I was going to write a Science and Communication, Part 3 post that examined what ClimateGate actually tells us vs what the popular press says about it, and why this chasm between the two exists.
Then Michael Tobis wrote a brilliant post discussing that very topic:
What Was Actually Revealed
- a rehash of a well-known controversy about how to present tree-ring data
- frustration about too much attention to substandard scientific papers slipped into the literature by marginally qualified people with nonscientific agendas, and discussions about how to handle that
- frustration about opposition by filibuster via freedom of information requests
- a single suggestion about “deleting emails”, without any context, which plausibly does not refer to deleting emails from a server (scientists are probably aware that end users cannot really do this) but rather to deleting them from a response to one of many FOIA requests
- some sloppy code and a pretty sad but perfectly typical lack of understanding of the advantages of dynamic programming languages
- a couple of fudge factors explicitly labeled as such probably used in testing, commented out
- some older data for which CRU is not the originator or primary repository is not in any known dataset at CRU
- about 985 emails and 1995 other files of no apparent interest to anyone
In other words, (withe the possible exception of the email deletion incident, which I imagine the lawyers are fretting about) the only things remotely unusual here are a direct consequence of the existence of a politically rather than scientifically motivated opposition.
Read the whole post here.