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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

“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. 151
    JCS Bsc says:

    Please explain how this is not illegal tax evasion:

    “… That is why it is important for us to get money from additional sources, in particular from the ADVANCE and INTAS ones. Also, it is important for us if you can transfer the ADVANCE money on the personal accounts which we gave you earlier and the sum for one occasion transfer (for example, during one day) will not be more than 10,000 USD. Only in this case we can avoid big taxes and use money for our work as much as possible. Please, inform us what kind of documents and financial reports we must represent you and your administration for these money….”

    If I did this i would be audited and locked up.

    How can you defend this?

    [Response: I have no information on the specifics. But a) tax avoidance is perfectly legal, and b) funding researchers in Russia in 1996 was probably not the easiest thing in the world. – gavin]

  2. 152
    Rafael Gomez-Sjoberg says:

    This is hilarious and tragic.
    The released e-mails don’t reveal anything obscure of nefarious, but we have the lunatic fringe comparing them to the Pentagon Papers! People are not only very ignorant of science, but also of history, and their reading skills don’t seem to be very good. Their paranoid, conspiratorial fantasies have gotten the better of them.

    I’m always amazed at the strange mixture of gullibility and skepticism that people can have, without any sense of contradiction. I was recently hearing on the radio an interview with a NASA scientist that has been receiving lots of e-mails of people scared about the end of the world coming in 2012, and a vast NASA conspiracy to hide the truth about it. All thanks to the just-released movie and a series of web sites that discuss all sorts of crackpot theories about 2012. One girl asked the NASA guy if it was worth studying for her exams at school if the end of the world was so near, and a woman asked if she should kill her dog so that it wouldn’t have so suffer through the Apocalipse in 2012.

    People are quick to believe in lunacies like these, without any solid, coherent and logical evidence, but at the same time can’t accept a very solid body of scientific evidence pointing to the reality and dangers of anthropogenic climate change (which could be pretty apocalyptic in the long term if we don’t do anything about it). They are happy to think that NASA has both a large conspiracy to keep the end of the world in 2012 a secret, and at the same time another conspiracy, courtesy of Gavin et al., to scare people about climate change. My brother in law, for example, loves to read every book and watch every documentary about the prophecies of Nostradamus, but insists that anthropogenic climate change is not real (without ever having read any serious discussion of the science behind it, or even wanting to hear it from me).

    If the consequences weren’t so dire, I would just laugh at it. But most days I feel more like crying at such ignorance and stupidity.

  3. 153

    Sigurdur: Let’s leave Mr. Gore out of this as he has demonstrated over and over that his actual knowledge of climate science is limitted at best.

    Me: Al Gore was one of Roger Revelle’s students in the ’60s, so we know he’s taken at least one more climatology course than YOU have.

  4. 154
    Kazinski says:

    I congratulate you on deciding to open up the comments to critical opinions. It is your blog and you can run it the way you want to, but the heavy hand in comment moderation has hurt your credibility over the years, at least in my eyes.

  5. 155
    MR says:

    This whole affair just shows that the world has lost all of it’s moral values. Only the law remains and you have done nothing wrong if the legal system cannot prove that you violated the law. OJ Simpson is a prime example of this along with the world bankers.

    Evidently there is a lot of funding to be had if you can postulate that a catastrophe is about to happen and none to be had proving nothing is wrong.

    [Response: I wish. But Pat Michaels (for instance) would be able to correct your misconception. – gavin]

  6. 156
    AKD says:

    “[Response: Sure. It’s mostly used in mathematics, for instance in decomposing partial fractions, or deciding whether a number is divisible by 9 etc.etc.etc. – gavin]”

    This is nonsense. Both are examples of teaching or explaining concepts to lay people. The first intentionally places “tricks” in quotations marks to emphasize its non-technical use. The latter is about teaching techniques, not mathematics. Taken together, this undermines your point.

    [Response: Oh dear. You ask for examples of how the term is used in a non-malicious way, I provide two (and there are many more), and that undermines my point? Fail. – gavin]

  7. 157

    One point that is not getting much play is the seemingly clear indication that all of these e-mails have been culled in at least one respect: they’re a selection; they don’t contain everything ever written by e-mail. There’s little here about kids, about illness, about who wants to go out for a beer, about other non-professional stuff. Since they’ve been culled in this way, this suggests that someone has read them. The hacker couldn’t filter the e-mails for personal content otherwise. And since someone has read them, there’s no reason to believe that same someone has also not tampered with them, or at least tweaked the wording slightly.

    Longer response here:

    To be honest, I’ve read through most of the stuff at the Watts site, and very little there seems incriminating to me. As I read how non-incriminating this is, I’m less likely to suspect that the e-mails have been tweaked. At the same time, one cannot dismiss the fact that whoever collected these has read through each of them both with (a) some knowledge of the larger political context and (b) some intent to harm or malign the reputation of those in the e-mails.

  8. 158
    Chris G says:

    What an intensely interesting subject. I’m very curious to read the contents of these emails, but I choose not to. Why? a) Email exchanges pale in significance compared to actual research. b) I’ve been in academia and I’ve been in industry; I already know that researchers tend to be contentious, argumentative, and have egos the size of trucks (not all, of course). There’s nothing to be gained by reading them, and some personal integrity to be lost.

    Research is a hugely competitive field; your success depends on you proving that your understanding of the issues is better than the next guy/gal’s, and believe me, there isn’t that much money to be spread around. I left the research/academic track and went into industry. Within a couple of years I was making more than people who had decades on me in academia. Sometimes I miss the research, but I’ve been able to afford sending my kids on foreign exchange trips, and other nice things.

    Like any group of primates, people, researchers, develop allies and, mmm, non-allies. When I need a code review, I don’t request it from the person who’s defects I’ve been struggling to fix. If possible, I send it to the person who last kept me from making a mistake; usually I call those people friends. When I get wind of something someone else is doing that I can see will cause troubles (more maintenance, poorer performance) for years to come, I try to squash it. I get with allies if necessary. Sometimes I’m successful; sometimes I’m not. (It’s generally easier if I can demonstrate a clear advantage of one algorithm over another. That’s not so easy as the number of factors grows.) So what; that means there is some sort of sinister conspiracy involved? No. Why should peer review work any differently? It’s really hard to squash a correct theory, at least in the long run.

    What do all this and the emails mean? Nothing. Whoever could deliver the goods against AGW would be heralded as the next Einstein, regardless. But then, whoever could prove that gravity was a actually a repulsive force and our perception of the universe was entirely opposite of reality would be too; I’m not holding my breath on that one.

  9. 159

    Shoshin: I find it offensive that some on this website somehow consider that the release of data to be inappropriate and that only certain climatologists are qualified to view it.

    BPL: Should US and European scientists who realized an atomic bomb was possible have been forced to disclose what they knew?

    The idea that releasing private correspondence is the same as releasing “data” is what I find offensive.

  10. 160
    NZ Willy says:

    Charlie said “You know, I’ve always wondered why we scientists never seem to use anything like pgp in email communication with each other. Maybe its time to start?”

    In government and business, the two drivers of communication encryption are privacy legislation (that is, the privacy of the citizenry who’s personal details are contained in the emails/data) and commercial sensitivity. Neither applies to science. Science is supposed to be transparent.

  11. 161

    nvw: these emails are a damming indictment

    BPL: I agree. We have to reign in the Army Corp of Engineers!

  12. 162
    Scott says:

    @Adam Sullivan: “Nature imposes variability that is very difficult to pin down so models won’t be predictive for a while (except in the long term). All pretty simple.”

    Is it really that simple, though? I mean, I just quoted a snippet from Trenberth who seemed pretty distraught that his model had failed for 2008. If it’s as you say — that the discrepancy noted by Trenberth is simply because of natural variability — then why would he fret it?

    [Response: Trenberth doesn’t have a model. Instead he is really interested in what exactly is going on in the observations. Where is the energy going, how much is coming in and going out, what are the impacts of La Nina on those fluxes. His frustration is that the current observing platform is not sufficiently accurate to do this properly, and so we end up with imperfect explanations – especially on the short term. For him, ‘natural variability’ is only the beginning of the answer, not the whole thing. And that’s fine. – gavin]

    It seems to me that, if there’s that much unpredictable variability from natural sources, then there’s probably no such thing as an adequate model.

    The point of all this to me is that there seems to be an almost visceral reluctance to even entertain the possibility (publicly anyway) that the models are flawed, that they failed to foresee the last decade of stagnation, and that they may not have just been a cosmic anomaly and a mere momentary pause in temperature escalation that will resume at any time.

    The point is: if the predictions made 10 years ago about the decade past turned out to be wrong, why should anybody believe the predictions made today about the decade to come?

    I mean, I appreciate that one 10-year period can’t be considered conclusive by anybody. But comments like the ones on these emails — talking about diminishing or distracting attention away from this data — don’t exactly scream out professional integrity.

  13. 163
    JMilan says:

    Your response to “san quintin” defending your pledge of cooperation to defend the _Science_ article (“This is a moderated site, and always has been. We do screen out a lot of the random squawk of the blogosphere …”) does seem disingenuous. It’s one thing to screen out obvious “noise,” it’s quite another to offer block opponents and hold up their posts while granting the authors special support and access to make sure they have the bigger megaphone. That is not just filtering noise, it’s actively interfering to tilt a discussion.

    I think on this one you really need to defending your practice as stated in your email and admit that this thumb-on-the-scale approach is not good.

    I come to this site because, though it does not claim to be neutral or agnostic, it provides a forum for civilized discussion by informed people. I think one can take a side and still be open and fair, and I’ve always thought this site is a good example of that. But if it’s been your practice to be willing to squelch one side of an issue in favor of another, now I have doubts about discussions I read here. I’m left wondering (and not just on AGW) what other squelching and favoring is being done.

    Please take this not as condemnation, but constructive criticism. *In the comments section*, pledge to allow any civilized, informed comment, regardless of viewpoint, and pledge not to offer yourself as a megaphone for the voices of others. I appreciate the editorial viewpoint of this site and very much value the skeptical critique offered against AGW opponents — but I also want to know that there are no behind-the-scene agreements to muzzle some while giving a louder voice to others. Skeptics of the consensus (in any field) are always nettlesome and often maddening, but let’s not give them the victim-claim that they’re being muzzled by “the establishment.”

  14. 164
    Steve says:

    I’ll be a lot more interested if the data files leaked are shown to change the science in any way, shape or form. The emails, pdfs and docs leaked are interesting at the moment because, really, that’s all the laymen (like me) looking at this can open and understand. And they make better headlines than a string of data.

    So some scientists were “mean” to others they believed to be quacks, and allowed their emotions to drive their actions. Oh my, I thought they were supposed to be data crunching robots subservient to the masses! If some people get in hot water for violating FOIA, well that’ll be another headline… but if it doesn’t change the science I really don’t care. At this point it’s “news” in the same sense as the Pop Tarts section at Fox. Drama.

  15. 165
    Aaron Kulkis says:

    “This too shall pass. In this instance of hacking, ideologically driven, delusional ends are being used to justify unethical means. Many in the global environ. management and governance community globally are trained and experienced in analyzing science outputs regardless of the particular field (it comes down to a matter of sufficient time which is increasingly scarce, but that’s our problem and responsibility); many in this community also know how science works and that scientists are actually humans with all attendant emotions and proclivities. This episode is worrisome no doubt to those in the trenches dealing with the science and the denialists; and it will no doubt create another time sink. But it also may motivate governments to deal a little more forthrightly with fringe denialism which is ideologically, not scientifically, driven. We know what’s coming in terms of the risk spectrum of global climate/ocean change and we’re going to deal with it as best we can as nations and as a global community. Our respect and appreciation for field of climatology and its sister disciplines is strong.”

    In the U.S., documenting malfeasance of government employees and officials, even if one must violate “the law” which would otherwise protect the wrong-doers clearly falls under “whistle-blower” protection.

    No SANE legal system ever uses the law to protect fraudsters from being exposed.

  16. 166

    Bob Kutz: His web site and his personal opinions regarding AGW are far far more balanced and scientific than most of what’s allowed on this site.

    BPL: Anthony Watts is completely incompetent at climate science, as has been shown many, many times by many, many people. If you can’t distinguish between the “science” at WUWT and the science at RealClimate, it doesn’t say much for your learning on the subject, either.

  17. 167
    Journeyman says:

    I don’t think the Nature trick has been described adequately in your post. It isn’t just graphing the instrument record for comparison, but graphing it to ‘hide the decline.’ They didn’t just cut off the proxy value and add on the instrument record from 1961 on; they used the instrument temperature values to calculate smoothed average value for earlier years as well. That is the ‘trick,’ to let the instrument record replace actual values of the data that are lower than you want.

    [Response: This has nothing to do with Mann’s Nature article. The 50-year smooth in figure 5b is only of the reconstruction, not the instrumental data. – gavin]

  18. 168

    David: not being able to explain the current lack of warming is also shameful

    BPL: Why is it shameful not to be able to explain something that doesn’t exist? Read and learn:

  19. 169
    J Buote says:

    Just a quick post, hope this hasn’t been covered yet.

    Appreciate your level headed response here, pity others stoop to more slanderous assumptions.

    Has anyone suggested to the skeptic side that, since these e-mails were illegally obtained, perhaps to level the playing field e-mail exchanges from their side covering the same period be offered.

    Not that it is likely to happen, but if they have nothing to hide and are above reproach then it would do little but bolster their cause.

    Just a thought.

  20. 170
    Jonas N says:

    Gavin, I haven’t followed the story, but this about six reviewers resigning.. ?

    Isn’t this exactly what was discussed in one of the emails? I.e. that one should encourage another to boycot that journal?

    Doesn’t this story precisely confirm the implied accusations that a number of reviewers made a combined effort to stop papers not in their liking from being published? It seems to me that you are holding up the followed through actions of the inferred accusation as a defence for it being justified?

    And don’t just give me that this paper really was crap. (You don’t need to restate your view). The whole discussion revolves around this preconception that you (guys) alone should be the judge of what’s admissible and what not. And when someone disagrees, you’d take that as a proof of being justified in that assertion!? And these emails and the actions you describe are consistent with that descprition: Kidnapping the scientific procedures, and some journals if you like …

    [Response: Six editors, not reviewers. Much bigger deal. – gavin]

  21. 171

    David: I respect the scientific method and I believe that human understanding of our global climate is in its infancy.

    BPL: But you clearly don’t know anything about this old, old field, or you wouldn’t say something so silly. Want a timeline? Just Google the “Hadley” Hadley climate center was named after. BTW, even AGW theory is 113 years old.

  22. 172
    john byatt says:

    speaking as “the bloke in the street” i must admit i am having a ball reading the comments of the tin hat brigade” please guys do not spend much time addressing this , the consequences of not taking action on AGW is going to be catastrophic for future generations ,

  23. 173
    Bulldust says:

    So Gavin, mate, buddy… Given the following email (perhaps it is fake, but let’s assume for the purposes of this post that it is not):

    From: Gavin Schmidt To: Tim Osborn Subject: latest Date: 28 Sep 2009 17:59:04 -0400

    Hi Tim, I know Keith is out of commission for a while (give him my regards when you see him), but someone needs to at least give some context to the latest McIntyre meme.

    None of us at RC have any real idea what was done or why and so we are singularly unable to sensibly counter the flood of nonsense. Of course, most of the reaction is hugely overblown and mixed up but it would be helpful to have some kind of counterpoint to the main thrust. If you can point to someone else that could be helpful, please do!


    The email from you would seem to indicate that you understood neither Briffa’s or McIntyre’s work at the time, but that doesn’t stop you from being able to assess that McIntyre is clearly promoting “a flood of nonsense.” Was that an objective scientific opinion? McIntyre’s work is up on the web for all to see, with data and programming… why are you unable to assess it, but instantly able to realise it’s lack of worth?

    No doubt you will “moderate” this comment much the same as every other comment I have posted respectfully at this site, so I took the liberty to cross post this to reveal your bias…. again.

    Have a nice day.

    [Response: I know that when people start throwing around insinuations of scientific malpractice in the absence of any evidence, that this is not justified. Asking for clarification on what was actually done (a step singularly not followed by McIntyre) seems sensible. You have a problem with that? Information should precede condemnation. Not the other way around. – gavin]

  24. 174
    Dale Truman says:

    It is hard to see how your picking an example from the released emails is in any way superior to someone else’s “cherry picking” an example. One man’s tidying up is another man’s distortion.

  25. 175
    Mike says:

    Update: CRU has admitted that everything is legitimate, nothing was altered.

    While a true believer may not deem see the damage this will cause to AWG credibility, to someone sitting on the fence it seems quite profound.

    These scientists clearly have an agenda. They’re mission is clearly to provide scientific ammunition for their political big guns. Likewise they’d rather destroy that ammunition before allowing it to be used against them.

    That’s the behavior of propagandists, not scientists. Science seeks the evidence which leads to the truth. These gentlemen at the CRU seem to have decided upon the truth already, and are only seeking evidence which furthers their cause.

    [Response: “Political big guns” – do you think that if there were such people involved, those emails wouldn’t have been released too? Where are they? – gavin]

  26. 176
    tom says:

    Response: This is a moderated site, and always has been. We do screen out a lot of the random squawk of the blogosphere and the baseless accusations of malfeasance that are commonplace on open forums. We do that unapologetically in order to maximise the signal-to-noise ratio in threads…]

    Sadly, that’s most assuredly NOT what happens here. What you do is edit out contrary views.
    So you folks have nobody to blame but yourselves that your credibility is fading.

  27. 177

    “[Response: The paper and journal in question were indeed a scandal. But the scandal was that it was ever published. Six editors of the journal resigned in protest at the publication, not because of pressure. – gavin]”

    One could also say that publication of MBH 98, comprehensively criticised by Wegman, or Mann’s recent publication of inverted Tijander sediments were scandals. Suppressing views that contradict the consensus and lax reviewing of views that support the consensus could also be considered a bigger scandal.

    [Response: One would be wrong. – gavin]

  28. 178
    Peter Backes says:

    It’s a shame it wasnt the Heartland Institute’s email server that got hacked – that would have been FAR more interesting…

  29. 179
    Mike Evans says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how trained scientists think it is good science to ignore one part of a data series because it disagrees with other more reliable data but still use the rest of the series as if it were accurate. Surely if Keith Briffa’s maximum latewood tree ring density proxy disagrees with real temperature observations from 1960 onwards the whole series should not be trusted until someone comes up with a proveable explanation of the divergence and proof that the factors causing the divergence could not have occurred in the past. [edit]

    [Response: Which is exactly why it isn’t used as the sole line of evidence and that there is tremendous amounts of research on precisely this question. Subsequent reconstructions that were independent of that show pretty much the same thing, so the issue today is not as relevant as it was in 2000. – gavin]

  30. 180
    Willow1977 says:

    The core of what I’m reading in these is that these scientists started with a conclusion they wanted to reach and then fit the data to that conclusion.

    This is the exact same problem that we had in the 70s when many of these same groups predicted a new ice age. They ‘knew for a fact’ the earth was cooling and we were heading into a new ice age, so they made sure the data fit.

    [Response: Wrong. – gavin]

    That isn’t science, it is marketing.

    Science is inferring from data, not the other way around. It is no wonder there are so many doubters out there. They don’t seem so kooky when you see junk like this.

  31. 181
    Josh Cryer says:

    Heh, at least this happened on a Friday, so now you guys have the whole weekend to discuss the drama. ;)

    In all seriousness, if someone were to read my personal emails they could make all sorts of claims about snippets of what I’ve said in the past 2 decades. The prospect is terrifying, really.

    All these emails show is that people are imperfect, the scientific process is imperfect (that’s what peer review is for!), and that the whole of the data is what forms the conclusion, not some tiny part of some data.

    This incidence reminds me of the Millikan (oil drop) experiment and Feynman’s “Cargo cult science.” Not saying that’s precisely what’s happening in some of the examples given, but rather that science is a long process that takes time to figure things out.

    We have enough stuff “figured out” to know that AGW is indeed occurring. There’s still a whole lot more to figure out and get right.

  32. 182
    Dr.H says:

    Gavin said: Response: You completely mischaracterise what happened. It was the unjustified publication of SB03 that was the corruption of the peer review process, pushing back against that corruption was what motivated the resignations. – gavin]

    How can you mischaracterise this statement: “Note that I am copying this view only to Mike Hulme and Phil Jones. Mike’s idea to get editorial board members to resign will probably not work”

    Does Realclimate group live in an alternate universe? This e-mail supports the idea that “MIKE” colluded with others in the group to get editorial members to resign. Period. There is no mischarcterization there about the intent.

    It was Gavin’s OPINION that publication of SB03 was unjustified, it was Gavin’s OPINION that the peer reviewed process was corrupted. I am shocked that Gavin is SO CONFIDENT that everyone else has it wrong. After reading Gavin’s responses, I feel like I just got off a merry-go-round. And I suppose that not ever going to change on this blog if AGW THEORY is ever threatened.

    [Response: It’s precisely because all of those editors resigned that demonstrates it isn’t just ‘my opinion’. How influential do you think I am? ;) In fact the chief editor himself said that the conclusions of the paper were in no way justified by the analysis and that the paper shouldn’t haven’t been published. If you knew Hans von Storch at all, the idea that he would do something like resign on my say-so would be be hilarious. – gavin]

  33. 183
    SecularAnimist says:

    I didn’t think I could be shocked any more at the abject and pathetic gullibility of self-proclaimed global warming “skeptics” who are so “skeptical” that they immediately, unquestioningly, slavishly believe every idiotic thing that the ExxonMobil-funded denialist propaganda machine throws at them.

    But here they are, beating on their chests, and bellowing forth their pride in their weak-mindedness and ignorance.

  34. 184
    dhogaza says:

    Scientists often use the term “trick” to refer to a “a good way to deal with a problem”

    Could you give a few examples?

    You could start with the generic phrase, “tricks of the trade”, which is known to just about any native english speaker, I should think.

    Never heard of it? Not sure I believe you …

    Group: “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.”

    Well, since this happens “often”, it would be good to see a couple of examples of the word’s usage from other fields to understand why it is not problematic. Thank you.

    Gavin mentions its use in mathematics, software engineering uses “trick” in this way, too, (as do carpenters, navigators, seamstresses, etc etc as the commonality of the phrase “tricks of the trade” should make clear).

    If you doubt me, here’s a piece entitled Tips and tricks for software engineering in bioinformatics, for instance.

    More from software engineering:

    Jon Bentley1

    (1) AT&T Bell Laboratories, 07974 Murray Hill, NJ


    There are many tricks of the software trade; this paper has sampled just a few. The science and management techniques underlying software are essential to any career in software engineering, but these tricks are sometimes useful. Careful use of the tricks has catapulted more than one competent young programmer into software superstardom.
    I don’t think that these tricks should be given a one-hour lecture in a software engineering course. Some might deserve a ten-minute lecture here or a five-minute story there. But for the most part, tricks are learned through osmosis: your students will learn them as you apply them in lectures and as your teaching assistants apply them in software laboratories. And if they do learn these tricks, both your students and their employers will be grateful to you.

    I could post all day in this vein. Frankly, I don’t belive those who claim to not understand this meaning of the word “trick”.

  35. 185
    Axel Edgren says:

    The e-mails are there. It’s up to the wannabe-whistleblowers to tell people what can be gleaned from them and why. Everything else is confetti. Do your work, skeptics/deniers. The fact that you couldn’t wait to scream with glee is damning.

    Anyway, the best course of action is, of course, to not defend at all. Never act as if one has to defend unless one actually has a reason to.

    If you defend yourself, they say you are panicking. If you don’t, they say you are panicking. Seeing as they live and breathe only pathos and ignore logos, the best course of action is to keep at the journals, keep focusing on the politicians and spend time shushing the excited puppies. You can’t win against rhetoric and a biased application of skepticism. Go to the politicians, and get them to make decisions that go over the heads of the rabble and the media. A significant portion of the population will either hate scientific conclusions that go against their beliefs, or will not be skeptical enough to break through the noise.

    There are no minds to be won – just get the politicians to impose the right policies on them, and ignore their demands for attention unless they do equally hard work.

  36. 186
    dhogaza says:

    It’s a shame it wasnt the Heartland Institute’s email server that got hacked – that would have been FAR more interesting…

    It would be equally as illegal and unethical. While I know it feels at times that we can’t win the political battle without stooping to the level of ethics and lack of respect for law of some of our opponents, I don’t think we should do so.

  37. 187
    Jay says:


    When you say that this site is moderated only for noise, why have so many people including myself been censored when they ask a simple questions like….

    Where can I find the raw data that the deniers keep claiming is being kept from them under the FOIA? Do they have rights to the data? Are the claims that the temperature data has been lost true?

    Will this comment be classified as “noise”?

    [Response: Claims that data has been destroyed or lost are untrue. Claims that there is no access to the raw temperature data are untrue. There is nothing in any of the CRU archives that is particularly special or noteworthy and that isn’t mostly available to anyone already via NOAA. They got access to some extra data that some National Met. Services normally only sell, or was given with the express proviso that it not be passed on to third parties. CRU is not at fault for honoring those agreements – even if everyone wishes they didn’t exist. The harassment of CRU people for doing so has been twisted into the meme you are channeling, that somehow they are hiding something nefarious. They aren’t, but it might not be surprising that they become aggrieved when people keep repeating that falsehood. – gavin]

  38. 188
    SecularAnimist says:

    See, to commenters like “Mike” and “tom”, reality is just a big “dungeons and dragons” type game, in which they are the Conservative Heroes fighting the Evil Liberals and the only thing that matters is that the Red Team beats the Blue Team. It’s a world of one-dimensional, cartoon comic book stereotypes that they live in. To them, this is just a chance to jump up and down in front of the computer in their mommy’s basement yelling “take that, Evil Al Gore!”

    If only there were some form of geo-engineering through which global warming could be fine-tuned so that it would only kill off the idiots.

  39. 189
    Jay says:

    Several of my comments have been swollowed up as “noise”. Given my civility and relevant questions I wonder why?


    Do you have the raw data that the “denier” claim to ask for under the FOIA?

    [Response: No. (But I’m puzzled though, your big comment said it was not to be posted. I didn’t post it). – gavin]

  40. 190
    Marcus says:

    “while granting the authors special support and access to make sure they have the bigger megaphone.”

    I know that I for one want to listen to the people who actually do the science more than I want to listen to all the skeptics who want to recycle used talking points…

  41. 191
    Magnus says:

    A good cuase!

    From: Phil Jones
    To: John Christy
    Subject: This and that
    Date: Tue Jul 5 15:51:55 2005

    in subsequent drafts. Someone is going to check the final version and the Aug 12 draft. This is partly why I’ve sent you the rest of this mail. IPCC, me and whoever will get accused of being political, whatever we do. As you know, I’m not political. 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.



    IPCC stuff —- just for interest !!!

  42. 192
    SecularAnimist says:

    JMilan wrote: “In the comments section, pledge to allow any civilized, informed comment, regardless of viewpoint …”

    The problem is that you are unable to distinguish between “informed comment” and rote regurgitation of ExxonMobil-funded lies and distortions, and that you believe that someone’s political or ideological “viewpoint” has anything at all to do with scientific facts about physical reality.

    Moderators, please DO NOT open up these comment pages to the endless stream of idiocy vomited forth by weak-minded ignorant Ditto-Heads who pollute every general-interest forum (e.g. newspaper websites) on the Internet with their slavish recitation of the inane talking points that the fossil fuel corporations pay Rush Limbaugh to spoon-feed them.

  43. 193
    D. C. Sessions says:

    Have you people never heard of the INTERNET and how you can TELECONFERENCE to anywhere in the world?

    Teleconferencing is great for your basic one-hour meeting. My experience chairing working groups is that we wouldn’t get nearly as much done without our weekly teleconferences.

    Teleconferencing utterly sucks for serious, full-on intensive conferences — presenting results, debating the significance of that work, etc. My experience in eight years of chairing a JEDEC committee is that face time is several times as productive as teleconference time, and physical location drastically reduces the interference from distractions. For those eight years I spent a full week each quarter in 0800-1700 meetings, and it was all time very well spent.

    Horses for courses.

    D. C. Sessions,
    past chair JEDEC JC-16

  44. 194
    Steve Fish says:

    It is not necessary to look to mathematics for an example of one of the many meanings of the word “trick” (e.g. one synonym is stratagem). I suggest that those individuals such as Joe Hunkins, Matty Virtanen, and dcook who are confused might benefit from looking in Merriam-Webster. That should do the trick.


  45. 195
    Shii says:

    tom: “Sadly, that’s most assuredly NOT what happens here. What you do is edit out contrary views.”

    Do you not recognize that what you have just posted is itself a “baseless accusations of malfeasance”? Pot, kettle, black.

  46. 196
    Bulldust says:

    Gavin – your comment is hopelessly confused. I am used to dealing with such weasel language at work, however, and what you fail to acknowledge is that you were happy to condemn work by McIntyre that you, in your own words, did not understand at that time.

    McIntyre is quite transparent about the work he does, so I fail to see why your climate science expert team was unable to grasp his presentations. Yet you are happy to denounce him at every turn.

    I really don’t see where there is any confusion on this point.

    [Response: There is no confusion. McIntyre insinuated malfeasance without any evidence whatsoever. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand what he had done, it was that I didn’t know what the circumstances were of the original study. Condemning me for trying to find out is a little odd. – gavin]

  47. 197
    Moira Kemp says:

    For all those unfamiliar with the English language or incapable of using a dictionary the word “trick” can also mean –

    A special skill; a knack: Is there a trick to getting this window to stay up?
    A convention or specialized skill peculiar to a particular field of activity: learned the tricks of the winemaking trade.

    There’s nothing unusual or “problematic” about using the word in this way.

  48. 198

    Does Kevin Trenberth’s “travesty” comment have anything to do with the non-flight of DSCOVR, still inexplicably mothballed, AFAIK?

    I do think that affair would merit the term.

  49. 199
    Alex says:

    If there is nothing to hide then I am sure ALL data this group has accumulated will be immediately released. Otherwise, some of what was written is extremely damning. It’s amazed me that for an issue so important to the future of the world, there is a wish to hide the data.

    [Response: What data is that? All data and code relevant to GISS models or the temperature series are online. – gavin]

  50. 200
    Denis Allen says:


    you write:

    “There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy”

    I would contest such a claim. Among others, the emails’ authors admit to deleting emails in anticipation of FOI requests. I happen to have some expertise in e-disclosure. This is not benign. It is illegal: The law in the UK states that refusing a request through deletion of the information is only allowed for a “deletion that would have been made regardless of the receipt of the request”. As a matter of fact, the Hadley staff would even have a “duty to provide advice and assistance” to FOI requestors.

    Outside of the UK, fines for deletion of emails that would have been requested for disclosure — even without the intent the Hadley staff admitted to — caused the respective organisations to be fined millions. Here we have a case of deletion with the intent to evade.

    [Response: Actually you don’t. There is an ill-advised suggestion, but there is no evidence that any email that was responsive to a FOIA request actually was deleted. Obviously one would hope that none were. – gavin]