I conceded as follows on RealClimate:
I’m afraid that I agree with the skeptics that even when published our codes are unnecessarily impenetrable, inadequately validated, inadequately linked to the literature (which itself is unnecessarily impenetrable, although IPCC reports are a big help in the latter regard).
We climatologists do not seem willing to acknowledge that our unanticipated responsibilities really do require more formality and more accountability than was the case when we were pursuing what amounted to a peculiar and idiosyncratic academic curiosity.
Our most adamant critics do not seem willing to acknowledge how difficult, expensive and risky such a change would be even in the best, most civilized and most supportive of circumstances. Such benign circumstances are not the ones those same critics are, for the most part, willing to grant us.
Tamino didn’t refer explicitly to my comment but I agree completely with his susbequent comment:
A man goes to the hospital with severe chest pain, a shooting pain in his left arm, shortness of breath, and when the intern on call listens with a stethoscope she hears a highly irregular heartbeat, typical of heart attack victims. The intern orders an EKG, which shows the classic pattern of heart attack, so she pronounces that he’s suffered a major heart attack and orders the appropriate treatment.
Suddenly another doctor comes in. Hold the phone! The software used by that EKG machine has never been validated! It’s not “open source!” It can’t be trusted! Tell that patient to go home, we’ll call him back as soon as everyone agrees that the EKG software doesn’t have a “bug.”
Validating the EKG software is a good idea. But let’s not make the already overworked interns do it, and let’s not make the already underfunded hospital pay for it. And since we have a plethora of lines of evidence of lifethreatening illness — so many that even if the EKG is totally SNAFU there’s still no doubt — quit stalling, for GOD’S SAKE get that patient into the critical care unit. Stat.
Update: I hope this isn’t construed as me saying the effort to model climate has been fruitless, (though I suppose it will be so construed). In Tamino’s analogy the EKG machine we actually have is a bit clunky and its user manual is wretched, but it’s better than no machine at all and it has many appropriate uses. All of which is neither here nor there as far as the patient is concerned.