Talk:Climatic Research Unit email controversy/Archive 37

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Some recent edits concerning Parliament and the government

Some recent edits have changed the term "Parliament" to "UK Parliament". This is ugly and, given the context, unnecessary. The section on Parliament has been moved into a subsection under the government, which is incorrect. Parliamentary committees are engaged in legislation and oversight, while the term "government" in UK usage refers to Whitehall, the Admiralty, etc, and Downing Street. --TS 21:38, 30 August 2010 (UTC)


The following text has recently been added:

In his review comments on the report, Stephen McIntyre objected to this graph being truncated, and said that the whole reconstruction should be shown with comments to deal with the "divergence problem". John Tierney wrote in the New York Times that "the graph adorned the cover of a report intended for policy makers and journalists. The nonexperts wouldn’t have realized that the scariest part of that graph — the recent temperatures soaring far above anything in the previous millennium — was based on a completely different measurement from the earlier portion. It looked like one smooth, continuous line leading straight upward to certain doom."

This gives a vast amount of exposure to a single minority view. Why? --TS 21:50, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

Tony, have you read the emails? The major focal point of most of the animosity in the emails was McIntyre. McIntyre and McItrick's papers on the hockey stick were what set off almost this entire controversy. The resulting NAS and Wegman reports, the congressional hearings where the findings were discussed, and the continual tug of war between McIntyre, the Climate Audit regulars, and Mann and the CRU over data and code. Remember, many of the controversial emails involved Jones and other scientists and staffers discussing ways to avoid providing the data under the FOIA requests. McIntyre is as key a player in this controversy almost as much as Mann, Jones, and Briffa are. As far as this topic is concerned, McIntyre is not a "minor" player and his views are not "minor." Cla68 (talk) 23:28, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
Cla's version of events is wrong. Stuffing McI in here is also wrong. Further, this entire section has a se-main to the documents page, and so is bloated - it needs to be cut down further, not expanded William M. Connolley (talk) 08:12, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
I've made a start at cutting it down William M. Connolley (talk) 08:17, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
Oh well, AQFK has reverted without troubling to read any of this discussion or contribute in any way William M. Connolley (talk) 15:01, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
William M. Connolley: You've already been sanctioned for trying to edit-war the source code paragraph out of the article and I see no need to repeat the discussion if you don't have anything new to add. As for Tony Sidaway's claim that McIntyre is minority view point, he is flatly incorrect. McIntyre's viewpoints regarding this article's topic have been featured prominently in reliable sources. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 16:26, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
Non sequitur. Minority view points can appear in reliable sources. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 16:47, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
Short Brigade Harvester Boris: I think you might have overlooked "regarding this article's topic" in my post. I'm not saying McIntyre's is a minority viewpoint. Rather, I'm saying it's a major viewpoint. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 19:04, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
I've removed it again. As you say, AQFK's non-seq isn't helpful. That section is, as I say, far too long for a see-main William M. Connolley (talk) 13:47, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
And I reverted. 5 of 8 editors have put forth strong arguments for inclusion, please do not remove material without consensus. GregJackP Boomer! 15:33, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
It doesn't appear to me that there is a concensus to remove this material. The version left suggest that Inhofe and Palin were the people foremost in discussions.Slowjoe17 (talk) 16:34, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

If you look you'll see that it was I, not William M. Connolley, who raised the problem. For the record, I think it's clear that Cla68's defense of the inclusion is original research based on his personal reading of primary sources. I don't advocate immediate removal, but I think we'd need a jolly good reason to include such copious coverage of a minority view. --TS 16:38, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

If you look at the fuller account, in Climatic Research Unit documents, you'll see that McIntyre's original remarks were from his review comments on Keith Briffa's section of the IPCC 4AR. I disagree that giving McIntyre a single sentence here constitutes "a vast amount of exposure". I think McI's views are appropriately weighted here. Are you also objecting to the NYT columnist's remarks? Thanks, Pete Tillman (talk) 21:07, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
Concur with Tillman that McI's views are appropriate here. GregJackP Boomer! 22:05, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
I think we are mischaracterising the comment as a minority view. The comment was a review comment for AR4. The fact that the alleged suppression of the divergence problem came up in review is notable.Slowjoe17 (talk) 22:18, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

I'm still not seeing any evidence, as opposed to conspiracy-mongering, to support the notion that this is anything beyond a personal view expressed by McIntyre. Why are McIntyre's words, expressed in AR4 review, at all relevant to an investigation carried out based on emails illegally released in 2010? --TS 22:59, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Tony: I think your use of "conspiracy-mongering" is inflammatory and inappropriate.
And I think you are lost. This isn't about the investigation -- this is about the leaked CRU documents, specifically the famous Phil Jones "hide the decline" email, and the context thereof. "Content of the documents [1]. Again, please see the main article for the leaked documents. for context -- this is just the summary. --Pete Tillman (talk) 23:22, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
Well that's the thing, you see. Combing through the documents and making up stories about what they're about, that's conspiracy-mongering. This is an encyclopedia. We shouldn't be doing that. If the article you refer to is doing that, it should not be. --TS 23:25, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
Tony, please don't cast aspersions on the motivation or agenda of other editors on this page. That's a violation of NPA. Stay on topic. We're saying that McIntyre is a major player in this controversy. We have sources to back that up. Do you need us to list them for you? To give you a hint were at least one of them will be coming from, he's an environmental journalist named Fred Pearce and he writes for a major newspaper called The Guardian. Cla68 (talk) 23:28, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Comment -- mark your calendars -- I actually agree with Conolley on this one. The content about McIntyre's analysis of the hockey stick data is too tenuous with the topic of the email controversy. It appears to be coatrack-y. If there are sources that directly tie McIntyre's conclusions to the emails, then that might be more appropriate, but the way it was stated in the article was going off topic. That being said, the other content that has been repeatedly removed regarding the Wall Street Journal and New York Times references should not be removed -- it is about the controversy and it's reliable sourcing in main stream news publications. I am restoring it. Sarek's edit summary that it isnt clear that the final investigation supports what was reported in the WSJ and NYT is irrelevant. This is not about any final investigation or its conclusions -- it's about the controversy itself. Minor4th 16:16, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
As I've said several times, but I suppose I'll have to say again: there is a very good reason for removing this stuff it is already in another article, which article is linked by the see-main. We should not be repeating stuff at great length here. It should be said once William M. Connolley (talk) 16:34, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
It's covered more fully in the other article, but it's fine to have a more summary version here. In fact, this article would be incomplete without it. Minor4th 16:38, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
Feel free to cut something else out of that section then, I'm not terribly fussed what. But that section is far too long for material that is covered elsewhere William M. Connolley (talk) 17:11, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
I think most of that could be included under "Responses" -- most of this is commentary reacting to the contents of the emails. I think "Contents of the documents" is not the right heading, although I do think a short description of the salient email contents should be described somewhere prominent in this article because otherwise the article won't make much sense. I will look at whether there's a way to structure it better and post suggestions here if I think of something better. Encourage others working on this article to do the same. The article is very long -- not sure it's at the point that it should be forked or pared down yet but that is something to consider. Minor4th 19:39, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
The removal of the McIntyre comment does make the section stay better on topic, so I concede the point. Cla68 (talk) 23:09, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Section on "Content of the documents"

The current flurry of edits hasn't quite played out, and this section is now a bit of a mess. I put back the Tierney/NYT quote re the "Trick" in Para #5: this para. would be seriously unbalanced without it, and no one discussed removing this stable text at talk, so perhaps this was inadvertent.

Here are some other problems, while I have a few minutes free:

  • 3rd para: "A few other commentators such as Roger A. Pielke [not in citation given]... -- needs fixing
  • 4th para: "The Wall Street Journal reported the emails revealed apparent efforts to ensure the IPCC include their own views and exclude others and to withhold scientific data"[2]. It's not clear to me who "their" refers to, either in our paraphrase or even in the article cited. I'm pretty sure their = the "ringleaders" in the subject emails: Phil Jones, M. Mann, et al. Maybe we need a clearer source? Or a better paraphrase?

I agree that this section seems overlong for a summary, but, given the contentious topic, we may have to live with that for now. Best, Pete Tillman (talk) 20:48, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Thank you for putting that back -- it was inadvertent. After I screwed up my edit, I was trying to fix it and had to attend to something at work and could not finish getting it back in shape. Sorry. Any thoughts on a better structure for that section? Minor4th 21:30, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

NPOV dispute: hacker or whistleblower


There are only two ways to write this article, in regards to the question of hacker or whistleblower:

  1. Ignore the issue, on various grounds
  2. State that there is a public dispute about whether the data was "hacked" or "leaked by a whistleblower"

I'm not going to read the entire archive, but here's a typical (and erroneous) comment:

  • Reliable sources say "stolen", "theft" and "hack". None say "allegedly". Case closed. -- Scjessey (talk) 05:21, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

Unfortunately for the sanctity of WP:NPOV, there is indeed a reliable source that says "allegedly" - or "alleged breack" to be precise. It is the Norfolk police, and the news report containing this information is already ref'd in the article.

Here is my reasoning: if someone can credibly say that none say "allegedly" even when a reliable source already used in the article says "allegedly", then there is a serious violation of NPOV.

What is wrong with saying that sources disagree on whether there was a "breach" or that the information was "leaked" from inside? Specifically, how could it possibly hurt the neutrality of the article? --Uncle Ed (talk) 20:39, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

Why two sections to say the same thing? And why oh why oh why quote Monckton in the article? William M. Connolley (talk) 20:49, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
They never figured out who did it or why, right? So any characterization in this regard is just speculation. All we know is that it's an unauthorized release of computer documents, and that it probably involved unauthorized access to the computer. We also know that there was some kind of investigation and a lot of people involved in the incident said a lot of things, all of which isn't terribly conclusive. So whoever did it is a... wait for it .... unauthorized releaser of documents! Beyond that, the facts of what happened aren't in question, the question is what to call it. So that's a POV issue, and best to be neutral in description even if the act itself was not a neutral act. I hope that makes sense. - Wikidemon (talk) 20:59, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
I think this is overstated. What we know for certain is that the university has stated that the material was stolen from one of its servers by a hacker. And guess what, we report this in the article: "According to the university, the emails and documents were obtained through a server hacking." We're not endorsing that statement, we're reporting it. There is no dispute that the material was stolen (whatever method was used, it was stolen); the only dispute is whether it was stolen by a hacker (which the vast majority of sources have reported) or by a whistleblower (which a few opinion writers have speculated, on the basis of no evidence whatsoever). -- ChrisO (talk) 21:11, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Although the present status of the article on this issue seems appropriate, Chris's argument is fatuous, at best. No one (other than the person or persons who actually leaked the data) has indicated that he/she/they have any evidence to make informed speculation as to whether it was a hack or leak. As for "stolen", to the extent that material should have been released under FOIA requests, it wasn't stolen. It's not clear (at least from what was stated in the article) whether the material the ICO found should have been released is related to the material that was leaked.
If the university concludes that it was hacked, that's fair to say. A whistle-blower implies, among other things, that the person doing so was an insider who was permitted to access the information, and released it against the organization's wishes to inform the public of a misdeed they felt the organization was not going to disclose. Several of those elements are speculative. "Stolen" is a loaded term that doesn't apply too well to data, and controversial to apply it to unauthorized disclosures. It adds a judgment about what happened without actually saying anything about what happened. Again, what happened was an unauthorized disclosure of data that was apparently hacked (or less likely, leaked). - Wikidemon (talk) 21:47, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
The university is the owner of the data. It has said unequivocally that the data was stolen. As the owner of the data, it is the party whose property rights have been violated. The dispute, such as it is, is over the method of the theft, not whether the theft took place in the first instance. This issue has been discussed ad nauseum before - see FAQ #5 above. -- ChrisO (talk) 22:44, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
"Alleged" is fine. But that does not allow us to fill in the blank with anything. We cannot say "it is possible that the angel Moroni presented the e-mails on gold tablets to Morano" and we cannot anymore make claims about whistleblowers. There are zero "informed" sources alleging that there was a whistleblower. That is something that someone made up without making a case. Whimsy. I want to point to WP:NOR but WP:FRINGE and WP:DUE are what applies. A conjecture that someone puts out at best wildly and with no evidence and at worst libelously is not a RS. That it became a popular meme among a peculiar subculture doesn't make it an RS. Perhaps there is a way to mention the meme in the article but it would have to be done carefully so as not to run afoul of WP:DUE. And I dare say that those who want to treat something without RS as coequal to the narrative currently being given by law enforcement are not here to build an encyclopedia but instead want to abuse this website to spread disinformation. Bkalafut (talk) 22:12, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
When this incident first happened, I added a source in which a cyber security expert opined that in incidents like these, the data is almost always stolen by an insider. My addition was quickly removed. There are both opinions out there on what may have happened. You can say something in the lede and the first section like, "The University states that the documents and emails were hacked by an outsider, but there has also been speculation that it was done without authorization by an insider. Police are currently investigating the breach." That statement right there would resolve the concern because it doesn't take sides or favor one view over the other. Cla68 (talk) 22:51, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
It does, however, have the problem of false equivalence: the owner of the data (and the aggrieved party) being put on the same level as some obscure security expert with absolutely zero knowledge of the particulars of the incident. Plus there is the not insignificant fact that the security expert in question was, as I recall, a climate change denialist himself, passing on claims made on other denialist blogs. -- ChrisO (talk) 22:54, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Cla68 has the right approach if one wants to have a NPOV. To assume that the University is correct is to take a POV position. GregJackP Boomer! 00:00, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
WP:DUE, WP:FRINGE. We need not assume that the University is correct, although to assume that they are being less than truthful is absurd. But we have no source aside from fringe speculators claiming that this was a "leak". The nature of the documents doesn't even point to a leak since they have revealed no scientific misconduct whatsoever and the vast majority don't point to any other misconduct--these aren't the sort of things somebody working at a research institution would "leak"--a source claiming a leak would have to address that somehow and so far all the sources do is Make Things Up--they claim it's a leak because they say so. The University and Norfolk Constabulary on the same level as fringe speculators Making Things Up? WP becomes Uncyclopedia. WP:DUE, WP:FRINGE. Find an RS. (talk) 05:28, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
Let me remind you about questionable sources. WP:POORSRC. "Questionable sources are those with a poor reputation for checking the facts, or with no editorial oversight. Such sources include websites and publications expressing views that are widely acknowledged as extremist, or promotional, or which rely heavily on rumor and personal opinion. Questionable sources should be used only as sources of material on themselves, especially in articles about themselves; see below for the restrictions on using self-published sources in this way. Questionable sources are generally unsuitable for citing contentious claims about third parties." We are not to give something equal weight in an article because we can find a third party without access to the facts speculating about it. Maybe, just maybe, the speculation is encyclopedia-worthy as an event in itself, but it certainly doesn't belong as part of the narrative, let alone in the lead, until there is an RS.Bkalafut (talk) 05:34, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

You're still assuming the truth of the University's claim. How do you know they didn't leak the info themselves, just like politicians do?

Since none of us Wikipedians knows what happened, it would be better to say quote whoever says it was stolen, hacked, leaked or "allegedly" breached.

Gosh, we might even try reviewing WP:NPOV and choose not to state as fact anything which disputed but rather "describe all viewpoints fairly".

And I'm still waiting for a reply to my question about the Norfolk Police as a source. Are they reliable enough for "alleged breach" or not? If not, why not? --Uncle Ed (talk) 23:42, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

Ed, I think you are arguing at cross purposes here. The article simply reports what the various parties have said, without giving undue weight to speculation by uninvolved parties. The Norfolk Police statement you mention, by the way, was a fairly old one if I remember rightly - more recent ones were unequivocal (dropping the word "alleged"). -- ChrisO (talk) 00:04, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
Does anyone else but ChrisO object to giving equal weight to all the theories, with sources, on how the files were released? If not, I think we can go ahead with the change and cross this concern off the POV tag list. Cla68 (talk) 02:50, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
I do. Your proposal violates policy, unless all of the theories are equally prominent in reliable sources. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 02:54, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
Are you really suggesting that we inventory all reliable sources to see which theory is predominant instead of simply using a sentence which mentions both (internal leak vs outside hack) and using a couple of sources for each assertion? Cla68 (talk) 00:33, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
Inventory, no. Do our best to find a rough proportion, yes. To do otherwise violates Wikipedia policy. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 22:16, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
I also object. A speculating third party with no information to substantiate his claim is not an RS. Doesn't even come close to being an RS. It's surprising that this is even up for discussion.Bkalafut (talk) 05:35, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
If you find this surprising, you must be new around here. ;-) Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 22:17, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
Needless to say, I also object, and I would have put my objection in the words Boris uses above, but Boris beat me to it. --TS 21:59, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
Well, to resolve this concern so we can take the POV tag off, we're going to have to find a compromise. Are you three (TS, SBHB, and Bkalafut) dead set against incuding any text in the article mentioning that some of the reliable sources have speculated that the leak was an inside job? Is there any compromise wording that you three would agree to? Cla68 (talk) 23:22, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
As usual I'm dead set on staying with policy. If somebody wants to tag the article, let them. There is no reliable source of evidence to support the rampaant speculation that has come from some people. --TS 23:28, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
OK, lets start listing the sources below that speculate that the leak was an inside job. I'll try to find the one that I used several months ago, which I think was from an IT magazine. Cla68 (talk) 00:57, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
"Speculate"? Really? Is that what we've come to here? Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 00:59, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
Are you saying that the allegation that was it was a hack isn't also speculation? Since the police investigation isn't complete, I assume it's all speculation. Cla68 (talk) 01:16, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm confused. Why is speculation that it was an outsider allowed, but speculation that it was an insider not allowed? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 01:17, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
You've got me. Perhaps Tony could clarify his statement, which appears to say that it is against policy to add sourced speculation that it was an inside job, but not against policy to add sourced speculation that it was a hack. Cla68 (talk) 01:22, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

The notion that it was a hacker is based on evidence. The notion that it was a whistleblower is pure speculation. --TS 16:44, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

What is the evidence, other than a claim by a Washington Post reporter?
And why should we give "equal weight" or ascribe "equal validity" to any idea? Why not admit that we - as Wikipedians - do not know? What's wrong with simply reporting what each verifiable source has said about the release of the email? --Uncle Ed (talk) 21:22, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

List of sources

(start list here)

  1. Fred Pearce, "Search for hacker may lead police back to East Anglia's climate research unit", The Guardian, 9 February 2010. "Who might have been involved? Three groups of people have been suggested: UEA dissidents. Disaffected people at the University of East Anglia, potentially with routine access to internal servers. Another possible source within UEA would be the Freedom of Information office. Superficially there is a case that the hack must have been an "inside job", say computer experts.". Cla68 (talk) 07:03, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
  2. McMillan, Robert, "Global warming research exposed after hack", Computerworld, November 20, 2009. "Judging from the data posted, the hack was done either by an insider or by someone inside the climate community who was familiar with the debate, said Robert Graham, CEO with the consultancy Errata Security. Whenever this type of incident occurs, "80 percent of the time it's an insider," he said.". Cla68 (talk) 06:57, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
  3. Guardian: [3] "The use of foreign servers proved to be a red herring. The Mail on Sunday claimed the Russians must therefore be behind it, and King speculated about a "highly sophisticated" cyber attack. In fact the use of so-called "open proxy" servers to remain anonymous is on page one of any whistleblowers' manual. A programme called TOR, for example, can be downloaded which will automatically switch between a random variety of servers. Digital forensic examination of the archive of emails and documents suggests that it was first created around 30 September, and subsequently added to during October and finally in November – when one of Osborn's sets of program code was added – just ahead of the full-blown leak".
  4. Johnson, Johna Till, "Data-leak lessons learned from the 'Climategate' hack", Network World, 25 November 2009. "Lesson 1: Don't let users put passwords in their signatures. Yep, you got that right: One of the scientists included both on his e-mail signature -- which means that anyone receiving an e-mail from this guy had access to his files. This may have been the source of the hack; in fact, some folks have theorized that a recipient of the e-mail was the source of the data dump". Cla68 (talk) 06:46, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
  5. Hans von Storch, "Good Science, Bad Politics", The Wall Street Journal, 24 Dec 2009, " the influential network of researchers at the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit and their colleagues in the U.S. -- whose sanctum was exposed last month when a whistleblower or hacker published e-mails and documents from the CRU server on the Internet". Cla68 (talk) 06:30, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
  6. Totnes, Peter Wyatt, "Leak exposes myth of global warming", Western Morning News (via Financial Times, ltd, European News Wire), 1 December 2009, "I think that as the file is 160 megabytes it is much more likely that a "whistleblower" rather than a "hacker" is responsible.". Cla68 (talk) 06:39, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
  7. CBS News: [4] "It's not clear how the files were leaked. One theory says that a malicious hacker slipped into East Anglia's network and snatched thousands of documents. Another says that the files had already been assembled in response to a Freedom of Information request and, immediately after it was denied, a whistleblower decided to disclose them. (Lending credence to that theory is the fact that no personal e-mail messages unrelated to climate change appear to have been leaked.)"
  8. Australia Herald Sun (news blog): [5] "his is clearly not the work of some hacker, but of an insider who’s now blown the whistle."
  9. U.S. News: [6] "Preliminary analysis of the contents of thousands of E-mails and documents taken from the computer archives of the Climate Research Unit at England's University of East Anglia—possibly by a hacker, possibly by a whistleblower—indicate a number of the world's most important scientists engaged in research designed to prove that global warming really does exist may have been cooking the books."
  10. The Weekly Standard: [7] In mid-November a large cache of emails and technical documents from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Britain were made available on a number of Internet file-servers for download by the public--either the work of a hacker or a leak from a whistleblower on the inside. "
  11. Washington Examiner: [8] "Last week a hacker -- or, perhaps more likely, an inside "whistleblower" -- leaked huge amounts of data from the Climate Research Unit at University of East Anglia in Britain. "
  12. Tim Ball, environmental consultant and former climatology professor at U. Winnipeg, writing at Canada Free Press: [9] "Major clues suggest the leaks were from an insider. A few emails were sent to a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reporter Paul Hudson on October 12, weeks before full release. This indicates someone trying to draw attention, but Hudson did nothing. He knew of the wrath and reach of Michael Mann. "Minor4th 03:51, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Further discussion

It would be more useful to focus on sources that are straight news reporting rather than partisan commentary. Protip: a piece subtitled "A corrupt cabal of global warming alarmists" might not be entirely impartial and objective. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 04:17, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
Normally I would agree with you but when I made that argument on a skeptic BLP article, I was told that NEWSBLOGS were reliable sources. I was also told that partisan opinion and editorial commentary is perfectly acceptable as a reliable, verifiable source in a BLP article (e.g. Monbiot is a reliable source on Monckton, as is John Abraham...ask Tony Sidaway). Go figure. Protip: Pick a position and stick with it, and encourage your bloc to do likewise.  ;) Minor4th 04:55, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
Please don't get personal like that in article talk page discussions. Keep the discussion on topic. In this situation, editorials are fine, because since we don't know which happened, hack or insider breach, then we use opinion sources. Cla68 (talk) 06:26, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
OK, we have 12 reliable sources currently listed above which speculate that the breach could have been an inside job. Of the 12, a little more than half of them are editorials or newspaper blog posts. That leaves us with several news-type articles written in major news organizations or for IT journals. I really don't think I'm going out on a limb here by saying that we have the sourcing to support mentioning in the article that speculation on the source of the data breach includes outside hacking or insider leak. Cla68 (talk) 07:07, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
We can have as many reliable sources for speculation as you like. They're still not reliable sources for the proposal that there was a whistleblower, just that some people have waved their arms in front of a journalist and said they think it might have been. Worthy of a filler article for a newspaper, perhaps, but this is an encyclopedia. --TS 16:48, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
If we had an article called Climatic Research Unit email speculation, it could go there. I'd vote for its deletion. --Nigelj (talk) 17:01, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
You know, nobody suggested it at the time, but back in February if somebody had suggested renaming the version of this article that existed at the time to that title, I would have agreed readily. Those days are gone. We don't need to speculate any more on most things, and as for how the hacking was done we're still waiting for the police to report. --TS 17:06, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

On a separate note -- and this is directed at Minor4th -- Tim Ball is not, nor ever has been, a "climatology professor". Via former New Scientist reporter Peter Hadfield Wikispan (talk) 17:09, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Incidentally this Telegraph article from April is the most recent item of news I could find from the Norfolk police about their investigation. They said, in April, that they were looking into anyone who could give clues to who stole the emails and working with experts in "extremism" (the italicised wording is a paraphrase by the journalist). They had already questioned staff, skeptics, and were moving on to question those who had asked for information.

Of course we cannot speculate on why they're doing that. They'll report when they have something to say. --TS 17:16, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Then, it sounds like you and Nigelj are saying that the speculation that it was an outside hack should also be removed from the article. If you're not saying that, why are you saying that speculation one way is ok, but not the other? Cla68 (talk) 23:33, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm still confused. Why is speculation that it was an outsider allowed, but speculation that it was an insider not allowed? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 02:52, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
This sourcing exercise has been useful. There are definitely enough reliable sources to include content that speculation ranges from whistleblower to hacker. Has anyone included this yet? Minor4th 06:33, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

The alleged hacking can be sourced to the University of East Anglia and early Police statements, if my understanding is correct. It seems pertinent that the individual who hacked RealClimate was in possession of the CRU data. On the other hand, the whistleblower theory is idle speculation, based on no evidence whatsoever, and carries far less weight. Of course, every ray of light upon a subject can be classed as evidence, but evidence is not necessarily proof (hence "According to the University"). Wikispan (talk) 07:34, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Still wrong. "According to UEA" is fine, but the police statements, the last time I checked, were that they were "investigating" it as a "data breach". That does not mean they think it was a "data breach", nor does "data breach" mean "hack" in British English.
There are no "informed" sources, unless the hacker/whistleblower comes forward, so limiting ourselves to "informed" sources means that all we could say is "according to UEA". — Arthur Rubin (talk) 09:44, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
Cla68: Yes, I think that this source[10] in particular is worthy of inclusion in this article that the unknown person was an insider. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 18:36, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

Tagging the Schmidt quote

Whatever else you might say, the Schmidt quote isn't off-topic, and tagging of it as such just looks petty William M. Connolley (talk) 07:29, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

It was out of place (and hence "off topic" for that section), and still uninformed speculation. If he had speculated on how the file was inserted into RealClimate, that would informed speculation. I moved it to #Commentary, although #Timeline might be better, if the time of his statement were established. As I commented in the RFC above, I belive it to be uninformed speculation, and no evidence to the contrary has been supplied. Unless he's a representative of or an expert in UEA's or CRU's system, his speculation as to how the information escaped from there is uninformed. If he were to speculate as to how the file was inserted into RealClimate, that would be different.
I've moved it, and would appreciate an appropriate tag. We do have {{speculation-inline}}; placing. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 10:51, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
Your assertion that Gavin's words are uninformed speculation is just uninformed speculation / OR on your part. I really wish you'd stop muddying the waters by repeating it William M. Connolley (talk) 10:56, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

This is what Gavin Schmidt said according to the Guardian:

"my information is that it was a hack into [CRU's] backup mail server".

This sounds a lot like a statement about insider information which he got due to his position in the "sceptic" movement. It is also plausible since the second stage (publishing the material) involved some totally gratuitous hacking. While this is my speculation, there is also nothing to indicate that Gavin Schmidt speculated or reported someone else's speculation. If you want to shoot Gavin Schmidt's statement down so it can be removed as implausible/possibley in error, you will need more than uninformed speculation by yourself or biased bloggers/commentators. Hans Adler 14:07, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

After checking (and not finding to find a source, other blog posts at The Guardian), I'm willing to believe that Gavin Schmidt told The Guardian that he had "information". The sentence, as written in the article, implies that it's Gavin's speculation, rather than something he was told. A rewrite of the statement would resolve that problem, but it was (and is) still in the wrong section; it needs to be in the #Timeline section if it can be determined when he obtained the "information"; and in yet another (as yet nonexistent) section if we cannot determine that. It does not belong in the "Contents" section. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 16:14, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

Wrong again

This [11] is wrong William M. Connolley (talk) 11:45, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

William -- no one is saying there's anything wrong with Gavin's words, but find a reliable source rather than a blog comment. Surely there is one out there. Minor4th 12:22, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
That paragraph is broken. I tried finding secondary reliable sources for both quotes and did not find any. Even if someone is able to find such sources, WP:UNDUE comes to mind: If we're having trouble finding sources that say something, that's usually a good indication of something that doesn't belong in a Wikipedia article. Further, I checked the sources cited for the first and last sentences and both failed verification. This paragraph, should it return, needs be rewritten from scratch. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 12:44, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
Good point about RS and UNDUE. I would encourage a communal effort to check all of the sources in this article because it is very poorly sourced in places. Minor4th 12:47, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

Let us go through this slowly. The NYT comment says that this happened at realclimate. The Guardian source which Minor4th removed in the edit mentions Gavin Schmidt's actions. The realclimate source is then used to confirm details of what happened at realclimate. Minor4th then removes these comments because "it is a blog". I know many editors have been removing RC as a source on sight but this does not appear to be justified here, in fact it is a completely reliable source in the context it was used here. AQFK is wrong about undue, the Guardian source which was removed mentions Gavin Schmidt's actions. So we have two major national newspapers talking about this event so I don't think a small expantion of the details for clarity using the person involved as a direct source for what happened gives any undue weight whatsoever, does it unbalance the article AQFK?. Polargeo (talk) 15:21, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

  • The use of a blog as a reliable source in this article is not appropriate. It should be removed. GregJackP Boomer! 15:33, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
I think you have clearly missed the details of the argument here. Oh well sort it out between yourselves, I cannot be bothered with this sort of level of debate. Polargeo (talk) 15:38, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Polargeo: I really do wish you would do a better job reading my comments. "I tried finding secondary reliable sources for both quotes and did not find any. Even if someone is able to find such sources, WP:UNDUE comes to mind: If we're having trouble finding sources that say something, that's usually a good indication of something that doesn't belong in a Wikipedia article." (emphasis added) A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 15:41, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
We do not need secondary sources for Gavin Schmidt giving details of his own actions at realclimte. We have two cast iron secondary sources for the events which show notability (hence not undue) and mention both realclimate and Gavin Schmidt's actions therefore I simply don't see what the issue is to add the extra detail from a source which is totally reliable in this instance. Polargeo (talk) 15:45, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
Polargeo: If no (or even few) secondary reliable sources consider these quotes important enough to bother mentioning, why should we? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 15:50, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
Because that is the way wikipedia works we don't ignore relevent useful detailled information that fleshes out the facts and is sourced reliably for what it says. Just because every single sentence of a particular paragraph is not sourced to a newspaper does not make something undue. Polargeo (talk)
Polargeo: It's pretty much the textbook definition of WP:UNDUE. Weight should be based on the proportion of prominence in reliable sources. If zero reliable sources reported these quotes, then they have zero weight. Now, obviously, I think some editorial discretion is allowed, but given the controversial nature of this article, I think the closer we stick to what reliable sources are saying about this subject, the better. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 17:42, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
Actually Gavin can`t be used as a source on the supposed hack as he is not an expert in the field of security, he is speculating on matters he has little to no knowledge of and as such fails as a source mark nutley (talk) 17:55, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Why does Gavin even have to be mentioned? That is such an inconsequential part of the Guardian article - why not just say the Guardian speculates that the emails were hacked from a CRU backup email server? That's the conclusion of that article and they go into a lengthy discussion about why they think that -- the article does not really rely on that one statement from Gavin to come to their conclusion. Minor4th 17:44, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

By the way, what I removed was WMC's cite to a reader comment on blog by a user named "gavin"-- there's no question that is an improper source. Minor4th 17:45, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
That would be indistinguishable in kind from the speculation that it was a "whistleblower", which certain editors want kept out of the article. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 22:38, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
And we've come full circle -- if reliable sources speculate about hacking and whistleblowing then the article should report both as speculation among the reliable sources. I don't see how there can even be any disagreement about this. If Wiki policies are actually followed, there won't be the need for most of this discussion. The answers in most cases are quite clear. Minor4th 02:48, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

RFC: Speculation on the source of the data leak

The regular participants in this article appear to be deadlocked on the issue of speculation on who might have stolen the "Climategate" emails and documents from East Anglia University. Several editors have proposed adding text, supported by one or more sources from this list, that detail speculation that the email leak could have been done by either an outside hack or an insider. Editors opposing the addition state that speculation, sourced or not, is inappropriate for the article and therefore only East Anglia's opinion, which is that the breach was an outside hack, on the matter is relevant. A police investigation into the breach is currently ongoing. Cla68 (talk) 04:36, 2 September 2010 (UTC)

Involved editors

  • Support inclusion of sourced text on the speculation of both an outside hack and an insider leak. This Guardian article by Fred Pearce is especially convincing to me that media speculation on the possibility of an insider breach or accidental release by the university is noteworthy and merits brief mention in the article. The fact that there are 12 reliable sources speculating that it may have been an insider breach I think also establishes the notability of this opinion. Cla68 (talk) 04:36, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
  • Support -- there are many sources for the speculation that the "hack" was a whistleblower or inside job. The thing is, irrespective of what anyone believes happened, the fact is there are reliable sources referencing possibilities of hacking or whistleblower, so I think we cannot present it as though it's known to be one or the other. We need to report that there are a range of possibilities reported in reliable sources. Minor4th 05:08, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
  • Support -- In addition to the arguments presented above, even if we find it inappropriate to include "speculation", then UEA's comments need to be removed, also. They are "speculating" (or accusing). — Arthur Rubin (talk) 06:50, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
  • Support -- per Fred Pearce logic. (talk) 09:26, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose -- I am struggling to find new words to express the same thoughts so please excuse the repetition. There is a difference between expressing an opinion based on incomplete evidence and idle speculation. The alleged hacking can be sourced to the University of East Anglia and NASA's Gavin Schmidt (the two parties most directly affected). The individual who obtained the CRU data attempted to distribute the material by hacking REALCLIMATE.ORG. This is of precise logical relevance. The whistleblower theory, on the other hand, is idle speculation, based on no evidence whatsoever. The current wording ("According to the university, the emails and documents were obtained through a server hacking") is entirely satisfactory, however I would like to see some of the unattributed "hack" statements, further down the article, removed and replaced with "data breach". Wikispan (talk) 08:02, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
  • oppose - what is the point in adding worthless speculation? William M. Connolley (talk) 11:21, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
  • Support It id painfully obvious it was leaked and no hack took place mark nutley (talk) 14:30, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The Fred Pearce article simply lists all the ways the data could have come into public knowledge, and presents no evidence that it was leaked. Newspapers have a quota of pages to fill up every day, and speculation is common. This is not the case with encyclopedias. Squiddy | (squirt ink?) 14:43, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose Speculation is futile. It was reported to the police as an outside hack, so that's what we should go with until they determine otherwise. --SarekOfVulcan (talk) 15:21, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
  • Comment @ uninvolved editors -- please note that this is speculation about possible alternatives, just as it is speculation that the emails were "hacked" or "stolen" (which is already speculalated in the article), we are asking about including speculation also that the event was the work of a "whistleblower". In other words, we are not trying to establish either theory as correct or accurate -- simply noting that reliable sources have speculated on different theories, none of which are known or proven at this point. Minor4th 18:26, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
  • Mixed. At the moment the article is clearly unsatisfactory, having speculation from one point of view (that it was a hack). This could be tackled either by judicious addition of one or more sources with a more balanced view (Fred Pearce seems the best at first glance), or by a rigorous removal of the existing speculation (I'm astonished to see the quote from Gavin Schmidt in the Guardian which seems entirely unjustifiable). In this scenario we would probably include one quote from UEA stating their belief that it was a hack, but otherwise stick to neutral terms (such as "unauthorized data release") throughout the article. Note that this comment applies only to the data obtained from UEA; the attempt to place the data on RC seems to be a clear hack. Jonathan A Jones (talk) 20:06, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
I have moved my comment following a suggestion from WMC [12] who presumably is worried by my edit [13]. Jonathan A Jones (talk) 21:00, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
There have been attempts to remove the quote from Gavin, but it keeps getting reverted Minor4th 21:02, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
As I've said on your talk page, no, I'm not worried by that edit. We have enough speculation in the article without adding more :-( William M. Connolley (talk) 22:07, 2 September 2010 (UTC)

Uninvolved editors

  • Support -- No one seems to have a problem with including East Anglia's own speculation. Obviously they are hardly disinterested bystanders, and have a vested interest in portraying this as an outside attack. Remember this is not just an article about the leak itself, but its effects in general, and the controversy it engendered. Speculation about the source is quite obviously part of the controversy itself. Fell Gleamingtalk 14:11, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
You're not an "uninvolved editor," having made non-trivial edits to both the article and its talk page (11 edits to the article, 30 to talk). Could you please move your comment to the appropriate section? Thanks. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 14:35, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose --"Reliable speculation" is a contradiction IMO. On a more practical point, are we aiming for encyclopedic coverage of speculation? The section would never be "complete", and a constant source of edit wars. Best IMO to find a source which says "The source or mechanism of the leak is not clear" unless Norfolk police actually catch someone.Slowjoe17 (talk) 09:13, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
    Comment. That seems reasonable. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 17:56, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose -- The victim's story of what happened in a crime is an integral part of the story and is worth a brief mention. Uninformed speculation by outsiders generally is not, especially when it serves for political manipulation more than anything else. Hans Adler 14:25, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
    Comment. If that were our reasoning, we could not otherwise imply that it was a hack, as is presently done. We can state that UEA called it hack, but all other speculation in the article about how the data was released should be removed. I don't think that's a reasonable approach, but it doesn't violate NPOV. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 17:56, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
    If you give me precise pointers to paragraphs in the haystack article I may be able to respond intelligently. Hans Adler 19:06, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
    (Disputed wording bolded)
    1. RealClimate's Gavin Schmidt told The Guardian that the files were obtained through "a hack into [CRU's] backup mail server."
    2. The AP said the stolen emails showed the scientists had "stonewalled skeptics and discussed hiding data."
    3. One of the IPCC's lead authors, Raymond Pierrehumbert of the University of Chicago, expressed concern at the precedent established by the hack:
    The first one would be plausible; it was uninformed speculation, but at least it was considered relevant at the time, and attributed. (Although this is OR, it is also completely bogus, unless the leaked documents were all E-mailed.) The others are not even attributed, and would clearly need to be. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 04:44, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
    For the first, see my detailed response in the section below. (In short: It seems more likely that it was insider information.) Concerning the second, the emails were published without the consent of their copyright holders. Regarding the third, the language could be improved to avoid being a bit misleading, but while a hack is only very likely as the mechanism for the emails getting into unauthorised hands, there is no reasonable doubt at all that a hack of the RealClimate server was also involved. Hans Adler 14:11, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose - Idle, tinfoil-ish speculation from the Guardian rattling off the various ways it could have happened. There is nothing to cite here other than one journalist's opinion. Tarc (talk) 15:11, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose -- Looks to me like a journalist presenting speculation within a thrilling whodunnit scenario ... which might just sell newspapers. We can pass on this here. --PLUMBAGO 15:27, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose - Largely agree with PLUMBAGO above. All the sources offered above appear to speculate rather than provide solid fact. This article doesn't really need anymore speculation. NickCT (talk) 18:05, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
  • Support recognizing that it is not known how the data was acquired and that multiple scenarios have been proposed, with a hack being the most widely believed and a leak being the most noteworthy alternative. While the "idle speculation" doesn't need a lot of attention, it is reasonable to include when backed by numerous sources. Presenting only the hacking scenario suggests more is known/accepted than really is. Maghnus (talk) 16:22, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
  • Support. It is too convenient for the UEA to present this as a theft rather than a leak which might possibly show internal dissent at the CRU. This "theft" is not a statement of fact by them, merely their presumption, they do not say they have evidence of theft other than the release was not authorised. The UEA did however give a reason why it might not be an external hack - they say the server would be very difficult for an outsider to access. Their opinion, as presented by them, is potentially self-serving. WP should and does say the UEA says it was a theft but WP should also say that there is much speculation it was a leak. What WP cannot yet do is say it is a theft, matter of fact. Paul Beardsell (talk) 17:00, 7 September 2010 (UTC)
  • Support Well sourced speculation of reasonable guesses from top notch sources should be allowable as long as undue amount of the article is spent discussing it The Resident Anthropologist (talk) 14:04, 29 September 2010 (UTC)

UEA response William M. Connolley (talk) 12:00, 8 September 2010 (UTC) Preemptive reply by the UEA to this? (talk) 20:28, 8 September 2010 (UTC)

A useful and detailed analysis, stating changes the UEA is making in response to the various enquiries. A suitable summary should be added. As for the allegations that one review didn't recheck 30 years of science in a couple of months, looks overblown. . . dave souza, talk 11:38, 9 September 2010 (UTC)
In that first link, the university announced two formal corrective actions that need to be mentioned in the article, including asking for outside help in improving its FOIA response process and its project to improve access to research data. That second article has useful information about the allegations of research fraud related to the Chinese tree ring proxies. Cla68 (talk) 00:34, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
As a follow up, it will be interesting to observe if any of the Climate Audit regulars or anyone else ever again encounters any trouble in requesting data from the CRU's research team. Cla68 (talk) 00:36, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Pearce book again

I just received Fred Pearce's book on this controversy and from a quick perusal appears to be an absolute treasure trove of information, including bios of the people involved and background of the disputes at the center of this controversy which were reflected in the emails. Interestingly, the book contains a glowing recommendation from George Monbiot on its jacket, but appears to pull few punches in its analysis and reasoning of what took place with this controversy. So, I'm hoping this book will be acceptable as a fairly neutral source for the regulars here. It was published by Guardian Books. I'll start adding information to this and other articles as appropriate as I progress through the book. Cla68 (talk) 09:45, 13 September 2010 (UTC)

Since it's not in chronological sequence, you may find it useful to read the whole book before adding bits and pieces, and as always content should be treated with care. When you do add info, please provide the page numbers, in accordance with WP:Page numbers. If it's going to be used a lot, template:harvnb is a useful way of minimising repetition of the book details every time it's cited, showing the details once only in a "References" section and renaming the current "References" as "Notes" in accordance with Wikipedia:Citing sources#How to present citations. . . dave souza, talk 11:33, 13 September 2010 (UTC)
appears to pull few punches in its analysis and reasoning - or, to put it another way, is wrong. Lets not do the HSI all over again William M. Connolley (talk) 11:43, 13 September 2010 (UTC)
WMC, are you sure that you can participate in this article discussion in accordance with WP:NPOV and WP:V? Cla68 (talk) 23:11, 13 September 2010 (UTC)
HSI was published by a relatively obscure publisher. If this book was published by Guardian Books, it's a completely different situation. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 23:18, 13 September 2010 (UTC)

Information/data has been held not be property, why does this article continually refer to the duplicated data as 'stolen'?

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Q4 (Aren't the emails/other documents in the public domain?) and Q5 (Why does the article refer to a hacking and to stolen documents? Couldn't this be an accidental release of information or released by a whistleblowing insider?) Viriditas (talk) 00:19, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

If data were property there would be a class action law-suit against Microsoft of proportions hereto-forth untold. The duplicated data has not been copyrighted so there is no legal restriction for the duplication of said data. Quite frankly I am sick of wikipedia abusing its power. When someone duplicates information they are not depriving the holder of the original information of access or utility of that information. This is a conspiracy of the highest levels and you can be rest assured that I will tirelessly pursue this to the end. I hope you realize that you are just reaffirming the view that global warming and its proponents are frauds which border on the definition of cult.

It is with great sadness that I have learnt that wikipedia is unwilling to reasonably represent the credible and well sourced view of individuals who disagree with the personal opinion of a few of the oligarchs who operate wikipedia. (talk) 23:17, 13 September 2010 (UTC)

Pearce's book has almost an entire chapter dedicated to this aspect of the incident, so don't give up hope that the full story won't be represented some day in this article. Cla68 (talk) 23:31, 13 September 2010 (UTC)
The duplicated emails were of course copyrighted. Whatever you write is copyrighted, with the exception of very few countries (only US and Mexico?) in which things produced for the federal government are not copyrighted. The same holds for the software, of course. Hans Adler 00:01, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
IIRC, Wikipedia's servers are located in Florida. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 00:12, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

This is covered in the FAQ. Recommend closure of this thread as tendentious, vexatious, and more of the same song and dance. Viriditas (talk) 00:16, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

I took a look at the FAQ #5 for this question and it's sourced almost entirely to primary sources. The only secondary, reliable source cited doesn't even use the word "stolen". Instead, it uses the phrase "data breach". I've gone ahead and fixed this item in the FAQ. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 00:38, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
FAQ's represent reasonable consensus among editors, not sources. They do not represent POV pushers, or people promoting fringe agendas. Viriditas (talk) 00:53, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Thank you for doing that. Looks good. Like I said, Pearce's book goes into the question in great detail, so hopefully we'll have more information on it in the article soon. Cla68 (talk) 00:43, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Oh good Lord, not this again. A two-second Google search turns up usage of "stolen" in multiple reliable sources. Just scratching the surface, see[14][15][16] Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 00:49, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Like I said, Pearce's book goes into this question in detail, including quoting cyber experts and people who were involved when the leak first occurred. We'll get this fixed, working together, in the article soon. Cla68 (talk) 00:51, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
You've said that three separate times now. Viriditas (talk) 00:55, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

An interesting sequence of edits

[17] Hans Adler 09:18, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

What has happened here is that as the arbcom case draws to a close, A Quest For Knowledge has completely given up on pretending to be "fair and balanced". I admit that the metamorphosis is astonishing, but it isn't unexpected. One can only pretend to be something one is not for so long until the true colors show. Viriditas (talk) 09:42, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
I too find it rather hard to believe that AQFK is even trying to be serious here, so I've reverted to HA's version William M. Connolley (talk) 10:18, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Let's examine the sequence of events.

  • The article stated, "The reports concluded that Phil Jones had no case to answer" and cited this Guardian article. Note the plural.
  • I checked the cited source, the Guardian article, and it turned out that:
    • It was only about one report, not all of them.
    • It did not contain any mention of Jones not having any case to answer.
  • I also checked the report itself,[18] and did not see any mention of Jones not having any case to answer.
  • [19] Because the statement failed verification and I knew it to be false, I removed it from the article.
  • [20] Hans Adler edits the article to include the phrase "the scientific reputation of Jones and the CRU was untarnished". While true, I'm not sure that it was an accurate summary of what the Guardian article actually said.
  • [21] So, I fixed it with a more neutral explanation of what the article actually said. Those accusing me of bias should ask themselves why I left out words/phrases such as "scathing", "reprehensible" and "no excuse" - all of which are supported by the source. Further, I even offered to self-revert if anyone disagreed, "Hopefully, a better summarization of what the secondary, reliable source actually says. If I am incorrect, please let me know, explain why and I will be happy to self-revert."
  • [22] I then noticed that the phrase, "culture of withholding information" was repeated twice in the lede, so I removed one of them, explaining "Removed repetitive phrase."
  • [23] Instead of taking me up on my offer to self-revert, WMC re-introduces the repetitive phrase and restores the inaccurate summary.
  • [24] Meanwhile, Viriditas launches a personal attack against me on this article talk page, "A Quest For Knowledge has completely given up on pretending to be "fair and balanced". I admit that the metamorphosis is astonishing, but it isn't unexpected. One can only pretend to be something one is not for so long until the true colors show."

A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 13:31, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Let's look at the text in context, shall we?

According to an in-house review by the university itself, [C] the scientific consensus that "global warming is happening and that it is induced by human activity" was found unchallenged by the emails[1] and [M] there was "no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit."[2][M] Although the CRU's use of statistics was generally commended, some of their methods may not have been the best for the purpose.[2] [M] The reports concluded that Phil Jones had no case to answer[3] and [M,C] that better statistical methods might not have produced significantly different results.[2] One of the reports stated that [S] it deplored the tone of some of the criticism and that it had been "selective and uncharitable".[2] [H] The question of alleged failure to comply fully with the Freedom of Information Act was left to the third review, published on 7 July, which said that there was "unhelpfulness in responding to requests" and that "e-mails might have been deleted in order to make them unavailable should a subsequent request be made for them".[4][5] [M] A separate review by Penn State University into accusations against Michael E. Mann cleared him of any wrongdoing, stating that "there is no substance" to the allegations against him.[6]

I have marked the original sentence that we edited in bold and annotated the passages with codes for the accusations which they address, so we can see at a glance which aspect a passage speaks about:
  • [C] The climate consensus is wrong.
  • [M] Scientific malpractice.
  • [H] Scientists are hiding evidence.
There is also the issue of
  • [S] Smear campaigns against scientists.
These are the changes:
Previous version in article
[M] The reports concluded that Phil Jones had no case to answer[3] and [M,C] that better statistical methods might not have produced significantly different results.[2]
After AQFK's first edit
[M,C]The reports concluded that better statistical methods might not have produced significantly different results.[2]
After Hans Adler's edit
[M]The reports concluded that "the scientific reputation of Jones and the CRU was untarnished"[3] and [M,C] that better statistical methods might not have produced significantly different results.[2]
After AFQK's second edit
[H] The report "strongly criticised the University of East Anglia for not tackling a 'culture of withholding information'".[3] and said [M,C] that better statistical methods might not have produced significantly different results.[2]
  1. ^ Satter, Raphael G. (March 30, 2010). "'Climategate' inquiry largely clears scientists". Seattle Times. London. Associated Press. Retrieved June 17, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Oxburgh, Ron; Huw Davies, Kerry Emanuel, Lisa Graumlich, David Hand, Herbert Huppert, Michael Kelly (14 April 2010). "Report of the International Panel set up by the University of East Anglia to examine the research of the Climatic Research Unit" (PDF). University of East Anglia. Retrieved 2010-04-27. Submitted to the University 12 April 2010, with Addendum to report, 19 April 2010  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)
  3. ^ a b c d Randerson, James (2010-03-31). "Climate researchers 'secrecy' criticised – but MPs say science remains intact". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-07-26.  More than one of |work= and |newspaper= specified (help)
  4. ^ "The Independent Climate Change E-mails Review" (PDF). July 7, 2010. Retrieved July 7, 2010. 
  5. ^ Gillis, Justin (2010-07-07). "British Panel Clears Climate Scientists". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-27. 
  6. ^ "Final Investigation Report Involving Dr. Michael E. Mann" (PDF). The Pennsylvania State University. June 4, 2010. Retrieved July 2, 2010. 
I will comment these changes as I find the time. Hans Adler 15:31, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
The original text
This is very slightly overstated, but it is basically what the cited Guardian source says about Phil Jones: "But the committee did not condemn the actions of Prof Phil Jones, the head of the UEA's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) because it said he should have been better supported by the university in dealing with requests for data under the Freedom of Information Act. It added that the scientific reputation of Jones and the CRU was untarnished. The committee's report [...] said the focus on Jones and the CRU in the row about the hacked emails had been 'largely misplaced' [...] we do believe that Prof Jones has in many ways been scapegoated as a result of what really was a frustration on his part that people were asking for information purely to undermine his research. [...] He added that the committee accepted that Jones had released all the data that he was able to." If, as AQFK, the formulation "no case to answer" is not from the report itself, then it is probably inspired by the following, which is odd: "However, they agreed that there was a prima facie case for the university to answer and that the Information Commissioner's Office should conduct an investigation."
After AQFK's first edit
This left a serious gap. According to our article (previous paragraph) "Phil Jones stood aside temporarily" during the investigations, but was cleared "of the most serious charges". This is an unfortunate formulation because it implies there were some charges of which he was not cleared. The only charge of which he wasn't cleared, as far as I am aware, is the charge of expressing frustration in the form of intent not to follow FOIA. It's not even clear whether he was serious about this. But being cleared of "the most serious charges" sounds a lot more ominous than that. Therefore it's necessary to stress that basically he did nothing wrong, e.g. by saying he had no case to answer. In other words: This edit introduced a BLP problem.
After my edit
BLP problem addressed by means of a literal quotation from the report in question.
After AQFK's second edit
This brings the BLP problem back and makes it worse. Also: A passage about [H] is inserted out of order, into the discussion of [M]. It is a preliminary statement from a report that basically said [H] is worth looking into. The text is coming to the topic just a few words later, based on the report that actually dealt with it. So why take it up here out of order?
Hans Adler 16:58, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
In response to one comment by AQFK: If the text says "The report concluded that A[1] and B[2]", then (1) the intended meaning is obviously that one report concluded A and one report concluded B, and that these results don't contradict each other, and (2) it's not an ideal formulation. But that's not an excuse to remove A because it's not stated in the second report. Hans Adler 17:02, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Hans, there is an ambiguity in the sentence: 'The reports concluded that "the scientific reputation of Jones and the CRU was untarnished"', since the quote isn't present in all reports. However, I would agree that the edits of AQFK seem to provide a misleading impression of the sources. However, considering the constructive tone and the offer to self-revert, I'm disturbed that we have an instant battleground again.Slowjoe17 (talk) 17:31, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
The ambiguity comes from the fact that you stopped quoting in the middle of the sentence. The constructive tone was obviously Arbcom-induced. The content of the edits gives reason to concern. I am relatively new in this area, and this kind of tendentious editing is as bad as what I see in the Anglo-Irish conflict, for example. The main difference is that in that case it's a genuine national conflict, while here we are at an article about a conspiracy theory. Hans Adler 18:16, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Hans Adler: I think that you are partially contradicting yourself. On the one hand, you concede he wasn't cleared of the FOIA charges yet at the same time saying that he had no case to answer. Which is it? Further, my edit is a more accurate summary of the source. Yours is not. Instead, your edit cherry picks a phrase from the source while missing the central focus of the article. We're not here to introduce bias to counter the bias of reliable sources. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 18:51, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
"No case to answer" is legal terminology. Do you seriously think you wouldn't be laughed out of court with a case alleging intent to ignore a FOIA request? That wouldn't even make sense if the intent was (a) obviously real, and (b) could be proved based on legally obtained evidence.
I think everybody who is not hunting after conspiracy theories in general, or the "global warming swindle" one in particular, can see very clearly whose edits were better for getting the balance of the lead right and BLP-compliant. A shouting-match about that would be unproductive. Hans Adler 18:59, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Hans Adler: For what it's worth, I believe in source-based writing. My role here, as I see it, is to accurately transcribe what reliable sources are saying about a topic while being as editorially neutral as possible. IOW, I try to let reliable sources decide what's important and limit personal interpretation and spin. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 19:15, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
As I said, I am not interested in a shouting match. If you think that it's OK to take two paragraphs covering a topic, pick out half a sentence from it (I think you didn't even notice that the sentence continued after that), and replace it by "source-based writing" regardless of what happens to the entire text, then you will either have to learn that that's not actually how to write an encyclopedia, or you will be shown the door sooner or later. Your choice. Hans Adler 19:21, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Hans Adler: I did look at the entire lede and it's fine.[25] I don't believe that you've identified any real issues with it. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 20:33, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Overview by DB Climate Change Advisors

To some extent the edits discussed above attempted to straighten out an accumulation of edits based largely on news reports at the time, and in my view upset a rather delicate balance which may already have been compromised a bit. A recent report published by Deutsche Bank climate change advisers gives an independent overview of the situation as a whole – "Investment Research" (PDF). Climate Change: Addressing the Major Skeptic Arguments. DB Climate Change Advisors, Deutsche Bank. September 8, 2010. pp. 10, 14–16. Retrieved 2010-09-14.  External link in |work= (help) I've used this as a basis for condensing the lead a bit, and have commented out a part of the lead that seemed to be getting into excessive detail. I've also clarified which report was making which statement, meeting one of AQFK's concerns. Have a read of the DB report, which should also be useful in other areas of the article. . . dave souza, talk 16:24, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Selection of papers for the Oxburgh inquiry

It has emerged today that the scientific papers which were reviewed by the Oxburgh panel were selected by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University and former head of CRU, Prof. Trevor Davies. This is currently only available on ClimateAudit ([26]). It is also contrary to the inquiry report which stated: "The eleven representative publications that the Panel considered in detail are listed in Appendix B. The papers cover a period of more than twenty years and were selected on the advice of the Royal Society."

Is McIntyre's site a RS for coverage of a statement to him from UEA, unless it is denied? Slowjoe17 (talk) 17:03, 16 September 2010 (UTC)

As always, it would be better to wait for a third-party news report. I'm sure several will be along shortly. Best, Pete Tillman (talk) 18:51, 16 September 2010 (UTC)

Montford's Report for the Global Warming Policy Foundation

Andrew Montford, the author of the Bishop Hill blog and The Hockey Stick Illusion book, has produced a "report on the inquiries" into the Climate Research Unit email controversy. This is available at [27]. What is the concensus about this report as a reliable source?Slowjoe17 (talk) 17:35, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Don't see any evidence of editorial oversight: Views expressed in the publications of the Global Warming Policy Foundation are those of the authors, not those of the GWPF, its Trustees, its Academic Advisory Council members or its Directors. So: reliable source for Montford's opinion - I'm guessing we'd hear pretty soon from Montford if there were problems with it, so sure. But why do we need Montford's opinion here? Guettarda (talk) 18:04, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
(ec) Read about the author [28] and the publisher [29], and guess. (Hint: They are not even independent from each other, see WP:SELFPUB.) Hans Adler 18:06, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
The line "Director: Dr. Benny Peiser" at the top of the Global Warming Policy Foundation home page tells you all you need to know. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 18:08, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
What, can you think of someone more qualified to direct a global warming denial thinktank than a sport historian? Hans Adler 18:12, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Altho it's often tempting, it's really best to avoid this sort of snark at Wikipedia, especially re living persons. Thanks, Pete Tillman (talk) 19:18, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Btw, it seems absurd that the person who wrote the foreword, whoever it is, only signed with "Lord Turnbull" while Lord Turnbull is a disambiguation page pointing to two living people. Not very respectful of the other's reputation. Hans Adler 18:10, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Andrew, not Alan. Check the third page of the report where they explain who he is. Guettarda (talk) 18:14, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Thanks! Hans Adler 19:27, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
With respect, that your suggestion about an error in signing is wrong. Or do you believe you are the living human with the name "Hans Adler"? Name clashes are a fact of life. Slowjoe17 (talk) 18:42, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
I would never sign anything as "Dr. Adler". I would especially not do so if there was another person I might be confused with because I am leaving out my first name. Hans Adler 19:24, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Slowjoe17: It's reliable source for Montford's views, but I dislike using primary sources for contentious material because they can be easily misused. I prefer to source content to secondary sources. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 18:58, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
I agree -- better to wait for 3rd party reactions to this report. We don't have deadlines. Best, Pete Tillman (talk) 19:13, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
We now have 3rd party responses in a major newspaper [30] [31]. To save some time, I believe this edit of mine to the Andrew Montford article summarizes the report and gives both perspectives on it. Cla68 (talk) 23:15, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
OK, I suggest the following text for the section on this report:

Cla68 (talk) 00:22, 15 September 2010 (UTC)

No problems with this, but I'd still suggest waiting a few days for other 3rd party reactions. Best, Pete Tillman (talk) 00:30, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
Still doesn't answer the question of why we are interested in Montford's opinion. He's not an expert, he's not terribly notable. Just one more blogger... Guettarda (talk) 12:36, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
I'd favour taking Pearce's advice, in this case William M. Connolley (talk) 12:59, 15 September 2010 (UTC)

There are now a number of press reactions to the GWPF report:

Enough to try a second draft, based on Cla's above. Probably needs trimming, and no hurry to go live, but here goes:

Draft references

  1. ^ Caroline Davies; Suzanne Goldenberg (November 24, 2009). "The voices of climate change sceptics". The Guardian. London/Manchester. Retrieved January 22, 2010. 
  2. ^ Foster, Peter, "Peter Foster: Checking the hockey team", National Post, July 9, 2010. "The third British investigation into the Climategate scandal -- led by former civil servant Sir Muir Russell -- amounts, at best, to a greywash. [...] The U.K.-based Global Warming Policy Foundation, an influential skeptical institution, has now appointed Mr. Montford to run an inquiry into the three British inquiries. There will be no whitewash here, "
  3. ^ Andrew, Montford (2010-09-14). "The Climategate Inquiries". Global Warming Policy Foundation. Retrieved 2010-09-14. The report The Climategate Inquiries, written by Andrew Montford and with a foreword by Lord (Andrew) Turnbull, finds that the inquiries into the conduct and integrity of scientists at the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia were rushed and seriously inadequate. 
  4. ^ a b Randerson, James, "'Climategate' inquiries were 'highly defective', report for sceptic thinktank rules", The Guardian, 14 September 2010.
  5. ^ Andrew Orlowski interviews Andrew Turnbull,
  6. ^ Roger Harrabin,
  7. ^ Pearce, Fred. "Montford lands some solid blows in review of 'climategate' inquiries", The Guardian, 14 September 2010.

Feel free to edit this working copy. Thanks, Pete Tillman (talk) 23:05, 15 September 2010 (UTC)

I would remove the sentence "But, Pearce wrote, Montford "has landed some good blows here.'" so that it doesn't look like it's giving more support for Montford's side, but otherwise I think it's fine. Cla68 (talk) 23:10, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
I see your point, but that is how Pearce ends (and titles) his article.
And could someone fix the {reflist} problem? It's oscillating between right & hopelessly wrong, and I can't remember the limit syntax. ChrisO, are you here? TIA, Pete Tillman (talk) 23:26, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
ChrisO no longer edits Wikipedia, using WP:RTV. Cla68 (talk) 23:30, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
Found it, partly fixed. Way too late, but see Help:Footnotes#List-defined_references. Gah, Pete Tillman (talk) 05:45, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
Slightly reworded in a few places. I moved the "landed some good blows" up to the beginning of the para it's in, so we've got the basic intro to the report, the good blows comment then the hypocrisy comment. I think the flow and balance is better that way. I also added Pearce's comment about the leader of the review having known strong views into the matter already. Also, if there's going to be this much space about this report, should use use a sub-header at the same level as the other reports, and bump the media subheader up a level. That section isn't about media reaction to the reports, but to everything, so it shouldn't be under the reports.
I thought about find a way to add Pearce's comment about "ringing a little hollow", but by pointing out Montford's views and a review team that supports sceptics, I think the point is made without having to pull in another quote. Ravensfire (talk) 03:22, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
Nevermind my comment about the media section header level - the first line look like it was more general coverage, and I didn't get further. It's related to the reports, of course. Ravensfire (talk) 03:24, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
I think Ravesfire's version is fine. I tried to find somewhere to cut it down in size, but I don't see where that could be done without leaving out an important part of the story. If anyone objects to its length, then I would suggest that they take the initiative and expand the sections on the other three investigations as appropriate. Cla68 (talk) 07:16, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
You do realise that WP:UNDUE is policy, right? You can't simply ignore a policy because it gets in the way of promoting one's favourite writer. As for expanding the section about the Muir Russell report, doing that would unbalance it relative to the whole article. (Montford's response is trivial relative to the commission's actual report. Necessarily, since it is a response to the report, and practically, based on coverage. Since the proposed addition is almost twice the length of the text to which it responds, that would suggest that the section on the Russell report needs to be many times its current length. In order to even roughly preserve the balance between that section and the rest of the article, the article would need to be several times its current length. An article that is currently 101k. All that just to promote some unknown blogger's response, which has already been shown to be somewhat lacking in substance? Absurd). Instead of calling on people to "take the initiative" and bloat the article, why don't you "take the initiative" and make a case for inclusion of this material first? Guettarda (talk) 12:05, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
  • I just counted about 2.5 screens of text on the 3 prior inquiries in this article. The proposed addition re GWPF is about half a screen, which doesn't seem out of line. Best, Pete Tillman (talk) 19:51, 18 September 2010 (UTC)

--Nigelj (talk) 17:57, 16 September 2010 (UTC)

Well, we could always go with Delingpole <G>:
It is concise.... Heh. Pete Tillman (talk) 19:08, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
I assume that Nigelj is joking with his suggested text, and I don't mean that as a insult at all. So, we seem to only have one objection to Ravensfire's text, and Guettarda did not suggest alternate wording. So, any other objection to adding Ravensfire's text? Cla68 (talk) 23:02, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
I have the same objection. The Global Warming Policy Foundation report has not received a fraction of the coverage of the panel reports, including one headed by Muir Russell. The article should reflect that. Wikispan (talk) 23:37, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
Do you have an objection to expanding the other sections rather than reducing the number of words in this one? Cla68 (talk) 23:54, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
The other sections do seem skimpy. But the objection to being hasty with adding the GWPF writeup has merit, and I'm uncomfortable with the writeup of the "audit" being longer than our report of the original inquiries.
I'm fine with going live with Ravenfire's text, and revising (and shortening?) it as events develop. Shortening is probably better done by someone other than Cla or myself, as editors typically have trouble cutting their own stuff.
I'm also fine with waiting a bit longer, and would really, really like to avoid the edit-warring that has marred the history of this contentious article. Best, Pete Tillman (talk) 02:55, 17 September 2010 (UTC)


Back to the original question - why do we care about this guy's opinion? Any of you guys working away at this willing to explain this?

Assuming that you can establish that we should care about Montford's opining, there's a second major problem: the section on the Muir Russell report is 186 words long. The proposed additions are 280-296 words long. Are you saying that a response to the report deserved twice the weight of the actual report? Guettarda (talk) 06:15, 16 September 2010 (UTC)

Main article: Negative campaigning
Let's look at the big picture. The global warming deniers can't score on the science, so they are trying to discredit the scientists. Since this is a surprise attack (scientists unrelated to the big money of pharmaceutical business have never been subject to large-scale smear campaigns before), the scientists are an easy target. Three sloppy probes into the allegations exonerate the scientists. Again, the global warming deniers can't score on the facts (as there was nothing of any substance behind the allegations), so they are trying to discredit the reports as a proxy for the reports' (correct) conclusions. Nothing much to see here. Hans Adler 08:22, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
Please take your personal opinions to a blog or something. Not appropriate here -- see WP:Forum. Thanks, Pete Tillman (talk) 18:42, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
This was a serious contribution to our discussion about improvement of this article. A real encyclopedia doesn't cover negative campaigning in the same way that it covers a bona fide dispute. Hans Adler 22:07, 18 September 2010 (UTC)
Agreed. That is how the discussion of the initial incident, the reports, and ensuing minor attempts to keep the controversy alive should be structure in the article. --Nigelj (talk) 16:36, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
The reason we care about this guy's opinion is that he claims major flaws in the inquiries in the email controversy, and reliable sources have taken note of it. The title of the article is "controversy", so, as a significant additional element to the controversy, it needs to be covered. Slowjoe17 (talk) 16:49, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
Yes, this article is about the controversy. But an article about the Climatic Research Unit email controversy should not try to be as long and detailed as an article about William Shakespeare or the history of Europe. The difference is that with this topic our reporting quickly reaches the point of diminishing returns and the bounds set by WP:NOTNEWS.
The right way to deal with the situation is by sensible shortening, not by adding walls of text to the article. After all giving a concise overview is the purpose of an encyclopedia. If there is a general agreement of the media that the reports weren't particularly good, the elegant solution is to make our reporting of the reports more concise to reduce their weight. What doesn't work is overwhelming the reader with criticism that creates the impression of refuting the reports but really only addresses a technicality. Hans Adler 18:14, 16 September 2010 (UTC) fixed a silly typo Hans Adler 22:08, 18 September 2010 (UTC)
  • To answer the relevance (etc) questions, you all might take a look at the major newspapers (etc) that have already reported on the GWPF inquiry.

As for shortening, I agree in principle. As Cla notes above, easier said than done. Proposals welcome -- that's why we're trying to hash this out here in talk. Nothing sacred about any of these drafts, and no deadline to go live. Thanks, Pete Tillman (talk) 18:42, 16 September 2010 (UTC)

I've looked, and the GWPF announcement seems to have gained very little traction. In my view a brief mention is appropriate, focussing on what it says (as summarised by third parties) rather than on nice things being said about it, which is covered in the appropriate article, Montford's bio. It's one of a few further reports, and a section with that title would seem useful, in sequence with the GWPP report apparently the most recent. It's preceded by the US Environmental Protection Agency report, as noted by Acton and a UEA statement, and by the #Overview by DB Climate Change Advisors noted in the section above. Will think about wording when time permits. . . dave souza, talk 21:58, 17 September 2010 (UTC)

Balance in the lead

I'm very disappointed by this edit. The lead needs to give a balanced overview of the topic. --Nigelj (talk) 21:30, 21 September 2010 (UTC)

Actually, it was balanced. If you take a look at what the report actually says, it's a bit more critical of the CRU's statistical methods than our article indicates. Unfortunately, this edit[35] restored the imbalance. For everyone's easy perusal, here's relevant paragraphs from the report:
UEA investigation

"The main effort of the dendroclimalogists at CRU is in developing ways to extract climate information from networks of tree ring data. The data sets are large and are influenced by many factors of which temperature is only one. This means that the effects of long term temperature variations are masked by other more dominant short term influences and have to be extracted by statistical techniques. The Unit approaches this task with an independent mindset and awareness of the interplay of biological and physical processes underlying the signals that they are trying to detect.

"Although inappropriate statistical tools with the potential for producing misleading results have been used by some other groups, presumably by accident rather than design, in the CRU papers that we examined we did not come across any inappropriate usage although the methods they used may not have been the best for the purpose. It is not clear, however, that better methods would have produced significantly different results. The published work also contains many cautions about the limitations of the data and their interpretation.

"With very noisy data sets a great deal of judgement has to be used. Decisions have to be made on whether to omit pieces of data that appear to be aberrant. These are all matters of experience and judgement. The potential for misleading results arising from selection bias is very great in this area. It is regrettable that so few professional statisticians have been involved in this work because it is fundamentally statistical. Under such circumstances there must be an obligation on researchers to document the judgemental decisions they have made so that the work can in principle be replicated by others.

"Like the work on tree rings this work is strongly dependent on statistical analysis and our comments are essentially the same. Although there are certainly different ways of handling the data, some of which might be superior, as far as we can judge the methods which CRU has employed are fair and satisfactory. Particular attention was given to records that seemed anomalous and to establishing whether the anomaly was an artefact or the result of some natural process. There was also the challenge of dealing with gaps in otherwise high quality data series. In detailed discussion with the researchers we found them to be objective and dispassionate in their view of the data and their results, and there was no hint of tailoring results to a particular agenda. Their sole aim was to establish as robust a record of temperatures in recent centuries as possible. All of the published work was accompanied by detailed descriptions of uncertainties and accompanied by appropriate caveats. The same was true in face to face discussions.

"We cannot help remarking that it is very surprising that research in an area that depends so heavily on statistical methods has not been carried out in close collaboration with professional statisticians. Indeed there would be mutual benefit if there were closer collaboration and interaction between CRU and a much wider scientific group outside the relatively small international circle of temperature specialists."

A Quest For Knowledge(talk) 23:25, 21 September 2010 (UTC)
As you have been repeatedly informed, day after day, week after week, month after month, we do not rely on editorial interpretations of primary sources or official reports. We write this encyclopedia based on the most current, most authoritative, secondary sources we can find, paying close attention to parity between sources to assure accuracy and neutral coverage, without giving undue weight to fringe views or partisan viewpoints not best represented in the secondary sources. What we do not do, is rely on older, sensationalistic accounts from the initial time of the event, before a more mature and developed appraisal of the significance of the event has been published. We have that now, and this article is going to be rewritten in current terms, based on current sources. Viriditas (talk) 00:22, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
Personally, I think the criticism of the CRU by the Royal Statistical Society is significant. Although the university has announced two formal initiatives to address the FOIA issues that were found in the investigations, I have yet to seem them announce the hiring of a professional statistician to assist with their research. Is the criticism of their statistical methods and operations mentioned anywhere in the article? If not, it should be, if not necessarily in the lede. Cla68 (talk) 00:32, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
The criticism was balanced in the report by agreement that the methods were "not inappropriate", and is well summarised in the lead as "although some of their statistical methods may not have been the best for the purpose, better methods might not have produced significantly different results." To produce good work in the area, statisticians have to be fully aware of the scientific context as well as being "professional", If reliable sources show any staffing changes responding to this aspect of the report, we should summarise their reports in the article. . dave souza, talk 07:39, 22 September 2010 (UTC)


I still say that, although some reliable sources have said "hacked", others have said it was probably leaked from the inside. An attempt was made to use only informed reliable sources, but there are clearly none, unless the hacker himself published something. "Stolen" seems probable, but even that seems to require attribution.

I realize that some have said there was a consensus for this; perhaps there was at one time, but the last time it was discussed, there was no obvious consensus. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 05:52, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

I'm not quite sure what the point is. Wasn't the outcome of the last discussions that even if it was technically "leaked" rather than "hacked", it would still be legally "stolen" all the same? Because evidently, there was no single person, inside or outside the organization, who had legal technical access to the files and was legally entitled to give it away. Am I missing something? Fut.Perf. 07:04, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
The #Overview by DB Climate Change Advisors above, p. 14 section 3.1.b.2. "Stolen emails...", says "Regardless of whether the files were hacked or leaked, they were obtained by criminal means, a fact that is frequently forgotten by commentators." . dave souza, talk 07:43, 22 September 2010 (UTC) – added main point, as an "independent paper notes" . . dave souza, talk 07:56, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
(to Future Perfect). Giving it away without being legally entitled to is not necessarily "theft" or "criminal".
(to dava souza) Interesting. That is (probably; I haven't checked the provenance) a reliable source. However, since it doesn't say "how" it's criminal, it doesn't quite support "stolen", even if true properly included.
And, the purpose, is to provide appropriate WP:WEIGHT in the article toward the (reliably sourced) statements that it was probably leaked, rather than hacked. There seems no contrary statements to the assertion that the insertion into RealClimate was a hack, although the traceback does seem to be muddled. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 08:13, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

We managed to get somebody from the WP 'legal' project to come and comment here at one time (it'll be in the talk page archives here somewhere). From memory, I think the conclusion was that there is no such crime as 'theft' or 'stealing' of data, as the original owner is not deprived of its use (i.e. it's copied). There is a term data theft, which is clearly relevant here, but it's not a crime in law. The relevant laws are to do with copyright, unauthorised hacking of servers, employment law (if an insider) and civil actions to do with suing people for damage done to the offended party or business. Picking up earlier points here about people with some actual knowledge, rather than the vast echo chamber of those with an opinion or a hope, of course the people who know are the UEA IT people (and their management) and the Norfolk police. Everyone else is guessing. --Nigelj (talk) 09:52, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

For what it's worth, hacking is a criminal offence in many jurisdictions.
As for "informed" people, the UEA IT people might be informed, but it's unlikely that the UEA management (who, really, are the only ones we've heard from) would say other than it was a "hack", no matter what they know or believe. (Possibly, the statements they made to the Committee might be what they believe, but there's really no reason to think that they know.) And there's no reason the police would tell us what they know or believe. So, if we were to restrict ourselves, to "informed", reliable sources, we couldn't say anything about how the data escaped. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 14:02, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps "criminal", above, is a bad translation from German?
In any case, what I'd like to see is a rewrite of FAQ 5 and the article to note that "hack" and "stolen" are sourced, so are not violations of WP:WTA, but there are reliable sources which state that the data was probably leaked, and we are not supposed to speculate, so we need to use neutral terms when not attributed. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 14:06, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
The paper is written by advisors at the Columbia Climate Center at The Earth Institute, Columbia University, who presumably are able to write in English. The preface / editorial is by Mark Fulton, Global Head of Climate Change Investment Research, DB Climate Change Advisors, and the disclaimer on the last page is clear that it is addressed to investors in the United Kingdom as well as in other listed countries or areas. The server is in England, as is the university, so English law will apply and since the paper is for international use it can reasonably be expected to be accurate. It fully meets our requiremnts for a reliable source. Of course if more detailed expert legal opinions are published we can include them, but caution is needed. I'm reminded of very questionable legal opinions given by George Gilder's colleagues. . . dave souza, talk 17:12, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
It says "criminal", but it doesn't say what crime may have been committed. If no evidence is provided, we cannot say, or even use the reference to imply, that "theft" is the crime. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 18:23, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
Yes, my reading of p. 14 of the paper is that when citing that particular source for this specific point, all we can say is that "In November 2009 several files, including emails sent between 1990 and 2009, were removed from a server at [CRU] and put on a third party computer. .... Regardless of whether the files were hacked or leaked, they were obtained by criminal means...". Summarise to suit, of course that doesn't preclude use of other sources. . . dave souza, talk 18:40, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
Thanks. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 21:35, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

Government response to the report of the Science and Technology Committee

I just got this via Prof. David Colquhoun's twitter account:

It broadly endorses the findings of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, and also takes into account the other two independent reports that have been issued since then. --TS 13:30, 1 October 2010 (UTC)

I didn't get far before finding In November 2009, data including emails were illegally released from a computer server at the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Climatic Research Unit (CRU). - now from an impeccable RS. Makes all the fighting seem rather pointless, no? William M. Connolley (talk) 15:47, 1 October 2010 (UTC)
Mind you, they are bozos: In addition, we consider that had the available raw data been available online from an early stage, these kinds of unfortunate e-mail exchanges would not have occurred. completely fails to understand the role that governments - including the one writing that report - have in making it impossible to release the raw data William M. Connolley (talk) 15:51, 1 October 2010 (UTC)

Nomen omen

Michael= D. Lemonick Michael Lemonick expressed nomen climategate in Scientific American Magazine —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:09, 26 October 2010 (UTC)

RfC: Rename article?

It is proposed that the "Climatic Research Unit email controversy" be renamed "Climategate". Is this proposed rename supported or contradicted by Wikipedia policies and guidelines? What are the risks and benefits of such a rename? mark nutley (talk) 11:15, 26 July 2010 (UTC)

This RFC has been moved to Talk:Climatic Research Unit email controversy/RFC Climategate rename policy query. It is still ongoing, so please join the discussion there. --TS 00:08, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

TS oh bother please tell us all what it is like in the future year 2020? Much Thanks, from BlondeIgnoreBlondeignore (talk) 17:00, 9 August 2010 (UTC)

We get to work by biodiesel-powered roller skates. The RFC seems to have died so I'm letting this section be archived. Tasty monster (=TS ) 07:39, 13 October 2010 (UTC)

Daily Mail

The Daily Mail, a tabloid newspaper, is used twice in this article. I don't think it qualifies as a reliable source on anything having to do with science. I say this, because while working on the subject of Gliese 581 g, I came across this recent article in the Daily Mail, an article that appears to be a work of complete fantasy in the guise of a news story. This is very troubling, because not a single fact in this story checks out. I would therefore propose that the Daily Mail be removed on this basis. Viriditas (talk) 09:38, 6 October 2010 (UTC)

Daily Mail often comes up at the Reliable Sources Noticeboard. It is reliable for quite a number of things, but not of course for scientific fact (no newspapers are), and in my opinion, not for science-related news either. One way to look at it is as a recentism question. We developed our article as the story unfolded in the press, but now it is time to stand back and see how it looks after the events. One of the Mail articles is: Were Russian secret services behind it all? Er, no, they weren't. And we can do a lot better than that sort of lurid nonsense. So please do replace that source with better ones where you can. Itsmejudith (talk) 10:22, 6 October 2010 (UTC)
This is the right approach: find a better source and replace the cites you are unhappy with. Much better approach than getting into the messy arguments that will inevitably follow any attempt at a blanket ban. Jonathan A Jones (talk) 11:26, 6 October 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Judith & JAJ, and it shouldn't be hard to find a better source to replace the dubious cite to the Daily Mail. Best, Pete Tillman (talk) 19:33, 6 October 2010 (UTC)
Ditto.--CurtisSwain (talk) 21:11, 6 October 2010 (UTC)
We should not be using poor sources or making exceptions for them. Viriditas (talk) 22:05, 6 October 2010 (UTC)
In my experience people usually rate sources as "poor" mainly because they don't personally agree with them. This is particularly so with Newspapers on contentious/political issues, and it sounds to me that certain people are expressing their political viewpoint of the paper on what is overwhelmingly a political article which requires a broad range of sources from all shades of the political spectrum (not just the ones certain editors agree with!) Isonomia (talk) 15:47, 8 October 2010 (UTC)
Please assume good faith. As I said the DM is reliable for some purposes. It's not "at the quality end of the market" though and its science coverage in particular has come under attack from a number of quarters. Itsmejudith (talk) 15:50, 8 October 2010 (UTC)
That may be the case for political issues. But with science reporting it's simply a quality issue. For most newspapers science is filed under entertainment, and the reporting is accordingly. Here is a science reporter(?) poking fun at this. In most newspapers all bigger science news stories are pressed into this corset, although it almost never fits. Only a few very high quality papers have the kind of readers who won't tolerate this and provide real, fact-based science reporting instead. Hans Adler 16:56, 8 October 2010 (UTC)

  • The first Daily Mail reference [36] is used to support the local police investigation of the server hack, that the purloined data went through a Russian server, and another bit re the Norfolk police investigation. None remotely controversial (sfaik), no science content, and all easily replaced, if anyone cares to make the effort. The second [37] is about the alleged death threats, and if there's no better source, that bit perhaps should be dropped. Best, Pete Tillman (talk) 18:42, 8 October 2010 (UTC)
No, let's not start trying to drop the death threat reports again, we spent months on them. --Nigelj (talk) 19:09, 8 October 2010 (UTC)
If you can't find a source for the death threats, they need to be dropped. We can source that people claimed to have had death threats. The Guardian Environmental Network appears not to be a reliable source, either. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 20:55, 8 October 2010 (UTC)
Why not? --Stephan Schulz (talk) 21:26, 8 October 2010 (UTC)
It appears to be commentary by The Guardian, rather than something resembling news articles. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 23:04, 8 October 2010 (UTC)
Death threats

All of these signed, dated articles in major organs report the death threats.,1518,687259,00.html

--Yopienso (talk) 22:31, 8 October 2010 (UTC)

Most report that people 'reported receiving death threats, rather than (in the editorial voice) stating that they did.
  1. Guardian Environmental Network appears to be a news aggregator; we can't tell whether specific articles, even from The Guardian, are subject to normal editorial review
    Two of the scientists involved in "Climategate" – the e-mail hacking incident at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, UK – have been emailed death threats since the contents of their private e-mails were leaked to the world. No further information can be revealed about these particular threats at present because they are currently under investigation with the FBI in the United States.
    This article was published on at 09.28 GMT on Tuesday 8 December 2009. It was last modified at 16.45 GMT on Tuesday 8 December 2009.
  2. The Times reports that Jones reported death threats.
  3. The Telegraph reports that Jones (and others) reported death threats; there are no comments on confirmations or reports to the police.
  4. AOL News, probably also a news aggregator, reports that Jones reported death threats.
    Theunis Bates Contributor Theunis is a London-based journalist. He writes for Time, Fast Company and Business Life.
  5. CNN reports that Jones reported death threats.
  6. Nature reports (as an aside) that Jones received death threats.
  7. Der Spiegel reports that there are death threats on the Internet. I've received death threats on the Internet. I'm not convinced this is worthy of report.
    The Internet is full of derisive remarks about him, as well as insults and death threats.
Arthur Rubin (talk) 23:02, 8 October 2010 (UTC)
I've inserted quotes from some of those sites in small print. You are correct that it was Phil Jones himself who made those claims. It had not occurred to me the WP community would doubt his word. Naively, I had not. Journalists (or professional free-lancers) Kate Ravilious, Richard Girling, Aislinn Laing, Theunis Bates, Hilary Whiteman, Matt Knight, Olive Heffernan, Marco Evers, Olaf Stampf and Gerald Traufetter believed him. (I now have my doubts as to the reliability of the last 3 from Der Spiegel.) Does anyone know if Jones received specific threats, or if they were all rude, anonymous individuals on CBS reader comments and the like? --Yopienso (talk) 00:17, 9 October 2010 (UTC)
If Prof Jones made such claims to the Norfolk police, and later to the FBI, and then couldn't back them up with evidence, I think by now we would have heard about his charges for 'wasting police time'. As to the other slant here, we went through people at the time claiming, 'Where I live, it's so violent that everybody receives death threats at work every day, so it's not worth mentioning'. I have lived in East Anglia (though not admittedly, Norfolk) and it wasn't like that there a few years back. --Nigelj (talk) 11:48, 9 October 2010 (UTC)
For that last, I'm referring only to the Der Spiegel article (at least, that's what it used to be called); it said "death threats on the Internet". They may be more prevalent against climate change scientists than against controversial Wikipedia editors, but the article didn't say that. Thinking it over, however, I'm probably wrong about The Guardian; although it seems to say it's an aggregator in the article sidebar, the description at seems fairly clear that it's a tag, so that article (which is the most specific) seems adequate. Still, I do not agree that most of those authors "believed Jones", or they would have said so. The only articles which stated that Jones received death threats were:
  • The Guardian
  • Nature
  • Der Speigel (reported that there were death threats on the Internet)
Most of those which stated that Jones reported receiving death threats didn't mention reporting them to the police, so the only thing we could say is that "Jones reported death threats". However, The Guardian seems adequate. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 14:11, 9 October 2010 (UTC)
The Guardian article is identified as from the environmentalresearchweb I'm unfamiliar with that site, but it appears to be an aggregator of other blogs, and so is unlikely to be a WP:RS. --Pete Tillman (talk) 18:04, 9 October 2010 (UTC)
WTF? "Death threats on the internet" is not a literal quotation from the Spiegel article. Here is the literal quotation: "The Internet is full of derisive remarks about him, as well as insults and death threats. 'We know where you live,' his detractors taunt." In no way is this evidence that there were no death threats outside the web. If you insist on drawing synthesised conclusions from this passage, it seems more natural to assume that the German magazine found it harder to verify Jones' claim by asking the police in an English-speaking country and instead went with something they could easily verify on their own by just surfing around. This definitely doesn't invalidate anything that others have reported. Hans Adler 09:02, 13 October 2010 (UTC)

This was discussed yonks ago. Multiple climate researchers reported death threats to the authorities in the wake of the hacking, and criminal investigations were opened by police and other law enforcement agencies on at least three continents. I do think it would be bad form not to record this, as it's rather unusual for theoretical scientists working behind desks with computers and pencils and things to suffer such threats. --TS 08:10, 13 October 2010 (UTC)

Fox News Channel does not check facts

As if we needed another illustration as to how nonsense like the CRU "controversy" is spread by the media, today, October 11, Fox News Channel decided to run the same, bogus story[38] spread earlier on October 1 by the Daily Mail about Gliese 581 g.[39] The original Daily Mail story mixed and matched facts from a story published in The Australian over a year ago, on May 9, 20009.[40] At the time, The Australian originally reported the discovery of Gliese 581 e, which was announced on April 21, 2009. The story in The Australian mentioned Ragbir Bhathal, an astrophysicist at the University of Western Sydney who reported in April that during a SETI search in December 2008, he found a one time signal from the direction of 47 Tucanae.[41] This is nowhere near Gliese 581, located in the Libra constellation. What is interesting here, is how this game of Chinese whispers, begins with The Australian in 2009, an asset of Murdoch's News Corporation, and ends with the FOX News Network, even though it is attributed to How can it be, that in all this time, not a single journalist or reporter can be bothered to fact check or follow up on this story? No, I'm sorry, but neither the Daily Mail nor Fox News have a reputation for fact checking or accuracy, and this incident proves it yet again. Neither publication should be allowed in this article. The story by Niall Firth in the Daily Mail never occurred, and the story by Denise Chow of as repeated on the Fox News website never happened. What did happen, is that one reporter got the story wrong, and another repeated those mistakes. We have no use for these kind of sources on Wikipedia. Viriditas (talk) 01:31, 12 October 2010 (UTC)

I think you are taking "reputation for fact checking" too literally. The distinction between formally reliable sources and other sources is just a bright-line rule that people are more and more centering on for no good reason other than wiki dynamics. "Reputation for fact checking" is just a way of expressing the idea of "something like a newspaper". Newspapers are notoriously unreliable, and it's just more obvious in areas you know about. The RS/non-RS distinction is not a substitute for intelligent reading and evaluation of source quality and relevance. Hans Adler 09:08, 13 October 2010 (UTC)
The problem, as I see it, is that the definition of a reliable source on Wikipedia differs quite remarkably from the definition of what a reliable source is considered off-wiki. When asked why this is, I'm told that the difference prevents a conflict with the NPOV policy, but I don't believe that is true. Viriditas (talk) 21:46, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

Leak vs.Theft vs. illegal release

The FAQ for this page says that they should identify that the emails are stolen. However, repeated talk page discussions have failed to find consensus for either "leak" or "theft." A quick google search comes up with roughly equal number of hits for using either term (~53k each) [42] [43]. So both terms are acceptable and supported by reliable sources (don't have the time to dig up actual sources, but there are thousands of words expended arguing between the two in the archived talk page discussions). However, given that both are emotionally charged words, a neutral, NPOV compromise, would be to call it an "illegal release." Calling it either a theft or leak imparts a POV to the article. Sailsbystars (talk) 03:53, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

See for instance, here [44] or here [45] and I'm sure there are more. See also WP:DEADHORSE. Sailsbystars (talk) 03:59, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
You are correct, and I support your edit. The CBS opinion piece does not belong here and is superseded by better sources. Viriditas (talk) 04:31, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
I also support your edit, though I see it has already been reverted. I think I once proposed "unauthorized release", but yours has a better chance to gain consensus, I think. Best, Pete Tillman (talk) 06:21, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
This is a delicate question, but I think "illegal release" is the most balanced suggestion I have seen so far. Jonathan A Jones (talk) 06:24, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
Changed to that version, which appears directly in the official government response on behalf of her Majesty. It would be very impolite to disagree with her! --Stephan Schulz (talk) 06:47, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
"Release", by itself, completely mistates the nature of what happened, and pushing a POV that's not supported by the sources. I think it's been pretty conclusively established that this was not something done by anyone with permission. Hence my revert back to "leaked". I can handle the "illegally released", but I think "leaked" has more support from the sources, and is more NPOV than "illegally leaked". Ravensfire (talk) 14:48, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
Please directly address the points raised above and point to better sources. Viriditas (talk) 20:54, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

The only reliable sources we have on this matter are the University, the police, and the independent investigations. They strongly come down on hacking, illegal release, theft, call it what you like. Without lawful excuse emails were stolen and their contents released.

I think we have to stop pretending to countenance the false notion that speculation in newspapers amounts to a reliable source. It isn't, it's just some bloke on a swivel chair typing stuff into a computer to meet a deadline. --TS 20:58, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

Coming at this question from the other direction, the only things we actually know about this is that the emails were released (whether by an insider, making a leak, or an outsider, making it a hack), that the release was unauthorized, and that the release was illegal. The phrase "illegal release" is carefully chosen and should keep people happy, whatever side of the question their personal suspicions lie on. I suspect that Tony and I are diametrically opposed in our opinions as to what probably happened, but we're both happy with "illegal release". Jonathan A Jones (talk) 21:26, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
It seems reasonable to go with the official Royal & Ancient United Kingdom report, per Stephan Schulz upthread. Impeccable source. Authority of Her Majesty. Rule, Brittania! Cheers, Pete Tillman (talk) 21:38, 15 October 2010 (UTC), who has (sfaik) no blood of an Englishman up the family tree....
Even The New Yorker (article mentioned in the above section) calls it Climategate scandal and leaked (mysteriously): "Cato scholars have been particularly energetic in promoting the Climategate scandal. Last year, private e-mails of climate scientists at the University of East Anglia, in England, were mysteriously leaked, and their exchanges appeared to suggest a willingness to falsify data in order to buttress the idea that global warming is real." [46] (my bolding). Nsaa (talk) 21:48, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
And we can also choose sources that call it an illegal theft and hacking. This discussion indicates that a compromise resting comfortably in the middle of what is known and unknown is best. Viriditas (talk) 21:56, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

Removal of Climate Change Probation headers

It occurs to me that with the closure of the CC ArbComm case, the climate change probation header at the top of this and other CC talk pages should be removed, since the community sanction has been superseded via Remedy 2. --DGaw (talk) 06:08, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

Yes, we can remove them from every article. --TS 11:45, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
I removed the probation notice and a related 1RR notice. I'll take the 1RR for review at WP:AE to see if admins there think it should be renewed under the discretionary sanctions. --TS 11:48, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

Following up to confirm that this article is remaining under 1RR rule in case anyone missed the change in notice at the top of the page. FloNight♥♥♥♥ 11:46, 16 October 2010 (UTC)


I wonder if there are any serious ongoing neutrality disputes, or perhaps those who pursued those disputes have since departed from the topic. I don't think I see any ongoing discussion on neutrality here, at least. What are the feelings on this? --TS 18:37, 16 October 2010 (UTC)

I started a cleanup here, and, for the lede & # 2 Content of the documents, I saw no significant POV problems (fixed other minor stuff). That's as far as I got. Best, Pete Tillman (talk) 19:15, 16 October 2010 (UTC)
Just read through the whole article and made some minor tweaks. I was satisfied that the article maintained NPOV. I'm okay with the tag going away. Sailsbystars (talk) 00:53, 17 October 2010 (UTC)
Agreed, and I've removed the tag. Viriditas (talk) 01:05, 17 October 2010 (UTC)

Edit warring

I'm a bit dismayed to note that my recent edit prompted a flurry of edit warring. Please remember the article is on 1RR (and no, that doesn't mean everybody gets one revert a day!) and once it's evident that an edit is disputed everybody should discuss it civilly here on the talk page. No more edit wars, please, even if you only use up your one-a-day, you're still edit warring, and neutral admins are likely to view your reverts with disapproval. --TS 14:18, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

See this. --TS 14:45, 21 October 2010 (UTC)
Apparently the WSJ ran an editorial on the subject of the ARBCOM case today [47], which may explain the influx of IP edit warriors. Sailsbystars (talk) 15:27, 21 October 2010 (UTC)
Well, that would be 1 (one) new (blocked) IP editor so it's not that bad. I've been lurking around here since January(?) but just haven't bothered registering. (talk) 17:47, 21 October 2010 (UTC)
You also have been reasonable enough to take discussion to talk page. Regarding your edits, I'm indifferent about the Tierney reference (which may have caused some confusion above). On the one hand it's to a reliable source and relevant. On the other hand it's almost a year old at this point, and I wonder if it might be a good idea to re-write the whole section based on more recent overviews. The edits that removed the "taken out of context" bit I feel are a step backwards, as that assertion is pretty well supported at this point and your version takes us back to when there was a lot less information available. Cheers, Sailsbystars (talk) 19:12, 21 October 2010 (UTC)
A good starting point could be if everyone would preferentially edit one section per edit. If the need should arise to discuss or revert something the information will be in on chunk and not divided all over the place causing unnecessary confusion. I'm hoping others find this suggesting practical as the article has been fairly stable. I.e. my concern was only with the removal of the Tierney reference. (aka IP (talk) 20:25, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Why exactly do you want to keep the Tierney reference, and can you summarise it rather than quoting it? The statement that the recent part "was based on a completely different measurement from the earlier portion" isn't actually correct, as the part from 1850–1950 was calibrated against the instrumental record, which continued on for the later part of the graph. A clearer summary of the point would be better. We're also quoting the same early article by Tierney as an authority that "these researchers, some of the most prominent climate experts in Britain and America, seem so focused on winning the public-relations war that they exaggerate their certitude — and ultimately undermine their own cause", but this early response from one journalist isn't supported by the detailed analysis in the various inquiries. Looks very much like undue weight to a not particularly expert view. . dave souza, talk 21:14, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

If this journalist's misdirected criticism came from the earliest days, I wonder how it found its way into the article at all. There was all kinds of rubbish in the media in the early days but by Christmas or so we were able to produce a very decent rendition of the affair--one that anticipated the eventual outcome--by giving priority to high quality sources who actually knew what they were talking about. This would hardly have included Tierney's piece. Tasty monster (=TS ) 15:55, 22 October 2010 (UTC)

Tony, please refer to the section above. Thanks, Pete Tillman (talk) 18:46, 22 October 2010 (UTC)

Add Cato Institute scholars have been particularly energetic in promoting the Climategate scandal, per August 2010 The New Yorker article by Jane Mayer.

Cato Institute scholars have been particularly energetic in promoting the Climategate scandal, per August 2010 The New Yorker article by jane Mayer. 16:56, 11 October 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

Dunno what this is about but I suggest you two get a room. --TS 21:36, 24 October 2010 (UTC)
I'm beginning to have doubts about Jane as fact-checking. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 02:14, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
Yet again more Innuendo, by you, User:Arthur Rubin ... (talk) 04:25, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
True believer in Libertarian Party (United States) (Republican Party (United States)+Tea party movement Coal Oil Climate change denial, Arthur? Per year and a half plus Special:Contributions/Arthur_Rubin ... (talk) 21:13, 24 October 2010 (UTC)

Der Spiegel, in a recent article on climate change denialism ("Science as the Enemy" [48]), focused on Fred Singer, who was in Germany recently for lobbying, and the Marshall Institute. Apparently Singer, Fred Seitz of the Marshall Institute and Patrick Michaels were all consultants for the TASSC, originally a front for the tobacco industry's fight against science. I think the increasing number of press reports in that vein should be covered together and in some detail. Since Der Spiegel didn't mention Norwich that had better happen elsewhere, perhaps at climate change denial. But that still leaves room for a one-or-two-sentence summary of the reporting as it pertains to "Climategate" in the present article. Hans Adler 08:28, 12 October 2010 (UTC)

What I find interesting about the Spiegel article is the description of TASSC's strategy: Reporter sollten angesprochen werden - allerdings nur von Regionalzeitungen, wie es ausdrücklich heißt: "Keine zynischen Journalisten von Leitmedien." (only reporters from local media shall be contacted, not "cynical journalists from the leading media"). --Stephan Schulz (talk) 09:05, 12 October 2010 (UTC)

False balance

I'm rather uneasy about this edit [49]:


Many commentators quoted one email referring to a "trick" used in Mann's graph to deal with the well-known tree ring divergence problem to "hide the decline" that particular proxy showed for modern temperatures after 1950, when measured temperatures were rising. These two phrases were taken out of context by climate change sceptics including US Senator Jim Inhofe and former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin as though they referred to a decline in measured global temperatures, even though they were written when temperatures were at a record high. Various inquiries concluded that the so-called 'trick' was nothing more than a statistical method used to bring two or more different kinds of data sets together in a legitimate fashion. However, John Tierney wrote in the New York Times that "the graph adorned the cover of a report intended for policy makers and journalists. The nonexperts wouldn’t have realized that the scariest part of that graph — the recent temperatures soaring far above anything in the previous millennium — was based on a completely different measurement from the earlier portion. It looked like one smooth, continuous line leading straight upward to certain doom."


Many commentators quoted an email referring to a "trick" used in Mann's graph to deal with the well-known tree ring divergence problem to "hide the decline" that particular proxy showed for modern temperatures after 1950, when measured temperatures were rising. Some climate change sceptics including US Senator Jim Inhofe and former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin seized on the e-mails as evidence that Mann and his colleagues deliberately exaggerated the scientific case behind global warming. In contrast, some inquiries concluded that by using the term 'trick', Mann was actually referencing a legitimate statistical method used to bring two or more different kinds of data sets together. However, John Tierney wrote in the New York Times that "the graph adorned the cover of a report intended for policy makers and journalists. The nonexperts wouldn’t have realized that the scariest part of that graph — the recent temperatures soaring far above anything in the previous millennium — was based on a completely different measurement from the earlier portion. It looked like one smooth, continuous line leading straight upward to certain doom."

This seems to be creating false balance by juxtaposing fact wih fantasy. The critics took the facts wildly out of context. The meaning of the terms "trick" and "decline" are as stated, and the context was freely misinterpreted.

I'd also suggest that we could ditch the Tierney quote. He seems to be ignoring the fact that "the scariest part of the graph — the recent temperatures soaring far above anything in the previous millennium" was based on actual average temperatures and not proxies. Tierney's expertise? He's a journalist. This looks like another case where we've bent over backwards to put nonsense into the article as if it represented a significant statement of opinion. --TS 06:26, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

Agree, and have removed Tierney – this section is a brief overview of the "documents" article where more detailed and nuanced arguments are explored. . dave souza, talk 06:47, 21 October 2010 (UTC)
I disagree. What he says is accurate in laymen terms. The first part of the graph is proxy and the second part is instrumental temps. His qualifications should not be relevant for such a simple statement. (talk) 08:31, 21 October 2010 (UTC)
You'll need to convince others of your position before adding the material back into the article. Please remember, the burden is on the editor adding content. Viriditas (talk) 08:51, 21 October 2010 (UTC)
That's silly. That section had been in the article for a substantial amount of time and was removed after only two editors "discussed" it for ~30 min. You should be aware that almost every addition to this article has been discussed, at length, before holding in place. Removals should not be done in haste! (Please revert.) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:11, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

As I've remarked above, this unqualified commentator writes as if the latterday rise in temperatures, the part substituted after the reconstruction diverges, were a matter of some controversy. That's nonsense and we shouldn't act as if it were not. Tasty monster (=TS ) 12:16, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

Indeed. Furthermore, we should act in haste to revert edits which insert misleading information that gives false equivalence to propoganda versus reality. Sailsbystars (talk) 12:24, 21 October 2010 (UTC)
Sailsbystars: Good grief. Someone else removed stuff that had been here for ages with little discussion. Reverting a deletion is not the same as inserting new information.

Tasty monster: That would make sense in case his qualifications had any bearing and we were talking about scientist talking to scientist in the field. It would appear rather obvious most of the general public and specifically "policymakers and journalist" would be surprised to learn that the graph consisted of two different sets of data. A newspaper is after all written for the general public. Here is part of the removed quote "the graph adorned the cover of a report intended for policy makers and journalists. The nonexperts wouldn’t have realized that the scariest part of that graph — the recent temperatures soaring far above anything in the previous millennium — was based on a completely different measurement from the earlier portion. It looked like one smooth, continuous line leading straight upward to certain doom." He is specifically writing about "nonexperts" and not scientist. (talk) 13:22, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

Any graph of this complexity is based upon dozens or even hundreds of sets of data, each in turn derived from tens of thousands of individual measurements taken all over the world. The nearer you get to the present day, the smaller the error bars. But this has little to do with the edit in question, which was more about giving emphasis to doubt that doesn't exist apart from in the hopes of some US political groups. It was noticeable that to try to justify the change, a Guardian ref had to replaced by one to USA Today. There's no point in trying to re-fight these battles in this article's text, as these alarmist claims have all been subsequently proved to be baseless by numerous official enquiries. --Nigelj (talk) 14:06, 21 October 2010 (UTC)
Full marks for an appropriate and well supported use of the word "alarmist". --TS 14:15, 21 October 2010 (UTC)
It's also misleadingly taken out of context to suggest that Mann's graph was being criticised, when in fact Tierney clearly refers to the little known graph by Jones. It's a rather complex issue, as Jones notes in his comment on the Guardian article, "The 1999 WMO report wanted just the three curves, without the split between the proxy part of the reconstruction and the last few years of instrumental data that brought the series up to the end of 1999. Only one of the three curves was based solely on tree-ring data." Tierney related this to a 2004 blog response by Mann (scroll up to item 4) where Mann clearly understood that the instrumental record had always been clearly distinguished. In retrospect it would have been clearer if Jones had insisted on showing it differently, as a fourth curve, but the Jones graph predated the famous 2001 IPCC publication of a version of Mann's graph which became the focus of public controversy in 2003. The discussion of this December 2009 column by Tierney in the "documents" article could do with more explanation, and including it in this article gives undue weight to a side issue. . dave souza, talk 15:37, 21 October 2010 (UTC)
Dave: thanks for clarifying whose graph is being criticized.
As for "undue wight" -- the common graft of instrumental temps onto proxy interpretations has always made me uncomfortable, as this is clearly "Apples vs. Oranges", with the notorious calibration problems of the proxy-guessed paleotemps. So I think Tierney's common-sense comments are squarely on-target as to what went wrong with the alarmist hockey-stick presentations. Best regards, Pete Tillman (talk) 05:31, 22 October 2010 (UTC)
Pete, I've not seen these "alarmist" presentations you talk about, but the scientific presentations are explicit that the most recent temperatures are instrumental, not based on proxies. The 2001 IPCC version of Mann's graph is very clear about this, and about the uncertainties in the proxy reconstructions. The quote from Tierney is misleading taken out of context, and if we show anything in this overview we should summarise what he's saying. . . dave souza, talk 07:44, 22 October 2010 (UTC)
Dave, this is at the very heart of the Climategate controversy: that a misleading, alarmist presentation was coming directly from Phil Jones. No sweeping this under the rug, please. Best, Pete Tillman (talk) 14:05, 22 October 2010 (UTC)
Pete, the very heart of the controversy is denialist spinning as presented by Imhofe and Palin, wildly misrepresenting the significance of a graph by Jones which attracted little or no attention at the time. The controversy over graphs has been about graphs which clearly showed the intrumental record as distinct from the proxy reconstructions. We should not overstate the significance of Tierney's initial reaction – has this detailed aspect been covered in any other reliable mainstream source? The article needs to be updated using the more considered sources now available, and taking less account of initial news opinions before the issues had been fully examined. . . dave souza, talk 14:47, 22 October 2010 (UTC)

[outdent] Dave, we may have to agree to disagree here. For me, mention of politicians who misuse scientific(?) info is, well, old news, and I considered proposing that for deletion or downgrading, but many editors like stupid-politician bashing. But that's seems a minor sideshow to me. So we should leave both bits for now, I think, unless/until some brave soul attempts a rewrite.... Best, Pete Tillman (talk) 18:53, 22 October 2010 (UTC)

While it's nice to have your views, the eminently qualified Kerry Emanuel evidently disagrees with your priorities. If the article continues to show individual opinions, that's one that should be included. . . dave souza, talk 20:18, 22 October 2010 (UTC)

Looking closer at the section, which is called "Content of the documents", I hope we could trim it right down so it actually discussed the content of the documents and not all this uninformed speculation. --TS 21:03, 22 October 2010 (UTC)

  • Re: this edit: Dave, I've restored the Terney quote -- I don't see a consensus for removal, it's stable text, and your summary (imo) is weaker than the quote. --Pete Tillman (talk) 18:54, 25 October 2010 (UTC)
    • I agree with Pete. I really don't understand why this is contentious. The quote is a representative sample of what how the press presented the issues at the time. Regardless of the outcome of various inquiries there is a point in leaving in the accusations as they were as nobody will otherwise understand the need/interest for the inquiries in the first place. (talk) 19:50, 25 October 2010 (UTC)
As discussed below, that's original research, we should be looking for a third party analysis and not synthesising our own set of misapprehensions. It is also taken out of context, and misrepresents the totality of Tierney's article. . dave souza, talk 17:31, 26 October 2010 (UTC)

Climategate again

The Tierney quote

  • [52] Removed 06:44, 21 October 2010 Dave souza (talk · contribs) "per talk, false balance in this brief overview"
  • [53] Replaced 08:39, 21 October 2010 (talk · contribs) "disagree"
  • [54] Removed 08:53, 21 October 2010 Viriditas (talk · contribs) "See the talk page. Burden is on the editor adding the content. Exclusion is the default position here."
  • [55] Replaced with other changes 14:26, 21 October 2010 (talk · contribs) "Remove previous edits that were made towards the goal of inserting editorial opinion rather than stating fact. Also grammar was poor."
  • [56] Removed along with other changes 14:31, 21 October 2010 Dave souza (talk · contribs) "promotion of fringe viewpoint, per talk"
  • [57] Replaced with other changes 14:40, 21 October 2010 (talk · contribs) "Difference of opinion on how to convey a point is hardly fringe. Undoing prior edit performed without sufficient justification."
  • [58] Removed and replaced by a summary 07:52, 22 October 2010 Dave souza (talk · contribs) "summarise per talk"
  • [59] Replaced instead of summary 18:47, 25 October 2010 Tillman (talk · contribs) "restore Tierney quote, long-standing text, no consensus to remove-- see talk"

Now that, to me, looks like an edit war. In the process of compiling this I came across a few other "bones of contention" where IP editors are doggedly replacing their favourite quotes, all out of context and regardless of the findings of all the official enquiries. It is like we are back to the month after the hack and everyone wants their best chat-show moment to have top billing again. It is also like the ArbComm case never happened! I see Dave souza doing an almost single-handed job of trying to keep the cherry-picked quotes in context, mostly against the efforts of IP editors. We are told above that and claim to be same person. That leaves and unaccounted for. I see has been blocked

Dave, Tony and myself have argued against the quote above, Viriditas has effectively with his one edit above, Dave has kindly tried to summarise the relevant points without the hyperbole. That leaves Pete Tillman and IPs. I don't see how that can justify Pete's "no consensus to remove". I am very disappointed, and do not really see how this article can be maintained with this behaviour going on. --Nigelj (talk) 21:31, 25 October 2010 (UTC)

User was blocked for 48 hours for violating 1RR. As the block has expired, that would seem to leave opinions re the Tierney quote at 4 against, 3 for, hardly a consensus. Best, Pete Tillman (talk) 22:05, 25 October 2010 (UTC)
I agree that the consensus is less clear than is being suggested. However I think that Dave Souza's last edit [60] was a good attempt to find a compromise, and I'm surprised that this was reverted. Personally I would favour going back to that version (or rather the version [61] with the typo corrected!). Jonathan A Jones (talk) 22:21, 25 October 2010 (UTC)

We need more opinions. How about an RFC? --TS 22:28, 25 October 2010 (UTC)

At some stage that might prove necessary, but it would be nice to resolve this at a lower level. I'm interested in PT's detailed thoughts on DS's suggested compromise. Jonathan A Jones (talk) 07:04, 26 October 2010 (UTC)
Sure -- some are upthread, but I don't feel a paraphrase is either necessary or desirable. Here's Dave's summary:
In his New York Times article, John Tierney discussed how the graph by Jones for the cover of a report intended for policy makers and journalists did not explicitly distinguish the earlier proxy reconstructions from the recent dramatic rise in measured temperatures. (cite Tierney, NYT)
and here's the quote we have now:
However, John Tierney wrote in the New York Times that the graph by Jones "adorned the cover of a report intended for policy makers and journalists. The nonexperts wouldn’t have realized that the scariest part of that graph — the recent temperatures soaring far above anything in the previous millennium — was based on a completely different measurement from the earlier portion. It looked like one smooth, continuous line leading straight upward to certain doom."
So I don't see what we gain by paraphrasing instead of quoting, other than saving 15 words or so. Where's the beef? --Pete Tillman (talk) 14:07, 26 October 2010 (UTC)
Does changing the order make sense, as I have just attempted? I think if the story is told chronologically it makes more sense to the reader. Sailsbystars (talk) 14:44, 26 October 2010 (UTC)

That new version is even worse than before because it repeats Tierney's uninformed opinion in Wikipedia's voice. I think we really need to go back to the beginning and ask if the ill-informed opinion of a non-expert makes the section on the content of the emails better.

We've now got two bits of rubbish from one guy.

Firstly we quote him saying "these researchers, some of the most prominent climate experts in Britain and America, seem so focused on winning the public-relations war that they exaggerate their certitude — and ultimately undermine their own cause."

That's been proven false, even to the extent that it might ever have been considered credible.

Secondly on "Mike'd nature trick."

John Tierney, writing in the New York Times, was among the commentators assailing the "trick" for the fact it was used to combine two data sets in a graph which "adorned the cover of a report intended for policy makers and journalists" who as non-experts would not realize that the "scariest part of the graph — the recent temperatures soaring far above anything in the previous millennium — was based on a completely different measurement from the earlier portion"

As I remarked above, the "scariest part of the graph" is the part that is based on instrumental readings, not proxies.

If we're going to describe the content of the documents by quotation of third parties, why can't we quote people who describe them correctly instead of scientifically illiterate commentators? --TS 15:02, 26 October 2010 (UTC)

We need some context, though, for why this was a Big Deal for Some People (tm). We should indicate that there were some people other than politicians who tried to make hay out of the emails. The tierney quote may not be the best way to do that, but it would help if we gave a reference or an example source for the commentators quoting "mike's nature trick." It also might be worth expanding the rebuttal sentence at the end of the paragraph. Sailsbystars (talk) 15:09, 26 October 2010 (UTC)
Here's a thought: could we move Tierney's opinion to the press opinion section? That provides the context. --TS 15:10, 26 October 2010 (UTC)
I understand that we have to include some foolish things that people said at the time in order to explain what the 'controversy' was, per the current title. If this chap is one of the best examples of those who made such statements, then I can understand him getting all this coverage. (The first question is therefore, is he one of the best examples?) Secondly though, it is important that these comments, if included, must be put into the context of the subsequent inquiries and reports, and shown for what they were. In this respect, Sailsbystars' recent edit and re-shuffle goes a long way. My third point is that about the only real criticism, that stuck, is the finding that scientists should be more 'open-source' with their data, their code and their maths. I believe this is bearing fruit in real changes, such as web-access to temperature data sets and the like. This is mentioned in the article, but its coverage is dotted about all over the place, while too much is still devoted to the sound bites with which people tried to rubbish large chunks of climate science at the time, but which ultimately led nowhere. This matter should be tightened up and openness maybe given a whole section, at the expense of some of the non-issues. A side-issue of openness was the attempts by some to get key people jailed or at least sacked under the FOI act; that is not the main point. --Nigelj (talk) 15:33, 26 October 2010 (UTC)
  • Nigelj makes good points, but this idea that we should include sample misunderstandings from November 2009 to demonstrate how confusion was caused is really original research, we should be looking for third party analysis of how the issue was spun. The paraphrasing of Tierney had the problem that it misrepresented what he wrote, and the issue of showing the different components of the graph was taken out of context. I've improved it a bit, but have left him in for now.
    The reshuffle put it out of sequence, Tierney was responding to accusations of fraud etc, and dismissing them, not making them. "The story behind that graph certainly didn’t show that global warming was a hoax or a fraud, as some skeptics proclaimed, but it did illustrate another of their arguments: that the evidence for global warming is not as unequivocal as many scientists claim." That's a more subtle point than suggesting, as the previous formulation did, that all hockey sticks have "grafted the thermometer record onto" reconstructions.
    Tierney isn't terribly clear about this, but he links to Mann's full statement (answers to 4) which goes on to say "Often, as in the comparisons we show on this site, the instrumental record (which extends to present) is shown along with the reconstructions, and clearly distinguished from them (e.g. highlighted in red as here)". While Mann links to another graph, the famous "hockey stick graph" from the 2001 IPCC TAR is shown in red in just that way, and we should not mislead readers into thinking otherwise.
    I've added a reference to the EPA report which covers the issue a bit more clearly, noting that the WMO graph would have been clearer about its sources if the graph had overlaid the instrumental record using a separate color, but the WMO report did have some clarifications inside the cover. . dave souza, talk 17:27, 26 October 2010 (UTC)
  • I'll come back to this, but Nigel & others seems to be putting an awful lot of weight on the official inquiries, as if they were the final word on Climategate and the CRU controversy. These "independent" inquiries have drawn a great deal of harsh & detailed criticism from 3rd parties, and I note that the UK Parliament is revisiting the issue yet again. It's difficult for me, for instance, to take the PennState "review" of Mann seriously: see forex Clive Crook's analysis, which concludes that the PSU "inquiry" would be "difficult to parody." Best, Pete Tillman (talk) 17:34, 26 October 2010 (UTC)
Well, the blackwashes are equally hard to parody, if not more so, and blatantly provide false information in many instances. Clive, as a political commentator and hardly an expert on science, seems a bit dated, things have moved on a bit since July. We'll no doubt see the outcome of the MPs' follow up session in a few days. . . dave souza, talk 18:00, 26 October 2010 (UTC)
There have been five inquiries and still there are some people who don't like a single one of them. At some point it becomes obvious that the problem for such people is not the type of inquiry, or the people on the panel, or the duration, whether witnesses were called or whether public sessions were held, but the failure of any one of the inquiries to confirm their own beliefs that the scientists were engaged in skulduggery. Tasty monster (=TS ) 18:17, 26 October 2010 (UTC)

[late reply to TS, 15:02, 26 October 2010 (UTC) & upthread] TS: "As I remarked above, the "scariest part of the graph" is the part that is based on instrumental readings, not proxies." ahd

TS: "If we're going to describe the content of the documents by quotation of third parties, why can't we quote people who describe them correctly instead of scientifically illiterate commentators?""

Tony, IB you are missing the point. If you have a look at Climate reconstruction graph at Climatic Research Unit documents, you can compare Jones' published graph vs. the original he modified. That's the one Tierney (& many other critics) found misleading, because, well, it is. If you can defend that one, I'd be interested to hear your argument. And IB your description of Tierney, a respected NY Times science correspondent, as a "scientifically illiterate commentator" is borderline libelous, and definitely a violation of WP:BLP. I invite you to redact it. TIA. Pete Tillman (talk) 17:30, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

Check your sources more carefully, Pete, that's not "the original he modified", and since the report was clear that both instrumental and other sources were used, it's very questionable that it was misleading. With the benefit of all the discussion since that 1999 report, it would have been better done differently, with the instrumental and proxy lines shown separately – as they always have been on Mann's graphs. I don't believe that Tierney is scientifically illiterate, but his early reaction from November 2009 should be treated with caution. Regarding BLP issues, you should take more care to present Tierney's views as a whole and not cherry-pick aspects you think are damaging to living scientists. . dave souza, talk 17:56, 27 October 2010 (UTC)
Dave, both graphs are from a UEA press release (scroll down) explaining Jones's "trick". While the UEA indeed describes the 2nd graph as "an alternative version," I think it's safe to assume that Jones modified a very similar one. As for misleading, Jones's "trick" graph was on the cover of the WMO report! As for Tierney quotes, sfaicr, this is the only one I've added here, and it's certainly not cherry-picked, imo. Best, Pete Tillman (talk) 18:52, 27 October 2010 (UTC)
Your statement "I think it's safe to assume that Jones modified a very similar one" is a clear declaration of original research, please be more careful. Tierney's discussion with Mann makes it clear that the cover of the WMO report had been forgotten, even by those most involved in the issue, and the merging of measured and proxy temperatures did not occur in Mann's famous graphs. The constraints on how the graph was presented were apparently set by the WMO rather than Jones. This merging summarises the outcome of various inputs, and does not appear to have been intentionally misleading, though critics today may make an issue of that aspect. Do you think it misleading that it doesn't show different colours for the different proxies? The quote you added was taken out of context, and shows the problem arising from extracting one quote from an article rather than providing a balanced summary of the article as a whole. . . dave souza, talk 21:59, 27 October 2010 (UTC)
Dave, you've lost me here. First, I'm certainly not proposing to add anything about what predecessor graph Jones used to draft the "trick", and I'm mystified why you would dwell on such an insubstantial and irrelevant point. Second, your theories of what went wrong are interesting, but immaterial --Jones's "trick" graph is misleading, we don't speculate on motives, and this business hasn't been forgotten, however much Prof. Jones and others might hope. Third, please explain how the Tierney quote is "out of context". And the overall context is clearer at Climatic Research Unit documents, for which this is supposed to be a summary. Thanks, Pete Tillman (talk) 20:55, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
We're here to help improve the article. Do you have any WP:RS to support that 'Jones's "trick" graph is misleading' and that it 'hasn't been forgotten'? If so, give us these current refs and we'll see what this or the documents article is lacking in those areas. The Tierney quote is from a long time ago and, by itself, is of historical interest only IMHO. --Nigelj (talk) 22:18, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

[outdent] Tierney's article appeared in December 2009. That's a remarkably short time to be "of historical interest only."

Do you have any new 3rd party RS's to suggest that Jones's WMO graph is not misleading or has been forgotten? We already have the NYT saying yes, it's misleading. Best, Pete Tillman (talk) 23:38, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

Pete, you're being a bit careless again – Tierney's article was published in November, not December, and that was in the very early stages of this "controversy" before deeper and more careful investigations took place, hence of historic interest rather than being a definitive statement. The word "misleading" doesn't appear in Tierney's article, where did you get it from? There are aspects of Tierney's comments that are questionable, but not unreasonable in a quick article before there was time for more careful analysis. Still no current references from you supporting your contentions about the significance of Tierney's statements. . . dave souza, talk 19:40, 30 October 2010 (UTC)
Dave, our reflist says 1 DEC, NYT says November 30, 2009. Eh.
I'm really mystified at the negative reaction to Tierney's column. This isn't rocket science, guys: Jones published a misleading graph, Tierney (and many others) called him out on it. WTH does publication date have to do with this?
As for Tierney meaning "misleading", here's what he said:
But the graph adorned the cover of a report intended for policy makers and journalists. The nonexperts wouldn’t have realized that the scariest part of that graph — the recent temperatures soaring far above anything in the previous millennium — was based on a completely different measurement from the earlier portion. It looked like one smooth, continuous line leading straight upward to certain doom.
Are you really arguing that "misleading" isn't an accurate summary of his comments? . Dave, I expect better of you. And this is another reason why a direct quote is better than a lame paraphrase.
As for the current article text: you've managed to make this section longer, and included what appears to be Original Research, by cutting the quote. Weaker text as well. I don't have time to rewrite now, but we're going backwards here, in my view. Best, Pete Tillman (talk) 03:39, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
Why, if others have "called Jones out on it", don't you present these other sources here for discussion? One reliable mainstream source does discuss the issue, I've cited it making the section a little longer. It states "While it would have been clearer about its sources if the graph had overlaid the instrumental record using a separate color rather than merging the instrumental and proxy records together, this is an issue for WMO to address" so the point very briefly made is not [original research?] – your tag is inaccurate.
Tierney's statement clearly says that the most dangerous part of the graph is based on actual measurement, not just proxies, and we can agree on this, but simply saying it's misleading implies an anwarranted assumption of intention to mislead. The source states that "While few details were provided about the cover graphic, the caption and text box referring to it discussed the uncertainties involved in historical temperature reconstructions."
The caption [from the WMO report] states "Northern Hemisphere temperatures were reconstructed for the past 1000 years (up to 1999) using palaeoclimatic records (tree rings, corals, ice cores, lake sediments, etc.), along with historical and long instrumental records. The data are shown as 50-year smoothed differences from the 1961–1990 normal. Uncertainties are greater in the early part of the millennium (see page 4 for further information)...."
Also note that the WMO, not Jones, published this graph. Jones has stated "The 1999 WMO report wanted just the three curves, without the split between the proxy part of the reconstruction and the last few years of instrumental data that brought the series up to the end of 1999."
A small point which Tierney is a bit misleading about: he wrote "the tree-ring analyses" show "a decline in temperatures, contradicting what has been directly measured with thermometers" ans says that "Dr. Jones and his colleagues removed it from part of the graph and used direct thermometer readings instead." In fact, the divergence problem affected only one line on the graph, the Briffa (1999) reconstruction, which was truncated at 1960 in accordance with the recommendations of Briffa et al in Nature in 1998. . . dave souza, talk 09:53, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
Sorry to be slow to get back to this -- I'm traveling, and have spotty --> no net access.
My bad on your new cite -- better to cite near the contentious material. I've removed the OR tag & added a cite. Well, I tried to, but can't find yours -- can you add please ?
The bit about "the so-called 'trick' was nothing more than a statistical method used to bring two or more different kinds of data sets together in a legitimate fashion" is highly misleading, tending towards falsehood. Needs rebuttal -- such as Prof. Mann's statement re not splicing, which we do quote in the CRU docs article. This sort of thing really needs editorial discretion, as the assertion that this is a "a statistical method used to bring two or more different kinds of data sets together in a legitimate fashion" is absurd on its face -- see Mann quote. Your thoughts (& defense?) are welcome. Yes, these are (normally) RS's, but we don't put political "spin" in the encyclopedia.
This remains a misleading and unbalanced section, so I'll tag it as such & return after my trip, or as connections permit. And sorry for the snarky tone in my last -- bad day, all kinds of other crap, dah dah dah. Apologies & in haste, Pete Tillman (talk) 17:02, 4 November 2010 (UTC)
Pete, I have looked at this. I am afraid that I am inclined to agree with the others on this one. I think that if your Tierney quote was included, too much weight would be given to an early opinion of a non specialist. It seems enough, to me, that we have linked the article, and that we allow the reader to follow it if he so desires and form his own opinion. My own opinion is that all formal investigations into Climategate have been whitewashes, as you say, but that's just my opinion; it doesn't belong in the article. Unfortunately, I think the formal investigations into Climategate and their findings are what need to be emphasised by this article, according to Wikipedia's policy of remaining neutral. Alex Harvey (talk) 06:01, 14 November 2010 (UTC)

"The so-called 'trick' was nothing more than a [legitimate] statistical method ..." -- misleading?

[outdent, new subpara] Alex, thanks for your comments. It does appear consensus is against using the Tierney quote. However, the issue hanging fire is the (imo) misleading summary we presently have: "the so-called 'trick' was nothing more than a statistical method used to bring two or more different kinds of data sets together in a legitimate fashion". Please see the sections above your comment, and I'd appreciate your thoughts on that issue. TIA, Pete Tillman (talk) 19:23, 14 November 2010 (UTC)

My initial thoughts are that as the source does say that and it appears to be a reliable source then it seems regrettably necessary that our article should also say it. That said, I am across the actual issue; I know what you are talking about and I am sympathetic to what you're saying, i.e. in my opinion the 'trick' was far from a legitimate statistical method, but again, that's just my non expert opinion, albeit backed by experts who have said this in blogs. So do we have reliable sources that contradict ref [40]? Alex Harvey (talk) 01:45, 15 November 2010 (UTC)