Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Climategate Analysis by John P. Costella

Late in 2009 a story broke, quickly named Climategate, about e-mails that were either leaked or hacked from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom. The initial stories that broke centered on the reference to using a “trick” to hide the decline in earth’s overall temperatures since 1998. But, if you’ll pardon the pun, this is only the tip of the iceberg. If you want to see a more detailed discussion about this disturbing affair I strongly recommend reading the 149-page analysis published by the Science & Public Policy Institute. It details how a small cadre of scientists shaped their data to support the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), popularized by Al Gore in his An Inconvenient Truth. It also shows how these scientists routinely resisted requests from “deniers” to confirm their conclusions and methodology. Instead of freely sharing “their” data (funded by taxpayer dollars so the data wasn’t really theirs to horde) these scientists ignored the requests or provided the bare minimum information while deriding the requestors in the private e-mails with their fellow co-conspirators.

As I’ve said in earlier posts I see this as a consequence of postmodernism in which the “truth” is what we want it to be. The facts are shaped to match our conclusions, which are shaped by our politics. It also reflects the belief that the ends (allegedly saving the earth from humans) justify the means (distorting or changing the facts if they don’t match our judgments). In other words political ends trumps inconvenient truths.

Here are a few excerpts.

Instead of seeing large collaborations of meticulous, careful, critical scientists, we instead see a small team of incompetent cowboys, abusing almost every aspect of the framework of science to build a fortress around their “old boys’ club”, to prevent real scientists from seeing the shambles of their “research”.

Phil Jones to Ray Bradley, Mike Mann, Malcolm Hughes, Keith Briffa, and Tim Osborn, regarding a diagram for a World Meteorological Organization Statement:

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

Those thirty-three words summarize the hoax so magnificently succinctly that the Nobel Committee should consider retrieving their Peace Prize from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Al Gore, and re-issuing it as a Literature Prize to Phil Jones.

Again, Wigley perpetuates the arrogant myth that this small club of scientists should have the right to interfere with, and ultimately veto, the review and publication process for each and every paper published in their field. Such censorship is not how a healthy discipline of science operates; indeed, any discipline that operates in this manner is not “science” at all, but mere religious dogma.

Wigley continues:

I suspect that de Freitas deliberately chose other referees who are members of the skeptics camp. I also suspect that he has done this on other occasions. How to deal with this is unclear, since there are a number of individuals with genuine scientific credentials who could be used by an unscrupulous editor to ensure that “anti-greenhouse” science can get through the peer review process (Legates, Balling, Lindzen, Baliunas, Soon, and so on). The peer review process is being abused, but proving this would be difficult.

This is a damning admission by Wigley: he acknowledges that these skeptics have impeccable scientific credentials; the only reason that they should be banned from reviewing papers for journal publication is that they don’t buy into their dogma of global warming! This email dispels any doubt that this cozy club redefined “peers” to mean “scientists who agree with us”—which makes a mockery of the entire idea of “peer review”.

The ultimate irony in all this, of course, is that skepticism is not a scientific insult, but rather an essential tenet of the scientific method. Only fundamentalist theological debates brand skepticism a heresy.

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