By now, most people are aware that the University East Anglia’s (UEA) Climatic Research Unit (CRU) has had their database hacked and tons of documents – including emails between scientists (if one can use that term, in light of the ‘now confirmed’ information revealed therein) which contain some extremely incriminating evidence of scientific fraud, collusion to defraud the public and systematic efforts to subvert the scientific ‘peer review’ process and turn it from an objective assessment into partisan shill.
To me, the last one is the most serious. But, first I have to ask: how come this has not been the leading story in every newspaper and newsprogram everywhere?
Most people have only had a chance to come across a few apologetic articles, like this one in the New York Times, which present tiny snippets of the information unearthed (I condemn the means – let’s get that straight from the beginning – but now that the info is out there, we must assess it), without reasonable context, in order to explain it away as ‘harmless’ and thus diffuse any resulting criticism. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME!
I first came across this at The Reference Frame, and I recommend it for the following reasons: Mr. ReferenceFrame himself taught Physics at MIT. Dr. Lubos Motl is a respected Physicist in his own right, with ties and connections with scientists all over the globe. These, he put to good use himself, verifying whether or not the data the hackers leaked is genuine or not and whether what it reveals can be trusted. As a Physicist, he is much more thorough in this than I would trust most journalists to be, he has the knowledge to evaluate ‘things’, and, let’s face it, as ‘one of them’, most scientists will be more comfortable and open discussing things with him. (The corollary, of course, is that many ‘bad’ scientists will feel more threatened by him because he’s trained to detect any scientific BS!)
Plus, he is updating his post to include the latest bits…
AND, he has posted a comprehensive list of sites which are analyzing/discussing this. Again, I much recommend it… overall, I find his post to be a most useful frame of reference!
In case the absence of the mass media coverage on this topic has left you wondering what it is I am jabbering on about, here is the tip of the proverbial (and growing, not melting) iceberg:
If you would like to check through all the ‘leaked documents’, you can download them from Junk Science, or Friends of Science. Or, look through the database Lubo Motl provides on The Reference Frame: it is excellent. There are many well written blogs (as opposed to news stories(!)) that give the ‘scoop’ on this!
What the emails appear to have revealed:
- data had been altered to ‘hide cooling’
- data had been forged to demonstrate a ‘warming trend’
- Scientists lamented that their data did not demonstrate the conclusions they wanted: this is nothing new. What is new is that they sought advice from each other how to fiddle the data in order to hide what it shows and instead conform to their desired conclusion
- Scientists threatened to destroy data rather than permit other scientists examine the un-altered dataset on which their study is based (this is an essential part of the peer review process – without examining the raw data, another scientist cannot possibly assess if it had been processed ‘correctly’: it is unthinkable that a proper peer review could possibly be done without examining the raw data
- Scientists knowingly passed only the data that supported ‘Global Warming’ on to the IPCC panel for evaluation, suppressing existing data that opposed it.
- Scientists intentionally manipulated ‘impartial’ scientists performing peer review on studies which had findings which did not support AGW/ACC point of view, tricking them into rejecting non-AGW/ACC supporting studies…
All this is bad. Very bad. BUT – and this is, in my never-humble-opinion, is something so vile and unforgivable, I am having trouble wrapping my brain around it: THEY COLLUDED TO SUBVERT THE SCIENTIFIC PEER REVIEW PROCESS!!!
Why is subverting the peer review process the thing that upsets me so much?
Because if people do ‘bad science’ – the peers reviewing it will, eventually, catch it and expose it.
Because if people are committing scientific fraud – the peers reviewing it will, eventually, catch it and expose it, and ruin the reputation of the scientist committing it.
Because if there is a group of scientists conspiring to defraud everyone – the peers reviewing it may take a while to catch on, but, eventually, they will catch it, expose it and make sure these conspirators never get near any science again!
The scientific peer review process relies on the honesty and integrity of scientists. It is nothing more – and nothing less – than, when one writes up one’s experiment/scientific study, one submits BOTH the write-up AND all the supporting data and materials to other scientists who have expertise in this field. These other scientists read the experiment’s/study’s hypothesis, then they examine the methodology used, data (the actual, physical data that was collected, the method/means it was collected by, the ‘controls’ that were placed to limit other possible factors that might affect the data and so on, the methodologies and techniques used to analyze the data, and so on) and then they analyze whether or not the data, collected in the way it was, analyzed as it was, supports the hypothesis as proposed.
It is not an easy process – and it relies heavily on the integrity of the ‘peers’ doing the ‘review’!
That is why it is so highly valued!
There is no fame or fortune in it, yet it is hard (and necessary) work! That is why most scientists take ‘peer review’ at face value!
By showing that this very process which is supposed to test (and thus assure) the integrity of scientific findings can be subverted, and subverted so easily, these people have ended the ‘age of innocence’ among the scientific community!
To sum it up – they have falsified science (and manipulated policymakers) in order to increase their own funding, they have subverted (and thus for ever destroyed the credibility of) the scientific peer review process and utterly destroyed the credibility of science and scientists!
I wish I could think of names vile enough to call them – but, there are none! Their names will go down in history and become the worst possible insults a person can be called!