Pharyngula

That settles that then, I hope

That recent episode in which hackers broke into computers at East Anglia University and extracted private email from climate researchers was the subject of much triumphal rejoicing by the climate change deniers. The UK set a parliamentary Science and Technology Committee to review the affair and see if there was any substance to the claims of the denialists, and the report of the inquiry has been released.

On the much cited phrases in the leaked e-mails—”trick” and “hiding the decline”—the Committee considers that they were colloquial terms used in private e-mails and the balance of evidence is that they were not part of a systematic attempt to mislead.

Insofar as the Committee was able to consider accusations of dishonesty against CRU, the Committee considers that there is no case to answer.

The Committee found no reason in this inquiry to challenge the scientific consensus as expressed by Professor Beddington, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, that “global warming is happening [and] that it is induced by human activity”. But this was not an inquiry into the science produced by CRU and it will be for the Scientific Appraisal Panel, announced by the University on 22 March, to determine whether the work of CRU has been soundly built.

Well. Case closed, right? Or is this another sign of the Global Conspiracy to Hide the Truth™?

The committee did have one mild criticism of the Climate Research Unit. They said that while the policy of holding some of the raw data privately is in line with common research practice and not grounds for complaint, they would like the policy to change…and I agree. Openness is always good in science.

Comments

  1. #1 Bill Dauphin, OM
    March 31, 2010

    Saw this story linked on HuffPo this morning, and headed straight for Pharyngula.

  2. #2 Thebear
    March 31, 2010

    By any rights it should, but if the birthers are anything to go by: It won’t.

    And while not all AGW-denialists are quite as kooky as bithers, a lot are.

  3. #3 Hurin
    March 31, 2010

    That settles that then, I hope

    Yes, because evidence is just what the right-wing lunacy squad look for when evaluating the plausibility of a conspiracy theory. This is why Glenn Beck is so popular on the right wing – his hysterical, paranoid, rants about the communist nazis in the government are always so well sourced and reasoned.

    I hear you – it would be nice if the loonies wound shut up about “climate gate” now – but I won’t be holding my breath.

  4. #4 Richard Eis
    March 31, 2010

    Wow, it took an inquiry to tell us this. As if 3 emails out of random thousands would even be able to count as a conspiracy.

    Shame the committee didn’t look into the overhyping and fables produced from the deniers about this. That would have been a much more worthwhile use of everyones time.

  5. #5 BigMKnows
    March 31, 2010

    What about identifying and prosecuting the hackers? Has a case been opened by local law enforcement?

    Funny how the only people on “trial” in this case seem to be the victims of the crime.

  6. #7 mwsletten
    March 31, 2010

    PZ, I would characterize the committee’s rebuke as a bit more than mild. From the report summary:

    “The disclosed e-mails appear to show a culture of non-disclosure at CRU and instances where information may have been deleted, to avoid disclosure. We found prima facie evidence to suggest that the UEA found ways to support the culture at CRU of resisting disclosure of information to climate change sceptics. The failure of UEA to grasp fully the potential damage to CRU and UEA by the non-disclosure of FOIA requests was regrettable. UEA needs to review its policy towards FOIA and re-assess how it can support academics whose expertise in this area is limited.”

  7. #8 AJ Milne
    March 31, 2010

    Y’ask me, the dumbfucks who went off on this oughtta be billed for the cost of the investigation.

    The ‘hide the decline’ nonsense was a non-issue, especially. From the fucking beginning. And any fucking moron could work out as much with a few hours reading (and a few hours only if they’re (a) not too bright and (b) read kinda slowly). It was just the same incredibly dishonest noise machine yet again trying to whip up confusion. So investigating the claims of idiots of this calibre in a parliamentary committee makes about as much sense to me as would doing the same for the claims of an unmedicated mental patient who insists he’s getting a message from Elvis beamed into his molars via radio waves.

    Yes, it’s nice there’s someone else saying all the raw data should be available (remember: almost all of it already is), but honestly, it ain’t like it hadn’t been said before. And meanwhile, these lying shits are wasting everyone’s time. So me, I still wish we could bill ‘em. Fifty bucks from every mouthbreathing moron who ranted about that stuff, for each time they did, when they sure as hell should have known better.

    (/And probably even did. I mean, as if even knowing it was BS would have stopped jerks of this stripe.)

  8. #9 Alverant
    March 31, 2010

    If the climate change denialists actually wanted proof, then they wouldn’t be climate change denialists.

  9. #10 Knockgoats
    March 31, 2010

    I think it’s doubtful the committee have understood the issues around “openness” and the FOIA. As far as the former is concerned, the only raw data not released belongs to national weather services – not to CRU. The algorithms used to transform and analyse the data are published. The FOIA requests were in many cases simply attempts to obstruct and delay work – those making them having neither the desire nor the knowledge to make scientific use of them; and many were demands for computer code – not algorithms – often code written to be used only once. Making these public is not standard practice is any branch of science, nor is it obviously useful: if you want to check someone’s analysis, the usual practice is to reimplement the algorithm. If you get different results, then it makes sense to send the researchers your code, and ask why you got different results. A piece of one-time scientific code of any complexity will almost certainly have bugs, which will almost certainly not matter, because they will make a difference only on unused paths through the code.

    Now it’s arguable that this is unsatisfactory, but to test all such code to the degree safety-critical code is tested would absorb vast resources, leaving nothing for actual climate science. That, of course, is exactly what the denialists want. “Openness” of the kind demanded also requires resources to ensure that the code is fully documented, and the metadata concerning everything that is released is correct. It’s possible that both the production and documentation of one-time code, and that of metadata, can be partially automated, but the facilities to do that do not yet exist.

  10. #11 --PatF
    March 31, 2010

    I think there is a great hoax showing up here. Fox published a story about a global warming activist freezing to death at the south pole. (SC OM references it at 6.)

    I looked at it and it looked strange. Then I looked at other places. It was a hoax. Someone said it was going to be released tomorrow to fool the media but it got out today.

    But it did take Fox in.

    They have pulled their story down but it still exists in the Google cache at:

    http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:Np05FPAysZYJ:www.thefoxnation.com/global-warming/2010/03/29/global-warming-activist-freezes-death-antarctica+fox+nation+james+schneider&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

    Google is good.

  11. #12 Knockgoats
    March 31, 2010

    I should add that I think criticism of UEA is justified: they should have FOIA, IP and public understanding experts to take the burden of dealing with such issues away from scientists in (politically) controversial areas.

  12. #13 Free Lunch
    March 31, 2010

    And while not all AGW-denialists are quite as kooky as bithers, a lot are.

    They draw conclusions without evidence and then ignore any evidence provided to them. They may not be quite as stark, raving mad, but they are in the same corner of the park.

    AGW denialists are either paid to lie or fools.

  13. #14 mwsletten
    March 31, 2010

    Alverant @ 9, that’s exactly the attitude that led to hiding, destroying or otherwise denying data, and which ultimately led to the discredit of the UEA and the CRU.

    Like it or not, as time consuming as it is, and no matter how much the scientists involved believe it detracts from their ‘real’ work, openly sharing data and methods along with conclusions is the most effective way to silence the opposition.

    What CRU did instead gave the appearance of impropriety and strengthened and legitimized the viewpoints of the loudest skeptics.

    The good to come of all this? Given the current credibility crunch it suffers and the political and economic implications of a failure to convince policy makers of the legitimacy of its conclusions, CRU must now consider transparency and openess a top priority.

    The bad? Given the current credibility crunch it now suffers and the political and economic implications of its current conclusions, the CRU faces a long uphill slog…

  14. #15 See Nick Overlook
    March 31, 2010

    Yes, it should settle it, but it doesn’t. Check out this particular spin on the story: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-03-31/u-k-climate-science-damaged-by-leaked-e-mails-update1-.html Not one blessed word about the report clearing the scientists of dishonesty, just all the stuff about the “culture of secrecy”. Assuming the story gets any play at all, this is the way it’s going to be played.

  15. #16 dreamstretch
    March 31, 2010

    It’s all a cover-up. Anyone can tell that ‘hide the decline’ really refers the decline in the number of dissenting scientists, who are secretly rounded up and imprisoned in government eco-dungeons where they are forced to eat tofu and wear shirts made of hemp.

  16. #17 Knockgoats
    March 31, 2010

    mwsletten,

    openly sharing data and methods along with conclusions is the most effective way to silence the opposition.

    That’s exactly what CRU has done: all the data it legally could release is already in the public domain; the methods are documented in peer-reviewed papers. It has not silenced the opposition because that opposition is based either on economic interests or ideology, not evidence, and will not be silenced by anything whatever.

    Given the current credibility crunch it now suffers and the political and economic implications of its current conclusions, the CRU faces a long uphill slog…

    Among scientists, it has lost none whatever. Very little among informed political and policy decision-makers. Little even among the general public, most of whom could not tell you what or where CRU is.

  17. #18 Sili
    March 31, 2010

    Google is goodpossibly less evil than the alternatives.

  18. #19 https://me.yahoo.com/a/79N0TtoNpsTvaWrmrZIKEo3Uphl.ek8P#b9225
    March 31, 2010

    one problem here. the british parlaiment has been shown to be a bunch of liars thieves and conmen. so anything that comes from a governmental panel cannot be trusted in anyway at all.

  19. #20 mwsletten
    March 31, 2010

    Knockgoats said: ‘It’s possible that both the production and documentation of one-time code, and that of metadata, can be partially automated, but the facilities to do that do not yet exist.’

    That may be true, but doing so is pretty much a policy decision, not a mass reorganization or implementation of complex new software tools or methodologies.

    There are any number of commercial and open-source programs that can automatically strip comments from source code and create a documentation set. Of course, these tools require that programmers actually include relevent and descriptive comments in the code as they write it.

    As a technical writer by trade, I would argue the time required to include a brief description of your work as you go, while not insignificant, is certainly less than that required to reconstruct reasoning and justifications after-the-fact, or to answer charges suggesting your current practice are secretive and self-serving…

  20. #21 Sili
    March 31, 2010

    From the Fox story:

    “He kept talking about when they ‘get down to chili’, and I thought they were talking about the order in which they would consume their food supplies”, Mrs. Schneider recounted. “I had no idea they were talking about Chile, the country from which you usually fly or sail in order to reach Antarctica.”

    Apparently, while all of Prof. Schneider’s friends were assuming that the July trek would be to Greenland, during Northern Hemisphere summer, his plans were actually to snowmobile to the South Pole – which, in July, is in the dead of winter.

    Mr. Dolittle related how some people do not realize that, even if there has been warming in Antarctica, the average temperature at the South Pole in July still runs about 70 degrees F below zero. “Some people think that July is warm everywhere on Earth.”

    Hmmmmmm – I wonder what the date might be tomorrow. Does it perhaps carry any special significance.

    Personally, I find the “down to chili – but I thought he was talking about victuals” very droll. Good work!

  21. #22 SC OM
    March 31, 2010

    I looked at it and it looked strange. Then I looked at other places. It was a hoax. Someone said it was going to be released tomorrow to fool the media but it got out today.

    But it did take Fox in.

    It’s actually an old story from a joke site (ecoEnquirer). FOX posted it the other day and I got some screen shots. The best were the comments. There’s no way I can see that they can spin this to hide that they (and absolutely their readers) are credulous morons who will believe anything, no matter how nonsensical or absurd, if it fits with their ideology.

    http://www.newshounds.us/2010/03/30/fox_nation_still_running_phony_story_about_global_warming_activist_freezing_to_death.php

    And now they’ve finally taken it down! Ha!

  22. #23 AJ Milne
    March 31, 2010

    The FOIA requests were in many cases simply attempts to obstruct and delay work – those making them having neither the desire nor the knowledge to make scientific use of them

    Yeah. This.

    And this reveals one of the dimensions of this bullshit which make it so insidious, in my mind.

    As in: generally, you want an active and inquiring and interested citizenry. Frequently, in democratic societies the problem isn’t so much people asking too many questions as too few, asking too few. And in any problem with ramifications like this one, questions asked in good faith are absolutely a good thing. It’s absolutely relevant to ask: what can we do, what do we know, how soon do we have to do it, etc., yes.

    And scientists in general like talking about their work–frequently, they’re delighted to, even. So it can work out. People got questions, the researchers are happy to entertain them, it’s all good.

    But the noise machine, here, with their constant bullshit, poison the whole thing. That general principle that there’s no such thing as a stupid question becomes entirely moot when the questions are not being asked in good faith. Hell, they’re not even really questions in the conventional sense–a question is normally asked to clarify something in your own mind, to shed light on an issue, and these asshats aren’t doing that.

    They’re asking as a deliberately and flagrantly dishonest political gesture, when they already almost certainly know there’s no real relevance to the answer. And the real intention, much as with the questions asked in a push poll, isn’t even to get that answer so much as to plant entirely unwarranted suspicions in the audience’s mind. And to confuse people about what the real issues are. To disinform, not inform.

    The result, again, poisons something vital. It means good questions won’t be asked, because everyone’s so busy running around dealing with their misinformation. It means researchers who normally would be pretty happy to be reasonably open about what they do get more and more cranky about the whole business, more and more sick of the whole business. And you get to thinking: who could blame them if they do start getting silly about how they field things, in this context. Hell, even if someone does submit a request that’s made in good faith, to check something actually important and in the public interest, as if the guys in charge of putting the answer together are even real likely to notice when they’re being flooded with this stupid shit.

    It’s fucking nasty. Like I said: I wish, when it was this fucking obvious, we could just fine the stupid jerks. I am absolutely of the opinion that these are issues in which sober consideration of what should be done is vital, and it’s responsible to keep checking everyone’s work.

    But the denialist noise machine, demonstrably, isn’t doing this, despite also making noise about this being their actual intention. To the contrary, they’re absolutely making honestly doing so harder.

    And this when there are real issues that do have to be handled with whatever dispatch we can manage. Because, while I’d also agree with those, generally, who’d say panic, here, would be unwise, there is obviously some real urgency here. We have to do the best science we can, come up with the best public policies we can craft in response, and just as quickly as we can responsibly do so.

    And the noise machine, they’re making this far more difficult than it needs to be. Far too much heat, when what is needed is light. And again, as regards some of this stuff, I do almost wish, despite the message you might worry it might send about asking questions, and the obvious impracticality of such a notion, that we could just fine the fuckers when it’s so obviously done as a delaying tactic, or an obfuscatory tactic.

    (/No, Johnny, it’s not that you asked a stupid question. It’s that you’re clowning around, running around in front of the class with your pants down asking ‘what are pants, anyway?’ when there are people here who’d kinda like actually, responsibly to get some work done. To the fucking office with you.)

  23. #24 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    March 31, 2010

    Denialists would much rather talk about climate scientists than climate science. Let’s compromise. Let’s talk about both.

    Certainly, the hacked emails–which were specifically selected to portray the scientists in the worst possible light–do give indications of scientists being very human. There’s evidence of rivalries, peevishness, ocasional poor judgment or careless wording. Yup, they’re fallible humans all right.

    And yet, for all their efforts, the hackers and denialists were unable to cast doubt on one iota of the science. Not one decimal place!

    From this, it should be clear that science is a pretty good recipe for developing reliable information even when weilded by fallible human beings. THAT is a conclusion worth emphasizing!

  24. #25 bellerophon
    March 31, 2010

    Comment 19 raises a good point. Politicians in this country now have reputations as low as they can get, and for good reason as the last year has shown. This report is unlikely to make much difference to the opinions of many in the UK because everything our politicians say is regarded with suspicion. The committee is made up exclusively of politicians, only 4 of whom have any scientific background, and one of those, Stringer, has distanced himself from some of the findings of the committee.
    Even when the committee undoubtedly gets it right, as with their decision on NHS provision of homeopathy there are plenty of other politicians who oppose them as seen here
    http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=40517&SESSION=903

  25. #26 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    March 31, 2010

    mwsletten,
    I am all for releasing data. I’m dead set against releasing code. Running the same code on the same data and getting the same answer proves nothing. Independent verification using an independent analysis not only verifies the methodology, it many even improve upon it.

    Sharing code is a recipe for sharing bugs and slowing progress. And if someone’s not smart enough to write their own code, do you really want them mucking about with the science anyway?

  26. #27 Greg F.
    March 31, 2010

    …is this another sign of the Global Conspiracy to Hide the Truth??

    Well yeah! Only some liberal, atheistic, vegemite eating, evolution totting biologist could possibly think it’s not. Open your eyes people! The green New World Order is coming to turn us all into Soylent Green (or maybe Soylent Cola, the soda with a taste that varies from person to person), in the name of the environment!

  27. #28 mwsletten
    March 31, 2010

    Knockgoats @ 17, I would disagree with you. The UEA and CRU did NOT openly share all its data and methodology; if it had why did the committee bash them for ‘non-disclosure…and instances where information may have been deleted, to avoid disclosure’ and a ‘culture…of resisting disclosure of information to climate change sceptics?’ I mean this committee is supposed to have looked very closely at all the evidence and interviewed those involved. It seems to me it would have a much clearer picture of what happened than you or me.

    I could be wrong…

    Knockgoats said: ‘Among scientists, [and informed policy makers, CRU] has lost [no credibility] whatever.’

    That may be true, but as I’ve suggested on more than one occasion in other threads on this topic, ‘informed policymakers’ are not the only ones making decisions. And they, after all, are not the ones who need convincing.

    Your seeming dismissal of the ‘general public’ as it pertains to CRU’s credibility is troubling. In societies where the people are not ruled policy makers (for the most part) MUST respond to public demands and opinions. In such societies, policymakers must win approval from the public for the sacrifices everyone will have to make unless we can find ‘painless’ methods to deal with AGW. If such policies are to be based on its conclusions, CRU’s reputation with the public is most certainly germane, and it must be above reproach.

    We’ve already seen what happens with just the appearance of impropriety.

  28. #29 stevieinthecity#9dac9
    March 31, 2010

    That’s right. The nutters will blow it out of proportion.

    They didn’t do anything wrong. And they’re emails were STOLEN.

    The general public barely understands climate change. The “data” does nothing for them. The denialists sees crimes and cover-up everywhere. There isn’t one.

  29. #30 Matt Penfold
    March 31, 2010

    The general public barely understands climate change. The “data” does nothing for them. The denialists sees crimes and cover-up everywhere. There isn’t one.

    Not quite true. There was a crime committed: By the person who hacked the server with those emails on it. That would be a section 1 breach of the Computer Misuse Act 1990 which carries a penalty of up to 6 months in prison or a fine of up to £5000.

  30. #31 Cerberus
    March 31, 2010

    No shit it was colloquial. I could tell that right out of the gate with the “tricks”-gate. The first thing I flashed back to when I heard about it was how at my first day interning for a massive electron-microscopy lab was how I was handed a set of procedural information to read through before doing anything that was titled “The Big Book of Tricks” about how to do things and how to use the more broad-based image-processing software to give us the type of 3D images we wanted to showcase for the labs we were working for.

    In my master’s lab experiment, we were emailing back and forth about tricks as if we were training champion show dogs because of massive problems relating to the sheer size of the dataset and getting the programs to behave and analyze it without taking years.

    More fallout from a fucking ignorant culture that doesn’t understand anything about science, but expects us to state everything in a 20 year career as if ignorant fucks will be parsing every other sentence for something out of context that will look bad.

    If we had a media that was so interested in journalism so to ask the follow-up of “what’s the context of that quote?” there would have been no scandal, but instead, it’s “oh noes, we’ve been scooped by Fox, we’d better restate it verbatim without even looking into it”.

    Pfeh.

  31. #32 rni.boh
    March 31, 2010

    Well. Case closed, right?

    No, this was only one inquiry of several. The UEA’s own inquiries might be more interesting, if they’re not set up to be white-washes that is. The science isn’t the problem, but how open the CRU were prepared to be.

    a_ray_in_dilbert_space @ 26 –

    I am all for releasing data. I’m dead set against releasing code. Running the same code on the same data and getting the same answer proves nothing. Independent verification using an independent analysis not only verifies the methodology, it many even improve upon it.

    Wow. So you insist that people have to re-invent the wheel? That’s a good way of wasting a lot of time.

    It can also be useful to look at code to find out what went wrong – I’ve done it myself when I reviewed a paper and the results looked suspicious. it was quicker to look at the code than to re-do all the work.

  32. #33 IslandBrewer
    March 31, 2010

    Greg F. #27

    The green New World Order is coming to turn us all into Soylent Green (or maybe Soylent Cola, the soda with a taste that varies from person to person), in the name of the environment!

    The True Conspiracy(TM) is that they will change the formula for Soylent Cola and call it ‘New Soylent Cola’ (made from cats and dogs and Republicans). The taste will be universally reviled, at which point they’ll bring back the old Soylent Cola formula and market it under the name ‘Soylent Classic’.

  33. #34 phoenixwoman
    March 31, 2010

    Count on Exxon-Mobil to keep pumping money into the denialists.

  34. #35 phoenixwoman
    March 31, 2010

    Here’s a twofer — Koch and Exxon getting caught by Greenpeace spending tens of millions on climate-change denialism:

    A report published by the charity yesterday alleges that Koch Industries gave $48.5m
    to organisations dedicated to producing research and campaigns that cast doubt on climate change. In comparison, oil giant ExxonMobil spent $24m in the same period on its own climate change sceptic
    activities.

    Koch is a private, Kansas-based conglomerate dealing in petroleum, minerals, chemicals and finance among other industries. With annual revenue of $98bn, its owner, billionaire tycoon David Koch,
    says it’s “the biggest company you’ve never heard of”.

    Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute have received respectively $5m, $1.6m and $1m from Koch since 2005, according to Greenpeace. These conservative
    organisations were among many Koch-funded advocacy groups and think tanks which contributed to what Greenpeace calls the Climategate “echo chamber”.

  35. #36 --PatF
    March 31, 2010

    Cerberus comments about colloquialism in science. It’s a good thing that the AGW deniers don’t investigate mathematics. Tricks abound and there is even a technique called the “Eilenberg swindle.” (You can look it up on Google. It involves a cleverly telescoping sum.)

  36. #37 stevieinthecity#9dac9
    March 31, 2010

    Koch, a private company, pumps more money into the anti-climate machine than even Exxon-Mobile does. Exxon has been pulling back from it.

  37. #38 Knockgoats
    March 31, 2010

    Wow. So you insist that people have to re-invent the wheel? That’s a good way of wasting a lot of time.< - rni.boh

    You're an idiot: a_ray explained exactly why this is a bad idea, and you simply ignored it. Moreoverhe whole point of the FOIA harassment of CRU was to waste a lot of time.

    It can also be useful to look at code to find out what went wrong – I’ve done it myself when I reviewed a paper and the results looked suspicious

    Does it occur to you that reviewing a paper and replicating work are different activities? Probably not.

  38. #39 Celtic_Evolution
    March 31, 2010

    Wow. So you insist that people have to re-invent the wheel? That’s a good way of wasting a lot of time.

    It’s also a really good way to independently confirm results, verify methodologies, and improve upon them… all of which greatly benefit the science…

    But I’m pretty sure someone already mentioned that… :-/

  39. #40 Knockgoats
    March 31, 2010

    mwsletten,

    Knockgoats @ 17, I would disagree with you. The UEA and CRU did NOT openly share all its data and methodology; if it had why did the committee bash them for ‘non-disclosure…and instances where information may have been deleted, to avoid disclosure’ and a ‘culture…of resisting disclosure of information to climate change sceptics?’

    The committee itself notes that it did not have time for a full investigation. I suspect that the slap on the wrist for the CRU was a result of political compromise. That it did share all its data (where it legally could) is simply fact, whatever the committee says.

    If such policies are to be based on its conclusions, CRU’s reputation with the public is most certainly germane, and it must be above reproach.

    My point was that the CRU simply doesn’t have a reputation with the public. Moreover, the conclusions of climate science does not depend on CRU or any other single organisation: it is the fact that multiple independent teams, and multiple lines of evidence agree, that makes the consensus robust.

    We’ve already seen what happens with just the appearance of impropriety.

    Crap. What we’ve seen is the continuance of a long-term campaign of lies. There is no evidence I know of that “Climategate” itself has made a significant difference to public opinion – the cold winter in parts of North America and Europe has had much more effect.

  40. #41 Celtic_Evolution
    March 31, 2010

    The UEA’s own inquiries might be more interesting, if they’re not set up to be white-washes that is.

    That’s right… go ahead and poison that well… I’m sure you didn’t mean it…

    The science isn’t the problem

    Really? That’s not what most of the AGW denialist kooks I talked to that went bonkers over this kerfuffle feel… if the issue were truly “the openness of the CRU”, do you really think it would have gained the steam it did? Come now…

  41. #42 mwsletten
    March 31, 2010

    AJ Milne said: ‘They’re asking as a deliberately and flagrantly dishonest political gesture, when they already almost certainly know there’s no real relevance to the answer.’

    And I would answer that there are ways of responding to such requests that serve to highlight the intentions of the requester; ways that would have been far more effective than simply avoiding, ignoring or otherwise not cooperating.

    In the case of FOIA requests, public institutions or institutions funded with public money simply cannot ignore them. Any organization that accepts public funds must agree to the rules. No matter how maddeningly trivial and disruptive such requests are, the public has a right to know how its money is being spent. An oft-bamboozled public now has the prospect of fraud and abuse too firmly embedded in its psyche for that to change.

    One more thing scientists can blame on politicians…

  42. #43 history punk
    March 31, 2010

    In the case of FOIA requests, public institutions or institutions funded with public money simply cannot ignore them. Any organization that accepts public funds must agree to the rules. No matter how maddeningly trivial and disruptive such requests are, the public has a right to know how its money is being spent. An oft-bamboozled public now has the prospect of fraud and abuse too firmly embedded in its psyche for that to change.

    Actually, in the United States only executive agencies such as the CIA, Department of Labor, or NSA have to respond to FOIA requests. Courts, Congress, bodies created to advise the president like the National Security Council, and the private sector are largely immune to FOIA requests. Some Congressional bodies such as the GAO voluntarily submit themselves to portions of FOIA and NSC records become FOIAable between 5-12 years after the president leaves office, but these are limited exceptions to above- mentioned general rule.

    < http://nsarchive.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/foia-tip-14-which-government-agencies-can-be-foiad/>

  43. #44 Epikt
    March 31, 2010

    a_ray_in_dilbert_space:

    Sharing code is a recipe for sharing bugs and slowing progress. And if someone’s not smart enough to write their own code, do you really want them mucking about with the science anyway?

    Contrariwise, re-implementing the same algorithm independently is a good way to check the correctness of a piece of research code. Interestingly, NASA GISS has made their GISSTEMP surface temperature analysis source code available for quite some time. Because the source is available, there is an effort to produce a ground-up rewrite of the code (in Python, no less), in the interest of both transparency and correctness. Results to date? Nothing of significance wrong with GISSTEMP. I’m sure that will satisfy the denialosphere.

  44. #45 rni.boh
    March 31, 2010

    Knockgoats @38 (& Celtic_Evolution @ 39: this answers you too)-

    You’re an idiot: a_ray explained exactly why this is a bad idea, and you simply ignored it. Moreoverhe whole point of the FOIA harassment of CRU was to waste a lot of time.

    Thank you for your generosity of spirit. a_ray said he was all against releasing data, and only gave one reason why. I gave several reasons why it’s a good idea to release source code. a_ray’s position would slow science down. Hey, it’s still possible to write code from scratch, even if you have the code.

    Does it occur to you that reviewing a paper and replicating work are different activities? Probably not.

    Put down those goalposts and read a_ray’s comment again. It was a blanket statement about releasing code.

    Celtic_Evolution @ 41 -

    That’s right… go ahead and poison that well… I’m sure you didn’t mean it…

    Sorry, I’ve watched Sir Humphery Appleby’s training manuals, so I was being a realist. The UEA is a large institution, and when threatened there is a strong temptation to circle the waggons and defend itself. The UEA appointed a senior civil servant to head the enquiry, which looks like they might have found a “safe pair of hands”. I hope I’m wrong about this, but we’ll see when the report comes out. at least with the reaction to the FOIA requests we know the CRU could have been more open, so if they’re not criticised for that we know it’s a whitewash.

    BTW, I should have been clearer about “the science isn’t the problem”. What I meant was that the science of climate change is solid, and that’s not where there will be any criticism. But there probably should be criticism of the way the UEA handled the FOIA requests, at least.

  45. #46 rni.boh
    March 31, 2010

    history punk @ 43 – US law isn’t relevant: the UEA is in the UK. Norfolk’n’good.

  46. #47 Celtic_Evolution
    March 31, 2010

    a_ray said he was all against releasing data, and only gave one reason why.

    Actually, no he didn’t. From #26:

    I am all for releasing data.

    .

    What he said was that he’s against releasing code. Code is not the same as data. Code can be mis-applied and mis-used. Data is simply data.

    a_ray’s position would slow science down.

    A completely baseless assertion. Additionally, I’m not overly concerned with speed, I’m concerned with arriving at scientific consensus using all available data, with as many different methodologies as possible all coming to the same conclusion. I’m not interested in speeding up the science if it means compromising it.

    Hey, it’s still possible to write code from scratch, even if you have the code.

    So then why would you need the code?

    Sorry, I’ve watched Sir Humphery Appleby’s training manuals, so I was being a realist. The UEA is a large institution blah blah blah…

    So you are poisoning the well, you just think you’re justified. Thanks for clearing that up.

    What I meant was that the science of climate change is solid, and that’s not where there will be any criticism.

    Well… not from the scientific community or from anyone with any understanding of climate science, or any investigative body that is actually going to use evidence and reason… but then again, that’s not really where the criticism is generally coming from, now is it?

    But there probably should be criticism of the way the UEA handled the FOIA requests, at least.

    Yes… and there has been. We all (mainly) agree that there should be openness and transparency… where we are at odds is in agreeing that it was the fault of the CRU that this perception that there isn’t exists… I’m not convinced it is…

  47. #48 mwsletten
    March 31, 2010

    knockgoats said: ‘That [CRU] did share all its data (where it legally could) is simply fact, whatever the committee says.’

    Are you suggesting you have more information (other than media and blog accounts) than the committee on this point ? If not, I guess you and I will have to agree to disagree on that one. I give more credence to an independent investigative committee’s report than to media accounts.

    knockgoats said: ‘What we’ve seen is the continuance of a long-term campaign of lies. There is no evidence I know of that “Climategate” itself has made a significant difference to public opinion…’

    Do you believe public opinion should have any bearing on public policy regarding climate change? If you do, then you must see how discrediting the world’s preeminent climate study organization can lead to AGW skepticism and lend credence to the lies told by deniers, especially in the eyes of a public which has been warned it will have to make signficant sacrifices. Further, you must see that convincing a self-blindered public would be that much harder after incidents like climategate, and like or not, The public will learn about AGW (and climate scientists) from what is published in media outlets. Unfortunately, scandal sells.

    One thing we agree on: the public is woefully mis- and/or ill-informed about AGW. Considering its current level of understanding, I’m pretty sure convincing the public to make the kinds of sacrifices scientists are suggesting might be required to mitigate the worst effects of AGW would be nigh impossible right now. Unless you believe government should simply do what it believes is best with no regard for public opinion/beliefs/desires, then like it or not it is up to the scientists (the only ones who really understand the data) to educate and convince the public. No amount of wishing or demanding will make the public educate itself.

    I would submit UEA and CRU accepting the conclusions and disapprobation of this committee will go far towards repairing the damaged (deserved or not) reputation climate scientists now must contend with, and make a wary public much more receptive to their collective message.

  48. #49 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 31, 2010

    I’m sure that will satisfy the denialosphere.

    Nope. Nothing will satisfy them until they cow all the climate research. You know that. They are ideologues, and are not reasonable or rational. Which is why they attempt to intimidate and harrass the climate scientists.

  49. #50 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlpz7jEh4Bd2ZEPBFRrUjWoV1sjep_eJEw
    March 31, 2010

    As suspected, it makes no difference to those on the right.

    Translation: we found nothing too terribly damning… mostly because we were careful not to look very hard. Please, please, please be sure to notice all the qualifiers we were careful to insert so we don’t look like we were covering anything up when more in-depth investigations reach opposite conclusions.

    The stonewalling didn’t work. Neither will the whitewashing.

  50. #51 blf
    March 31, 2010

    Sharing code is a recipe for sharing bugs and slowing progress.

    It also allows a zillion pairs of eyes to examine the code, and find bugs. That doesn’t mean a zillion pairs of eyes will look at the code, or that the brains behind those eyes are competent.

  51. #52 Ronmac
    March 31, 2010

    I cannot help but get the impression that the comments left here are based on belief rather than fact which is somewhat odd for a blog site that claims to be atheist. The claims of man-made global warming are just as doubtful as the claims of the sceptics. My historical research here in England strongly supports the assertion that the Medieval Warm Period was a lot warmer than today which directly undermines the man-made warming argument. Saxon, Viking and Norman fleets were sailing where today there is dry land many miles from the sea. My evidence points to natural warming before the Roman invasion followed by a decline in temperatures during the Roman occupation and the start of the Medieval Warm Period sometime around AD650 or before. If man has any influence it is most likely to be in cooling the atmosphere by polluting it as witnessed during the industrial revolution.

  52. #53 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    March 31, 2010

    What I said in #26: “I am all for releasing data. I’m dead set against releasing code. ”

    What rni.boh claims I said: ” a_ray said he was all against releasing data, and only gave one reason why. ”

    Dude, is it too much for you to actually read what I wrote?

  53. #54 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 31, 2010

    My historical research here in England strongly supports the assertion that the Medieval Warm Period was a lot warmer than today which directly undermines the man-made warming argument.

    As if the climate people aren’t aware of the ups and downs of the weather over thousands of year, and their models approximate it closely? Fine, then you can cite the peer reviewed scientific literature where your work appears. Historical literature doesn’t count.

  54. #55 Jadehawk OM, Hardcore Left-Winger
    March 31, 2010

    blah blah Medieval Warm Period blah blah

    so you can’t tell the difference between local and global

  55. #56 SC OM
    March 31, 2010

    I cannot help but get the impression that the comments left here are based on belief rather than fact which is somewhat odd for a blog site that claims to be atheist. The claims of man-made global warming are just as doubtful as the claims of the sceptics.

    Ppoint to the specific portions of the IPCC report you are challenging, describing the scientific basis for your challenge to the peer-reviewed literature, and cite and the peer-reviewed articles upon which you’re basing your challenges, or STFU.

  56. #57 Celtic_Evolution
    March 31, 2010

    I cannot help but get the impression that the comments left here are based on belief rather than fact which is somewhat odd for a blog site that claims to be atheist.

    You can not help that? Really? I think what you can not help is coming in here without the slightest shred of evidence that actually overturns the extremely large amount of data supporting AGW, and trying to somehow equate peer-reviewed scientific consensus with faith in a lame attempt at turning the debate into one of emotion instead of one of science…

    If that weren’t your purpose you would never have said anything quite so stupid.

    The claims of man-made global warming are just as doubtful as the claims of the sceptics.

    Baseless assertion. Please provide your evidence for this claim. The claims of AGW are based on a consensus of peer-reviewed climate scientists. The claims of AGW denialists are based on boisterous, blustering, agenda-driven hacks that latch onto issues like transparency and protocol and spend all their time pissing into the wind because the lack the evidence to back their denial of AGW.

    Whie all you want about the issue of transparency, but at the end of the day one of you goddam denialists is either going to have to show up with evidence to back your claim. Until then you are in the same class with other kooky conspiracy theorists.

    My historical research here in England strongly supports the assertion that the Medieval Warm Period was a lot warmer than today which directly undermines the man-made warming argument. Saxon, Viking and Norman fleets were sailing where today there is dry land many miles from the sea. My evidence points to natural warming before the Roman invasion followed by a decline in temperatures during the Roman occupation and the start of the Medieval Warm Period sometime around AD650 or before. If man has any influence it is most likely to be in cooling the atmosphere by polluting it as witnessed during the industrial revolution.

    Really? How new are you to this AGW denial stuff? Your research is the LONG DEBUNKED medieval warming period myth.

    It’s a pretty poor excuse for climate change denial that even most rabid denialists don’t use much anymore.

    Really… please get your info from more than one source and occasionally check the source data.

  57. #58 Tulse
    March 31, 2010

    This post gets a mention on The Atlantic website. Wow, first a mention on Sullivan’s blog, and now this — The Atlantic has taken a shine to PZ!

  58. #59 rni.boh
    March 31, 2010

    What rni.boh claims I said: ” a_ray said he was all against releasing data, and only gave one reason why. ”

    Dude, is it too much for you to actually read what I wrote?

    Sorry, I did read it (honest!), but I had a brain-fart. s/data/code and re-read.

    *ahem*

  59. #60 Kristjan Wager
    March 31, 2010

    I’ll say one good thing about the comment threads related to climate change – they always provide fodder for my kill-file.

  60. #61 tuckerch
    March 31, 2010

    Alas! Poor Randroid! Eric Raymond’s “Siege Cannon” is now reduced to nothing more than a superanuated pop gun, sans cork, and the wood infested with dry rot.

    Not that ESR – SUPERGENIUS! will ever admit to being wrong. About anything. Ever.

  61. #62 Anti_Theist-317
    March 31, 2010

    “Christians, noting the fact that most of the climate change problem is human induced, are reminded that when God made humanity he commissioned us to exercise stewardship over the earth and its creatures…. Climate change is the latest evidence of our failure to exercise proper stewardship, and constitutes a critical opportunity for us to do better”

    Hey now Christian bitches do what your god and the son he turned himself into says. If you do not I am gonna tattle.

    *Burn mother fuckers burn

  62. #63 MadScientist
    March 31, 2010

    Well, obviously the Global Communist Conspiracy has infiltrated the committee – after all, the word “committee” is derived from the word “Stalinism” – or was that “communism”? (Is that sufficiently Anne Coulter, or do I have to mention how de po’ krishnans are being persecuted?)

    Unfortunately anti-science websites remain very popular. The warming denialist websites don’t even have to try hard to appear scientific to those who aren’t scientists. Oooh – a graph – it must be scientific!

  63. #64 ginckgo
    March 31, 2010

    The thing that always got me was, that even the ‘worst’ emails only contained statements about what the researchers would like to do to the deniers. But if they actually had followed through and systematically blocked rival publications, got people fired, etc, shouldn’t there have been a flurry of back-slapping emails back and forth between the ‘conspirators’, saying “yay, we got that idiot neutered” or something?

  64. #65 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    March 31, 2010

    rni.boh says “a_ray’s position would slow science down.”

    There is absolutely nothing you get from running another researcher’s code that you would not also get from reading their description of their analysis and implementing the code yourself. If the analysis is sufficiently simple, this will test both the results AND the code + you may also come up with a better approach. If the analysis/code is to complicated to implement, then you will not find errors by skimming the code in any case.

    Scientific code is often written for a single analysis and then shelved. As such documentation may not be stellar, and it may use theories and approximations that are fine for the analysis bit not general. Unless you are very familiar with the analysis, you won’t know that.

    If you look at the process that scientific code goes through for a general release in a package like GEANT4 and compare that to the normal process of writing scientific code, you will see that there is no comparison.

    In the UEA case, Steve McIntyre has no intention of replicating the analysis or doing any analysis himself. His sole goal is to slow progress in climate science and try to make trouble for climate researchers. His FOI requests were thus fraudulent–as evidenced by their number and the fact that some actually still said “fill in 5 countries we haven’t requested yet”.

    Would you be similarly accommodating if the Discovery Institute demanded all data and correspondence for the Human Genome Project? Remember, CRU has a staff of about a dozen, and the FOI requests they received totaled about a man-year of work!

  65. #66 DLC
    March 31, 2010

    Sorry, but I’m going to disagree with most of the comments. The standard should be to make everything available that is relevant to a published work.
    Yes, this means code — warts, outre */REMs and all.
    Why? because transparency is part of science.
    Post-Publishing anyway. prior to publishing they were quite within their rights to deny materials to outsiders not part of the study. Because “he who publishes first gets the credit” is also a part of science. One cannot expect any scientific organization to hamstring themselves in the race to publish.

  66. #67 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    March 31, 2010

    Sorry DLC, but transparency means making the method available in sufficient detail that others can replicate the result. Science has worked that way for 400 years and it has a pretty decent track record.

    This has nothing to do with “who gets credit”. It’s a matter of preserving independence between different analysis groups.

    The code is not the same thing as the analysis. Making the code available accomplishes nothing that you don’t also get from publication of the method.

    On my thesis experiment, we always had 2 people at separate institutions working independently on the same problem. They were not allowed to look at each other’s code–and that was in the same research group. Code sharing means error sharing.

  67. #68 'Tis Himself, OM
    March 31, 2010

    I hate to share code with someone else. The last time I did it the guy sent me a long email, two paragraphs on the results the code gave and six paragraphs damning me for using GOTO (“Haven’t you heard what Edsger Dijkstra said about GOTO? How dare you disregard Saint Edsger’s dictum.”) That last bit got a hearty “fuck you, write your own fucking code if you don’t like mine.” I haven’t shared code since.

  68. #69 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 31, 2010

    I too, think that the code itself belongs to the researchers. If the algorithms are properly explained previously in the literature, the actual code isn’t needed by third party trolls looking only to harass and intimidate. They can write their own code using the algorithms and public data to get results. But they are too fucking lazy and ignorant to do so. So they need to STFU. My own code tended to have sparse comments anyway.

  69. #70 daniel.f.ross
    April 1, 2010

    A note to those discussing the Fox Antarctica story:

    For several hours now it has been April 1st on portions of the planet.

    Just sayin’, is all.

  70. #71 christophe-thill.myopenid.com
    April 1, 2010

    In related news:

    The leading climate denier here in France is Claude Allègre. Long ago, the man was a noted geologist. Then he went into politics, was a (pretty awful) education minister, and recently published a book called “L’imposture climatique” (the climate hoax). This kind of book always sells in huge quantities, because it is read by his fans as well as his critics (who can go through the pages and list all the lies, distortions, quote-mines and forged graphs).

    Today, a group of 400 climate scientists released an open letter in which they defend their work, point out that deniers express themselves through books and media presence but have no peer reviewed publications to show, and flat out call Claude Allègre and Vincent Courtillot (another earth scientists who nows fancies himself as a climate specialist) for their lies.

    We can only hope that the deniers’ image will be badly tarnished by this. Unfortunately, there’s always a fringe who will take this as a proof that courageous rogue scientists are persecuted by the majority…

  71. #72 rni.boh
    April 1, 2010

    There is absolutely nothing you get from running another researcher’s code that you would not also get from reading their description of their analysis and implementing the code yourself.

    Except you’d save time. In some cases a lot of time.

    I’ve had people ask me for my code (the fools!), because they want to use it for their own purposes. It might have been written for a ‘one-off’ analysis, but other people want to do similar things, or they want to repeat my analyses on their data. I think saying “sod off, write it yourself” is impolite. What one gains from running someone else’s code is a big time save, because you don’t have to code the same thing (of course I’m assuming the code is correct!).

    Perhaps the difference is that you only work with programmers. My work is with real scientists (mainly biologists), who are collecting their own data and who don’t want to spend a huge amount of time learning to code, just so they can repeat an analysis.

    And if the Disco Institute wanted to see some of my code, I’d happily send it to them. If people want to be dicks about it, that’s their problem. I already know that there are dicks out there, but there are also a lot of decent people, and I don’t see a reason to make their work harder by denying them code. And hey, if they can find bugs in my code, that’s even better.

  72. #73 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    April 1, 2010

    rni.boh,
    If I’m going to put code into my analysis, I want to know what it does, what approximations it makes, where it is valid and where it isn’t. If the code is sufficiently simple that I can figure all that out, I can probably write it myself in about the same time. And if it is sufficiently complicated that there is any doubt about how it works and will work in all the applications I have for it, then I’d better not use someone else’s code.

    Yes, on occasion, I will give a simple well validated piece of code to a colleague, but I sit down with them and show them how it works and outline the assumptions that underlie it. You are talking about indiscriminate dissemination of code to people who have no idea how it works.

    If people want to save time, there are well validated libraries of shareware out there: e.g. the R stats package, GEANT4 physics analysis package…

    If they simply want to satisfy their curiosity, they are better off reading the description of the algorithm and implementing it themselves. They will learn more and may improve it. And if they aren’t sufficiently savvy to do that, they have no business mucking about wasting the time of working scientists.

    And of course McIntyre isn’t interested in any of these–all he wants to do is stop scientific progress.

  73. #74 christophe-thill.myopenid.com
    April 1, 2010

    Oh, but R is not shareware. It’s much, much better thatn this. It’s Free Software.

    (But a bit tricky to use…)

  74. #75 rni.boh
    April 1, 2010

    Yes, on occasion, I will give a simple well validated piece of code to a colleague, but I sit down with them and show them how it works and outline the assumptions that underlie it. You are talking about indiscriminate dissemination of code to people who have no idea how it works.

    True, and why is that so bad? If they abuse it, that’s their responsibility. But what’s wrong with helping people?

    I’m also wondering if you re-wrote the OS for the computer you’re using.

    BTW, R isn’t a library: it’s a fully functional programme. And it’s open source: those naughty people in R core are freely giving the code away to all sorts of idiot.

  75. #76 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    April 1, 2010

    rni.boh,
    OK, do you have a reading comprehension problem or are you being deliberately obtuse?

    I said that I have no problem with validated, documented code. That’s not what we’re talking about here. We are talking about code used for a particular analysis by the author of the code and then set aside and archived. Documentation for such code may be poor or nonexistent.

    Preserving independence is crucial to the success of science. That trumps allowing the public to play around with scientific code.

  76. #77 rni.boh
    April 1, 2010

    I said that I have no problem with validated, documented code.

    You originally wrote

    I’m dead set against releasing code.

    So you’re happy with validated, documented code, as long as nobody releases it? Or are you now retreating from that extreme position?

    My code is code the sort that is used for a purpose and put aside, and actually this was the sort of code I was mainly thinking about. Yes, it may be poorly documented, but it also may not be (and the CRU code was documented – remember?). If it’s poorly documented, then you can always go back to the person who wrote it and ask them about it. just because something may not be ideal doesn’t mean it should never be released publically.

    I’ve never seen an argument that “preserving independence is crucial to the success of science” – did you just make that up? Actually, I’d suggest that precisely the opposite is true: cooperation and collaboration are crucial to the success of science.

  77. #78 amazedforeigner
    April 1, 2010

    I wonder why you bother discussing climate change issues with people not convinced by it.

    They do not want to be convinced and most of them are stupidely trusting politicians that cynically reject the evidence.

    In particular, if republicans where truly interested in getting an actual serious answer to the validity of climate science they would ask the National Academy of Science to report on that issue instead of using crappy think tanks.

    Until American people can directly and financially experience the effect of climate change nothing will change.

    Just wait that insurance companies that know perfectly how to measure the risks drop coverage on some real estate pieces and people will, unfortunately to late, realize how stupid it has been to ignore reality!!!

    In the meantime, senator inhofe will enjoy a great time bullying scientist and spreading false information on behalf of his donators while China invest in green technology that it will sell to the US at a great price.

    Just to begin with, Applied materials recently moved all its solar panel research to China creating one of the largest research center worldwide!!!

    I doubt that the chinese are investing so heavily in green technology on the basis of wrong science, they know that this time will come when america, facing serious problems, will start to panick except this time they will not sell their armies of low paid factory workers but expensive technologies developed by chinese brains.

    America is loosing the high ground and can thanks the GOP for being such great visionaries.

  78. #79 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    April 1, 2010

    rni.boh,
    OK, then you are being deliberately obtuse.

    What do scientists do when they see an interesting result? They INDEPENDENTLY replicate it. See that word INDEPENDENT? That means that if I cannot look at the same or similar data and apply your method as you DESCRIBED it, I will call your result into question. Is that really that hard to understand?

    You say, ” If it’s poorly documented, then you can always go back to the person who wrote it and ask them about it.”

    OK, now think about this. Do you want your climate scientists doing climate science or trying to explain some code they wrote a decade ago to some random ignorant food tube who found their code on the web and now thinks he’s disproved climate science, relativity and evolution all at once.

    There’s a reason why it takes 20 years to become a scientist. Let the do fucking science.

  79. #80 Ronmac
    April 1, 2010

    Wow my post, #52, really hit a few nerves. Give us peer reviewed evidence some said. Now, if some religious organisation gave you a load of peer reviewed evidence that proved there was a god would you believe it? Thought not.

    Just consider this entry from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles

    A.D. 1071. This year Earl Edwin and Earl Morkar fled out, (93) and roamed at random in woods and in fields. Then went Earl Morkar to Ely by ship, ; but Earl Edwin was treacherously slain by his own men. Then came Bishop Aylwine, and Siward Barn, and many hundred men with them, into Ely. When King William heard that, then ordered he out a naval force and land force, and beset the land all about, and wrought a bridge, and went in; and the naval force at the same time on the sea-side. And the outlaws then all surrendered; that was, Bishop Aylwine, and Earl Morkar, and all that were with them; except Hereward (94) alone, and all those that would join him, whom he led out triumphantly. And the king took their ships, and weapons, and many treasures; (95) and all the men he disposed of as he thought proper. Bishop Aylwine he sent to Abingdon, where he died in the beginning of the winter.

    Right, now use google earth and visit Ely and see how the naval force came in from the sea side. Sea levels had to be at least five metres higher than today and possibly more. Of course it could have been an attempt by the eleventh century monks to sabotage today?s supporters of man-made global warming.

  80. #81 rni.boh
    April 1, 2010

    a_ray – shifting that many goalposts will do your back in.

    You made a blanket statement: “I’m dead set against releasing code.” Not “I’m dead set against releasing code to non-scientists”, or “I’m dead set against releasing code to cranks”, but “I’m dead set against releasing code”. Period. So defending that under the scenario that some crank might wants it is either shifting the goalposts, or indicates that your original statement was much broader than you intended. If it’s the latter, just say so.

    You then wrote “Preserving independence is crucial to the success of science.” Again, a sweeping statement. When I challenge you, you reply with “What do scientists do when they see an interesting result? They INDEPENDENTLY replicate it.” Again, either your original statement was too broad, or you’re shifting goalposts: there is much more to science than replication. So again, if your original statement was too broad, just admit it and we’ll move on.

    As it happens, I still don’t think your argument holds water. We usually want to replicate empirical findings, not the whole process. You don’t see molecular biologists re-inventing the thermo cycler every time they want do PCR. If the research isn’t on the analytic methods, then why should we replicate them independently? If the original analysis was done correctly, then surely it’s better to use that code (yes, I know that’s a big if, but I’d guess that in most cases the code isn’t doing anything too complicated).

    There’s a reason why it takes 20 years to become a scientist. Let the do fucking science.

    I do science. I’ve even had some of it published. If I wanted to be a programmer, I would have gone into computer science.

  81. #82 Barrett808
    April 1, 2010

    ICO just responded to my February question about the FoI blizzard: ICO responds to Desdemona?s ?Climategate? query.

  82. #83 Celtic_Evolution
    April 1, 2010

    Now, if some religious organisation gave you a load of peer reviewed evidence that proved there was a god would you believe it?

    Actually, absolutely, yes… without question. And so would every other atheist here. And your automatic and arrogant presumption of the opposite just shows how muddled your indoctrinated little mind is.

    As for the rest of your post, it was already addressed… several times. The medieval warming period as an argument against global warming is a total myth, and has been shown conclusively as such if you would have just followed the link I provided up at #57 (which you obviously ignored completely, big surprise).

    Also, even if you were able to extrapolate anything useful, scientifically, from a 1000 year old anecdote (doubtful), it still only proves, as Jadehawk already stated, that you don’t have the slightest clue of the difference between local and global…

    You are a poooooor scientist, Dr. Venkman…

  83. #84 SC OM
    April 1, 2010

    Wow my post, #52, really hit a few nerves. Give us peer reviewed evidence some said. Now, if some religious organisation gave you a load of peer reviewed evidence that proved there was a god would you believe it? Thought not.

    So that’s an “I’ve got no peer-reviewed science to back me up and I’m all ideological blather” from Ronmac, then. Pathetic.

  84. #85 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 1, 2010

    Just consider this entry from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles

    Which has nothing to do whatsoever with the climate versus weather debate. You describe weather, not climate, so it is as irrelevant as the babble is to any evidence either. Get real. We know what constitutes real scientific evidence. Evidently you don’t. So, we don’t listen to your nonsense.

    Sea levels had to be at least five metres higher than today and possibly more.

    Never mind that pieces of the plates are rising or falling. Again, meaningless compared to the whole. Your alleged evidence screams “I am a fool who doesn’t understand the bigger picture”. We understand the bigger picture. So, if you were at all intelligent, you would realize you have nothing cogent to offer us. Care to play some more?

  85. #86 Ronmac
    April 1, 2010

    Post #85 said
    Never mind that pieces of the plates are rising or falling. Again, meaningless compared to the whole. Your alleged evidence screams “I am a fool who doesn’t understand the bigger picture”. We understand the bigger picture. So, if you were at all intelligent, you would realize you have nothing cogent to offer us. Care to play some more?

    Ronmac says
    In Britain we are not subject to plate movement that would alter land heights. Perhaps you are thinking of earthquake zones and the like. We are affected by Crustal Rebound which is the uplift of the land after the melting of the massive ice sheets of the last ice age. However the effect is minimal across central England. (The work of Professor Antony Long of Durham University is worth studying for this – http://www.dur.ac.uk/geography/research/researchclusters/?mode=pdetail&pdetail=35276)

    As for thinking that the quote I gave was about weather the term grasping at straws springs to mind. I am sorry that I have disturbed your belief in the gospel of global warming. I thought correspondents to a site hosted by PZ Myers would be free thinking and open to alternative evidence but to be honest it seems no different to the faith sites. Sorry also to have wasted my time.

  86. #87 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    April 1, 2010

    rni.boh,
    Hmm, so I give an example trying to clarify my point and you consider that “moving the goalposts”? Interesting.

    OK, let’s get even more concrete and see if we can penetrate. When Mike Mann published the first multi-proxy milennial temperature reconstruction back in 1998, it was immediately attacked by denialists and the “hockeystick” has been a target ever since. And yet, climate science has merely stepped over this by INDEPENDENT analyses confirming Mann et al.’s original conclusions. Do you think it would have been as easy to do this if Mann and his rival climate scientists had been sharing code?

    Another: When Fermilab was trying to produce the top quark, you had 2 collaborations competing to find it. Not only were they forbidden from sharing code, they weren’t even allowed to talk to each other. Now why do you think that was?

    Science manages to succeed because it is both cooperative and competitive. If a piece of code is sufficiently simple that you can easily understand it and know where it is valid and where it isn’t, you can probably program a similar routine yourself in a fairly short time. If it is so complicated that you cannot whip it up, then you will likely spend more time trying to understand it than you would doing it yourself.

    Libraries of code such as GEANT4, etc. are validated and documented. They’re intended for a broad audience. The sorts of code I’ve often seen for one-off analyses are not and should not be used as such.

    Now do you want to actually try and understand my point or just claim I’m moving the goalposts again?

  87. #88 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 1, 2010

    I am sorry that I have disturbed your belief in the gospel of global warming.

    What gospel? That implies faith. I have no faith in AGW fuckwit. Any faith I have would be in the scientific method out performing religious revelations. The scientific evidence says AGW is happening. Show the peer reviewed scientific evidence otherwise, or shut the fuck up. Welcome to real science. Which you obviously know nothing about.

    Ronmac, your alleged evidence is in the models already. Prove otherwise. And those models go back thousands of years, well beyond you meager anecdotes (the worst form of evidence), and match what is known world wide. So, your alleged refuting data is part of the whole AGW science. That makes you and your alleged data irrelevant. The fact that you can’t see that says all we need to know about your lack of intelligence. So, it doesn’t mean what you think it does. Cite the peer reviewed scientific literature otherwise.

  88. #89 Jadehawk OM, Hardcore Left-Winger
    April 1, 2010

    Ely is on an island in the Fens; the Fens = medieval marsh, but dried in the recent-ish past. And we all know you can’t get a boat through a marsh, right? [/sarcasm]

    nice try with that trick. next you’ll be telling us the fact that the Netherlands have more land now than in the past is also proof that sea levels used to be higher

  89. #90 stevieinthecity#9dac9
    April 1, 2010

    Ronmac. We are suckers.

  90. #91 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    April 1, 2010

    ronmac, assuming you aren’t just a driveby moron,
    let’s start with basics:

    1)Do you dispute that the greenhouse effect is responsible for about 33 degrees of Earth’s current temperature?

    2)Do you dispute that CO2 is a greenhouse gas?

    3)Do you dispute that CO2 has increased by 38% over pre-industrial levels or that that increase is due mainly to human consumption of fossil fuels?

    4)Do you dispute that the planet is warming?

    5)Do you know of a mechanism other than the greenhouse effect that simultaneously warms the troposphere and cools the stratosphere?

    If you don’t dispute any of the above, what magical mechanism do you propose to make CO2 stop acting like a greenhouse gas above preindustrial levels?

  91. #92 John Scanlon FCD
    April 2, 2010

    Hey Ronmac, one reason why Ely and various other places formerly on the coast in Britain are now inland is that for most of the last 2 million years there was a huge pile of ice sitting on top of those islands, roughly a kilometre thick. That weighs a bit, you know? Now that it’s gone, the crust is tending to float a little higher on the semi-fluid mantle.
    I don’t recall whether the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle has a section on post-glacial rebound. Maybe you should check out some more recent sources?

  92. #93 desertfroglet
    April 2, 2010

    Ronmac @80

    Right, now use google earth and visit Ely and see how the naval force came in from the sea side. Sea levels had to be at least five metres higher than today and possibly more.

    Seriously? After all that edumacated talk about Morkar, Bishop of Mordor, Alewife and Edwin, Baron of Drood, you didn’t know that the fens have been drained? You can’t be that stupid. You must be pulling our collective leg.

  93. #94 Celtic_Evolution
    April 2, 2010

    As for thinking that the quote I gave was about weather the term grasping at straws springs to mind.

    Well… thanks for admitting that you are grasping at straws… oh, wait… you didn’t mean yourself?

    Hmmm…

    So, instead of actually admitting that you don’t know the difference between climate and weather, or between local and global, or providing any actual argument that indicated that you do understand the difference, you think it more clever to avoid the whole discussion altogether with a dismissive platitude?

    You end up sounding something like this: “I don’t have to ‘splain nuttin to you guys… you guys are just big dummies”.

    Telling you that your anecdote shows clearly that you don’t understand the difference between local and global climate, or weather and climate in general, is not grasping at straws, and frankly needs to be addressed if you plan to be taken even remotely seriously. Anyone who does understand those differences would never be stupid enough to offer such an anecdote as any sort of argument against climate change.

    I thought correspondents to a site hosted by PZ Myers would be free thinking and open to alternative evidence but to be honest it seems no different to the faith sites.

    Like you have the slightest fucking interest in honesty. No-one with an interest in honesty would be so blatantly and willfully ignorant.

    We are always open to discussion of evidence. Let us know when you decide to provide some.

    Once again, absent any actual data or evidence that overturns the vast scientific consensus that AGW is a fact, you are left with pathetic appeals to emotion. Since you can’t win the argument on factual grounds, you’ll simply shift it to emotional grounds and call acceptance of Global Warming a “faith”. Please. Insults don’t scare us, and all you’re doing is revealing how empty your argument really is.

  94. #95 rni.boh
    April 2, 2010

    Ah, got it, a_ray. it’s logic you’re having trouble with.

    You made a universal statement – “I’m dead set against releasing code”. Backing that up by appealing to specific circumstances only works if you can cover every circumstance. Now, I’ve given examples where I think such a stance is wrong, and you’ve ignored them. Adding more cases where you think you might be right doesn’t help unless you can show that counterexamples are wrong.

  95. #96 Celtic_Evolution
    April 2, 2010

    Oh… and Ronmac… did you read the link I provided at #57 regarding the medieval warming period myth?

    You didn’t, did you? It’s ok to admit it…

  96. #97 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    April 2, 2010

    rni.boh,
    Mea culpa. I made the mistaken assumption that you were capable of interpreting what I said in context with what was being demanded of CRU.

    Are you actually contending that providing examples is an invalid strategy unless you can enumerate every single example. Well, you are creative, I’ll give you that. Flat-assed wrong, but creative.

    I have provided examples of how releasing undocumented and unvalidated and application-specific code could be injurious to the scientific process. I have also pointed out that having code available to copy does not represent a significant time savings if you understand the algorithm to begin with.

    You have responded with… well, bupkes really. I really can’t respond to counterexamples when you haven’t provided any, can I?

    Maybe come back and play when you grow up.

  97. #98 rni.boh
    April 3, 2010

    Mea culpa. I made the mistaken assumption that you were capable of interpreting what I said in context with what was being demanded of CRU.

    My apologies for not being a mind-reader. You didn’t provide any sort of qualification for the original comment, and how is “I’m dead set against releasing code” not a blanket statement? There’s nothing in your comment #26, or the comment you were responding to that indicated you were only thinking in terms of the CRU.

    Are you actually contending that providing examples is an invalid strategy unless you can enumerate every single example. Well, you are creative, I’ll give you that. Flat-assed wrong, but creative.

    I made it clear that this was when you’re making a general claim. A statement can be true for a minority of cases, so enumerating them doesn’t help in showing it is a general statement, especially if you ignore the existence of any counter-examples.

    If you’re saying something that is only meant to apply to some cases, it’s usual to indicate when (and when not) it applies.

    You have responded with… well, bupkes really. I really can’t respond to counterexamples when you haven’t provided any, can I?

    Read what I wrote in 72 & 77: I hope it’s clear that I do have counter-examples. If they’re so important to you, you could have followed that up by asking about them.

  98. #99 ilmotore
    April 7, 2010

    I’d like to add a couple of points.

    First, lumping people who are skeptical of anthropogenic climate change, in with global warming “deniers” is another misuse of the language used in attempts to marginalize those who do not follow your religion.

    Personally, I believe in global climate change. The climate has changed many times in the existence of this planet, but it had and has very little to do with activities of man. The entire AGW faction has found a way to grab power and money and that is what this is all about.

    Second, some here are saying that no one releases raw data to the public as it would be a very bad thing for science in general. This is another deliberate mis-characterization of the issue. I certainly would not know what to do with the raw data. However, other scientists may be able to use it for a little thing called “peer review”.

    As budding scientists and followers of such, I would think that everyone would be all in favor of peer review in order to prove the science. But if the originators won’t release the data, how is it to be peer reviewed.

    I know many are going to come back at me claiming it was peer reviewed many thousands of times by climate scientists around the world. But that’s not the story I’ve seen.
    In an article, BEYOND THE IVORY TOWER: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, by Naomi Oreskes (Science, 3 December 2004), the consensus was based on data from the IPCC. Data from the IPCC is not the raw data, but rather, information provided to the IPCC by GRU. And, in recent revelations that led up to Dr. Jones having stepped aside, raw data may heve been destroyed.

    So much for peer review.

    I elaborate on this topic more at Move It Right, a blog.

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