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Science

Second Inquiry Exonerates Climatic Research Unit 764

Posted by kdawson
from the wash-behind-your-ears dept.
mvdwege writes "After being cleared of charges of misconduct by a parliamentary committee, now the CRU has the results of the inquiry (PDF) by a panel of scientists into their scientific methods. Here is the CRU press release. Criticisms: The statistical methods used, though arriving at correct results, are not optimal, and it is recommended future studies involve professional statisticians if possible; and the CRU scientists are lacking somewhat in organization. A very far cry from the widespread allegations of fraud. It seems 'Climategate' is ending with a whimper."
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Second Inquiry Exonerates Climatic Research Unit

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  • by salesgeek (263995) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:38AM (#32094830) Homepage

    The issue was that emails from insiders showed that the CRU was sufficiently politicized that the credibility of the institution was destroyed, and that put the research of the CRU in question. Instead of releasing the data, methods and code for their analysis, we are being asked to believe experts, paid by the institution, that the CRU's work is beyond reproach.

    All we are given is a press release and a report that contains little to no real data, but does ironically suggests in conclusion 2 that the CRU should release more data and work with professional statisticians. This is the PR equivalent to the Jedi Mind Trick (tm), and will only result in even more scrutiny, and will result in climate change being questioned by even more people. This is why personal integrity and decorum is important in science: this research could be important to humanity's survival but the public now does not believe the research because the researcher's motives and communications seem questionable. Not because the research was bad, but because the way the CRU carried itself.

  • Re:Sadly... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:35AM (#32095100) Journal
    They have come up with a falsifiable theory. The problem is it is presented differently to scientists and to the general public.

    To scientists, the theory is this: adding CO2 to the atmosphere will somewhat warm the atmosphere. This may cause some minor changes in the earth's climate system. This hypothesis is fairly well accepted by every scientist, even the anti-AGW ones.

    To the public, the hypothesis is presented as: DISASTER!!!!!!!!!!!! Polar bears dying, glaciers melting, millions dying, wars, catastrophe!!

    This disconnect between the science world and the general public world reminds me of Y2K, which was treated in journals with studies about how much fixing it would cost, and boring things like that. Whereas in mainstream press it was represented as literally the end of the world. I had someone ask me at the time if all the power plants were going to explode. That wasn't even in the realm of reasonability in the scientific press.
  • Re:Get back to me... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:00AM (#32095226)

    Actually it was the experience of listening to one of the pro-AGW guys that caused me to start examining the issue myself instead of just accepting what the experts were saying. My own training is in human evolution and linguistics, with supporting work in philosophy of science. I have had quite some experience with debating 'creation scientists' who most people in my field long ago started just putting on the ignore list, and I always liked debate even when I had to argue positions I didnt agree with I found that mentally stimulating, and I likewise sometimes find creationists thought processes are interesting (not always, but some are pretty smart, and trying to understand where they are coming from is fun while correcting their misunderstandings about evolution is occasionally rewarding.)

    So anyway when I started having conversations with this guy I quite naturally was interested in what he was doing, what the theoretical underpinnings were, what areas were more or less well understood - the same things I am interested in whenever I speak with anyone who does something interesting. And over time I started noticing how strikingly similar his own thought processes in certain areas were to those of the creationists. I quickly noticed a number of tendencies that were, to put it mildly, at odds with accepted principles of science. The more we talked, the more convinced I became that he viewed his role not as searching for truth, but (in his own words) 'defending orthodoxy.' He had an unshakable conviction that human activity was destructive to the planet, that the human race, or at least our civilisation, was like a cancer in the body of the earth, and his goal in generating data was never to test that hypothesis, only to support it. Any questioning of his conclusions or methods was always dismissed with an air of insufferable superiority. Basic mental exercises I was taught to test all of my ideas against (for example, asking "what other possible explanations, however unlikely, could fit this data?" and making as long a list of possible of them) were so alien to him that even the mildest hints along those lines drew very angry responses. Eventually I discontinued our conversations simply because the anger made them pointless.

    Now it would be naive to think that you wont find people like that other disciplines, of course - scientists are humans too, and given to human failings. But my conversations with this guy eventually lead me to look more and more at his field, and the more I looked the more it seems to be a field that has considerably more than its share of his outlook. And while in every field, the easy path is to provide support for the pet theories of those who can advance your career, this field seems clearly to have gone further in that direction than most. Questioning prominent theories in archaeology or biology may not be the easiest route to a fellowship but it is still done all the time without real fear of being blacklisted because of it. Yet several climate students I have spoken with were clearly convinced that if they openly challenged AGW their prospects of finishing their degree would be endangered, and of getting respectable employment afterwards would drop to approximately zero.

    I dont have the background to understand each and every technical issue. And I dont have the time to read every paper or do my own review of all the data (even if that were possible, as hopefully everyone is aware by now much of the raw data has never been published.) But what I can access and understand is enough to leave me deeply skeptical at this point. I read through a few percent of the CRUtape stuff and found things that, in my own field, would put a rather dark cloud on anyones career and conclusions. It clearly revealed that much of what was published was deceptive, and even if there is no proof that they *intended* to be deceptive (I dont think they did, I think they are all true believers trying desperately to convince everyone of what they honestly believe to be true) that does not justify it.

  • by mvdwege (243851) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @05:09AM (#32095568) Homepage Journal

    And of course Slashdot posts this when I am still asleep.

    Not surprisingly, I see a lot of posts from people who didn't bother to read the report and just parrot the standard talking points.

    And surprisingly, given the amount of flak he gets, kdawson cleaned up my typos, formatted my URLs a bit better and found a catchier title.

    Mart

  • by beschra (1424727) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @09:33AM (#32097102)

    It actually took four full posts for this thread to degrade into name calling. That's longer than I expected for this subject.

  • by apoc.famine (621563) <apoc.famine@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @09:59AM (#32097468) Homepage Journal

    The statistical methods used, though arriving at correct results

    You call "arriving at correct results" "Shoddy and careless"? Watch out - your seething blind climate skepticism is hanging out where everyone can see it!

    If I take a general average, and it gets the same results as you doing some sort of fancy running mean, with a weighted, binned average method to back up your results, it doesn't make a lick of difference.

    Like everyone else in the world, climate scientists have budgets. Data storage, computer time, and the manpower to analyze and interpret results all cost money.

    Why you would be screaming about results that were correct is beyond me....

  • by david_thornley (598059) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @11:08AM (#32098522)

    Scientists rely on grants to do science, usually detailed with a breakdown of expenses. Have climate scientists not been asking for money for statisticians, or have granting agencies been denying that part of the money, or some combination thereof? It isn't usual to hire professional statisticians for studies (and, yes, an unfortunate number of scientific papers have bad statistics). Science seems to work anyway.

    However, the conclusion was that the statistical methods used get the necessary job done, and the results were deemed correct. That means that they didn't actually need professional statisticians, only that they were desirable.

  • by Omestes (471991) <[omestes] [at] [gmail.com]> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @11:51AM (#32099324) Homepage Journal

    Why the hell did you capitalize "truth"?

    The OP didn't have any deep ontic insights into the true working of the universe. HE just posted a snarky comment. Hardly worthy of the capital "T".

    I'm guessing your using the modern definition of the term "truth", meaning "something that conforms to my beliefs", which is more akin to the term "faith" than the classical meaning of any definition of "truth".

  • Calling bullshit (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmhNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @11:54AM (#32099406) Journal

    And if you look at the NSF's [nsf.gov] board who approves scientific grant research money, you will find that many of the have ties to "green" technologies and have a financial interest in AGW. For example, the first guy on the list, Dan E. Arvizu:

    Arvizu serves on a number of Boards, Panels and Advisory Committees including the American Council on Renewable Energy Advisory Board; the Energy Research, Development, and Deployment Policy Project Advisory Committee at the Harvard Kennedy School; the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Alternative Energies; the Singapore Clean Energy International Advisory Panel; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group III; the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Award Corporation; and the Colorado Renewable Energy Authority Board of Directors.

    Is it just me or does that look like a list of non-profit/governmental/academic groups? I recognize most of them as such (HENAAC is a nonprofit, even though it has "corporation" in it's name). Please point out which ones are for-profit corporations or associations that represent corporations and provide sources. I can't find any info on ACREAB or SCEIAP.

  • Re:Dan Rather (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sans_A_Cause (446229) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @11:57AM (#32099462)

    Wow. That's the exact opposite of what happened. Rather's methods and papers were reviewed by a panel and found to contain deliberate fraud. That's why he was fired from CBS.

  • Re:Calling bullshit (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ArcherB (796902) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @12:52PM (#32100536) Journal

    Is it just me or does that look like a list of non-profit/governmental/academic groups? I recognize most of them as such (HENAAC is a nonprofit, even though it has "corporation" in it's name). Please point out which ones are for-profit corporations or associations that represent corporations and provide sources. I can't find any info on ACREAB or SCEIAP.

    The question is not what the group's status is. The question is whether any of these organizations pay him for this. If he collects as much as air fair to go to Colorado, he is getting paid.

    However, as another poster pointed out, whether or not he's on the payroll doesn't matter as it shows a preconceived bias. Now, it's one thing for FoxNews to have a bias as they are a for profit corporation. It is something else entirely for someone who decides which research projects and scientists will receive tax dollars. This is strong evidence that scientists who do research to promote AGW will get the dollars before the scientists whose research oppose it. This is why I believe so many support the "consensus". Because if they don't, they are out of a job and no longer called scientists.

  • Re:Get back to me... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hkmwbz (531650) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @01:22PM (#32101140) Journal
    Actually, Big Oil does employ scientists. And guess what, these scientists who were working for Big Oiled concluded that AGW was real. Big Oil tried to hide those findings from the public.

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