back to article Hacked climate Prof stands aside

Professor Phil Jones - the man at the centre of the "climategate" controversy over emails and other sensitive data published by hackers - has agreed to stand aside as director of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU). He will not run the University of East Anglia's influential climate change centre until an "independent review" into …

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FAIL

All eyes

Indeed they will be on the review. And if the review does not de-bunk major part of the AGW myth (along with criminal prosecutions?) then we will know for sure that the "science" isn't "science" at all but a fable.

Perhaps climatology should register as a religion? It appears to be based in as much fact as any other sky-pixie system.

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Troll

Or maybe...

Or maybe it's science and the views of the denial industry - sharing lobbyists as they do with the Creationists and the tobacco industry - will be revealed as unfounded lies, mythmaking and religious thinking that appeals to people who are too afraid of change to apply any kind of critical analysis to the words that other people tell them to spout and just come out with the same tired, meaningless nonsense year after year.

Perhaps the groups campaigning to sow FUD over climate science should register the amount of money they spend every year to buy people's opinions.

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FAIL

Or maybe - utter claptrap

So there's a 'denial industry' is there? I take it anyone who entertains a skeptical thought becomes part of the industry? Your analysis/comment is ridiculous extremism. Science and scepticism go hand in hand. A scientist must prove an assertion. Others are sceptics until they can be convinced and/or replicate the science. You seem to want every contrarian view to be one of 'denial despite the facts'.

The IPCC affiliated climate scientists have been shown to manipulate the system. Can their analysis of the facts be trusted? Can their publication of facts itself be trusted since various evidence suggests they have fudged the figures.

Apparently a very large number of scientists are sceptical - are they all having their pockets lined?

See http://folk.uio.no/tomvs/esef/ungensecr07.pdf for a copy of an open letter to the UN Sec General, signed by a very long list of PhDs in fields including climatology.

See http://www.petitionproject.org/index.php for a very long list of scientists (31k plus) who have signed a petition to the US government. All in the pay of the 'denial industry'.

PS: I'm a greenie. I'd like for myself and my kids a green, clean and pollution free environment. Its just not going to happen with bad science like the CRU provided.

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Happy

well who would have thunk it?

'To some sceptics, the emails confirm their suspicions that climate change scientists have conspired to manipulate evidence in favour of global warming.'

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WTF?

Dodgy dealings

In the BBC article:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/norfolk/8389727.stm

The prof claims: "The word 'trick' was used here colloquially as in a clever thing to do. It is ludicrous to suggest that it refers to anything untoward." Which I think is fair enough, 'tricks of the trade' will be familiar to most of us. What is dubious however is using 'tricks' to "hide the [temperature] decline" in the raw data.

Has the prof been taking spinning lessons from Alastair Campbell?

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jsp

Or not?

> 'tricks' to "hide the [temperature] decline"

As I understand it, this was to remove a set of values, from one source, known to be anomalous for a specific period.

They are "proxy" values, meaning not direct temperature measurements but something else thought to be related to temperature (one source of tree ring data in this case). They are well known to be wrong post-1960 because they disagree with all the other data; that includes other proxies and *actual temperature measurements*. So, sadly, the "decline" you thought they were trying to hide doesn't exist.

But maybe I am wrong about that.

Or maybe I am part of the global marxist conspiracy.

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White wash?

Will the review be conducted by the same people he got to do his peer reviews?

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peer reviewed

that's what I'm worried about... the AGW proponents were claiming their "science" was all peer reviewed... well it was, by a selected set of peers in pro AGW publications.

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FAIL

Science? Can we haz it plz?

This has really knocked the reputation of science back. There should be a root and branch routing going on in there.

Science by its very definition depends on critical review of full data, and criticism of the results obtained. The foundation is that even if a theory is pronounced by an authority in the filed it can be challenged by the lowliest lab tech. It appears that what this group has fallen into is believing their own hype and enforcing their view by "Ad Authoritatum" Argument from Authority.

This is a basic logical error that is taught to be avoided in year one!

As a scientifically trained, but layperson when it comes to climate change theory, I'm becoming more unconvinced by the "Science" backing this up.

You may have good reasons to reduce CO2 emissions, reliance on oil from nasty despotic countries is a good and valid one, but if you are asking people to pay for this by scaring them with the threat of armageddon, is it a bit much to ask that you are basing your prophesies of doom on the best available, rigorously challenged data.

FAIL!

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jsp

Not all scientists are evil...

> I'm becoming more unconvinced by the "Science" backing this up

This might help:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/24/science/earth/24deny.html

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Stop

Question:

On full pay?

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Go

They must be joking...

Independent?

Hmmm. How to achieve this?

Let's ask Al and the Moonbat. Meanwhile, it is pretty chilly up here where the warming is 'supposed' to happen. At night. In the winter.

You, quite literally, couldn't make it up.

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Anonymous Coward

Jones talked of a "trick" to "hide the decline" in a temperature series

No he didn't. Read the Economist and New Scientist reviews of the leaked data. Or, you know, read it yourself.

I've found the Register's coverage of this whole issue a bit embarrassing, quite frankly. I'm used to the El Reg being the voice of reason, not following the tabloids "ooo, look at those uppity scientists, what do they know" lead.

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'Tricks' with words

Strictly speaking you are correct - the words "trick" and "hide the decline" are not as proximate.as the two distinct sets of quotes implies But figuratively speaking, you are taking up arms against a sea of troubles.

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Paris Hilton

It's not the emails

It's not the emails that are damning of the techniques, but the incredibly shoddy treatment of the data that's been revealed by the analysis of the sourcecode that was also leaked.

Paris: noone can decide if she's hot or cold either.

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WTF?

Amazed

20 odd years ago I can remember being told that we were heading for another ice age....a few years later the whole in the ozone layer lead to the ban on cfc's in sprays...then global warming...now climate change....is it me or do the goal post keep moving.

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Err...

That would be how science works, observe something, come up with a hypothosys, try to prove the hypothosis, observe it doesn't work as you expected, research, repeat.

If nothing had changed in the last twenty or thirty years, that would be concerning.

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Go

titleless

You forgot acid rain... what ever happened to it? It was never announced to be gone, or even diminished, coverage of it just ...stopped.

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FAIL

re: titleless

...acid rain became less of a problem after regulations to limit SOx emissions for new and existing large-scale industrial plant were enacted. So the coverage dried up as the problem did. *sigh*

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Thumb Down

To Small Wee Jobbie

The ozone hole problem actually got me to change my car to run on CNG a couple of decades ago.

The desire of politicians to keep up the good work faded away and supporting the CNG supply line fizzled out.

The service stations that supplied CNG dropped down to One.

Then that station stopped supplying it because the equipment was worn out and not worth fixing.

So much for the Government policy of saving the Planet from UV radiation.

I now don't believe any Government policy that will save the planet.

Getting fed bullshit once is enough for me.

This was in New Zealand , but crap similar to this has almost certainly been fed to you.

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Boffin

The first of many

I think we'll see more and more 'scientists' exposed by dodgy statistics, models and extravagent claims. Many have simply followed the funding and now daren't question their own research for fear of losing said funding.

There is also a sort of crazy religious zeal with which the MMGW lobby are building their case; the sort of zeal that flatly denies / prevents / obfuscates any logical discussion or argument for MMGW and its causes.

The earth may well be warming....or it may be cooling - but it's a natural cycle and whilst we absolutely should be far, far more efficient in our use of natural resources, the biggest threat this planet faces is over-population; not cars !

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FAIL

He was not using "trick" in the perjorative sense

nor was he trying to fiddle the figures. Only your usual run-of-the-mill head-in-the-sand conspiraloon would insist on putting that interpretation on it.

I hope the tossers who unlawfully intercepted the email are caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

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Bronze badge
Stop

I can accept that ..to a point

I could accept that he meant "trick" in the "tricks of the trade" sense, except for the bit in the source code where the comments said - explicitly - that they kludged the processes to give the results they wanted.

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Stop

When is a trick not a trick

Presumably, should an investigation uncover similar phraseology in emails from an oil company or arms manufacturer, you will accept their protestations of innocence equally unquestioningly? I doubt it...

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FAIL

May I be the first to suggest...

"All eyes will now be on UEA's review."

WHITEWASH.

Or should that maybe be GREENWASH.

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FAIL

No.

It appears you were about the fiftieth.

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Anonymous Coward

A victim of politics.

Clearly science only is worth anything if it's repeatable and open to scrutiny and criticism. Though politicians of late, seem to have taken science on as merely some other form of marketing, this is because half the sciences, sociology, philosophy, and all the other rubbishy bollocks that's appeared in the last 20 years is little more than marxist dogma, by biased non independent parties, dressed in pseudoscientific language.

We can expect nothing less from the Liberal minded who are biologically incapable of reaching a correct conclusion if it's personally distasteful to them.

I can think of three such occurences whereby blatant lies have been made based on questionable and selective reporting in the numerical world.

First there's this, while I can think of dozen's of reasons why the UK should be oil-independent, not least of which the lack of hold we'd be under by the Guld states, but the government want to tax people, and this is just another way to do it, whether the facts stack up or not, and I'm not commenting on my opinions.

Secondly the whole "We want women to pay their way" industry, so they appoint someone who hates real women, and get her to pretend she's doing something for them, by comparing part time pay for women, and full time pay for men. The misconception that HR exists to help the staff, rather than manipulate them, is nothing compared to the 10 million women who are working because they think the women's minister is to help them, rather than to manipulate them into working.

Thirdly, the whole drugs debacle. The drug industry kills. Nike's alleged abuse of children as shoe makers has absolutely nothing on the suffering caused by the Cocaine production industry.

It's logical that we'd see huge increases in rain due to global warming, and if this has happened I'd like to be able to see the evidence. But since the politicians in our country seem to treat democracy as an excuse to manipulate the public into making large personal fortunes, I applaud this man's departure and would ask he come clean on whether he was making it up for the research grant that was made conditional on him concluding what the patron's wanted to hear, or whether he was leant on by someone after the endowment of the award.

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Normalisation of data

In case people don't know: When you get raw data from satelites or ships or whatever you get it from, you have to normalise it to make it usefull, you can't use the data in its raw form. There are missing values, drift in the readings as the equipment gets older etc. etc. When combining data from different sources, it is particularly important to get them both normalised. For this reason you need to write code to perform 'tricks' on the data to make it read correctly.

Anyone who seriously thinks that all climate scientists risk their reputation and funding by routinely faking their results should seriously think about a new tinfoil hat.

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Silver badge

Actually, calibration is needed, not normalization

Calibration to some standard temperature scale is what is needed. What is actually seen in much of the treatment of the data (in the US at least) is "recalibration" of old data "to account for changes in the immediate environment of the station.

Such recalibration is dubious at best. In many cases in which areas have become more built up (the usual trend) old data are "recalibrated" DOWNWARD, not upward, which would make more sense. It is much better to calibrate the data to a standard scale, SHOW the calibrated data, and explain the visible trends (such as an increasing trend which can be explained by local heating of the environment by an increase in the number of buildings in the neighbourhood (and consequently airconditioning vents)

Also, as a speaking as a scientist, the way you calibrate your data should not be held secret (in the same way that several computer science periodicals now require your source code to be made available to fellow researchers. Many climate scientists take data from a limited number of sources in good faith. It is therefore imperative that these data can be trusted. Openness is the only way to achieve this.

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Flame

@ Normalisation of data

I am sorry ? but changing values because your equipment is old ?

What a load of total "global warming research" I mean crap (same really)

Statistical tricks to get data to show what you want is an old con

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Err..

When your equipment is in *space* and costs millions of pounds/dollars and you can observe the degree by which the readings are changing, yes, you most certainly do allow for it ageing. Particularly if you've got an EU satellite and the equivilant NASA one can be used to check your calibration.

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I do worry sometimes...

Obviously you have never worked with calibrated instrumentation (or large datasets). No matter how careful you are with them, they will loose calibration over time. This has to be corrected for, using detailed and agreed upon methodology, equivalence testing etc.. Normalising also acts to remove 'odd' readings, be they too high or too low, after all we are talking about long term trends (over and above the last 10 years that the climate change deniers only seem to be able to quote) , again data removal has to be detailed and verified.

As a scientist working with air quality data, no-one has ever approached me about this great 'conspiracy' as the science makes perfect sense, but then most people only believe what they want to, or have read by journalists with very little understanding.

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Calibrate the data?

Isn't data just another word for information. How, then, can information be 'calibrated' in any way? Only by the 'Ministry of Truth'. What should be being calibrated is the INSTRUMENTATION being used to make the measurements. That is the only way to ensure the accuracy of the data. I speak as an Instrument Engineer here. Why should climate science be any different to industry in this respect. Proper equipment calibration procedures and records of those are what are reguired to validate measurements. Without those, the collected data is MEANINGLESS.

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Boffin

"the equivilant NASA one can be used to check your calibration."

Only if you have recently calibrated that one.

It's called traceable standards, by the way.

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FAIL

Trickery...

I don't care how he used the 'trickery' wording, I care about how a supposedly scientific establishment won't share the raw data and piddles about with the stats to make whatever point is required. What good reason can they have for refusing to share the raw data?

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Fundamental Difference

I can't remember who it was who said it but someone, when asked what the fundamental difference was between his beliefs as a scientist and someone of faith, answered "I am always delighted when I am proven wrong".

I think this very sad case shows these "Scientists" seem to have forgotten that, in Science, being able to be wrong is a wonderful thing. As soon as you refuse to entertain the possibility that you may be wrong then you have created a religion.

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Flame

A delight

I'm pretty sure that these guys would love to be proven wrong. It would make everyone's lives a lot easier.

But until someone can provide any science that might possibly do that, they're going to have to keep looking at the evidence and trying to improve their analysis of it. Maybe they'll be able to prove themselves wrong.

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Pirate

They should now release all of the source

The leaked files do not include the makefiles needed to build executable programs (I'm assuming that these do exist) and so it is proving difficult to get this right manually (at least for the Fortran code). I think the CRU should come clean and release a complete development snapshot. Of course if they would rather that people not have the ability to actually run their data analysis software they might not want to do this.

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WTF?

Trick wooden thermometers.

The 'trick' is quite simple. After 1960, dendro studies (tree rings) show a decline in temperature, which does not conform with the instrumental record (give or take adjustments). So graphs blended tree data with instrumental to 'hide the decline' and show steady temperature increases.

Unanswered question is if wooden thermometers are inaccurate post-1960, why are they considered accurate pre-1960?

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Silver badge

Good point

Ancient temperature is difficult to obtain. A single source (e.g. tree rings) is never reliable. All they measure is how fast the trees were growing. Temperature is just one factor influencing growth. Post 1960 pollution may be a factor.

What bugs me is how climatologists concede the Maunder minimum in sun-spot activity coincided with a mini ice-age (anecdotally confirmed by various Dutch ice-scape paintings of the period), but deny there is any link today, despite a 98% correlation between temperature and sun-spot activity over a period of 150 years. Methinks the sun may have some influence on the climate ;-)

This does not mean we should all buy Hummers: preserving resources and reducing potential harm to the environment makes perfect sense WITHOUT any further urgency.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC Wednesday 2nd December 2009 12:59 GMT

An extract from an email dated 16 Nov 1999 with the subject "Diagram for WMO Statement", Professor Jones writes:

"I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline."

The word "trick" in conjunction with "hide" certainly gives the impression that a statement to the World Meteorological Organization contained information that had been massaged to give a desired result. The people involved are in receipt of public money and are pursuing a political agenda to alter our taxation, industries and economy. If science is to be used as justification, it needs to be science and not bullshit.

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Anonymous Coward

Looks bad - everything else is moot.

Unfortunately for the CRU whether they faked/fiddled data or not is now irrelevant. Nobody in their right mind will trust them now. The CRU looks bad, and that will reflect on their research. Time to start over (especially as they've been destroying raw data!) Best to clear out the staff too to avoid a repeat.

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FAIL

kludgy up and downvoting interface

upvoting and down voting... so kludgy, fix it... shouldn't require a new page at all... do it like Youtube does!!!

and if it does, you should either be automatically taken back to the comments you were viewing or else have a return button...

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Deny this then if you can

Sure the world is not warming up much.

Most of the increase in trapped solar energy seems to be going into polar and glacial melting.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18218-seas-could-rise-14m-warns-antarctic-climate-review.html

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20427355.900-melting-arctic-forget-polar-bears-worry-about-humans.html

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Megaphone

Okay, I'll bite

Dr Nils-Axel Morner is a formost expert in this area. Here's an interview he gave. Basically he says sea levels are not rising in any alarming manner. Normal fluctuations only.

http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/Articles%202007/MornerInterview.pdf

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Gold badge
FAIL

Read Harry_Read_Me

As others have pointed out comments about the use of the word "trick" as used by scientists are like the word "hack" as used by developers with othe developers.

The real story are the comments in the read me file. 3 years as this poor SOB tries *desperately* to patch the numerous (and frequently identically named) dataset files (which regularly turn out to have different formats, none of which are documented) together. Gasp as he realises large chunks of the original database no longer *exist*. Share his seething resentment at bespoke software which does not even have a list of its command line flags and parameters. Marvel that he' hasn't gone postal and torched the whole f$%king lot of them.

I know little of detailed climate modelling but I do know a bit about monumental IT cockups. What I know about climate and weather modelling is both use *huge* datasets. A lot of the work seems to have been done in FORTRAN (and some in IDL) for this reason.

This unit (not 1 lone researcher as you might think from the state of the project) was *specifically* set up to investigate climate change.

It has *no* Data Manager.

With no one charged with setting doc standards, documenting data formats, archiving datasets or even setting reasonable directory names (WTF starts a directory or *file* name with "+"?)

In the file are repeated references to "Tim," This appears to be a Dr Tim Osborne or a Dr Tim Mitchell.

Whichever one it is seems to have astonishingly bad development skills (or the unlucky and unnamed grad students they dumped the actual development work on)

I'll play devils advocate with an anacdote. Long ago I knew a reseacher at xxxx called Kay. Kay was analysing a sim of the electric activity on the surface of the heart. Like flying over the 3d landscape and reading the potential at differnt points. It (IIRC) was also written in FORTRAN and he was trying to re-structure it into something more modular and supportable.

His comment was that it was like an archeological excavation. As you went deeper into more primitve, earlier written modules the structure got worse. You could study the writers progress as a developer.

However this unit is *not* 1 lone researcher. It is team effort with significant government funding over AFAIK 9 years. Its research results have influenced policy on a *global* scale. It beggers belief that *no* senior researcher realised that keeping track of that much data *might* need someone assigned to the task.

Despite what people have said I don't believe the *real* source data is unrecoverable. It needs an act of will to bite the bullet, admit this collosal f*&Ckup and contact the original sources.

And hire an experienced data manger.

This is a (the?) major policy issue of our time. If it's real lets see how real. If it's BS, lets kill it stone dead. To do otherwise would be to p^&s all over the scientific method. Right now I can't either way.

Fail because from an IT perspective that is exactly what this.

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NASA results

Any news on how NASA using different datasets comes up with pretty much the same results as CRU? Are they in on the conspiracy too?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: NASA results

Perhaps it has something to do with the part where they substituted someone else's data for their own.

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Megaphone

Steel yourself for some irony

It's ironic that Prof Phil Jones thought he could use undehand methods to further a good cause. As usual word of these methods got out and the good cause was set back.

[and BTW I too hate that hockey stick graph of relative changes when the raw data tell just as compelling a story.]

But it is also ironic, given the large number of AGW skeptic scientists, senators and congressmen who have turned out to receive money from oil companies, that people accuse AGW believing scientists of being motivated by research grant money (which comes in piddling amounts I can tell you),

Dip in tempaeratures since 1960? 98% correlation with sunspots? Where did you hear that? Look up the figures yourself, chart them using Excel, and read the research from **both sides** with an honestly open mind. Watch out for your own prejudices, dismiss the straw men and the ad hominems and ad authoritatems and make up your own minds!

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Boffin

I found this comment with no upvotes and one down

I thought that was interesting. Apparently someone reading the comments doesn't like the idea of people taking the data and analysing it themselves in order to make up their own minds. Perhaps this unknown person would prefer people just shut up and believe what they're told (whichever side of the debate that happens to come from)?

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