the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Some are Easier to Trick Than Others

Posted by Jeff Id on September 20, 2010

And now from the hall of silly walks, Oxburghs testimony to parliament is on line. Thanks to Andrew at the Bishop Hill blog for pointing it out.

And just how hard did Oxburgh work to put ‘trick to hide the decline’ in context.  Well apparently reading the emails he was investigating was outside of the scope of his purview.  Reading the emails in question after all could bias his opinion, um,  of the um  emails.  After all any ‘open minded’ person would be able to see trick has multiple meanings and reading the words around the word trick would be akin to mind reading.  You  remember, the emails, that discuss the problem with declining data not matching the storyline, and how to best present the graphs, all leading up to just chopping off the offensive and inconvenient ‘data’.   No need to read that extraneous stuff.

Lord Oxburgh: Let me start by saying I did not study the e-mails. We were told that Muir Russell was going to be looking at those carefully. But certainly I was aware of that from the attention it got in the newspapers and so on at the time. I looked up “trick” in the Oxford English Dictionary, actually, at that time, and, if I remember rightly, the Oxford English Dictionary gave it nine different meanings, one of which was “Special technique or way of doing something.” I think, having looked at that, that anyone in the field reading that with an open mind, would actually take that meaning of the word “trick”.

Full text of his explanation of his crack in depth investigation here.

19 Responses to “Some are Easier to Trick Than Others”

  1. Jeff Id said

    I’ve got another word with multiple meanings for him.


  2. TinyCo2 said

    If I was an AGW person and I believed in conspiracy theories I might wonder if a nasty old oil company had paid people to make climate scientists look bad, because there’s nothing more suspicious than a really, really shoddy investigation.

    Since I’m not, I’ll just assume they’re a shining example of the standards climate scientists have to attain.

  3. David S said

    Two words: lazy and compliant.

  4. Sam said

    That’s actually humorous. If we were to have written a skit about his testimony beforehand, I would bet it would be quite similar:

    Let me start by saying I didn’t read the e-mails, I figure the media talked about them enough already. I heard the news anchor talk about a ‘trick’, so I used my incredible research skills by opening a dictionary. I found that the word ‘trick’ can mean something other than deceit, which it clearly must mean in this situation. If you have an open mind like me, this is obvious.

  5. Reminds me of the decay of the empire in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy. The “Ambassador” was an amature archiologist who disdained any real work! His job? Analyzing the work of others only.

  6. stan said

    If all it took was to look in the dictionary, why’d they need him?

  7. intrepid_wanders said

    I say, wet bar of soap.

  8. John M said

    Gosh, you know, all these apologists for Mann and Jones almost had me convinced “trick” was a good thing…

    …and then I came across this:

    Now I’m so confused.

  9. Kenneth Fritsch said

    As you know, the university of East Anglia set up a review under Sir Muir Russell in order to look into, initially, all aspects of the assertions which had been made about the Climatic Research Group. It became clear, I think, to the university in round about January/February of this year that they had asked Muir Russell to take on a much larger job than they had originally thought, and it was going to take quite a long time-probably six months or morr-for Muir Russell to report. In the meantime, they had quite important domestic problems. They had a number of their academic staff about whom very serious allegations had been made, and they felt both, really, for the benefit of those individuals and the university, that this ought to be cleared up as quickly as possible. So I was approached in February to say would I chair a very brief study, really, on the honesty of the people. Not all aspects of the science. We were not expected to go into the e-mail saga or what have you, but they really wanted to know whether there was any evidence that their people had been behaving dishonestly.

    If Ron Oxburgh were to go one step further with his introductory remarks and use a term that might sum up what was required here by CRU it would be as plain as the nose on your face what he was set out to do. He needn’t use a term like whitewash as that is perhaps too much for the common man. How about that he set out to do a Royal screening?

  10. Geoff Sherrington said

    9 Kenneth
    Or a Royal flush?

  11. Jeff Id said


    Awesome 😀 😀

  12. Russ said

    Lord Oxburgh looked up “trick” in the Oxford English Dictionary and cherry picked the definition that suited his needs, in my opinion.

  13. Brian H said

    The juxtaposition of the words “trick” and “hide” is about as clear as it gets. Not all the exegesis and circumlocution in the UK Parliament, immense though they are, can alter that.

  14. TGSG said

    Brian H said
    The juxtaposition of the words “trick” and “hide” is about as clear as it gets.

    I don’t think the word “hide” was in the remit. 🙂

  15. bob said

    Oxburgh’s conduct absolutely screams SCAM! Crooks like this should not be allowed in society.

  16. anonymous coward said

    Hmm, according to the online Oxford English Dictionary, it has exactly five for use as a noun.

    “Trick” as defined by the online Oxford Dictionary

    The first of which is “… a cunning or skillful act or scheme intended to deceive or outwit someone…”

    And none of those are “Special technique or way of doing something.”

  17. JohnH said

    Oxburgh ‘We were told that Muir Russell was going to be looking at those carefully.’

    And Muir never got to see them either, the excuse was they were still part of a Police investigation (still even now ?) and some lame excuse about data protection.

    So did any of the investigations get to see the emails.

  18. […] The Air Vent […]

  19. ianl8888 said

    #14 TGSG

    Exactly – there is plenty of spin on the meaning of the word “trick”, but none of the sidestepping ever mentions the “hide the decline” phrase

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