First let me get my complaint out of way: What a shame to waste the podcast time on that whole "denier vs. skeptic" thing rather than the actual issues involved. If you really think that "denier" applies to such a minor subset than why waste time on them? Address those that you agree are true skeptics, for goodness sakes! That's where the interesting stuff is! That's what your show is about, after all! <end of bitching>.
I think it's worth pointing out that the pronouncements of skeptics that you find premature and extreme are much less so for those that have been following this issue closely. The data and programs in question are not just any old data and programs behind any one of hundreds of confirming studies, but rather a very key set of data and a rather key set of programs central to large underlying assumptions behind the oft-referenced "consensus". Those skeptics that have been trying to get this data have long argued that it is extremely suspicious for such important stuff to be held so closely.
Likewise, the "Team" of scientists implicated here are not just (as is often portrayed) "a handful of the thousands of scientists that are in lockstep about AGW ", but rather the few key scientists that have been leading that parade. It is often said that "paper after paper" and "study after study" reaffirms what these guys have said. But the key assumptions that underly the IPCC conclusions - both retrospective reconstruction of climate history and modeled forecasts - that are the core basis of AGW assumptions referenced again and again and again, come directly from this group and are precisely the topics directly referenced in the questionable emails.
All that aside, at root I am thoroughly confused by you guys on this. This just seems like such a fantastic area in which to dig in and explore the various controversies (objections on quality of models, quality of reconstruction techniques, appropriate frames of reference for interpretting trends, alternative explanations for warming, on and on...). What better, more pertinent area to practice skepticism live and in person? Dig into something like the hockeystick story! What happened? What went wrong and right? What fallacies were involved? Where did science shine, and where did it break down?
I mean it's easy as hell to debunk the UFO's, fortune-tellers, ID folks, etc, etc. That's not much opportunity to demonstrate skepticism anymore, is it? That's all just become eye-rolling. Here we have fresh topics just screaming for clear-headed, objective, "kool-aid free" analysis, and it's critical to public policy happening now. Yet it seems like you guys always just sort of skirt around the edges and say "Yeah, it's good to be skeptical about this, but there does seem to be a concensus more or less... anyway, moving right along..." What's keeping you from diving in on the specifics of some of this stuff?
Steve, you stick your toe in the pool when you mention 1) that some of the closely held data was not owned by the CRU, and 2) that some of what sounded like "cooking" might have been "homogenizing" (which reminded you of a moon hoax parallel). And then you say "let's investigate first" before jumping to conclusions. I won't go off on these two points, but trust me, there's a ton out there to investigate on these things alone. Both points have been thoroughly discussed among skeptics and were the subjects of heated debate prior to these emails being released. I hope you really do follow through and spend some time - really listen to what legitimate, qualified skeptics are saying and have been saying for a long time on this - and really follow through on that investigation. I think we could all benefit hugely if you turned that brain of yours and that skeptical mindset onto this issue objectively and in an appropriate depth.
Please don't just "follow" this story, I implore you. Dig in!!!! How about getting a well qualified AGW skeptic on the show for an interview? That would be an awesome place to start. (I'd be happy to set that up for you - just ask - I'll do all the legwork).
Okay, I feel better now. I guess.
(Just wanted to add that I really appreciated the way Steven broke the issue down into all it's component questions - that's very refreshing to hear, and again just goes to show how rich and complex this area is.)
Thanks for everything you do!