November 29, 2010


The shadow of climategate (Babbage, Nov 28th 2010, 1The Economist)

The climategate e-mails led to three inquiries in the United Kingdom. All of them were flawed in different ways. None of them, though, gave credence to the idea that “science and numbers were manipulated”. In a report into those inquiries for Britain’s Global Warming Policy Foundation, an organisation opposed to action on climate change and critical of the quality of the science behind that case, Andrew Montford, a blogger with the same predispositions as the Foundation, sums up the principal climategate allegations in a way that shows them to be much more about process than about manipulated findings. He cites an exclusion of sceptical views from the literature; a misrepresentation of primary research, and its uncertainties, in some secondary presentations; a lack of openness to requests for information and a willingness to contravene Britain’s freedom of information act; a discordance between what the scientists said in private and what they said in public. Fraud in basic science and primary data of the sort Schwarzenegger spoke of, and which is commonly said to have been revealed, does not make the list.

Alleged flaws—in one case, an expressly alleged fraud—in the scientific work of the CRU researchers and some of those they corresponded with were common currency among critical bloggers well before the emails were leaked. Questions about the validity of reconstructions of mediaeval climate based on treerings, about why some treerings are taken to be good records of temperature at some points in history but not in the recent past, about cherry-picking of data, about the traceability or otherwise of Chinese weather station data and so on had all been aired long before. The climategate e-mails offered little if any new information that might move these debates on in either direction.

,,,but The Economist still trusts whatever it was they were doing instead?

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 29, 2010 6:02 AM
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