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



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