ClimateGate: The Fix is In (Best summary yet of the corruption of peer review)

This is the scandal of the century. It needs to be thoroughly investigated-and the culprits need to be brought to justice.

By Robert Tracinski

In early October, I covered a breaking story about evidence of corruption in the basic temperature records maintained by key scientific advocates of the theory of man-made global warming. Global warming “skeptics” had unearthed evidence that scientists at the Hadley Climatic Research Unit at Britain’s University of East Anglia had cherry-picked data to manufacture a “hockey stick” graph showing a dramatic-but illusory-runaway warming trend in the late 20th century.

But now newer and much broader evidence has emerged that looks like it will break that scandal wide open. Pundits have already named it “Climategate.”

A hacker-or possibly a disillusioned insider-has gathered thousands of e-mails and data from the CRU and made them available on the Web. Officials at the CRU have verified the breach of their system and acknowledged that the e-mails appear to be genuine.

Yes, this is a theft of data-but the purpose of the theft was to blow the whistle on a much bigger, more brazen crime. The CRU has already called in the police to investigate the hacker. But now someone needs to call in the cops to investigate the CRU.

Australian journalist Andrew Bolt has a good overview of the story, with a selection of incriminating e-mails that have already been discovered in the hacked data. Note that these e-mails reveal more than just what it going on at the CRU, since they involve numerous leading British and American climate scientists outside of the CRU.

These e-mails show, among many other things, private admissions of doubt or scientific weakness in the global warming theory. In acknowledging that global temperatures have actually declined for the past decade, one scientist asks, “where the heck is global warming?… The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.” They still can’t account for it; see a new article in Der Spiegel: “Climatologists Baffled by Global Warming Time-Out.” I don’t know where these people got their scientific education, but where I come from, if your theory can’t predict or explain the observed facts, it’s wrong.

More seriously, in one e-mail, a prominent global warming alarmist admits to using a statistical “trick” to “hide the decline” in temperatures. Anthony Watts provides an explanation of this case in technical detail; the “trick” consists of selectively mixing two different kinds of data-temperature “proxies” from tree rings and actual thermometer measurements-in a way designed to produce a graph of global temperatures that ends the way the global warming establishment wants it to: with an upward “hockey stick” slope.

Confirming the earlier scandal about cherry-picked data, the e-mails show CRU scientists conspiring to evade legal requests, under the Freedom of Information Act, for their underlying data. It’s a basic rule of science that you don’t just get to report your results and ask other people to take you on faith. You also have to report your data and your specific method of analysis, so that others can check it and, yes, even criticize it. Yet that is precisely what the CRU scientists have refused.

But what stood out most for me was extensive evidence of the hijacking of the “peer review” process to enforce global warming dogma. Peer review is the practice of subjecting scientific papers to review by other scientists with relevant expertise before they can be published in professional journals. The idea is to weed out research with obvious flaws or weak arguments, but there is a clear danger that such a process will simply reinforce groupthink. If it is corrupted, peer review can be a mechanism for an entrenched establishment to exclude legitimate challenges by simply refusing to give critics a hearing.

And that is precisely what we find.

In response to an article challenging global warming that was published in the journal Climate Research, CRU head Phil Jones complains that the journal needs to “rid themselves of this troublesome editor“-hopefully not through the same means used by Henry II’s knights. Michael Mann replies:

I think we have to stop considering “Climate Research” as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal.

Note the circular logic employed here. Skepticism about global warming is wrong because it is not supported by scientific articles in “legitimate peer-reviewed journals.” But if a journal actually publishes such an article, then it is by definition not “legitimate.”

You can also see from these e-mails the scientists’ panic at any dissent appearing in the scientific literature. When another article by a skeptic was published in Geophysical Research Letters, Michael Mann complains, “It’s one thing to lose Climate Research. We can’t afford to lose GRL.” Another CRU scientist, Tom Wigley, suggests that they target another troublesome editor: “If you think that Saiers is in the greenhouse skeptics camp, then, if we can find documentary evidence of this, we could go through official AGU channels to get him ousted.” That’s exactly what they did, and a later e-mail boasts that “The GRL leak may have been plugged up now w/new editorial leadership there.”

Not content to block out all dissent from scientific journals, the CRU scientists also conspired to secure friendly reviewers who could be counted on to rubber-stamp their own work. Phil Jones suggests such a list to Kevin Trenberth, with the assurance that “All of them know the sorts of things to say…without any prompting.”

So it’s no surprise when another e-mail refers to an attempt to keep inconvenient scientific findings out of a UN report: “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. K and I will keep them out somehow-even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!” Think of all of this the next time you hear someone invoke the authority of peer review-or of the UN’s IPCC reports-as backing for claims about global warming.

This scandal goes beyond scientific journals and into other media used to promote the global warming dogma. For example, has been billed as an objective website at which global warming activists and skeptics can engage in an impartial debate. But in the CRU e-mails, the global warming establishment boasts that RealClimate is in their pocket.

I wanted you guys to know that you’re free to use RC in any way you think would be helpful. Gavin and I are going to be careful about what comments we screen through…. We can hold comments up in the queue and contact you about whether or not you think they should be screened through or not, and if so, any comments you’d like us to include.

[T]hink of RC as a resource that is at your disposal…. We’ll use our best discretion to make sure the skeptics don’t get to use the RC comments as a megaphone.

And anyone doubting that the mainstream media is in on it, too, should check out New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin’s toadying apologia for the CRU e-mails, masquerading as a news report.

The picture that emerges is simple. In any discussion of global warming, either in the scientific literature or in the mainstream media, the outcome is always predetermined. Just as the temperature graphs produced by the CRU are always tricked out to show an upward-sloping “hockey stick,” every discussion of global warming has to show that it is occurring and that humans are responsible. And any data or any scientific paper that tends to disprove that conclusion is smeared as “unscientific” precisely because it threatens the established dogma.

For more than a decade, we’ve been told that there is a scientific “consensus” that humans are causing global warming, that “the debate is over” and all “legitimate” scientists acknowledge the truth of global warming. Now we know what this “consensus” really means. What it means is: the fix is in.

This is an enormous case of organized scientific fraud, but it is not just scientific fraud. It is also a criminal act. Suborned by billions of taxpayer dollars devoted to climate research, dozens of prominent scientists have established a criminal racket in which they seek government money-Phil Jones has raked in a total of £13.7 million in grants from the British government-which they then use to falsify data and defraud the taxpayers. It’s the most insidious kind of fraud: a fraud in which the culprits are lauded as public heroes. Judging from this cache of e-mails, they even manage to tell themselves that their manipulation of the data is intended to protect a bigger truth and prevent it from being “confused” by inconvenient facts and uncontrolled criticism.

The damage here goes far beyond the loss of a few billions of taxpayer dollars on bogus scientific research. The real cost of this fraud is the trillions of dollars of wealth that will be destroyed if a fraudulent theory is used to justify legislation that starves the global economy of its cheapest and most abundant sources of energy.

This is the scandal of the century. It needs to be thoroughly investigated-and the culprits need to be brought to justice.

Robert Tracinski writes daily commentary at He is the editor of The Intellectual Activist and

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Filed under Global Warming, Real Clear Politics

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