An exclusive Nuclear Street interview with British author A. W. Montford - the motive force behind the highly respected “Bishop Hill” blog as well as the author of a blockbuster book “The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science”. Raw, uncut and uncensored, Nuclear Street proudly presents this email interview with A. W. Montford.
Nuclear Street: Could you summarize the results of the CRU Hack email ethics violation reviews and their importance to the greater debate on manmade global warming?
A. W. Montford: There is considerable evidence that the reviews were intended to clear the CRU scientists from the start. Putting together the information that has been obtained under FOI requests with the records published by the inquiries themselves leaves a very ugly picture, new details of which are still emerging. The failure of any of the inquiries to interview CRU's main critics tells a story in itself. There was an "inquiry into the inquiries" here in the UK - conducted by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. From their questioning of the heads of the inquiries they can only have concluded that the reviews of CRU were worthless, but the majority voted to sign off their report with mild statements of concern. This was shameful behavior.
The dissimulation and even mendacity of some politicians and scientists in these areas will inevitably enter public consciousness and the sales job of those who are concerned about global warming is therefore going to become much harder.
NS: Have you received any lawsuit threats from any of the Hockey Team players?
Montford: No. I have had no contact with any of the members of the Hockey Team.
When I wrote the book, I decided to avoid interviewing anyone so that the story would be based solely on the public record. As a result I have said nothing in the book that has not been said before - as I note in the preface my job was merely to sort all the blog posts and other documents into a coherent whole and summarize them for the lay reader. I have also been careful not to make any accusations, but rather to set out the evidence and allow people to draw their own conclusions.
NS: Do you think that this was the first large scale example of the corruption of science or are there other examples that come to mind?
Montford: It's the first large-scale example that comes to mind, although I'm sure there are other examples. University scientists have perverse incentives so it is probably inevitable that they end up doing things that are not in the public interest.
NS: What do you think motivated the Hockey Team to misuse the data, use unconventional statistical methods, etc?
Montford: It is clear that at least some members of the team felt themselves under pressure to produce, in the words of one of the Climategate emails, "a nice tidy story…as regards apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more". On the whole though the shenanigans seem to have been the result of "noble cause corruption" - they sincerely believed that there was a problem that required an urgent solution and that this justified cutting corners.
NS: Can you steer me towards a decent science based book that covers both sides of the AGW debate from a purely scientific POV?
Montford: I don't know of one.
NS: What is your opinion of nuclear power (had to ask)?
Montford: I have no particular objections to nuclear. If it can hold its own in the energy marketplace I'm all for it. With fossil fuel prices where they are, I imagine it can, although the hysteria over Fukushima is going to set things back for a while.
NS: Why do so many people accept the UN IPCC proclamations without asking any questions?
Montford: The issues are hard for most people - they are not in a position to question the scientists so they have little choice but to accept them at their word. Scientists know this and the unscrupulous ones are willing to use this power for political ends.
NS: Thank you for the interview and good luck with Bishop Hill.
Montford: Thank you.
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Your question about motivation is somewhat loaded but Montford's answer is a clear misrepresentation. Reference to pressure to produce "a nice tidy story" does indeed appear in one of the emails, but the writer goes on to say that " the reality is somewhat different". Its in an email from Dr Keith Briffa beginning with the line "Let me say that I don't mind what you put in the policy makers summary if there is a general concensus." But Montford leaves that out. It's 848 words long but Montford focuses on four of them because those four words conjure up the impression that suits his purposes. Montford is cherry picking his quotes to create a narrative that suits him.
Most of the questions are loaded and pre-assume that there has been an ethics violation, an large scale example of the corruption of science, and that unconventional statistical methods were used. None of this is much in evidence in all the truly independent inquires conducted into these emails.
Even Monford's own ,Climategate inquiry, said nothing about ethics violations, or corruption of science.