Climate data and the other side of data management

There are some amazing difference between NOAA’s rather cavalier data “adjustments”  and data management in the regulated communities.  I started in a research lab in 1966 as a budding freshman chemistry major with the opportunity to do real research in organic chemistry, along with washing dishes.  The rules were that I wrote a description of what I planned to d0,  what I actually did and included all pertinent data.  Erasures and data alterations were not allowed.  You could strike through an error, correct it and initial the correction.  My lab notebooks were reviewed and signed by someone else periodically.  In the remainder of my career, records were not changed.  Data weren’t continuously adjusted.  I’ve terminated a couple of people for such actions.

I spent 3 decades managing environmental records of all types.  I’ve spent a number of years signing certifications of data and reports that started with “I certify under penalty of law…”  In my last position, I managed continuous data from about 500 generators in a several states.  In my world you could correct obvious errors but you didn’t get the luxury of adjusting your data continuously.

We’ve been watching the climate experts doing, it seems, just the opposite.  NOAA’s new data set and announcement of the disappearance of the pause seems to be an egregious example of data manipulation.  Historical data are historical data.  They shouldn’t be subject to change.  If the data aren’t suitable for making your case, tough.

These scientists, in my opinion, are breaking long standing rules.  In addition, their work has serious implications on the economy and people’s lives.  I’d like to see their data and reports with signatures in a block starting “Under penalty of law…”

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4 responses to “Climate data and the other side of data management

  1. I still work in medical research and publish in leading journals. If you get tired of doing medical research and want a fresh start in life flipping hamburgers and asking people if they want fries with their meal, the best way to make the career change is to get caught changing the data.

    I don’t understand how climatologists get away with it without losing their careers.

  2. HankH remember that old movie “When Worlds Collide”? Well what is actually happening here is the collision of two worlds. One is that of ordinary everyday science and the other is political science.

    The main problem is that the rules for the one is much, much different than the other. Actually, about the only rule in political science is “don’t get caught” and if you do, then it is “stall, stall, stall” until another news story comes along to take the pressure off. Things like truth, accuracy and honesty are optional on the political side and then only if it benefits the political story.

    Truth and honest data is never going to win this fight by itself. Logic plays only a small part in the political arena and whenever large sums of cash are involved, even that goes straight out the window.

  3. Pierre La Chance

    I, too, was a long-time data manager and fully agree with what you say. If I had adjusted clinical trials data in the fashion of these climate scientists I could have produced any results I wanted. Instead, I preferred to let the data speak. What is happening now is simply shameful.

  4. The financial industry has a lot of rules to avoid misleading the public that might be useful for climate science to live up to its name too.

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