As such, I know a little about how software programming works, and what is considered acceptable and what is not—both by the programmers themselves, and by those performing the "acceptance tests".
Having established some vague credentials, I would like to draw your attention to this article in Nature—as highlighted by His Ecclesiastical Eminence—regarding the ClimateGate data releases last year.
As most people will know, most of the forensic fury was focused upon the emails exchanged between the key players in this fraud, but a few people started delving into the data that was released alongside those communications.
In fact, your humble Devil highlighted a large part of this in my collation of comments around the HARRY_READ_ME.txt file (a post that resulted in over 24,000 absolute unique visitors in one day).
What this file displayed was not what Nature dismisses as "wonky code", but an utter failure of any kind of systematic programming ability, plus a total lack of verification and testing.
As far as I—and, I am sure, most programmers—are concerned, the construction of models based upon such obviously inaccurate software is tantamount to fraud. Regardless, Nature does not agree...
When hackers leaked thousands of e-mails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK, last year, global-warming sceptics pored over the documents for signs that researchers had manipulated data. No such evidence emerged...
Where to start? The fact that there was far more data than the HARRY_READ_ME.txt file to examine, and I hadn't the time to collate the results—if anyone can donate links to those who did, please leave them in the comments.
But the HARRY_READ_ME.txt is enough: it details the lack of raw data, the rough estimates, the use of rainfall as a substitute for temperature, the use of synthetic data (i.e. "data" that was made up to fit the climatologists' prejudices) and any number of other really poor practices.
Are they fraudulent? Maybe not.
But the fact that the software programme created by Harry was used to construct the next lot of models—despite the fact that the file existed and that it is inconceivable that Harry didn't tell his employers what a fucking massive pile of shit it was—most certainly is.
These people knew that the software did not operate according to specification, but they used it anyway. FAIL.
These people knew that much of the original data was missing, corrupted or faked, but they used it anyway. FAIL.
These people knew that, together, these factors would produce results that were incorrect. FAIL.
These people knew that, regardless, the software would produce the result that they wanted. FRAUD.
But the killer comment is made by Bishop Hill...
Now correct me if I'm wrong, but none of the inquiries actually looked at the computer code, apart from there being a brief word from Tim Osborn in evidence to Muir Russell, denying that the bodges he'd mentioned affected published results. I'm pretty sure the Harry Readme was not looked at by any of the inquiries.
You are not wrong. None of the "independent" enquiries looked at the code, and this was for the same reason that none of the media rebuttals mentioned the code.
The reason that it was only the emails that were mentioned was that they had some kind of plausible deniability. Excuses were wheeled out, along the following lines...
"Oh, don't worry! Scientists are always having little spats. These were personal emails, not intended for release."
Well, we know that they weren't intended for release because the scientists in question were all urged to delete data and emails to prevent them being released under FoI.
This was to ignore the fact that the data had been examined—the code had been examined too. And from looking at those files, there were only two conclusions to draw:
- the climatologists were deliberately defrauding the community about their results (very likely), or
- the climatologists were so fucking incompetent that their data and results mean nothing at all (even more likely), or
Either way, there is simply no way that we should be restructuring the world economy—and, by the by, killing fuck-loads of poor people—on this evidence.
Of course, facts, logic and science are seriously unlikely to trouble the idiots at Nature—they might lose some of their share of "the money flood"...