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Four scientists were targeted and a concordance plot shows that the words "data", "climate", "paper", "research", "temperature" and "model" were predominant.with "climate sceptic" websites picking out particular phrases, such as one in which Kevin Trenberth said, "The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t".John Tierney, writing in The New York Times in November 2009, said that the claims by sceptics of "hoax" or "fraud" were incorrect, but that the graph on the cover of a report for policy makers and journalists did not show these non-experts where proxy measurements changed to measured temperatures.The final analyses from various subsequent inquiries concluded that in this context "trick" was normal scientific or mathematical jargon for a neat way of handling data, in this case a statistical method used to bring two or more different kinds of data sets together in a legitimate fashion.
In a debate in the United States House of Representatives on 2 December 2009, Republicans read out extracts from eight of the emails, and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner said: "These e-mails show a pattern of suppression, manipulation and secrecy that was inspired by ideology, condescension and profit".
The four were either recipients or senders of all but 66 of the 1,073 emails, with most of the remainder of the emails being sent from mailing lists.
A few other emails were sent by, or to, other staff at the CRU.
Two days later, the university announced that Sir Muir Russell would chair the inquiry, which would be known as the Independent Climate Change Email Review, and would "examine email exchanges to determine whether there is evidence of suppression or manipulation of data".
The review would also scrutinise the CRU's policies and practices for "acquiring, assembling, subjecting to peer review, and disseminating data and research findings" and "their compliance or otherwise with best scientific practice".