In the Blogosphere of climate debate a major earthquake has hit. Supposed data and email communication has been allegedly obtained by fair means or foul from the Climate Research Unit (attached to to University of East Anglia). The material was brought to the interwebbie via this blog:
Now, of course, given the nature of the contents, which variously paint a picture of a distinct cabal of "insiders" looking to promote their own research and conclusions of that research by any means at their disposal, this has been dynamite.
I am not going to comment on the contents, but rather about the blog response to date and what this rapidly evolving story says about scepticism in general and scepticism as it specifically relates to the hypothesis of Dangerous Anthropogenic Climate Change.
One of the pitfalls of human behaviour is "confirmation bias". It happens everywhere, especially in financial markets. It is the natural human tendency to put more weight on new information that supports your own views or prior conclusions.
This is one of my personal criticisms of the many proponents of the DCC hypothesis. Even some nominally well credentialled academics in the field appear to do it, hence creating an environment where these proponents and the resulting media and lobby organisations exaggerate their case.
This new information (the validity of which we can not yet establish and may never will), offers the potential for confirmation bias to reveal itself in those who have to date been sceptical of the main claims of the DCC lobby (including the IPCC). The email communications in particular appear to confirm what most sceptics have suspected and appeared to be indirectly implied by the belligerent behaviour of many notable academics in the field and the incestuous relationships between key academics, and government and policy organisations (including the UN's IPCC).
As someone who (possibly mistakenly) prides himself on being a genuine sceptic in the best sense, I have to try and recognise in myself that same instinctive reaction that "this proves exactly what I thought" and restrain it. Instead, the issues are; what more do I need to know before I can properly assimilate this new "information" into my thinking?
The first and primary requirement is the provenance and accuracy of any of this information I would use. If there is an email communication that clearly shows some form of academic bias, collusion or worse fraud, I need to be convinced first and foremost that it is genuine before I consider what it might mean.
I believe everyone else should do the same or further damage the case of true scepticism even more than I believe proponents of the DCC hypothesis have already done to date.