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Discussion > BBC conveniently uses the word "trick". But was it innocent?

We all know what the word "trick" almost certainly meant in "Mike's nature tirick" of ClimateGate fame. I'd go with the first definition from, below:

What irks me is the subtle Leninistic repetition of the lie in an attempt for it to become the truth. Did they really think that nobody would notice another propaganda piece? But what can be done to stop them from doing this???

1. a crafty or underhanded device, maneuver, stratagem, or the like, intended to deceive or cheat; artifice; ruse; wile.
2. an optical illusion: It must have been some visual trick caused by the flickering candlelight.
3. a roguish or mischievous act; practical joke; prank: She likes to play tricks on her friends.
4. a mean, foolish, or childish action.
5. a clever or ingenious device or expedient; adroit technique: the tricks of the trade.

Hide the decline in journalistic standards anyone?

Apr 21, 2012 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

Good catch there Farley. The word 'trick' seems out of place there.

I'm quite sure though, that once the BBC and other news outlets use the word in this fashion, we'll all get used to it and soon we might even think what the fuss about THE trick even was.


Apr 22, 2012 at 5:02 AM | Registered Commentershub

The 'fuss' over the word 'trick' was wholly manufactured in order to mislead. You will know that already.

Apr 22, 2012 at 6:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

The 'fuss' over the word 'trick' was wholly manufactured in order to mislead. You will know that already.

Apr 22, 2012 at 6:10 PM | BitBucket>>>>>>>>>>>

Sorry but you're addressing and adult audience here.

Perhaps you should look for a more impressionable audience.

Apr 22, 2012 at 6:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterRKS

An audience that wilfully misreads the original text, or accepts mis-quotations of the original or that lets itself be mislead by vested interests or their lackeys is not an adult audience but a delusional one. One that is capable of believing that the global scientific community and governments are capable of organising a massive fraud in order to ensure continuation of the flow of research money and taxes is nothing less than barking. However, I don't believe that the majority of sensible posters at BH buy these old tropes; they tolerate such nonsense, along with the views of creationists and cranks, as it is easier than trying to lay down an 'accepted view' of the subject.

Apr 22, 2012 at 8:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

I think you meant "...barking mad".

You left out the "mad" word there.

BTW, I read that CRU printed t-shirts of its famous WMO graph - a graph it now claims was just published in one obscure monograph...

How's things? I have a slightly unusual question for you. We're producing >some CRU t-shirts/polo shirts in the next few weeks. Some will just have >the CRU logo on, but some people want a picture on the back. The picture >we've decided upon has three curves on it showing temperatures over the >last 1000 yrs (I think it's based on the front cover of the WMO statement >on 1999 climate). They're just curves, with nothing to identify what they >are or where they come from (so it's slightly abstract), but in fact on of >them is your 1000-yr NH temperature reconstruction. Do you mind if we put >it on our t-shirts?
>Best regards

'Tim' being Tim Osborn, who is writing the paleoclimate chapter for the new IPCC report.

Get your shirts ready! :)

Apr 22, 2012 at 8:51 PM | Registered Commentershub

Can't wait! Hope they have XXL to fit my ego ;-)

Apr 22, 2012 at 9:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

For the avoidance of wilful misreading of the original text, or acceptance of mis-quotations, here's the original. I xxx'd the email addresses and phone numbers.

cc: k.briffa@xxxxxxxx,t.osborn@xxxxxxx
date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 13:31:15 +0000
from: Phil Jones <p.jones@xxxxxxx>
subject: Diagram for WMO Statement
to: ray bradley <rbradley@xxxxxxx>,mann@xxxxxxx, mhughes@xxxxxxx

Dear Ray, Mike and Malcolm,
Once Tim's got a diagram here we'll send that either later today or
first thing tomorrow.
I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps
to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from
1961 for Keith's to hide the decline. Mike's series got the annual
land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land
N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999
for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for 1999 with
data through Oct is +0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998.
Thanks for the comments, Ray.


Prof. Phil Jones
Climatic Research Unit Telephone +44 (0) 1603 xxxxxxxx
School of Environmental Sciences Fax +44 (0) 1603xxxxxxx
University of East Anglia
Norwich Email p.jones@xxxxxxx

Apr 22, 2012 at 10:10 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I found this one: Pad my stats t-shirt

You're a legitimate goal scorer. Whether it's throwing dirty saucer passes over a d-mans twig for an apple, or a back-hand iron singer and in, you know that padding your stats is something that just comes naturally for you. Chissling an apple here and there, is not in your repertoire, and at the end of the day you're after a W. Off the ice your stats are no different. Your numbers speak for themselves.

(emphasis mine)

Apr 23, 2012 at 12:17 AM | Registered Commentershub

Thanks Martin. Nice to have the text. So can any technical people tell us with a straight face that they have never used, or heard use of, the word 'trick' in the form "neat trick", to refer to a useful method for resolving an issue?

Apr 23, 2012 at 5:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Have it your own way. So Jones was using “trick” to mean “a useful method for resolving an issue”.
And the issue to be resolved was, of course, how to hide the decline.

Apr 23, 2012 at 7:51 AM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers to hide the decline. temperatures indicted by proxies in contrast to the increase shown by the real temperature measurements.

I never understood how anyone (including the Team) could takes the proxies even slightly seriously after that. If they contradict the evidence over part of the small period where real temperature measurements are available, why should anyone imagine they are reliable for the far longer period where they can't be verified?

For the Team, it was a question that had to be swept under the carpet and was never addressed.

Apr 23, 2012 at 8:16 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Geoff, can you accept it so easily? For a thread about the word 'trick', it seems a big concession. And it is no small matter because amongst skeptics (as above here) 'trick' has become synonymous with deceit. Note that readers in programming will know it is often used and quite innocently in the way I indicate.

So now that 'trick' has been accepted as innocent, you change the thread to discuss 'hide the decline'. Nice one!

I don't know the context of the mail (ie. what discussions came before it - anyone have a link to the archive?). Various enquiries have decided they were not dishonest and I see no reason to question the honesty of the many people involved in such enquiries. But I tend to agree with Martin that the tree-ring data seem unreliable without corroboration from other sources. But there are other proxies. The existence of the Mediaeval Warm Period is shown by proxy records and seems accepted by skeptics.

Apr 23, 2012 at 3:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Oh and for:

"For the Team, it was a question that had to be swept under the carpet and was never addressed."

The decline, or 'divergence problem' has been researched and discussed many time before and since the 1999 emails, not swept under the carpet. You know this.

Apr 23, 2012 at 3:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Not meaning to be contrary, but

Note that readers in programming will know it is often used and quite innocently in the way I indicate.

Arguing from authority is never a good idea, especially when there are so many of us programmers on this board. If I 'used a trick' in any of my developments, it would mean a bodge, hack, smoke and mirrors, something to sticky-tape over a nasty defect prior to fixing it properly. It does not, and never has done, meant an 'elegant solution'.

You really need to look at the Climategate emails, dispassionately. The fact that Michael Mann told you NOT to look at them, should be warning enough for any free thinker. The context of the 'trick', which you can verify by looking at the email conversation, is that there is a discussion about them pesky divergant proxies in the 20th century and what to do about them, otehrwise they make the proxies look bad (which they do). A 'trick' is devised, which 'hides the decline'.

Apr 23, 2012 at 4:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

"Arguing from authority is never a good idea"

And you are an authority I take it? Take a look at the well known Bit Twiddling Hacks for graphics programming optimisation: and search for 'trick'. Then tell me these techniques are 'bodges', etc as you claim (ok they do claim to be 'hacks', but not in a bad way).

Do a search for "programming tricks" in Google and you will get 51,000,000 hits (not all relevant, but all the same...). Here's a few to save you the trouble:

Apr 23, 2012 at 6:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

A trick is a quick way to achieve the illusion of something whilst not doing it. You can quite however many website search hits as you like, in itself that's just one huge appeal to authority. Like 'consensus science'. And yes, I am an authority in the area of programming. In the area of graphics optimisation, such tricks are indeed tricks - ways to achieve a visual illusion by skipping the proper numerical processing required to do it properly - usually at the loss of some information.

Such arguing about what words in the CG emails mean has been tried here many times. One scallywag even claimed that we all mean "the decline in the last 15 years temps" instead of "hiding the decline in the proxies". No amount of asking for citations would help, this was the Official Line, c/o Richard (B)lack and that troll was pushing it harder than constipation.

A distraction away from the main act - whether trick was meant as a 'deception' or a 'clever method' is irrelevant - the thing was invented to hide an embarrassing divergence that has NOT been adequately explained. A few woolly maybes about it have been posited, but not proved scientifically. It's a shambles.

Apr 23, 2012 at 7:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Apr 23, 2012 at 7:06 PM | TheBigYinJames>>>>>

I think you overlooked the signs.

You're being wound up in order to disrupt the thread.


Apr 23, 2012 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterRKS

James, you are straining the point. The 'trick' of exchanging values using XOR, for example, is exact not an illusion and you will be aware of that (whether it is worth using is another matter). Many other such 'tricks' are similarly exact.

But as you say, concentrating on the detailed meaning of individual words (another being 'acidify') is rather silly. I always think it is detrimental to skeptical arguments, as it is so easily refuted (ie refuted to warmists' satisfaction) rather than addressing the real issues. By all means question the 'hiding the decline' - this gives me (as a pragmatic warmist) much more cause for concern than tricks.

Note that I am not a 'troll' (as I think RKS is suggesting - not really sure). I was merely discussing the subject of the thread (as established by the first entry). If an opposing opinion disrupts a discussion, then it is a strange form of 'discussion'.

James, you seem to be one of the more reasonable commenters here (I particularly liked your 1,2,3 index and your disowning of the creationist). As a pragmatic warmist, I might have more in common with you than you think.

Apr 23, 2012 at 8:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

"James, you seem to be one of the more reasonable commenters here..."

What about me? Do I seem reasonable? :)

If it is indeed just a 'trick', why use it to hide something?

If it was well discussed in the literature, why hide it?

Apr 23, 2012 at 8:45 PM | Registered Commentershub

Shub, I don't hand out reasonableness badges willy-nilly you know ;-) I'd have to do some research...

I find it difficult to judge the issue for myself on the basis of one email - at I find the Jones email, but I don't see a thread of preceding and following emails that would give context. Does the thread exist in the public domain somewhere? I know very well that they are concerned with the 'divergence problem' but that is not the whole context. ... lightening strikes at the moment so disconnecting...

Apr 23, 2012 at 9:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

@BitBucket - you are being obtuse to the point to of looking ridiculous. On the balance of probability, the usage of "trick" is far from innocent, just as "hiding" anything in a scientific context - especially in data trends - is not common usage, is it?

Apr 23, 2012 at 11:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

FarleyR - data is commonly hidden. Any time you quote an average and don't show the numbers it comes from; any time you smooth a curve with a filter, fit a line to a dataset and show only the line etc, you are hiding something. Whether it matters depends entirely upon the circumstances.

If Jones et. al. simply said "these tree ring data screw our case - lets hide them", then you have your smoking gun. If they spent several hours/days/weeks discussing what to do about the divergence problem and eventually came to the decision to merge the recent thermometer records then you need to see those deliberations to say whether any wrong was done. This is what is called 'context'. Without context all you have is prejudice. Do you have the context - i.e. is it public?

Apr 24, 2012 at 12:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

BB - someone borrowed my copy of "The Crutape Letters". But if you go to > The Crutape Letters and search on "hide the decline|", you'll find some context. try p 153.

There has been plenty of discussion (I don't have references to hand but anyone who wished could track it down without too much difficulty eg try CA) on how "hide the decline" was hidden away in the IPCC list of references and not explicitly explained, least of all in the policymaker's summary.

One of the reasons "hide the decline" had such impact was that there had already been extensive discussion of the divergence problem on CA. - so the context and background was already widely known. Finding innocent explanations of what the words might have meant, in some parallel universe, is not going to convince anyone here and leaves BH readers unimpressed.

Apologists frequently said "the emails have been taken out of context. But, without exception, when the content is known, they look far worse.

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:21 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I'm reasonable. And I'm a borderline 'lukewarmer' so obviously we're closer in opinion than some on here. The problem with the "climate war" isn't with people like us.

The moment mainstream science disown paranoid twats like Mann, who have lied about their technical shortcomings and mistakes, and attacks anyone who disagrees with him as politically motivated, then the better the world will be. Combine that with getting that screwball Hansen's hand off the tiller of the global temperature record, and the Climate Wars will end.

All the Gleiks and Romms and Joneses are sideshows, and are irrelevant, as much as they'd hate to think that. Mann and Hansen. Clear those and you have a deal.

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames