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ETpro's avatar

'Climategate' scientists cleared. Should there be consequences for the 'Deniers' who cried hoax without evidence of wrongdoing?

Asked by ETpro (34498points) July 7th, 2010

Climate change skeptics said the ‘Climategate’ emails suggested data was being manipulated to exaggerate the threat of global warming. Now the investigation is complete and the truth is the emails contained no evidence of scientists deliberately or even inadvertently fudging the numbers. If we were going to hold the scientists to a very high standard of honesty in dealing with data and reporting it, shouldn’t deniers who jumped on this story without sufficient evidence be held to the same standard they wish to enforce? Read the background article and see what you think.

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14 Answers

LuckyGuy's avatar

The deniers should be held accountable but they won’t. No one holds Glenn Beck or Rush accountable for some of their nonsense.
It is up to the voice of reason (us) to spread the word.


(By the way, I heard President Obama was born on a alien space ship.)
That will keep a few birthers happy for a week or two.

marinelife's avatar

Yes, but I doubt that they will. And the mud of the original allegations will stick no matter what.

CMaz's avatar

Should there be consequences?

Yes, make them help clean up the oil in the gulf.

Cruiser's avatar

They were only cleared of being “dishonest” but the question of dubious misconduct by the research team still stands.

The findings of the board who analyzed this event shows that they did conduct the research reliably but there were major issues with the overall conduct of the research team. So in that light the “Deniers” as you call them are apparently justified in bringing this project report under scrutiny but the findings of the board do absolve them a much of the accusations of impropriety but at the same time not fully absolve the researches of misconduct. Plus finding #19 also acknowledges that the “Deniers” were not reckless in their questioning the findings of this research. So all in all the “Deniers” were just in their questioning of this research but not to the extent of the accusations leveled. Plus the peer review process involved in this research here is also called into question according to this investigation.

15. 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.
18. On the allegation of withholding station identifiers we find that CRU should
have made available an unambiguous list of the stations used in each of the
versions of the Climatic Research Unit Land Temperature Record
(CRUTEM) at the time of publication. We find that CRU‟s responses to reasonable requests for information were unhelpful and defensive.
19. The overall implication of the allegations was to cast doubt on the extent to
which CRU‟s work in this area could be trusted and should be relied upon
and we find no evidence to support that implication.
23. On the allegation that the references in a specific e-mail to a „trick‟ and to
„hide the decline‟ in respect of a 1999 WMO report figure show evidence of
intent to paint a misleading picture, we find that, given its subsequent iconic
significance (not least the use of a similar figure in the IPCC Third
Assessment Report), the figure supplied for the WMO Report was misleading.
27. On the allegation that CRU does not appear to have acted in a way
consistent with the spirit and intent of the FoIA or EIR, we find that there
was unhelpfulness in responding to requests and evidence that e-mails
might have been deleted in order to make them unavailable should a
subsequent request be made for them. University senior management should
have accepted more responsibility for implementing the required processes for
FoIA and EIR compliance.

What is equally interesting is the review of the peer review process particularly in this case….
__Despite peer review, are authors able to get away with dishonest or dubious
research? Yes, they are. Peer review does not replicate and so validate research.
Peer review does not prove that a piece of research is true.
The best it can do is say that, on
the basis of a written account of what was done and some interrogation of the authors,
the research seems on the face of it to be acceptable for publication. This claim for
peer review is much softer than often portrayed to the general public. Experience
shows, for example, that peer review is an extremely unreliable way to detect research

ETpro's avatar

@worriedguy, @marinelife & @ChazMaz Thanks, . I don’t expect there will be any direct consequences. Maybe if the same crowd is seen going off half cocked again and again, they will continually lose credibility with the audience they are appealing to. We can hope. The young right-wing hero and videographer, James O’Keefe didn’t seem to suffer any consequences for what turned out to be a hoax perpetrated by him. He claimed his video showed him and his cohort dressed as a pimp and prostitute, carrying out a sting to expose the corruption of ACORN. Subsequent investigation showed that much of the impact of the video came from editing it to distort the picture it painted. In fact, he and the woman filmed themselves outside the ACORN building in their garish getups, then changed into business attire before entering. In fact, the ACORN employee shown humoring their plot actually called police and reported them after they left the office. All that mitigating evidence died on O’Keffe’s cutting room floor and was only exposed by subpoena. ACORN is now dead, it’s real crime—helping poor people survive the rigors of inner-city life and organize to make things better.

@Cruiser It seems to me their crime is being human beings instead of emotionless computers. Yes, they were unwilling to play open kimono in the face of relentless requests for public disclosure, but is it any surprise given the incredible level of criticism and scorn heaped on actual scientific data by those that want the result to be different from what is observed. I find your last assertion that peer review is unreliable to be laughable. What would you substitute. Right-wing cabal. Is that better?

nikipedia's avatar

Which deniers are you suggesting should have consequences? Everyone who became skeptical of the CRU? Only those who made a recorded, public statement criticizing the CRU?

Cruiser's avatar

@ETpro Witch hunts are not my specialty. I always say innocent until proven guilty and I am comfortable with the process involved here on both sides.

FYI, The peer review comment was made by the highly distinguished chair review team here as this was their statement not mine. It starts on page 133 and in fact it is a very lengthy often damning analysis of the peer review process as a whole as well as specifically the one involved in this research project. If you have issue with it take it up with them.

I have had my share of research to review and understand and one thing is consistent in the research I have read, that if you set out to obtain certain results you can be successful in achieving those results based on selective careful research. This intentional approach to obtaining “desired” results by these climate change researchers is clearly supported by many of the e-mails obtained in the report analysis.

I’m sure an equally unimpressive study could be done to “prove” climate change doesn’t exist.

ETpro's avatar

@nikipedia Those that led the charge of public criticism. Their readers should at least take note of the fact they rushed to judgement without the facts. In an environment where they are constantly accusing science of bias, they showed that it is they who are biased, not those they criticize.

@Cruiser Were you actively fighting the witch hunt when it was the climate scientists accused of witchcraft, or is your disdain of witch hunting selective? Mind you, I am not calling for heads to roll. I would just like to see those who relied on the pundits claiming a Climategate Hoax’ realize they were relying on sources who rushed to judgement.

The peer review statement is laughable regardless of who made it. Granted lousy or flawed work sometimes slips into peer reviewed journals and even survives a first round of review by the greater scientific community. But that is not the end of peer review. It goes on forever, and garbage research eventually gets sniffed out.

Newton published his groundbreaking work on gravity in 1687. His theory described the objects we could easily observe perfectly; and so it stood firm for hundreds of years. But it never stopped being subject to peer review. Between 1907 and 1915, Albert Einstein began to chip away at the stately work of Newton. We now know that while Newton’s explanations work in most setting, they begin to break down when we observe objects near a large mass. As an object approaches the event horizon of a black hole, Newtonian physics fails. Inside the black hole, its rules don’t even exist.

Outside endless peer review, we have no tool available to discern what is true an what is just somebody’s hunch.

Cruiser's avatar

@ETpro I gave a rat’s ass when they rolled out this POS piece of political propaganda and care even less now. Studies, reports, and all the research in the world amounts to a hill of beans when there is a political agenda at stake. This is your cross to bear not mine!

ETpro's avatar

@Cruiser It definitely appears that the climate scientists were right. And if they are, it is a cross all of us will bear and one that will likely weigh far more heavily on our children.

Cruiser's avatar

@ETpro I am not sure what you mean by right…there is equal and quite ample “research” out there to argue against that claim. IMO any conclusions by the research conducted is dubious at best. These researches clearly had an agenda to pursue and they were obviously successful at achieving their desired results. The e-mails they themselves wrote are all the evidence anyone should need to see this as the case.

__In one particular e-mail, Professor Jones relates to the preparation of a figure for the WMO Statement on the Status of the Global Climate in 1999. He writes, “I’ve just completed ‘Mike’s Nature trick’ of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years… to hide the decline.“__

__The alleged ‘Climategate’ e-mails__

__According to critics, this “trick” worked in the following way: when temperature readings taken from tree rings showed an apparent decline in temperatures from the 1980s to the present, the researchers added in measurements taken later by more modern instruments, which gave them the answer they wanted.__

ETpro's avatar

@Cruiser I can start a separate thread where the science supporting or refuting anthropomorphic climate change is the issue. I’ve looked at the science on both sides and find your statement preposterous. I do agree the scientists behaved as if they had an agenda.

But they are human beings. They have families. They see a catastrophe coming if nothing is done, and it will leave the world a much worse place for their children. If you as a scientist saw that, wouldn’t you feel a sense of personal interest in getting a warning out in such a way people might react to it in time?

mattbrowne's avatar

The nicotine addiction deniers had been active for more than 5 decades. Then the truth could no longer be withheld. The consequences were dramatic: tobacco litigation. In July 2000 a jury trial awarded Florida smokers $145 billion in punitive damages against the five major tobacco companies.

Climate change is a bit more complex than human brain chemistry, but I foresee that in 2020 it will be politically incorrect to publicly deny man-made climate change.

Deniers, your days are numbered. Remember what happened to the nicotine addiction deniers. Inconvenient truths might be inconvenient, but they still matter very much. Time to warn teenagers about the cigarette trap. Time to embrace green technologies. Time to generate new ideas. Time to build a better future. Better be safe than sorry. Otherwise our grandkids will be very mad at us. And rightly so. The atmosphere is not free. The atmosphere and ecosystems also belong to future generations.

ETpro's avatar

@mattbrowne Interestingly, the same conservative right-wing think tanks, PR firms and law offies on K street that led the fight for so long against tobacco and nicotine science are all now involved in fighting climate science. One might logically conclude their motives are the same, and have little or nothing to do with real questions about science.

@Cruiser On the “trick” issue, the investigation revealed that what was being discussed is a way of dealing with a large set of datapoints from many sources when onle set of data is wildly different from all the rest. Often scientists assign the suspect data set a low degree of confidence, and factor in the degree of confidence on each of the data sets as part of the overall average. They call that a “trick”. In the end, after discussing using it in their report, they decided to not do so.

BTW; rather than take this thread into a full-on debate about whether global warming is real or a hoax, I asked that question separately here.

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