Yesterday Anthony Watt promoted a friend’s breathless self-published analysis of the CRU e-mails, Climategate: The CRUtape Letters. (Some of the unguarded personal correspondence to and from climatologists at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit was illegally obtained and released by unknown parties in November of 2009.) From published excerpts the authors seem to have added a layer of self-congratulatory “context” to guide willing readers toward their conclusions while studiously ignoring any credible explanations.
The trumpeted revelations of collusion and fraud purportedly in these e-mails were presented as a fatal indictment of the evidence for global warming as well as the reputations of the climatologists in question. When the shouting died down the e-mails proved to show no evidence of data tampering or scientific obstruction. The accusations were fabricated from out of context phrases, presented in deliberately misleading ways, or ignored common scientific usage in favour of disingenuously naïve interpretations. Much was also made over remarks about out-dated programming code fragments that were never in fact used in published research. See The Associated Press’s analysis, Nature’s Dec. 3rd 2009 editorial. If the data sets these attacked climatologists use are excluded from global temperature trend plots there is effectively no difference in the result.
Anthony also quotes their praise of his own surfacestations.org project, an ill-conceived Scout Troop-style project that failed in its attempt to prove that “bad” urban weather station data was giving a false impression of warming. (See here and here.)
The curious book title is presumably an allusion to The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis’ fictional correspondence between two demons about their failed attempts to corrupt a devout Christian. Denialists often try to paint conventional understanding of climate change as inflexible religious or political dogma, but in this particular instance the allusion suggests that the climatologist’s purported deceits have not “shaken the faith” of denialists.
2012-07-19 Update: Norfolk police have called off their investigation for procedural reasons, but state:
“However, as a result of our inquiries, we can say that the data breach was the result of a sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack on the CRU’s data files, carried out remotely via the internet. The offenders used methods common in unlawful internet activity to obstruct inquiries. There is no evidence to suggest that anyone working at or associated with the University of East Anglia was involved in the crime.”