Institute Of Physics' statement to the U.K. Science and Technology Committee in which they, among other things, suggested that the non-U.K. scientists who had been drawn into the CRU Hack controversy should be investigated by the Committee--that the committee should start an international witch hunt.

In other words, the IOP statement came across as a typical piece of denialist crap.

After the statement was issued, push-back ensued from enraged IOP members and the media, and the institute began to "clarify" its way out of the pickle it found itself in. What eventually became clear was that the Institute's statement had been hi-jacked by members of its energy sub-committee, who managed to steer their document through the IOP's larger administrative structure and land it (the statement) on the desk of U.K. Science and Technology. Now Peter Gill, one of the the members of the energy sub-committee, and a known denialist, has spoken out, and while I don't take his account at face-value, this part--a letter from the IOP to members of the Energy sub-committee--seems straight-forward enough:

Following the meeting of the Science Board on 17 June 2010, it is with regret that I announce that the Energy Sub-group is to be disbanded, immediately. This, as you can imagine, is a direct consequence of the Climategate affair.

So, some retroactive justice, at least.

For another account of an organization (the American Physical Society) infiltrated and made to look silly by deniers, try this.


frank -- Decoding SwiftHack said...

The "it's due to secret Marxist ninja inquisitors" conspiracy theories will be coming any minute now.

Steve Bloom said...

Very illuminating. The parallelism with what happened at the AIP is almost eerie. Good for the IOP for the damage control they undertook after the intial lapse. I can see why they would be hesitant to formally retract the submission, and sabotaging it at the Parliamentary committee was something that necessarily had to take place under wraps, but terminating the offending group with prejudice clarifies their position nicely.

Riffling threw the comments over at BH's, I see that David Adams has departed the Guarniad. I wonder if he quit over the execrable promotion of Fred Pearce's crap.

John Mashey said...

Actually, the APS FPS and IOP were really fairly different, and I actually *know*, the first from firsthand involvement including face-to-face meeting, and the second from friends highly placed in British academe who I was in inperson or emails discussions during that time. one of them predicted exactly what happened.

The APS FPS fiasco with Monckton. happened because Gerald Marsh fed the 2 editors of the FPS half a dozen names of people to write regarding the other side. None ofthe others, including Dyson, were interested. The editors just thought Monckton was some physicist they didn't know (after all they had gotten the list from somebody they knew, who does turn out to be seriously anti-AGW, but they didn't know at the time how far that went).

For a long time they addressed the Viscount as Dr Monckton, and he oddly failed to correct them.

Anyway, the IOP thing really was a rogue subgroup, the APS FPS thing was naïveté, and at least one of the editors was horrified when he realized what had happened.

bigcitylib said...

John M. is right in a way: the mechanics are different in the two cases. But there is a parallel: both times, we have denialists probing around within a large science society/club/whatever you want to call it, for a weakness which they exploited by publishing denialist propoganda with that organization`s letterhead on the top of every page (as it were).

bigcitylib said...

And of course, Monckton seems to have been involved in both cases (peripherally in the IOP affair)

John Mashey said...

Well, we don't disagree much: I'm an aficionado of the arcane structural differences.

In the APS, the effort that is most similar to to the IOP's subgroup was Larry Gould's hijack of the APS New England Section's newsletter over several years. That was included in Another Silly Climate petition Exposed last year.
Gould was the most vocal, but there were others involved, over a sustained period.

Kees said...

And no coincidence that mr Peter Gill earns his money with consulting the fossil fuel business (

According to Gill, Crestport offers "consultancy and management support services … particularly within the energy and energy intensive industries worldwide", and says that it has worked with "oil and gas production companies including Shell, British Gas, and Petroleum Development Oman".