November 21, 2009

One-Trick Ponies

I don’t condone computer hacking, but if the e-mails (over 1,000) and documents (over 3,000) which were discovered on this university’s servers are accurate, the so-called scientists who have been pushing the theory of man-made global warming have some explaining to do.

From the Associated Press:

In one e-mail, the university’s Climatic Research Unit director Phil Jones tells a colleague that he had “just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e., from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”

Jones responded by suggesting that his choice of words shouldn’t matter. Said he: “The word ‘trick’ was used here colloquially, as in a clever thing to do. It is ludicrous to suggest that it refers to anything untoward.”

I can only speak for myself, but I when I use the word “trick” I do so when referring to deception. For instance, a magic trick is designed to deceive the eyes of the audience. A trick play in football is designed to deceive the other team in an effort to score a touchdown or field-goal.

The other ways that trick might be used are these:
  • an odd habit or strange ability to do something
  • a sequence of cards in bridge which form a single hand of play
  • the client of a prostitute (slang, of course)
  • a two-hour or four-hours session in which a sailor is at the helm of a vessel
Given that Jones actually said that he wanted to “hide the decline” of temperatures, and given that the word hide is related to deception in that it’s definition is based on the concepts of camouflage, concealment, and secrecy, it’s not hard to see why it’s easy to think that Jones is lying about his use of the word trick.

Michael Mann from the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University referred to the “trick” as being “something trivial.” It was “placing a chart of proxy temperature to a line showing the temperature record collected by instruments from that time onward.” He also said that it’s “hardly anything you would call a trick”—even though Jones did, indeed, call it a “trick.”

The university said that using the so-called scientists’ words against them is “mischievous” and “cannot be considered a genuine attempt to engage with this issue in a responsible way.”

Are you serious? It’s irresponsible to use their own words against them but it’s not irresponsible on their part to attempt to affect public policy by possibly fabricating data?

Why is it that when people are caught by having their words used against them, they either didn’t mean what they said or what they said is just “trivial”?

I’m thinking that it might be best to dismiss whatever “data” Jones, Mann, and their ilk have offered us because how are we to know what’s not trivial and what really is meant when they say something? Moreover, how do we even know what data offered from them is even accurate?

UPDATE: Nov. 23, 2009
It’s now being reported that some of the leaked e-mails also illustrate the vitriolic nature of Jones and Mann toward anyone who questions them.

The following has been reported by The Washington Post (the emphasis is mine):
[T]he newly disclosed private exchanges among climate scientists at Britain’s Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia reveal an intellectual circle that appears to feel very much under attack, and eager to punish its enemies.

In one e-mail, the center’s director, Phil Jones, writes Pennsylvania State University’s Michael E. Mann and questions whether the work of academics that question the link between human activities and global warming deserve to make it into the prestigious IPCC report, which represents the global consensus view on climate science.

“I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report,” Jones writes. “Kevin and I will keep them out somehow—even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”

In another, Jones and Mann discuss how they can pressure an academic journal not to accept the work of climate skeptics with whom they disagree. “Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal,” Mann writes.

“I will be emailing the journal to tell them I’m having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor,” Jones replies.
Eilperin, Juliet. “Hackers Steal Electronic Data from Top Climate Research Center.” Washington Post. 21 Nov. 2009.

Stringer, David. “Hackers Leak E-Mails, Stoke Climate Debate.” AP/Yahoo! News. 21 Nov. 2009.


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