Advocacy science and decision making

by Judith Curry

Partisan groups lobbying for preferred outcomes have a long history of the selective use of information to support predetermined conclusions. This is acceptable in politics, but not in science.  The motivations for such advocacy science may be a sincere desire to improve the protection of . .  ecosystems and frustration with decision-making processes that seem to give too little weight to longer term environmental considerations, or a cynical strategy to exploit the challenges that uncertainty poses to decision-making. Whatever the cause, making science advice itself partisan means it no longer deserves to be treated in any special way in the decision-making process. There is a serious risk that the long-term costs of merging advocacy with science advice would outweigh any short-term benefits of greater impact on a particular decision. If scientists do wish to increase the impact of science advice on decision-making, there are alternatives to advocacy in doing so. These approaches make the advice more amenable to decision-makers, while avoiding turning science advisors into partisan lobbyists.

The above text is from the conclusions of the following paper:

Food for thought:  Advocacy science and fisheries decision-making

Jake Rice

Abstract.  Science advice is supposed to meet idealistic standards for objectivity, impartiality, and lack of bias. Acknowledging that science advisors are imperfect at meeting those standards, they nonetheless need to strive to produce sound, non-partisan advice, because of the privileged accountability given to science advice in decision-making. When science advisors cease to strive for those ideals and promote advocacy science, such advice loses the right to that privileged position. There are temptations to shape science advice by using information that “strengthens” the conservation case selectively. Giving in to such temptation, however, dooms the advice; science advice becomes viewed as expressions of the biases of those who provide it rather than reflecting the information on which the advice is based. Everyone, including the ecosystems, loses. There are ways to increase the impact of science advice on decision-making that do not involve perverting science advice into advocacy: peer review by diverse experts, integrating advice on ecological, economic, and social information and outcomes, and focusing advisory approaches on risks, costs, and trade-off of different types of management error. These approaches allow the science experts to be active, informed participants in the governance processes to aid sound decision-making, not to press for preselected outcomes. Everyone, including the ecosystems, wins.

Published in the ICES Journal of Marine Science, [link] to abstract.  The paper is behind paywall, here are some excerpts:

From the “Introduction”:

Many papers have stressed the importance of separating policy advocacy from science advice. Nonetheless, concern over the boundary between science and advocacy seems pervasive, and debate on how science should inform policy continues in many fields, for instance in climate change, health, and food safety. Advocacy science is a subtly nuanced issue. Society benefits from well-informed experts participating in public dialogue on policy issues, and providing information on how consistent policy alternatives are with the scientific information in their area of expertise. However, when those experts place their desired policy outcomes ahead of the basic principles of sound, objective science, an important boundary is crossed. Not only are the benefits reduced, but public dialogue actually suffers because the factual basis of the dialogue is distorted.

When seemingly well intentioned experts with excellent credentials give policy-makers contrasting advice on the same issue, the science becomes part of  the policy debate rather than providing a unifying foundation on which well-informed policy debate can take place. In those circumstances, it is necessary to tease apart how much of the disagreement among experts is attributable to uncertainties in the scientific and technical information itself, and how much to differences in the risk tolerances of various experts, tolerances that are often unstated and applied subjectively because the risks are difficult to quantify. This differentiation is important because the first source of potential disagreement among experts is within the domain of sound science, whereas the second is the domain of policy.

From “The privileged role of science advice”:

Science is special because of how it conducts studies and seeks answers. The principles of empiricism, objectivity, falsifiability, and unbiased interpretation of results are the heart of sound science. Critics from the social sciences correctly point out that science is practiced by humans who individually may be imperfect in adhering to these principles. However, that is not an excuse to abandon those principles. Rather, it is the rationale for challenge-format peer review, with reviewers drawn from as wide a range of appropriate perspectives as possible.

The need to address uncertainty poses a challenge for science advisors. While adequately communicating uncertainty, advisors need to keep their messages clear and simple. Clarity cannot be overdone, but simplicity can be. 

Even such modern frameworks may be challenged to represent complexities that arise when individually sound studies produce contrasting results. Care must be taken to avoid interpreting such situations as if one of the multiple formulations is correct but that knowledge is inadequate to determine which one. Rather, any of several formulations of a process may be correct in a particular context, depending on externalities or pure chance. It is this type of uncertainty where simplification risks becoming bias.

Biasing the science inputs to the policy dialogue to favour studies reporting a particular outcome takes the application of precaution away from decision-makers and embeds it inappropriately in the expert advisory processes, so making supposedly rigorous decision rules produce the outcomes predetermined by the biases in selecting the information on which decision rules depend.

From “The sources and dangers of advocacy biases in science”:

The frustration many experts feel about fisheries decision-making is understandable. The track record of necessary conservation measures being deferred or diluted is well documented, consistent with assertions that industry interests exploit scientific uncertainty for their partisan goals, and that decision-makers give more weight to short-term outcomes than to longer term consequences.

Not being invincible, its privileged role should not be measured by how often science advice dictates the outcomes of complex decisions, but by how it is reflected in the accountability of decision-makers when their decisions go counter to science advice. If the decision-maker chooses options that are inconsistent with science advice, however, it is the wisdom and judgement of the decision-maker that is questioned.

Despite its privileged position, science advice often does not dominate the decision-making process. Moreover, if the advice realistically covered the diversity of results relevant to complex issues, articulate decision-makers may explain a wide range of decisions made for political ends as consistent with the science advice. This could increase the science advisors’ frustration, and again increase the temptation to practice advocacy science: illustrating the advice only with those case histories and analyses that would lead to the preferred outcomes, and downplaying evidence contrary to the outcome they want from the decisionmaking process.

However, this type of strengthening the science advice makes it no different from any other advocacy document that the decisionmaker received. Each competing interest group has done its best to sift through the scientific evidence of the portion that supports their preferred outcome. When science advisors also take that strategy, there is no higher accountability to adhere to the (now biased) science advice than there is for any other document.

Moreover, once an advocacy science strategy is adopted, to win against advocates of other options, the science advisors need to play partisan tactics better than their competitors. Advocates of competing views are not bound by expectations of balance and objectivity in their arguments, and are often experienced lobbyists.

Hence, when science advisors adopt partisan tactics, to be effective they must increasingly bias the advice, further distancing it from the principles of sound science. Eventually, science advice on high-profile issues will be scrutinized by partisans on all sides, and the lack of balance and objectivity will be discovered and publicized. As this happens, the special attention that science advice gets in decision-making becomes compromised, with lasting consequences.

From “Other options”:

The first step is to make the science advice more inclusive of the range of considerations that are relevant to the decision. Policy-makers have requested more integrated advice for more than a decade , and frameworks for doing so exist, as do processes for multi-criterion decisionmaking

If the advice on ecological, social, and economic outcomes is provided piecemeal, then the decision-makers themselves have to interconnect the consequences of each option without the benefits of a structured framework. Laying out the complete set of outcomes associated with the options available does not degrade the quality of information on any of the individual dimensions of the decision. Rather, it adds value by showing what tradeoffs have to be made socially and economically if the ecologically optimal decision is taken, and what costs have to be paid ecologically for status quo or increased social and economic benefits to be taken. 

However, integrated advice at least makes the trade-offs transparent and allows public debate about the major dimensions of the decision in a single science-based framework. Making science advice more integrated across the major dimensions of a policy decision produces at least two benefits. First, it encourages the science advisors to explore a wider range of policy alternatives in developing the advice, because the shortcomings of individual options may be more apparent. Second, advisors may cease to focus on determining the optimal outcome on a single dimension, and identify the options that produce acceptable outcomes on all of them.

JC note:  the IPCC First Assessment report arguably did this.  Advocacy kicked in for the later reports.

The other step that can be taken is to present advice using approaches designed specifically for decision support rather than hypothesis testing. Particularly in complex ecological systems that may not have deterministic outcomes for a given set of conditions , the notion that one hypothesis is true and the alternatives false is not a particularly helpful basis for policy advice. 

This differentiation of types of management error helps decision-makers in two circumstances. One is when the two types of error have different costs. Failing to protect critical habitat (a miss) may have lasting impacts on stock productivity (a high cost), whereas if ample fishing opportunities exist outside an area of concern, prohibiting fishing in it unnecessarily (a false alarm) may at worst result in a small increase in travel time to open fishing grounds (a low cost). On the other hand, closing a fishery based on a single low-stock status indicator that turns out to reflect a change in distribution rather than an abundance of the stock (a false alarm) may cause great hardship to dependent communities (a high cost), whereas a modest reduction in quota while gathering more information about actual stock status to use in the next assessment (a miss) may have little lasting impact on stock dynamics as long as the additional information really is gathered and used (a low cost). These examples illustrate that the costs of misses and false alarms are case specific, and indeed part of what decision-makers should consider.  Such frameworks also help decision-makers deal with partisan issues where different sectors of society have different tolerances for misses and false alarms.

Moving discussion between the two interest groups from accusations of extreme outcomes to discussion of trade-offs between misses and false alarms led to a more constructive exchange of views, and gave decision-makers a less-partisan context in which to explain their decisions. There is no guarantee that signal-detection-type frameworks will always result in constructive dialogue between groups with strongly contrasting risk tolerances, but it is at least a basis for dialogue where the potential benefits and shortcomings of all options are explicit in non-judgemental language.

JC comment:  I found this paper to be extremely insightful, with obvious implications for the climate debate.  This second paper explicitly examines the climate debate.

Scientific Misconduct: The Perversion of Scientific Evidence for Policy Advocacy

George Avery

Abstract.  Science is increasingly being manipulated by those who try to use it to justify political choices based on their ethical preferences, and who are willing to act to suppress evidence of conflict between those preferences and the underlying reality. This problem is clearly seen in two policy domains, healthcare and climate policy.

In the area of climate policy, recent revelations of emails from the government- sponsored Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia reveal a pattern of data suppression, manipulation of results, and efforts to intimidate journal editors to suppress contradictory studies and indicate that scientific misconduct has been used intentionally to manipulate a social consensus to support the researchers’ advocacy of addressing a problem that may or may not exist.

In healthcare policy, critics have long worried about the inordinate influence of pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers on research to show the safety and viability of new products. Recent information, however, shows that government agencies may cause more problems in this area, a worrisome development considering that legislation currently before the U.S. Senate would allow federal agencies to punish organizations whose researchers publish results that conflict with what the agency feels is appropriate.

That bill allows the withholding of funding to an institution where a researcher publishes findings not “within the bounds of and entirely consistent with the evidence,” a vague authorization that creates a tremendous tool that can be used to ensure self-censorship and conformity with bureaucratic preferences. As the research group Academy Health notes, “Such language to restrict scientific freedom is unprecedented and likely unconstitutional.”

Citation: Avery, George H. (2010) “Scientific Misconduct: The Perversion of Scientific Evidence for Policy Advocacy,” World Medical & Health Policy: Vol. 2: Iss. 4, Article 3.  DOI: 10.2202/1948-4682.1132
Available at: http://www.psocommons.org/wmhp/vol2/iss4/art3   (Full article is behind paywall).

From the Conclusion:

These cases highlight the temptations toward manipulation of scientific data to build support for favored political and economic outcomes. The purpose of systematic testing and evaluation of ideas, which we describe as “science,” is to allow us to differentiate between what Hayek refers to as “facts” and “appearances.”  As Kuhn notes in his canonical work, The Structure of a Scientific Revolution, paradigms in science should logically change when a new model produces enough strong arguments in its favor, through persuasive argument, to convince the field that it has greater utility than a previous framework (Hayek 1952). Properly used, science in this process evolves and gives us an objective means to evaluate the cause of problems and the potential impact of proposed policy interventions, which gives us a basis to evaluate proposals based on an informed evaluation in the context of moral and ethical values.

What is happening appears to be a political revolution in science, where efforts are made to subvert institutions of science such as open inquiry, peer review, and objectiveness in order to change the political environment. When we abandon the values and practices of science, or pervert them to support a predetermined agenda, we elevate “appearances” and subordinate “facts.” Abandoning the objectivity of science to suppress evidence that does not favor the preferences of the censor undercuts the ability of the polity to make rational decisions. Such censorship is inconsistent with democratic ideals in that it denies venues for legitimate exchange of ideas through open debate.

Equally important from the perspective of science is that it undermines the credibility that is derived from the scientific traditions that promote dispassionate objectivity. Just as individual violations of the ethical rules of science can undermine the credibility of the researcher, systematic assaults on these institutions can undermine the credibility of whole disciplines, even the credibility of the basic objectivity of science. In the areas of public health, warnings are already being issued that the actions and rhetoric of the community are already undermining confidence in public health programs.

While private misconduct is threatening enough, the growing practice of governmental and quasigovernmental censorship of scientific data may be even more frightening. Private censorship can be limited if a diversity of outlets exist for communications. Private organizations lack the coercive power of government, and no private organization—even large and wealthy corporations in the energy or pharmaceutical industries—possesses the power and resources of governments.

Furthermore, a fundamental duty of a democratic regime is to ensure the conditions for open exchange of information and informed participation of citizens in governance. Just as science uses ethical standards to promote the credibility and legitimacy of knowledge, the credibility and legitimacy of a democratic state depend on trust in the state to fulfill its duty to act in an ethical manner and maintain sufficient openness that informed participation is possible. Violation of the letter and spirit of that duty undercuts the social contract that is the foundation for the legitimacy of the democratic state. Democracy depends not on the preferences of elites, but rather on a functional marketplace for ideas and vigorous debate between contending viewpoints.

There have been two published rebuttals to Avery’s paper.  One is by Trevor Davies of the University of East Anglia.  Avery has responded.  The rebuttals and responses are all behind paywall.

JC comment:  Both of these papers are insightful and hard hitting. The field of climate science needs to look in the mirror, I’m afraid that many would see what Rice and Avery are warning against.  I would like to thank Jeroen van der Sluijs (father of the uncertainty monster) for sending me these papers.

209 responses to “Advocacy science and decision making

  1. Curry, then Rice. I can taste a pattern emerging …

  2. Hear, hear. Scientists should be advocates of one thing only: The truth (as we now understand it).

    • But there is no we here. Scientists often disagree, especially at the frontier where controversy is the norm. Policy issues attract like minded scientists to specific advocacy positions. There is no sharp line between giving scientific advice and advocacy. Nor is giving scientific advice to policy makers the same as doing science. The situation is far more complex than these cautionary paper suggest.

      • Not so fast, buddy! ;o)

        The advocacy scientist will promote his own belief and deprecate or underplay (or even fail to acknowledge the existence of, or present for consideration) competing beliefs and viewpoints. Broadly speaking, scientific uncertainties will be understated and a falsely strong or clear scientific viewpoint will be advanced by advocacy scientists.

      • So if Lindzen and Hansen are testifying before Congress each should present the other’s views?

      • If they are testifying about the state of the science as experts in the field, then yes. If they are testifying about the science which supports a position as advocates of that position, then no. With all experts (not just scientists) there must be care taken to distinguish between when they are advocating a position informed by their expertise and when they are presenting an objective explanation of an area which is within their expertise. If Lindzen and Hansen are actually experts in their field then explaining the position of the other should be within their expertise even if they think it is complete bollocks.

      • So if Lindzen and Hansen are testifying before Congress each should present the other’s views?

        Yes.

      • With all experts (not just scientists) there must be care taken to distinguish between when they are advocating a position informed by their expertise and when they are presenting an objective explanation of an area which is within their expertise.

        I agree. I’ve been told at this site that there is no reason why someone should necessarily be able to objectively explain an opposing position in order to effectively prove their own thesis (mosher was even so kind as to inform me that thinking so displayed that I have no understanding of academic rhetoric).

        My agreement with you on this point is why I think that when people base their climate change “skepticism” on straw man misstatements of the IPCC’s position on certainty, or on claims that climate scientists say that the “science is settled,” or on saying that climate scientists argue that the sun doesn’t affect climate, other such ridiculous hokem, they only expose the weakness of their own position. More than likely, that they would rely on such straw men indicates that either they can’t explain what the opposing arguments are, or that they’re unwilling to do so because they think that doing so would undermine their own position.

      • When I touch on a controversial subject during a lecture or in a paper, I typically say/write “this is my take, but Ms Smith has a different view”. If I forget and need to be prompted, I apologize to my audience for misleading them.
        That’s what I was taught, and that’s what I teach my students.

      • That’s what I was taught, and that’s what I teach my students.

        Most commendable, Dr. Tol. That is the kind of honesty that breeds trust.

      • You folks have a strange view of the policy world. If I have Lindzen and Hansen giving me their views on the science I do not need, nor want, each to try to describe the others views. What a joke that would be! I want to hear each make his best case. Each has to advocate his version of the science.

      • When I touch on a controversial subject during a lecture or in a paper, I typically say/write “this is my take, but Ms Smith has a different view”.

        I teach students that they have failed to prove their thesis if they haven’t explicitly disproven obvious opposing arguments. A thesis, must by definition, be arguable. In order to explicate an argument, you need to present the logic of the various viewpoints. If you can’t explain the logic of various viewpoints (with a reasonable degree of objectivity), then you don’t really understand what your own thesis is. Stating the viewpoints of others should be a requirement of an academic approach to a controversial subject.

        What I find interesting is that in general, students in the sciences are most resistant to accepting the condition that theses must be arguable.

      • David,

        you say they should ADVOCATE their view. That is the problem. These scientists have become advocates rather than scientists. Scientists do the hypothesizing and experiments and attempt to explain what they have done and found to the rest of us. Lawyers and other political types do the advocating. As soon as a scientist becomes an advocate we can no longer depend on their unbiased views. As they are human we can’t always depend on them BEFORE they start advocating so should definitely NOT be listened to if they become an advocate!!

      • I agree. I’ve been told at this site that there is no reason why someone should necessarily be able to objectively explain an opposing position in order to effectively prove their own thesis

        You are misinterpreting what I wrote, and Mosher is correct. There is a need to present all the major themes, theories and thoughts when educating the audience about a field, but not when advocating a position. Basic communication theory – what is the purpose of the communication, and advocacy is not the same as education. Your students haven’t “failed to prove their thesis if they haven’t explicitly disproven obvious opposing arguments”, what they have failed to do is demonstrate a mastery of the subject matter (which is usually the purpose of the exercise).

      • Joshua:

        ‘I teach students that they have failed to prove their thesis if they haven’t explicitly disproven obvious opposing arguments. ”

        While this might be a nice requirement it is by no means a logical requirement. You should be able to see why.

      • More Mosher sophistry.

        “‘I teach students that they have failed to prove their thesis if they haven’t explicitly disproven obvious opposing arguments. ”

        While this might be a nice requirement it is by no means a logical requirement. You should be able to see why.”

        Yes, if the opposing argument is obviously invalid it would not need another rebuttal. Of course, if it is not obvious who is correct then it must be rebutted or you may be pushing a failed thesis similar to Climate Scientists..

        Advocacy becomes obvious as it does NOT rebut arguments that may be valid and sometimes even attacks those presenting the argument rather than sticking with the thesis and the facts for and against. Advocacy often ignores what is correct to reach its GOAL rather than the TRUTH.

        “The TRUTH??? You can’t handle the TRUTH!!!”

        Our court system is an excellent example of a system that has deteriorated to pure advocacy. At one time the barrister in the US had the job of obtaining the best result their client DESERVED!! Now we see they often try to obtain the best result without reference to the facts. Makes a lot more money thataway!! Part of the Climate Community has fallen to the same level. Incidentally, it makes a court room much more polarized and difficult to get the FACTS presented. Again, like Climate Science.

      • Policy issues attract like minded scientists to specific advocacy positions. There is no sharp line between giving scientific advice and advocacy…The situation is far more complex than these cautionary paper suggest.

        Agreed. For some folks, scientific findings that are in agreement with their opinions is “science,” whereas scientific findings that contrast with their opinions is “advocacy.”

        Judith Curry or Roy Spencer testifying before Congress = “science.”

        JIm Hansen testifying before Congress = “advocacy,.”

      • Joshua – not true. You are presenting a false dichotomy – as if we think only skeptics could be considered scientific. No one thinks that. There are real scientists on the side of the IPCC, just not very many of them.

        I have much more respect for people like Hans von Storch, Eduardo Zorita and Richard Muller (all supporters of IPCC) than I do of Jim Hansen, Phil Jones or Michael Mann. The latter three are all advocates who have given up any and all rights to the title of scientist.

      • Ron –

        I make no assumptions about all “skeptics.” Some may have consistent standards as to what comprises the difference between advocacy and science, but I have seen evidence that some don’t.

        But my argument is larger than that. As David mentions, there is no fine line between science and advocacy. In fact, that is what is the false dichotomy – that in some idealized form, there is science that is not influenced by motivated reasoning (which manifests as advocacy).

        That is not meant to excuse deliberate, or even “accidental” manipulation of data. But when I see people pointing the finger at others and saying that others don’t respect the difference between science and advocacy, even as they say that “we” hold a firm line in that regard – I become suspicious.

      • I agree about Hansen and Mann. I’ve read their books ‘Storms of my Grandchildren’ and ‘Dire Predictions’ and been astonished that they can still work in scientific fields. I don’t have a problem with advocacy, but that’s the domain of Al Gore and Bill McKibben.

      • Joshua – it is true that no one upholds the standards of science exactly. But you can tell the difference between those who make an attempt and those who do not.

        My standard is simple. If someone attempts to defend the indefensible, they are no longer a scientist. There is no defense for Mann’s Artificial Hockey Stick (hockey stick chart from trendless red noise) or for truncating data as was done with “hide the decline.”

        If someone wants to gain added credibility, they can point out errors by others within their own camp – as von Storch and Zorita have done – or they can at least stand up to the bad behaviors as Richard Muller did when he said there is a group of people whose papers he will no longer read (referring to Michael Mann and the people at CRU).

      • Rational skepticism is an integral part of the scientific method or process.

        Advocacy is not.

        It’s just that simple.

        Max

      • Rational skepticism is an integral part of the scientific method or process.

        Advocacy is not.

        Your distinction between rational skepticism and advocacy embraces a false dichotomy.

        It ignores what we know about the basics of human nature. Advocacy is a part of any science, whether we are aware of it or not. It comes along with the fundamental psychology of “motivated reasoning.” The scientific method is based in the realization that bias is inherent, and so you need a set of checks and balances to even approach objective facts (and of course, even there we see time and time again that bias influences how the scientific method is applied).

        The problem of unintentional advocacy is only exacerbated when self-assured people contend that only the science of others is influenced by advocacy. If you’re completely closed to accepting your own for biases, you have no way of even beginning to control for them.

        Just look for those who doth protest too much and you’re likely to find those who are the most closed to controlling for their own biases.

      • steven mosher

        No I think its more like

        Judith Curry testifying before congress = “her view of science”
        James Hansen protesting in the streets = “advocacy”

        We all recognize the fact that people’s political views can shape the questions they ask ( one real bias effect) and in some cases the answers they give. ( a rarer form of bias)

        We control for bias in answers by demanding things like data and code.
        When people fight giving it ( as hansen fought our efforts ) then we are warranted in setting their science to the side. No second chances.
        We control for bias in the questions that people ask by having an open debate. For example, I had one climate scientist offer the use of his
        GCM to test a skeptical hypothosis. We open access to the tools that the institutions control.

        These effects can only be controlled for and studied, we cannot eliminate them entirely. If a science runs away from these types of controls or fights them they we are warranted in setting its findings aside until they shape up.

        We get more resources to enact these kinds of controls by taking funding away from the people who are openly advocating political solutions. They can get funded by the WWF.

      • No, you’re missing the point. Hansen makes no effort to pretend he is not an advocate for action on climate change. People may have a view whether that is compatible with his scientific work (personally I don’t have a problem with it, if Lindzen wants to chain himself to railings to prevent a wind farm being built I don’t have a problem with that either) but he is perfectly open about it.
        But what is often suggested is that many other scientists who accept the “IPCC consensus” position have moved away from the mere pursuit of science to advocacy without being open and honest about it. Joshua’s argument AIUI is that this is no more true for them than it is for those on the other side. Maybe Hansen wasn’t the best example for him to choose, maybe someone like Ben Santer would have been better, but I think it’s a perfectly fair point.

      • Judith Curry testifying before congress = “her view of science”
        James Hansen protesting in the streets = “advocacy”

        Perfect example of the double standard. Thank you for being so open about it.

        When Judith testifies on “her view of science” she is advocating for her view of the science.

        Further, I know that she has made statements on this website about her views on the policy implications of the science, and I’ve read her doing so in the newspaper article tt linked the other day, so we also know that in addition to advocating for her view of the science, she has also, directly, advocated on policy-related questions.

        We all recognize the fact that people’s political views can shape the questions they ask ( one real bias effect) and in some cases the answers they give. ( a rarer form of bias)

        Really? Where is your data for your determination about which form of bias is more prevalent? You do realize, steven, that your take on your anecdotal experiences doesn’t meet the bar of what people generally consider to be “scientific evidence,” don’t you? I find it amusing that you’re pontificating on what is or isn’t science, and yet seem to have that foundational concept confused.

        We control for bias in answers by demanding things like data and code.
        When people fight giving it ( as hansen fought our efforts ) then we are warranted in setting their science to the side. No second chances.
        We control for bias in the questions that people ask by having an open debate. For example, I had one climate scientist offer the use of his
        GCM to test a skeptical hypothosis. We open access to the tools that the institutions control.

        That’s all well and good. I agree with the notion of opening up data and code for scrutiny. I can understand reasons why people are resistant to that process, and I think that there may be potential downsides to opening the process – but in balance I am in agreement.

        That said, what I disagree with is the viewpoint that the reluctance of scientists to open up their process is evidence of a vast asymmetry in the tribalism. It is evidence of triballism – but it does not come out of thin air. There is a context, and the context is a long history of mixing advocacy with science that contributes to scientists’ likelihood to be closed scrutiny. It will be difficult to make progress on this issues if people on both sides don’t recognize and acknowledge the full context fore the tribalism and the mixing of science and advocacy.

        Having a double-standard is no way to make progress on these issues.

      • steven mosher

        Perfect example of the double standard. Thank you for being so open about it.

        ######

        I see no double standard. James hansen testifying before congress is giving his view of science. Judith Curry demonstrating in the streets would be advocating. You are missing a subtle distinction, that is so obvious I’m ashamed to have to point it out to you. Think harder Joshua. For you benefit I will draw the distinction even more clearly using a example that will make it so clear an IDJT can get it.

        “Further, I know that she has made statements on this website about her views on the policy implications of the science, and I’ve read her doing so in the newspaper article tt linked the other day, so we also know that in addition to advocating for her view of the science, she has also, directly, advocated on policy-related questions.”

        With out a doubt. Nevertheless I would not call her an advocate. If she took to the streets, if she got arrested I would call her an advocate. That type of behavior would but her on special probation in my judgement. I fully expect every scientist to have a politican slant. And I fully expect them to put this in check with the scientific method. When they break the law, when they advocate breaking the law, when they defend law breakers, then I believe special care and attention is warranted. I choose to use the word “advocate” for that. It signals for me that special care needs to be taken as the person may slide into valuing their cause over truth. This never settles the matter, however, it raises a red flag. So Judith isnt pure, I don’t think anyone is. If you want to call everyone an advocate and debase the differentiation of that term, you can of course use the language any way you want. You should practice understanding my argument if you want to attack it.

        “Really? Where is your data for your determination about which form of bias is more prevalent? You do realize, steven, that your take on your anecdotal experiences doesn’t meet the bar of what people generally consider to be “scientific evidence,” don’t you? I find it amusing that you’re pontificating on what is or isn’t science, and yet seem to have that foundational concept confused.”

        It’s not my anecdote Joshua. It was taken from an author you should know since I’ve sent you to read him before. Yes, he believes in climate change and yes he is critical of skeptics and yes he gets quoted all the time. can you guess who he is? Which is more prevalent the bias from asking different questions or the bias from actually changing the answers? Its not my argument Joshua, its the argument of a guy that people on the AGW side rely on.. still can’t guess?

        “That’s all well and good. I agree with the notion of opening up data and code for scrutiny. I can understand reasons why people are resistant to that process, and I think that there may be potential downsides to opening the process – but in balance I am in agreement.”

        And when people dont release the best means we have to control for their bias, when they break the law to do this, do you see a qualitattive difference between them and people who advocate with words?
        Do you see any difference between someone who breaks the law to advocate and someone who merely uses words to advance their position? do you see the difference between someone who abuses their institutional power to deny the rights of others and someone who uses their institution power to advocate their position?

        “That said, what I disagree with is the viewpoint that the reluctance of scientists to open up their process is evidence of a vast asymmetry in the tribalism. It is evidence of triballism – but it does not come out of thin air. There is a context, and the context is a long history of mixing advocacy with science that contributes to scientists’ likelihood to be closed scrutiny. It will be difficult to make progress on this issues if people on both sides don’t recognize and acknowledge the full context fore the tribalism and the mixing of science and advocacy.”

        It will be difficult to make progress if you conflate law breaking advocacy with mere pontificating. Judith advocates. Fine. I can account for that and control for that. When Jones, for example, breaks the law to advance his position, I think we need a word for that kind of advocacy if you want to use the word the way you do. You want the blend these two behaviors together. The distinction, of course, is Judiths words do not prevent me from doing anything. Jones actions did.

        .

      • Double standard?

        Dichotomy?

        Let’s not fog up the issue here.

        The subject is “advocacy, science and decision making” (my comma, because “advocacy science” is, in itself, an oxymoron).

        “Science” is objective and hence unbiased by definition.

        “Advocacy” is subjective.and hence biased.

        These are absolute differences.

        The fact that scientists are “only humans” leads to the “paradigm” problems described by Thomas Kuhn.

        These are subconscious inabilities to see data that lie “outside the box” of the prevailing paradigm.

        This is not the “advocate’s problem”, however.

        Instead it is the conscious exclusion of data that do not support the desired message and the exaggeration of data that do, i.e. the willful introduction of bias in order to “sell” a preconceived message.

        Think about it a bit.

        Max

      • Steven Mosher,

        When they break the law, when they advocate breaking the law, when they defend law breakers, then I believe special care and attention is warranted. I choose to use the word “advocate” for that.

        But that’s not what advocacy means – you can’t just choose your own definition and then use it to argue against people who are using the word in a different and more correct sense. Some people may take advocacy to such extreme lengths that they end up breaking the law but most people don’t.

        And while we’re on the subject of breaking the law, for the sake of clarity and out of fairness to Phil Jones who, after all, has not actually been found guilty of breaking any laws, can you please please confirm exactly which actions of his you are referring to when you say he broke the law.

      • Andrew,

        he broke British FOI law among other possibilities. The stated reason that they were not charged was that the statute of limitations had expired. That statute of limitations is only 6 months, yet, you cannot file an official complaint without information you can’t legally get as they have more time than that to LEGALLY stall the requests. It is just that simple. They ARE criminals, although not legally found guilty.

      • kuhnkat,

        What I’m trying to get at is what specific actions by Jones constituted a breach of FoI. If people are being accused of breaking the law it is good to be clear about exactly what they did.

      • Andrew Adams,

        start with not providing the information as requested. Move on to lying about why they weren’t servicing the FOI requests. Requesting others and destroying his own documents that he knew would be responsive to an FOI request. Of course, the gubmint has a catch-all called CONSPIRACY TO that also applies.

        If you need more details you have a computer. Use your browser and search engine like a good little Believer.

        By the way, the fact that Hansen has no pretensions of not being an advocate impeaches him as being a valid source for Climate Information and Research just as if he was in the pay of Oil Companies or GreenPeace, like so many members of the IPCC. Mosher, you should be paying attention to this. It matters not WHERE he is testifying or presenting, James “coal trains of death” Hansen advocates “exagerating” the danger to get action. How much? Well, only in his sick little mind can we find that bit of information!!

      • As an economic policy adviser, I often had a view on a preferred option. But my role was not as an advocate, but to present options, evidence and argument to enable decision-makers to determine their preferred outcome. If they took a view contrary to my preference, then my role became to help efficiently and effectively implement that decision.

        I understood that government and government bureaucracies are hierarchical, I would argue a strong case as necessary but accept the outcome even if I disagreed with it. I felt free to put my view in public debate on issues where I did not have carriage at work, but not on those issues of which I had carriage.

        If I had insuperable differences with the government of the day, I chose not to work for them (e.g. I went to Canberra rather than work for Queensland’s Joh Bjelke-Petersen) or, in my last job with Queensland Treasury, resign.

        That is, I was able to distinguish between my professional role and advocacy. Writing to the media as an individual, I often advocate a particular line, but I do not distort or exaggerate the evidence to do so.

        Yes, I can feel passionate on issues, but maintaining honesty and integrity remains paramount.

    • Perhaps the “Truth” should not the focus. “Truth” can be the excuse for suppressing “bad data” and “wrong thinking”.

      The focus of science should be on “Understanding.” Study and research are to appropriate responses to things and ideas you do not understand.

      • As I understand it, the issue here is not doing science, rather it is providing science advice in the policy world. That the two systems have different rules is the problem. I doubt there is a way to make this fact go away.

      • David

        subvert institutions of science such as open inquiry, peer review, and objectiveness in order to change the political environment.

        There is also selective reporting of evidence to advance a particular policy, and gatekeeping that biases who can publish, and who gets the funds. That severely corrodes the integrity of science itself, as well as biasing the provision of science advice.

        Both are destructive of the search for truth and sound stewardship.

      • Indeed David H., but what you describe is policy advocacy being practiced within science, where it has no place. I am talking about policy advocacy being practiced in the policy arena, where it is required. Our topic is advocacy-science-and-decision-making, not advocacy science and science.

        Science needs to protect itself from advocacy, but advocacy also needs to protect itself from science, especially false claims of scientific confidence. These play on the mistaken notion that science is a simple accumulation of knowledge, when in fact it is also a world of controversy. Advocacy by scientists conveys to the policy world the correct fact that the science is not settled. That is what the policy world most needs to know.

      • Speaking of “frontier where controversy is the norm”, let me quote Schechtman again as I did a few days ago:

        “In the forefront of science there is not much difference between religion and science,” Shechtman says. “People harbor beliefs. That’s what happens when people believe something religiously.”

        So climatology is in an even more perilous state, as the advocacy practiced by scientists feeds more often than not on a form of theology.

      • David Wojick
        Re: “Advocacy by scientists conveys to the policy world the correct fact that the science is not settled.”
        I don’t understand. I thought Michael Mann exhibits advocacy, and tries to say that the science is settled.

      • We should strive for truth, but not delude ourselves that we’ll ever find it or recognize it if we do.

      • It looks like we are going to disagree here, Richard. Focusing on TRUTH, leads to a religious doctrine, difficult to overturn. How can any accepted theory, regarded today as the “Truth” possibly be overturned. How can the “Truth” ever be shown to be false or even “not quite the whole truth.”

        Real science is not about finding TRUTH. It is about learning about the real world. From WikiPedia
        Scientific researchers propose hypotheses as explanations of phenomena, and design experimental studies to test these hypotheses via predictions which can be derived from them. Science is about explaining, predicting, the success of which is possible only if you increase your understanding of a system.

        Where the heck is TRUTH in a sample mean and standard deviation? Honesty, yes! Honestly report your results, don’t intentionally bias the experimental design or fudge the results. Write in ink. But don’t mistake honest observation and reporting for truth. Statistics can bring understanding, not truth.

        Asimov’s The Relativity of Wrong is an excellent essay on scientific theories that “are not so much wrong as incomplete.”

        When it comes to scientists contributing to policy formation, honesty and understanding must have priority over some group’s consensus of the truth.

      • What’s wrong in striving for truth as Richard Tol stated that to require also admitting that final truth cannot be found (or recognized, when it happens to be found in some details)?

        Striving for truth cannot be dishonest as nothing dishonest is striving for truth, and the truth that real scientists strive for has always understanding as an essential component.

        You seem to equate striving for truth with trying to convince others that one’s own views are the truth, but these approaches have nothing in common.

      • Stephen,

        “Where the heck is TRUTH in a sample mean and standard deviation?”

        Exactly, there is no truth and not many facts in that. Statistics have made many scientists waaaaaaaaay too sure of themselves.

      • Stephen,

        Statistics offer us information as to where we MAY find truth or facts and are an indicator of where it MAY be best to concentrate research if they have been utilized honestly. I would suggest that THEORIES are not fact or truth, they are typically the best current understanding. As such they should always be open to reevaluation.

  3. People and institutions must be trusted in order to maximize their usefulness and/or effectiveness. Having a long history of the selective use of information destroys trust and therefore makes the person and institution useless and ineffective.

  4. Latimer Alder

    Lets start by making all climatologists fully disclose all of their methods and all of their data.

    Then we can judge which ones are being ‘economical with the actualite’ to support an advocate’s position.

    The entre field has becme so corrupted by dogma and groupthink – from the actvist ‘leaders’ to the poor grunts doing the actual work (eg Harry – of read me fame) that the best way of telling whether a cliamtologist is likely lying is to see if his lips move.

    • I am not as sure as you that scientists need to give all of their methods and data to other scientists or the public. Generally yes, but probably not for all computer models

      If I were to develop a computer model that could reasonably accurately predict future rainfall amounts and temperature at specific locations I would consider it proprietary data and I would not want to disclose how the model was constructed. The reason we want the current climate models details disclosed is because the outputs of the models cannot be validated based upon real world observations—we are expected to accept them on faith alone. Personally, I have not experienced many models that somehow are considered accurate when making predictions far into the future, but can not make accurate assessments in much nearer time scales.

      • Latimer Alder

        @rob starkey

        And if you cnstructed such a model entirely in your own time, you would be entitled to treat it as proprietary.

        But if, as many models are, it was constructed on the public dime you have no such claim on it.

      • I agree that when the work is funded by the government that the data should be able to be released.

      • Latimer Alder

        No ‘should be able to be released’ at all.

        Just a simple,unequivocal, no wriggling, no argument

        ‘must be released’.

        Simples!

      • Rob: Your point on ‘proprietary data’ would be perfectly valid if we were generally discussing corporate research. The facts are that most of these models–and most of the research–are funded by public monies and most work is being done by public and government institutions. In the US, for example, work done by government agencies is considered public property–it is ‘owned’ by the people. We have seen that the Freedom of Information Act enforces this point of law. In my opinion, we could safe everyone a lot of trouble if climate scientists would simply be open and transparent with their work. Some of the work can be copyrighted and protected in others ways from commercial exploitation but it must be available for perusal and testing by those so interested.

      • And having it available for inspection helps to keep the work honest as well.

        We all remember the Enron collapse. One of the underlying reasons was that the external auditors had become far too buddybuddy with the auditees and so fallacious work was too easily accepted.

        We needed to have rigorous external independent oversight there..we need it too in climatology, where there are no checks and balances at all at the moment. Just a nod if PhilBoy or Mikey thinks you;ve come to a conculsion they approve of, and the big bit bucket in the sky if not. A truly shocking state of affairs.

      • Rob, there is an issue here familiar to all of us who have developed software. Computer program source code normally belongs to whatever person or agency paid for its development. The exception is that an explicit policy or contract can be in place allowing the developers full or shared ownership. That exception is rare.

        Note also, that simply doing software development at home on personal computer equipment does not always give the developer ownership of his software. Often, employment policies and contracts claim even independently created products that have some relationship to the interests of the hiring agency. So the question of whether a modeler can keep his software secret comes down to policy and contractual issues with whoever paid to have the model built.

        One might make the argument in general terms that a researcher’s lab notes are typically kept by the researcher and that only the results of the research is provided to the hiring agency. First off, that is not universally true. Second, software is not a set of lab notes. Claiming so would be equivalent to writing into a research paper that the proof of an assertion is in lab notes so is not necessary and that the assertion must be taken on faith.

        So, from a software development perspective, the modeller probably does not own the software to claim privacy. From a research perspective, the software, and in many cases the input data sets, are the proof that must be provided for any assertions or predictions.

      • If you want to publish the results as peer-reviewed science, you should have to disclose enough so your work could be replicated. If you want to go into business, then you’re certainly allowed your trade secrets. Of course, there’s supposed to be a patent system that applies to software, but IMO it’s already badly broken before we start talking about whether you’re allowed to limit use of your patented software in replicating work published in peer-reviewed journals.

      • Rob S: Since climate scientists advocate that the world should be changed and a hefty carbon tax or some equivalent be placed on everyone in the developed world, the very least climate scientists can do — in view of the climate emergency — is release *everything*.

        After all it’s an emergency, right? Doesn’t the Precautionary Principle apply to climate scientists as well?

        One of the reasons I’m reluctant to take the claims of climate scientists seriously is because they don’t seem to.

      • Huxley
        Regarding the release of information, if it is publically funded the information should be released to those who paid for it to be developed. If the information is privately developed I see it as proprietary data and need not be released. If I had developed an outstanding model that would accurately predict future precipitation at multiple locations as a function of atmospheric CO2; I would be selling the model’s outputs and not giving it away. The key here is the model would have to prove it provided accurate information that someone actually cares about.

        In regards to what’s the least climate scientists can do—I would argue it is to provide as complete and accurate unbiased information to policy makers as is possible. This imo has not been the case.

        I have written previously how simple the overall issue is to break down and analyze in the key components when you look at it from the perspective of a policy maker.
        1. How much will additional CO2 warm the planet
        2. What will be the impact of a warmer planet to rainfall in various regions of the planet
        3. What is the likely impact (positive and negative) to humans in each of the regions of the planet
        From what I can determine, we are learning about point #1, but clearly are still unsure of a number, but we do not know very much at all about points 2 and 3. I find the output of the current climate models HIGHLY UNRELIABLE, and find most of the papers published analyzing the probable future impacts wrong due to the poor models and highly biased in their analysis. (To make it appear the warmer planet has to be a disaster for humanity.)

      • Rob S: You may be satisfied but I am not.

        After Climategate there was much buck passing from the Team about how some of the climate data was proprietary. But when the furor of Climategate didn’t die down, a few months later there was some loosening — maybe, somehow, some of that proprietary data could be released after all. I assume calls were made and meetings were held so that in the interests of the cause, data was readied for release. That’s what I’m talking about.

        The money in my bank account is proprietary, but if climate change is such all-fired big emergency that the climate orthodoxy is going to press the government to take a slice of mine every time someone puts carbon into the atmosphere, then they can find a way to achieve transparency one way or another. I’m not interested in excuses.

  5. If Trevor Davies of the disgraced CRU at the University of East Anglia disagrees with Avery’s paper then it follows that Avery’s paper is true.

  6. cagw_skeptic99

    Maybe we could start a list of all climate scientists who actually do publish methods and data where the standard is that a reasonably knowledgeable researcher can reasonably duplicate their results. The list of leading lights in the alarmist community who comply has how many name?

    • Stirling English

      Gonna be a short list.

      Steve McIntyre does, but he is hardly an alarmist. Otherwise I can’t think of anybody.

      • The list is actually growing. You want to know the worst offender? its not a believer in AGW anymore… the worst offender is a skeptic

        Scaffetta! Not only does he refuse to release code when asked he insults those who ask.

      • The difference is he is not asking you to pay.

      • “The list is actually growing. You want to know the worst offender? its not a believer in AGW anymore… the worst offender is a skeptic

        Scaffetta! Not only does he refuse to release code when asked he insults those who ask!

        And the codes asked for relevant to a published work?
        If not a published work, I can understand why he would insult people
        who ask.

        If it’s published, the codes which are relevant should be publicly available.

      • Growing? great. Should have been all of them from the start (on BOTH sides).

      • Whatsa matter Mosh. Don’t you know how to do those simple computations either?? Scafetta offered to help any serious person who had read his paper and the appropriate chapters where the algorithms could be found and wishing to understand how to obtain his results!! Guess that is to difficult to consider that it would be good for the operson to actually UNDERSTAND what is being done!!!

        Then again, I guess it is an easy excuse to throw out papers you don’t like!! Comparing Scafetta to Mann Etal is simply ludicrous. By the way, has the team released all the code and data for all their reconstructions yet?? (snicker) Have they offered to assist serious students in replicating their results?? I guess you really are becoming a Climate Science Advocate!!

    • Well, how about Michael Mann? Here is the SI for his 2009 Science paper “Global Signatures and Dynamical Origins of the Little Ice Age and Medieval Climate Anomaly “. Data, matlab codes, instructions. What more would you like?

      • Are you referring to the same Michael Mann that has been fighting the FOIA requests for how long now?

        Thanks for the chuckle

      • So you want codes, data and emails? Anything else? Medical history? School reports?

      • So you cannot see the irony of holding Mann up as a example of transparency with the FOI request squabble ongoing? When I first read your post I honestly thought you were joking, but I see you are serious.

      • The request was:
        “Maybe we could start a list of all climate scientists who actually do publish methods and data where the standard is that a reasonably knowledgeable researcher can reasonably duplicate their results.”
        I offerred a suggestion.

      • aren’t materials and methods part of the standard format for scientific papers

      • my apologies I missed the link to the zipfile for the coding

      • Big difference between codes, data and email paid for by the public, which underpin the results Mann is claiming, versus someones private medical history.

        Mann’s results were used to dispute the MVP being warmer than present, which was necessary to claim that current warming was “unprecedented”, and thus must be due to CO2.

        However, if the MWP was warmer than present, as the IPCC concluded prior to Mann, then current warming is not at all “unprecedented” and well within the bounds of natural climate variability.

        Since there are trillions of dollars of economic activity likely affected by any decision to limit CO2, doesn’t it seem reasonable that the public have the right to fully investigate these claims?

        Peer review does not mean the science is correct in its conclusion. Peer review does not seek to recreate or validate the results, simply to ensure that the process follows the scientific method.

        Standard practice in science is that following peer review, the results must be independently recreated before the conclusions can be seen to be credible. Without access to the data and methods, how is this possible?

        The simple fact that climate science withholds data and methods, preventing results from being recreated, means that any such conclusions are not scientifically credible and cannot be used for public policy.

        Mann’s conclusions are not credible until independently recreated, which means opening up the data and methods to all, including skeptics, to provide a large enough sample of testers to account for bias.

      • Nick, you are embarrassing yourself. Read the Hockey Stick Illusion, then comment. Otherwise, shut up.

      • Nick,

        I think the ‘logic’ of these guys is that they don’t like the idea of AGW so therefore there must be something wrong with the science behind it. Its all part of “the hoax”.

        No amount of transparency is ever going to change that mentality.

        There is a group called the “American Tradition Institute” who’ve taken it upon themselves to pursue Michael Mann through the courts.

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/virginia-politics/post/u-va-says-it-will-exercise-available-exemptions-on-climate-change-records-request/2011/04/27/AF3V42zE_blog.html

        It just seems crazy to me that anyone can possibly believe that any scientific disagreement can possibly be settled through the legal system! Judith, herself, can’t sit on the fence while this sort of thing is going on and needs say something about this. IMO.

      • temp,

        professional organizations used to be the arbiter of scientific disputes. Now that the organizations themselves have become advocates and even suppress dissent, where should those disagreeing go when it would appear public funds are at risk??

      • Nick,

        have you or any of your friends ever been a member of the Communist party or supported it in any way!! (snicker)

      • Nick,
        Why did he do disclosure for that paper and then, as demonstrated in climategate, work so hard to do the opposite with earlier work and other papers?
        As to the FOIA, no one is after his medical records. They are after relevant communications and work done at tax payer expense and subject to FOIA laws.
        He is attempting to have the law not apply to him.
        Why is Mann so special?

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        Thanks for this bit, Nick. It is a good thing.

        Nevertheless, you do have a twisted sense of humor.

  7. Yes. Transparency and utter honesty.

  8. Judith,

    Funding in many areas and a scientists reputation depend on following the crowd who had received funding and have generated close to the same conclusions.
    NASA has generated a totally enclosed system of the same with only approved institutions. They are suppose to be attracting the brightest minds but have many restrictions. In some cases ONLY U.S. scientists are allowed.

  9. I agree fully with the conclusions of both of these papers. this is exactly what I was driving at on the previous thread regarding alarmism as undermining the credibility of the science being used in support of it as facts evolve. In particular this:

    There are temptations to shape science advice by using information that “strengthens” the conservation case selectively. Giving in to such temptation, however, dooms the advice; science advice becomes viewed as expressions of the biases of those who provide it rather than reflecting the information on which the advice is based. Everyone, including the ecosystems, loses. There are ways to increase the impact of science advice on decision-making that do not involve perverting science advice into advocacy

  10. Judith Curry

    Both papers (that of Jake Rice and George Avery) are very pertinent.

    Thanks for citing them to head up this thread.

    You concluded:

    Both of these papers are insightful and hard hitting. The field of climate science needs to look in the mirror, I’m afraid that many would see what Rice and Avery are warning against.

    I would agree wholeheartedly and add the comment that the concept of “advocacy science” is an oxymoron in itself.

    If it’s “advocacy”, it “ain’t science”.

    Max.

  11. In 1975 scientists involved in genetic engineering participated in the Alsilomar conference; specifically designed to address the potential hazards of biotechnology

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asilomar_Conference_on_Recombinant_DNA

    Actually worked out rather well.
    One has to note that the potential of GM crops, to quote Swift:

    And he gave it for his opinion, that whosoever could make two ears of corn or two blades of grass to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.
    Voyage to Brobdingnag, Ch. 6

    has not been for-filled due to the ‘precautionary principle’.

    http://www.whiteoutpress.com/articles/wach/global-attacks-on-genetically-modified-food-experiments/

    So it matters not if scientists initiate regulations for the use of technology, inform the public about the risk/reward ratio or even promise to make the world a better place for humanity. The mob tends to win.
    Organizations, like Greenpeace, attack Nuclear power, cola power, natural gas power, oil power and genetically modified crops.

  12. “decision-making”

    I think one of the major and ongoing problems is that government is the implied default decision-maker in these conversations. This is not where the decision making belongs. It belongs with individual citizens.

    Andrew

    • Andrew the problem of scientists as advocates arises just because governments no longer decide between competing theories, but accept ‘expert advice’ precisely to let themselves off the hook if it all goes wrong. “I did what the experts told me” is a pretty good defense for a politician. except its pathetic. 30 years ago, marvellous Margaret’s dictum was, “Advisors advise, Ministers decide”, and any Permanent Secretary would have made sure that conflicting advice was put in front of the minister just in order to force him to take a decison and be responsible for it (and as a plus to stop him blaming the civil service if it all went tits up). Its politicians risk aversion (in respect of their own careers) that has opened the door to the canny tactics of Hansen, Mann et al. Their ability to present themselves as the fount of knowledge, and marginalise critics as a handful of crackpots, only works in an atmosphere of political self preservation – which was always there but grows as politics professionialises itself. It suits politicians to accept and reflect the activists view that the scientific outlook is to all intents and purposes unanimous. Whatever the outcome, they are blame-free and moreover have a mandate to ‘do something’ which equates to more personal publicity and ehanced (re) electability.

      • K Scott Denison

        bill, I think you are right on with your comments. Here in the US we see the same phenomenon among our professional politicians, of both parties. Avoid taking stands, misuse facts as needed to be reelected, survive at all costs.

        Our founding fathers never meant it to be that way, but here we are. I fear our only hope is term limits on politicians, and the occasional pol who truly cares (e.g. Chris Christie).

  13. However, when those experts place their desired policy outcomes ahead of the basic principles of sound, objective science, an important boundary is crossed. Not only are the benefits reduced, but public dialogue actually suffers because the factual basis of the dialogue is distorted.

    Here is the unwarranted claims of the IPCC:


    Since IPCC’s first report in 1990, assessed projections have suggested global average temperature increases between about 0.15°C and 0.3°C per decade for 1990 to 2005. This can now be compared with observed values of about 0.2°C per decade, strengthening confidence in near-term projections

    http://bit.ly/9pwVyH

    Just five years latter here is how the above projection of the IPCC reads:

    Since IPCC’s first report in 1990, assessed projections have suggested global average temperature increases [at least, because of IPCC’s accelerated warming claim] between about 0.15°C and 0.3°C per decade for 1995 to 2010. This can now be compared with observed values of about 0.1°C per decade, DASHING confidence in near-term projections

    http://bit.ly/rtjd0b

    The unwarranted claims will finally be caught.

  14. Alexander Harvey

    Judith,

    With the fisheries (Jake Rice) were any examples given?

    My impression is that the advocacy is fairly clear cut and carried out by a well organised fisheries conservation lobby vs a well organised industry lobby, both using science to make their cases. The advocay seems to be undertaken by people who are clearly advocates e,g, WWF, RSPB, etc..

    Another group are the professional science advisers working in governmental departments, I thnk that they too are political animals.

    The white hats should be the marine biologists, the researchers.

    There certainly are marine biologists who have opinions and I have heard them state them but in a way that made them obvious for what they are. In comparison to climate science marine biology still seems to be playing catch up with new insights coming quite rapidly. There also seems to be optimism despite the difficulties.

    So are there any expamples of scientists over-stepping into advocacy or is it a case of science being manipulated by professional advocates at the policy making level?

    FWIW I think the big issue in fisheries is not climate change by 2050 but joining all the other dots that get the fisheries to 2050.

    Alex

  15. However, integrated advice at least makes the trade-offs transparent and allows public debate about the major dimensions of the decision in a single science-based framework. Making science advice more integrated across the major dimensions of a policy decision produces at least two benefits. First, it encourages the science advisors to explore a wider range of policy alternatives in developing the advice, because the shortcomings of individual options may be more apparent. Second, advisors may cease to focus on determining the optimal outcome on a single dimension, and identify the options that produce acceptable outcomes on all of them.

    Bravo.

    Such frameworks also help decision-makers deal with partisan issues where different sectors of society have different tolerances for misses and false alarms.

    Moving discussion between the two interest groups from accusations of extreme outcomes to discussion of trade-offs between misses and false alarms led to a more constructive exchange of views, and gave decision-makers a less-partisan context in which to explain their decisions.

    And bravo again. Imagine, looking at a situation holistically and determining a strategy that provides the best balance.

    • Yes, In my 2206 paper on “Achieving sustained economic growth,” I had a section on “An holistic approach”:

      As indicated above, the success of growth-oriented policies in one area, such as competition policy, is often dependent on complementary and supporting policies in other areas, such as light-handed regulation of labour markets. A persistent failing in Queensland policy development is that policies in different areas tend to be developed in isolation from, and ignorance of, related or opposed policies in other areas. There is no unifying principle, no comprehensive strategic oversight of how policies interact. This has been referred to as the “silo” mentality.

      For example, there is evidence of a relationship between education levels and productivity and economic growth. But this is not a simplistic relationship. It does not mean, as the State Government seems to have assumed, that forcing those who prefer to leave school early to complete Year 12 will lead them to more skilled jobs and higher wages and will boost productivity and growth. The driving force here is the opportunities for profitable investment and business growth in Queensland, and extra schooling for students at the lower end of the spectrum will not significantly change this. …

      While this section uses education as an example, the broader point is that policies across many areas must be coordinated, complementary and well-founded to be successful.

      • It does not mean, as the State Government seems to have assumed, that forcing those who prefer to leave school early to complete Year 12 will lead them to more skilled jobs and higher wages and will boost productivity and growth.

        Ah, you’ve struck one of my pet peeves. When I was in school, students were not allowed to switch to a purely vocational curriculum until they were 17. So up until their junior year, those with no interest in academics were forced to cool their heels in classes they detested because they did poorly in them (and did poorly in them because they detested them). Quite naturally, they frequently shared their misery, thereby “enhancing” the educational experience of those around them. The reason for this? A state legislator finding himself in need of an accomplishment to tout in an election year sponsored a bill to raise the age from 16 to 17. By virtue of this, he became a “pro-education” candidate.

        While this section uses education as an example, the broader point is that policies across many areas must be coordinated, complementary and well-founded to be successful.

        Indeed. Piecemeal constructs tend to leak like sieves and become poster-children for the law of unintended consequences.

  16. On a serious note…I hate breaking this but scientists are humans too. We can’t expect them to be angels and we can expect them to divide themselves factionally around power centers and influential people. So we should not decry the advocating scientist, rather give ourselves as a society the means of extracting the science from the advocacy.

    • omnologos

      So we should not decry the advocating scientist, rather give ourselves as a society the means of extracting the science from the advocacy.

      If we (the taxpayers) are paying the “advocating scientist” to give us honest “science”, and he is feeding us “advocacy” based on his personal beliefs instead, we should simply fire (or defund) him.

      Simple solution.

      It is not up to the “buyer to beware”, i.e. to have to extract out the BS from the science in reports we have paid for.

      Getriddadabums (we know who they are).

      Max

    • I disagree omnologos; i’m a scientist, i’m also (hopefullly) human. I’m aware of this fact and adjust my work accordingly with extra controls and checks for things I know I tend to miss/assume/c#ck up. It’s bee a very painful (and introspective) process, but i’m (hopefully) a better scientist for it.

      The whole point of the scientific methodology, is that if you follow it, to the letter, it effectively removes the human element (as much as is ‘humanly’ possible).

      On advocacy, the minute a scientist starts advocating, they stop being an objective individual and, in my opnion, they stop being a scientist.

      Science and advocacy DO NOT mix. One requires an open mind, the other precludes it.

  17. Too bad Australia’s leadership failed to implement any of this.
    Too bad our own President and EPA, in violating the EPA’s own standards and policies, failed on this.

  18. Norm Kalmanovitch

    The HadCRUT3 global temperature dataset stretches back about 150 years and it is only during the 23 years between 1975 and 1998 that there is any possible correlation between CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and global temperature increase.
    23 years is therefore the maximum period for which climate models can make “data based” predictions beyond which there is no actual scientific evidence for support.
    23 years ago on June 23 (coincidence?), 1988 James Hansen predicted accelerated global warming reaching catastrophic proportions by year 2050 based on computer models that were limited to just 13 years of data support from the 1975 to 1988 limit of increased CO2 emissions being consistent with rapif global temperature increase.
    The HadCRUT3 global temperature dataset shows that after 2002 as CO2 emissions from fossil fuels continued to increase at unprecedented rates the global temperature ceased to increase demonstrating that in the past 23 years the climate models have failed to make proper predictions for nine of these years and with no prediction from the models as to when the current record level of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels will cause a return to global warming leading to catastrophic global temperature levels by 2050; there is no possible scientific validity to the climate model projections.
    For the past nine years as these models continue to make false predictions of human caused global warming; the environmentalist lobby has forced emissions reductiopn legislation based entirely on these false computer model projections demonstrating the true danger of politics driving scientific investigation.

    • Norm

      false computer model projections

      http://bit.ly/przEG6

    • Norm Kalmanovitch

      23 years ago on June 23 (coincidence?), 1988 James Hansen predicted accelerated global warming reaching catastrophic proportions by year 2050 based on computer models that were limited to just 13 years of data support from the 1975 to 1988 limit of increased CO2 emissions being consistent with rapid global temperature increase.

      Yeah.

      And his prediction was totally false.

      CO2 emissions actually increased at a faster rate than he estimated for his worst case Scenario A (actual CO2 growth rate was 1.75% of the emission at the time, rather than 1.5% as predicted by Hansen), but temperature increase was less than half of his model prediction.

      What happened?

      It is quite easy to figure out that he simply used a 2xCO2 climate sensitivity in his model that was more than 2X too high.

      Gavin Schmidt has tried to fog up the issue by comparing Hansen’s forecast for “no added CO2” with the actual (the two correlate pretty well).

      Hansen’s 1988 study stipulated:

      Scenario A assumes that growth rates of trace gas emissions typical of the 1970s and 1980s will continue indefinitely; the assumed annual growth rate averages about 1.5% of current emissions, so that the net greenhouse forcing increases exponentially.

      Scenario B has decreasing trace gas growth rates, such that the annual increase of the greenhouse climate forcing remains approximately constant at the present level.

      Scenario C drastically reduces trace gas growth between 1990 and 2000 such that the greenhouse climate forcing ceases to increase after 2000.

      So Gavin is in effect telling us that Hansen’s “zero CO2 growth” case is what we actually experienced (despite the CO2 growth we had).

      Hmmm…

      Max

      • Max

        Scenario C drastically reduces trace gas growth between 1990 and 2000 such that the greenhouse climate forcing ceases to increase after 2000.

        Scenario C described above best matches the observation as shown in the following graph

        http://bit.ly/iyscaK

        How does my beloved science comes to this?

      • Girma

        You’ve proven the point that a picture is worth 1000 words.

        Max

  19. The Avery paper and the response from Trevor Davies was discussed at Bishop Hill recently. Apparently Davies tried to get the paper withdrawn, which is amusing since the abstract speaks of “efforts to intimidate journal editors to suppress contradictory studies”.

    • Ha, the applied mathematician formerly known as PaulM! Thanks for this link back to a thread I’d completely missed Paul. This story of everyday folk in healthcare squaring up to the climate bullies could be extremely timely for me right now.

    • There is no evidence that Trevor Davies was attempting to suppress a contradictory study. He seems to have been simply objecting to a libellous and false charge against his University. Which it is his duty to do..

      • …when speaking like a patriot, Nick.

      • Latimer Alder

        He asks them to publish a retraction, which they have failed to do. And if the charges were libellous he could have/should have sued.

        As it was his intervention opened the door for Avery to publish yet further revelations about the misconduct of CRU/UEA

        Say what you will about Trev – but he is certainly not Pro Vice Chancellor (Strategic Thinking). He fails to realise that few would any longer trust him or his institution and colleagues to tell the time accurately First Phil would adjust it a bit to suit his purposes, then Mikey would demand that it be revised to fit in with local time at Penn State and Big Jim would then tell them that they’re all underwater anyway. Gav would declare that it must be right because they are climate scientists and the whole big circus would carry on as before.

        And it was their own hubris that led to nemesis. Very Greek. But I can’t tell whether its a tragedy or a comedy.

  20. I don’t believe there has ever been a golden age of “pure” science. Scientists, like everyone else, are people. They have ideologies, opinions and stakes in the outcome of public policy decisions.

    I would no more expect Gavin Schmidt or James Hansen to shut up about climate policy, than I would expect conservative politicians to take their pronouncements at face value. Public debates on major policy issues are messy. They have always been, and will always be.

    When scientists cross the line into advocacy, you just have to view what they say, including about the science, with the same skepticism you have for advocates anywhere else. If someone is actually funded by an industry that has a stake in the outcome of the debate, that is important to know. If someone is funded by government, and government has a stake in the outcome, that too is important to know.

    You know when someone is an advocate that you always have to look further than just what they are saying, you know there may well be things they are not saying, and that they may be slanting the facts to suit their policy argument. The climate debate is no different.

    So long as there is no monopoly on information (as there used to be when there were only 3 television networks in the U.S., no talk radio, no internet, and every newspaper in the country took its lead from the New York Times), people will eventually hear both sides. Government funded scientists pushing their science to justify government assertion of power, run into (at first) industry funded scientists seeking to preserve the interests of their employers. Then the public gets involved, including other scientists and experts in related fields, who respond to the controversy with their own work and insights.

    What you get is a loud, messy, cantankerous public debate, in which all opinions, including regarding the science, are aired. Which is exactly as it should be when the stakes are either potential catastrophic climate damage, or potential catastrophic economic damage.

    • The issue you have though, is when a scientist starts advocating, you can no longer trust the impartiality of their work.

      The advocacy means they’ve ‘picked’ a side (a BIG no-no for a scientist) and this WILL permeate their work, either consciously or uncosciously. It is unavoidable.

  21. –> “… outcomes predetermined by the biases in selecting the information on which decision rules depend.”

    What greater example could there possibly be than the E*P*A*?

    Did EPA government science authoritarians really believe they could control average global temperatures and that the sun plays no role in climate?

    Of course not. Unfortunately corruption, abuse, conflict of interest, bias and using science to play on the fears and superstitions of ignorant citizens is not new. But, in the case of the EPA there must be some accountability for acts against the people.

    • The EPA problem is a very interesting Catch 22 when you look under the hood.

      One of the current problems, the EPA regulations are submitted to the States without recommendation for resolution and with the threat of the loss of Federal Funds for non-compliance. This triggers a cascade of wasted tax dollars as each of the States and in many cases each municipality are separately required to contract for studies in support of policy resolution and compliance.

      If the Federal government and the States had their heads screwed on straight, the States would co-op the research and policy costs, mandate appropriate regulations, and share solutions. The Fed should be supporting an efficient process that empowers the States but clearly isn’t.

      • Note: the GOP is currently introducing legislation related to the powers of the EPA. This is long overdue and the reason the EPA has been required to act on its own. The EPA never wanted to determine the validity of Global Warming science and the Supreme Court made it very clear that they are not in a position to settle the science.

        I’m not sure why Boxer and Waxman are attempting to spin the issue. But, Congress needs to resolve the EPAs authority so the EPA doesn’t overstep its authority and so it can’t be used at the discretion of only 1 branch of government.

      • “The EPA never wanted to determine the validity of Global Warming science and the Supreme Court made it very clear that they are not in a position to settle the science.”

        Two errors. The EPA political leadership under Bush did not want to regulate CO2. The career government employees of the agency couldn’t wait to get their hands on the energy economy. Also, the Supreme Court only required the EPA to make a decision on whether the EPA should regulate CO2, finding that CO2 met the definition of a pollutant, but the five progressives who joined that ruling put no limits on what the EPA could do after that.

        GOP attempts to rein in the EPA are doomed to failure, unless one of two things happens: either the conservative tide continues in November 2012, or the House Republican leadership grows a spine and stands fast on denying funding of the EPA’s rampage through the U.S. economy. There are real prospects of the first, the second,not so much.

  22. Dr. Curry,
    
David Archibald had an interesting post on Thorium Reactors in August on WUWT and I just ran across a petition to the White House for funding.
    ( http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/08/09/further-on-thorium/ )

    Consider posting a petition on the White House site to address the lack of a proper Science Commission or proper Federal oversight process to resolve science policy issues that impact the entire country. When in Rome ; )

    Petition to Fund Thorium Research:
https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions#!/petition/provide-funding-liquid-fluoride-thorium-reactor-lftr-research-and-development-energy-independence/JkwTRBlv

    • The Devil is in the details but the term “proper” must include Public Trust. This would help to eliminate the misconceptions that undermine the current state of the science and would properly and publicly expose the same state.

      It could also include Industrial Engineering and Design players who are clearly missing from the current resolutions to help guide a more holistic vision of appropriate solutions.

    • John from CA,
      Chu is too busy with windmills and solar panels to worry about thorium.

      • Hey hunter,
        I know but if Thorium is a viable solution, we should sign the petition to promote the funding.

        Is Thorium the best thing since sliced bread? Bread stays fresher when its not pre-sliced but you get the idea.

      • Chu is busy getting SMR’s and the NGNP licensed for the next few years.

        988 of the coal fired plants in the US are 200MW or less and the vast majority are coming up for retirement ‘soon’.

      • harrywr2,
        If you check the DoE website, there is nearly nothing on nuclear or fusion energy. If Sec. Chu is busy getting SMR and NGNP technologies licensed, he is strangely shy about it.

  23. Biasing such as shown by ClimateGate is destructive of open inquiry resulting on harm to the body politic and likely loss to the public, especially the poor. The TRIZ or ASIT invention methods seek to systematically explore all alternative ways to develop novel improvements.

    Articles such as by Rice and Avery are critically important and need to be widely disseminated to restore the integrity of climate science. Especially in light of the severe barriers to scientific progress exposed by Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
    Climate advocacy is a particularly pernicious barrier to truth because it claims to be acting for the public good when it is actually destructive of the scientific method and gives bad data to bias advice.

  24. Potential climate change made simple.

    Step one- Does human released CO2 warm the earth?
    The science on this one is conclusive and the answer is yes. There is still considerable disagreement regarding the rate of the warming that additional CO2 will cause. There are multiple reasons for this uncertainty which include the Sun’s changing impact over time, the impact of other atmospheric gasses, and the impact of the oceans in slowing any potential change.
    There are additional unknowns regarding natural variability in CO2 emissions and absorption rates as a function of temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentrations over time. Science is just starting to learn about this natural variability, but there is no doubt that variability happens and it is a large potential impact and makes modeling more difficult.

    Step two- What impact does the warming caused by the additional CO2 identified in “step one” have on the conditions that humans care about? In this step we basically want to know what the temperature and rainfall differences will be to different regions of the world.
    This is the stage where modeling comes into play. In order to be effective we need models that will provide reliable information on the effect that any warming will have on rainfall and temperature in specific regions. We do not have this today and it makes it very difficult to accept making major changes to the world’s economics without reliable information.

    Step three- What will be the net long term impacts of the changes identified in step two have on humans in the different regions of the world? This is where real analysis is required to identify both predicted harms and benefits will occur to the various parts of the planet.
    This becomes even more critical when a person considers the reality of how planet earth is governed. There is no supreme authority looking out for the long term good of the planet in spite of many who believe that decisions of this type should be made based upon that mindset. In the real world, there are 200 different “nation states” which are generally looking 1st after what is in their own self interest, unless there is very clear information to show that what is good for their nation is causing harm to almost everyone else.

    In this area the reports currently written do not seem to provide reasonable analysis. The reports published by the IPCC seem IMO to be examples of blatant advocacy of a conclusion and frankly an analysis based upon faulty inputs. There appears to be no valid reason to accept the conclusions as written.

    • So in your 3 step process- so far step 1 is done poorly and steps 2 and 3 have been disasters?

      • imo the process the IPCC has followed in AR4 was an excellent example of advocacy of a position and not unbiased science.

    • Step one- Does human released CO2 warm the earth?
      The science on this one is conclusive and the answer is yes.

      That is technically incorrect unless one includes “…all other things being equal”. For instance, the last decade or so shows negligible warming, at least compared the the decade prior to that. I am well aware of the arguements regarding variability, delays and so forth and will not argue those here. Rather I would suggest that these explanations fall into the “all other things being equal” catagory – they show that all other things are not equal. Further we know that we do not have a solid, predictable explanation for such variability (at least in the mainstream) – if we did, we would not write it off as “natural variability”, “weather” etc, but would instead show the causes and be able to add/subtract their effects, each one individually explained and predictable (with the caveat that “predictable” here would be similar to CO2 “predictable” warming – ie, if we know the value of the “forcing agent”, we can predict the value of the “all else being equal”, non-feedback temperature change based on both theory and empirical observation/experimentation).
      With the above in mind, I would suggest that the opening quote is one that I would define as “advocacy” not “science”, because it is the selective quoting of part of the known and undisputed facts and that such selectivity distorts the impression given to non-technical users of the information of the true state of knowledge about the subject. The problem, of course, is that such caveats (“in theory…”, “all else being equal” etc) are not what the decision makers want to hear – they will attempt to get these removed from the “testimony” of any expert they ask in order to limit their own culpability for the decision should it turn out to be wrong.

  25. I think this introduction to a research and development paper makes an interesting contrast to current climate advocacy –

    “It is exceptionally difficult to arrive at an objective view on this subject, not only because of the large gaps both in our knowledge of the facts and in our understanding of the mechanisms involved, but also because of the understandable emotion aroused by what is seen as a serious threat to the environment”

    This was written in 1984 in “Acid Rain and Forestry” for the Forestry Commission, by my father {Anteros senior ;)} In many ways the whole subject parallels modern climate controversies but there are differences; my father and his Forestry Commission colleagues had no financial or political interest in the findings of their research – beyond all the inevitable human biases and expectations. It would have been just as easy for them to say “We see significant damage to British trees from airborne acid deposition” as it was to say “We see no evidence of any damage to British trees…….but we’ll carry on looking as objectively as we are able”

    Perhaps times have changed (and the Atlantic is a big pond) but I think of Michael Mann’s book ‘Dire predictions’ and am incredulous to think he can remain even vaguely objective. If my father had been allowed by the Commission to make a few bob by writing an apocalyptic book with the title ‘The Decline and Fall of the English Forest’, what would he have then have been obliged to SEE next time he came upon some yellowing pine needles – natural variability or the fingerprint of environmental catastrophe?

  26. The effort to present some kind of dichotomy regarding the effects of bias and advocacy between the science and the communication thereof is misguided. The partisan advocacy and bias infects every part of the so-called science. It infects the grant process, the confirmation bias that fools the researcher, peer review, publication decisions, assessments, and the way individual scientists evaluate the quality of individual studies or overall assessments.

    There is no pure, ivory soap “science” which is only sullied by an infected communication strategy.

    • stan, what you are describing is a “process” problem.

      Our host has alluded to this in the past, but it is the IPCC “consensus process” which has allowed bias to enter (and rule) climate science.

      Until this “consensus process” is removed (probably along with the IPCC who created and nurtured it) there will be no change (see earlier thread with lead article by Tony Brown).

      Max

  27. Your position is excessively integralistic, Max (manacker). Every scientist has his or her own pet theory, hypothesis and solution to the world’s problems.

    • That’s right, omnologos.

      And every scientist is entitled to his/her own opinions.

      BUT, when a “scientist” (or any other adviser) is being paid with public funds to provide objective scientific information to both the elected policymakers and the voting public who elected them, then this “scientist” is no longer free to use his/her position in order act as an active advocate for a cause, by giving biased information.

      It’s really quite simple.

      When you pay for factual information, you don’t want BS.

      And when you see that you are getting BS, you fire the guy.

      Max

      • Furthermore — it should go without saying but in the case of climate science it must be stated explicitly — scientists should not be deleting or threatening to delete data and emails, playing games with the data, rigging peer review, and running their advocacy efforts on the taxpayer’s dime.

        What I have found most alarming about climate science — as opposed to climate — is not the slippage between science and advocacy, but the slide past that into dishonesty and misconduct plus the silence of much of the rest of the scientific community.

  28. Pielke, Jr. has also written extensively on the problems of what he calls “stealth advocacy”, where scientific credentials are used to try to disguise political advocacy efforts.

  29. The Avery paper is also available here without paywall (courtesy of a blogger on Bishop Hill)

    http://www.cato.org/pubs/bp/bp117.pdf

  30. The Avery paper, UEA’s Trevor Davies response, and Avery’s reply to Davies can all be accessed as a guest at http://www.psocommons.org/wmhp/vol2/iss4/art3/ Just click on the download button and you will taken to a guest login/registration.

    Apparently Trevor Davies did manage to get the article temporarily withdrawn, and it still has the note “This article is currently being re-reviewed by the journal Editors.”

    As Avery noted the irony of Trevor Davies getting the editors to withdraw the article: “Shortly after publication of this article, Trevor Davies, the Pro Vice Chancellor (Research) of the University of East Anglia (UEA), contacted the editors of this journal and asked them to withdraw the article, a request which, to the shame of those who support free enquiry and my dismay as a member of the editorial board of this journal, the editor agreed to, at least on a temporary basis.
    What is ironic about this is that, among other charges made against the CRU circle based on these emails, the scientists involved in the scandal were accused of engaging over a six-year period in “efforts to intimidate editors into not publishing contradictory results that refuted their arguments,” the very action that Mr. Davies is attempting.”

  31. The problem isn’t scientists getting involved in politically-charged issues: they’ve been doing that for centuries. It isn’t that they have biases and political leanings like all human beings. The problem, and to me it is a troubling one, is how pliable and co-optable the institutions of science are to these influences. Here I mean the peer-reviewed scientific literature, the peer-guided process of awarding research grants, and professional societies that put their imprimatur on consensus statements of which 99% of the members know little or nothing. Evidently it does not take much for them to abandon their principles and go slumming.

  32. I think the experience with the fisheries indicates that we should listen to the scientists, or ignore them at our peril.

  33. Just noting that after 85 comments, the words ethic, ethics, or ethical have yet to appear. Is that odd?

    • Yes, it is odd.
      My take is that the focus of science should be on process:
      Transparent, fully reported, repeatable, well reported.
      Error or non-error can be dealt with if the process is followed correctly.
      Ethics are the foundation of a process that is transparent, fully reported, repeatable and accountable.

      • I agree. Full traceability is required in order to enforce an ethical scientific code of conduct, one that cannot be easily or conveniently subverted.

        I know I sound like a broken record on this — but formal IV&V is a proven process that can do just that.

      • Seconded (from the OTHER broken record!)

    • gmcrews: I mentioned dishonesty and misconduct here.

      Your point about ethics is well-taken. I understand that finer ethical judgments are tricky and people disagee. However, I turned against orthodox climate scientists when I realized that their ethics had deteriorated to a Nixonian level: Do what you need to do as long as you don’t get caught, and if you do get caught, stonewall, whitewash, and spin.

      I believe a competent professional should be capable of separating knowledge, uncertainty, and opinion. Here’s what we know and why. Here are the uncertainties and why. Here are my opinions and why.

      I don’t expect perfection in this, but I do expect a good faith effort. But that’s not what we’ve seen from climate scientists, whether it’s Clmategate, Schneider’s Dilemma, or the widespread shouting down, censoring and banning of opposing viewpoints on orthodox blogs.

      You’re right. There is an ethical problem here.

  34. Dr Curry, this post and comments are timely and proper.

    We all should know about the corruption of politicians that comes from pay to play scandals, i. e. Solyndra, First Solar, Sun Power Corp, (http://thegwpf.org/energy-news/4092-solar-firm-that-received-12-billion-federal-loan-plagued-by-financial-problems.html), and of course, Government Motors.

    It seems that advocacy science can reverse the process so that scientists play with slanted research in return for pay in the from of corrupting government grants. The extent of the corruption of climate science by play for pay is increasingly evident.

    Whenever, I see “best available science” used in laws and regulations I know from several decades of experience that the best available can be pure crap. This is especially true in the biological work that is developed to support listings of species under the Endangered Species Act. Frequently, the only science available is done for obscure species about which virtually nothing is known. The listing petitions are too often filed in order to obtain research grants from government agencies and NGOs with agendas that support or stand to gain (fund raising) from listings.

    The standard mantra from climate alarmists whenever the are confronted with new research that casts their theory in doubt, is to slander the researcher with false claims that their work is funded by big oil companies. Conversely, there is ample evidence that funding from government agencies, institutes and NGOs funding is used to promote and corrupt science that supports their agendas. This is true corruption that must be controlled before all science suffers from resultant loss of credibility.

    The clean up most come from ethical scientists who stand to loose everything if the corruption is not ended. I am convinced that most who participate on this blog are ethical scientists. Dr Curry you are performing an invaluable service for the public.

  35. Just finished reading Avery’s respomse. It is long, detailed, and well referemced — and devastating. It also angered me that the guilty parties are even allowed any credance on a critical public policy question. That people can post here and claim that climategate is defensible (like Schmidt) is also a cause for calling not just for reformation of climate science but for a fresh start.

  36. @Judith C

    Thank you for opening a thread on this issue. You have redeemed yourself for previously avoiding this

    I’ve long recognised ( > 20 years) the damage that greenie alarmism, with cherry-picked information, repression of unpleasant (to them) facts and vituperative public assaults on those who insist on full disclosure, has done to the credibility of science. One cynical end-result of this has been the charge of manslaughter laid on seismologists in Italy for a failed prediction

    I’ve resented this wilful damage to intellectual integrity with a depth most people cannot imagine. It has been a deliberate race to the bottom of public opinion, cynically and knowingly abusing the public ignorance of science

  37. I the big picture, scientists who become advocates are “cashing in” the good reputation of science for political or personal gain. But the account is not infinitely large, and it shows signs of being overdrawn. The credit line is being used up, too.

    And how can the account and credit line be replenished? Only a long period of adherence to Scientific Ethics (report all the results, try hard to disprove your own hypotheses, welcome challenges, don’t subvert other researchers, etc.) and a halt to withdrawals (advocacy, making “special pleadings” for preferred policies) will serve.

  38. Science rejectionist types will do whatever it takes to discredit, as well as the science itself, individual scientists who happen to displease them.

    If they speak out and engage with the public: They are accused of advocacy. Political activism etc

    If they keep to formal channels: They’re accused of sitting in their ivory towers. They’re described as an aloof elite out of touch with ordinary people.

    Scientists are being criticised for making the link between AGW and CO2 emissions. Period. (as Americans like to say) . They aren’t being criticised for advocacy. Scientists have always done that. There is little point discovering that AIDs is spread by a virus if you don’t follow through and advocate measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

    • tt,
      So Judy Curry is a science rejectionist type? the various scientists and technically educated people who are skeptical and post here are science rejectionists?
      As was said in another venue, “tempterrain, at long last have you no hsame or sense of decency?”
      And your assertion about CO2 emissions and AGW is right, but not at all in the way you intend.
      Think about it.

      • Judith Curry wants to walk both sides of the street!

      • tt,
        That is a very regrettable metaphor regarding Dr. Curry on your part.
        I would urge you to think more on that, as well as the larger points I made.

      • Regrettable? Speak for yourself on that one.

        She could also be said to be trying to ride two horses at the same time. That’s a good skill for circus performers but not necessarily climate scientists.

    • You’re presenting a false dichotomy here. It isn’t a choice between either cloistering scientists in monasteries or erasing the line between science and politics. Very few substantive things in life are reducible to either-or cartoons. Your “science rejectionists types” cartoon is another example. I have never met a science rejectionist and that includes several visits to Amish colonies. Are you living in a binary tree somewhere?

      • Sadly, tt is living in Queensland, not the epitome of intellectual endeavour or of honesty and integrity in government. I was told (not by my detractors) that I was perceived as a threat by the powers-that-be because of my “honesty, integrity, intellect and analytical rigour,” which made it harder for government and senior bureaucrats to adopt self-serving policy which was against the public interest.

      • BobK

        “I have never met a science rejectionist ” Let me introduce you to Brian H. He’s one. There are many more denizens on this blog who reject the science of AGW. I’m surprised you haven’t noticed!

      • The targets of those of us who reject crap science, such as cli-fi, try to identify themselves with “Science” as a defense. Doesn’t work.

      • tempy,

        I see you still haven’t figured out the difference between Science and Cargo Cults. A hint, it has something to do with replicability and real data stressed with sceptical outlooks and not BELIEF.

    • K Scott Denison

      tt, I believe you have placed too much faith in the integrity of public-sponsored researchers.

      In the private sector, there are clear and effective controls in place to ensure that scientists aren’t deliberately, or inadvertently, biasing results. In the end, the market has the final say.

      In the public sector (and it is NO coincidence that the controversial climate “scientists” are all public employees), ther are no such controls. Quite the contrary, there are many reasons for these “scientists” to bias the science to fit a political narrative that will ensure additional funding.

      For this reason, IMO one must be extra-skeptical of the “scientists” on the public payroll, especially this whose results are readily verifiable.

      • K Scott Denison

        Ugh, typos galore. Sorry, that’s what one gets when on their third pint of a very nice cask ale in Addison, Tx…

      • KSD,
        As a fellow poor typist, I still believe your points were well communicated.

      • K Scott Denison

        hunter, thank you. I will continue to enjoy my ale and endeavor to be a better typist!

      • KSD,

        Yes it would be good if the private sector funded science. It doesn’t. It funds its own research into ways of increasing its profits. That’s not the same thing at all.

        How many of this year’s Nobel prizes were from non-public institutions? How many have ever there ever been? I can only think of a couple. Bell Labs funded work into the Microwave background. The Swiss patent office funded Albert Einstein but I think he probably had to check that his boss wasn’t around before writing E=mc^2 !

    • –> “There is little point discovering that AIDs is spread by a virus if you don’t follow through and advocate measures to prevent the spread of the virus.”

      Nevertheless, the credibility of science would be demolished and all respect would be lost for any effete snobs of liberal academia who would insist that–e.g., AIDSs is caused by workers in the free enterprise system who drive SUVs, right?

    • K Scott Denison

      “There is little point discovering that AIDs is spread by a virus if you don’t follow through and advocate measures to prevent the spread of the virus.”

      Or, alternatively, there is little point in wasting the opportunity to scare people about a link between vaccinations and autism when there is so much funding that might come as a result.

    • And advocates will do what it takes to make themselves look like the Troo Troothers of Science; all part of the schtick.

      As for “following through”, that’s exactly what scientists must not do. They don’t wear that hat; that’s politics, for better or worse. And we see the consequences when they do try. They ain’t pretty. It starts with elimination of their own worth as scientists, and carries on to stain as much of their field as they can influence.

      • Just to expand slightly, what we “scientist rejectionists” see is that said scientist advocates have both become impervious to contrary evidence, and gatekeepers against it. Worse than dangerous to science: fatal.

    • Wow. Way to miss the point! They aren’t being criticized for making the link. Two points: 1) They haven’t made the case. They wouldn’t be trying to reverse the null hypothesis, if they had. They wouldn’t have stooped to so many unethical acts if they had. 2) The criticism is directed at the extensive use of unethical tactics.

  39. “Partisan groups lobbying for preferred outcomes have a long history of the selective use of information to support predetermined conclusions. This is acceptable in politics, but not in science.”

    This is a deeply disturbing comment. It is NEVER acceptable to distort the facts for advantage. This is a symptom of the sickness in our society.

    A more reasonable statement would be that this has become COMMON in politics.

  40. Indian, Brazilian, Russian and Chinese businessmen do not have to ask the doomsday preachers of the governmental-education complex in the West for permission to emit CO2; and they don’t and won’t ask because they do not fear the AGW hoax and scare tactics of Western civilization and they really don’t care if the Democrat party turns an energy-deprived American economy into another GM or if California becomes the Greece of the US.

    • Actually, they should care. It’s the #1 market for their products, not to mention the #1 bulwark against some very bloody-minded adventurism.

    • Who gives politicians advice on where their mandate should run?
      Economic advisors.
      They only go by statistics and trends that have happened before. Any new problems never encountered, they want to spend to get back to the known parameters that have happened before. As workers have always been able to work and pay taxes.
      Failed to understand that the companies left for profiteering to China and other cheaper countries.

  41. Comparison of IPCC projections with observations


    Since IPCC’s first report in 1990, assessed projections have suggested global average temperature increases between about 0.15°C and 0.3°C per decade for 1990 to 2005. This can now be compared with observed values of about 0.2°C per decade, strengthening confidence in near-term projections

    As IPCC claimed accelerated warming, after 5 years, for the period from 1995 to 2010, the lower and upper global warming rates are at least equal to 0.15 deg C and 0.3 deg C per decade, respectively. Here is the comparison of IPCC projections with observations until 2010:

    http://bit.ly/p1qCeM

    By any measure, this projection is very wrong.

  42. steve fitzpatrick

    “I would like to add something that’s not essential to the science, but something I kind of believe, which is that you should not fool the laymen when you’re talking as a scientist. . . . I’m talking about a specific, extra type of integrity that is not lying, but bending over backwards to show how you’re maybe wrong, [an integrity] that you ought to have when acting as a scientist. And this is our responsibility as scientists, certainly to other scientists, and I think to laymen.” – Richard P. Feynman, 1974

    I think that clearly explains the appropriate level of advocacy in science.

  43. A major concern over climate advocacy is biasing scientific evidence by highlighting a portion of future possible outcomes while minimizing, ignoring or hiding others. e.g. emphasizing future global warming scenarios while ignoring the global cooling scenarios. e.g. the decoding the black plague’s DNA highlights the catastrophic consequences of global cooling:

    From the teeth of four of those victims, researchers have now reconstructed the full DNA of a microbe that within five years felled one-third to one-half of the population of Western Europe. . . . Harsh as the economic stresses assailing Europe today may be, they are a breeze compared with problems in the mid-14th century. The climate was cooling, heavy rains rotted out crops and caused frequent famines, and the Hundred Years’ War began in 1337. People were probably already suffering from malnutrition and other diseases when the plague arrived like the fourth horseman of the apocalypse.

    Catastrophic global warming alarmism seriously understates the uncertainties of the null hypothesis of natural variations including both periods with major global warming and global cooling periods. i.e., the Roman and Medieval warm periods and the Little Ice Age. Easterbrook and others have been predicting a lack of warming or some cooling from about 2007 to 2037 due to the PDO changing from warm to cool phase – which fits the current lack of warming.
    Unbiased science advice must present the full range of climate evidence and models and the relative consequences and objective probabilities of each.

  44. Is BBC relaxing its climate advocacy to actually report on “inconvenient” solar science? e.g. Paul Hudson of the BBC now reports:

    For as long as I have been a meteorologist, the mere suggestion that solar activity could influence climate patterns has been greeted with near derision. . . .
    when UV output is low, colder air than normal forms over the tropics in the stratosphere. . . .The cold air in the stratosphere then makes its way to the surface – leading to bitterly cold easterly winds across the UK and parts of Europe.
    When UV output is higher, the opposite is true, with warmer air making its way to the surface, and carried across the UK and Europe from the west. . . .
    But there are some scientists who believe that there are longer term cycles, such as the bi-centennial cycle and that on average over the coming decades solar activity will decline.

    If so, not only will cold European winters become more common, but global temperatures could fall, too, although the general consensus amongst most scientists at the moment is that any solar-forced decline would be dwarfed by man-made global warming.

    • David,

      Sort of shows that man-made global warming cannot keep up enough heat to the natural parameters of nature.
      Considering their is never been an actual repeated exact pattern in all of the Universe. Every moment is a unique one.

  45. Scientists are people. I assume that, as such, they may lie, cheat, steal, commit adultery or murder, even pick their noses or fart from time to time.

    They do not wear haloes.

    They are lucky in that they get paid to pursue their passion, hobby – call it what you will.

    What is the problem with scientists behaving as humans? The main problem people seem to have is that the scientist who has the ear of Government is behaving in a reprehensible manner for being human. That is, of course, unless he is supporting your position.

    There is a bigger problem for the citizens of an alleged “democracy” (and I will include the citizens of the UK here, even though they briefly flirted with democracy a few years ago. History records they re-instituted the Monarchy).

    Politicians are elected by popular vote, so called. This means that your country is being run by the winners of a popularity contest. This strikes me as a little odd. By comparison, scientists pushing their own barrow seems perfectly rational. It seems to me that a “scientist” being funded to point out that other “scientists” occasionally behave in a “human” fashion is possibly not the best use of funds. However that’s me, not your average taxpayer, obviously.

    Politicians (the popularity contest winners) get to choose who to believe as part of the prize for winning, and also to impose their own beliefs on us, the stupid people who put the inmates in charge of the asylum.

    Whether we like it or not, it’s part of the system. I adjust my life to obtain maximum contentment by taking my environment into account. Does this make me ignorant and apathetic? Honestly, I don’t know and I don’t care!
    (That was too good to resist. Sorry.)

    Thanks

    • Scientists are people. I assume that, as such, they may lie, cheat, steal, commit adultery or murder, even pick their noses or fart from time to time.

      Priests are angels by churches has now been replaced by scientists are angles by governments.

    • ozzieostrich: So I assume you have no problem with going to a doctor who decides to give you the most expensive, prolonged treatment and lop off a limb or two because maybe you need that but he’s really thinking about buying a new car and your payments will help that along nicely, and while you’re spending so much time in his office maybe he’ll try to convert you to Christianity.

      What the heck! He’s human. He doesn’t wear a halo.

      I also assume you would have no problem living in an authoritarian state with a nice efficient top-down structure so you won’t be bothered with competing, confusing voices on how your country should be run.

      What the heck! It sure beats the indignity of having leaders picked by a popularity contest.

      What the heck! You’ll adjust your life and live accordingly.

      And if anyone gives you grief about your passive, ignorant views… What the heck! You don’t know and you don’t care.

      • Huxley,

        I believe this thread is about scientists. According to the editor of the British Medical Journal, doctors are not scientists. If you disagree, take it up with them. Apparently, the practice of medicine is evidence based, science is experiment based. Doctors have good friends in climatologists, obviously.

        Your first assumption is meaningless, although it seems that at least 100,000 people lose their lives and in excess of 1 million suffer injuries in the US each year, due to the human failings of doctors. My experience is precisely the opposite – my orthopaedic surgeon suggested that my request for surgery would achieve little more than paying a couple of payments on his Mercedes or extended time on his next overseas skiing holiday.

        He advised strengthening the vastus medialis muscles, and fitting orthotic appliances (supplied free) inside my trekking boots. I chose the free option. I like that sort of humanity.

        If you care to nominate the authoritarian state, and give me a rational reason to move (at my expense, I assume), I will obviously consider the matter. I am not interested in moving to authoritarian, human rights abridging countries like the USA or the United Kingdom.

        No rational person has yet given me grief about my desire to prefer contentment over misery. Are you trying to give me grief? If so, and I intend no offence, you are right. I obviously don’t know, and I really don’t care.

        Thanks.

  46. I’ve said it before, I swear the author of Dilbert follows this blog:

    Here’s his take on decision-making, apparently Climate Etc. style.

    http://www.dilbert.com/2011-10-13/

  47. This….

    “Biasing the science inputs to the policy dialogue to favour studies reporting a particular outcome takes the application of precaution away from decision-makers and embeds it inappropriately in the expert advisory processes, so making supposedly rigorous decision rules produce the outcomes predetermined by the biases in selecting the information on which decision rules depend.”

    …Seems to nicely sum up the consensus side for me.

  48. The first paper (Rice) seems insightful and important indeed. The notion of presenting information in a decision-support context is interesting, espconsidering “misses” and “false alarms”. It reminds me of Greg Craven’s approach (http://www.gregcraven.org/ ) of thinking through the consequences of such false alarms and misses (what if the science is wrong and we acted anyway; what if the science is right and we didn’t act).

    The second paper (Avery) starts with dubious accusations re the CRU emails. Sounds very partisan to me.

    • Bart

      You make a curious distinction between Rice and Avery.

      Both convey the same message.

      The fact that Avery refers to the Climategate e-mails does not in any way detract from the logic of his premise and conclusions, which are quite similar to those of Rice.

      Max

  49. To put earlier posts on the distinction between “advocacy” and “science” into perspective:

    “Scientists” are searching for the “truth”, although, as humans, they may be unable to see it if it lies outside the box of the prevailing paradigm.

    “Advocates” are looking for “proof” to support the preconceived message they want to sell.

    Max

  50. I’m surprised that the book The Honest Broker by Pielke Jr. hasn’t been mentioned in this thread, while much of the discussion has been on issues that he discussed very well in the book.

    I wrote about my own thoughts based on the book last November in the first post on the English language side of my blog.

  51. If they say global warming is continuing when the data says it has not as shown below:

    http://bit.ly/qjJPIG

    What would they have said if the data said global warming was accelerating?

  52. Donna Laframboise explores the “advocate scientist” in her new expose of the IPCC: The Delinquent Teenager who was mistaken for the world’s top climate expert

    “…shines a hard light on the rotten heart of the IPCC” – Richard Tol, Professor of the Economics of Climate Change and convening lead author of the IPCC

    “…you need to read this book. Its implications are far-reaching and the need to begin acting on them is urgent.” – Ross McKitrick, Professor of Economics, University of Guelph

    Laframboise observes:

    . . . that Nobel speech may have left you uneasy. This is how it ended: “Action is needed now. Climate changes are already moving beyond human control.”
    Let us be sensible for a moment. . . . ice melted and retreated and the Ice Age ended all on its own. The . . . Romans ruled 2,000 years ago. To suggest that the climate has ever been within human control is surely a bit silly.

    Pauchauri argued that “all rational persons” should be persuaded by the IPCC’s conclusions since his organization mobilizes “the best talent available across the world.” . . .
    atmospheric science professor . . William Gray “Despite my 50 years of meteorology experience and my many years of involvement in seasonal hurricane and climate prediction, I have never been asked for input on any of the [IPCC] reports.”

    Laframboise then lists numerous IPCC lead authors and coordinating lead authors who appointed before they received their PhD, before publishing any professional papers, or before even an MSc – yet who were already Greenpeace spokesman, or climate activists.
    From what I have read (through Ch 7), this “rational person” finds Laframboise’s expose to be accurate, not Pauchauri’s self praise selfse.

    From what I have read, this “rational person” finds Laframboise’s expose to be accurate, not Pauchauri’s self praise.

  53. The scientific process of discovery should be immune of political concerns needless to say.

    Scientific discoveries should obviously inform the political process but not rule policy.

    Policy in a democratic society is ultimately determined by the people. Right or wrong. The people sometimes choose wrongly; more often, they choose correctly. The track record of democracies is far better with regard to human liberty, social progress, and the environment than all ‘science’ based (or I should say ‘pseudo-science’ based) tyrannies throughout history.

    In the end, all policy decisions are based on politics. Politicians may wish to justify their policies by invoking selected scientific insights. In the end, it is all subjective in the choice of scientific insight and biased toward the policy that they want to advance.

    As a friend of mine says, throwing a little bit of politics into science is like a putting a thimble of piss into a bottle of fine wine. You end up with piss in the end.

  54. Frank Furedi (a sociologist and social commentator, formerly Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent) addresses this issue in The Weekend Australian at http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/science-politics-make-bad-bedfellows/story-e6frg6zo-1226167040617 .

    IMHO, Furedi makes a lot of sense on a wide range of topics. He concludes:

    Yet the findings of research cannot be converted directly into democratically accountable policy. The current tendency to treat the findings of research as the truth violates the very meaning of scientific thinking. Research provides information that needs to be scrutinised and evaluated. However, it is not evident what a scientific discovery means for society. A scientific fact does not indicate its significance for the community. Scientists have every right to interpret the facts and to offer advice about what they think should be done. Although such advice is useful and important, it is up to policymakers to decide how to use it. Science should have no privileged role in evaluating its significance for society. Moreover, when it comes to interpreting such information the public also has a decisive role to play. The final decisions should be decided by the public and their political leaders through weighing up the significance of scientific advice in light of wider social, economic and cultural concerns.

    Whatever was the case in the past, it is no longer possible to separate science from politics. As a result both science and public life are the worse for it. Good science depends on the disinterested pursuit of the truth. It needs to be open-ended and experimentative. Imposing a political agenda on it can only have a corrupting influence on the science.

    In turn, its politicisation diminishes the quality of public life. Instead of treating people like adults who can deal with challenging issues, far too many technocratic policymakers simply lecture them to do what science says.

    When a scientific fact is used as a substitute for the truth it becomes difficult to have a discussion about the norms and values that society needs to live by. Which is why we must not reduce public life to responding to the latest finding of research.
    ___
    Furedi will deliver the Centre for Independent Studies’ annual John Bonython Lecture in Sydney on Tuesday, November 15, on the subject of Leadership, Liberty and the Crisis of Authority.

  55. This is simply great, but the issue is not advocacy. It is the distortion of the opportunity to advocate a balanced view of current science by personal, commercial, political or religious objectives. Science is full of examples of scientific views promoted by self-important individuals, by commercial interests, adherents of various religions, and by pseudo religions like communism, fascism and even Democracy and Freedom.

    The advocacy by the EPA is the result of the capture of the policies of the US Government by the pharmaceutical Industry in order to protect their profits.

    The advocacy of the “greenhouse” theory, and the operations of the IPCC are fueled by the environmental pseudo religion, with the belief that science must be mobilized to support their view that humans are destroying the planet.

    I am an advocate for the theory of evolution and I do not see why I should bother with those who reject the overwhelming scientific evidence because they believe in :”creation”

    Similarly I am an advocate for traditional meteorology which has found that the main influences on the climate are movements of air, water and its various forms. I am prepared to listen to the views of those who claim that “weather” does not matter, and climate is controlled by radiation when they present real scientific evidence for this view, that is not contaminated by their beliefs.

  56. There you go.. http://www.iso.org/iso/social_responsibility

    As long as the Policy makers and the advocate scientists advising them both subscribe to a social responsibility standard mutually acknowledged, problem solved.

  57. Yet another pseudo religion contaminating scientific impartiality: Social Responsibility,

  58. Vincent Gray

    Shall I put you down for Antisocial Irresponsibility, then? ;)

    Science is a social responsibility.

    To my mind, science is the highest responsibility, the greatest social good.

    Pretending science could be a pseudo-religion contaminating scientific impartiality, by the simplest algebra of word substitution of the specific for the general.. may be thought provoking, but it just shows the act of allowing bias to affect science that is the contamination, not the passion of the devoted scientist.

    Also, you may benefit from reviewing the ISO link; it could reveal that what I am suggesting is not exactly what you seem to think I am saying.

    ISO does not certify social responsibility, it merely issues standard definitions and gives a framework for understanding.

    You make it sound like I’m promoting socialism or something.

    Or possibly, like you are.

    “The advocacy by the EPA is the result of the capture of the policies of the US Government by the pharmaceutical Industry in order to protect their profits.”

    Are you American, Dr. Gray? A taxpayer? A citizen? If not, then might one ask what business of yours is the functioning of the US government? Not that I agree or disagree with what you say in this passage, but really.. what is your standing to comment?

  59. The American pharmaceutical industry are currently trying to impose their anti competitive regeme on our currently free market Pharmac , so it matters to me. I just returned from a cruise where the poor Americans made a beeline to the drugs counter in the Mexican resorts because they are ripped off in the US

    So now I am not allowed to criticise the USA? I am sorry for you; we have free speech in our country which is New Zealand.

    As for Social Responsibility, it is one of those subjects that paves the road to hell. I try to judge science impartially and if it clashes with somebody else’s social responsibility, too bad.

    Some of you seem to be the kind of those people who, when they lose an argument start maligning the messenger

    • Dr. Gray

      By all means, criticize the USA to your hearts’ content. Americans love freedom of speech, and admire the forthright habit of well-meaning constructive comment from informed and articulate sources.

      One would hope by now, however — though it is the opposite of my wish to malign you — that any foreigner should know to an absolute certainty to expect to be maligned if they choose to take up the hobby of attempting to bring down American institutions from foreign shores for reasons of ideology.

      Indeed, I wish to protect you from seeming foolish by rambling about things you know only by hearsay from cruise ship passengers desperate for low-price offshore drugs. How is it you hope to obtain scientifically impartial reports from such a source, without first-hand observation? By scanning the internet for blogs that tend to confirm what you’ve heard?

      You’re, in short, coming off seeming hilariously ill-informed on the EPA, and off-topic on pharma. I thought you ought to know.

      Isaac Newton was a remarkable man.

      A scientist’s scientist, he withstood the self-inflicted torture of shoving needles into his own eyeballs to confirm for himself the characteristics of light operating upon the nerves of the retina.

      If anything ought bias an observer, one could scarcely imagine needles through the eyeball would not exceed such an influence.

      And yet, Newton did okay scientifically.

      Most scientists can therefore be expected to withstand all sorts of corrupting influences, and still to put science first overall, and in the net to produce prodigious and fair results.

      Advocacy, if anything, might lead to superior impartiality. Look at Muller, a confirmed skeptic who believed strongly in the influence of the UHI. He put aside his bias and was convinced by the data and the method.

      This is, by far, the norm in science. It is so normal and routine, it is hardly even commented on.

      The people who need conflict-of-interest guidance tend rather to be the politicians, and the mercenary gun-for-hire industry flaks who lobby them, rather than labcoat and pocket-protector real scientists.

      So while I believe in independent verification and validation, I’m much more interested in being protected from industry lackeys than from ‘corruption’ by high ideals, ‘taint’ of ethics, or ‘bias’ of morals.

      • “Advocacy, if anything, might lead to superior impartiality. Look at Muller, a confirmed skeptic who believed strongly in the influence of the UHI. He put aside his bias and was convinced by the data and the method.”

        And in so doing apparently gins up cash flow for a company or two he is associated with.

        I well remember talk about how the science would be first and the error bars would be there. Well, the Media releases are first and there are no error bars in sight. He also claims to be independent and apparently is using the NCDC data as the others. Yup, bias confirmation at work at best.

        Dream on.

  60. .I pass. This is getting out of control

  61. Dr. Gray,
    Bart R is in effectively taking the part of ‘pig’ in a pig wrestling contest with you.
    You did fine.

  62. Both he and yourself seem to be more interested in pig wrestling than in serious scientific discussion.