Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Climategate: Explaining Away 'Bad Science'

Sorry - I'm trying to contain myself, but I just can't seem to let this thing go...

Yes, I've downloaded the 61mb CRU dump myself (it expands to over 162mb). I'm skipping most of the e-mails and focusing on some of the technical notes in the computer programs and source code. What I've seen is NOT looking good. Just google “HARRY_READ_ME.TXT” or try http://www.neuralnetwriter.cylo42.com/node/2421
and see what some techies are saying. More about that in another post...

Some are now claiming the hack is bogus, or that the publication of 160MB of private data, with over 1000 emails, contains no evidence whatsoever of political interference or data falsification. In response, I submit the following definition:

Denial (also called abnegation) is a defense mechanism postulated by Sigmund Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence. The subject may deny the reality of the unpleasant fact altogether (simple denial), admit the fact, but deny its seriousness (minimisation) or admit both the fact and seriousness, but deny responsibility (transference). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denial [snicker] But to move Onward...

During a lunch break, I looked around to see what was being said by the UEA about the hack itself. I found this very recent article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8388485.stm. Listed as a primary author is Mike Hulme (http://mikehulme.org), professor of Climate Change at University of East Anglia (UEA). He is also the founding Director (2000-2007) of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, based in the School of Environmental Sciences at UEA, funded by the UK Research Councils. He's right in the middle of all this.

At one point, the article states:

“It is not the case that the science is somehow now "finished" and that we now should simply get on with implementing it.”

Funny. I have a distinct memory of phrases like “there is a consensus”, “the science is done”, “the results are in”, and “we MUST act now!” being tossed about with great fanfare and much gnashing of teeth. If the 'science' is not finished, why all the rush to Do Something? But I digress...

Instead - I direct your attention to this quote:

“The classic virtues of scientific objectivity, universality and disinterestedness can no longer be claimed to be automatically effective as the essential properties of scientific knowledge.
Instead, warranted knowledge - knowledge that is authoritative, reliable and guaranteed on the basis of how it has been acquired - has become more sought after than the ideal of some ultimately true and objective knowledge.”

After reading this, it was difficult for me to even read the remainder of the article, much less consider it seriously. Hulme is explicitly proposing that study & research & evaluating the data is not important: all we need (should) do is just... 'trust authority'. And, since the 'authority' behind AGW has now been proven to be corrupt, his answer is - let's create a new authority! Hogwash. Apparently, Hulme has forgotten that such 'reliable and guaranteed' Authorities once stated the Earth was the center of the Universe - yet Galileo, although beaten and broken into submission noted, “but it still moves.”

Science is not a debating sport. It is a review and genuine examination of FACT, not an argument between opposing points of view, because in the end, you are either Right, or you are Wrong. Yes, you can debate which parts are right, but at the end of the day, the one TRUTH wins. There is no gray. Sorry.

I also discovered that several years ago, Hulme wrote: “Self-evidently dangerous climate change will not emerge from a normal scientific process of truth seeking, although science will gain some insights into the question if it recognises the socially contingent dimensions of a post-normal science. But to proffer such insights, scientists – and politicians – must trade (normal) truth for influence. If scientists want to remain listened to, to bear influence on policy, they must recognise the social limits of their truth seeking and reveal fully the values and beliefs they bring to their scientific activity.”

What? Is he serious establishing SCIENCE as a professional realm where everyone has an opinion, and everyone is right? Are we supposed to play Family Feud? ... Let's welcome the Michael Mann family, and they are facing the Ed Wegman's! Who is right? … Let's see what the survey says!.... Absurd - such an approach doesn't work, and it cannot work.

One very interesting aspect of Climategate is that the AGW proponents, for the first time, are getting a dose of THEIR OWN MEDICINE - namely a direct appeal to the public and controlling the public opinion through the mass-media hysteria. The fact that planet temperatures are not rising for the last several years is not, in itself, an argument against some technical aspects of the AGW theory. But for a layman this becomes an unbeatable argument - The Powers Are Hiding The Truth! The CRU emails themselves do not contain anything extraordinary. To be sure, there are plenty of unethical moments, but little to nothing in the way of (provable) criminal activity. However now, thanks to journalists and bloggers, "Michael's tricks" will become a catch-phrase, and everyone starts to happily chant that "Global Warming is a myth!" Is this the way to continued Scientific Enlightenment, to find ANSWERS? I think not.

The only reason Climategate is in the news (and will not disappear) is because it has shown a particular ideologically-driven policy is being justified by being based on fraudulent science. Perhaps, more importantly, the 'facts' to support the theory were deliberately manipulated to match the requirements for the policy. What these 'scientists' did was change the 'inconvenient truth' of carefully selected historical facts to generate the result the policy needed. This is not science, it's creative writing.

Most scientists agree that global climate temperatures increased the last 150 years. The question is: “WHY?” After a review of *all* of the available data, it is more than reasonable to conclude the increase in global temperatures was part of a cycle seen before and effectively due to recovery from the Little Ice Age (LIA), and is unrelated to increases in CO2 in the air as generated by the Industrial Revolution. There are reams of data showing that the earth has been going though natural temperature cycles for millions of years. For nearly all global temperature cycles, greenhouse gases did not increase until hundreds or sometimes thousands of years AFTER the temperature increase, which completely destroys the claim that greenhouse gases CAUSED the temperature change. Also, the global temperatures have apparently stopped increasing in this last temperature cycle (as of about ten years ago), while greenhouse gases emissions continued increasing, once again showing that greenhouse gases - and specifically CO2 concentrations - are not solely responsible for global temperature changes.

The Man-Made Climate Change theory may or may not be total nonsense, but much of the political propaganda (ideology) it engenders *IS*. The corrupting influence of politics is the driving force behind the falsification of data. This is not the first instance of data manipulation we have seen nor is it likely to be the last. Even studies which fail to support the Climate Change hypothesis at least give lip service to it. You can't get funding if you don't. A cynical person might note the neat way the AGW theory fits with environmentalist ideology and how readily it translates into a scheme to give politicians more power.

And *THAT* is the Real Scandal behind Climate Gate.

Leaders take note: This is what happens when balanced debates are denied and the press is manipulated into suppressing a story. Also, when this DOES get into the mainstream, there will be a tidal wave of skeptics around - not just on this issue but on *all* issues. It is a part of the human condition to get angry when lied to. There WILL be consequences.

- Steve


  1. Jeez, Steve. The first third of my post in response contained several of the links you put in this one. Thanks to you, my stuff is getting stale before I can even get it on line! :) Guess I'll have to start writing faster...

  2. A follow-up comment..

    Following the "Scientific Method" isn't about finding proof and discovering truth. It is a mechanism for TESTING theroies, falsifying hypotheses, and ruling out falsehood. What ever survives the process can be accepted as truth because it's all we have... at least until we get to the next round of testing.

  3. Another excellent article on AGW and the CRU dump:


  4. And another, with even more details...


  5. A very funny tongue-in-cheek expose:


  6. Set the Way-Back Machine, Sherman... Consider an expert from President Eisenhower’s famous “Beware the Military-Industrial Complex” speech:

    “…the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

    The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

    Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

    One can only wonder if this admonition – as a warning of the growing influence of the Military-Industrial complex — will be remembered and repeated with the same grave sense of somber warning it now most certainly deserves?