Feeding Frenzy

November 20, 2009

Whoa. The denialosphere is all a twitter with heated banter about a hacked computer server at the East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (CRU).  You can read the ecstatic blog-comments here and here. Frankly, it’s hard to compile all of the data, nonetheless make sense of it. Essentially, some very heavy hitters in the climate community have (allegedly) had their server hacked. A large collection of e-mails over the past decade or so has been released, including strategies about how best to respond to critics and how to ensure that papers make it through peer review.

There are cries of “smoking gun,” “conspiracy,” “collusion,” from those who naturally suspect as much. I’ll confess that it creeps me out to read these e-mails, mostly because it feels so terribly peeping-tom-ish. I’ll even confess that if one puts on some significant ideological glasses, it may look like there’s a lot of shady business going on. There may even be shady business. Certainly, a good bit of this will be spun wildly.

Most of what I’ve seen, however, doesn’t give me the impression that there’s shady business going on. It just makes me uneasy. It’s terribly frank and casual, like many e-mails are. (“That guy X is a massive jerk, isn’t he? Let’s give him a hard time.”) Employing the principle of charity to what I’ve seen so far actually leaves me feeling that the e-mails are not so incriminating. I suppose there really is a possibility of unearthing something devastating, but I’m skeptical about the extent to which there’s anything jaw-dropping here. I’m not at all ruling out the possibility that something jaw-dropping will be discovered, I just don’t know if there is anything yet. (I’ve not sifted through the actual collection of e-mails, mind you. I’m just reading what some of the commenters have written. I assume they’ve culled the best for the most blood-thirsty.)

At any rate, this is an interesting development (not unlike this one). I’ll be really curious to see how it unfolds. Anybody who wants to post something they deem to be extremely incriminating here, feel free to do so. I’m happy to try to give it the most charitable read possible.

UPDATE: Roger has linked to an interview in TGIF (pdf) essentially confirming that the e-mails are real. Doesn’t say much about whether they’ve been tampered with, but he too raises the question that I have. Is this serious or is this much ado about nothing?

UPDATE 2: RealClimate has responded. The more I read the e-mails, the more I think RC is straight up in its response. It is true that I lean their way climatologically speaking, and it is also true that I don’t want a massive political explosion out of this, but as any normal person who would be concerned about this must do, I’m trying to read their e-mails with both a critical and a charitable eye. There is definitely political fodder here. To my mind, not much else.

One point that is not getting much play is the seemingly clear indication that all of these e-mails have been culled in at least one respect: they’re a selection; they don’t contain everything ever written by e-mail. There’s little here about kids, about illness, about who wants to go out for a beer, about other non-professional stuff. Since they’ve been culled in this way, this suggests that someone has read them. They couldn’t filter them for personal content otherwise. And since someone has read them, there’s no reason to believe that that someone has also not tampered with them, or at least tweaked the wording slightly. As I’ve said, very little here seems incriminating to me, so as I read how non-incriminating this is, I’m less likely to suspect that they have been tweaked. At the same time, one cannot dismiss the fact that whoever collected these has read through each of them both with (a) some knowledge of the larger political context and (b) some intent to harm or malign the reputation of those in the e-mails.


  1. There are some serious issues if the emails have not been tampered with (I am convinced already that most or all of these emails actually took place on the day and times given by their headers, the question being whether the bodies have been selectively modified).

    That said, I think it’s premature to go too much further down that road. I don’t feel like smearing colleagues with even suggestions of improprieties until we know what the facts are here.

    I’d rather the worst parts of the emails turn out to be manufactured (it’s very bad for the reputation of scientists in general were this sort of thing to happen), but no matter which way this plays out, it’s going to resemble a brutal contact sport.

    • I agree with you there, James. I really don’t like any kind of shenanigans in science, and I’m currently involved in planning the Responsible Conduct of Research training here at CU to try to make sure that scientists don’t get themselves stuck in any serious ethical ruts.

      As far as going down this road, I think waiting for the facts is a giant mistake. Some of the unverified “facts” are out there. They’re allegations at this point. Some of them aren’t as serious as I think they’re being made out to be, so they can be laid to rest before they spin out of control.

  2. Zimmerman Telegram?

  3. From: Phil Jones
    To: ray bradley ,mann@xxxxx.xxx, mhughes@xxxx.xxx
    Subject: Diagram for WMO Statement
    Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 13:31:15 +0000

    Dear Ray, Mike and Malcolm,
    Once Tim’s got a diagram here we’ll send that either later today or
    first thing tomorrow.
    I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps
    to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from
    1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline. Mike’s series got the annual
    land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land
    N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999
    for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for 1999 with
    data through Oct is +0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998.
    Thanks for the comments, Ray.


    • Yeah, I saw this one before. I think this is what had me thinking that it wasn’t necessarily terribly incriminating. ‘Trick’ is a tricky word, because on one hand it could mean “deception,” as in a magic trick; but on the hand, it could mean “workaround,” which I think is pretty common in science. So too for the language of “real.” I’m not a climate scientist, but I suspect there may be terminology which hints at the instrumental record versus the extrapolated record. This one doesn’t drop my jaw.

      • I’d be interested in your charitable explanation of this part:

        “to hide the decline”

    • Holy smokes…Pete Sampras! You’re a machine. Thanks for visiting. Glad to have you.

      Well, I’m not sure about the “hide the decline” part. Could be duplicitous, could be straightforward. If it’s an attempt to tease out a stronger signal using legitimate techniques — I don’t know these techniques, I’m just hypothesizing charitably — then it’s not inconceivable that this is what this means.

      There are a few variations on this, at least one political another not so political.

      The political variation is that this is what politicians do all the time with numbers. How do we make the economy look bad, even when jobs are on the rise? We quote numbers from a different sector. Nobody’s falsifying numbers there, they’re just arguing a position from a different side of the elephant. I’m not a particular fan of this approach, as it smacks of rhetoric, and science ought not to be rhetorical like that; but it is certainly the way things are done across the political and non-political spectrum, in business and law, for instance.

      The non-political variation suggests that ‘hide’ is used in the vernacular here, to indicate that the signal can be amplified by ‘hiding’ a competing signal.

      Not sure. I don’t know the science. You need more information to convict.

      • When considering the use of the words “trick” and “hide”, it’s worth thinking about what was actually done in this context. A broad red line was added to the spaghetti graph that physically obscured the other lines.

        My immediate view, having read the highlights only, is that nothing duplicitous has occurred, but that we can see scientists behaving as propagandists (or even as evangelists) and constantly seeking to put forward a particular viewpoint and minimise the appearance of any uncertainty.

    • Tricky when taken in context to this statement;

      “No researchers in this field have ever, to our knowledge, “grafted the thermometer record onto” any reconstruction. It is somewhat disappointing to find this specious claim (which we usually find originating from industry-funded climate disinformation websites) appearing in this forum.”

      How people interpret this saga will depend on the views they already hold. The end result will be more cynicism and mistrust.

  4. From: Phil Jones
    To: “Michael E. Mann”
    Subject: IPCC & FOI
    Date: Thu May 29 11:04:11 2008


    Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4?
    Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment – minor family crisis.
    Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t
    have his new email address.
    We will be getting Caspar to do likewise.
    I see that CA claim they discovered the 1945 problem in the Nature paper!!

    Prof. Phil Jones

    • Hard to give this one a charitable read. It seems pretty straightforward. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with deleting e-mails; there maybe is something wrong with deleting e-mails to cover up a known problem. Depends on the extent to which the problem was known, discussed, vetted, and attended to.

      • I should also add that there may be other reasons why they would want to delete the e-mails. If, for instance, there were some very nasty things said in those e-mails, that would be a reason to delete them. Or if, for instance, the e-mails regarding AR4 are supposed to be deleted as a legal matter, or as a political matter.

        I should mention that internal discussions work something like this: someone throws out a few ideas, however convoluted, poorly-phrased, or cockamamie, and the others respond. When you’re dealing with a team of players, the question, in part, is “what did they actually do” and “why did they do it,” not “what did they consider?”

        The final sentence suggests that maybe these aren’t the reasons, but it’s not clear from this quote.

      • This information was subject to an FoI request and it therefore appears to be a criminal offence under UK law.

      • That may be. Don’t know. I’ve just read through most all of the comments on the WUWT thread, and I honestly have difficulty finding really devastating evidence of anything. The above quote is the most difficult so far to offer an explanation for.

      • BH jumps to conclusions. It seems to be a bit of a hobby.

      • Well, I’m sure he’s not alone with the tendency to jump to conclusions. This will be heavily spun. (Unless you’re talking about me. I’m also “BH”. I never jump to conclusions.)

      • The other thing to point out is that the emails were not supposed to be deleted as a legal matter. They were supposed to be open as a matter of policy.

      • One should also point out that it is only a criminal offence if they were in fact deleted.

      • Well, whose policy? My office has policies, but they’re not binding in any legal sense.

  5. From a file called: jones-foiathoughts.doc

    Options appear to be:

    Send them the data

    Send them a subset removing station data from some of the countries who made us pay in the normals papers of Hulme et al. (1990s) and also any number that David can remember. This should also omit some other countries like (Australia, NZ, Canada, Antarctica). Also could extract some of the sources that Anders added in (31-38 source codes in J&M 2003). Also should remove many of the early stations that we coded up in the 1980s.

    Send them the raw data as is, by reconstructing it from GHCN. How could this be done? Replace all stations where the WMO ID agrees with what is in GHCN. This would be the raw data, but it would annoy them.

    • This just looks like straightforward obstructionism to me. Nothing terrible in this, either. It’s an attempt to make life difficult for people who want to make their lives difficult, much like removing all of the “W’s” from the keyboards in the White House as George Bush took office. Not nice, but not scandalous. Kinda pranky. They’re still giving over the data.

      The part about sending them a “subset removing station data”, I think, hangs on whether they were made to pay for the data. There’s reason to accept that they shouldn’t have to hand over data that they had to purchase.

      • They’re still giving over the data.


      • just friendly open science using taxpayer funds eh Ben?

      • Well (a) they’re exploring options, which suggests that they could easily be screwing around, and (b) two of the three options are to give over all of the data, so yeah, they’re still discussing whether to give over the data.

        What they’re discussing here is the extent to which they’re obligated to hand over data that they had to work pretty hard to get. These sorts of discussions aren’t that far out of the ordinary, I’d imagine.

      • There’s reason to accept that they shouldn’t have to hand over data that they had to purchase.

        BS…they paid with OUR MONEY…

      • ice core: I’ve moved your comments so that they fall under the thread of the main comment. If you wouldn’t mind trying to hit the reply immediately underneath either the quote or the response to which you’re responding, that’d help keep things organized. I can see where this might get unwieldy.

      • ice cone,

        Evidently you’ve never read through the typical licensing agreement.

      • The CRU data agreements are public now. They are not “typical licensing agreements”, they are oneliners.

      • Bish,

        It would be interesting if you could demonstrate where any of these ‘one-liners’ extend explicit permission to release proprietary data to unspecified third parties or publish in the public domain. Can you?

  6. I’m moving comments so that they fall under the thread of the main comment. If folks wouldn’t mind trying to hit the reply immediately underneath either the first response to the quote or the response to which you’re responding, that’d help keep things organized. I can see where this might get unwieldy.

  7. Shorter “auditors”: Spend your time giving us information so we can use it to impede your work.

    Shorter scientists: Bugger off.

  8. shorter US taxpayers

    buh bye

    • I’ll be very surprised if that ends up being the case. It would take a lot of spinning to piss off taxpayers and politicians to the point at which they stop funding climate research. As a counterpoint, just look for example at some of the recent corporate scandals, and at some of the related leaked e-mails. The best you’ll get out of this is the “bad apples” argument, maybe a few heads will roll, but I’ve not seen anything yet that gives me the impression that this kind of information is in the e-mails.

      • earth to Ivory Tower

        Taxpayers are already pissed off, Climate Bill was on life support getting shoved off till next year, an election year, which is kiss of death

        these emails have killed it completely

        spinning? project much?

      • I think you’re wrong, but I could be wrong too. Fact is, you’re speculating about the impact of documents that most of the broader public doesn’t care all that much about. If you consider the impact of memos and leaked e-mails in other hot-button issues, the effect, I think, has been relatively minimal. You have to go all the way back to the Pentagon Papers to get an impact of the sort you’re predicting….and sorry, this issue has nowhere near that level of interest.

  9. In response to the E-mail with the title “IPCC & FOI” clearly the reason for requesting E-mails related to the IPCC AR4 is potential FOI requests (as stated in the subject line). This isn’t merely cleaning up the Inbox, this is an effort to erase information that has been requested (or they suspect will be requested) via FOIA and ensure internal discussions involving IPCC matters never see the light of day. I have difficulty in seeing a way in which deleting discussions among AR4 authors for the purpose of avoiding FOIA requests wouldn’t be considered wrong??

    Further relating to FOIA requests jones-foiathoughts.doc indicates an unwillingness to comply with the FOIA. Ben you label this “straightforward obstructionism”. Please correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t responding to an FOIA request with “straightforward obstructionism” wrong on every level?

    These things certainly appear to show the intent is to delete information and through coordinated deletions among multiple IPCC authors avoid disclosure by FOIA requests which possibly/probably violates FIOA laws.

    • I don’t think straightforward obstructionism in responding to a FOIA request is wrong on every level, though there are certainly levels on which it’s frustrating. The government regularly takes its sweet time on FOIA requests. There are time limits, I think, but even then, there are bureaucratic ways of extending the FOIA request so that it takes a long time. It’s certainly not clear that it’s legally problematic. It may be a problem from the standpoint of etiquette, or the codes professional practice, but it’s hard to say whether it’s morally problematic. I’m sure moral theorists could come down either way on it.

      • Being slow or delaying is one thing. Possibly I’m looking at this too simply because I would think that obstructionism by reconstructing raw data from GHCN or removing many datasets would be both legally and morally wrong. The intent in multiple E-mails and documents is noncompliance with FOIA requests. I’m sure the legal issue is complex with the different FOIA laws in play here. The moral issue, other than an ends justifies the means defense seems rather clear cut.

        I can’t imagine a legitimate reason for this planned and coordinated noncompliance other than Phil Jones infamous quote “Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”

      • Again, this is about whether they will be made into political pariahs. No scientist wants that. If the data is released to people like McIntyre (who seem politically and ideologically motivated), then that would provide at least a prima facie reason (a) not to want to release the data, and (b) to seek legal loopholes that would avoid release of the data.

      • Apparently, the facilities of the University of East Anglia, though publicly financed, are not the property of the Crown, nor are its employees public servants.

        The propriety of a FOIA petition directed at non-governmental private individuals is of questionable legal provenance.

        It is to the credit of Phil Jones that he responded at all collegially to such explicit intimidation.

      • Ben – there was no reply link so I couldn’t post this inline below.

        You start by saying the issue is if these scientists “will be made into political pariahs” and in the end seem to justify avoiding providing data to Steve McIntyre on the grounds that he is politically motivated, a political pariah so to speak. While a majority of McIntyre’s support may be from one end of the political spectrum I haven’t seen anything from him that indicates a political motive. Regardless this may be their motive but is certainly not a justification.

        I would agree that these E-mails indicate that they did not want to release information, especially to McIntyre and were looking for ways out. But IMO they cross the line coordinating the deletion of E-mails among various scientists and suggesting ways to provide incomplete or reconstructed data to “annoy them”.

      • LB. Make an effort. Google UEA FOI and you will see the obligations of the University and its staff under the relevant act.

      • Jo,

        Superficially, one might think every member of staff at EAU is obligated, at least since October of this year, to release every jot and tittle of all and any information relevant to any FOIA request.

        It isn’t that simple.

      • LB. From Freedom of Information – University of East Anglia (UEA): Under the terms of the Act, individuals have the right to request any information that is held by the University including all digital and print records and information whether current or archived. There are situations where information is not required to be released, or should not be released due to exemptions. The University, as a public body, is obliged to comply with the Act, and all staff have the responsibility to make themselves aware of their obligations under the Act. Clearer now?

      • Jo,

        Did you even read this part:

        There are situations where information is not required to be released, or should not be released due to exemptions.

        Request denied. Clearer now?

  10. http://www.anelegantchaos.org/cru/emails.php?eid=878

    “2. You can delete this attachment if you want. Keep this quiet also, but this is the person who is putting in FOI requests for all emails Keith and Tim have written and received re Ch 6 of AR4. We think we’ve found a way around this.

    This message will self destruct in 10 seconds!”

    • I don’t see why this would be problematic at all. Can you elaborate? Is it because there’s a suggestion that it should be kept quiet? Or is it because they say they think they’ve found a way around this?

      If it’s because he suggests to keep it quiet, the keeping of it quiet could be related to some data attached (don’t know, don’t have context) or to the fact that they know who is submitting the FOIA requests. Nothing wrong with either of those.

      If the keeping of it quiet refers instead to the “way around this,” then perhaps this is more incriminating, but it’s not clear why keeping it quiet would imply that the way around this is in any way problematic. It could also be a sort of political or legal workaround that can be gotten out of, so they might want to keep it quiet to keep from attracting too much attention.

      As for the “way around this,” we don’t know what it is. Could be political. Could be legal. Only might be unethical. You just don’t know. The e-mails don’t give us information about that. In order to find a smoking gun, you need something that suggests that the way around this is really something completely unacceptable, legally or morally. Simply stating that there is a way around something suggests quite the opposite to me: that there is a way “within the rules” around something. That’s what they’ve found, IMHO.

      • Ben, I can understand your desire to be charitable. But that seems to overlook a consistent pattern across the emails:


        “The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone. Does your similar act in the US force you to respond to enquiries within 20 days? – our does ! The UK works on precedents, so the first request will test it.

        We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind. Tom Wigley has sent me a worried email when he heard about it – thought people could ask him for his model code. He has retired officially from UEA so he can hide behind that. IPR should be relevant here, but I can see me getting into an argument with someone at UEA who’ll say we must adhere to it !”

      • Moved your comment to below.

  11. Ben. I have reviewed about 10 of the emails. What disturbs me is that science, it seems to me, should not be trying to “spin” the data in order to achieve a certain result. That is the sense I get in reading this email. They want to present the data in the light most favorable to what they believe is the TRUTH. I would prefer a more objective analysis of the data.

    The other disturbing tone which emerges is the desire to censor skeptic views – trying to block publication in peer review journals, so it can still be argued the skeptics should be ignored because they haven’t published in those journals. Then when that battle is lost – try to redefine which journals are really within their definition of “peer review”.

    A true scientist needs to be open to the possibility that their theory is in fact wrong – not ignore evidence to the contrary.

    • Actually, now that I think about it more – they wanted to “edit” the past data to present the data in the light most favorable to what they were trying to show. That is really very troubling. It really casts doubt on all of the global temperature data sets. I already had doubts about GISS and this just vastly increases those doubts.

    • Yeah, that’s a more difficult question. I agree that there is an ideal scientist, and that this ideal scientist should extract him or herself from all political matters, but ideals and reals are pretty far apart. These people are human, and in their internal deliberations, just as in your own internal deliberations (privately or collectively), bad judgment slips in, political considerations interfere, biases present themselves, and so on.

      Moreover, I think it’s false that scientists don’t also act as editors or presenters of their material, thereby permitting some amount of framing. Every written document has an authorial angle; and even the most scientific document seeks to make an argument. Ideally this argument is as honest and forthright as possible, considering as many possible objections as possible, but I think it is never possible to extract this important social dimension from any scientific study. I bet you can’t point to one scientific study in which that’s been done successfully. There are two things to say here:

      (1) that there was a preliminary discussion among co-authors about how to phrase things or put things or make their argument as strong as possible doesn’t necessarily impugn the integrity of the overall argument. Again, these discussions happen all the time in co-authored documents.

      (2) it matters whether and if they manipulated or simply framed the findings. I don’t know. If they simply framed the findings, not such a big deal. If they manipulated the data, that’s obviously a much bigger deal.

      • On your second comment, depends what they mean by “edit.” Might mean that they take out stuff to manipulate the findings. Might also mean that they trim the data so that it fits more clearly with the hypothesis they’re trying to demonstrate.

        For instance: suppose I want to argue that the books in my library are old and need to be replaced. If 80% of the books in my library are new and I take all of the new books out of my sample to make my case, that’s manipulating the findings. If instead 20% of the books in the library are new but for some reason the sample I’ve gotten is unrepresentative of the books on my shelf, I might want to go back and edit the data to cut out the noise or re-run the sample.

        Nothing in the word “edit” suggests that the editing need to take place for deceptive reasons.

  12. Ben, I can understand your desire to be charitable. But that seems to overlook a consistent pattern across the emails:


    “The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone. Does your similar act in the US force you to respond to enquiries within 20 days? – our does ! The UK works on precedents, so the first request will test it.

    We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind. Tom Wigley has sent me a worried email when he heard about it – thought people could ask him for his model code. He has retired officially from UEA so he can hide behind that. IPR should be relevant here, but I can see me getting into an argument with someone at UEA who’ll say we must adhere to it !”

    • Again, here’s another case. This is a discussion about the rules. Partly incriminating is “I think I’ll delete…” statement, but simply thinking about doing something isn’t necessarily a problem. Could be thinking about it as a kind of “I think I’d eat nails rather than send the document.”

      Also, being worried about something could have multiple different reasons. They might be worried about the release of the data because, as I”m sure you understand, from their perspective, it is a massive waste of time to have to respond to Morano, McIntyre, Inhofe and others. It would definitely be worrisome to have the entire denialospheric establishment e-mailing you or making charges in the press.

      • See my comment above.

  13. It might be trite to say that this deserves more attention than “much ado about nothing” without accepting that the edifice of AGW has crumbled.

    Apparently there were thousands, or tens of thousands, of email stolen. Some (dozens? hundreds?) suggest ethical or even legal problems. They do need to be looked into and taken seriously.

    In any field where thousands of people work over many years, there are likely going to be ethical lapses and worse by some. A proper investigation of the most damning emails needs to determine if they provide evidence of this. If confirmed, they need to pay the price for those actions. And I think that such a process is usually called DUE PROCESS.

    It seems that a handful of people at the worst are involved. Hundreds or thousands of researchers are out there who are not. We don’t do guilt by association.

    And yes, anybody who hacks into a computer and steals data should be prosecuted.

    • Agreed. Due process is important. In time, these things will sort themselves out. One thing I think is coming out, though, is that given the multiple very plausible interpretations of the e-mails, readers don’t have anywhere near enough evidence to implicate a single author in wrongdoing.

      • Depends on what you mean by implicate. We don’t have enough evidence to _convict_ anybody.

      • But, man, we’ll be able to work those _implications_ for years!

      • Yeah, it’ll fuel speculation about conspiracy, it’ll fuel suspicion about science, it’ll maybe even raise the real objection that scientists are people too, or that political considerations are inextricably bound up in scientific research… all that may come out of this.

        Will this whole affair prove to be an irresistible hook for persuading others that the climate science is all wrong? Hard to imagine. Not from what I’ve seen so far.

        The best outcome to come from this, IMHO, would be that scientists start paying attention to values considerations and start taking ethics a bit more seriously… not because they need to be trained in what to do, but because they can’t escape the ethical dimensions of their research.

  14. Is this all there is??? This is NOTHING! There is nothing here that changes the SCIENCE of man-made global warming.

    • Yes, I agree with you. I think there may be more to come out of this, and I’m sure that some parties will make great hay with the emails, but I suspect this is a bigger political problem than anything else.

    • Incidentally, there is actually more than this. You should visit ClimateAudit for the full skinny. You’ll read all sorts of stuff. Most of it is equally ambiguous. If you’re already of the mindset that the folks in this lab steer (and manipulate) their research primarily out of political motivations, as I suspect many who self-identify as skeptics or deniers are, then there are many titillating ways to read this out of the e-mails. If you’re not of that mindset, then I think you can see the ambiguity in the e-mails a little more clearly.

      There’s quite a bit more in the released documents, including large data sets, and you can bet independent researchers like Steve McIntyre will have a heyday with the data. What he’ll do with it is an open question.

  15. Ben, I look forward to how this story unfolds. Very interesting to read your reaction today. I wonder what your reaction will be in a day, a week, a month, and a year?


    • Hey Bruce: me too. It’ll be interesting to watch. Frankly, I hope it doesn’t blow up in the wrong kind of way, by which I mean that it becomes a polarizing narrative. It has so little to do with the climate science itself, in my judgment, but it threatens to galvanize sides in the political arena.

      • <<little to do with the science itself…

        Agreed, but it's pretty interesting for sociology of science/knowledge.

        It's interesting that so many people seem to be taking the email wordings SO literally. I don't know anything about Jones or Trenberth, but we all have colleagues who are full of drama and sometimes bluster when they get excited by something. From the outside, at first encounter, these people often seem over the top. But after a while everyone ascribes their style to "personality."

        For instance, I know someone very prominent in his field. A while back at he was complaining about the prospect of a new specialized journal cutting into the supply of good manuscripts for the journal where he was editor – he made a crack at a conference that he would pay $50k to stop the journal from launching. Now, of course no one took him seriously – he's always saying things like this – but years later, out of conversational context, it sure could look like heavy-handed pressure on scientific progress, if you wanted to portray it that way.

        For me, just another reason (along with others already mentioned) that it's hard to take the emails as evidence of wrongdoing.

      • Great example. I’ve been thinking of similar kinds of cases. Many things are said off the cuff in my department that really could be taken in the wrong way, or that seem aimed at doing something illicit. Looking back over my e-mail correspondences, there are many times where I think an e-mail could easily be misinterpreted.

        What’s amazing is how little there is here.

      • Just saw this post at CA and thought it summed up the situation nicely. It’s from Michael Smith responding to a post by thefordprefect:

        “Have you noted any emails where an admission that global warming is not happening?”

        Well, we’ve got Kevin Trenberth declaring it a “travesty” that no one can explain the lack of warming in recent years.

        But really, the story here is not that these e-mails prove anything one way or the other about global warming. Rather, what they illustrate is the stunning extenct to which the objectivity of these scientists has been destroyed by confirmation bias.

        These guys have literally elevated “global warming” to be the standard by which the credibility, relevance, accuracy — indeed, even the morality — of any data or any argument or any individual is to be judged. In their world, all that which supports the claims of AGW is the good, the valid, the accurate, the proper – while all that which contradicts, questions or critically examines AGW is the bad, the invalid, the improper. And in accordance with this standard, the e-mails reveal a willingness to obstruct, distort, deflect and obfuscate to protect and promote “the good” and stop “the bad.”

        Mind you, this is not being done to push something they know to be false — rather, and this is much more dangerous, they are doing this to protect something they believe in so strongly they’ve decided it is beyond anyone’s right to question or examine.

        The e-mails tell us little about the science — but they tell us a great deal about the scientists.

        Well said.

      • BDAABAT,

        rather, and this is much more dangerous, they are doing this to protect something they believe in so strongly they’ve decided it is beyond anyone’s right to question or examine.

        That is one interpretation.

        It could as well be a reaction against a perceived organized political effort to undermine the research regardless of scientific merit.

  16. oops [fixed–Ben]

    • LB: Guess you didn’t see where Jones was getting hundreds of millions of dollars for the “research”? No? It’s an organized effort alright… clearly orchestrated amongst the warmistas to keep their version of the truth going.


    • BTW: Nice ends-justifies-the-means argument there. That’s really good! You just admitted that the guys were not engaged in “science”; your argument acknowledges that they believe they were forced to engage in fraud in order to maintain the truth.


      • Um, how so? Not at all clear.

        Also, nothing there about ends justifying the means. We don’t know what the means are, and we’re not clear on the justification.

        Finally, isn’t it the case that all grant proposals seek to get money for doing research? And isn’t it the case that every grant proposal offers a justification for that research?

      • OMFG,

        Talk about confirmation bias.

      • Was a comment directed at LB who wrote:
        It could as well be a reaction against a perceived organized political effort to undermine the research regardless of scientific merit.

        The ends justifies the means.


      • Ben wrote:

        “Also, nothing there about ends justifying the means. We don’t know what the means are, and we’re not clear on the justification.

        Finally, isn’t it the case that all grant proposals seek to get money for doing research? And isn’t it the case that every grant proposal offers a justification for that research?”

        I’m stunned that you would come to this conclusion. I guess you have a very different set of values than most. Tell me, do your professional organizations function like this? Is this the standard in your community?

        The reality is that we now know a great deal about the desired “ends” from the correspondence. The ends is to maintain the belief that human induced global warming is bad and getting worse. They hint at outright manipulation of data to come up with their predetermined outcomes. They explicitly engage in attempts to discredit those that disagree with them. They explicitly discuss attempts to remove editors of journals that may allow “different” points of view to be published.

        More disturbing, it appears they were successful!

        And, yes, one does expect to get paid when one is contracted to do research. However, hundreds of millions of dollars in grant funding over the past 20 years is a pretty good incentive to do whatever you can to keep the grant cycles churning. “Whatever they can do” seems to include blocking publication of information that might question their claims of impending doom; denying access to information and code that might show how shoddy the work being done is. They acknowledge deleting emails in attempts to evade disclosure. They openly discuss their efforts and strategies to thwart FOIA requests.

        This is not a case of a little scientific misunderstanding. This is not the case of one or two people behaving rudely. These messages show that for these folks, the name and patina of science is being used to support the underlying belief.


      • I fail to see the evidence of that. Piece together a good narrative about how that’s the case, and we’ll discuss. But from what I’ve read so far, I don’t see how there’s enough here to say that they were manipulating data to sustain the belief that global warming is happening. You may want to believe that that’s what they’re up to; but I don’t think that that comes from the e-mails themselves… at least, what I’ve read of them.

        Clearly, if there were such manipulation of data, that would be a big problem, and no I wouldn’t endorse such a thing. I’m just commenting on the e-mails I’ve read so far, as well as your charge that somehow this involves ends-justify-means reasoning. Since we don’t know what the means are, we can’t say.

      • Incidentally, prove it. You seem to be so hip on proof and on the scientific method, go for it. Give it a shot. Make your case.

        You said:

        > “Whatever they can do” seems to include blocking publication of information that might question their claims of impending doom.

        Does it? Maybe it doesn’t. “Can” has multiple interpretations: logical, possible, metaphysical, legal, moral, and so on. If it’s meant legally, as I assume it is, they’ll do whatever they can within the law.

        > denying access to information and code that might show how shoddy the work being done is.

        You’re assuming too much. Is this in there? Show me the money. I don’t see it. They say, sure, that they want to deny access, but your reason may well not be why they want to deny access. I would also deny access to my files, but not because I’m afraid of people finding mistakes, but because I don’t want that kind of attention drawn to myself. As you well know, the attention is on them.

        > They acknowledge deleting emails in attempts to evade disclosure.

        They do? Haven’t seen that. Would like to tho. Even if they did delete emails, do you have evidence that they did so for the purpose of evading disclosure? I also delete e-mails, sometimes because I want to clear out my inbox, sometimes because I’ve said something about someone else that I’m not proud of.

        > They openly discuss their efforts and strategies to thwart FOIA requests.

        10 to 1 everybody who gets FOIA requests actively engages in a discussion about how to thwart such requests. Again, there are legal ways around FOIA requests, and Universities employ counsel to advise their employees about how best to handle situations like FOIA requests, particularly if the requests come from parties that may have some interest in smearing the reputation of their faculty and staff. There’s nothing duplicitous about this. We have a vast network of laws that specify what is permitted and what is not permitted.

        Point being, Bruce, I think you’re reading way too much into these emails. I know you have your deep suspicions about what’s happening here, and I’m sure that these e-mails provide confirmation of those suspicions, but they don’t actually do that. There are perfectly reasonable explanations for most of the e-mails that I’ve seen.

      • Bruce,

        Perhaps you misunderstood me. When I say regardless of scientific merit, I was referring to critics like Steve McIntyre and Ross McKittrick who persistently fail to recognize the lack of merit in their insufficient and seriously flawed criticisms.

      • Deleting emails regarding the FOIA and AR4:

        [Ben: I reply to this one above.]

        From: Phil Jones
        To: “Michael E. Mann”
        Subject: IPCC & FOI
        Date: Thu May 29 11:04:11 2008


        Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4?
        Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment – minor family crisis.
        Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t
        have his new email address.
        We will be getting Caspar to do likewise.
        I see that CA claim they discovered the 1945 problem in the Nature paper!!

        Prof. Phil Jones
        Climatic Research Unit Telephone +44 (0) 1603 592090
        School of Environmental Sciences Fax +44 (0) 1603 507784
        University of East Anglia
        Norwich Email p.jones@xxxxxxxxx.xxx
        NR4 7TJ

      • Tactics for withholding information from FIOA requests.

        [Ben: Simply discussing tactics for obstructing FOIA requests is neither a crime nor unethical. It’s a method, like the filibuster, of trying to push the conversation down the road. In this case, the “data is covered” which means that there may be strong legal reasons for them not to respond to FOIA requests.]

        From: Phil Jones
        To: Tom Wigley
        Subject: Re: FOIA
        Date: Fri Jan 21 15:20:06 2005
        Cc: Ben Santer

        I’ll look at what you’ve said over the weekend re CCSP.
        I don’t know the other panel members. I’ve not heard any
        more about it since agreeing a week ago.
        As for FOIA Sarah isn’t technically employed by UEA and she
        will likely be paid by Manchester Metropolitan University.
        I wouldn’t worry about the code. If FOIA does ever get
        used by anyone, there is also IPR to consider as well.
        Data is covered by all the agreements we sign with people,
        so I will be hiding behind them. I’ll be passing any
        requests onto the person at UEA who has been given a post to
        deal with them.

      • Stacking the editorial board to prevent “bad research” from getting in:

        [Ben: How is this stacking the editorial board? They’re saying that CR is no longer a journal that they can consider publishing in. These kinds of discussions happen all the time, particularly when a bad review comes back. Look, this is all messy business, to be sure; but it’s the way things are done in every discipline. There are minor coups in philosophy too. One person doesn’t agree with a particular line of philosophy, maybe deeming it stupid or useless or pointless or destructive, so makes some noise about how bad it is, tells his friends that it’s not legit. They make arguments. They’re not trying to stack the editorial board. Nothing suspicious here. Move along.]

        From: “Michael E. Mann”
        To: Phil Jones ,rbradley@xxxxxxxxx.xxx, mhughes@xxxxxxxxx.xxx,srutherford@xxxxxxxxx.xxx,tcrowley@xxxxxxxxx.xxx
        Subject: Re: Fwd: Soon & Baliunas
        Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2003 08:14:49 -0500
        Cc: k.briffa@xxxxxxxxx.xxx,jto@u.arizona.edu,drdendro@xxxxxxxxx.xxx, keith.alverson@xxxxxxxxx.xxx,mmaccrac@xxxxxxxxx.xxx,jto@u.arizona.edu, mann@xxxxxxxxx.xxx

        Thanks Phil,
        (Tom: Congrats again!)
        The Soon & Baliunas paper couldn’t have cleared a ‘legitimate’ peer review process
        anywhere. That leaves only one possibility–that the peer-review process at Climate
        Research has been hijacked by a few skeptics on the editorial board. And it isn’t just De
        Frietas, unfortunately I think this group also includes a member of my own department…
        The skeptics appear to have staged a ‘coup’ at “Climate Research” (it was a mediocre
        journal to begin with, but now its a mediocre journal with a definite ‘purpose’).
        Folks might want to check out the editors and review editors:
        In fact, Mike McCracken first pointed out this article to me, and he and I have discussed
        this a bit. I’ve cc’d Mike in on this as well, and I’ve included Peck too. I told Mike that
        I believed our only choice was to ignore this paper. They’ve already achieved what they
        wanted–the claim of a peer-reviewed paper. There is nothing we can do about that now, but
        the last thing we want to do is bring attention to this paper, which will be ignored by the
        community on the whole…
        It is pretty clear that thee skeptics here have staged a bit of a coup, even in the
        presence of a number of reasonable folks on the editorial board (Whetton, Goodess, …). My
        guess is that Von Storch is actually with them (frankly, he’s an odd individual, and I’m
        not sure he isn’t himself somewhat of a skeptic himself), and without Von Storch on their
        side, they would have a very forceful personality promoting their new vision.
        There have been several papers by Pat Michaels, as well as the Soon & Baliunas paper, that
        couldn’t get published in a reputable journal.
        This was the danger of always criticising the skeptics for not publishing in the
        “peer-reviewed literature”. Obviously, they found a solution to that–take over a journal!
        So what do we do about this? I think we have to stop considering “Climate Research” as a
        legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate
        research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal. We would also
        need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently
        sit on the editorial board…
        What do others think?

      • We don’t like the editors of this particular journal, so you ought not send papers there.

        [Ben: See above comment. There’s some discussion here about illegitimate editorial practices and ethics boards too, which I think should raise your suspicions not that there is anything underhanded going on here on the part of Wigley, but rather that the editorial practices are possibly at odds with the ethical codes of the discipline.]

        From: Tom Wigley
        To: André Berger
        Subject: Re: FW: Shaviv & Veizer in GSA Today
        Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003 09:00:33 -0600
        Cc: Mike MacCracken , Martin Hoffert , Karl Taylor , Ken Caldiera , Curt Covey , Stefan Rahmstorf , “Michael E. Mann” , Raymond Bradley , Malcolm Hughes , Phil Jones , Kevin Trenberth , Tom Crowley , Scott Rutherford , Caspar Ammann , Keith Briffa , Tim Osborn , Michael Oppenheimer , Steve Schneider , Gabi Hegerl , Ellen Mosley-Thompson , Eric Steig , jmahlman@xxxxxxxxx.xxx, wuebbles@xxxxxxxxx.xxx, jto@u.arizona.edu, stocker@xxxxxxxxx.xxx, Urs Neu , Jürg Beer


        I have been closely involved in the CR fiasco. I have had papers that I
        refereed (and soundly rejected), under De Freitas’s editorship, appear
        later in the journal — without me seeing any response from the authors.
        As I have said before to others, his strategy is first to use mainly
        referees that are in the anti-greenhouse community, and second, if a
        paper is rejected, to ignore that review and seek another more
        ‘sympathic’ reviewer. In the second case he can then (with enough
        reviews) claim that the honest review was an outlier.

        I agree that an ethics committee is needed and I would be happy to serve
        on such a committee. It would have to have endorsement by international
        societies, like Roy. Soc., US Nat. Acad., Acad. Europ., plus RMS, AMS,
        AGU, etc.

        Jim Titus mentioned to me that in the legal profession here people are
        disbarred for behavior like that of De Freitas (and even John Christy —
        although this is a more subtle case). We cannot do that of course, but
        we can alert the community of honest scientists to such behavior and
        formally discredit these people.

        The Danish Acad. did something like this recently, but were not entirely

        In the meantime, I urge people to dissociate themselves from Climate
        Research. The residual ‘editorial’ (a word I use almost tongue in cheek)
        board is looking like a rogues’ gallery of skeptics. Those remaining who
        are credible scientists should resign.



      • Colluding to influence the publication process (in violation of the terms of review).

        [Ben: Well, it’s a confidential e-mail, so that already seems sneaky. But confidential e-mails needn’t signal violations, and in this case, I’m not sure it does. There’s nothing here about influencing the publication process. I don’t know anything about the datasets he’s referencing, so I can’t say. But again, there’s nothing terribly alarming here, is there?]

        From: Phil Jones
        To: “Michael E. Mann”
        Subject: Crap Papers
        Date: Thu Feb 26 15:59:12 2004


        Just agreed to review a paper for GRL – it is absolute rubbish. It is having a go at
        CRU temperature data – not the latest vesion, but the one you used in MBH98 !! We added
        lots of data in for the region this person says has Urban Warming ! So easy review to do.
        Sent Ben the Soon et al. paper and he wonders who reviews these sorts of things. Says
        GRL hasn’t a clue with editors or reviewers. By chance they seem to have got the right
        person with the one just received.
        Can I ask you something in CONFIDENCE – don’t email around, especially not to
        Keith and Tim here. Have you reviewed any papers recently for Science that say that
        MBH98 and MJ03 have underestimated variability in the millennial record – from models
        or from some low-freq proxy data. Just a yes or no will do. Tim is reviewing them – I
        to make sure he takes my comments on board, but he wants to be squeaky clean with
        discussing them with others. So forget this email when you reply.

        Prof. Phil Jones
        Climatic Research Unit Telephone +44 (0) 1603 592090
        School of Environmental Sciences Fax +44 (0) 1603 507784
        University of East Anglia
        Norwich Email p.jones@xxxxxxxxx.xxx
        NR4 7TJ

      • Data manipulation to achieve desired results:

        [Ben: Um, where is the alleged reference to manipulating the data? It’s not here. He, like any scientist, is trying to use the data to make an interesting observation. Again, I see nothing particularly suspicious about this.]

        From: Gary Funkhouser
        To: k.briffa@xxxxxxxxx.xxx
        Subject: kyrgyzstan and siberian data
        Date: Thu, 19 Sep 1996 15:37:xxx xxxx xxxx


        Thanks for your consideration. Once I get a draft of the central
        and southern siberian data and talk to Stepan and Eugene I’ll send
        it to you.

        I really wish I could be more positive about the Kyrgyzstan material,
        but I swear I pulled every trick out of my sleeve trying to milk
        something out of that. It was pretty funny though – I told Malcolm
        what you said about my possibly being too Graybill-like in evaluating
        the response functions – he laughed and said that’s what he thought
        at first also. The data’s tempting but there’s too much variation
        even within stands. I don’t think it’d be productive to try and juggle
        the chronology statistics any more than I already have – they just
        are what they are (that does sound Graybillian). I think I’ll have
        to look for an option where I can let this little story go as it is.

        Not having seen the sites I can only speculate, but I’d be
        optimistic if someone could get back there and spend more time
        collecting samples, particularly at the upper elevations.

        Yeah, I doubt I’ll be over your way anytime soon. Too bad, I’d like
        to get together with you and Ed for a beer or two. Probably
        someday though.

        Cheers, Gary
        Gary Funkhouser
        Lab. of Tree-Ring Research
        The University of Arizona
        Tucson, Arizona 85721 USA
        phone: (5xxx xxxx xxxx
        fax: (5xxx xxxx xxxx
        e-mail: gary@xxxxxxxxx.xxx


      • Attempting to discredit a colleague by attacking his PhD thesis.

        When you don’t have the facts, argue the facts. When you don’t, don’t have the facts, attack the man.

        [Ben: Are you serious? If he’s attacking his PhD thesis, he’s not attacking the man. The man, in other words, is not his PhD thesis. Looks to me that he does give reasons to discount the work of the PhD thesis. Namely, “it was at odds with all previous studies of crop-climate relationships.” Bruce, this is getting tiresome. There’s nothing here. You’re reading way too much into these e-mails.

        From: Tom Wigley
        To: Rick Piltz
        Subject: Re: FYI–“Phil Jones and Ben Santer respond to CEI and Pat Michaels attack on temperature data record”
        Date: Tue, 13 Oct 2009 19:45:45 -0600
        Cc: Thomas.R.Karl@xxxxxxxxx.xxx, Jim Hansen , Steve Schneider , Gavin Schmidt , Kevin Trenberth , Michael Mann , Stefan Rahmstorf , Phil Jones , Ben Santer

        Dear folks,

        You may be interesting in this snippet of information about
        Pat Michaels. Perhaps the University of Wisconsin ought to
        open up a public comment period to decide whether Pat Michaels,
        PhD needs re-assessing?

        Michaels’ PhD was, I believe, supervised by Reid Bryson. It dealt
        with statistical (regression-based) modeling of crop-climate
        relationships. In his thesis, Michaels claims that his statistical
        model showed that weather/climate variations could explain 95%
        of the inter-annual variability in crop yields. Had this been
        correct, it would have been a remarkable results. Certainly, it
        was at odds with all previous studies of crop-climate relationships,
        which generally showed that weather/climate could only explain about
        50% of inter-annual yield variability.

        How did result come about? The answer is simple. In Michaels’
        regressions he included a trend term. This was at the time a common
        way to account for the effects of changing technology on yield. It
        turns out that the trend term accounts for 90% of the variability,
        so that, in Michaels’ regressions, weather/climate explains just 5
        of the remaining 10%. In other words, Michaels’ claim that
        weather/climate explains 95% of the variability is completely

        Apparently, none of Michaels’ thesis examiners noticed this. We
        are left with wondering whether this was deliberate misrepresentation
        by Michaels, or whether it was simply ignorance.

        As an historical note, I discovered this many years ago when working
        with Dick Warrick and Tu Qipu on crop-climate modeling. We used a
        spatial regression method, which we developed for the wheat belt of
        southwestern Western Australia. We carried out similar analyses for
        winter wheat in the USA, but never published the results.

        Wigley, T.M.L. and Tu Qipu, 1983: Crop-climate modelling using spatial

        patterns of yield and climate: Part 1, Background and an example from

        Australia. Journal of Climate and Applied Meteorology 22, 1831�1841.

        There never was a “Part 2”.


      • More on data manipulation to get the desired result.

        [Ben: In what respect is this data manipulation? Any author or scientist always edits out material. That’s a fact about how material is presented. He also edited out the fact that he was smoking a cigarette that morning, that he had a coffee stain on his shirt, and that there were thirteen crows on his balcony. There is nothing in these e-mails you’re posting.

        From: Mick Kelly
        Subject: RE: Global temperature
        Date: Sun, 26 Oct 2008 09:02:00 +1300

        Yeah, it wasn’t so much 1998 and all that that I was concerned about, used to dealing with that, but the possibility that we might be going through a longer – 10 year – period of relatively stable temperatures beyond what you might expect from La Nina etc.

        Speculation, but if I see this as a possibility then others might also. Anyway, I’ll maybe cut the last few points off the filtered curve before I give the talk again as that’s trending down as a result of the end effects and the recent cold-ish years.

        Enjoy Iceland and pass on my best wishes to Astrid.



      • More deleting emails in order to avoid FOIA:

        [Ben: Well, since the e-mail discusses their conversations with their FOIA rep, who I suspect is a lawyer, I’d put my money on the FOIA people knowing how to handle these things and this not being legally suspect. Looks like they’re going through the proper University channels to respond to the FOIA requests. Just because they’re not giving out the data isn’t necessarily an indication of wrongdoing.]

        From: Phil Jones
        To: santer1@xxxxxxxxx.xxx, Tom Wigley
        Subject: Re: Schles suggestion
        Date: Wed Dec 3 13:57:09 2008
        Cc: mann , Gavin Schmidt , Karl Taylor , peter gleckler

        When the FOI requests began here, the FOI person said we had to abide
        by the requests. It took a couple of half hour sessions – one at a screen, to convince
        them otherwise
        showing them what CA was all about. Once they became aware of the types of people we were
        dealing with, everyone at UEA (in the registry and in the Environmental Sciences school
        – the head of school and a few others) became very supportive. I’ve got to know the FOI
        person quite well and the Chief Librarian – who deals with appeals. The VC is also
        aware of what is going on – at least for one of the requests, but probably doesn’t know
        the number we’re dealing with. We are in double figures.

        One issue is that these requests aren’t that widely known within the School. So
        I don’t know who else at UEA may be getting them. CRU is moving up the ladder of
        requests at UEA though – we’re way behind computing though. We’re away of
        requests going to others in the UK – MOHC, Reading, DEFRA and Imperial College.
        So spelling out all the detail to the LLNL management should be the first thing
        you do. I hope that Dave is being supportive at PCMDI.
        The inadvertent email I sent last month has led to a Data Protection Act request sent by
        a certain Canadian, saying that the email maligned his scientific credibility with his
        If he pays 10 pounds (which he hasn’t yet) I am supposed to go through my emails
        and he can get anything I’ve written about him. About 2 months ago I deleted loads of
        emails, so have very little – if anything at all. This legislation is different from the
        FOI –
        it is supposed to be used to find put why you might have a poor credit rating !
        In response to FOI and EIR requests, we’ve put up some data – mainly paleo data.
        Each request generally leads to more – to explain what we’ve put up. Every time, so
        far, that hasn’t led to anything being added – instead just statements saying read
        what is in the papers and what is on the web site! Tim Osborn sent one such
        response (via the FOI person) earlier this week. We’ve never sent programs, any codes
        and manuals.
        In the UK, the Research Assessment Exercise results will be out in 2 weeks time.
        These are expensive to produce and take too much time, so from next year we’ll
        be moving onto a metric based system. The metrics will be # and amounts of grants,
        papers and citations etc. I did flippantly suggest that the # of FOI requests you get
        should be another.
        When you look at CA, they only look papers from a handful of
        people. They will start on another coming out in The Holocene early next year. Gavin
        and Mike are on this with loads of others. I’ve told both exactly what will appear on
        CA once they get access to it!


      • I sure wish you’d taken the time to plug these in in the proper reply column. I can’t easily respond to each one this way.

      • BTW: I’m “hip” on science. What’s been happening with these folks demonstrates a perversion of the scientific method and of the process for publication.

        Ask yourself this question: after reading these email messages, do you REALLY believe that any papers submitted for publication that differ from their beliefs, even if well done scientifically, would be accepted for publication?


        [Ben: see my responses above in deep orange. I enjoy this in a way, Bruce, I really do; but I have to say, I disagree with you. I think you’re reading way too much into this. In the future, would you mind responding below this thread. It’s grown way too long.]

      • BTW: Much better summary of the activities is available from Bishop Hill.



  17. LB: Guess you didn’t see where Jones was getting hundreds of millions of dollars for the “research”? No?

    No, Bruce, I didn’t.


  18. A bit late with this, but I see that someone has mentioned Jones’s “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps
    to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from
    1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline. ”

    This e-mail dates from 1999, so what decline from 1961 could he be talking about. Everyone knows that at the time 1998 was the hottest year on record.

  19. Ben, you can try to explain away what you want. Have fun with that. You see things one way, I see them another. I’m amazed at your ability to justify, but, well, that’s life. People choose to see things the way they do for a variety of reasons.

    However, let’s look at this in a larger perspective. Does this really strike you as acceptable? Does this really seem like things are operating the way they should or the way you would like? Do you train your students to behave this way??? Do these email exchanges make it seem like there is open mindedness on the part of those involved? Do these seem like good scientists?

    What IS science? It’s a process that at it’s core is about openness and reproducibility. It’s TESTABLE. What is clear from these exchanges is that these folks are not interested in anything other than pursuing their own beliefs. They are not interested in reproducibility. They are not interested in alternative ideas or conclusions that don’t fit the predetermined outcome. They will work to stack editorial boards to suit their own agenda. They will break the law and violate established practices to avoid disclosure and avoid others attempts to reproduce their results. What they’ve demonstrated is that they are NOT interested in engaging in science.

    All of this really begs the question: IF the science to so solid, why do they engage in these behaviors? Why do they work so diligently to cover things up?


  20. Regarding the attempted smear of Pat Michaels, Ben wrote:
    Ben: Are you serious? If he’s attacking his PhD thesis, he’s not attacking the man. The man, in other words, is not his PhD thesis. Looks to me that he does give reasons to discount the work of the PhD thesis. Namely, “it was at odds with all previous studies of crop-climate relationships.” Bruce, this is getting tiresome. There’s nothing here. You’re reading way too much into these e-mails.

    Really??? REALLY?!!!

    The man got his PhD ~ 25 years ago. He’s published extensively since his PhD thesis. If the idea is to demonstrate that he can’t do basic science, why not show it with his work since his PhD? He’s been extensively published in leading journals like Nature and Science. If the reason for attempting to discount him is because he’s not a good scientist, they’re unable to do so with his publications since he finished his PhD training.

    What they are saying is that they can’t attack the man on scientific grounds. They are so desperate that they have to go back to his training and look at his PhD dissertation to find an error. This was an error that even they acknowledge should have been caught by his thesis adviser. So, while the guy is in training, he (may have) made a mistake… a mistake that should have been picked up by the people who were responsible for guiding and advising him. Really, if it’s true, then it’s an error made by his adviser(s)!

    If they want to impugn his scientific integrity, then use the numerous publications that he’s had since he’s finished his PhD training. They can’t.

    This is purely an attack on the man.


  21. Ben, this IS growing tiresome. You’ve admitted that you haven’t looked into the science of global warming, yet you clearly have already made up your mind. You’ve admitted that in the absence of understanding the science that you’ll place your trust in the majority view. You’ve demonstrated that you have a “belief” that global warming is man made and is bad based on what others have told you.

    That’s fine, beliefs are great, but you’ve confused belief with science.

    When it’s been shown that there is a concerted effort to pursue one particular direction in global warming science to the exclusion of good scientific practice, you attempt to justify the behavior. It IS tiresome and it IS pointless. You’ve already made up your mind and seem incapable of acknowledging fundamental problems with the science and the behavior of the individuals involved.


  22. Thanks for the response, Bruce. I’m not really justifying the correspondence as much as offering viable interpretations. Indeed, I think that the interpretations I offer are the most plausible interpretations, but you seem to differ with me on that.

    The important observation should be, instead, that because there are these multiple plausible interpretations, that the e-mails are nowhere near as condemning as some are making them out to be. Similar e-mails wouldn’t be admissible as evidence in a court of law. They are far too ambiguous. Moreover, the kinds of charges that are being thrown around, I think, border on defamation and slander. I’m no lawyer, but given that the e-mails were stolen from a private server, and given that the claims stemming from the e-mails are nowhere near entailed by the e-mails, I’d be careful about throwing such serious charges around…

    Incidentally, here’s a philosopher’s bugaboo. “Begging the question” is a logical fallacy, used technically to refer to arguments that assume as one of their premises the conclusion that they aim to demonstrate. You mean “raises the question.”

  23. Ah, on the science point: I think you simply don’t understand what science is, does, or is capable of doing. I won’t fault you for that, but that’s clear from your posts. Science is a practical methodological endeavor, governed by regulative ideals, but not insulated from external non-scientific influences.

    I’m not a scientist, as I said, which means that I’m not qualified to judge the science. I’m also not a physician, which means that I’m not qualified to judge the medicine. Nevertheless, as a practical matter, I’ll put my money on what the scientific or medical establishment says. We do these sorts of things all the time. To do otherwise would be tomfoolery.

    Also, I’ve said nothing about belief. You’re using “belief” in a very sloppy way. Do I believe that the area of a circle is pi r squared? Or that g = 9.8 meters per second squared? No, I don’t, not in the colloquial sense of “belief.” That’s not my “belief.” It’s not my “opinion.” It is, at best, a “justified true belief,” a position that I hold; and not one that I hold on faith. It’s one that I could subject to a test of other scrutinizers, presumably defending it, or allowing another to defend it as my proxy, if called upon to do so. That’s not the same as other beliefs I might have, say, about the moon being made of green cheese. So you’re equivocating on “belief.”

    • Ben – Even though you are not a physician, and even though you will put your money on what the medical establishment says – is it not always wise to get a second opinion?

      Here we see a clique trying to avoid second opinions getting published – so they can continue to argue along the lines of “Don’t pay attention to that – their opinion is not peer reviewed”.

      Personally, before we change the economy of each of the countries of the world – I would like to see a second opinion on all of the adjustments made to the raw data of the GISS and HadCrut global temperature records. Just to verify that James Hanson and Phil Jones haven’t inaccurately tweaked GISS and HadCrut as they have made their many many adjustments to the data over the years.

      That will take care of the modern instrument record and restore the public’s trust that it is actually accurate.

      Then we need to go back to the drawing board on the paleoclimate data to verify that the temperature reconstructions from before the instrument period have not been inaccurately tweaked.

      Only then can a reasonable comparision be made between the modern temperature record and the past reconstructions.

      I don’t think that is unreasonable.

      • If I understand correctly, this is primarily about dendrochronological studies at CRU, not about any of the rest of the climate science…. and there’s a ton of other stuff out there. Just talk to some of the guys over at INSTAAR here. They’re looking at lake sediments, and at ice cores, among many other areas of focus. So there is, in fact, a fair bit of double-checking going on. Dendro studies don’t span the full gamut of research in this area.

      • I believe THIS is what Rick means by a second medical opinion.

      • Ben:

        Some of the discussion is about dendrochronological – but some of it is also about SST’s, which are the global sea surface termperature record (the stuff about getting rid of the blip from the 1940’s. Search the emails for SST.

        It is the SST record which I was referring to as the moderan instrument record (i.e. actual measurements were taken from about 1880 to present).

        All of the temperature reconstructions – whether it is dendro, ice core, sediements or the like, are compared to modern global temperature records like the SST – so manipulation of that screws up the comparisions being made to the other type of temperature reconstructions.

        So there is still a potential problem, which you dismiss to easily.

  24. […] finger-pointing has been going on recently, mostly over the CRU hack. You can read all about it below. (The comments thread at the Feeding Frenzy post gives my read on the allegedly incriminating […]

  25. I am sure that if you looked at another empirical science such as economics, you will get as many (if not more)disapraging comments about the opposition.
    However, climate science has fundamental differances
    – funding is all towards a consensus view.
    – The consensus claims that the science is settled. The e-mails seem to suggest otherwise.
    – The e-mails also suggest severe conflicts of interest in the IPCC AR4 arising from lead authours also being the leading scienttists in their field. Yet the conclusions are being used to shape global policy on an unprecedented scale.

  26. Vincent, see my above post on regulative ideals. Not sure what you mean by funding being “all towards a consensus view,” but certainly, all science should be aimed at seeking a consensus view, no? Nothing wrong there.

    Further, the consensus is primarily a procedural consensus on relatively watered-down hypotheses about what’s happening. There are and always will be debates among scientists. Some scientists may be concerned that warming is more severe than what is claimed in the AR4, others less severe.

    Finally, maybe I’m not following you on severe conflicts of interest. Where are those?

  27. […] Gavin Schmidt (of RealClimate) exhibits the patience of a saint in responding from a scientist’s perspective to the masses of comments. He is doing a tremendous amount of work to repair the damage being done to the perceived credibility of climate science. Respect. In summary, there are probably some minor lapses in there, but everyone who has read any of the emails is already guilty of something worse and there’s no firm evidence of major crimes. (James’ empty blog) I have no idea what exactly those words meant. Neither do you. Every single thing in those messages could be misinterpreted because we are missing the context. (…) This episode is not a window into how climate science works. It’s a window into how electronic communication has altered our standards and the way we work. (Maribo) One of the issues with how the UEA emails are perceived is whether the reader understands the context of the dubious pseudoscience and constant harassment the field faces. If you understand that, the emails are understandable and mostly excusable. If you don’t, if you think that normal science is being stymied, then you come away with a very different impression. (Only in it for the gold) The frame: – pointing out that while some (and only a few) of them sound dubious, there’s no actual evidence of anything; – pointing out that in every case there are also perfectly innocuous interpretations; – putting these sorts of discussions in context (Greenfyre) If one puts on some significant ideological glasses, it may look like there’s a lot of shady business going on. (…) Employing the principle of charity to what I’ve seen so far actually leaves me feeling that the e-mails are not so incriminating. (Cruel Mistress) […]

  28. Ben, I’m giving this one last try.

    I understand science. It’s a method and process that at it’s heart is reproducibility. That’s it. If it can’t be reproduced, it’s not science, it’s anecdote.

    In order for others to reproduce an experiment, one needs to adequately document what one did in their experiment. They need to establish, in advance, what their question is, what methods they are going to use to conduct the experiment, determine how they are going to evaluate the data (e.g., what statistics are going to be used, what’s defined as being significant), and what end point they expect. With this process adequately described, others should be able to reproduce the work. If others cant reproduce the work, despite numerous independent attempts, the original authors either need to re-do the work and publish their findings or pull the paper.

    No one claimed that humans weren’t full of biases. That’s the beauty of the scientific method. The idea behind the scientific method is to establish procedures the REMOVE the inherent bias that researchers have. Doesn’t matter much what someone believes if their research can be reproduced independently by others.

    And, no, science doesn’t at all care about consensus. Consensus is actually ANTI-SCIENCE. Consensus doesn’t matter if what’s generally agreed to is actually incorrect. This cycle of consensus-belief has occurred repeatedly in the past (look into the history on the acceptance of the concept of plate tectonics… a terrific and relatively recent example of the process that takes place and how consensus can lead to decades long delays in correction of underlying scientifically flawed ideas).

    What we see in the emails (among other things) are (successful) attempts to block access to the code that produces the HADCRU temperature reconstruction and the raw station data. By definition, that’s not science. If it’s not reproducible, it doesn’t count as science. The scientific method doesn’t allow folks to say, “Trust us. We know.”

    BTW: In addition to the lack of reproducibility, you can’t continue to claim there’s not much there, there. The reality is becoming more clear is is quite different from your interpretation.

    Check out the comments in the code that was also released with the emails. You don’t need to be a programmer to understand the significance of what’s in the comments.


    The programmers note all kinds of efforts to “hide the decline”, they note how screwed up the data and software is, and how they actually hard code “data” to infill what doesn’t match the actual measured values. Yes, they have procedures documented in the code that replace actual data, on purpose, with made up and inserted “values”, and call it temperature data. Needless to say, these findings were never documented in their publications. All of this was previously unavailable to outside scrutiny or peer review.

    This is not science.


  29. Bruce, some here have been arguing that it’s falsifiability, or verifiability, not reproducibility, that hangs at the heart of science. But okay, I’ll bite. Much as I disagree with you, you seem reasonable.

    Reproducibility sounds decent to me, so long as you’re talking about what works to explain the observed phenomenon and you’re suggesting in principle that scientific theories should be reproducible.

    If that’s the case (so I’m working with your supposition), isn’t it also true that if I’m a scientist, my centralmost objective should be to strive toward conclusions that everyone could agree are true (by which we mean, reproducible)? In other words, if X is true, as a scientist I want to discover what X is, so I want my theory to reflect X. And if X is true, as we suppose, and if my theory reflects X, then my theory should be the sort of thing that everyone agrees is true. That seems right.

    If so, then, as I understand consensus, which is as an attempt to arrive at conclusions which everyone could agree are true, then consensus very much does lie at the heart of science, no? It is a necessary precondition of scientific research that consensus be in principle attainable.

    Where might I be going wrong there?

    Second, on reproducibility: I understand the term to mean not that the conclusions have to be reproduced by any who have access to the data, but that the conclusions ought to be reproducible (or “able to be reproduced”). The possibility of reproducing the data is the truthmaker there, not the actual reproduction. It’s just false that scientific data has to be released and reproduced in order to be established as science. If that were true, then your standards would be insurmountably high, as the data would have to be released and reproduced by every flesh and blood rational agent. Anytime a disagreement popped up, it’d be right back to the lab for everyone.

    Rather, it only has to be possible to reproduce the results. That the CRU data was never released doesn’t disqualify the results as scientific results. They are, in principle, reproducible. Presumably some independent scientists looked at the research, crunched the numbers, and agreed that the science was sound. That soundness does the work we need it to do… and that’s all we need. Moreover, I and others have pointed out numerous times that simply because a FOIA request is lodged does not necessarily mean that the data must be made available to all. Theories can be scientific, and science can be robust, in the absence of shared data.

    Finally, it seems to me that later in your comment you lean away from what I might have thought was a pragmatic position on reproducibility toward a considerably more idealistic position. As you rightly note, only the very naive think that science takes place in an unadulterated vacuum of reasons; so we’re in agreement there. But that’s different than suggesting that somehow the method eradicates (or you say “removes”) this bias, or that only when the ideal methodological conditions are met can it then be deemed science. Whether it’s science or not can’t be determined by the unscientific things that scientists do. That would result in the unlikely outcome that there is no science ever. There are always external factors mucking with the methods.

    And just to clear the air here, I’m not, and have not been, excusing the e-mails. I’ve only pointed out that the e-mails alone don’t implicate the authors in the commission of offenses that are currently being charged. You must have much more information than that. At best, the e-mails can play a corroborating role, but you still have to tie together a much more compelling case.

  30. Ben, you’re almost there… except not really.

    The scientist may want people to agree with him or her. That’s the human part. The science doesn’t care a lick about what the humans doing the work think. Why? Because today’s “consensus” could turn out to be totally wrong once new information becomes available. The consensus then serves as a block or insulator against the adoption of the next better scientific understanding.

    And, YES, data and methods need to reproducible. There is no science without reproducibility. Period. This is done in other fields as a matter of course. As many have pointed out, econometrics papers submitted for publication are required to have data and code archived as part of the publication review process. Same thing with biomedical research. Why this happens to be problematic solely for climate “science” is beyond me. It’s not hard to do. It’s just not done as a matter of culture and practice in climate work. Remarkably, most climate and science journals have policies about providing data and methods as part of the publication process. Unfortunately, most of the editors have chosen to ignore their own policies when it comes to climate “research”.

    Even in biomedical research where ALL of the data isn’t available because of human protections issues, the results of that data are available, they are reviewed, they are questioned by reviewers and they are questioned by the institutional review board to ensure that the research is appropriate. All of these folks are independent from the original researcher. This isn’t the case for climate :science”.

    So, even if the actual research data isn’t all available, the study methods allow others to attempt to reproduce what was done in the study. If you’re work is with a blood pressure medication that’s intended to improve blood pressure in pregnant hypertensive women, you need to describe exactly what you did in the paper. Others can then reproduce the study using similar populations to those studied to see if it really does work in that population of women and doesn’t produce untoward effects. That independent reproduction of the work is a requirement for the drug to be submitted to regulators for possible use in people.

    Not so with climate data.


    It’s HIDDEN. There is no way to verify the data or the code. These individuals control the entire process. If they don’t provide access to the data that was used, there’s no way to reproduce the data. They also don’t describe the methods used to produce the output. This group has NEVER released this information before which shows how they intentionally manipulated the data to produce the desired results.

    Imagine if this data were being presented as part of a new drug application being submitted to the FDA, it would be soundly rejected. The FDA requires more complete disclosure than simply the results of published literature. You have to submit ALL of your data, all of your methods. Once people understood what was happening with this “science”, once they looked at the methods and the code, it would be immediately rejected.

    BTW: the drug regulator model of independent review is a good one for consideration. What this little escapade has shown is that there has been no independent review. When you stack the journals with “your” people, when the authors themselves are in charge of the IPCC chapters, you realize there is no possibility of independent review.

    This is not science.


    • Hey Bruce: I’m gonna try to reply to this, maybe in a separate post, but please accept my apologies today. I’m not sure where you’re writing from in the world, but it’s Thanksgiving here in the States, so I won’t be able to get around to it this afternoon. Possibly tomorrow…

  31. […] warm hart toedragen kan nauwelijks verrassend genoemd worden. Vele emails laten (logischerwijze) meerdere interpretaties toe: Door een ideologisch getinte bril bezien kan het lijken alsof er dingen besproken worden die […]

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