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Earth Science

Climategate and the Need For Greater Scientific Openness 701

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."
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Climategate and the Need For Greater Scientific Openness

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  • not cleared (Score:4, Interesting)

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

    From the Independent Climate Change E-mails Review Final Report pdf []:

    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:Response (Score:2, Interesting)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @01:49PM (#32867718)

    You're confusing incompetence with malice. Climate models are one of the most complex things mathematically and otherwise, and is also a relatively new field with many players. Science changes quickly in new fields because people don't really have a grasp of what's behind it all. That doesn't mean what they did was wrong -- it just means their pride got in the way of them doing the best job possible, because they didn't want to publish results that said "climate change is a joke" when a large body of evidence suggests it is not.

  • Re:Response (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @01:59PM (#32867796) Journal

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

    Translation, Yea, we aren't even confident enough in our claims to survive the scrutiny of the people we are pushing political views on.

    Seriously, this wouldn't have been an issue at all in the blogosphere or anywhere if it wasn't picked up by politicians after being pushed by political activist scientists to demand changes that have effects reaching everyone in the world. But hey, I guess "Fuck you" is the appropriate response when someone tells someone else they have to do something or change something that is likely to costs them money and they reply with "Really? Let me see". I mean if it's a Do as I say and not as I do world and all.....that's how it works in politics and everyone trusts politicians right?

    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.

    You are missing two entirely distinct points here. First, this isn't the scientific community nor was it conversations kept in the scientific community. Global warming currently is a political movement and was cooped or commandeered by politics when it was in an infancy. Being political, it's claims had far more reaching effects then someone's scientific hypothesis, it had to do with a transfer of wealth and hardship placed on the citizens of the world. Second, the emails didn't start the fire, they were just fuel added to the fire. When someone on a blog somewhere said Hey, this effects me, I want to verify it myself and the answer is Fuck you, the fire is already lit well before any emails became public. All the emails did was strengthen the doubt of people who were told to fuck off when they asked for data.

    They aren't politicians -- they aren't accountable to the public, though they often do perform public services.

    You are right and wrong. They aren't politicians, some of them pretend to be, and some of them had a strong political goal in mind. The entire IPCC ordeal was, is, and still is, a political movement as well as most all of the reported fixes or cures to global warming to date. When someone wants to enter the realm of politics, then the onus is on them to prove or convince others outside of their click that their claims are correct and their claimed course of action is supported. Telling blogger to fuck off does not do that in any way.

    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.

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. When you are making any claims that forces me into compliance by political measures, then transparency is a must. In fact, it is a must much more so then politics in general. Or are you somehow forgetting the corporate or other special interests that buy off politicians to subjugate the populous to some law that favors them extremely? And with the political hijacking of global warming reaching as far back as the early to mid 1990's- just a few years after the doom and gloom warnings started telling of a pending disaster, we see no difference between it and 3m attempting to make it legal to dump toxins in your drinking water supply because it's cheaper then the safe disposal of it.

    You are right that a poor judgment call was made. It was telling people who simply wanted to review the data to fuck off because they had too much time invested just to have someone validate it. And yes, that's the layman's translation of "'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?"

  • by HungryHobo ( 1314109 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @02:09PM (#32867862)

    After you've published a paper.
    Take all your data.
    Take all your research notes.
    Take all other relevant information and put it all up in a torrent.

    Set an auto-reply for any emails that look like people asking for data directing them to grab the torrent.

    Bloggers in my experience are a hell of a lot better than "journalists" who, most of the time, know nothing about the field they're writing about and mindlessly parrot press releases or utterly fail to grasp the material.
    Bloggers at least tend to be amateurs (in the sense that they study the subject they talk about for the love of it, rather than professionally).

  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Re:Response (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pax681 ( 1002592 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @02:49PM (#32868150)


    It was so warm they were growing wine in Scotland

    no there werent bud. the farthest north the roman era and middle ages vineyards were(and this is debated) iun Lincolnshire or the Newcastle area.

    definitely NOT Scotland... have a look here ib the herald which is talking about past and future vineyards []
    especially this bit

    "The Romans had vineyards up as far as Lincolnshire. The temperatures were warmer than today and the Romans were producing wine on an industrial scale. Some vineyards were producing 10 to 15,000 bottles per year, probably vin de pays to keep the legionnaires going on Hadrian's war. Then everything collapsed when the Saxons came in. The Normans brought back viticulture and of course the Christians needed wine for Holy Communion. Then it collapsed again in the "Little Ice Age" of the 17th and 18th centuries when it was restricted to the south-east of England. But now it is advancing north again."

    sono.... not Scotland...... as a Scotsman i nearly pissed myself at that tbh

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 2010 @02:58PM (#32868212)

    And they published in journals whose policies were that data must be released.

  • Re:Impressive (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Velex ( 120469 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @03:01PM (#32868234) Journal

    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.

    I hate Fox news as much as anyone else [ought to...] (especially since I'm not one of the lucky 90% who are cisgendered and heterosexual and I resent how they seem to love attacking my inalienable rights, etc.)

    However, who decides who's qualified?

    Universities regularly graduate people who can't handle 6th grade reading comprehension, so I don't think that purchasing a degree would make one qualified. It might be best to just make the data available, and if you need to write a chunk of code to fudge some data, it would be helpful as well to articulate exactly why a computer program needs to coerce data into a hockey-stick graph.

    Maybe I'm not "qualified," but I still haven't heard a reasonable explanation for the data-munging. I'd really like to know if it was a simple misunderstanding by the media. But how can I find out if I can't purchase a degree and become "qualified?"

    I'm waiting with open ears, but all I ever read is PR-style cover-up material these days about how there was no wrongdoing. Maybe there wasn't, but I'd really like to know more. The negative PR was fairly specific about the problems with the handling of the data, but this positive PR I read these days is very vague.

  • another con (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 2010 @03:14PM (#32868312)

    Anybody still thinking that the global warming crap is about the environment is freakin' stupid. Follow the money, suckers.

    The Problems with Al Gore

    By David Deming, geophysicist and associate professor of arts and sciences at the University of Oklahoma

    "After declaring that temperatures inside the Earth are 'several million degrees,' Gore claimed that we have 'new drill bits that don't melt in that heat.' How can anyone be so remarkably ignorant as to think we have metallurgical techniques capable of producing drill bits that don't melt in temperatures of 'several million degrees'"?

    Gore's TV appearance and whole article here:

    Woman Who Invented Credit Default Swaps is One of the Key Architects of Carbon Derivatives, Which Would Be at the Very CENTER of Cap and Trade

  • Re:not cleared (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 2010 @03:16PM (#32868324)

    Intentionally supplying misleading figures is scientific misconduct.

    By the way, I've seen several people try to defend the "trick" and "hide the decline" as if they were innocent. If you, the reader, believe in scientific integrity, this should disgust you. Their main excuse is that you should read the fine print, and that the "trick" is meant as "clever" and scientifically justified. It isn't. It was done purely for political reasons, to hide the decline. They didn't like what the data showed them so they fudged it, and presented it as a compelling graph that the whole political movement latched on to.

    Truly, if you don't know what the trick is, I urge you to read up on what was done. It's very basic and easy to understand, and if you have integrity, you will be outraged: []

  • Re:Response (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @03:20PM (#32868354)

    If they are using MY tax dollars then they damn well ARE accountable to the public.

    So all of their private conversations are suddenly public record because they get paid with tax dollars? I'm sorry, but you have no right to take away our privacy just because you are the source of our paychecks.

    I'm surprised this got modded up. Any employer is well within their rights to view the communications of their employees while on the job and pertaining to job-related tasks. Since the public is their employer, the public has the right to know. There's some tweaking of this rule when it comes to state secrets (instead of the public being told, select representatives of the public are told and it's their responsibility to uphold the public's interest and make sure the job is being done right), but even there the same principle applies - you do not have an expectation of privacy.

    If you want to head down to the bar with your scientist buddies after work and shoot the breeze about the Rosetta probe's flyby of Lutetia, then you can expect it to remain private. But if you are conversing with them about tasks relevant to your job while at work using computers and networks bought with public money discussing data collected at public expense regarding issues you're being paid to investigate, then your employer - the public - has every right to know what you're doing and saying.

    In fact, that's part of the premise behind government and educational research being of higher quality than private research. The openness of the former allows for greater scrutiny and confirmation of results. If you're going to argue that public research shouldn't be open, then you've just knocked the trustworthiness of said research down to the level of privately-funded research - i.e. your climate research is no more trustworthy than climate research funded by Exxon-Mobil. They refuse to give select details about their research, you refuse to give select details about your research. They did it to make money, you did it to make money.

    The other part of the premise is that there's no conflict of interest - that the research doesn't desire a certain result. But it's been argued that there's a financial conflict of interest in pro-AGW research since it now represents a significant fraction of government research spending. So again, the only practical difference between industry-funded research and government-funded research is the openness of the latter.

  • Re:Response (Score:5, Interesting)

    by steveha ( 103154 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @03:40PM (#32868466) Homepage

    there is some real controversy about tree ring data, and it's pretty clear that they thought that they were presenting the data in the clearest form.

    If you can spare a moment to explain this a bit more, it would really help me out.

    This is my current understanding of the situation. If it is incorrect in any particular I would appreciate the correction; I am not some shill spreading misinformation.

    My current understanding is that they were trying to use tree ring data to determine what the temperature was in the past; tree rings were available going far earlier than we have actual measured temperature data. My understanding is that the tree ring data did not successfully predict the temperatures of the recent times [], but that once the tree ring data got into recent years, they simply stopped using the tree ring data.

    I just don't understand how this is acceptable in any way. If the tree ring data cannot correctly predict temperatures that are known, why should we trust that it can predict older, unknown temperatures? Here's a quote from that Nature article:

    Had the tree-ring data been left in, it would not have implied that recent temperatures have been decreasing, but only that the proxy data no longer tracked direct temperature records, says Clarke.

    Again I am perplexed. Why does he say the proxy data "no longer" tracked with direct temperature records? Why should we believe it used to track and no longer tracks?

    Are there other tree-ring data series out there that do correctly predict the temperatures of modern times?


  • Out of whose budget? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by overshoot ( 39700 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @03:41PM (#32868480)

    When a bum off the street demands access to the data that was produced by research funded by his tax dollars, he damn well deserves access to it.

    Fine idea. In fact, the data sets are publicly available for download from multiple sources. Which raises the fascinating question of "why an FOIA request?"

    However, let's assume that sending a letter with an FOIA request by snail mail has some practical merit (or even just satisfies a fetish). Who funds the process of replying? FOIA requires quite a bit of paperwork, if nothing else. "Here are some Google search terms, download it yourself" doesn't cut it. I suppose you could demand that those same tax dollars have a blank check attached for replying to FOIA requests, but if not then you're in "unfunded mandate" territory.

    How do you feel about unfunded mandates?

  • Re:Impressive (Score:1, Interesting)

    by sorak ( 246725 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @03:59PM (#32868628)

    There was a very good reason to withhold data. Most of the FOA requests were specifically designed to put unnecessary bureaucracy in place and draw resources away from the actual research the CRU was performing.

  • Climate Reports (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Thangalin ( 848856 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @04:11PM (#32868720) Homepage

    Publishing raw data attracts little public attention as numbers are boring. Most web-based user interfaces (that I have found) for examining climate data cater to climate scientists and researchers. The results (typically streams of numbers) are great for further analysis, but not so great for the general public.

    Exacerbating the problem is that influences on the data are complex, and rarely explained in detail for the layperson.

    Such problems make it difficult to explore the data and understand the results. The following web site is my entry for a government-sponsored contest where I have attempted to address both those issues: []

    I would greatly appreciate your feedback.

  • Re:Response (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Compholio ( 770966 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @04:41PM (#32868954)

    Any employer is well within their rights to view the communications of their employees while on the job and pertaining to job-related tasks. Since the public is their employer, the public has the right to know.

    First, if you as a private business record that information then you will become liable for all of the actions of your employees. Second, I disagree that you have a right to that information. If there is wrongdoing involved then that's up to one of those involved and cognizant of the appropriate issues to blow the whistle. Usually when something goes wrong it is a mistake and you take action to correct it, it's when you choose not to correct the mistake that it becomes wrongdoing. These same issues crop up in research all the time - you make a mistake, ask someone for help finding it, and then you correct it. What I've heard, and find easy to believe, is that the GW skeptics are taking corrected issues out of context and claiming that the researchers created intentionally inaccurate results.

    But if you are conversing with them about tasks relevant to your job while at work using computers and networks bought with public money discussing data collected at public expense regarding issues you're being paid to investigate, then your employer - the public - has every right to know what you're doing and saying.

    As a scientist you are technically paid with a "grant" and are contracting for a result (research papers) and not technically buying anything that gets the scientist to those results. So, if you're going to go as far as claiming rights to anything your money pays for then every single thing a scientist owns is "tainted" with public money. People are already pushing for this kind of completely unacceptable interference. Now virtually all grants specify all sorts of conditions on what should be your money, depending on the type of research you're doing this can be a huge problem. For example, if you do a joint grant with a national lab then all the equipment you buy has to be returned to the government at the end of the grant (the year) even if you're getting another grant (a renewal).

    In fact, that's part of the premise behind government and educational research being of higher quality than private research. The openness of the former allows for greater scrutiny and confirmation of results.

    Yup, you are entitled to the very open results that are published in publicly funded research papers. Those results should include all the processes necessary to reproduce them, which is generally a requirement of the contract set forth in your grant. I don't do GW research, but I imagine that they have the same requirements. Do you really think it's acceptable for someone to spend a decade working on something and then have someone else scoop them and take all the credit because they have access to all the work along the way to getting done?

    But it's been argued that there's a financial conflict of interest in pro-AGW research since it now represents a significant fraction of government research spending.

    Research spending is heavily dependent on previous successful publications, which is why credit for your work is extremely important. This system is very self-reinforcing, but the general feeling is that it reinforces successful work.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 2010 @05:18PM (#32869202)

    I'm far removed from the climate debate, relatively uninformed on it, and rarely think about it. But the one part that did get my attention was the leaked email in which the head of the research unit told other researchers that data should be deleted rather than released as required by FOIA laws. Has there ever been an adequate explanation for this? To me, this directive sounds much more compatible with a white collar criminal than with someone who should continue to be respected and funded with public money.

    None of this tells me anything about the validity of climate research findings as a whole, but my layman's opinion is that it does tell me this particular researcher has lost his perspective and needs either to be helped to refind it, or removed from any further continued public financing.

  • by Jawnn ( 445279 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @05:24PM (#32869246)
    Sorry, but no. You actually do need to be an "expert". The data involved in climate modeling is staggeringly complex. So much so that it can be argued that even the recognized experts in the field might have it wrong when it comes to what they think they understand. Indeed, either they now have it wrong, or they did less than a century ago, when they concluded that the trend was towards "cooling". Anyone else approaching such a complex pile of data is far more likely to generate noise than any meaningful conclusion, which, I suspect, is exactly the goal for certain players. At any rate, the problem is far, far more complex than one that can be solved by the tabulation of series of binary values as generated by the experimenter in the aura reader example.
  • by tgibbs ( 83782 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @05:44PM (#32869382)

    It's worth noting that the committee cleared CRU of charges that they improperly destroyed or manipulated the data, or withheld data or computer code needed to check their conclusions. In fact the committee went to the unusual extreme of actually independently requesting the data from public archives and national weather services, recreating CRU's analysis based upon the published description, and reproducing CRU's conclusions.

    In the process, the committee proved that the accusations of certain bloggers that CRU was withholding critical data and code required to check their conclusions were false. From the report:

    Any independent researcher may freely obtain the primary station data. It is impossible for a third party to withhold access to the data.
    It is impossible for a third party to tamper improperly with the data unless they have also been able to corrupt the GHCN and NCAR sources. We do not consider this to be a credible possibility, and in any case this would be easily detectable by comparison to the original NMO records or other sources such as the Hadley Centre.
    The steps needed to create a global temperature series from the data are straightforward to implement.
    The required computer code is straightforward and easily written by a competent researcher.
    The shape of the temperature trends obtained in all cases is very similar: in other words following the same process with the same data obtained from different sources generates very similar results.

    In this respect, the report supports Jones's view that the repeated Freedom of Information demands were abusive and unnecessary for any legitimate scientific review of his work. However, the committee also found that "CRU was unhelpful and defensive and should have responded throughout to requests for this information in a more timely way." However justified Jones may have been in his sense of outrage, his decision to stonewall played into the hands of his critics, and helped them to create a false impression that CRU had something to hide.

  • Re:Impressive (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @05:53PM (#32869430)
    What is a 'Climatologist,' precisely? []

    Basically, they are all people from other fields because there is no associates/bachelors/masters degrees in climatology.

    None of the big names in climatology have advanced degrees in statistics, but they should, because they is the primary discipline that they are practicing.
  • by softcoder ( 252233 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @06:11PM (#32869554)

    Jones should take a lesson from Richard Lenski (see) []

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 2010 @06:28PM (#32869668)

    No, he's saying you can't do open science if a legion of anonymous "critics" devote 10x the man-hours you spend on science towards the goal of destroying you by any means possible.

    How can you tell the difference between that and honest criticism? Well, for one, you'd expect there to be plausible competing theories, which AFAIK there really aren't any of right now. There is global warming, with some variants as to how much of it is our fault vs natural and how much we can do to improve our situation... and there is flat denial.

    Maybe some additional evidence is in the nature of the denials. I mean, it's really ridiculous. There's the god-did-it crowd calling global warming science a religion. And there's a bunch of people calling the global warming *defenders* shills. Right. Because there's some huge pile of money that's flowing to scientists right now, but there's no huge pile of oil money going to the denial PR.

  • Re:Response (Score:3, Interesting)

    by khallow ( 566160 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @07:29PM (#32870070)

    However, it is worth noting that the disclosure of these stolen emails did not serve the public interest.

    I disagree.

    Rather, it impeded the work of some of the premier climate research units in the world and was used for political purposes to create a false impression that climate scientists were concealing and manipulating data.

    If that were all it did, then you'd have a point.

    After 3 separate inquiries at considerable expense, it was found that nothing of the sort occurred

    It was found that Jones had obstructed FOIA requests and deleted emails associated with legitimate FOIA requests. While these inquiries might not consider that concealing data, I do.

    It seems certain that the progress of science would be impeded if researchers are no longer able to speak frankly to one another out of the fear that any email might be read by people unaware of the context.

    What makes you think that was the problem here? There are three things to keep in mind here. First, the most important thing to come out of "Climategate" was the computer code. How can you base scientific work on data which has been processed in unknown and bug ridden ways? Second, was the discovery that CRU leadership indeed obstructed FOIA requests. That's a crime even if nobody is inclined to punish it. Third, was the heavily unscientific bias and ideology present in the emails. This doesn't mean that current climatology is incorrect. But it's not how you build a public consensus on AGW or other climate change theory.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 2010 @08:02PM (#32870238)

    How about a review on the fuckers who feel entitled to crack systems and steal communique?

  • Re:Impressive (Score:5, Interesting)

    by medcalf ( 68293 ) on Monday July 12, 2010 @12:07AM (#32871438) Homepage
    Albert Einstein was an amateur in 1905, the year he released Special Relativity, his work on brownian motion, his work on the photoelectric effect and the equivalence of matter and energy. Even if they were amateurs in a useful sense, you cannot call either McIntyre or Watts unknowledgeable about the subject. Not without the rest of us laughing at you, anyway.
  • 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.
  • What Gate? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ElmoGonzo ( 627753 ) on Monday July 12, 2010 @08:11AM (#32873228)
    Why must everything vaguely scandalous acquire the suffix "gate"? Was there a gate anywhere in this event? The original "Watergate" was a proper name but ever since then there is this compulsion to use the suffix as if it meant "scandal". All too often -- as in this case -- there is no scandal. A crime was committed by people who stole private emails and made them public to make a political point. If those people don't end up in jail then there is the scandal.
  • Re:Impressive (Score:3, Interesting)

    by catchblue22 ( 1004569 ) on Monday July 12, 2010 @01:36PM (#32876336) Homepage

    Ahhh, but now you show the weakness in McIntyre's methods, namely that by referring to keywords instead of arguments, it invites the casual reader to "fill in the blanks" with whatever their pre-conceived notions are. And by the snide tone that McIntyre uses, you are invited to fill in those blanks with something nefarious. Here, for the purposes of this post, you have filled in the blanks with something that sounds at first more reasonable.

    The "hide the decline" and "divergence problem" issues are this: A method was developed to use tree ring data as a proxy for past temperatures for which we have no measured temperature records. The "decline" or "divergence problem" is that the method proved to be unreliable when used to "measure" temperatures in the present - the real temperature record went one way, and the tree ring data went another way.

    However, I suspect you are guilty of omitting important issues from the discussion, specifically the existence of other types of temperature proxies, and their correlation with each other. Those who reconstruct pre-instrumental temperatures use numerous different methods, including corals, lake sediments, ocean sediments, ice core records, tree-rings, to name but a few. If those temperature proxies correlated to each other quite tightly for, say a thousand years, and then one of them, say the tree-ring proxy, suddenly diverged from the other proxies and from the instrumental temperatures, it would be reasonable to assume that something peculiarly recent was messing with the tree-rings.

    The decline in the tree-ring proxy temperatures is no secret in the scientific community. Indeed there have been a number of papers that hypothesize reasons for the recent divergence of tree-ring proxy temperatures. A cursory search on will support this assertion. And to quote the CCE report [], "We find that divergence is well acknowledged in the literature, including CRU papers."

Some people carve careers, others chisel them.