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Two-year old turkey

Filed under: — gavin @ 22 November 2011

The blogosphere is abuzz with the appearance of a second tranche of the emails stolen from CRU just before thanksgiving in 2009. Our original commentary is still available of course (CRU Hack, CRU Hack: Context, etc.), and very little appears to be new in this batch. Indeed, even the out-of-context quotes aren’t that exciting, and are even less so in-context.

A couple of differences in this go around are worth noting: the hacker was much more careful to cover their tracks in the zip file they produced – all the file dates are artificially set to Jan 1 2011 for instance, and they didn’t bother to hack into the RealClimate server this time either. Hopefully they have left some trails that the police can trace a little more successfully than they’ve been able to thus far from the previous release.

But the timing of this release is strange. Presumably it is related to the upcoming Durban talks, but it really doesn’t look like there is anything worth derailing there at all. Indeed, this might even increase interest! A second release would have been far more effective a few weeks after the first – before the inquiries and while people still had genuine questions. Now, it just seems a little forced, and perhaps a symptom of the hacker’s frustration that nothing much has come of it all and that the media and conversation has moved on.

If anyone has any questions about anything they see that seems interesting, let us know in the comments and we’ll see if we can provide some context. We anticipate normal service will be resumed shortly.


666 Responses to “Two-year old turkey”

  1. 1
  2. 2
    J Bowers says:

    Oh dear, get ready for the cherrypicking, quote mining and spin again. More emails have been released by the CRU hackers. Right before Durban. What a coincidence.

  3. 3
    Peter Backes says:

    RCU got hacked again:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-15840562

    RC was down yesterday. Coincidence?

    [Response: Yes. No apparent relationship. - gavin]

  4. 4
    bigcitylib says:

    Not “again”. I haven’t read yet but a couple of people who have seem to think there is no material past 2009 in latest batch. Black (your link)says these were probably taken at same time as first batch. Nothing particularly alarming other than climate scientists can be pretty catty in their emails.

  5. 5
    J Bowers says:

    Things to note about the latest email set: Instead of using commas in 5,000 and 220,000, they use periods (5.000 and 2.000). That’s not an English speaking way of doing things. They also refer to themselves as “we”. What are the chances that the whistleblower at UEA/CRU would be more than one whistleblower, and they would also not have English as their first language?

    Whistleblower hypothesis blown out of the water, as far as I’m concerned. That, or a member of the Royal family savvy at hacking works at CRU/UEA.

  6. 6
    Hank Roberts says:

    Actually the BBC says there’s a new batch of material, probably part of the original stolen files — it doesn’t say anything about a new theft or crack, at least at the link given.

  7. 7
    Neal J. King says:

    It seems likely that this is all “second tier” stuff, unless you think the original release was conceived as part of a series, and that they held back some goodies.

    I don’t think this will be the PR disaster the first release was. Here’s hoping …

  8. 8
    J Bowers says:

    If there’d been any silver bullets in the emails they’d have fired them two years ago. All they’re firing are more blanks which denialists seem to think means there’s a body.

  9. 9
    Daneel says:

    It’s funny/sad to see all the deniers jizzing all over themselves with quotes that aren’t interesting even takeon out of context.
    It could be worthwhile to point out that they are using (mined) quotes to support the idea that there is no warming, a claim that -according to them and in reaction to the BEST results- they never made. I guess the must have forgotten.

  10. 10
  11. 11
    William Jackson says:

    Could you put these in context, please?:

    [John] Cook: “I am afraid that Mike [Mann] is defending something that increasingly can not be defended. He is investing too much personal stuff in this and not letting the science move ahead.”

    [Response: Not "John", Ed, and this was in 2002, related to the Briffa/Osborn perspective in Science 2002. Those were early days in the paleo-reconstruction business and different groups had different opinions about how to proceed and interpret the results. Normal science.... - gavin]

    Bradley: “I’m sure you agree–the [Mike] Mann/ [Phil] Jones GRL paper was truly pathetic and should never have been published. I don’t want to be associated with that 2000 year ‘reconstruction’.”

    [Response: Again, people are free to make their own judgements on papers. This was in 2003 (discussing Mann and Jones (2003)). - gavin]

    Crowley: “Phil [Jones], thanks for your thoughts – guarantee there will be no dirty laundry in the open.”

    [Response: The discussion is related to SST anomalies, but I don't really understand crowley's characterisation. The difficulties in the SST record have been well discussed in the literature - most recently in Kennedy et al. - gavin]

    [Phil] Jones: “There shouldn’t be someone else at UEA [University of East Anglia] with different views (from “recent extreme weather is due to global warming”) – at least not a climatologist.”

    [Response: Jones is pushing back against the idea that there are always 'two sides' on science discussions for a media event, where the organisers wanted someone else from UEA to argue with Jones. - gavin]

  12. 12
    jryan says:

    Mann:

    the important thing is to make sure they’re loosing the PR battle. That’s what
    the site [Real Climate] is about.

    How’s that working out for you?

    [Response: Pretty well actually. Having somewhere people can go that isn't being filtered by politicians or journalists, and where scientists can interact directly with the public, does actually make a difference. You might not like it, but lots of people do. - gavin]

  13. 13
    timg56 says:

    I’m curious about one thing. I am under the impression the police investigation is still open – i.e. there has been no determination as to whether the emails were hacked or leaked. Which term one sees depends on which side of the debate one looks to. From the middle, it appears both sides are equally engaged in placing their spin on the issue.

  14. 14
    JM says:

    @9

    It’s really that easy, Daneel:

    This old banana peel is proof that Gavin has been cooking the books on AGW.

    No? It’s just a … an old … banana peel. Right, well … uh …

    This empty Coke can! Yes, THIS is proof that Gavin has been cooking the books on AGW. And I’ve got this bug-eyed Brit who will say so … IN LATIN.

    And here’s this electrical engineer from Utah who took four whole hours of college statistics to show you that CARBON IS IMPOSSIBLE!!!

    That’s the ticket.

  15. 15
    grypo says:

    “If anyone has any questions about anything they see that seems interesting, let us know in the comments and we’ll see if we can provide some context. We anticipate normal service will be resumed shortly.”

    Dave Appell is putting together a list of emails that likely need context according to him.

  16. 16
    jryan says:

    Not “filtered by politicians”, but as you seem to agree that this is a PR site, it is definitely filtered for political impact.

    For what it’s worth, as a PR site, you jumped in the middle of this a bit too early. From the looks of the behavior in these emails you may be suffering Goodfellahs syndrome. The longer you spent in the middle of it the more normal it all seemed.

    [Response: Or you are just imagining things. RC is very clearly engaged in outreach to the public and to other interested people (including scientists and journalists), I hardly think that is a huge surprise, particularly since we said so in our first post. If you think that all outreach must be a (derogatory) 'PR effort', I can't really help you. Should scientists not have relations with the public? I thought the main complaint was that academics spent too much time in the ivory tower. - gavin]

  17. 17
    Ian says:

    @13 timg56 –

    As someone who has followed climate science for a number of years, may I suggest that “in the middle” on this issue can only mean steadfastly uninformed? This is not an area where it makes sense to look for accurate information by splitting the difference between two discrepant statements…

  18. 18
    dhogaza says:

    timg56

    I’m curious about one thing. I am under the impression the police investigation is still open – i.e. there has been no determination as to whether the emails were hacked or leaked. Which term one sees depends on which side of the debate one looks to.

    The two sides of the debate are 1) those who believe the police who early on said they were treating it as an illegal hack into the CRU servers or 2) those who pretend the police didn’t say that.

    The police have never suggested that they believe it’s a “leak”, i.e. whistleblower. The university has treated it as an illegal hack into the servers. The “whistleblower” meme has been promoted by denialists, not the authorities.

    Now, you can ask yourself what’s more likely …

    1. There was an illegal hack into CRU, followed by Real Climate being illegally hacked and the e-mails being posted here.

    2. Some champion of justice, an honorable whistleblower, exposed a nest of fraud within CRU and innocently passed on the documentation to someone else who committed a felony crime by illegally hacking into RC.

    Which scenario seems most likely to you? An innocent passing stuff on to someone or some people who commit a felony? Or a criminal plan from front to back? Even without the evidence of CRU and the police treating the so-called “leak” as criminal hacking, I’d say the “whistleblower” hypothesis is weak …

  19. 19
    ThePowerofX says:

    Explain this!

    Dec 31 23:49 1999
    From: Phil Jones
    Subject: One world government
    To: IPCC-group
    Comrades,

    Soon our once-great nation will rise from the ashes of the greatest war the world has ever known. Russia has changed. But our lives will not be wasted. The master plan is proceeding apace. Adolf Hitler once said “The great masses will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.” Indeed, the best kept secrets are the ones that everyone knows. Double agent Anthony Watts has a remarkable summary of the global warming charade. Stupidly is his sword and Folly his shield. By placing the truth where everyone can see it — nobody can! Today we have recruited over 2,000 scientists to The Team. To you I say we have only completed a beginning. There remains much that is undone. There are great tricks undiscovered, breakthroughs available to those who can remove one of the truth’s protective layers. Onward.

    Phil.

    [Response: Darn! Can't explain that one, but wasn't it also cc-ed to our vegetarian overlords? - gavin]

  20. 20
    J Bowers says:

    ” Mann:
    the important thing is to make sure they’re losing the PR battle. That’s what the site [Real Climate] is about.”

    Which is how I read Welcome to RealClimate Dec. 2004. Not exactly a big secret, and not exactly unnecessary, either.

  21. 21
    Jeffrey Park says:

    Note that the one-world government memo was emailed on the eve of the millenium, Dec 31st, 1999. I daresay that Phil Jones might have been deep in his cups at 11 minutes before midnight, thinking grandiose thoughts, as many of us were.

    If this is evidence of a climate conspiracy, I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale!

    [Response: umm. I am sure you get that that was a joke, not something Phil actually wrote. Right?--eric]

  22. 22
    trrll says:

    I can’t help wondering if this will be counterproductive for the hackers, since it provides evidence that the initial release was selected from a larger body of stolen email, reinforcing the suspicion that emails were intentionally taken out of context to give a misleading impression.

  23. 23
    Russell says:

    I for one welcome our vegetarian overlords, for they leave all the spareribs for us.

    Hiring Russian dezinformatsia hackers for a Five Year Plan?

    Who woulda thought – it’s only been eight since Putin reversed himself on signing off on Kyoto.

  24. 24
    BBD says:

    Very briefly:

    - You must be bored stiff with this nonsense

    - If people think these emails reveal Earth System Scientists to be an unusually bad lot, they have led astonishingly sheltered professional lives

    - Let’s hope it all fuffles out quickly, like the mouse flatulence it is, and we can get back to something interesting like arguing about the PETM

  25. 25
    EFS_Junior says:

    #13

    “hacked or leaked”

    How about stolen?

    We do know that the CRU emails were stolen.

    But by who?

    Ancient Aliens.

    There was no mention of Ancient Aliens in the original emails. Therefore, we do not know, with certainty, that Ancient Aliens were not involved in the first place.

    These new emails, shed no new light on the Ancient Aliens Theory.

  26. 26
    dhogaza says:

    That satire shows Phil Jones to be a somewhat funny guy … for a Brit! :)

  27. 27
    JCS says:

    What I don’t understand is if the science was on your side and the “debate” was over, something that is scientifically impossible, then why is it a “PR” issue……what is damning is the lack of desire from scientists to behave like scientists and be vigilant and strong in the skepticism to obtain real evidence.

  28. 28
    TheGoodLocust says:

    So in 1680.txt, why does Michael Mann say that you (Gavin), “usually has thoughtful insights wiith respect to such matters,” when discussing finding a journalist to investigate “fossil fuel connections” and any other dirt they could find in order to discredit McIntyre and Keenan?

    Do you have a lot of experience in discrediting people whose work exposes your own?

    Don’t worry, I’ll take your silence in this matter as an admission of guilt.

    [Response: My ignoring you would simply be a sign that your out-of-context smear is too stupid to address. But I think it worthwhile to point out that the first line of this email has "They will misrepresent you and take out of context anything you give them". How prescient! For everyone else, this is an email discussing the appalling (and officially investigated and rejected) allegation of fraud that Keenan made about a scientist at SUNY Albany. Jones was asking for advice on whether and how to respond to a request from Peiser (acting editor of Energy and Environment) for comments on a paper Keenan had submitted claiming a 'fraud'. If you are looking for people who have experience discrediting people, I would start with Keenan. - gavin]

  29. 29
    Tom Scharf says:

    Gavin,

    For what it is worth (probably nothing), from a skeptic, I think that handling this head on is the right way to do it, and shows that you have learned something since the “words to the wise” days. Just my impression.

    Tom

  30. 30
    Jeffrey Park says:

    [Response: umm. I am sure you get that that was a joke, not something Phil actually wrote. Right?--eric]

    C’Mon! Are you denying that Phil Jones had a sense of humor?

    [Response: I think I might be denying that I have a sense of humor! ;) --eric]

  31. 31
    Rob Honeycutt says:

    Gavin… You’re doing a great job of putting each of these emails in context. I notice each of the people posting the emails have no response past your comment.

    My take. This is big nothing-burger.

  32. 32
    pjclarke says:

    Posted at WUWT

    “OK, my skeptic instincts are on high alert. So far, there is no smoking gun in the emails. There are only some uncomfortable exchanges, expressions of doubt, etc., etc. How do we know that this isn’t Mann or another member of the team putting these emails out to try to sway public opinion. . The idea would be to put out a bunch of legitimate emails that put people in a mildly bad light (so as to establish their genuineness), but don’t contain any really damning stuff. There will be a big flurry of press coverage and blogger buzz, but in the end, its all about nothing. The public will then conclude that its all been overblown and that the skeptics are wrong about the degree of dishonesty within the team. Public interest (and the concomitant public pressure) in the UVA emails would subside. This would be a fairly sophisticated strategy (sort of a ‘false flag’ operation), but I’m worried because these emails are not nearly as damning as Climategate I. It all looks very suspicious to me.”

    Just hilarious. These guys cannot switch the paranoia off for a moment can they?

  33. 33
    JM says:

    Don’t worry, I’ll take your silence in this matter as an admission of guilt.

    The scientific method is indeed strong with this one.

  34. 34
    Orson Presence says:

    “So in 1680.txt, why does Michael Mann say that you (Gavin), “usually has thoughtful insights wiith respect to such matters,” when discussing finding a journalist to investigate “fossil fuel connections” and any other dirt they could find in order to discredit McIntyre and Keenan?

    Do you have a lot of experience in discrediting people whose work exposes your own?

    Don’t worry, I’ll take your silence in this matter as an admission of guilt.

    [Response: My ignoring you would simply be a sign that your out-of-context smear is too stupid to address. But I think it worthwhile to point out that the first line of this email has "They will misrepresent you and take out of context anything you give them". How prescient! For everyone else, this is an email discussing the appalling (and officially investigated and rejected) allegation of fraud that Keenan made about a scientist at SUNY Albany. Jones was asking for advice on whether and how to respond to a request from Peiser (acting editor of Energy and Environment) for comments on a paper Keenan had submitted claiming a 'fraud'. If you are looking for people who have experience discrediting people, I would start with Keenan. - gavin]”

    Ok, so let’s rephrase this Gavin; in the correct context, it’s fine to hire investigators to discredit opponents?

    Seems a little extreme in a climate context.

    [Response: Love the way you are spinning this! It is textbook stuff. For the record, I have not, am not and will not, 'hire investigators to discredit opponents'. The notion is laughable. Even funnier is that the email source for your claim doesn't discuss 'hiring investigators' either. So you have a made-up allegation, you attribute it to someone else (me) who is only peripherally mentioned later in the email, and you wrap it up in some oh-so-clever 'gotcha' question. Sorry, but you are just an idiot if you think this has any connection to reality. - gavin]

  35. 35
    JCS says:

    “We don’t really want the bullshit and optimistic stuff that Michael has
    written [...] We’ll have to cut out some of his stuff.”

    Why cut out his stuff, what was he optimistic about?

    [Response: The language is a too strong, but Michael [Schulz] was writing an intro to ocean-based proxies for this review paper, that I imagine wasn’t quite at the appropriate level. The final paper was great though. -gavin]

  36. 36
    prokaryotes says:

    Desperate attempts from some criminal minds.

  37. 37
    Occupied Territory says:

    Wow, this is where the denialists are today!

    I’ve heard for 2 years that these emails were hacked, but never seen any backup for that. Is there any? Or maybe, it was someone on the email list that got sick of the deception. Maybe these weren’t stolen at all.

    [Response: How many times have you seen the entire contents of a back-up mail server (220,000+ emails) just lying around? Indeed, as mentioned above, this release should put paid to any notion that the original emails were part of some legitimate activity. - gavin]

  38. 38
    EFS_Junior says:

    Well with ONLY 220,000 stolen emails to go, are they all aging well, or have they all just gotten a bit too stale over time?

    So let’s dust off that very old song, and give it a new title, call it;

    DRUNKARD’S DENIAL

    November 2009: 227,000 stolen emails on the wall, 227,000 stolen emails on the wall, you take 2,000 down and upload them around, 225,000 stolen emails on the wall, …

    November 2011: 225,000 stolen emails on the wall, 225,000 stolen emails on the wall, you take 5,000 down and upload them around, 220,000 stolen emails on the wall, …

    .
    .
    .

    October 2014: Still more than 200,000 stolen emails on the wall, still more than 200,000 stolen emails on the wall, you take several thousand down and upload them around, still more than 200,000 stolen emails on the wall, …

    .
    .
    .

    October 2112: Still more than 100,000 stolen emails on the wall, still more than 100,000 stolen emails on the wall, but there is no one around, to take several thousand down, and upload them around, forevermore than 100,000 stolen emails on the wall, …

  39. 39
    Former Skeptic says:

    Compared to the crazed reaction two years ago, the non-response from the major media outlets is very encouraging IMO.

    Gavin – hopefully this time around, you can enjoy your turkey day festivities without wasting too much time replying to the usual “CONSPIRACAHHHHH!11!” crowd.

  40. 40
    Ike says:

    “The final paper was great though. -gavin”

    No way…it wasn’t great…it was useless. These =)(/&%$ sceptics are not dumb!!!

  41. 41
    Orson Presence says:

    “[Response: Love the way you are spinning this! It is textbook stuff. For the record, I have not, am not and will not, 'hire investigators to discredit opponents'. The notion is laughable. Even funnier is that the email source for your claim doesn't discuss 'hiring investigators' either. So you have a made-up allegation, you attribute it to someone else (me) who is only peripherally mentioned later in the email, and you wrap it up in some oh-so-clever 'gotcha' question. Sorry, but you are just an idiot if you think this has any connection to reality. - gavin]”

    Ok, so if I’m such an idiot, why did you bother to reply?

    [Response: Sometimes it's not all about you. - gavin]

  42. 42
    timg56 says:

    Ian,

    You are free to suggest whatever you want. However I would appreciate you not attributing actions to me which I have not done. Exactly where have I “split the difference”? I simply made the accurate observation that which phrase one sees depends on which site they go to and followed that up with – what I believe is the equally accurate assessment – each side of the debate is working their spin. There is nothing in my statement to suggest one side or the other is correct in the terminology they use.

    dehogaza,

    Having a brother who served as a prosecutor and US Attorney, and having spent 3 months as a juror on a contract killing case, I know what matters is what is presented in court. That is the reason for judges, juries and the law. Until such time as that, what I believe is irrelevant.

    I would ask if you could explain how the source of the emails effects their content.

  43. 43
    MartinM says:

    TheGoodLocust:

    Don’t worry, I’ll take your silence in this matter as an admission of guilt.

    Orson Presence:

    Ok, so if I’m such an idiot, why did you bother to reply?

    And that’s the problem in a nutshell. There’s literally no response that denialists can’t spin. If you answer them, you’re taking them seriously, so they must be on to something. If you don’t answer them, you’re afraid to face them, so they must be on to something. If you use raw data, your failure to correct for the obvious biases is clear evidence of fraud. If you use adjusted data, your fudging of the data is clear evidence of fraud. If you say the science is settled, you’re a dogmatist. If you say it isn’t, then clearly the sceptic position is tenable.

    And so on, ad nauseam.

  44. 44
    Deech56 says:

    Gavin (and crew), please have a happy US Thanksgiving Day, despite the distraction. Hope you can spend time with friends, family, whatever, and that you can juggle all of the extra responsibilities (but then, you’re good at that ;-)). Even people who usually disagree with you appreciate your effort, openness and good cheer during the last unpleasantness. Cheers. Deech.

  45. 45
    Orson Presence says:

    [Response: Sometimes it's not all about you. - gavin]

    Sorry, I”m a bit lost here Gavin.

    Apparently it’s not about me, and on that point, I would agree. But you said I’m an idiot, so in some ways, it must be about me, according to you.

    At a logical level, surely that doesn’t hold together?

  46. 46
    tamino says:

    Fake skeptics like Anthony Watts try to blame global warming on bad station siting. Turns out he was wrong.

    Then they try to blame it on dropout of reporting stations. Turns out that was wrong.

    The fake skeptics can hardly contain their worship for a new team to estimate temperature (the Berkeley team) which is started by a skeptic. They’re sure the new estimate will prove that the other estimates are fraudulent. Anthony Watts proclaims that he’ll accept whatever their results are, even if it contradicts him. It contradicts him. He refuses to accept their results. He launches into multiple tirades to discredit the new effort.

    Fake skeptics try to blame global warming on UHI. Turns out they were wrong.

    Fake skeptics try to claim global warming has “paused” or “slowed down” or isn’t even happening. Turns out they were wrong.

    Scoundrels resort to stealing a bunch of private emails and take them out of context so they can launch a campaign of character assassination. Multiple investigations follow, the science of global warming is vindicated. Again.

    The fake skeptics have got nothing. Zero. Zip. Squat. With all the real science against them, apparently their only recourse is to look for “sloppy seconds” in the stolen emails in a lame attempt to revive their smear campaign. It tells us all we need to know about the so-called “skeptics.” They are pathetic.

    I’m tempted to laugh — but the health, safety, even survival of the next generation is at stake. They’ll know who it was who sealed their fate.

  47. 47

    “Ok, so if I’m such an idiot, why did you bother to reply?”

    Maybe so we can better see what an intellectual heavyweight you really are, “Orson”–so to speak. . . Here, have some more rope!

  48. 48
    Anna Haynes says:

    Any chance RC could do a post addressing all the “red” ones in the QuarkSoup post?

  49. 49
    Anna Haynes says:

    (said first by Grypo #15)

  50. 50
    timg56 says:

    tamino,

    Does having doubts about 40 to 50 ft rises in sea level, the spread of tropical diseases, increasing numbers and intensities of storms and host of other claims of catastrophy qualify me as a “fake” sceptic?

    Afterall, it is my money and my freedom of choice that is at risk with many of the proposed policies that have been enacted or being called for. Am I a fake for questioning how real or certain the diasterous future will actually be? You mention the survival of the next generation – pretty serious words. Can you provide any concrete evidence that the survival of my kids and (hopefully) my grand kids is at risk?

    It is one thing to be right on the causes of a warming climate. It is entirely another thing to assume that makes you right on predicting possible outcomes. Try to remember that I’m the guy who defended your right to live as you do, the guy who pays taxes, the guy who actually exercises his right to vote and the guy who will be calling for your ass if it turns out the horrible outcomes you predict are so much BS. I am exactly the person you need to be trying to convince.


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