Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Earth Science

Climategate and the Need For Greater Scientific Openness 701

Posted by Soulskill
from the protecting-the-wrong-data dept.
The Guardian follows up on the recent news that CRU climate scientists were cleared of scientific misconduct with an article that focuses on how the controversy could have been avoided, and public trust retained, had the scientists made more of an effort to be open about their research. You may recall our discussion of a report from Pennsylvania State University; that was followed by another review with similar conclusions. Quoting: "The review, led by Sir Muir Russell, does not mention the media. Instead, it examines the reaction of the scientists at the UEA's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) to the pressure exerted by bloggers: 'An important feature of the blogosphere is the extent to which it demands openness and access to data. A failure to recognize this and to act appropriately can lead to immense reputational damage by feeding allegations of cover-up.' The review adds: 'We found a lack of recognition of the extent to which earlier action to release information might have minimized the problems.' Pressure on the scientists, whose once esoteric work creating records of past temperatures had gained global significance, was intense. In 2005, CRU head Phil Jones replied to a request: 'We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?' But, the review implies, the more they blocked, the more the Freedom of Information requests flooded in."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Climategate and the Need For Greater Scientific Openness

Comments Filter:
  • Impressive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @01:26PM (#32867562)

    Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?

    I think this demonstrates that the idealized version of the scientific method isn't always followed.

    • Re:Impressive (Score:5, Insightful)

      by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @01:31PM (#32867596)

      I think this demonstrates that the idealized version of the scientific method isn't always followed.

      Nothing that's been idealized has been proven to be of practical value in the real world. Human beings need areas of grey to function -- we aren't computers or robots with discrete logic processors. We are, in the end, quite a bit more fuzzy, which makes attaining an "idealized" anything impossible. That isn't to say our attempts to do so aren't laudable, but demanding it instead of seeking it are two very different propositions.

    • Re:Impressive (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SQL Error (16383) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @01:31PM (#32867600)

      We know that. Scientists are people.

      Of course, Jones neatly answers his own question there - that's the very best reason to make your data available. Is he so incurious that he doesn't even want to know if he's made a mistake?

      • Re:Impressive (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 2010 @01:42PM (#32867686)

        No, he just doesn't want a bunch of people funded by exxon-mobil selectively quoting tiny portions of his data to support bullshit positions,

        • Re:Impressive (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jythie (914043) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @02:12PM (#32867884)
          Or even worse, amateurs who do not know how to read the data using it to 'prove' nonsense.

          I can recall years ago working on a physics project. When the raw data was released, one of the pieces was a graph showing the distribution of particle speeds. The distribution was not due to different speeds, but due to measurement limitations (i.e. errors) that people who were working with the data knew how to understand. Some amateurs got ahold of it and held it up as 'proof' that tachyons existed and that the physicists were trying to cover it up.

          That is the frustrations with releasing raw data... even if you are open, that openness will be used against you by people who really want to not only find a particular answer, but smear anyone who actually can read the data and informs them they are wrong.
          • Re:Impressive (Score:5, Interesting)

            by DiamondGeezer (872237) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @02:30PM (#32868002) Homepage
            None of the people who asked for the data were amateurs. But more importantly, the data that Jones was trying to hide had already been lost - by Jones.

            More importantly for the Guardian readers and everyone else trying to put a line under the ClimateGate affair, the Russell inquiry failed to ever ask whether the emails requested under FOIA had in fact been deleted as Jones had demanded.

            Still there are a lot of people desperately trying to sweep inconvenient truths under the rug - but its only going to get worse, not better.
            • Re:Impressive (Score:5, Informative)

              by rovolo (1695142) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @04:03PM (#32868666)

              None of the people who asked for the data were amateurs. But more importantly, the data that Jones was trying to hide had already been lost - by Jones.

              From Ars [arstechnica.com]

              Data they were trying to hide

              "In order to test the principal allegations of withholding data and making inappropriate adjustments, the Review undertook its own trial analysis of land station temperature data. The goal was to determine whether it is possible for an independent researcher to (a) obtain primary data and (b) to analyse it in order to produce independent temperature trend results. This study was intended only to test the feasibility of conducting such a process, and not to generate scientific conclusions." In other words, if we can do it, anyone can.

              They found that the data was readily available at at least three different websites. They downloaded the data, selected every station that had an adequate amount of data and performed some smoothing and spatial averaging operations on them. In effect, they replicated the CRU's main research results, producing nearly identical instrumental temperature records, in very little time.

              Broken FoIA system

              The key findings here are pretty bleak. Basically, the UEA logged FoIA requests, but that was about it. After that, everything was down to the individual researchers figuring out if the data had to be, or, indeed, should be released, and then figuring out how to release it properly. Essentially, the entire system was dysfunctional, and the CRU made no attempt to make life easier for anyone.

              In my opinion, it seems like bureaucratic incompetence rather than malice or ideology.

              • Re:Impressive (Score:5, Insightful)

                by TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) on Monday July 12, 2010 @05:41AM (#32872738)

                In my opinion, it seems like bureaucratic incompetence rather than malice or ideology.

                It still breaks the publics trust.

                Making data available is a fundamental part of science. Explaining the results to people outside your field is a fundamental part of science. Explaining the results to the general public when the public is interested/affected is a fundamental part of science. Its our job. The whole idea of specialization is that others don't need to be a specialist to get a good idea of whats going on.

                Excuses like Exxon mobile will miss quote (they don't care--we are *dependent* on oil. Guess how much less energy a "greenie" uses? Guess how much less oil we use over the last 5 years?), or that some noob will look at the data just don't cut it.

                AGW is very political and scientist are bad at government politics. But they still oversell dooms day results even before the media gets a hold of it. Some scientists actively believe they *must* over sell so the "little people" take it seriously. This is not what scientist should be doing, we already have enough Politicians. When the dust settles the damage will go well beyond climatology.

                Whenever some group thinks they know better or think they are better than the rest of the people, and then take power.... things have never turned out good. I am a scientist. I know my field, but I am not better than anyone else. When it comes to policy that affects everyone, then everyone should be in the "know" and have a "say".

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by amiga3D (567632)
            I'm just amazed you can't see how your response looks. It reeks of arrogance. I agree that most people wouldn't be able to properly analyze the data. But there are some, maybe many, who can. When you spit on the "unwashed masses" don't be surprised when they spit back.
            • Re:Impressive (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 2010 @03:01PM (#32868232)

              The problem isn't the unwashed masses, it is a malicious organization willing to spend tens of millions to discredit you.
              And with a marketing department you won't even get a chance to be heard (outside the scientific community) no matter how wrong they are.

              • Re:Impressive (Score:5, Insightful)

                by h4rm0ny (722443) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @04:41PM (#32868956) Journal

                I suggest you try being a public skeptic of AGW and see which side really controls the media and squashes dissent. The Independent [independent.co.uk], a major British newspaper, published a big opinion piece by their columnist Johan Hari, which basically boiled down to "we don't need evidence of AGW because we know it's real and you hate the world and all life upon it if you ask for any". When comments on the story were pointing out flaws in what he said (he's not a scientist by any stretch of the imagination) and politely making intelligent points against AGW, the newspaper deleted everyone's comments. Try being skeptical here on /. about AGW. You'll get a smattering of people that will actually engage what you say and a whole load of downmods, strawmen and personal attacks.

                You and others keep saying that proponents of AGW are fighting some battle against media conspiracy and underhand tactics. The reality is that anyone publically skeptical of AGW gets viciously hammered. I might be able to get away with this post because of the irony factor, but the general case is that AGW proponents have an overwhelming influence in the media, in government and in academia. They ain't the underdogs. They're the Establishment.
                • by tehcyder (746570) on Monday July 12, 2010 @08:28AM (#32873322) Journal

                  the general case is that AGW proponents have an overwhelming influence in the media, in government and in academia. They ain't the underdogs. They're the Establishment.

                  and the the general case is that heliocentric, non-flat-earth proponents have an overwhelming influence in the media, in government and in academia. They ain't the underdogs. They're the Establishment.

            • Re:Impressive (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Krahar (1655029) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @03:04PM (#32868246)
              He is describing a real concern and even proving it real with an experience he himself had. I don't see how to read arrogance into that other than to be trying to find it.
              • Re:Impressive (Score:5, Insightful)

                by Kohath (38547) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @03:39PM (#32868456)

                A real concern? His "real concern" is his personal "frustrations" with some misinterpretations of some data.
                Presumably, the misinterpretations were explained and people learned more about what was actually going on. This is a bad thing?

                The idea that his personal frustrations are more important than openness is quite self-centered. Hiding data is not better than educating people when they come to incorrect conclusions. Is it?

                What kind of person thinks he should hide data to avoid any possible interaction with "others" -- people who might have diverse knowledge, opinions, and backgrounds? An arrogant person?

          • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @03:09PM (#32868272)

            Or even worse, amateurs who do not know how to read the data using it to 'prove' nonsense.

            As opposed to those using the data for public reports with an amateur understanding of statistics doing statistical analysis of data?

            Why is that OK with you? And why is it NOT OK to lat "amateurs" like Richard Feynman who may not be amateur at all in some tangentially related field access to the data? Because that is who you are blocking along with the rest of the "amateurs".

            People like you are going to have to get used to true experts who simply lack a degree in the field in question. The small blip of time where the presence of a degree is the end-all of understanding of a topic is a historical aberration. And it's not even like "climatologists" as a degree has been around very long at all.

          • Re:Impressive (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Dalambertian (963810) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @03:22PM (#32868364)
            I believe the catholic church held a similar view when the Gutenburg press came out. They argued that the general public would not understand the scriptures and would take parts of it out of context. They thought that a version filtered through the priesthood was more appropriate; if you really wanted to study the bible on your own, well there's a solution for that: become a priest.
          • Re:Impressive (Score:5, Insightful)

            by budgenator (254554) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @04:57PM (#32869048) Journal

            Or even worse, amateurs who do not know how to read the data using it to 'prove' nonsense.

            That is the frustrations with releasing raw data... even if you are open, that openness will be used against you by people who really want to not only find a particular answer, but smear anyone who actually can read the data and informs them they are wrong.

            I think the interesting point is that your correct, but in this case there is a roles reversal. The Climatologists are taking a dataset that is both sparse temporally and spatially, measured by instruments never intended to be used for the purposes they are being used for and typically installed in a manner that introduces errors in the majority of the instruments who then adjust, normalize and homogenize the data using methods that are often poorly defined and just expect everyone to except it on their authority. When ever someone has the audacity to question their data or methods, the result is a vigorous ad hominem attacks which reeks more of politics or religion than scientific debate.

            When was the last time a nuclear physicist ever said "The science is settled"?

            • Re:Impressive (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Draek (916851) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:38PM (#32870916)

              When was the last time a nuclear physicist ever said "The science is settled"?

              About a second after the last time a moron stated to a nuclear physicist that perpetual motion machines are possible to build.

              Sometimes a question is just stupid rather than audacious.

    • Re:Impressive (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jawnn (445279) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @02:19PM (#32867936)
      There is a vast difference between academic peer review, conducted by those qualified to conduct it, and the sensationalist bleating by those with an agenda that is impeded by the research under question. When the team of "experts" assembled by Fox News demands access to the data, "fuck off" should be a perfectly reasonable response unless that team can present credentials that indicate that they are worthy of even the minimal inconvenience providing that access would entail. If those experts are qualified, then their appraisal of the research should be welcomed.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DiamondGeezer (872237)
        Any evidence that the experts had been assembled by Fox News? No.

        But when you're trying to hide a lie, the best tactic is to create an even bigger one to distract.
        • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @04:21PM (#32868810)

          Science isn't a priesthood where you must reach a certain level of trust, experience, or whatever to be allowed in. It is open to all, and all have the potential to contribute. My favorite story along those lines is a 9 year old girl that debunked aura readers. The people said "I can feel your aura!" She said "Ok then you stuck your hands through this partition and I'll put my hand over one of yours, you tell me which." Results were taken and tabulated, readers couldn't do it (did a bit worse than chance actually). It was a complete, valid, experiment, has been referenced later and retested, and an elementary student came up with it.

          Now that doesn't mean anyone will have USEFUL commentary, but it doesn't mean that people should be excluded just because they aren't an "expert".

          In particular, someone may not be an expert at the given science, but might be an expert at something related that is important. So you have a document on climate and a mathematician wants to examine it. He knows jack and shit about climate, he usually doesn't even know what the weather is. However he knows math inside and out. He goes, examines your research and says "Wait a sec, this is wrong. The math here doesn't work. These numbers do not come out right." He can't analyze the climactic theories, but found out that the conclusion was incorrect because the data had been processed wrong. Or perhaps a philosopher who is very skilled at formal logic and analyzing arguments reads the research and says "Ok hang on, you have a gap in your logic. The conclusion does not follow the premises as stated here." Again he not an expert in the field, but he's an expert in logic.

          It is highly important that people of different disciplines be allowed to look at research, in particular when said research is very complex. When you are talking about something that is based off of a lot of math conducted on thousands of points of raw data, that is the sort of thing that is ideal to being in "non-experts" on. Get mathematicians, statisticians, probably some cryptography experts (recognizing patterns in randomness is their thing) to look at the data. They might not be able to understand the climate science, but they can analyze the data and the math and say "This calculation is solid," or "This calculation is incorrect." Looking at the parts of the whose with their given expertise can be as or more valuable than trying to look at the whole thing. The climate scientist might look at the whole thing and say "Ya, all the science fits," but only because they assume all the math is right. If the math is wrong then they might say "Oh, well this no longer shows what it says it does."

      • I had wondered (Score:4, Insightful)

        by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @03:42PM (#32868488)

        When I read the summary, I was wondering just how in the comments those who have been making excuses for the "scientists" who would not let anyone review data. I mean, with a quote so plain, bold and absurd how could anyone possibly make excuses for the "scientists" who would not let real peer-review happen?

        Well thanks to your post, now we know. It's apparently because only the "right" kind of peer can see the data. I can see a mind like yours, a century prior, arguing that the data shouldn't be released because women might try to look at it and get all confused.

        And as a side note, "Fuck You" is never a valid response to any question covering scientific study. Lest the students here be confused and a new era of obscenity in response to criticism is tolerated or becomes the new norm.

        • Re:I had wondered (Score:5, Insightful)

          by quantaman (517394) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:11PM (#32870770)

          It means that Jones was pissed off after years of dealing with people whom he felt had no interest in the data, but were only looking for anything that looked like an error so they could blow it as far out of proportion as possible.

          Yes he regrets typing that message, and yes, they should be more open supplying the data. But if someone was asking me the equivalent of "hand me that shovel so I can start hitting you with it" I might be hesitant too.

      • Re:Impressive (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Kohath (38547) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @04:00PM (#32868632)

        There is a vast difference between academic peer review, conducted by those qualified to conduct it, and the sensationalist bleating by those with an agenda that is impeded by the research under question.

        Skeptics actually look at the data and try to poke holes in it because they have a real interest in the results ( an "agenda"). Peer reviewers don't. Peer reviewers don't, in general, try to disprove the thesis.

        If correct conclusions are the goal, then studies should withstand the attentions of skeptics. If correct conclusions are not the goal, then please continue to hide the data and demonize the skeptics and rig the peer review process. It's not working any more and it just brings further discredit on the profession. (This discredit is either deserved or not, depending on whether correct conclusions are the goal.)

        • Re:Impressive (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Courageous (228506) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @06:55PM (#32869844)

          Peer reviewers don't, in general, try to disprove the thesis.

          That may be true, however this is a mistake. Revisit the notion of the Null Hypothesis from Freshman level Inferential Statistics so as to discover why. To wit: the process of science is to pull apart the other scientists theory, attempting to deny its validity. If one fails at it, the theory may just have some validity.

          Now, I happen to be aware this doesn't happen as often as it ought. But the more it doesn't, the more a cadre of select individuals push for a suppression of naysayers, the more the process isn't really science.

          And yes, I agree: the bleating of the public isn't particularly relevant to science, albeit if a mathematician says he wants to analyze a climatologists math, that climatologist had damn well better play ball. Anything less is blatant attempt to enshrine their position in something more tantamount to religion than science.

          As an aside, I worked for several years at the Salk Institute as a data steward and "statistics boy" for a major laboratory there. It is not at all true that a Nobel-nominated scientist has a complete grasp of even the elementary concepts of the correct use of statistics as a tool in their field. While one would hope that the full world-wide practice of climatology is more than subject to close scrutiny of their statistical methods, if a statistician who is not a climatologist wants to review, the community should yield. Whether they feel territorial, threatened, beleaguered or no.

          C//

        • Re:Impressive (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Draek (916851) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:58PM (#32871044)

          If correct conclusions are the goal, then studies should withstand the attentions of skeptics.

          Look, there's proof that evolution happens *everywhere*. You can make your own experiment proving its existence in your own backyard for God's sake, yet still the morons denying it persist and succeed in pushing their agenda over the truth in many places of the world, the US foremost among them, and you believe simply releasing some raw data will stop the ignorants and "skeptics" from doubting such complex phenomena?

          Ideally, I'd like them to release all their data to the world and all the "skeptics" be ignored by everybody at large, but we all know it ain't gonna happen because controversy, justified or not, simply sells more than consensus particularly when its financed by oil multinationals. So yeah, I do get where they're coming from.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by v1 (525388)

      It sounds like some of those scientists are placing more value on being right, or perhaps moreso in others believing they are right, than actually being right. They want people to believe them, and yet they hide their work out of fear of being suspected of perhaps even proven wrong. How screwed up is THAT?

      As a true scientists, your quest is not for fame or notoriety or people believing you are right, but of finding the Truth. To those, public scrutiny is welcome. If nothing else, they DO prove you wrong,

    • Re:Impressive (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Sunday July 11, 2010 @02:43PM (#32868102) Homepage Journal

      I think this demonstrates that the idealized version of the scientific method isn't always followed.

      Ideals are just that: goals for which to strive. They are not standards expected to be met.

      However, as we've seen with this recent hoax that was perpetrated on climate scientists and then trumpeted by the corporate media, there are those that would act in bad faith in order to protect their profits or political agenda, no matter the cost.

      The least I would have expected, though, in light of the evidence showing that this climate-gate so-called scandal was nothing but a trumped-up attack on science perpetrated by the energy industry, faux-conservatives and the right-wing media, was that Fox News would have taken the time to clarify for their viewers that there was no scandal, that data was not falsified. After all the air time they spent on this story trying to discredit real scientists, Fox News owes those men and women (and their own viewers) an apology for having misled them.

      The biggest shame of this episode is that so much more time has been wasted on this non-controversy, and so many people are still out there who are denying the facts.

    • Re:Impressive (Score:5, Insightful)

      by UnknowingFool (672806) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @02:57PM (#32868208)

      I find that there are parallels between the climate science and evolution and vaccines. All are under attack by those who distrust science and especially intellectuals. There have been many depictions about the controversy in each topic has but there have been misrepresentations of the nature of the controversy within the fields themselves. The vast, vast majority of biologists believe in Darwin's theory of evolution; Intelligent Design proponents would like to believe that there is scientific doubt about it. The vast, vast majority of climate scientists believe climate change is happening and humans are most likely the cause; Big Energy would like you think that the science is immature and there is no consensus. The vast, vast majority of doctors think that vaccines are safe and effective; doubters would like to blame everything from Autism to paralysis on vaccines.

      One thing that is evident in many of the claims is the lack of understanding of statistics. For example vaccines are safe and effective for the vast majority of people but no treatment is safe and effective for 100% of all people. Some people may have reactions to the vaccine but they are in the small minority. Yet the small percentage of a bad reaction is often quoted as the reason why parents refuse to vaccinate and at the same time the parents refuse to acknowledge the much larger percentage of a contracting and serious complications of the disease which is being vaccinated.

      Climate science is somewhat abstract in that it takes place in scales larger than most people can handle: the world over millions of years. Most people cannot process that kind of scale so when the northeast experiences a colder than normal winter, their limited scale tells them that scientists must be wrong.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 2010 @01:26PM (#32867564)

    "Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?"

    Because that is how science works. Any decent scientist would rather say "here is my data, please help me find something wrong with it."

    • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @02:03PM (#32867818) Homepage

      "Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?"

      Because that is how science works. Any decent scientist would rather say "here is my data, please help me find something wrong with it."

      Well, except that it isn't how science actually works; it's an idealized view of how science "ought" to work, by non-scientists. Right from the very beginning, Galileo first published many of his results in the form of cryptograms, claiming the priority of the discovery, but holding back on the details until he could analyze and confirm his results. As a general thing, no, scientists don't make the details of their data available until they're done analyzing it and have published.

      You apparently have a view of scientists that does not accept the fact that they are actually human beings. Let me suggest that if somebody who has already convincingly demonstrated to you (from blog postings) that they do not have a very good understanding of work that you have devoted twenty-five years of your life to comes to you and says "You're wrong, give me your data so I can prove it," your first instinct probably would not be to say "sure, here's all my unpublished work, go wild."

      In general, scientists are happy to share their data (after they've finished analyzing it and have published) with other scientists who they believe might have some competence in understanding it.

      • by abigsmurf (919188) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @02:26PM (#32867986)
        The information they were blocking WAS published and was being refered to in reports.

        This wasn't a case of "you will give us your readings as you measure them". This was a case of "you published these figures in this study, can we now see how you arrived at these figures?".
      • by DiamondGeezer (872237) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @02:38PM (#32868054) Homepage
        In general, scientists are happy to share their data (after they've finished analyzing it and have published) with other scientists who they believe might have some competence in understanding it.

        That isn't the case where the data supports a controversial proposal, then you'll find that even fellow scientists have difficulty getting the original data. Keeping hold of data and claiming it as your personal property is rife in the sciences.

        For example, I've tried to get hold of several pieces of data which support a supposedly scientifically significant result, and each time the data have remained hidden by the scientists. Next will come the FOIA.
      • by Kreigaffe (765218) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @02:43PM (#32868094)

        What we have here is a neat little conundrum.
        They're not making the details of their data available because they're not done analyzing it, you say? Great for them, but the rest of us are dealing with climate change and climate change legislation *right now*. That means the whole damn issue is polarized. They're worried about people using their data to prove they're wrong? They're acting like petty assholes in private emails, they're talking about tricks to make graphs display their data in the specific way they want it displayed? I can think of no better way to get the public at large to become distrustful of everything you've been saying than that sort of confluence of events. All they're missing is being on video laughing like a villain and maybe slapping an orphan and kicking a puppy.

        And you act like these guys had any intention of ever releasing their data.... don't be silly, that was never on their agenda anyway. Ever. Their data. It was going to be the source for many, many papers, for the rest of their careers, and to hell with any good any other person or people could have potentially done with that data; they've figured out job security, humanity be damned.

        • by quokkaZ (1780340) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @07:44PM (#32870140)

          Don't you be silly. Nearly all the raw temperature station data has been available for years. It's called the Global Historical Climatology Network. Go and look it up.

          Anybody wanting to construct their own global or regional temperature records has been able to do so. In fact NASA GISS temperature record is constructed from this freely available dataset.

          The fact that after years of whining, the skeptics never did so says one of two things - they are incompetent or for not hard to fathom reasons, unwilling. Far easier and suited their purposes better to defame working scientists.

          In fact in the last 6-9 months, several science bloggers have done so, including (at last) one skeptic. And the results all are in close agreement with the published HAdCrut, GISS and NCDC temperature records.

          So exactly what data is withheld that actually affect in any meaningful way the core conclusions of climate science?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Adrian Lopez (2615)

      Because that is how science works. Any decent scientist would rather say "here is my data, please help me find something wrong with it."

      That only works when the person asking for the data is honest. When that person's only goal is to discredit you by any means possible, it is human nature not to want to cooperate with them.

  • Response (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @01:29PM (#32867580)

    Hey, I've got a response for you: Fuck the blogosphere.

    There is sufficient transparency in the scientific community, but you know what? People have opinions in the community as well. They don't claim its science, they argue, they piss each other off behind closed doors, and they deserve to have their personal e-mails kept private. They aren't politicians -- they aren't accountable to the public, though they often do perform public services. But then they set it all aside, they publish their work to peer reviewed journals, and move towards some kind of consensus using common criterion. Demanding greater transparency (ie reduced privacy) because a small number of people from a much, much larger community made a poor judgement call (at best) is uncalled for.

    And the blogosphere is not exactly what I would call a bastion of unbiased requests! For shame...

    • Re:Response (Score:4, Insightful)

      by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @02:02PM (#32867808) Journal

      >>>Demanding greater transparency because a small number of people... made a poor judgment call is uncalled for.

      You need to read Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" in which he makes the case that Non-transparency (i.e. hiding data) is what enables the old guard to protect their favorite theories. It happened to Kepler when he was afraid to publish his math proving the sun was the center of the solar system (he waited until he was on his deathbed). It happened to Galileo who was imprisoned by the Catholic Church. It happened to Planck for suggesting that lightwaves could travel through a vacuum instead of a medium like water. The journals refused to publish his work, because it challenged the prevailing theory and was considered "nuts".

      It is censorship through suppression of minority views, and the only way to fight it is through openness (share the data).

  • !Science (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @01:37PM (#32867646)

    Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?

    Um, that is precisely why. Do you even know how to spell the word "science", Phil?

    • Re:!Science (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Abcd1234 (188840) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @02:08PM (#32867854) Homepage

      You misunderstand his comment. His point isn't that we have interested skeptics who just want to assist in the advancement of science. No, what we have are partisan hacks interested in spinning the ambiguous statements, innocent comments in code, climatology jargon (eg, "trick"), so that they can be used as political weapons in an ideological battle against the science and scientists of climatology.

      In the face, of that, I'd tell those assholes to fuck off, too. They have no interest in advancing the public discourse, and are only interested in advancing their own agenda in the most dishonest, disrespectful way possible, by attacking the researchers and their research with lies and slander.

      In short, to all you faux skeptics who would have us believe you're just heroes fighting the good fight against those evil scientists who want to curb our freedom, I say: fuck off you lying sacks of shit.

    • Re:!Science (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xyrus (755017) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @04:49PM (#32869000) Journal

      Do you know how to keep things in context?

      Let's say you've been doing research on something for 20-30 years. Now some asshole who has little in the way of knowledge or experience in the field comes along and starts screaming across the net that your research is a pile of crap. He shows a lack of understanding of the science, continuously posts incorrect or skewed facts, and encourages an environment that's openly hostile towards your research. Said asshole then comes along and DEMANDS that you give him all your research and data.

      Now seeing the way said asshole has manipulated and incorrectly used data in the past to "prove" his naive and fallacious hypotheses, and his past hostile tendencies towards your research, what do you do about the request?

      A) Give him what he wants, knowing full well that your research will be deliberately misused and distorted. Except now, it will be YOUR NAME giving "credibility" to his bullshit since it was the data YOU USED to conduct your research.
      B) Tell him to fuck off because you have better things to do with your time than to placate a hostile, ignorant asshole with delusions of grandeur.

      Phil eventually chose option B. Perhaps not the best option in hindsight, but either way he would have been screwed.

      • Re:!Science (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Burnhard (1031106) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @06:24PM (#32869636)
        In your post above, what's missing is the bit where you explain what was wrong with Steve McIntyre's analysis. Because although you delight in the ad-hominem against him, you will note that his criticisms are hard to dispute, particularly the excellent work he did on Briffa and the Yamal series. Indeed his work on the original hockey stick, showing that it could be produced with "red noise", was a very good example of the sceptical scientist performing verification on data and methods. All scientists should be sceptics; that's how science makes progress. The problem here is that none of the inquires bothered to interview those in a position to "verify" the claims. Indeed, I don't believe any of them even asked McIntyre for a statement, even though he was the subject of a lot of the bile in the emails.

        Now seeing the way said asshole has manipulated and incorrectly used data in the past to "prove" his naive and fallacious hypotheses, and his past hostile tendencies towards your research, what do you do about the request?

        You obey the law and honour the request. Your ego is not a higher authority on these matters, unless you're as arrogant and self-regarding as the Climate-Gate clique and their supporters. If your data, methods and claims are water-tight, you've got nothing to worry about. If they're cobbled together from poorly documented, poorly maintained, part-deleted data, with dubious analysis, as was the case here, then the claims *you* are making, upon which trillions of dollars depend, should not be taken seriously.

        • Re:!Science (Score:5, Informative)

          by Xyrus (755017) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:07PM (#32870768) Journal

          In your post above, what's missing is the bit where you explain what was wrong with Steve McIntyre's analysis.

          I don't need to. Others have done it for me. Except those others happen to be climate scientists, so I guess that doesn't count.

          Because although you delight in the ad-hominem against him, you will note that his criticisms are hard to dispute, particularly the excellent work he did on Briffa and the Yamal series.

          No they're not. Real Climate article http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/09/hey-ya-mal/ [realclimate.org]

          And at the end there is even a convenient link to a published peer reviewed research article refuting the claims.

          The problem here is that none of the inquires bothered to interview those in a position to "verify" the claims. Indeed, I don't believe any of them even asked McIntyre for a statement, even though he was the subject of a lot of the bile in the emails.

          And what claims would those be exactly? And why would thy ask McIntyre for a statement? Unlike the jackass who dumped their mail server and selected only the emails that he/she/it wanted to show, the investigators had access to all of them, plus whatever else they wanted.

          You obey the law and honour the request. Your ego is not a higher authority on these matters, unless you're as arrogant and self-regarding as the Climate-Gate clique and their supporters

          I never said he made the right decision. People hold up that quote and turn him into the "Evil Climate Conspiracy Monster". He had his reasons for doing what he did, and it had a lot more to do with the feeling being unnecessarily harassed than "hiding the data".

          If your data, methods and claims are water-tight, you've got nothing to worry about.

          Oh my. You are so naive.

          It took years of fighting before anything was done about smoking. It took years of fighting before anything was done about acid rain. It took years of fighting before anything was done about CFCs and the ozone hole. In all cases there was "water-tight" research (and lot's of it) showing that bad shit was happening. But that doesn't matter when you have a billion dollar PR machine on your side. You don't even need to refute the research. All you need to do is plant a little seed of doubt and all that water-tight science won't mean jack shit in front of the public or congress.

          You can't show research proving that something a multi-billion dollar conglomerate is doing is bad and expect your research to be the end of the discussion. They will attack you, drag you through the mud, crucify you, and leave you to the crows.

          If they're cobbled together from poorly documented, poorly maintained, part-deleted data, with dubious analysis, as was the case here, then the claims *you* are making, upon which trillions of dollars depend, should not be taken seriously.

          How many times does this need to be repeated? CRU != Climate Science Community. It doesn't. Nobody is making a trillion dollar decision based soley on the research done by CRU. No one. Really.

          However, when you have thousands of climate scientists from every major national research group on the planet all reporting research that indicates the same thing, maybe, just maybe, people should take notice.

          Even if CRU falsified EVERYTHING, there's still thousands upon thousands of research papers out there all showing the same damn thing.

          You're also making a lot of claims in regards to the quality of their research, which really you don't seem to know much about. You don't get published in research journals by putting a pile a crap together and sending it in. You won't even make it past the initial review.

          Climate science, like any other science branch, is highly competitive. If you send in some POS paper other researchers will be m

  • not cleared (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Peter La Casse (3992) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @01:38PM (#32867652) Homepage

    From the Independent Climate Change E-mails Review Final Report pdf [cce-review.org]:

    On the allegation that the references in a specific e-mail to a "trick" and to "hide the decline" in respect of a 1999 WMO report figure show evidence of intent to paint a misleading picture, we find that, given its subsequent iconic significance (not least the use of a similar figure in the IPCC Third Assessment Report), the figure supplied for the WMO Report was Misleading.

    Intentionally supplying misleading figures is scientific misconduct. It may be commonplace, but that's no excuse.

    Personally, that doesn't bother me much; science has always been politicized between factions who behave unethically in order to further their own theories. What does bother me is the attempt to pass off the results of incompetent software engineering as valid science.

    • Re:not cleared (Score:4, Informative)

      by shma (863063) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @03:40PM (#32868462)
      "Intentionally supplying misleading figures is scientific misconduct"

      Yes, it is. Except the report did not claim anywhere that it was intentional. Nor was it, considering that the dropping of tree ring data was made explicit in the original paper where the graph was used:

      In one of the most notorious leaked e-mails, Jones, referring to the WMO report graph, described how he had "just completed Mike's trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years". Jones was referring to the fact that climatologist Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University in University Park had used direct temperature measurements to reconstruct temperatures over the past 20 years or so in a graph in an earlier Nature paper [2] [nature.com]. However, while Mann and his colleagues had clearly labelled which temperature lines were derived from direct measurements and which referred to proxy data, the graph submitted by Jones for the WMO report did not.
      - UK climate data were not tampered with [nature.com]

      If they were intentionally misleading the public, why had the same graph already been published with the missing information?

      "What does bother me is the attempt to pass off the results of incompetent software engineering as valid science."

      The evidence of your post tells me that the misrepresentation of facts doesn't seem to bother you at all.
  • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Sunday July 11, 2010 @01:41PM (#32867668) Journal

    Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?

    ...and he wants to have a word with you about the scientific method [wikipedia.org].

    • This is a canard (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @02:28PM (#32867992)
      (And it's Popper, by the way. Have you actually read his books? Obviously not.)

      Popper's notion of science is, frankly, obsolete. It was already obsolete when I was reading Philosophy of Science in the 1970s. He envisages a world in which falsifying an hypothesis invalidates a theory. But modern science - and this includes quantum mechanics as well as climatology - depends on statistical analysis and probability theory. You could almost say that when Schroedinger and Heisenberg defined the Uncertainty Principle and the probabilitistic Wave Equation, physics changed in a way that obsoleted Popper and the whole Victorian idea of science.

      Jones is replying to people who don't want to take large amounts of data and mine them, but to find single errors and then claim that this invalidates the lot. He was actually right to tell them to get stuffed - but, because we live in a world dominated by PR and spin, this was misused against him. You are demonstrating the effect of this - you clearly have never read Popper, but you're trying to use a sound-bite as an argument.

    • by Grygus (1143095) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @02:35PM (#32868036)

      I don't see where your link says anything about giving highly technical raw data to bloggers who know nothing and couldn't care less whether what they say is actually true.

      There seem to be many assumptions here that bloggers are equivalent to the scientific community. I believe these assumptions are ill-considered.

  • by Sara Chan (138144) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @01:44PM (#32867692)
    The Guardian is having a debate on Climategate this Wednesday. Leading protagonists from the two sides of the debate are on the panel. Details are at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jun/30/guardian-debate-climate-science-emails [guardian.co.uk]
    • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @02:40PM (#32868066)
      One of their columnists (George Monbiot, with a degree in biology), wrote an article demanding Jones's resignation before any proper investigation of the leaked emails had taken place. He has subsequently written what I consider to be a very grudging retraction. I myself feel rather strongly that the Guardian has, on this issue, a poor record of balance and has shown a serious lack of understanding of science and scientists, and a failure to explain the background properly to its readers. More worrying still, it appears to be printing what look like advertorials for Apple products without labelling them as such, which also looks somewhat unbalanced. Much as I hate to say it, being a Brit (not really - I'm very willing to admit it) the NYT has a much better record on this.
  • false (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeek Elemental (976426) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @01:45PM (#32867696)

    It was only a big deal to the paid US shills, there was no "loss of public trust".
    Reasonable people listen to scientific consensus.

  • by dwguenther (1100987) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @02:15PM (#32867904)
    Although this article esquire.com - marc morano [esquire.com] is admittedly pop-media, it demonstrates that most of the fault here lies with reporting, not the science or even the scientists. The researchers at UEA have been doing the best job of measuring and analyzing that anyone can, yet when they are harassed by payed pundits and gadflys the objectivity of the media is completely lost. Even now that the researchers have been cleared of any professional wrongdoing, they are still being criticized (or apologized for) because they expressed frustration that their work was being misrepresented. If we should take away any message from this incident, it should be concern about how easily information can be corrupted in the public mind, even at times when clear public debate is critically important. Case in point: The Guardian is not the most balanced news outlet, and often has a sensationalist agenda of it's own.
  • #3 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hackus (159037) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @02:33PM (#32868026) Homepage

    This is like what, the third time they have had to come out and tell us that the Phil Jones and crew are cleared of all wrong doing?

    Why aren't they back at their posts then?

    I predicted they would do, none other than 3 very public "Nothing to see here...move along" sort of PR stunts like this back in October when I posted my response on slashdot when this whole scam was blow by an insider who followed the money trail.

    Rubbish all of it.

    If anyone is really interested, take a look at the work most of the scientists that were Black Balled in the Emails that were leaked (Jones lists them) (which you can get anywhere on the internet) and look at the research they are doing.

    I think you will find some problems with the idea of man made warming, although they do find a slight warming trend that is consistent with Historical Solar flux. (11 Year Sun Spot Cycles) and the gradual changes in the earths orbital and processional characteristics.

    It is a MONEY SCAM. Al Gore is a partner in one of the firms that setup the entire idea of a Global Tax on carbon.

    The best way to start cleaning up this planet, is to start giving the damn Nobel Prize to people who actually contribute something to the science to protect this planet.

    Not some idiot like Al Gore.

    -Hack

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @03:11PM (#32868288)
    An important feature of the blogosphere is the extent to which it demands openness and access to data.

    .
    Another feature of the blogsphere is that it gives a loud megaphone to anyone who has the intelligence to type, and many who do not.

  • by uncadonna (85026) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (sibotm)> on Sunday July 11, 2010 @03:11PM (#32868292) Homepage Journal
    Some leading climate scientists ( Ray Bradley, Malcolm Hughes, Michael Mann, Michael Oppenheimer, Ben Santer, Gavin Schmidt, Stephen Schneider, Kevin Trenberth and Tom Wigley) submitted the following [hot-topic.co.nz] to the Muir commission:

    if one's research findings tend to support human-caused climate change - means to live and work in an environment of constant accusations of fraud, calls for investigations (or for criminal prosecutions), demands for access to every draft, every intermediate calculation, and every email exchanged with colleagues, daily hate mail and threats, and attempts to pressure the institutions that employ us and fund our research. Through experience, we have learned that there is no review of climate scientists' work that isn't deemed a "whitewash" by climate change contrarians; there is no casual remark that can't be seized upon, blown out of proportion and distorted; and there is no person whose character can't be assassinated, no matter how careful and honest their research.

    Internal communications of the IPCC to authors of the scientific review now say the following [nytimes.com]:

    My advice to the authors on responding to the media is only in respect of queries regarding the I.P.C.C. Some of them are new to the I.P.C.C., and we would not want them to provide uninformed responses or opinions. We now have in place a structure and a system in the I.P.C.C. for outreach and communications with the outside world.The I.P.C.C. authors are not employed by the I.P.C.C., and hence they are free to deal with the media on their own avocations and the organizations they are employed by. But they should desist at this stage on speaking on behalf of the I.P.C.C.

    As a climate scientist and a computer scientist and an advocate for openness and replicability my position is greatly weakened by people using "openness" as an excuse for harrassment and witch-hunting.

    The inevitable short result of this approach to openness is going to be that scientists will do as much work as possible on their laptops and their yahoo email accounts. Using their funded platforms will be only for production runs and final drafts of publications; this will minimize the amount of exposure of their actual work to hostile parties. We will also see far fewer really good people getting into work with any controversy, lest they be subjected to public abuse; eventually only work of little consequence will attract the intellectually adventurous.

    I really want the open science movement to be about making science more accessible and more appealing and more part of the culture. This subversion of the open science movement in the name of derailing climate science, which in turn hides the real intent of delaying climate policy until all the fossil reserves are cashed in, is a disaster on more fronts than one. One unfortunate aspect is that it drives important segments of the scientific community to treat the open science movement as a threat to science. Advocates of open science would do well to think twice about the motivations and actions of this gang.

  • by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Sunday July 11, 2010 @03:51PM (#32868566) Homepage Journal

    The blogosphere needs to stuff it. If they really think they can understand anything in the world without subject-specific training and education, if they think their arguments should be taken as seriously and responded to with the same frequency as in-channel discussion, and if they think reputation in their sphere is the most important kind of reputation, they're deluded. You find the same idiots digging out a law book, arguing about terms of art as if they were common-speak versions of the term, ignoring the weight of history and legal philosophy that governs the sphere, and thinking they have some great insight. It's a good thing they don't crack medical books, or we'd have the geeks following the homeopaths into placebo-land.

    In academia, science is open. It's not perfect, but it works, and the fringe science is kept roughly at the right distance where on the one time in ten thousand they have a good idea, it can be tested by the mainstream and maybe eventually join the broad scientific consensus. If you want a publication, you can get it. If you want data, you can probably get that too. If you don't think a study is valid, reproduce it under the same or slightly different circumstances. You have to know what you're doing or the journals will weed you out.

    People outside of the research community should tone down their hubris and get comfortable with the fact that to be qualified to talk about something, they should become educated about it first and be prepared to deal with the way the scientific community works. Until then, they're best off relying on the broadest scientific consensus they can find on whatever topic is at hand.

  • by softcoder (252233) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @06:11PM (#32869554)

    Jones should take a lesson from Richard Lenski (see)
    http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2008/06/lenski-gives-co.html [pandasthumb.org]

    There is an answer that makes a lot of sense. He too has spent 20+ years generating data.

    There is legitimate concern that the data would be 'misquoted'. However Jones' answer leaves a lot to be desired.
    Compare to Lenski's answer where he does agree to provide data (and perhaps samples?) to legitimate requests.
    Even if the request is from a news organization you suspect is out to disprove your conclusions, that is not in itself a valid reason to refuse. If you want your conclusions to be put into action in the real world (i.e. political decisions regarding car emissions, carbon taxes etc.) you should be prepared to go through the political process. Messy perhaps, but necessary.
    softcoder.

  • Mission Accomplished (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ranger (1783) on Monday July 12, 2010 @04:26AM (#32872500) Homepage
    The damage was done. The timing of the hack and selective release of the CRU emails was to sabotage Copenhagen. And it helped to derail it. Those who are vested in doing nothing about climate change don't give a rat's ass that the scientists were cleared of misconduct or that there was nothing wrong with their data or science. There is a huge disconnect between the science of climate change and the public. This isn't a war about facts. It's a propaganda war.
  • by HuguesT (84078) on Monday July 12, 2010 @04:31AM (#32872512)

    Many comments here are along the line : "how could the scientists *not* release the data, how rude and unscientific". I basically agree that data should eventually be public, however I also understand the scientists who spend decades obtaining data and want it to fructify in the form of publications before others can do whatever they want with it.

    Basically competing scientists are told to walk and get their own data. From the efficiency point of view this sounds stupid, but in fact in many case, the act of getting data is itself science. Think of all the effort spent in trying to get a Higgs boson trace! In many cases it makes sense for different teams to collect, analyze and publish based on their own data. It may well be that the analysis in one paper is correct but the data flawed in some ways. In something as complex as climate, this is in fact extremely likely.

    What must definitely be made public as soon as one publication it out is the acquisition protocol and enough data to reproduce the results, but maybe not before.

Happiness is a positive cash flow.

Working...