Climategate was no conspiracy

Scientists have always been a weird bunch but the fallout over climategate email hacking incident has been nothing short of extraordinary. Now, we have Republican senator James Inhofe calling for an investigation into the United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The fallout from this is not coincidental in the lead up to Copenhagen when nations around the world will be pressed to sign a treaty around greenhouse gases that critics say don’t exist. This is why the emails were leaked, and this is why it’s had such huge coverage.

But in the end, does the stuff really amount to a conspiracy? Sure, the people behind the emails behaved badly but does that amount to conspiracy. As Megan McArdle puts it in The Atlantic: “Scientists are human beings. They react to pressure to “clean up” their graphs and data for publication, and they gang up on other people who they dislike. Sometimes they’re right–there’s a “conspiracy” to keep people who believe in N-rays from publishing in physics journals, but that’s a good thing. But sometimes they’re wrong, and a powerful figure or group of people can block progress in science … I’d say that the charge that climate skeptics “are not published in peer reviewed journals” just lost most of its power as an argument against the skeptics. But I don’t see any reason to think that the AGW scientists have actually falsified data to create a consensus reality which is known to be false-to-fact. What I see is that the people who are the custodians of the currently dominant paradigm have an unhealthy ability to exclude people who might challenge that paradigm from expressing those views in important forums. Powerful scientists using their power to marginalize anyone who might challenge the authority of them, or their views, is sadly not uncommon in the history of science.”

The Real Climate site, put together by scientists, concurs. “More interesting is what is not contained in the emails. There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid of the MWP™, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders™ from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords. The truly paranoid will put this down to the hackers also being in on the plot though. Instead, there is a peek into how scientists actually interact and the conflicts show that the community is a far cry from the monolith that is sometimes imagined.”


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  1. Brian Macker @ 2009-11-27 21:57

    “The Real Climate site, put together by scientists, concurs.”

    Real Climate is run by the scientists in question. It’s about as independent as their peer reviewers, or their moms.

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