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The CRU hack

Filed under: — group @ 20 November 2009

As many of you will be aware, a large number of emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia webmail server were hacked recently (Despite some confusion generated by Anthony Watts, this has absolutely nothing to do with the Hadley Centre which is a completely separate institution). As people are also no doubt aware the breaking into of computers and releasing private information is illegal, and regardless of how they were obtained, posting private correspondence without permission is unethical. We therefore aren’t going to post any of the emails here. We were made aware of the existence of this archive last Tuesday morning when the hackers attempted to upload it to RealClimate, and we notified CRU of their possible security breach later that day.

Nonetheless, these emails (a presumably careful selection of (possibly edited?) correspondence dating back to 1996 and as recently as Nov 12) are being widely circulated, and therefore require some comment. Some of them involve people here (and the archive includes the first RealClimate email we ever sent out to colleagues) and include discussions we’ve had with the CRU folk on topics related to the surface temperature record and some paleo-related issues, mainly to ensure that posting were accurate.

Since emails are normally intended to be private, people writing them are, shall we say, somewhat freer in expressing themselves than they would in a public statement. For instance, we are sure it comes as no shock to know that many scientists do not hold Steve McIntyre in high regard. Nor that a large group of them thought that the Soon and Baliunas (2003), Douglass et al (2008) or McClean et al (2009) papers were not very good (to say the least) and should not have been published. These sentiments have been made abundantly clear in the literature (though possibly less bluntly).

More interesting is what is not contained in the emails. There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid of the MWP’, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders’ from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords. The truly paranoid will put this down to the hackers also being in on the plot though.

Instead, there is a peek into how scientists actually interact and the conflicts show that the community is a far cry from the monolith that is sometimes imagined. People working constructively to improve joint publications; scientists who are friendly and agree on many of the big picture issues, disagreeing at times about details and engaging in ‘robust’ discussions; Scientists expressing frustration at the misrepresentation of their work in politicized arenas and complaining when media reports get it wrong; Scientists resenting the time they have to take out of their research to deal with over-hyped nonsense. None of this should be shocking.

It’s obvious that the noise-generating components of the blogosphere will generate a lot of noise about this. but it’s important to remember that science doesn’t work because people are polite at all times. Gravity isn’t a useful theory because Newton was a nice person. QED isn’t powerful because Feynman was respectful of other people around him. Science works because different groups go about trying to find the best approximations of the truth, and are generally very competitive about that. That the same scientists can still all agree on the wording of an IPCC chapter for instance is thus even more remarkable.

No doubt, instances of cherry-picked and poorly-worded “gotcha” phrases will be pulled out of context. One example is worth mentioning quickly. Phil Jones in discussing the presentation of temperature reconstructions stated that “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” The paper in question is the Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998) Nature paper on the original multiproxy temperature reconstruction, and the ‘trick’ is just to plot the instrumental records along with reconstruction so that the context of the recent warming is clear. Scientists often use the term “trick” to refer to a “a good way to deal with a problem”, rather than something that is “secret”, and so there is nothing problematic in this at all. As for the ‘decline’, it is well known that Keith Briffa’s maximum latewood tree ring density proxy diverges from the temperature records after 1960 (this is more commonly known as the “divergence problem”–see e.g. the recent discussion in this paper) and has been discussed in the literature since Briffa et al in Nature in 1998 (Nature, 391, 678-682). Those authors have always recommend not using the post 1960 part of their reconstruction, and so while ‘hiding’ is probably a poor choice of words (since it is ‘hidden’ in plain sight), not using the data in the plot is completely appropriate, as is further research to understand why this happens.

The timing of this particular episode is probably not coincidental. But if cherry-picked out-of-context phrases from stolen personal emails is the only response to the weight of the scientific evidence for the human influence on climate change, then there probably isn’t much to it.

There are of course lessons to be learned. Clearly no-one would have gone to this trouble if the academic object of study was the mating habits of European butterflies. That community’s internal discussions are probably safe from the public eye. But it is important to remember that emails do seem to exist forever, and that there is always a chance that they will be inadvertently released. Most people do not act as if this is true, but they probably should.

It is tempting to point fingers and declare that people should not have been so open with their thoughts, but who amongst us would really be happy to have all of their email made public?

Let he who is without PIN cast the the first stone.

Update: The official UEA statement is as follows:

“We are aware that information from a server used for research information
in one area of the university has been made available on public websites,”
the spokesman stated.

“Because of the volume of this information we cannot currently confirm
that all of this material is genuine.”

“This information has been obtained and published without our permission
and we took immediate action to remove the server in question from
operation.”

“We are undertaking a thorough internal investigation and we have involved
the police in this enquiry.”

Update II: Please comment on the next thread.


1,092 Responses to “The CRU hack”

  1. 501
    Tristan says:

    Unfortunately what I have read so far, has shown a lack of integrity and honesty among some “scientists”.

    “Wrong. The consensus on the main planks of the science is solid. No need for one to purchase it. – gavin”

    I have doubts about your credibility after this. There doesn’t have to be a conspiracy for AGW to be a hoax. All it takes is dishonesty from the top minds to establish a base. When those who are at the top of the field establish a “fact” those below them often will accept it as the truth. When these facts become anchor points for others work and arguments, all of the following work is corrupted and invalid.

    We can we believe your work, when your foundation may have been built from sand?

    [Response: You might well benefit from actually reading about the foundations of the science instead of imagining that it all rests on a few emails. Spencer Weart's book is an excellent start. - gavin]

  2. 502
    petek says:

    @482

    Not to forget that nobody wants to depend on a few nations in control of fossil energy. After the current fincancial crisis, we will see where energy prices will go. The good thing, if the rise again the markets will solve this problem easily. I really cannot understand, why some people can be interested in maintaining stone age technolgies. Human beings invented the computer, time to develop something better than a slightly improved version of the stone age campfire, name it campfire 3.0.

  3. 503
    mike roddy says:

    Scientists express anger and exasperation as they mock weirdo deniers. A book points out that many of these deniers are paid by oil and coal companies to make their absurd statements. Fox News and much of the MSM makes the first a scandal, but ignores the second.

    Corruption and concentration of media power are the real problems. I’m glad you gave this episode a full treatment, because now we can move on.

  4. 504
    Endre Varga says:

    “Except when those THEORIES are shaping world economic policy,
    then every possibility must be checked!”

    Then lets start checking the existence of gods, truth in astrology, existence of alien visitors, efficiency of homoeopathics, etc. Go on, if you have time and stomach for that.

  5. 505
    njc says:

    Re #441

    [Response: The graph in question (from a WMO report made ten years ago) was made to show the paleo-reconstructions in context with the recent instrumental record, smoothed in order to show the long term trends. These graphs have been produced hundreds of times, with small variations in how the data is presented or processed and are for the most part, completely interchangeable. What do you think is being hidden? - gavin]
    Gavin this is being somewhat disingenuous. Whether it was the purpose of not, adding the instrumental record directly to the end of the paleo-reconstructions, is misleading. The nature of the addition is not made clear in the Figure caption in the WMO report which only talks about the paleo data along with long instrumental records, consequently no-one looking at the Figure could possibly know what had been done. What is hidden is the very nature of the trick, the hiding of the divergence between the paleo data and instrumental record. So what is claimed as being visible is indeed hidden in plain sight.

  6. 506
    vg28 says:

    Gavin,

    [Response: Your best approach is not to go with single individual's opinion (not even mine), but instead rely on the assessments of independent bodies - the National Academies, Royal Society, the AGU, AMS etc. Read their reports, and then look up more details on any issue that particularly interests you. We've tried to help by providing context to things that you'll see in the media or on the web, but always with links to the primary material (so you don't need to take our word for it). Good luck. - gavin]

    In what sense are the Royal Society etc. independent? They are funded by the government. They are also run by people who have personal interests and incentives: some like money, some like attention, etc. I am sure many, even most, are driven primarily by search for truth, but to deny other motivations, to proclaim them more honest and their organizations more independent than, say, those of the scientists funded by private money, requires some proof. It is far from self-evident.

    [Response: What rot. No-ones needs AGW. Personally, I was very happy doing paleo-modelling work that had very little to do with AGW. The study of the dynamic Earth system is complex, challenging, mysterious and rewarding with or without a substantial human component to recent warming. That of course drives more interest from the outside world, but we would still be studying climate and weather even if CO2 levels had been steady for the last hundred years. - gavin]

    Sure, but would you have this kind of attention? I’m sorry, but I think most of your readers would not imagine doing something like this blog for fun, I think it requires a rare fondness for attention. Of course this goes for the other side as well.

    [Response: You think I'm having fun today? Hmmm... - gavin]

  7. 507
    Anthony Jackson says:

    From: Endre Varga
    “Then lets start checking the existence of gods, truth in astrology, existence of alien visitors, efficiency of homoeopathics, etc. Go on, if you have time and stomach for that.”

    Other then Gods how do any of the other topics effect Economic policy, please don’t tell me your a scientist.

  8. 508
    John Doe says:

    In response to Gavin’s comment at the end of 490: Because he sounds very much as if he has a pre-ordained conclusion in mind, and is trying everything he can think of to make the data fit, but finally has to give up and admit that the data say what they say. This paints a picture that is the opposite of what Feynman would say is a good scientist — someone who actively looks for the best evidence against his own hypothesis.

    [Response: Huh? Please point to any of my papers where this is even remotely connected to any science I have actually been involved in. - gavin]

  9. 509
  10. 510
    Tonyb says:

    Hello Gavin

    I did ask this question earlier, and as there would be no reason for it to be deleted suspect that in the bun fight above I just haven’t noticed your reply.

    Yes, my terminology gives me away, I am British as well. As such-probably like you- I have a particular interest in history and therefore wonder why such litle mention seems to be made of the many warm periods that existed even through the Little ice age?

    These can be clearly seen from the instrumental records and were of such great interest to Phil Jones that he got an EU grant to study some of them. I can’t, as the EU doesn’t permit funds for contrarian studies (could be why these are fewer relative to state funded AGW studies?)

    The older instrumental readings (and contemporary accounts from the time) show clear evidence of climate variations, with numerous temperature valleys and summits.

    The Giss 1880 records were clearly measured from a valley, and it should come as no surprise to anyone that they then started to rise towards their next summit.

    A more meaningful analysis would surely be to measure from past high points to the present day, which would enable the current warmish period to be put into a better context? It is nothing out of the ordinary, especially when the effect of the very cold spells of the little Ice age on overall mean average temperatures are taken into account

    To the credit of GISS, at least you do publish your station information-have you any conception how difficult it has been to prise information out of Hadley Cru about their methodology, despite the largesse from the tax payer? £143 million pounds to Hadley alone since 1993, who in turn have been a prime contributor to the IPCC.

    So as a taxpayer do I feel peeved at the poor value for money we get from scientists who try to make out Temperature data is a state secret, and therefore have somewhat mixed feelings about the illicit release of information that we have already paid for.

    Anyway, hope you can explain why Giss don’t seem to make it clear that 1880 is a low point and that we can see lots of summits before that date but don’t choose to measure today against them.

    All the best from Britain.

    tonyb

  11. 511
    Ike Solem says:

    Andy Revkin and the NYT editors are busy promoting and spinning this – so is the Wall Street Journal, but they’re not really leading the story – just linking to denialist websites. Here are some illustrative NYT blurbs:

    The revelations are bound to inflame the public debate as hundreds of negotiators prepare to negotiate an international climate accord at meetings in Copenhagen next month…

    Really… and why? Do they change any of the IPCC conclusions? No – but if the story is to affect public debate, it certainly must be publicized and treated as “important news.” And the slant?

    Still, some of the comments might lend themselves to being interpreted as sinister.

    Sinister. Well, that’s an objective journalist for you – since when are news reports about editorializing and speculating in such a fashion?

    And on the issue of “the trick” Revkin seems to be deliberately excluding the basic explanation:

    …the ‘trick’ is just to plot the instrumental records along with reconstruction so that the context of the recent warming is clear.

    Instrumental records are more accurate than paleoclimate proxies, so of course you’d want to plot them for comparison. If anything, it shows that tree ring thickness is a bit more complex than a simple temperature response, wow, does water matter too?

    Revkin also throws a unquestioned quote to Steven McIntyre:
    Stephen McIntyre, a blogger who on his Web site, climateaudit.org, has for years been challenging data used to chart climate patterns, and who came in for heated criticism in some e-mail messages, called the revelations “quite breathtaking.”

    No qualifier there, as in “Still, McIntyre could be seen as trying to sinisterly trying to blow this out of proportion for political purposes.”

    Yes, and what do the CEOs of our Big Five oil & coal concerns think about this? Thrilled, I imagine. Odd, this is all so similar to that stunt Chevron pulled in Ecuador – covert attempts to discredit legal action and scientific analysis, backed up by a big PR push, all carefully coordinated?

    If it hadn’t been done about a dozen times before, more people might buy it. As it is, this is a non-story – the real question should be why it’s getting so much traction, and that should cause the last remaining “science journalists” to do a little soul searching…

    As a letter writer to the Chicago Tribune said recently about a different journalist:

    A good science reporter would have done things differently: He would have told us about the scientists on both sides of the issue and left out the celebrities; he would have sought the opinions of local experts; he would have revealed the source of funding for all studies that he discussed.

    If these emails had revealed that a published study had to be withdrawn, and that this was being hidden, or something of that nature, it would have been news – but as it is, it’s just a very illustrative example of how fossil fuel lobbying influences U.S. media coverage. It’s straightforward propaganda – otherwise, why would the NYT have left out the following key information?

    The paper in question is the Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998) Nature paper on the original multiproxy temperature reconstruction, and the ‘trick’ is just to plot the instrumental records along with reconstruction so that the context of the recent warming is clear. Scientists often use the term “trick” to refer to a “a good way to deal with a problem”, rather than something that is “secret”, and so there is nothing problematic in this at all. As for the ‘decline’, it is well known that Keith Briffa’s maximum latewood tree ring density proxy diverges from the temperature records after 1960…

    If fossil fuel interests can hire think tanks to do their bidding, maybe the same goes for news outlets.

  12. 512
    Michael says:

    The scandal here is clearly what was basically known before: Scientists like Mann or Jones give their data, algorithms and programs only to people they trust. Thats totally understandable from a personal point of view – in all their years of work they probably made a few mistakes – which is just human – and that can embarrassing.

    But the climate change field is far too important to play this little games. There are policy issues which will cost billions and which might change the live of every living human being.

    So maybe the reputation of McIntyre is not good, maybe he is even a moron – I don’t know. And I don’t care. Its no reason to withhold data before him.

    Basic point: The IPCC should adopt a new rule: Only papers are accepted where the data, the algorithms and the programs are available to everybody, on a public server. Only if everybody with the appropriate programs is capable of reproducing the findings in the paper it will be accepted.

  13. 513
    John Burke says:

    Frankly, I don’t see how RC can deal with this simply by knocking the hackers and refusing to post the emails, while rebutting criticism in the comments via “Responses.” If there is no problem, posting the emails would help demonstrate that, no?

    And you’d be better off dropping the straw man argument that it’s more important that the emails don’t show a Soros-sponsored conspiracy, etc. You have a fairly smart audience here who understand that the emails show whatever they show, and the Soros line is just PR spin. So why not try actually answering the skeptics?

  14. 514
    sean hurley says:

    I am trusting that the climate deniers and their various industry funders will now release all their private correspondence to demonstrate all their discussion is clear, concise, never strays into common terms and slang, and never deviates from anything but the purely ethical.

    I also look forward to development of this story as the investigations proceed and the raised personal stakes are played out.

    Has it occured to ethical scientists, yet, that this is a gun fight with truly despicable, unethical and even criminal characters?

  15. 515
    Xi Kito says:

    Is it legal to delete information in order to avoid providing it in response to a FOI request?

    [Response: No. - gavin]

  16. 516

    <<<>>>
    ———————————————————————

    1) I don’t need fact checking. These studies are simply in the permanent human record and always will be for the rest of human history for future scientists, historians, politicians and the public to read, period, no matter who wrote them…whether you like the authors or not.

    (By the way…one of the authors is basically an economist and another basically a geologist all writing on human-caused climate change, go figure- McKitrick, McIntyre.

    Still, they are allowed to publish anti-global warming studies in mainstream science on the subject of human-caused climate change. That is the beauty and open transparency of mainstream science in spite of what contrarians are saying about the emails.

    2) Now, if you had only read my post, you would have seen that I also stated: “The peer-review scientific process allows these extremely muddying anti-global warming-aspect reports to be published…”

    My words “extremely muddying” means that the basic science of global warming/climate change is now clearly established in mainstream science.

    This is that:

    1)Human-made climate change/global warming is now happening.

    2)We humans are causing it.

    3)We humans must take action, now, to slow it down- [from the IPCC, and the mainstream body of scientific literature since 1824 starting at least with Jean Baptiste Fourier).

    The “muddying” I stated is the published anti-global warming studies, I listed, which *do not* stand up over time to fact checking in the open, world wide scientific literature…but at least they were (and are) being allowed to be openly published for the rest of human history.

    No one can dispute this fact: mainstrean science has and still is allowing contrary global warming/human caused climate change studies to be published, no matter what conspiracy theorists are wildly dreaming up in scientist’s emails.

  17. 517
    George says:

    I’ve read through perhaps half of the documentation. What’s most troubling about many of the e-mails isn’t the putatively falsified data…there may be explanations for many of the out of context quotes. Rather, what emerges is a decade-long pattern of behavior where the AGW advocates:
    1) Demand that the skeptics publish in “peer-reviewed journals” while
    2) Taking steps to block those publications including sharing of supposedly anonymous copies for review
    3) Coordination of response strategies based on this information
    4) Threatening the editorial board of one journal that allowed a skeptical paper to “slip through” (that’s a direct quote).
    5) Telling skeptics to address their work through comments then ensuring that those comments are unpublished by the journal in question.

    Taken together its an outrageous and deeply unethical set of actions that prevents the normal scientific process of peer review to function.

    This would never be tolerated in the disciplines I’ve been involved in…and I find it appalling to see in such an important field of science.

    [Response: 'Peer review' is a filter. The nature of a filter is that it filters out things. Asking that the criticism goes through the same filter as the original papers is completely valid. As is making sure that the filter is working properly, which it certainly doesn't some of the time. Read the background to the Soon and Baliunas case to get a better sense of what was actually going on. - gavin]

  18. 518
    bielie says:

    Steve says:
    21 November 2009 at 11:43 AM
    This is one reason why I delete my email as soon as I’ve read it and it’s no longer relevant. And I don’t trust any computer for which I don’t have the root password for.

    Steve. You obviously have a lot to hide. No one should trust you!

  19. 519

    If anything, I would like to see the climate change happen, so the science could be proved right, regardless of the consequences. This isn’t being political, it is being selfish.

    Magnus #184, thanks! Good to know I’m in illustrious company with these dark thoughts…

    Cheers

  20. 520
    Clarity Please says:

    @454
    Gavin responded to TomD:

    [Response: Your best approach is not to go with single individual's opinion (not even mine), but instead rely on the assessments of independent bodies - the National Academies, Royal Society, the AGU, AMS etc. Read their reports, and then look up more details on any issue that particularly interests you. We've tried to help by providing context to things that you'll see in the media or on the web, but always with links to the primary material (so you don't need to take our word for it). Good luck. - gavin]

    Cheers for this response to Tom Gavin, this seems to be exactly what I will calling for, upside of this leak is that it has led me to your site. I will look to the assessments of independent bodies that you mention are here, somewhere, I will look around.

  21. 521
    More Science, Less Marketing says:

    “Asking real questions about real issues is welcome.”

    Question: What brought on the last glacial period?

    [Response: Orbital forcing. - gavin]

    Question: Are we technically still in an ice age?

    [Response: Maybe. Geologically speaking we are still quite close to the Pleistocene ice age cycles (though we are currently in an interglacial). However, there is some evidence that the impacts we are making to the carbon cycle might have started to pull us out of the ice age cycles all together. In which case the answer would be no. But it will be clearer in a few thousand years. - gavin]

  22. 522
    Joe Lassiter says:

    Gavin,

    Thank you for taking all the time to field this traffic in addition to doing your day job.

    Some people seem to always see the world as a sea of conspiracy. So, they see conspiracy behind much of human endeavor. Science is one of the most human of human endeavors. Fortunately, the data is there to temper the scientists and eventually the data wins out. Most people have come to believe that the world is round..well roundish.

    This too will pass.

  23. 523
    caerbannog says:

    Just a reminder: CRU is just one of many organizations focusing on climate research. The fact that its director has reacted badly (i.e. appearing to go for the “bunker” mentality) to repeated scurrilous attacks has no bearing on the validity of the science.

    Hansen’s approach has been quite different — he’s basically said to his detractors, “here are all of the source code and data — go knock yourselves out”.

    Under Hansen, the NASA/GISS data and source code have been freely available on-line for years. And all of the sceptics’ scrutiny of said data has uncovered only one or two minor “glitches” that have had minimal impact.

    Just a quick question (or two) to Gavin, if you feel the need to spend even more of your weekend downtime answering questions here.

    Given that all of your climate-modeling source-code has been available for public scrutiny for quite a long time, and given that anyone can download and test it out, how many times have climate-model critics have actually submitted patches to improve your modeling code, fix bugs, etc? Have you gotten *any* constructive suggestions from the skeptic camp?

    [Response: Not a single one. - gavin]

  24. 524
    bielie says:

    No one needs global warming?

    According to the spreadsheet there were £13,718,547.00 in grants! (to the pound) That’s probably more than the GDP of some countries that will receive climate restitution dollars under the proposed Copenhagen accord!

  25. 525
    Monty says:

    Gavin’
    I admire your tenacity in defending the indefensible. You would make a great lawyer!

  26. 526
    Hank Roberts says:

    As Gavin points out inline above at 498, Tristan’s mistaken notion is that science relies on original founders and everything would be overthrown if something were found wrong with the earliest work.

    Sorry, Tristan, it’s not done that way. The tools and methods in scientific work are being improved over time.

    Look at the current work — this doesn’t depend on anything done earlier:

    News: http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2009/2009GL039225.shtml
    Evolution of shallow groundwater flow systems in areas of degrading permafrost

  27. 527
    T says:

    “……the community is a far cry from the monolith that is sometimes imagined.”

    Now there’s an understatement.

    The monolithic facade has been self-propagated by the reigning hierarchy of the scientific community. They have promoted an image of the “real scientist” as being an entirely subjective, intellectually honest, super-scholar. Conversely, scientists who legitimately question the accepted status quo, or who have the backbone to outright disagree are viciously painted as troublemakers–or as backwards, biased, unenlightened practitioners of inferior science (scientific heretics?).

    It will be interesting to see how effective the damage control spin doctors are at neutralizing the heat from this embarrassing exposure. They are already hard at work, and the general public is distracted on many fronts. Hopefully some truly effective measure of accountability and transparency will be advanced, although I doubt any real dialogue on this issue (between the “real scientists” and the “troublemakers”) is soon to be had. Too bad.

  28. 528
    Steve Missal says:

    Bluntly, two things have happened. One: you have learned a rough lesson in the real world, one that subsumes the scientific world, and that is this…that there are unscrupulous people out there, and they will run over you like an 18-wheeler. You CANNOT afford to have e-mail exchanges like the ones that are now hand grenades for the denialists. Period. Sorry if that hurts feelings, but in my own academic setting, our e-mails are routinely read and therefore must be circumspect.
    Two: this may be a broken egg; no fixing it. You may have just lost the war by this one fiat. I hate to say that, because our futures are at stake, but the naivete underlying this event is a reflection of the difference between thinking within the walls of a discipline and forgetting the wolves at the door are real.
    I don’t know what to say or do. When I read this (and now it is major fodder for MSNBC etc.) my heart fell. Pray that somehow you are able to quench this fire and right the ship. It won’t be done by a little posting on this site. It will take a major PR effort, with all guns blazing. Trust me. We are watching an agenda driven bunch of legislators in Arizona deconstruct our economy, education and public works, and nobody can stop them. Their stance is of course ludicrous and destructive, but THEY ARE WINNING. Food for thought in the present circumstance.

  29. 529
    BlogReader says:

    Barton Paul Levenson Reflect also on the fact that Feynman was in the habit of intimidating lonely, neurotic women in bars to get them into bed with him, as he describes in one of his books, treating it as a joke. So his standing to teach others about ethics is questionable.

    Bravo, BPL. Just when I didn’t think this blog entry could get any weirder you kick it up a notch with an ad hominem on a dead guy.

  30. 530
    Pete says:

    Man, they didn’t even give you the flashing siren on the Drudge Report! You should at least get that for all your troubles :)

    You’re doing the right thing, hope you don’t get carpal tunnel by the end of the week.

  31. 531
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Actually, what emerges from this whole sordid affair is not any evidence of misconduct on the part of scientists, but rather the cluelessness of the whole anti-science fringe! Good Lord, these people actually think CRU is funded by US government agencies. Dudes, they’re British!

    The denialists don’t have the first idea about climate science, data analysis, how science is done or even basic arithmetic. For those of us who avoid the zoos over at Climate Fraudit or Watts-up-’is-arse, it is indeed revealing to see the Dunning-Kruger effect in action. All I can say is “Wow, these people are stupid!”

  32. 532
    KDC says:

    Anyone who thinks this selected – admittedly random – release of particular email correspondence proves that climate change is a hoax is desperate in their attempts at rebuttal. I would encourage the CRU to release ALL the emails for the last 10 years to the public so that we can all see the preponderance of evidence that supports their work. Will any skeptic please tell me why scientists would want to make this up? Please…I guess some people still think we haven’t landed on the moon either.

  33. 533
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Bielie says “According to the spreadsheet there were £13,718,547.00 in grants! (to the pound) That’s probably more than the GDP of some countries that will receive climate restitution dollars under the proposed Copenhagen accord!”

    Or six hours of profits for Exx-Mob. Do you guys have the first clue how pathetic you are?

  34. 534
    Jim Bouldin says:

    “There doesn’t have to be a conspiracy for AGW to be a hoax. All it takes is dishonesty from the top minds to establish a base. When those who are at the top of the field establish a “fact” those below them often will accept it as the truth. When these facts become anchor points for others work and arguments, all of the following work is corrupted and invalid..”

    So Fourier and Tyndall started the whole ball rolling eh? You have no idea what you are talking about.

  35. 535
    Phil. Felton says:


    Chortle says:
    21 November 2009 at 11:11 AM
    I find it remarkable that an overwhelming tone of the emails smacks as much of politics and attempts to limit real debate rather than a search for truth. One of Mann’s emails speaks directly to this — i.e. it’s not about the truth but rather plausible deniability.

    Yes, and it was referring to McIntyre’s statements, the way he insinuates accusations (“not the truth”) for his CA claque to yell about which he can later deny making (“plausible deniability”).

    If anything, we can all hope that this event will serve to FINALLY have real, public debate on this issue.
    That would require both sides to be talking about the science, the ‘skeptic’ side will have to become truely sceptical and not mindlessly accept any pile of crap that’s published (Soon & Baliunis for example).

  36. 536
    arch stanton says:

    A lot of new voices here, and so many anxious to jump to conclusions without context.

    Almost seems choreographed. You know – like voting for your favorite blog kinda thing…

  37. 537
    Kurt says:

    The documents leave little reasonable doubt that the scientists exposed actively sought to suppress data that might potentially undermine their arguments, to the point of conspiring to defy FOI requests. I can appreciate a scientist’s reluctance to share data that others might take credit for. But threatening to delete the data rather than turn it over? That’s like book-burning. What context can possibly justify a genuine scientist doing that?
    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2009/11/20/climate-cuttings-33.html

    [Response: None of course. And of course, it didn't happen either. Perhaps you have never exaggerated for comic effect? - gavin]

  38. 538
    bielie says:

    Given that all of your climate-modeling source-code has been available for public scrutiny for quite a long time, and given that anyone can download and test it out, how many times have climate-model critics have actually submitted patches to improve your modeling code, fix bugs, etc? Have you gotten *any* constructive suggestions from the skeptic camp?

    [Response: Not a single one. - gavin]

    Gavin. That is because the models are WRONG BEYOND REDEMPTION

    “The diminution in outgoing long-wave radiation over time is one-seventh to one-tenth of that which the UN’s models predict, demonstrating that the UN has overstated climate sensitivity sevenfold to tenfold, and that it has overstated the projected anthropogenic temperature increase in the 21st century by as much as sixteenfold.”

    [Response: Thanks for your constructive input. (And you really should point out you are quoting Monckton - a well known and highly competent scientist no doubt). - gavin]

  39. 539
    Tony Rogers says:

    I have been following blogs on both sides of the debate for 3 or 4 years now. In that time, rightly or wrongly, I have developed the impression that the key researchers have been both very keen to emphasise the scale of the problem at every opportunity whilst at the same time appearing to make it difficult for people like McIntyre to get hold of the raw data or methods and challenge their claims. These emails appear to show that the modus operandi of particularly Phil Jones is exactly in line with the impression I had developed.

    This is an appalling PR disaster for mainstream climate science, a huge own-goal. And it has not been caused by McIntyre etc. or the guy that released the emails. It has been caused by an apparent “team” mentality (and I use that term deliberately because it seems to include the right people) of secrecy, an apparent desire to paint the most dire picture of our situation, and a hostile attitude towards anyone questioning the consensus.

    All of the above is the impression that I have developed and I expect many other people have too. If it turns out that the IPCC view of AGW is correct, this behaviour will have been an enormous disservice to us all and it could have been avoided entirely by a more open and cordial approach.

    I am a concerned citizen of the world who does not want to see the world ruined by warming but equally I don’t want to see inappropriate activities like cutting down rainforests to plant sisal plantations to make bio-degradable bags or using valuable agricultural land to grow fuel to burn in internal combustion engines. You may not advocate these things but people hiding behind or encouraged by a green agenda do. I am concerned because I want the problem to be understood with as much certainty as possible and for any solutions to be as appropriate as possible and of net benefit to us all.

  40. 540
    M. L. Johnson says:

    If anyone convinced that AWG is a settled matter wonders how the daft layman can possibly be skeptical or imagine that other agendas are being served, I submit this quote attributed to Phil Jones:
    “If anything, I would like to see the climate change happen, so the science could be proved right, regardless of the consequences.”
    Context away, fellows.

    [Response: The context is "This isn't being political, it is being selfish.". i.e. all else being equal, if it was just about him then he would like the science to be proven correct. But presumably not being quite that selfish, he would actually prefer climate change not to happen (as I certainly do) even at the expense of the science being wrong. I don't think it likely though. - gavin]

  41. 541
    Adam Sullivan says:

    @Steve Missal — 21 November 2009 @ 12:58 PM

    I would not be so forlorn.

    Some of the emails are revealing and very damaging to the reputations of the people involved.

    So what?

    That doesn’t alter physics. It does expose a certain amount of dogmatism and brutality towards skepticism that, itself, damages any educational effort as it shows intrinsic contempt for those who one is supposed to educating.

    Frankly, some of the individuals involved may have to fall on their swords. Again, that doesn’t alter physics.

    It would be a good thing if this episode established some middle ground that people could converse on. Then we may get somewhere.

    But some realities impose themselves – data are still sparse and we need more to make models predictive. Dogma that implies certainty that can’t exist in a sparse data environment will always bite the dogmatist in the ass. As it just has.

    And – one last time – the physics have not changed (something I keep trying to repeat to the deniers and luke warmers)

  42. 542
    J says:

    This should be interesting to explain. Phil Jones on releasing data, model code:

    Just sent loads of station data to Scott. Make sure he documents everything better this time ! And don’t leave stuff lying around on ftp sites – you never know who is trawling them. The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone. Does your similar act in the US force you to respond to enquiries within 20 days? – our does ! The UK works on precedents, so the first request will test it.We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind. Tom Wigley has sent me a worried email when he heard about it – thought people could ask him for his model code. He has retired officially from UEA so he can hide behind that. IPR should be relevant here, but I can see me getting into an argument with someone at UEA who’ll say we must adhere to it !

    ————-

    Options appear to be:
    Send them the data
    Send them a subset removing station data from some of the countries who made us pay in the normals papers of Hulme et al. (1990s) and also any number that David can remember. This should also omit some other countries like (Australia, NZ, Canada, Antarctica). Also could extract some of the sources that Anders added in (31-38 source codes in J&M 2003). Also should remove many of the early stations that we coded up in the 1980s.
    Send them the raw data as is, by reconstructing it from GHCN. How could this be done? Replace all stations where the WMO ID agrees with what is in GHCN. This would be the raw data, but it would annoy them.

  43. 543
    chf says:

    “Perhaps you are unaware that almost all journals demand that you submit names of potential reviewers as part of the submission?”

    I don’t think I have ever seen that suggested for the journals for my own fields.
    If so, I’d have regarded it as most improper:
    much of the point is that the reviewers and the authors (ideally) are mutually anonymous.
    Otherwise, it all gets a bit sloppy and interbred .
    Of course, it’s often fun to try to guess both ways, for reviewers to guess who wrote the paper, or authors to guess the reviewer by his or her comments – but I have seen things from both sides and those guesses are often quite wrong.

    [Response: Double-blind review is not that usual in the physical sciences and in some 60-odd papers to dozens of journals I have never come across it. Reviewers are usually anonymous, though sometimes they make themselves known (as I have done in some reviews), and sometimes they can be guessed. - gavin]

  44. 544
    Kurt says:

    Gavin, in response to comment 537, you said “of course, it [deletion of data rather than compliance with FOI requests] never happened”. As a scientist, how do you know that “of course”? You say you never did that sort of thing and I incline to believe you. Certainly you know your own behavior better than I do. But how do you know about others, when they themselves claim otherwise in private correspondence? How do you know they were merely exaggerating for comic effect? They didn’t sound to me like they were laughing.

    [Response: Well since the HadCRU temperature data are still online and being updated every month, that would seem to me to indicate that nothing has been deleted in a fit of pique. But really, you think anyone would really delete their data? That would be ridiculous. - gavin]

  45. 545
    s. wing says:

    Gavin,

    Thank you for your sterling efforts in responding to everybody’s questions. The one email that continues to bother me is the much discussed email of Tue, 16 Nov 1999 13:31:15, from Phil Jones to Bradley, Mann and Hughes. Your relevant response to #441 was…

    [Response: The graph in question (from a WMO report made ten years ago) was made to show the paleo-reconstructions in context with the recent instrumental record, smoothed in order to show the long term trends. These graphs have been produced hundreds of times, with small variations in how the data is presented or processed and are for the most part, completely interchangeable. What do you think is being hidden? - gavin]

    The glaring issue for me is rather that – unless I have the wrong end of the stick (no pun intended) – the graphed lines are mislabelled, and knowingly so. The green line, for example, is labelled “Apr-Sep from Briffa (1999) Quaternary Science Reviews 19, 87.” whereas in reality it is a composite of tree ring data from that paper and, for the final 40 years, data from elsewhere that has been obtained from the met. stations. The effect of adding the met. station data is to add a good part of the ‘blade of the hockey stick’ that you yourself has said does not appear in Briffa’s data.

    I would emphasise that I am not in the field and may well have misunderstood something. However, if my understanding is instead correct then this is a clear example of scientific misconduct, by Dr Jones in 1999. [edit] You should not defend it. Please let me know if my understanding is mistaken and, if so, how it is mistaken. Thanks, s. wing.

    [Response: An uninformative or incomplete caption in a WMO brochure is not 'scientific misconduct' by any stretch of the imagination. If I had seen it beforehand, I would have suggested making the caption more informative about the treatment of the instrumental data and I doubt there would have been any hesitation in doing so. But this isn't the peer reviewed literature, and so there is no way of correcting the brochure after the fact. This has nothing to do with Mann since no figure in any of his papers did the same thing. - gavin]

  46. 546
    Steve Geiger says:

    pretty surprising and disturbing stuff, IMO. Clear that some of these folks were beyond ‘objectively’ considering evidence…minds were made up..or at least that’s how it appears to me. By far the most damning part, IMO, is the willful refusal to share data and the FOI (and equivalent) requested materials.

    Someone above asks if emails can be deleted after FOI requests….Gavin answers: Yes. However, one of the emails indicated that, yes, you *could* delete emails in such a case….”if it were part of normal file maintenance” (i.e., hint hint wink wink). Very damning IMO. Absolutely shameful and the very essence of ‘anti science’

    Steve G., PhD

    [Response: Huh? I said "No". Please don't put words into my mouth. - gavin]

  47. 547
    Steve Brown says:

    I would just like to express my support and gratitude to all the folks at CRU and RC who have been caught up in this shoddy saga. I greatly appreciate the work you are doing and hope that this does not distract you from your valuable work.

    From reading the stolen e-mails and “analysis” over at WTF, I actually believe that an enormous amount of good can come out of this. What is very apparant in the e-mails is the overwhelming exasperation of scientists at having to continually endure the petty vindictiveness and wing-nuttery of the “troofers” and disciples of pseudoscience. The enemies of reason are currently engineering a spectacular own-goal.

  48. 548
    vg28 says:

    “Sure, but would you have this kind of attention? I’m sorry, but I think most of your readers would not imagine doing something like this blog for fun, I think it requires a rare fondness for attention. Of course this goes for the other side as well.”

    [Response: You think I'm having fun today? Hmmm... - gavin]

    You didn’t start this blog today…

  49. 549
    Ron Moses says:

    I think my favorite part of this post is paragraph four, which begins, “More interesting is what is not contained in the emails.” It’s a real laugh riot, I tell ya.

    Imagine this fictional scenario: Emails are discovered indicating that in late 2001, the TSA knowingly provided falsified data to the Patriot Act subcommittee in an effort to persuade the panel to add additional language to the act, providing security measures that were not supported by the evidence at hand, but which would serve the TSA’s interests. One who opposed the Patriot Act might call this scandalous, and rightly so. And they would also be correct in rolling their eyes when some right-wing outlet responded with, “More interesting is what is not contained in the emails. No mention of Bush having prior knowledge of 9/11…” and so forth. Your attempt at diversion is no less laughable.

    Maybe what is not contained in the emails is more interesting to someone with a vested interest in a thriving GW industry, like yourselves. But not to the average individual. We find the actual contents of the emails interesting, and damning, enough.

  50. 550
    Robert B. says:

    “Thanks – just received the CRU Hack notice from some global warming doubting colleagues. While it was obvious to me the quotes were taken out of context and not relevant (not to mention illegal) having a quick response from someone who was closer to the facts was a timely help.”

    Who cares if it’s illegal? This isn’t a court of law, this the court of opinion. As for, “taken out of context”, you could argue that with a few emails, but I don’t see how you can be serious with the rest.

    Someone who distorts data to support a claim is not a scientist.

    [Response: Who did this? And what claim do you think it was supporting? - gavin]


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