James Delingpole is one of the first to observe the Climategate phenomenon as “uber-viral” – a story where there is much larger internet exposure than MSM exposure.

Citing Richard North, he compares the number of Google hits to the number of Google News hits for phrases of interest, comparing, for example, “Climategate”, a word that did not exist 14 days ago, to “Tiger Woods”, who has been adding to his celebrity in unexpected ways.

Updating the comparisons, “Climategate” has 32,000,000 google hits as compared to 4,080 news stories (Google), while “Tiger Woods” has 29,500,000 google hits with 54,018 news stories (Google). Although Tiger has over 10 times as many news stories, Climategate (remarkably) has more google hits than Tiger Woods (and many other famous search items e.g. Britney Spears, NFL, NBA or for that matter “climate”).

“IPCC” has 1,320,000 Google hits and 7,839 news stories (Google). If nothing else, the numbers show an extraordinarily intense interest in this story in the blogosphere, with increasing news media interest.


  1. fFreddy
    Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 11:37 AM | Permalink

    Umm, if I may, it is Richard North, not Richard Woods.

  2. theduke
    Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 12:18 PM | Permalink

    Steve: if you haven’t seen this article:


    It’s quite good.

  3. Marko
    Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 12:18 PM | Permalink

    Keep in mind Google News only shows hits in the last 30 days. This may not matter for Climategate because it is so new, but for all the other mentioned phrases it makes a big difference compared to the standard Google search.

  4. jallen
    Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 12:47 PM | Permalink

    From the National Academy of Sciences, Here is the crux of climategate (assuming the reader is familiar with the FOIA and the “lost” source data aspects of the issue):

    Ensuring the Integrity, Accessibility, and
    Stewardship of Research Data in the Digital Age

    ISBN: 978-0-309-13684-6 National Academy of Sciences.

    Click to access 12615_EXS.pdf

    Data Access and Sharing Principle: Research data, methods, and other information integral to publicly reported results should be publicly accessible.

    Recommendation 5: All researchers should make research data, methods, and other information integral to their publicly reported results publicly accessible in a timely manner to allow verification of published findings and to enable other researchers to build on published results, except in unusual cases in which there are compelling reasons for not releasing data. In these cases, researchers should explain in a publicly accessible
    manner why the data are being withheld from release.

    Data Stewardship Principle: Research data should be retained to serve future uses.

    Data that may have long-term value should be documented, referenced, and indexed so that others can find and use them accurately and appropriately. Curating data requires documenting, referencing, and indexing the data so that they can be used accurately and appropriately in the future.

    Recommendation 9: Researchers should establish data management plans at the beginning of each research project that include appropriate provisions for the stewardship of research data.

  5. ThinkingScientist
    Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 12:54 PM | Permalink

    I am a serial complainer about bias on AGW to the BBC here in the UK. I have challenged them on this occasion to post links to ClimateAudit.org whenever they post about Climategate, alongside the links they automatically post to CRU and RealClimate. When I hear back I will publish here my complaints and there response.

  6. ThinkingScientist
    Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 12:54 PM | Permalink

    Sorry – “their response”!

  7. Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 1:01 PM | Permalink

    Thinking Scientist – I had three posts on the Newsnight website deleted when I linked to posts here/WUWT about the data problems and HARRY READ ME.

    They subsequently had a pathetic ‘Newsnight has discovered’ segment on HARRY but failed to explain why it was a bombshell – they interviewed a software guy who compared the code structure on screen to that of a ‘commercial’ package.

    It would have made zero sense to anyone without a SW background and then they’d be thinking – yup and where’s the meat…

    Very disappointing given the acres of expert analysis in the posts here and on WUWT.

  8. Richard Patton
    Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 1:14 PM | Permalink

    If you look at the one year statistics on google:

    “climategate” = 204,000,000

    “climate change” = 210,000,000

    “global warming” = 88,300,000

  9. dp
    Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 1:14 PM | Permalink

    It is probably a good bet that “Climategate” will lead you to a lot of jokes, idle conversations, blogs trying to direct traffic to themselves, and sensationalist coverage. Better for serious discussion is to search for “CRU emails” and other uninvented and unsensationalized terms applicable to the issue.

  10. ThinkingScientist
    Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 1:40 PM | Permalink


    I have already had a response from the BBC re my complaint last week. On the flagship BBC Radio 4 6pm news last week they led with the press release from the UK Met Office that 2009 “was going to be” the fifth warmest since records began. I challenged them that reporting a speculative press release about something that hadn’t happened and ignoring something that had happened (CRU emails) was bias.

    The answer was flannel, concern about strongly held beliefs etc. One of my main points, and I will continue to escalate the complaint, was to compare this to the BBC report in August 2004 when they reported on the main breakfast news on 25 August 2004 that it was “going to be” the wettest August in the UK since records began. After August actually finished the UK Daily Telegraph pointed out it was only the 17th wettest in the UK since records began. Did they correct the story? Its still on the website if you search for “August rain reaches record levels”.

    I gave a seminar to a lay audience in November that year and asked the audience of about 80 whether they thought that August 2004 was the wettest since records began. The show of hands was around 75%. I disabused those 80 poeple of this notion, but my reach is not as wide as the great and good of the British Broadcasting Corporation. And the greatest insult is I have to pay them to fund this propaganda…

  11. Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 2:14 PM | Permalink

    Re ThinkingScientist:

    For the benefit of other Americans,

    flannel [ˈflænəl] n

    5. Brit informal indirect or evasive talk; deceiving flattery

    …never heard that before.

  12. ThinkingScientist
    Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 2:21 PM | Permalink

    Re: NW

    Not just science at CA…its cultural exchange too!

  13. GP
    Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 2:28 PM | Permalink

    fFreddy said:

    “Umm, if I may, it is Richard North, not Richard Woods.”

    Indeed. But what is your point?

  14. Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 5:02 PM | Permalink

    dp and you don’t think that ‘global warming’ will do the same? Or how do you want me to understand you?

  15. Hu McCulloch
    Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 6:18 PM | Permalink

    Congratulations, Steve! You know you’ve made an impact when your original server melts down from high traffic!

  16. RomanM
    Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 6:48 PM | Permalink

    GP, possibly a correction to a typographical error?

    Hu: The good news … and the bad news…

  17. Marty Trout
    Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 7:05 PM | Permalink

    Thank you for working on this Steve. I am a Tea Party member and there are so many issues going on right now! I work at a small liberal high school and need specific info. I like leaving articles on the staff room table. We have had two “global warming” assemblies, at the first one I asked if there was going to be someone speaking from the other side. I was fresh off a Tea Party protest and commented that it would be indoctrination!! My boss got a little agitated but he likes me, so I survived. I got Erin’s article from rightsoup.com about the monitoring stations sited by C02 emitters. I am trying to find out where to go to get the original story, also, who is Erin? Thanks for the help, Marty

  18. Sean Peake
    Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 7:29 PM | Permalink

    Got to give them credit for persistence (I think George Custer, Richard Nixon, the cold Fusion guys et al were the same way)


  19. george hanson
    Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 8:02 PM | Permalink

    This obama is going gung ho on GW. Bet on it. He wants to go on to be president of the world. Bet on it. A Democratic senator Baucus just voted with the Republicans to strip a part of health care reform from the bill. Obama leaked to the press that Baucus nominated his girlfriend last year for U.S. Attorney from his state. Obama and Emanual are from Chicago (so am I) and they learned from mayor Daley if a pol don’t go along with you, make an example out of him and crush him. Obama will not go away, but he will have a failed presidency. Gore is hiding because he is a real goof, and he not only attracts hecklers, but he attracts them in flocks. That’s why he canceled his $1200.00 per person speech. The room would have been full of hecklers against GW.

  20. INGSOC
    Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 8:36 PM | Permalink

    It is fascinating to observe the wholesale changes in media that have been occurring as of late. From a purely dispassionate point of view, I would have thought “old media” would be better at dealing with this new reality. So far, they appear to be fumbling badly. I would have thought that money would have trumped ideology but it seems not. They appear to be the consummate Nero playing the violin while Rome burns all around them.

    BTW, I hope you get a chance for some decent rest Steve. We need you sharp!



  21. Gary Palmgren
    Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 9:22 PM | Permalink

    Dr. Roy Spencer invents a Media Interest Index: (MII)
    His index: MII = 1000 x (news matches) / (web matches)

    Tiger Woods web 18,100,000 news 46092
    MII: index 2.54

    Climategate web 14800000 news 4985
    MII: index 0.33

    This is fun. He plotted several topics on one graph to compare the news media interest vs. the general public interest in several stories. Do you think he found a bias?

  22. Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 10:26 PM | Permalink

    Hi Steve–

    This is getting spooky. Have you ever heard of “post-normal science?” The term is used in a proposal in the .zip file and what I found during a web search is most telling.


    I’d love any thoughts you may have on the notion that “old” science is of limited use in the current world.

  23. Doug in Seattle
    Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 10:57 PM | Permalink

    Richard Patton

    If you look at the one year statistics on google:

    “climategate” = 204,000,000

    “climate change” = 210,000,000

    “global warming” = 88,300,000

    How is that there are 30,3000,000 hits for all time on “climategate” but 220,000,000 for the past year?

    That and the autofill thing have me wondering a bit about Google.

  24. Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 11:13 PM | Permalink


    Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABS news)

    Title: Climate change driving polar bears to cannibalism

    Male polar bears killing and eating the cabs and that is consequence of lack of food=global warming.

    Are they really think we are all fools! It is blatant propaganda and a lie.

    Male polar bears (and other bears) always kill and eat cubs, that is why mothers are very careful around male bears. There are hundreds documentaries stating this going back at least 30-40 years. It is nothing new.

    Why climate change propaganda is working quite well? It is actually very sophisticated tool appealing on the emotions and beliefs. It is really hard to argue with people’s emotions or beliefs.

    Contrary, Climate change “sceptics” give rational arguments which often do not reach people who are exposed for long time to irrational propaganda such is this ABC article.

  25. Posted Dec 5, 2009 at 11:41 PM | Permalink

    PNS is quite insane concept, but actually has its purpose. PNS has origin in Marxism and that is scary indeed (ask me I am born in Communist country). Find out, some UK scientist including those from EAU wrote books on this subject.

    It is really “new speak”. Post Normal Science concoction actually has no meaning. How science can be post normal? It si the same as “carbon footprint”. Carbon is an element and does not have footprint.
    Why some people accept such rubbish I have no idea.

    We need find more suitable name for this “new scientific field”?

    Such is: PNS =Perpetually Nutty Science or Particularly Nasty Scientists. I am sure some one out there may have better idea for a name.

  26. Posted Dec 6, 2009 at 12:04 AM | Permalink


    I thought I was out of the loop and just hadn’t heard of PNS. It may have a purpose but the purpose isn’t science, it’s politics. And that’s spooky.

    I’ve always laughed off the “carbon footprint” nonsense. What a load.

  27. Matt
    Posted Dec 6, 2009 at 12:45 AM | Permalink

    Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitrick et al. are all Canadian heroes. I will push in every way to have you decorated with official honours.

  28. Antony
    Posted Dec 6, 2009 at 2:08 AM | Permalink

    Read this disturbing news from Canada

    Is this;

    a) a try to blacken “climate consensus” skeptics

    b) a failed attempt by an overzealous skeptic

    c) a failed attempt by a “standard” hacker who got attracted to this topic by the buzz


  29. Antony
    Posted Dec 6, 2009 at 2:12 AM | Permalink

    Sorry, the above was about physical break in(s) so possibility “c)” goes.

  30. IIB
    Posted Dec 6, 2009 at 4:06 AM | Permalink

    Steve, we’re not as far into exposue in the world of Youtube, as Tiger Woods has 39,800 and Climategate only has 2,820 results.

    Upload videos everyone.

    Check out Former US Presidents Explain Climategate:

  31. Dr. Ross Taylor
    Posted Dec 6, 2009 at 4:37 AM | Permalink

    It is perhaps amusing to study some weather information readily available on the internet. I apologize that the figures are not absolutely precise because they are taken from graphs at weatheronline.co.uk. In the last 28 years, the highest temperature in Copenhagen in December was 11 degrees C and that was back in 1983. Over these years, the average highest December temperature was around 7 C. Today, the high is 6 degrees C. Can we please have a reality check.

  32. Stacey
    Posted Dec 6, 2009 at 6:25 AM | Permalink

    James Delinpole has been very good at reporting this matter however he is trying to politicise it as a liberal left conspiracy.


    Yesterday and today “Climate” auto suggest for Climategate NADA

    Yesterday and today type in “climategate” auto suggests climate guatemala.

    Hits now down to 31.5Million


    Here Here but would add International heroes and we shouldn’t forget Mr Watts

  33. Tony
    Posted Dec 6, 2009 at 8:25 AM | Permalink

    See Al Gore’s response to Climategate here

  34. snowmaneasy
    Posted Dec 6, 2009 at 10:38 AM | Permalink

    Re:Antony…. this is from Andrew Weaver at U-Vic in Victoria, Canada….not all that disturbing…this has already been covered in the Canadian press…most commentators have dismissed it….I cannot remember the exact links….

  35. Neil McEvoy
    Posted Dec 6, 2009 at 12:39 PM | Permalink


    “I am a serial complainer about bias on AGW to the BBC here in the UK. I have challenged them on this occasion to post links to ClimateAudit.org whenever they post about Climategate, alongside the links they automatically post to CRU and RealClimate. When I hear back I will publish here my complaints and there response.”

    You and me too. But see here for a link to CA Too bad the preceding article is biased, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.


  36. Posted Dec 6, 2009 at 4:09 PM | Permalink

    Mr. McIntyre, maybe you don’t feel like a hero, but that’s exactly what you are. My family and friends and I appreciate your persistence, your expertise and your high ethical standards. You and a few others were plugging away at these problems long before they became so overblown as to nearly (so far, only nearly) allow our governments to become more tyrannical than is bearable. Laughably, their “reason” for abusing us is to “save” us. You have made a degree of difference which no other can claim. Thank you much. Please take care of you.

  37. carl
    Posted Dec 6, 2009 at 11:23 PM | Permalink

    MSM can’t really publish and play the emails and all the other files can they? I would think that would pose some legal issues. Not to mention being on the take in general or in bed with the AGW movement would make it a non starter.

    I brought it up at realclimate LOL and so far no replies. I cannot believe how many folks think the leaked files are meaningless without even looking at what is there. Isn’t that the essence if uniformed opinion or willful ignorance? If its all meaningless then publish it all and let the sunlight in, but nooooooo all the AGW sites are doing nothing but damage control and taking each small crisis as it comes up when in fact if you take the whole 150MB plus set of files together as a whole it provides one damn ugly glimpse into the whole sordid mess and it should be treated as such.

    Peer review process corrupted, not even questionable. Major players confirmed liars. FOI laws broken. Collusion and corroboration of all this in the files, this too is not even questionable, it is all there. Game over. Pointing at individual files as some sort of smoking gun is the wrong approach, it is what the whole picture means that is what is important.

  38. RichieP
    Posted Dec 7, 2009 at 6:03 AM | Permalink

    Well, here in the UK on 7 December a.m., searching Google for climategate results in the suggestion box not registering the existence of the word until you’ve entered the final letter e. Google have come up with some entirely unconvincing “explanation” about algorithms but the reality is that there is an active cover-up with almost the entire world’s MSM complicit, as well as Google. Bing, for instance, delivers climategate as its top suggestion after just cli.. Go figure.

    • Thomas
      Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 8:36 AM | Permalink

      RichieP I agree. I can’t see how ‘Guatamala Climate’ would come be on google’s auto-suggest whilst ‘Climategate’ doesn’t. Not many people would be searching for ‘Guatamala climate’. Search resuls are just an estimate and aren’t accurate but there have been some odd things happening with them too.

  39. Thomas
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 8:19 AM | Permalink

    UBER-VIRAL in CHINA too. I did a Chinese character search for climategate on google got 13 million 600 thousand results. I also did a search on China’s largest search engine Baidu and got 101,000,000 results. Google English results are the tip of the iceberg. There are many more climategate results in other languages.

    I wasn’t able to post this on Delinpole’s blog as I seem to have been blocked by IP address. I wonder how many other people this has happened to. I’m never insulting and I include sources whenever I can so I’m not sure the reason for my ban. Maybe it was because I posted links to articles.

  40. Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 7:53 PM | Permalink

    This is an interesting approach, but you have to tread carefully. In particular, using raw Google hits as input data is not such a good idea — the numbers are only ‘estimates’ and the errors can be enormous.

    See http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1942 for a critique of Richard North’s method and a better implementation of the same basic idea.

    • Thomas
      Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 10:09 PM | Permalink

      Hi misterfrictive Yes I agree with you. I wrote that numbers weren’t accurate in reply to RichieP’s post just above. Thanks for the link though. It was interesting. I just take large numbers as an indication of a large amount of interest but don’t take them too seriously. Limiting the search terms further gave me around 2 million results on Google. This is still a huge figure. The number of results has been reduced to 6670 on Baidu. 101 million results one day and 6670 the next. That says it all really.

      • misterfricative
        Posted Dec 10, 2009 at 12:08 AM | Permalink

        Hey Thomas,

        Yeah, I dunno how similar Baidu is to Google, but a swing from 101 million to 6670 is a good indication of the range of error that Google’s estimates can superimpose on the underlying data.

        I’ve done searches before (unrelated to climate) where IIRC an estimated 2 million hits in fact turned out to be less than a couple hundred. (I don’t usually keep clicking through that many Google pages so I don’t know how typical that is. But again, it certainly underlines how flaky Google’s estimated number of hits can be.)

        Or in the words of Geoff Nunberg: ‘When Google reports hit count estimates over a few hundred, the results should never be taken at face value, or any value at all’ http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1943

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  1. By Pesky Internet… | Ken Nelson on Dec 9, 2009 at 12:17 PM

    […] is even more popular than “Tiger Woods” on the internet, ensuring it is well known in spite of a dearth of media coverage: Updating the comparisons, […]

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