Investigative report: Climate science e-mails ugly, science is correct; “skeptics'” response even uglier


Associate Press put a team of five reporters on the e-mails purloined from the Hadley climate science group in England.  AP sought advice on interpreting the messages from other scientists involved in ethical science issues.

To the best of my knowledge, this is the only group that has gone through the entire mass to see what is really shown — more than a million words, the AP story estimated.

Veteran climate issue reporter Seth Borenstein wrote up the story:  Scientists in the heat of research and interpretation, on deadline with government policy makers, often attacked unfairly — one received death threats for his work on climate change.  Under those conditions, one might understand that the scientists were defensive and rude, in private, about their critics.  One of the critics harassed scientists with repeated FOI requests, then didn’t use the data.  In one case, a critic published a paper based on bad data — what the critics accused the scientists of doing.

But in the end, there was no pattern of data fixing.   Independent reviews today confirm that independently-generated studies confirm the warming the scientists wrote about.

Of course, that doesn’t stop the hecklers of the scientists from complaining, either about the science or the way it’s reported.  Rather than deal with the material AP reported, for example, warming blogger Anthony Watts attacked the reporter who wrote the story, complaining that he is “too close” to the story, since he seems to have been covering the story long enough that his e-mail appears in the purloined e-mails.

‘You can’t report the news because you know too much,’ is Watts’s complaint.

In the e-mail cited, Seth Borenstein wrote to some of the world’s best scientists in the field and asked their opinions about a paper making some contrary claims.

To Watts, seeking information from the experts is beyond the pale.  He calls it an ethical infraction.

Watts is unbound by such ethical rules, however, and so can make up stuff like this with abandon.  Watts’ charge is hooey, foul play, and stupid.  In the headline to his post, Watts wrote, “AP’s Seth Borenstein is just too damn cozy with the people he covers – time for AP to do something about it.”

That’s right, AP — it’s time Borenstein got a promotion for doing the legwork, honestly, that critics of the science have refused to do.  Borenstein’s reporting is important.  The story goes beyond mere repeating of press releases, beyond the mere “he-said/he-said” norm.  Borenstein, in unemotional, clear and cool terms, indicted the critics of warming, by factually reporting the events.  Give that man and his team a Pulitzer Prize.

Why shouldn’t reporters go to the experts?  Why shouldn’t they ask the opinions of all sides in a science debate?

Think about it for a moment:  Watts’s complaint is that Borenstein sought fairness in reporting on Watts’s side’s claim.  Because Borenstein refused to show the bias Watts wants, Watts went after Borenstein.

Could there be a more clear and dramatic illustration of why the scientists’ ire is raised by such silly criticism?

Watts quotes at length from the Associated Press Statement of News Values and Principles, slyly implying by doing so that Borenstein violated the rules somewhere.  Not so.

Watts worries about “getting too cozy with sources.”  Read his blog.  Watts prefers to be the source — but he also reports on the debate.

Watts would do well to read that AP ethical statement again, and take it to heart.

His charges are groundless, scurrilous in the light of the AP team’s going to great lengths to be fair to all sides.  Watts and other critics bank on people being shocked that scientists get angry.   Watts and his colleagues have campaigned across the web, on television and in print, to have these scientists tarred and feathered, and their science dismissed — though there is not handful of feathers to weigh against the mountains of evidence the scientists accumulated and published over the past 50 years.

Do not take my word for it.  Read the AP storyRead Watts’s rant.  Read the e-mails, if you wish (you can find them from my opinionated take on the flap).  Check with the scientists you know and trust on their views of the science done and reported.

I won a couple of minor investigative journalism awards in college.  I have been a member of the Society of Professional Journalists off and on since 1974 (not much since I quit doing that stuff full time).  I have worked with some of the best investigative journalists and Congressional investigators in my duties with the Senate.  I’ve been a member of the FOIA committees in Utah and Maryland.  I’ve lobbied in three states for freedom of information.  I know a little bit about investigative reporting and fairness.  And yes, IAAL.

Borenstein’s piece is solid and good.  In light of the firestorm Watts hopes to bring down on it, Borenstein’s article is a shining example of high ethics in journalism.  It deserves your reading.

If the critics had data denying warming, or denying human causation of warming, why are they hiding it so well?  If they have the data to prove the scientists are in error, why not publish it, instead of sniping at a wire service reporter who merely tells the story?

Critics don’t have the data to contest the hard work of the scientists.  They don’t have the data to make a case against either warming or human causation.  And now we all know.

Post Script:  Um, and , you know, it’s not like Borenstein hasn’t done some stuff over the years to make it look like he’s been on Watts’s side:  Stoat, Mooney’s Intersection, Island of Doubt.  Watts’ fit may put a gloss on Borenstein’s work that wasn’t there to begin with.

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14 Responses to Investigative report: Climate science e-mails ugly, science is correct; “skeptics'” response even uglier

  1. Smokey says:

    Ed Darrell,

    Please rescue and post my response to your last comment from the spam bucket. I had more than three links in it, so WordPress automatically put it in there. Thanks.

    Like

  2. Smokey says:

    Ed Darrell is either fabricating the events surrounding the Wang fraud charges, or he is ignorant of the facts. If there is a credible third possibility, wake me.

    The stated policy regarding the filing of misconduct charges shows the games being played regarding the university’s written policy:

    III. A. Rights and Responsibilities of the Complainant
    Rights: The Vice President for Research will make every effort to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of complainants. The University will protect, to the maximum extent possible, the position and the reputation of those who in good faith report alleged misconduct in research.

    The Vice President for Research will work to ensure that complainants will not be retaliated against in the terms and conditions of their employment or other status at the University and will review instances of alleged retaliation for appropriate action. Any alleged or apparent retaliation should be reported immediately to the Vice President for Research.

    The complainant will be provided a copy of the formal allegations when and if an inquiry is opened. The complainant will have the opportunity to review portions of the inquiry and investigation reports pertinent to the complainant’s report or testimony, and will be informed in writing of the results of the inquiry and investigation, and of the final determination. After the final determination and upon request to the Vice President for Research, the complainant shall be given access to the full documentation. [source]

    The above rights of the complainant were disregarded. Thus, it was a coverup, plain and simple. Wang reportedly brought in around $7 million in grants to the university, and there is no reason for the school to have expected less in the future. That is a strong motive for their whitewash of the Wang investigation.

    More here
    And here
    The fraud allegation that was covered up by the university.
    Timeline of events. Note that the investigation is still open.
    Required reading.
    See Lucy Skywalker’s post.
    Article posted on the “Best Science” site. 200+ comments.
    Bishop Hill has covered this from the start.

    And now with the CRU email exposé, we see that CRU was in cahoots with the university, and knew beforehand what their confidential strategy and decision was before it was announced.

    Eastanglia emails re Wang [referred to as “WCW”]:

    From: Tom Wigley
    To: Phil Jones
    Subject: Re: Fwd: review of E&E paper on alleged Wang fraud
    Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2007 06:54:58 -0600

    Phil,

    Seems to me that Keenan has a valid point. The statements in the papers that he quotes seem to be incorrect statements, and that someone (WCW at the very least) must have known at the time that they were incorrect.

    Whether or not this makes a difference is not the issue here.

    Tom.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Phil Jones wrote:

    > Tom,
    > Just for interest! Keep quiet about both issues.
    >
    > In touch with Wei-Chyung Wang. Just agreed with him
    > that I will send a brief response to Peiser. The allegation by Keenan
    > has gone to SUNY. Keenan’s about to be told by SUNY that submitting this has violated a confidentiality agreement he entered into with SUNY when he sent the complaint. WCW has nothing to worry about, but it still unsettling!

    All that Keenan really asked was for Wang’s provenance of his data. Despite Wang claiming for a year that he possessed the data, and despite Keenan’s repeated requests, Wang was unable to produce anything at all. The data referenced in Wang’s paper formed the basis of his global warming claims.

    If Wang wasn’t fabricating his data, then he was grossly incompetent in losing it, as was the school which was supposed to have a copy. [Note that Tom Wigley suspected the former, writing:

    “Seems to me that Keenan has a valid point. The statements in the papers that he quotes seem to be incorrect statements, and that someone (WCW at the very least) must have known at the time that they were incorrect.”

    In other words, Wang lied.

    Yet the university barred Keenan from being involved with the investigation – which was his right according to the school’s written policy on misconduct charges.

    All Wang had to do was produce the supporting data referenced in his peer reviewed paper. If he had lost it, he could certainly have gone back to the original sources he claims to have gotten it from – if it ever existed.

    Instead, Wang stonewalled. To this day, he hasn’t provided any of the requested data. Unless he does, the strong suspicion is that Wang fabricated his data, and that the school whitewashed the charges against him to keep the grant gravy train on track.

    If this is all a misunderstanding, explain all of these discrepancies and emails. Or man-up, and admit that it looks like a coverup of scientific misconduct.

    Like

  3. Ed Darrell says:

    [“Meanwhile, the Maldives and Marshall Islands are in difficult straits…”: a totally preposterous statement, provably false, and bereft of any credible science].

    We’ve been there before. Excuse us if we don’t bate our breathing awaiting your explanation of how the Maldives and Marshalls are fine, despite islands already sinking.

    Still, it would be fun to see you try to document that claim. Any time . . .

    I’ve been following the Keenan/Wang issue since it first appeared, and it is clear that the university deliberately connived to cover up Wang’s fraud.

    In a pretend world, where one can not even be in the same state as officials investigating a serious charge, Smokey can know without question what goes on, no evidence needed.

    What brand is your crystal ball? How does Consumer Reports rate that model?

    They violated their own written rules, with no credible explanation, in a thoroughly dishonest effort to keep Dr Keenan – who brought the charges – barred from the process where he had a right to be.

    Albany is a division of SUNY — it’s a state school. Smokey makes allegations of criminal wrongdoing here, and criminal malfeasance on the parts of Albany’s administrators and lawyers. What are the odds that these people would willingly and cheerfully violate the law, putting their own careers and law licenses on the line, to engage in a fraud so transparent that any Smokey with a crystal ball can discover it and announce it on a minor blog on the internet? Such odds are blessedly small.

    If you have evidence of the criminal actions you claim to have evidence of, Smokey, you have an obligation to call them to the attention of the local district attorney. And if any of the research was federally funded, you should call in the U.S. attorney, too.

    We know why you haven’t bothered to do so.

    [Of course, Keenan has already blown the whistle to every official he can fax. That the Attorney General of New York, the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Energy, the local DA, and SUNY-Albany, and even the crossing guard at the nearby elementary school (we might well assume) disagree with Keenan’s assessment, he presses on. Either he’s right — but I don’t see it, because of reasons made clear in this post, or he’s nuts.]

    When Wang and the investigators emerged from behind closed doors, everyone was smiling. Everyone except the guy who brought the charges. He was kept out of the process.

    Under what clause of the New York State Constitution does an accuser have a right to confront the accused? There is no similar right in federal law, nor in any other state. Can you cite for us this regulation?

    On what do you base your claim that “everyone was smiling?” I didn’t find anyone happy at all. I see a guy with what appears to be a huge grudge so that he wants to crucify Wang rather than get some good science.

    The issue, by the way, was whether a claim that weather stations for a table were selected on the basis of have no or few moves was inaccurate, because some of the stations had been moved. No claim is made that any move would invalidate the data or the conclusions of the study, which is what would be required to make a charge of fraud stick. Smokey’s quibbling over a discussion on the description of methodology, not on the data reported nor the conclusions drawn from those data. As a pragmatic matter, if the researchers had completely made up their claim to have used the best data based on their method, no charge of fraud could obtain without a followup study to show that the data used were wrong.

    It would be an easy study to replicate to prove fraud. All a researcher would have to do is go grab original data from the stations named, or other stations, and make a different case.

    Can anyone guess why, after more than a decade, no climate “skeptic” has bothered to rerun the experiment to reveal fraud?

    And what was Albany’s motivation for the whitewash/coverup? Money – one of the most basic of all motivations: rent-seeking scientists such as Wei-chyung Wang bring grant money into the school. The eastanglia emails show Wang being told in effect not to worry about the charges. And he doesn’t, when even a totally innocent person would be mighty worried in Wang’s predicament, being unable to refute Keenan’s allegations.

    Rent-seeking blog commenters accusing scientists and officials of crimes must be doing it for money. Who is paying you, Smokey? Surely, as a rent-seeker*, you wouldn’t be doing this sort of character assassination gratis.

    Instead, Wang crowed, emailing veiled threats about what he’s going to do his enemies. Why was Wang so supremely confident, when he was never able to document – as any honest scientist would – how he arrived at his conclusions? Simple: the fix was already in.

    I see the assurance of an innocent man. Smokey sees such assurance as a crime itself, as well as evidence of other crimes.

    That’s a good way to run an unholy inquisition — any display of innocence is interpreted as a crime.

    It still leaves Smokey as a participant in an unholy inquisition, but the results will be significant.

    So Wang skated, justice was subverted for money, the school’s own rules were violated – and were it not for the insider leaking of the emails, we would never have known about the Hokey Team’s strategizing over how to extricate Wang – while privately criticizing Wang for screwing up.

    What rules were violated? On the basis of information you have, how can you possibly conclude that Wang was anything other than what the official inquiry said he was — innocent of wrong doing? You can’t, at least, not with any authority.

    And some people still have a problem with the climategate actors being labeled frauds.

    I have difficulty with libelous claims made wholly without evidence. Where is the fraud? You bellyache about “fixed” data, but the reality is that known-to-be-incorrect data were replaced with accurate, actual measurements of temperature. That’s not fraud by any legal definition, and that it makes the figures more accurate galls you no end, I’m sure.

    And the result? The charts as corrected projected temperatures through this last decade as a start — and projected temperatures cooler than measured.

    What sort of fraud damages the case of the frauds and improves the case of the victims — and then gets that case wrong?

    Sound and fury, signifying nothing. Meanwhile, the Maldives still sink, the Marshalls are in trouble, spring comes 8 hours earlier in 2010, tropical plants, animals and mosquitoes migrate into temperate zones, and glaciers disappear.

    You’d think that, with that crystal ball of his, Smokey would do some climate forecasting.

    ___________

    * “Rent seeking” is an economic term, misunderstood by most, understood by few, but which has become a code word insult among right wingnuts. In economic terms, it means someone who hopes to capture income by getting a monopoly declared to prevent any competition. I suppose in climate change science, the right wingnuts may have originally thought scientists were trying to gain a good pension by guaranteeing income from climate change research, wholly failing to understand that once governments get going on solving the crises, there will be no pensionable research available for scientists to get.

    I’ve given up asking the wingnuts to explain what they mean. Generally we get contradictory claims that stray from the economic understanding. Let it suffice to say that when wingnuts accuse scientists of rent-seeking, the wingnuts have abandoned all hope of every having contradictory data to publish to confound the real scientists, and so they seek to assassinate character. It’s a tribute to the wankishness of right wingnuts that they choose such an obscure term to hurl, hoping others will impart some evil in the meaning, while no one involved has a clue what it really means in this context.

    Like

  4. Smokey says:

    It is obvious that Ed Darrell is consumed with envy over Anthony Watts’ roaring success, because he mentions Watt critically so often. You can feel his jealousy as he tries to score points.

    Ed has company: RealClimate got one-tenth the votes in the “Best Science” category that Watts got, and if even if RC makes the final cut this time around, they’ll probably do even worse, due to the growing perception that they are a big part of the climategate fraud. Ed won’t make the cut, though, so he’ll have to be satisfied with nipping at Watts’ ankles.

    This particular thread is actually a pretty big one for Ed, as numbers go: eleven responses, including this one. And half of them are either complaining about the snow, or are Ed’s own posts. Green-eyed jealousy of the “Best Science” site is endemic to the censorship-prone climate alarmist blogs. This blog is just another alarmist blog wannabe: [“Meanwhile, the Malidives and Marshall Islands are in difficult straits…”: a totally preposterous statement, provably false, and bereft of any credible science].

    I’ve been following the Keenan/Wang issue since it first appeared, and it is clear that the university deliberately connived to cover up Wang’s fraud. They violated their own written rules, with no credible explanation, in a thoroughly dishonest effort to keep Dr Keenan – who brought the charges – barred from the process where he had a right to be.

    When Wang and the investigators emerged from behind closed doors, everyone was smiling. Everyone except the guy who brought the charges. He was kept out of the process.

    And what was Albany’s motivation for the whitewash/coverup? Money – one of the most basic of all motivations: rent-seeking scientists such as Wei-chyung Wang bring grant money into the school. The eastanglia emails show Wang being told in effect not to worry about the charges. And he doesn’t, when even a totally innocent person would be mighty worried in Wang’s predicament, being unable to refute Keenan’s allegations.

    Instead, Wang crowed, emailing veiled threats about what he’s going to do his enemies. Why was Wang so supremely confident, when he was never able to document – as any honest scientist would – how he arrived at his conclusions? Simple: the fix was already in.

    So Wang skated, justice was subverted for money, the school’s own rules were violated – and were it not for the insider leaking of the emails, we would never have known about the Hokey Team’s strategizing over how to extricate Wang – while privately criticizing Wang for screwing up.

    And some people still have a problem with the climategate actors being labeled frauds.

    Like

  5. Ed Darrell says:

    ”Read the odd letter [from Albany U] as a lawyer rather than a layman and it all makes sense. The letter says the “the investigation committee finds no evidence of the alleged fabrication of results and nothing that rises to the level of research misconduct having been committed by Dr. Wang.”

    The operative phrases in this two part sentence are (1) fabrication of RESULTS and (2) having been committed by DR. WANG.

    The way I read the letter – and I have written many similar ones in my career – is that Albany found something.

    How would you have read that to mean nothing had been found? Only if the Albany U folks had taken the accuser to the Star Chamber and had him tortured and executed?

    I see lots of nitpicking on the choice of words used in circumstances where the journalism books don’t worry that “explained” is substituted for “said” once every dozen or so times — but nothing to suggest that Borenstein nor anyone else in any organization he’s ever worked for is or was in on any conspiracy, nor even that he’s biased for much other than accurate science reporting.

    I don’t know anything about whether Borenstein is trained or experienced in investigative reporting, but the work on the e-mails looks particularly solid to me on that score.

    We still stand here: There’s no science to rebut what Hadley and the other scientists have found; complaining they are rude when confronted by unevidenced and malicious carping about their work shouldn’t rise to the level of scandal. Soap opera is not real world.

    Meanwhile, the Malidives and Marshall Islands are in difficult straits, CO2 levels rise ominously, and international action required to save the planet remains elusive.

    Like

  6. Roger Knights says:

    Oops — Make that:

    McIntyre’s statistical criticisms of Mann’s hockey stick

    Like

  7. Roger Knights says:

    Perhaps this page has been hacked by coolists who are making a snide comment with the snow. (I can see it — I have Firefox on a Mac.)

    Here’s my critique of Borenstein’s article, which I posted on WUWT in a slightly less polished form:

    ==========

    Here are some of the objectionable quotes in Seth Borenstein’s story.

    A. “It is not clear if any data was destroyed; two U.S. researchers denied it.”

    This would have been the point for him to mention that some data has been lost, or “lost,” if he wanted to be snide.

    B. “Keenan threatened to have the FBI arrest University at Albany scientist Wei-Chyung Wang for fraud. (A university investigation later cleared him of any wrongdoing.)”

    First, it’s a mild journalistic no-no to include an “any” like the one I boldfaced, because it nudges the reader into taking sides. (There’s probably a technical term for this sort of insinuating adjective.)

    Second, this would have been the point for SB to mention that the U of A has refused to release its hearing-report, which it is supposed to do.

    Third, I don’t think it’s accurate to imply that the accusee was entirely exonerated. Here are links to the two WUWT threads on this topic:

    Climate Science Fraud at Albany University?
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/05/03/climate-science-fraud-at-albany-university/

    Surface Temperature Records in China
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2007/08/12/surface-temperature-records-in-china/

    Here’s what one commenter, “An Observer,” stated in the first thread:

    ”Read the odd letter [from Albany U] as a lawyer rather than a layman and it all makes sense. The letter says the “the investigation committee finds no evidence of the alleged fabrication of results and nothing that rises to the level of research misconduct having been committed by Dr. Wang.”

    The operative phrases in this two part sentence are (1) fabrication of RESULTS and (2) having been committed by DR. WANG.

    The way I read the letter – and I have written many similar ones in my career – is that Albany found something. And it was large and was research misconduct. It involved the fabrication of DATA not results and it involved research misconduct by someone other than Dr. Wang. I have my suspicions of whom they are referring to but they are just suspicions.

    This letter is true, accurate and very deceptive. It covers Albany’s posterior while not actually lying. I would venture to guess that Albany has a definition of “research misconduct” that does not include failing to supervise a grad student or failing to thoroughly check the work of your co-author.

    This would also explain why Dr. Keegan was not given the report and why he was not interviewed.

    C. “The “trick” that Jones said he was borrowing from Mann was to add the real temperatures, not what the tree rings showed. And the decline he talked of hiding was not in real temperatures, but in the tree ring data that was misleading, Mann explained”.

    First, once again SB has put his thumb on the scale with a reader-leading word, “explained.” This is taking sides. The neutral word would be “claimed.” (My journalistic experience is limited to a one-year stint as a news producer at a college radio station. But even in that lowly position I was sensitive to the connotations of word-choice in cases like this. I’m a bit surprised SB’s editors didn’t catch this pair of cub-flubs.)

    Second, this would have been the point for SB to slip in a salient fact, thusly: “Mann … who is now also the subject of an official investigation …” (The quote is from the Daily Mail’s story of Dec. 13 by David Rose, here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1235395/SPECIAL-INVESTIGATION-Climate-change-emails-row-deepens–Russians-admit-DID-send-them.html# .)

    Third, his simplistic treatment of “hide the decline” amounts to a whitewashing. The Daily Mail’s fuller treatment is justly non-exculpatory, to put it mildly:

    ”Finally, Briffa changed the way he computed his data and submitted a revised version. This brought his work into line for earlier centuries, and ‘cooled’ them significantly. But alas, it created another, potentially even more serious, problem.

    According to his tree rings, the period since 1960 had not seen a steep rise in temperature, as actual temperature readings showed – but a large and steady decline, so calling into question the accuracy of the earlier data derived from tree rings.

    This is the context in which, seven weeks later, Jones presented his ‘trick’ – as simple as it was deceptive.

    All he had to do was cut off Briffa’s inconvenient data at the point where the decline started, in 1961, and replace it with actual temperature readings, which showed an increase.

    On the hockey stick graph, his line is abruptly terminated – but the end of the line is obscured by the other lines.

    ‘Any scientist ought to know that you just can’t mix and match proxy and actual data,’ said Philip Stott, emeritus professor of biogeography at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

    ‘They’re apples and oranges. Yet that’s exactly what he did.’

    Since Warmergate-broke, some of the CRU’s supporters have claimed that Jones and his colleagues made a ‘full disclosure’ of what they did to Briffa’s data in order to produce the hockey stick.

    But as McIntyre points out, ‘contrary to claims by various climate scientists, the IPCC Third Assessment Report did not disclose the deletion of the post-1960 values’.

    On the final diagram, the cut off was simply concealed by the other lines.
    By 2007, when the IPCC produced its fourth report, McIntyre had become aware of the manipulation of the Briffa data and Briffa himself, as shown at the start of this article, continued to have serious qualms.

    McIntyre by now was an IPCC ‘reviewer’ and he urged the IPCC not to delete the post-1961 data in its 2007 graph. ‘They refused,’ he said, ‘stating this would be “inappropriate”.’”

    D. ”But in the end, global warming didn’t go away, according to the vast body of research over the years.”

    It’s a bit of a red herring to imply that the entire Climategate controversy is over whether global warming is occurring. The dispute is over whether “the consensus” is any longer entitled to the amount of trust that would entitle it to say, “The debate is over; cut your industrial throat, and pay reparations into the bargain.”

    If the consensus ever had that degree of legitimacy, it’s lost it now. The commanding heights on the warmist side – the CRUsaders, the IPCC, the big-name journals, etc. – have shown themselves to be petty, Pecksniffian, and partisan (e.g., Santer’s violence-tinged remarks). They countenanced or engaged in dodgy data, dirty fighting, and dirigisme — an “I direct” attitude. They had the unscientific, autocratic belief that it was an outrage to say them Nay or inquire into their data methods. Etc.

    Well, the wind has whipped that would-be emperor’s robe aside for a moment and shown us his feet of clay. We see that the consensus has, to a significant degree, been engineered rather than arrived at in a purely scientific manner—a manner that a finding of such great economic and social import requires.

    No longer can King Consensus command assent on his mere say-so. The populace in the US will ask itself, “Can fiddlers and finaglers, or their enablers and excusers, be trusted to take our trillions?” The answer will be NO, in thunder. It’s the populace that’s the sovereign. It will not accept an arrant imposition and abuse of its trust – and, if pushed (by the EPA and courts), it will push back.

    If popular consent is to be obtained, a properly scientific do-over is required, under the auspices of panels of independent scientists from a variety of fields (mostly retired), and with lots of input from climate contrarians. This re-do may seem, to the arrogant top-lofties in the field, like a great imposition on them. But, in a year or two they’ll be begging for any chance at a comeback, when they find themselves in history’s dustbin.

    E. ”None of the e-mails flagged by the AP and sent to three climate scientists viewed as moderates in the field changed their view that global warming is man-made and a threat.”

    First, only two scientists are named, Vecchi and North.

    Second, as I mentioned in “D,” it’s a diversion to focus on whether or not the CRUtape letters debunk global warming. That’s not the gravamen of the charge.

    Third, it’s not significant that moderates aren’t yet stepping out of line, because it’s not yet safe to do so (notice how the Team kept their doubts to themselves), and because they’re in to it up to their necks in the groupthink themselves. They can’t turn around on a dime, but have to extricate themselves with circumspection.

    Fourth, I wonder how thoroughly these moderates have considered the skeptics’ case. Have they really heard an extensive and vigorous presentation of the contrarians’s side of the debate? The alarmists have mostly avoided debates, often claiming they would be silly in front of an unscientific audience. OK then, how about a series of video-conferenced debates presented to a scientific audience only? (Perhaps behind the paywall of a scientific society’s website.)

    F. ” Gerald North … headed a National Academy of Sciences study that looked at — and upheld as valid — Mann’s earlier studies that found the 1990s were the hottest years in centuries.”

    That’s a half-truth. The NAS sort of agreed (it’s “plausible”) with Mann’s conclusion (“the 1990s were the hottest years in centuries”), mostly because other studies came to the same conclusion. But it did not uphold the validity of Mann’s studies that came to that conclusion. They disagreed with his use of bristlecone pines as good proxies. Here is a link to the lengthy NAS report: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11676

    Here are the quotes from the NAS report that express little confidence in Mann’s proxies:

    Based on the analyses presented in the original papers by Mann et al. and this newer supporting evidence, the committee finds it plausible that the Northern Hemisphere was warmer during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period over the preceding millennium.
    The substantial uncertainties currently present in the quantitative assessment of large-scale surface temperature changes prior to about A.D. 1600 lower our confidence in this conclusion compared to the high level of confidence we place in the Little Ice Age cooling and 20th century warming.
    Even less confidence can be placed in the original conclusions by Mann et al. (1999) that “the 1990s are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium” because the uncertainties inherent in temperature reconstructions for individual years and decades are larger than those for longer time periods, and because not all of the available proxies record temperature information on such short timescales.””

    The NAS Committee endorsed all of Mann’s statistical criticisms of Mann’s hockey stick. WUWT commenter Allan M R MacRae wrote, “The North Committee reached strong conclusions that condemned Mann’s hockey stick, but the Committee Chairman, Dr. North, aggressively obscured those conclusions in his public statements. Dr. North displayed an appalling lack of objectivity, imo. The Wegman Committee reached similar very negative conclusions about Mann-made global warming, and were far more forthright in their comments.”

    MacRae also said:

    “As a result of a Material Complaint filed by Ross McKitrick of the University of Guelph and Steven McIntyre, Nature issued a Corrigendum in July 2004, a correction of Mann’s hockey stick. It acknowledged extensive errors in the description of the Mann data set, and conceded that key steps in the computations were left out and conflicted with the descriptions in the original paper.”

    So it was misleading of SB to, in effect, invite the reader to come away with the inference that Mann was fully vindicated by the NAS and (by further suggested inference) that McIntyre was a mere pest.

    Summing up, SB’s article contains attempts to subtly demean skeptics, valorize alarmists, omit embarrassing information, and misdirect attention from alarmists’ weak points. When I say that it’s not a bad article, considering the author, you can imagine what that implies about his other work.

    PS: I don’t think that SB’s chumminess with the Team was too terrible (I think that journalists would consider that he was merely “cultivating his sources”), and I think that his noting at the end of his article that he was mentioned in the e-mails was adequate to allow him to contribute to the story.

    Like

  8. John Mashey says:

    If in Firefox:Tool>Options>Content>Enable Javacript
    is on you will get the snow, and likewise in IE, wherever that get set.

    Ed must have Javascript disabled.

    If you look at View Source, and hunt for “snow”, you will find this line, which points to a piece of Javascript:

    http://s1.wordpress.com/wp-content/plugins/snow/snowstorm.js

    So, talk to the WordPress folks, or Google “now falling web page”

    Like

  9. Ed Darrell says:

    No serious distraction, Mark — unless people tell us about odd display problems, we can’t even complain to the programming powers. Glad to have you reading.

    Like

  10. Mark says:

    On second thoughts, I quite like the snow.

    The funny flashing bar at the bottom has now hung around long enough a couple of times so that I can see it is a scroll bar. Its brief appearances seem to be related to the width I set for the browser window, whether I have the Bookmarks tab open (I’m using Firefox), what I happen to be doing with the mouse and perhaps the phase of the moon. Or perhaps none of these. I’m inclined to suspect it’s also related to the fact that I have set a large minimum font size. This does tend to screw up layouts, but means I can read text comfortably.

    Sorry for distracting attention from the actual topic

    Like

  11. Ed Darrell says:

    How about it, readers? Is the snow fouling your browser? (I use Firefox, everything seems just fine.)

    Also, I have no idea what the flashing bar is — nothing from me, nothing I can control. Sorry.

    Like

  12. Mark says:

    There’s snow, and there’s a funny flashing bar at the bottom that doesn’t stay around long enough for me to Ad-Block it. Please make it stop.

    But, yes, excellent post.

    Like

  13. Simon Perry says:

    This is an excellent post. But I got stuck 1/2 way down because of the snow.

    I copied and pasted it into Notepad and read it from there. I was very good.

    Please turn the snow off.

    Like

  14. […] Investigative report: Climate science e-mails ugly, science is … […]

    Like

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