User talk:Wikidemon/Climategate scandal

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Article copyright and origin[edit]

Per the terms of the GPL public license, much of the content of this article as of the date of creation is a paraphrased and modified version of the current version of Climatic Research Unit e-mail hacking incident, located here.[1]

It is an attempt to organize the content better by creating a parent / sibling articles about different aspects, because there is some concern over putting too many different things into a single article, and what each article's right focus ought to be. This article is intended to be about the overarching scandal - how it came about, who created and promoted a scandal, what the term "climategate" is all about, the reactions, and aftermath. The other article is titled and focused specifically about the hacking / data theft incident, an important part but not the entirety of the overal series of events.

Discussions ought to be had either here or there about the appropriate focus of two or more articles, what content to put where, etc. I have trimmed quite a bit of stuff that either seemed too detailed, or that related more to the hacking than to the other parts of the scandal. However, I tried to err on the side of inclusion. Likely there are other parts here that ought to be cut and left for the other article. - Wikidemon (talk) 23:59, 27 December 2009 (UTC)

Support for Wikidemon. IB this article began as a rewrite attempt (by who?) of the parent page. Pete Tillman (talk) 02:41, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
I agree. The "hacking incident" was one event that happened between about 15 October (when the emails were first passed to the BBC) and 19 November when the files first became known to a wider public. Since then, there has been a substantial amount of new information developed. Wouldn't break my heart to see the title changed to use "controversy". I can see removing the word "climategate" in favor of something more descriptive, but if so then we'll still need a redirect from "climatefate" because that is the popular name for the controversy. The article needs to be findable by the general public. — Charlie (Colorado) (talk) 10:05, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

Article name[edit]

Provided that this article survives the inevitable AfDs that will ensue, the article should probably be renamed "climategate" or "climategate controversy" rather than "climategate scandal" due to WP:Words to avoid jheiv (talk) 00:18, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

That makes sense. The name is modeled after Watergate, which for a reason I don't fully understand is called the Watergate scandal here. I'm not sure Climategate is a bona-fide controversy any more than it is a scandal. It's some sort of a flap. Maybe "Climategate" for now to stay neutral? Wikidemon (talk) 00:30, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
Well, it's a relable source of controversy here at Wikipedia -- suggesting that it is also a controversy in the wider world.... I do agree that "controversy" is the less-inflammatory word, and would also be happy with just "Climategate" as well. Pete Tillman (talk) 01:47, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

News sources referring to Climategate as a Scandal.[edit]

I was collecting a host of sources to make this point over at Climatic Research Unit e-mail hacking incident, but now it seems to be better put to use here:

This is an incomplete list, obviously. --GoRight (talk) 01:45, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

The argument here isn't explicit, but I assume that you mean this as support for keeping "scandal" in the title. I'm not sure that a large number of sources calling it a scandal is necessarily a reason to have it in the title, though; we should be aspiring to an even NPOV tone and the use of "scandal" presumes a particular view of the controversy is correct. —Charlie (Colorado) (talk) 09:21, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

Climategate: the missing criticisms[edit]

I'd pretty much given up on Climatic Research Unit e-mail hacking incident‎ -- aside from being hideously mistitled, it's, basically, a whitewash, and missing answers to essential, common-sense questions, such as:

  • If the "Hockey Team" were so confident of their diagnosis of near-catastrophic AGW, why were they resisting release of their data so strenuously? Did they have something to hide?

WSJ editorial quote which I can't find now, dammit. Help?

  • Clive Crook, a senior editor of The Atlantic Monthly, asks:

    We contemplate outlays of trillions of dollars to fix this supposed problem. Can I read these emails and feel that the scientists involved deserve to be trusted? No, I cannot.

Source: [2], the Atlantic Monthly, 30 Nov 2009.


  • The impact of Climategate on the public perception of science:

Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger has written, in "Climategate: Science Is Dying":

I don't think most scientists appreciate what has hit them. This isn't only about the credibility of global warming. For years, global warming and its advocates have been the public face of hard science. ... [T]he average person reading accounts of the East Anglia emails will conclude that hard science has become just another faction, as politicized and "messy" as, say, gender studies.

Source: [3]

Georgia Tech climate scientist Judith Curry wrote that “This whole concept of, ‘We’re the experts, trust us,’ has clearly gone by the wayside with these e-mails.” Source: [4], NY Times, published November 27, 2009.


  • Who's investigating what went wrong?

Information technology columnist Gordon Crovitz reports in "Bloggers peer review a scientific 'consensus' ":

Unlike Watergate, Climategate didn't come to light because investigative journalists ferreted out the truth. Instead, this story so far has played itself out largely on blogs, often run by the same scientists who had a hard time getting printed in the scientific journals. Climategate has provided a voice to the scientists who had been frozen out of the debate.

This may be how information-based scandals play out in the future: A leak from a whistleblower directly onto the Web. Expert bloggers then assess what the disclosures mean—a Web version of peer review.

Source: [5], WSJ column, 12-6-2009.


  • Is there any good that can come out of this mess?

Mike Hulme, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia, writes:

"If climategate leads to greater openness and transparency in climate science, and makes it less partisan, it will have done a good thing." Source: [6], WSJ Europe, Dec.2, 2009.


These or similar well-sourced criticsms and commentary urgently need to be added to our article, if it is to have any semblance of credibility. Or so I believe. Best, Pete Tillman (talk) 06:11, 23 December 2009 (UTC)

We may have to wait to see how the deletion nomination settles down, and also how people feel about dividing content among two (or more?) articles. I think there are at least four subjects here, possibly five, as I said in my very first introduction: (1) background climate science, the people involved, the state of the research, etc.; (2) the actions and emails of the people who would later become the subject of the controversy; (3) the hacking (apparently) and disclosure of the emails; (4) the public scandal that came to be after it was heralded in the conservative activist press, then soon thereafter reached mainstream attention; and (5) the series of investigations and other fallout, a story still unfolding. Which of these go in one article versus another is an open question, as is the question of whether we will have one article or several. It may be a little early to try to perfect things until we figure that one out. Hope that helps, - Wikidemon (talk) 02:50, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

Climategate is a different but related subject to the CRU hacking incident.[edit]

I noticed that the other links to Climategate redirect one to the CRU Hacking Incident page. It seems though that that page deals with different subject matter than the one here. The former discusses the fallout and implications of the latter, but they are separate topics in there own right. The CRU Hacking Incident page talks about the details of the incident but doesn't really get into the discussion of corruption at the East Anglia institute and/or a discussion of the role of groupthink and confirmation bias that many claim were implied in the emails.

As such I vote to keep both pages since they both deal with distinct topics in their own rights. Jfraatz (talk) 02:54, 28 December 2009 (UTC)jfraatz

I haven't thought through the question of just how much about the "corruption" (or lack thereof?) should be discussed here. Sometimes when you have an article about the scandal, it gets difficult to talk about the truth behind the public debate. Those are two separate issues, anyway, the debate on the one hand, and the thing that is being debated on on the other. Cheers, - Wikidemon (talk) 02:58, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

Use of "scandal" is accurate. (its implications are debatable though)[edit]

I noticed someone else suggested that a different term be used than Climategate scandal due to POV considerations. I would point out though that it is accurate to call Climategate a scandal based on the evidence in the emails. The scientists at CRU had been fudging the data (most noticeably with the hiding of the decline of the tree ring series on the hockey stick graph.

Now it has been argued by some that this is indicative of behavior in climate change research on the whole. This is POV, and is debateable. However it is accurate to say that the incident itself whether or not it has broader implications does qualify as a scandal. Jfraatz (talk) 03:03, 28 December 2009 (UTC)jfraatz

From the WP article Scandal: A scandal is a widely publicized allegation or set of allegations that damages the reputation of an institution, individual or creed. A scandal may be based on true or false allegations or a mixture of both. So, the use of the word does not seem to imply any POV issues. Dimawik (talk) 03:21, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
Hear, hear! Paul Beardsell (talk) 03:56, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
Still, it upsets the CRU defenders here, for no good reason. Maybe just plain Climategate is the best name?
Incidentally, Mohib Ebrahim has posted a 30-year(!) Climategate timeline here. I've just started to look thru it -- he obviously spent considerable time & effort to create it. Cheers, Pete Tillman (talk) 03:49, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

I support the use of the word "scandal". However it is emotive, and "controversy" is less so, and would do. Perhaps we should rename to "Climategate controversy" in an attempt to seek consensus. Paul Beardsell (talk) 10:37, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

Renaming to Climategate controversy[edit]

I'm going to be WP:BOLD on this and rename, hoping for support, so that we can document the scandalcontroversy revealed by the leak/theft/release of the e-mails, and not just the leak/theft/release itself. Renaming to Climategate controversy. Paul Beardsell (talk) 10:48, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

I`m happy with this change, however lets try and keep name changes to just this. --mark nutley (talk) 11:23, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
It looks like you moved this right before the article was deleted (in effect copying it and preserving it). See Closed AfD and deletion review. jheiv (talk) 11:26, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

Another interesting new RS[edit]

Transcript of a Finnish TV documentary on Climategate

The show can also be watched (with English subtitles) here.

Sample quote:

VoiceOver: Steve McIntyre was one of the expert reviewers of the 2007 [IPCC 4AR] report. He objected to hiding the decline in one of his comments.

Steve McIntyre (Actor’s voice): ”Show the Briffa [Yamal paleotemperature] reconstruction through to its end; don’t stop in 1960. Then comment and deal with the ‘divergence problem’ if you need to. Don’t cover up the truncation of this graphic. This was done in the previous report (IPCC TAR).This was misleading.”

VO: The IPCC answered McIntyre that, that showing the last part of Briffa’s reconstruction would be considered inappropriate. Professor Jones has recently admitted having used this hiding trick, and he has regretted his choice of words. But he denies having meant any deceit in using the word ‘trick’.

Atte Korhola: “What’s alarming here, in my opinion, is that a lot of these e-mails indicate that the author is a person with a strong mission, belief in being right, and that this somehow justifies taking exceptions from normal practices in science like peer review or openness, self-criticism and the like, basic elements of science.”

VO: The leaked CRU materials contain 3 000 e-mail messages of correspondence between researchers. They reveal an aggressive atmosphere, where the scientists consider dissenting colleagues as their enemies, to be fought with all possible means.

Ben Santer, one of the world’s most famous climate scientists writes in one of his messages to Jones that, he felt tempted – very tempted – to ”beat the crap” out of his older colleague, professor Pat Michaels, who belongs to the skeptics’ camp.

In another message the same Santer expressed and urge to talk to Steve McIntyre and his colleagues in a ”dark alley”. CRU director Phil Jones repeatedly refers to dissenting colleagues as ”utter prats”.

When the Finnish climate skeptic Timo Hämeranta sent a message lamenting the death of Australian veteran skeptic John Daly – also known to viewers of this program –, Jones commented to his inner circle that he took the information as ”cheering news”.


I think this should be a Reliable Source, but would expect it to be challenged. Show was made and shown by YLE TV1. YLE is a public-broadcasting organization which shares many of its characteristics with its British counterpart, the BBC, on which it was largely modelled. Best, Pete Tillman (talk) 01:17, 29 December 2009 (UTC)

Any chance of moving this to the article incubator?[edit]

I suspect that it will get a wider set of editors contributing if we move it here: Wikipedia:Article Incubator/Climate Gate/

This is much better than my own poor efforts. I would have liked to see it earlier as I'm sure other editors would. TMLutas (talk) 21:41, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

Done.[7] - Wikidemon (talk) 21:58, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

data reviews[edit]

The major, lasting scientific impact of Climategate, if there is any, is going to be in provoking new data reviews and adding prominence to current data reviews already underway. If those further data reviews uncover anything, Climategate will have lent credibility to those findings. A list of climatological data reviews, analyses, and proposed disclosures would seem to be a good section. Here's what I know about.

The UK MET has announced a 160 year data review, scheduled to take place through 2012. This is explicitly due to Climategate's confidence shattering effect.

Professor Hulme's proposal that all data raw and value added should be made publicly available on the Internet as a confidence raising measure.

Courtillot's competing temperature series that was assembled after CRU refused to share data is likely to receive more attention due to Climategate.

Anthony Watts surface stations review surfacestations.org is likely to have enhanced prominence when it finishes in early 2010.

No doubt there are other listings that I'm unaware of. TMLutas (talk) 22:54, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

That makes sense to me. It could go in a section regarding "responses" or more specifically "scientific reviews occasioned by the controversy", something like that. Eventually, each with their results and, if important enough, their own articles. I think it's best to treat these as historical events and avoid speculation about the findings before they happen, because that takes us back into trying to hash through the underlying climate change science, a huge subject that's already confounding people in other articles. Also, we should keep the scope of this article focused at first. - Wikidemon (talk) 23:30, 30 December 2009 (UTC)