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Manning Up

November 28, 2009

Joe Romm has published a must-read piece written by Michael Mann, one of the central figures in the CRU hack and an important person in climate science. Romm begins his post by focusing on the science, which is interesting to those who care about climate science, but I impose a false constraint on myself to stay as far from the science as possible (not my bailiwick, and all that). I’m more interested in the somewhat more abstract questions about legitimacy, justification, truth, rightness, etc.

In that spirit, let’s cut to the chase. Here are Mann’s responses to the e-mails, reprinted directly from Romm. I’m pleased that Mann has offered these explanations, but I think they have weaknesses — weaknesses that well could cause problems for him down the line. I’d like to point these out in hopes that he’ll clarify.

I’ve noted a few things in orange and added green to indicate the quotes from the original e-mails. One of the first things that Mann could do, and maybe should do, is release other related e-mails that help to corroborate his case. It’s not that I care, particularly, to read his dirty laundry, but that some further release of e-mails would help establish that his are not post-facto justifications. As a charitable reader, I’m willing to give him and others the benefit of the doubt; but as there are many non-charitable readers in the blogosphere, an evidential basis for offering these claims would be helpful

On with it then, to the justifications…

Here are his five responses to the e-mails:

1. “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i. e. from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” (from Phil Jones).

Phil Jones has publicly gone on record indicating that he was using the term “trick” in the sense often used by people, as in “bag of tricks”, or “a trick to solving this problem …”, or “trick of the trade”. In referring to our 1998 Nature article, he was pointing out simply the following: our proxy record ended in 1980 (when the proxy data set we were using terminates) so, it didn’t include the warming of the past two decades. In our Nature article we therefore also showed the post-1980 instrumental data that was then available through 1995, so that the reconstruction could be viewed in the context of recent instrumental temperatures. The separate curves for the reconstructed temperature series and for the instrumental data were clearly labeled.

The reference to “hide the decline” is referring to work that I am not directly associated with, but instead work by Keith Briffa and colleagues. The “decline” refers to a well-known decline in the response of only a certain type of tree-ring data (high-latitude tree-ring density measurements collected by Briffa and colleagues) to temperatures after about 1960. In their original article in Nature in 1998, Briffa and colleagues are very clear that the post-1960 data in their tree-ring dataset should not be used in reconstructing temperatures due to a problem known as the “divergence problem” where their tree-ring data decline in their response to warming temperatures after about 1960.  “Hide” was therefore a poor word choice, since the existence of this decline, and the reason not to use the post 1960 data because of it, was not only known, but was indeed the point emphasized in the original Briffa et al Nature article. There is a summary of that article available on this NOAA site:
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/ paleo/ globalwarming/ briffa.html
There have been many articles since then trying to understand the reason for this problem, which applies largely to only one very specific type of proxy data (tree-ring wood density data from higher latitudes).

As for my research in this area more generally, there was a study commissioned by the National Academies of Science back in 2006 to assess the validity of paleoclimate reconstructions in general, and my own work in specific. A summary of that report, and link to it, is available here:
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/06/national-academies-synthesis-report/

The New York Times (6/22/06), in an article about the report entitled  “Science Panel Backs Study on Warming Climate”  had the following things to say:

“A controversial paper asserting that recent warming in the Northern Hemisphere was probably unrivaled for 1,000 years was endorsed today, with a few reservations, by a panel convened by the nation’s preeminent scientific body…At a news conference at the headquarters of the National Academies, several members of the panel reviewing the study said they saw no sign that its authors had intentionally chosen data sets or methods to get a desired result. “I saw nothing that spoke to me of any manipulation,” said one member, Peter Bloomfield, a statistics professor at North Carolina State University. He added that his impression was the study was “an honest attempt to construct a data analysis procedure.”

On my read, a lot hangs on the extent to which this is a known problem. If it’s a known problem, then there can be little doubt about the meaning of “hide.” Here’s a case where we could use some evidence that this is known. Again, I don’t know where to find that evidence, but other people will want to know that. There’s more to say here on the framing of a problem, and I’m cooking up a post to address that later.

Also, I think the language of a “bag of tricks” is ham-handed. It doesn’t clarify anything. Madoff had a bag of tricks, and he’s a huckster. Mann is looking to say that these are techniques, legitimate work-arounds that don’t undermine the integrity of the research.

2. “Perhaps we’ll do a simple update to the Yamal post. As we all know, this isn’t about truth at all, its about plausibly deniable accusations.” (from me)

This refers to a particular tree-ring reconstruction of Keith Briffa’s. These tree-ring data are just one of numerous tree-ring records used to reconstruct past climate.  Briffa and collaborators were criticized (unfairly in the view of many of my colleagues and me) by a contrarian climate change website based on what we felt to be a misrepresentation of their work.  A further discussion can be found on the site “RealClimate.org” that I co-founded and help run. It is quite clear from the context of my comments that what I was saying was that the attacks against Briffa and colleagues were not about truth but instead about making plausibly deniable accusations against him and his colleagues.

We attempted to correct the misrepresentations of Keith’s work in the “RealClimate article mentioned above, and we invited him and his co-author Tim Osborn to participate actively in responding to any issues raised in the comment thread of the article which he did.

What needs clarification here is what a “plausibly deniable accusation” is. I think I understand what he means, but the phrasing is convoluted enough that much more context needs to be given. To my ear, “plausibly deniable accusations” have to do with responsibility: “I am guilty of X, but I just need to find some alternative plausible account that suggests that I might not be guilty of X.” The question hanging in the air is why Mann wouldn’t simply want to seek the truth, why he would be seeking a plausibly deniable accusation. (Answer: of course he wants to seek the truth. He’s saying that the contrarian community is raising “plausibly deniable accusations,” that they’re raising objections to the research that only plausibly raise doubts about the research.)

3. “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.” (from Phil Jones)

This was simply an email that was sent to me, and can in no way be taken to indicate approval of, let alone compliance with, the request. I did not delete any such email correspondences.

IMHO, this is the most problematic e-mail in the lot (that I’ve seen so far). It’s this e-mail that needs a fair bit more explanation. Offering up a few of his own e-mails from that period, provided that the discussion wasn’t too terribly sensitive, would help establish the claim that he didn’t delete all of the e-mails. They exist, ergo, he didn’t delete them all. At the same time, offering up some of the e-mails will never satisfy the condition that no e-mails were ever deleted. Unfortunately, that can’t easily be shown.

To help matters, Mann might offer some context as to why Jones would suggest that they do delete the e-mails. Was it simple obstructionism? Did Jones want to hide something? Did Jones just want to be a prick? Was Jones instructed to do so by his legal department? Did Jones want to avoid the further headaches from FOIA requests? The last is, to me, the most plausible. Just destroy the damned things and then there’s nothing to request, so no one has to waste any time giving over the e-mails. I can easily imagine having written something like that. At the same time, it is easy to see how the more conspiracy-minded might read from the e-mail chain an interest in hiding something.

If Mann could offer up e-mails explaining his discomfort with deleting e-mails, that would certainly show this as part of an intemperate discussion. Moreover, if such an e-mail exists, he could offer an e-mail in response to Jones that would demonstrate his discomfort with this plan.

Having said all this, there’s high likelihood that such e-mails do not exist; not because of anything untoward, simply because e-mail is funny like that. Some threads never get responses. The point is not to wait for these e-mails, but rather that there is a political burden of proof on those involved in this issue to produce some exonerating evidence. It’s not an actual burden of proof. It’s just to temper the politically scandalous nature of things as they currently stand. Plus, offering up other e-mails might help to allay concerns that all doors are closed to outsiders.

4. “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” (from me)

This comment was in response to a very specific incident regarding a paper by Soon and Baliunas published in the journal “Climate Research”. An editor of the journal, with rather contrarian views on climate change, appeared to several of us to be gaming the system to let through papers that clearly did not meet the standards of quality for the journal. The chief editor (Hans von Storch), and half of the editorial board, resigned in protest of the publication of the paper, after the publisher refused to allow von Storch the opportunity to write an editorial about how the peer review process had failed in this instance.

Please see e.g. this post at RealClimate:
http://www.realclimate.org/ index.php/ archives/ 2009/ 11/ the-cru-hack-context/
(3rd bullet item–see the various links, which lead to letters from chief editor Von Storch, and an article by the journalist Chris Mooney about the incident).

Scientists all choose journals in which we publish and we all recommend to each other and our students which journals they should publish in. People are free to publish wherever they can and are free to recommend some journals over others. For an example of this behavior in daily life, people make choices and recommendations all the time in their purchasing habits. It is highly unusual for a chief editor and half of an editorial board to resign and that indicates a journal in turmoil that should possibly be avoided. Similarly, authors are allowed to cite any papers they want, although usually the editor will note incorrect or insufficient citing.

I support the publication of “skeptical” papers that meet the basic standards of scientific quality and merit. I myself have published scientific work that has been considered by some as representing a skeptical point of view on matters relating to climate change  (for example, my work demonstrating the importance of natural oscillations of the climate on multidecadal timescales).  Skepticism in the truest scientific sense of the word is good and is indeed essential to science.  Skepticismshould not be confused, however, with contrarianism that does not meet the basic standards of scientific inquiry.

This is, of course, true about peer review. Saying more about the standards of peer review would help. Moreover, I’d lay off the association of science with skepticism. There are a variety of kinds of skepticism, and it’s not clear that the division is strictly between skepticism and contrarianism. I’m working on further posts about the nature of manipulation and how that might be understood to function at the level of peer review, so I won’t say much about this right now.

5 “‘It would be nice to try to contain the putative “MWP” (from me)

In this email, I was discussing the importance of extending paleoclimate reconstructions far enough back in time that we could determine the onset and duration of the putative “Medieval Warm Period”. Since this describes an interval in time, it has to have both a beginning and end. But reconstructions that only go back 1000 years, as most reconstructions did at the time, didn’t reach far enough back to isolate the beginning of this period, i.e. they are not long enough to “contain” the interval in question. In more recent work, such as the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report published in 2007, the paleoclimate reconstructions stretch nearly 2000 years back in time, which is indeed far enough back in time to “contain” or “isolate” this period in time.

Again, a bit more context would help. It is nice to parse the meaning of ‘contain’ here, and it is particularly interesting that ‘contain’ in this sense is meant literally, like a vessel might contain its contents. What must also be addressed, however, is the extent to which ‘contain’ and ‘putative’ are paired, because it is not irrational to read from this e-mail that one is trying to ‘contain’ a rumor, a putative or apparent misconception, by leashing it and keeping it from getting out. That’s a much more malicious use of ‘contain’, and I suspect the interpretation that earns the interest from the skeptics.

To be fairly straightforward about this, I mean these comments constructively. It’s pretty well established now that the CRU hack is a political migraine that needs to be tended to carefully, and that really does demand attention from those who are implicated in the e-mails. Disregarding the illegality of how the e-mails were obtained, they’re out in the blogosphere. The scientists involved must respond to them posthaste.  They cannot hide behind the wall of political impartiality, as many scientists are wont to do. I hate to say it, but they really must instead get more involved in the normative dimensions of the climate issue and explore their responsibilities as scientists, offering up both explanations and justifications.

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25 comments

  1. Nice post Ben. I agree. Those involved must offer up their explanations and justifications. I also look forward to having the raw temperature data reprocessed in an open and transparent way – so everybody can actually be reassured that the global average temperature has actually gone up .6 degrees.

    I saw a post recently with a graph from NOAA which showed that .5 degrees of the .6 degrees of temperature increase from 1900 to the present was actually from adjustments made to the NOAA data – and only .1 degrees of actual temperature increase.

    It is information like this that makes one wonder whether the data can be trusted.


    • Here is the link to the graph I was referring to.


      • Graphs in isolations are fun. Graphs in context are less fun. Google could be your friend, Rick.


      • Thank you Steve. Google is my friend. But why do all the adjustments made to the data increase the trend line. Given the urban island effect, I would think that there would be a large negative adjustment, based on the number of temperature stations in the urban area vs the number in rural areas. Of course, as you can rightly critize, I am not a climate scientist. But it certainly makes me wonder.


      • The document I linked is fully referenced, Rick, and the papers are all on the NCDC site. Try reading them.


    • Yeah, as I often say, I’m trying to stay out of the science. I’m actually not as naive to the science as I sometimes let on, but my scientific perspective is certainly not that of someone who really knows what’s going on. Better to just look at things I do have a grasp on.

      I also think, however, that it can be a problem to focus too much on the science. Fact is, the world is filled with gajillions of non-scientists. Placing the burden on the scientist to address all points of concern from all parties is, I think, too steep. It would appear to require that scientists engage in full-blown lessons of their craft to any curious observers. To some extent, the burden is on the inquisitor to learn the material well enough to ask the right questions. It’s not always clear that they do learn it well enough. I’ve got to imagine that addressing the concerns of those who don’t know what they’re talking about can grow exasperating.


      • I would be happy if the scientists involved would address the other scientists who are questioning their results and data. Instead, they have attempted to avoid answering – by attempting to avoid publication of critical views and redefining what the peer review literature consists of.

        Remember, the burden of proof is on the scientists asserting that most of the recent warming is due to human causes – and not simply natural variation.

        To me – the biggest question is – if it was warmer during the MWP – and that is well accepted not to have been caused by humans – why is the current warming also not natural?


      • I think you’re deeply wrong about that. The burden of proof is on the skeptics to show that this is not happening.

        https://cruelmistress.wordpress.com/2009/10/01/hockey-stick-redux/


      • “To me – the biggest question is – if it was warmer during the MWP – and that is well accepted not to have been caused by humans – why is the current warming also not natural?”

        Rick, there have been many past warmer periods and many past cooler periods, none of them having anthropogenic causation. Just the fact that we are now warmer than the MWP (which we are) says nothing more about the causes of the present warming trend than if we were still cooler than the MWP (which we were as recently as a few decades ago).

        Here’s a little reading to put things in context.


      • Steve:

        Exactly. It has been warmer than the present before and it has been cooler than at present before, all caused by natural variation.

        In my opinion, the burden of proof is on the scientist trying to show that the current warming is not caused by natural variation.

        After all, it was warmer than present during the MWP, with CO2 at 280 ppm. CO2 has been at 4000 ppm during an ice age. The current warming started well before the CO2 level even started rising.

        Occam’s razor dictates that natural variation encompasses the current warming, and the burden is on the scientist who wants to show that this episode is different than all the past ones.

        So far, the mere fact that CO2 levels have risen from 280 to 385 ppm is not enough to meet that burden of proof. Otherwise, there would be an adequate explanation for the 10 year pause in warming – and there is not.


      • Rick, to borrow Al Gore’s phrase, every bit of that is wrong. Do you care?


      • Steve. I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.


  2. notice how Mann replied to Jones emails asking him to delete emails.

    Phil Jones wrote:
    Mike,
    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!!
    Cheers
    Phil
    ————————-
    Michael Mann replied:
    Hi Phil,
    laughable that CA would claim to have discovered the problem. They would have run off to the Wall Street Journal for an exclusive were that to have been true.
    I’ll contact Gene about this ASAP. His new email is: generwahl@xxxxxxxxx.xxx
    talk to you later,

    mike

    If he had said no way I’m deleting emails he would have a case, but instead he says I’ll contact Gene about this ASAP


  3. plus how bogus of Mann to post this at Romm’s site where any critical comments or cites of contradictions will be censored

    wonder why he didn’t use Revkin who has an open comment policy

    buk-buk-buk what a coward


  4. Here are some discussions about the “trick” and the “decline”:

    http://camirror.wordpress.com/2009/11/29/replicating-the-trick-diagram/

    http://camirror.wordpress.com/2009/11/29/still-hiding-the-decline/

    http://www.climate-skeptic.com/2009/11/the-trick.html


  5. Ben,

    I don’t really get the point of what you are doing. People have obviously looked for the worst possible meaning of what was said in the various emails. You are in turn analyzing what Mike Mann has to say about what was said, and you are also looking for the worst possible meaning. So Mike has to defend what he said in an email 10 years ago, and now you want him to refine and defend his already-very-clear explanation of what he said in an email 10 years ago!? This is ridiculous.

    You say ” it is not irrational to read from this e-mail that one is trying to ‘contain’ a rumor”. Actually, it __is__ irrational to assume that someone means something other than what he said he meant, unless you already believe he is dishonest. (Or unless you are trying to make people think he is dishonest). But then why would you believe anything he says?

    I appreciate that you are trying to give friendly advice here, but such attempts at teaching us scientists to ‘frame’ better is not going to help. People will find what they want to find, no matter what we say.

    I am sure, for example, that “contain the MWP” means exactly what Mike says it means, full stop. I have used this language myself on occasion, I’m sure. For example, I have written science planning documents about the need to obtain longer ice cores to make sure that we fully ‘capture’ the little ice age and medieval warm period. I have no doubt that someone could find a way to make ‘capture’ seem notorious.

    The only way to stop people from taking what we say out of context would be to start providing precise definitions of everything word in every sentence in every email we write.

    “Dear Editor,

    I’ve reviewed Dr. X’s paper as you requested, and while I think it is terrible, I would like to take this opportunity to make it clear that my reasoning is not based on the fact that Dr. X is a well known global warming ‘skeptic’ [NB ‘skeptic’ here means that he tends to ignore previous work on the subject because of what I suspect (but don’t know for sure) is an political agenda (not to suggest that he is either Democrat or Republican; merely that I think (but don’t know) that his experiments are designed to reach particular conclusions so as to try to affect public opinion on global warming (NB by ‘global warming’ I mean in the sense of the definition of Hansen et al., 2005)], but rather my reasoning is based on the fact that his math is wrong (that is to say, he has added 2+2 and gotten 5; not there there is anything necessarily wrong with that, and I don’t want to prejudge, as I’ve not had time to check all the references and I may have missed another paper by Dr. X in which he demonstrates 2+2 does = 5; indeed, he cites such a reference, but it is in an obscure journal that I don’t have access to and it is written in Slavic (not that I mean to suggest anything wrong with Slavic, nor with that journal, necessarily).”

    Science will stop if we start down this sort of “what I meant to say” pathway.
    Perhaps that is what people want to happen?


    • Far be it for me to put words in Ben’s mouth.

      However, it seems pretty clear that what he is saying is that even giving Mann’s comments the most charitable reading, Ben is able to see how the comments can be interpreted, especially by the skeptics, in another way.

      You example is poor. Capturing the MWP has quite a different connotation than containing the MWP. Now if you are saying that you have actually used the phrase “containing the MWP” yourself, well I have to believe you. However, if what you are saying is that you have used the phrase “capturing the MWP”, then I don’t find that the same thing at all as containing the MWP.

      Especially in light of emails which indicate a need to get rid of the MWP, followed by reconstructions which did de-emphasize the MWP.


    • Hey Eric:

      I don’t really disagree with you, but this is a political issue right now. It’s not just a scientific issue. Being careful with language, and particularly, taking a critical stance with regard to responses from the climate community, I think, will help avoid further blowback from the skeptical community. That’s all I’m suggesting.

      There are, of course, many ways to explain what was going on. Some ways are open to wider interpretation than others. It’d be helpful, at this point, to be as succinct and clear as possible; to try to anticipate and avoid misinterpretation by the skeptical community. This burden is on all of us all of the time, of course, but in this case, the eyes are particularly trained on the CRU hack. Those involved need to be extra vigilant with their responses so that there is less latitude for misinterpretation. I require this of all of my students — graduate and undergraduate — and I’d require it of scientists as well. I’m afraid to say that now that the e-mails are being picked to shreds, the burden is on the CRU scientists for clarification and corroboration. If your use of the term ‘capture’ becomes a political issue later, then I think you may have to address it too… though I suspect that its meaning is sufficiently clear that you probably won’t have to do that.

      I realize that this is a burden that most scientists don’t want. The scientists I know — and I feel privileged to be on a faculty in which I cross paths with many scientists, climate and non — just want to do the science. It’s a pain in the ass to have to deal with these political and theoretical considerations. I can certainly appreciate that sentiment. It’s just that…it’s a mistake. It’s a mistake in the same way that it’s a mistake for my science students to think that they’re never going to run into any ethical problems, or that values aren’t also running in the background of their research. The scientific community needs to keep one eye trained on the values dimension of their research, and in this case, on the political dimension of their research. It is really important, in this political climate, for our scientists to be communicating with people in non-science disciplines. Doing so, I suspect, will possibly help avoid disastrous misinterpretations.

      I have to make this case to my MA and PhD students all the time: You’re in this class because you can’t avoid ethics; because values are all around you; because you may, or you will likely, find yourself in a situation in which another person doesn’t like what you’re doing. When that happens, you’ll need to explain why what you’re doing is important, or right, or not as bad as they think it is. This is as true in climate science as it is in evolutionary biology.

      Incidentally, I’m not saying that having a keener view of ethics will avoid all conflicts. Nothing, I suspect, would’ve avoided the CRU misinterpretations. Language is dynamic, we use it colloquially, and it’s clear that sometimes things can be said in ways that are wide-open to interpretation, particularly when they’re sent through private e-mail, or muttered over a tankard of beer. It’s the response to the CRU hack that worries me right now, particularly as we head into Copenhagen and particularly as Inhofe blows the victory horn.

      Hope that clarifies.


    • Ben,

      I’m with you on this one. Ethics are important in any research. As an example, a medical researcher named Josef Mengele was investigating the effects of different toxins and substances to humans. Unfortunately, he used human subjects imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camps for his investigations. In this particular case the ethics were completely dumped. The current medical research on the other hand reflects a great deal of ethics.

      It seems to me though, from my experience, ethics are the first thing to be dumped regardless of the profession, whether it be pure science or engineering. Reasons vary from budget or time considerations to political ideology or even just covering your coleagues’ behind.


  6. Ben, I’ll take up that last quote of Mann’s, because to me it is so obvious that I’m surprised it could have raised eyebrows at all, Here’s the quote.

    Phil and I have recently submitted a paper using about a dozen NH records that fit this category, and many of which are available nearly 2K back–I think that trying to adopt a timeframe of 2K, rather than the usual 1K, addresses a good earlier point that Peck made w/ regard to the memo, that it would be nice to try to “contain” the putative “MWP”, even if we don’t yet have a hemispheric mean reconstruction available that far back

    So Mann is proposing to extend the analysis period from the period 1000-2000 AD to 0-2000 AD. The MWP is generally reckoned to be 800-1300 AD. Clearly o-2000 contains 800-1300; 1000-2000 does not.

    So why the quotes? Simple. He attributes this suggestion to Overpeck. Presunably Overpeck used those words, and he’s “quoting” them in the usual way.


    • Sounds like a good response to me; but as I’ve noted before, I don’t think most of these e-mails are terribly incriminating. The problem is that there are many who are spinning and making great hay with them. I can imagine someone coming back and saying that if he were really quoting, he wouldn’t simply quote the word if that word were being used in its usual fashion.


  7. Ben,

    Fair enough. Good points, and thanks for the reply.

    I guess my main point is that although we all need to be very distinct and clear in what we say — even in private emails to colleagues, evidently — in the end there will be those who want to misquote, misinterpret and misuse what we say.

    My tendency has always been to assume that when a politician says “no comment”, he means “I have something to hide”. I now realize that in most cases it probably means “I don’t trust you to take what I’m saying at face value, so I will say nothing at all.”


  8. […] Hale, my colleague here at the University of Colorado, has written an excellent analysis of the CRU email controversy, focusing on Michael Mann’s recent response posted at […]


  9. […] When elected officials like Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) cry “scientific fascism” about the scientists at the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit — and then define the fascism as “intimidation in the scientific community of people who wish to be contrary what the convention wisdom is” — this as much demonstrates how laughably weak Sensenbrenner’s understanding of basic political concepts is as it impugns his credibility as an interpreter of what the scientists were actually discussing. […]


  10. […] When elected officials like Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) cry “scientific fascism” about the scientists at the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit — and then define the fascism as “intimidation in the scientific community of people who wish to be contrary what the convention wisdom is” — this as much demonstrates how laughably weak Sensenbrenner’s understanding of basic political concepts is as it impugns his credibility as an interpreter of what the scientists were actually discussing. […]



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