Terence Corcoran on Climategate

A very interesting two-part article on Climategate by someone who’s followed the story for years:

Part 1

Now that the Copenhagen political games are out of the way, marked as a failure by any realistic standard, it may be time to move on to the science games. To get the post-Copenhagen science review underway, the world has a fine document at hand: The Climategate Papers.

On Nov. 17, three weeks before the Copenhagen talks began, a massive cache of climate science emails landed on a Russian server, reportedly after having been laundered through Saudi Arabia. Where they came from, nobody yet knows. Described as having been hacked or leaked from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, the emails have been the focus of thousands of media and blog reports. Since their release, all the attention has been dedicated to a few choice bits of what seem like incriminating evidence of trickery and scientific repression. Some call it fraud.

Email fragments instantly began flying through the blogosphere. Perhaps the most sensational came from a Nov. 16, 1999, email from Phil Jones, head of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU), in which he referred to having “completed Mike’s Nature trick” to “hide the decline” in temperature.

These words, now famous around the world as the core of Climategate, are in fact the grossest possible oversimplification of what the emails contain. The Phil Jones email and other choice email fragments are really just microscopic particles taken from a massive collection of material that will, in time, come to be seen as the greatest and most dramatic science policy epic in history…

Part 2

In the thousands of emails released last month in what is now known as Climategate, the greatest battles took place over scientists’ attempts to reconstruct a credible temperature record for the last couple of thousand years. Have they failed? What the Climategate emails provide is at least one incontrovertible answer: They certainly have not succeeded.

In a post-Copenhagen world, climate history is not merely a matter of getting the record straight, or a trivial part of the global warming science. In a Climategate email in April of this year, Steve Colman, professor of Geological Science at the University of Minnesota Duluth, told scores of climate scientists “most people seem to accept that past history is the only way to assess what the climate can actually do (e.g., how fast it can change). However, I think that the fact that reconstructed history provides the only calibration or test of models (beyond verification of modern simulations) is under-appreciated.”

If temperature history is the “only” way to test climate models, the tests we have on hand — mainly the shaky temperature history of the last 1,000 or 2,000 years — suggest current climate models are not getting a proper scientific workout…

131 Comments

  1. Sean Peake
    Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 5:38 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Slightly OT, but where is Briffa these days? Haven’t heard a peep or seen an interview. Has he gone to ground?

    • Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 6:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Keith Briffa was reported recently as suffering from a kidney condition and would therefore be recovering from that. In addition, it would be not unexpected that Dr Briffa would be keeping a low profile in any case as a result of the Climategate exposure.

      At least Michael Mann is consistent in coming out swinging, even if he’s not actually hitting anything…

      • Sean Peake
        Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 6:20 PM | Permalink | Reply

        OK. I thought Brifffa had recovered. As I never kick a man when he’s down (but I would kick a Mann) I’ll drop the matter.

  2. Calvin Ball
    Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 6:29 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The epic stories in the emails, in any honest reading, do not produce any concrete results or conclusions regarding the state of the science.

    I’m not sure exactly what he means by that, but I think it is fair to say that you can’t read the emails and continue to accept the “settled science” meme.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 6:32 PM | Permalink | Reply

      What he means, I think, is that there is nothing revealed there that clearly, unequivocally, and immediately overturns the consensus position. i.e. The real implications need to be assessed through a methodical re-analysis of all the available data.

      • Calvin Ball
        Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 6:53 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Right. There’s a lot of space between “the science is settled” and “AGW is a hoax”. The fact that we hear so much of both is an indication of how this has gotten out of the realm of science.

    • Dana White
      Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 6:36 PM | Permalink | Reply

      That caught my eye as well. All I can think is that ACG has become such a partisan issue that some commentators bend over backwards to profess being agnostic on ACG. The “I don’t know one way or another about ACG, I’m just talking about the data” can be a bit frustrating. But I understand why someone would want to avoid getting into the larger political battle and staying non-partisan.

  3. Kurt Repanshek*
    Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 6:33 PM | Permalink | Reply

    We must take it on faith that something is wrong with the atmosphere.

    http://nationalparkstravelr.com

    • Dave Dardinger
      Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 6:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

      So Kurt,

      Where do you have to go to learn to channel Al Gore? BTW, to keep this on topic, I note in the Corcoran piece above that according to the original IPCC idea, we were to move from about 80,000 worldwide per capita income by 2100 to 40,000 per year if the sustainable route were followed. If we assume 8 billion population that would be a 40,000 x 8,000,000,000 = 40 trillion per year reduction in income. Personally I’d prefer taking the money and moving as necessary to survive 5 degree higher temperatures. Actually when I got married 15 years ago I moved from central, OH to Phoenix, AZ which is a lot larger difference in average temperature and it was no big deal.

      • Dave Dardinger
        Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 6:59 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Make that 32 trillion. I’d originally thought about assuming 10 billion population but figured a “sustainable” population would be somewhat lower. Then I forgot to change the result of the calculation.

  4. Calvin Ball
    Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 6:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    And, you may or may not have seen this at WUWT, but it ties in directly with this, and the “Climategatekeeping” threads.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 7:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

      I read that, Calvin Ball. That makes conspiracy to thwart publication or subvert the review process re: all three pillars of AGW. We have:
      (1) Kamel on overly warm instrumental data;
      (2) Auffhhammer et al on the paleoclimatic proxies lack of fit to instrumental data;
      (3) Douglass, Christy et al. on the models fit to instrumental data.
      .
      Jones had a hand in each of their killings.

      • deadwood
        Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 8:34 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Far more than any “hide the decline”, the suppression of free scientific inquiry through the peer review process is the smoking gun of these emails.

  5. KevinM
    Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 6:56 PM | Permalink | Reply

    “a Russian server,… laundered through Saudi Arabia.”

    Also he’s willing to toss big oil chaffe to confuse the AGW AK-AK.

    Perhaps Corcoran’s not an allied force, just a mercenary with a word processor.

  6. Follow the Money
    Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 7:12 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Corcoran’s two articles are both excellent in knowledge and tone. Provides the background and an apparent bullseye narrative to explain the cast of characters and their journey.

    In my opinion, necessary reading.

  7. Peter Lloyd
    Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 7:12 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Has anyone seriously examined the possibility that the UAE emails were released by an internal whistleblower – a scientist with a conscience, but also a family and mortgage?

  8. Splice
    Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 7:15 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I thought the two Corcoran articles very thoughtful. Any reading of the emails throws up many questions with regard to professional ethics: distortion of the peer review system; gatekeeping; attempts to evade obligations under the FOIA and ultimately to destroy files that are part of a pending FOI request etc. These are serious issues and subject to at least two inquiries, one at the UEA and one at Penn State. I hold out no great hopes for either of these and suspect that the defense will be that these documents simply reflect robust discussion amongst a close cohort of scientists with occasionally inadvisable and intemperate language.

    What Corcoran does highlight is that the key issue is that the science is not settled. The importance of the palaoclimate data cannot be underestimated. The general public has the hockey stick graph deeply imprinted in their psyche as though the IPCC and every government agency has been indulging in subliminal techniques. There remains a long hard road ahead to develop a robust palaeoclimate record, let alone one that has sub degree resolution. However, I am optimistic that climategate will have immediate impacts with regard to gatekeeping and open up the doors of the ‘professional’ climate journals (JGR, GRL, Holocene etc.) to a wider spectrum of studies.

    • Dana White
      Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 7:29 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Unfortunately, I think you’re being overly optimistic about gatekeeping. IPCC scientists are in now in full bunker mode. Look at Mann’s recent editorial. There’s no admission of having gone overboard. Indeed, Mann seems to be arguing that the whole climategate email scandal is a distraction meant to confuse the public. Many of Mann’s fellow climate scientists concur. The only thing that will change is the group will be watching more carefully what they write in emails.

  9. Thumbnail
    Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 7:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Hello CA – I came across this website, purporting to be a resource for educating Australians.

    http://www.acfonline.org.au/default.asp?section_id=193

    Here is their educational material for a start:

    http://www.acfonline.org.au/uploads/res/res_aninconvenienttruth.pdf

    They cite Karoly and Bragnanza 2004 for a graph produced which seems to show an increase in temperature, and make statements about Climate Change which, in my view cannot be supported.

    Can someone smarter than me provide comment?

    It disturbs me to think that our children are being educated using Al Gore’s material and they may not get the other side of the story.

    http://www.noteviljustwrong.com/

  10. Dana White
    Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 7:53 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The other thing that bothers me about this is that “climate science” is really not much of a science at all. Think about it. You measure the temperature in a particular year either directly or through proxys and then you plot it on an X/Y graph against time. When you compare this to some of the great scientific achievements, e.g., special and general relativity, quantum physics, structure of the DNA double helix, nuclear fission/fusion, understanding the immune system, it really does seem like it should be that complicated. The mere fact that it is makes me think that much of climate science is about making the data fit a preconceived notion.

    • Robinson
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 7:46 AM | Permalink | Reply

      I was thinking about this while trying to get to sleep last night. People should consider the Scientific Method as separate from the process used to disseminate scientific knowledge (peer review, press-release, comment).

      The former has a fairly sound philosophical basis; the latter does not. The problem in Climate Science is that the two are confused. I keep hearing people like Bob Watson talking about “the science” but all I can hear is an appeal to authority, based on what are effectively press releases made by the very people who’s authority is being appealed to!

    • potentilla
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 12:33 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Dana you are right. Much of “climate science” is not science at all. Clearly, efforts to understand the physics of the atmosphere are definitely science in the traditional sense. However, reconstructing temperature series and making computer model projections of future climate are “applied science” which should really be in the realm of engineers, planners and policy makers either working for government or as independent consultants. Corcoran explains this problem very well when he discusses the trouble they had developing the SRES scenarios for the global climate modelling.

      I can speak from personal experience regarding the use of applied science in consulting. Consultants in climatology and hydrology might use “tricks” to improve presentation of data to clients if neccesary to clarify results. Furthermore the statistical methods we use are not really science but science-based and certainly would not stand up to the kind of scrutiny that Steve McIntyre provides. Scientific climate research conducted for the IPCC should have been scrupulously separate from policy and planning as well as being open, transparent and verifiable.

  11. Follow the Money
    Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 7:57 PM | Permalink | Reply

    From Corcoran’s second article:

    Mr. Jones, in strong words, then rips into Mr. Mann. He accused Mr. Mann of “slanging us all off to Science.” We all have disagreements, wrote Mr. Jones, but “We have never resorted to slanging one another off to a journal … or in reviewing papers or proposals.”

    Now the first line of Mann’s Wash. Post editorial:

    I cannot condone some things that colleagues of mine wrote or requested in the e-mails recently stolen from a climate research unit at a British university.

    More “slanging”

    • Follow the Money
      Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 7:58 PM | Permalink | Reply

      More “slanging” is my comment.

      • pete m
        Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 9:56 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Mann is referring to the email request to delete other emails. This is likely very naughty, so he has to distance himself from that. He isn’t saying their choice of words to describe other people needs distancing from (eg the slanging), as he said these himself as well.

        The simple fact is Mann agreed to contact another scientist with the message of delete the emails when he had the prime opportunity to say to Jones – “No, I will not delete any emails. I will not counsel others to do so. I counsel you to not delete any emails either. And by the way your emails are handled externally to your computer and saved externally, so deleting them off your computer will not delete them off the central stored system.”

        The first time he distanced himself from this request was when it went public.

        Too late Mike! Far, far too late.

        Re the opinion piece. It did put things together quite nicely without having to explain any of the tricks going on.

        I am interested in where to from here. We have 2 university run internal inquiries with external overview. We have a possible US senate inquiry. There is a possible complaint to the police over deleting emails, but I don’t know if anyone has made any such complaint. There are appeals likely over the FOI refusals. There will be an interest in what the cabal achieved in stopping publication. There has been limited release of further data. There is an internal review by the MET of their data.

        The media interest seems to be picking up now some of the more far reaching points are becoming clearer.

        I’d like to see governments take back control of their data and force anyone who uses it in any publication to freely make available their methods. I’d like to see an inquiry into this whole mess at Hadley by an independent judge with strong powers to obtain records. I’d like to see step by step analysis of the world temperature records with raw data shown, any adjustments justified with factual basis and a proper accounting for UHI effect.

        I’d like scientists to stand up to bullies and not be afraid to criticise their so-called peers, and to respond when someone misuses their research.

        • Greg F
          Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 10:41 PM | Permalink

          The simple fact is Mann agreed to contact another scientist with the message of delete the emails when he had the prime opportunity to say to Jones – “No, I will not delete any emails.

          Wouldn’t that email from Mann to the other scientist make for an interesting read?

  12. PaulH
    Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 7:58 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Can someone here help out Terence Corcoran:

    “Climategate: Why and When did Keith Briffa change his views on temperatures?”

    http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fpcomment/archive/2009/12/21/climategate-why-and-when-did-keith-briffa-change-his-views.aspx

    • Greg F
      Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 8:38 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Don’t have an account at the National Post but you can pass this along as a possibility. Briffa appeared to spend some time on the unemployment bubble.

      Email 0906137836
      Fri Sep 18 12:57:16 1998

      Frank knows that I am currently involved with writing a bid on behalf of the earth science community to try to extract 8 million pounds for a 5 year project from NERC to support Palaeo/Modelling validatin work. I was not allowed to say no to this request and it is involving me in a lot of meetings and associated crap. I am now redrafting the proposal. Also I must write my application to NERC for a fellowship – if this fails Sarah and I are unemployed after December as things stand. God knows there is little chance of success but the application must be in be the end of September and I have not started it yet.

  13. ErnieK
    Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 8:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

    “Of course there are FOIA requests. But to be successful at that, you will need to litigate the matter, which can be quite expensive.”

    Perhaps Steve could contact Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch, for some legal help with FOIA requests – that is right up their alley.

  14. ZT
    Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 8:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks – good journalism.

    Here’s a review of something which isn’t: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/tim-graham/2009/12/21/pbs-ombudsman-agrees-newshour-slighted-fascinating-climategate-e-mails

    Amusing to see the WMD comments at the end.

  15. Richard
    Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 8:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Forget it – why have you brought this up here? The analysis of those articles cover the manipulation of science, politics, many, many things absolutely taboo under your rules. What do hope to achieve by this?

    This is like being shown an elephant in a zoo and being asked to comment only on its toenails.

  16. RB
    Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 9:14 PM | Permalink | Reply

    If that is a scientifically provable, then it might be true that the last 50 years have been the hottest in a thousand years, offering some support to the idea that man-made climate change is changing the climate in a significant and unprecedented way. But if the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and the Little Ice Age did occur, then the Earth may have been just as warm today as it was 1,000 years ago.

    I don’t understand this argument. You could believe there was a MWP, you could believe that temperatures today are the same as existed 1000 years ago and still posit that human-induced emissions under a business-as-usual scenario would lead to unprecedented warming based on 1000 years of history. When I superimpose the Loehle-McCulloch reconstruction with a temperature minimum in 200AD for the earlier period with the more recent one starting with a minimum in the 1600s padded with instrument readings from 1935 onwards, I find the same peak global mean is obtained about a 100-200 years faster. While the precedented is not scientific, why is the MWP inconsistent with a human influence? It should be not just the amount of warming but also the time taken that should be factored in.

    • DeWitt Payne
      Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 9:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

      why is the MWP inconsistent with a human influence?

      It’s not. But it is inconsistent with computer climate models. Absent greenhouse gas forcings, the climate models produce flat to slightly negative global temperature trends. Guess what the shaft of the HS looks like? If there were a global or even NH only MWP, mot to mention a Roman WP, then the understanding of the climate used to construct the models is wrong. If they are that wrong, then scenarios derived with them have error bars so large as to meke them meaningless.

      • RB
        Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 10:21 PM | Permalink | Reply

        I’m not an expert here, but this article says that models turned out to be correct and point to a flaw enabling a reconciling of satellite readings with the currently discussed surface temperatures while the Copehagen diagnosis report apparently seems to show model forecasts correlating well with real-world measurements. Perhaps noise, perhaps not, but probably provides some ground to not dismiss the climate models, don’t you think?

      • RB
        Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 10:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

        I understand though that a more pronounced MWP would change the sensitivities used in projecting forward.

      • Luke Lea
        Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 10:32 PM | Permalink | Reply

        My layman’s impression was that any number of climate models could be made consistent with any pattern of past warming. The problem was making them consistent with each other going forward.

        • Robinson
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 7:49 AM | Permalink

          Correct. The models are calibrated against past temperature. It’s effectively a process of curve fitting (!). The parameters are adjusted for the hind-cast until it fits. It is then assumed the parameters must be correct (please, we can play spot the fallacy here) and so the model is run forwards to make its prediction.

      • Jsco
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 1:08 AM | Permalink | Reply

        One issue is the “disaster scenario” If the current period is one of unprecendented warming, then you can entertain all sorts of disaster possibilities. “We are in uncharted territory therefor…maybe there are huge positive feedbacks at his level of warmth…etc.”

        If the MWP had a similar degree of warming as today and what followed was cooling rather than disaster, then that is not great for people wanting to talk disasters.

        jsco

    • Follow the Money
      Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 10:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

      “why is the MWP inconsistent with a human influence?”

      It is inconvenient for human politics. Cap and trade and other financial schemes and funding requests require scare factors. If the earth was warmer during the MWP this reduces the fear in the public over the purported dangerousness of current warming, whatever its cause.

      • bender
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 9:32 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Yes, but it’s more than that. Amyone wanting to know why the MWP matters should read the blog.

      • RB
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 12:35 PM | Permalink | Reply

        My previous comment disappeared. Specifically with regards to this: “Cap and trade and other financial schemes and funding requests require scare factors. “, my comment was that the 1997 Kyoto protocol predated the MBH98 and related hockey stick issues. Therefore, the statement isn’t necessarily true.

        • Follow the Money
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 2:27 PM | Permalink

          I wouldn’t say it is “not true.” But before Kyoto/Enron ’97 the scare factors had no mascot, the hockey stick. There were graphs ‘n stuff that were scary, just B movie stuff. Mann’s stick=Stephen King. It was so good there was a anti-skeptic British television show extolling the stick, parading it around London. I forgot its provenance, but it was the one with the bloke saying “those bitching scientists” Link anyone?

        • RB
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 3:07 PM | Permalink

          I agree that the hockey stick makes it much easier politically. I actually am not familiar with how the countries that signed the Kyoto protocol mustered the political will with something like the IPCC 1990 dimensionless graph which fully shows a prominent MWP and recent temperatures below the MWP peak. To me, it suggests that this case for AGW will remain even if the hockey stick is demolished and the MWP is acknowledged. Furthermore, interestingly to me as an observation, political will in developed European nations and Japan, for instance, seems to have been generated with something far more sketchy.

    • Greg F
      Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 10:37 PM | Permalink | Reply

      … I find the same peak global mean is obtained about a 100-200 years faster.

      I would suspect that the reconstructed temperatures are effectively low pass filtered which would slow the rise time and reduce the peaks.

      Found the paper and it says:

      Note that the use of smoothed data (29-year running mean) and the existence of dating error in the series means that peaks and troughs are damped compared to annual data and are likely even damped compared to the true history (Loehle, 2005). Some of the input data were also integrated values or sampled at wide intervals. Thus it is not possible to compare recent annual data to this figure to ask about anomalous years or decades.

      The running mean is a low pass filter. As suggested the proxy’s would also have a natural low pass filter.

      • RB
        Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 10:39 PM | Permalink | Reply

        I took a 29-year mean of the surface temperature readings as well.

        • RB
          Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 10:42 PM | Permalink

          And adjusted up values from 1936 onwards by the delta between Loehle-McCulloch reconstruction and surface temp average for year 1935.

        • Greg F
          Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 10:52 PM | Permalink

          Still have the problem of the natural low pass present in the proxy’s which I would guess would be a lower cut off frequency then 29 year mean. For example:

          For example, the pollen-based reconstruction of Viau et al. (2006) has data at 100-year intervals, which is now assumed to represent 100 year intervals (rather than points, as in Loehle, 2007).

          That limits the rise time to 100 years no matter how fast the temperature rises for this proxy.

    • WHR
      Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 10:43 PM | Permalink | Reply

      That would be a “posit” based on assumptions rather than data. Given that the MWP did exist, then we have no way to reliably say what “normal” is, what the normal rate should be, what it is in the past, or what it might be in the future. No models can be relied upon…therefore, “positing” that current climate change is human caused is about as reliable as “positing” that 2012 will be Armageddon based on ancient astrological predictions.

  17. Michael B Babbitt
    Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 9:53 PM | Permalink | Reply

    RB: good points. My beef is that for the community that wants to fight global warming, warming is always presented as bad by defaut, no ands, ifs, or buts. Even if we find ourselves in a warming trend equivalent to the MWP — or even if we find ourselves in a faster trajectory — why does so much of the science seem to be so stacked against warming? That has always been my question. I also always wonder the obvious: if cooling was the present consensus and the research and financial scheme money was in that direction, would the balance of fearful scenarios be shifted to the horrors of a colder planet? I don’t have much doubt about that.

    • Jsco
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 1:12 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Absolutely. Change always creates winners and losers. The key is to find the source of the change. Do that and the losers can try and recover damages from whoever is the source of the change.

      If emissions caused cooling, I’m sure someone on the planet would call foul and ask for damages. The key is whether emissions are causing anything or not imo.

      jsco

  18. Mac Lorry
    Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 10:04 PM | Permalink | Reply

    In reconstructing temperature history form proxy data it’s evident that the temperature signal is below the level of background noise. There are techniques for detecting such signals, but you have to know what you’re looking for. In developing and tuning such techniques it seems there’s some tendency to home in on those that produce the expected results. Thus, we get hockey sticks from those who accept the inevitability of CO2 forcing. Yes, the disappearance of well documented warmer and cooler climates in such hockey stick graphs should be a clue that the researcher has imprinted their belief onto the techniques they use to detect the temperature signal. Another clue that this is so is when white or red noise is used as input and the results are still a hockey stick graph.

    Medical science recognizes just how powerfully a person’s beliefs alters their perception and terms it the placebo effect. Thus, double blind studies are the gold standard in medical science, but what’s the equivalent in climatology?

    If “reconstructed history provides the only calibration or test of models” and the researchers who construct both have the same belief in the inevitability of CO2 forcing, then it seems one will use the other to judge the correctness of their own work. Is that not circular logic?

    I could go further into what’s underlying the Climategate emails, but it gets into snip territory.

    • Jsco
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 1:16 AM | Permalink | Reply

      This seems spot on. With very few testable hypotheses and an ability to block anyone from replicating your results, it seems very tempting to “find” whatever you are looking for in a given dataset.

      jsco

      • Mac Lorry
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 8:06 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Finding what you are looking for in a dataset is deeper that being “tempted” in the sense that there’s a conscious awareness of doing something. The placebo effect is so difficult to avoid that double blind studies are required to remove it from results. In my opinion, no one was more surprised by the errors found in Mann’s hockey stick than Mann. His actions in responding to criticism define his character, but the original errors that made the results show what he believed only define his humanity.

        What we should learn from climategate is that there are systemic flaws in the study and review methodologies climatology is build upon. If climatology wants to be taken seriously enough for governments to act upon their science then they need to adopt new standards in how they do that science.

        • Jsco
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 10:08 AM | Permalink

          Good point. I personally believe it went from subconcious at the start (e.g. publishing the Hockey Stick result without much careful review because the result fit with Mann’s worldview) to concious when the Team felt locked in a battle to “prove” they were right even if their original analysis had some flaws.

          Time will tell, but I agree that for many situations the subconcious could be the key player.

          jsco

  19. Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 11:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The question should not be: is there global cooling now or is there global warming now. It is not arguable that there were periods in the history of the planet much colder than now. It is not arguable that there were periods in the history of the planet much warmer than now. It is certain that in the future there will also be periods warmer and colder than now.

    The question should be this: what is the influence of CO2 in raising or lowering the temperature of the planet in the context of what it is known to be, a trace gas. Arhenius’s hypothesis has been resurrected and blessed as requiring no proof. Who says so?

    With due respect to statisticians this requires work in areas of heat transfer mechanisms and solar activity of somewhat bogling complexity. This must be done using what our present knowledge of physics is. Manipulating questionable data with arguable methods will get us nowhere.

    • Mac Lorry
      Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 11:37 PM | Permalink | Reply

      The so called greenhouse effect that Arhenius’s hypothesis is based on is real and yet it can be shown from little more that high school physics that Arhenius’s hypothesis is wrong. Unfortunately, using first principles to disprove Arhenius’s hypothesis is in the snip zone. The house called “consensus” is built on sand, but many profit from its standing.

  20. Stephen Pruett
    Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 11:15 PM | Permalink | Reply

    These articles are fascinating to me, a person who has not followed climate science until recently. It seems that the combination of Phil Jones “going to town” in reviews to keep papers critical of the CRU’s analysis of data from Siberia from being published and the recent stories that only data from only 25% of the Siberian stations were used in the CRU analysis, even though more complete data series were available from other stations.

    Of course, it is possible that there were perfectly legitimate reasons for excluding data from these stations. However, this brings to mind the McIntyre analysis indicating that the raw data in the CRU data set yielded 0-slope oscillations, not a hockey stick. It seems that the 25% of stations selected for inclusion and adjustments for changes in elevation due to station relocation (and presumably for other reasons as well) yielded a distinctive upward slope. Wouldn’t it seem more likely that selection of particular stations (even if the reasons were valid) and adjustment of data for particular reasons would lead to some increases and some decreases as compared to the raw data record? Instead, it seems that most of them contributed to the positive slope.

    Am I off base in thinking (in light of all the recent revelations) that this seems a little suspicious? If an objective re-analysis of the data set revealed that the slope was nearer the 0 slope indicated by the raw data, would this have a major impact on the field, or are there numerous independent data sets that also show a hockey stick? Is it possible that the coercive group-think that seems to be revealed by the leaked documents could have affected analyses by other groups as well?

    • onlyme
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 2:10 AM | Permalink | Reply

      http://climateaudit.org/2009/11/01/rank-gavin-noise/ is a link showing how a hockey stick graph can be constructed using proxys not temperature related at all.

      Currently there is a post on Wikipedia that has not yet been removed by alarmists which reads in part

      “On February 12, 2005, Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick published a paper in Geophysical Research Letters that claimed various errors in the methodology of Mann et al. (1998). The paper claimed that the “Hockey Stick” shape was the result of an invalid principal component method.[16] They claimed that using the same steps as Mann et al., they were able to obtain a hockey stick shape as the first principal component in 99 percent of cases even if trendless red noise was used as input.[17] This paper was nominated as a journal highlight by the American Geophysical Union,[18] which publishes GRL, and attracted international attention for its claims to expose flaws in the reconstructions of past climate”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hockey_stick_controversy

      Given the revisions which have been made to any wiki postings which are antithetical to AGW theories, the length of time this post will remain is problematic.

      Steve McIntyre’s written testimony to the SUBCOMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATIONS, ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE
      UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

      is available at

      http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/108/Hearings/07192006hearing1987/McIntyre.pdf

      and includes discussion of hockey stick graphs produced using red noise.

    • onlyme
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      climateaudit.org/2009/11/01/rank-gavin-noise/ is a link showing how a hockey stick graph can be constructed using proxys not temperature related at all.

      Currently there is a post on Wikipedia that has not yet been removed by alarmists which reads in part

      “On February 12, 2005, Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick published a paper in Geophysical Research Letters that claimed various errors in the methodology of Mann et al. (1998). The paper claimed that the “Hockey Stick” shape was the result of an invalid principal component method.[16] They claimed that using the same steps as Mann et al., they were able to obtain a hockey stick shape as the first principal component in 99 percent of cases even if trendless red noise was used as input.[17] This paper was nominated as a journal highlight by the American Geophysical Union,[18] which publishes GRL, and attracted international attention for its claims to expose flaws in the reconstructions of past climate”

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hockey_stick_controversy

      Given the revisions which have been made to any wiki postings which are antithetical to AGW theories, the length of time this post will remain is problematic.

      Steve McIntyre’s written testimony to the SUBCOMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATIONS, ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE
      UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

      is available at

      republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/108/Hearings/07192006hearing1987/McIntyre.pdf

      and includes discussion of hockey stick graphs produced using red noise.

  21. Tom C
    Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 11:15 PM | Permalink | Reply

    These are tremendous articles by Corcoran. Far more insightful than anything written to date on Climategate. I was really interested to read about Mann instructing Briffa to refer to proxy data strictly in terms of “global temperature”. Seems like the whole preposterous idea of teleconnection to GMT was an edict from this thug and that everyone willingly complied.

    The other fascinating thing is the centrality of Mann in corrupting the entire climate science field.

  22. Barry R.
    Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 11:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Interesting aspect of the articles: It sounds to me as though Global Warming has been very good to these guys professionally/financially, especially Mann and possibly Briffa. It sounds as though Mann was very low on the academic totem pole when he got involved in this–essentially gypsy faculty.

    Just a personal opinion here, but it looks to me as though when the question of CO2 and global warming came up and the politicians asked for answers, the careful, high quality scientists in the field said basically “we’re so far from being able to answer that question that we would barely know where to start.” Politically savvy second and third-raters jumped in and basically said, “They can’t do it, but we can.” They started getting the grants and the attention, but then ran into the fact that the basic science is a long ways from being able to answer the question, and some of these guys are much better at politics than science.

  23. dan
    Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 11:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

    For me, the greatest thing to come out of Climategate was the context to better understand the issues that Steve has been writing about all these years.

  24. Jack from Vancouver
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 1:13 AM | Permalink | Reply

    After reading both parts of Terence Corcoran’s excellent article and considering the total failure of climate talks in Copenhagen is there any way to determine if Climategate led to or aided the failure of talks in Copenhagen? Would the Copenhagen Conference have ended differently, meaning some sort of legally binding agreement, if Climategate hadn’t happened?

  25. Ted Swart
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 1:18 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The very last sentence of Corcoran’s Part 2 strikes me as hitting the nail on the head:

    “Exactly who did what with which data requires a full investigation by competent scientists and official bodies.”

    For the rest his very interesting write-up seems to have all the hallmarks of someone who is holding back from comitting himself.

    • Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 3:36 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Ted, with all due respect, in any of Corcoran’s articles I’ve read, he’s been very much on the side of the non-alarmists.

      But that aside, in a series such as this, he’s probably acting as a “professional” journalist should – by not editorializing or letting his personal views/bias affect the tone of his article.

      Considering that for some readers, the articles may well have been their first exposure to Climategate – or even to the “climate wars” – I believe that Corcoran’s apparent “holding back” (although I would not describe it as such!) was the right choice.

      • JBean
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:55 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Corcoran has taken exactly the right approach, IMO. Chronology is very important, especially for those unfamiliar with the science. Those scientists who have been wronged by the inner circle are slowly filling in the contextual gaps in some exchanges, while the McIntyre/McKitrick argument is vindicated.

        There’s a full-length book in these emails — perhaps several books — and Corcoran seems to have written the thoughtful opening chapters. I hope he continues.

        • Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:07 AM | Permalink

          Their certainly is a full-length book in them — click my name to see the start of one — but I think you’ll find that quite a number of the key players on this site will, ultimately, provide even more thrilling accounts.

        • WHR
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 3:26 PM | Permalink

          Dr. Costella,

          I have gone through about half of the e-mails you have analyzed and commented on. Great insights. I was struck by a thought that really puts the entire lot of it in perspective, I think. These climate researchers simply do not have confidence in their own work. There is a pervasive paranoia even when a colleague is critical. This is especially true with Mann, and it seems, if you follow the chronology, that his defensive, paranoid behavior rubs off on otherwise thoughtful men and women. Yet their agreed upon policy is to present a united front to the public at large. Jones in particular becomes plotting and secretive. This is a standard meme repeated on blogs such as this, but if the science were so settled, why not sing it from the mountaintops with all the facts and figures to back it up? They are acting on whims that they know, deep inside, are not fully vetted by the data, thus their behavior.

          I felt the need to comment. I think a webring of yours, McIntyre’s, and others’ analysis needs to circulate through the public somehow. I do not think this is getting enough attention by the media. They aren’t digging deep enough into the context when they take bits and pieces and publish off-shelf explanations from the AGW science-activists-politicians.

          One more comment. I do not see this as an active conspiracy so to speak. It is hard to explain what is right there before our eyes. It seems like Mann just burst onto the scene, a young, ill-tempered, yet savvy political type. His hockey stick paved the way for the others to set aside their scientific integrity and rationalize their activist yearnings. It is very disturbing. I hope this doesn’t get the snip. I understand Mr. McIntyre’s desire to keep away from speculation and editorializing. I’ll take my snip if he sees fit. It proves to me that he is fair and balanced and justifies my skepticism of those who aren’t. These things just need to be said and I do not have the vehicle nor credentials say it elsewhere. Our voices of dissatisfaction need to be heard.

  26. Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 1:19 AM | Permalink | Reply

    What do you think those other institutions did when Climategate broke? It would be a difficult decision — to protect or destroy? (Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.)

    I’d guess that there would have been enough wise heads to protect rather than destroy, although getting at those records would take a lot of legal firepower.

  27. Ted
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 2:51 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I only stumbled over to this site about a week or so ago. Personally, I have been intrigued by the whole process. I think that as the scientists who have found themselves to be on the receiving end of these gate keeping schemes see the written evidence, there will be professional consequences. Every graduate student not currently affiliated with the Hockey Team will be gunning for these guys. And journals will fall into disrepute to be replaced by others who would like to gain respect from the scientific community. Michael Mann’s days in his field are numbered … at least in terms of the credibility he has within the scientific community. Several others may lose their tenured jobs by the time this all shakes out.

  28. onlyme
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 2:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Is there some reason that my posts have not been approved?

  29. P Gosselin
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 3:31 AM | Permalink | Reply

    “…that will, in time, come to be seen as the greatest and most dramatic science policy epic in history…”

    I certainly agree with this statement, but most likely this will be years into the future. It’ll take awhile for all the climate Meisterburger-Burgermeisters to go away.

  30. Phil Roberts
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:32 AM | Permalink | Reply

    People seem to think that Copenhagen was a failure, it was not, the primary aim had nothing to do with CO2, it was about keeping the Elite’s cash cow going, one of those aim’s was achieved, that of a global transaction tax which will cost every American and every Brit about $2800 Dollars a year.

  31. Stacey
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:33 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Our Gav says at UnReal Climate:-
    Response: People are free to clutter up all manner of bulletin boards and forums and threads elsewhere with repetitive, oft-debunked random talking points. Just not here. If you want to have a dialog about science then we’re good, but if you want to insult scientists, insinuate wrong-doing or post random links to the same, then that isn’t going to work. Feel free to try again. – gavin”

    Modest you are Gav to a fault. Now Gav you mustn’t get upset no one is trying to rubbish scientists only self named climate scientists who:-

    1 Conspire to prevent publication of other scientists work.
    2 Conspire to pervert the democratic process.
    3 Distort and delete data to arrive at an answer they want to suit their political ends.
    4 Destroy public property

    Give my love to your mates, naughty little boys see.

  32. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:06 AM | Permalink | Reply

    In time the trials will be held and the sentences passed, but much science remains. It might not be very exciting science, but there are many influential people who need to be exposed to the best of what can be devised.

    It would not be prudent to dismiss all past work that has a view that might jangle with ones preferred view.

    Regarding the distant past, it would be prudent to start publicity about which hurdles need to be met for each proxy reconstruction to be considered valid for further use.

    For the instrumented period, there is value in a comprehensive quality check, however boring that might seem to be.

    For the future, there is some value in trying to set down criteria that define the best parts of the best of models, then apply them with skills appropriate to the task.

    The difficulty is management. The IPCC appears to have painted itself into a corner of no return, so the perhaps the baton should pass to non-political professional associations and learned bodies.

    That would possibly be the future course that other scientific disciplines would adopt.

    Remember that it is easy to stray from the concept of this site as an Audit and to become partisan. Mea culpa at times.

    Audits, as conducted in financial circles, are governed by rules distilled by common sense and often by laws. Is it time to formulate some model guides for conduct?

    Personally, I am unwilling to be tarred as a bad person because I am a scientist. I am not a climate scientist and there is a difference. The wiser general scientists have an obligation to tidy up the unsightly bundle dropped in their laps.

  33. Magnus
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:45 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Ray to Keith after reading excuse from Mann:

    “Excuse me while I puke…
    Ray”

    (0926681134.txt)

    • bender
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 11:40 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Ray: you’re not alone. We are with you.

  34. HotRod
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 9:03 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Truly excellent article.

  35. Dudley
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 11:26 AM | Permalink | Reply

    From Part I:

    “One immediate observation is that the early years — from 1996 to maybe 2000 — seem have been organized and whittled down to eliminate the long trails of redundancy that pile up in email communication. The emails in the later years remain cluttered and at times impossible to follow — as if whoever was collecting them ran out of time or had not finished the assembly work before they hit the Internet, whether by chance or by choice.”

    Counts of Email Grouped by Year(In 1996 there were 22 “climategate” emails):
    1996 – 22
    1997 - 19
    1998 - 46
    1999 - 68
    2000 - 54
    2001 - 46
    2002 - 33
    2003 - 96
    2004 - 73
    2005 - 145
    2006 - 157
    2007 - 75
    2008 - 112
    2009 - 127

    The big jump starts in 2003. Guess I could make a graph.

    Maybe someone is trying to get lost in all those emails from 2005 to 2009…

    • Dave Dardinger
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 12:34 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Hmmm. There’s a pretty good start to a hockeystick there until 2007. Perhaps you could figure out what the last three years should be and hide the decline?

      • jim edwards
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 2:20 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Don’t forget that while acting as an official IPCC reviewer, Steve was making noise Re: “academic check-kiting” because Wahl/Amman, Amman/Wahl had apparently missed the publications deadline for IPCC AR4 but was reflected in the report, anyway.

        Jones’ infamous 2008 e-mail subsequently suggests Mann, Wahl, Amman, and Briffa “delete any emails you may have had … re AR4″

        From the trend, it looks like 80+ emails should be there. How many related to the Wahl and Amman paper’s special treatment Re: IPCC ?

  36. Dave in Canada
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 11:27 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I almost get the idea that perhaps Keith Briffa was an unwilling partner in all this and only went along under pressure from those above him.

  37. Ted
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 11:37 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The email reconstructions are indeed fascinating…One thought that comes to mind, as a guy who has worked on policy related social science … Yup that’s science. Messy, contested, highly uncertain, always with an eye toward the next source of funding, which means with an eye toward the political winds. A process filled with bullying and hubris. Always has been this way … always will be this way.

  38. Syl
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 11:49 AM | Permalink | Reply

    LOL – Battle of Mike Mann edits on Wikipedia.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Michael_E._Mann&diff=prev&oldid=332744981

    Select Next Edit on the right pane

  39. Robert Wilson
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 12:04 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Excellent article by Terance Corocoran.

    In part I he quotes an email from Mann to Jones in 1998 in which Mann says “I remain committed to doing this with you guys, and to explore applications to synthetic datasets with manufactured biases/etc remains high priority.”

    http://www.eastangliaemails.com/emails.php?eid=59&filename=898099393.txt

    Then Corcoran comments “Exactly what those words mean is hard to know. It must be science talk.”

    It seems clear to me thet Mann is commited to synthetic datasets (just average a couple of teperature records and you’ve got one of these) with manufactured biases in. No wonder they hide their code!

  40. bender
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 12:17 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Corcoran strikes a gem here:

    “What with sampling issues, missing data and other problems, by November of 1997 Mr. Briffa is struggling with results. While the Russian tree rings produce seemingly good results for past climate, results for the 20th century are a problem. On Nov. 3, he writes to Tom Wigley: “Equally important though is the leveling off of carbon uptake in the later 20th century.” The density of the tree rings also declines, a finding inconsistent with carbon-induced warming. “I have been agonizing for months that these results are not some statistical artifact of the analysis method, but I cannot see how.””

  41. bender
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 12:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Very well researched articles, Mr. Corcoran.

  42. bender
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 1:00 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Corcoran says:

    “As recently as Nov. 28, a posting on the Mann-related website, RealClimate.org, continues to claim the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age never happened.”

    And commenter jblethen replies that:

    “there are no posts dated Nov. 28 on Real Climate.”

    This is true, so I don;t know what Corcoran is referring to.

    But we can read “mike” here, ca. 2004:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/werent-temperatures-warmer-during-the-medieval-warm-period-than-they-are-today/

    Weren’t temperatures warmer than today during the “Medieval Warm Period”?

    This is one of a number of popular myths regarding temperature variations in past centuries. At hemispheric or global scales, surface temperatures are believed to have followed the “Hockey Stick” pattern, characterized by a long-term cooling trend from the so-called “Medieval Warm Period” (broadly speaking, the 10th-mid 14th centuries) through the “Little Ice Age” (broadly speaking, the mid 15th-19th centuries), followed by a rapid warming during the 20th century that culminates in anomalous late 20th century warmth. The late 20th century warmth, at hemispheric or global scales, appears, from a number of recent peer-reviewed studies, to exceed the peak warmth of the “Medieval Warm Period”. Claims that global average temperatures during Medieval times were warmer than present-day are based on a number of false premises that a) confuse past evidence of drought/precipitation with temperature evidence, b) fail to disinguish regional from global-scale temperature variations, and c) use the entire “20th century” to describe “modern” conditions , fail to differentiate between relatively cool early 20th century conditions and the anomalously warm late 20th century conditions.

    • Syl
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 1:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

      They always use the adjective “peer reviewed” since they control most of what is peer-reviewed.

    • John Baltutis
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Corcoran says:

      “As recently as Nov. 28, a posting on the Mann-related website, RealClimate.org, continues to claim the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age never happened.”

      And commenter jblethen replies that:

      “there are no posts dated Nov. 28 on Real Climate.”

      bender says:

      This is true, so I don;t know what Corcoran is referring to.

      IMO, he’s saying that the last time he checked, Nov. 28, that there remains a posting by Mann that claims the MWP and LIA never happened.

      Everywhere that the MWP pops up at RC, you’ll find this:

      [Response: The topic has already been discussed in some detail on the site. The best place to start is our glossary entry on the "Medieval Warm Period" (due to a glitch we are in the process of trying to fix, most of our glossary items are currently not showing up in the "Glossary" page link). A site search on "Medieval Warm Period" yields many other instances of discussion of the topic on the site. -mike]

      Here’s the glossary entry link: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/11/medieval-warm-period-mwp/

      NB: Couldn’t find the formatting rules for this revised site, so I don’t know how this will turn out

      • bender
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:30 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for the clarification, John.

        • John Baltutis
          Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 2:56 AM | Permalink

          Well, well. The formatting worked.

  43. Robert
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 1:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Excellent summary by Mr Corcoran. Second article touches on the crux of the whole matter which most lay people do not understand. Given the earth’s age, it is highly likely in a statistical sense that similar warmings and similar rates of warming have occurred. To defend a contrary position would be illogical. To defend it on the basis of sketchy data is very perplexing, given the risks that poor data and analysis techniques would eventually be exposed by the scientific community.
    The only other option was to attempt to control the whole process. So it’s not surprising to see the lengths the team went to in their attempt to do this. Unfortunately, once they jumped into this abyss, there was no turning back. The whole enterprise was high risk and high stakes, but ultimately doomed to failure. Thank goodness someone released these e-mails. They will greatly accelerate the team’s demise, and hopefully re-vamp and re-invigorate the scientific process. Keep up the good work Steve!

    • RB
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 1:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Temperatures in the dinosaur age are not relevant.

      • Robert
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 2:13 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Sorry RB. Not taking your bait.

  44. Susann
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:08 PM | Permalink | Reply

    It is, in my view, not possible for a layman, or even an expert, to make any assessment of the tree ring data conflicts — to pick one issue — based on the emails. Masses of computer code and data are imbedded in the Climategate documents, enough to keep a full science inquiry busy for months, if not years. Exactly who did what with which data requires a full investigation by competent scientists and official bodies.

    I have to agree with Mr. Corcoran that yes, it is not possible for a layman or even an expert to many any assessment based on the emails. Yet, that is precisely what everyone is doing. I agree with his assessment that it will take years and a full investigation by experts and official bodies to be able to make sense. Everything else is just people making s*&^ up.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:11 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Who’s making stuff up, Susann. Please be extremely specific.

  45. Susann
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 4:18 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Well, if I agree with Corcoran that it’s not possible to make sense out of any issue based on the emails, and I do, then I have to conclude that anyone who draws conclusions about, say, tree ring data based on the emails, is making s*&^ up.

    I’ve seen countless people on numerous blogs declaring that it’s all a fraud, that the scientists are fraudulent, and etc. based on reading a few emails. People are ready to throw them in jail, have them fired, and probably far worse, based on a few lines taken from emails and reposted on blogs like this.

    YMMV

    • onlyme
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:46 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Susann:

      I assume you have not looked into the computer code and datasets released with the emails in the same file. That is where the truly damning evidence lies.

      Also, I disagree with your contention that it is not possible to make sense out of ANY ISSUE based on the e-mails, unless you close your eyes and refuse to read through them and follow the several trails woven through the correspondence.

      There are several relevant posts on THIS blog regarding both issues. Perhaps you could pick one of the commented upon email trails and one analysis of the code and data and show where each does NOT make sense, or how the computer code and data sets do NOT show evidence of at least manipulation if not outright fraud.

      • Susann
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:18 PM | Permalink | Reply

        I think what Corcoran was arguing, and what I was agreeing to — was that we can’t, layman or expert alike, assess the science issues from the emails alone:

        It is, in my view, not possible for a layman, or even an expert, to make any assessment of the tree ring data conflicts — to pick one issue — based on the emails. Masses of computer code and data are imbedded in the Climategate documents, enough to keep a full science inquiry busy for months, if not years. Exactly who did what with which data requires a full investigation by competent scientists and official bodies.</blockquote.

        I think he's referring to assessing the science, not the character of the scientists and he's clarifying he means the emails, not the code or any data embedded in it. Even so, he argues for expert analysis, not a bunch of us laymen who don't know the science.

        The epic stories in the emails, in any honest reading, do not produce any concrete results or conclusions regarding the state of the science.
        What exists now in the public domain is scientific conflict and uncertainty that goes to the heart of climate change science — past, present and future.

        Scientists can be absolute foul-mouthed jerks and still produce accurate results. They can be backstabbing SOBs and still get the science right. They can plot and plan their career paths, step on other’s toes, bully and bellow and still produce a proper accounting of the science.

        I’m not saying they did — or didn’t.

        I’ll wait for the experts to weigh in. In other words, non-scientists mining the emails for juicy quotes and then concocting grandiose stories about frauds, hoaxes, deceits, and conspiracies is just mental, well, you know.

        • bender
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:26 PM | Permalink

          I agreed with that at 5:59. But you went further, and claimed that’s what “everybody” was doing. I do not agree with that.

        • Susann
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:32 PM | Permalink

          Well, ok, everyone who *was* doing it, was *doing* it. :) I’m not above the occasional overstatement.

          But it seems that *many* people (how’s that?) are drawing conclusions about the science based on the emails and based on the scientist’s apparent behavior. IMO, there isn’t adequate information in the emails, or maybe even in the emails and code, etc. combined to do so.

        • bender
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:33 PM | Permalink

          “I’m not above the occasional overstatement.”
          .
          This is the same “Susann” from years ago, is it not? Then you are correct.

        • Susann
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

          At least I always admitted I was not up to speed on the science. :) I’m interested in it, but I’m one of those laymen Corcoran wrote about and so I should probably not draw conclusions about the science.

        • Susann
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:54 PM | Permalink

          Oh, and a lot of people here seem quite busy discussing everything but science.

        • bender
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 7:10 PM | Permalink

          Yes, it’s a problem. How are you helping?

        • Susann
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 10:45 PM | Permalink

          The topic of the post is Corcoran’s article on Climategate. Discussing the article and ideas in it would seem to be fair game. I commented on two non-science threads. Steve posted them. I’m not the only one who is discussing non-science issues. It seems to me you’re just being a curmudgeon-for old time’s sake, I imagine. :)

        • bender
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 10:47 PM | Permalink

          Yep. Welcome back.

        • onlyme
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 10:05 PM | Permalink

          Susann:

          Read the title of the thread, this discussion is regarding the Corcoran dissection of Climategate, not the science behind it to the exclusion of any or all other issues raised by the leaked documents. Perhaps you could return to the home page and scroll down to the threads discussing the science behind the debate and you would feel much more at home disparaging others for commenting on things other than science in science threads.

          In this thread, any aspect touched upon by Corcoran is fair game IMHO, and evidently in Steve’s as he has not used his snipper to force people to keep on track as he does when things go astray.

          Straw man arguments in this thread are likely to get noticed and commented on.

        • Susann
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 10:51 PM | Permalink

          onlyme, if you read the sequence of posts, you’ll see I agree with Corcoran. People think he’s written a great post and I agree. He’s left his best advice for the second article, last few paragraphs:

          1) The epic stories in the emails, in any honest reading, do not produce any concrete results or conclusions regarding the state of the science.

          2) It is, in my view, not possible for a layman, or even an expert, to make any assessment of the tree ring data conflicts — to pick one issue — based on the emails.

          I’m just agreeing.

          IMO, it would be judicious to take his advice and stop trying to play cop, CSU, DA and Judge/Jury and leave that to the experts who will have access to all the relevant evidence.

        • onlyme
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 11:11 PM | Permalink

          Given that the scientific method is NOT a method that proves anything, but relies on scientists or even non scientists producing theories to explain observations then on others working to DISPROVE the theories so they can either be upgraded or discarded, yes, you are correct regarding the statement regarding assessment of tree ring data. What is, however, shown in the e-mails is a concerted effort to PREVENT the disproving of the theories and the climate modeling which is done based on the theories.

          This is directly discernable from reading the emails and is independent from any assessment of the tree ring data conflicts (which are however amply shown to be strongly and artificially biased in the code released).

          The emails DO give insight into the state of the science in as much as there is clear evidence of collusion between principles in the IPCC AR4 and later assessments to halt the progress of science by means of attempting and in some proven cases actual prevention of the publication of dissenting papers and in the IPCC method itself of the censoring of objections made in the review process itself and the refusal to even note the objections in the final report.

          Stifling dissent in science is not science.

        • Dana White
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:33 PM | Permalink

          snip – piling on

        • onlyme
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 10:00 PM | Permalink

          To repeat:

          There are several relevant posts on THIS blog regarding both code and email issues. Perhaps you could pick one of the commented upon email trails and one analysis of the code and data and show where each does NOT make sense, or how the computer code and data sets do NOT show evidence of at least manipulation if not outright fraud.

          Without showing at least one instance where you disagree with another layman’s analysis of the code and an instance where you disagree with a layman’s analysis of one of the email threads, your posting has, to me, zero relevance, as both have been well commented upon with excellent analyses.

          I look forward to your showing what exactly does not make sense in any one of such lay analyses on this forum.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Corcoran said “layman”. So now please point to laypersons here at CA making things up, or retract your statement.

      • Susann
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:26 PM | Permalink | Reply

        I see lots of unsubstantiated opinions and comments on this blog so why should I retract mine?

        • bender
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:28 PM | Permalink

          All incorrect statements should be retracted, not just yours. Not “everybody” is analysing emails. Some are analysing literature in the context of the emails.

        • Susann
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:33 PM | Permalink

          snip – stop feeding food fight

  46. Dana White
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:30 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Does UK law provide for discovery?

  47. bender
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 5:59 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I have to agree with Mr. Corcoran that yes, it is not possible for a layman or even an expert to many any assessment based on the emails. Yet, that is precisely what everyone is doing.

    Although I agree that not much can be made from a read of the emails, I would also point out that NOT everyone is doing this; some people, in contrast, are analysing the literature in the context of the emails.

    • Susann
      Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:28 PM | Permalink | Reply

      I would suggest that everyone who is drawing conclusions about the science based on the emails is overstepping.

      • bender
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:29 PM | Permalink | Reply

        What do you make of the Auffhammer and Kamel papers? Papers that we would not have known about had it not been for the CRU dump.

        • Susann
          Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 6:35 PM | Permalink

          I think that a lot of good will come of the hack/leak. And a lot of needless bad as people rush to judgement and use select quotes to support their own position and trash their opponents.

      • Syl
        Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 9:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Well – just read the harry_read_me.txt file. You will see that the CRU data is a mess. They have no QA control, no version control, no documentation. They can`t reproduce their own results!

        No wonder they wouldn`t release their code. BY default, no one can reproduce the results – no even themselves.

  48. Syl
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 7:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Here`s a comment from Rex Murphy (Canadian TV reporter)

  49. Susann
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 11:28 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The emails DO give insight into the state of the science in as much as there is clear evidence of collusion between principles in the IPCC AR4 and later assessments to halt the progress of science by means of attempting and in some proven cases actual prevention of the publication of dissenting papers and in the IPCC method itself of the censoring of objections made in the review process itself and the refusal to even note the objections in the final report.

    Not all dissenting (or assenting for that matter) papers on any science issue will rise to the level of quality required to be published so the fact that some scientists lobbied to keep certain papers out of consideration or publication is not in itself proof absolute that science was done a disservice. It may be — one would have to know the facts and be able to judge the merits of the papers in question and the discipline in particular.

    There will be gatekeepers of necessity — that’s why there are editors or editorial boards and reviewers involved in selecting papers to be published or included in conferences, etc. The processes put in place should work to ensure the editors are fair and the reviewers are fair but the leaders in a field will be the ones solicited to do reviews. They are expected to be the ones who are capable of evaluating the work. They might work to keep out of publication those papers they feel are substandard, both assenting and dissenting. That is supposed to be the role of peer review.

    The frauds in the past show that this is not enough to ensure that only deserving papers are published or considered as part of the literature.

  50. Tilo Reber
    Posted Dec 22, 2009 at 11:56 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Corcoran wrote an excellent article. The only thing that I would want to correct is the assertion that Briffa cherry picked tree rings. We have no evidence that he cherry picked tree rings or individual trees. He did, however, cherry pick series to match the surface record. Briffa admitted to this and seemed to indicate that he considered it standard practice. A crazy standard in my mind, but there you have it. Also, as far as I know, Steve never accused Briffa of picking individual trees.

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