Re: [asa] Ottawa Citizen: The Skeptics Are Vindicated

From: Cameron Wybrow <>
Date: Wed Nov 25 2009 - 15:51:35 EST

My scholarly instincts tell me that Murray is right, but my common sense
tells me that John is right.

Yes, Murray, I agree with you that a close study of the e-mails needs to be
undertaken before any coherent charge of manipulation is advanced -- if we
are speaking about formal charges of some kind.

But imagine this scenario. A governor with a wife and three kids in the
suburbs is photographed entering a room in a sleazy motel with his gorgeous
blonde secretary. Later, his telephone record reveals calls received from
this woman's phone number at off-work hours, and his computer reveals
e-mails coming from her e-mail address. Later on, one of his gloves is
found at her apartment. Etc.

Now it's *possible* that all of these events have an innocent explanation.
Maybe the secretary is really a government undercover agent, conferring with
him about Homeland Security matters. Maybe she is a lonely and suicidal
person and he meets with her and communicates with her to talk her out of
jumping off a bridge. Etc. But it *looks* very bad. And what this means
is that this governor, when the information leaks out, has some explaining
to do. (If not to the public, at the very least, to his wife.)

I would say that some of the statements made in these e-mails are such that
their authors have some explaining to do. It is possible that all the data
manipulation referred to falls within the bounds of normal scientific
procedure. It is possible that the apparent attempt to manipulate the
peer-review process is really nothing more than the usual intramural
grousing and sniping of biased professionals, and does not indicate an
actual attempt to seize institutional power and suppress ideas. However, it
*looks* very bad, and some explanation is called for. I would say further
that if such explanation is not forthcoming, not only the scientific
integrity of these scientists, but the scientific integrity of many pro-AGW
scientists has been called into question. How do we know that such
attitudes and practices are not widespread within the pro-AGW community?

Of course, these e-mails do not prove that there is no anthropogenic global
warming, or that all scientists who believe in it are corrupt or dishonest.
But they create doubt about both the quality of the science and the
integrity of the scientists, and until that doubt is addressed, any major
political or economic policy initiatives based on pro-AGW science are
rightly questioned. The ball is in the court of those who have been
informally accused. They remain silent at the peril of their AGW "cause".


----- Original Message -----
From: "John Walley" <>
To: "Murray Hogg" <>; "ASA" <>
Sent: Wednesday, November 25, 2009 1:55 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Ottawa Citizen: The Skeptics Are Vindicated

> My buffoon idealogue comment wasn't directly due to anything in the Ottawa
> Citizen article. That article was just further vindication of the
> incredulity of rational people over the defense tactic of selectively
> hiding behind propriety when it suits the defenders.
> We all saw the actual emails and what I saw was enough, "hiding the
> decline", "fixing" data, ensuring someone wouldn't be selected for peer
> review etc.
> I think those that are defending this are the ones not engaging in the
> actual tect of the emails. They speak for themselves unless you are in
> denial.
> John
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Murray Hogg <>
> To: ASA <>
> Sent: Wed, November 25, 2009 11:17:47 AM
> Subject: Re: [asa] Ottawa Citizen: The Skeptics Are Vindicated
> Hi all,
> What I'm finding quite interesting is the way in which discussion of the
> CRU e-mails has so many resemblances to arguments over the "real" meaning
> of Scripture - given that there's little question that the "textual
> tradition" is reliable (i.e. the e-mails themselves are genuine), we now
> see exegete after exegete clamouring to offer their commentary on the most
> damning verses.
> Curiously, however, a piece like the Ottowa Citizen article doesn't
> actually engage with "the text" - nor, may I say, have many of the other
> critics of the CRU who are insisting the e-mails are so damning. So here's
> another parallel with Biblical studies: we have a great deal of discussion
> about what "the text" does, or doesn't mean, but in a total absence of any
> engagement with "the text" itself.
> It's early days yet, but it's already almost a "confessional orthodoxy"
> that the e-mails are to be read as revealing monstrous dishonesty on the
> part of the entire climate science community - so much so that John Walley
> can state, of the back of a piece that doesn't even engage with the
> contents of the e-mails, that "defenders look like buffoon ideologues".
> Indeed, there's no evidence that the journalist has himself read the
> e-mails. Nor that he is himself doing anything other than reporting on the
> perceptions of people who themselves show no evidence of having read the
> e-mails.
> Chinese whispers are all good fun, folks - but not a credible basis upon
> which to make strong claims about the integrity of those who suggest the
> whisper might have gotten out of hand.
> So I find myself in agreement with Schwarzwald that the e-mails shouldn't
> be swept under the carpet - but that said, does it strike anybody else as
> curious that those making the most noise about the importance of the
> contents are actually not doing much in the way of engagement with same?
> This, frankly, is why Andrew Bolt of the Herald-Sun is a very good
> journalist - he (or, more likely, some faceless H-S researcher!) went to
> the trouble of actually citing the material. But most of the other comment
> I've seen - including the Ottawa Citizen piece - has been long on
> rhetoric, and short on actual analysis.
> So, like Schwarzwald, I think certain parties are indeed going to have
> their credibility undermined by this debacle - only I wouldn't think that
> it's only the advocates of GW who will be made to look as though they are
> motivated by something other than purely scientific concerns.
> Blessings,
> Murray

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Received on Wed Nov 25 15:52:54 2009

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