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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. 651
    RichardC says:

    647 Ray asked, “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?”

    Well, what if all political contributions had to be blind? Send them through an aggregating firm/govt agency so no candidate could know where his financial support comes from.

    Back on topic, I only read the emails/fragments here, but I assume the ones brought up were the most significant. I didn’t see anything remotely as quote-worthy as in the first batch and I agree that they should have issued these long ago. I’d give the hacker a “D” on this batch. Turned in the work, but dismal product.

  2. 652
    Lewis Deane says:

    Gavin,

    I’m not interested in the ‘science’, if being ‘interested’ means arguing with scientists against their obvious expertise, but I am interested in a ‘science’ that might become circumscribed by its own prickly self defensiveness. I think that has become a bit of a burden to you and to the wider public. It is a defensive line,I know, which is difficult to get out of. Perhaps you will ask me for examples and evidence but I know that that’s a fools path, especially on this site. For what I’m asking for is a change of feeling and that cannot be evidenced. It is not enough for anyone to say that, because I was under attack, I had to behave such and such way, because as a scientist one must necessarily be above any such behaviour, however stinging, personally, it might be. One marginalises what one says by constantly defending against margins. Be above it, be generous to oneself, and therefore scientific.

  3. 653

    #650–There have been a couple of instances where libeled scientists have sued: Dr. Rajendra Pachauri sued in the UK, and Dr. Andrew Weaver sued in Canada. In both cases, the scientists accepted settlements before the cases could go to trial–in both cases, public apologies were part of the package. In a third case, also from the UK, Dr. Simon Lewis filed a complaint with the Press Commission, which also won a retraction and apology.

    A little more detail here (incidentally to the book review/summary):

    http://doc-snow.hubpages.com/hub/Keeping-Our-Cool-a-review

  4. 654
    Radge Havers says:

    Lewis Deane @ 652

    “For what I’m asking for is a change of feeling and that cannot be evidenced.”

    “Feeling and that cannot be evidenced?” Flimsy case for tone trolling, if you ask me.

    Dear Scientists,
    Please be nice and don’t stand up for yourselves. It makes it hard for us to puff ourselves up and trash you.
    Sincerely,
    Dr. Denialist

  5. 655
    Hank Roberts says:

    > as a scientist one must necessarily be above any such behaviour

    Nonsense. http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=886

  6. 656
    SecularAnimist says:

    Lewis Deane wrote: “I am interested in a ‘science’ that might become circumscribed by its own prickly self defensiveness”

    So how do you think scientists ought to respond to slander, libel, constant misrepresentation of their work by major media organizations, theft of their emails, politically-motivated witch hunts by powerful public officials, and even death threats?

    Lewis Deane wrote: “you will ask me for examples and evidence but I know that that’s a fools path, especially on this site”

    Well,yes — if you think examples and evidence are for “fools”, then this is probably not the site for you.

  7. 657
    One Anonymous Bloke says:

    Lewis Deane #652

    “It is not enough for anyone to say that, because I was under attack, I had to behave such and such way, because as a scientist one must necessarily be above any such behaviour…”

    What colour is the sky on your planet? The people you are describing certainly don’t exist on this one. The strength of the scientific method is not provided by the exemplary behaviour of scientists, but because it allows them to be just as human as you or I, adversarial, obnoxious, biased and wrong, and then sets them (or more particularly their arguments) against one another. Capice?

  8. 658
    CM says:

    The Fellowship/Team “circumscribed by its own prickly defensiveness”:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YpywcuItPQ at about 0:59.

    This leaked footage reveals alarmist groupthink and shockingly bad behavior—see them with swords raised, threatening violence? You’d think they’re surrounded by a horde of goblins or something. “Moriagate” opened my eyes. Sauron is not gathering an army, he’s just recovering from the Third Age.

  9. 659
    Lewis Deane says:

    #656, ‘secularanimist’, (what can be a ‘secular’ ‘animist’, by the way, I’m fascinated?)

    You ask “So how do you think scientists ought to respond?” Not, assuredly, in the manner of some of the ‘respondents’ to my rather, I believe, considered post, after thinking a long time. By the way, I would love to know what ‘tone trolling’ is? As opposed to just ‘trolling’, which I obviously haven’t done! A mystery, like ‘animism’?

    No my post was meaningfully ‘idealistic’ for a reason and as an appeal to reason. The ‘ideal’ can never be achieved but without such ‘ideals’, aimed at, we are nothing.

  10. 660
    One Anonymous Bloke says:

    Lewis Deane #659 Would you prefer if I just pointed out that you’re flat wrong, and there isn’t a skerrik of evidence to support your opinion, and that science has produced a mountain of knowledge just fine despite the fact that scientists are human? Or are you one of those people who believes your opinion counts for something whether or not it fails the reality check?

  11. 661

    #659–

    A brief “troll catalog”:

    http://pharyngula.wikia.com/wiki/Troll

    Trolling, like homicide, rests in part upon intent. I’m quite sure that some apparent trolling is unintentional–and just as sure that the reverse is true in other cases. There’s also an excluded middle ground.

  12. 662
  13. 663
    SecularAnimist says:

    Lewis Deane wrote: “what can be a ‘secular’ ‘animist’, by the way, I’m fascinated”

    Off topic, but Secular Animism is the general case of which Secular Humanism is a special case, ie. it encompasses all sentient beings, not only humans.

  14. 664
    Cugel says:

    Lewis Deane : You write as if climate scientists “prickly defensiveness” is somehow a proven fact, which it isn’t. Do you think that’s why they’re not invited onto Fox News to give the facts more often? That it’s why the Washington Post doesn’t contact them before misrepresenting them in print?

    If low public visibilty is the result of bad behaviour, how do you explain the prominence of denialists whose major product is slander and lies, revealed over and over again? The behaviour of denialists is appalling – would you want to be in the same room as McIntyre? Morano? Watts? Monckton?

    The denial cult has been vocally convinced of scientific fraud and corruption since the issue arose, all they’ve ever lacked was some evidence. The stolen emails, communications between the main conspirators in unguarded moments, must necessarily contain the evidence … they just still can’t find it. And they still get on TV. Unlike Sir David Attenborough in the US if he talks about global warming.

    I think your concern is wildly misdirected.

  15. 665
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Lewis Deane: “…as a scientist one must necessarily be above any such behaviour, however stinging, personally, it might be.”

    Dude, you’re kidding, right? Have you ever even known a scientist? I can assure you that as a scientist, I have seen some epic feuds, tantrums and tirades. I’ve also known some who rivaled the most saintly of saints in moral rectitude.

    Lewis, I do hereby bestow upon you one clue: You are missing the point. Science does not depend for its validity on the saintliness of its practitioners. It helps if they tell the truth, but if thy don’t, they will be revealed as liars by the next scientist who looks at their work–and then they will cease to be scientists. Science works because scientists are really curious about what they study. They lie awake at night thinking about it, planning their next investigation or experiment.

    They may be wrong, but if they are wrong, they will not convince their peers, and their ideas will wither because they have no explanatory or predictive power.

    So it does not matter whether scientists are saints or sinners. What matters is that they reveal the closest approximation to truth we humans have managed to come up with.

  16. 666
    Rob Dekker says:

    Regarding 2-year-old cases, there is this case of investigation into plagiarism in the Wegman report that is inresolved until today.

    Raymond Bradley filed an official complaint of plagiarism with GMU on this, and it’s now one year + 2 months and no resolution. The notion that GMU is dragging it’s feet seems to have become an understatement of the first kind in this case.

    USA Today added a note (on May 26, 2011) to their original post on Oct 8, 2010,
    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/sciencefair/post/2010/10/wegman-plagiarism-investigation-/1
    that :

    GMU spokesman Dan Walsch clarified in the May 26, 2011, Nature journal that the year-old investigation is still in its preliminary “inquiry” stage, rather than a full investigation.

    with the ‘apology’ from Dan Walch (GMU) that

    In terms of my comments this past fall, my understanding of the internal procedure was not as clear then as it is now

    Now, 7 months after Walch made this statement, he again seems to not be clear about GMU’s internal procedures :
    http://universitypolicy.gmu.edu/4007res.html

    which clearly state :

    The inquiry committee completes the inquiry, including the preparation of a final inquiry report that includes any comments received from the respondent, within 60 days of the committee’s first meeting unless the Dean or Director determines, and documents in the inquiry record, that the circumstances warrant a longer period

    Many questions emerge : Who are the members of the inquiry committee ? Did they produce a report yet ? Did the Dean or Director at GMU determine that the cicumstances warrant a longer period than what GMU’s own policy demands ? And if so, what was the reason and what will be the new timeline for completing the inquiry ? And if not, what on Earth is holding up GMU to investigate misconduct in the Wegman report, which after all, has been a pivotal piece of “evidence” quoted by Senators and House Representatives alike, as evidence that climate science is a “hoax” and regulation against greenhouse gas emissions is not warranted.

    May it be time for Raymond Bradley to (once again) insist on a resolution to the investigation into his official complaint ? Or may it be time to challenge GMU legally on violation of it’s own scientific misconduct policies ?


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