A question of privacy

Brandon has seen some of the FOI-released ethics review material for the Cook et al consensus study. As expected, the bulk of the project was not covered by an institutional review. The application appears to have been made after its completion. While the full document is not out, it does appear John Cook and the University of Queensland pulled a fast one on Brandon.

The Cook project is a literature classification exercise whose reproducibility is suspect. Not wanting to release raw data, Cook initially declared volunteers participated in his project upon pain of confidentiality. Those who asked for the data were however consistent – the question was not the identities of the raters. To prolong prevarication, Cook turned to the leaked Skepticalscience forum contents. He insisted if he released raw data, inquisitive readers would—using the forum contents—put two and two together and out his volunteers. This meant Cook considered the forum contents firmly in the public domain.

The institutional review covers only scientists whom Cook contacted via email – as it stands to reason. Justification via institutional ethics to hold volunteer ratings secret was not viable. What is remaining? Only to assist Cook in keeping confidentiality of his volunteers intact.

It is no surprise Brandon, whom Cook nudged his university to bring legal threats upon, does not feel the pinch of obligation. It appears Cook’s raw data could appear in the public domain, as his secret forum already has.




  1. Joshua

    Shub –

    Just wanted to say kudos for pressing the issue with Brandon Of course, it won’t do any good – he’s absolutely locked in…

  2. dfhunter

    Shub – not dropped by for some time, thought you had existed from this BS to keep your sanity 🙂

    anyway good to have you & your partner back, a sane commenter with much needed input to this wierd debate.

    bit OT as usual but since my past comments have had a music link (hope t works) –

    shame to me they have sold out in the viid, but thats the power of PR at work i suppose 🙂