Scientific Tribes, Deception And Global Warming

Bradley J. Fikes

I don’t think the now-infamous hacked climate science emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit show that the theory of man-caused global warming (AGW) is a fraud. What it does show is the pernicious effects of groupthink and an advanced level of intellectual corruption among some of the world’s top AGW scientists.

Scientists advancing AGW banded together, and deliberately shut out skeptics from the scientific community as much as possible. They adjusted their findings to help political campaigns on AGW, discussed how to keep information out of the hands of skeptics, cautioned about keepingĀ  “dirty laundry” confidential lest it feed the case of skeptics, and discussed rigging the peer review process to keep out skeptical papers.

The all-too-cozy relationship between environmental campaigners and ostensibly fact-driven scientists is nakedly laid out in an email from Adam Markham asking that a report be “beefed up” to help a public campaign by the Australian World Wildlife Federation:

Hi Mike,

I’m sure you will get some comments direct from Mike Rae in WWF Australia, but I wanted to pass on the gist of what they’ve said to me so far.

They are worried that this may present a slightly more conservative approach to the risks than they are hearing from CSIRO. In particular, they would like to see the section on variability and extreme events beefed up if possible. They regard an increased likelihood of even 50% of drought or extreme weather as a significant risk. Drought is also a particularly importnat issue for Australia, as are tropical storms.

I guess the bottom line is that if they are going to go with a big public splash on this they need something that will get good support from CSIRO scientists (who will certainly be asked to comment by the press). One paper they referred me to, which you probably know well is: “The Question of Significance” by Barrie in Nature Vol 397, 25 Feb 1999, p 657

What’s really precious is that the hundreds of emails are strewn with contempt for climate skeptics who are cozy with Big Oil and thus not objective. But alliance with environmental groups, and even changing a report to help their goals, is considered OK. When one sees old-fashioned concern for grant money, in an email from Andrew Manning, it comes almost as a refreshment:

Hi Phil,
is this another witch hunt (like Mann et al.)? How should I respond to the below? (I’m in the process of trying to persuade Siemens Corp. (a company with half a million employees in 190 countries!) to donate me a little cash to do some CO2 measurments here in the UK – looking promising, so the last thing I need is news articles calling into question (again) observed temperature increases – I thought we’d moved the debate beyond this, but seems that these sceptics are real die-hards!!). Kind regards,

Yes, the last thing a grant-seeking scientist needs is skeptics questioning his science. And that’s one reason why skeptics are important, to provide balance. Reproduction of experiments and observations by skeptics is one of the hallmarks of science. It is easy to be deluded by wishful thinking, and fraud in science is far from unknown. Skeptics, who don’t have a scientist’s investment in a theory, can point out the weak spots.

But among the influential AGW supporter, skeptics are an obstacle to be removed. This gem is from Tom Wigley describing how to get the skeptics out of a science journal.

PS Re CR, I do not know the best way to handle the specifics of the editoring. Hans von Storch is partly to blame — he encourages the publication of crap science ‘in order to stimulate debate’. One approach is to go direct to the publishers and point out the fact that their journal is perceived as being a medium for disseminating misinformation under the guise of refereed work. I use the word ‘perceived’ here, since whether it is true or not is not what the publishers care about — it is how the journal is seen by the community that counts.

I think we could get a large group of highly credentialed scientists to sign such a letter — 50+ people.

Note that I am copying this view only to Mike Hulme and Phil Jones. Mike’s idea to get editorial board members to resign will probably not work — must get rid of von Storch too, otherwise holes will eventually fill up with people like Legates, Balling, Lindzen, Michaels, Singer, etc. I have heard that the publishers are not happy with von Storch, so the above approach might remove that hurdle too.

Well, that’s certainly an easy way to deal with the skeptics — get them off the boards of scientific journals so their papers don’t get published. This is what AGW has come to in its desperation to silence skeptics.

In theory, science doesn’t work that way. Here is how Michael Mann described the peer review process and the role of skeptics to New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin:

“Skepticism is essential for the functioning of science. It yields an erratic path towards eventual truth. But legitimate scientific skepticism is exercised through formal scientific circles, in particular the peer review process. A necessary though not in general sufficient condition for taking a scientific criticism seriously is that it has passed through the legitimate scientific peer review process.”

That was the theory. In reality, some of the AGW scientists regarded skeptics as a bane, and colluded to keep information out of their hands. An email by Phil Jones, head of the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, to Michael Mann, lays it out: (The MMs refer to skeptics Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick)

“The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone. Does your similar act in the US force you to respond to enquiries within 20 days? – our does ! The UK works on precedents, so the first request will test it. We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind. Tom Wigley has sent me a worried email when he heard about it – thought people could ask him for his model code. He has retired officially from UEA so he can hide behind that. IPR should be relevant here, but I can see me getting into an argument with someone at UEA who’ll say we must adhere to it !”

No skeptic could have done as much damage to AGW research as the shoddy practices and unethical behavior advocated by its own top believers.

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Like everything here, this is my opinion, and does not necessarily reflect that of my employer, the North County Times

2 Responses to “Scientific Tribes, Deception And Global Warming”

  1. This is why I recommended Science Fictions and the Venter books because they show the same back stabbing and spiking rivals that we see in AGW. When I was a medical student, a physician researcher I knew killed himself. His grant had run out and he infiltrated his chest with lidocaine and stuck a knife into his heart. He was a cardiologist and that was the golden era of medical practice. He could have gone out to practice and made more money. Instead he killed himself.

    His son later made a name for himself as an LA sports owner. I forget which team. Then he was prosecuted for fraud and went to jail.

  2. […] It’s a global warming extravaganza at A Brief History as Bradley J. Fikes looks at the global warming and climate change debate following the East Anglia email scandal: Scientific Tribes, Deception And Global Warming. […]