Friday, February 8, 2013

{#5} D.LaFramboise The Delinquent Author - "Gender"

{edited 11/25/2013}
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{#5} D.LaFramboise The Delinquent Author - 
 "The Right Gender or the Right Country"

This is chapter five from Donna LaFramboise's book 
The Delinquent Teenager: "The Right Gender or the Right Country"

For an introduction explaining why I'm reviewing this piece of work, 
please click here.

{Courier font identifies LaFramboise's words
Laframboise, (2011-10-09). T D T W W M W T C E (Kindle Locations 195-201). Ivy Avenue Press. Kindle Edition. }

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Chapter 5 - The Right Gender or the Right Country   
In early 2010 the InterAcademy Council, an organization comprised of science bodies from around the world, took an historic step. It established a committee whose purpose was to investigate IPCC policies and procedures.  
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Notice how Donna's manipulates her readers with melodramatic wording: "an historic step..." 
What's so "historic" about a scientific organization doing a self-audit or having an outside review done by independent experts? 

Why doesn't Donna consider the IPCC's rapid evolution from a small advisory group who's roll was to collect and summarize the state of climatological understanding for Governmental bodies and the general public.  

In the beginning it was pretty straightforward uncontroversial stuff.  In the late 80s climatology was a relatively small field, dealing with a large, but not a huge, output of scientific studies.  Now that organization has undergone meteoric growth -  experiencing growing pains and mistakes?  Why must Donna shade it with such villainy? 

As we go through this chapter, please pay attention to Laframboise's wording and how she deliberately injects the stink of malevolence into her narrative.  

Please ask yourself: Is this writer an objective investigative journalist or a calculating propagandist?  
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The committee posted a questionnaire on its website and invited interested parties to respond. Answers to those questionnaires were eventually made public after the names of the respondents had been removed. Those provided by IPCC insiders can be separated from the ones submitted by concerned citizens because the questionnaire begins by asking what role the respondent has played in the IPCC.
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Wouldn't an investigative journalist also share the news of IPCC's adaptation of IAC recommendations?  

These news releases came out too late for her book, but they are still worth considering. 
  • IPCC completes review of processes and procedures
    Geneva, 27.6.12 - Over the past two years, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) undertook a complete review of its processes and procedures - effectively the IPCC's "constitution". Decisions on governance and management, conflict of interest, and procedures were taken by a meeting of the Panel, the IPCC's governing body, at its 35th session in Geneva on 6-9 June 2012. The Panel also adopted a communications strategy. [Full Press Release]
  • IPCC issues statement on New Scientist article
    Geneva, 24.6.12 - In response to the article published in the online edition of the New Scientist on 18 June 2012, corrected on 19 June, and further corrected on 22 June, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a statement to correct some elements of the story. [Full statement]
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People with direct experience of this organization were remarkably frank in their feedback. According to them, scientific excellence isn't the only reason individuals are invited to participate in the IPCC.  
Remember, this is a UN body. It therefore cares about the same things other UN bodies care about. Things like diversity. Gender balance. Regional representation. The degree to which developing countries are represented compared to developed countries. 
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There's something churlish about how Donna approaches this - we should be clear LaFramboise's selectivity when quote-mining has nothing to do with objectivity.

As other survey answers make clear, one of the big benefits of the IPCC is that it gathers scientists from richest to poorest countries - where they have a chance to exchange information and learn.  This includes young promising {if unproven} minds and even "under-advantaged" third-world scientists and women {oh my} are afforded an opportunity to interact with the best scientists in their fields.  {... you know raise the whole boat and that sort of sentiment.}

Beyond that, Donna portrays the IPCC duties as requiring nothing less than the very highest level of science.   Is that an honest way to look at the IPCC?  Remember, they don't do the actual science, they are merely reporting on the studies others have done.  They do the collating and organizing of the world wide flood of scientific information

Donna why do you think the IPCC should to be a closed club of nothing but the very best business suit attired scientific minds from start to finish?  

What would the advantage be? 
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The collected answers to the questionnaire total 678 pages. As early as page 16, someone complains that: "some of the lead authors...are clearly not qualified to be lead authors." Here are other direct quotes: 
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Here's another example of Donna's brand of "objectivity in action"

Please notice all Donna "cleanses" out of this particular respondent's answers, the red type being what she reports.  The report can be found here
2c. Selection of lead authors ? 
Mixed. IPCC works hard for geographic diversity. This is one valuable criterion, but it is not sufficient to choose a lead author. The result is that some of the lead authors (generally although not always from developing countries) are clearly not qualified to be lead authors and are unable to contribute in a meaningful way to the writing of the chapter. This is a problem for a variety of reasons. 
The solution is to do a more careful screening of the candidates that are put forward by their governments, and request alternate candidates when the person clearly does not have the right background. 
2d. Writing of working group reports ?
With the exception of the problem above, the writing is done very well. 
2e. Review processes ?
Cumbersome and time consuming. All trees and no forest: just hundreds of "picky" points, a relatively small percentage of much value. Solution: fewer reviewers but more time given for the reviews. Reviewers need to be carefully chosen and it should be made clear to them that it is essential that they give much attention to the review.
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There are far too many politically correct appointments, so that developing country scientists are appointed who have insufficient scientific competence to do anything useful. This is reasonable if it is regarded as a learning experience, but in my chapter...we had half of the [lead authors] who were not competent. (p. 138) 
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2b. Election of Bureau, including Working Group chairs ? 
I don't know much about this, it seems highly political not scientific. 

2c. Selection of lead authors ?
Mysterious: nominations go in but then? For WG I, AR4 I know there was some consultation with quite a few people. Seems less so for AR5. Seems like this should be more a group effort, but a small group and not just the co-chairs (or is it?). There are far too many politically correct appointments, so that developing country scientists are appointed who have insufficient scientific competence to do anything useful. This is reasonable if it is regarded as a learning experience, but in my chapter in AR4 we had half of the LAs who were not competent. It put a huge burden on the CLAs. 

{ Interestingly the same respondent also has this to say: }

3. What is your opinion on the way in which the full range of scientific views is handled ? 
(page 139) It probably varies a lot by chapter and WG. I think we did fine and one needs to recognize legitimate scientific views that are backed by sound science and papers. We adopted an open discussion of all issues and did not try to hide or ignore any. This is where assessment departs from a review perhaps. 

Some guidelines on insisting on open discussion of controversial topics and how conclusions are drawn is probably helpful. It means also exposing issues and this can imply need for funding and research.    
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Donna would you support increasing IPCC funding to facilitate quality control improvements ? 

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The whole process...[is] flawed by an excessive concern for geographical balance. All decisions are political before being scientific. (p. 554) 
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2h. Preparation of any special reports ?The whole process, all steps above, are flawed by an excessive concern for geographical balance. All decisions are political before being scientific.Topics in the scoping meetings or lead authors are selected with little preoccupation for the quality of the IPCC assessment report.The first criterion is geographical balance and involvement of DCs. And attention for research topics which are relevant for DCs (particularly in WG II and III)There is almost no discussion on the quality of authors or chapters. 
3. What is your opinion on the way in which the full range of scientific views is handled ?The IPCC process is very open and different views are accounted for. The problem is not the representation of several different views but the capacity and willingness to choose between different views using objective and scientifically sound criteria.
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half of the authors are there for simply representing different parts of the world. (p. 296) 
Lest anyone think that people from less affluent countries were being unjustly stereotyped, the person whose comments appear on page 330 agrees: The team members from the developing countries (including myself) were made to feel welcome and accepted as part of the team. In reality we were out of our intellectual depth as meaningful contributors to the process. 
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Here is another excellent example of the way Donna manipulates a quote in order to fabricate her story-line. Read what else this particular respondent had to say beyond what Donna reports:
2c. Selection of lead authors? 
Lead authors of my section were undoubtedly world leaders in research, and were balanced across continents and major research institutes in the field. 
2d. Writing of working group reports? 
Writing of the chapter of which I was a part was dominated by the leading authors – as might be expected. The team members from the developing countries (including myself) were made to feel welcome and accepted as part of the team. In reality we were out of our intellectual depth as meaningful contributors to the process.) Despite this, I am not suggesting that the process of including developing country scientists should be changed – from a point of view of strengthening scientific community, the learning experience of participating in high level science, and from the point of view of political legitimacy, the process of inclusiveness has great value to the IPCC. 
2e. Review processes?
Review of the individual chapters I believe was rigorous – conducted by persons other than the drafting team.
6. What are your views and suggestions regarding the characterization and handling of uncertainty in each of the working group reports and the synthesis report?
In the committee in which I participated, the uncertainty estimation processes were debated vigorously. This was one of the most difficult aspects of the whole process.
Again, given that the jury was required to come up with an uncertainty estimate for each forcing mechanism, Delphi- like process was followed. Process could be improved by explicitly allowing for any strong dissenting voice to be recorded as a minority view with alternative value and or reasons for objection – in this way the process is self-regulating to propagate elements of doubt through the whole process. Science is not democracy where sufficient consensus carries the day and dissenting views are then suppressed.
{This responder has more interesting things to say p330-332} 
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The questionnaire did not contain the word gender. Nevertheless, it is uttered dozens of times in the answers people provided. While some feel the IPCC should not aim for gender balance, others applaud the use of this selection criteria.  
Among those with firsthand IPCC experience, therefore, it is an open secret that some people are appointed for reasons that have little to do with world-class scientific expertise. Depending on whose opinion you believe, this is true in either a small minority of cases or with regard to as many as half of the authors.  
In the view of at least one person, every IPCC personnel decision is influenced by concerns unrelated to science. 
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Now here's something interesting.  Donna claims the view of at least one participant is that: "every IPCC personnel decision is influenced by concerns unrelated to science."  Here she doesn't share a page number, so I did a document search and here's how my results:
"IPCC personnel decision is influenced" . . . . . no matches
"concerns unrelated to science". . . . . no matches
"influenced by concerns". . . . . no matches
"personnel decision ". . . . . no matches
"personnel". . . . . BINGO - 8 matches 

But none matched LaFramboise mystery comment!

And in fact, she doesn't use quotation marks, so who knows from where she conjured those words.

Isn't this exactly the sort of thing a propagandist would do?  Imply a quote makes her point, but in fact fabricating the quote.

Also a review of those eight matches, {which you can find at}, reveals a more balanced, nuanced and altogether respectable assessment.  Not that there weren't criticisms and issues that justifiably need addressing, but, none of it get's anywhere near the type of villainy that LaFramboise injects into her story.

If you don't believe me check it out yourself.  
Short version, visit my Appendix to this chapter where I have all eight "personnel" matching quotes.
Or check out the actual document: 
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If the United Nations regards the IPCC as a training ground for scientists from the developing world that's perfectly OK. If it thinks one of the main goals of the IPCC is to raise the profile of female scientists that's OK, too. It is entitled to do whatever it wants with its own organization. But it is dishonest to tell the world you've assembled a group of competitive cyclists when many on your team are actually riding tricycles. 
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Think about those condescending words, topped off by that tricycle jab.  Where is the objectivity in LaFramboise's presentation?  Ms. LaFramboise is deliberately bending over backwards in order to spin her conviction of villainy into her Delinquent IPCC Story.

Notice what else Donna has done here?
LaFramboise has slipped in her own self-certain assumption that nothing but the very best scientists are capable of assessing; condensing; reporting on the state of scientific knowledge surrounding climatology and Earth observations.

What does Donna base that on?  She never attempts to explain it - she just expects us to believe her.

OK Donna, here's my question:
If an IPCC Working Group is made up of 6 of the best and brightest, 1 young promising unprovens, 1 barely competent charity case. . . 
On what basis do you conclude the final report of this mixed group is inferior?

As my review of the authors of the current Working Group II AR5 Writing Team at {} makes plain, IPCC Working Groups have a lot of depth and it would be reprehensible and stupid for them not to include promising, if unproven, young grads and female blood into their mix.
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Journalists say we should trust the IPCC's conclusions because its reports have been written by the world's finest scientific minds. But in order for that to be the case the IPCC would need to apply very different criteria when selecting its authors. 
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I believe there is a logical fallacy in here.

Why would the fact that some "less than" world class scientists participated in the writing of various IPCC reports mean that the world's finest scientific minds did not author those reports?

These are big team projects - take a look it

The section on "IPCC Authors ~ 18 ~ Human Population Health"

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It would need an explicit policy that says something along the lines of: Even though we are a UN body, we are not influenced by UN diversity concerns. We select the world's best experts and only the best experts - regardless of where they come from or what gender they happen to be.  
That is the kind of IPCC I could believe in. But that is not the IPCC we have.
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Plenty of melodrama here, but Donna has not laid out any sort of coherent case beyond showing that she hates the IPCC.  As for her concerns about including younger unproven scientists into the mix - it shows a surprising disconnect from how these multi-generational scientific ventures operate.

In any event, what matters is that the IPCC produce strong balanced reports, rather than pretending that flawless reports are required, or possible.  

Remember these IPCC reports are only educational tools for the world's movers and shapers, they include uncertainties and caveats acknowledging their lack of perfection - and their reports are of a quality that intelligent minds are certainly capable of navigating and trusting.

Donna erects some impossible standards and has only produced ad hominem smoke'n mirror composed of weak arguments along with her implicit expectation that anything less than absolute perfection should be attacked.

Donna, if you believe the IPCC Working Groups are failing, it's your duty to demonstrate this deficiency by actually examining the full make up of IPCC Working Group participants, rather than your contrived selectivity.

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For those who'd like to learn about the real IPCC here's another interesting place to look:

Welcome to the IPCC Data Distribution Centre
Welcome to the Data Distribution Centre (DDC) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The DDC provides climate, socio-economic and environmental data, both from the past and also in scenarios projected into the future. Technical guidelines on the selection and use of different types of data and scenarios in research and assessment are also provided. 

The DDC is designed primarily for climate change researchers, but materials contained on the site may also be of interest to educators, governmental and non-governmental organisations, and the general public
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