Climate scientists behaving badly? Part 4: what is owed to other enquirers.

Now we move on to what is owed to other enquirers

keep records of original data  and methods and make such records freely available.

The global temperature record produced by the CRU is one of the four sets of data on which the IPCC has relied, and in the opinion of many commentators it has been the most influential record and for that reason the most important one.  It is therefore a matter of very grave concern that raw data on which it is based no longer exists. It means that no one can check whether the CRU global temperature record is well founded. The fact that it is in line with other records is not the help it appears when we remember that the tuning of the data manipulation underlying those records, and hence the claims for their veracity, has depended significantly on taking the CRU global temperature record as correct. Consequently our acceptance of it depends entirely on the epistemic integrity of the CRU, an integrity which has now been significantly impugned, and is further impugned by the loss of this raw data.


What, then, is their attitude to the obligation to share data? This quotation is illuminating ‘The two MMs [critics of Mann’s statistical techniques] 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…..We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind.’.[1]

  So they have for many years refused to share crucial data with critics and intend to subvert the legal requirement to share that data. In another email they report persuading the officer at the UEA who is responsible for ensuring the university conforms to Freedom of Information Act requirements to reject requests for their data from people they disagree with. In general it appears from the emails that the scientists at the CRU intend to deny critics any records of methods and data at all.


Worse than that: they seem to think that if the law doesn’t require it of them they ‘don’t have an obligation to pass it on’[1]   This is a fundamental error in their understanding of their epistemic duty to share methods and data. The law is really beside the point. They voluntarily undertook that obligation when they took up their jobs as professional scientists. No doubt they think it a small matter, but in fact, deliberately transgressing duties voluntarily undertaken is about as unquestionably blameworthy a wrong can be.


fairness to opposing views

¾    Far from being fair to opposing views, we have evidence of attempts to suppress and exclude them:

·     ‘I got a paper to review …that claims that the method of reconstruction that we use in dendroclimatology (reverse regression) is wrong…If published as is, this paper could really do some damage. … It won't be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct…Confidentially I now need a hard and if required extensive case for rejecting.’[2] No danger of fair assessment here: the paper is to be suppressed.

·      ‘Kevin and I will keep them out [of the next IPCC report] somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!’[3]

¾    We must also wonder why papers that are critical of specific hawks are sent by journals to be refereed by those very hawks.

·     ‘Recently rejected two papers (one for JGR and for GRL) from people saying CRU has it wrong over Siberia. Went to town in both reviews, hopefully successfully.’ [4]

honest dealing with opponents

¾    In general it is quite clear from the emails that the scientists at the CRU intend to deny opponents records of methods and data and if forced to supply it to do so in a way that is partial, incomplete, and obstructs attempts by opponents to check CRU claims against original data.

¾    Rather than a willingness to address the substantive issues of opponents the emails manifest truculent resentment, even towards critics who agree on warming. For example, as far as I can make it out, Dr Michaels agrees that warming is happening but is critical of the quality of the data, skeptical of many of the climate models in use, rates the probability of catastrophic warming as low, is skeptical of the tone in which the public debate has been conducted and has tripped up public hawks on significant factual errors. Yet he is disparaged by a number of correspondents and as we saw in the quotation above, one correspondent has an urge to do him violence.

¾    In general, rather than fair minded proponents of a view exchanging notes on their disagreement with their critics,  the emails reek of contempt for critics and make the participants sound more like Bishops seeking to anathematize heretics than scientists. All very human, of course, but such bigotry and dogmatism in the academy degrades the open minded enquiry which is its purpose .





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