Friday, November 27, 2009

ClimateGate (why it matters and doesn't)

When I first heard of the break-in by as of yet un-named individuals to the mail server at CRU of the University of East Anglia I must admit I brushed it off. I thought to myself, "what could anyone find?"

In this regard I was quite right and quite wrong. They didn't find anything other than the usual, scientists fighting over methods and practices. Its what you would expect to find.

The climate denier/delayer criminal cadre by careful parsing of words and snipping from context with very little trouble created a tempest in a teacup by creating the impression that a conspiracy existed. Having found all sorts of 'evil' in these emails, even then nothing is there, they are now spending column inches in print and the blogosphere barking about the 'conspiracy' where none exists.

In a weird way this reminds me of Richard Hoagland and the face on Mars. He went to extraordinary lengths to prove what he was interpreting from grainy imagery transmitted back. NASA gave him factual answers and factual information but has been to this day unable to convince Hoagland that what he thinks he is seeing isn't there.

My favorite line when dealing with a denier is "here's the data, prove me wrong!" It always takes them off guard when I click to a public website and pull up pile of research data.

One of their winning strategies is to put the opponent on the defensive but here is where it fails. Climate science is facts and data, no belief required. You may not want to swim in waters too deep, if you don't understand the data, in you don't know how to process the data, then maybe you should either get the skills or get out of the pool !

This is part of the reason why I carry around a pretty complete list of links to data sets and at least a handful of methods.

I've created a special posting with some of the data sources I use in context of my posts. has put up a very complete source data page.

I agree with the rest of the climate science community, transparency is good but getting lay people out of dictating science policy would be better.

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