Poor words, not figures

April 29, 2010

Nowhere in Lord Oxburgh's report does it say that researchers in the Climatic Research Unit are "poor with figures" (The Week in Higher Education, 22 April). The Oxburgh panel investigated whether or not the CRU's published conclusions represented an honest and scientifically justified interpretation of the data; its conclusion was that this was so. By being "poor with words", THE may have given readers a misleading impression.

The panel did make suggestions for improvements in some areas. As far as reference to "figures" is concerned, it wrote: "Although inappropriate statistical tools with the potential for producing misleading results have been used by some other groups ... in the CRU papers that we examined, we did not come across any inappropriate usage, although the methods they used may not have been the best for purpose.

"It is not clear, however, that better methods would have produced significantly different results. The published work also contains many cautions about the limitations of the data and their interpretation."

Trevor Davies, Pro vice-chancellor, University of East Anglia


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