Posted by: Barry Bickmore | November 22, 2011

New Stolen E-mails Released

It looks like the B-list of stolen e-mails have now been released by the people who hacked the University of East Anglia’s server.  They originally released the ones with the really juicy candidates for out-of-context quoting, and now, magically just in time for the next big international climate conference, the hackers have released the benchwarmers.

I remember when the first batch of stolen e-mails from the University of East Anglia came out, and I was talking about it with my father-in-law.  He was upset about some of the quotations that were coming out, and so was I, but I had a somewhat different point of view.  It didn’t bother me at all that the scientists involved said some nasty things about their critics.  As an academic scientist, I knew that this kind of thing was perfectly normal, and that the saving grace of modern science is that when all of us are beating up on each other, the end product usually comes out better than it would otherwise have been.  So who cares if they said they thought certain papers and contrarian scientists were idiotic?  Likewise, I wasn’t too concerned about the out-of-context quotation about “Mike’s Nature Trick” and “hiding the decline,” because that just seemed like regular water-cooler talk for working scientists, rather than anything sinister.  (Turns out I was right.)

No, what bothered me at the time was Phil Jones’s remarks that they would find a way to keep a couple papers they thought were stupid from being discussed in the next IPCC Report by “redefining the peer-reviewed literature.”  If the rule was that they were supposed to discuss all the peer-reviewed papers about the subjects covered, then this would be unethical, and harmful to the science in the long run.  Well, it turned out that my worries were unfounded, because those two papers WERE discussed in the next IPCC Report, so obviously the e-mailing scientists did the right thing.

Now the dust has settled, and several independent panels have cleared the scientists involved of cooking their data, or any other serious infraction.  The worst thing anyone found is that some of the CRU scientists felt like they were being harassed with ridiculous FOI requests, so they tried to ignore them.  The temperature reconstructions in question have been replicated umpteen times, so that only seriously damaged individuals still have serious questions about whether they are approximately correct.

This time around, as I peruse the out-of-context quotations provided by climate change contrarian bloggers, I’m not even getting a minor change in heart rate.  The quotations (even out of context!) are that boring.

Hopefully the media will see this for what it is–a pathetic attempt to distract the public from the fact that the contrarians don’t have a scientific leg to stand on.




  1. I had the same reaction in perusing the newly-mined quotes. It’s hard to even misinterpret them as something sinister. Astonishingly, the WUWT headline is:

    “Climategate 2.0 emails – They’re real and they’re spectacular!”

    Apparently what they think is “spectacular” is the use of the phrase “the cause.” Talk about scraping the bottom of the barrel.

  2. I do not think these emails can be dismissed so easily. Their PR impact will be worse than last time, and some of them make me think those who accept the science of AGW (as I do, and still do) are too easily overlooking what is in them, especially in terms of how the science is being presented.

    Such as:

    I’m sure you agree–the Mann/Jones GRL paper was truly pathetic and should never have been published. I don’t want to be associated with that 2000 year “reconstruction”.

    I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run.

    It seems that a few people have a very strong say, and no matter how much talking goes on beforehand, the big decisions are made at the eleventh hour by a select core group.

    • Hi Dave,

      Sorry, still not doing it for me.

      So (Ray?) Bradley didn’t like the 2000 year reconstruction Jones and Mann did. Well, he was obviously comfortable with the 1000-year reconstruction he did with Mann, so the issue seems to have been whether uncertainties were handled correctly, or some such. So what? That out-of-context snippet tells me that (gasp!) Ray Bradley is capable of disagreeing with colleagues who are on the same side of the fence as he is with respect to climate change. Can you imagine? He’s making the same kind of surly comment ABOUT CLOSE COLLEAGUES AND COAUTHORS that Jones and co. were castigated for making about their opponents. It seems to me that this strongly supports my take that beating up on each other (sometimes in a rather blunt manner) is standard practice.

      So Thorne disagreed about some things, and urged others to make sure not to shoot themselves in the foot by politicizing the science too much. Again, is this a surprise to anyone? Scientists having frank conversations with each other about keeping their biases in check. Wow.

      And as for the last one, I imagine it’s talking about the IPCC? (We don’t know–no context.) But of the hundreds of authors involved, how many have come out and said they disagree with the product in very substantive ways? Hardly any. Are they muzzled, somehow?

      Don’t make the same mistake a lot of us made the last time around. Wait a bit and find out the context. Think about the real import, rather than the soundbite.

    • Dave,

      I was looking over some of the other quotes you thought were “troublesome” and this caught my eye:

      ” Wilson:
      Although I agree that GHGs are important in the 19th/20th century (especially since the 1970s), if the weighting of solar forcing was stronger in the models, surely this would diminish the significance of GHGs.[…] it seems to me that by weighting the solar irradiance more strongly in the models, then much of the 19th to mid 20th century warming can be explained from the sun alone.”

      Again, context is everything. Since the IPCC only claims that humans have been overriding the natural signals since the mid-20th century, what is the problem if we can explain “much of the 19th to mid-20th century warming” via the Sun? Do you see what they’re trying to pull on you?

  3. […] snipes: Media Matters DeSmog Blog Get Energy Smart ThinkProgress Green HuffPo Climate Progress Barry Bickmore Climate Crocks UEA press release Related posts (automated):Attempted break in at Canadian climate […]

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  6. […] evidence, and the Climategate 2.0 e-mails contain even less (as Barry Bickmore put it, they're the B-list, benchwarmer e-mails), the climate denialists, seeing chum in the water, are once again predictably having a feeding […]

  7. Barry, ask your dad if he’s ever sworn at the TV when something dumb happens on it.

    I can practically guarantee he’s done that (it seems to be an age thing: Billy Connolly has quite a bit of material on when he started doing it).

    Now ask him if his use of bad language at the TV proves that he’s wrong.

  8. “what bothered me at the time was Phil Jones’s remarks that they would find a way to keep a couple papers they thought were stupid from being discussed in the next IPCC Report by “redefining the peer-reviewed literature.”

    Barry, go back and read the statement. It’s not a statement that they want to silence stupid papers, but that if QC let garbage through, then QC was inadequate to the task.

    Think of it this way:

    You have a program to deal with some data you have gathered together. You need to throw out noise and decide that sigma filtering would work, so you pick a 3 sigma limit.

    But your data is VERY noisy and data you know is suspect (glitched sensor, replaced later) gets through.

    So what do you do?

    You change your filtering method or limit.

    Redefining your data’s peer review (comparison with comparable fellow datapoints) to enhance quality.

    The core to understanding Jones’ statement is to look at the paper he was talking about.

    Seriously: if your peer review is letting garbage like that through (see G&T’s paper with mistakes a highschooler would avoid), is your peer review of any worth at all?

  9. […] on 25 November 2011 by dana1981Aside from containing the B-list, benchwarmer stolen emails, the main difference between this round of Climategate and the last is that this time […]

  10. […] published an opinion piece by some guy who not only quoted out-of-context snippets from the new batch of stolen e-mails, but actually MISquoted them.  I went after him in a guest post on By Common Consent.  If […]

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