Pielke is very circumspect about applying the term “scientific misconduct,” which is itself a circumspect way of saying, “fraud.” But he needn’t be. When I saw this news item, I was explaining it to my wife, and she said, “So they just made the numbers up.” Well, no, I tried to explain, they were using real numbers, it’s just that they weren’t significant under the relevant statistical methodology and—then she cut me off and repeated: “So they just made the numbers up.” I didn’t have an answer to that. My wife has a certain impatience for the tap-dancing abstractions of ivory tower intellectuals, and it gives her the gift of being able to cut through their polite obfuscations and get to the bottom line. In science, if your numbers aren’t validated by a proper method, if you can’t say for sure whether they are real and meaningful, there is only one thing to do: throw them out. If you have invalid numbers and you use them any way, there is no moral or epistemological difference between that and just making them up out of thin air.

So here’s the state of play of climate science a third of a decade into the global warming hysteria. They don’t have a reliable baseline of global temperature measurements that would allow them to say what is normal and natural and what isn’t. Their projections about future warming are demonstrably failing to predict the actual data. And now they have been caught, yet again, fudging the numbers and manipulating the graphs to show a rapid 20th-century warming that they want to be true but which they can’t back up with actual evidence.

A theory with this many holes in it would be have been thrown out long ago, if not for the fact that it conveniently serves the political function of indicting fossil fuels as a planet-destroying evil and allowing radical environmentalists to put a modern, scientific face on their primitivist crusade to shut down industrial civilization.