the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

What are they thinking?

Posted by Jeff Id on January 12, 2010

Bishop Hill has an interesting article on the progress of the investigation into climategate.  In the comment thread Paul Dennis of the UEA left this comment.

January 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermg

I have been interviewed and had a formal statement taken by the police with regard to this matter. The officer was attached to counter terrorism unit in Norfolk. They thought I might have some information on the basis that I had sent Jeff id a copy of a paper I had published on isotopes and climate at the southern end of the Antarctic Peninsula, and I had exchanged emails with Steve McIntyre over the leak/hack.

Clearly they’ve trawled through the UEA mail server and checked for key words (Jeffid Steve McIntyre and so on). The police left me very much with the impression that they were working on the theory that this was an outside hack and was done deliberately to disrupt Copenhagen.

January 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Dennis
In my opinion the police are way off base here and have probably been talking to the scientists too much.  Just which international conpiracy would hack into computers, take over RC and place a link on CA saying ‘then a miracle occurred’.  I think that is a pretty strong hint at the age range and mindset of the individual.  IMO, they should be looking for a pissed off college student with some moderate computer skills and keys to the building. There are other clues too which others can point out I’m sure.

32 Responses to “What are they thinking?”

  1. boballab said

    Ahh I think Mr. Denis has a screw loose there. Going by what you posted Jeff it looks like they are looking at an Insider leaking the files to an outside group. An outside Hacker would not be sending outgoing Emails from the CRU server to you, Steve Mc or anyone else. To me his statement is spin and bad spin at that. Maybe I should ontroduce Mr. Denis to the posts from Steven Mosher about how he got the files on a Disc before the link on this site.

  2. Jeff Id said

    #1, Unfortunately by the line of questioning I’ve received, I agree with Dr. Dennis.

  3. The Diatribe Guy said

    Jeff, not on topic, but you have quite a volume of posts, and I’d like your input. I’m going back and forth with a guy who stated the following:

    “As you said, I rely on the opinions of those who know more than you and me. The National Academy of Sciences defenended Mann’s work (with some nuances) saying that any statistical flaws were immaterial to the shape of the curve.

    Thus far, noone in the last 15 years or so has published a paleo-climate record that is materially different than Mann’s. Even with the absence of tree rings, the general shape still holds up.

    I’m not saying McIntyre and McKitrick are incompetent, or haven’t provided any good insights. They have. And with their insights, you still get a hockey stick. To my knowledge noone from the skeptical community has published a reconstruction that differs materially from Mann’s work. The raw data is publicly available, and the data is more robust now than in 1998 when Mann did his original reconstruction.

    Mann’s a smart guy. There’s good reason for skeptics to attack him, because he is a very important figure in the climate change discussion. He has over 80 publications, is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and is one of the most highly cited climate scientists. He is obviously respected by his peers. It’s of little surprise that a person of his stature will be attacked, and there are many, many people who would love nothing more than to see him discredited. But, in the end, whether his work is discredited is judged by the scientific community, not by the wishful thinking of non-scientists.”

    I know you did some great reconstruction work on Mann’s hockey stick. My guess is this guy will dismiss it out of hand sinceit’s not “published,” but nevertheless I want to direct him to the most relevant work on this topic.

    Could you be so kind as to point me to the most pertinent posts you have on this that shows the problems with Mann’s approach?

    Thanks in advance.

  4. mack520 said

    Fun with Kevin E. Trenberth at the Daily Camera. . Seems he had some emails “illegally stolen” then to top it off they were misinterpreted, and taken out of context.

  5. Jeff Id said

    The hockey stick posts linked below the header bar are very clean. The posts in the header are all for the 08 stick – well after the NAS panel.

    The NAS panel absolutely did not support Mann’s work. In fact they rejected everything before a few hundred years due to statistical error supporting wegman. Unfortunately it was headed by Gerry North who is far more advocate than anything else IMO and North and his buddies worked into the summary and other areas some BS which allows hard core, head in the sand believers to hide behind. There is a beauty of a quote somewhere where north is forced to admit agreement with wegman before congress.

    The reasons they keep getting the same results relies mostly on the fact that they always use the same data and also on the use of similar methods. Preferred datasets have nice blades like Yamal, the briffa stuff is regularly chopped at 1960 and has temp pasted on. Multiple buddies getting the same result is not a reason for acceptance of clearly bad work.

  6. Otter said

    Diatribe guy~ could you explain to us how a great many researches over the years, having discovered that the MWP was significantly warmer than today, and the LIA was significantly colder than today, managed to get it so wrong? Considering even the first IPCC report contains a graph showing both of those periods varied quite a bit from current temperatures, yet somehow we suddenly get a flat line with mann. How is that?

  7. Steve Fitzpatrick said


    Back on topic: There is something pretty fishy going on WRT how the emails and other files found their way out of UEA.

    A quick look at your own emails (or mine, or most anybody’s) would show a huge amount of personal stuff, one line comments, irrelevant subjects, etc. These are all absent from the UEA emails. Someone had to have invested a pretty fair amount of time assembling those messages and getting rid of the chaff. Now consider the dates: the last email was sent on on November 12, and a short time later (less than a week) the whole archive is on a CD in Steve Moshers hand. Could an outside hacker have gained access, picked through, and then selected only on-topic messages in so short a time? Would an outside hacker even know what was the chaff? And why would a hacker care if we read about Ms. Jones’ messages to her husband? It seems to me a real hacker would just dump everything available.

    I beleive it had to have been someone on the inside. Someone with access, motive, and plenty of time. Let’s hope Mosher’s sources eventually come forward and explain what they know. If not, then we may never know how the files were taken.

    But at least the anti-terrorism angle is amusing!

  8. Looking for an alternative published reconstruction is missing the main point, at least so far as I can tell. The short term instrumental records have a few question-marks (e.g. satellite series divergences, and bucket corrections) which could maybe be dismissed as 2nd order effects, but the 1000 year series don’t seem to be significantly different from averaging noise and I see no way that they can be demonstrated to have any skill. IF accurate reconstructions of this type are impossible, a proof would not come in the form of an alternative reconstruction.

  9. Boudu said

    Diatribe Guy,

    Would the Craig Loehle graph at the bottom of page 9 of Jo Nova’s Scptic’s Handbook II do the trick ?

  10. Counter-terrorism cop comes to interview Paul Dennis. So now, assuming these cops actually think the CRU hack was done to disrupt Copenhagen, what we have is a counter-terrorism investigation concerning a UN-sponsored conference. Think about that. Any old friggin’ thing can now be labeled terrorism. And any nation’s CT unit can be enlisted in the probe. On behalf of the UN. And the conference is said to be “disrupted” because the hacked emails reveal a pattern of scientific misconduct.

    Well, according to “authorities,” the emails don’t really reveal that. But they could be “wrongly interpreted” to mean that.

    So actually the hacker didn’t reveal anything disparaging about AGW science. Other people wrongly interpreting the emails suggested that.

    But still, if the hacker gets caught, he could be charged with a terrorist act.

    1984 logic.



  11. hunter said

    I think the idiocracy is choosing to do the truly stupid thing, and to pretend that not only is AGW a non-falsifiable theory, but that its high priests can do no wrong.
    That means they are going to flail around, seeking ways to indict those who received the e-mails, and intimidate the other leakers who most certianly exist out there.
    the bizarre claim from the CRU-apparatchik inidcates that the authorities are expressing little to no interest in actually knowing if millions of tax dollars are being wasted by a self-selected group of scientists.
    This does not mean the AGW hypesters are going to win. It only means taht it will take a bit longer for more daylight to expose them further.
    Jon Rappaport frames it exactly right:
    If the leaks reveal nothing untowrd, then who cares if they are leaked?

  12. JAE said

    Diatribe: Go to Go to Index, Medieval Warming Period. Look at the hundreds of citations that indicate the MWP, many of which qualify as “reconstructions.”

  13. Jeff Id said

    #7, My theory is the pro’s collected the emails yet decided not to release them, then a college student ran across them. No way anyone with a career of any sort would place the files on RC with then a miracle occurred on CA. It’s just too childish IMO.

    So the emails are too clean of personal info and there are FOI’s for all of them that I’m aware of. You have to look around to find them though. The person who released the emails on tAV had pointed out several ‘important’ ones. In this list they included an osborn quote where the briffa stuff is truncated hide the decline style – as though it’s news. In fact, it’s not news at all. It’s been stated outright in several papers to the point where every climate scientist knows – this does not meant that the horsecrap is good science – IT IS NOT!! but it is not news.

    This means the climategaters don’t have as much experience as some of us with CA or paleo. I therefore believe those who released the emails are not regulars at CA or tAV.

    Also, those who entered RC probably didn’t hack a computer at American Progress (the leftist and probably soros funded organization) which hosts RC. Instead, they probably found a password at the university where they go to school along with the FOIA compilation.

    As casual observers of climate science they tried to release the files several ways starting a month prior by releasing to the BBC – which covered up the story. In the release at tAV they had files which were after the claimed BBC release which meant the hackers had access to the data in an ongoing and repeated manner.

    The email said We in it as well – twice.

    We feel that climate science is, in the current situation, too important to be kept under wraps.

    We hereby release a random selection of correspondence, code, and documents.
    Hopefully it will give some insight into the science and the people behind it.

    IMO, it’s two college students with access to the servers where the data was collected and enough computer knowledge to put the info on proxy servers and use a password to get into RC.

  14. Peter of Sydeny said

    I thought the hockey stick charts have been proven beyond any doubt that they are wrong. Anyone who still proposes they have any merit should be charged with fraud. That includes Mann.

  15. boballab said

    Ok I went back and looked at Mosh’s post over at Lucia’s again and if you pay attention to what he says you will know it can not Physically be a Hack. Remember the last Emails are dated 12 Nov 2009. Mosh was given a Physical CD. Over at Lucia’s he posted this part:

    How did you get them? On a CD.

    Who gave them to you?

    Cant say.

    Why did they give them to you? To see if they were a hoax.

    How did you do that. I called people mentioned in the mail, I read them mails. At that stage I’m very unsure if I even want to talk about what happened between Nov 13th and Nov 19th.

    He had to have the CD on the 13th of Nov 2009. There is no physical way that a Hacker was able to bust into the system, ransack the files, clean them up and get them to Mosh a day later on a CD.

    That File had to have been compiled by someone inside CRU for whatever reason. Now unless someone shipped that CD Fedex to Mosh, the file was found on the CRU servers and downloaded in the US and burned, which gives a better timing to either ship it to Mosh or physically give it to him. He then did his confirmation routine and as he states shortly after he told the person that downloaded the file they were real and not a Hoax the link pops up here. The RC thing I believe was an attempt to poke Gavin in the eye and they used a password from one of the emails for that but didn’t get it into the system before Gavin caught it.

  16. RB said

    “The email said We in it as well – twice.”

    No, that’s no evidence of more than one at all. For example, Unabomber manifesto said “we” as well. People frequently use “we” when they are the sole author of scholarly publications as well.

  17. Rhoda Ramirez said

    Frankly, I hope that the leaker remains unknown for a long while. He or she is going to be crucified if they become known.

  18. Steve Fitzpatrick said

    Jeff #13,

    You may be right, it could have been UEA students that happened upon a file assembled for an FIOA request. But it could also have been a grad student or post-doc with an ax to grind…. like a conservative beaten up by the left-wing UEA establishment and unhappy that a legitimate FOIA had been denied yet again.

    The longer this goes on, the more likely it seems we will never find the real source…. especially now that the anti-terrorists police are involved. Hey, what do radical muslims think about global warming? 🙂

  19. Jeff Id said

    #18, I think grad student is very likely.

  20. Gary said

    The police left me very much with the impression that they were working on the theory that this was an outside hack and was done deliberately to disrupt Copenhagen.

    Confirmation bias is pervasive.

  21. MrPete said

    Elsewhere some have found evidence that the emails and files could be linked to email software on Osborn’s home computer.

    That leads me to ask: who had access to home computers of the key players. Who had access to Osborn’s home computer. Any teens involved?

    I know plenty of high school students with the skill to be whistleblowers, if they had access.

    That’s my current pet theory 😉

  22. Tom Forrester-Paton said

    Given that the emails and data were sent to Paul Hudson, the BBC’s weatherman, on 12th October, and that the publication here 5 weeks later contained later emails, doesn’t the “outside hack” theory look a bit weak?

  23. artwest said

    Tom Forrester-Paton.
    As I understand it Hudson received only a handful of emails, all relating to him, and no data but your general point is valid.
    Assuming the same person(s) to be responsible for both leaks, this doesn’t appear to be someone who fortuitously had one-off access to this kind of material, but someone who had easy access more or less at will.

  24. stumpy said

    Sounds like a classic case of mis-direction from certain people and govt paranoia. Having been involved in govt work in the past I know how paranoid they are about the russians stealing secrets – Seriously!

  25. Aslak said

    I think it is reasonable to assume that the police have better information than the most of us to whether it was an external hacker or not. Probably they base it on some traces in log files. But a hacker does not equate a big conspiracy. I note that the initial posting of the files on realclimate must be considered a hack, so it seems fair to call the source a “hacker”. It may well be an individual, however, “the hacker” used “we” in the his first comment on this site.
    We feel that climate science is, in the current situation, too important to be kept under wraps.

    One funny thing to fuel conspiracy theories. The hacker used the keyphrase “kept under wraps” in the posting. I googled for this term on all climate blogs and the first place I found which used it was this post on WUWT. Here’s the text in question:
    CEI notes that: Internal EPA email messages, released by CEI earlier in the week, indicate that the report was kept under wraps and its author silenced because of pressure to support the Administration’s agenda of regulating carbon dioxide.
    I wont jump to conclusions, but I admit that I did jump in my seat when this was the first thing I found. Leaked emails together with the keyphrase.

    Finally, I dont think Jeff’s hunting trip qualifies as an alibi. Perhaps Jeff is the hacker. 🙂

  26. Boudu said

    Tom Forrester-Paton said

    January 13, 2010 at 12:56 am
    Given that the emails and data were sent to Paul Hudson, the BBC’s weatherman, on 12th October, and that the publication here 5 weeks later contained later emails, doesn’t the “outside hack” theory look a bit weak?

    Hudson did not receive the zip file He merely confirmed that as far as he could tell the emails were genuine as he was part of a ‘chain of emails’ and he had local copies which matched those in the zip file.

    I was forwarded the chain of e-mails on the 12th October, which are comments from some of the worlds leading climate scientists written as a direct result of my article ‘whatever happened to global warming’. The e-mails released on the internet as a result of CRU being hacked into are identical to the ones I was forwarded and read at the time and so, as far as l can see, they are authentic.

    His post was made in haste and was not that clear and I think that is why it has been mis-represented several times since.

  27. The Diatribe Guy said

    Jeff –

    I’m an idiot. I was trying to look for a needle in a haystack, and didn’t even notice your sub-header that clearly says “hockey stick.”

    Sorry for wasting your time. Thanks for your continued hard work.

  28. Jeff Id said

    #27, Check some of the readers comments here also and on the open thread. Often times these guys are better than I.

  29. Phil. said

    Jeff Id said

    January 12, 2010 at 8:33 pm
    #7, My theory is the pro’s collected the emails yet decided not to release them, then a college student ran across them. No way anyone with a career of any sort would place the files on RC with then a miracle occurred on CA. It’s just too childish IMO.

    So the emails are too clean of personal info and there are FOI’s for all of them that I’m aware of.

    Some of us use mail software that allows emails to be sorted into different mailboxes, someone who used such a sytem would already have done the sorting for the hacker.

  30. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Would a counter terrorism unit in Norfolk spend this much time on a case if the information revealed were in support of AGW? Would it be considered terrorism? If, as the AGW consensus team indicates, the revelation of the emails shed no new light on how scientists operate and any shenanigans by scientists that would discredit them, why would an investigation of this apparent magnitude be initiated? Why don’t they want to simply move on as they are wont to say? Could the questioning of counter terrorism police tend to stifle future whistle blowers or even discussions – no matter what they discover in this particular case?

  31. hunter said

    In the midst of the pre-release period, Dr. Pielke, Sr. reported a strange e-mail from a climate science colleague demanding that he never be included in mailing lists in the future. It seemed, at the time, just rude. Now I am wondering if this was a first hint of the e-mails.
    My bet is that the ‘insiders’ knew there were significant issues with e-mails and code for awhile. It will be interesting to see where this goes.
    One way to read the accompanying e-mail is that the leaking source has a lot more e-mails and data to release – less ‘random’ selection, as it were.
    If so, the sweetness of sitting on even more damning e-mails/data/code must be incredible.

  32. Phil A said

    “He had to have the CD on the 13th of Nov 2009. There is no physical way that a Hacker was able to bust into the system, ransack the files, clean them up and get them to Mosh a day later on a CD.”

    Sorry, but he was given the CD by Charles the Moderator after the file/link was posted to Watts Up With That.


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