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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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  • Doesn't matter. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gerafix (1028986) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @01:57AM (#32094614)
    All the skeptics are just going to cry cover up. All the people who accepted climate change will just go on accepting it. And nobody will do anything about anything because apathy rules.
  • by dbc (135354) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:00AM (#32094622)

    1. Make all your data available to anybody.
    2. Make all your analysis software available to anybody.

    The point of science is to let other try to replicate your experiments and analysis to see if they get they same answer. When CRU starts doing these things, wake me up. I'm not really interested in what blue-ribbon committees of politicians think of their science.

  • Get back to me... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by azaris (699901) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:04AM (#32094644) Journal
    ...when they're exonerated by a panel of scientists who are NOT connected to renewable energy sources, environmentalist groups, conservation movements, carbon trading etc. That is to say, physicists, statisticians, and real mathematical modellers. In general people who are not doing science because it suits the environmental fancy they picked up in the 1980s and who are not willing to overlook glaring problems with their results (like a disappearing medieval warm period) simply because the results confirm their preconceived notion of impending catastrophe.
  • Re:Doesn't matter. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JavaBear (9872) * on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:04AM (#32094646)

    The Climate "Sceptics" will refuse global warming even when the Earth is burnt to a crisp. Denial is a powerful thing, and need a bit more than diplomacy to break through.

  • by doishmere (1587181) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:05AM (#32094652)
    I agree; results are meaningless if you can't review the process and attempt to replicate the results.
  • Re:Doesn't matter. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:06AM (#32094660)

    All the environmentalists are just going to cry corporate smear we told you so. All the people who bought into doctored statistics will just go on accepting the conclusions based on them. And nobody will do anything about anything because perception is more important than reality.

  • by solanum (80810) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:11AM (#32094680)

    And I shall look forward to publishing my own version of reality once I have my hands on the LHC data.

    In principle free access to data and analysis is great, in practice science is a wide area and it isn't always worthwhile or straightforward. No one is going to release their data before they have published, if you have to do that why would you bother with collecting it? By the time you have published then the data is often already out of date and the little interest there might be in it won't justify the time/cost in organising and hosting that data. Furthermore, in many areas of science there are commercial and patent reasons why you can't release the data.

    In the case of areas like climate modelling, generally much of the data doesn't belong to the scientists analysing it and it wouldn't even be their decision.

    So whilst I agree with you and would like to see more data sets publicly available, as a scientist, I also recognise that it is a principle that is impossible to implement as general rule.

  • Re:Doesn't matter. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alexibu (1071218) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:14AM (#32094696)
    Or alternatively,
    People who disbelieved the mountains of different evidence supporting anthropogenic climate change will put this latest piece of evidence in the same mountainous pile of ignored evidence.
    People who have taken the somewhat less convenient path of rationally assesing the available scientific evidence will still accept the evidence, and and would have continued to even if the CRU had been found guilty of intentional gross fraud and conspiracy.
    Then again CRU could have been one cell in a world wide scientific fraud conspiracy group intent on world domination. But this inquiry and the other one found that they wern't - which makes sense : if scientists had wanted to have power and money they wouldn't have studied science over politics or finance.
  • Re:Doesn't matter. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JavaBear (9872) * on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:18AM (#32094730)

    Says the AC.

    If you listen to FOX "News", the CRU covered up a lot.
    If you read the leaked email IN CONTEXT, there are no cover up, or fraud at all.

    Fox "News" are a bunch of partisan frauds who are paid to lie through their teeth, and they are very good at it.
    They and a lot of other stations took single sentences out of context and added their own agenda.
     

  • Sadly... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sonicmerlin (1505111) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:18AM (#32094740)

    No matter how much evidence you provide for the innocence of these researchers, the paranoid will simply decry the people conducting the investigation as "part of the conspiracy".

    That's the major problem with the anti-AGW group. If they could point to any legitimate research that was submitted to peer review and survived dissection by experts which punched holes in AGW, they would have done so by now. Instead they rely on simply muddying the waters with screams of deceit and conspiracies, essentially propaganda to confuse the laymen. And unfortunately those who are simply inclined to not want to spend any more money, whether it be to save the environment or provide for the health of the poor, will lap up the lies and spit them out as if they were gospel.

    I see the same ridiculous, already debunked arguments used by anti-AGW people on this forum every time one of these articles comes up. They don't read for information. They post and run away. There are many moderators who simply mod informative posts down just because the science completely disagrees with what they want reality to be. There's no pleasing them.

  • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:20AM (#32094746) Homepage

    Meanwhile, that smart kid at a competing lab who has the intelligence to make an even better discovery doesn't see the data and can't run the experiment/analysis until it's far too late, and the world has committed itself to bad policies based on bad science. Fifty years later, they correct the mistake at great expense, and say it was all based on the best we could do at the time.

    Closed research considered harmful.

    I'm not going to comment on whether this specific case is valid or not, but openness is requisite!

  • by NiceGeek (126629) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:20AM (#32094750)

    but of course you'll listen to "experts" such as washed-up weathermen, hack UK politicians, and "scientists" bought and paid for by Big Oil.

  • by symbolset (646467) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:25AM (#32094770) Journal

    The Panel was not concerned with the question of whether the conclusions of the published research were correct. Rather it was asked to come to a view on the integrity of the Unit's research and whether as far as could be determined the conclusions represented an honest and scientifically justified interpretation of the data. The Panel worked by examining representative publications by members of the Unit and subsequently by making two visits to the University and interviewing and questioning members of the Unit. Not all the panel were present on both occasions but two members were present on both occasions to maintain continuity. About fifteen person/days were spent at the University discussing the Unit's work.

    So... we didn't look into whether their numbers were right. We looked over their published papers and chatted with them a couple of times and they seem like forthright folks. We won't tell you who was there each time - that would be too much disclosure.

    No whitewash here. Oh, no. Further:

    We have not exhaustively reviewed the external criticism of the dendroclimatological work, but it seems that some of these criticisms show a rather selective and uncharitable approach to information made available by CRU.

    So people who want hard numbers, underlying datasets and provenance of data are being "uncharitable".

    In the latter part of the 20th century CRU pioneered the methods for taking into account a wide range of local influences that can make instrumental records from different locations hard to compare. These methods were very labour intensive and were somewhat subjective.

    The methods were subjective? This is science? Maybe it's me. Maybe I don't understand the term "science".

    We cannot help remarking that it is very surprising that research in an area that depends so heavily on statistical methods has not been carried out in close collaboration with professional statisticians.

    Here we go. That's an axe to the groin there.

    We agree with the CRU view that the authority for releasing unpublished raw data to third parties should stay with those who collected it.

    Ah, but then they don't need to provide provenance or data. That's so comforting.

    I am so mollified by this report I'm left without speech. It seems perfectly reasonable, rational and diligent to me. Let's close this case and begin the Cap&Trade.

  • by DrFalkyn (102068) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:27AM (#32094782)

    I have not encountered a scientist that publishes "all of their data", there is just way too much of it.

    And even if they did, so what. The way fraud gets ferreted out is when people try to replicate their results.

  • by vtcodger (957785) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:28AM (#32094786)

    ***When CRU starts doing these things, wake me up. I'm not really interested in what blue-ribbon committees of politicians think of their science.***

    Amen.

    It appears that the University of East Anglia is both unable to do science properly, and unable to review their own work competently. The failure of the CRU to make its data and methods available for review really says it all. What they were doing might have been interesting. It's even possible that their conclusions are correct. What it wasn't, was science.

    From the report "CRU accepts with hindsight that they should have devoted more attention in
    the past to archiving data and algorithms and recording exactly what they did."

    That's not an exoneration. It's an indictment.

  • by hsthompson69 (1674722) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:33AM (#32094808)

    Mod parent up. Claiming exoneration at this point, or insisting that with enough context one can possibly explain the malfeasance behind the climategate emails, is wishful thinking and simply talking points handed out by realclimate.org.

    Look, if all the CRU well wishers would just read the code itself (http://www.anenglishmanscastle.com/HARRY_READ_ME.txt), maybe your inner geek can overcome your outer AGW supporter. These guys have been cooking the numbers with crappy code for years, period. I've got more faith in the code quality of Duke Nuke'm Forever than the garbage these guys have been spewing.

    Anyway, mod this troll/flamebait/whatever, but the parent deserves at least informative for quoting TFR.

  • by HuguesT (84078) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:35AM (#32094814)

    Yes, I agree, but how do we manage the funding issue? Give the same to everybody, and so reward the slackers? or give more to more productive teams, according to publication results, which is basically the only thing scientists produce? *Gettting* data requires a lot of effort and money, but does not guarantee any publication. *Analysing* the data can sometime be quickly and easily done and does guarantee publication if it is well done. So what do people who spend a lot of time, effort and money to get data? They hoard it, for the most part, even the data acquired through publicly funded studies, and they analyse it themselves and publish. Only once the data has been well and truly analysed to death does it become public, and even then after a long time. In many cases never, or only small portions of it.

    Find a fair solution to this problem, go ahead! Another instance of pesky reality getting in the way of nice principles.

  • by hsthompson69 (1674722) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:35AM (#32094818)

    Making all their data freely available is impossible, because they "misplaced" it.

    Seriously, we've got mirrors of centos and maven that must be terabytes upon terabytes of ISOs...you think CRU has too much data for the world to handle? Really?

  • Re:Doesn't matter. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:39AM (#32094838)

    For those who've seen the emails directly, this judgment is simply null, because we can all evaluate that evidence directly and that evidence is inconsistent with this judgment.

    Wrong. No "leaked" emails exist. As regards the stolen ones, I've seen them "directly" and I thought it was pretty clear that they didn't make out any case of fraud. An unhealthy resistance to FOI requests, feeling (probably justified) of persecution, sure. But scientific misconduct? Where?

    Not in scraplets of discarded code that were never actually used. Not in terms like "trick" nor in "hide the decline" (which btw never referred to a decline in temperatures). Sure if you are already sucked into the denialist mindset these are going to be like red rags to a bull. But in fact the "trick" and the decline hiding were already out there in published papers. And sure you can argue about whether that is the appropriate way to deal with the problems in the tree-ring data, but there was nothing new in the emails.

    But you are correct about the emails, there "un-cover-up-able." Now let me reformulate your claim. For anyone who 1) was familiar with the basic science of the published controversy regarding tree-ring data, and 2) who read the emails and 3) who didn't read them from a denialist confirmation POV, -- the findings of this committee were a foregone conclusion.

  • by vtcodger (957785) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:40AM (#32094842)

    ***I have not encountered a scientist that publishes "all of their data", there is just way too much of it.

    And even if they did, so what. The way fraud gets ferreted out is when people try to replicate their results.***

    Are you sure that you have thought this through? This isn't Chemistry where anyone can go into the lab and try to repeat the experiment. The results in question are based on analysis of historical data. In the case of the CRU the data was "massaged" in undocumented ways and summarized prior to release. Exactly how the hell would you propose to replicate (or fail to replicate) their results?

    As I understand it, the CRU handled two data sets -- tree ring data and surface temperature data. Apparently, the tree ring data was mostly from external sources and is not at issue. The issue is their sloppy and apparently quite dubious handling of the temperature data.

  • Re:Doesn't matter. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:42AM (#32094854) Journal
    My problem with these scientists (as revealed in the leaked emails) was two things:

    1) It showed that the scientists have a very real agenda. While I understand that everyone feels strongly about things sometimes and scientists are only human, when a good scientist notices that he favors a hypothesis, he will test it more rigorously, to make sure it is not his feelings that are distorting his view. This seems to be the opposite approach to what these scientists are taking: they are happy when people who disagree with them die. They show a willingness to try to suppress contrary evidence, even if it means changing the peer review process. Not good stuff, and it makes it hard to trust them.

    2) The presentation to the general public is different than the presentation to scientists. When they publish in peer reviewed publications, they are careful to qualify their statements and not make unsupported conjectures (at least according to the review mentioned here, which I have no reason to doubt). When they speak to the public, the statements are often more dire, and not necessarily supported by the science. You see the results of this kind of stuff a lot, like with the Himalayan glaciers melting completely within the next 30 years (which turned out to be false) or if you talk to the average person about global warming, they will think that New York is going to be submerged, which is not supported by any peer reviewed research.

    In essence, these scientists have lost my trust, even if they have not crossed the line into fraud (which I am happy they didn't: this field of science would have been a real mess if they had).
  • Re:Sadly... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hsthompson69 (1674722) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:44AM (#32094860)

    The real problem here is that the pro-AGW group is going about science all wrong -> they're trying to prove their point with more data that buttresses their theory. They look around, find scads of data that fits their model, and with enough data, declare the "debate is over".

    Except that's not science. It's not even bad science, it's just simply not science. You don't prove your point by finding more data that agrees with you, you prove your point by looking hard for data that does *not* agree with you, and not finding it. It's a subtle point, but one that is profoundly misunderstood by the masses. You can always find more data to support your theory, if you're willing to ignore data that does not support it.

    So the anti-AGW folk have it easy -> they just need to "cherry pick" data that refutes the AGW theory. Their search for data has a much, much lower bar because they don't need to have 10,000 refutations, or a million refutations, they just need one refutation. Just one bit of data that breaks the model, and the model must be changed, or abandoned.

    The bigger problem of all this is that when it comes right down to it, the pro-AGW folks haven't really stated a falsifiable theory. They have in fact scrupulously avoided a falsifiable theory (warm winter? Global warming! cold winter? Global warming!), and have instead created a political movement rather than a scientific discussion.

    For those pro-AGWers who want to mod down, fine. But do me a favor and come up with a falsifiable hypothesis while you're at it.

  • by Capsaicin (412918) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:47AM (#32094882)

    Then again CRU could have been one cell in a world wide scientific fraud conspiracy group intent on world domination.

    Clearly it was! First it was the environmentalists. We knew they were up to no good because, well there environmentalists!

    Then the scientists said the environmentalists were actually correct. Now we knew the scientist (except for the brave few who agree with us) had joined the conspiracy (if they weren't in on it all along.)

    Then when our Russian hacker friends in the Kremlin helped us expose these evil conspiring scientists by cracking the email serves. First a UK parliamentary inquiry clears them. So the UK parliament and the independent judges are also clearly in on the conspiracy.

    Now an academic inquiry also tries to white wash joins in. So we know all academics (except for the brave few who agree with us), are in on the conspiracy too!

    I'm telling you man, this is BIG!

  • Statistics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:49AM (#32094892) Homepage Journal

    Show me a scientific field that *wouldn't* be improved by having professional statisticians. Having done neuroimaging studies, I've often been unsure whether we truly were using the best research methods and statistics available. I did, of course, believe that we were doing the studies well, but improvement is certainly possible - this is true in many fields.

  • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:57AM (#32094936)

    and how long do you keep your data for, and available, who is going to pay to make it available and supported? I worked in a lab that had equipment with computers from, I kid you not, 1983 in storage. Unfortunately none of this equipment still worked, or had any meaningfully recoverable data on it, nor was the person who knew how to operate this equipment still employed, as he had been retired for the better part of a decade.

    If your data is, (for example) climate data from 100 stations recording data every hour for 10 years you have close to 9 million data points (assuming everything worked perfectly), you aren't just going to print that off and hand it out with your paper. What do you do when you got your PhD in 1980 where your data is from somewhere else (say you take data from the oh so fictional national department of measuring things people might want), and it's now 2010, can you be expected to reproduce that data? Should the department of measuring things provide it? What liability do you have if they don't provide it (or can't)? Who should host the data? You, or the instutition where the work was done (for how long?).

    Lets say you stored all of your data on hard drives in 1983, wrote your paper, and then didn't do anything with the drive but put it in storage, which has since gone loopy. What do you do about that data, which, in the specific case of climate change might be a problem since old info might be relevant?

    What about process then? Well wait, if I just spent 4 years of my life writing this piece of software, and am now working very hard to get tenure (and 5 more papers naturally) out of it, if I just give it away for free one of my competitors who isn't teaching 5 courses and isn't even from my country can then use my software (analysis etc..) to churn out papers without so much as putting my name as an author on the paper, and even if it's possible to sort out any potential ethics violation and get myself credit I'm now long past due for getting tenure and SOL. Besides, don't let other scientists be lazy, if you give them your software and they use it, and come to the same result you haven't actually learned anything other than your software works the same on several computers, you want to write a paper (algorithm, pseudo code whatever you want to call it) level description of the process you think you implemented, and let someone else first asses the process they think you implemented, and then compare to the process you actually implemented as the next step.

    The real world of academia is hardly as simplistic as you would like it to be, politicians love blind ideologue statements about improving transparancy (what political party doesn't) but when it comes to the details of how exactly one goes about this. Which is why there are a lot of names of professors on the research reports - sort of by definition a blue ribbon committee doing what it does by definition; staying independent of politcal influence and using their expertise to judge a topic on it's merits. There's nothing in the snippits of the reports which I have time to read which indicates anything other than the scientists accomodated all reasonable requests for data and process as best they could. There is a big weakness in UK law in dealing with FOI and academic research. Essentially should a researcher be allowed to be bogged down with FOI requests? If so, what should that mean for their professional career? Requests for data take time to respond to, but how do you manage that with the expectation that the researcher is going to do something other than just be a data delivery clerk (and if you want data delivery clerks who is going to pay them)?

    Ideally you want data from multiple sources and independent analysis from multiple sources and compare - then you go after the process to see where the differences are (or might be). This comparison in science is a glorious excersie in statistics rarely understood in detail by anyone but statisticians (and even then half of them are of questionable u

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:03AM (#32094956)

    'The methods were subjective? This is science? Maybe it's me. Maybe I don't understand the term "science".'

    Science isn't mathematics. In the most fundamental case, I would argue that any imprecision implies some degree of subjectivity, and no measurement made by a human has infinite precision.

  • Re:Doesn't matter. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by icannotthinkofaname (1480543) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:21AM (#32095026) Journal

    If you don't mind, I'd like to see these background checks. I wanna have a solid argument to produce next time my father and I get into a discussion about whether or not Fox is to be listened to.

    In summary and conclusion: [citation needed]

  • by quokkaZ (1780340) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:23AM (#32095038)

    Indeed you do need a wake up from your zombie state, for that is the condition of those who endlessly echo zombie arguments about climate science throughout the blogosphere. A zombie argument is one that endlessly presents an illusion of life no matter how many times it has been shown to be just plain wrong.

    Let us start with the availability of raw temperature station data from the CRU. Nearly all of it is and has been for several years freely available from the Global Historical Climatology Network maintained by the National Climate Data Center (US Department of Commerce). Here it is: ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/ghcn/v2/ [noaa.gov] Some station data held by the CRU was not made available publicly because it is the intellectual property of some national meteorological services around the world and subject to non disclosure agreements. Moves are afoot to change that situation. Move along - no conspiracy here.

    The NCDC station temperature data set is used by NCDC to produce their global temperature record. It is also used by NASA GISS to produce their temperature record. All three of the temperature records - HadCruT (from CRU), NCDC and NASA are all in close agreement. Furthermore the satellite temperature records produced by UAH and RSS from entirely different data and using entirely different methods are also in agreement with the surface temperature record. All of this stuff is freely available (including code). Do we see a pattern here?

    Lest the OP still feel deprived of data, the RealClimate web site (run by real climate scientists) provides a handy page of links to freely available data and code: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/data-sources/ [realclimate.org]

    Notably, this page also contains a link to the NOAA Paleoclimate site which make oodles of paleo climate data available including multiple studies and their multiple data sources that broadly support the famous hockey stick.

    The reality is that climate science has had excellent public and free access to data (and code) and the situation is improving all the time.

    So could we please get on with the science and the enormous tack of implementing solutions rather than dealing with the echoes of zombie arguments that stagger around aimlessly on the Internet.

  • Who needs gates? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bromskloss (750445) <auxiliary,address,for,privacy&gmail,com> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:26AM (#32095052)

    I don't care about the environment and I don't care about fraud, just stop putting "gate" at the end of everything!

  • Re:Doesn't matter. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wwwald (1452511) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:28AM (#32095066) Homepage
    Regarding communication: that's completely normal. Have you ever tried making carefully qualified statements when explaining scientific research to the public? It does not work. The public expects definite statements from science, it doesn't want to hear what uncertainties are involved or what data is lacking for more certain conclusions.

    This study might be interesting in this context: http://arxiv.org/abs/1004.5009v1 [arxiv.org]
  • by presidenteloco (659168) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:30AM (#32095078)

    It's not surprising that the climategate allegations have been shown to be false on examination.

    The whole thing was a manufactured crisis, in exactly the same sinister sense that the 1 year "WMDs hand-wringing" lead-up to the Iraq War was a manufactured crisis.

    It's not surprising that this sort of tactic happens, in a high-stakes political battle (there's trillions of oil dollars at stake after all, hmmm. Sound familiar?)

    What is lamentable is the rampant gullibility/willful ignorance of the mainstream media, and hence of much of the general public.

    Remember when you couldn't fool all the people all the time? Well, fooling people is now a highly paid, highly skilled profession, so maybe you can now at least fool the majority of the electorate for a long enough time to accomplish the goal, whether you are engaged in an illegal war for control of some oil resources, or a global warming denial disinformation campaign, for control of the right to keep burning as much oil as you feel like.

  • by NiceGeek (126629) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:34AM (#32095094)

    Scientists never work for corporations? Really?

  • Re:Doesn't matter. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hao3 (1182447) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:37AM (#32095112)

    My problem with these scientists (as revealed in the leaked emails) was two things:

    1) It showed that the scientists have a very real agenda. While I understand that everyone feels strongly about things sometimes and scientists are only human, when a good scientist notices that he favors a hypothesis, he will test it more rigorously, to make sure it is not his feelings that are distorting his view. This seems to be the opposite approach to what these scientists are taking: they are happy when people who disagree with them die. They show a willingness to try to suppress contrary evidence, even if it means changing the peer review process. Not good stuff, and it makes it hard to trust them.

    Yes, when they talked about the death of denialists and changing peer review, they were being totally serious. /sarcasm

    2) The presentation to the general public is different than the presentation to scientists. When they publish in peer reviewed publications, they are careful to qualify their statements and not make unsupported conjectures (at least according to the review mentioned here, which I have no reason to doubt). When they speak to the public, the statements are often more dire, and not necessarily supported by the science. You see the results of this kind of stuff a lot, like with the Himalayan glaciers melting completely within the next 30 years (which turned out to be false) or if you talk to the average person about global warming, they will think that New York is going to be submerged, which is not supported by any peer reviewed research.

    Scientists don't write newspapers, journalists do.

  • Re:Doesn't matter. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rakishi (759894) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:18AM (#32095314)

    Scientists don't write newspapers, journalists do.

    Exactly and journalists have an agenda of making people pay as much attention to them as possible.

    http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1174 [phdcomics.com]

  • by tfrayner (186362) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:19AM (#32095324) Homepage

    I think it's worth pointing out somewhere in this thread (and here seems pertinent) that there are many branches of science which have already confronted the question of data and software disclosure, and have generally come to the conclusion that if you want to publish you should disclose everything. My own branch, biology, has for many years been sharing sequence, protein structures, microarray and high-throughput sequencing data freely at the point of publication. 9 million data points are a drop in the ocean; I'm currently working on a dataset with 5 billion data points, and even that's small compared to the cutting edge. Now, I'm not going to pretend it's perfect, since it's up to the journals to police their data disclosure policies, but the point often missed is that in return for disclosing your hard-won data, you get access to everyone else's data as well. That alone makes it worth it, speeding up the process of scientific discovery which is, after all, what we're all about.

    The climate research community badly needs to get itself an international data repository along the models of EMBL/Genbank, GEO/ArrayExpress, and PDB.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:23AM (#32095340)

    One of the issues that comes up with software is how do you deal with bitrot and compatibility?

    * The software was originally written for room-sized Dead-and-Gone-A-Tron. The last DGAT went up in a fire 5 years ago. Is there a responsibility to provide runnable hardware?
    * I don't have a DGAT, I have an x64 system. Is there a responsibility to provide an x64 version?
    * The software was written for a 64-bit processor. Is there a responsibility to provide a 32-bit version?
    * The software used ClosedStatsPackage 2.3 (CSP is an industry-standard library). Version 6.1 is the current version. Is there a responsibility to provide a version compatible with 6.1?
    * CSP 2.3 was written before x64 was available. Is there a responsibility to provide me with a version that works on available hardware?
    * The behavior of CSP has changed subtly over time, so there is now a 0.5% discrepency between the numbers created with 2.3 and 6.1. Is there a responsibility to explain the difference?
    * Is there the responsibility to provide the source code for CSP?
    * Is there a responsibility to explain the obscure assembly tricks that are used to increase performance of common functions and how they interact with DGAT?
    * DGAT had custom hardware modules built to increase the speed of certain calculations. These modules were deemed classified as Secret. Is there a responsibility to provide the specifications and/or hardware?
    * The specific x64 hardware has a math bug (similar to the Pentium FDIV bug). Is there a responsibility to provide a version that works around it?

    Unfortunately, some vocal people have unreasonable expectations. Unless they are presented with an .msi that installs a Windows 7 compatible version of the software on their 32-bit netbook, they scream cover-up. It's much, much cheaper to make insane requests than it is to fill them; unfortunately, there are people that make insane requests and there are people that encourage others to make insane requests.

  • by Coolhand2120 (1001761) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:27AM (#32095360)
    1. The panel said their conclusions where correct, yet where is the methodology they used to prove this? Or are they relying on the CRUs methodology to confirm the results of the CRU methodology? Sounds like post hoc ergo propter hoc. [wikipedia.org]

    2. Why are they suggesting they need professional statisticians if the conclusions were correct? Are they going to become more correct?

    3. How can they know if their conclusions are correct without themselves reconstructing the experiments using the raw data that is now lost?

    4. How can they on one hand say that there was no fraud, yet there was obviously an effort to subvert the FOA laws? Is this act somehow made ethical because it cannot be prosecuted?

    5. And last of all, if this data and program that created the statistics are as "publicly available" as proponents of the CRU believe, then show me the link. This is the internet; just show me the URL to the data that convinced you that this data really is "publicly available".

    6. If raw data is missing, how can they, or these auditors, even check their own calculations to see if the statistical models they used are correct?


    And to the obvious responses to 5: Don't give me the run around "oh you can download it from the various sources that they got it from" bullshit, it's not my job to prove the CRU's theory, it's the CRU's job to prove it, all anyone else has to do is sit back and poke holes in the abundant logical fallacies. And if it's so damn important, the fate of the world and all, I would expect some talented CRU proponent, hell, the CRU themselves, to have packaged the whole dataset, including the "deleted" parts, into a XXXgb/tb/pb whatever b size .tar/.zip/.rar whatever and upload it to bittorrent/rapidshare/wikileaks whatever so anyone can access it. At the very least, do not become an impediment to the data's release, as has been shown beyond any reasonable doubt here.

    While I may not be a climatologist, I am a computer programmer, and I can tell when someone has written a program that will produce invalid data, for a non programmer to write a complex computer program, and have the countries of the world base their economies on it just seems insane to me. Would you have a stock broker write the code for the stock exchange? What if they are doing something like adding up temperatures as floats e.g.:averageTemp = (75.88+37.77+22.77...+200 more)/203 to get an average. A layman will look at the calculation and say "that looks great to me!" but even a first year CS student will see the huge problem adding so many floats, maybe the climatologist at the CRU didn't see a problem... But then nobody can really check to see if they have a problem, because they won't show anyone their source code, and subsequently how they even arrived at their conclusions, this alone makes this inquiry suspect. I would like to hear people say "You're not a computer programmer, you don't understand" as frequently as I hear people say "You're not a climatologist, you really don't understand..."
  • by joocemann (1273720) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:33AM (#32095394)

    the other bodies of research that were done independently also support the same results and predictions.

    get over it. all the evidence is very very clear to anyone who is willing to look at it.

  • by Fractal Dice (696349) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:39AM (#32095426) Journal
    After wading through a hundred posts I can't help but suspect that if we are honest with ourselves, the vast majority of opinions here are merely expressions of confirmation bias: the majority of people posting or moderating are being skeptical or accepting based entirely on whether or not it agreed with their pre-existing model of the universe.
  • Re:Doesn't matter. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:39AM (#32095428)

    Regarding point 1: You might want to consider that those scientists have been exposed to corporate backed attacks for decades. While it does not excuse their behaviour, it is still understandable that if the likes of Exxon, Shell, BP, etc. are out to discredit your work you become a bit paranoid.
    When everything you say can, and if possible, will be used against you, the sensible thing is to shut up and only talk through your lawyer/clenched teeth...

    Cpatcha: strain - very fitting...

  • by TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:39AM (#32095430)
    BS. I *must* publish my data and methods in all my papers. Why don't they? Why do they get special treatment?
  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:50AM (#32095490) Homepage Journal

    We're lucky in biology to have funding agencies which regularly kick out rather large amounts of money specifically for the purpose of building and maintaining public data repositories. Most other branches of science, including climatology, don't have that. Now, you'd think that with all the billions of dollars that the deniers insist environmentalists are making on climate change, someone could find a few bucks here and there for a server farm, but so far it doesn't seem to be happening.

  • Re:Doesn't matter. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AdmiralWeirdbeard (832807) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:56AM (#32095518)
    who the fuck modded this insightful? First of all, your analogies as to scientific peer review are, well, not analogous. Both the 9/11 conspiracy nuts and the your individual support department are limited subsets of larger groups - people who have investigated 9/11 and support departments across the nation, respectively. the whole point of scientific peer review is to prevent the exact situations you have described. If you think that the scientific community is one big monolithic entity that is capable of coherent self-interested behavior like that, well, you're fucking retarded. They're just as petty as the rest of us, and if scrambling for funding isnt enough reason to pick apart and disprove a competing scholar's work, if only for the recognition, then i don't know what is. It is a very adversarial, if cordial, system, and its a miracle when there's a scientific consensus about anything.

    you say you've looked into it for yourself. well, congratulations. maybe you should also consider the possibility that you don't actually understand a fucking thing about climatology. The only thing reputable science doesnt agree on is the timescale of global warming, so hey, maybe you won't live to be proved a moron.

  • Re:Statistics (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @05:11AM (#32095578)

    But there are not enough statisticians. Statistics is really hard and really useful in the financial/insurance world. As a result, there are not that many good statisticians, and those are sought after and paid _very_ well by banks, insurance companies, etc.

    There is just no way that a regular research group would be able to afford the average salary of a professional, good statistician.

  • by AlterEager (1803124) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @05:18AM (#32095604)
    Yow, what a mishmash of absurd denier fail

    I guess all those climate change die hards missed Dr. Jones admission that there's not been any evidence of global warming since 1995.

    Learn to read:

    Q. "Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming?" Jones: "Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods."

    "This trend is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level". Why do you think the "journalist" asked him this? Because he was prompted by someone who had already done the math and knew that if you cherry-picked the data to include only 1995-2009 it only gave a 94% significant trend. (1994-2009 is over 95%).

    that he admitted writing email in discussion trying to avoid producing his data to Freedom of Information requests.

    Not his data. Data from many sources, much of which was under NDA's.

    poor Dr. Jones just couldn't find his original hockey stick data that made him famous. You know the one that fails to show any Midevil warming period, no mini-ice age.

    Uh, Dr Jones is not Michael Mann.

    The one that stops right at 1961, and doesn't show -- what the tree ring data -- you know that data that shows the warming and cooling periods since 1961.

    The tree ring data from after 1961 is not used because it doesn't match the temperature Simple enough for you?

    Those Martians, Jovians, Titans, and Plutonians -- with their SUV's and all -- warming each of those planets during the same period of high solar activity.

    There is no evidence that Mars is warming. Trying to work out a trend based on two data points (albedo in 1977 and 1999) is stupid.

  • icing the cake (Score:5, Insightful)

    by epine (68316) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @05:34AM (#32095668)

    We agree with the CRU view that the authority for releasing unpublished raw data to third parties should stay with those who collected it.

    In the ordinary scheme of things, where science proceeds at a slow and deliberate pace, and the stakes rarely exceed ego and pride and lifetime accomplishment, it would be fine to allow scientists to manage their walled garden as they are accustomed to doing.

    In the extraordinary scheme of things where fluctuations so minor they are hard to measure are beating the drum on global policy, and recourse to sober reflection has been staked through the heart with language of imminent "tipping points", this is not good enough.

    According to the respected tradition of science, the scientists will soon come to a sober and reliable consensus on AGW 1980-2010, where soon is somewhere between 2050 and 2100.

    Cripes, Einstein wasn't awarded a Nobel prize until 1921, sixteen years after his annus mirabilis, roughly the equivalent of winning all four majors in the same year by ten strokes each. Tiger never had a year that good. Gretzky never had a year that good. At the pace that science traditionally moves, Gretzky would be a recent induction to the Hall of Fame, after a sober cooling off period, rather than handing his final game jersey and jockstrap to a burly Scotsman handcuffed to a velvet trunk. The tradition in science is to allow the sweat to dry before inviting posterity to drop in for a look see.

    Now that the stakes are so high (apparently), Big Science has slapped 2,500 signatures on a fat report in total contravention of every word of wisdom in Brook's "Mythical Man Month": you can't accelerate solid results by piling on resources or amassing "looks good to me" chits by the basket load. It doesn't work in software, and it doesn't work in science.

    If they think this is a viable route to sober consensus, they deserve a level of outside scrutiny that would make NASA blush.

    Where did this idea come from that science can function as a miracle short-order chef, just because it has to? I hate to parrot Thomas Kuhn, but he did point out that error in science is weeded out of the system on a generational time scale. Personally, I don't see a huge difference between Harry Markopolous and Stephen McIntyre, Both have a long history of having a sharp eye for dubious claims.

    If science thinks they can produce results on a Wall Street time frame, welcome to Wall Street scrutiny, er, I mean the scrutiny we now wish had been in place before it was too late.

    Right now we have a natural order and an economic order that are working at cross principals. We can't apply the precautionary principle on both sides of the fence simultaneously. So the debate devolves to which of the two should we F with, and in what proportion? Clamping down on the current economic order out of fear that an effect is major and immediate rather than moderate and mid-horizon has real effects on global standards of living.

    It's possible that the environmental scientists are right, which would make their urgency good politics, but still not good science, not until the day that fully disclosed data subjected to the best possible analysis fully supports their conclusions.

    Maybe this issue is too important to wait for good science. Nevertheless, under no conditions am I buying into this revisionist agenda as to what good science looks like. If we have to turn to lame science, and that's the best we have, so be it. Meanwhile, I'd be quite pleased to dispense with all this faux identity maintenance by scientists who have clearly overstepped the tradition of sober reflection, no matter if for the best of reasons.

  • by jcupitt65 (68879) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @05:58AM (#32095762)

    I can answer some of your points:

    1) The panel did not say the CRU's conclusions were correct, it said it could find no evidence of deliberate fraud and believed it would have found it if it existed.

    2) Yes, they are saying that no clearly inappropriate methods were used, but that in some cases more appropriate methods were available. Repeating the analysis would be unlikely to change the result but might improve confidence.

    4) FoI obstruction is not scientific fraud (the main charge that was being investigated), technically anyway, heh.

    5) The CRU are supposed to be working towards release of their data. A lot of it comes from other organisations and rights need to be negotiated, apparently. In the meantime, a great deal of climate data [google.com] is available from many sources.

    6) You select a statistical tool based on the type of data and the sort of answer you need rather than on the data itself. The committee could make a fair judgement without seeing all the numbers.

    Finally, the CRU's reconstructions broadly agree with other reconstructions (eg. the NASA data) which gives at least some validation of their results.

  • by KeensMustard (655606) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @06:06AM (#32095800)
    Clearly, you have no idea how deep this evil conspiracy goes.

    Firstly, it's a little known fact that the greenhouse effect was first postulated early last century. At first I thought it must have been an intergenerational conspiracy - an effort by scheming scientists of the 1900's for which they receive no reward, but which modern day scientists are now reaping. Thos original scientists knew even then that simply postulating that CO2 was a greenhouse gas would mean that their descendants in the conspiracy would one day be essentially hand the golden keys to a gigantic vault of grants money. Sure, if you look at there tax returns it might seem that their earnings are relatively modest in comparison to say, Lord Monkton. But we know that the government is involved in handing them wads of cash under the table - there's another set of books somewhere, let me assure you.

    The other possibility, of course, is that environmentalists have somehow travelled back through time and planted the research that was supposedly conducted back then. I'm still researching this one.

    Second little tidbit of information - the basic premise of the greenhouse effect can easily be verified by employing a pair of jars, a CO2 canister and some thermometers. What does this tell us? Well, it's obvious. Members of the conspiracy have gotten to the glass manufacturers. Nanomachines. Nanomachines embedded in the glass itself detect the CO2 and make it seem like it is warmer! How deep the rabbit hole goes!

  • *Second* Inquiry (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SmarterThanMe (1679358) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @07:02AM (#32096078)
    Title should be "*second* inquiry wastes more time and research energy legitimising continued intellectually bankrupt sceptic campaign against climate change science". Why are we expending so much energy engaging with people who will not engage with the research, besides to nitpick? The more legitimacy we give to these idiots the more they gain credibility with the public, the more governments lose the political willpower to do anything whatsoever, the more we screw ourselves over.
  • by benjfowler (239527) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @07:15AM (#32096128)

    Sadly, mud sticks.

    The denialists know this.

  • Too late (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jeroen94704 (542819) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @07:44AM (#32096238)
    Sadly, a lot of damage is already done to the climate cause. The idea that these (and therefore, by extension, other) scientists are prone to manipulating their data to get the answers they want is now firmly entrenched in the public mind.

    As an example, just he other day some colleagues of mine were discussing climate change, and when someone mentioned climategate, and how "those scientists" had tampered with their data, the response was a chorus of agreeing, everybody-know-THAT kind of nods. And these were all college/university graduates. Pretty depressing.
  • link fix (Score:3, Insightful)

    by epine (68316) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @07:46AM (#32096260)

    Probabilistic Graphical Models: Principles and Techniques (Adaptive Computation and Machine Learning) [amazon.com]

    There, I feel better now.

    Here's another postscript. Edge Foundation way back in 1999 ran a question with some historical depth.

    EDGE: What Is The Most Important Invention? [edge.org]

    From my notes: Joseph Traub, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, David Shaw, David Myers, Milford H. Wolpoff, John McCarthy, Philip Brockman, Howard Rheingold, Samuel Barondes and John Rennie all put forward the scientific method or some variation on scientific progress, alongside all the usual votes for the pill, the printing press, the a-bomb, digital electronics, and hay.

    Around the time of that survey, a lot of people convinced themselves that this new model for managing a company (or a software product line) made sense, because that was how the world worked now. No, actually. Even in the dotcom stampede, bad management was bad management. This will hold true of science as well.

    The scientific method is way too important in the history of modern civilization to have the IPCC make lite of this tradition in order to win a political grudge match.

    Too bad Wolfram used up the title "A New Kind of Science". We could have saved it for IPCC committee reports with 2,500 eminent signatures.

    I say this with full conviction that the central human activity of the 21'st century will be paying the piper for high living. I still harbour a dim hope that we'll pay off these days less rashly than we entered into them. Yes, I can see it now. This will all come to pass through a non-contentious political process involving scientific walled gardens, incestuous peer review, and sanctified data hoarding.

  • Re:Sadly... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DKalkin (1280762) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @07:49AM (#32096276)

    The real problem here is that the pro-AGW group is going about science all wrong -> they're trying to prove their point with more data that buttresses their theory. They look around, find scads of data that fits their model, and with enough data, declare the "debate is over".

    Except that's not science. It's not even bad science, it's just simply not science. You don't prove your point by finding more data that agrees with you, you prove your point by looking hard for data that does *not* agree with you, and not finding it...

    The bigger problem of all this is that when it comes right down to it, the pro-AGW folks haven't really stated a falsifiable theory. They have in fact scrupulously avoided a falsifiable theory (warm winter? Global warming! cold winter? Global warming!), and have instead created a political movement rather than a scientific discussion.

    For those pro-AGWers who want to mod down, fine. But do me a favor and come up with a falsifiable hypothesis while you're at it.

    I really wish Slashdotters would stop making arguments premised on a mish-mash of different "definitions" of science half-remembered from one source or another. Defining the scientific method in general terms is actually a really hard problem, which philosophers of science, and practicing scientists with an interest in philosophy, have struggled with for a century without coming to any sort of consensus. (It's known as the "demarcation problem", meaning the demarcation of science and pseudo-science.) There are no easy applications.

    The parent - like many people - refers to Popper's "falsifiability" criterion, but nobody who specializes in the subject accepts this criterion anymore in any simple fashion (Popper himself was more complex than most of his internet would-be followers). These are the problems: Every real scientific theory, from physics to biology, has to deal with one or more falsifiers throughout its existence; there are always unresolved problems, apparent pieces of counter-evidence, inexplicable observations, mathematical inconsistencies or unwarranted assumptions. But on the other hand, for any given falsifier, someone can always come up with some sort of explanation which preserves the original theory, in the worst case by either dismissing the evidence as necessarily instrument error, or by modifying the theory in an ad-hoc, one-off way. And more careful, less idealized studies of actual scientific practice have shown all kinds of complications; for example, for a century after Copernicus the Ptolemaic model fit observations better.

    So the assertion that climate modeling is "not science", because, given the unsupported assertion that climate modelers don't look for counter-evidence, it doesn't fit some abstract idea of what science should be, is worth pretty much nothing. In general, anyone who writes that they can dismiss some field of study practiced in research universities and published in peer-reviewed journals as "not really science" on the basis of a one-paragraph description of what science really is, is talking out of their ass.

    On the specific question of anthropogenic global warming. As anyone who pays any attention to what climate researchers actually write knows, neither "warm winter" nor "cold winter" is a claimed prediction of the models. The predictions take the form of an average global temperature rise over a period of years, or a set of possible average temperatures given various possible levels of carbon dioxide emissions. And James Hansen's models from the 1980s are looking pretty good [realclimate.org] today.

  • by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @08:13AM (#32096380) Homepage Journal

    in the new york times comment section under the times square blast, i was floored by the number of people seriously believing the bomber was a fall guy, that he was set up, ostensibly by someone with an agenda in the government, to say something malicious about islam, or pakistan, or immigrants, or obama, or whatever

    in other words, even when presented with solid evidence contrary to their beliefs, people will still adhere to their beliefs, and invent outrageous hollywood b grade movie plots to explain away solid evidence contrary to their beliefs. in order to preserve their beliefs, even when their beliefs are being directly challenged. instead of rethinking, people push back, even if it means pushing back against reality, with bizarre paranoid schizophrenic conspiracy theories

    sometimes i think we're doomed

  • One Would Think... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sycodon (149926) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @08:16AM (#32096394)

    "The statistical methods used, though arriving at correct results, are not optimal, and it is recommended futures studies involve professional statisticians if possible"

    You would think that given the gravity of their findings, the seriousness they attribute to the situation, the huge nature of the changes they propose, the affect the actions will have on everyone, the potential devastation to the world economy, etc. etc., that they would have bothered to fucking hire a few professional statisticians . Shoddy and careless is what this is.

  • by AftanGustur (7715) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @08:24AM (#32096444) Homepage

    You would think that given the gravity of their findings, the seriousness they attribute to the situation, the huge nature of the changes they propose, the affect the actions will have on everyone, the potential devastation to the world economy, etc. etc., that they would have bothered to fucking hire a few professional statisticians . Shoddy and careless is what this is.

    Two words: No money!

  • HARRY_READ_ME.txt (Score:2, Insightful)

    by shovas (1605685) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @08:55AM (#32096744) Homepage

    That link, HARRY_READ_ME.txt [anenglishmanscastle.com], certainly is a trainwreck of bad organization, bad policy, bad procedure, bad communication, etc., but it's not an example of bad code. We'd have to see the code to say that. What I see from this document is not bad data or incorrect results - just horrific effort getting tools to work.

    I see this with developers all the time who don't care enough about their code, its organization and its data - or are ignorant of why that's even important. I can totally see scientists being ignorant of IT and development best practice. Not excusing, just saying it's not as uncommon as many would think.

    I agree with the CRU exoneration, however, that likely the results were correct but procedures were horrific. It looks like those guys were hacking around legitimate problems in their tools to produce their data - not manipulating their data.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @08:55AM (#32096750)
    I'm sure Al Gore could shake loose some of his change to hire several statisticians.

    And with that single comment, you've exposed your bias right there. The only end-result you would have been satisfied with is one in which they were all found guilty of fraud and removed from their positions.
  • by sycodon (149926) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @09:13AM (#32096902)

    How does any bias, imagined or otherwise change the Truth of the original post?

  • Re:Doesn't matter. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ArcherB (796902) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @09:24AM (#32097026) Journal

    The Climate "Sceptics" will refuse global warming even when the Earth is burnt to a crisp. Denial is a powerful thing, and need a bit more than diplomacy to break through.

    It's called "motivated reasoning" when you are emotionally attached to a believe.

    Powerful stuff! As you absolutely cannot talk people out of an emotional state!

    Allow me to point out that fear and guilt are emotions and they are the primary driver behind AGW believers.

    You second sentence stands on its own.

  • by Kreigaffe (765218) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @09:29AM (#32097068)

    Basically "your result is correct but your method is completely wrong" is kindspeak for "you manipulated your data until you reached the consensus opinion".

    In other words, even if their results were "correct", they're completely unjustified and only "correct" because they match up with generally agreed-upon results from other people. That means the CRU report? It proves absolutely nothing. It does not support AGW, it doesn't refute it either. It's simply bad. If this was a college course they'd probably fail, since correct answers arrived at through incorrect methods are actually incorrect answers that, somehow as dumb luck would have it, match the expected result.

  • Re:Doesn't matter. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArcherB (796902) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @09:38AM (#32097188) Journal

    "Fox "News" are a bunch of partisan frauds who are paid to lie through their teeth, and they are very good at it."

    Theres a few sites on the net that look at the corporate backgrounds of most of Fox's "Experts". Almost all of them are in some way linked to the corporations they comment positively on (Ie defense experts who get on recomending america should buy a certain missile, then it pans out they are being paid off by the missiles manufacturer, or health experts claiming cigarettes are harmless who pan out to be employed by a PR company working for tobacco firms, and so on).

    Its like they don't actually hire anyone at all qualified to comment, but instead let their advertisers nominate "experts".

    Fair and balanced my arse. Fox is an astonishingly biased news. Remember folks, these same people complain about "liberal bias", despite study after study demonstrating a conservative lean in american news reporting.

    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.

    So, if the talking heads on Fox can be discredited because of their ties to industries that would oppose AGW, then you have to throw out every scientist who has received American grant money because it too is tainted by corporate interests. That's only fair, right?

  • by viridari (1138635) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @09:46AM (#32097290)

    Here goes my good karma here.

    Centuries ago, scientists were oppressed by religion.

    Now this area of science has become a religion. Objectivity is gone. We see what we want to see. Discard raw data that doesn't support the hypothesis. Discredit anyone who objectively questions the faith.

    Congratulations! You have become that which your greatest dignitaries fought mightily against!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @09:48AM (#32097316)
    I'm the AC who posted up there. For the record, I don't disagree with your initial comment at all, and I do feel that it deserves to be modded to +5. Quite simply, the work should have been reviewed by expert statisticians the first time around. And also for the record, I don't know exactly where I fall in regards to anthropogenic climate change (this coming from someone who has a degree in Geology and has studied the planet considerably more than many posters here have).

    However, let me ask this question of you -- you commented that Al Gore could have provided the money to hire statisticians. Suppose he had. What would your stance be on the work then? Would you consider it tainted because the funding came from Al Gore? Or would you consider it impartial? I can guarantee you'd consider it tainted, which is where my comment about exposing your bias comes into play. I strongly suspect that there is little way you would find their work to be "untainted", despite where the funding came from. And that, my friend, is the very definition of bias. If you take issue with that, then I suggest you take some time to consider your prejudices.
  • uhh, no (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pastafazou (648001) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @09:49AM (#32097336)
    the IPCC reports are the primary driver behind AGW believers. And while there definitely is some peer reviewed science in the IPCC reports, much of it isn't.
    one sided? [wordpress.com]
    not peer reviewed? [noapologies.ca]
    The one thing climategate did was expose just how "unsettled" the science actually is. The fact that they can't explain the recent temperature decline, and the fact that they've manipulated the presentation of the data to make the 90's heat wave appear drastic, when it actually falls within normal historical bounds, shows us that a much better understanding is required before they can conclude that we're doomed because of CO2 emissions.
  • by CheshireCatCO (185193) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @09:55AM (#32097416) Homepage

    The methods were subjective? This is science? Maybe it's me. Maybe I don't understand the term "science".

    Not to be insulting, but since you suggested the dichotomy: yeah, you don't understand science apparently. All science is subjective. I know teachers paint a simple picture of a nice flow-chart that removes any human element to it in high schools, but that's about as realistic as the picture of government you get. Reality is more complex. Scientists have to always judge whether a result is significant, when one theory is better than another (hint: it's rarely clear-cut, which is why new theories take years to get accepted in most cases), and which behaviors are due to noise and which should be worrisome.

    For example, do you believe that objects fall at the same rate? Odds are you've never done an experiment that showed that. You might had done an experiment that approximately showed that, but I can almost be assured that your experiment showed different falling times for different objects. Now, there are many reasons why this can happen: air resistance (Galileo's own explanation), measurement errors, jitter in the release mechanism, etc. And you can be assured that almost anyone would agree that it's fair to ignore those effects in drawing conclusions. But that's a judgment call, requiring a human to make the call. It's subjective where you draw those lines, based on past experience and various biases.

    Science is subjective. It always has been. This isn't even a new observation, Kuhn made a fairly big point of it more than 50 years ago.

  • by Kreigaffe (765218) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @10:07AM (#32097576)

    From wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_core#Paleoatmospheric_sampling [wikipedia.org]

    Ice cores aren't exactly as accurate as we believed or hoped. Tree rings match temperatures only for a relatively short period of time and then stop, and we don't know why. If we figure out why, we'll know if it was caused by something recent and new (humans!) or if it's something else entirely that may have happened before (making tree rings an unreliable source of data, or at best requiring weighing the ring data against whatever it is that's caused it to not match temps recently -- that is, whatever that thing is, we'd have to figure out when/if it happened historically and then adjust the ring data based upon that).

    I'm not saying this disproves anything, but I will say loudly that this does mean we're far less sure of exactly what's happening than we thought.

    oh and the "climategate" did involve their data -- they 'normalized' their data. which is pretty common and nothing wrong with it! HOWEVER... they won't share the original data (it's been lost, as in, it was thrown out 20-some years ago and only their adjusted data was kept). They've not explained their nomalization process. They've got a set of adjusted data to work with, but we have to trust them that it's actually based upon real data. We have to trust them that their adjustments were made in a proper manner, that their methods were sound.

    Science isn't math, science is verifiability. We can't verify their conclusions based upon their data, because the data is gone. This, then, is not science, but faith. Not religious faith, but faith in the infallibility of the scientists -- and these guys, well. Read the conclusion reached by the inquiry. They're not exactly fastidious and methodical.

  • Re:uhh, no (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Svartalf (2997) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @10:08AM (#32097592) Homepage

    Heh... I wish I had mod points...

    It's not that we don't need to be better at things like pollution. We do.

    The big problem is that they can't explain things that are going on now, they gamed the data to "prove" their hypothesis, and the things they've gotten proposed happen to be vastly less effective than claimed and more expensive overall.

    We don't have a solid handle on Climatology, contrary to anything you might have been told. We don't have enough actual measured data to make models that're even remotely accurate- and we're making models of archaeological samples that MIGHT show us what they're claiming, but then again might very well not. They'll tell you that they do and come up with believable theories as to why the data shows us what they're claiming. But, in the end, we've had believable theories for the day that've been shown to be dead wrong when observed strictly and closely.

    Right now, it's big politics mixed in with a batch of what should've been called bad science a long time ago- someone should have red-flagged a good portion of this and tried to get good data points and do a rigorous analysis of the theories against that data and not try to mold the data to fit the theory.

    And while we do need answers, the chicken little act we've got going on isn't helping things any. Do we have a problem? We don't honestly know, as much because of the dinking with the data up to this point as anything else. And the histrionics and the lies (yes, they are precisely that, "investigations" not withstanding- you don't trim your data sources like they did, closing down monitoring points in colder climates and increasing the data points in urban settings, and call it "truth".) that have went on for the last handful or so of years has muddied up the works in a way that there is little in the way of actual credibility with this bunch in the eyes of anyone but the "faithful" and the politicians that have something to gain from "believing". Even if it is all true that we have AGW as bad as they're claiming- what they did damaged their message badly.

  • Re:Doesn't matter. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gtbritishskull (1435843) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @10:31AM (#32097928)

    Your response makes it obvious that you are an academic. Academics don't have to produce anything (besides words). I am an Engineer at a private company. I have to put a product out that works. There are time limits. If I am not sure how it works, I can't say "well, lets just look at this for another 30 years and make sure we get the math correct". I have to take the facts that I do know, make assumptions, and act on them.

    The science is never going to be good enough for you, because everything is based on assumptions. The "Theory of Gravity" is wrong. It breaks down at very small distances. But, in the real world, I have to assume that it is good enough and use it to get my work done. Other people have told me, "Well, we can't prove global warming correct, so we should just wait another 30 years until the science works itself out." This is very convenient because you don't have to do anything. If in 30 years the earth is screwed, you can just say that now we have the science. If it is not, you can say you are right. But I will not accept that. Don't tell me why I am wrong, tell me why you are right. What is your alternate theory, and where is your supporting evidence. PROVE that my theory is worse than yours. But, you can't. All you are is an obstructionist. You don't have a proposal that you are willing to put anything behind (your career, your reputation, your future). All you have is your proposal that we don't know anything, so we shouldn't do anything. That proposal I do not accept.

    This is also apparent from your comment about the big bang. You just say it is wrong. What is your alternative? It is not so easy when you have to support something instead of just sitting back and telling everyone else why they are wrong.

    I am going to modify an age old adage...

    "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. And then tell the people who are 'doing' why they are wrong."

  • by gtbritishskull (1435843) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @11:03AM (#32098430)

    "your result is correct but your method is completely wrong"

    When you put quotes around something, I (maybe mistakenly) assume that you are quoting someone. Could you cite who you are quoting?

    I am wondering if you are paraphrasing (in quotes?) from TFS...

    The statistical methods used, though arriving at correct results, are not optimal, and it is recommended future studies involve professional statisticians if possible;

    If that is the case, then they did not say the statistical methods they used were "wrong", just that there were other options that might have been better. You are just spreading FUD, which is not helpful in a debate where you are trying to find the truth.

  • Re:Sadly... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BCGlorfindel (256775) <klassenkNO@SPAMbrandonu.ca> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @11:14AM (#32098666) Journal

    1. The global temperature will increase - predicted by Hansen's model from early eighties. There is an observed increase in temperature.

    That's not an AGW prediction, that's also a predication based on us just coming out an ice age. Try again please.

    2. Arctic and antarctic to warm faster than rest of the planet - predicted by all models. Observed.

    That's not an AGW prediction, it's a prediction of warming no matter what the source. Try again please.

    3. Troposphere to warm and stratosphere to cool - predicted by all models. Observed.

    And yet again, not an anthropogenic prediction, but a prediction for the increase of many GHG's from a great many reasons.

    4. Increasing signature of CO2 in long wave spectrum form top of atmosphere. Observed by satellite spectrographically.

    Which is not an AGW prediction, but a prediction tied to increased CO2 concentrations. The nature of the correlation is hardly well spoken to.

    5. Increasing acidification of the oceans. Observed.

    Strike 5.

    and plenty more where those came from. Please cut the crap about climate science not being falsifiable. Try looking at the evidence, the science and the facts for a change.

    Please present the 'others' then. The real trick to AGW as a theory is falsifiable predictions are hard to come by. Virtually all the observations and data that can be gathered about it still rely on an understanding of the relationship between human CO2 emissions and global CO2 concentrations, and then from global CO2 concentrations to long term climate trends. It's easily proven that increased CO2 increases warming. Demonstrating that human activity has introduced so much new CO2 as to cause historically unprecedented warming requires extraordinary proof. I've yet to find any articles claiming evidence above the level of suggestive.

  • Re:Doesn't matter. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AdamHaun (43173) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @11:53AM (#32099392) Journal

    This seems to be the opposite approach to what these scientists are taking: they are happy when people who disagree with them die.

    For the same reason evolutionary biologists don't like creationists. If I had a bunch of denialists on a crusade to pick apart my work in my area of expertise, I wouldn't like them very much either. That's hardly a proof of a "very real" and corrupting agenda.

    The presentation to the general public is different than the presentation to scientists. When they publish in peer reviewed publications, they are careful to qualify their statements and not make unsupported conjectures (at least according to the review mentioned here, which I have no reason to doubt).

    Of course the presentation to experts is different from the presentation to laypeople. This is good communication. For the most part, the general public doesn't do science, so how are they supposed to interpret qualifications correctly? You've read the science articles that get linked to here; you know how bad science journalism is.

    You're asking for a standard of purity that simply doesn't exist in human communications. I work in a totally uncontroversial corporate job and I see these same things all the time. If someone causes us grief and/or accuses us of incompetence, we make unpleasant comments (in private). If a manager wants some information, we don't give them every tiny concern that goes with it (to avoid triggering an unjustified CYA reflex). My girlfriend regularly texts me to say she "wants to kill" customers she hates. The only difference here is that the emails got dragged out into the light of day. I guarantee you that any collection of emails from almost any organization is going to have the same sort of stuff. This is just how people work.

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @12:03PM (#32099588)

    You've obviously never actually done any science.

    Present something to a scientific audience and they spend the entire presentation looking for weaknesses. At the end someone, or several someones grill you, and they usually turn out to be eminent experts in the field. The questions they ask are even tougher if you agree with them. Last time I did this was yesterday.

    I've heard there are some branches of science that aren't quite like this, but I've never actually seen one first hand, and most such reports are from dubious sources.

  • Re:Doesn't matter. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Omestes (471991) <omestes&gmail,com> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @12:09PM (#32099676) Homepage Journal

    Your ideas don't lead to a useful heuristic for us non-scientists to judge scientific statements. The most obvious solution contained in your statement is that we should quickly believe anyone who is on the fringe or a "maverick". This, obviously, is dumb. 99% of the time the fringe elements are wrong, or crazy. Only in the rare "paradigm changing" cases do they prevail, and eventually become well-accepted theories.

    The current state of climate science doesn't really have the marks of a Kuhnian revolution. Neither side of the debate are really threatening the currently established scientific paradigm. Note the use of the term "scientific", politics and civil policy has nothing to do with this, at least this aspect. Both sides are using currently accepted models and knowledge to come to conclusion, so regardless of the conclusion the current system stands.

    This is just a case of science getting hopelessly tanged in politics and money interests, nothing more.

    Basically, the AGW crowd is using data A, and method B.1 to reach conclusion X, whereas the deniers are using data A and method B.2 to reach the conclusion ~X. Nothing terribly revolutionary from a scientific standpoint.

    If there wasn't politics and billions of dollars at stake (not to mention fighting against the always entrenched status-quo) this would be a very boring scientific debate like any other, and eventually the opponents would melt into the wood work, unless they managed to dig up some truly spectacular data that proves without a doubt ~X.

    This happened in the case you pointed out, Wegener fought like a bastard, and eventually his evidence (not him, his actually data and logic) swayed the majority of geologists.

    Back on topic, it is far more useful to judge from the majority of scientists, since they generally are more correct than the fringe most of the time. Just because some people agree with, or find it useful to agree with, the fringe in this case doesn't really change the heuristic.

    In this case, as in all like cases, the overwhelming burden of proof is on the minority. They really need to develop a definitive and persuasive (to scientists, us lay people don't matter one bit, nor do out hopes, dreams, and political motivations) data backed argument that contradicts the prevalent theory.

    On purely scientific terms, the AGW deniers are in the same boat as young earth creationists.

  • Re:Doesn't matter. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gtbritishskull (1435843) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:03PM (#32101968)

    The problem is, there will never be enough proof for you. There is not going to be a "Law of Global Warming". There will always only be a theory, because the Earth is too complicated for us (at least right now) to understand the implications of change.

    The way to derail the AGW debate is to have a more supported hypothesis than theirs. Have a group of scientists gather all the data and support the hypothesis that temperatures have not been increasing. Have them publish in peer reviewed journals and be able to defend their work. Why hasn't this been done?

    I keep hearing people claim that the only reason that we have the AGW debate is because people are going to make money off of it. Is there no money to be made off of defeating it? I know the oil and coal companies are barely scraping by right now (with their billion dollar profits), but maybe they would be willing to throw in a bit of money.

    Don't tell me why I am wrong, tell me why you are right. In an argument like this where there are no absolute right vs wrongs, it is all based on assumptions and models, it is easy to attack the science. Come up with your own hypothesis and convince people it is better (with supporting facts) than the current AGW hypothesis. Then I will listen. Play fair. Give me the ability to attack your science the same way you attack mine. So that the public can make an informed decision. But, you are not going to do this because there is much more evidence FOR AGW than against it. So, you have to resort to FUD.

    We have to make a decision here that will seriously affect what happens in the future. We can either take the AGW hypothesis at face value and work to decrease greenhouse emissions and possibly cause long-term damage to the world economy (though I disagree that this will necessarily cause damage. it always depends on implementation) or we can decide to do nothing and civilization as we know might possibly be radically changed due to climate change. You claim that we cannot choose the AGW side of things because we don't have enough proof. But doing nothing is CHOOSING the anti-AGW argument. How much proof do we have supporting that choice? Why does only one side have to survive this burden of "proof"?

    Think for yourself. Don't be a pawn to corporate interests (on either side).

  • Re:NOT Good enough (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tbannist (230135) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:45PM (#32102592)

    Frankly, I don't think that's a manageable standard. I seem to remember Mark Twain saying that it would take all the wise men in the world to answer the questions of just one fool. In effect you would make it possible for a small group of "skeptics" to commit a denial of service attack any AGW research for any reason. Hell, some of the so-called skeptics have already been abusing freedom of information requests to try and prevent scientists from actually working.

    You can demand perfection from an imperfect world, but if you expect to get it merely because you demanded it, be prepared for disappointment.

    Other than the obvious failure of requiring scientists to answer every question of every fool, I think you're pretty much right that everything needs to be done in as rigorous a manner as possible. I'm just not sure that that isn't the case already. You also have to be careful that you don't get manipulated by clever people with vested interests. You can create doubt about anything by manipulating the facts. On one side you have "information should be shared with everyone" and on the other you have "because they shared their information with everyone we can never know if they're just parroting the same answer". There's money interests everywhere in the climate change issue and they're all pushing for whatever result they think is currently in their best financial interests. It would be easy to lose sight of the truth behind all the agendas.

  • Re:NOT Good enough (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tbannist (230135) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:49PM (#32102658)

    Absolutely, or even better, how about an inter-governmental panel that brings the foremost scientists and mathematicians from around the world into one giant committee of the world's best and brightest. And then how about we repeat it three or four times to make sure they come up with the same answers each time?

    Oh wait, that sounds somewhat familiar [www.ipcc.ch]....

  • Re:Doesn't matter. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gtbritishskull (1435843) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:19PM (#32103052)

    You make good points and I am sorry if I offended you. There are good academics out there, I stereotyped on the bad ones (which is what I believe I was responding to). The following is what set me off...

    fundamentally unproveable, sorry but I do exact sciences

    This is an opinion that I have found in a lot of academics. Some people do not have the luxury of exact sciences. Also, I have found that when you get out in the real world, exact sciences have a habit of becoming less exact.

    The fact that this person decided that because he only deals in exact sciences, that everyone else should be held to the same standards is just mental laziness in my opinion. And the way it was used borders on obstructionism. Just because you happen to know a lot about your subject, does not mean that you can judge the work of someone who works in a different subject. Especially disparaging the quality of their work when their experimental procedures will be much different than yours.

    But, some people (actually, looking back at it, most people) might think that I am disparaging all academics. I did not intend for that to be the case. I just have a problem with that particular mindset which seems to be more prevalent in academics.

  • by jwhitener (198343) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @07:28PM (#32105962)

    Is there a way to mod this guy +10? And then permanently attach his post to the top of every AGW related slashdot thread please.

  • by PenguiN42 (86863) <{taylork} {at} {alum.mit.edu}> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @07:37PM (#32106078) Journal

    If there really are as many data sets available as you are claiming, then some climate scientists should start over and do the whole research project again, this time with full transparency.

    I'm not sure what you're proposing here. We're talking about temperature data. There are various independent sources of this temperature data, of which CRU produced one. All the various independent sources are in very close agreement. What are you proposing to "start over" on?

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