Leakegate scandal grows

There have been new developments in Leakegate, the scandal swirling about reporter Jonathan Leake, who deliberately concealed facts that contradicted the story he wanted to spin. Deltoid can reveal that Leake was up to the same tricks in his story that claims that the IPCC "wrongly linked global warming to natural disasters". Bryan Walker has the detailed dissection, but the short version is that Leake took one part of the discussion of one paper in the IPCC WG2 report and pretended that this was all it said, entirely ignoring the WG1 report and the discussion of other papers in the WG2 report. Leake writes:

Pielke has also told the IPCC that citing one section of Muir-Wood's paper in preference to the rest of his work, and all the other peer-reviewed literature, was wrong.


Muir-Wood was, however, careful to point out that almost all this increase could be accounted for by the exceptionally strong hurricane seasons in 2004 and 2005. There were also other more technical factors that could cause bias, such as exchange rates which meant that disasters hitting the US would appear to cost proportionately more in insurance payouts.

Well, that sounds bad. Why did the IPCC report omit these caveats?
Except, umm, that they didn't. Look at what they said about Muir-Wood's paper:

However, for a number of regions, such as
Australia and India, normalised losses show a statistically
significant reduction since 1970. The significance of the upward
trend is influenced by the losses in the USA and the Caribbean
in 2004 and 2005 and is arguably biased by the relative wealth
of the USA, particularly relative to India.

This undercuts the story that Leake is spinning, so he simply conceals what the report actually said from his readers.

I agree with Walker's conclusion about Leake's work:

The Sunday Times article is simply untrue. It is lazy, sloppy journalism at best, deliberate misinformation at worst. It has been taken up triumphantly by the denialist world and reported widely and uncritically by other newspapers. I hope the paper is ashamed of what it has achieved, but I fear it will be rejoicing at the attention it has gained.

More like this

By now I'm sure you're all familiar with Jonathan Leake's practice of misrepresenting what his sources by quote mining them. In his story that misrepreseted what the IPCC report says about natural disasters, Leake quotes Muir-Wood: Muir-Wood himself is more cautious. He said: "The idea that…
Jonathan Leake recently wrote a story alleging that the statement in the IPCC AR4 WG2 that up to 40% of the Amazon forest could vanish due to climate change was "bogus". Deltoid can now reveal that Leake deliberately concealed the fact that Dan Nepstad, the author of the 1999 Nature paper cited as…
They have been some explosive new revelations in the Leakegate scandal. Remember how Leake deliberately concealed the fact that Dan Nepstad, the author of the 1999 Nature paper cited as evidence for the IPCC statement about the vulnerability of the Amazon had replied to Leake's query and informed…
A story on climate change by Jonathan Leake that is reprinted in the Australian is pretty well guaranteed to misrepresent the science. And it does -- you only have to compare the headline for Leake's story "Cyclone climate link rejected" with Nature Geosciences headline "Tropical cyclone projection…

This undercuts the story that Leake is spinning, so [Leake omits that part; he] simply conceals what the report actually said from his readers.

Wow! This is massive! After Rosegate and now this, I don't think the MSM can survive much longer. Time to scrap it and start anew!

If stuff like this sunk papers bud, there would be no NewsCorp nor place for folks like you to download their talking points. The reality is that this type of stuff is part of the business model these days. Look at Drudge- links over here because it's news that some scientists falsified things, only to find that it wasn't scientists but 'skeptics'. Then of course, it's no longer news worthy. And last I checked, Drudge has done pretty well for himself that way.

Also btw, that you would have the perfidy of Rose and Leake as not being of any consequence gives us a good sense of the journalistic/scientific standards you would have of your 'news' sources. No surprise there though.

By Majorajam (not verified) on 04 Feb 2010 #permalink

Apologies bud. I assumed you were being a facetious wing nut, not heaping earnest praise on our kind host. Seeing your post on other thread cleared up my confusion. Me needs more coffee fewer spreadsheets and far fewer stupid people in my place of employment.

By Majorajam (not verified) on 04 Feb 2010 #permalink


Apologies bud. I assumed you were being a facetious wing nut, not heaping earnest praise on our kind host.

Actually, I was doing neither (although I have nothing but praise for this series of posts by Tim). I was just extending Tim's parody of sensationalist 'climategate' hysteria, by calling for the demise of the MSM in much the same way as denialists have been proclaiming that the IPPC is dead following the glacier error. That joke has now fallen flat on its face!

Anyway, I don't think that Rose and Leake are of much consequence, in the grand scheme of things. This is not to suggest that I don't see the danger of their pernicious influence, of course I do. They are important in the same way the finding of an error on the demise of Himalayan glaciers was important. Of course, this doesn't mean that either the IPCC or the MSM are doomed! Find it, fix it, and move on.

That's pretty much how I've viewed Tim's parody, anyway.

If it's any consolation Bud, I thought you nailed it. In fact, if you replace Rose with Climate and MSM with IPCC, you'd probably find that exact comment posted by a denialist somewhere. It actually looks kinda familiar...

Finally a long awaited martyr! FREE PAUL DENNIS!

Do you think Bob Ward knows about this? I'm pretty sure he'll be on top of it anyway, but I think it'll be part of his debate with Pielke Jr tomorrow evening and it'd be a shame for him to not have seen this.

This latest scandal proves that the MSM train is sinking, and that the journalism boat has fallen off the tracks.

The foundations are giving way beneath the sinking trainwreck of MSM as flames lick at the fleeing heels of boneheaded blog scientists FatBoy, Duffy and Watts. Anger is growing as people ask "What's wrong with the education system that leaves behind kids like Dave Andrews, FatBoy and Duffy"?
We report!

That joke has now fallen flat on its face!

No, keep it up Bud - I got it right way.

Ben Santer hits back at Douglass and Christy over their allegations, using the emails as ammunition against him and as the basis for childish piffle.

Ouch. :)

Applause to Ben Santer for holding up and continuing to work while afflicted for many years by crap from the crap merchants.

A reminder for those too young to remember how long this has been going on:

which began:

"On behalf of the Executive Committee of the American Meteorological Society and the Trustees of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), we take this opportunity to support you and the other scientists who have participated in the preparation of the recent IPCC report, Climate Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change. ....

We believe that attacks on the IPCC process in general, and you in particular, such as occurred in the editorial-page piece in The Wall Street Journal by Frederick Seitz (Attachment 1), have no place in the scientific debate about issues related to global change. Dr. Seitz is a prominent scientist, but his expertise is not atmospheric sciences and he was not involved in the IPCC process. The Wall Street Journal essay is especially disturbing because it steps over the boundary from disagreeing with the science to attacking the honesty and integrity of a particular scientist, namely yourself.

There appears to be a concerted and systematic effort by some individuals to undermine and discredit the scientific process that has led many scientists working on understanding climate to conclude that there is a very real possibility that humans are modifying Earth's climate on a global scale. Rather than carrying out a legitimate scientific debate through the peer-reviewed literature, they are waging in the public media a vocal campaign against scientific results with which they disagree....."

Same thing still happening, moreso.

A bit more from that same letter:

"... The recent exchange in The Wall Street Journal is an example of why attempting to carry out a scientific debate in the media is inappropriate. In response to the Seitz opinion piece, you and 40 other scientists prepared a careful, thoughtful response, which is reprinted in its entirety below (Attachment 2). This letter was printed in The Wall Street Journal with minor changes, but without the names of the 40 distinguished scientists who supported your rebuttal, including the other three lead co-authors of Chapter 8.

More significantly, a letter supporting you (Attachment 3) from Dr. Bert Bolin, Chairman of the IPCC, and Co-chairs of IPCC Working Group I Drs. John Houghton from the United Kingdom and Luiz Gylvan Meira Filho from Brazil which strongly supported your letter was edited so severely that less than half of the original letter was published. Eliminated from the original version was the crucial part explaining the IPCC review process (which was the stated basis for the Seitz attack) and the key, reviewed and agreed-upon conclusion "our ability to quantify the human influence on global climate is currently limited....nevertheless, the balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate."

This example illustrates why essays based upon opinion and other communications in the media or other forms of popular public debate are inappropriate mechanisms for legitimate scientific debate. Letters and opinion pieces can be written by any individual, and one opinion piece can carry as much or more weight in the public's mind as a letter signed by 40 scientists who have passed scientific muster over many years by publishing on the topic in the peer-reviewed literature. By necessity, letters and opinion pieces in the public media must be short, simple and non-technical, and supporting scientific data or theories cannot be provided. Contributions to the public media are not reviewed by scientific experts and can make assertions and statements that are totally without scientific foundation. And finally, key parts may be edited or removed altogether, leading to the possibility that serious changes to the meaning of the contribution may be introduced....."

"It is not worth while to try to keep history from repeating itself, for man's character will always make the preventing of the repetitions impossible." (Mark Twain in Eruption: Hitherto Unpublished Pages About Men and Events (1940), ed. Bernard DeVoto.)

Hank Roberts,

The world has moved on. Peer reviewed science is often crap - note the recent claim by stem cell scientists that a cabal is conspiring to keep new results out of the scientific literature. Reminds you of Jones, Mann et al in relation to climate science.

Like everyone else scientists need recognise that this is the 21st not 19th century.

By Dave Andrews (not verified) on 05 Feb 2010 #permalink

J Bowers, thanks for the Santer link. Ouch - talk about the ultimate smackdown! From Santer:

I believe it would be timely and appropriate for the U.K. Royal Meteorological Society (on whose behalf the International Journal of Climatology is published) to investigate the scientific issues raised by the 2007 Douglass et al. and 2008 Santer et al. IJoC papers.

Wonder if Douglas, et al. would be amenable to an independent review? I would put the question to The American Thinker, but they've banned me.

I don't know if this appears in the literature, but if you simply smooth HadSST2 NH data, and similarly smooth Atlantic named stormed data, the resulting graph shows an undeniable association, with a lag of a couple years between temperatures and named storms. This graph, for example, uses 21-year central moving averages. I'm sure you can do the same thing with smoothing splines and such.

So yes, global warming results in a higher number of storms, even though the 2005 season is still an anomaly. It shouldn't be used as a reference of any sort.

Dave Andrews: "Peer-reviewed science is often crap".

As opposed to your antiscience, which is always crap.

By Vince Whirlwind (not verified) on 05 Feb 2010 #permalink

Peer reviewed science is often crap.

Well I've learned something today. Discoveries and theories in biology, genetics, medicine, geology, physics, chemistry, cosmology, and all other sciences, are "often crap".

My wife just started on a new drug for her chronic auto-immune condition, the successful trial of which appeared in the peer-reviewed medical literature. I might warn her not to take it. Thanks for the heads up, Dave.

Quantify "often".

Nexus 6 nominates this one:

Eli lists a few:

We could add Douglass, Chirsty and Big Tobacco's Singer 2007

Gavin has a post on this problem.

Peer reviewed science is often crap

I'd say it's sometimes crap. So? If someone told you that peer review guarantees a study is good, then they lied to you. Peer review should be used as a heuristic - nothing more. It simply means someone took the time to review the paper before accepting it for publication. Journals use it as a means for quality control of the content they publish. That way they filter out obvious mistakes, incompetence, and hopefully, fraud.

> MIke
> the successful trial of which appeared

MIke, a lot more than just one article appeared before that drug was approved to be prescribed for your wife.

Many drugs got just one article, or two, and never made it through the testing needed to bring them to market.

Don't exaggerate your shock at learning this fact.