Atlantic Monthly on Climate Science: "The Stink of Intellectual Corruption is Overpowering"
Senior Editor of Atlantic Monthly Clive Crook is revising his earlier sanguine view of ClimateGate. What happened? He read the emails.
In a post on ClimateGate that Crook wrote before he had read the emails carefully, he observed:
...nothing in the climate science email dump surprised me much.
Over the weekend, he read the documents more carefully:
Having waded more deeply over the weekend I take that back..The closed-mindedness of these supposed men of science, their willingness to go to any lengths to defend a preconceived message, is surprising even to me. The stink of intellectual corruption is overpowering. And... this scandal is not at the margins of the politicised IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] process. It is not tangential to the policy prescriptions emanating from what David Henderson called the environmental policy milieu . It goes to the core of that process.
One theme, in addition to those already mentioned about the suppression of dissent, the suppression of data and methods, and the suppression of the unvarnished truth, comes through especially strongly: plain statistical incompetence. This is something that Henderson's study raised, and it was also emphasised in the Wegman report on the Hockey Stick, and in other independent studies of the Hockey Stick controversy. Of course it is also an ongoing issue in Steve McIntyre's campaign to get hold of data and methods. Nonetheless I had given it insufficient weight. Climate scientists lean very heavily on statistical methods, but they are not necessarily statisticians. Some of the correspondents in these emails appear to be out of their depth. This would explain their anxiety about having statisticians, rather than their climate-science buddies, crawl over their work.
Right. ClimateGate could have been averted if the anxious CRU scientists had taken a few extra on-line statistics courses (Stat 302: Multivaritate Data Fabrication, 4 credits, with lab).
A less credulous take on the warmers' refusal to allow statisticians to have access to their work would be that their published conclusions supporting global warming would not withstand any kind of objective scrutiny. That's why Freedom of Information Act requests were evaded for years, and data was deleted on purpose, and the entire database of raw data through the 1980's was "thrown out inadvertently." The climate scientists didn't refuse to subject their data to scrutiny because they were "out of their depth statistically." They refused to subject their data to scrutiny because they were lying.
I'm also surprised by the IPCC's response. Amid the self-justification, I had hoped for a word of apology, or even of censure. (George Monbiot called for Phil Jones to resign, for crying out loud.) At any rate I had expected no more than ordinary evasion. The declaration from Rajendra Pachauri that the emails confirm all is as it should be is stunning. Science at its best. Science as it should be. Good lord. This is pure George Orwell. And these guys call the other side "deniers"
The Orwell analogy is apt. "Winston sat at his desk in the Ministry of Climate Science...".
Crook next takes on the established media's negligence on this matter:
While I'm listing surprises, let me note how disappointed I was by The Economist's coverage of all this. "Leaked emails do not show climate scientists at their best," it observes. No indeed. I should say I worked at the magazine for years, admire it as much as ever, and rely on the science coverage especially. But I was baffled by its reaction to the scandal. "Little wonder that the scientists are looking tribal and jumpy, and that sceptics have leapt so eagerly on such tiny scraps as proof of a conspiracy," its report concludes. Tiny scraps? I detest anti-scientific thinking as much as The Economist does. I admire expertise, and scientific expertise especially; like any intelligent citizen I am willing to defer to it. But that puts a great obligation on science. The people whose instinct is to respect and admire science should be the ones most disturbed by these revelations. The scientists have let them down, and made the anti-science crowd look wise. That is outrageous.
Crook's got the players wrong. The "anti-science crowd" are the global warming scientists and their rooting section. The "scientists" are the skeptics who demanded the data and demanded accountability and who told the truth about global warming science for years.
Megan McArdle adopts a world-weary tone similar to The Economist's: this is how science is done in the real world. If I were a scientist, I would resent that. She has criticised the emails and the IPCC response to them, then says she still believes the consensus view on climate change. Well, that was my position at the end of last week, and I suppose it still is. But how do I defend it? There is far more of a problem here for the consensus view than Megan and ordinarily reliable commentators like The Economist acknowledge. I am not a climate scientist. In the end I have to trust the experts. That is what we are asked to do. "Trust us, we're scientists".
Trust the data. Scientists who are worthy of trust make the data freely available for replication of results. Scientists who are worthy of trust welcome those who are skeptical of their conclusions.
Crook next addresses the heart of the matter- the reason that this scandal is a crime of such magnitude:
Remember that this is not an academic exercise. We contemplate outlays of trillions of dollars to fix this supposed problem. Can I read these emails and feel that the scientists involved deserve to be trusted? No, I cannot. These people are willing to subvert the very methods--notably, peer review--that underwrite the integrity of their discipline. Is this really business as usual in science these days?
Is Crook serious? "Is this really business as usual in science these days?" He hasn't been following the ID-Darwinism debate.
If it is, we should demand higher standards... And maybe some independent oversight to go along with the higher standards.
The IPCC process needs to be fixed, as a matter of the greatest urgency... And in the meantime, let's have some independent inquiries into what has been going on.
Indeed, the IPCC needs to be fixed. What Crook and others who are beginning to catch on to the enormity of this fraud need to understand is that the global warming science community, it's entrepreneurial political and industry patrons, and its media concubines are a crime syndicate, and they need to be fixed like my dog needs to be fixed.