Mann believes the theft of the emails was not the work of a random hacker, but part of a sophisticated campaign. "It was a very successful, well-planned smear campaign intended ... to go directly at the trust the public had in scientists," he insists. "Even though they haven't solved the crime of who actually broke in, the entire apparatus for propelling this manufactured scandal on to the world stage was completely funded by the fossil-fuel front groups."...Climate contrarians argued that Mann and his colleagues were concealing their research methods because they had something to hide. In reply, Mann insists that he has been as open as he can about data and methodology, but the aim of these requests has more to do with intimidation than openness. "What they are trying to do is to blur the distinction between private correspondence and scientific data and methods, which of course should be out there for other scientists to attempt to reproduce.
"I think it's intentional and malicious. It's intended to chill scientific discourse, to intimidate scientists working in areas that threaten these special interests," he says. "It's the icing on the cake if they can also get hold of any more private correspondence that they can mine and cherry pick. It's a win-win for them." Why an obscure graph published in a scientific journal should enrage so many people has been the subject of much internet conspiracy (or genuine scientific debate, depending on your point of view).
The original 1998 hockey stick study by Mann and his colleagues did in fact emphasise the tentative nature of estimating past temperatures before the invention of accurate thermometers.
..."When we first published our Nature article in 1998, we went back six centuries," Mann says. "A year later we published a follow-up going back 1,000 years with quite a few caveats. In fact, the caveats and uncertainties appeared in the title, and the abstract emphasised just how tentative this study was because of all the complicating issues.
"It's frustrating that to some extent all of that context had been lost and the result has been caricatured. Often the errors bars are stripped away, making it appear more definitive than it was ever intended."
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