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November 30, 2009

CRU agrees to release all data

Although that was quick, this obviously won't be including any raw that went into the dumpster.
...n a statement welcomed by climate change sceptics, the university said it would make all the data accessible as soon as possible, once its Climatic Research Unit (CRU) had negotiated its release from a range of non-publication agreements...
An interesting quote from David Holland in that same article:
: "These guys called climate scientists have not done any more physics or chemistry than I did. A lifetime in engineering gives you a very good antenna. It also cures people of any self belief they cannot be wrong. You clear up a lot of messes during a lifetime in engineering. I could be wrong on global warming – I know that – but the guys on the other side don't believe they can ever be wrong."
Holland is of course absolutely right. Nobody designs bridges, tall buildings, or airplanes anymore based on hope, faith, or squishy theory. Engineers are the ultimate "reality based" community.

That was not always the case. As railroads were spreading across North America in the 1800's, roughly 1/3 of the early railway bridges collapsed soon after being built. That epidemic of bridge collapses was a major scandal. It wasn't that anyone wanted those bridges to collapse, it was that structural analysis techniques were in their infancy.

Similarly, the early era of Aviation saw some horrendous designs put forth. Yes, they were capable of staggering into the air, but they were not necessarily stable and/or exhibited some very evil handling traits when placed in certain attitudes (ex. the GeeBee R2 racing plane, which was fast as hell, but pretty much killed the majority of pilots who tried to fly it).

The history of science and engineering is very closely tied with the history of failures. Failures are what teach us that we don't know all we thought we knew. They humble us and make us reexamine our assumptions and data.

I expect to see a number of significant "failures" to be found when CRU releases this data. The real work comes after the jeers and giggling though. To keep all the money spent on those failres from being a waste, we'll need to learn something from it.


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posted by Purp at 03:39 AM

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