Monday, February 15, 2010

Mistakes and Shoddy Work

Well, the Realclimate crowd responds in a group post to the rising criticism in the media. While I am no fan of most of the criticism, because it is petty and often not very well researched, the answer by the group is telling.

They defend that wrong citations are a mistake, but not so drastic as to cast doubt about the IPCC reports. I concur with it, when it is just one sloppy mistake, but to outright quote WWF articles instead of the peer-reviewed literature is just that: sloppy and bad work.

Yes, I understand they only have 10 full-time members, BUT if they are swamped and they don’t have the time to do their work properly, they should say so and restrict themselves to the pieces of evidence they have, not start quoting their personal sources of information (how else would a WWF piece end up there?).

I can understand that they are environmentalists, why else would they do this kind of work, but when they assemble a public document then these preferences have to take a back seat.

If it were just one citation, then it would have been a small error, perhaps even an honest mistake, but they have 3-6 years for a full report and they don’t throw over all knowledge every year, so citations are usually all saved for years. I think they never searched for the original paper in the first place, or even asked the authors about the paper and a proper citation (an email the length of 2-3 sentences!!!).

And then the issue with the citation of master thesis, which are by all means not citable in a serious science article. But I guess that is not what the IPCC report wants to be?!

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