Why should I make the data available to you

[BPSDB] In many comments on the CRU hack I’ve seen it alleged that Professor Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit denied his data to another researcher with the words, “Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”

Whenever I’ve seen it quoted, it’s implied that  Jones made the comment in one of the emails. I finally got around to looking for it, in the file FOIA.zip I downloaded soon after the hack was made public – and it ain’t there. Not perhaps surprising, as it really doesn’t sound like the sort of thing an academic would say, except jokingly or sarcastically.

Indeed, the words are there. In August 2007, a fellow researcher warns Jones that the words are being attributed to him by someone else. In October 2009, another colleague sends Jones a copy of the text of an article in the National Review of 23 September 2009. In this Patrick Michaels quotes Warwick Hughes as alleging that Phil Jones said, “We have 25 years or so invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”.

So it doesn’t appear to be evidence that Jones actually wrote it.  Given the unreliability and political commitment of all the links in this chain, and that this was one of the main pieces of evidence for the supposed ‘conspiracy’, I think there is even less evidence of wrong-doing.

Conspiracy theories have a tendency to spawn new conspiracies: here’s a climate ‘sceptic’ who thinks the CRU staff may have leaked the emails themselves to make ‘sceptics’ look stupid. If so, they’ve succeeded.

Trick or heat, continued

[BPSDB] 32,500,000 hits for ‘climategate’ on Google today, and I’m beginning to feel as if I’ve seen most of them. Lots of repetition there, but what I have yet to see is any actual evidence of climate data being suppressed or distorted to falsify conclusions. Only tendentious interpretations of selected quotes from emails that were themselves selected from what must have been ongoing conversations.

Possibly the scientists involved did not behave entirely correctly to other people, but I expect that will come out in the investigation.  I’m both a sceptical person and an old-fashioned believer in innocent till proven guilty, so I will wait for the results of the investigation before passing judgement on the scientists.

A  thousand emails out of a something like a decade and a half means that the emails have been drastically selected out of a very much larger number (and possibly redacted too). Whoever stole the emails is clearly manipulating his audience and rather a lot of commenters seem unaware of the possibility that they are being manipulated.

What is also clear that some people jumped to ‘obvious’ – just too obvious – and daft conclusions about what certain emails ‘meant’. For example, an email by Kevin Trenberth was widely taken to be a climate scientist expressing private doubts that global warming is happening, but it was actually a comment on short-term variability and was discussed openly in his publication here. Lots of people desperate to believe that global warming is  a hoax fell for this one, like Andrew Orlowski at The Register and the frankly begging-to-be-taken-to-the-cleaners James Delingpole.