It’s Climategate all over again

A couple of weeks ago, apparently timed to cause most damage to the DNC and Hillary Clinton, Wikileaks leaked a number of emails taken from the DNC mail servers by hackers, which appears to be Russian, or have ties to Russia.

After the leak, Wikileaks tweeted out a number of claims about the content of the emails, often linking to a specific email as some kind of evidence. This was picked up by others, and others also added new claims.

Just about all of these claims have now been pretty much debunked (see e.g. here)

The only part that hasn’t been debunked is the fact that several of the DNC staff expressed displeasure with Bernie Sanders, and made suggestions on how to stop him. None of which appears that anyone has followed up upon. Several high position DNC staffers have resigned because of this.

Looking at this, I can’t help thinking of Climategate.

Apart from the Russian hacker connection, there are also many other similarities:

The emails were released at a time to maximize their harm. In Climategate, the emails were released just before the Copenhagen Summit, and was a major cause of the very limited results from the summit. In the DNC emails, they were released just before the DNC convention, but with limited results.

Frustrated comments were taken as evidence for nefarious plots. In Climategate, frustrated scientists wrote about how to stop bad science from getting published, and about withholding data from people they knew would twist and misuse them. In the DNC emails, DNC staffers talked about how to harm the Sanders campaign. In neither cases, did any of the emails lead to any actual actions!

Emails are quoted out of context. In both Climategate and the DNC mails, there are many passages that appears problematic if devoid of context. These are of course those passages that gets quoted all the time. Looking at those passages in context, they suddenly appear much more reasonable (or as the words of a frustrated person, as described above).

The Climategate mails managed to do real, everlasting harm to the planet, by derailing the summit and make the scientist take time to defend themselves. Time they could have spent on research instead.

So far, it appears that the DNC mails haven’t had the same effect, probably because many of us are wiser to the methods of the attackers, and because new technology makes it easier to look up the facts. There is still a risk that the DNC mails might cause lasting damage though – if they somehow gives Trump and the GOP a leverage, allowing him to win. That would cause harm not only to the DNC or even the US, but to the entire world.

In other words, it is important to ensure that any claims about the DNC mails are met swiftly and resoundingly.

Theoretically, the DNC mails could still hold a ticking bomb for the Hillary campaign, but that is highly doubtful. If they did, someone would already have brought it up.

On a passing note, I will just say that it is highly likely that we will see similar email dumps in the future, and it is important to remember Climategate (and the DNC mails), when reacting. Instead of just believing any claims made about what they say, make sure to check the actual mails out, and to do so in context.


  1. Holms says

    Although this is only a tangential point relating to ye olde Climategate and not the current DNC shenanigans, I would point out that the nature of the data released back then suggests CRU was not the victim of hacking, but of an internal leak. Whereas the Telegraph article you link to involves speculation but no data. It irks me that the narrative seems to be widely accepted despite being contradicted.

  2. says

    While it might be possible that the CRU was a victim of am internal leak (something which I haven’t seen any evidence of), the “no hacking” narrative ignores the fact that the server of was hacked and the CRU data originally put there.

    There were definitely hackers involved.

  3. brucegee1962 says

    To the Berniebros who complain that the nomination process was “rigged” or “stolen,” I point out that Hillary won by 3.7 MILLION votes. If you really think that the DNC would have the power to swing that many votes if it wanted to, then you obviously think they have simply amazing powers. If only that were true, we’d have this election in the bag.

  4. StevoR says

    @ ^ brucegee1962 : Well said, spot on and seconded by me.


    @ #2. Kristjan Wager : They never did get to discover what happened in that exactly did they even after the multiple enquiries which all cleared the climatologists of any wrong doing. Pity. It would have be good if they could have uncovered the full truth there shedding (even more) light on who was behind that particular manufactroversy*.

    * As Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, aptly termed it.

  5. StevoR says

    The Climategate mails managed to do real, everlasting harm to the planet, by derailing the summit and make the scientist take time to defend themselves. Time they could have spent on research instead.

    Worse the Climategate manufactroversy delayed action by spewing more Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt amongst the public and politicians creating a sadly fictional parallel universe in the minds of many where reality as scientifically known was and remains rejected in favour of conspiracy theory rubbish and action to save the world from the known effects of human industries – which are doomed or badly need reform anyhow – is appallingly obstructed to serve the short term gains of a very selfish, rich and old few.

    (Why yes, I am out to set a new record long sentence, how’d ya guess! 😉 )