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« Monbiot on wicked energy companies | Main | Green reviews of the year »
Tuesday
Dec282010

Comedy of errors

The New American has been taken to task by Simon Dunford, the press officer of UEA. New American had been discussing the relationship between CRU and the Met Office

The Met Office works closely with the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, which made headlines last year at the center of "Climategate." That scandal involved a number of forecasters in Britain involved in fraudulent reporting of data to forward their own climate-change agenda.

I think it may be reasonable of UEA to take issue with the word "fraudulent", which is not really a particularly accurate summary of the allegations. However, Dunford chose to respond as follows:

We are extremely surprised at the inaccurate and defamatory claim in the final paragrah [sic].... Our scientists were exonerated of any dishonesty or malpractice by a series of independent reviews.... Readers of your article would not know that they had been cleared of any such accusations.

Dunford's response seems a mistake to me, opening up the question of the credibiliity of the inquiries, when concentrating on the question of "fraudulent reporting of data" would have done the job just as well. New American has now been able to responsd in turn with a further article looking at the work of Russell and Oxburgh. Your truly is cited in the process.

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Reader Comments (109)

Disagree with you Bish I think fraudulent is the right word for what they have done. Data represents a lot of content that they knew was wrong.
Happy new year.

Dec 28, 2010 at 8:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter whale

The allegation of fraud against Jones by Doug Keenan has never been answered.

Dec 28, 2010 at 9:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

"No, Mr. Dunford, The New American does not accept the biased decisions of vested interests masquerading as independent review boards who whitewash fraud, conspiracy, deceit, cover-up, and FOI violation. We stand by our statements regarding Climategate."

Want to have another go at spinning that, Simon?

Dec 28, 2010 at 9:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerryM

There is a fraud allegation, of course, but it's just one part of the package of allegations. As a summary, it's not quite right.

Dec 28, 2010 at 9:09 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

If the UEA really were so righteous, they would start a libel action. Lets not hold our breath eh!

Classic foot in mouthery from the UEA press officer.

Dec 28, 2010 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

When in a hole stop digging.

Will they ever learn , well hopefully not !!!!

Dec 28, 2010 at 9:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of fresh air

Acton is trying too hard here.

This and the other UEA response to Delingpole indicates that Acton is trying to do a wack-a-mole act with anyone who mentioned CRU or UEA and Climategate, without also reporting the scientists were cleared.

What he fails to realise is that if he just let the story go then it will just naturally die. This (the year in review) is probably the last chance for the story to be given an airing in the media. Although I bet it gets no mention at all on the BBC year in review...

Of course nobody will take any report with the acronyms of UEA or CRU in it seriously at all in the future because we will always associate those with Climategate.

Dec 28, 2010 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris

What an excellent folow-up from New American!

http://www.thenewamerican.com/index.php/tech-mainmenu-30/environment/5650-were-the-qclimategateq-inquiries-whitewashed

Well done Sir!

Dec 28, 2010 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterCVH

If you make global statements then expect global critisism. Unfortunately for the UEA their buddies in high places network does not stretch around the globe.

The AGW crew will be shown up to be the laughing stock that they are and if this government continues its association with them then they in turn will suffer the same humiliation on the worlds stage. Just how much of this we will learn about in the MSM remains to be seen but at least some journalists are starting to regain their integrity.

Dec 28, 2010 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Interesting but I would ask, if your had a private company, would you want Acton to be spokesman? Interesting that first we had the Vice Chancellor and never the Chancellor answering and now a "Press Officer" and still they dig the hole deeper!

As Breath Of said....Stop digging! We know how many Whitewashes have been painted and unlike the old days of Yes Minister...We can watch it live and kill it before the MSN even knows it has happened.

Dec 28, 2010 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete Hayes

I don't agree. It sees right to say that they have been exonerated is every official enquiry and that readers may not be aware of this.The credibility of the inquiries will always be questioned by those who didn't get the result they wanted.

Dec 28, 2010 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterLazarus

"The credibility of the inquiries will always be questioned by those who didn't get the result they wanted."

Nope. But the credibility of the inquiries *should* always be questioned by those with even half a brain. Read the latest New American piece. What aspect of "proven whitewash" is it that you don't understand?

Dec 28, 2010 at 11:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerryM

New American is published by the John Birch Society. Those guys are really right-wing radicals.

Dec 28, 2010 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterBkuetq

"Bkuetq, Dec 28th 11.21am -
New American is published by the John Birch Society. Those guys are really right-wing radicals."

Certainly not the sort of people you might invite round to dinner, but also not the sort of people likely to back off under threats and bluster from CRU. This one could be worth watching.

Dec 28, 2010 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterJockdownsouth

When Climategate broke and the emails were put into context, an inhibition that naturally occurs in good people when caught out, was in play and there was a measure of silence. This was the phase of 'waiting for the inquiries to be over'. Now they want to put all of that behind them. The new paradigm is 'rapid response', 'taking on the skeptics on their own turf', 'we are the actual victims', 'recapture lost ground' style of activism a la George Woodwell.

Dec 28, 2010 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Please, please let them sue.

Full disclosure, and trained cross-examiners will be a joy to behold.

Dec 28, 2010 at 1:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-record

Bishop
There is a fraud allegation, of course, but it's just one part of the package of allegations. As a summary, it's not quite right.

Sorta like being "a little pregnant"?

Dec 28, 2010 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

"What aspect of "proven whitewash" is it that you don't understand?"

The 'proven' bit.

Dec 28, 2010 at 5:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterLazarus

I think the "proven" bit (as it relates to whether or not there was a whitewash) is clear. They did not even investigate the allegation of fraud. Neither did they investigate whether any emails had been deleted. Well-proven.

Dec 28, 2010 at 6:39 PM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

@ Lazarus

I don't want to pick on you, but are you saying that you are entirely comfortable with the fact that "vested interests masquerading as independent review boards" were tasked to report upon "fraud, conspiracy, deceit, cover-up, and FOI violation", and that they did so in adequate detail and depth?

Or would "blatant whitewash" be more to your taste?

Dec 28, 2010 at 8:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterJerryM

Over Christmas I've been around and about, enjoying hospitality in many places, and meeting many people from many walks of life. In the hundred or so I've spoken to, all but one (a banker as it happens, so almost by default not of sound judgement) thinks the 'global warming' scare is on it's last legs, and more or less laugh at the various green pronouncements. I think climategate had a big effect, but the subsequent hilariously farcical attempts at whitewash 'inquiries' have had the Great British public sniggering into their beer.

Dec 28, 2010 at 8:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Climategate really was a Berlin Wall moment for this monstrous politically nurtured hokum. High misfortune that the hammer fell on UEA-CRU, but never-the- less my vote for headline of the year goes to Delingpole - Climategate Whitewashers Squirm like Maggots on Bishop Hill's Pin.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100053569/climategate-whitewashers-squirm-like-maggots-on-bishop-hills-pin/

Dec 28, 2010 at 10:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

mattu

Just to clarify - are you really saying something is 'Well-proven' because 'They did not even investigate the allegation'? Not only that, but it was 'Well-proven' in exactly the way that supports you own belief in the matter?

Surely this is the kind of thinking that conspiracy theorist nutjobs use and using the same standard the claim that the moon landings were faked is also 'Well-proven,.

Dec 29, 2010 at 12:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterLazarus

Jerry M,

What I am comfortable has no bearing on the standard of proof - or not.

Dec 29, 2010 at 12:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterLazarus

The whitewash will be made evident to everyone in 2011. Michael Mann and his friends will spend most of 2011 testifying under oath before one or more congressional committees here in the US. Buy a lot of popcorn, as we say here.

Dec 29, 2010 at 3:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

@Lazarus
I am not saying the allegations are proven: I am saying the view that the investigations were a whitewash is self-evident and proven. The selection of witnesses was one-sided, the papers that were investigated were selected by those being investigated, the most serious charges were not investigated. What more evidence do you need to prove a whitewash?

Dec 29, 2010 at 5:47 AM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

Merry Christmas Mr Bish
I love people like you who love the truth and are willing to put their necks on the block for that truth. There are so many gutless drifters out there who are prepared to float in the comfortable gentle mainstream of least resistance and political tribalism. I do have serious worries about our shared democratic systems (I'm in New Zealand) in that we seem to have been defrauded and misrepresented. I'll watch with interest developments in the new year. Hopefully sanity will prevail which it invariably does. Truth will always out ....aye!!

Dec 29, 2010 at 5:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterCeetee

Theo,

If this happens to Mann it will be like another Scopes Monkey Trial.

The outcome of this will be that every time scientists publish research that is politically unacceptable they will be hauled before the judiciary and bullied into recanting. If it is applied to climatology it can just as easily be applied to other areas of science like evolution, physics and medicine.

This happened in medieval times between science and religion and since this only applies to scientists working in the US it threatens to turn the US in to a laughing stock world wide.

Dec 29, 2010 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterLazarus

@ Lazarus

"What I am comfortable has no bearing on the standard of proof - or not."

Maybe not, but a straight answer to my question might provide an indication of where you stand on what I originally termed the "proven whitewash" of each enquiry.

There's no need to introduce distractions such as "conspiracy theorist nutjobs", and Matthu adequately clears up your attempt at confusing "whitewashed" allegations with their "whitewashed" investigations.

So - and presuming that you have read the Bishop's "The Climategate Inquiries" and so have kept yourself fully informed - what do you think ... was each of these enquiries a whitewash, or not?

Dec 29, 2010 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerryM

matthu,

You have no more evidence that the investigations were a white wash than anything else. Nut jobs were always going to claim it was one if it didn't get the results they wanted. Some on the panels had links to big oil so the greens would be shouting the same tosh if it had found any evidence of botched research.

The problem is that to do a proper investigation you need qualified people so there was always going to be interested parities but to make the leap of questioning their integrity needs real evidence not just dissatisfaction with the outcome.

The witnesses were not one sided. Submissions were invited and accepted from others including the Global Warming Policy Foundation and Lawson gave evidence and one inquiry. The papers that were selected were for the Universities own internal investigation and that only had to satisfy the board of trustees. There was not enough evidence to warrant any external investigation except in the minds of conspiracy theorists.

"What more evidence do you need to prove a whitewash?"

Any credible evidence at all would be a start. What evidence is there that the British government at the time and it's opposition parties needed a white wash for example?

Dec 29, 2010 at 11:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterLazarus

Lazarus,
Your arguments are ill-founded.

How does one produce 'evidence' that the British Government 'wanted' a whitewash? You speak of conspiracy theory and yet you set up your questions in this method.

The thoroughness of the investigation/inquiries is self-evident. Its subcomponents can be - examinations from both sides of the argument, examination of every lead to its root cause, examination of every piece of evidence, examination of every aspect of the evidence, and finally, preservation of integrity of the evidence in custody.

There are failures on each of these aspects.

Dec 29, 2010 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Jerry M,

If they were white washes there is no evidence of it as I have again explained to mattu. There is simply no compelling evidence. If I remember there have been about 5 inquiries relating to these stolen emails on both sides of the Atlantic, and to believe a white wash or washes big enough to suppress some hoped for truth across them all really is in the realms of conspiracy theorist nutjobs.

However I am interested to know if you accept Montford's own report into the matter as more credible and independent? If so why?

Dec 29, 2010 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterLazarus

Lazarus, here's what I said in February to the Commons Select Committee:

5. Are the terms of reference and scope of the Independent Review announced on 3 December 2009 by UEA adequate? Last week Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick informed me by email that they had not been contacted by Muir Russell. If that is still the case the scope of his review is inadequate.

Same applies to Oxburgh. If they didn't interact with the people who understood the emails and their context best, they were obviously not interested in arriving at the truth. Montford (and McKitrick) did a sterling job of providing the details after the event. But it was quite clear what the game was way before that. The process needed a honest interaction with McKitrick and McIntyre. Without that, it was worthless.

Dec 29, 2010 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

@ Lazarus

"If they were white washes there is no evidence of it as I have again explained to mattu."

Ah. OK, in that case I'm sorry to have intruded into your belief system.

Dec 29, 2010 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterJerryM

@lazarus
Until you can refute the evidence in the New American article cited above - or alternatively in Montford's "The Climategate Inquiries" - then your statement that "there is no evidence" of a whitewash is merely wishful thinking. Most observers would probably disagree with you - however I have no wish to continue debating with you.

Dec 29, 2010 at 2:42 PM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

I know consensus is not a word held in high regard in these circles, but was there not a consensus on one of the recent posts not to feed the trolls?

Dec 29, 2010 at 3:45 PM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

What lapogus said.

Dec 29, 2010 at 5:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterSuramantine

Not that I always adhere to the consensus view myself - so by all means ignore what I wrote above and continue to make fun of poor lazarus...

Dec 29, 2010 at 5:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

Lazarus

In a proper court of law there are four main actions in presenting a case (1) Prosecution presents his case to the Court (2) Defendant presents his case (3) Prosecution answers Defendant (4) Defendant answers P's answers.

Without all four, there is no fair trial. Either it is "my word against yours" if (3) and (4) are omitted, or it is worse. The CRU reviews are that worse case. Steps (1) and (3) were totally omitted.

That was called whitewash here. I think it could be called worse.

Dec 29, 2010 at 6:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterLucy Skywalker

Pete Hayes: "Interesting that first we had the Vice Chancellor and never the Chancellor answering"

Although there are variations, in most UK universities the Vice Chancellor is the CEO. 'Chancellor' is an honorary title bestowed on a member of the great and good, preferably with a title. This individual turns up, in fancy dress, at graduation ceremonies and the like. The Vice Chancellor's real boss is the Chairman of Council (roughly 'chairman of the board' although the de facto board is typically a small subset of the actual Council).

Dec 29, 2010 at 8:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterJane Coles

There is also a pointless troll, self identified as Lazarus at http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/

He is dead from the neck upwards and the sooner he beggars off, the better.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lazarus_and_Dives

Dec 29, 2010 at 11:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterPerry

Richard Drake
"Last week Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick informed me by email that they had not been contacted by Muir Russell."

Is that "Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick" the economists (non climate scientists?)

Dec 30, 2010 at 12:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterLazarus

JerryM
"Ah. OK, in that case I'm sorry to have intruded into your belief system."

It is you who believes in a white wash regardless of the lack of evidence.

I am open to any credible information you or anyone else presents.

Dec 30, 2010 at 12:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterLazarus

matthu

"Until you can refute the evidence in the New American article cited above - or alternatively in Montford's "The Climategate Inquiries" - then your statement that "there is no evidence" of a whitewash is merely wishful thinking."

There is no credible evidence in any of this. If it was, why isn't every honest scientist, politician, university board member etc. ranting about it in the way you are?

Where is the evidence you keep suggesting exists for a white wash? Why, as have asked before, is the evidence for the reason why the UK government and opposition parties white washed their enquiry?

Dec 30, 2010 at 12:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterLazarus

Lucy Skywalker

I agree, but this wasn't a trial. For a proper trial to be held there needs to be enough evidence to proceed. In this case there wasn't. The main investigation was carried out but the University to satisfy it's board that no malpractice took place. There wasn't really any compelling evidence for anyone else to get involved but Parliament did and they found little to report and nothing to undermine the actual research.

I'm not taking any position here, just stating the facts - there is no evidence of a white wash no matter how much some people wish there was.

Dec 30, 2010 at 12:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterLazarus

Perry

"He is dead from the neck upwards and the sooner he beggars off, the better"

Thanks for the Ad Hom, You make a first time poster so welcome. It is clear that sceptical opinions are an unwelcome intrusion for some.

Perhaps you should come back when you are mature enough to engage in the conversation of adults?

Dec 30, 2010 at 12:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterLazarus

Lazarus, the challenge to climate science (so called) came from outside. That is the whole point of Climategate. I stand by my statement about McIntyre and McKitrick. It was their work that triggered the release of the Climategate emails by whichever whistleblower it was. That's been my view from the first week till now.

But whether you accept it the leak was an inside job, you surely must understand that the whole issue arose because of a challenge from outside the 'officials' of climate science. It was the duty of any inquiry to interact as closely as possible with the very best of those outsiders. The two names I gave in February remain the top of my list.

And that's the other point. You said above that we are only complaining because we don't like the findings of the inquiries. But I was complaining (as were many others) long before I heard any of the findings - because the modus operandi was clearly not designed to get near the truth. You may not agree with that but you cannot complain about the consistency.

Dec 30, 2010 at 1:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

On 'not feeding the trolls': I have always rebelled against this spurious piece of net wisdom, because the analogy is the wrong end. It's not what trolls eat that's the issue, it's the poop they produce and where they smear it. Sometimes if you don't bother to clean it up (answer) it leaves a third party lurker with a stink in their nostrils (thinking that there's no answer to a particular line of argument). Needless to say, sometimes the smell goes away of its own accord and it's best to ignore it. But that's a matter of judgement. We're not feeding them, we clearing away their poop. That's the only way to think about it.

Dec 30, 2010 at 1:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Richard Drake 1:48am -

I'm with you Richard. I do wonder whether Lazarus is really a first time poster. His demands for "evidence" are reminiscent of the two trolls who ventured this way the other day. On the other hand, perhaps they all read from the same script.

Dec 30, 2010 at 7:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterJockdownsouth

Lazarus

Could you just clarify for me: have you read the report I wrote on the Climategate inquiries?

Dec 30, 2010 at 8:14 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

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