More Thoughts on the Conservative White Male Effect and Climate Change

By Chris Mooney | August 5, 2011 10:36 am

When I published Tuesday’s much discussed DeSmogBlog post on conservative white men and climate change denial, I had no idea I would need to defend the basic idea that there is such a thing as “social dominance orientation” (which I only discussed for one paragraph of a much longer post). I figured readers would take it for granted that this is a serious scientific concept, so I just linked to the Wikipedia page. I mean, it’s not like somebody just conjured up social dominance orientation during a walk by the seaside one day. A psychometric scale was developed and validated to measure this attribute or characteristic, which varies within the human population. See here for the published research on this.

Nor did I think that it would be surprising to observe that, if there is dominance behavior in males, a little hormone called testosterone might be involved. I have not done much reporting on testosterone, but here is a recent review paper that more than covers it. The conclusion:

Testosterone has been the focus of intensive research for decades. Whereas early studies pointed towards a role in physical aggression, recent evidence suggests that this simple view needs to be refined. In particular, it appears that testosterone promotes status-seeking and social dominance motives, and thus plays an important role in social status hierarchies. (Note, however, that most of these recent studies were conducted on Western student populations; it remains to be tested whether these findings generalize to other populations.) Most recently, several studies in humans have begun to test the causality of the link between social, emotional and economic interaction behavior through acute testosterone administration. These studies have confirmed that an account of testosterone as a simple mediator of aggression falls short of the truth; instead, testosterone appears to have a more subtle and complex role in driving behaviors that tend to increase an individual’s motivation and ability to acquire and defend social status. The exact mechanisms by which testosterone has these effects remain elusive; however, recent research has suggested four plausible channels, namely threat vigilance, reward processing, fear reduction and stress resilience. The task of future studies will be to delineate the role of testosterone in social interaction more precisely and to test which of these candidate channels accounts for most of the observed behavioral variance.

So the bit about dominance actually seems to be the most established part of the testosterone story.

Why point all this out?

Because Wesley Smith–who I’ve met on several occasions, and found to be a nice guy–has misinterpreted my DeSmogBlog post. He seems to think that I blamed the conservative white male effect on social dominance orientation via testosterone. No: that would be silly. I merely raised SDO as one possible explanation among many other related contenders–the others being identity protective cognition, system justification, selective exposure to self-affirming information streams, in-group affirmation, and so on.

Look, here’s the story. We have conservative white men denying global warming at much higher frequencies than other segments of the population. Given that the science of climate is very well established–as is the human fingerprint on the global warming trend–this phenomenon cries out for an explanation. Why is this one group so inclined to fly in the face of scientific consensus?

A lot of explanations have now been suggested, and some will presumably be put to the test, in standard scientific fashion. Should SDO be included among such tests? That’s not my call; I will only note that published research already links it to maleness, conservatism, and anti-environmental attitudes.

For much more on SDO, I recommend reading Robert Altemeyer’s The Authoritarians.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Psychology of Ideology

Comments (132)

  1. Johnny

    Here’s the real story. Everyone is denying global warming at a much higher rate.

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/environment_energy/69_say_it_s_likely_scientists_have_falsified_global_warming_research

    69% of the American Public think that Climate Scientists Falsified Data for their Own Gain.

    51% of Democrats agree.

    Blaming Conservative White Males is nothing more than a line in the sand for the Climate Hawks. You’re telling them that if they dare deny global warming, they are outside the Climate Hawk Tribe and part of the CWM tribe.

    Why is this one group so inclined to fly in the face of scientific consensus?

    Your theory seems to be that CWM’s own everything. Can I call this the “Tim Allen” theory of science communication? His great joke was “Men are scum, too bad we own everything.”

    The truth is that CWM’s will never fear climate change, and always fear its solutions that involve wealth redistribution. The more education / propaganda you force upon a CWM to make him fear, the more he will be embolden.

    According to the article, CWM’s resist the society transforming changes needed to combat climate change because they have the most to loose. They are willing to sacrifice the poor pacific islanders for their SUV.

    My question to you Chris, is why does this theory not work in reverese? If CWM’s deny AGW because they have the most to lose, isn’t it very possible that other groups believe in AGW because they have the most to gain?

    —-

    I will pose the question to the commenters:

    Do Non-Conservative White Males embrace climate change because they believe they have the most to gain?

    Are certain groups like the Maldives, Climate Scientsits, and Climate Journalists especially willing to beleive in Climate Alarmism, simply because they have the most to gain from climate campaigning, climate financing, and simple climate fame?

  2. Somite

    All irrelevant in the face of the scientific fact of AGW. If some groups happen to gain because of AGW they deserve it because they are on the side of reality rather than its denial.

  3. @Johnny, sure “other groups believe in AGW because they have the most to gain” viz. a habitable planet. Can’t blame them.

  4. Johnny, it’s only in the United States where opposition to the mainstream is so pronounced. It’s not a general worldwide movement. It just so happens that in the UK and other parts of Europe the extreme right is a political fringe. That isn’t true in the United States, where extreme right views have entered the mainstream.

  5. Johnny

    @4 Roger Harris

    I think we both know when I say “gain” I mean the millions of dollars in climate financing that will go directly in to their pockets.

    Do a google news search on “climate financing” and you will find dozens of articles by these rent-seekers demanding their Copenhagen money be dispersed.

  6. Baugmo

    I disagree with Johnny but he has a good point in general. The problem with applying it to this particular situation is that it depends on accepting as fact that CWM’s are in denial because they have the most to gain. If you accept that premise then Johnny’s idea is valid. At least something to consider. I like it and hope to use the general mechanism in the future to make sure I’m not the one who’s full of crap. I say it didn’t work this time though.

  7. TTT

    @5: Why do you hate capitalism?

  8. Ryan

    I, for one, appreciate our conservative white male overlords.

  9. Of course, CWMs, especially the Southern variety, long held that people with darker skin were racially inferior. Denialism by CWMs isn’t anything new. Same tune, different beat.

  10. Johnny

    @6 TTT

    Let me guess, you’re going to make an argument that those millions of dollars are an “investment” in the “future” and “clean energy” etc…

    To qualify as an “investment” one must expect a return of one’s money with interest. Since there is no expectation of repayment of climate financing, it is in fact not an investment, and therefore not capitalism.

    There is another word for it, communism. When you take money from some people, without their consent, and give it to other people, who did not earn it, its not capitalism.

  11. Johnny

    @7 Mike the Mad Biologist

    Of course, CWMs, especially the Southern variety, long held that people with darker skin were racially inferior. Denialism by CWMs isn’t anything new. Same tune, different beat.

    Can you clarify? Are you saying all CWM’s are racist, or only the ones who deny AGW?

  12. ThomasL

    Mike,

    they weren’t all CWM’s, to put it mildly, and that sounds like it came from a 3rd grader who just ran into the first paragraph on it… how ’bout you try to say something a little more thought out instead of throwing out childish taunts trying to get a rise out of someone?

  13. Social dominance may well be a partial answer, but I suspect the issue is more complex than Chris originally presented it: http://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2011/08/why-dittoheads-wont-accept-climate.html

  14. Etienne

    Johnny, what in your mind makes climate scientists so different from other scientists that they may be willing to falsify data? Pretty much all research scientists have the incentives you describe to exaggerate the relevance of their findings (more funding, fame, etc). If you work on a protein that may be involved in cancer, you’re going to shout it over the rooftops. It’s the peer review process and the critical (and yes, often jealous) eye of your colleagues that largely checks self-publicity. That system seems to work pretty well, so what is so special about climate science that the normal checks and balances don’t apply?

  15. Johnny

    Did anyone else notice that Chris skipped the “human caused” part of this sentence?

    We have conservative white men denying global warming at much higher frequencies than other segments of the population

    This led me to a very fascinating discovery.

    If you type “climate change” into Google News, you will be presented with all Pro-Climate-Hawk newstories from liberal sources like msnbc, treehugger, alternet, gaurdian.co.uk, etc…

    If you type “global warming” into Google news, you get the exact opposite. The search results are dominated by Anti-Climate-Hawkes like Fox News, the WSJ, and Forbes.

    This dynamic would make for a fascinating article, and Chris Mooney you are the perfect guy for that study. Have at it!

  16. Johnny

    This was actually a mispost, so you can delete it if you want Chris.

    But since I have the space, I found a fascinating Climate Science Communication fact.

    Type “Climate Change” into google news and you get a front page full of Climate Hawk stories from liberal media sources.

    Type “Global Warming” into google news, and you get the exact opposite, Fox News, WSJ and other known conservative denier outlets and their stories.

    Come on Chris, this fact is just begging for your analysis and experience. Tell us what you think.

  17. Baugmo

    Probably a waste of space here: I didn’t mean to say anybody was full of crap in this discussion. I meant that the way Johnny turned around the bias argument is useful and thought provoking. Everybody is always so sure it’s the other guy who is biased. If you can’t turn it around and consider it than you probably are.

    @Johnny: This is beautiful:
    “Can you clarify? Are you saying all CWM’s are racist, or only the ones who deny AGW?”

  18. Johnny

    @15 Etienne

    Johnny, what in your mind makes climate scientists so different from other scientists that they may be willing to falsify data?

    Remember its not just me, its 69% of all Americans.

    I agree with you and don’t think climate scientists are any different than other scientists, or all humans for that matter, in that they are all somewhat inclined to falsify data when its in their self interest.

    There are certain elements to Climate Science however which make it especially prone to data falsification. Let me go through them.

    1. Small Community – Climate Science peer review is especially susceptible to fraud because of the very small clique of climate scientists who review each others papers. Climategate exposed the fact that some researchers were trading pre-publication papers, breaking peer review rules. Climategate also exposed how certain climate scientists were actively conspiring to suppress contrarian papers.

    Nothing illustrates the problem with “anonymous reviewers” better than the recently investigated Polar Bear researcher Monnet, who’s 2004 study was used by Al Gore to make Polar Bears the mascot for dangerous global warming.

    Its been recently discovered that Monnet’s WIFE was one of the reviewers! That kind of conflict of interest is outrageous.

    2. No ability to test – We don’t have an earth in a jar which can be used for testing purposes. If you can’t test a scientific theory, you can’t disprove it. Models don’t cut it.

    3. Terrible Data Keeping – according to the CRU’s own database programmer, the state of the data is complete garbage. Again we have Climategate to thank. It doesn’t take a climate scientists to read the HARRY READ ME text file where the programmers talk about how he’s making up all kinds of process and fake station data because its missing and there is no rules to it.

    4. Political Implications – millions of dollars are changing hands because of the global warming theory, but if its proven untrue, thousands of rent seekers and carbon traders and climate scientist will be out of work and money, so it MUST be true, no matter what.

    5. The Orthodoxy – anyone who doubts the climate alarmism is considered an enemy, a denier, a climate crank, a koch crony or a paid shill. If you were on the inside like Judith Curry or poor Mark Lynas, you’re doubly evil for speaking any doubt in public whatsoever. In this sense, Climate Change looks exactly like the rise of any other religion in human history.

    People who leave the climate alarmism movement are treated like people who leave Scientology.

  19. ThomasL

    Yep Johnny,

    Never thought I’d see “science” start performing excommunications… It stopped being science the minute the “scientists” forgot we elect leaders and debate options and decided to instead trump the system and *tell* us what to do instead of simply presenting the science and what its implications seemed to be and then letting us do what we always do, fight about it, debate it and eventually come to something that is actually agreeable to the *majority* of those being asked to live under it…

    Sounds like a classic power grab to me. But it’s the CWM that has controlsocial dominance issues…???

  20. Nullius in Verba

    “…this phenomenon cries out for an explanation. Why is this one group so inclined to fly in the face of scientific consensus?”

    Actually, that’s a very good question, in the sense that I am quite curious why it is just one group and not all groups. Why are so many non-CWMs so absolutely certain of the doctrine without themselves having seen any real evidence, without themselves having the scientific expertise to judge, without any understanding of the actual science – its complexity, its uncertainty, its flaws?

    I linked previously to an alternative explanation. Joanne’s view was that men are less upset by facing aggression and hostility, more willing to differ openly in their opinions from all the people around them, less inclined to follow the herd, less impressed by bullying authority figures.

    So actually, social dominance might indeed play a role, in the sense that submissive people are more likely to cave in to the consensus, and to authority. They are more likely to accept others judgement that they’re unqualified to express their own opinions, and substitute those of the “experts” for their own. Maybe some of the stuff they’ve seen makes them feel uneasy, but they won’t take the risk of making a mistake and isolating themselves from their community by saying so. They show a profound lack of confidence in their own good judgement. They are the ones loudest in their praise of the Emperor’s new clothes.

    CWMs, on the other hand, are so used to being bullied and isolated that it no longer bothers them. There is an evolutionary aspect to that – most men end up as beta males; they’re normally driven to the fringes of the group, and can only hope to succeed by defying authority and taking social risks. They believe in self-reliance and personal achievement. They are quite able and willing to operate from the fringes of society – it’s what they’re designed for.

    The reason that sceptics are sceptical is easy – there is no empirical evidence to support catastrophic global warming predictions, a lot of the science is sloppy, a few bits are actively bent, and believers are transparent in their efforts to distract, deny, denounce, and block any attempt to expose, acknowledge, or rectify this scandalous situation. The bigger question is why so many believe, despite the lack of evidence. Social submissiveness and herd-following is just one hypothesis of many, one that I look forward to you social science types testing.

  21. Somite

    Because we use information from peer reviewed sources and trust expertise. Historically, it has worked better in the long run; even in the few cases that the consensus has turned out to be incorrect.

    Your last paragraph is a fabrication and does not reflect reality.

  22. Nullius in Verba

    #20,

    Thank you. Just as I said, you substitute the authority of experts and journal editors for your own judgement. We have one confirmation.

    Any more?

  23. ThomasL

    Excellent point Nullius,

    I got sidetracked and while bookmarked, I haven’t had a chance to read that one yet (on today’s list…), and now it sounds even more interesting…

    I think, along with your points, part of what I find interesting is that somehow those at the top of a very small and cliquish field are seen as *not* being part of that EWM (European White Male) thing that CWM is but a subset of, and another attempt to further divide everyone up aspect of. Somehow they’ve avoided the pitfalls all the rest of us are trapped in (according to them) I guess.

    Seeing as they must not be Alpha Males, subject to all the issues other Alpha males exhibit (such as bullying, as you mention -> we sure haven’t seen any of that going on in their field…) despite their being literally the top dogs, we can trust ‘em. They are “scientists” after all, and to think they operate the same way as common humans do with desires to dominate, well, you must be uneducated, because we all know the Alpha males are content being assistants and *never* try to stomp those under them, thus they are to be trusted I guess…

    Or at least in the end that’s what much of the argument comes down to, “we’re trained, so trust us”. The constantly pushed “proper” response for everyone in the population – accepted and actively pushed, unsurprisingly by those who stand to gain power and control – is that if one is unsure of oneself, defer to the Alpha -> they’ve got it all figured out, that’s why they’re on the top. Sounds surprisingly like man in a state of nature, not man in a state of enlightenment.

    I look forward to seeing what Joanne’s thoughts are. But I wouldn’t hold my breath for any great research anytime soon -> just take a look at any being done and see if you can *not* make a several page report over its inherent bias and the invalidity of the artificial answers to the questions asked, especially if it involves looking at conservative types (which almost none of them are, so it’s kind of hard to escape the bias of the questioning as those coming up with the questions are very much biased by the time they reach the level they are in control…).

    Society, everyone always wants it to be simple like an addition problem…

  24. Somite

    “Just as I said, you substitute the authority of experts and journal editors for your own judgement.”

    Yes. On areas outside my expertise I trust experts and journal editors because they are experts and deserve to be journal editors.

    This is just how it works if you care about your thinking matching reality.

  25. ThomasL

    Doubt if they’ll get it Nullius,

    it doesn’t come with a math equation so it’s hard to tell if it’s valid… ;)

  26. Somite

    It comes from empirical observations:

    http://climate.nasa.gov/keyIndicators/

    The observation is that climate change is occurring and this is incontrovertible. Models try to predict how bad it will be.

  27. Nullius in Verba

    #23,

    OK, would you accept the Nobel prize-winning professor of physics Richard Feynman as an expert on how true science (as opposed to that Cargo Cult stuff) works?

    “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.”

    Do you accept the word of the expert on this, or do you think you know better than Feynman? Oh, what a dilemma!

    #24,

    No, they won’t get it. They believe Argument from Authority is a valid method because the Experts told them it was. But it’s fascinating to try to figure out how and why they justify it to themselves. And to be honest, if they didn’t so reliably disagree with me, I’d have no check on the validity of my own thinking. They’re very helpful, that way.

    #25,

    Climate has always changed. That’s not disputed.

  28. ThomasL

    Very true Nullius.

    I honestly have been trying to pinpoint where, between my having left from my undergrad program in ’89, through when I started my grad program in ’06, education went from writing your own stuff and normal citation to joining almost coherent pieces of peer review together and calling it “thinking”.
    In my undergrad program I can’t ever recall where we were allowed to argue something – *anything*- with “peer review” as a good enough defense. In fact, it was no defense and wasn’t expected to be there -> this was what *you* had figured out, even in my science classes. “Peer Review” was what you *maybe* worried about once you had already proven you could think and had gone on to higher programs and were interested in an academic career and publishing, as that was about all it was for then…

    In my Grad program we basically weren’t allowed to present anything that wasn’t from “Peer Review” and *everything*, even stupid intro’s, had to be written to journal specs to “practice” for when we would publish “down the road” (really, and here I had no idea I would ever want to…). Having actually read quite a lot of such I must say it wasn’t very impressive. Often I was left scratching my head how the cited stuff had anything to do with the half a paragraph of “new” stuff the paper amounted to after you took out all the citing… What a mess to try to use as a path to understanding!

    Rather than being the starting point for a serious theory, it seems to be the dumping ground for everything, and almost nothing is ever thoroughly checked (as you see in here, why would they, I mean it’s been published!). After that episode I was even less impressed to hear that something had “made it into the journals”, but then I never was as I was taught such was only the sign that it was something to seriously look at. Apparently that has changed to being what we would traditional be calling “The Gospel Truth”.

    It’s almost funny how it has become almost indistinguishable from religion, with “Peer Review” acting as the new Bible for the initiated. But they all swear they don’t believe in silly things like “religion” and such, theirs is *all* based on the scientific mind you…

  29. Sean McCorkle

    Johnny @ 11

    To qualify as an “investment” one must expect a return of one’s money with interest. Since there is no expectation of repayment of climate financing, it is in fact not an investment,

    Nope. Thats Fallacy of Equivocation: “invest” doesn’t necessarily mean in the financial sense. For example,

    3 to use, give, or devote (time, talent, etc.), as for a purpose or to achieve something: He invested a lot of time in helping retarded children.

    In this case the sense would be investing in a better world or environment

    and therefore not capitalism.
    There is another word for it, communism. When you take money from some people, without their consent, and give it to other people, who did not earn it, its not capitalism.

    Nope. Thats Fallacy of the Excluded Middle: there are more than the two choices. There’s a whole spectrum in between at the very least. For example, the United States of America has thrived due to taxpayer-funded infrastructure and services in the last 6 or 7 decades.

  30. Somite

    @Nullius

    I think you are missing the part where Feynman explains that you have to do the work to demonstrate the expert’s concept is wrong and you have to get the new results published with appropriate controls.

    You just don’t get to think what you want because the experts must be wrong; you must show they are wrong with data.

    Is it any wonder that every publication that supposedly disproves climate change does not provide any new data? They are all small critiques than under any scrutiny turn out to be inconsequential.

  31. Johnny

    @29 Sean

    “invest” doesn’t necessarily mean in the financial sense.

    It most explicitly does mean “in the financial sense” when in reference to capitalism, which is what I was responding to via #6 from TTT. I’ll assume you simply missed that.

    —-

    For example, the United States of America has thrived due to taxpayer-funded infrastructure and services in the last 6 or 7 decades.

    Carbon credits aren’t infrastructure. Sending taxpayer dollars to foreign dictators isn’t services. Making traders and bankers rich on carbon trading doesn’t make the country “thrive”.

    Nobody’s complaining about using taxpayer money for bridges, schools and roads. That’s what the money should go to. That’s investment. Climate Mitigation and financing is a fraud.

  32. Johnny

    #30 Sommite

    You just don’t get to think what you want because the experts must be wrong; you must show they are wrong with data.

    Free thought is a priveledge I allow myself, and I assume Nullius does the same. I hope the readers truely realize the depths of submission to authority that statement of yours illustrates. Its almost like you are a slave to authority, fearful of even thinking thoughts against the consensus.

    According to you, we can’t even think things contrary to authority, let alone speak it.

    —-

    Is it any wonder that every publication that supposedly disproves climate change does not provide any new data?

    Maybe because its been disproven so many times its hard to find new reasons?

  33. Johnny

    @5 Tony

    Sorry I missed you earlier, here’s your answer.

    Johnny, it’s only in the United States where opposition to the mainstream is so pronounced. It’s not a general worldwide movement.

    A popular but entirely untrue Climate Hawk talking point, and it only takes a google news search to prove it.

    Australia is in a near civil war over Climate Change legislation. Their PM was elected under an election pledge of “No Climate Taxes”, and has since made Climate Taxes her number one priority. Australia is about to revolt in opposition.

    The Australian conservative party has just promised to close the Climate Change department if elected. Tell me that’s not a major political party opposing climate change.

    Russia, Japan, Canada and China have all officially announced they are not joining Kyoto II. In Britain, opposition to climate change is growing every day. In Canada, they are axing the Climate Change departments to save money. In India the press is reporting more and more sceptical and denier stories, accusing the western press of forcing poverty upon it.

    China burns coal like we’re about to enter an ice age. In South America and Africa they are building ever more coal plants and cutting down ever more rainforest.

    The US, China, Russia and India are suing the EU over its attempt at taxing world wide airline fuel, in direct violation of the Chicago Convention and International law.

    In short, nobody but the morally and financially European Union is doing anything about climate change. Climate Skepticism is world wide and growing every day. Just read the news.

    —–

    It just so happens that in the UK and other parts of Europe the extreme right is a political fringe. That isn’t true in the United States, where extreme right views have entered the mainstream.

    Britain is so liberal that the Democrats would be Tories.

    Personally I’d rather have two American political parties who hate each other, and are diametrically opposed, than to have two British political parties who agree on everything and give their people no choices at all.

  34. Sean McCorkle

    Johnny @ 17

    1. Small Community…

    Nothing illustrates the problem with “anonymous reviewers” better than the recently investigated Polar Bear researcher Monnet, who’s 2004 study was used by Al Gore to make Polar Bears the mascot for dangerous global warming.
    Its been recently discovered that Monnet’s WIFE was one of the reviewers! That kind of conflict of interest is outrageous.

    Fallacy of Hasty Generalization: you can’t extrapolate widespread behavior on the basis of a few examples. Its also Cherry Picking: listing only those examples which make your case and not listing those which don’t. (The latter of which are many in this case)
    BTW These two are common fallacies committed by AGW deniers.

    2. No ability to test – We don’t have an earth in a jar which can be used for testing purposes. If you can’t test a scientific theory, you can’t disprove it. Models don’t cut it.

    Pure BS. You don’t need to put the earth in a jar to conduct tests, nor do you need models. Tests are conducted by looking for data to expected to either support or disprove the hypothesis and in addition, a great deal of physics, chemistry, spectroscopy can be brought to bear on developing and conducting those tests.

    3. Terrible Data Keeping – according to the CRU’s own database programmer, the state of the data is complete garbage.

    Hasty generalization/Cherry Picking again. You’re leaving out other data sets.

    Again we have Climategate to thank. It doesn’t take a climate scientists to read the HARRY READ ME text file where the programmers talk about how he’s making up all kinds of process and fake station data because its missing and there is no rules to it.

    How do we know Harry (whoever he is) was right? Does he still feel that way? Perhaps he was wrong. Is there any way to corroborate the claim that the CRU data is complete garbage?

    4. Political Implications – millions of dollars are changing hands because of the global warming theory, but if its proven untrue, thousands of rent seekers and carbon traders and climate scientist will be out of work and money, so it MUST be true, no matter what.

    You have simply GOT to be kidding. Millions of dollars? Mere millions? Chump change. By comparison, just one category of fossil fuel sales bring in over a hundred times that much in a day. Don’t make me laugh.

    5. The Orthodoxy – anyone who doubts the climate alarmism is considered an enemy, a denier, a climate crank, a koch crony or a paid shill.

    No it doesn’t.

    If you were on the inside like Judith Curry or poor Mark Lynas, you’re doubly evil for speaking any doubt in public whatsoever. In this sense, Climate Change looks exactly like the rise of any other religion in human history.

    Hasty Generalization/Cherry Picking again.

  35. Sean McCorkle

    Johnny @ 30

    From #17
    Let me guess, you’re going to make an argument that those millions of dollars are an “investment” in the “future” and “clean energy” etc…,

    This is quite correctly interpreted in the sense of #3 @28. By forcing the financial/capitalist meaning of “investment”, you diminish the sense from the broader and higher values down into the restricted monochromatic “money-is-the-only-value” religious dogma.

    Climate Mitigation and financing is a fraud.

    BS

  36. Incredulous

    33. Sean McCorkle

    You keep claiming that it is cherry picking and hasty generalization. What threshold do you suggest for malfeasance before you lose trust? How many times do you allow them to exaggerate claims for effect before you question the validity of the other things they say?

    Should we just give them a pass because “Their heart is in the right place?”

  37. Incredulous

    15. Etienne

    “That system seems to work pretty well, so what is so special about climate science that the normal checks and balances don’t apply?”

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know for myself why I view them differently. Other sciences make it a point to shun people who get caught doing bad science and don’t circle the wagons defending those that misbehave. I honestly don’t think that all climatologists are doing bad science. Those that I feel are doing bad science without consequence have made me lose faith and question their claims more stringently than I might otherwise.

  38. ThomasL

    Incredulous,

    Yes, a huge part of it. I have never seen any other feild where once someone’s hand has been caught they just get to go on doing the same work and everyone’s just supposed to trust that it was a one-off. We’ll even leave out who gets to do the investigating, but let’s just say everywhere else the investigators sure aren’t on your side, and they *do* have one…

    Somehow I can’t recall there ever being this kind of excuse brigade show up in the profesions, let alone the *hard* sciences…

  39. Sean McCorkle

    Incredulous@34

    You keep claiming that it is cherry picking and hasty generalization. What threshold do you suggest for malfeasance before you lose trust?

    There are all sorts of statistical tests that can be used to determine significance of a sample. Just make sure you start with an unbiased set. The hacked CRU emails and Harry’s README are not that. At the very best you might be able to claim they implicate a few individuals, but you cannot claim generalities about the climate science community as a whole based on that. Nor can you take one unidentified individual’s unsubstantiated critique of a data set and claim that therefore all the data is terrible. For starters, there are other data sets from different institutions, i.e. NOAA, NASA, MSU/AMSU, etc.

    How many times do you allow them to exaggerate claims for effect before you question the validity of the other things they say?

    That depends. Who is “they” exactly? Climate scientists? And what are the exaggerations?

  40. Incredulous

    37. Sean McCorkle:

    “There are all sorts of statistical tests that can be used to determine significance of a sample. Just make sure its an unbiased set.”

    That is complete nonsense. Just out of curiosity, do you also think that the FBI should not investigate bank robberies because most banks are not robbed and therefore the ones that are robbed are statistically insignificant? We are not talking about a statistical analysis of data. Do you listen to Rush Limbaugh or Fox News and say, “Well, they said something foolish this time but it was statistically insignificant?”

    “At the very best you might be able to claim they implicate a few individuals, but you cannot claim generalities about the climate science community as a whole based on that.”

    Well, I read the reports of the investigations and believe that they were explicitly framed to avoid any real address of the allegations. I also read the reports state that there were things that would have been legally actionable but were beyond the statute of limitations. When things happens over and over, we arrive at generalizations. Generalizations are not inherently wrong.

    “That depends. Who is “they” exactly? Climate scientists? And what are the exaggerations?”

    This entire thread has been about climate scientists. I am not trying to slip in a discussion of parking attendants. Are you going to conveniently forget things like Pachauri’s statements about glaciers? Were they just statistically insignificant?

  41. Somite

    Can any of you point out to an instance where data has been falsified or incorrectly interpreted in a published paper?

    Where do you get this idea that there has been any wrongdoing by climate scientists?

  42. bad Jim

    In a certain sense, This entire thread has been about climate scientists is the silliest comment possible. Chris Mooney could write about headless chickens and the comments would still be full of blather about ClimateGate.

    I want to go back to Mike the Mad Biologist’s comment about the racism of conservative white males. Racism remains more prevalent than we like to think. Back in the 60’s it was pretty pervasive. Look at the states that Barry Goldwater carried in 1964 and argue that racism had nothing to do with it. Look at the counties where the vote for Obama was less than it was for Kerry and argue that racism had nothing to do with it. The average Southern white voter, according to one poll, was unwilling to admit that Obama was a citizen by birth. What is that if not racism?

    Sure, nobody’s a racist any more. In fact, nobody would think to advance a dubious opinion without first saying “I’m not a racist, but …” Anyone who says that is, of course, a racist.

    I’m dubious about the testosterone connection. Social dominance orientation is as prevalent among women as men and doesn’t diminish with age as testosterone does. If there’s any connection at all it’s not simple.

    One more thing: high SDO types prefer high-status automobiles. While it isn’t the case that everyone who drives a Mercedes or a Lexus is an asshole, nearly every asshole who can afford it drives a Mercedes or a Lexus or a Rover. I’d recommend never giving the driver of such a vehicle the benefit of the doubt. (Heh)

  43. Nullius in Verba

    #37,

    “At the very best you might be able to claim they implicate a few individuals, but you cannot claim generalities about the climate science community as a whole based on that.”

    It’s not so much the content of Climategate that implicates the scientific community, but their reaction to it. What they ought to have done, and what I expected them to do to be honest, would be to acknowledge that there had been a problem, drag out and independently re-examine all the evidence to find out how far the rot goes and what can/cannot be trusted, exclude everything put in doubt, and then rebuild trust with the public with full transparency and openness, explaining what went wrong, what can still be trusted and why, and what they’ve done to see that it never happens again. If they’d done that, and shown that only a few individuals were implicated and most of the science was sound, they might now be on the road to recovery.

    But instead – with a few honourable exceptions – they tried to pretend nothing had happened. The activists issued denials, complaints, “enquiries” that carefully didn’t enquire, and tried to say nothing was found and even if it had been found it didn’t mean anything, and the rest of the scientific community sat in silence and accepted it.

    That reaction is what damns them all.

    If you want an example of what I would have expected, here’s Judith Curry’s reaction:
    “When I first started reading the CRU emails, my reaction was a visceral one. While my colleagues seemed focused on protecting the reputations of the scientists involved and assuring people that the “science hadn’t changed,” I immediately realized that this could bring down the IPCC. I became concerned about the integrity of our entire field: both the actual integrity and its public perception.”
    (Read the whole thing.)

    Judith is a climatologist, a senior mainstream academic, and a long-time believer in the orthodoxy. Chris’s book Storm World was in part about her battles with the sceptics over hurricane science. She still is a believer – but she recognised immediately the significance of Climategate, and the urgency of the scientific community making the right response. She understood the importance of communication – what Chris keeps going on about. She got it right. And while sceptics still disagree with her and argue with her, they respect her.

    If her reaction had been universal, I might indeed have put it down to a few rogue individuals in the climate science community. I don’t know why it wasn’t, but it isn’t.

  44. Nullius in Verba

    #39,

    “Can any of you point out to an instance where data has been falsified or incorrectly interpreted in a published paper?”

    Yes.

    I already directed you to Harry_read_me.txt, where false codes were assigned to cover up database corruption. The same file has many more examples, like the use of non-gridded interpolation in a gridded product: “I am seriously worried that our flagship gridded data product is produced by Delaunay triangulation – apparently linear as well. As far as I can see, this renders the station counts totally meaningless.”, missing files “Bear in mind that there is no working synthetic method for cloud, because Mark New lost the coefficients file and never found it again (despite searching on tape archives at UEA) and never recreated it.” or the ghastly bug-filled code: “I say strangely because this is a generic prog that’s used all over the place! Nonetheless it does have what certainly looks like a bug”.

    But there are of course many, many more. We have the rainfall records for Paris (France) being transplanted to Massachusetts (The rain in Maine falls mainly in the Seine) and then used to reconstruct temperature, or the records for Spain moved to Kenya, we have the signal in a critical part of the Yamal reconstruction being almost entirely due to a single tree, we have the Tiljander varves being inserted upside-down, so warm was cold and cold was warm, we have the omission of the failed R2 statistic (where a part of the reconstruction had been calculated to have a r-squared correlation of 0.02 with actual temperatures) and the subsequent fight over getting them to admit it, we have the bizarre methodology for getting the RE test threshold for red noise used in Amman and Wahl, we have the Briffa deletion, we have Mann’s reconstruction residuals, that he himself described as “dirty laundry” not to be passed on lest it fall into the hands of sceptics, showing model mis-specification, we have the Wang/Jones/Keenan affair, where an actual enquiry into academic fraud was held and then covered up (Tom Wigley, who had been director of CRU at the time, said privately the statements in the paper were false and the author must have known it at the time), we have the IPCC’s claims about the effects of African droughts made from wild extrapolations in one paper and their claims about Amazon droughts made based on a green group’s campaign leaflet in which the trees in the illustrations were wearing sunglasses (!!), and of course we have the use of stripbark bristlecones in multiple temperature reconstructions (in fact, virtually all of them), which were known prior to their use not to be temperature proxies, and which dominate the output.

    There are plenty more. The trouble is, each is by now a convoluted story with some fairly complicated science involved in some (by the standards of explanations to the general public, not complicated to other scientists), and claim and counter-claim and counter-counter-claim all piled up so it takes a long time to explain each one. And we never get to that point, because believers always find some way to derail the conversation before we really get into the meat of the topic. It’s still worth making the effort, though.

    I suggest you start with Harry. Show me how you think it’s scientifically justified.

  45. Sean McCorkle

    Incredulous@38

    Just out of curiosity, do you also think that the FBI should not investigate bank robberies because most banks are not robbed and therefore the ones that are robbed are statistically insignificant?

    Completely beside the point. The point is, if you claim an entire group is represented by a few bad examples, you are making a logic error.

    We are not talking about a statistical analysis of data

    If you want to generalize from a few examples, you’d better do it with statistics in mind.

    Do you listen to Rush Limbaugh or Fox News and say, “Well, they said something foolish this time but it was statistically insignificant?”

    Also beside the point, but because Limbaugh and Fox deliver to such a large segment of the population, their many errors must be refuted frequently and publicly in order to keep the nation free and functioning.

    This entire thread has been about climate scientists. I am not trying to slip in a discussion of parking attendants. Are you going to conveniently forget things like Pachauri’s statements about glaciers? Were they just statistically insignificant?

    Okay, good. Then to address your question in #34

    How many times do you allow them to exaggerate claims for effect before you question the validity of the other things they say?

    What climate scientists are making what exaggerations?

  46. Somite

    @Nullius Unfortunately all those are fabrications or outright lies by conservative media. Warming gas been confirmed with many, many different methodologies and hundreds of individuals and agencies. I have already pointed you to the NASA website

    http://climate.nasa.gov/

    There’s the USGS: http://www.usgs.gov/global_change/

    NOAA: http://www.climate.gov/#climateWatch. (look at the climate dashboard)

    And there’s the gaggle of hockey sticks in different papers published over the years:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/09/hey-ya-mal/

    I don’t think your supposedly instances of errors or malfeasance affect any of these. But if it does can you point out how the Yamal tree ring record affects temp reconstruction by glacier proxy?

    It’s too many lines of evidence converging.

    Finally. Can you reference a credible source that confirms any of your examples.

    Cheers.

  47. Sean McCorkle

    (the editing cycle got skipped on the previous and I intended to add)

    Are you going to conveniently forget things like Pachauri’s statements about glaciers?

    Okay, thats one example. Pachauri has damaged his reputation with that and I will certainly view anything coming from him with a skeptical eye from now on. However, I can think of lots of things I’ve heard from climate scientists that weren’t exaggerations, so that one example doesn’t bring down the whole house. Do you have more?

  48. Somite

    @Sean the error regarding Himalayan glaciers did not involve any data or scientific paper. Here is a better explanation from realclimate’s section on IPCC errors. Yes scientists admit errors, correct them and move on…

    “Himalayan glaciers: In a regional chapter on Asia in Volume 2, written by authors from the region, it was erroneously stated that 80% of Himalayan glacier area would very likely be gone by 2035. This is of course not the proper IPCC projection of future glacier decline, which is found in Volume 1 of the report. There we find a 45-page, perfectly valid chapter on glaciers, snow and ice (Chapter 4), with the authors including leading glacier experts (such as our colleague Georg Kaser from Austria, who first discovered the Himalaya error in the WG2 report).  There are also several pages on future glacier decline in Chapter 10 (“Global Climate Projections”), where the proper projections are used e.g. to estimate future sea level rise. So the problem here is not that the IPCC’s glacier experts made an incorrect prediction. The problem is that a WG2 chapter, instead of relying on the proper IPCC projections from their WG1 colleagues, cited an unreliable outside source in one place. Fixing this error involves deleting two sentences on page 493 of the WG2 report.”

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/02/ipcc-errors-facts-and-spin/

  49. Sean McCorkle

    Somite@48
    Excellent point, thank you. That also ties in to a response to Nullius@45, which is that the process of science is sloppy, and scientists are humans and imperfect. Deliberate falsification should be sanctioned, and often are, but honest mistakes are another thing. Even the best of the best make mistakes that can slip through into print. Thats why publication and the subsequent criticism is part of the process, in order to filter out and correct errors. Its not a perfect system, it can be very inefficient, but it works.

  50. Incredulous

    #43 bad Jim:

    “In a certain sense, This entire thread has been about climate scientists is the silliest comment possible. Chris Mooney could write about headless chickens and the comments would still be full of blather about ClimateGate.”

    Um, did you happen to catch the title?

    “More Thoughts on the Conservative White Male Effect and Climate Change”

    The fact that each of these posts go into why people don’t just roll over and bow to everything that the climate scientists say (even outside the published papers) has given rise to skepticism. Yes, if we throw out every point that we disagree with and ignore every case that is questionable, it looks fine.

    On the same basis, if we throw out all the stupid stuff that Limbaugh and Beck say, they are fine too.

  51. Somite

    On the topic of testosterone and behavior I recommend this wonderful book

    http://www.amazon.com/Trouble-Testosterone-Essays-Biology-Predicament/dp/0684838915

  52. Incredulous

    46. Sean McCorkle

    “The point is, if you claim an entire group is represented by a few bad examples, you are making a logic error.”

    Well, if the Chair of the IPCC doesn’t represent climate scientists, who does? We are not talking about some ignorant dilettante.

  53. Sean McCorkle

    Incredulous @52

    Well, if the Chair of the IPCC doesn’t represent climate scientists, who does?

    Ultimately, no one but the scientists themselves.

    We are not talking about some ignorant dilettante.

    Even the best and the brightest can make mistakes. Thats my point in #49. All sciences have a track record of errors which are in publications. The purpose of pre-publication peer-review is to try to catch as many problems as possible beforehand, but its not perfect, and mistakes go to press. But that’s by no means the end of the scientific process; its just beginning, because now the whole community reads and scrutinizes the claims, looking for errors (and often finding them).

  54. Somite

    Pachauri is just an administrator not a scientist of the IPCC

  55. Incredulous

    #53 Sean McCorkle:

    “Ultimately, no one but the scientists themselves.”

    But then what is the purpose of the IPCC if not to represent climate science to the world at large?

    The stuff that I am taking issue is not the publications. I agree that the peer review process will take care of that over time. These things I am complaining about are the behaviors and statements not part of the peer review process.

  56. Incredulous

    #54 Somite.

    “Pachauri is just an administrator not a scientist of the IPCC”

    Exactly. The IPCC is not doing science. That is not their role. But they are supposed to be making recommendations based on science. It is kind of important that they say things that are scientifically correct.

  57. Somite

    That’s why errors are caught and corrected.

  58. Incredulous

    #57 Somite:

    Sticking to the scientific portion, please explain how errors can be caught and corrected if the scientists do not make their data and methodologies available to review except to people that agree with them? Without that transparency, we can only rely on trust. That isn’t very scientific is it?

  59. Somite

    @59 the problem as usual is that what you say is not true or a misinterpretation

    For example:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/07/crutem3-data-release-except-poland/

    Most of the governmental agencies I cited include their data sets.

  60. Sean McCorkle

    Bad Jim @49

    While there’s no denying the gender imbalance statistics, I suspect there are complex dynamics at play, including what you and Mike tMB (#10) are bringing up. Racism is a fallacy of generalization, and I think fallacious or erroneous reasoning is a big part of the problem. In “The Authoritarians”, Bob Altemeyer describes how authoritarian personalities (RWAs) are more likely to completely miss errors in logic as long as they think the conclusion is correct. However, I don’t know that this phenomena is prevalent in one gender over another (although maybe somebody can correct me on that), which would indicates there’s more going on. I think Chris is on to something when brought up Social Dominanace (SDO) in a previous post; higher levels of SDO in males appears to be pretty well documented.

  61. Incredulous

    #59 Somite:

    How can it be a misrepresentation when the findings of the investigations specifically acknowledged that that the withholding of data through the FOI requests would have been criminally actionable had the statute of limitations not expired? Are you going to say that the investigations had findings that were not true?

    It is especially interesting that you cite RealClimate.org seeing that the reason that it was created was to counter the bad publicity encountered in the wake of the release of the information from UEA at the beginning of this mess.

  62. Incredulous

    60. Sean McCorkle

    I agree wholeheartedly. If you look at the claim that denial is based on being a conservative white male, where does that put the people on the other side? If you group them together is somehow politically correct but if you separate the criteria, it sounds ludicrous. Is it about sex? Is it about race? The only one that is left as somewhat plausible is conservative vs. liberal. I won’t even buy that one. There are many people who are firmly convinced of climate change that are quite conservative. The only real association would be if you look at party affiliation. Republicans tend towards denial of climate change as a party platform. If you single them out indirectly since they are predominantly white and male, you can try to associate them as being racist and misogynistic as a political tactic. That way, they can be portrayed as evil. It is just a politically correct way of name calling.

  63. Sean McCorkle

    Incredulous@61

    It is especially interesting that you cite RealClimate.org seeing that the reason that it was created was to counter the bad publicity encountered in the wake of the release of the information from UEA at the beginning of this mess.

    Are you suggesting that the people at RealClimate should not be allowed to take their case to the public?

    @62

    For sure, classifying people into groups risks the many negative consequences of stereotyping; its a road fraught with peril and we should proceed carefully. However, I think the gender breakdown statistics quoted in the DeSmogBlog post are quite remarkable and are probably telling us something, and I would be interested in knowing what, exactly.

  64. Somite

    @62 again nothing to do with the science but do you have a reference for this assertion; or any others you’ve made?

  65. Incredulous

    #63 Sean McCorkle

    Quite the opposite. If they had been open from the beginning, this mess would never have happened. It will take a while of openness before I will take anything they say on face value.

    #64 Somite:

    “@62 again nothing to do with the science but do you have a reference for this assertion; or any others you’ve made?”

    It is called an opinion. What kind of reference would be appropriate? I will do what I can.

    See, here is what happens. Our host, discussed his opinion of the science. He has made no personal claims of scientific expertise in the matter. Then we respond with our opinions. This is not a scientific journal.

  66. Somite

    @66 But you are making assersions that can be verified as fact or false. If you can’t back your opinions with facts; why should they matter at all? You are entitled to your own opinions but not to your own facts.

  67. Edim

    There are many liberal/left-wing sceptics. Politics is a distraction.

    I (very liberal) am very upset that liberals jumped the AGW bandwagon. Big mistake. I have been trying to talk about it with my friends and family for ~10 years, but everyone thought I was crazy. The brainwashing has been very effective. The damage will be enormous.

  68. Incredulous

    #66 Somite

    What exactly am I asserting that has not been discussed and referenced here at length? That the climate scientists were not open with their data and methodologies prior to the information release from UEA? That RealClimate.org was created in the wake of that mess? The findings of the investigations? That Pachuri said things that were not true about the Himalayan glaciers? That conservatives exist that believe in climate change? That Republicans tend to be conservative white males?

    Is there some particular reason you have singled me out for this onerous standard of reposting references for material that has already been discussed or are you just offended by the conclusions I draw from them?

  69. Somite

    @68 I single you out because so far you have not provided references to assertions that are clearly not true or misrepresentations. From now on let’s avoid making interpretations that you can not back up with a reference.

  70. Incredulous

    #68 Somite

    Please give specific things that you feel that I should provide references for rather than vague accusations and I will do my best to comply. Oh, and feel free to provide your own references to discredit me. I make no claims of infallibility.

  71. Somite

    Just the claims that climate scientists have not provided data and the exaggerated implications of the IPCC non-scientific policy discussion. You’ve already been corrected.

  72. Incredulous

    #70 Somite:

    The claim that climate scientists did not provide data was the basis for the numerous FOI requests that were filed with the UEA. That is not my opinion, that was the finding of the investigation panel (Item 23 of the report: http://www.cce-review.org/pdf/FINAL%20REPORT.pdf )

    Exaggerated implications of the IPCC non-scientific policy discussion: from Pachauri himself:

    “The mistake had seriously damaged the IPCC’s credibility and boosted the efforts of climate sceptics.” — http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/02/climate-change-pachauri-un-glaciers

    Was Pachauri exaggerating as well? It was him who said it after all.

    Seriously, do you think I am just sitting around making things up? That is the problem when the climate scientists circle the wagons and do the “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” thing. (Would you like a reference to the Wizard of Oz for that statement as well?)

  73. ThomasL

    Incredulous,

    Man, haven’t you figured it out yet? NONE of that is in the Peer Review journals, so it’s all B.S. man…. Jeeeshhhh ;)

  74. Nullius in Verba

    #48,

    “So the problem here is not that the IPCC’s glacier experts made an incorrect prediction.”

    True. As usual, the IPCC are trying to distract attention from the real problem. The main problem was not that the IPCC report got it wrong – although that is indeed a problem – it was that when some scientists pointed it out, Pachauri stood up in front of the press and slammed them as “arrogant” and their criticisms as “voodoo science”. He didn’t check. He didn’t think. He didn’t attempt to explain the evidence or reasoning. He didn’t call up the scientists who had written that section and ask them to make a statement. Having senior representatives of the IPCC – even Pachauri – say that sort of thing about you in the media can have an effect on your career, your institution, and your research. It’s a serious matter.

    It gets uglier, because apparently the glacier claim was the subject of a lucrative $500,000 research project Pachauri’s foundation was running (and supported a share of a 3,000,000 Euro grant), and the guy who provided the claim to the IPCC (Syed Hasnain) was working for Pachauri on that project. Totally innocent, I’m sure, but arguably what is known in common parlance as a “conflict of interest” situation.
    (The IPCC do now have a conflict of interest policy, but haven’t quite got around to applying it yet…)

    In fact, it’s fairly obvious that it wasn’t written by the IPCC’s or anybody else’s glacier experts. No glacier expert could have found the claim remotely credible (even a layman would surely blink at the idea), and it is therefore remarkable that it was not only published in a magazine article (a little-known Indian magazine called Down to Earth – what the IPCC quoted), repeated in another magazine article (New Scientist), which in turn was quoted in a WWF report (which was what was actually cited by the IPCC), incorporated into the IPCC report (despite being questioned by a reviewer), passed around all the world’s climatology community, used to support two major research funding applications – all without anybody noticing. The IPCC chapter lead explained why he put it in: “We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policymakers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.” It wasn’t something that got cut-and-pasted in by accident without being properly read – it was noticed and deliberately highlighted to support the IPCC’s activist policy agenda, because it was so dramatic.

    There’s more to this than a simple “oops!”

    #61,
    Point of correction – RealClimate was set up (by the public relations company Fenton Communications) in 2004 to attack Steve McIntyre when he started pointing out flaws in Michael Mann’s work. That was long before Climategate came out in 2009. See chapter 7 of the book The Hockey Stick Illusion for the timeline.

  75. Somite

    @73 thanks ThomasL. Your attempt at sarcasm saved me some words.

    What about using the official climate emails reviews from the US and UK which found no unethical behavior or data manipulation.

    http://www.oig.doc.gov/OIGPublications/2011.02.18_IG_to_Inhofe.pdf

    “In our review of the CRU emails, we did not find any evidence that NOAA inappropriately manipulated data comprising the [Global Historical Climatology Network] dataset or failed to adhere to appropriate peer review procedures.”

    The very same report you cite also says:

    “We find that their rigor and honesty as scientists are not in doubt,” Russell said. “But we do find that there has been a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness.”

    An openness from the UK side that since has been corrected. Note that this never applied to NOAA or NASA.

  76. Incredulous

    #74. The report I cited was the official report from the UK. If that is not clear enough, here is the full paragraph that you seem to have truncated to eliminate the relevant portion from Sir Muir Russel’s (who led the investigation team) opening remarks:

    “But we do find that there has been a consistent pattern of failing to
    display the proper degree of openness, both on the part of the CRU
    scientists and on the part of the UEA, who failed to recognise not only the
    significance of statutory requirements but also the risk to the reputation of the
    University and, indeed, to the credibility of UK climate science.”

    You can’t just point to the parts you like and edit out the parts that don’t fit your argument.

    You do realize that the part about “significance of statutory requirements” is the nice way of saying that they broke the law by not releasing the data requested but it was past the statute of limitations to prosecute them for it, don’t you? If breaking the law isn’t unethical, how do you define it?

    The openness might be corrected, but it still means that it will be a long time before I trust them once they have failed that trust.

    Again, I will restate the issue is not limited to the “peer reviewed” body of documentation. You can’t just stick your head in the sand and ignore what they do outside the scientific literature. Well…, at least I can’t ignore it.

  77. Incredulous

    #73 Nullius

    “Point of correction”

    Thanks, I didn’t realize that. I had never heard that they predated and had never seen them before the 2009 period.

  78. Nullius in Verba

    #74,

    “An openness from the UK side that since has been corrected.”

    It hasn’t actually. They’re still fighting them.

  79. Johnny

    When 69% of Americans agree that Climate Scientists are corrupt, it is a fact I’m entitled to.

  80. Johnny

    @74 Somite

    They didn’t find any evidence of data manipulation, because as they fully admitted afterward when pressed by the media, they never examined the science. They never interviewed anyone who had made the accusations.

    It was a trial where the prosecution got to call no witnesses, make no charges, nor present any evidence, to a “jury” of climate change alarmists. Is it any surprise the defense won?

  81. Somite

    Again intentionally or unintentionally missing the point. There is no challenge to the science. The rest is drama and personality issues that don’t affect the scientific conclusions.

  82. Nullius in Verba

    “There is no challenge to the science.”

    Whatever gave you that idea?

  83. Incredulous

    #80 Somite

    I do see your point. I just don’t agree with it. You seem convinced that not letting people examine your data and methodology is just drama and personality issues and does not have any effect on the science.

    I am firm in my conviction that science requires that people be able to replicate and confirm results and not take them on faith. You can’t replicate and confirm without access to the data and methodology.

    We definitely have a failure to communicate. Unless you have something substantive to add, I will just consider this dialog ended.

  84. Somite

    You don’t need someone’s data to replicate their result. It is actually more powerful to reach the same conclusion with an entirely different methodology as shown here:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/09/hey-ya-mal/

    @82 because that’s what everyone that has looked at the issue concludes. What gives you the idea there is a challenge?

  85. Nullius in Verba

    #82,

    He also seems convinced that stuff like “As far as I can see, this renders the station counts totally meaningless” isn’t a challenge to the science.

    Of course, it depends on whether he’s talking about Climategate, the CRU’s own enquiries into themselves, or climate scepticism generally. It’s a bit unclear to me. What did you think he meant?

    #83,

    Nobody officially has looked at the issue (since before Climategate), so nobody could possibly have concluded that. What gives you the idea they did?

  86. Incredulous

    #84 Nullius in Verba

    I have no idea anymore. I had thought that he might have pointed to something peer reviewed rather than an anonymous blog post authored by “group” but I guess it only matters for one side.

    I would have thought that he would have posted a link to Briffa’s rebuttal linked to by that blog post but I guess that would have brought up Briffa’s issue that people were not using the same data set which would have been kind of counter to the “more powerful to reach the same conclusion with an entirely different methodology” concept.

    I give up.

  87. Somite

    Woa, woa. If I reference a blogpost that blogpost has refences to primary literature.

    Incredulous; what are you talking about regarding Briffa?

  88. Incredulous

    #86 Somite:

    The reference at the bottom of the blog post:

    “Update: Briffa and colleagues have now responded with an extensive (and in our view, rather convincing) rebuttal.”

    which links to : http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/people/briffa/yamal2009/

    See, I actually do read the links you give. I just don’t always draw the same conclusions.

    Where you apparently see “Truth” I see a snarky character assassination of McIntyre (who does a good enough job on his own) riddled with jerks trying to be cute with characterizations of what they call “blogarrhea” and other such Beavis and Buttheadisms rather than acting like scientists. If they want to be respected as scientists, they really need to act accordingly.

    But most telling is the lovely statement by gavin (owner/moderator or some such there at RealClimate.org) — you did read the comments and discussion too, didn’t you? :

    “No one is hiding the facts. There is abundant data available for anyone who cares to look.”

    which kind of goes against the whole findings of the investigations of how they actually *were* hiding the facts according to the findings of the UK investigation team. These are not random associations. These are the same data that McIntyre was trying to get through the FOI requests that were purposely thwarted by UEA/Jones et. al. because of fear he might find fault with their research.

    I don’t think that I am unreasonable to think that this is not how science should be conducted. If it can’t withstand scrutiny, how can it be true?

  89. ThomasL

    Somite,

    We, the unwashed masses, have been told, over and over again, that we simply are “unqualified” to make heads or tails of the “science”, it’s all way, *WAY*, over our heads.

    That leaves trust. Trust is a social science topic. Lets just say they failled, and such never becomes an article in “Peer Review”, so it’s not going to be found there. If they fail in the one thing everyone is fully capable of looking at and making a call on then anything else they do is not only suspect, but discounted.

    The first thing peopel do when establishing “truth” is make a judgement about who’s bringing it to them. “Can I trust them?” The answer we give that is going to give everything that comes after a weighting, if you generally think they are trustworthy when in doubt you’ll likely give them the benifit of such. On the other hand, if you have determined they are slippery, tricky, morphing only honest some of the time types, well you judge what ever they tell you accordingly.

    Phsych 101 stuff…

    And I knew there was no way we could have a conversationin here without someone throwing out something about it having to be in “Peer Review”, even when we are talking about a moral judgement…

  90. Nullius in Verba

    #85,

    The “more powerful” argument is a bit silly, anyway, since that’s where it all started. Steve McIntyre replicated Mann’s Hockeystick calculation, only he downloaded clean versions of all the series used in order to correct all the errors, undocumented extrapolations, truncations, obsolete series, and so on that Mann had done – and found no hockeystick. Mann’s response was that he had used the wrong data.

    Reaching an entirely different conclusion with what is supposed to be the same data and method is also very powerful. That’s why they stopped sharing data. (It’s also why RealClimate itself was set up.)

    But I skipped over that diversion earlier, because I was more interested in pursuing Somite’s claim that the science was unchallenged. In #42 he asks for examples, and asks why we think the science has been challenged. He gets an answer in #45, but ignores it – diverting in #48 onto the tack that the IPCC’s glacier error doesn’t matter because they weren’t quoting a peer-reviewed paper but an article in an obscure Indian magazine (and citing a WWF report rather than the actual source) and only errors in peer-reviewed science matter. When we point out that the problem we were discussing was Pachauri’s statements afterwards, not the IPCC report, we switch in #54 to “Pachauri is just an administrator not a scientist of the IPCC”. It’s cute – non-peer-reviewed magazine clippings are presented by non-scientists as authoritative science, and when nobody knows any better that’s the thousands of scientists at the IPCC talking, and when we find out, they can deny all responsibility. The IPCC’s reputation remains untarnished. Then he goes back to asking for references for a bit. Then in #80, presumably in the hopes that we’ll have forgotten where we started in #42, he goes back to asserting that the science is unchallenged, what makes us think otherwise?

    It’s an effective technique. He can quote blogs and non-peer-reviewed enquiries to support his case, and if it works, he wins, and if it doesn’t he plays the peer-review immunity card: – if you used unreviewed sources your argument doesn’t count, and if you beat him when his side was using unreviewed sources, that doesn’t count either. Throw another assertion out and move on.

    It doesn’t matter if your argument is obviously correct, or if theirs is obviously wrong for easily understood logical reasons – if you haven’t got it published in a peer-reviewed journal, your logic doesn’t count. And as we know from the earlier discussion of Spencer’s paper, even if you have, it will turn out to be the wrong sort of peer reviewed journal, and he’ll cheerfully cite blog posts to rebut it.

    The magical peer-review immunity card renders one invulnerable – it’s like having superpowers.

  91. Sean McCorkle

    @86
    He also seems convinced that stuff like “As far as I can see, this renders the station counts totally meaningless” isn’t a challenge to the science.

    That actually might be, if it were not confined to an unsubstantiated README file written by someone only known by their first name (if that). Not only do we not know who the person is, we don’t know if they still stand by that (it could have been written in the heat of frustrating moment dealing with someone else’s poorly documented code). And on top of all that, we don’t know if that person was even right. Hardly what I would call a challenge.

    @91
    Steve McIntyre replicated Mann’s Hockeystick calculation, only he downloaded clean versions of all the series used in order to correct all the errors, undocumented extrapolations, truncations, obsolete series, and so on that Mann had done – and found no hockeystick. Mann’s response was that he had used the wrong data.

    This is somewhat more of a challenge. However, Schmidt and Amman have a nice writeup explaining McIntyre’s error. Hockey sticks are also seen in borehole, stalagmite and ice cores. bing. Thank you for playing.

    The magical peer-review immunity card renders one invulnerable – it’s like having superpowers.

    Quite the opposite. Once you’re published, you’ll wish you had superpowers, because thats when the attacks will really start coming in. The pre-publication peer review is just a pre-filter, to attempt to make sure authors are ready to enter the ring.

  92. ThomasL

    Yes Nullius,

    and I’ve become convinced it goes even deeper, but the symptoms show with the Peer Review demands…

    I think the overt demand today for everything to be “Peer Review” (even in form when writing papers) is a huge part of that Nullius, it’s a very early reinforcement of the age old “argue from authority issues”, an existential confirmation that one is unable to think and must use “vetted” information if you will. It’s rather obvious that it pushes one towards “trust of the authorities” rather than independent analysis – but free thinkers are obviously not wanted anyway. It also makes research about impossible for anything but mainstream ideas, so we can already establish there’s a world of stuff that won’t get dealt with and learned because, well, not “Peer Review”, so nothing to learn there (and no way to start, it’s a nice topic limiter)… Thus one doesn’t ever learn what “bad” thought looks like -> the whole attempt is to try to ignore that such is out there, and happens often.

    I am not saying Peer Review, in itself, is bad. How we are using it has rather become questionable though, and it really ought to go back to its place, advanced degrees and publishing -> the undergrads still need to learn how to think for themselves, and trying to short cut that by requiring everything to be Peer Review leads to, well, this inability to even speak without being able to cite something to back up your thoughts (a very implicit “you can only argue from authority” if there ever was one…)

    It’s the only reason I can deduce for it, and I’ve been looking… It also very much fits into the social direction we’ve been headed, though I know the sciences would *never* be influenced by social movements…

  93. Incredulous

    92. Sean McCorkle :

    “That actually might be, if it were not confined to an unsubstantiated README file written by someone only known by their first name (if that). Not only do we not know who the person is, we don’t know if they still stand by that (it could have been written in the heat of frustrating moment dealing with someone else’s poorly documented code).”

    The files were confirmed to be authentic by the CRU. The CRU staff know exactly who Harry was. The ball is really in their court to disprove what they have already admitted authentic. I realize you would *really* like it to be discredited as it is quote embarrassing but again “Pay not attention to that man behind the curtain.”

    “This is somewhat more of a challenge. However, Schmidt and Amman have a nice writeup explaining McIntyre’s error. Hockey sticks are also seen in borehole, stalagmite and ice cores. bing. Thank you for playing.”

    Well, RealClimate really knocked that one out of the park back in 2006 didn’t they? Then why are they still trying to sprinkle magic fairy dust on it to make it go away years later in 2009 and beyond. Of course the magic fairy dust was called keep anyone from looking at the correlation data used to make it so it could not be independently confirmed. Thank you for playing too.

  94. Sean McCorkle

    Incredulous @94
    The files were confirmed to be authentic by the CRU. The CRU staff know exactly who Harry was. The ball is really in their court to disprove what they have already admitted authentic.

    You’re making a logic error here. That the README file is authenticated doesn’t mean that the opinions expressed within are correct (or for that mattter, even still held by the author, whoever that is).

    Then why are they still trying to sprinkle magic fairy dust on it to make it go away years later in 2009 and beyond.

    Umm lets see, maybe thats because the denialist-industrial-complex continues to parade and quote that work as proof that the hockey stick is a hoax?

    Thank you for playing too.

    You’re welcome.

  95. Somite

    The larger problem for denialists is that there is no data that contradicts the many convergent lines of evidence that conclude warming is real. This is why every publication that (erroneously) is touted by denialists to disproof climate change is an esoteric statistical mess rather than new data.

    You are just going to have to get over your peer review problem. That is how science has and will be done because it is the only process that has proven to lead to progress; precisely because it weeds out drama and other human factors.

  96. Somite

    Thomas,

    Is this how you propose we do science?

    [URL=”http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2330″]
    [IMG]http://www.smbc-comics.com/comics/20110807.gif[/IMG][/URL]

  97. ThomasL

    Really Somite?,

    Since when? Seems to be all kinds of drama going on… You really think you can escape your humanity, do ya? Peer review is a beginning point for theories that are moving out of the “pure theory” world and into the “applied” world. If the “theory” world correlated perfectly to the applied world we wouldn’t need to worry about how things hold up outside the lab. As such doesn’t hold to be true (history drawing that inescapable conclusion), we have to spend lots of time and energy doing all the applied work, where we *aren’t* in control of variables, and often an important one pops up everyone had ignored (good reasons don’t really solve the resulting problems…). As I have said, such is a good place for peer review, and peer review should have stayed within such bounds, were serious ideas and thought are presented for the rest of the world to look at, critically analyze, test and begin to make conclusions about. Not an excuse to not have to personally back up what you’re shoveling. Remember, things like “because so and so says so” doesn’t really cut it…

    Another thing about being human, we always want things decided, even when such never will be. And the thing about science is it’s never done, never settled, and never satisfied. Every time one takes a look at the logic, or “theory” side of current thought, there is always the chance something will be grasped that is missing -> I don’t need to get into your maths to look at that part, though it may well lead me to question your use of such. It may just as well lead me to ask a question showing something is assumed rather than shown, and there is an issue in our conclusions about what counts. Just as an example, the whole sea conveyor belt issue… are we so sure it could shut down given current plate placement? As there have been times when such a heat transfer system wasn’t functioning (again, plate placement) what took its place and allowed the planet to maintain a balance that we are convinced isn’t present now? There are lots of questions, but apparently we aren’t allowed to ponder them or ask about them, to do such gets one labeled pretty negatively. So you tell me, what’s that about other than the traditional my tribe’s better than your tribe stuff?

    And I assure you there is no peer review anywhere that states I must continue listening to those who have lied to me or intentionally miss led me. I *may* choose to, but I assuredly don’t *have* to, no matter what they or anyone else thinks or how “valuable” the information is -> because now your assuming dishonest people have suddenly become honest, ‘cause you know, this part is important… Except breaking laws that could get you criminally prosecuted would seem rather important too, and if they play free and loose with those rules, well, what’s one supposed to think?

  98. Incredulous

    95. Sean McCorkle

    “You’re making a logic error here. That the README file is authenticated doesn’t mean that the opinions expressed within are correct (or for that mattter, even still held by the author, whoever that is).”

    That is just wishful thinking on your part. You are making the same logical leap as you ask someone if they ate the last cookie and they shake their head no as they are munching down the crumbs. No, wasn’t me.

    “Umm lets see, maybe thats because the denialist-industrial-complex continues to parade and quote that work as proof that the hockey stick is a hoax?”

    Are we really going to the corporate conspiracy argument? That leads nowhere.

    If the science is so strong, why is it that since 1998 when that prediction model was developed — 14 years ago, — that they have not been able to offer incontrovertible proof and still fight disclosure? Maybe if they had released the data and let the critics embarrass themselves instead of hiding it all it would have been over already. Were their predictions right? I have no idea. They still fight disclosure and don’t let anyone at the data to confirm it independently. Do I take them on their word when they have been proven by the investigations to have been hiding the data? No.

  99. Incredulous

    97. Somite

    “Is this how you propose we do science?”

    That is actually a funny cartoon. Thanks.

    That is science without independent confirmation on data that nobody else can see. That is exactly what I have been arguing against.

  100. Sean McCorkle

    Incredulous@99

    That is just wishful thinking on your part.

    No, its personal experience. I’ve written my share of README files and had to deal with a number of undocumented, poorly-written scientific “time-tested” programs that made my head explode when I was given the task of “here: get this working”. I know of the bouts of anger that can somtimes lead to comments that one regrets the next day.

    I will listen to and can be swayed by arguments if there’s good evidence. However, one unattributed README file is not that. If the author were to step forward and explain what they meant and whether or not they still believe it, I would certainly sit up and listen carefully, and then try to ascetain if they’re right or not. If it can be shown that the CRU data is bad, so be it. But then, that still would only apply to only one data set from one institution. To convince me that data from NOAA, NASA, various other universities, are bad, you’re going to have to provide evidence for that as well.

    Regarding computational models of complex chaotic systems: I don’t put much stock in them. I try to always look for model-independent conclusions.

  101. Incredulous

    #101 Sean McCorkle

    I agree about the “undocumented, poorly-written scientific “time-tested” software” and have been there myself. I have even written some and know the problems with data such as instruments that have things in different formats and missing periods where they “just stopped taking readings” for some unknowable reason. My favorite one I came across the other day that the manufacturer decided to make up their own time format. How nice.

    You just can’t expect that it is up to detractors to pony up proof of “Harry.” The CRU knows exactly who Harry was. They could bring him out to give his side and anyone that was working with him. They choose not to. The only reason I can honestly infer is that he will say things that they don’t want said. (Well, that or he has been hit by a bus or something but even that would be closure.) We just can’t have them continually saying “trust us”.

    The other thing I can see as part of the problem is that these researchers have relied heavily on each other’s work using the same reconstructions and if one critical one is eliminated the rest will need a lot of work to re-build, possibly meaning reproducing years of work. Well, I am sorry. If it needs to be re-done, lets get busy and do it. We have already wasted 14 years with this garbage. This really is important science and leaving it suspect is unfathomable.

  102. ThomasL

    Your last few sentences are exactly what I don’t get either Incredulous. Why even screw with it? Get it straightend out to the point it’s really trusted, open it up for all the specialists from overlaping feilds to be able to really look at the methods and what not, and move on.

    As every other discipline has had to learn how to do.

  103. Nullius in Verba

    #92,

    “That actually might be, if it were not confined to an unsubstantiated README file written by someone only known by their first name (if that). Not only do we not know who the person is, we don’t know if they still stand by that (it could have been written in the heat of frustrating moment dealing with someone else’s poorly documented code). And on top of all that, we don’t know if that person was even right. Hardly what I would call a challenge.”

    Sigh. We know exactly who it is, we know whether he still stands by it, and given what he said about the algorithm they were using, it hardly seems possible that he was wrong. Nevertheless, the main point isn’t whether I know or or not, it’s the fact that – although still unshakably certain of your conclusion – you don’t.

    This is precisely the sort of thing those enquires ought to have been doing – getting answers to these obvious questions and getting them out there. They didn’t. They were very careful not to. And you may be sure – given that ‘Harry’ was one of the most straightforwardly damaging files in there – that if they had any good answers they would want to publicise them widely. There are no interviews of the programmers, there are no documentation dumps showing the problems were fixed, there is no turnkey public archive to prove the software runs correctly. If the software was as it should be, it would take them half an hour to prove it to the world, and it would be an absolutely devastating blow against all the sceptics citing it.

    The document is virtually a signed confession, and yet here you are, still wriggling; saying anything to avoid having to accept it. You say you don’t know who the programmer was, or any of the background, and you use your ignorance as a shield. So long as you don’t know for absolute certain, you can continue to believe, and like the CRU’s enquiries you’ll make sure you never find out; you will not ask those questions.

    It doesn’t matter whether we know who wrote it or why – what matters is that everybody ought to be able to know that the science is correct; by publishing all the evidence and calculation for critical examination, and then making sure it gets thoroughly examined. It is already an absolute scandal that science with this policy impact has not had this done. It would be scandalous even for ordinary science. And it goes beyond outrage that even after extremely solid evidence has come to light that there definitely is a problem, that nobody has examined it, nobody demanded to see the code, the documentation, the code reviews and test logs to prove that all is well. That people purporting to be scientists all with their fingers stuck firmly in their ears are saying – on the basis of no evidence whatsoever – that nothing is wrong.

    A CRU programmer, intimately familiar with the software in question, has said that it is wrong. It gives the wrong result – and undoubtedly gave the wrong result when previously published. And he said that he didn’t have time to fix it either. He’s not some random sceptic blogger out on the internet – he’s the CRU’s own expert. You’ll find no explanation or justification of it in the enquiries, nor any explanation why there isn’t one. So how can anyone possibly say that it’s been shown that there’s nothing to Climategate, that it’s been shown that there’s no challenge to the science? Do you think you have the information to be able to actually make that judgement? Don’t you think you ought to?

  104. Incredulous

    103. ThomasL

    ” Why even screw with it? ”

    Ego. Pure and simple.

  105. Somite

    Now you guys are just making stuff up. References please.

  106. Incredulous

    #106 Somite

    If you question something, please be specific. This is not a scientific journal that requires an accurate bibliography. We are discussing items that have been in the news and discussed on this blog for years and most of us know what is being referred to and assume a certain level of knowledge by the participants. If you need some background, we can suggest a reading list. You can start with our host’s book: The Republican War on Science.

  107. ThomasL

    Somite,

    Many, Many of us techs were talking about the harry file -> it’s what we do. Not very many of us care a rats you know what about Peer Review when we’re looking at something that we actually do ourselves every day, and our conversations happen on boards we all know about. While not hidden, it generally helps if you’re a tech if you want to find them. I’m sure if you Google it and do some looking it won’t take long to find the serious ones if you really want to know what the coders think of it all. We’ll leave out the code they released after the blow up, as it sure wasn’t this code being worked on by Harry -> what they released was written in a modern language, couldn’t have been the same thing…

    You can spin it any way you wish. I don’t profess to know exactly what transpired, but I *do* know something about what he said and what us techs mean by such. Not just for the science, but for the actual coding he was in the middle of. I also know how we create work-a-rounds -> that’s what we get paid to do, and why we leave each other notes, because every system has them, and they aren’t an issue if they are documented. Harry presented that such was missing and he was rebuilding what he could, as best he could… And that presents many, many more questions…

    We would all like to know his thoughts, provided under oath even. We are baffled why such was not only not obtained, but apparently not even much pursued… And to pretend they don’t know who they hired to do the work is a bit of a stretch, don’t you think? If they haven’t even kept employment records straight it sure isn’t going to help any warm and fuzzy trust issues out…

  108. Somite

    What I fail to see is how any of your concerns affects the overall science. You seem very concerned because HardCrut did not release sone data – how does that affect the glacier proxy data of Oerleman’s? What about all of Briffa’s data even without considering the data that was left out for very specific reasons.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/09/hey-ya-mal/

    And it just hit me. It is motivated reasoning. You are grasping at any available straw no matter how tenous (emials, README files, things non-climate scientists say) to validate your pre-conceived notions.

  109. Incredulous

    #109 Somite

    When you posted that link back at #85, it didn’t add anything to the conversation. It is no more pertinent now.

    When the data that has been the basis for the reconstruction that the articles rely on has been kept hidden, the programmers notes suggest serious problems with the data, the authors of the emails discuss things proven in the investigations to indicate that they were withholding data and the reasons for it, it all adds up to more than just motivated reasoning or grasping at straws. If anything is tenuous, it is your grasp of the impact and importance of the evidence.

    All these researchers were relying on this data for correlation and corroboration and their research is left as suspect by this. Trying to change the topic to other sources does not make this one go away. Briffa is also from the CRU where this mess originates.

    Sheesh, and they call *us* deniers.

  110. ThomasL

    Actually Solmite,

    It’s because I’ve spent time reading all the peer review stuff that I’ve been directed to over the past couple years (well, almost all of it, some of it was behind a pay wall that even my on-line access from grad school won’t get me past, so those I read what summations I can find because it’s really not worth what they want from me to me…). Quite a bit of stuff seems to refer to it as foundational type “given’s” for what they did. Sort of makes for some issues one may think.

    And in case you missed it, most of us just want the science and those who practice it cleaned up & opened up so that what ever the next result is we maybe can have a little more faith in…

  111. Hmm.. Interesting discussion here & conducted in a civilised tone. Thanks all.

    Seems to me there is a veryclear weightof evidnece in favour of the scientific consensus that Human-caused Global Overheating is a real problem. I think that is almost beyond dispute.

    However, I’m not at all sure that ‘cap’n’trade’ / carbon taxes and Emissions Trading Schemes (ETS’s) are the best ways to act against the problem.

    I tend to think the debate on this issue generally could benefit greatly from separating the problem – which is real – from the best solutions to it which are contentious.

    I tend to think that science and industry which got us into this mess could well be probably also the best & most realistic ways of getting us out of it too.

    There’s muchonthis topic thatsems very bleak and has me despairing of getting anywhere good anytime soon, unfortunately.

    Perhaps we need to think of getting started on the ‘Futurama’ solution of moving Earth out from our Sun a little? ;-)

  112. Somite

    @110 are you saying that the data from all those different investigators in different institutions and different fields was not provided and is suspect?

  113. Nullius in Verba

    #112,

    Are you telling me you didn’t know?

    Show me your references to prove that all the data has all been provided, and that therefore all those FOIA requests were unnecessary, all those threats to delete the data rather than provide it were redundant, all those instructions not to pass data on or leave it on ftp servers lest sceptics get hold of it were pointless, etc.

    Oh, and “HardCrut” doesn’t exist – You’re thinking of HadCRUT, the temperature series published jointly by the Hadley Centre and the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) – Haley-CRU-Temperature – Had-CRU-T, you see?

    How can you be so sure there’s nothing wrong if you don’t know the subject?

  114. ThomasL

    The authorities said so is the answer to that I am sure Nullius…

  115. Somite

    @113 You are the one making the claim. You are the one that must provide evidence. I’ll make it easy for you. Just show that two of them; the borehole and glacier data refused FOIA requests.

    You’ll find the claim that data was not provided refers only to the most visible groups.

    PS: you misspelled Hadley there too.

  116. Incredulous

    112. Somite

    I said no such thing. I restated the findings of the UK report that they found the CRU was withholding data. Remember? The part where you truncated the statement of Russell back in #76?:

    ““We find that their rigor and honesty as scientists are not in doubt,” Russell said. “But we do find that there has been a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness.” ”

    I have never claimed that it was complete and universal from all institution and all fields.

    Please don’t wast my time with silly semantic games.

  117. Somite

    But then what is the problem? Why are you so fixated in one set of data and disregard all other sets that reach the same conclusion; that climate change is real.

  118. Sean McCorkle

    Incredulous @102

    You just can’t expect that it is up to detractors to pony up proof of “Harry.” The CRU knows exactly who Harry was.

    We are baffled why such was not only not obtained, but apparently not even much pursued… And to pretend they don’t know who they hired to do the work is a bit of a stretch, don’t you think? If they haven’t even kept employment records straight it sure isn’t going to help any warm and fuzzy trust issues out…

    Yeesh. Its not up to CRU—they’re the ones being accused. Its up to the accusers to provide evidence to back up their claims. Jeez. People insist on calling this “Climategate”, the “-gate” suffix coming from the Watergate scandal. Unlike “climategate”, that was a real investigation, in which real reporters talked to people, followed leads, gathered supporting evidence, and exposed the malfeasance to the public. The investigation wasn’t carried out by the Nixon adminstration, they were the targets. Another example is the current investigation of the Murdoch-news-organization now underway (which is not investigating itself -its other news organizations). Speaking of them, Fox news made a big, big fuss about the stolen CRU emails a few years back. Did they follow up on that to get more information on the story? Did they follow in the footsteps of Woodward and Bernstein? I don’t think so.

    The lack of follow-through makes me suspect that there’s no story there. Why hasn’t Harry stepped forward and blown the whistle publicly? Hasn’t anybody talked to him? These are reasonable questions. If there were real malfeasance, why didn’t any reporters get the behind-the-scenes backstory at CRU and expose it? Because there isn’t any, I suspect.

    Gather the evidence to bolster your case, and present it.

    Nullius@104

    The document is virtually a signed confession

    Um, no it isn’t. Not by a long shot.

    and yet here you are, still wriggling; saying anything to avoid having to accept it.

    No, I’m just being skeptical. As I said before, the case you are making is weak. I’ve already stated a couple of reasonable examples of confirmatory evidence which would strengthen your case, such as a corroborating statement from Harry.

    You say you don’t know who the programmer was,

    No, I’m saying Im saying that Im skeptical that YOU do.

    or any of the background,

    by background, do you mean the blogosphere-rumor-mill?

    and you use your ignorance as a shield.

    so enlighten me

    It doesn’t matter whether we know who wrote it or why – what matters is that everybody ought to be able to know that the science is correct;

    This is demonstrated by the large body of work conducted by groups, worldwide, which are not CRU.

    Its quite fascinating how much resistance you two, claiming skepticism, put up to an enormous body of research and evidence from various lines of research , from multiple research groups, demonstrating various aspects of AGW, and yet you turn around and cling to a couple of purloined emails and a README file and expect the world to accept that alone as proof of some kind of conspiracy. And when I’m skeptical, you accuse me of wiggling? Do you have any idea how far into tinfoil-hat-conspiracy territory you two are at this point?

  119. Incredulous

    #118 Sean McCorkle

    ” Unlike “climategate”, that was a real investigation, in which real reporters talked to people, followed leads, gathered supporting evidence, and exposed the malfeasance to the public. ”

    I am really confused as to which side you are arguing. I wasn’t even going to bother mentioning the limited scope and ignoring of issues in how the investigations were framed. I can only assume you meant something else. But I will agree that I am sick of everything being given the -gate suffix. It is really stupid.

    As to why Harry hasn’t stepped forward to correct or confirm, I can’t say that with all the media attention and such that I would expose myself to that mess either unless legally forced to. By all indications by the discussion in the file, it was likely Ian (Harry) Harris who as far as I know still works at the CRU. I am inferring this from the CRU listing him as programmer and specifying him as Mr. Ian (Harry) Harris and the references in the text where he mentions working with other authors along with a pretty familiar way of referring to Phil Jones. More importantly, why do you suppose that with such an important part of the whole evidence, that the investigation specifically decided not to ask him questions either? Or even ask him if he were the author?

    ” If there were real malfeasance, why didn’t any reporters get the behind-the-scenes backstory at CRU and expose it? Because there isn’t any, I suspect.”

    I imagine that it was because it would have been a career ender. I have suspicions as well. My biggest suspicion is that the whole affair was the backstory at CRU and the information release was from internal sources but that whole investigation kind of went nowhere and we will probably never know.

    No, I am not clinging to the released data as proof, I am clinging to the official report of the investigation.

    It is equally fascinating how much resistance you put up when the results of the investigations support that they were doing their best to not let anyone who disagreed with them to look at their data to confirm or repudiate it.

    You keep saying that it was just this data and there are many other sources to confirm it. The fact is that this particular data set in question is tied directly to the other sources research and if it is not accurate, the rest of the research loses a lot of it’s support. I am more surprised that you are not livid that the individuals involved were not more stringently investigated when it has such high importance of the rest of the body of research.

  120. Incredulous

    117. Somite

    “But then what is the problem? Why are you so fixated in one set of data and disregard all other sets that reach the same conclusion; that climate change is real.”

    Because this one data set and its derivatives have been used as the basis for recommending global policy and it is important for it to be validated.

  121. Somite

    This data set is one of many that is the empirical observation of warming. The policy implications are based on hypothetical scenarios based on different atmospheric greenhouse gas levels. Apples and oranges.

  122. Incredulous

    121. Somite

    “This data set is one of many that is the empirical observation of warming. The policy implications are based on hypothetical scenarios based on different atmospheric greenhouse gas levels. Apples and oranges.”

    This is not about the empirical observation of warming. This is about the predicted change based on the modeling done with this data. Without examining the data that the predictions were based on, these predictions may or may not be corroborated. The hypothetical scenarios portrayed by these predictions are exactly what is in question. Those scenarios are what was built with that data. They are not separate entities.

  123. Somite

    They are separate because the data that bothers you so much is only one piece of the puzzle. Even without that data the same conclusions would be reached. Each piece of data reinforces but does not proof the overall conclusion of warming.

  124. Incredulous

    #123 Somite

    “Even without that data the same conclusions would be reached.”

    How can we know that they are the same conclusions if we can’t test them? That doesn’t make sense unless you are just ready to accept everything on faith. Which are we talking about, science or your seemingly unshakable and limitless faith that they will be the same?

  125. Somite

    Understand. When in science we talk about reproducibility we mean the results not data. You can not publish a paper using the same methodology and getting the same result. But you can publish a paper that arrives at an important conclusion with different methodologies and better yet increased insights.

    But again – even if you erase the entire data and publications fromt the groups affected by “climategate” you would still be able to reach the same conclusions based on many other observations.

  126. Nullius in Verba

    #118,

    “Its not up to CRU—they’re the ones being accused. Its up to the accusers to provide evidence to back up their claims.”

    Is that really how you do science? Let’s see…
    “I have invented an anti-gravity machine.”
    “Prove it. Show me the evidence.”
    “Why should I make the data available to you, when you’re only going to try and find something wrong with it?”
    “We’ve just got hold of an email of yours in which you say ‘I can make it up. So I have.’ Prima facie that’s evidence of guilt – is there any reason to think it’s not?”
    “You don’t know who sent the email, and you don’t know if I was telling the truth. You’ve got nothing! Nothing, I tell you! The science of anti-gravity stands rock solid!”
    “But you haven’t provided any evidence.”
    “I don’t have to. I say anti-gravity science stands and you have no evidence I made stuff up – I’m right until you prove me wrong.”

    You seem to me to have got the burden of scientific proof the wrong way round. I’m not saying it’s necessarily enough for a conviction, but it’s surely enough to put the science into question until one has carried out a proper investigation to see whether it is true.

    “Unlike “climategate”, that was a real investigation, in which real reporters talked to people, followed leads, gathered supporting evidence, and exposed the malfeasance to the public.”

    Ummm. Sceptics have talked to people. We asked them for the data, and they told us to go away. We asked questions, and they refused to answer, or answered with falsehoods. We gathered clues and evidence, but the chain of reasoning is long and difficult to explain. We exposed it to the public, and got called “deniers” and other rude names.

    We can’t make the climate scientists answer questions they don’t want to answer. We can’t make them show us their working. That’s the job of the scientific establishment, the journals, and the funders. They’re the only ones with the power to find out.

    “The investigation wasn’t carried out by the Nixon adminstration, they were the targets.”

    Yes? Well, the enquiries you guys keep on relying on to clear them were effectively carried out by the Nixon administration.

    And I thought much of the evidence was collected and provided by an insider.

    “Why hasn’t Harry stepped forward and blown the whistle publicly?”

    Because, fairly obviously, he’s employed by CRU! He’d likely lose his job, or at the very least blight his career and his relationships with his colleagues if he stepped out into the limelight to dig the dirt on his employers. His situation is bad enough as it is.

    He’s not a whistleblower and never was! He worked on that project for years without saying anything publicly. The document was a private, internal log – never intended to come out.

    Just after Climategate, Ian did step out briefly with a blog comment somewhere, confirming what software the log was all about, that it was a mess, and asking if anyone would be willing to help. Sceptics feel a certain sympathy for him, and have no wish to make his life more difficult. He’d be ill-advised to talk to any reporters.

    As I said earlier, the right way to do it would have been for the enquiries to call him to give evidence formally, to find out exactly what the real situation was. Why didn’t they?

    #123,

    How many times do we have to say it? That the climate is warming is not under dispute. Every sceptic I’ve come across will tell you that it has warmed since the end of the Little Ice Age. Warming and cooling are perfectly normal! Evidence of warming is not evidence that it is anthropogenic, or catastrophic.

  127. Incredulous

    #125 Somite

    We are not just talking about putting out another paper. Science exists beyond the literature. The literature is just where results are publicly discussed, not the entirety of science. In science, if I can’t take the same conditions and reproduce the same conclusions, the original conclusions are not valid. Otherwise, we would be up to our ears in claims of cold fusion, homeopathy, and perpetual motion machines.

    “But again – even if you erase the entire data and publications fromt the groups affected by “climategate” you would still be able to reach the same conclusions based on many other observations.”

    Did this come to you in a dream? Did you read this in some holy book? This is an assumption. I repeat, “How can we know that they are the same conclusions if we cannot test them?”

    If you are going to keep repeating the same nonsense, don’t even bother replying for my sake. I give up.

  128. Somite

    Ars technica just published this very good article on climate change and its denialism.

  129. Incredulous

    129 Somite

    That is interesting. They make a very good point:

    “They seem to arise from an entirely separate collection of raw information.”

    Maybe if the climate scientists would have released their data, there would be some independent confirmation and everyone would be working with the same raw information.

    #124: “Even without that data the same conclusions would be reached”

    I guess that doesn’t work out so well, does it?

  130. Somite

    Here’s the link:

    http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2011/08/climate-change-cloudy-with-a-chance-of-competing-realities.ars

    You are quoting out of context. The article discusses how there is an alternate reality in the media separate from the scientific and correct consensus. The article discusses the correct interpretation of spencer’s paper.

    “If a person was exposed only to the claims being made in these outlets, it would be easy to conclude that Spencer had struck a blow, perhaps a fatal one, against the mainstream view of the climate.

    Meanwhile, in the alternate reality…

    The funny thing is that the paper says nothing of the sort. To begin with, it focuses on relatively short-term responses (under two years) to weather events, so its relevance to the long-term forecasts of climate isn’t exactly clear, and isn’t discussed in the paper. And, at least as far as the general trends, the satellite readings and climate models generally agree; Spencer’s paper concludes that the climate’s “behavior is also seen in the IPCC AR4 climate models.””

  131. Incredulous

    #131 Somite:

    “The article discusses how there is an alternate reality in the media separate from the scientific and correct consensus.”

    I agree that this article does point out exactly the problem. Both sides have reduced this to a shouting match because neither side is examining the arguments of the other.

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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