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Ten years of the Science Media Centre

The Science Media Centre is celebrating ten years of doing whatever it is it supposed to do and has issued a glossy brochure to celebrate its greatest hits. Prominent among these is, of course, Climategate.

I've attached an extract below.

It's a pity they don't mention their work on the Oxburgh report, when they managed to wheel out a series of big hitters in the scientific world, all of whom were willing to describe the five pages of the report as "thorough". That one of them was implicated in wrongdoing in the Climategate emails and another in the cover-up added a certain air of unreality to the whole affair.

Extract from SMC brochure

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  • Response
    Response: nouveau jeu
    - Bishop Hill blog - Ten years of the Science Media Centre

Reader Comments (42)

Absolutely disgraceful.

Note Mike Hanlon's:-
"We all remember the excitement over the allegedly damning “Mike’s Nature Trick” - although I for one have forgotten what this trick actually was. And indeed whether this was Hockey-Stick Mike [a reference
to the hockey stick shape of someone’s curve] or some other Mike in the story."

And this is a guy who is paid to be a Science Editor?

Oct 4, 2012 at 9:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

It's another April Fools Day publication gone out on the wrong date.

Oct 4, 2012 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Whenever I am unfortunate enough to hear Fiona Fox speak/interrupt/harangue I am reminded of Squealer from Animal Farm.

Oct 4, 2012 at 9:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Oh, my ... now it's not only "Poor Phil", but "Poor Simon" as well. No wonder UEA had to call in Neil Wallis and Outside Organization to the rescue.

But what a difference two years makes, eh?! From the keyboard of Simon Dunford (or someone who drafted it for him):

By the time of Climategate 2.0, as the second release of hacked emails last year was soon dubbed, we were able to give the media what it always wanted: an instant, noholds-barred London press conference with Phil Jones. The brilliant team at the Science Media Centre dropped everything to stage this for us. [emphasis added -hro]

"Stage" is an interesting choice of word, don't you think? But, then perhaps they've ... uh ... redefined it ;-)

Oct 4, 2012 at 9:30 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Poor Phil has learnt to do media interviews. I wonder if he's learnt to do Excel.

Oct 4, 2012 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I expect we'll have a similar, triumphant newsletter from the Department of Transport (Energy?) demonstrating how skilled civil servants and poiliticians are in technical assessment and procurement.

Oct 4, 2012 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

This document is a joy.
Simon Dunford, UEA press office:

Without Phil we did our best to counter the bewildering and complex allegations. Of fiddling the data. Of hiding data. Of losing data. Of corrupting peer review. Of bullying, lying and fraud. Most originated on a handful of climate sceptic blogs, and we were bemused by the willingness of some in the mainstream media to provide credence to a coterie of partisan amateurs.
Actually, the revelations of hiding and losing data and of corrupting peer review originated with Phil himself. But without Phil, Dunford couldn’t know that, could he? At least, not without reading the emails for himself.

Mike Hanlon editor of the Mail:

We all remember the excitement over the allegedly damning “Mike’s Nature Trick” - although I for one have forgotten what this trick actually was. And indeed whether this was Hockey-Stick Mike [a reference to the hockey stick shape of someone’s curve] or some other Mike in the story.
It’s odd that the Media Centre should give space to an editor to praise the Centre for the wonderful job they did on informing him about a subject about which he can’t remember a thing.

Oct 4, 2012 at 10:39 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

First things first, ... yuck.

Do these guys know the meaning of a stiff upper lip?

Look at Jones' story. It contains many key phrases used by Mann.

"They knew where I lived, they knew my family..." - this is typical Greenpeace language, surprisingly used by Jones (the supposed 'victim').

The thing about Jones' health. Of all the people whose emails were released, why was Jones the one to turn the most pale?

Simple. Jones' own conscience knew the implications of the stuff getting out ('can you please delete everything Mike?). It was a different world the earlier Jones lived in - where the fear of committing a wrong weighed more on the conscience than the commitment to 'the cause'. We now live in a Mannian world where you just shout whatever you want and the establishment protects you.

"His story the next day was headlined ‘Climategate RIP’." - that is all climate scientists are bothered about. Thanks Science Media Centre.

Oct 4, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Registered Commentershub

Shub, you nail something very important about Jones. Loss of conscience post Climategate seemed mandatory. What kind of pressure was exerted and how, who knows.

Oct 4, 2012 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

There is a need for an authoritative book to set the record straight on Climategate and the 'independent' enquiries.

Oct 4, 2012 at 12:18 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews


It was a different world the earlier Jones lived in - where the fear of committing a wrong weighed more on the conscience than the commitment to 'the cause'.
I don’t remember there being any sign that the “delete all emails” message was about conscience. Wasn’t it about covering themselves against accusations of breaking IPCC rules?
What I take from this brochure is that history is written by the victors. It was one thing to shout “Jones is hiding things”. Now we have to explain patiently that Jones and the IPCC and the Royal Society and the university and the media and the Science Media Centre and Oxburgh and Muir Russell ... were hiding things, and continue to lie about it. We, the “coterie of partisan amateurs on a handful of climate sceptic blogs” have been transformed from whistleblowers to conspiracy theorists.

Oct 4, 2012 at 12:19 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Geoff: all true but no mention of climate in last night's Presidential debate. Climategate penetrated the mass media and public consciousness, despite the pathetic fig leaves offered by the Science Media Centre and their ilk. And politicians on both sides of the Atlantic show that they know old-style alarmism is toxic. The substantive stuff is with us. But the bile sure is tiresome.

Oct 4, 2012 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Paul Matthews
An authoritative book on the subject must necessarily be libellous.
In the brochure Phil Jones says:

My private emails were being quoted out of context in an attempt to prove that global warming was a giant conspiracy of which I was the chief con man.
After only four days the Guardian’s George Monbiot was calling for my resignation.
“They should read my scientific papers, not my emails,” I kept saying. But no-one was listening. This was too good a story. Too good, in fact, to be true. And my part seemed to be that of pantomime villain.
How many false and misleading statements are there in that short extract? The whole point of Climategate was that it put the emails in context. Only Jones’s defenders took them out of context, claiming he was under pressure from a “flood“ of FOI demands which hadn’t actually begun. People did look at his scientific papers. It was on the basis of his scientific papers that Doug Keenan accused Jones of fraud, before Climategate. Monbiot didn’t “call for his resignation”. He grudgingly admitted in a reply to a commenter on his blog that Jones’s resignation followed logically from his mild criticisms. There’s nothing pantomime about lying and hiding data and destroying data and getting people sacked. It’s simple villainy.
Sorry if your execrable behaviour made you cry Phil. You’ve clearly got over it, and so have your friends in the media and the scientific establishment who are now lying to protect you.

Oct 4, 2012 at 12:41 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

I love Mike Hanlon's claim that the files were "accessible only through some obscure Russian site and then only in an unreadable gobbledegook format and probably riddled with viruses to boot". Well, we knew Excel was a litle too advanced for 'some' of these luminaries, but ... plain text files in a Zip archive are "an unreadable gobbledegook format"? Mike, the trick is, you unpack the archive file before trying to read the contents! (And it must have been cleared as OK by just about every antivirus program on the planet.)

It all makes you feel sorry for them. Well, almost. And not in the way they want.

Oct 4, 2012 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve C

"I don’t remember there being any sign that the “delete all emails” message was about conscience. "

Geoff, What I was referring to, was the fact that Jones went pale and fell sick as he realized the implications of his emails - where he asked for outright deletions with no apparent trace of hesitation - being released to the outside world.

He then appeared to regain his composure as it seemed there would be no consequences.

The lack of an immediate public relations response was mainly due to the fact that no one could be sure that there was no bombshell in there, in the emails. They couldn't be sure themselves so they just kept mum and waited.

Oct 4, 2012 at 1:00 PM | Registered Commentershub

That is an interesting point. I would call it the 'Skepticalscience' strategem - when a controversy breaks out, surround the issue completely with people of such abysmal intellectual caliber who are completely ignorant of the issues, and saturate media coverage with their inane babbling - that more knowledgeable ones just move away in frustration.

Oct 4, 2012 at 1:05 PM | Registered Commentershub

Widgery. Highly reminiscent of this:

Hansard 19 April 1972 vol 835 cc519
The Prime Minister (Mr. Edward Heath) 'With permission, Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a statement. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has formally presented to Parliament the report of the Lord Chief Justice into the events of Sunday, 30th January, 1972, at Londonderry. Copies of the report are now available in the Vote Office. The Government accept Lord Widgery's findings. All shades of opinion sincerely concerned with the truth must feel indebted to him for his objective and painstaking analysis of events. The Lord Chief Justice finds that: There would have been no deaths in Londonderry if those who organised the march had not thereby created a highly dangerous situation in which a clash between demonstrators and the security forces was almost inevitable. The decision to contain the march was fully justified by events and was successfully carried out.'

38 years later:

Hansard 15 Jun 2010 Column 739

The Prime Minister (Mr David Cameron): 'With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement. Today, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is publishing the report of the Saville inquiry-the tribunal set up by the previous Government to investigate the tragic events of 30 January 1972, a day more commonly known as "Bloody Sunday". We have acted in good faith by publishing the tribunal's findings as quickly as possible after the general election.

I am deeply patriotic; I never want to believe anything bad about our country; I never want to call into question the behaviour of our soldiers and our Army, which I believe to be the finest in the world. And I have seen for myself the very difficult and dangerous circumstances in which we ask our soldiers to serve. But the conclusions of this report are absolutely clear: there is no doubt; there is nothing equivocal; there are no ambiguities. What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong.'

Oct 4, 2012 at 1:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

I understand preening is a characteristic sign of displacement activity when frustrated. Thanks SMC for sending the signal: we* like to now when we are being effective.

*Dunford definition.

Oct 4, 2012 at 2:56 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

Jones says

'I am a scientist. I like to measure things'

When? AFAIK all he did was take a whole set of other people's data. chuck them into a machine room with Harry ReadMe, and tell him to sort it into some vaguely plausible order. Then he'd apply undocumented unexplained 'adjustments' until the results were what he 'felt to be right'

The chances of finding Phil Jones on the business end of a Stephenson Screen or even a tree corer are about the same as him doing plotting a graph in EXCEL unaided.

The more the climate scientists assert how wonderful they are, the more my bullshit detectors quiver in the autumnal breezes.

Oct 4, 2012 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Latimer: climate science is populated by third raters like Jones whose reputation has been developed by others for political reasons.Try to explain to such people that Maxwell's Equations and the Poynting Theorem prove the IPCC 'consensus' to be based on grossly incorrect physical assumptions, and they look at you with a blank stare then cry 'denier'!

Oct 4, 2012 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

I agree with you AlecM. But why not try saying the same things to Richard Lindzen or Isaac Held, who specialise in this area? And then publish the conversation.

Just because you are called 'denier' does not mean that you are correct in your science. Though the person who calls you that is incorrect in much deeper way.

And this is not to say I now want to have the discussion with you, in this thread. My point is that Phil Jones is not an atmospheric physicist. Please don't pollute genuine debate with irrelevancies.

Oct 4, 2012 at 5:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Excel - too complex for Phil Jones
Zip - 'unreadable gobbledegook' for Mike Hanlon

Worried that the UK had been dusted with a powerful stupefactant recently, I checked on Mike Hanlon... 'Michael is Britain’s sharpest and most well-read newspaper science journalist.' ( So that is alright then.

Oct 4, 2012 at 6:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

"Michael is Britain’s sharpest ..."

bit of a prick, then?

Oct 4, 2012 at 6:25 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta

I bet that Michael Hanlon guy didn't have Winzip or Rar installed, duobleclicked on the downloaded file and saw all that 'gobbledegook'.

Oct 4, 2012 at 6:48 PM | Registered Commentershub

The combination of smugness, stupidity and self-congratulatory condescension in these statements from the Science Media Centre is strikingly, almost eerily, reminiscent of the Bourbons and their court-followers in 1789 – except that where the Bourbons may have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing I strongly suspect that the likes of Hanlon and 'Blubber' Jones are so taken by a preening sense of their own self-importance that they can, surely. never have learned anything at all.

Their evident disconnect from anything that might be described as belonging to the real world is breath-taking in its arrogance, its myopia and its idiocy.

They are heading for a mighty fall.

Oct 4, 2012 at 6:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

Congratulations to Connolley! /sarc

Oct 4, 2012 at 7:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterTomRude

Phil Jones: "They said I should be killed."

These lies are killing me.

Oct 4, 2012 at 8:17 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx

Here is the context in case he lies again about being quoted out of context:

"Within a day or two reporters were outside my house,
knocking on my neighbours’ doors, digging for dirt. I got
hundreds of abusive and threatening emails. They said I
should be killed. They knew where I lived, they knew my
family, and we should expect a knock at the door."

Oct 4, 2012 at 8:23 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx

I blame 'they', whoever they are. Only Phil Jones and the police knows about 'they'. He reported 'they' to the police, did he not?

Oct 4, 2012 at 8:27 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx


Who is Marcel Leraux? He doesn't appear to have a Wikipage.

Oct 4, 2012 at 8:36 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx

That's five in a row for me. Great form.

Oct 4, 2012 at 8:37 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx

Probably worth downloading the full SMC annual review (the latest is 2010), to get a flavour of how important the spinning of the Climategate affair was to the SMC. Just read the first page, 'A letter from the Director', after the cover pic of a melting iceburg. (And perhaps p.5)

Oct 4, 2012 at 8:59 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

I wish I could agree with you about the "air of unreality", Bishop. What a rational person would consider real, or unreal, is of no consequence to the priesthood of MMGW.

Oct 4, 2012 at 9:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterOwen Morgan


The late Marcel Leroux was a sceptical climatologist. He still has a French Wikipedia page but it too is marked for deletion.

The Romans called Connelly's particular form of censorship "Damnatio memoriae"

Oct 4, 2012 at 9:30 PM | Registered CommenterDreadnought

@ sHx, why do you think Connolley was and still is so willing to having the page deleted?

Follow him discussing it at:

Oct 4, 2012 at 9:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterTomRude

I am confused.

Why are Phil Jones, the Science Media Centre and the climate science community not saying anything about the attempts to condemn the good work and the memory of one of their colleagues? Is it because he is French?

Oct 4, 2012 at 10:16 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx

The Science Media Centre appears to epitomise all that is rotten and has been rotten for many years in the public life of the UK. After spending most of the past decade living and working in the UK I love England and its inhabitants, but they are badly served by many in positions of some influence and/or responsibility.

Oct 5, 2012 at 1:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

sHx, Climategate emails have shown complicity between some French researchers that have their own Wikipedia history and Jones. You do not expect these people to help do you?

Oct 5, 2012 at 3:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterTomRude

Tom (and Dreadnaught), sorry for coming across a little flippant there. I have locked horns twice with wikihack William Connolley on similar matters. The last one was here in a Die Klimazwiebel thread.

So I'm reasonably familiar with Connolley and his ilk's shenanigans. The reason I tied it in with Jones, the SMC and their climate catastrophe community is to make the issue more relevant to the thread.

I hold the glimmer of hope that at least one of those climate crusaders would read this thread and hang their heads in shame as they witness the organised effort to erase from Wikipedia figures like contrarian climate scientist like Marcel Leroux and inconvenient events like the Roman Warm Period, while a history of United States presidential pets has its own extensive page.

This is a travesty greater than Kevin Trenbeth's missing heat.

Oct 5, 2012 at 4:26 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

from their annual 'report'

In 2010, the Centre received over 600 separate enquiries, and was able to help journalists with their requests in over 97% of cases.

It looks like 97% is the new 97%.

Oct 5, 2012 at 7:02 AM | Registered Commentershub

Unless I have missed something the Wikipedia editing restrictions currently applied to William Connolley are described at

In brief he is permitted to edit within the area of climate change, but not to involve himself with biographies of living people who are involved in climate controversies. While the recently deceased are sometimes included within this category he would seem to be editing within his current restrictions. Of course all the normal Wikipedia policies still apply.

Oct 5, 2012 at 10:22 AM | Registered CommenterJonathan Jones

@ sHx, got it.
@ Jonathan Jones, that may explain why he is busy grave digging... and also this exchange from the deletion admin. page:

Hi. I notice you recently closed the AFD on Marcel Leroux. There is a copy of the article from fairly recently at User:Lucy_Skywalker/Marcel_Leroux; I dunno if that needs to go or not. I don't much care; I'm just letting you know. I only noticed it because its the #7 google hit for Leroux :-) William M. Connolley (talk) 19:35, 4 October 2012 (UTC)

William M. Connolley's comment "I dunno if that needs to go or not. I don't much care" suggests that the fate of an article is suspended to his good will, i.e. if he'd cared that the article should "go" it will. Is that a fair representation of Wikipedia deletion policies or bragging? ShowTimeAgainShowTimeAgain (talk) 20:04, 4 October 2012 (UTC)

Now its being actively maintained [6], so I'd say it should be deleted William M. Connolley (talk) 20:21, 4 October 2012 (UTC)

Thank you! Should this page be deleted, you indeed made a mockery of the Wikipedia deletion policies by showing your whims are in fact, orders.ShowTimeAgain (talk) 20:25, 4 October 2012 (UTC)

And now STA has re-created Talk:Marcel Leroux for his POV pushing. Oh joy William M. Connolley (talk) 20:30, 4 October 2012 (UTC)

Are you denying William M. Connolley that your first intervention on the deletion of Marcel Leroux page was "• delete - the article has been hijacked by global warming deniers"? How about your own POV?ShowTimeAgain (talk) 20:43, 4 October 2012 (UTC)

Considering the soap boxing that is taking place Wikipedia_talk:Articles_for_deletion/Marcel_Leroux, it might be prudent to SALT the article pending consensus at a discussion to recreate it. IRWolfie- (talk) 23:21, 4 October 2012 (UTC)

It's on my watchlist, and presumably several other people's. Barring serious concerns about living subjects, I'm not sure there's a need to SALT a page. If there's a couple recreations that don't address the AfD closure, then yes. WilyD 05:10, 5 October 2012 (UTC)

Prudent? Are you concerned your actions are inappropriate? What's next? Delete the deletion archive page?ShowTimeAgain (talk) 00:36, 5 October 2012 (UTC)"

In any case, they control the medium and do as they wish...

Oct 5, 2012 at 3:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterTomRude

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