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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. 601
    SecularAnimist says:

    Salamano wrote: “… how serious these emails and ‘what has been done’ are …”

    You keep making these noises about “serious” and “what has been done” as though the stolen emails revealed some wrongdoing, or something unethical, or some fault with the science.

    In fact, the stolen emails reveal no such thing, as NINE separate, independent investigations have confirmed. And you have yet to offer even one tiny shred of substance to back up your noise.

    It appears that the moderators are allowing such comments full of such vapid innuendo on this thread, to illustrate the point that “there is no there there” when it comes to this second batch of stolen emails and the deniers’ deliberate lies about them, just as was the case with the first batch.

    If so, you should be grateful for that circumstance, since otherwise your comments are so utterly devoid of content that they probably wouldn’t even qualify for the Bore Hole.

  2. 602
    dhogaza says:

    Eric:

    Andrew, let’s not forget that our original contention (mine, at least) about the entire CRU / FOIA thing was that the importance of the data being sought was completely overblown by Steve McIntyre and others.

    And still is overblown, actually. And will still be overblown a decade from now. Ten years from now, we’ll be hearing that climate science is a fraud because of 1) Mann’s original “hockey stick” papers from the end of the 90s 2) “Climategate 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 … N.0″ (as successive batches of e-mail are released) and 3) “CRU hiding the data” (all 5% of it that they legally could not release).

    Oh, and of course, ten years from now they’ll be saying “there’s been no warming since 2019″ …

  3. 603
    Charles says:

    For andrew @ 593:

    Andrew, you write that you “would like to know more and have reasoned arguments from both camps.” That sounds good! One thing you might want to check out is consistency in the development of theoretical models to explain what is happening and the data to back up those models. What I have found is that the “skeptics” camp fails repeatedly in offering alternate and comprehensive explanations of what has happened with regard to climate, what is happening, and what is likely (or not) to happen in the future. Moreover, there is a lack of agreement and consistency among the explanations that are offered by these “skeptics.” Finally, it seems some people in the “skeptics” camp keep moving the goal posts.

    If they expect to be taken seriously by me, they’re going to have to do a much better job in offering a scientific explanation of what’s going on.

  4. 604
    Radge Havers says:

    I think the advice to go where the actual science is being done is excellent in general, but doesn’t effectively target some problem areas. For instance, it doesn’t get at people with no overwhelming agenda but who are naturally skeptical and at the same time are not aware either of how science works or of the nature of the issues raised by certain, um, energetic factions lacking in scientific integrity.

    Vulnerable people have no sense of the working role of peer reviewed literature in the hard sciences and no understanding of how its checks and balances operate. They don’t have a good idea of the current status of climate science and may have some vague notion that AGW is somehow “out there” with speculative science, maybe even beyond string theory, and is therefore not strong enough to warrant alternative models to be countered effectively (unaware that their actual working model is just a bygone unscientific world view).

    The problem, other than that due diligence takes some effort, is what you see turning up over and over again in comment sections practically everywhere you look: a whole lot of lost people out there who have poor skills in basic critical thinking, little understanding of the most basic science, and absolutely no feel for the most basic concepts of probability.

    It’s why I tend to stress the basics of good citizenship: checking denialist arguments for the weight they put on rhetorical maneuvering, the misdirections, the irrelivancies, the inaccuracies, the empty accusations, and the outright lies. At a certain point it should become evident that it’s just not worth it for the average Joe or Jane to spend much time with denialism — provided he or she is willing to step up, make an effort, and even learn a bit about logical fallacies. So they should be encouraged, IMO, pointing out that these skills will serve them will in other arenas.

  5. 605
    Hank Roberts says:

    For Andrew Holder:
    A good exercise in skepticism — read this list of arguments and ask yourself which ones you personally find credible, and which ones you don’t find credible.
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/contradictions.php

  6. 606
    Craig Nazor says:

    So here is what it comes down to:

    Salamano: “…the reality is that scientific facts, when informing policy decisions that have far-ranging impacts, CAN depend on the (alleged) missteps of a handful of people…”

    How does the use to which the scientific knowledge is put change the facts themselves? How does this change the science? What is the process by which this happens? Please be specific, and provide real examples so that we can separate the logic of your argument from the paranoia that is so common among those who distrust the scientific process.

    Meanwhile, Gavin says: “…the scientific facts don’t depend on the (alleged) missteps of a handful of people.” For those of us with at least some experience with and understanding of the scientific process, this agrees with our own observations. If this is not enough, the bloggers here at RealClimate have provided copious amounts of specific evidence that this is true. To me, that is what RealClimate is all about.
    Another question: What other major scientific consensus (I am not referring to an assumption here, but an actual intellectual model that explains observable phenomena) in the past 50 years has been completely negated, or found to be corrupted by politics? And if anthropogenic global climate change does not explain the clearly observable worldwide warming, what alternative scientific explanation does?

  7. 607
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Salamano,
    In reality, the issue is not the emails or any misbehavior they might reveal. Rather it is in the lack of understanding the public have of how science works. There are some ways in which science is really, really easy. If you ask Nature the right question repeatedly, she’ll give you the same answer every time. So, if I’m reporting what answer I got, I’d better be truthful and accurate, or someone else will ask the same question and reveal the lie to the whole world. Likewise, if I make an honest mistake, I can be confident that someone will correct it.

    Look, science works. The box you are typing on right now is proof of that. The best that can happen is for nonscientists to get the hell out of the way and let it work. Ask us what the science says, and we’ll give you an answer. We’ll tell you how confident we are in that answer. We’ll tell you what resources we need to give a better answer or have more confidence. When it comes to the role of CO2 in climate, we have pretty damned good answers in which we have high confidence.

    Science will not tell you what policies to adopt–only the goals they have to acheive and what happens if you don’t acheive them. But the first thing we have to do is quit fighting over physics that was uncontroversial a century ago.

  8. 608

    “Ten years from now, we’ll be hearing that climate science is a fraud because. . .”

    I’m more hopeful; specifically, I think some of these folks will be claiming that “I said all along that the climate was changing, but did they listen to me?” Others will have mysteriously fallen silent. . .

  9. 609
    Septic Matthew says:

    605, Ray Ladbury: In reality, the issue is not the emails or any misbehavior they might reveal. Rather it is in the lack of understanding the public have of how science works.

    No. Trenberth vs Landsea and Trenberth vs Michaels are actually serious transgressions. As are a lot of others. Most of the emails are innocuous, but the bad ones are bad.

  10. 610
    Salamano says:

    @ 605, 606, 603, 601, whatever else…

    “How does the use to which the scientific knowledge is put change the facts themselves? How does this change the science? What is the process by which this happens? Please be specific, and provide real examples so that we can separate the logic of your argument from the paranoia that is so common among those who distrust the scientific process.”

    “In fact, the stolen emails reveal no such thing, as NINE separate, independent investigations have confirmed. And you have yet to offer even one tiny shred of substance to back up your noise.”

    “Likewise, if I make an honest mistake, I can be confident that someone will correct it.”

    I see a large disconnect between some folks in the science and folks outside the science on what things these emails are showing (and/or what you can explain as being manipulated to purport), and how it relates to the science’s acceptability. In short, I don’t think you ‘get it’.

    The science is not in question here… The problem is clearly one where the science is being challenged and/or discounted because of the way the evidence has been handled. You can stammer and stomp until you’re blue-in-the-face that “not one shred” of evidence (really?) has ever come up that makes any behavior by any climate scientist as “unhelpful”, but you will not see this problem resolved no matter how much you want to denigrate the un-understanding public that stands in the way of “ANY” adequate policy from being enacted on so many levels. Anyone who remembers the Muir-Russell panel knows exactly what I mean about “unhelpful” practices– and I use it on purpose to represent a key example behind the lack of true reform that is going to further cloud the science from penetrating. Many climate scientists would only be too glad to accept a label of “unhelpful” at times if it means that no reform-based recommendations ever see the light of day (which is precisely what is currently happening) and business-as-usual goes forth.

    “honest mistakes”, “unhelpful” behavior … yes, certainly seems like it’s really no big deal. But blaming the public for being able to latch onto them and use them to discount the science in their mind is not going to get you anywhere. The vast number of stakeholders that ultimately determing what policy provisions that get enacted are not scientists, and they weigh evidence much like a jury– completely willing to ignore or throw out the most solid of culplatory evidence on the slightest bit of malfeasance or technicality. The stout refusal to change any behaviors to accommodate various calls for reform is just going to cause more validations and vindications of the science to fall on deaf ears. You’ll be left with a scientific community getting increasingly loud concerning the impending doom that looms for future generations, but with no constructive policy actions to show for. If scientists are unconcerned with how their message/research is received, so long as it’s correct, then by all means…let’s keep discussing about how the science is settled (last century, no less), all scientists have been vindicated, and that they only ethical lapses and honest mistakes worth criticising and reforming right out of the system lie with folks that attempt to publish contrarian papers.

    When the science is taken and translated into policy recommendations that call for the elimination of a person’s job “for the greater good”, they’re going to find whatever they can to discount the science, and band together with their votes to make it not happen, locally and/or nationally. Countermeasures that have been suggested (such as preventing contrarian research/conclusions from being published or considered in IPCC chapters) will only serve to embolden the discounting– because they are seeking out ways to preserve their near-time livelihood. The greatest good that’s cropped up recently has been things like Realclimate that (a) allow folks to post their contrarian thoughts, and (b) directly engage them. Sure, take anyone who isn’t lock-step supportive of a no-need-for-reform and send them to the borehole; that’ll solve everything (not).

    The burden for greater transparency, greater openness, greater engagement of a permitted-to-be-visible contrarian side of the science is focused squarely on the scientists that are highlighting the need for a drastically different economic/energy paradigm for the whole world in light of present/future danger. To deny this, or fail to enact any reasonable new measures that directly address currently suggested reforms will just continue to allow the exact same complaints to presist, and to get all this voluminous evidence to be counterbalanced or discounted in the minds of those who are already pre-disposed to skepticism because of their preference to maintain their status-quo way of life and consumption.

  11. 611
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Septic Matthew, It is not essential for the success of the scientific method for scientists to treat each other gently. Our first commitment is to advancing understanding of our particular area of study. In no way did Trenbreth’s actions or words retard that goal.

    The science still stands whether scientists like each other or not.

  12. 612
    Steve Metzler says:

    Eric, your “here” link in #593 is broken.

    But it works OK if you just lop the ” rel=” off the end of it. Some good nostalgic reading at that link from 2 years ago. A lot of the comments from the uninformed there are as vacuous as the ones in this thread. The more things change, the more they stay the same, apparently.

  13. 613
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Salamano, Rather, Sir, I think it is YOU who doesn’t get it. You seem to be asking climate scientists to be saints–to patiently turn the other cheek when attacked, to explain patiently to the same idiot for the fortieth time why correlation is not causation or why you must look at all the evidence.

    If the public will only accept facts from saints, then the human race is in a rather tough spot, as last I looked, saints are in short supply. What is more, I know of no method that reliably turns humans into saints.

    What I look for instead is a method that organizes the efforts of those fallible humans, mistakes and vanity and petulance along with the rest, and still yields reliable understanding of the world around us. The closest I have found to such a method is science. It capitalizes upon our inate abilities and predilections and forces us to ask nature the right questions and to express the answers clearly and correctly.

    Just as markets turn our avarice into wealth, science turns our curiosity and ambition into understanding.

    Perhaps more important, precisely because Nature doesn’t change her story, science forces us to listen to what nature is saying–even when we are being told things we’d rather not know. It is one of the few human institutions that actually allows us to overcome our tendencies toward self-delusion and inaccurate risk assessment.

    As I said above: Science works. And if humans are too stupid to appreciate that it works, then they are simply too stupid to survive.

  14. 614
    Hank Roberts says:

    > actually serious transgressions
    Six year old turkey.

    Are any of their/Pielke’s papers — those or more recent ones — known to be in, or out of, consideration for the _upcoming_ IPCC AR5?

    Didn’t the cutoff/deadline pass fairly recently for papers to be in that?

  15. 615
    Craig Nazor says:

    Salamano@609:

    Are you trying to say that the public cannot believe the science until, according to your judgment, all the thousands of scientists who are involved in all aspects of climate research all behave with ethics that you find beyond reproach?

    [I wrote this before I read Ray's post @612. Isn't it interesting how we are interpreting your point of view in exactly the same way, particularly since I have never personally met Ray Ladbury?]

    Right.

    Since you did not answer A SINGLE ONE of my other questions, this discussion has become all about your own personal point of view. You have left me to wonder if Salamano even “gets” how to have a productive debate.

    Yawn.

  16. 616
    RichardC says:

    609 Sal said, ” To deny this, or fail to enact any reasonable new measures that directly address currently suggested reforms will just continue to allow the exact same complaints to presist,”

    I seem to have missed these ignored reasonable complaints and non-done new measures/reforms you talk about. Please share them with us.

    Perhaps the contributors will tell us of some changes that they’ve made in their practices since Climategate?

  17. 617
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Salamano, First, where is the evidence that regulation and reform of science are needed? Has the product that it delivers (understanding of nature) been compromised? Has society been harmed in some way by the practice of the scientific method?

    I don’t think that any reasonable person could answer in the affirmative to either of the two previous questions. Science is a game in which no-harm/no-foul applies. It requires original thought and creativity and passion, and some of the most passionate, original and creative individuals in it could not function in a highly regulated environment.

    Indeed, what you propose is a solution in search of a problem. Science is already self-regulating. Scientific fraud and other serious misconduct are punished mercilessly. However, serious scientific misconduct manifests as offenses against truth rather than offenses against one’s fellow scientists. A few of the best scientists out there are right bastards. Their colleagues know this, and yet they still publish with them, because they reliably deliver clear, creative insight into difficult problems.

    I have direct experience with well meaning regulation. I work in a very applied field where the same techniques I use on satellites can also be used to build more reliable missiles. As a result, when we deal with foreign colleagues, we are highly restricted in the information we can share.

    The intent of these restrictions is to preserve the US advantage in aerospace technology. In fact, it has had the opposite effect, driving away from the US and forcing foreign competitors to innovate. As a result, the Europeans are now kicking our pasty, white asses in several areas.

    In medicine, the research program has been subverted by the shackling of the free exchange of information in the name of “proprietary” necessity. We’ve seen the results.

    I could cite several other well meaning attempts to “improve” science by regulation or legislation. Suffice to say none of them have worked.

    There is simply no better method for delivering reliable invormation about our universe than the scientific method motivated by curiosity. It is the product of literally centuries of gradual development and refinement. The refinement, however, has come from within, pushed by people with the deep understanding of the method that comes only with practicing it.

    I will say it again: Science works. It ain’t broken. Don’t try to fix it. If you do, you will find yourself in the company of Lysenko, Feyerabend and other famous dumbasses throughout the ages. You might as well try to improve art by regulation.

  18. 618
    Salamano says:

    @615 …

    What are these initial questions to which you are referring..? All I know is that I’ve been responding to responses this whole time. There’s 600+ posts, perhaps there has been more out there I haven’t seen.

    …And no, I’m not saying that “the public cannot believe the science until..” …It’s that many in ‘the public’ are already pre-disposed to not believe it, or not want to believe it, because of what believing it would mean for their way of life and how they are currently living it. Reform is quite an easy thing to point to that will remove one lingering stigma that has permitted many to just dismiss the solid evidence out-of-hand (as they are pre-disposed to do already). In this way, the “science” is not even being considered because the evidence is being ruled “inadmissable”.

    @616 …

    Many of these reforms have been recommended by the many investigative panels that have cleared the scientists and the science since the first release of Climate emails. Accompanying the many references to “unhelpful” behavior by scientists came some substance as to how to avoid the same problems (or appearances of problems) in the future (other than the simple status-quo-but-dont-get-caught-next-time).

    These have been talked about at length in many places, but they have not been employed for one reason or another.

    For example, the recommendation for more openness/transparency into the selection process of IPCC writing teams. The same could be said for the process by which papers are selected (or set aside) as ‘on the table’ for various chapters. Conflict of interest provisions need to be enforced (The whole Greenpeace saga is an example that comes to mind). Some of these reforms have been set aside rather than enforced for the upcoming reports because ‘it wouldn’t be fair to those who are already selected’ even if it continues to supply the ‘conflict of interest’ ammo that has been used since time and memoriam to discount any publication of any kind (Koch Bros. included). Muir-Russell made many recommendations, so did the IAC. Others that have been recommended (I believe) include a wider applicability of FOI policies, and even the accompaniment of full codes with comments for each and every publication that is deemed worthy of inclusion into these grand compendiums.

    There are many responses to them that ensure no change of behavior “because notions of reform won’t solve anything” even if it may be an avoidable rut the wheels will keep spinning into. Perhaps the folks at RC would be kind enough to highlight the reforms that have been proposed, and why they are not being followed this time around. There are plenty of other places that contain mentions of these reforms.

  19. 619
    Nick Gotts says:

    “The vast number of stakeholders that ultimately determing what policy provisions that get enacted are not scientists, and they weigh evidence much like a jury– completely willing to ignore or throw out the most solid of culplatory evidence on the slightest bit of malfeasance or technicality.” – Salamano

    If that were true, of course, all the denialists’ efforts would have been in vain, since their blatant misrepresentations of the state of the science, ludicrous conspiracy-mongering, and vile persecution of climate scientists would have seen everything they say dismissed without a second glance. The truth is that the vast majority of the public have never looked at either the scientific evidence or the Climategate emails, while the mass media have created an entirely false impression both of the state of the science and of the “revelations” of Climategate (with barefaced lies when it comes to the likes of Fox News, and spurious “balance” with such as the BBC).

  20. 620

    A bit of side chatter: Ray, I was very struck by your sentence:

    “Just as markets turn our avarice into wealth, science turns our curiosity and ambition into understanding.”

    Mind if I quote you on that for a totally unrelated writing project, for which it would be, I think, quite relevant?

  21. 621
    Salamano says:

    @619

    You are not seeing this issue through the same prism. Yes, theoretically a jurist would reject as inadmissable any element of evidence that fails any test of mishandling or misrepresentation or whatever else. However, in this situation, you have the a set of stakeholders (like I have been describing) that are pre-disposed to accept that which they desire to be true without vetting, and to seek ways to reject that which is unsavory by means of inadmissability (you can call this confirmation bias, or whatever term you want). These folks have scored a hit with regard to various steps of reform that aren’t happening for which these emails play a part in highlighting the need. Simply ignoring it, declaring them “too stupid to survive” or whatever else is not going to achieve any objective. Outside of communist countries or ones without due-process, these folks essentially control the ground that decides whether certain objectives on local or national levels are enacted or not.

    So it is easily true that (a) the science’s admissability is being weighed by the non-science public, and (b) that same admissability is being further weighted by the savoriness of its conclusions.

    @ 617

    I had a feeling this conversation was going to jump very quickly from “what are these so-called reforms that have been supposedly ignored” to where reform is a “solution in search of a problem”. Well, keep believing that there is no problem where reform can help; keep thinking that science would advance policy much more efficiently if only there were greater latitude in sifting out contrarians from the IPCC or peer-review; if only we could eliminate the practice of ‘spurious’ balance; or greater ability to enact policy goals without pesky due-process. Don’t enact any reform… I can just-about guarantee you are going to be back here two years from now arguing in a “Four-year-old turkey” thread about why it is that the public refuses to move en-mass to enact policy decisions that the best science has shown will save the planet..

  22. 622
    Susan Anderson says:

    Ray Ladbury,

    Sadly, your “fortieth” is to low. Try four hundredth or four thousandth. Unfortunately, this activity is on the rise and is now cluttering up previously interesting discussions (a nice example of truly interesting discussion is the Ice Age Constraint one here; I haven’t ventured there because this kind of nonsense hasn’t unduly cluttered it. The further tranche of old emails (some duplicates) has brought the parasites out of the woodwork.

    For the regular rebunkers, you seem to prefer to pretend or perhaps don’t know that the last decade and more have been cluttered with this nonsense and that proof and evidence don’t work with your collagues. There have, for example, been nine investigations of “climategate” (slimegate) and none of them have found anything wrong with the science, just normal human irritability and perhaps a little despair that the truth doesn’t penetrate. There are villains and stakeholders out there with lots of money, and whether you know it or not, you are working from the Frank Luntz playbook and following in the footsteps of a skillful movement that has deep roots in big tobacco and other early forms of corruption.

    (RC: thanks for not posting my earlier descent into adolescent snark!)

  23. 623
    Septic Matthew says:

    605, Ray Ladbury: : In reality, the issue is not the emails or any misbehavior they might reveal. Rather it is in the lack of understanding the public have of how science works.

    Probably you can influence the people who read RealClimate only. Anyone who reads more widely will have a deeper appreciation than that of the actual misbehaviors.

  24. 624

    Salamano:

    If scientists are unconcerned with how their message/research is received, so long as it’s correct, then by all means…let’s keep discussing about how the science is settled (last century, no less), all scientists have been vindicated, and that they only ethical lapses and honest mistakes worth criticising and reforming right out of the system lie with folks that attempt to publish contrarian papers.

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. So climate scientists are guilty of… what? Not being nice?

    Last I checked, not being nice to people I don’t like is emphatically not a crime.

    – frank

  25. 625
    Radge Havers says:

    Salamano: Um, just out of curiosity, have you ever actually read any papers in a well respected climatological journal?

    You do know that they’re professional journals, you know… for professionals… in a very particular field… like with PhDs who deal with lots of arcane math, chemistry, physics, algorithms and stuff every day, year in and year out? That means that by necessity they have to pass muster with a relatively select circle of people.

    The vast majority of people outside the field are not equipped to edit or judge the value of professional papers. Hell, most people can’t even read the damned things. That’s why there’s a system in place to handle papers. Could you summarize the reasoning behind the way peer review is designed? Could you even make a flow chart of that system that had more than 2 boxes and an arrow?

    SM: Being in deep b.s. is not the same as being deep in the subject.

  26. 626
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Kevin, Feel free to quote or edit or improve. It’s just words. No one owns words, and words can always be improve.

  27. 627
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Salamano, Humans have several serious weaknesses that could ultimately threaten their survival.
    1)We are susceptible to confirmation bias–we tend to believe what we wish were so.
    2)We suck at risk estimation–overestimating nearby or spectacular risks (e.g. terrorism) and underestimating risks we consider remote (climate change or smoking).

    These characteristics result in our inability to accurately perceive very important aspects of our current situation. Science offers a remedy for both. If humans are too dim to avail themselve of the remedies they themselves have developed, then we will not adequately address the threats arising from climate change–or if we get through that crisis, some other crisis will be our downfall.

    Again, Salamano, I assert on the basis of the overwhelming evidence–Science works. Let it. I also note that you dismissed utterly my examples of how well intentioned “reforms” have undermined scientific progress in the past. If science is to reform, it will reform itself as it has repeatedly in the past to address past challenges.

    The scientific method introduced by Francis Bacon was itself a reform–intended to ensure that empirical evidence constrains and validates theory and theory guides empirical investigation.

    The introduction of scientific consensus addresses the problems that arise when a powerful leader in the scientific community is just flat wrong (e.g. Newton wrt the corpuscular theory of light and Einsteen wrt quantum theory).

    Peer review, scientific journals, on-line publishing… all originating from within science.

    Science will change when it has to. However, if you are waiting for the scientists to become “nice”, you will wait a long time. People who are passionate about truth are rarely nice, especially when truth is under threat.

  28. 628
    anon says:

    Ray @ 627,

    Technically, confirmation bias is the tendency to construe information so as to confirm a pre-existing hypothesis. It is a cognitive bias and can exist independently of a motivational bias. What you seem to be referring to is motivated reasoning – the tendency to come to the conclusion we wish to arrive at. The end result is the same though.

    Sorry to be pedantic.

  29. 629
    Ray Ladbury says:

    anon, I stand corrected and educated. Thank you.

  30. 630
    CM says:

    Salamano,

    I’d like you to be more specific about what reforms you think are being ignored (and cite sources on what has been explicitly set aside or postponed—I’m interested).

    The IPCC is responding to the IAC recommendations (IPCC Abu Dhabi, May 13 press release; IAC statement). As the 5th assessment was already underway when those recommendations were made, I think the IPCC cannot be expected to implement all of them in full in this round.

    Ray,

    for once, I don’t think your remarks about “reforms” are to the point. Your examples of “well meaning regulation” (#617) refer to regulations intended to restrict the flow of scientific information for strategic or financial gain, not to improve on the scientific process or to enhance the transparency of scientific assessments that inform public policy. And Salamano is not talking about reforming the scientific process as such (I think).

  31. 631
    Ray Ladbury says:

    CM,
    The purpose of my comments was to demonstrate that well intentioned reforms (or in the case of Lysenko, dictatorial reforms) imposed from without never work. Science, despite being a conservative institution, rather quickly adopts any reforms that facilitate the process of doing science. In the case of Climategate, the product (scientific understanding) was never compromised. This is the only thing science itself has to offer.

    The problem Salamano is trying to address (and I do give him credit for sincerity) is that people try to find reasons for rejecting the scientific facts when they find their prejudices challenged. As demonstrated by the strict adherence of the likes of Herman Cain and Bill Clinton to The Nine Commandments, people will find reasons for rejecting inconvenient facts even when they descend by holy writ.

    Since science is delivering what it is intended to deliver, and since the reasons for rejection of the science have nothing to do with its quality, and everything to do with the ideological blinders of those rejecting the science, it seems to me that the problem is not to be solved by changing the scientific process, but rather by
    1)educating people as to how (and why) science works
    2)educating people so that they understand their tendencies to misperceive risk and succumb to motivated reasoning (thank you, anon)
    3)electing leaders who seek to govern based on the best available information rather than ideological purity.

    The reforms that actually enhance the product of doing science will be embraced quickly by science of its own accord. Those imposed from without 1)will not address the real problem, 2)will retard scientific progress.

  32. 632
    mrlee says:

    @591 That’s a pleasing thought. Sorry I don’t have 365 days to spend. I’d love to be part of it.

  33. 633
    Nick Gotts says:

    “However, in this situation, you have the a set of stakeholders (like I have been describing) that are pre-disposed to accept that which they desire to be true without vetting, and to seek ways to reject that which is unsavory by means of inadmissability (you can call this confirmation bias, or whatever term you want). These folks have scored a hit with regard to various steps of reform that aren’t happening for which these emails play a part in highlighting the need. Simply ignoring it, declaring them “too stupid to survive” or whatever else is not going to achieve any objective. Outside of communist countries or ones without due-process” – Salamano

    Here you describe a real problem, but your supposed solution would not go any way whatever toward solving it, since the denialists can create, and have created, “scandals” out of thin air.

    “these folks essentially control the ground that decides whether certain objectives on local or national levels are enacted or not.”

    If by “these folks” you mean the public, I stand astonished at your naivity. The range of views treated as worthy of serious consideration is almost entirely set by the medias’ owners, customers (i.e. large advertisers), and regulators – which is to say, those with serious wealth and power.

  34. 634
    SecularAnimist says:

    Salamano wrote: “You are not seeing this issue through the same prism.”

    You are “seeing this issue” through the “prism” of a steady stream of vague and utterly unsupported innuendo about unspecified wrong-doing by climate scientists — the exact sort of discourse that the criminals who stole and released these emails, and the propagandists who are systematically misrepresenting, distorting, misquoting and cherry-picking these emails, intend to generate.

    It is nothing but vapid content-free hand-waving, and it is quite evidently deliberate. The good people who are patiently trying to persuade you to learn something about science are, I fear, wasting their time.

  35. 635
    Salamano says:

    @634

    “…steady stream of vague and utterly unsupported innuendo about unspecified wrong-doing by climate scientists…”

    …is an incorrect phrase, except if you use semantic wiggle-room to define “wrong-doing” only in a legal context so you can dismiss everything else. I suspect that the folks that are actually in the science and referenced by the IAC and the Muir-Russell panels know exactly what I’ve been repeatedly talking about, despite the calls for repeated specification.

    CM @630 knows what I’m talking about– and the recent response by the IPCC allowing them to set-aside various IAC recommendations because the 5th assessment is already underway to me is somewhat of a cop-out (compared to taking it more seriously). Others aren’t going to be finalized in methodology until 2013. “Working toward” adopting conflict-of-interest reform is just going to let the issue linger. Who knows…maybe in 2013 all will be fine.

    I’m sure many of you can come up with all sorts of parallels in which non-fast action of reform (under whatever guise, in whatever other area) results in an unhelpful public relations performance together with un-necessary fodder for detractors.

    @633

    “If by “these folks” you mean the public, I stand astonished at your naivity. The range of views treated as worthy of serious consideration is almost entirely set by the medias’ owners, customers (i.e. large advertisers), and regulators – which is to say, those with serious wealth and power.”

    This discussion is off-topic. However, take a ride down to the WV coal-fields, or perhaps to SD natural-gas fields. You’ll find people who knowingly work in polluted environments, and hear about it every day. Some ‘naivete’ is also on the part of advocacy-wonks who think that people will choose the health of themselves or their environment over their own financial health– even if they fully understand the realities of both. The direct always seems to trump the diffuse. You are ignoring the fact that (so-far) the policy proposals and advocacy positions do not have an answer for what to do about the folks that will be negatively impacted by the coming economic paradigm shift. If you’ve ever seen a local school-bond levy go down in flames in a community, you would know that it doesn’t take a Murdoch or Koch empire worth of advertising and meddling to set people against a proposal that’s going to hurt them in the wallet, no matter how beneficial it is to the community.

    The science is clear on human-caused climate change, but people are making decisions on all-sides of this issue with their own backyards and wallets in mind first. This is not ‘only’ because of Koch-funded or Murdoch empire nefariousness. Indeed, some of that is not eliminatable without removing free-speech or due-process provisions (in America anyway). Maybe a better idea would be to have an answer for it as part of the policy package. That way there’s at least something attractive for some of these folks (and no, participation in the rescue of the planet for future generations is not good enough. If that were the case, there’d have been a whole lot less obstinance to things like Cape Wind).

    I think everything’s been said on this…There’s some mutual understanding, and there’s some talking around each other. Time will tell what we actually see in this area.

  36. 636
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Salamano, You have proposed nothing that I can see other than “openness”. What is more open that publishing one’s code and data to the extent that the law allows? And what is more you’ve not even presented a plausibility argument that your suggestions would make any difference to the public.

    The problem is not that denialists don’t like the evidence or the people presenting the evidence, it is that they refuse to even look at the evidence because of their ideological blinders. Science offers a way to transcend ideological blinders–but if your ideological blinders cause you to reject science, you’re kinda screwed.

  37. 637
    dhogaza says:

    You are ignoring the fact that (so-far) the policy proposals and advocacy positions do not have an answer for what to do about the coming economic paradigm shift.,

    Well, as long as denialists are successful in convincing leadership that there is no coming economic paradigm shift, why would you expect action on this front?

    It is the science paradigm’s charge to say “due X, Y happens”. “paradigm shifts” and such things are the realm of politics. Political failure says nothing about science.

    Sorry …

  38. 638
    SecularAnimist says:

    Ray Ladbury wrote to Salamano: “You have proposed nothing that I can see other than ‘openness’.”

    A perusal of Salamano’s numerous, lengthy and verbose comments shows that he has actually said NOTHING WHATSOEVER that is concrete, specific or actionable. All he’s doing is spinning the denialist propaganda machine’s distortions and misrepresentations of the stolen emails into ominous, vague noises about unspecified problems with the conduct of climate science.

    Discourse like Salamano’s comments is the fuzzy, greenish mold growing on the two-year old turkey.

  39. 639
    Mike M says:

    Tim Osborne #2347: “Also, we set all post-1960 values to missing in the MXD data set (due to decline), and the method will infill these, estimating them from the real temperatures – another way of “correcting” for the decline, though may be not defensible!”

    Speak to us about the context of that.

    [Response: Read the whole email. Osborn is using RegEM to do a reconstruction of temperature using his MXD tree ring data. The method as programmed by Tapio Schneider produces a record that is equal to the real temperature series where they exist and the imputed values elsewhere, for both the MXD data and the temperature reconstruction. If you don't include MXD data post-1960, they will be imputed by the RegEM algorithm (based on correlations and covariance from where there are both sets of data). - gavin]

  40. 640
    Septic Matthew says:

    605, Ray Ladbury: In reality, the issue is not the emails or any misbehavior they might reveal. Rather it is in the lack of understanding the public have of how science works.

    The public gets most of its information from the non-peer-reviewed testimony and writing of scientists: editorial, speeches, comments to reporters, Congressional testimony, and so forth. The emails reveal that these particular scientists withheld from the public doubts about the scientific claims that they made. That may not have any effect on the actual science, but it surely will, and ought, affect the way the public responds to those scientists in the future. Whenever they speak, write or testify, the public will rightly ask “What are they leaving out this time?” or “Do they really believe all that stuff?” or “Is that really what the science says?”

  41. 641
    Hank Roberts says:

    “Doubt is our product, since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.”

  42. 642
    SecularAnimist says:

    Septic Matthew wrote: “The public gets most of its information from the non-peer-reviewed testimony and writing of scientists”.

    Wrong. As the National Academy of Sciences noted in a report issued last May, the public does NOT get “most of its information” from the “testimony and writing of scientists”, peer-reviewed or otherwise, but from the mass media (emphasis added):

    Most people rely on secondary sources for information, especially the mass media; and some of these sources are affected by concerted campaigns against policies to limit CO2 emissions, which promote beliefs about climate change that are not well-supported by scientific evidence. U.S. media coverage sometimes presents aspects of climate change that are uncontroversial among the research community as being matters of serious scientific debate. Such factors likely play a role in the increasing polarization of public beliefs about climate change, along lines of political ideology, that has been observed in the United States.

    Septic Matthew wrote: “The emails reveal that these particular scientists withheld from the public doubts about the scientific claims that they made.”

    The emails reveal nothing of the kind, and your baseless claim is a fine example of the false, distorted and misleading information to which the public is constantly subjected — for the exact purpose of sowing unwarranted public “doubts” about the science.

  43. 643
    Serick says:

    Gavin & Eric,

    THANK YOU for the work that you do. I imagine you have days in which you wonder whether the work you do is worth it. I want you to know that it is. You are performing a VERY valuable public service. So, again… THANK YOU!

    To the honest skeptics out there, I’d like to share my story with you. I’ve spent over 500 hours over the past five years researching both sides of the AGW debate in an attempt to form an unbiased opinion on this divisive issue. I’ve read hundreds of skeptics articles and researched the science that they’ve attacked, and I’ve come to one undeniable conclusion: many (most) skeptics articles are disingenuous propaganda, littered with half-truths and flat out lies. If you are getting your science information from a think-tank or a radio/tv talk show or blog or a skeptical friend, consider the possibility that you are being manipulated. Do yourself a huge favor – study logic and logical fallacies – and learn to look for tell-tale signs of manipulation. Armed with the power of logic, you’ll learn pretty quickly that you are being abused.

    Don’t believe me? Here are just a couple examples (I could list hundreds). 1. (http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/greenhouse_data.html). This oft-referenced skeptics article suggests that AGW is all but impossible because water vapor accounts for 95% of the greenhouse effect. It looks quite authoritative as it actually provides references (this is quite rare for a skeptics article)… including NINE references to support it’s central argument about water vapor. Curious, I investigated the nine references and found a mixture of hearsay, which is very weak authority, and legitimate science that directly contradicts the author’s premise. 2. Search the internet for articles discussing the Arctic sea ice melt in 2007. You’ll find that many of the skeptics articles point to a high March 2008 sea-ice level as evidence that Arctic sea ice is not diminishing. This is a magician’s trick as March is the height of winter – and annual winter ice growth – in the Arctic, meaning it is not a valid representation of perennial sea ice levels, which are best measured during the Arctic summer months of July – September. These sleights-of-hand are all too common in the skeptics articles I’ve read, which were all provided to me by an admitted AGW skeptic.

  44. 644
    Lotharsson says:

    The public gets most of its information from the non-peer-reviewed testimony and writing of scientists…

    What makes you so sure about that, at least in the US (and to a lesser extent the UK and Australia), and on the topic of climate change? Which media environment have you been living in the last decade or two? It doesn’t bear much resemblance to the ones I’ve been exposed to.

    The public seems to get most of its information from newspaper and TV pieces that are almost always written by non-scientists, and occasionally deign to take care to somewhat accurately represent what the science says. (Ever been to Deltoid and checked out its The Australian’s War On Science series, for one example? And that’s here in Australia – it’s arguably significantly worse in the US with the audience reach of Fox News added to the mix.)

    The emails reveal that these particular scientists withheld from the public doubts about the scientific claims that they made.

    That is fallacious logic, at least as expressed there. The e-mails might say they intended to “withhold doubts” (although quite often the people doing the interpretation seem to be putting their own spin on what they actually mean.) They might even say they had withheld doubts.

    But none of that demonstrates that any such doubts were actually withheld. To deduce that, one has to examine the totality of the evidence – the entire set of work and public comments of the scientists in question. (For example, denialists are still quoting an email from “ClimateGate 1″ saying that a certain paper by (IIRC) McIntyre & McKitrick’s will be kept out of the IPCC report. They never quote the IPCC reference to the very same paper – and rapidly change the subject when this is pointed out to them.)

    And disregarding all that, a fallacious presumption remains embedded in your thesis: that science rests on individual scientists and what they say/believe/do, rather than the joint (and highly intellectually adversarial) endeavour undertaken by the entire set of scientists in a given field which ultimately weeds out false claims and bad actors. Although in this case the presumption may be held by many members of the non-scientific public…which gets back to earlier points that people don’t understand how science works – and that lack of understanding, especially when deliberately exploited by contrarian interests, is going to contribute to hurting many people and the environment.

  45. 645
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Septic Matthew,
    Oh ferchrissake. Of course they had doubts. That’s inherent in science. The fact remains, though, that by any measure you care to choose, the fact of anthropogenic warming is established with 90% confidence or better.

    Again, the problem is that people don’t understand how science works. That a scientist may have doubts about some particular analysis doesn’t mean he is ready to throw out the entire concept of greenhouse gasses, and of course, whenever you reconstruct a model from empirical data there is always a remote possibility that the data can conspire to fool you. The question is whether you want to wager the future of human civilization on a >20:1 longshot.

  46. 646
    Septic Matthew says:

    645, Ray Ladbury: Again, the problem is that people don’t understand how science works.

    Maybe. People do understand how lobbying works.

  47. 647
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Septic Matthew: “People do understand how lobbying works.”

    Actually, no they don’t. They don’t understand how contributions purchace influence without necessarily amounting to bribery. They don’t understand how to counter the influence of political money. Do you?

  48. 648
    Hank Roberts says:

    > people do understand how lobbying works

    I think if they did, it wouldn’t.

  49. 649
    Hank Roberts says:

    People vary when they attempt to describe a likely or attractive future
    http://future-drama.tumblr.com/
    featuring among others the first pitch for the computer mouse, long ago.

    ReCaptcha says: “mousse, Writeal”
    which is just eerie

  50. 650
    ds says:

    I think it’s high time that scientists like Mr. Mann sue these people for libel. They’re claiming that you’re guilty of fraud, lying and worse, which is defamatory. And you’re not guilty of it. It’s not true and you have several investigations by credible institutions to prove it. Yet they keep saying it, which shows a reckless disregard for the truth. Suing them would bring attention to the investigations and to the fact that they’re lying. It would also give scientist such as yourself the subpoena power to dig into who’s backing them and why in your quest to prove malice.


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