The paper by Shackley et al. (1998) appears to present a case for re-considering the way in which climatic science is presented for the purpose of climatic policy development. It also creates, perhaps unwittingly, a picture of naive climate scientists driven by the moods of White House administrators to squander funds in ignorance. We believe that this view, while interesting, is incorrect. Here we respond to Shackley et al.'s (1998, p. 137) invitation to 'climate scientists to take part in such discussions: in a sense, to (re)consider the scientific and implicit social and policy commitments they have entered into through pursuit of a particular scientific research programme'.