Weird science: East Anglia CRU threw out their raw data

posted at 11:00 am on November 29, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

When would scientists expecting the world to take them seriously throw out the raw data on which their conclusions are based?  Probably at the same time that they e-mail each other to launch professional vendettas against skeptics and conspire to hide contradictory data.  The University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit — already in a deep scandal over the e-mails released by either a hacker or a whistleblower that shows highly unscientific behavior behind the scenes — now admits they threw out the raw data on which much of their theories on anthropogenic global warming are based (via Fausta):

SCIENTISTS at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based.

It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years.

The UEA’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was forced to reveal the loss following requests for the data under Freedom of Information legislation.

The data were gathered from weather stations around the world and then adjusted to take account of variables in the way they were collected. The revised figures were kept, but the originals — stored on paper and magnetic tape — were dumped to save space when the CRU moved to a new building.

So now the only data that other scientists can check are those that have been, er, adjusted by UEA-CRU.  Were those “adjustments” proper?  Did they have a scientific basis for making those adjustments?  Were there any gaps in the data?

We’ll never know now, will we?  And after the release of the e-mails that show UEA-CRU deliberately kneecapping other scientists who dared venture from the heterodoxy and discuss methods of hiding contradictory data and findings, it’s hard to believe that this wasn’t by design rather than carelessness.  After all, without that raw data, the world would have to just take UEA-CRU’s word for it — and until those e-mails got released, it seems that most people would have done so.

Now, though, even some AGW scientists say that the scientists involved in the UEA-CRU scandal have to go.  One of the contributors to the UN IPCC effort, Dr. Eduardo Zorita, says that several of the people involved in the IPCC should be banned, the result of their credibility deficit.  Climate Depot has Zorita’s statement:

CRU files: Why I think that Michael Mann, Phil Jones and Stefan Rahmstorf should be barred from the IPCC process.

Short answer: because the scientific assessments in which they may take part are not credible anymore.

A longer answer: My voice is not very important. I belong to the climate-research infantry, publishing a few papers per year, reviewing a few manuscript per year and participating in a few research projects. I do not form part of important committees, nor I pursue a public awareness of my activities. My very minor task in the public arena was to participate as a contributing author in the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC.

By writing these lines I will just probably achieve that a few of my future studies will, again, not see the light of publication. My area of research happens to be the climate of the past millennia, where I think I am appreciated by other climate-research ‘soldiers’. And it happens that some of my mail exchange with Keith Briffa and Timothy Osborn can be found in the CRU-files made public recently on the internet.

To the question of legality or ethicalness of reading those files I will write a couple of words later. I may confirm what has been written in other places: research in some areas of climate science has been and is full of machination, conspiracies, and collusion, as any reader can interpret from the CRU-files. They depict a realistic, I would say even harmless, picture of what the real research in the area of the climate of the past millennium has been in the last years. The scientific debate has been in many instances hijacked to advance other agendas.

These words do not mean that I think anthropogenic climate change is a hoax. On the contrary, it is a question which we have to be very well aware of. But I am also aware that in this thick atmosphere -and I am not speaking of greenhouse gases now- editors, reviewers and authors of alternative studies, analysis, interpretations, even based on the same data we have at our disposal, have been bullied and subtly blackmailed. In this atmosphere, Ph D students are often tempted to tweak their data so as to fit the ‘politically correct picture’. Some, or many issues, about climate change are still not well known. Policy makers should be aware of the attempts to hide these uncertainties under a unified picture. I had the ‘pleasure’ to experience all this in my area of research.

I thank explicitly Keith Briffa and Tim Osborn for their work in the formulation of one Chapter of the IPCC report. As it distills from these emails, they withstood the evident pressure of other IPCC authors, not experts in this area of research, to convey a distorted picture of our knowledge of the hockey-stick graph.

Is legal or ethical to read the CRU files? I am not a lawyer. It seems that if the files had been hacked this would constitute an illegal act. If they have been leaked it could be a whistle blower action protected by law. I think it is not unethical to read them. Once published, I feel myself entitled to read how some researchers tried to influence reviewers to scupper the publication of our work on the ‘hockey stick graph’ or to read how some IPCC authors tried to exclude this work from the IPCC Report on very dubious reasons. Also, these mails do not contain any personal information at all. They are an account of many dull daily activities of typical climatologists, together with a realistic account of very troubling professional behavior.

Zorita’s point is well taken.  The bullying atmosphere in Academia on AGW has ruined the credibility of the effort — and not just at the University of East Anglia.  Any PhD student in the field would have known on which side the bread would be buttered, and would be unlikely to commit career suicide by producing contradictory data.  The actions of the IPCC authors created an atmosphere of groupthink, paranoia, and toadyism, not science or truth.  Any results coming from this arena have to be entirely suspect.

The AGW movement has been exposed as a religious belief and a political cash cow, not science.

Breaking on Hot Air


Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.


Trackback URL


Comment pages: 1 4 5 6

jgapinoy on November 30, 2009 at 9:09 AM

The roles of Galileo and the clergy are reversed…it is now the scientists who are stopping real research and discoveries.

right2bright on November 30, 2009 at 9:55 AM

The clergy of the church of AGW have been molesting data for 20 years.

JeffB. on November 30, 2009 at 11:08 AM

The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church.
- Ferdinand Magellan

MB4 on November 29, 2009 at 9:47 PM

Historians of science doubt that Magellan ever made such a comment.

From an essay (.pdf) by Steph L. Gould:

“I do understand, of course, that this territorial separation is a modern decision—and that differing past divisions did entail conflict in subsequent adjustment of boundaries. After all, when science was weak to nonexistent, religion did extend its umbrella into regions now properly viewed as domains of natural knowledge.
“There never was a period of “flat earth darkness” among scholars (regardless of how many uneducated people may have conceptualized our planet both then and now). Greek knowledge of sphericity never faded, and all major medieval scholars accepted the earth’s roundness as an established fact of cosmology. There never was a period of ‘flat earth darkness’ among scholars (regardless of how many uneducated people may have conceptualized our planet both then and now). Greek knowledge of sphericity never faded, and all major medieval scholars accepted the earth’s roundness as an established fact of cosmology. Ferdinand and Isabella did refer Columbus’s plans to a royal commission headed by Hernando de Talavera, Isabella’s confessor and, following defeat of the Moors, Archbishop of Granada. This commission, composed of both clerical and lay advisers, did meet, at Salamanca among other places. They did pose some sharp intellectual objections to Columbus, but all assumed the earth’s roundness.
Exposure of the flat-earth myth should teach us the fallacy of such a view and help us to recognize the complexity of interaction between these institutions. Irrationality and dogmatism are always the enemies of science, but they are no true friends of religion either. [Emphasis mine].”

davidk on November 30, 2009 at 11:26 AM

Many people have the mistaken impression that scientists are selfless monks working long hours at low pay in pursuit of pure truth. My experience as a PhD in chemistry is that many scientists are simply geeks, and they are fully aware of the social stigma that wearing that label entails. Many (but not all) of the academic scientists that I know are backbiting frustrated miserable people who form themselves into tight little social cliques, where membership in their group makes them smart, witty, politically hip, and generally worthwhile as people, and non-membership is otherwise. It is scary to me that these people are providing the scientific evidence for climate change, and that bestowing credibility on them seems almost automatic.

cavman on November 30, 2009 at 12:02 PM

Many (but not all) of the academic scientists that I know are backbiting frustrated miserable
cavman on November 30, 2009 at 12:02 PM

I did some time in R&D lab of a world leading co. in bar code technology.

Backstabbing would be a polite way of describing how the devolopers treated the one who happened not to be in the lab at that particular time.

davidk on November 30, 2009 at 12:35 PM

AGW is merely the ultimate scam cooked up by watermelon environmentalists. Acid Rain didn’t get them much traction. Neither did their dire warnings about the evils of pesticides. None prevented economic development in the 3rd world or stifled economic growth in developed nations.

The key thing to understand is that communist revolutions have never ever evolved from within in any industrialized nation. A mature capitalist/democratic society with a strong middle class and socio-economic mobility eliminates the class distinctions and resentments necessary for a communist vanguard to seize power. Every single instance in which a nation has turned communist, that nation has been a pre-industrial agrarian society. This is not by accident. Marxism is not a valid critique of Capitalism and Democracy, but it has quite a lot of good points to make about Feudalism.

The goal of watermelon environmentalists is to make the 3rd world safe for Communism. The fall of the Soviet Union ended their dream of converting the world to communism by the sword. Their only hope is to create and preserve the conditions that make communist revolutions from within possible.

Once this is understood, all of their actions and choices suddenly make perfect sense. This is why they’ve turned to dogma, groupthink, obfuscation, and outright deception. The truth is NOT on their side. The lies that they attempt to peddle in the realms of political thought and economics have long been discredited. They are pariahs in these areas. But because their belief system is a matter of religious faith for them, rather than take a step back and reconsider their position, they simply look for some new way to sell the same old crap in a new package. Hence “global warming.”

leereyno on November 30, 2009 at 12:46 PM

isn’t that what most criminals do with incriminating evidence?

TrickyDick on November 30, 2009 at 1:45 PM

isn’t that what most criminals do with incriminating evidence?

TrickyDick on November 30, 2009 at 1:45 PM

The smart ones do.

darktood on November 30, 2009 at 2:04 PM

This Times Of India piece on how China and India prepare for hardball in Copenhagen. The most troubling part of the article..

This joint front forged on Saturday is a major political initiative — the first major India-China accord on international affairs–that is likely to impact not just the dimension of the talks on climate change but international diplomacy as a whole. The move comes after recent discussions on climate change held with Indian and Chinese leaders by US president Barack Obama, who appears to have made little impact on them..

.. should send tingles of fear up and down the legs of Team Obama and all foreign policy analysts as Cina begins to not just look outward but act.

J_Crater on November 30, 2009 at 2:08 PM

I guess I should know or something but what’s the odd things on their heads in that picture?

jeanie on November 29, 2009 at 11:04 PM

C’mon, you have never seen the movie?

Those are bras…

right2bright on November 30, 2009 at 3:15 PM

The Jonathan Leake article from the Sunday TimesOnLineClimate change data dumped — is an absolute stunner, especially since it came right on the heels of Robert Mendick’s story — Climategate: University of East Anglia U-turn in climate change row — (the night before) in the Telegraph, saying that climate scientists at East Anglia University would be fully complying with FOI requests that had been pressed by some over a period of years.

In a statement welcomed by climate change sceptics, the university said it would make all the data accessible as soon as possible, once its Climatic Research Unit (CRU) had negotiated its release from a range of non-publication agreements.

The story highlighted one individual, a mechanical engineer named David Holland, who had apparently filed FOI requests over time, and who recently discovered his name and requests mentioned in some of the recently “released” internal e-mails.

So, as you can imagine, this latest data dump Times story provoked a very free-wheeling comment thread indeed!

Sort of a, “We agree to release all the data. And, by the way, there isn’t any!” scenario.

There was one delightfully sardonic comment that really stood out on that Times thread, to wit:

Craig Brannon wrote:

I’m glad they deleted this information and that there is a probe into how the emails were stolen. All scientific data should be secret and mysterious. They will tell us what we need to hear when they are ready.

November 30, 2009 6:05 PM GMT on


Ed, I beg of you . . . if this guy should happen to show up during an open registration period at HotAir, please let him in!

Trochilus on November 30, 2009 at 3:17 PM

C’mon Ed…pretty shoddy “reporting” even for HA.

Regardless of one’s take on AGW, the raw data was in fact retained, by the NOAA. The CRU deleted less than 5% of their raw data 30 years ago, primarily because they did not have a way to store it in the 1980s. Let’s try to be just a little bit objective. Embarrassing.

dakine on November 30, 2009 at 5:33 PM

C’mon Ed…pretty shoddy “reporting” even for HA.

Regardless of one’s take on AGW, the raw data was in fact retained, by the NOAA. The CRU deleted less than 5% of their raw data 30 years ago, primarily because they did not have a way to store it in the 1980s. Let’s try to be just a little bit objective. Embarrassing.

dakine on November 30, 2009 at 5:33 PM

Better read again…important data has been deleted…deleted.
However, it is found on other servers and other areas. What will be difficult is piecing all of this together as they scramble to try to cover up their scandal.
This is truly of epic proportions…this was the clearing house for all data. This is so close to the inquisition type stuff of hundreds of years ago…look at the history of these scientists, this is the guy who promoted the ice age…when the stats didn’t support that, he switched to global warming…now his stats won’t support that so it is “climate change”.
This is what Richard Lindzen has been warning about…remember Obama’s climate czar has only a degree in English, there is no climatologist even advising Obama.
No dissenting voice on this can be heard…Richard Lindzen is the leading climatologist in the world, their is none with his credentials, and they do everything to block out his papers…which, btw, are un-disputed by other experts in the field, but they attack him personally, which is difficult seeing he has an unblemished record at MIT.

right2bright on November 30, 2009 at 6:00 PM

primarily because they did not have a way to store it in the 1980s. Let’s try to be just a little bit objective. Embarrassing.

dakine on November 30, 2009 at 5:33 PM

It isn’t the data from just the 80′s that is missing…from just a few years ago has been deleted.
I know you must be an apologist…but this is like saying Nixon knew nothing about Watergate, after awhile his apologists sounded like fools also. Welcome to the club…

right2bright on November 30, 2009 at 6:02 PM

Someone needs to be put on the catbird seat and like soon.

ted c on November 30, 2009 at 7:17 PM

Those scientists need to get dragged through cactus…

Khun Joe on November 30, 2009 at 8:01 PM

No scientist ever dumps or disposes of his base data. It is his last refuge against critics and opponents. It is the basis for other to replicate and thus validate his work. The base data and the integrity of the quality assurance applied to its collection is priceless to a true scientist. The base data is the baby in the bath water – it does not get thrown out

The excuse that such a precious resource was dumped because the new digs didn’t have enough closets shows arrogance – they take us to be such fools that they don’t even trouble to come up with a plausable excuse.

The lack of predictive performance by the models over the past decade reduced the global warming (or climate change, if you must) concept from scientific theory to mere hypothesis. Now, it is scandal.

I have worked in environmental protection for a lot of years and I was always worried about the “advocates” with their love of apocalypse and disdain for science. I feared they would take down sound environmental science and leave us all branded as whackos.

Now, it’s happening and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Damn them.

Cricket624 on November 30, 2009 at 9:21 PM

Claims that a manuscript has been “peer reviewed” have become meaningless. As a published PhD myself, I’ve known this for a while. Academicians who review manuscripts for journals have their own biases, and they use passive-aggressive approaches to block publication of work having data they don’t like. Ed Begley should stick to acting and STFU about science.

MADgirl91 on November 30, 2009 at 9:40 PM

“Climate-cult con is hard to ‘bear’”

All the kids had been coerced into singing this catchy ditty, which we called “The Warming Song,” at a concert for parents.

davidk on December 1, 2009 at 9:15 AM

East Anglia CRU threw out their raw data

Ed, you’ll never prove that.

Blacksmith8 on December 1, 2009 at 9:46 AM

Comment pages: 1 4 5 6