23 Mar 2012

The Heartland Institute / Peter Gleick Affair

Climate Change, Conspiracy, Oil, Shameless Self-Promotion 57 Comments

As promised, here are my extended thoughts on what has been dubbed “Fakegate” (by the friends of Heartland, of course). If you never really dug into this, you might be surprised at what happened. Here is my conclusion:

The Heartland affair has shown not merely that some climate alarmists (namely Gleick) will stoop to outright deception, and most of his peers will close ranks to defend him in a sort of Green Wall of Silence. Perhaps more disturbing, it reveals that these people really have no idea how their opponents on the climate issue actually view the world. So when they dismiss skeptics as having no legitimate arguments, it should make outsiders take pause.

Without being a trained climate scientist, I can read the various blogs and try to parse the academic papers, but ultimately I have to rely a lot on the good faith and judgment of the scientists themselves. The Heartland affair has reassured my earlier conviction that the case for climate alarmism is far weaker than the alarmists have been telling us.

57 Responses to “The Heartland Institute / Peter Gleick Affair”

  1. Ken B says:

    An excellent essay Bob.

    Two thoughts.

    First, the faker badly failed the ‘Turing Test’ for sounding like his opponents, as did the bloggers you eviscerate. In a cynical way this emphasizes the importance of trying to pass such a test once in a while.

    Second, it may — may — have backfired this time but the strategy of shoot first, pump up the volume works. The first law of media manipulation is get your lie out early. How many on the left still believe Gore won Florida or that the USSC ruling overturning the recount was 5-4? [It was 7-2. The ‘safe harbor’ ruling part was 5-4.]

  2. stickman says:


    Peter Gleick certainly tarnished his reputation and, I think it’s fair to say, will have to live with the consequences. Certainly, not every proponent of AGW is as capricious as the excitable Mr Romm.

    However, your assessment strikes me as a most curiously one-eyed. Is Steve McIntyre the obvious foil to Joe Romm? Why does Anthony Watts receive no mention in your approving assessment of the denialist blogosphere’s reaction to the — ridiculously named — “climategate” emails? The Heartland Institute itself was only to happy to cheer on the emails despite their illegal origins… both in 2009 and 2011.

    Indeed, it would be much easier to take your column seriously if there had been similar criticism from the skeptic camp about of the illegal origins of the climategate emails, and contextualized analysis instead of the rabid hysteria that followed. [Side note: If the raft of official investigations — and subsequent exonerations — weren’t enough to convince you that these emails weren’t nearly as nefarious as initially made out, then I doubt you’ll be swayed to think otherwise now. Although, perhaps this or even this might work.]

    There is an irony here, but it is most certainly a two-sided irony.

    PS – The climate change debate has certainly been twisted… by both sides. I’ve mentioned this video several times before, but it’s worth showing again: http://bit.ly/A5TxSO
    That’s an actual climate scientist, the late Stephen Schneider talking. Note well his comment on the false dichotomies, “end of the world” and “good for you”.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Stickman, sure I mentioned Gleick’s dishonesty a few times, but the major point of my post was that that strategy memo was clearly fake. If, in addition to the Hadley emails about “hide the decline” etc. there had been an apparent email from Mann to Al Gore, saying, “Our strategy in the upcoming year will be to further twist the data in order to advance a One World Government,” and a month after it was proven that this email was clearly fake, WUWT still had posts saying how this smoking gun proved anthropogenic climate change was a hoax…then the two situations would be similar.

      I guess your evenhanded approach doesn’t see the humongous difference in that dimension.

      • Bob Murphy says:

        Another thing Stickman: We don’t really know the origin of the Climategate emails, right? But assuming they were leaked by someone on the inside, there is another big difference between (a) an employee knowing something is wrong and truly being a whistleblower by leaking the evidence–even if this breaks the law, versus (b) someone having a hunch that an outside organization is doing bad stuff, then going on a phishing expedition by impersonating a board member to get documents. Then, when it turns out the documents–DRAT–show that the Kochs gave $0 for climate activities in 2011, inventing a bogus document and including that with the legit ones obtained in the phishing expedition.

        Now I admit, my (b) above might not be exactly what happened. Gleick maintains that he really did originally receive the leak (presumably from an insider), and then he went through his routine to get the documents from the real source. He then (for some reason) still included the bogus strategy memo with the other legit documents, according to his story.

        • stickman says:

          I’m not even sure how to respond to this comment. What evidence do you have to support the idea that it was an inside job, rather than an outsider on a “phishing expedition” (as you put it)? These were private emails and correspondence taken over the course of many years… I.e. they were hacked! (Out of interest: How many of your work colleagues have access to your private email inbox?)

          And, you’re correct, given how deliberately distorted and selectively uploaded these emails were, I don’t see a “humongous difference” in moral equivalence, either.

          The ethical problems of assumed identities aside, Gleick simply appears to have been duped.No more, no less. Sure, you might look at the strategy doc now conclude it was an “obvious” fake. However, there are really only two lines that stand out (both of which you highlight in your piece). There’s enough plausible information therein as well, consistent with the real docs that he obtained, to suggest how he could have been fooled. And, of course, context is crucially important. For one thing, Heartland have a history of lobbying using distorted and misleading science to undermine opposing viewpoints. (Example A: Tobacco.)

          Again, I’m not condoning Gleick’s actions. But don’t pretend Heartland are innocent. And don’t pretend that much climate denialism isn’t predicated on extremely misleading and manipulated use of science.[*]

          [*] Please Note: I’m not suggesting that all skepticism is unfounded or unreasonable. Merely, that a good portion of it is. (Frankly, I don’t know how anyone who has followed this debate properly over the last 5-10 years could think otherwise… Monckton, Montford, etc, etc)

          • Bob Murphy says:

            Stickman: OK you’re right about the Climategate emails; I don’t know how they got out and yeah I wouldn’t be surprised if they were just hacked and the hacker hit pay dirt. (I.e. the hacker didn’t know what s/he’d find.) I retract that portion of my comment.

            But I think you are being very generous with Gleick here:

            The ethical problems of assumed identities aside, Gleick simply appears to have been duped.No more, no less.

            Stickman, do you really think Heartland insiders are focusing on Forbes, and in a short strategy memo for the entire 2012, one of their chief aims is to contain the work of Peter Gleick at Forbes? No mention of other “warmists” who are way more famous than him?

            There is other circumstantial evidence that Gleick wrote that email, such as the writing style and the mention of Judith Curry.

          • stickman says:

            [D]o you really think Heartland insiders are focusing on Forbes, and in a short strategy memo for the entire 2012, one of their chief aims is to contain the work of Peter Gleick at Forbes? No mention of other “warmists” who are way more famous than him?

            Believe it or not, but I think that this actually corroborates Gleick’s version of the story… i.e. he was sent the (bogus) strategy doc by an anonymous (and supposedly benevolent) source, after which he took on the assumed identity to investigate further blah blah blah.

            Think about it: If you wanted to bait Gleick into releasing false information — and thereby undermine his credibility — what better way then to implicate him directly into Heartland’s “strategy”? It’s very easy to be blinded by pride or delusions of grandeur… or even feel that you have a duty to act if you are personally implicated. (Though, it must be said, Gleick had certainly established a high profile in the climate debate by then. Personally, I could understand how he could have believed that the skeptic camp would have wanted to focus on him…)

            There is other circumstantial evidence that Gleick wrote that email, such as the writing style and the mention of Judith Curry.

            I really don’t think that he wrote the false memo. Apart from what I have said above, it would make extremely little sense for him to come out as the “leak” if he were also the forger. Just think it through… What’s the best that could happen from releasing a document that you know to be fake? Are Heartland just going to sit on their hands and take a beating for no reason? Of course not.

            Put differently… If you wrote that document, you knew it was bogus. And if you knew it was bogus, you’d have to know that Heartland would protest loudly and immediately as soon as it was released. The truth would out fairly quickly; as indeed it did.

            You don’t need a course in game theory to realise that there’s simply no good to come from releasing a document that you know to be fake… Much less owning up to being that moronic in public. (Unless, you like the taste of egg on your face.) Gleick has his faults, but I certainly doubt that he is *that* dumb.

            • Bob Murphy says:

              OK stickman so your theory is that someone from inside Heartland intentionally leaked a lot of their records about funding etc., coupled with a bogus document that mentioned Gleick, hoping that Gleick would fall for it and do something really stupid to discredit himself? You think Gleick is too smart to do what he seems to have done, but you think Heartland is this stupid and/or brilliant, depending on how you frame the exact theory?

              • stickman says:

                It certainly doesn’t have to be Heartland… Any skeptic wishing to trick Gleick and embarrass him would suffice.

                On the other side, it may even have been a climate campaigner who very myopically thought that he/she could undermine Heartland’s skeptic agenda by spreading false rumours through (an unknowing) Gleick. This would be a profoundly stupid approach — even disregarding ethical issues — as I have already outlined.

                Either way, I don’t think that Gleick faked it himself and then came out as the leak. If he did, then he is a lot dumber and more mendacious than I imagined.

              • Bob Murphy says:

                Oops stickman OK sorry my bad. I re-read Gleick’s confession just now.

                For some reason, McArdle’s discussion of the confession had me file away that Gleick said somebody originally emailed him *all* the documents (including the strategy memo), and that he then contacted Heartland to get the originals of the stuff the other person gave him.

                But upon re-reading, is Gleick saying that the initial person just sent him the bogus strategy memo? And then Gleick got all the other stuff–seeing it for the first time–himself, and then forwarded everything to the bloggers?

                If that’s what Gleick’s story is, then OK I see why you think he was duped.

              • stickman says:

                No probs… I’ve also been confused by this back-and-forth and have just had to check Gleick’s original confession as well!

      • Gene Callahan says:

        Sorry, Bob, there is no “humongous difference”: Stickman has you here. If you recall, right when Climategate came out, you asked me to look at the code, and I reported back: “No real evidence of anything fishy here.” That has now been demonstrated several times over.

        But I *still* see “skeptic” sites referring to “Climategate” as showing that the whole AGW case is faked.

        There are fanatics on both sides. Fanatics tend to be willing to break the rules for their cause. Period. That is the only valid conclusion that can be drawn from what you have presented.

        • Silas Barta says:

          Gene_Callahan, very very little of the mainstream discussion has focused on the code itself — that has been confined to “hacker” circles, and those who have reviewed it have been unanimous in considering it dangerous to rely on, esp the “very artifical [sic]” part or whatever. Some of the code deliberately introduced a warming trend.

          It’s true that in *other* respects, alarmists have been vindicated regarding Climategate (w/r/t investigations coming out favorably), but if you think the code was nothing fishy, you’re in a minority among those who have reviewed it, and have certainly not been vindicated. (I haven’t personally don’t so myself.)

          Btw, I hope you don’t count me as one of the denialist fanatics, since I seem to recall having to convince you and Bob_Murphy that carbon caps reflect scarcity.

          • Bob Murphy says:

            Silas, Gene has made up his mind, don’t bother arguing with him on this. He brought up the computer point not because it has anything to do with this, but because I personally asked him about it when the scandal broke, and so now apparently I’m not allowed to use the term “Climategate” in a blog post without being a hypocrite.

            If it hadn’t been the code, Gene would have said, “Well jeez Bob, you yourself wrote a blog post on Gleick. So you did the same thing that Romm did. Why are you complaining?”

            [BTW for newcomers, Gene and I are combative Irish buddies who go way back. I am 95% kidding in this comment.]

        • Bob Murphy says:

          Gene wrote: But I *still* see “skeptic” sites referring to “Climategate” as showing that the whole AGW case is faked.

          OK Gene, show me. I really hope you don’t list LRC. There aren’t Nobel laureate economists who cite the people at LRC as their go-to people on climate science, the way Joe Romm is touted as such by Krugman. And I’m not sure what the analog of DeSmogBlog is, but it’s got to be something like WattsUpWithThat or ClimateAudit, not a generic libertarian site.

          • stickman says:

            Bob, now you want to have your cake and eat it too. As a consequence, you’re worming yourself into an ever tighter squeeze. (Too much cake will do that btw.)

            Climate Progress is just a blog written by a non-climate scientist. It’s certainly popular, but if you want serious science then you would look at Real Climate, or even Skeptical Science. Scan their sites for discussion of these Heartland memos and tell me what you find, specifically w.r.t. the faked, “dissuade teaching of science” strategy doc. I’m guessing you’ll find the same as I did, i.e. the former doesn’t mention it at all, while the latter gives full coverage to it’s unauthentic nature.

            I’m not sure what the analog of DeSmogBlog is, but it’s got to be something like WattsUpWithThat[…]

            As I have indicated above, WUWT (and Heartland Institute) most certainly continue(d) to push the hacked emails to advance their agenda… Despite their illegal origins and a raft of investigations and exonerations. (I won’t even go into the deliberate distortions and cherry-picking of quotes.) Again, I’ve already pointed this out to you, so not sure what benefit you’ll get from Gene doing the same…

            In fact, let’s go one better by taking a step back. In your article, you specifically choose to cite Leo Hickman of the Guardian as “a major player on [pro-AWG] side”. Tell you what then, I’ll limit my rebuttal to another influential writer from a major English newspaper… Hmmm, I dunno, how about James Delingpole of the Telegraph? He’s been very measured and judicious in his evaluation of the climategate emails hasn’t he? Oh. Wait. NO.

            • stickman says:

              Grrr. Completely botched the brackets on my Real Climate link. Bob, can you do it for me?

            • stickman says:

              For another example of a climate science blog clearly acknowledging that the Heartland strategy doc was faked and openly removing the misleading information, see this post from Deep Climate.

              • Bob Murphy says:

                Stickman wrote:

                For another example of a climate science blog clearly acknowledging that the Heartland strategy doc was faked and openly removing the misleading information, see this post from Deep Climate.

                Stickman, go read that post again. They didn’t clearly acknowledge that it was faked. Instead the guy said Heartland said it was a fake, and so he was taking it down since we just can’t know. Go look again. He didn’t take sides as to whether it was fake or not.

              • stickman says:

                Oh, come on Bob… It’s abundantly clear to anyone who reads that post that strategy memo is a forgery and should not be considered. Indeed, he highlights the removal of the offending material for that specific reason. Message received!

                (Do you honestly think that anyone could read that post and still come away with that idea that Heartland’s strategy was to dissuade the teaching of science? Frankly, I don’t see how that’s possible…)

              • Bob Murphy says:

                Stickman wrote: Oh, come on Bob… It’s abundantly clear to anyone who reads that post that strategy memo is a forgery and should not be considered.

                You mean, it’s abundantly clear to the people besides the DeSmogBlog folks and the large number of their readers, who still maintain the document is legit?

              • stickman says:

                If Deep Climate, Real Climate, etc have to answer for the actions of Desmogblog and every conceivable pro-AGW person out there… Then I get to use James Delingpole, Rush Limbaugh and co. as representative of all skeptics…

            • Bob Murphy says:

              Sitckman, OK I’ll check out those two sites and mention them in my response to David R. Henderson, who asked me something along those lines in his post at EconLog.

              But no, I’m not trying to have my cake and eat it too. Joe Romm is way more of an authority in this field than some random schmoe who says Al Gore is a liar. Krugman, Nobel laureate, from his perch at the NYT has christened Romm as his go-to guy on climate science.

              And again, you guys are drawing false analogies. There is nothing analogous on the skeptic side to what has happened here, because shucks nobody in the skeptic camp forged a document allegedly coming from James Hansen talking about how he got funded by Soros and how they were planning on setting up thermometers in heat islands in 2012. So you’re right, if there had been such a forgery, and Delingpole continued to treat it as legit, then you’d have something. I’m sorry no one in the skeptic camp forged such a document, and that Watts et al. didn’t run with it right away, so that we now have no real analogy to draw. Too bad.

            • Bob Murphy says:

              stickman, sorry man, this just keeps getting worse for you. I went to that Skeptic Science site just like you recommended, searched for “Gleick,” and clicked on a post from Feb 15 called “Denialgate.” Go look at this gem. Are you saying that this is the gold standard in responsible handling of the issue, from people who were predisposed to disliking Heartland? Because that post is almost as bad as DeSmogBlog itself. The Skeptic Science blogger actually says what Heartland should do, to “prove” that the strategy memo is a fake as it claims. What the heck would the memo have to say, for the SS person to believe Heartland’s claim? What if the memo said, “And after we get teachers to not teach science, we’ll drink some kitten blood”? Would SS demand that Heartland provide receipts from their caterers, to prove that they did not, in fact, drink kitten blood?

          • stickman says:

            Bob, see my above comment for why I really don’t think it makes sense to suspect Gleick of faking the document himself. The only two options that I consider plausible are (in decreasing order of likelihood):
            1) Some anti-AWG person or group wanted to trick Gleick into releasing bogus info and thereby undermine his credibility, or
            2) Some pro-AWG person or group thought they could falsely smear Heartland through a prominent campaigner like Gleick, but simply failed to think through how this mendacious campaign would almost certainly backfire.

            As for retracting the false information, I’m not sure what more you expect. Joe Romm might be doubling down in his “Gleick was justified to take on a false identity because look how bad the other side are” spiel, but I can’t think of anyone (Romm included) that continues to use the false memo as evidence against their skeptic foes. Instead, they have shifted focus to the legitimate issues like Heartland’s funding operations and it’s hypocrisy about publishing falsely obtained information.[*] Now, you might not like that (some) pro-AWG bloggers have subtly shifted gear in this fashion… instead of loudly and repeatedly emphasizing their own stupidity/gullibility. My take is: What else would you expect? It was an embarrassing episode for the AWG-camp, after all… However, I sincerely doubt that anyone is still under the impression that the fake memo is real. (Indeed, as I have pointed out above, a number of high-profile AWG blogs have gone to some effort to point out to their reader that the docs are fake and removed the bogus content from their webpages.)

            [*] Of course, you could argue that many in the pro-AWG are being hypocritical too, since they criticized the publication of Hadley emails along such lines. I’ve no problem with this approach.

            • Dan says:

              The first theory is a little tough to believe. Heartland was willing to give up their funding records and then hope that Gleick just would accept the fake document as real? What if Gleick had realized that document was fake and either kept it out or said “look at how dumb Heartland is, they thought they could make me look stupid with a clearly fake document. Now I got their funding records and showed how they are trying to make us look bad with fake documents.”

            • stickman says:


              You do have a point about the counterproductive nature of revealing funding information. However:

              1) All the best deceptions have an element of truth/authenticity. Clearly, it worked because it not only fooled Gleick (let’s assume that I’m correct here), but many others… as Bob has actually demonstrated in his post!

              2) Again, I’m not saying that I suspect Heartland itself of trying to trick Gleick. It could have been any AWG-skeptic that wanted to undermine him (and had access to some of Heartland’s funding information… Something, which doesn’t seem especially problematic to obtain, as evidenced by Gleick’s later “findings”).

            • stickman says:

              Actually, I was a bit thrown by your comment, but have read Gleick’s admission again and — based on my reading of things — the initial, anonymous package only included a single document — i.e. the bogus strategy memo. He only obtained the more detailed funding info after going under the assumed identity.

              • Dan says:

                That actually makes believe it is less likely someone else wrote the fake document. Are we to believe that some person sent this fake memo to Gleick hoping to get him to contact Heartland to get corroborating evidence? Whoever supposedly sent him the fake memo would’ve had to have access to the numbers they included in the memo so why didn’t they send him those as well? Why wouldn’t Gleick send this memo to colleagues to get their opinion? For your theory to be true we have to believe that Gleick was sent a fake memo, told nobody about it, decided impersonating a board member of Heartland was the best course of action to corroborate the memo, and then missed the errors and inconsistencies between the memo and other info he obtained. Also why did the person who supposedly sent him the memo send it to only him? If your trying to trick him why not widen the net to try to get a few more people in your trap as well? If this was all a trap it is was done with the hope that Gleick was going to do things that I don’t think anyone would’ve predicted he would do.

              • Dan says:

                Correction: should start off “makes ME believe…

  3. Gene Callahan says:

    Good piece, right up until: “The Heartland affair has reassured my earlier conviction that the case for climate alarmism is far weaker than the alarmists have been telling us.”

    Say what?! Let’s try this in another instance:

    “Ron Paul’s green wall of silence on the racist newsletters has reassured my earlier conviction [bit awkward — I think it reassured you, not your conviction!] that the case for libertarianism is far weaker than what libertarians have been telling us.”

    You don’t buy it? As well you shouldn’t.

    The right conclusion to draw from all of your evidence is, “There are some fanatics on the topic of AGW. They are so convinced of the righteousness of their cause they will bend and break the rules to forward it.”

    Your evidence says nothing about whether or not the case for AGW is strong. In fact, a strong case might create more fanatics!

    • Ken B says:

      “There are some fanatics on the topic of AGW. They are so convinced of the righteousness of their cause they will bend and break the rules to forward it.”

      Right. And this might not be the first bit of rule bending over selling. So when they prove to be some of the most vocal and prominent alarmists it’s reasonable to infer claims you’ve seen are overhyped.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      It would be a white wall of silence…

      (I’m riffing on the policeman “Blue Wall of Silence,” in case people don’t know that phrase.)

      I think you’re wrong on the climategate analogy Gene. Sure, at a coarse enough setting, it’s “each episode has bad things about a group and its opponents jumped on it,” but at a finer setting I really do think there are differences.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Your evidence says nothing about whether or not the case for AGW is strong. In fact, a strong case might create more fanatics!

      This is such a BS argument. Look at what you’re saying Gene. The fact that at least one of the scientists engaged in deception, and that someone (probably the scientist but we don’t know) engaged in forgery, and then a bunch of the most powerful people pushing the science and claiming to be credentialed on it displayed an inconceivable gullibility and lack of appreciation for the viewpoint of people who disagree about the science…means absolutely nothing when we are trying to evaluate which camp is accurately telling us about the evidence?

    • Bob Murphy says:

      You know what else is funny (since I’m unloading on you now, Gene), is that if we tweak your analogy a bit, we get: “The Ron Paul newsletters, and the reactions of his supporters, convince me that these people can’t be trusted and he probably would be an awful president.”

      But you didn’t hold that up as the analogy, since that’s exactly what you blogged about for the last 2 years. Right?

    • skylien says:

      “Your evidence says nothing about whether or not the case for AGW is strong. In fact, a strong case might create more fanatics!”

      Provided you mean fanatics who are ready to lie, cheat and betray etc to further their cause then I think you are totally wrong. I have the impression that it is exactly the other way around. The weaker the case the more fanatic people become. E.g. Religious fanaticism

      If you are right and can clearly show it then there is absolutely no need for cheating, in fact the only thing it does is discredit you. What would be an example of a strong case in which people were fanatics and cheated, lied etc to further their cause? I cannot think of one example.

  4. Xon says:

    This is probably just my good luck for not following the climate blogs on either side, but the biggest “takeaway” I had from Climategate was that some of the most prominent scientists in the AGW camp had been shown to be interested in things other than truth, and in a way that went beyond what most of us would regard as “normal” or expected. “Hide the decline” is the headliner for this. But I never thought that the Climatgate emails proved that AGW was a complete hoax. That’s clearly silly. But it is significant when many of the leading advocates for a theory spend time behind the scenes massaging the data with their preferred outcome in mind. That doesn’t mean AGW is a hoax or has not substantive support, of course, but it was a signfiicant blow to the trustworthiness of the case as it was then being presented.

    There really wasn’t anything unethical per se about the emails, and I’m not surprised that official inquiries resulted in exonerations. Officially conforming to the ethics of your profession is not quite the same thing as behaving in a way that doesn’t undermine your argument, though.

    And, with this Heartland affair, there is no resulting “embarrasment” to the skeptics that isn’t directly derived from the fraudulent document, is there? So it does seem like a significant difference to me.

    • Bob Roddis says:

      Just from memory, but didn’t “climategate” start because of a British Freedom of Information Act request with the objects of the request concocting ways to avoid full disclosure?

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Xon I am not saying the Climategate stuff showed that “the whole thing is a hoax!” but I think you are swinging way too far the other way. As Roddis says, part of it was them trying to destroy data before it was turned over to a FOIA, right? (I don’t remember the exact details but it was something like that.) And they were clearly coordinating on how they were going to punish journal editors that published papers they didn’t like. That’s not at all how science is supposed to work.

      So to repeat, yes it’s true, the emails don’t say, “The thermometer says 67 but I typed in 69 into the database.” But you’re acting like there was nothing at all except some sex jokes and bad words.

      • Xon says:

        Bob, I didn’t actually mean to disagree with you. I meant to point out that I didn’t get the impression back when the thing first broke that skeptics were using it to say “Ha ha, AGW is a complete hoax and these emails prove it.” What I remember was that people were saying “These leading lights of AGW science are clearly conspiring to doctor the science in various ways, and that should cast some doubt on their theory.” The scandal was legitimate and embarrassing, and it should have been (regardless of subsequent exonerations).

        And, at the same time, i’m also defending your basic argument that Fakegate is not really analogous to Climategate, except in regards to “someone got documents illegitimately”.

  5. Bob Roddis says:

    Speaking of Ron Paul…

    Lawrence Vance gave a speech about Murray Rothbard and Liberty Magazine.


    I own just about every issue of Liberty Magazine. I remember when Murray and Lew Rockwell went off to preach to the rednecks. Who wouldn’t want the KKK types converted to the NAP?

    As opposed to plotting murder, pillage, rape and lynchings, KKK types would be left saying stuff like:
    “I hate you [fill in the blank] so much, I’m not inviting you to my BBQ! I’d really like to lynch you but I’ve adopted the NAP. ”

    A person simply cannot discuss alleged cultural deficiencies of “minorities” and live to tell about it. Compare what would happen to a BHO bureaucrat who a) used the term “towel-head”; or b) concocted a program that killed 2,000 innocent Muslim children with drone launched missiles. Obviously, the bureaucrat would be much better off career-wise killing the children. Thus, it’s better for Ron Paul to say nothing at this time.

    The left actually believes that we’re all racists and science-deniers. Of course, they are the same people who insisted that we must build freeways to the suburbs using eminent domain and must encourage sprawl with government programs, subsidies and funny money loans. Then, the heat island effect and the loss of natural areas can be blamed on “capitalism” which must be micro-managed (by them).

  6. Bob Roddis says:

    While on the topic, I found this obscure and mysterious youtube video about the press and other statists calling people racists.


  7. Jon von Briesen says:

    I thought your piece was marvelous. That your connections to the climate debates are narrowly focused makes your thoughts on the affair Gleick even more valuable, IMO.

    I have followed the affair, from the beginning, at Climate Audit, and WUWT (with the links to the excellent work by Megan McArdle). So, while I may not need your piece, I find it an excellent summary of the whole affair, to date, and have forwarded it to friends.

    You know, there are some corners of the climate field where skeptics are referred to as “libertarians.” You wouldn’t think that political orientation should have much to do with it, at least, not on the first look. But, I’ll go with it and look at it as a recognition that libertarians care more for truth than “message” and “program.”

    Thank you so much.

  8. Teqzilla says:

    A discussion about the comparative conduct of two sides in a dispute is more or less always pointless. Rarely is it ever anything more than people pitting a cherry picked set of players from their side against a nut picked set of players from their opponents.

    • skylien says:


    • Bob Murphy says:

      Teqzilla, of all the possible things you could have said about my piece, you cherry picked one that was critical.

  9. Bob Roddis says:

    There’s truly horrible news on the global warming front! I had been thinking this week that with the 86 degree high we had up here on the Canadian border, the rest of the world must be freezing their asses off or otherwise we would have heard about it.

    I was just watching THE WEATHER CHANNEL, owned by fair and impartial NBC, and the weather dude put up a map and said that while the US had been baking, the rest of the world had been freezing their asses off. For the first two weeks of March, the global temperature anomaly is up only a mere .069 degrees Celsius despite the US heat.

    There’s still no crisis. The horror. Some people are going to be really angry and depressed to learn this and they probably will start acting out.


  10. Nikolaj says:

    Gene and Bob,

    the Climategate emails DO prove that the entire AGW is a hoax. In those emails, the leading climate scientists discuss, among other things, how to fudge the evidence to exaggerate recent warming, how to use the statistical tricks to “hide the decline” in the proxy temperature records after 1960, how to prevent skeptics from publishing in the peer reviewed journals, then they are openly discussing how to artificially decrease the rate of warming before 1940 in the temperature records (to “reduce the blip” as beloved Phil Jones said) in order to make the recent warming more dramatic. They also (privately) complain how the rate of warming is much lower than models predict, and how they don’t have any valid explanation for why there has not been ANY warming in the last 15 years.

    So, the emails do not prove that global warming is a hoax in the sense that there has not been any warming since 1970s (nobody claimed that, that’s a straw man argument, to say the least) but that the narrative of a catastrophic global warming allegedly supported by the strong “scientific evidence based on the skilful climate models”, and by the “consensus of the thousands of leading scientists” is a pure hoax. The emails reveal that the “climate consensus” is a product of a relatively narrow clique of scientists who do not shy away from direct fraud to further their agenda, supported by a corrupt political machine willing to perpetuate the same self-serving lies for political and financial reasons.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Nikolaj, I guess we’re partly just disagreeing on what we mean by “AGW” then. I know what you are referring to in most of your claims, but can you provide a link for this one?

      how to fudge the evidence to exaggerate recent warming

  11. Nikolaj says:


    I was referring to the famous “abolishing the MWP”, known even before the Climategate. David Daming received a letter from Scot Overpack, I think a lead author for paleoclimatology in the IPCC at the time, in which he said openly; “we have to get rid of the Medieval warm period”. That was way before the Climate gate, and even some years before Mann’s Hockey Stick, in 1995 or 1996 if I am not wrong. The entire Hockey stick business that came afterwards was an attempt to minimize or abolish the MWP and exaggerate the modern warming. Some of Mann’s colleagues even proposed to “abolish” the Holocene optimum, which was even warmer than MWP, Moreover, it seems that the current “consensus” is that even the Eamian interglacial which was apparently MUCH warmer than even the Holocene optimum pick warmth, and during which the hippopotamuses thrived in Europe, was just “slightly cooler” than 1998. 🙂 I can find you some links later on. That is a hilarious story.

    As for the definition of AGW “fraud” I don’t think that you can find many people in the climate “skeptic” camp who would claim that the Climate gate emails prove that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas which generally causes warming, or that humans increase the CO2 concentration and that this would lead to some warming in the future. Nobody questions those trivial claims. The AGW thought as a “fraud” does not mean that, but refers to the narrative of “settled science” supporting a climate change catastrophe. The Climategate emails pretty much pour the cold water on that narrative.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Nikolaj wrote:

      As for the definition of AGW “fraud” I don’t think that you can find many people in the climate “skeptic” camp who would claim that the Climate gate emails prove that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas which generally causes warming, or that humans increase the CO2 concentration and that this would lead to some warming in the future. Nobody questions those trivial claims. The AGW thought as a “fraud” does not mean that, but refers to the narrative of “settled science” supporting a climate change catastrophe. The Climategate emails pretty much pour the cold water on that narrative.

      Right, I’m fine with this too. That’s why I personally thought the Climategate emails were humongous when the story first broke. You had some skeptics claiming that they were being blackballed unfairly, and that there was more uncertainty behind the models and predictions than the loudest proponents of mitigation policies were telling the public, and then the Climategate emails showed…these skeptics were perfectly correct in their claims. So then, when the same people didn’t bat an eye and said “Oh my gosh you idiots think there’s a scandal here? You think saying we’re going to change the definition of the literature to keep out skeptics from the next IPCC report, means there was some validity to the skeptics’ complaints? Man you guys are paranoid!” then I smelled a rat.

      So Gene and Stickman, I’m still waiting for a specific link where somebody at a major skeptic blog says Climategate shows that humans have nothing to do with global warming, or something sweeping like that. I don’t think you’ll find it. Instead I think you’ll find them saying Climategate showed that the “consensus” is not nearly as solid as it appears on the surface, and that these guys enforced it through tactics beyond mere peer review.

      And if that’s what they claim, I think the emails show they are perfectly right in saying such things.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Nikolaj yes to reiterate, pls give me specific link(s) to the email(s) discussing outright manipulation of data. I have plenty of bad stuff already, but I don’t have them talking about deliberately manipulating the data (except if you consider the “hide the decline” an example).

  12. Nikolaj says:

    Hi Bob,

    one example: here is the famous “reduce the blip” email from Tom Wigley to Phil Jones, in which Wigley speculates what adjustments in the data have to be done in order to reduce the rate of warming in the period 1910-1940 (even IPCC concedes that this warming could not possibly be caused by CO2, so it’s very inconvenient that it is so large).



    “Phil, Here are some speculations on correcting SSTs to partly explain the 1940s warming blip. If you look at the attached plot you will see that the land also shows the 1940s blip (as I’m sure you know). So, if we could reduce the ocean blip by, say, 0.15 degC, then this would be significant for the global mean — but we’d still have to explain the land blip. I’ve chosen 0.15 here deliberately. This still leaves an ocean blip, and i think one needs to have some form of ocean blip to explain the land blip (via either some common forcing, or ocean forcing land, or vice versa, or all of these). When you look at other blips, the land blips are 1.5 to 2 times (roughly) the ocean blips — higher sensitivity plus thermal inertia effects. My 0.15 adjustment leaves things consistent with this, so you can see where I am coming from. Removing ENSO does not affect this. It would be good to remove at least part of the 1940s blip, but we are still left with “why the blip”.

  13. Philemon says:

    Bob, the whole Peter Gleick affair really got going at Lucia’s blog. What made Peter Gleick confess?

    Steven Mosher was all over it there: http://rankexploits.com/musings/2012/tell-me-whats-horrible-about-this/#comment-89780 and http://rankexploits.com/musings/2012/tell-me-whats-horrible-about-this/#comment-89946, and then, http://rankexploits.com/musings/2012/gleick-curioser-and-curiouser/

    Lots of comments, but Mosher had Gleick’s recent history in mind and connected the dots.

    As for Phil Clarke, I just found the email copyright thing amusing. 😉 Plus, he is somewhat of a regular at WUWT even though he’s not really a skeptic. WUWT has a fairly open commenting policy and gets participation from all sorts, unlike many “pro-AWG” (Anthropocentric Warble Gloaming? Sorry, Stickman… couldn’t resist ;)) sites where skeptical questionners get banned and don’t get a chance to respond. RealClimate has created many a skeptic by the way it responds to questions.

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