One of the foundational components of the scientific method is the idea of reproducibility (Popper 1959). In order for an experiment to be considered valid it must be replicated. This process begins with the scientists who originally performed the experiment publishing the details of the experiment. This description of the experiment is then read by another group of scientists who carry out the experiment, and ascertain whether the results of the new experiment are similar to the original experiment. If the results are similar enough then the experiment has been replicated. This process validates the fact that the experiment was not dependent on local conditions, and that the written description of the experiment satisfactorily records the knowledge gained through the experiment. From Rand and Wilensky 2006
CRU's decision to withhold data and code from public inspection is not only against the scientific method, given the impact their work has on governmental policies and taxpayer funded programs, it is, in my opinion, unethical. – Anthony Watts
Guest post by Willis Eschenbach – originally posted on Omniclimate with an updated version here per Willis' request.
UPDATED 11/24/09 8:30PM PST
People seem to be missing the real issue in the CRU emails. Gavin over at realclimate keeps distracting people by saying the issue is the scientists being nasty to each other, and what Trenberth said, and the Nature "trick", and the like. Those are side trails. To me, the main issue is the frontal attack on the heart of science, which is transparency.
Science works by one person making a claim, and backing it up with the data and methods that they used to make the claim. Other scientists then attack the claim by (among other things) trying to replicate the first scientist's work. If they can't replicate it, it doesn't stand. So blocking the FOIA allowed Phil Jones to claim that his temperature record (HadCRUT3) was valid science.
This is not just trivial gamesmanship, this is central to the very idea of scientific inquiry. This is an attack on the heart of science, by keeping people who disagree with you from ever checking your work and seeing if your math is correct.
As far as I know, I am the person who made the original Freedom Of Information Act to CRU that started getting all this stirred up. I was trying to get access to the taxpayer funded raw data out of which they built the global temperature record. I was not representing anybody, or trying to prove a point. I am not funded by Mobil, I'm an amateur scientist with a lifelong interest in the weather and climate. I'm not "directed" by anyone, I'm not a member of a right-wing conspiracy. I'm just a guy trying to move science forwards.--