25 November 2009
Hackers recently liberated 13 years (!) of private emails, documents, and code from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia. Global warming deniers are heralding the contents as proof of a conspiracy to create a belief in global warming. Reading list:
- From RealClimate.org: The CRU hack from November 20th and The CRU hack: Context from November 23th.
- From Reddit: Reddit: Summary of notable emails from the CRU hacking scandal where bullet points are given to "prove" that the scientists where attempting to finesse or outright suppress the raw data. This position is destroyed by NonHomogenized's and KinsleysHouse's detailed responses. KinsleysHouse also addresses the oft cited complaint that CRU suppressed data, adding
I completely support their refusal to release the data to [Stephen McIntyre], as he will spin the smallest, most minute error with a huge political, massive negative attack on science, as he did with that 1934 error: the vast majority of political articles on that were outright fabrications.
- From Slashdot: Climatic Research Unit Hacked, Files Leaked. They have their share of denialists (I don't know why that surprises me), but the full thread is required reading. One comment points out the duplicity of those who "freed" the emails:
It's borderline hilarious that the claim is made that this is 'too important to be kept under wraps' followed immediately by the 'we'll decide what you see' cloaked by the equally hilarious word "random."
- Wikipedia's article: Climatic Research Unit e-mail hacking incident.
The scientific process works. Everything I've read from the denialists concerning science's suppression of information has revealed itself as the denialists' simple ignorance of the scientific process. In the real world: scientist A makes a public and published statement, scientist B tries to replicate the results and cannot exactly, scientist B then publishes his corrections to A's paper. The corrections are, most often, not of the quality of changing an absolute TRUE statement to an absolute FALSE statement, but more of the quality of correcting value ranges or modifying result sets (e.g. changing "from 1200 CE to 1800 CE" to "from 1250 CE to 1900 CE"). How this process gets told by denialists is by simply quoting the original paper and then saying that it's been "proven incorrect." This is what was done with the Hockey stick controversy.
Scientists are being forced to spend more energy on politics and "spinning" their message to get it through to a public swayed by corporate and ideological lies. Good science is, unfortunately, no longer effective. The market of ideas is a market and therefore ruled by who has the money to shout the loudest. This is not necessarily different than in the past, but our problems are unique: fear of water fluoridation does not present the same risks as global warming denialism. Give me the history of nefarious conspiracies propagated by scientists. OK, now give me that same history by governments and corporations.
[ update 10 Dec 2009 ]
I sometimes feel the scientific apologist what with all of the railing I do against these uneducated people, so it's comforting when my railings are confirmed. The email brouhaha became important enough for FactCheck.org to examine the assertions of the denialists. They make their findings as clear as they could possibly be, stating in the first paragraph on the assertion of scientific misconduct:
We find that to be unfounded and later
We find such claims to be far wide of the mark. Just today I discussed the issue with an ostensibly scientific-minded person at work. He repeated the exact misconceptions that FactCheck struck down in this article. I believe more and more that there is no good to come from arguing with these people. They have a expansive volume of knowledge and simply choose to ignore it. We are at the mercy of the willfully ignorant.
- Info wars 2010 posted by sstrader on 13 February 2010 at 11:50:50 AM
- Limiting noise posted by sstrader on 15 December 2009 at 9:58:00 AM
- Scientists' emails posted by sstrader on 25 November 2009 at 11:40:47 AM
- Researching false positives reported by ClamWin posted by sstrader on 7 October 2009 at 11:48:26 AM
- Week's reading list posted by sstrader on 28 August 2009 at 2:44:16 PM