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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/13250/krugman-climategate-and-the-new-york-times/

Krugman, “Climategate,” and the New York Times

July 13, 2010 by

In today’s KIW post, I look at the recent “exonerations” so trumpeted by the New York Times about the emails of so-called Climategate. I then compare the NYT editorial to something written by Patrick Michaels. Yeah, I know, we are shocked, SHOCKED that the NYT would hide the truth.


J. Murray July 13, 2010 at 9:33 am

Wouldn’t it be convenient if, after taken to court for comitting a crime, all you had to do is create an independent commision consisting of your father and wife to clear you of any wrongdoing?

Beefcake the Mighty July 13, 2010 at 9:46 am

And also to “investigate” you for a different crime than you actually committed, thereby ensuring your “innocence.”

Magnus July 13, 2010 at 9:51 am

My independent commission has loftier titles than theirs does, and we say that Climategate is even WORSE than reported.

So there.

Daniel Hewitt July 13, 2010 at 10:03 am

Perhaps now we can put the manufactured controversy known as Climategate behind us…


Jake July 13, 2010 at 10:50 am

For example, Penn State “determined that Dr. Michael E. Mann did not engage in, nor did he participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community.”

The fun thing about circumstances like this is that the guilty parties, struggling to save themselves, wind up pulling many other down with them. I wonder whether this quote really defends Dr. Mann as it was intended or tends more to condemn accepted academic practices.

George July 13, 2010 at 11:16 am

If it had been someone in private business acting like this, heads would have rolled by now.

dmfdmf July 13, 2010 at 11:51 am

This whitewash is a joke in the age of the internet. They (the investigating committee and the NYT, et. al.) are slow learners but soon they will figure it out that their old tricks and methods for manipulating public opinion and controlling the political agenda will no longer work. They are slowly destroying their credibility and integrity the longer they take to learn the lessons of the new social norms. The Internet Kill Switch is evidence that they are feeling the heat.

Walt D. July 13, 2010 at 12:33 pm

To ascertain the truth, all you need to do is follow the money. The Cap and Trade fraud makes Bernie Madoff look like a 7-11 store robbery.

George July 13, 2010 at 1:01 pm

I love reading about the intellectual prostitution of the scientific community. Spot on Walt D., always follow the money.

Lemmywinks July 13, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Most of the initial media coverage focused upon very dubious selections, which were pretty quickly disproved. Which sections of the emails do people on here still have problems with? Whenever I read something about climategate on here, it never really seems to go into details, and is usually something along the lines of “stupid lying climate scientists” without any factual support.

“To ascertain the truth, all you need to do is follow the money. The Cap and Trade fraud makes Bernie Madoff look like a 7-11 store robbery.”

This works both ways. Obviously, most energy companies have a huge incentive for global warming to not be publicly accepted, hence their funding of “skeptic” groups. I have no doubt that many companies stand to profit greatly from the cap-and-trade bill (specifically agriculture) but this is only an indicator of how our government works….not the actual science.

noah July 13, 2010 at 3:34 pm

In fact, many energy companies do have an incentive for global warming to be publicly accepted. Some costs associated with carbon trading will be simply be passed on to consumers, and the cap and trade system will be gamed for additional profits. It is a system built to be gamed, and already has been in Europe. If the real goal was reduced emissions, a simple carbon tax would work better, but even that would serve more to export pollution rather than reduce it.

It seems to me the point of climategate is that at least some portion of the scientific community seems to have forgotten that true science seeks to find the truth, not to find evidence that supports your politically and financially favored pet position. The “actual science” is an ongoing process of theory, research and discovery, not a debate in which one side gets to declare itself the winner by simply turning off the microphones of the opposing side. “Our computer model is better than yours” seems to be the new science: science by mob rule.

Russ July 13, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Not only is it a system made to be gamed, but like NYC taxicab medallions, it is a great way of limiting the entry of others into a market. The companies that own carbon rights, or whatever they are called, will have nicely protected themselves from competition.

Jake July 13, 2010 at 4:49 pm


I’d agree that the media focused on dubious quotes. All the easier to dismiss them perhaps.

I’d say the quotes about getting journal editors fired for publishing papers that disagreed with the CRU’s positions and trying to boycott journals which published those papers tend to be pretty damning. Similarly embarrassing are the numerous E-mails between the various scientists trying to figure out how they can legitimately refuse to hand over their data for independent review, eventually agreeing that they’d just have to “lose” the data as they couldn’t very well continue to keep it secret. I don’t recall if this discussion then led to the E-mails discussing whether all copies of the data had been completely” or not, but I know that was in there too.

The “nature trick” to “hide” the data could be explained away plausibly, but in light of independent work showing that the data are very heavily manipulated to produce the “Desired” curve it sounds pretty ugly too.

Lemmywinks July 13, 2010 at 4:49 pm

“In fact, many energy companies do have an incentive for global warming to be publicly accepted.”

If such a ridiculously expensive and far-reaching bill is going to get passed, companies will put themselves in a position to profit from it (with the help of their friend’s in Washington), but the basic fact is that companies like Exxon and organization like Cato have funded very unscientific attempts to disprove global warming. This hints at desperation.

I think this desperation is also supported by the evolution of global warming “skeptism”. First….the planet wasn’t getting warmer. Next, it was getting warmer, but not caused by humans, finally: it might be human caused, but it would be a waste of money to do anything about it. Almost hilariously, all three of these contradicting viewpoints can be found on Cato’s energy and environment section. Cato atleast has some coherency in their text, while places like climate depot go all out with their craziness. The purpose is obviously not for correct science, but overloading the reader with contradicting information that all points in a general pre-determined direction.

I think the argument should be focused on the cost-benefit analysis of spending money on the problem. Instead it’s a stupid shouting match, where the environmentalists have convinced themselves that the danger of global warming is so great, that we’d be better off spending ourselves into oblivion than taking the chance of experiencing the effects (at this point, basically every problem in the world has managed to get somehow connected to global warming). Meanwhile, industry apologists cling to the latest idiotic cliche as if they are presenting coherent arguments (Plants need CO2, it was warmer in the past, it’s snowing outside, etc.).

Now the debate is so screwed up now that mainstream environmentalists see any opposition to cap-and-trade as a corporate scheme. Ironically, this has made them useful tools for allot of the industries they should be against.

Either way, no legislation is going to reduce emissions considerably enough to have any noticeable effect on climate, and we’re pretty much going to get to see whatever effects increased CO2 is going to have anyways. Even if there was 99% chance that all human life would be killed off in 100 years if we don’t cut CO2, I doubt it would make any difference in the actual outcome of emissions.

Walt D. July 13, 2010 at 6:06 pm

“Either way, no legislation is going to reduce emissions considerably enough to have any noticeable effect on climate”.
This is true. Since the increase in global temperature caused by doubling CO2 is 0.925 degrees C, the decrease in global temperature if the CO2 content were halved is only 0.925 degrees C . However, climate legislation will only cut CO2 emission, not eliminate it. Thus, since the change in temperature caused by doing nothing is already very small, even cutting emissions in half would have a negligible effect.

Gil July 14, 2010 at 10:06 am

Geez! Wouldn’t it be simpler to say that even if AWG is definitely true it doesn’t mean people have to do a damn thing about it? People ought not to be forced from dumping the commons (think of W. Block “Defending the Litterer” article above) and the atmosphere is one of the biggest commons there is. Where is the pollution coming from? The Eternal Tyre Fire of Springfield? Nope, it is coming from the productive output of billions of human beings. Pollution is negative externality but people living healthy as never before is the greater positive externality. No one owns the atmosphere and therefore no one ought no to be able to tell others what they can and can’t put there. Besides everyone one’s a polluter of the air in some form or another therefore anyone who criticised any one else is a hypocrite.

Secondly, the living generations have no obligation whatsoever to the hypothetical unborn. A man can gamble his wealth away and leave his descendants in the poor house. Sure he could have wisely invested his income so his descendants would be well off but he doesn’t have to at all. Similarly, if the whole world got bitten by the green bug and literally tomorrow everyone destroyed the tools of technology and went back to a style of living that was the norm 4,000 years ago then that’s tough luck to the descendants who despise living in abject poverty and wishing they could have been in the high technology era. It is no more unjust to the unborn generations then it is for adults who refuse to be parents even though they are perfectly fertile. If Europe is 2 million babies shy of the replacement number of babies per year then this is not a genocide of the order of having 2 million babies and killing them per year.

michael July 17, 2010 at 7:43 am

Gil: You say “..if the whole world got bitten by the green bug and literally tomorrow everyone destroyed the tools of technology and went back to a style of living that was the norm 4,000 years ago then that’s tough luck to the descendants who despise living in abject poverty..”

But no one’s recommending that we do that. The whole “Luddite” comparison is just something that’s been whispered in your ear many times. The development of clean technology is an approach providing for many hundreds of new niches, all of them to grow into major industries of tomorrow. And it will come in handy when we start seriously running short of traditional fuels, like petroleum.

We’re going to get to the future, like it or not. And without an emphasis on clean technology it’ll be full of smog, more cancers and dead oceans. Everyone living in the fishbowl has a direct interest in seeing that it is kept clean.

TokyoTom July 23, 2010 at 10:11 am

“Everyone living in the fishbowl has a direct interest in seeing that it is kept clean.”

Aah, but there’s the rub, Michael; while we all have an interest in making sure the fishbowl is clean, quite a few have a GREATER interest in profiting now from activities that shift the costs of activities that dirty the bowl to others and to future generations.

Lemmywinks July 14, 2010 at 3:08 pm

“Geez! Wouldn’t it be simpler to say that even if AWG is definitely true it doesn’t mean people have to do a damn thing about it? People ought not to be forced from dumping the commons”

Ideally, there would be some form of ownership. If we accept all air as commons, then a giant polluting factory can be built right next to my house (by polluting, I mean acute pollution…not the CO2 part) and I can’t do anything about it. I believe that Rothbard had a paper on homesteading air rights, which I’m not so sure about, but would certainly be better than just treating the air as a commons. Obviously, we all breathe air, but if you can make a few million dollars building a factory, while the majority of your pollution ends up in the lungs of people, there is a serious externality going on. This seems quite contrary to any sense of justice.

Global warming is pretty different though, since there is no one to distinguish who’s CO2 is causing a particular problem, and there’s no way to tell if the problem is actually caused by CO2. Almost every hurricane gets blamed on global warming now, which may be a very small part of the cause, but the anomalously big ones have far more to do with seasonal cycles like el Nino than CO2.

I think we should encourage ways to eliminate externalities whenever possible, but I’m not sure there’s any rational way to do that with CO2. Even a simple carbon tax requires a calculation of how many dollars worth of damage a ton of CO2 will cause. People have tried this, and I’ve seen ranges from $20 through $300, but you could probably manipulate this number to equal anything. Plus, it’s not like this money would actually go to the people receiving the damage. Between a tax, and cap and trade, I’d take the tax though.

michael July 16, 2010 at 11:30 am

Let’s go to any lengths our minds can stretch around, to prove that we don’t live in a commons. BP runs a sloppy operation and dumps in the ocean? So what? Nobody owns it. Such questions become irrelevant when the only thing being assigned value is whatever someone has decided is his own property.

By this logic, the fisherman who locates the last living bluefin tuna should kill it and bring it on board. Because only then will it have (cash) value.

There’s a big flaw with this approach. And it shouldn’t be up to me to show you what that is.

TokyoTom July 25, 2010 at 6:16 am

Michael, didn’t Lemmywinks pretty much acknowledge that the atmosphere IS a commons?

Your first thought about BP’s disastrous f**k-up is garbled; I and others here have pointed out that the reason for the BP disaster in the first place is that it’s the government that owns the OCS and marine resources, and is simply leasing the E&D rights to BP, which – like the fisherman who have been completely cut off by government – has NO stake in the marine resources. See my BP posts here: http://bit.ly/b0uUTL

Sure enough, it’s governments that also play a leading role in the very real tragedy of the fisheries commons – though the US government, environmental groups and fishermen finally seem to have realized that there are ways to give fishermen useful property rights, as I’ve noted in a number of posts:

Still, it’s nice to see someone here who recognizes the need to focus on commons problems.


Ron LaRue - Book Travel and Tours July 25, 2010 at 5:56 pm

I think all have their own particular and viable view of the situation. I believe that the money aspect is the most viable logic.
Money has perverted science for all of history. The ancient knowledge was collected and evolved with mankinds progress. However, with the selfish desires of one monarchy after another prostituting these scientific revelations for self gain, thus halting progression for generations until regime change creates renewed free thought, progress was slow.
Not until the freedom of thought that came with the birth of the United States has science been allowed to know its full potential. With this freedom came a constant attack on it by all in the world, wanting to assimilate the nation to the “new world order” of a global community. The cap and trade, the government flow of this era, global warming and the disasters that lead to more government involvement are all part of the symptoms of these realities.
The realities of the issues expressed, having to do with science, needs to be administrated by scientists. Free from government influence, perhaps as the separation of church and state. I am wondering from my point, however.
The fact is that we lose our freedoms. It is happening today, and I am in a turmoil as to my personal stance of the daily evolution to a nanny state. American’s create realities from dreams. We do that, which is thought impossible. This is done because we are free to dream and explore possibilities of human knowledge applied to every day life for all of our betterment.
Politicians have become the arm of the bank. The bank is purchasing America in the guise of promoting a global society. I have no problem with the inevitability of a global society.
What I have issue with is that society being based upon failure. The world has repeatedly failed in becoming a global society. The system did not work and the reality of scientific growth was not known. Only with America has potential grown to its fullness. Only with American freedoms, free markets, and capitalist motivations that are available to all at all levels has the world been made capable of being an effective global community. America did this. So, why do we join the world? Why does the world not join us.

a.n.ditchfield July 30, 2010 at 11:27 am

Post-Normal-Science claims to be the key to understanding complexity. It is invoked to support the need for a new world order with a different concept of progress.
What is progress? To most minds it is the increasingly efficient use of energy and materials, capital and labour, that translates into lower costs, better income for all and ultimately to more means for proper care of the environment.
Not all agree. The bitterness of Green extremists that swept with gale strength at the Copenhagen 2009 conference on climate pointed to the opposite direction: to limiting world economic activity even casting away the fruits of two centuries of the Industrial Revolution that they blame for a global warming that will render the planet uninhabitable. This is a controversial meaning of progress.
Such scare-mongering is too puny to be compared to the 20th century menaces of Fascism and Communism. Although Green extremists have done some damage, it is still trifling when compared to the destruction brought about by two world wars and the waste of a long cold war.
Totalitarians had weapons for their mischief while Green extremists can only brandish words that suggest they would have already capsized the planet, were it not for the ballast of common sense possessed by ordinary folk. They promote public policies too disastrous to be tolerated if implemented. The political reality is that the West refuses to be rolled back to an idealised Green agrarian past. Forget China and India.
Again, the world is divided into two camps. One side of the climate issue is epitomised by MIT climate scientist Richard Lindzen, who sees global warming as a political and journalistic phenomenon, not a physical one. He expects future generations to look back in wonder at the turn of the century hysteria about climate. On the other side stands Jerome Ravetz, theorist of the fashionable Post-Normal-Science, who contributed to the uncritical acceptance of anthropogenic global warming as settled science. It is not.
Ravetz is no common-or-garden Leftist; he holds a Cambridge PhD degree in mathematics. Steeped in Marxism at the Philadelphia home of his Russian/Jewish parents, his US passport was withdrawn during the McCarthy era, although later restored. Disgusted, he adopted UK citizenship. A disgruntled Ravetz is the kind of articulate intellectual that Oxford likes to keep for a while to enliven debate, and certainly fits the role with his Post-Normal-Science. He admits that the scientific method cannot be surpassed in its realm of simple phenomena; he argues that there is another realm with different laws, to deal with complex matters, such as climate, in which the stakes are high and scientific certainties low. Enter the Precautionary Principle: if the cause is just and the science unsettled, uncertainties should not stand in the way of acts of government promoted by official propaganda. Enter the Ministry of Truth…
The truth is that we don’t know – and may never know – how much of global climate change comes by hand of man or by hand of nature, to what degree and when. We do know that hiding uncertainties for the sake of expediency is at best misleading and at worst fraud, when it abets self-serving politics.
The uncertainties of complexity are not new; they been around since the time of the philosophers of Ancient Greece. After them, Hegel and Marx believed they had the instruments to navigate on the uncharted waters of complexity in history, politics and economics. Others argue that questions concerning human nature will always remain in the domain of the intuition of statesmen, of the religious, of the mystics, poets and artists who have the feel, not the thought, to discern in matters beyond the reach of reason – and therefore of science. Their intuition cannot be generalised into a soulless ideological system.
With Post-Normal-Science, Marxists try to bring back, as serious, their Alice in Wonderland thought. Their tactics have changed. They now follow the book of Antonio Gramsci, founder of the Italian Communist Party in the 1920s. As an exile in Moscow, Gramsci saw the brutal realities of Stalin’s regime and realised the futility of seizing power with revolution and holding onto power with armed force. It led to oppression, not liberty. It is so because Christian societies are entrenched behind a rampart of values upheld for two thousand years; a frontal assault on them is doomed to failure. Gramsci proposed an alternative approach: Marxism should spread in concentric circles until it grows into a consensus. First win over the opinion formers; then the university professors, the intellectuals they educate, the journalists, teachers, leaders of civic and religious organisations, political parties. Finally, with the leadership in the fold, the masses would follow. Marxism would rule with no compulsion, in the place of societies founded on religious values. Christianity is the main opponent of Marxism. Evolution, not revolution, is the way to the ideal classless society, in a long but sure process.
After Communist regimes collapsed into universal discredit Gramsci’s suave approach gained favour, and in now under way. This was perceived by Alan Sokal, a professor of physics at New York University, who collected clippings of amusing things written by post-modern (Marxist) thinkers about hard science, especially those who use abstruse mathematical terms to make their text incomprehensible, so as to pass as profound. He grew weary of nonsense written about physics, held by social “scientists” to be white, male and euro-centric. He came to the conclusion that there is no such thing called a social science, because anything goes. He submitted his opinion to experimental proof.
That a prestigious sociology journal would publish an essay full of absurd statements, provided it was:
· Well written and of scholarly appearance;
· Cloaked in the garb of incomprehensible physics;
· Attuned with prejudices of the editor.
Sokal’s essay announced his discovery of Quantum Gravity, the synthesis of relativity theory and quantum mechanics, on a superior plane that supersedes both. He suggests he had done it with the methods of social sciences, in a feat that did away with the outworn formal logic and systematic experiment, still in use and unduly so. The implications were so revolutionary that the essay had been rejected for publication in peer-reviewed journals of physics, and this was the reason for its publication in Social Text, known for a mind open to innovation.
The essay contains nonsense galore immediately perceptible as a joke by an engineering student. The essay favoured mathematics freed from the shackles of the rules of arithmetic and stood against the teaching of the outworn geometry of Euclid, a tool for oppression of the working class. There was anti-feminist prejudice in fluid mechanics. Truth is relative. Constants such as the number pi (3.1416), the speed of light and the constant of gravitation have values attributed by the social context in the current epoch but the values of such constants will change in a future context with a different social setting.
No absurdity was contrived by Sokal; all were extracted from what was stated by post-modern thinkers about hard science and he supports it with more than one hundred references to published articles.
Sokal’s essay, Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity was indeed published as submitted, with no comment, although Sokal repeatedly asked whether there were any questions to be clarified.
“Social Text” #46/47, pp. 217-252 (1996).
In another journal, at the time of publication, Sokal explained what he had done at Social Text and regretted that a silent tide of irrationality threatened institutions of higher learning to dictate, from a blind and intolerant pulpit, what is right to do, say and think.
An inquiring mind shuns Gospel according to St. Marx. Critical reviewers at Social Text could have asked: if a future society decrees that pi = 4 would circles become squares and heavenly bodies cubes? None did.
With its pretence of a short cut in dealing with complexity, Post-Normal-Science amounts to sophistry of the kind lampooned by Sokal. Its previous failure was in economics and the new one in climate. It is a grab for power to ration use of energy and thus control the lives of every human being in the world. Its followers are not above deceit to exploit emotions of a guilt-ridden West.
A confident West had worked wonders. The contributions of France to mathematics are expressed in the work of Descartes, Pascal, Fermat, D’Alembert, Delambre, Fourier, Lagrange, Monge, Poisson, Laplace, Cauchy, Galois, Poincaré, Benoit Mandelbrot. Then came French Post-modernists with the thought of Lewis Carroll characters: “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less”. It leads to proficiency in: Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, Derision. A Post Post-Normal-Science is unneeded to dialectically supplant the Post-Normal-Science of Ravetz; a return to Science would do.
Sokal’s essay is available on Internet at: .

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