Wingnuts Wishart and Whale wet themselves – several times

Our favourite wingnut conspiracy theorists Ian Wishart and Cameron Slater must have had to buy in additional stocks of adult diapers over the weekend, such was their excitement over the release of emails stolen from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit.

Wishart has managed three posts on the topic in the last four days, as has Whale.

Now, lets start with what happened. Someone hacked into the University of East Anglia’s mail server and stole – yes it is a criminal offence – a 61MB mail file. Does it not occur to Wishart, Whale and the other right wing climate cranks that someone sufficiently dishonest to hack a mail server and steal a mail file is also likely to be sufficiently dishonest to doctor a few of the emails to enhance the effect before release. No, that wouln’t fit their conspiracy theory, would it.

Whale blathers on about:

…an elite group of climate scientists have conspired to massage data, dodging scrutiny, hounding out sceptical editors, fudging figures, the possibly criminal destruction of data under FOI request, tax avoidance, gloating over a sceptic’s death, character assassination of sceptics. admissions of using “tricks” to “hide” inconvenient trends, farming grants, private admissions of grave doubts in their own public warming warnings, close collusion with green groups, the joint concocting of the most alarmist announcements and much more.

Well, a 661MB mail file contains thousands of emails, and I don’t have the time to read all of them. Nor would Wishart, Whale and their fellow cranks. But from what I have read, and it seems that the emails have been selectively released, there is nothing to justify the extravagant claims they are making.

Take the using “tricks to hide inconvenient trends” bit. That’s been thoroughly debunked at RealClimate:

Phil Jones in discussing the presentation of temperature reconstructions stated that “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” The paper in question is the Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998) Nature paper on the original multiproxy temperature reconstruction, and the ‘trick’ is just to plot the instrumental records along with reconstruction so that the context of the recent warming is clear. Scientists often use the term “trick” to refer to a “a good way to deal with a problem”, rather than something that is “secret”, and so there is nothing problematic in this at all. As for the ‘decline’, it is well known that Keith Briffa’s maximum latewood tree ring density proxy diverges from the temperature records after 1960 (this is more commonly known as the “divergence problem”–see e.g. the recent discussion in this paper) and has been discussed in the literature since Briffa et al in Nature in 1998 (Nature, 391, 678-682). Those authors have always recommend not using the post 1960 part of their reconstruction, and so while ‘hiding’ is probably a poor choice of words (since it is ‘hidden’ in plain sight), not using the data in the plot is completely appropriate, as is further research to understand why this happens.

Good science, rather than the deception the cranks would have us believe.

None of the other generalised allegations stack up either, although I have to admit the email about possibly destroying data to avoid Freedom of Information Act requests, if it was genuine, was unwise (although I’ve seen no evidence that any data was actually destroyed, and I can understand the frustration of scientists having to deal with a never-ending flood of infromation requests from cranks).

Wishart likes to think of himself as an investigative journalist. Perhaps he could turn his skills to investigating who stole the University of East Anglia’s mail file and what their motive was, rather than use the episode to promote his thoroughly discredited crank book.

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8 thoughts on “Wingnuts Wishart and Whale wet themselves – several times

  1. So toad are you upset about the fact the emails were dishonestly obtained or that the contents are so detreminetal to climate change?

    I cant recall you being this upset about the National Party stolen emails.

    As one lives by the sword……..

  2. Gerrit, no it is not ok to hack into anyone’s emails. Hacking is illegal.

    But no-one has ever produced an allegation, let alone any evidence, that the Parliamentary mail server was hacked to get Brash’s emails. The allegation, as I understand it, is that they were supplied to Nicky Hager by someone who had legitimate access to them. Unethical, maybe. Misconduct as an employee, maybe. But illegal, no.

    But what I am most upset about is the beatup of them we are seeing from the climate cranks who allege they reveal some vast conspiracy when they do not – they just reveal good scientists going about good science.

  3. Same goes here Toad.

    No-one has produced an allegation, let alone any evidence, that the CRU mail server was hacked to get these damning emails.

    Not even Phil Jones has said the word hacked, not one person in the emails has mentioned the word.

    They have however mentioned breaches of privacy.

  4. Ah, okay Whale, fair enough. The term “hack” was used on RealClimate which is authored by some of the scientists whose emails have been released. So I took that to mean it had been confirmed that they were obtained by hacking their mail server.

    However, the official statement from the University of East Anglia doesn’t actually use the term and says:

    We are aware that information from a server used for research information
    in one area of the university has been made available on public websites,”
    the spokesman stated.

    Because of the volume of this information we cannot currently confirm
    that all of this material is genuine.”

    This information has been obtained and published without our permission
    and we took immediate action to remove the server in question from
    operation.”

    We are undertaking a thorough internal investigation and we have involved
    the police in this enquiry.

  5. The point remains, that if this is the worst that can be found it puts paid to the climate crank’s assertions that it is a plot by the UN, that data was altered to get the desired outcomes and that this is all a big con. Wishart should be crapping himself rather than wetting himself.

    There is not a single scientific paper debunking AGW (I will eschew the more confusing in NZ, ‘ACC’) fundamentals that has not been ripped to shreds. If not in the peer review process (in which case it does not get published) then in the post publication process.

    Since the science was first presented it has only gotten stronger and deniers have grown louder. I’ve been told it is a religion… but that is only in the same sense as evolution is a religion…. because the only opposition to the theory is religious.

    It is certainly not based on fact.

    People looking for a climate conspiracy would do well to check behind them. The real conspiracy is in the CEI and the former tobacco lobbyists who are being paid to spread confusion, promote shoddy science and selectively report information in order to prevent the truth from seeping into the public consciousness.

    Eventually it will. All this is, is an effort of the wealthy of this generation to steal even more from the children of the next.

    BJ

  6. @whaleoil

    Whoever is responsible did hack the RealClimate server and upload the file there. Confirmed by Gavin A Schmidt:

    At around 6.20am (EST) Nov 17th, somebody hacked into the RC server from an IP address associated with a computer somewhere in Turkey, disabled access from the legitimate users, and uploaded a file FOIA.zip to our server. They then created a draft post that would have been posted announcing the data to the world that was identical in content of the comment posted on The Air Vent later that day. They were intercepted before this could be posted on the blog. This archive appears to be identical to the one posted on the Russian server except for the name change. Curiously, and unnoticed by anyone else so far, the first comment posted on this subject was not at the Air Vent, but actually at ClimateAudit (comment 49 on a thread related to stripbark trees, dated Nov 17 5.24am (Central Time I think)). The username of the commenter was linked to the FOIA.zip file at realclimate.org. Four downloads occurred from that link while the file was still there (it no longer is).

    So a relatively sophisticated hack appears to clearly be the M.O. of the perpetrator(s) in the dissemination of the material, so I’d suggest it is very likely also the method by which the material was obtained.

  7. Still cant work out something toad,

    Leaving aside the reprehensable act of hacking why are you so worried about the contents?

    Surely the science is settled, nothing in the emails would debunk that no?

    So why worried about the contents?

    You are right to be indignant about the hacking but because you are sure the science is settled on AGW there is nothing to worry about.

    Interestingly it is more informative to read about the email contnets in the Sydney Morning Herald then in any New Zealand paper. See no need to be worried.

  8. Why they don’t put all the data in the public domain never ceases to amaze me. It’s just asking for all the suspicion they generate.

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