The Trick: Getting the Story Right

SPOILER ALERT: For those who can’t wait for the BBC to broadcast their take on the Climategate scandal, I have obtained, through cyberterrorism, a copy of the script.

——————

Scene 1: Dr Phil Jones is at home with his wife knitting gloves for orphaned babies, when the telephone rings.

Telephone: Ring, ring.

Dr Jones: Hello, Dr Jones speaking.

Pause

Dr Jones: No! Say it’s not true. That’s not possible. I had already told everyone to delete them.

Pause

Dr Jones: Okay, I’ll be in first thing in the morning.

Mrs Jones: Is there a problem darling?

Dr Jones: Possibly. The Dean wants to see me first thing. There has been a security breach and some things I said in some emails may be given a lot of publicity.

Mrs Jones: But surely that’s a good thing. Your friend Michael always seems to think so.

Dr Jones: Yes, I know my sweet. But these are things that the Dean thinks won’t look good once they have been taken out of context and deliberately misconstrued.

Mrs Jones: But who would do such a thing?

Dr Jones: Oh my darling, you are so naïve, and that’s why I love you. The truth is that there are people out there who want to destroy the world and the only way they can do that is if they first destroy my reputation as a top class scientist who always tells the truth.

Mrs Jones: But darling, that’s the truth isn’t it? Darling, why are you looking at me like that?

——————

Scene 2: The Dean’s office.

Dean: Ah, Phil. Do come in and take a seat. I’m afraid the CRU is in a spot of bother. You, see, there has been a leak.

Dr Jones: By that, do you mean cyberterrorism perpetrated by climate change deniers?

Dean: We will say that, but the truth is we don’t know. But that’s not important right now. We need to talk about your email correspondence. Some of it looks a bit dodgy.

Dr Jones: For example?

Dean: Well what about this one here were you talk about ‘Nature’s Trick’?

Dr Jones: I simply meant that the deception we pulled off in an article in Nature could be used again for our latest slide show. What’s wrong with that? I think you will find that ‘deception’ is innocent mathematical terminology.

Dean: That’s good. We’ll use that one. ‘Trick’ is an ambiguous term and we can play on that. But what about ‘Hiding the decline’? That seems to disambiguate somewhat.

Dr Jones: Not at all. We were not hiding anything that shouldn’t have been hidden.

Dean: Keep talking.

Dr Jones: Well, we all know that temperatures have continued to rise, so showing a proxy temperature reconstruction that goes the other way would only confuse. We didn’t want to confuse the audience. Hence, ‘Hide the decline’.

Dean: But doesn’t that also mean that you hid from the audience the fact that the proxy reconstruction was totally unreliable?

Dr Jones: Your point being?

Dean: Okay, let’s move on. What about this where you said that the death of <redacted> was ‘in  a way good news’?

Dr Jones: Banter.

Dean: What?

Dr Jones: Yes, it’s all banter really. Besides which, the Christians said the same thing regarding the death of Jesus but no one is going after them – well, not any more.

Dean: Yes, but Jesus was one of us. We can’t say such things about our opponents. It’s not a good look.

Dr Jones looks hurt.

Dean: Okay, I’ll write down ‘just banter’. But we also need to talk about this one where you say that you aren’t going to hand over the data to someone who just wants to prove you wrong.

Dr Jones: But you have to understand what a pillock this guy was. Every day, questions, questions, questions. No matter how much we stonewalled him, he just wouldn’t go away. I couldn’t get any work done. How am I to save the world with such distraction? I am the head of the CRU, part of the finest academic organisation in the world. My word should have been enough. Oh but no! This guy wanted to see data. He was obsessed with data. That’s the sort of person I was dealing with.

Dean: But couldn’t you have just handed it over?

Dr Jones: You wouldn’t be asking that if you had seen it.

Dean: Even so, scientific method and all that.

Dr Jones: So what are you saying? Do you want my resignation?

Dean: God no! We have the reputation of the UEA to think about. But there is going to have to be an investigation, and I am going to have to make quite a few phone calls to my friends in the Royal Society. I just needed to talk to you first to get the story straight. I’ve written down ‘cyberterrorists, banter and mathematical jargon’. Is that it?

Dr Jones: Yep, that just about covers it. Will that be all.

Dean: Yes Phil. You go home to your good wife now and take some time off to finish the orphans’ knitwear. Don’t worry about anything. We scientists stick together.

Dr Jones: Thank you Dean.

Dr Jones gets up to leave.

Dean: Oh! There is just one more thing that I almost forgot. What’s this about the Freedom of Information requests?

Dr Jones: Oh fuck!

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September 30, 2021 at 05:12AM

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