Sunday, November 29, 2009

Science and Informal Communication

In recent days the Nutty Ones have been in a frenzy about something they call "Climategate," a supposed controversy that validates all their delusions about global warming. Somebody hacked into a server and stole a bunch of emails among climate scientists and published them online, and now some people are asserting that the emails prove that global-warming science was faked.

It's a nice Sunday, sunny and breezy, I should be outside but instead I'll sit here at the computer and ruminate for a while with the windows open. I am thinking about this Climategate business. Specifically I am thinking about the problem of unqualified people with political motives evaluating scientific research. This piece is too long, I am aware of that, I don't expect anybody to bother reading it. I just needed to spill my thoughts about this -- maybe it will make you thankful you aren't doomed like I am to think about things like this. I'll try to find something sexier tomorrow.

Science is just a word that means knowledge.

As ordinary people, most of what we know is stuff we have been told and not seen first-hand. You have not seen the curvature of the earth's surface with your own eyes, for instance; from an individual's perspective the earth is flat, and the sun and stars move over us while the reliable surface we stand on remains firm -- but you know otherwise. Your knowledge is inconsistent with your perceptions. You have probably never seen the President of the United States but you sure know a lot about him and have beliefs about him. With our own senses we see a little bit of the world, and -- this is the amazing thing about human beings -- we put together reports from each individual point of view to compose something we call knowledge. Knowledge is different from information, it is different from accumulated data; computers can't know, only living human beings can have knowledge.

Sometimes our knowledge is wrong. In fact, if you look back at human history and prehistory, most of the time, most people have been wrong about most things they have believed about the world. The cool thing is that over time human knowledge about the world has evolved in a positive direction, facts are separated from unfounded rumors through some process of testing, validation, and discussion, and after several tens of thousands of years of homo sapiens sapiens we are relatively sapient.

It seems funny to say that knowledge can be wrong, but you have to realize that knowledge is not an entity separate from human minds, knowledge is in fact the state of a mind. Knowledge is a little bit about the truth of a belief and a whole lot about the certainty of the believer. It is entirely possible to hold a belief about which you are certain, and be wrong. Everybody understands this, really, and over time what we try to do, if we are honest, is to improve our understanding, we want to replace beliefs that correspond poorly with the state of the world with better ones. One reason, maybe the biggest reason, we want to do this is so that other people can trust us when we communicate information to them. The dependability of our statements lays the foundation for our social bonds.

And here's where science comes in. We like to say that science is a process of hypothesis formation and testing, experimentation and analysis, but sometimes it's better to think of science as a social process. Science works like this: a person has an idea, does some work, and writes a paper describing the work. The paper is submitted to a journal where an editor decides whether to send it out for review, and if it looks good he or she may send it to some individuals who they consider qualified to review the paper. The reviewers read it, comment on it, and rate it. The usual rating system is: 1. Accept as is; 2. Minor revisions and accept; 3. Rewrite and resubmit; 4. Reject. Usually three or four reviewers look at a paper, the editor takes their opinions and decides whether to publish it. Editors may totally ignore the reviewers' comments and ratings, though they usually don't. Nobody knows, usually, what the other reviewers have said, if the editor gets three rave reviews and one it-makes-me-want-to-puke he may decide to publish, and if you wrote the puke review you might feel you have been ignored, but it's all up to the editor. He may look at the negative review and decide not to publish, or he may read the article himself and decide regardless of what the reviewers have said.

Once a peer-reviewed paper has been published in a reputable journal it becomes part of the scientific literature and can be cited by future scientists. Newton called it "standing on the shoulders of giants," and that's how science works.

Listen, this is a fallible process. Science can make mistakes. There have been important moments where the scientific community chose to go one way or the other, and maybe they didn't choose correctly. Was Newton's theory of color better than Goethe's? We'll never know, because nobody paid any attention to Goethe's theory. It might as well be VHS versus Beta, eight-track versus cassettes, all that happens is that some people decide what they prefer. Except in science the people have been selected through a process of education, which is as much a matter of selecting qualified individuals as it is filling their heads with accepted knowledge. You go to graduate school to get your PhD, you take classes, seminars, conduct research, write a dissertation, take comps, but in the end it comes down to one thing. A professor shakes your hand and says, "Congratulations, doctor." It doesn't matter if you have failed to pay your fees, it doesn't matter if you flunked comps and nobody liked your dissertation, it doesn't matter if your paperwork got lost in the administration office, once they call you "doctor" you are a doctor, a peer, you are one of them, and they can't take it back. A PhD means nothing more than that you have been accepted by an elite group of scholars. You could have a perfect dissertion and get everything right in your exams, but if they don't accept you into their group you do not get to use the letters after your name.

Science is no different from other forms of knowledge. You can ask about the fundamental nature of matter, you can ask if John Gosselin cheated on his wife, it's all the same process. It all works the same way, people have a thought and share it with others, it gets discussed and passed around and refined, and in the end everybody knows that the atom is the smallest unit of matter, or that John Gosselin did or didn't cheat on his wife. And for the record, I have never seen John Gosselin on TV and have no idea who he is, I just know his name and face are in the news a lot. He has a bunch of kids and either he or his wife is having an affair, right? Scientific thoughts are scrutinized much more carefully than thoughts about television stars, scholars risk their reputations when they write or review something, their skepticism and criticism is much more intense than you see in an ordinary conversation, the scientific process is more formal than ordinary conversation but is not fundamentally different from it.

So some scientists sent emails to each other about global warming, big deal. They're people. I remember in graduate school sitting in seminars with a bunch of research assistants where everybody would cheer if the results came out "our way" and boo if they didn't. We were all happy if an experiment went well and we had a good chance of getting the results published. This was a little bit before email was common so you can't steal those hopeful comments and put them on the Internet, but we talked to each other about the studies, we hoped it would come out, we shared ideas about the hypothesis, the methods, the statistical analysis, we might talk about how to assign the degrees of freedom in the ANOVA to get a significant result, what to do about outliers, we might have noticed confounding factors or conflicting results in another paper, or anything, we might hope the results come out badly because the professor gave us a bad grade on something or because he was on the outs with the other professors. We talked about the scientists with rival theories, dwelling on their unclean personal habits. Scientists are just people, motivated in the same ways everyone is motivated. Nowadays they use email, and somebody broke into the server and stole it.

I can talk about this because I've been part of it. I am an originator of a scientific topic that has been the subject of thousands of scientific papers. I have personally seen the birth of an idea, shared the results with other scientists, presented at conferences, published in journals, edited journals and reviewed hundreds of papers, there are now entire journals committed to the subject I originated, I have seen the paradigm veer off track and come back, I have seen popular novels based on the subject, management consultants citing the research ... I am in a privileged position to comment on the social process of science.

Scientific knowledge is essentially the same as all other knowledge, it is the state of a thinking mind, what cognitive psychologists call the "feeling of knowing" is a matter of perceptual fluency, speed of processing, salience and familiarity, we say we know something when we feel like we know something. Scientists are no different from other people, they do everything the rest of us do. But amazingly, science as a formal system has been astoundingly successful at evolving the quality of knowledge, it is the best process the human species has found. Non-scientists might think there is something pristine and perfect going on in those ivy-covered buildings but it's just people figuring out stuff and talking about it, it's trial-and-error group learning. They specialize in tiny niches -- I met a guy once who studied hypothermia in ruby-throated hummingbirds, that's it, that was his life. Trust me, he knew more about that topic than you or I do, he knew it in a way we can't imagine. You couldn't read his email to his friend and conclude his research was a hoax, even if he was discussing his research design or statistical analysis.

It's not quite right that scientists are exactly like the rest of us. A scientist is a person who has first of all been accepted to a graduate school, second of all gotten through the program, and finally has conducted research that met the approval of his or her peers. Getting into graduate school is an exercise in ass-kissing, you need to have good grades as an undergraduate, good scores on the GRE, and you need impressive references and a nice letter that shows you to be sincere and intelligent and ambitious in ways that please the faculty. Anybody who has been to grad school can tell you about people who got in for the wrong reasons, and getting in is the most important thing, the hardest thing. Getting through it is a lot of work but basically once you're there they'll help you unless you're lazy, and then they can't be bothered. You learn the rules of the scientific method in fine-grained detail, you submit some papers as a co-author with your professor, whose reputation increases the chances of papers being accepted, and when you get out you will hopefully have had your name on enough of them that an editor will recognize your bloodline when you submit one as first author. And so it goes, you continue the tradition and make a name for yourself.

Scientists are different from other people because they have been selected by the academic process to become doctors of philosophy and have stepped over the thresholds of that process. If you look at scientists individually you will see that they stand out, there are not going to be a lot of two-digit IQ's in that crowd, for instance. These are smart, hard-working people. If they are successful it means they have learned how the game of science is played and have used their intelligence and motivation to place themselves prominently in their field. They have figured out how to get positive reviews from journal referees, how to get funding for their research, how to get tenure.

None of this means that scientific results are "factual." Let's make a distinction here, you might not be used to thinking this way but let me point out the distinction between deductive and inductive logic. Mathematics is deductive. Ignoring Gödel, a mathematical fact is true no matter where it is applied or who thinks of it. The method used for identifying mathematical truths is the proof, which is a strictly defined series of logical steps, each building on the previous one, where the previous one has its own proof, and the final result is deductively valid and true. Mathematical facts are true even if there is nothing in the real world that corresponds to them, even if no one has ever thought of them before.

On the other hand, inductive reasoning builds up facts from observations. The method for determining causality inductively is the experimental method, where factors are carefully controlled, an independent variable is presented in two or more levels, the value of a dependent variable is measured, and values of the dependent variable are observed to be affected by values of the independent variable. There is almost always some error in measurement of the dependent variables and other factors affecting the outcome, and so some statistical analysis is used to determine whether the outcome is due to chance or whether it is due to the experimental manipulation. Based on all this fudginess, a conclusion can be drawn about the condition of the world with some degree of certainty. Through some clever statistical manipulations, the certainty of a conclusion can be pretty well estimated.

Science, no matter what anybody says about null hypothesis testing, uses inductive logic. Scientific results are never completely certain, if they were certain they would be common knowledge already, the results of an experiment almost always have some room for doubt or something that can be challenged. That's why science doesn't just wrap it up and say, Okay, we're done. The cool thing is that knowledge is always increasing, beliefs are improving, because people selected by the academic process use methods that their peer group approves of to write papers that will be published and get them funding and tenure.

So now we have the shocking revelation that some climate scientists have sent emails to each other, hoping their research will look good to journal editors and department chairs. Woo, scientists are people, who would have guessed? It's a fake controversy, it's like finding out that priests have sexual fantasies, that bankers are greedy, that teenagers are self-conscious. Sure, climate scientists get excited when they look at a graph of data that no one has ever seen before, and notice a trend that has never been documented, their first thought is that maybe Science or Nature will accept this, and if there is something imperfect in the data they will see if they can improve it. They email their friends and colleagues and discuss it, not in terms of how it will read in the inevitable Wikipedia page that will be quoted by the inevitable anonymous troll, but how it will affect their career. What can they do to make this new-found discovery palatable to journal editors and reviewers, how should they describe it so they sound like they are supporting and extending the prevailing paradigm rather than looking like some cranky eccentric? Of course they talk about that, just like you and I send email to our friends about things that matter to us. Except nobody steals our emails and puts them on the Internet where we will look stupid and human.

The current case, climate change, matters because there is a political angle to it, because there is money involved. There is a bizarre alliance between the wealthiest capitalists in our society and the hardest-working, lowest paid, least educated citizens. The capitalists understand that climate science could cost them money. If their factories and products are destroying the environment then somebody is going to demand that they clean up, and that means spending a lot of money. They don't want to have to do that, and so it is a foregone, self-serving conclusion for them that climate science must find that humans are not making the planet warmer. And because they contribute to political campaigns and own media outlets they are able to get their wishful thinking disseminated as fact to a poorly-educated population that is not too critical of its information sources. The television audience figures that if the announcer is good-looking and well dressed, what they're saying is probably right, or if there is a colorful banner moving at the bottom of the screen, a dynamic background, and some music sometimes then the news is probably accurate. The people with the money can get the masses to believe anything, that's just the way it goes, that's what we're up against these days.

Somebody captured a lot of emails among some scientists and put them on the Internet, and some of it sounds bad. But you and I are not climate scientists, we don't know how they conduct their research, we don't know how they talk about it, we are unqualified to judge. Let me give you an example and a counterexample. One scientist emailed another guy saying, "I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie, from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline." That sounds bad, but I admit I don't know the field well enough to know what he's really saying here, and neither do you. Now let me tell you something you might not realize: every survey you see, if it's any good, has fake data in it. Google for the words "survey" and "imputation" and you will find nearly two million hits. Imputation in a survey means that you make up data. It has to do with variance and statistical certainty, and it happens every day. Sometimes the data are generated from a statistical distribution, sometimes they "hot deck" using data from a case that is similar in some way to a missing one. Nobody criticizes a survey for using fake data, but if you saw some captured emails between statisticians you might conclude shockingly that survey results are faked. Government surveys, political surveys, marketing surveys, it actually makes a survey more valid to use made-up data, but you could paint that in a way to make it sound bad -- that's because you don't know anything about survey methods, you don't understand how margins of error are calculated, you don't understand the function of imputation. In the same way, you can take statements out of these climate emails and make something out of them. You don't know any more about climate science than you know about statistical surveys, you certainly do not know enough to read some emails -- or more likely read some out-of-context statements extracted by some teabagger and circulated around the Internet -- and conclude that the whole field is a hoax.

We teach kids that the "scientific method" is something about hypothesizing, experimenting, analyzing, but in reality science is like other socially constructed knowledge. That is not to say that scientific knowledge is of the same low quality as ordinary knowledge. There is no question that scientists do discover facts and evolve theories that are more refined and more comprehensive than the theories held by ordinary people. That is because scientists are specially selected by the academic process, specially trained in the theories and methods of their field, and their research is scrutinized and filtered through a rigorous peer-review publication process. Technical scientific work can not be debated in the popular press, because you and I don't have the special training required to evaluate it. You can assume that when scientific research appears in the newspapers and television shows there is money behind it, and you can assume that the news story simplifies and slants the research in a direction that is desirable to their own funding sources.

Thousands of articles have been published on a subject like global warming, and though it is not our field we can expect that there is a scientific consensus and we can expect that there are challenges to the consensus. That's how science works, you can call it paradigms and revolutions, whatever, it is a fascinating process of human beings who are trained to be skeptical and objective in their thinking, criticizing one another's work, looking for the errors, and at the same time building on one another's work. Each one is struggling for funding and academic standing, which are granted on the basis of the scientist's reputation, which is in turn based on his or her record of successful participation in the community of researchers.

In sum, some scientists talked freely among themselves, somebody stole the email and posted millions of lines of it, someone with an agenda tried to pick sentences out of it and make a case that the scientists were trying to pull off a hoax. I'm sorry, there's no story here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In recent days the Nutty Ones have been in a frenzy about something they call "Climategate,""

Barack Obama is off to Copenhagen this week to push for an agreement to reduce global warming, which is pretty much the kiss of death for such an agreement.

Internationally, everyone loves him because he's always willing to give away anything but his persuasive powers are in the negative range.

Science is an esteemed profession and scientists have credentials symbolizing accomplishment and intelligence. They deserve our respect.

They don't, however, deserve deification.

Jim's written an extensive exposition of the scientific process here that deserves an extensive response but that will be time-consuming and thus will have to wait until later in the day.

One thing that must be dismissed right away, however, is the notion that only "the Nutty Ones" are disturbed by the East Anglia revelations.

Concerns about this scandal, and that's what it is, have been expressed across the board.

Here's Michael Barone, a guy with degrees from both Harvard and Yale:

"As Air Force One heads to Copenhagen for the climate summit Dec. 9, it will presumably not make a U-turn while flying over the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at University of East Anglia near Norwich, England. But perhaps it should.

The 61 megabytes of CRU e-mails and documents made public by a hacker cast serious doubt on the ballyhooed consensus on manmade global warming that the Copenhagen summit was called to address.

The CRU has been a major source of data on global temperatures, relied on by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But the e-mails suggest that CRU scientists have been suppressing and misstating data and working to prevent the publication of conflicting views in peer-reviewed science periodicals. Some of the more pungent e-mails:

"I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow -- even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"

"Can you delete any e-mails you may have had with Keith re AR4?"

"I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline."

"The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty we can't."

"I'm getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU temperature station data. Don't any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act!"

You get the idea. The most charitable plausible explanation I have seen comes from The Atlantic's Megan McArdle. "The CRU's main computer model may be, to put it bluntly, complete rubbish."

Australian geologist Ian Plimer, a global warming skeptic, is more blunt. The e-mails "show that data was massaged, numbers were fudged, diagrams were biased, there was destruction of data after freedom of information requests, and there was refusal to submit taxpayer-funded data for independent examination."

Global warming alarmist George Monbiot of the Guardian concedes that the e-mails "could scarcely be more damaging," adding, "I'm dismayed and deeply shaken by them." He has called for the resignation of the CRU director. All of which brings to mind the old computer geek's phrase: garbage in, garbage out. The Copenhagen climate summit was convened to get the leaders of nations to commit to sharp reductions in carbon dioxide emissions -- and thus sharp reductions in almost all energy usage, at huge economic cost -- in order to prevent disasters that supposedly were predicted with absolute certainty by a scientific consensus.

But that consensus was based in large part on CRU data that was, to take the charitable explanation, "complete rubbish" or, to take the more dire view, the product of deliberate fraud."

November 30, 2009 10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Quite possibly the CRU e-mailers were sincere in their belief that they were saving the planet. Like Al Gore, they wanted to convince the world's elites that the time for argument is over, the scientific consensus is clear and those who disagree can be dismissed as cranks (and should be disqualified from receiving research grants). If they had to cut a few corners, well, you have to break eggs to make an omelette.

For those of us who have long suspected that constructing scientific models of climate and weather is an enormously complex undertaking quite possibly beyond the capacity of current computer technology, the CRU e-mails are not so surprising.

Do we really suppose that anyone can construct a database of weather observations for the entire planet and its atmosphere adequate to make confident predictions of weather and climate 60 years from now? Predictions in which we have enough confidence to impose enormous costs on the American and world economies?

Copenhagen, despite Barack Obama's presence, seems sure to be a bust -- there will be no agreement on mandatory limits on carbon emissions. Even if there were, it would probably turn out to be no more effective than the limits others agreed to in Kyoto in 1997. In any case, China and India are not going to choke off their dazzling economic growth to please Western global warming alarmists.

The more interesting question going forward is whether European and American governmental, academic and corporate elites, having embraced global warming alarmism with religious fervor, will be shaken by the scandalous CRU e-mails. They should be."

November 30, 2009 10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this idea that the e-mails were just a bunch of inside jocular banter ignores the fact the data being discussed is the data that much of the current understanding of global warming is based on

a new revelation this weekend is that the raw data was destroyed by East Anglia so it never be re-checked or studied by any other scientists

this only came to light because of pressure under Britain's Freedom of Information Act which increased last week

the scientists now say they can't release the data because they destroyed it

here's the Times of London, with quotes from scientists who actually support the anthropicglobal warming hypothesis but nonetheless recognize the significance of the fraud perpetrated:

"Al Gore, the former US vice-president turned green campaigner, has described the climate debate as “settled”. Yet the science, say critics, has not been tested to the limit. This is why the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia is so significant.

Its researchers have built up records of how temperatures have changed over thousands of years. Perhaps the most important is the land and sea temperature record for the world since the mid-19th century. This is the database that shows the “unequivocal” rise of 0.8C over the last 157 years on which Mann’s hockey stick and much else in climate science depend.

Some critics believe that the unit’s findings need to be treated with more caution, because all the published data have been “corrected” — meaning they have been altered to compensate for possible anomalies in the way they were taken. Such changes are normal; what’s controversial is how they are done. This is compounded by the unwillingness of the unit to release the original raw data.

David Holland, an engineer from Northampton, submitted a request for the figures under freedom of information laws he was refused because it was “not in the public interest”.

Others who made similar requests were turned down because they were not academics.

A genuine academic, Ross McKitrick, from the University of Guelph in Canada, also tried. He said: “I was told they had obtained the data under confidentiality agreements and so could not supply them. This was odd because they had already supplied some of them to other academics, but only those who support the idea of climate change.”

There is unease even among researchers who strongly support the idea that humans are changing the climate. Roger Pielke, professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, said: “Over the last decade there has been a very political battle between the climate sceptics and activist scientists.

“It seems to me that the scientists have lost touch with what they were up to. They saw themselves as in a battle with the sceptics rather than advancing scientific knowledge.”

Professor Mike Hulme, a fellow researcher of Jones at the University of East Anglia, said: “The attitudes revealed in the emails do not look good. The tribalism that some of the leaked emails display is something more usually associated with social organisation within primitive cultures; it is not attractive when we find it at work inside science.”

There could, however, be another reason why the unit rejected requests to see its data.

This weekend it emerged that the unit has thrown away much of the data. Tucked away on its website is this statement: “We do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added data.”

If true, it is extraordinary. It means that the data on which a large part of the world’s understanding of climate change is based can never be revisited or checked. Pielke said: “Can this be serious? It is now impossible to create a new temperature index from scratch. [The unit] is basically saying, ‘Trust us’.”

Is that part of the scientific process? Destroying data and saying "trust us"?

November 30, 2009 12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had not realized it was that bad.

Destroying the original data ?

I am not a scientist, but I do have an engineering degree, I do have a double CS/ME from Vanderbilt, and YOU NEVER DO THIS. YOU NEVER DESTROY THE ORIGINAL DATA. YOU CAN'T CALL YOURSELF A SCIENTIST OR AN ENGINEER AND EVER DO THIS.

Contrary to what Merle would like to believe, this working class "moron" has the heat off because she is trying to put her daughter through college and save every nickel. And this working class "moron" has exactly the same IQ as my doctorate degree best friend, 138. Not a genius, but by most counts, not a moron either.

I am curious where "Merle", not part of the working class, apparently, got her/his money from (no slight intended, could be a male or female name). Did "Merle" earn this money ? Did Merle incorporate, and as such is paying 1/10 of the taxes the rest of us morons not running our own businesses pay (and here the term is accurate, because I will acknowledge that years ago I should have figured out to incorporate or work for a company with a great pension plan)....

the rest of us are getting robbed.


Jim, care to comment ?

November 30, 2009 4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good grief -- I had not realized that they were destroying original data either.


November 30, 2009 5:37 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Theresa, everybody destroys data. Here's the UK's Times Online explaining about the deleted data:

The data were gathered from weather stations around the world and then adjusted to take account of variables in the way they were collected. The revised figures were kept, but the originals — stored on paper and magnetic tape — were dumped to save space when the CRU moved to a new building.

Nothing is lost, unless you want to go back and put the error back into the measurements.

Again, you don't know how the business of research is conducted. You can say "YOU NEVER DO THIS. YOU NEVER DESTROY THE ORIGINAL DATA." in caps but the fact is, there is nothing gained in saving the original data-entry documents, once you have created a data set out of them. Of course you throw out the original data. Hopefully you shred it first.


November 30, 2009 8:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Professor Mike Hulme, another researcher at East Angia, doesn't agree with you, Jim

it's easy to say that your understanding is so esoteric that others can't even discuss it with you but many of those who are outraged here are fellow scientists

in other fields, original data is retained as a matter of quality control

and it sounds to me like many scientists are saying the same applies to scientific research

November 30, 2009 9:37 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Show me where Hulme says that every piece of raw data needs to be saved forever, in its original format.


November 30, 2009 9:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry, I just looked back and Pielke, the guy from Colorado said that

November 30, 2009 10:16 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Can you post a link?


November 30, 2009 10:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry, I just looked back and Pielke, the guy from Colorado was the one that said something like that

is it conceivable to you that these guys became convinced that their ideas were correct and then started altering or hiding any data to the contrary?

if so, how could that ever be discovered under the research procedures you describe?

are some quality control reforms necessary?

November 30, 2009 10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Pielke said: “Can this be serious? It is now impossible to create a new temperature index from scratch. [The unit] is basically saying, ‘Trust us’.”"

this is from the Sunday Times article

November 30, 2009 10:24 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

is it conceivable to you that these guys became convinced that their ideas were correct and then started altering or hiding any data to the contrary?

Of course fraud is possible, but remember it embarrasses the journal editors and reviewers, and the whole field, when fraudulent research gets through the review process, especially in a high-profile field like this. So everybody is watching out for it. But fraudulent research could get through, I'm not saying it's inconceivable. It's rare in science but it can happen. On the other hand, there is no evidence it has happened here.

Looking at Pielke's blog, it appears that the original data still exist at the national meteorological services, but the research group doesn't have them any more, in other words, there is no problem. He is definitely fighting with these other researchers, and that makes it harder to pick out what's going one here.

November 30, 2009 11:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to Pielke's blog. Seems to me, his problem is not to hard to decipher.

He said the East Anglia guys had e-mailed him to complain about his comment in the Times and he had sent them a response which included this:

"I would suspect that there are some very profound disciplinary differences in the handling of data here between the community I am from and yours. If, for instance, an economic research unit were releasing analyses of global economic activity in support of policy claimed to not hold the original country data -- instead saying, well the countries have it -- that would be highly problematic.

My advice to you and your colleagues is that the defense that you present in your email to me is not a very good one. Rather, I suggest instead being open and simply saying that in the 1980s and even 1990s no one could have known that maintaining this data in its original form would have been necessary. Since it was not done, then efforts should be made to collect it and make it available (which I see CRU is doing). Ultimately, that will probably mean an open-source global temperature record will be created. If you believe -- and I see no reason to suspect otherwise -- that such an open-source analysis will confirm the work of Jones et al., then you should be welcoming it with open arms."

Pileke then adds this comment for his blog readers:

"Obviously, CRU should have taken these steps long before the present circumstances, but regardless, they are now moving towards greater responsiveness and transparency. When the data is available in its original form those skeptical of climate science can then do the temperature math themselves out in the open where everyone can see their work. If the global numbers come out as CRU has presented over the years, then it will strike a blow to skepticism about global temperature trend records produced by CRU and restore a good deal of credibility to this area of climate science. At that point, the fellow who emailed me and his colleagues can rightly boast of their integrity and say "told ya so." Until then, a defensive, circle-the-wagons approach is probably not the best course of action. But old habits die hard."

Sounds to me like Pielke is trying to be critical but diplomatic. His phrase: "very profound disciplinary differences in the handling of data here between the community I am from and yours" I think shows there is divergence of opinion on the topic.

The fact that the guys at East Anglia thought it was too cumbersome to retain the data also underlines another point: climate measurements are too complex to rely on faith in some researcher's work without opening it to scrutiny from sceptical sources.

Science, to be valid, must always tolerate scepticism.

The researchers at East Anglia appear to have lost their bearings.

People are known to get carried away when they are just sure they are right.

We've seen that here in MC in the political activism of liberal groups that are perfectly willing to dispense with democracy and freedom of speech to achieve their goals.

December 01, 2009 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

this working class "moron" has the heat off because she is trying to put her daughter through college and save every nickel

Wow, Theresa, that was quick. I hope you still get to see your lady friends from the upscale health club in Bethesda. Maybe if you'd made the same choices your sister made, to stay home with the kids and forgo the extra income, you'd qualify for this suggestion you made to me in August 2009:

and by the way, if you are in a lower tax bracket you can get ALL SORTs of credits to go back to school.

My babysitter did it, I sponsored her for legal status which she now has, she went and got a PA degree (somewhat funded by student loans, but mostly grants and scholarships..)

She got her PA degree (while continuing to work 3 or 4 jobs... part-time for me as the kids got older, part time as a night nurse, tutoring all sorts of stuff...

put herself through school and is now making a PA's 80K salary.

My husband put himself through school at UCLA years ago working part-time in a liquor store and part time as an intern.

so if you are unhappy about your salary level, go back to school and change it.

this is the land of opportunity, or at least it used to be.

August 31, 2009 7:30 PM

You were complaining back then how your earnings put you in a higher tax bracket and now you are complaining about your earnings being insufficient to pay today's outrageous college tuition costs. Too much, too little!

I have a suggestion for you. Look into no longer claiming your daughter as your dependent. Maybe that way she'd qualify for some of those low income credits to pay for her education -- out of your taxes.

December 01, 2009 9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anonymous" - You never give up, do you? ("We've seen that here in MC in the political activism of liberal groups that are perfectly willing to dispense with democracy and freedom of speech to achieve their goals.")

OK...two can play your game.

How about the "conservative" groups who use questionable ethical and moral means to overturn decisions reached by duly elected representatives of the majority of the citizens? Lying, forging signatures, making false accusations, applying to courts with faulty legal arguments, public humiliation of those with whom you view with some sort of irrational hatred, do not elevate you as paragons of virtue and admiration!

The worst characteristic of all is your unremitting belly-aching and sniveling. Kinda ironic, isn't it, that you are given unfettered "freedom of speech" on this blog site. In are encouraged to speak here so that others can see more clearly through your lies and bigotry.

You LOST - grow up and accept that fact. Maybe you will finally be able to live a more healthy life.

December 01, 2009 9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

in today's WSJ, Richard Lindzen, a professor of meteorology at MIT, explains, in terms that may be comprehensible to an educated layman, why global warming has not been established as a major concern

he talks about many things such as how we look warmer since the mid-nineteenth century because a small ice age ended then and how there is evidence that Earth's temperature was about the same 2.5 biilion years ago when the sun was 30% less bright and how carbon has a immaterial effect on temperature compared to clouds and water vapor whose effect is not well understood and whose future extent is currently unpredictable

anyway, it's interesting to hear all this from a scientist at a university ranked in anyone's top ten in America, if not top five

also interesting is that he also believes the destruction of data at East Anglia was scandalous:

"What does all this have to do with climate catastrophe? The answer brings us to a scandal that is, in my opinion, considerably greater than that implied in the hacked emails from the Climate Research Unit (though perhaps not as bad as their destruction of raw data): namely the suggestion that the very existence of warming or of the greenhouse effect is tantamount to catastrophe. This is the grossest of "bait and switch" scams. It is only such a scam that lends importance to the machinations in the emails designed to nudge temperatures a few tenths of a degree.

The notion that complex climate "catastrophes" are simply a matter of the response of a single number, GATA, to a single forcing, CO2 (or solar forcing for that matter), represents a gigantic step backward in the science of climate. Many disasters associated with warming are simply normal occurrences whose existence is falsely claimed to be evidence of warming. And all these examples involve phenomena that are dependent on the confluence of many factors.

Our perceptions of nature are similarly dragged back centuries so that the normal occasional occurrences of open water in summer over the North Pole, droughts, floods, hurricanes, sea-level variations, etc. are all taken as omens, portending doom due to our sinful ways (as epitomized by our carbon footprint). All of these phenomena depend on the confluence of multiple factors as well.

Consider the following example. Suppose that I leave a box on the floor, and my wife trips on it, falling against my son, who is carrying a carton of eggs, which then fall and break. Our present approach to emissions would be analogous to deciding that the best way to prevent the breakage of eggs would be to outlaw leaving boxes on the floor. The chief difference is that in the case of atmospheric CO2 and climate catastrophe, the chain of inference is longer and less plausible than in my example."

and we're supposed to restructure our economy based on this?

December 01, 2009 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"OK...two can play your game."

actually, not true, Deoh

only a person working for the government can go and tell business owners that citizens collecting petitions on their property are doing so illegally and make the business owners think they need to kick them off to keep city hall happy

only those in power can abuse it

you seem to think that not contesting an election forfeits the right to free speech

we live in a DEMOCRACY, deoh, grow up and accept that fact

December 01, 2009 10:12 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

The catty stuff you posted from Pielke's blog is the kind of thing that should be saved for faculty meetings.

You don't seem to understand that to publish their research they need the complicity of a hierarchy of journal editors and a committee of reviewers. No journal wants to publish work that is fraudulent, which is what you seem to be implying, even if the conclusions do support the editor's favorite point of view.

You statement "Science, to be valid, must always tolerate scepticism," calls for a response. Again, you don't seem to understand, science is skepticism. Science is a formal system that encourages the rejection of authority. And the word "validity" has a particular meaning in science, I sat through many seminars discussing the various aspects of internal and external validity, the methods of science are long debated by experts in the field and are constantly improved in order to increase validity.

You began with a conclusion and are trying to find the odd statement that supports it. I'm not going to debate the details of some pissing contest between people I don't know.


December 01, 2009 10:20 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

only a person working for the government can go and tell business owners that citizens collecting petitions on their property are doing so illegally and make the business owners think they need to kick them off to keep city hall happy

This is Anon, lying again, as usual. In the infamous 6 second video, you can hear Dana say the signatures are illegal, not the action of "collecting signatures." Also, the memo about each community group being allowed to set up tables ONE WEEKEND A MONTH in front of their stores was sent by Giant management, not "city hall."

Of course we don't expect Anon to rely on facts. Facts just get in Anon's way.

December 01, 2009 10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


he said their data handling was not the same as scientists he works with

science is scepticism?

sounds right to me

the East Anglia gang then forsook science and took to advocacy

no journal wants to publish work that is fraudulent?

part of the East Anglia e-mail trail was political moves to attack any publication which published results that are contrary to AGW theory

no journal wants to be on the wrong end of that

and, regardless, "the complicity of a hierarchy of journal editors and a committee of reviewers" is not necessary because data is not checked in the review process, only internal consistency and reasoning

"You began with a conclusion and are trying to find the odd statement that supports it."

this is not true

I began with scepticism and the answers the East Anglia gang gives is "trust us"

December 01, 2009 10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This is Anon, lying again, as usual. In the infamous 6 second video, you can hear Dana say the signatures are illegal, not the action of "collecting signatures." Also, the memo about each community group being allowed to set up tables ONE WEEKEND A MONTH in front of their stores was sent by Giant management, not "city hall.""

Giant management is not a legislature so violations of their policy is not illegal.

When a member of our government tries to involve themselves with the policy decisions of a private business in order to stifle dissent against themselves, our principles have been violated.

See how nice I am?

I've given you something other than climate fraud to discuss.

That discussion is not going well at all.

If necessary, I'll help you guys out some more and talk about how much Sarah Palin's position has improved in the afterglow of Sarah Palin week.

December 01, 2009 10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I have a suggestion for you. Look into no longer claiming your daughter as your dependent. Maybe that way she'd qualify for some of those low income credits to pay for her education -- out of your taxes"

Chopping the spa is absolutely on the table Bea in trying to make the numbers work. Turning off the heat works as well (since that bill is 300/mo - close to 4 x the spa).. except that one of my colleagues in Boston told me a friend of his did this and managed to freeze their pipes and then had a 3000.00 repair bill. shouldn't be as cold here as boston but if I freeze my pipes then I am really going to feel like an idiot.

I did take my daughter off my taxes Bea.. here's the kicker. It made ZERO Difference to the taxes I owed. All the deductions for my kids get phased out. And she is working part time (about 20 hours a week). All the financial aid applications look at the parents income regardless of whether the kid is filing as independent or not). Including I believe Pell Grants... but I will go look again. The student loan interest rates are abysmal (like 10%). So yes, we could load up her debt when she gets out of college. The Pell Grants don't help that much really. Tuition + room + board is running about 33K. Pell Grants are like 7 (maximum) I think, and we really couldn't get any help. I am going to go look again, though.

Scholarships as well seem to be limited to folks with disabilities.. though the scholarship application process is somewhat daunting. Academic scholarships also have a needs test and again almost always look at the parents income. Folks that help with scholarship applications can charge a couple grand for their advice, but wading through the applications available could easily take weeks.

I could pay for 4 years of college every year with the total taxes I pay. It is ridiculous. They almost wipe out one entire income. So you are right, absolutely makes one question why in the world you have two people working if the govt is going to take the balance of the second income anyway. Makes it pointless.

Another option would be to get divorced on paper, file two HOH, and get both incomes way down (but continue to pretend you are married to the rest of the world). I know folks who have done that in our situtation, my accountant told me he processed 6 couples doing this already this year, and each of them will save over 50K in total taxes. Can the govt force you to stay married ? Can they keep you from co-habitating ? You need have a second house or rent somewhere to prove that you have two HOH.... but with 50K in savings each year that wouldn't be hard.

finally if one of you switches jobs and works for a company that will pay you as an independent contractor, that works as well. Or if you run your own company, that clearly makes an enormous difference. You can write off everything and declare no income pratically. Or take an ownership interest in a company losing money and write that off every year... probably Merle - "not part of the working class" is doing one of these things and not paying the taxes the morons of us still on W2 income are.

I think it is going to be very interesting if Obama pushes through the extremely high hikes. Folks will start doing lots of crazy things to get out of the EXTRA 30K a year they expect to burden my bracket with.

I had my son out paintballing with another friend of mine who is a MC teacher. As we were talking I realized that on her 80K salary with two kids deductions that she doesn't lose, and her pension benefits and her summers off, that I really was only clearing maybe 15K more a year than she was... in take home pay. Wow.

So the govt is not making work pay.

That is the bottom line.

December 01, 2009 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the global warming advocates have, as part of their propaganda repertoire, the line that their opponents are only corporate capitalists

beside from this being a Marxist stereotype, it also ignores the fact that the scientists blowing this alarm horn are profiting nicely from doing so

in today's WSJ, Bret Stephens explains why we need to follow the money:

"Consider the case of Phil Jones, the director of the CRU and the man at the heart of climategate. According to one of the documents hacked from his center, between 2000 and 2006 Mr. Jones was the recipient of some $19 million worth of research grants, a sixfold increase over what he'd been awarded in the 1990s.

Why did the money pour in so quickly? Because the climate alarm kept ringing so loudly: The louder the alarm, the greater the sums. And who better to ring it than people like Mr. Jones, one of its likeliest beneficiaries?

Thus, the European Commission's most recent appropriation for climate research comes to nearly $3 billion, and that's not counting funds from the EU's member governments. In the U.S., the House intends to spend $2 billion on climate efforts. The states also have a piece of the action, with California devoting $600 million to their own climate initiative. In Australia, alarmists have their own Department of Climate Change at their funding disposal.

And all this is only a fraction of the $94 billion that HSBC Bank estimates has been spent globally this year on what it calls "green stimulus"—largely ethanol and other alternative energy schemes—of the kind from which Al Gore and his partners at Kleiner Perkins hope to profit handsomely.

Supply, as we know, creates its own demand. So for every additional billion in government-funded grants (or the tens of millions supplied by foundations like the Pew Charitable Trusts), universities, research institutes, advocacy groups and their various spin-offs and dependents have emerged from the woodwork to receive them.

Today these groups form a kind of ecosystem of their own. They include not just old standbys like the Sierra Club or Greenpeace, but also Ozone Action, Clean Air Cool Planet, Americans for Equitable Climate Change Solutions, the Alternative Energy Resources Association, the California Climate Action Registry and so on and on. All of them have been on the receiving end of climate change-related funding, so all of them must believe in the reality (and catastrophic imminence) of global warming just as a priest must believe in the existence of God.

These outfits depend on an inherently corrupting premise, namely that the hypothesis on which their livelihood depends has in fact been proved. Absent that proof, everything they represent—including the thousands of jobs they provide—vanishes. This is what's known as a vested interest, and vested interests are an enemy of sound science."

December 01, 2009 2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"No journal wants to publish work that is fraudulent, even if the conclusions do support the editor's favorite point of view"

So, how did this get by them?:

"In one of the more telling disclosures from last week, a computer programmer writes of the CRU's temperature database: "I am very sorry to report that the rest of the databases seems to be in nearly as poor a state as Australia was. . . . Aarrggghhh! There truly is no end in sight. . . . We can have a proper result, but only by including a load of garbage!"

This is not the sound of settled science, but of a cracking empirical foundation. And however many billion-dollar edifices may be built on it, sooner or later it is bound to crumble."

is that normal science talk?

do we just not understand the subtleties, ignorant non-scientists that we are?

give us a break

December 01, 2009 2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So the govt is not making work pay.

That is the bottom line."

this why unemployment will remain high until we send Barack Obama off into the sunset three years from now

let's hope the damage is not irreparable by then

December 01, 2009 2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So some scientists sent emails to each other about global warming, big deal. They're people."

this is like saying, "so Richard Nixon made some tapes about Watergate, big deal."

the big deal is what they admit to doing in the e-mails

the climategate scandal is so voluminous, it is sure to grow as the e-mails are examined more closely

December 01, 2009 2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

more on Adam Lambert's AMAgate scandal when he brought S&M to primetime recently:

"Adam Lambert's crazy pants American Music Awards appearance all makes a little more sense to us after hearing his interview with the Morning Jolt's Larry Flick on Sirius radio, where Lambert admits he suffered from an ugly duckling complex because he used to be quite the fatty.

It is all coming together. Lambert used to be a chubby and now that he is much more svelte and sexy he wants to flaunt it as best he can, even if flaunting it means smooching his male guitarist and simulating oral sex onstage. We just bought some new skinny jeans when we managed to shed those hard to lose pounds, but hey, to each his own."

December 01, 2009 2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Daily Kos poll

only 29% think climategate isn't a real scandal

December 01, 2009 3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most of D.C. City Council has opted to not go for re-election:

"The D.C. City Council has approved a bill granting same-sex couples the right to marry in the District. Only council members Marion Barry and Yvette Alexander voting against it."

This will be corrected when Congress is retaken by Republicans next November.

December 01, 2009 3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the White House is now embarassing itself by trivializing the climategate scandal:

"Robert Gibbs – 1991 North Carolina State BA in poli sci is the latest political operative to be seriously questioned on the metastasizing Climategate scandal. Of course, the man happens to be White House Press Secretary, so his response should be of some moment. But Gibbs’ first instinct was to hide behind Director of White House Environment and Climate Change Policy Carol Browner – herself an English major – who has insisted AGW is settled science because thousands of scientists said so – an inane argument in itself. When a reporter noted that thousands of scientists disagreed, Gibbs basically stamped his foot and insisted “I think there’s no real scientific basis for the dispute of this,” – as if this man would know in a million years.

At least during the Middle Ages the public discourse on scientific/religious disputes was held by intelligent people (or mostly). This was ridiculous, as you can see for yourself in the video. In a way I pity poor Gibbs, because if ever a man was over his head, he is here. He probably believes AGW settled science, but who knows? Who knows what anyone believes these days? So much money and time has been invested. And we all know how unwilling most people are to back down anyway, except for, evidently, Obama’s Science Czar John Holdren who warned in 1971 that a new “Ice Age” was coming. “Ice Age” then, “Hot Spell” now. As John Belushi used to say, “Do the Locomotion.” Meanwhile, at this press conference, Gibbs seemed more like a deer in the proverbial headlights explaining what the administration hopes to achieve in Copenhagen. Maybe he should have spent the time “Doing the Locomotion.”"

December 01, 2009 9:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The meds have apparently quieted Anon's OCD for today.

December 02, 2009 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

take as many meds as you want, guys

when you come to, reality will still be here

the global warming data you've been religiously devoted to all these years was faked

December 02, 2009 1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phil Jones, eye of the climategate storm has resigned

B Obama, who relentlessly attacked his predecessor for valuing politics over science, has failed the hypocrisy test again

from Forbes magazine:

""Science and scientific process must inform and guide decisions of my administration on a wide range of issues, including … mitigation of climate change," President Barack Obama declared in a dig at his predecessor soon after assuming office. "The public must be able to trust the science and scientific process. Public officials should not suppress or alter scientific technological findings."

Last week's Climategate scandal is putting Obama's promise to the test. If he wants to pass, he should: (1) support whoever broke the scandal instead of acting like nothing happened; and (2) Ask eco-warriors at the Copenhagen to declare a cease-fire in the war against global warming pending a complete review of the science.

A whistleblower got into the computers of University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit in England, also known as the Hadley Research Center, and revealed reams of e-mails showing that its leading climatologists had engaged in all kinds of scientific shenanigans including manipulating data, destroying evidence that didn't support their conclusions and keeping contrarian scientists from being published in peer-reviewed journals.

The revelations are significant because the Hadley Center is no marginal outfit. It is among the most influential research organizations in the field whose work forms the basis of all official global warming reports, including those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U.N. body that serves as the Vatican of global warming.

One e-mail as recent as last month acknowledged that global temperatures plateaued in 1998, something that skeptics have been pointing out for years and warming warriors have been pooh-poohing. "The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment," the e-mail confessed. Instead of celebrating the good news that the planet may not fry, the e-mail blames an "inadequate observing system" for not picking up on the warming.

This wouldn't be such a big deal if other e-mails didn't show even worse malfeasance. "I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years and from 1961 to hide the decline of temperatures," one said. To most people with normal IQs, the words "trick" and "hide" in the same sentence would suggest manipulation of data. But the brainiacs at Hadley claim that these are just standard colloquialism that scientists use to describe completely innocent operations.

December 02, 2009 7:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Then how do they explain this 2005 e-mail by Phil Jones, the director of the center, to the aforementioned Mike. "The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the U.K., I think I'll delete the file rather than send to anyone… We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind." The "two MMs" refers to Canadian researchers Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick. And--lo and behold--when one of them asked Jones for his data, what did he do? He hid behind the data protection act. But no, there is nothing premeditated here!

Why was Jones so afraid of the two MMs? Because they had debunked Mike's--or Michael Mann of Penn State University's--infamous "hockey stick" graph that supposedly offered proof positive that humans were warming the earth. It showed that global temperatures had remained flat for a millennium only to spike sharply in the 20th century following the industrial revolution. But McIntyre and McKitrick found that the innocent "tricks" that Mann was performing on the data were so riddled with methodological errors that even the IPCC was forced to remove the graph from its official reports.

One would have thought that the hockey-stick episode would have instilled some humility in the Hadley gang, prompting them to invite ever greater scrutiny and debate of their work. That is, after all, what real scientists would do. Think again. In fact, the e-mails show that they did the exact opposite. Around the time the "two MMs" went public with their analysis in 2003, Mann urged his colleagues to blacklist Climate Research, a journal that had published research by skeptics. "I think we have to stop considering 'Climate Research' as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal," he wrote. "Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit or cite papers in this journal.""

December 02, 2009 7:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is precisely the kind of perfidy that undermines public trust in the scientific process that Obama pledged to restore. So if Obama had his priorities straight, he would end his silence and thank the authors of Climategate for performing a great public service. Indeed, if President Bush had been so lucky, perhaps fate would have contrived a WMDgate for him before he launched the Iraq invasion and saved him from the worst mistake of his presidency.

It is worth recalling that Bush too was relying on an international consensus--especially reports by U.N. arms inspectors--that Saddam Hussein was sitting atop stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction as a justification for war. "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised," Bush said in a 2003 prewar declaration calculated to escalate the hysteria level against Saddam. After a two-year-long wild goose chase through the deserts of Iraq, Bush was finally forced to admit that Saddam no longer possessed weapons of mass destruction. But at least the phony consensus on which he based his decision was intact at the eve of the war.

However, Climategate is fast shattering the global warming consensus, and so Obama won’t have even that to hide behind should he go ahead and sign up the U.S. to cut its carbon emissions 80% below 2005 levels by 2050 at Copenhagen next week. There is zero chance right now that Congress will endorse these cuts, which will dwarf the trillion-dollar Iraq price tag. So Obama won't really be able to advance his foolish crusade, but he will lose the opportunity to protect his own integrity by joining the growing chorus of voices--some of them of global warming believers--demanding a thorough investigation of this episode. Former Chancellor Lord Lawson is asking the British government to launch a formal inquiry about it. Sen. James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, is doing the same here in the U.S. Penn State is launching an investigation of Mr. Hockey Stick Mann's conduct. Calls for Phil Jones resignation are rising in England.

But the issues go beyond the misconduct of just one outfit. One of the dirty little secrets of the field revealed by the scandal is that climate scientists, though they are publicly funded, don't as a matter of routine make their raw data publicly available. This makes it exceedingly difficult for their peers to replicate their findings, subverting the scientific method at its core. Judy Curry of Georgia Tech, a stalwart in the field who is convinced that global warming is real, is exhorting her colleagues to end this incestuous tribalism and open their work to scrutiny, even of skeptics." Make all your data, metadata and codes openly available," she urges. Meanwhile, George Monbiot--the British media's alarmist-in-chief who has called global warming the "moral question of the 21st century"--is demanding a reanalysis of the climate science data.

A complete airing of the science of global warming, which is looking less and less avoidable by the day, might eventually vindicate the claims of climate warriors. Or it might not. The only thing Obama can control in this matter is which side he will support: The truth, or--what he accused his predecessor of--ideology.

December 02, 2009 7:13 PM  

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