Ron Sandland recently wrote about the new phenomenon of 'big data' - weighing up the benefits and concerns. Terry Speed reflected on the same issue in a talk earlier this year inGothenburg, Sweeden noting that this is nothing new to statisticians. So what's all the fuss about? Here's another take on the 'big data' bandwagon.
Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission slams CSIRO January 30, 2019
Commissioner of the Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission, Bret Walker SC, has released his report into the Murray Darling Basin Authority. CSIRO's lack of interaction with the Royal Commission has drawn heavy criticism.
The following is taken from the Commissioner's report (emphasis added):
A serious episode exemplifying the MDBA's lack of scientific rigour and transparency during the ESLT process was described by Dr Colloff.
He gave evidence that in the course of drafting the Multiple Benefits Report, the CSIRO's scientific integrity was being compromised, and independence undermined, by the MDBA.
He recounted that the MDBA exercised material influence over the way the CSIRO conducted its review and presented its findings, including requesting that certain information be removed on the basis that it contradicted the MDBA's own findings.
He and others involved in the Multiple Benefits Project considered they had no choice but to accept the MDBA's requests because the CSIRO held concerns it might not otherwise be paid for its work. Alarmingly, Dr Colloff concluded that in his opinion, the MDBA's conduct amounted to scientific censorship.
Finally, due to the level of staff discontent following the Multiple Benefits Project, an independent facilitator was brought in to assist staff to work through those issues.
The CSIRO declined an invitation to attend voluntarily before the Commission, to respond to Dr Colloff's assertions and answer the Commissioner's questions. It did, however, provide a written submission to the Commission under cover of a letter dated 5 November 2018.
Not only did that submission arrive some six months after the close of public submissions, and five days after the close of the public hearings (which spanned 33 sitting days over some four and a half months), it was patently unhelpful.
The covering letter to the submission blankly objected to submissions made by Senior Counsel in closing regarding the CSIRO's conduct and inferences of maladministration, arising in the context of Dr Colloff's evidence.
It provided no material or argument to support that position. That absence of substantive answer enhances confidence in Dr Colloff's damning evidence.
Notwithstanding its status as Australia's leading, independent, scientific research body, the CSIRO declined to attend and participate in debate and discussion concerning matters of scientific controversy with national significance.
The Commissioner regards the lack of responsiveness, apparent lack of interest and presumptuous tardiness of the CSIRO in this regard as reflecting no credit on a once well-regarded institution.
South Australia, Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission, Report (2019).