Climategate 2.0: The Not Nice and Clueless Phil Jones

Ever since Climategate . . .

Would you trust this man with an adjusted data set?

. . . whenever the UEA’s Phil Jones has appeared on television or been interviewed, he has always come over like a particularly gloomy bloodhound who has just been denied his Bonio. Obviously one can understand this. a) it can’t be fun when your once lavishly funded, globally respected science department is suddenly associated with FOI-breaching, data-losing, evidence-tweaking, scientific-method-abusing junk  and b) it of course elides perfectly with the narrative so assiduously and cynically promoted by the science establishment since Climategate: that these poor scientists are men more sinned against then sinning; just honest men trying to do their job while fighting off vexatious FOI requests by nasty strangers like Steve McIntyre and being sent death threats and driven almost to suicide by horrid bloggers and know-nothing non-scientists who will never understand the mysterious ways of the white-coated illuminati with their magically transforming data adjustments and magnificently accurate computer models….

Well fine. Except the Phil Jones who emerges from the Climategate and Climategate 2.0 emails doesn’t sound at all like a man deserving of our pity, let alone our sympathy. In fact he emerges as bullying, irascible, intolerant, incompetent and slippery as an extra-lubricated bag of jellied eel marinaded in KY. The excellent Maurizio Morabito has unearthed a good example of this on his blog, which not only catches Jones up to his usual trick of trying to dodge FOI requests, but scorning a hapless older colleague for having the temerity to teach climate science using actual, proper facts rather than the approved IPCC quasi-religious drivel.


date: Fri Sep 25 10:53:32 2009
from: Phil Jones
subject: Re: [Fwd: CCNet: The Sun Could Be Heading Into A Period of
to: santer1, Tom Wigley

[…] I have stopped sending data out to anybody after the stupid comment on Climate Audit by Peter Webster. We’ve had over 60 FOI requests for data. They are varied – many can be answered by telling people to read the literature. We’re refusing those for the data. We’re going to send an email to all NMSs thru MOHC and then release those where countries are happy for us to do so.
It is just a pain having to respond to them – someone else at UEA does this though.
I did send one of the requests to Myles as it was from one of his fellow profs in Physics at Oxford! Myles knows him well and he has never talked about climate with Myles – or expressed any views. Myles can’t understand why he’s getting his climate education from Climate Audit and not from colleagues in his own dept!
This annoys me too. I’d read up and talk to people if I were to ever attempt moving to another field! It is just common sense. Neil Adger has taken over the running of First Year course here in ENV. He asked Alan Kendall for the ppt for 2 lectures he gives. He sent them and 40 slides are taken from Climate Audit! A student asked Neil why Alan was saying things opposite to what Neil and Tim Osborn were saying!!!

Alan is retiring at the end of this year….thankfully.

Meanwhile, the Bishop has chanced upon another gem, in which the Grantham Institute’s PR man and palaeopiezometrist Bob Ward forelock-tuggingly requests a steer from Dr Jones only to discover that Jones can’t really help, a) because he obviously can’t be arsed, being too busy eating Christmas pudding and b) because he’s apparently incapable of performing what ought to be – for a man in his position – some fairly routine data analysis.

Here’s Jones flaunting his ignorance:

I keep on seeing people saying this same stupid thing. I’m not adept enough (totally inept) with excel to do this now as no-one who knows how to is here.

What you have to do is to take the numbers in column C (the years) and then those in D (the anomalies for each year), plot them and then work out the linear trend. The slope is upwards. I had someone do this in early 2006, and the trend was upwards then. It will be now. Trend won’t be statistically significant, but the trend is up.

And here’s Cumbrian Lad’s comment below:

The fact that a scientist who is in charge of a major global data set claims not to be able to plot two columns in a spreadsheet is dumbfounding. Not only that, but he feels sure that relatively few people around him could either.

The line “I had someone do this in early 2006…, ” suggests that it is the sort of menial task he’d leave to a non technical assistant. Now, I’ve some time for delegation of appropriate tasks, and keeping the best brains thinking, not engaged in mundane tasks, but data analysis is part of the science surely.

The last time I had a dig at Phil Jones for being “disgraced, FOI-breaching, email-deleting, scientific-method abusing”, his University’s response was to try to use the Press Complaints Commission to bully me into silence. The UEA’s complaint was rejected. Given the latest batch of emails, I think the PCC made the right decision don’t you?

And just to remind ourselves of Jones’s approach to FOI, here is his email in Txt 1577 dated July 28 2009:

 CRU is considered by the climate community as a data centre, but we don’t
have any resources to undertake this work. Any work we have done in the past
is done on the back of the research grants we get – and has to be well hidden. I’ve
discussed this with the main funder (US Dept of Energy) in the past and they are
happy about not releasing the original station data.

I’m sure US readers will be delighted that their Dept of Energy endorses the withholding of publicly funded scientific data from researchers.

And here he is again in May 2009 (txt 2440) advising on how best to evade FOI:

 I’ve been told that IPCC is
above national FOI Acts. One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5
would be to delete all emails at the end of the process.

I agree with George Monbiot, whose immediate response to Climategate was that Phil Jones should go. On the evidence of these emails, he is unfit to run a bath, let alone one of the world’s most important temperature data sets.

Related posts:

  1. ‘I want to be remembered for the science’ says Phil ‘Climategate’ Jones to chorus of titters
  2. The case against Dr Phil ‘Climategate’ Jones
  3. Climategate 2.0: junk science 101 with Michael Mann
  4. Climategate 2.0: the most damning email of them all

2 thoughts on “Climategate 2.0: the not nice and clueless Phil Jones”

  1. Ian Summerell says:25th November 2011 at 10:18 pmThe email that had me rolling around on the floor with laughter is from our old friend Prof Jones to Thomas Stocker regarding the Freedom of Information Acts and the IPCC.Email [2440] from: Phil Jones to: Thomas Stocker subject: Re: Data access and IPCC

    I’ve been told that IPCC is above national FOI Acts. One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5 would be to delete all emails at the end of the process. Hard to do, as not everybody will remember to do it.

    They think that they have the divine right of kings and are above the law. Because they work for the IPCC they believe that they can delete all the emails to hide their criminal scam. I’d like to remind Prof Jones that someone did not remember to delete the emails. They are all over the internet and called Climategate 2.0.

    1. Nige says:26th November 2011 at 8:57 pm“Scepticism is … directed against the view of the opposition and against minor ramifications of one’s own basic ideas, never against the basic ideas themselves. Attacking the basic ideas evokes taboo reactions … scientists only rarely solve their problems, they make lots of mistakes … one collects ‘facts’ and prejudices, one discusses the matter, and one finally votes. But while a democracy makes some effort to explain the process so that everyone can understand it, scientists either conceal it, or bend it … No scientist will admit that voting plays a role in his subject. Facts, logic, and methodology alone decide – this is what the fairy-tale tells us. … This is how scientists have deceived themselves and everyone else … It is the vote of everyone concerned that decides fundamental issues … and not the authority of big-shots hiding behind a non-existing methodology. … Science itself uses the method of ballot, discussion, vote, though without a clear grasp of its mechanism, and in a heavily biased way.”– Professor Paul Feyerabend, “Against Method”, 1975, final chapter.

      “The notion that a scientific idea cannot be considered intellectually respectable until it has first appeared in a ‘peer’ reviewed journal did not become widespread until after World War II. Copernicus’s heliocentric system, Galileo’s mechanics, Newton’s grand synthesis – these ideas never appeared first in journal articles. They appeared first in books, reviewed prior to publication only by their authors, or by their authors’ friends. … Darwinism indeed first appeared in a journal, but one under the control of Darwin’s friends. … the refereeing process works primarily to enforce orthodoxy. … ‘peer’ review is NOT peer review.”

      – Professor Frank J. Tipler, Refereed Journals: Do They Insure Quality or Enforce Orthodoxy?

      In 2006, the bestsellers by Lee Smolin and Peter Woit “Not Even Wrong” and “The Trouble with Physics” were published, showing that superstring theory has become a dogmatic consensus, like epicycles being “defended” by less-than-objective methods. Right on cue, the world’s greatest genius behind M-theory, Ed Witten, happened to write a letter to Nature (v. 444, p. 265, 16 November 2006), headlined:

      Answering critics can add fuel to controversy.

      “SIR — Your Editorial “To build bridges, or to burn them” and News Feature “In the name of nature” raise important points about criticism of science and how scientists should best respond (Nature 443, 481 and 498–501; 2006). The News Feature concerns radical environmentalists and animal-rights activists, but the problem covers a wider area, often involving more enlightened criticism of science from outside the scientific establishment and even, sometimes, from within.

      “The critics feel … that their viewpoints have been unfairly neglected by the establishment. … They bring into the public arena technical claims that few can properly evaluate. … We all know examples from our own fields … Responding to this kind of criticism can be very difficult. It is hard to answer unfair charges of élitism without sounding élitist to
      non-experts. A direct response may just add fuel to controversies. Critics, who are often prepared to devote immense energies to their efforts, can thrive on the resulting ‘he said,
      she said’ situation. [Critics must never be permitted to thrive.]
      “Scientists in this type of situation would do well to heed the advice in Nature’s Editorial. Keep doing what you are doing. And when you have the chance, try to patiently explain why what you are doing is interesting and exciting, and may even be useful one day.

      “Edward Witten
      Institute for Advanced Study, Einstein Drive,
      Princeton, New Jersey 08540, USA.”

      The next letter on that Nature page (from genetics engineer Boris Striepen) stated: “How and why did our public image
      change from harmless geeks to state- and industry-sponsored evil-doers worthy to be a target? More importantly, what do we do about it? And how do we communicate more effectively what we are doing, why we are doing it and what the opportunities and challenges of modern science are?”

      The whole reason why “scientists” get depreciated today is the reason why famous mathematical physicist Ptolemy was depreciated in history: an insistence on patiently “explaining” to critics “why what you are doing is interesting and exciting, and may even be useful one day.” Self-deluded egotistical dictatorship is not an adequate response to critics of nonsense hype that censors alternative ideas. It is exactly what a bad politician does when in serious difficulty. It amounts to dictatorship: ignoring the criticism and then stereotyping all critics as ignorant morons who will benefit from a little “nickel-worth of free advice,” or educational brainwashing in mainstream dogma.

      “Centralization of information and decision-making at the top has been destructive to most organizations. The Greeks had a word for the notion that the best decisions can only be made on the basis of the fullest information at the highest level. They called it hubris. In a living scientific organization, decisions must be pushed down to the lowest level at which they can be sensibly made. … Leadership would be decentralized throughout, not concentrated at the top. … It would also facilitate the downward transmission of goals, the only things that can be usefully passed down from above, and make room for the upward transmission of results, which should be the basis for reward. It should be obvious that this structure need not be imposed from above. There is no reason to await a decision from the top to do so. Everyone in the chain has the flexibility to organize his own life and thereby to decide whether he is to be a manager or a leader.”

      – Gregory H. Canavan, The Leadership of Philosopher Kings, Los Alamos National Laboratory, report LA-12198-MS, December 1992.

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