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.