Copygate – the Underlying Significance

Steve McIntyre puts the Copygate scandal (paper here) of the 2006 Wegman Report into context.

A minor, but potentially significant, point in all of this is the timing issue. The Wegman Report was published in 2006. Given the Hockey Stick Team are keen to pick up on any points that may undermine any criticism of their scientific work, why has it taken four years to pick up on this accusation of plagiarism. I can see two possibilities.

  1. The climate consensus only reads what it wishes to read. Why would Bradley himself, who was cited in this very important report for paleo-climatology, did not have a quick read through it? Or at least a bright student who used his textbook and read around the subject a little.
  2. The hockey stick team is reeling at present. Montford’s Hockey Stick Illusion lays out clearly the debate, so “evidence” that may damage the reputation of the “opposition” is welcome.

Something that is perhaps related is why it took so long for anyone to ask for the data that underpinned MBH98. On the back of it Mann (and to a lesser extent, Bradley) received world-wide fame. Yet there was no upstart PhD student to take it apart, even when it overturned the established perception of there have been a medieval warm period.

This relates to a point I have made before on this blog. There seems to be a lack of critical and balanced analysis within climate science, coupled with the inability to compare and contrast the arguments.


  1. Stuart Fairney

     /  16/10/2010

    I’ve tried talking with a few of the alarmists and a few selective but unsubstantiated quotes are made, then it launches into the ad hominem. No-one is able to provide evidence of the alleged AGW, not tell me what the temperature of the earth should be. None have known to date, just how much CO2 humans produce as a % of the world total (kind of important you would have thought!). Any of the scientists I quote disagreeing with the view are personally attacked and of course stealing e-mails is far more important than uncovering lies and deceit. All this suggests something to me.

    • manicbeancounter

       /  17/10/2010

      I believe that there is bewilderment on both sides of the argument, along with an unwillingness to truly understand the issues. One of the points of trying to engage with the pro-AGW consensus is that they start from the assumption that a group of experts are correct, and the critics are uneducated novices, motivated by ulterior motives. I have been trying to reformulate the question that should be asked.
      Having looked at the evidence myself, the central hypothesis – that an increase in greenhouse gases has some impact has on global temperatures – has a strong compelling case in theory.
      Demonstrating what extent that it has so far happened is quite difficult to sort out. But going beyond that, and forecasting that there is more than likely to be huge temperature rises, with severe climatic disruption seems pretty unlikely.
      Even if the scientific bit can be verified, you then have the political issue of devising a policy that will deliver, in theory, greater benefits the society than the costs. Finally there is the project-management aspect of implementing the policy, so that the CO2 reduction plan is achieved within budget.
      That is the four elements; Forecast, Consequences, Policy and Outturn (of the policy).
      The question that should be asked is “Do we have a justified expectation that in enacting policies to combat climate change, the future state will be better than if we did nothing?” or shortened to “Are we likely to make a positive difference?”.
      Even if a climate catastrophe is imminent, the policies may be ineffective in theory, and in practice may impoverish the population. (See Nigel Lawson’s argument). Bringing this all together in an intelligible format is something that I am pondering at the moment.

  2. Stuart Fairney

     /  19/10/2010

    That’s a very good analysis if I may say so. I do think that the smarter, more political ones are using the AGW stuff as a Trojan horse for policies they favour that would never be otherwise adopted. I think some of ’em like the idea of impoverishment and dependence on the government (ie them) rather than independence from and the irrelevance of the political class en masse. Still others seem to be the living embodiment of the Randian imperative that it is not so much the value they desire, it is the destruction of the value, in this case, industrial civilisation. There is a strong strain of romantic primitivism running through the green movement a la Rousseau, and if that means a few uppity proles can’t fly and don’t clutter up the airport, or drive and congest the roads, so much the better for the class war analysis.

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