Ian Castles – correction

A few months ago, I linked to a Ken Miles post saying that Ian Castles, former Australian Statistician and prominent critic of the IPCC and Kyoto was a member of the Lavoisier Group. Ken’s post was based on Lavoisier’s Presidential Report, which stated

Two of our members, Bob Foster and Ian Castles, represented the Lavoisier Group at a workshop conducted by the Australian Academy for Technological Sciences and Engineering (AATSE)

.Ian Castles has written to me (and previously to Ken, who has already posted on this) to advise that this claim by the Lavoisier Group is incorrect, and will be corrected in due course. He is not, and has never been a member of the Lavoisier Group. Here’s a letter from Ian’s co-author David Henderson to USA Today on the same topic.

Dear Sir,

In your issue of April 2, your science correspondent, Dan Vergano, in referring to some recent work by Ian Castles and me, makes two statements which give the wrong impression. First, he describes us as being Ê’associated with the Lavoisier Group’ in Australia. It is true that we both know well the founder of the Group, and we agreed to his request to post our work on their website. But neither Castles nor I are members of the Group; no member of it is or has been involved on our work; and what we have written does not purport to be on the Group’s behalf or to represent its views. We are independent persons, holding no official position, and we speak and write for ourselves alone.

It is also not correct to say that what we have written has ‘appeared in The Economist’ : they published an article (18 February) on our work. They too asked permission to post our critique on their website, and in this case also we agreed.

David Henderson
Westminster Business School
London NW1, England.

For anyone who wants to read all the details, I’ve appended the entire exchange of emails, showing how the Lavoisier Group claim came about.

Hello John,

I noticed that you took at face value a claim made by Keneth Miles that I was a member of the Lavoisier Group, and passed this on to the readers of your commentary (20 June 2003), as “disappointing news”.

In case you didn’t see Miles’s subsequent withdrawal of his statement (in UnAustralian on 9 August, from memory), I’ll paste below the text of a letter sent by David Henderson to the Editor of USA Today on 3 April last. I think that this is self-explanatory.

I’ll also attach the text of my recent paper “Economics, emissions scenarios and the work of the IPCC” (co-authored with David), which is published in the current (vol. 14, no. 4) issue of Energy & Environment (UK). Please note the third paragraph of our Annex on “Protocol and procedures” (p. 26).

Best wishes

Ian Castles

Dear Ian,

Thanks for your letter. I did indeed miss Keneth Miles’ correction. However, I did not take his original assertion “at face value”. As he observes, the connection is claimed by the Lavoisier Group itself.


and I followed this link to confirm the report. A Google search on “Lavoiser Group Ian Castles” produces this claim as the first link.

Given that your work is published on the Lavoisier site it seemed reasonable to accept their claim. I’d suggest that you ask them to publish a disclaimer saying Êthat you are not, as previously reported, a member.

I’ll be happy to post a correction on my site. However, so that I can dispose of this once and for all, could you advise whether the Lavoisier Group has withdrawn its claim that you are a member, and, if possible provide a link.

Best wishes

Dear John,

Yes, at my request the Lavoisier Group will make clear (I think at their Annual Meeting later this month) that I am not and have never been a member of the Group. Please feel free to confirm this with Ray Evans, the founder of the Group

The confusion may have arisen because on April 4, 2002, at the request of Peter Walsh, I attended a Workshop convened by the Academy of the Technological Sciences and Engineering to review an earlier report by ATSE on climate change science. Mr. Walsh nominated me to the organisers as “an expert on the misuse of statistics by international agencies in the pursuit of their particular agendas”, not as a member of Lavoisier.

As I had previously been a member of the Organising Committee for two conferences on climate change science convened by the National Academies Forum, I felt obliged to make clear at the ATSE meeting that I had been nominated by the Lavoisier Group (and not, as many participants would have assumed, by ASSA). I did not realise that I’d been described as a member of Lavoisier on their website until I saw the draft response of the SRES Team last April.

Best wishes

Ian Castles