The CRU Scandal

by Jonah Goldberg

I know I’ve been pretty silent on the subject. I was going to write about it yesterday, but I got transfixed reading all the stuff and decided I needed more time (I think I’ll do my USA Today column on it). At first, I will confess to being skeptical about it being as big a deal as some claim. I still doubt it’s the end of global-warming hysteria or anything like that. The greatest scientific scandal of the century once seemed like a crazy exaggeration, now it just seems like an exaggeration.

One reason this seemed to me like less of a big deal at first was that the individual e-mails — “hide the decline” and so forth — while damning, also seemed open to interpretation. And I still think that’s the case in some instances. But what seems incontrovertible at this point is that the global-warming industry (and it is an industry) is suffused to its core with groupthink and bad faith. For many of us, this is not shocking news. But it is shocking evidence. Proving bad faith and groupthink is very hard to do. But now we have the internal dialog of those afflicted made public (I hope some intrepid reporters are asking other climate institutions whether they are no erasing their files for fear of being similarly exposed). It is clear that the scientists at the CRU were more interested in punishing dissenters and constructing a p.r. campaign than they were in actual science.

This should be considered not merely a scientific scandal but an enormous journalistic scandal. The elite press treats skepticism about global warming as a mental defect. It uses a form of the No True Scotsman fallacy to delegitimize people who dissent from the (manufactured) “consensus.” Dissent is scientifically unserious, therefore dissenting scientist A is unserious. There’s no way to break in. The moment someone disagrees with the “consensus” they disqualify themselves from criticizing the consensus. That’s not how science is supposed to work. Skeptics who’ve received a tote bag from some oil company are branded as shills, but scientists who live off of climate-change-obsessed foundations or congressional fiefdoms are objective, call-it-like-they-see-it truth seekers. Question these folks and you get a Bill Murrayesque, “Back off, man. We’re scientists.”

An even larger reason this is a journalistic scandal is that governments want to spend — literally — trillions of dollars on climate change. Industries want to make billions off it. The poor will be hurt. Economies wrenched apart. And journalistic skepticism is almost nowhere to be found. If you know people in the “skeptic community” (for want of a better term) or even just normal, honest scientists, the observation that federal and foundation funding and groupthink is driving, or at least distorting, the climate debate is commonplace. But it’s given almost no oxygen in the elite press, because they are in on it.

The media has not given this story its due. That’s certainly true of the NY Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. But it’s also true of the Wall Street Journal and Fox News. This is a big thing.

Update: A good point I should have mentioned:

Subject: CRU : It’s not just e-mails

Although the e-mails are open to interpretation, there is also a lot of computer code included that is being waded through. There are already indications that the basic code used in many of these models is flawed. There is where the depth of the scientific scandal will be decided. The refusal of many of the principals to share data and methods has long been a source of suspicion by anti-AGW folks.If it turns out that not only was data fudged, but, that even basic computations were done in error, it could be the beginning of the end of all this nonsense.

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