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« Corrupt inquiries | Main | Dangerous climate change? »
Thursday
Nov102011

Back on Black

Remember this? Richard Black, 2 November 2011

The original "hide the decline" claim is one of the most easily de-bunked in the entire pantheon of easily-debunkable "sceptic" claims.

Phil Jones wrote the email in 1999, immediately following what still ranks as one of the hottest years on record, and well before the idea of a "slowdown" or "hiatus" or even "decline" in warming gained currency.

So it can't have had anything to do with hiding a global temperature decline.

And this? Richard Black, 3 November 2011

A number of comments have quite rightly pointed out that the "hide the decline" email was also critiqued at the time of "ClimateGate" in its proper context - ie, reconciling a tree-ring dataset with an instrumental dataset.

This wasn't the sense in which I dealt with it in this post, obviously - I was focussing on the mis-use of the email in claims that it "hid a decline", or slowdown, in temperatures from 1998 onwards.

With hindsight I should have made that clear in the text, and I could also usefully have pointed out that some "sceptical" blogs took pains to clarify the issue at the time, such as the wattsupwiththat post reading "contrary to what you've likely read elsewhere in the blogosphere or heard from the few policymakers and pundits actually addressing the issue, it was not the temperature decline the planet has been experiencing since 1998 that Jones and friends conspired to hide".

Then cast your mind back to this: Richard Black 31 March 2010

...the most significant and potentially damaging of the accusations [was] that Professor Jones and other climate scientists sought to subvert the peer review process, and manipulated data in a manner calculated to produce a picture of rising temperatures (the infamous "trick" e-mail)

Funny how the story just never quite seems to come out right at the BBC.

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Reader Comments (34)

Black is white

Nov 10, 2011 at 10:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

The really annoying thing is we pay this idiot's (Black) wages.

Nov 10, 2011 at 10:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Well yes but.. I mean.... what I meant was...err its just that... how can I put it...err

Nov 10, 2011 at 10:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

The brainwashings will continue until creativity improves.

^^ Seen on a BBC bathroom stall
//not really.

Nov 10, 2011 at 10:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy

I love the interweb.

Nov 10, 2011 at 11:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarold Ambler

'and manipulated data in a manner calculated to produce a picture of rising temperatures'......
as in the celebrated presentation video.....
http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2011/11/3/blackening-the-name-of-the-bbc.html

Nov 10, 2011 at 11:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

"This wasn't the sense in which I dealt with it in this post, obviously - I was focussing on the mis-use of the email in claims that it "hid a decline", or slowdown, in temperatures from 1998 onwards."

Obviously, I (Black) was not focusing on the actual misconduct of some scientists but on a side issue based on a misunderstanding. Having made this choice, I could seem to defend those who "hid the decline" while not addressing their behavior at all.

Who could have imagined back in the Sixties that Monthy Python would prove to be not only entertaining but a source of accurate predictions?

Nov 10, 2011 at 11:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

If one is in the propaganda business, factuality is of no concern. Repetition is important. Image is vital. Ethics are an impediment.

"I knew him from the days of my extreme youth, because he made my father’s boots; inhabiting with his elder brother two little shops let into one, in a small by-street-now no more..."

Nov 11, 2011 at 12:06 AM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

Darn that internet! Doesn't it forget anything?

Nov 11, 2011 at 12:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterJon Jermey

Doubleplusungood.........

Nov 11, 2011 at 2:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterJONES

Black's behaviour reminds me of a joke told to me by a colleague who lived in the USSR under Stalin. Apparently Radio Kiev was noted as a source of propaganda. One day Radio Kiev broadcasts the following announcement: "There is a rumour going round that workers at Factory 17 each have been given an automobile. This is true but not quite. It was not automobiles, it was bicycles. This is true but not quite. The bicycles were not given, they were taken away."

Nov 11, 2011 at 3:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterMorley Sutter

I think I may have accidentally stumbled on one of the reasons for the bizarre thought processes of Black and many others of his type.

It is this: they really don't understand the concept of 'common sense'.

I was truly amazed during an exchange at a Warmist blog, when I made a casual remark about the 'sturdy common sense' of a population somewhere, only to receive the reply:

> what's this "common sense" thang, and how does it actually relate to logic, evidence, and science?

I wasn't sure if he was joking, and made a remark along the lines that people who lack common sense are usually suffering from adverse mental conditions. Back he came:

> So in your view, reliance on logic, evidence, and science, instead of this indescribable "common sense" thang, is a symptom of "adverse mental conditions"?

I was staggered. I still am. But it got me thinking.

Lacking that bedrock feeling of simply knowing what is sensible and reasonable is a condition displayed by a great many of the Warmist faithful. It's a symptom of something, but I'm not quite sure what...

Nov 11, 2011 at 4:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

"Lacking that bedrock feeling of simply knowing what is sensible and reasonable is a condition displayed by a great many of the Warmist faithful. It's a symptom of something, but I'm not quite sure what..." --Rick Bradford

proctocraniosis

Nov 11, 2011 at 5:07 AM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

can't recall this being posted previously:

29 July: Guardian: Lay Scientist: Marty Robbins: The Murdochs had nothing to do with 'Climategate' email hacking
Attempts by Climate Progress to link the UEA email hacking to News Corp have little basis in fact, and make advocates of climate action look silly
(Martin Robbins is a Berkshire-based researcher and science writer. He edits The Lay Scientist, a community blog about science, pseudoscience and evidence-based politics)
(36 comments)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/the-lay-scientist/2011/jul/29/climategate-email-hacking-murdochs

Marty's headline should say "no basis"; as "hacked" is in the text, "leaked" should be there somewhere.

BBC's Paul Hudson received at least SOME, perhaps MOST, of the Climategate emails weeks prior to Climategate but the Beeb has never published them and no inquiry has ever mentioned them. CAGWers online would not publish them. CAGW sceptic websites did PUBLISH.

Guardian & the Beeb are on a non-stop, ongoing, Murdoch witchhunt, so Marty should ask his bosses why neither investigated the Neil Wallis/UEA damage control revelation ONLINE (h/t CHU). there's still time...

Nov 11, 2011 at 6:56 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

fyi

9 Nov: Guardian: Corrections and clarifications
Bill Shankly | FA national football centre | Dick Fedorcio
Scotland Yard deputy to leave post was amended because the original said Dick Fedorcio, the Metropolitan police's public relations chief, was on extended leave following allegations over phone hacking. He is on leave pending an investigation into his involvement in the work carried out for Scotland Yard by the former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2011/nov/09/corrections-and-clarifications?newsfeed=true

Nov 11, 2011 at 7:00 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

When you have BBC science/environment correspondents who have no scientific background, then they are bound not to understand what they are writing about. Added to that the requirement to stay on message re AGW and you get this distortion of the truth as time passes. It doesn't matter to the BBC that the story changes, as long as the overall message remains intact.

Nov 11, 2011 at 7:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

"Lacking that bedrock feeling of simply knowing what is sensible and reasonable is a condition displayed by a great many of the Warmist faithful. It's a symptom of something, but I'm not quite sure what...

Nov 11, 2011 at 4:31 AM | Rick Bradford"

As a young Civil & Structural Engineering student, I was always encouraged to spend a minute and look at the result of my (or someone else's) computations and think whether the result seemed sensible - whether the beam selected looked as if it was about stiff enough or the pipe round about the right diameter. If it didn't 'look right', a further check was required! With much experience of the real world, real structures and so on, most experienced engineers will be able to hone in on things that require a double check. This is one of the differences between engineers and some 'pure' scientists. And one of the reasons why some of the scary outcomes that "may" occur according to the thermageddonists are so blatantly ludicrous.

Interesting to see the Institution of Mechanical Engineers's recent report on Scottish Renewables:-
https://www.imeche.org/news/archives/11-11-03/Scottish_renewables_targets_could_worsen_fuel_poverty_say_engineers.aspx

Masochists may also be entertained by the disengeneous and silly response of "Scottish Renewables" (the web site. Not the clown who comments on here. Or perhaps they are one and the same.)
http://www.scottishrenewables.com/news/scottish-renewables-responds-institution-mechanica/

Who to believe? Hmmmmmmmm. A tough one.......

Nov 11, 2011 at 7:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

Black is a good example of a state apparatchik of the type that supported Lysenkoism under Stalin. And lest it be forgotten, there were executions of Russian genetic science specialists. Stalin only spared the nuclear scientists.

Now that the IPCC consensus has been shown to have been faked, we scientists who have publicly criticised the pseudo-science can afford to relax a bit. However, there still remain the possibility that the black list constructed by the Trotskyites who control for example the Guardian comments' section may be used in show trials if there is a sudden political change. I suspect Black would be one of the prosecutors.

Nov 11, 2011 at 7:29 AM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

Funny it's like a 5 year old that's just learnt to lie, the story keeps changing.

At least Mann has stuck to the same lie for years, yer I know what I'm doing, honest.

Nov 11, 2011 at 8:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

So the moronic minority that Black refers to when he claims;

"I was focussing on the mis-use of the email in claims that it "hid a decline", or slowdown, in temperatures from 1998 onwards."

Was in fact himself.


I little LMAO....

Nov 11, 2011 at 8:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Nov 11, 2011 at 8:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

The problem for Black is that "adjusting the truth" and maintaining it requires both intelligence and a good memory.

Nov 11, 2011 at 8:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

"the temperature decline the planet has been experiencing since 1998"

Perhaps he'd like to expand on that..?

Nov 11, 2011 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

It would appear that Black mis-speaks all the time.

You would think as a consequence that climate scientists would take Black to task for misrepresenting the science and the debate over the science ............ but they do not.

So climate scientists must happy with Black lying on their behalf.

Nov 11, 2011 at 9:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Black is refering to the same (mis)useage of the phrase in the examples given above, so any claim that he is being inconsistent is ludicrous.

In the greater World, the majority actually assume it is temperatures being referred to, so it is perfectly valid to address this. If you generally wanted to see this for yourselves, you could have done as I have, and conducted a quick search on Google using the phrase 'hide the decline'. It makes it immediately apparent how the overriding narrative is one that assumes this is about temperature, even if this is wrong.

Here's 3 articles I found almost instantly in national British dailys making this inference:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2055191/Scientists-said-climate-change-sceptics-proved-wrong-accused-hiding-truth-colleague.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2055406/Scientist-claimed-end-scepticism-climate-change-colleague-huge-mistake.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/globalwarming/6636563/University-of-East-Anglia-emails-the-most-contentious-quotes.html

This thread by Andrew Montford is just a hatchet job on Black, as confirmed by the borderline (or in some cases, actual) abusive nature of the comments underneath.

Nov 11, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

Oh god - this is a mess:

"...the most significant and potentially damaging of the accusations [was] that Professor Jones and other climate scientists sought to subvert the peer review process, and manipulated data in a manner calculated to produce a picture of rising temperatures (the infamous "trick" e-mail)"

I read this as saying there are two serious, but not necessarily linked, allegations:
Thing 1: subversion of the peer review process
Thing 2: manipulation of date to produce a picture of rising temps (the trick mail)

It's possible to parse it this way and that separating comma is important in that regard, but to the unsophisticated or uniformed observer (so that's almost the entire BBC audience then), it could appear that they are linked.

As for the second of those two, it's not quite totally untrue - the effect of hiding the decline was twofold;
- The primary aim was to remove the data that called into doubt the validity of the reconstruction of earlier temps and hence the certainty that current temps are unprecedented in the modern era.
- however, it also served to remove data that called into doubt the rising temp record - the obvious divergence between the tree ring record and measured temps. The stonking divergence could (would, should?) have caused alert observers to go and look very carefully at both of these aspects.

But it's definitely a very muddled formulation indeed and it's quite possible to read this that he thought that it really was about hiding "real" temp data rather than tree ring proxy data.

Nov 11, 2011 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Pedant-General

The track record of many consensus-defenders in actually understanding what 'hide the decline' meant is pretty poor. At a slightly higher level of sophistication, people bring up the argument whereby the tree-rings must be 'wrong' because they point down while temperature went up (the divergence problem). Hence they assume that it is the 'right thing to do' to delete that data and thereby 'hide the decline'. I genuinely think that many non-scientists, or scientists who for whatever conscious or subconscious reason have suspended their critical faculties on this topic, believe this in an honest way. At the lower level of sophistication that Black displays, the tree rings get left out because they are a bit too complicated, and the decline gets interpreted as being a purported decline in temperature. The words he used in his correction, "reconciling a tree-ring dataset with an instrumental dataset" suggest that he does not really understand the tree-ring issue. In my opinion, as Zed has argued, he has been consistent in his low level of understanding of what 'hide the decline' means. I can readily believe that what he writes actually reflects fairly honestly what he understands. He really should have tried to spend more time working out what the divergence problem really means.

Nov 11, 2011 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Harvey

So Black has been caught trying to hide "hide the decline".
How deliciously ironic!

Nov 11, 2011 at 11:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

Nov 11, 2011 at 6:56 AM | Unregistered Commenter | Pat said

BBC's Paul Hudson received at least SOME, perhaps MOST, of the Climategate emails weeks prior to Climategate but the Beeb has never published them and no inquiry has ever mentioned them. CAGWers online would not publish them. CAGW sceptic websites did PUBLISH.

How many times does this lie have to be repeated before it finally dies a death?

All Paul Hudson said, when the emails were first published, was the he knew that the one concerning Black leaning on him to get the 'story' right was valid, as he'd seen it himself several weeks earlier. Clearly, Black had tried to lean on him after pressure from the team.

He never at any time claimed he'd seen the email archive, and when others misread what he said to mean this, he made it totally clear that this was not the case.

And two years later, the myth is still being repeated.

Nov 11, 2011 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

@ Nov 11, 2011 at 7:24 AM Martin Brumby

Martin.. As a retired engineer I entirely agree with you. I was taught many years ago, (mainly because we used slide rules for quick calculations and the decimal point was not calculated). "Does it look right?". "Does it FEEL right?". Over the years this has become a mantra, I could sketch a fabrication or design a device and can judge whether or not it will work and stay in one piece, If there were safety and insurance issues involved I could do a formal lengthy calculation to satisfy the authorities.

There is no substitute for common sense! I cringe when I see and hear the talking heads on the idiot's lantern make absurd claims that if they had thought for a few seconds, they would have realized are plainly wrong.

I think another poster wrote the truth that there must be people whose brains are programmed to be incapable of rationalizing thoughts. I am sure our beloved lady troll falls into this category of person.

cheers

P

Nov 11, 2011 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered Commentergrumpy grandad

One word of support for the BBC.
They have put on two programs this week which interested me. One was on last Sunday about the prospect of snow this winter and there was a Panorama program on rising energy prices last Monday. In both there seemed to be very little mention of Global Warming which made a significant change from the usual brainwashing I have come to expect. I would have preferred them to have had a comment from Piers Corbyn on the snow and been a bit more ruthless in their questioning of Huhne about fuel costs but the Panorama program has come in for a lot of stick on the Guardian blogs so must have got something right.

Nov 11, 2011 at 1:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterRednose

steveta_uk -
good to hear you don't need to see the evidence for your claims.
until such time as the evidence is presented, speculatation is fine.

Nov 11, 2011 at 8:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterpat

steveta_uk -

btw i wrote "SOME", you say "one"...

24 Nov 2009: BBC: Paul Hudson blog: 'Climategate' - What next?
As you may know, some of the e-mails that were released last week directly involved me and one of my previous blogs, 'Whatever happened to global warming ?'
These took the form of complaints about its content, and I was copied in to them at the time...
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/paulhudson/2009/11/climategate-what-next.shtml

December 2009: Australian (from TheTimes): Ben Webster & Murad Ahmed: Hackers probably paid to help undermine Copenhagen climate summit: UN
Almost a month before they were posted on a website popular with climate-change sceptics, the hacked information was sent to a BBC weatherman who had expressed his doubts about climate science on his blog.
The BBC has confirmed that Paul Hudson received some documents on October 12 but no story was broadcast or printed by Mr Hudson or the corporation...
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/climate/hackers-probably-paid-to-help-undermine-copenhagen-climate-summit-un/story-e6frg6xf-1225807575795

i said they have not been published and that they were not brought up in any inquiry. is that incorrect?

Nov 11, 2011 at 8:46 PM | Unregistered Commenterpat

I linked to that story in the comments at the time. Glad someone else eventually found that 2010 story as well....

Nov 11, 2011 at 8:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterjason

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