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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 warrax_666 (144623) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:01AM (#32094624)

      Woo-hoo!

      • by gyrogeerloose (849181) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:18AM (#32094732) Journal

        Who cares?

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

          by sycodon (149926)

          "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 . Shodd

          • 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!

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by apoc.famine (621563)

            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

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              You call "arriving at correct results" "Shoddy and careless"?

              What? No, that's not how it works.

              Let's say I look into a crystal ball and say, "My crystal ball is round, therefore the Earth is round." Have I done anything even remotely scientific? Should anyone assign any credibility to my results?

              No, of course not. By sheer luck, I happened to get the right answer. My friend who used tea leaves might have decided the Earth is flat, like a tea leaf.

              Does it make much difference if I have data? Not really, my results are still just as worthless. The only difference is, t

            • NOT Good enough (Score:4, Informative)

              by sycodon (149926) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @11:03AM (#32098424)

              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., the AGW crowd has to meet the Gold Standard of scientific evidence.

              They have to document every last fact, provide access to all the data, provide the means and methods they used to draw their conclusions, account for every oddity, inconsistency, and anything else that would cast doubt on their conclusions. Their case must be iron clad. They have answer their critics, no matter who they are, thoroughly and in a timely manner...again and again if necessary.

              Every aspect of their work has to be meet the highest level of professional standards and scrutiny. You have a conclusion based on statical analysis? It had better be done by a PhD in Statistics. You have a conclusion based on thermodynamics? Only someone with a PhD in that discipline is acceptable. Preferably with decades of experience and unquestionable standing. Cobbling together a little bit of skills here and there is unacceptable, unprofessional , shoddy and careless. Too much you say? Too bad. The stakes are too high for anything less.

              You want to change the world? You better fucking bring your A Game.

              • 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: (Score:3, Interesting)

            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,

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by JavaBear (9872) *

      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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by JavaBear (9872) *

        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.
         

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by sg_oneill (159032)

          "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 o

          • 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]

          • 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?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by bwcbwc (601780)

        ...and all the conspiracy theorists will be convinced this evaluation is just a whitewash by the liberal, ivory tower academic community.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by alexibu (1071218)
      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
      • 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!

        • 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!

    • 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 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 labnet (457441) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @06:38AM (#32095938)

          OK, so I read the file the parent linked and what a shocker.
          Some quotes

          OH FUCK THIS. It's Sunday evening, I've worked all weekend, and just when I thought it was done I'm
          hitting yet another problem that's based on the hopeless state of our databases. There is no uniform
          data integrity, it's just a catalogue of issues that continues to grow as they're found. :

          I am seriously close to giving up, again. The history of this is so complex that I can't get far enough
          into it before by head hurts and I have to stop. Each parameter has a tortuous history of manual and
          semi-automated interventions that I simply cannot just go back to early versions and run the update prog.
          I could be throwing away all kinds of corrections - to lat/lons, to WMOs (yes!), and more.

          Now, this is a clear indication that the standard deviation limits are not being applied.
          Which is extremely bad news. So I had a drains-up on anomauto.for.. and.. yup, my awful
          programming strikes again. Because I copied the anomdtb.f90 process, I failed to notice
          an extra section where the limit was applied to the whole station - I was only applying
          it to the normals period (1961-90)!

          Probably the worst story is temperature, particularly for MCDW. Over 1000 new stations! Highly
          unlikely. I am tempted to blame the different lat/lon scale, but for now it will have to rest.

          If I fix that, I get:...14 stations LESS than the previous exercise. That'll do, surely? It's not going to be easy to find 14 missing stations, is it? Since the anomalies aren't exactly the same. Should I be worried about 14 lost series? Less than 2%. Actually, I noticed something interesting.. look
          at the anomalies. The anomdtb ones aren't *rounded* to 1dp, they're *truncated*! So, er - wrong!

          The problem is that the synthetics are incorporated at 2.5-degrees, NO IDEA why, so saying they affect
          particular 0.5-degree cells is harder than it should be. So we'll just gloss over that entirely ;0)

          So, under /cru/cruts/version_3_0/fixing_tmp_and_pre/custom_anom_comparisons, we have a
          'manual' directory and an 'automatic' directory, each with twelve 1990 anomaly files. And
          how do they compare? NOT AT ALL!!!!!!!!!

      • 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.

        • self addition (Score:3, Informative)

          by epine (68316)

          As a footnote, I read this the other night and was quite impressed with it. This will mostly appeal to slashdotters with low digit IDs and mild Aspergers, if such a creature exists.

          The Art and Science of Cause and Effect [ucla.edu]

          Note that he takes a long view of science as I do. The key slide that just popped into mind is slide 49 with the text:

          However, carve a chunk from it, say the object part, and we can talk about the motion of the hand CAUSING this light ray to change angle.

          The precautionary principle is fundamentally interventionist. However, the focus of precaution is necessarily a human construct, which depends upon how the image is sliced

      • by jeff4747 (256583) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @08:46AM (#32096664)

        So... we didn't look into whether their numbers were right.

        Their numbers are the records of temperature measurements. They literally came from a book. How, exactly, do you propose we determine if the numbers were right? Check for massive transcription errors that all happen to go one way?

        The entire "climategate" scandal was about their ANALYSIS of the data, not the data.

        As a less snarky answer, if you want to see the data go look at their journal papers.

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

        Well, if you understood science, perhaps you'd have looked into the problems here.

        First, we didn't have thermometers 5000 years ago, so there's no accurate data. So we have to look for other ways to measure temperature after-the-fact. Tree rings and ice cores seem to correlate well, with tree rings having higher fidelity than ice cores. And for most of the time period where we do have thermometers, tree rings correlate well with the thermometers from the 1800s until the 1960s.

        Starting in the 60's, tree rings are showing a colder temperature than we measure with thermometers. Why? Nobody knows. Best guess is pollution, but it's a problem for the biologists, not the climatologists.

        Should we then treat the pre-1800 tree-rings as accurate? Well, that's going to be subjective. Since we don't know what's causing the slowdown for the last 50 years, an argument could be made that tree ring data is unreliable. On the other hand, our other source of pre-1800s data (ice cores) match the pre-1800 tree rings and we have a hypothesis whereby the slowdown is a new phenomenon.

        In addition, we have this habit of placing the thermometers where people are. Since the thermometer is in a city, we know there will be a heat island effect. For modern readings, we've placed thermometers outside cities so that we can measure that effect. But that won't help for old readings. So we have to compensate for heat island effects without being able to accurately measure them and their change over time (small city = smaller effect). This correction, by definition, has to be subjective.

        If you really were interested in the science here, you'd go fire up Google Scholar and read their papers where they explain all this. On the other hand you are moving the goalposts from "look! Bad analysis!!!" at the beginning of "climategate" to "look! Bad data!!". That kinda indicates you aren't actually interested in the science.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Kreigaffe (765218)

          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

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by jeff4747 (256583)

            Ice cores aren't exactly as accurate as we believed or hoped

            That would be the fidelity I was speaking of. Ice cores can't be used to say "it was this temperature on July 18th, 5324 BCE". What it can reveal is an approximate average temperature over a many-year period. This is why ice cores are used in an attempt to confirm data from other proxies instead of directly used.

            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 hav

        • by Troed (102527) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @10:24AM (#32097828) Homepage Journal

          Why start at 1800? We can try to verify tree rings a lot further back than that, using ice cores as well as other proxies. It turns out the tree rings show a completely different pictures compared to the other proxies - a very flat picture. No MMW, no LIA.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFbUVBYIPlI [youtube.com] (see the very end for sources)

          To be frank, tree ring proxies (especially merging a lot of them together to hide how wildly different they are even from each other) are the only ones that can be used to show the handle of a hockey stick.

          To get the blade, you need to switch away from the proxies again and graft direct temperature measurements to the end.

          ( ... and to be REALLY frank, you also need to modify the temperature measurements so you can minimize the warmth of the 30s and the cooling in the 60/70s.)

          Here's the shocker: We HAVE earlier temperature data. That data does not agree with the tree proxies, and it gives the concept of AGW dubious support if any.

          http://i45.tinypic.com/kqbd4.jpg [tinypic.com]

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by jeff4747 (256583)

            Why start at 1800?

            Because thermometers were not widespread and the measurements from those thermometers were not recorded.

            It turns out the tree rings show a completely different pictures compared to the other proxies - a very flat picture. No MMW, no LIA.

            Ah yes, when engaging in a scientific debate, especially one that is as subjective as analyzing tree rings, I always turn to youtube for the best analysis instead of journal papers. Tip: You can use tree rings to prove a lot of things that are false. To

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CheshireCatCO (185193)

        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 ye

    • 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: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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AdamHaun (43173)

        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 reviewe

  • 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.

    • 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: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by JavaBear (9872) *

      Making all their data freely available is ludicrous, there is just too much of it. When you have this much data to work on, you only make it available to people who have a chance of understanding it; in this case fellow scientists.
      You don't see CERN release all their data either, at least not to the public.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:16AM (#32094718)

      blue-ribbon committees of politicians

      From page 7 of TFA:

      APPENDIX A
      PANEL MEMBERSHIP
      Chair: Prof Ron Oxburgh FRS (Lord Oxburgh of Liverpool)
      Prof Huw Davies, ETH Zürich
      Prof Kerry Emanuel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      Prof Lisa Graumlich, University of Arizona.
      Prof David Hand FBA, Imperial College, London.
      Prof Herbert Huppert FRS, University of Cambridge
      Prof Michael Kelly FRS, University of Cambridge

      • by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:09AM (#32094972) Journal
        In case anyone is wondering about these people (because I was, and thus checked):

        * Prof Ron Oxburgh FRS: a geophysicist, strongly worried about climate change. Worked with Shell and has ties to a number of alternate energy companies.
        * Prof. Huw C. Davies: Works in the Institute of Atmosphere and Climate, is a climate modeler. Couldn't find any industry links for him.
        * Prof Kerry Emanuel: Professor of Atmospheric Science, is extremely interested in hurricanes and cyclones. Seems to disagree with the IPCC position that hurricanes are increasing because of global warming.
        * Prof Lisa Graumlich: Director of the school of Natural Resources and the Environment. Doesn't seem particularly an expert on global warming, but if you want to know what effect a changing climate would have on agriculture, ask her.
        * Prof David Hand: a statistician. He's done statistic work for a lot of companies. Doesn't seem to know much about climatology, but he knows more about statistics than I even dreamed existed.
        * Prof David Hand: Professor of Theoretical Geophysics. Has publicly criticized the Mann Hockey Stick graph. Also really likes math.
        * Prof Michael Kelly: spent a lot of time researching semiconductors. Seems to have no relation to climate science at all, but he is the part-time Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department for Communities and Local Government, whatever that is.

        Seems they chose a good variety of people, and the chances of these guys being part of a conspiracy are low. Also, they are a smart group, and I would not try to trick them.
        • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:25AM (#32095040) Homepage Journal

          * Prof David Hand: a statistician. He's done statistic work for a lot of companies. Doesn't seem to know much about climatology, but he knows more about statistics than I even dreamed existed.

          * Prof David Hand: Professor of Theoretical Geophysics. Has publicly criticized the Mann Hockey Stick graph. Also really likes math.

          Clearly a talented guy.

        • by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:37AM (#32095114) Journal
          Whoops, I messed up on that second to last line, got the wrong person. Should have been:

          * Prof Herbert Huppert: Professor of Theoretical Geophysics. Has publicly criticized the Mann Hockey Stick graph. Also really likes math.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Yvanhoe (564877)
          The point made by the original poster still remains. Publish your data and analysis details. That's how you do science, instead than comparing credentials. We have all been warned about the "magister dixit" bias in our science classes. It applies today as well.

          I don't think there is a conspiracy, but there have been scientists trying to do politics a bit clumsily in order to raise awareness on a phenomenon. Awareness is there now. They should now go back to science before their names, works and, more dange
    • 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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vtcodger (957785)

        ***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 prio

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by joocemann (1273720)

          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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vtcodger (957785)

      ***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 sc

    • 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 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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jwhitener (198343)

        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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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:Sadly... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Serious Callers Only (1022605) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @05:10AM (#32095576)

          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.

          Several degrees of warming is not trivial, it would result in sea level rises large enough to wipe out many coastal areas which are currently heavily populated - parts of Florida, Bangladesh, India, Bangkok, etc, etc, quite apart from other changes possibly precipitated by the loss of the ice caps. Changes to mitigate the sea level rise after the fact will be hugely expensive, more so than adjusting our behaviour now in my opinion. In addition to this, our reliance on fossil fuels is soon to become a large problem, as they start to run out. Oil, Coal and Gas will probably run out this century, or become incredibly expensive, so we have to deal with these issues for other reasons too.

          There are plenty of reasons to respond rationally to the very rapid changes in climate (rapid in geological terms) over the last few centuries, whether you accept they are man-made or not. They are not minor problems, and will probably constitute the largest problems we have to face this century.

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

        by quokkaZ (1780340) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:53AM (#32095506)

        You want some falsifiable predictions from mainstream climate science. Try these:

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

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

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

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

        5. Increasing acidification of the oceans. Observed.

        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.

      • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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 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 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 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.
  • 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

  • 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.

A penny saved is a penny to squander. -- Ambrose Bierce

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