Archive for the ‘CRU Hack’ Category


Cherry Partial

February 13, 2010

Cordiality aside, one of the central concerns of peer review is that any given expert peer is likely to have a stance on whatever given topic is facing scrutiny. Why might that be? Well, because expert peers tend to be experts in their areas; and experts in their areas, over the course of becoming experts, tend to form reasoned positions based on their expertise.

Believe it or not, I’m an expert, and you’d better believe that I have views. Roger’s also an expert, and as many know, he too has views. Max and Tom are experts as well. Do they have views? You bet your sweet bippy.

In betting your sweet bippy, you might also throw a few more clams down on the wager that we experts are sometimes asked to sit on panels of experts. (Well, I’m not ever asked to sit on panels of experts, but that’s because very little hangs on my area of expertise. I’ll take “turpitude” for 500, Alex.)

In some cases, these panels are supposed to be impartial, but at they same time rely on significant expertise. Which brings us to the CRU hack.

Turns out, there’s this guy, Philip Campbell, who is the editor of Nature. By many accounts Nature is a pretty spankin’ good journal, and so, by extension, Campbell is a pretty spankin’ good expert. One problem: he’s supposedly not impartial. Why? Because he has views. Here, read the gory details for yourself.

Yeah, so, long story short, he resigned and the supposed independent panel of six that was theretofore investigating climategate is now a piddling independent panel of five. Not enough for a hockey team, but still one too many for a game of Parcheesi. The indignity!


Nothing to See Here

February 3, 2010

Looks like Michael Mann and the climatology community at Penn State got an all (a mostly, largely, nearly, ninety-nine percent, practically) clear from the panel investigating them. [Props to JimR for keeping me accurate.] Read the report from Penn State here.

Actually, if you’re not associated with a university that pays a university subscription to climate wire, you may not be able to read that. Even still, I’m fairly sure I can quote this without copyright infringement:

An internal inquiry has largely cleared Pennsylvania State University climatologist Michael Mann of scientific misconduct, but the university said yesterday that it will continue to probe whether the researcher undermined public trust in science.


Verdict is In

February 2, 2010

The so-called “Mann Inquiry” has concluded. For those living under a rock for the past several months, Penn State climatologist Michael Mann is under investigation by a preliminary panel of his own colleagues to determine if another panel should investigate incidents of wrongdoing at Penn State with regard to the alleged wrongdoing uncovered through the nefarious purloining of several thousand e-letters in the previous decade — an incident known to many as “climategate,” or to others as, “CRU-hack,” depending on their perspective. Findings will be released soon.

Oh, sure, I could dispense with the drama, but that would be far less fun. It’d be boring to paint such a panel as standard procedure in these sorts of affairs.

Meanwhile, a friend points me to this recent article. Kinda old analysis, IMHO, but shrug, I’m not one to leave a party before it ends. Plus, the metalheads over in the corner keep beating the same tin drum.


Access to Data

December 16, 2009

NewScientist offers what I consider a completely plausible explanation as to why CRU has not been more forthcoming with some of the data. I’ve mentioned this before, in earlier threads, speaking only hypothetically, but here it is, straight from the horse’s pie hole. (What the hell is a pie hole, after all? And if it is what I think it is, it seems strange to consider a pie hole working in reverse, as when talking. Pies go into holes, they don’t come out of them.)

Much data remains under lock and key. It is tied up in confidentiality agreements with the governments that provided it. The Met Office and the UK government say they are now seeking permission to publish it. What they have not yet publicly revealed is that under a confidentiality agreement between the Met Office and the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council, a portion of the UK’s own temperature measurements is only made available to “bona fide academic researchers working on agreed NERC-endorsed scientific programmes”. Why? So that the data can be sold privately. “We have to offset our costs for the benefit of the taxpayer, so we balance that against freedom of access,” says David Britton, a spokesman for the Met Office.

Yes. Exactly.


URGENT: Skeptic Breakfast Hacked!

December 10, 2009

This entry was cross-posted at Climate Progress and linked at the Washington Post’s Post Carbon.

Explosive, Breaking News!

One of the stranger features about this Copenhagen conference is that so many people involved in the climate debate, from many sides, are all in the same town, all at the same time. Among the people inside and outside of the COP, the skeptic community has come to town.

Yesterday, they held a raucous offsite conference of their own. You can watch some footage from that conference, and a momentary youth protest, here. (You may notice from the video, for instance, that there are very few non-protesters in the room.)

This morning, as I sat down to breakfast wearing my trench coat, sunglasses, and a Groucho Marx nose, my interest was suddenly piqued by a voice over my shoulder.

“Nice to see you, professor.”

Naturally, as a professor, I turned to fix on the voice, wondering who the kind professor in question might be. I had no idea. Moi?

No luck. He was an older gentleman, distinguished looking. I got the sense from the speaker’s deferential tone that he was important. The speaker and the professor then sat down at the table next to me. As I was alone and dressed in my ludicrous disguise, I could not help myself from listening in on their conversation. Turns out, the two were discussing climate change, and their rather pronounced skepticism of it.

What unfolded then, I believe, will go down in history as my first dalliance in secret agency. As the morning continued, questions and conversations morphed into positions, platforms, and condemnations…all revealing, I think, a nefarious campaign to sow misunderstanding; a clever trick aimed to confuse even the most astute “believer in science.”

The private breakfast conversation was troubling, offering clear and indisputable evidence of attempts by the highest members of the climate denier community to manipulate the truth, shout down debate, silence dissent, hide data, initiate a political coup, deliberately conflate theoretical terms, isolate and mock the weak, cover up known facts, obfuscate good science, and wimper.

Who, pray tell, was in attendance?

Present at the breakfast were Godtfred Høpner Petersen, retired professor of marine biology from the University of Copenhagen; several aides from the office of Godfrey Bloom, MEP; Godfrey Bloom, MEP, himself; and then, fifteen minutes into the conversation, the eminent Lord Christopher Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley.

Yes, that Lord Monckton. The same buttoned-up gentleman in the video calling climate protesters “Hitler youth.” His wife, or his mistress (or Bloom’s wife, or Bloom’s mistress — one can never be sure nowadays), also joined the cabal.

As it happens, I was sitting at breakfast with my computer open, working on something else. What to do? Oh, what…to…do?

I flipped the switch on my parabolic microphone.

Read the rest of this entry ?


Pachauri on CRU Hack

December 9, 2009

Here are his statements from yesterday:

“One can only surmise that those who have carried out this act have done it with the very clear intention as to influence the process in Copenhagen – but, barring a few isolated voices, people over here are totally convinced of the solidity of the findings of the IPCC report.”

No kidding… both that the objective was to influence Copenhagen and that the parties at Copenhagen are univocal on the science.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon concurs: “Nothing that has come out in the public as a result of the recent email hackings has cast doubt on the basic scientific message on climate change and that message is quite clear – that climate is changing much, much faster than we realized and we human beings are the primary cause,” Ban Ki-moon states, according to Reuters.

UPDATE: Jason Delborne, Assistant Professor at Colorado School of Mines, offers this nice analysis.


Guys Named Joe

December 8, 2009

Cross-posted at the Center for American Progress’s WonkRoom:

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.

Oh, sure, the East Anglia scientists were irredeemably engaged in the deplorable practice of weeding out bad science. They threatened to do so by disregarding weak articles, by rejecting journals which, in their estimation, were publishing pieces driven more by political considerations than by scientific considerations. That’s downright fascistic. How dare they!

It is by now an expectable comedy to hear shouting heads like Glenn Beck, Fox Business Network anchor David Asman, and others cry “fascist” and compare environmental progressives and climate scientists with Hitler and Stalin, but it is somewhat more surprising to see similar such claims coming from the otherwise more sedate halls of Congress. Of course, we’ve seen it all before. In this hyperbolic age, the chorus accompanies virtually all political matters, reaching its illogical extreme in screeds such as this one on Andrew Breitbart’s

  • The Progressive movement owns the Klan.
  • The Progressive Movement owns Nazi Eugenics.
  • The Neo-Progressive Movement owns Global Warming.

Sensenbrenner’s comments on the CRU hack cannot be understood independently of this political context. This is particularly true in the climate arena, where one’s political affiliations more or less signal where one stands on the science. An attack on climate science is an attack on progressivism, or so the story goes.

As a philosopher, I am at pains to understand how cries of fascism ever gain any traction when coupled with references to the political left. The thesis that progressives are somehow fascist has all the complexity of the “Guys Named Joe” hypothesis: the specious observation that because some very bad people in world history have been named Joe, that therefore most other guys named Joe are also bad.

At heart progressivism is a left-leaning political orientation, privileging equality over inequality, seeking to give voice to the weak by recognizing personhood, and aiming to advance autonomy by reducing vulnerability, among other things. These are core progressive principles, rooted in the writings of theorists as diverse as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Stuart Mill, and Immanuel Kant, among many others.

If progressivism is embodied by sensitivities to injustice, fascism is the very opposite of this. It is almost unilaterally agreed that fascism is a phenomenon of the right wing. It stresses rule by the few, encourages force over diplomacy, draws strength by belittling the weak, and in the end is an ideology of control. Truth is, political theory is remarkably ill-equipped to offer a clear definition of fascism, but these are its widely-recognized contours.

Fascism, Communism, Liberalism, Conservativism, Progressivism — these are conceptual categories, distinguished by what they accept and reject. They’re not pejorative name-tags to be affixed on an offending party. If Hitler calls himself a socialist, this does not make him a socialist. If Stalin called himself a progressive, this does not make him a progressive. If Glenn Beck finds a bath of communist red in the collected artwork adorning buildings commissioned by the 20th century’s most renowned capitalist, this does not make Rockefeller a communist, and it does not make it the case that capitalism is communism.

Politicians, apparently, need little be bothered by political theory, just as they need little be bothered by science. There’s nothing fascistic about rejecting bad arguments. There’s nothing particularly progressive about it either. That’s just how science works, sometimes with all of the nooks and wrinkles revealed in the e-mails. To hurl epithets at the climate scientists as if they are part of a conceptually-confused political cabal is a distortion of the highest order. It certainly doesn’t add clarity to an already muddy political discourse.


Two More Down

December 8, 2009

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Robbery at University of Victoria

December 6, 2009

More hackery and criminality. Is it of the same degree? Hard to say.


Potholes in My Lawn

December 4, 2009

I enjoyed this. Maybe you will too.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

The author is a YouTube person named PotHoler54. Thanks to Greenfyre for the tip.