BPSDB One of the supposedly most damning quotes from the CRU Hack “scandal” is:
“I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”
which the Deniers are citing as “proof positive” or data alteration , falsification, etc.
I suggested that, as with all of the other quotes, as they stood it didn’t actually say anything one way or another. Having worked in the sciences I said that to me it sounded like someone discussing a clever technique from the journal Nature for dealing with statistical noise or something of that sort.
Since then we learn that:
Mann said the “trick” Jones referred to was placing a chart of proxy temperature records, which ended in 1980, next to a line showing the temperature record collected by instruments from that time onward. “It’s hardly anything you would call a trick,” Mann said, adding that both charts were differentiated and clearly marked.
and that (emphasis added)
The “decline” refers to the “divergence problem”. This is where tree ring proxies diverge from modern instrumental temperature records after 1960. The divergence problem is discussed as early as 1998, suggesting a change in the sensitivity of tree growth to temperature in recent decades (Briffa 1998). It is also examined more recently in Wilmking 2008 which explores techniques in eliminating the divergence problem. So when you look at Phil Jone’s email in the context of the science discussed, it is not the schemings of a climate conspiracy but technical discussions of data handling techniques available in the peer reviewed literature.
UPDATE Nov 24th: see also “Hacked emails, tree-ring proxies and blogospheric confusion”
UPDATE Dec 4: Potholer54 documents in his video how “trick” is a term regularly used in this sense even in the peer reviewed literature itself.
exactly as I speculated. Why did I think that? because that’s exactly how it sounds when scientists have that particular discussion. That, and there was no decline to hide from 1981 to 2000, so it made absolutely no sense the way the Deniers were trying to spin it.
Here is the CRU data compared to 3 independent data sets
- they are not different from one another?
- there is no temperature decline from 1981 onwards to hide?
Every profession evolves it’s own way of speaking as well as a specialised vocabulary. A soldier listening to soldiers speaking will understand much more about what is being said and meant than someone else, even if that other person knows all of the vocabulary. Ditto pizza cooks, day care workers, court clerks or brick layers.
Which is why scientists are spectacularly unimpressed with the emails being evidence of anything much at all. It”s not that they are “circling the wagons” and “protecting their own” (as I have seen some suggest). They just “understand the language.” Not simply the words, but the structure and patterns that make up the “scientific dialect.” Even Denier Patrick Michaels said the emails were “just the way scientists talk” (although he has apparently now gotten “on msg” with the rest of the Denier choir).
And for context on how scientists talk and what they talk about, this essay is absolutely brilliant, an absolute MUST READ:
Manipulation of evidence:
I wrote to you on Tuesday that the last leafe of the papers you sent me should be altered because it refers to a manuscript in my private custody & not yet upon record.
Newton to Keill, May 15 1674
Which is not to say that there isn’t some grounds for humiliation and embarrassment in the emails. Nate Silver does a nice discussion of Jones talking about “sexing up” a slide for presentation, but as Silver summarizes:
“I don’t know how you get from some scientist having sexed up a graph in East Anglia ten years ago to The Final Nail In The Coffin of Anthropogenic Global Warming. Anyone who comes to that connection has more screws loose than the Space Shuttle Challenger.”
And as previously noted, Silver is not the only one to come to that conclusion:
Now that more and more people outside of the Denier camp have had a chance to actually read the emails there is feeling of being hugely underwhelmed.
Which is not to say that this will not have political ramifications. It has certainly galvanized the Denialosphere and the Earthsuckers. It’s the same kind of vacuous garbage that the Deniers have been pushing for years, and they have found a market for it.
On the plus side, from what I have seen in the more public domain a lot of people are so jaded by the Denier lies that they are rejecting this one as well. As such I think it is important for the rest of us to be open and honest about what is in the emails (ie not much) and give the lack of content a high profile. We mustn’t appear to be trying to suppress them, but rather encouraging people to look for themselves (here’s that link again).
” … a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.“ Macbeth, from Act 5, Scene 5
That being said, it’s just another Denier storm like Monckton’s APS article (ie lots of noise, no substance) and needs to be handled as such.
“When you read through the many global warming skeptic arguments, a pattern emerges. Each skeptic argument misleads by focusing on one small piece of the puzzle while ignoring the broader picture. To focus on a few suggestive emails while ignoring the wealth of empirical evidence for manmade global warming is yet another repeat of this tactic.”
“Over the 20th century, ocean temperatures in the North Atlantic main development region warmed during peak hurricane season, with the most pronounced warming occurring over the last four decades.” Earth Gauge
We give our consent every moment that we do not resist.
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