Institutionalizing Dissent

by Judith Curry

As many have argued, rigorous scientific research requires dissent, or what Robert Merton called “organized skepticism”. Yet it is increasingly the case that some forms of dissent in pharmaceutical research are either absent or unheard. – Justin Biddle

I recently received an invitation to attend a philosophy of science workshop.  As I was reading the list of invited participants, I spotted Justin Biddle, Georgia Tech, philosophy of science. !!! I was hitherto unaware of Justin or that Georgia Tech had hired a philosopher of science.  Upon looking at his publications, there are many publications of relevance to topics being discussed at Climate Etc., notably some papers under review.

I picked the following paper for discussion here, which follows the previous thread on Importance of intellectual and political diversity in science.  Below are some abstracts from Biddle’s paper.

Institutionalizing Dissent: A Proposal for an Adversarial System of Pharmaceutical Research

Justin Biddle

Abstract. There are serious problems with the way in which pharmaceutical research is currently practiced, many of which can be traced to the influence of commercial interests on research. One of the most significant is inadequate dissent, or organized skepticism. In order to ameliorate this problem, I develop a proposal that I call the “Adversarial Proceedings for the Evaluation of Pharmaceuticals,” to be instituted within a regulatory agency such as the Food and Drug Administration for the evaluation of controversial new drugs and controversial drugs already in the market. This proposal is an organizational one based upon the “science court” proposal by Arthur Kantrowitz in the 1960s and 1970s. The primary benefit of this system is its ability to institutionalize dissent, thereby ensuring that one set of interests does not dominate all others.

Excerpts:

Many now acknowledge that there are serious problems with the way in which pharmaceutical research is currently practiced. These problems include the suppression of undesirable results, bias in the design of studies and in the interpretation of results. These problems can be traced to the influence of commercial interests on research.

As many have argued, rigorous scientific research requires dissent, or what Robert Merton called “organized skepticism”. Yet it is increasingly the case that some forms of dissent in pharmaceutical research are either absent or unheard.

This proposal is an organizational one based upon the “science court” proposal by Arthur Kantrowitz in the 1960s and 1970s. The primary benefit of this system is its ability to institutionalize dissent, thereby ensuring that one set of interests does not dominate all others.

The perspective of this paper is that it does not presuppose that policy-relevant research such as clinical trials can be done in a completely value-free manner. A serious problem with current pharmaceutical research is bias, including bias in the choice of which hypotheses to investigate (and which to ignore), bias in the design of experiments, and bias in the interpretation of results.

Bias in experimental design is also a common form of bias in clinical research. There are at least four ways in which sponsors design trials in order to make preferred drugs look better than they really are. Rather, they are examples of “preference bias,” which occurs when the preferences of researchers unduly influence a study in such a way as to increase the likelihood of obtaining a desired result.

It might be tempting to explain these failures by appealing to the greed of individuals. A better explanation, however, appeals to the broader institutional environment in which individual scientists operate.

The appropriate response to this, in my view, is to design systems that institutionalize certain types of criticism and that, more generally, counteract the power of entities that have large financial stakes in the outcomes of research.

In 1967, Arthur Kantrowitz published an article in the journal Science entitled “Proposal for an Institution of Scientific Judgment,” in which he argued for the establishment of a “science court” where scientific questions that are relevant to public policy debates would be adjudicated. Emphasizing the growing entanglement of science and politics, Kantrowitz argued that we are increasingly forced to make consequential “mixed decisions,” or decisions that have both a scientific and a moral/political component. Whether it is the decision to build an atomic bomb or to enact policies to curb ozone depletion, we are increasingly confronted with science-based public policy decisions that have wide-ranging effects on the social and political landscape.

In a number of essays beginning in 1967, Kantrowitz argued that we do not have the appropriate organizational structures for making mixed decisions effectively. The primary reason for this, he argued, is that individual scientists engaged in cutting-edge research are almost always affected by various biases. For example, scientists who become involved in the policy-making process almost inevitably allow their moral and political beliefs to influence their appraisal of scientific hypotheses. Similarly, scientists who are immersed in researching a particular question for an extended period of time almost always develop cognitive prejudices, including preconceptions about the results of future experiments . In addition, the fact that mixed decisions must be made quickly, typically before a consensus is formed within the scientific community, makes it even more likely that such biases will affect individual scientists.

As argued, privatization is impeding the ability of communities to instantiate the norm of organized skepticism. Yet, as should be clear from the discussion of Kantrowitz’s proposal, one of the primary epistemic benefits of an adversarial system is the way in which it institutionalizes dissent. Given this, it is plausible to think that an adversarial system could help to alleviate some of the problems that privatization is causing. In particular, an adversarial system could help to expose the kinds of bias that are so often found in current pharmaceutical research, such as bias in the choice of hypotheses, bias in the interpretation of results, and bias in experimental design.

The adversarial system of pharmaceutical research that I will outline – Adversarial Proceedings for the Evaluation of Pharmaceuticals (APEP) – retains several of the features of Kantrowitz’s original science court proposal. Two groups of advocates would present arguments for a specific position, and a panel of judges would adjudicate between these two groups. The issues to be discussed should be issues that are controversial; in certain circumstances, there will be previously-existing evidence that is sufficient to close the controversy, but in general, the central questions will be underdetermined. The conclusions arrived at by the panel of judges should not be considered definitively true, but should rather be viewed as provisional and subject to change with the acquisition of further information.

Conclusions

I have argued that there are serious problems with the way in which pharmaceutical research is currently done – epistemic, moral, and socio-economic problems – and that an important cause of these problems is inadequate dissent. As a means of improving this situation, I have proposed that an adversarial system of pharmaceutical research, APEP, be instituted within a regulatory agency such as the FDA. The adversarial nature of APEP represents an acknowledgment that pharmaceutical companies, and the scientists that they sponsor, should not be viewed as disinterested arbiters of research but, rather, as advocates for particular hypotheses. APEP, in other words, is an institution that acknowledges that interests play an inevitable role in the evaluation of pharmaceutical research, and it ensures that the interests of pharmaceutical companies are not allowed free-reign but rather are checked by interests that are diametrically opposed to them. In this way, it enforces organized skepticism.

JC reflections

The analogy with climate science is that the dominant moral and political beliefs of climate scientists are introducing problems and biases into climate research.  To use just one example, consider climate models and the bias in experimental design.  Until very recently, driven by the UNFCCC/IPCC mandate, climate models have focused on the time series of temperature anomalies (not on getting the absolute temperatures correct), on anthropogenic forcing (with little attention paid to solar forcing and indirect effects), and on global average surface temperatures (not on regional variations or the disposition of heat in the ocean). Preference bias is evidenced in how climate information is displayed graphically – alternative graphical representations would send a different message.

One of the norms of science is organized skepticism.  Those working at the climate science – policy interface (including the IPCC) have worked hard to kill organized skepticism by manufacturing a consensus on climate change.  The idea of a climate red team has been put forward by John Christy. Kantrowitz and Biddle have thought through how institutionalizing dissent might actually work.  Particularly for climate science, implementing something like this wouldn’t be simple, and actually achieving the desired objectives would be quite difficult.

But not impossible.  The closest I’ve seen was the APS Workshop to consider its climate change statement.  A committee of eminent physicists, each with no particular expertise in climate science or an apparent dog in the public debate, selected 6 scientists (Held, Santer, Collins, Curry, Lindzen, Christy) to address specific questions prepared by the committee.   The committee has not completed its deliberations (I’m not expecting to hear anything from the committee before the end of the year) so the end of this story has not yet been written.  But this is the kind of thing that is more likely than a manufactured consensus seeking process to move the science forward while at the same time providing decision makers with a better sense of the uncertainties and areas of disagreement and ignorance.

An intriguing aspect of the Science Court is that it makes the debate about advocacy and sources of funding as a pernicious influence essentially moot.  It takes away the responsibility from individuals in these matters by institutionalizing dissent.

I’m certainly in favor of this general idea, but I can easily see this falling into the usual rathole for climate science if groups like the NAS are put in charge.  Your thoughts on this?

'Things would go a lot better for you if you would simply agree with the boss's ideas.'

 

225 responses to “Institutionalizing Dissent

  1. Harrison Ford in the remake of “The Fugitive” is an interesting spin on “cooking the data” in pharmaceutical research.

  2. “The analogy with climate science is that the dominant moral and political beliefs of climate scientists are introducing problems and biases into climate research.”

    Of course the real analogy is located in the realm of self-interested careerism.

  3. From a climate in which we demonstrably have way too much government comes the fix of more government.

    • It looks like that may depend on who you work for…

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

      or…

      http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/earth_overshoot_day/

      The long ‘Green’ they prefer to use.

    • naq, 8/19/14 @ 7:15 pm links to “Earth Over Shoot Day 2014”, where the very first paragraph is

      August 19 is Earth Overshoot Day 2014, marking the date when humanity has exhausted nature’s budget for the year. For the rest of the year, we will maintain our ecological deficit by drawing down local resource stocks and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We will be operating in overshoot.

      CO2 does not accumulate in the atmosphere. That was a necessary assumption by IPCC, kudos to contributor, computational ocean chemist Prof. David “35 kyrs” Archer, to make anthropogenic emissions bad enough even to begin to make GCMs respond to the debunked AGW conjecture (it’s still not enough). It was a false assumption, based on faux science. At its core, the assumption required the surface of the ocean to be in thermodynamic equilibrium. No part of the climate is.

      naq’s second link was to “Tax Freedom Day” in Wikipedia, which included this paragraph with a bias-revealing editor’s note:

      Tax Freedom Day should be amended to account for the transfers of value from the people to the government, debt and inflation. These forms of wealth transfers benefit the government immediately and have a delayed effect on the people.[according to whom?]

      Inflation has two definitions, one venerable and objective, and the other confusing cause and effect. Inflation is an expansion of the money supply that causes a general rise in prices. Changing the definition of inflation to mean any kind of a rise in prices frees the government to expand the money supply willy-nilly (Keynes). Obama’s Quantitative Easing has massively increased the money supply (inflated the currency), but it is only now just beginning to cause a rise in prices. That’s because money has had a pitiful velocity during the enduring Great Recession.

      The links share a common disease: postmodernism, the abandonment of objectivity.

    • Edifice upon edifice
      the costly ivory tower,
      higher and higher
      above the ground
      into cloud cuckoo land
      and then …

  4. I think you hit on the main problem with this when you said “I can easily see this falling into the usual rathole for climate science if groups like the NAS are put in charge. ”

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Loosely translated as “Who will guard the guardians?”

    • The only reasonable answer is all interested parties. The activities of the judges must be utterly transparent and open to criticism if they are to be kept honest brokers. The ultimate problem will be a subtle creeping toward corruption. Judges have to be chosen through some mechanism that minimizes insider influence and they have to be term-limited. Otherwise, science court will become like civil/criminal court where justice happens by accident.

  5. Interesting that Tech has this department now. As I peruse their courses, I note of interest: PHIL 2025 – Philosophical Analysis of Policy Choices. Perhaps, Dr. Curry, you could volunteer as a guest speaker for the course.
    GT ’75.

  6. David L. Hagen

    Formalize Red Team Funding to support the Science Court
    Verification and validation are essential to science. For highly important public issues we need a science policy that further formally allocates a substantial portion of funding to “Red teams” to test hypotheses and generate the evidence, and analyses which such a tentative science court could weigh. Current grant making groups are too easily swayed by political correctness and the “lemming factor”.
    e.g. Where is the research examining the timing probabilities of global cooling into the next glacial period and the effort needed to prevent that?
    That has far greater threat to civilization than the IPCC’s warmist alarms.

  7. CRUgate and subsequent lack of acountability pretty effectively exposed the shortcomings and limitations of the adversarial system in scientific research.

  8. Institutionalized dissent in action–e.g., We hear what you are saying but the consensus of opinion is that you are totally wrong”.

    • We heard what you said in 1988, but past that date, we no longer want to hear from you and will do all we can to prevent your voice from ever being heard again. :)

      • What if the expertise of global warming alarmists is undeniable but the injury they seek to prevent can be compared to a trip and fall hazard faced by all of humanity caused by a difference of one-quarter inch in elevation between a parking lot and a sidewalk in front of a Mississippi Walmart?

  9. “There are serious problems with the way in which pharmaceutical research is currently practiced, many of which can be traced to the influence of commercial interests on research.”
    [Yes, the increase in life expectancy and quality of life for billions is an abject failure of the free market. Look instead at all the brilliant pharmaceutical innovations coming out of China, Russia, Cuba and North Korea.]

    and

    “It might be tempting to explain these failures by appealing to the greed of individuals. A better explanation, however, appeals to the broader institutional environment in which individual scientists operate.”
    [This “broader environment” would, surprise, surprise, be an office within the FDA – you know, the government – with binding authority on the drug companies. Now there’s a radical new idea.]

    and

    “As argued, privatization is impeding the ability of communities to instantiate the norm of organized skepticism.”
    [The problem in post modern science is not the lack of skepticism, it is that organization, aka centralization, of “science,” intentionally silences skepticism This proposal would just make it worse.]

    and

    “A different set of ethical concerns stems from the tendency of the pharmaceutical industry to neglect the problems of the very poor, such as those in the developing world.”
    [Because as we all know, the primary purpose of American corporations is to fund the altruistic impulses of college professors unwilling to spend their own money to save the world, while drawing a government subsidized paycheck.]

    Anyone who thinks the FDA is not adversarial to private pharmaceutical companies in its process for approving new drugs is delusional. The US, and only the US, with all its “greed,” “individuals,” and “privatization” is not just the leader in developing life saving and life improving medicines; it virtually stands alone. Life expectancy has increased dramatically over the last 100 years, in substantial part due to the drugs that are the product of individuals organizing into corporations to fund expensive research in hopes of making a profit.

    By all means, what we need is more “institutionalization” (aka centralization) of science, where it can do for pharmaceuticals what it has done for climate “science.”

    As it is now, the primary problem in pharmaceutical research in the US is the stranglehold the FDA maintains on drugs with demonstrated efficacy in treating dangerous diseases. Just one example:

    http://www.realclearpolicy.com/articles/2013/12/21/the_fda_where_life-saving_drugs_go_to_die_782.html

    Please, spare us more regurgitated progressive politics dressed up as “philosophy of science.”

    • It is time for both the FDA and the EPA to be declared DOA and seriously downsized, along with government-education complex and the federal bureaucracy. The preservation of individual liberty demands it.

      • Virtually every federal agency needs to have an expiration date that would require a super majority vote in congress to override. Dept of ed, epa, dhs, fda, could all be either eliminated or seriously downsized.

    • Really, really good comment that needed to be said, Gary.
      May I add one?

      and
      “An intriguing aspect of the Science Court is that it makes the debate about advocacy and sources of funding as a pernicious influence essentially moot. It takes away the responsibility from individuals in these matters by institutionalizing dissent.”
      [And we know this because nobody, ever, second guesses the US Supreme Court. Any court is only as good as those who appoint the judges.]

      • The democracy building advocacy of today want to use the tools of tomorrow.

        Every chance they get, is what it looks like.

    • Palo Alto Ken

      Outstanding!

    • Life expectancy has improved substantially due to cleaner water and hands, improved sewage and stopping smoking. Pharma’s victories pale compared to the true basics. Although their research claims otherwise… :)

      • Tom, think of vaccines ,antibiotics, anti-hypertensives. Still think they pale in comparison.

      • Wonder what the CDC thinks?

        Ten Great Public Health Achievements — United States, 1900-1999
        Vaccination
        Motor-vehicle safety
        Safer workplaces
        Control of infectious diseases
        Decline in deaths from coronary heart disease and stroke
        Safer and healthier foods
        Healthier mothers and babies
        Family planning
        Fluoridation of drinking water
        Recognition of tobacco use as a health hazard

      • Well, if God forbid you get cancer, you can wash your hands and drink a nice clean cool glass of water. I will take the Chemo.

        Pharmaceuticals are kind of like lawyers, in general everybody hates them and points out all the bad things they do. However most people love their personal lawyer, especially when he/she is protecting them or saving them.

    • What GaryM said.

      The last thing we need is for the FDA to be made any more adversarial–or aggressive: http://online.wsj.com/articles/scott-gottlieb-and-coleen-klasmeier-why-your-phone-isnt-as-smart-as-it-could-be-1407369163

  10. Science court? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
    Ah well, it’d be no worse off than the rule by 97% consensus we’ve got now I guess.

  11. The analogy with climate science is that the dominant moral and political beliefs of climate scientists are introducing problems and biases into climate research.

    Where is the evidence for these dominant moral and political beliefs among climate scientists and that this introducing problems and biases in their research?

    • That depends on what planet you have been living on in the past 50 years Joseph. Anyone living on Earth would no that it is the most singularly important factor in many “green” related fields over endeavor.

      Consult James Delingpole if you have a comprehension issue;

      Such willful, trite rhetorical commentary was boringly obtuse 40 years ago.

    • Well Dr. Curry made the claim., I guess she is the one who needs to back it up. But anyone who can support the claim with actual facts will do.

    • ==> “Where is the evidence for these dominant moral and political beliefs among climate scientists and that this introducing problems and biases in their research?”

      There’s solid evidence that moral and political beliefs affect everyone’s critical reasoning (particularly in polarized contexts)..

      What’s lacking is evidence to support Judith’s….er…..uh….em….selective attribution of those influences to climate scientists (and at that, only those whose analysis she disagrees with).

      Selective reasoning is selective.

      • I wonder why you don’t criticize Nascar for their obsession with cars, Joshua. They’ve never once criticized camels for slowness, ill temper or any of the other ills that we all know are associated with them.

    • Joseph,

      What if we take a srep back towards Justin Biddles main point;
      “There are serious problems …, many of which can be traced to the influence of commercial interests on research…”
      and apply it to climate science.

      For example, would this lead us to consider a climate scientist who has an interest in a private weather forecasting company, and how that relates to their focus on particular policy responses, such as better short-term forecasting, and opposition to others such as long-term mitigation?

      Just a question.

      Ethics and Integrity might suggest a hard look at “problems and biases” stemming from this.

      • You reached so far for that smear you’ve toppled over into the tarpit.
        ================

      • kim,

        I think you’ll find it’s reaching not quite as far as taking Biddles point and applying to climate science in general.

        And let’s not forget how terribly concerned we are about Ethics.

      • nottawa rafter

        Michael, just substitute “self” for “commercial” and you have described the situation in climate science to a tee. All the incentive structures, intentional or not, lead to actions and inquiries which are discussed in the piece. Grants, promotions, peer acceptance and fear of ostracism are the dominant forces at work, not pure science.

    • Steven Mosher

      The most obvious piece of evidence looking at the number of IPCC sanctioned GCM experiments that were focused on looking at natural variability.

      The funding effect and other biases express themselves in the questions ASKED not in the answers given.

      So, you dont look for bias int he results.. you look for the questions that never get asked

      • Steven Mosher — Could you comment on the statement that Dr. Muller made in a OP/ED that referenced Dr. Curry. I’m certainly not asking you to “speak” for Dr. Muller but to give a science based opinion on the “type of problem” that Dr. Muller describes as going down a “Rabbit Hole”.

        Skeptics are critically needed in science. But many people (mostly non-scientists) turn this skepticism into anti-science. One can poke a gazillion holes in “Theory X”, but this doesn’t prove “Theory Y” (which includes arguments that AGW is “Junk Science”).

        Scientists in the AGW camp believe there is a causal link between GHGs and temperature increases — which drives the majority of research. I am reminded of Dr. Alice Stewart who “thought” she had a very strong science causal linkage between x-rays and children cancer. But it took over 25 years for science research to “prove” she was right.

        Clearly, scientists’ current understanding of GW is lacking. But if AGW is “Theory X”, is there a consensus “Theory Y”? If there is a leading/consensus “Theory Y”, how do you to scientifically examine it?

        From a layman’s perspective, it sure sounds like many aspects of possible “Y Theories” involve things that appear to be un-measurable and random in nature. Isn’t this what Dr. Muller’s “rabbit hole” is talking about?

        In your opinion, what are the 1 or 2 “target rich” topics that almost all scientists could agree on that need to be exhaustively studied and questions asked (believed to be measurable)?

      • So you are saying that research looking at natural variability won’t get funded?

    • How about, is it unreasonable to assume that one large motivating factor in someone’s decision to become one more of a large and growing number of climate scientists, at least over the past two or three decades, has been a belief in the truth of CAGW and a strong desire to do their bit to “save the planet”?

      • rogerknights

        The people who have gone into climatology are not a normal sample of seekers-after-truth. They are primarily a biased sample of persons who think they’ve found truth in the environmentalist indictment of mankind’s wasteful / poisonous ways. Climatology is a new field, almost entirely funded privately and publicly by “concerned / alarmed” funders of other environmentalist crusades, and taught by similar acolytes.

        The most intense Believers have managed to intimidate or marginalize others and set the tone for the field. It’s easy to do when “hard facts” and clear cause-effect relationships are so difficult to nail down. There’s lots of room for interpretation of finding, or to avoid research topics that are likely to produce contrary evidence.

        On top of that, there is an institutional incentive to avoid non-alarmist findings: it would reduce the fame and fortune (funding) for climatology if it were to tell its funders and the public: “Move along, nothing to see here.”

        Other fields have attracted biased samples of “scientists” who’ve marginalized dissenters: sociology and psychology, for instance. (Behaviorism and Freudianism were the big offenders in the latter instance.)

    • Howard is a contrived fool.

  12. Typical .. if you can’t argue the science, you go meta and you start arguing on how to argue.

    You want to get the absolute value of the temperature correct? Then post a derivation of how non-condensing GHGs raise the average temperature of the earth from 255K to the 289K it sits at right now … and that is increasing with more CO2.

    I am sure that this is taught in the introductory classes, right?

    • I am sure it is taught in indoctrination classes for sure.

    • There is absolutely nothing to suggest that carbon dioxide is a climate driver beyond a spurious correlation with temperature in Antarctic ice cores where blinkered climate scientists talked up the supposed CO2-amplified warming phase but then just ignored the cooling phase that told them CO2 was obviously dominated by natural forces.

      By contrast, there is quite a lot of data now telling us that CO2 is not a climate driver: We did the experiment of adding a large slug of CO2 to the air and the temperature stopped rising in 1997, the stratosphere stopped cooling in 1995 and the oceans showed no warming down to 700m when we replaced guesswork with accurate measurement in 2003. All of that was contrary to the notion of CO2 being a climate driver. The science is in and there is no need for alarm – just as in the 1970’s ice age scare and the acid rain scare where fossil fuels were also unfairly demonised.

      Maybe just take your own advice, reread basic thermodynamics and remind yourself why heat by-passing the first 700m and settling in the deep ocean is unphysical. If you want to splutter that sometimes nature does the opposite to what we expect then try to apply that same thought to your inane dogma about CO2 being a climate driver. If you want to tell us that Enso is causing this pause then try to remember that skeptics told you that Enso likely created the heating phase and we were derided. If you deny that the pause even exists then at least face the fact that the vast majority of the rest of the scientific community has now left this type of reality-denial behind and finally faced up to what skeptics have been telling them all this time.

      • JamesG, Is there something wring with you?
        You don’t deprive science students of fundamental knowledge because of some crazy right-wing ideology of your own making.

        Find out what Georgia Tech teaches in their climate science courses and get back to us.

      • Webster, “You don’t deprive science students of fundamental knowledge because of some crazy right-wing ideology of your own making.”

        I doubt any person, conservative or liberal wants to deprive anyone of “fundamental” knowledge. Some would like to limit the amount of embellishment of fundamentals that is allowed. Watch a video of Hansen sometime where he starts off with bullet proof fundamentals then his eyes take on that stoner look and suddenly the oceans are boiling.

      • Maybe just take your own advice, reread basic thermodynamics and remind yourself why heat by-passing the first 700m and settling in the deep ocean is unphysical.

        It doesn’t bypass it, it just passes through faster, without warming it up (if it actually does). There’s nothing “unphysical”, or even implausible, about more heat ending up below 700 meters without any net warming above. Claims that there are just make real skeptics look silly by association.

      • AK, “There’s nothing “unphysical”, or even implausible, about more heat ending up below 700 meters without any net warming above. Claims that there are just make real skeptics look silly by association.”

        I believe Trenberth’s travesty email highlighted the confusion on deeper ocean heat uptake. Many skeptics have just pointed to his confusion then based on their “model” claimed it is unphysical. With mechanical mixing and chaotic atmospheric influence on the mixing efficiency, it could appear to be unphysical in any simple model including Trenberth’s.

        BTW, variation in mixing efficiency or internal unforced variation is pretty much discounted by all the grand poohbah’s simplistic models.

      • This topic on CO2 as a GHG is taught in classes on atmospheric physics and climate science and is contained in fundamental textbooks. At GaTech, if you answer the exam questions wrong, you are liable to flunk out of the course. Is “dissent” worth risking not passing your courses?

        It’s not like petroleum engineering classes, where you still find the occasional passage that says that crude oil is essentially an infinite resource. The petroleum engineering profession is interested in preserving their future, doncha know Cappy.

      • Webster, “This topic on CO2 as a GHG is taught in classes on atmospheric physics and climate science and is contained in fundamental textbooks.”

        Right and that fundamental is that a doubling of CO2 will increase atmospheric resistance to heat loss by about 3.7 Wm-2 which could produce 0.8 to 1.5 C of warming depending at the surface or surfaces chosen as references. Anything greater than that is embellishment.

      • Dunce Cap, that is not what is taught. The CO2 provides a non-condensing background in which the H2O can build from.
        That is not “embellishment”.

        Lots of other physical phenomena have analogous behavio that can be understood with basic mathematical formulations. But if course you are not interested in that, but driven to promulgate FUD.

      • JamesG 8/20/14 @ 4:07 am said,

        There is absolutely nothing to suggest that carbon dioxide is a climate driver beyond a spurious correlation with temperature in Antarctic ice cores where blinkered climate scientists talked up the supposed CO2-amplified warming phase but then just ignored the cooling phase that told them CO2 was obviously dominated by natural forces.

        WebHubTelescope 8/20/14 replied first,

        JamesG, Is there something wr[o]ng with you? You don’t deprive science students of fundamental knowledge because of some crazy right-wing ideology of your own making. [¶] Find out what Georgia Tech teaches in their climate science courses and get back to us. WHuT, 7:45 am.

        then

        Dunce Cap, that is not what is taught. The CO2 provides a non-condensing background in which the H2O can build from. That is not “embellishment”. [¶] Lots of other physical phenomena have analogous behavior[r] that can be understood with basic mathematical formulations. But if course you are not interested in that, but driven to promulgate FUD [Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt, undoubtedly]. WHuT,10:40 am.

        JamesG is a bit off base: the correlation is far from spurious. Instead, CO2 lags temperature in the ice cores records, showing that the CO2 can not be a cause of the temperature reduction. The lag is dominantly about one millennium (suggesting a link to the misnamed ThermoHaline Circulation), but more importantly the shape of the curve is a good fit to Henry’s Coefficient, suggesting that the ocean is regulating atmospheric CO2. But in my recollection, climatologists were briefly enthusiastic about the correlation (which some have since denied), thinking they had the smoking gun for the AGW conjecture — then some of them discovered the lag to burst the bubble.

        IPCC-type climatologists seem unaware of the scientific imperative both of causation and of Henry’s Law. IPCC, for example, never mentions the correlation function or Henry’s Law. Maybe WebHub can tell us non-GA Techies if that fundamental knowledge is taught correctly at Tech, or is WHuT implying that it teaches some left-wing ideology, e.g., IPCC dogma?

        CO2 is “non-condensing”, but effectively it is because it appears and disappears as a gas in the atmosphere according to the temperature changes in the surface ocean. But CO2 is not a medium for water vapor to “build from”. Are these notions corrections to what WHuT thinks are part of the “right wing ideology”?

        Outsiders aren’t likely to know what Georgia Tech teaches, but what IPCC writes is not what WHuT thinks is taught. To IPCC, manmade (but not natural!) CO2 starts climate warming, increased water vapor due to the Clausius-Clapeyron phenomenon of thermodynamics, and then that water vapor amplifies the greenhouse effect to the desired, sufficiently frightening but sufficiently unverifiable critical level. Maybe WHuT can tell us if that is “right wing ideology”, too.

        But this juncture is where the GCMs fail catastrophically – thrice: (1) Manmade CO2 (ACO2) is irreversibly mixed with natural CO2 (nCO2) in the atmosphere to undergo processes according a distribution of isotopic mixing ratios.

        (2) Atmospheric CO2 concentration dominantly responds to surface ocean circulations and temperature gradients, not to ACO2 emissions. In a first order thermodynamic model, changes in water vapor (not cosmic rays) cause corresponding changes in cloud cover, resulting in corresponding changes in cloud albedo, causing reverse changes in TSI at the surface.

        (3) This cloud cover reaction is a rapid, positive feedback with respect to TSI, and a slow negative feedback with respect to global average surface temperature. And because cloud cover gates the Sun on and off, it is the most powerful feedback in all of Earth’s climate to amplify solar variations and to mitigate global warming from any cause. Critical bits of these effects from physics are not represented in IPCC’s GCMs.

        WHuT: Do tell us, what exactly is Georgia Tech teaching?

      • @captdallas2 0.8 +/- 0.2…

        BTW, variation in mixing efficiency or internal unforced variation is pretty much discounted by all the grand poohbah’s simplistic models.

        I suppose by that you mean there’s an assumption that increased “forcing” is somehow “pushing” more heat into the sub-700 meter level.

        That’s an hypothesis I can’t really get into (if that’s what’s being suggested). It would seem much more likely to me that natural variation in one of the routes by which heat enters that layer would be responsible. If it involves transport in, say, the West Pacific/South China Sea/Indian Ocean, then it could be involved with the “pause” in “warming”.

        Of course, if it’s from variation in the rate of volcanic heat transport, it would pretty much invalidate the whole “global warming” concept. AFAIK.

      • Dr. Glassman, It is very easy to find out what the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences dept at Georgia Tech teaches. Look at the curriculum. Unless you think the 3% is holed up there, it is solid science that is being taught. You just don’t like it cuz you have your own krazy theory.

      • webster, “Lots of other physical phenomena have analogous behavio that can be understood with basic mathematical formulations.”

        Like the creative formulations on your blog? You really need to publish that one where you treat water as a dry gas across two phase changes.

      • Nope dope. The analogy is of a dopant in a semiconductor that can effect a change in the potential such that many more electrical carriers can participate. This is the same activation as in the Arrhenius rate laws.
        Catalysts can also have the same effect.

        Your abnegation ways are weak Cappy, better give up.

      • webster, “Nope dope. The analogy is of a dopant in a semiconductor that can effect a change in the potential such that many more electrical carriers can participate. This is the same activation as in the Arrhenius rate laws.”

        Right, phase change barriers be damned everything boils down to Arrhenius’s law.

      • WebHubTelescope

        Unfortunate that you can not express anything mathematically. Must be frustrating for you .. all those insane ideas popping out of your skull with no way to tell how delusional they are.
        Welcome to how science works. For some, it is just not meant to be.

      • webster, “Unfortunate that you can not express anything mathematically. Must be frustrating for you .. all those insane ideas popping out of your skull with no way to tell how delusional they are.”

        Doesn’t appear to have helped you much in that department.

      • Eh, Cappy ?

        Consider what the earth sciences dept at Georgia Tech teaches

        http://oilprice.com/Interviews/The-Kardashians-and-Climate-Change-Interview-with-Judith-Curry.html


        It has never made sense to me for climate change to be the primary driver for energy policy.
        ….
        Energy poverty is a huge issue in much of the world

        That quote is not a dissenting opinion. That is actual scientific fact based on the knowledge that fossil fuels are a non-renewable and finite resource, which leads to the disquieting realization that we had better come up with alternative energy sources.

        All the bogus climate nonsense that you push has to be filtered through the reality of a finite world. You deniers can’t juggle more than one ball — that’s your big problem. Add math to your deficiencies and no wonder we consider you lusers.

        \

      • WebHubTelescope 8/20/14 @ 2:59 pm: It is very easy to find out what the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences dept at Georgia Tech teaches. Look at the curriculum. Unless you think the 3% is holed up there, it is solid science that is being taught. You just don’t like it cuz you have your own krazy theory.

        Can you supply a link for the curriculum on which you are relying? Was it not your point that that curriculum answered some “crazy right-wing ideology” (7:45 am), putting GA Tech climate instructors on the left, the camp with the alleged 97% consensus? Can you backup an iota of your “krazy theory” claim by pointing out just one specific error we might discuss?

        You’re looking through the wrong end of the telescope! Turn it around. You should be able to resolve finer details and stash your shotgun arguments.

      • webster, “Eh, Cappy ?

        Consider what the earth sciences dept at Georgia Tech teaches.”

        Try to focus webster. Let’s get back to your creative math where you try to use Arrhenius Law to “prove” the 33C “discrepancy and determine the atmospheric lapse rate of every planet that may exist. The 33C “discrepancy” is based on a “current” estimate of the upper atmosphere radiant “equilibrium” value of about 240 Wm-2 equating to an ideal S-B equivalent temperature of -18C degree and a SWAG estimate of the “average” “surface” temperature of 15C which would have an ideal S-B equivalent energy of about 390 Wm-2. That is not an unreasonable reference, as in frame of reference, but it has some limitations.

        The first is that the TOA “average” radiant equilibrium is dependent on the “average” surface or surfaces reflecting 30% of the “average” solar incident radiant energy. Reflection takes place at many levels or surfaces in the atmosphere with the majority reflected by cloud tops and clouds are a response to energy that actually makes it to the surfaces and sub-surfaces of the planet. This energy onion has lots of layers.

        The second is that the “average” absolute global mean “surface” temperature is only accurate to about +/- 2 C degrees, includes “sub-surface temperatures averaged with above surface temperatures at varying altitudes. What temperature is relevant is the temperature that the effective radiant layer “sees” which for about 70% of the surface would be either that thin ocean surface layer that can be several degrees above the measured subsurface temperatures or the tops of the clouds.

        Combined these two issue produce, according to Graeme Stephens et al., +/- 17.0 Wm-2 of uncertainty. In a nut shell, the “surface” we are concerned with is underneath a lens of water vapor, water droplets and ice and the “dry” atmosphere begins at a temperature just a little below -30C degrees. So there could be as much as a 30C discrepancy in your 33C “discrepancy. Even more if you include the full turbulent portion of the atmosphere.

        Where is that taught?

        -

    • Web:

      Really? REALLY? That’s all it takes? There is no possibility of any confounding variables in the climate system?

      Why are we spending Billions on research if any Undergrad can do the derivation?

      I will toss out just one little itty bitty factor: T^4

      • David Jay, You would be surprised what a smart undergrad could derive. They know calculus, so they know what to do with the T^4.

        Also, remember that many of them are smart enough not to listen to anti-science abnegation.

      • nottawa rafter

        David
        Don’t expect much from Web He’s a simple guy with predilections towards binary thinking. If he is given too many variables, or a nuanced concept he gets the heebie jeebies and loses his focus.

      • The hoser is projecting. He realizes that I do both climate and energy research. Typical Rovian tactic is to attack a person’s strengths. Alas the canuck can only juggle one ball, and that not very well.

  13. “The closest I’ve seen was the APS Workshop to consider its climate change statement. … (I’m not expecting to hear anything from the committee before the end of the year)”

    Perhaps I am too impatient but I find taking up to a year or more “to consider (a) climate change statement” to be excessive. They are not being asked to resolve the controversy, just consider a “statement.” Sometimes these things take on a life of their own. What do others consider to be a reasonable time “to consider (a) climate change statement?”

    • Apparently they are proceeding very deliberately. Also, these are very busy people with major day jobs. So it seems a little slow, but I am hoping it will be worth the wait.

      • “hoping it will be worth the wait”

        Dr. C…So what are some of the possibilities that you imagine might be worth waiting for?

        I can’t think of any.

        Andrew

      • Something genuinely thoughtful from some seriously intelligent individuals that don’t seem to have an axe to grind in the climate science debate.

      • “Something genuinely thoughtful”

        I go to Hallmark for that kind of stuff. ;)

        Andrew

      • scrub thoughtful, make it insightful

      • “I go to hallmark…”

        It seems you’re joking, but it falls flat. Something genuinely thoughtful as Judith puts it…which is to say something that concedes that the science is far from settled…would be most welcome… especially coming from a respected source.

      • “to say something that concedes that the science is far from settled”

        Seriously pokerguy… “We believed in it before we didn’t believe in it” kind of stuff is not going to do anything for me. And your “respected source” comment… they only way they get any respect at this point is to dissolve themselves and retire everyone. And never come back.

        Andrew

      • My experience with committees is that the longer it takes, the longer it takes. Every time you get together, you have to catch yourself up to speed on the discussion from 3, 6 months ago. Busy means get it done.

      • Andrew,
        I mean “respected” by the very people who are convinced the debate is over. Of course, as soon as they put out anything the least bit equivocal regarding so-called climate change, any “respect” will turn to contempt. But it’s a necessary step and I certainly hope it happens.

    • “scrub thoughtful, make it insightful”

      How about “factual”.

      Andrew

  14. Kristen Byrnes (Ponder the Maunder) took Al Gore apart but the institutions of education wouldn’t listen and to their everlasting shame they burned a real 15 year old student upon the altar of political science as a sacrifice to the spirits of CO2 and their global warming religion.

    • Hey, I offered to Kristen Byrnes to help her get into Georgia Tech. I wonder what she ended up doing?

      • Steven Mosher

        she was a fake basically a front for an older guy

      • Leave it to Mosher to destroy our fantastical ideation.

      • Matthew R Marler

        steven mosher: she was a fake basically a front for an older guy

        Details please. According to the news items about her, she was a high school student who wrote a paper as an assignment.

      • Really Moshpit,
        Something mean about a 15 year old?
        A nice young person interested in STEMI should be encouraged.
        Scott

      • nottawa rafter

        Since I can’t find what Kristen actually wrote, I’m curious, was she or Al Gore closer to what has happened in the last 6 years. I saw David Appell took her to task in 2008. Picking on a 16 year old. Tsk, tsk David.

      • Since I can’t find what Kristen actually wrote, I’m curious, […]

        Ponder the Maunder

      • Mosher, “she was a fake basically a front for an older guy”

        Was he a mentor or a puppeteer?

      • “During lunch at a local chowder house with her friend Chrissy Flanders, they talked about food and friends and clothes.

        So it came as somewhat of a surprise when Chrissy piped up to say she disagreed with Kristen on climate change.

        ‘I think it’s partly because of humans,’ she says. Asked why she believes that she says she doesn’t know. Kristen chimes in: ‘She just believes what everyone else is making her believe.'”

        https://web.archive.org/web/20090414210604/http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89619306

        I think this second girl was just a front for Mosher. Or at least his ideological clone. But then, she was only 16, so maybe the comparison is not fair to her..

      • Steven Mosher

        Capt. It was probably a bit of both..
        He outed himself accidentally..
        There was some big family drama..

      • So, it really is an anonymous older guy that is responsible for exposing the Left’s AGW-spokeshole, Al Gore as just one more of Lenin’s Useful Idiots?

  15. Hank Zentgraf

    To institutionalize dissent you must start with the money for grants. All federal grants would require on-line publishing of results (no paywall) including all code, data, and math. Grants would be available to other scientists who wish to dissent either against a specific research publication or in response to position statements made by Federal agencies (NOAA, NAS, EPA, etc. ). These dissent papers would also be published on-line. A separate function would be formed under NSF to assure the quality of the process and report on its efficacy. The funding would come from the existing $7.0 B NSF budget.
    This is just one idea. I am sure this blog can come up with something better.

  16. We have a better idea as time goes about what the government and the institutions of academia believe is the average level of global warming but was is the average level of corruption in the global warming community?

  17. Hostile skeptics are the ones you can trust. They’ll explore corners without sweeping anything under the rug.

    Institutionalized skeptics will be co-opted like the rest of the consensus.

    Nobody’s shouting that climate science isn’t a science in the first place, for instance. It gets assumed that it is, and the presence of certain science procedures is enough to guarantee it, a sort of science cargo cult.

    I’d recommend instead a climate curiosity group. They could point out weird stuff and perhaps analyze this or that somehow. But not put it together into a picture it doesn’t support.

  18. Pingback: Institutionalizing Dissent | Transterrestrial Musings

  19. I admire your courage in selecting this topic for discussion and in including the quote from Justin Biddle:

    “Yet it is increasingly the case that some forms of dissent in pharmaceutical research are either absent or unheard.”

    The pharmaceutical research group is probably more influenced by the profit motive than the global climate research group.

    Godspeed.

    • The pharmaceutical research group is probably more influenced by the profit motive than the global climate research group.

      On this, I disagree. The Money is the influence, The Money may be different. The influence is the same, Money.

      I do think we will never know which group profits the most. You are likely right, but I have read that a billion a day is wasted on Climate Alarmism.

  20. As many have argued, rigorous scientific research requires dissent, or what Robert Merton called “organized skepticism”.

    WOW! Many are on the right path!

  21. Matthew R Marler

    There are serious problems with the way in which pharmaceutical research is currently practiced, many of which can be traced to the influence of commercial interests on research. One of the most significant is inadequate dissent, or organized skepticism.

    I disagree. Most of the time when a drug is launched into clinical trials, a team within the company has had to overcome considerable skepticism and organized dissent from the other scientists in the company, usually over a span of a decade or more. Very few of the leads developed in preclinical research ever get into clinical trials. I don’t know how much more skeptical FDA could possibly be and still permit any drugs to be marketed at all.

    • I have a drug about to go into animal toxicology trials.
      Three years ago a reviewer at the NIH stated that the approach would not work.

  22. Matthew R Marler

    These problems include the suppression of undesirable results, bias in the design of studies and in the interpretation of results. These problems can be traced to the influence of commercial interests on research.

    Ioanides and colleagues have documented that 40% of the results published in medical journals and physiological research are non-reproducible, and hence most likely are false positives. In light of that, I don’t think it can be established that the problems in pharmaceutical research are worse than the problems in academic research, or that they are traceable to the influence of commercial interests. They are “traceable” to a common underestimation of the prevalence and magnitude of random variation, and the desire of investigators to be associated with “discoveries” instead of null results.

    One recent innovation is that FDA requires all clinical trials of a drug to be registered in advance, in a publicly searchable registry. A clinical trial that has not been so registered can not be counted in support of marketing a drug in case the results turn out favorable to the drug. This ought to cut down on the suppression of undesirable results.

    • The problem is normally a small n, because trials cost money and it is easier for the NIH and others to fund a large number of poor studies than a smaller number of very good studies. If you just think of the studies with low power as fishing expeditions then it makes a lot of sense.
      An unfortunate researcher has to publish their findings, even if their treatment is of limited utility. The diamonds still sparkle and the crud is clearly crud.

      • Doc: What do you think of this guy’s view?

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

        Goldacre writes in the introduction of Bad Pharma that the book aims to defend the following paragraph:

        Drugs are tested by the people who manufacture them, in poorly designed trials, on hopelessly small numbers of weird, unrepresentative patients, and analysed using techniques which are flawed by design, in such a way that they exaggerate the benefits of treatments. Unsurprisingly, these trials tend to produce results that favour the manufacturer. When trials throw up results that companies don’t like, they are perfectly entitled to hide them from doctors and patients, so we only ever see a distorted picture of any drug’s true effects. Regulators see most of the trial data, but only from early on in a drug’s life, and even then they don’t give this data to doctors or patients, or even to other parts of government. This distorted evidence is then communicated and applied in a distorted fashion. In their forty years of practice after leaving medical school, doctors hear about what works through ad hoc oral traditions, from sales reps, colleagues or journals. But those colleagues can be in the pay of drug companies – often undisclosed – and the journals are too. And so are the patient groups. And finally, academic papers, which everyone thinks of as objective, are often covertly planned and written by people who work directly for the companies, without disclosure. Sometimes whole academic journals are even owned outright by one drug company. Aside from all this, for several of the most important and enduring problems in medicine, we have no idea what the best treatment is, because it’s not in anyone’s financial interest to conduct any trials at all. These are ongoing problems, and although people have claimed to fix many of them, for the most part they have failed; so all these problems persist, but worse than ever, because now people can pretend that everything is fine after all.

      • michael hart

        “The diamonds still sparkle and the crud is clearly crud.”

        Exactly. Drugs that really work well will demonstrate it.

        And even if a trial is flawed, we don’t have to listen to a researcher insisting that they will be proved correct sometime toward the end of this century.

      • Howard, my assessment is the man is a polemic fool many decades behind the times.
        Imagine you market a successful migraine drug and you are coming to the end of your 20 years. You read that hangovers have very similar symptoms to migraines and you find a few poor studies using someone elses drug in Europe. Worth spending $50,000 to do a small scale study, at a university, to see if you have the possibility of getting 20 more years as a hangover cure? Worth a punt. Drug companies will do a range of second use studies, studies that are sub-optimal, when fishing; it is worth fishing when you have a mature drug on market and want to see if you can squeeze more life out of it.
        Big Pharma is ruthless, to its employees; but it can’t take on the FDA and is quite tame compared with what Federal government gets away with.

      • Goldacre: “weird, unrepresentative patients.” I’m in a clinical trial of a cholestrol-lowering drug, I’d say I’m neither weird nor unrepresentative.

      • Actually Faustino, you are weird and unrepresentative, but then again so is everybody.

      • Doc,”The problem is normally a small n”
        Depends what stage you are studying. Most successful pharma and biotechs use a beta (power) of a minimum of 80%, but the most successful power at 90% or greater. That calculation is only as good as your results from phase 2 trials.

  23. On Stalin
    ‘the man who writes the minutes of the meeting determines the reality of what happened there’
    L. Sprague de Camp

    Try to get Judges to decide how a drug therapy has efficacy is quite a challenge.
    The author omits time; Pharmaceutical patents protect drugs from copycat versions for 20 years after the drug is disclosed. All the testing done eats time and the productive life of a drug. You have to attempt to introduce the drug to market as soon as you can to make your money.
    The solution is very, very simple. Give a new drug’s inventor the exclusive right to sell the drug for 15 years after the day the drug is approved by regulators in each nation.
    This is what the industry has wanted for more than two decades.

    • “Give a new drug’s inventor the exclusive right to sell the drug for 15 years after the day the drug is approved by regulators in each nation.”

      I gather the Patent Term Restoration Act was inadequate?

      • Typically, the duration of copyright is the whole life of the creator plus fifty to a hundred years from the creator’s death, or a finite period for anonymous or corporate creations.
        Drug Patents are 20 years from first public disclosure, which means a market life of about 12-15 years.
        The rare disease act 2002/Orphan Drug Act of 1983 helps in some cases but the law is the problem.

      • I see; you want a copyright-length term for drugs. I misunderstood because you said, “Give a new drug’s inventor the exclusive right to sell the drug for 15 years after the day the drug is approved by regulators in each nation.”

        I never dealt with it, but my understanding is that the Patent Term Restoration Act gives back the portion of the patent term lost to FDA delay. But, of course, that doesn’t afford the inventor copyright-length exclusivity.

    • I was just comparing and contrasting copyright vs. drug patent rights; authors (like politicians) would be up in arms if they lost their intellectual property rights so soon. 15 years after coming to market would work nicely as the speed issue would be less important.

  24. You know a lot of focus on economic incentives for the greenies gets thrown around, but there is a consistent lack of skepticism for all the (much larger) groups benefiting from the status quo. If we’re really following the money, shouldn’t we follow all of it? I’d be willing to wager far more money goes into the fossil lobby than the greens.

    Also, I need to throw the NAS under the bus to be skeptical too? I’m sorry, I’m really trying to rekindle my skepticism, and don’t mind ditching the IPCC (Al Gore did a fine job of ensuring that) but ignoring NASA is hard enough without throwing the NAS under with them.

    • Sure John, add up the subsidies on both side and then tally up the value on both sides. Divide value by subsidy to get value per dollar of subsidy. The answer will likely shock you. Value for subsidy of fossil fuels >>> value of subsidy for greenies.

  25. Foreword by Richard Lindzen
    Andrew Montford provides a straightforward and unembellished chronology of the perversion not only of The Royal Society but of science itself, wherein the legitimate role of science as a powerful mode of inquiry is replaced by the pretence of science to a position of political authority

    http://www.thegwpf.org/images/stories/gwpf-reports/montford-royal_society.pdf

    Lindzen’s comment can be understood I think on a number of levels.
    The most direct I think would be envy on the part of the Royal (Scientism) Society on the direct political influence that the NAS (National Academy of Scientism) has by virtue of it’s charter having an “official advisory capacity” to the political caste..
    Incidently the NPC (National Petroleum Council) also has an official advisory function to the political caste.

    http://www.npc.org/background.html

    Politically I think it is problematical when any industry group, no matter whether Big Oil, or “Big Science” has a preferential input to policymaking.

    The fact that the NAS is deeply politically comprised was evident in their report on Mann’s hockey stick, where they were talking out of both sides of their mouth, or as Steve McIntyre correctly put it, their report was schizophrenic

    http://climateaudit.org/2006/06/22/nas-panel-report/

    all the best
    brent

  26. My feelings about Biddle’s arguments are sort of like the old beer commercial – “I feel strongly both ways.” I agree with him that we need more honest dissent; I disagree that a new bureaucracy (and that’s really what he’s proposing) is the way to get it. I also am turned off by what seems a typically arrogant academic argument that businesses are greedy, evil, and generally lying scum and therefore the Public must be protected from their mendacity.

    There are businesses of which this is true, just as there are academics who are just as active in stifling dissent (look at the faculty-led efforts to prevent what they deemed heresies from being voiced at commencements this spring). And the unions and governments at all levels are also not immune to this scourge (sometimes I have a genius for understatement!).

    The root cause is “Big” – Big Government, Big Business, Big Media, Big Unions, and way too much money at stake. Unfortunately, what we too often label mendacity is really the Group-Think that coalesces around what is best for each of the Big Bureaucracies.

    In the case of climate, many point to Big Oil as a villain. In fact, Big Oil is not monolithic – each of the Big Oil companies has their own take on the climate debate. And most of the Big Oil companies have hedged (financially and technically) against the chance that they are wrong while Big Government and Big Academia have not. In that sense, which is more likely to stifle dissent?

  27. Craig Loehle

    It is not necessary to invoke either politics or money to show why people do not criticize their own work adequately–they both love their own product and can not see its flaws. This is true even in apolitical subjects. The idea of a red team was invoked and I agree. In the military, red and blue compete in war games because the competition proves out who is best. A single-sided war game would be useless. But we allow single-sided research and policy development. In many engineering applications the red team approach is used to try to poke holes in a design or product. But in science there is neither funding for it nor journals interested in articles that show that previous work is weak, wrong, or invalid. This is a weakness in our science, not just in climate science. And the multiple climate models do not solve this problem except to show that the consensus is not that strong or else the models would get the same result (which they don’t).

    • It is not necessary to invoke either politics or money to show why people do not criticize their own work adequately–they both love their own product and can not see its flaws.

      It’s more than that! I have worked as a programmer (on and off) for decades, and have always been aware of my own inability to properly critique my own work. This is, among other things, because since I already know how it’s supposed to work, It’s too easy for me to skip over the fact that a particular piece of code doesn’t actually work that way. Another set of eyes is mandatory in most (AFAIK) healthy programming environments.

    • But in science there is neither funding for it nor journals interested in articles that show that previous work is weak, wrong, or invalid.

      Aren’t there scads of graduate students needing a worthwhile subject for thesis projects? Perhaps the system could be tweaked so that duplication of recent work, whether it produces equivalent results or not, is the standard “meat and potatoes” of graduate work.

      The possibility of a high-profile revelation might well be enough to provide enthusiastic and aggressive research, unwedded to the current paradigm.

  28. Gary M
    [[“There are serious problems with the way in which pharmaceutical research is currently practiced, many of which can be traced to the influence of commercial interests on research.”
    [Yes, the increase in life expectancy and quality of life for billions is an abject failure of the free market. Look instead at all the brilliant pharmaceutical innovations coming out of China, Russia, Cuba and North Korea.]]]
    I am a product of nearly 40 years of Rx research, and I am honored to have been an integral part in developing 12 new chemical entities successfully through the regulatory process. You are correct about life expectancy and QOL. The problems that the author outlines are not complete. There is little doubt that commercial interests can influence phase 4 (marketing studies), but I can assure you that I have never encountered anyone, within the pharmaceutical community or within the community of physicians who conduct the field research, that were influenced by commercial interests during the phase 3 or pivotal trial process. It simply doesn’t happen.
    You are also right to point to the lack of innovative research in China, Russia, etc., but don’t forget the countries with socialized medicine such as the EU, Canada, or AU. The US effectively subsidizes the ROW countries for their lack of R&D.

    • A very well respected colleague has a device in stage III and when one of his patients died in South America he arranged to have an autopsy performed by a highly reputable pathologist.
      The pathologists report stated that the patient had died from a cause quite unconnected with his chronic condition and treatment.
      My esteemed colleague was very happy with this report as he could drop this outcome from the trial statistics. I then asked him if he would have taken all the trouble and expense if the patient had been a ‘mock’, he looked at me like I was insane and said of course not.

      • Your example brings to mind one paper I was refereeing decades ago. The paper presented a really amazing results that would have put some very basic physical principles in doubt if correct. The statistical significance was something close to 10 sigma – except that the calculated average was biased through rejection of certain cases in one of the two groups compared, but not in both.

      • Our senior statistician typically has to start his reply to a scientist with
        “Why didn’t you come and see me before you designed the study?”.
        Most people design a study, collect data and then think about analysis.

      • Doc, I am sorry to hear that. I have never witnessed anything like that.

      • Doc “Most people design a study, collect data and then think about analysis.” Doc, if you are familiar with the Rx business, any and all pivotal trials require the construction of a statistical analysis plan approved not only by the company, but the outside Data Safety Monitoring Board and the FDA, before the first patient is enrolled. Your experience reminds me of preclinical work.

      • Bob, I am aware of the huge gulf between professionally run clinical drug trials and ‘medic’-led ones, along the lines of ‘what happens if we give This and This’.
        A great many of the poor studies are from the latter, very few from the former. I work on glioblastoma and the amount of crap in the field is mind numbing, a mixture of small sample size, poor design and bias.

      • What precisely would be the benefit to anyone involved in a medical device trial of an autopsy on a South Africa patient who was part of a control group? More to the point, what exactly do you think the benefit would have been to the dead individual?

        I would look at you like you were nuts as well. In one instance, the researcher, and more importantly his current and future customers/patients, have a significant interest in knowing if the device was dangerous. In the other? Why would an autopsy even be justified?

        Would you expect the researcher to pay for the autopsy for any other random South African? Why just South Africans? Why not Nigerians? Papua New Guineans?

      • GaryM, you are his twin, you cannot see the problem.

      • GaryM, if you have to ask the question you did, it would take too long to educate you on that issue. Your are terrific otherwise.

      • So you have no answer. Didn’t think so.

      • Bob,

        “GaryM, if you have to ask the question you did, it would take too long to educate you on that issue.”

        Oh come on, give it a shot. You might be surprised what I am capable of understanding.

        There is no way an autopsy of a member of a control group will tell you anything about the device being tested. Unless you are using “control group” in the sense of… well…something other than a control group.

        The only way I can see any benefit at all is if there were an invasive medical procedure involved that all subjects, including the control group, were subjected to (such as implanting a new kind of stent.) But one would expect that the procedure itself would have been approved, following trials, before being implemented in the new trial..

        But there was nothing at all in Doc’s example to suggest anything of the kind. As a rule, I see no benefit to those involved in a trial of an autopsy on a control group member, no matter who pays for it.

        Maybe it would take too long to educate a simpleton like myself, but why not at least give it the old college try anyway.

      • GaryM, let me say at the outset that I enjoy your posts as much as anyone on this blog. You are a gifted writer.
        Within regard to your comment about controls, I will say just a few words. A well controlled trial involves many things such as a pre-specified statistical analysis plan, a clinical protocol that is agreed before initiation by the sponsor, the community of physicians, and the FDA. The trial is usually doubled-blinded, intent to treat, an external data safety monitoring board is set up (they are also blinded, but have the power to break the blind if there is concern about safety or overwhelming efficacy), and a randomization code is generated, amongst other things.
        What distinguishes a good trial is that both groups, i.e active and control, be treated identically in every aspect. There should only be one variable, that is the study drug or device. What is done to one group must be done to the other group. Every thing is done to eliminate variability and bias to the extent that it can be achieved.
        In the example you site, the autopsy should be done because ideally the pathologist would not be aware of which group he was performing he postmortem on. In the example Doc sites, the investigator was aware but should have been curious enough to know the cause of death and even whether the test device might have prevented it. Knowledge is King.

      • Bob,

        Thanks for the kind words.

        But as far as why it would be insane for a researcher to not be interested in an autopsy of a member known to be a member of a control group, your “What is done to one group must be done to the other group,” that applies to the study itself.

        The death of a control group member has no connection to the study itself, as you essentially admit. Nor do I see any way for the death of a control group member be relevant to the study itself, even if the death “may have been prevented” by use of the device. That is the underlying assumption of the whole procedure. No one would undergo the tortuous, expensive, time consuming expense of FDA approve testing if there weren’t already significant evidence that the drug/device has a positive effect.

        The party seeking FDA approval must do the study, blind or double blind, and present the results to the FDA. An anecdotal claim by the researcher that a control member’s death might have been prevented by the device might be good for later PR purposes, but is irrelevant to the purpose of the study.

        Just as the fact that many patients improve due to the placebo effect in many studies, might prove interesting, but is irrelevant to the studies themselves – provided the proposed treatment has a better success rate. (Which raises the question, how would you do a double blind study to test the placebo effect itself. A placebo for a placebo? And which group is the control? But I digress – as usual.)

        As far as “In the example Doc sites, the investigator was aware but should have been curious enough to know the cause of death and even whether the test device might have prevented it.” That does not logically follow. (I have understood for some time, by the way, the nature of double blind testing of pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Which was why I asked the question.)

        Remember, the response to my initial question by both you and Doc was that if I had to ask, it would be a waste of time answering. No offense, but you still haven’t answered the question, though at least you tried. These studies are expensive enough, and many are done on populations of terminally ill patients. If autopsies on control group members were such an important facet of the approval process, I suspect the FDA would have mandated it long ago. Apart from that, I see no justification for a researcher wasting his time, and his patron’s money. The purpose of the trial is to obtain approval of the device. Not satisfy anyone’s curiosity.

      • GaryM, the case Doc sites would never occur in a pivotal trial. In might happen in a small exploratory phase 2. My colleagues would want to know, even if it was an early phase 2. Knowledge is King. Everything that successful companies do revolves around reducing variability and fixing beta. Unsuccessful companies reduce beta because of costs. The gap matters.

      • GaryM, it is a question of bias destroying the statistical power;

        I have 24 older patients that have hearts likely to rupture, so that roughly half will die from an aortic tear with 12 months.
        At t=0 half the patients get the conventional mesh reconstruction (Control) and half get HeartAid, my new invention.
        I use patient death as an end point.

        At t=12 months I have 7 dead controls and 6 dead HeartAid patients.
        I now autopsy all the dead HeartAid patients and discover one died of a stroke and one died of a pancreatic blockage.
        I therefore do my statistical analysis,
        control, n=12, dead 7, death rate = 58% per year.
        HeartAid, n=10, dead 4, death rate = 40% per year.
        Then I publish that I have improved outcome by 30%.

      • Doc Martyn,

        But you weren’t talking about your trial, you were referencing another trial in which the researcher was not, apparently, comparing mortality between the test subjects and the control group.

        There is no question that a trial could be devised in which death rates of the two groups were the statistical date the FDA would be seeking. Your comment was about another researcher, with no such description of the trial. But then I doubt the lead researcher would disagree with you about the necessity of an autopsy of all participants.

        Move the goal posts wherever you want them.

    • I’m generally in agreement with Bob and Gary M, but the increase in longevity was, and is continuing to be, primarily from public health measures, chief among them treating water and sewage.

      The squaring of the survival curve suggests that most wonderful one hoss shays go four score and five.
      ================

      • Sigh. Et tu Kim?

        What I wrote:

        ” Life expectancy has increased dramatically over the last 100 years, in substantial part due to the drugs….”

        sub·stan·tial
        adjective \səb-ˈstan(t)-shəl\
        : large in amount, size, or number

        Not “completely,” not “mostly,” not even “primarily,” but in substantial part.”

        If you want to look for what the single cause is that has done the most to increase life expectancy, I suspect that you will find the free market ranks number one. Innovations in not just medicine, but energy, nutrition, transportation, communication, housing and technology in general, all have been the real great leaps forward for mankind (Apologies to Chairman Mao, and Tom Fuller) And all have been driven by western free market entrepreneurship.

      • I could be wrong, but reduced child mortality from treating water and sewage has had the most effect on the survival curve.
        ==================

      • Though we now know climate only began in earnest around the time of Olivia Newton John’s popularity, there is evidence of something resembling climate before that.

        In fact, it was something very like extreme heat and drought in 1858 (it was, er, worse than they thought) which brought sewage matters to a head in London’s Great Stink.

        Within a year, an engineer got cracking on a solution. And what a solution it was, for all of us to this day. Joseph Balzalgette’s foresight and capacity for work and for detail are almost terrifying. Just felt like remembering him here, kim.

      • Heh, ‘William Webster, Contractor’ gets his credit. Thank you for the remembrance of Balzalgette; I’d not heard of him before.
        =====================

      • A happy anecdote, kim:

        Some twenty-five years before the inauguration of capital-C Climate Change, something astonishingly like it created the freakish North Sea Flood of 1953 (seems it was worse than they thought). Though Bazalgette’s original boiler engines had been phased out in 1913, the Prince Consort Engine was put back under steam to help with draining. It still worked!

        Ah, but Prince Albert and Joseph Bazalgette were progressive before that word was used with a different meaning. Just like the Great Stink and North Sea Flood were manifestations of climate change – before “climate change” took on a very different meaning.

      • How many lives did John Snow, a skeptic of the Miasma Theory,
        save by his discovery of the link between the Cholera outbreak
        in London in the 1850’s and oral fecal methods of transmitting
        the disease via the polluted water supply.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1854_Broad_Street_cholera_outbreak

  29. Hi Judy – There are a few exceptions where objective balanced assessments were presented. These include

    Kabat, P., Claussen, M., Dirmeyer, P.A., J.H.C. Gash, L. Bravo de Guenni, M. Meybeck, R.A. Pielke Sr., C.J. Vorosmarty, R.W.A. Hutjes, and S. Lutkemeier, Editors, 2004: Vegetation, water, humans and the climate: A new perspective on an interactive system. Springer, Berlin, Global Change – The IGBP Series, 566 pp.http://www.springer.com/earth+sciences/meteorology/book/978-3-540-42400-0

    and

    National Research Council, 2005: Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties. Committee on Radiative Forcing Effects on Climate Change, Climate Research Committee, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Division on Earth and Life Studies, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 208 pp.http://www.nap.edu/openbook/0309095069/html/

    The problem is that the substance and findings of these assessments were ignored by the AMS and AGU in their climate statements, as well as ignored by the IPCC and others,

    Roger Sr.

    • A report of the National Research Council was also ignored by the US Supreme Court in Massachusetts v EPA. The report is “Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions” (2001) and it describes the great uncertainty regarding AGW. The Supreme Court decided that when there is profound uncertainty regarding AGW then the EPA need not control CO2; the court ignored the evidence.

  30. David in Cal

    IMHO we already have a number of institutions studying climate change. Unfortunately, they’re not looking at the subject fairly. Rather than create yet another institution that we hope will be fair, let’s fire the people who are doing it wrong and replace them with people who will study the subject in an unbiased way.

  31. Who will bid me of these troublesome dissenters?
    =================

  32. Karl Hallowell

    Markets provide a route for institutionalized dissent. Set up a prediction market for the various observable claims made by interested parties. If there is a reason for dissent, namely, that the dominant predictions made are inaccurate, then dissenters can profit by trading contrary to the “consensus” or whatever when it is in error. At that point, you don’t have to care about reducing bias or the like (outside of the important market aspect of evaluating the outcome of predictions for payouts, that is!). Biased parties may even choose to anonymously bet against themselves (something you won’t see any other way).

    • Set up a prediction market for the various observable claims made by interested parties.

      Plenty of money, just needs tweaking the laws. Results of tests, and later rollouts, affects stock prices of Pharma companies.

      Given that a company would be liable for actual fraud in its test results, especially if the rollout turns out to have adverse effects, there’s plenty of potential incentive for careful study, and “red team” skepticism into results.

      Of course, there’s also plenty of incentive to keep research results quiet until the stock can be properly shorted. Perhaps tweaking the insider trading laws?

  33. Stephen Pruett

    I haven’t seen much evidence that commercial interests have skewed research outcomes in pharmaceuticals. I know about the two papers in which pre-clinical research findings seemed very difficult to repeat, but a fairly convincing refutation of those studies has been published, and I have considerable personal experience of finding that my own results more often than not agree with those of others who have done similar experiments.

    Most scientists involved in biomedical research are not funded by pharmaceutical companies but by government agencies or private foundations seeking cures for particular diseases. Those who are funded by pharmaceutical companies declare this in their conflict of interest statement in their publications, so readers can weigh that factor in their evaluation of the paper. The bottom line is that if a drug cannot pass the rigorous phase I to phase III trials required by the FDA (which are usually double blind, randomized, and controlled for all known variables that could influence the outcome), it will not be approved. If researchers try to hide side effects, they would face the type of disaster that occurred when cardiovascular side effects were noted for celebrex and similar COX inhibitors. A company or an individual in a company would have to be truly stupid or a sociopath to do anything that might lead to a similar scenario. By the way, I think the reason the cardiovascular problems were not clearly revealed in clinical trials was that the relatively limited number of patients was too small to provide conclusive statistical evidence of an association. However, the association became obvious when the group size increased to millions of patients for whom this class of drugs were prescribed.

    Finally, do we really want science to become more like law? I would prefer a return to the Baconian ideal of objectivity as the premier virtue of the scientist. Certainly, there should be peer pressure when there is cause to doubt a scientist’s objectivity, but to have an overtly adversarial process seems to me to invite and to favor rhetoric over results. The NIH grant process is already more a writing and sales contest than a science contest (IMHO). Taking biomedical science further in that direction would not be something I would favor. If objectivity was valued and advocacy scorned by most scientists, the major problems in climate science would go away. It may be just my own bias, but I think pharmaceutical and biomedical science in general is closer to that ideal than climate science. It’s not that biomedical scientists are ethically superior, it’s just that we know that for our findings to ever reach the bedside, they must be reliable enough to pass rigorous clinical trials. Maybe climate science predictions should be subject to review by the “World Commission for Objectivity in Climate Science” ( I would nominate Steve McIntyre or our host on this blog as Chair). If they didn’t work funding would be yanked.

    • Stephen, I would add that litigation is a powerful reason for being truthful. If you lie, cause damage and are then discovered to have lied then the handcuffs and bailiffs await.
      The lessons learned following disasters like Thalidomide or Oraflex/Opren or the Dalkon Shield are actually implemented, not necessarily because of innate goodness, than at least because of the fear of lawsuits.

      • Litigation, regulatory control or shut down, and criminal prosecution. The FDA really likes to make examples of upper management and executives who have very little to do with the day to day science decisions. At my company (and I would think every pharma company), we are required to take annual GxP training (GMP is Good Manufacturing Practices and GLP Good Laboratory Practices)These are the regulations that the FDA uses. There is always a special session given to upper management. The message to them is always very clear. Peoples lives are in your hands, you are responsible to hire qualified people and have all the quality systems in place that will ensure that everything you produce meets FDA requirements. Failure to do so can result in criminal prosecution and there are many examples of this happening.

  34. The equivalent to pharmacology is meteorology, not something called climate science or “study of climate change”.

    To understand climate change one would need to be interested in that vast and daunting subject. Look at the Hockeystick and tell me its authors had any interest in what they were supposed to be studying. Recent climate change science has based itself on the denial of climate change. Which is about as weird as it gets.

    Organised dissent? Expect a survey, very thorough, eagerly awaited etc etc, whereby it is shown that only a tiny percentage of “scientists” are able to fill out an opposition team. 3% sound about right?

    And soon the Tsar will find it necessary to dissolve the Duma.

  35. Is climatology giving science a bad name?

  36. “The analogy with climate science is that the dominant moral and political beliefs of climate scientists are introducing problems and biases into climate research. To use just one example, consider climate models and the bias in experimental design. Until very recently, driven by the UNFCCC/IPCC mandate…” – JC

    No.

    “There are serious problems …, many of which can be traced to the influence of commercial interests on research…” – Justin Biddle

  37. “These problems can be traced to the influence of commercial interests on research.” Amen.

    The story of Asthma medication research is a study of companies in collaboration with governmental agencies spending vast sums to develop a new therapy. To move their product along to market and to justify the long time line, the research establishment LED by FDA & NIH needed to trash the current medical regime in favor of the new paradigm. Theophylline was trashed in favor of Beta 2 agents. Beta 2 agents trashed in favor of Corticosteroids. The actual benefits of the old vs the downsides of the new were never really articulated.

    This is similar thinking to you wanting a new car. First, you dwell on what is wrong with your present vehicle. This is to justify to yourself spending big bucks for that shiny new ride, you have to find all the faults with your present conveyance, including the trivial with the more ride determining factors: the knob’s worn and the transmission is slipping.

    One way to address the car problem is advocated by Click & Clack, the Tappet Brothers on NPR’s Car Talk. They say: fix everything on your present ride. Don’t get into the mindset of letting the little things go and accumulate to justify plunging into big time debt for a new car. Cars built over the past one to two decades will last 150,000 miles easily if properly maintained.

    Now Climate Science. The old ride is the trace gas radiative transfer model. The new ride is non-linear, chaotic Atmospheric/Ocean abrupt climate changes. For the Car Talk aficionado’s fix everything means fixing the current GCM models, to extend their life to get more out of them. The new paradigm says, get rid of the old heap, ride with me, which, BTW, I am inclined to do.

    How-some-ever, for us to buy into this new chaotic paradigm and likely more expensive model of the future, we need to trash the current linear paradigm. So, first things first, we need to trash the CO2 control knob paradigm which means, getting rid of the corporate/government collusion. Not an easy task I might say since the Lobbyists for “renewable energy” are billionaires and have the Green crowd for backing: “Your dollars are going to help save the red-tailed tree frog by preventing the clear cutting of our National Forests, our National treasure.” Cry me a bucket. In the card game Bridge, this is called a jump shift, or in a Carnival game of the pea under the walnut, it’s called “there’s a sucker born every day.” Thank you Mr. PT Barnum.

    So Dr. Curry your task, if you are willing to take it, is to help trash the present CO2 control knob paradigm. Remember, the Secretary will disavow any connection to your activities.

  38. The Catholic Church has a 2000 year history of giving the public what it wants, tempered by institutional smarts that put real checks and balances on the process. The international science community is a newcomer by comparison, but it needs the same internal quality control the Church found essential.
    Science needs the equivalent of a ‘devils advocate’, someone whose job it is to debunk the pretensions of the majority. Peer review is obviously not up to the job of keeping science honest, partly because it is so conflict of interest ridden, but more importantly because there is no reward for setting high standards, so Gresham’s Law ensures bad papers become the norm.
    One way to ease into a more stringent quality control might be for the major publications such as Nature to pay for quality audits of their published papers. It would not take much critique to make authors much more careful about what they publish.

  39. stevefitzpatrick

    Maybe it would be more effective to institutionalize a substantial fraction of climate scientists. ;-)

    • WHT –

      You misunderstand. Steve said a substantial fraction – only those he disagrees with.(perhaps 97%?)

      The logic is simple. If you don’t agree with Steve’s analysis, you must be certifiable.

      • stevefitzpatrick

        Joshua,
        1. I was joking.
        2. I was poking fun at the tendency of dedicated greens to declare anyone who disagrees with them insane.
        3. I was trying also to point out that assuming the worst (insane, dishonest, liars, criminals, etc.) about your political opponents is seldom constructive.

        Poking fun at the incivility of your political opponents is pretty common when those opponents are behaving badly. There is already too much incivility, on both sides, in debates about global warming and energy policy. There seems to me too much of “they disagree with my beliefs, priorities, goals” = “they are evil”. Leaves no room for policy compromise, you know?

      • Fitz now claims rhat he is joking, but at the Blackboard, Fitz said this about Salby — “he seems to me quite confused and disconnected from reality”.

        The phrase “disconnected from reality” is often used to describe mental disorders.

        So it looks as if it is OK for Fitz to criticize denialists but not OK for those folks that Fitz doesn’t approve of to do the same.

        Tsk, tsk.

      • Steve Fitzpatrick

        WHT,
        “disconnected from reality” can apply to someone who’s claiming an understanding of science, but who’s grasp of the basics is so poor that they draw nonsensical ‘scientific’ conclusions, which they believe are correct. Salby is clearly in that category. He is by no means alone. Another example would be someone who insists on ignoring forcing from GHG’s other than CO2 when they estimating climate sensitivity; again, quite disconnected from reality.

    • WHT/Joshua, is that not the same logic as applied by Lewandowski(?). etc. in going with the if you don’t agree with us you must have some mental problem… I believe a number of papers have been published along those lines

      • JIm –

        I think that conspiratorial ideation is definitely quite evident in the threads of the “skept-o-sphere,” but I have no evidence to conclude that conspiratorial thinking is more prevalent among “skeptics” than among any other particular group.

        My guess is that the conspiratorial thinking such as we see here from the likes of GaryM, Wags, Cwon, Chief, AK, Rud, et al., is mostly a reflection of the identity-aggressive and identity-defensive behaviors associated with motivated reasoning. Motivated reasoning comes about because of attributes in human cognition and psychology. There’s no reason to think, IMO, that there is any strong correlation between a prevalence of motivated reasoning and views on climate change.

        I’m open to evidence otherwise, however.

      • “if you don’t agree with us you must have some mental problem”

        Jim Reedy, You must not understand projection. It was not Joshua or I that joked about “institutionalizing” someone. That was this guy Fitz. You are projecting.

      • Where would we be today if experts had not seen all their tipping points.

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2729287/ISIS-beheads-journalist-James-Wright-Foley-warning-US.html

        Don’t worry, he thinks it’s our fault but the study will say something different.

      • My guess is that the conspiratorial thinking […] is mostly a reflection of the identity-aggressive and identity-defensive behaviors associated with motivated reasoning.

        Conspiracies are fairly common among our closest relatives, very strongly suggesting their presence in the common ancestor, which would mean they clearly predate the evolution of language.

        A tendency to suspect conspiracy when things start to go wrong, especially socially, is therefore probably a highly adaptive facility, thus present in most or all humans. For anybody not eager to see a socialist agenda implemented, the “global warming” movement, at least until a few years ago, definitely represented things “starting to go wrong”.

        Looking, it’s easy to see abundant evidence of socialist conspiracy behind the “global warming” movement. Not in the science so much, but in how it’s used to rationalize a socialist agenda: shutting down the Industrial Revolution.

        For that matter, socialist conspiracy would also explain the way so many “liberal” groups, such as the ACLU; seem to be throwing Mann under the bus all of a sudden, after staying so quiet about his behavior for so long. The changing focus from urgent mitigation, an excuse to raise the price of energy by a factor of 5-10 or more, to adaptation and slower remediation approaches makes the whole thing useless to the socialist agenda, so they turn their attention to other excuses. Thus, now, the need to protect their pretense of caring about “freedom of speech” is more important than protecting the “hero” of a now useless rational.

        But note this about the word “conspiracy” and meanings behind it: once you realize that such things can take place in human relatives without language, you realize that even among humans, “conspiracies” can take place without people talking to one another, even if they’re jumping into other people’s conversations in their support (e.g. Joshua, “nevaudit”, Michael, Webster, etc.)

        I’ll also note, on a more individual level, that I’ve never suggested that the whole thing was a “conspiracy”. Rather, my suggestion is that when “global warming” showed up on the scientific radar, the existing socialist conspiracies jumped on the bandwagon, pushing their agendas as the “solution”. Just as I’m suggesting they’re jumping off, now that solutions that don’t fit their agendas are on the table.

      • When a train is prepared to move cargo to its destination the cars are coupled together in a switching yard. We have the engineer for the train already working on AGW. The train however seems to be late.

    • Climate models do not a prison make.
      ============

  40. This US Administration has blatantly used the agencies to further its political agenda. Any governmental “science court” would be nothing more than a rubber stamp for the politicians in power, more like a kangaroo court most likely. It would be worse than useless. In fact, I can’t think of any single organization I would trust to “judge” climate science.

  41. As the founder and principal owner of a (very) small private company that has stuggled for years with the FDA concerning an antimicrobial technology license we bought from a Fortune 50, a few very personal observations. All of which suggest this post’s mooted ‘science court’ idea is unworkable.
    1. The FDA is internally conflicted, despite a pre-existing ‘science court’ comprising mandatory expert advisory panels opining on all drug approvals or reclassifications, tasked to approve life saving drugs AND to prevent quacks (read adverse side effects).
    So FDA stumbles into a bureaucratic conflicted cost/benefit morass despite its advisory panels, since no drug has no negative side defects. Aspirin being exhibit 1, which could never have been approved under current US laws, and is legal only because grandfathered by the FDCA of 1906.
    2. The FDA is swayable by PR and public opinion no matter what they say otherwise. The most recent example is the very exprimental Ebola antibody serum, neither proven to be safe nor to work in humans to any degree. Yet temporarily ‘approved’ under a CYE. Great press, really bad science. The statistical sample to date is N=7 (all existing samples having now been used up), all parients otherwise also receiving maximum palliative care that was already known to raise survival odds above 50%.
    3. Any time you set up a government agency to do what Congress will not, you are asking for big trouble IMO. See my recent guest post on clean coal for vivid contemporary EPA examples from another field.

  42. I think the APS process is already polluted by having climate scientists involved in their statement. It needs to be some people without prior interests, and I am sure they can find good physicists for this among their ranks. Same with NAS and the Royal Society. They can find independent people without invested interest in the outcome to see the cases of both sides. Or they can read for themselves the IPCC and NIPCC reports and study where the science differs with pertinent questions to the authors. In fact the NIPCC report was barely reviewed by independent critics before publication so that would be a welcome step, while the IPCC report has countless reviews of various chapters on record. Many independent voices have spoken already, from Microsoft to Google to Apple, but a few more are apparently needed.

  43. “I recently received an invitation to attend a philosophy of science workshop. As I was reading the list of invited participants, I spotted Justin Biddle, Georgia Tech, philosophy of science. !!! I was hitherto unaware of Justin or that Georgia Tech had hired a philosopher of science. Upon looking at his publications, there are many publications of relevance to topics being discussed at Climate Etc., notably some papers under review.”

    Good old Georgia Tech comes through once again.

  44. The linked article let to some other interesting links–e.g.,

    One of the biggest stories in academia recently was the retraction of more than 120 papers by well-known journal publishers Springer and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). The retraction followed the discovery by Dr. Cyril Labbé of Joseph Fourier University1 that all the papers in question had been generated by SCIgen, a computer program that automatically, randomly produces nonsense computer science papers.

  45. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Judith “Diogenes” Curry seeks “Something genuinely thoughtful from some seriously intelligent individuals that don’t seem to have an axe to grind in the climate science debate.”

    Search criteria by Judith Curry, “seriously intelligent” and “thoughtful” candidates delivered by FOMD!

    \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • Fan

      You have surpassed yourself with putting forward as candidates those long dead and those whose knowledge of the climate has yet to become apparent. Poor examples, but I must confess I thought for your last link it would lead to Hansen so you do retain the capacity to surprise…

      tonyb

      • I must confess I thought for your last link it would lead to Hansen so you do retain the capacity to surprise…

        AFAIK all the popular browsers will show you the URL of the site linked to in the bottom left corner when you hover the mouse over the link. Noticing that the domain (“casinapioiv.va”) ended in “.va” (Vatican), you might have known it would have something to do with the “Pope”.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Scholarly reference below! (and it’s from the American Enterprise Institute, so as to keep AK happy!)

        It appears that few Climate Etc readers have much knowledge of who Diogenes was, or what he taught!

        \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • AK

        but bearing in mind that the vatican held a climate related conference earlier this year there was still the likelihood that they might have mentioned Hansen. The only way to find out is to click.
        tonyb

    • At last, FOMT offers one of his irrelevant links that actually expains his own psychology!

      “[Diogenes] even rejected normal ideas about human decency. Diogenes is said to have eaten in the marketplace,[45] urinated on some people who insulted him,[46] defecated in the theatre,[47] and masturbated in public”

      Here we have FOMT to a “T”

      No wonder he loves Diogenes!

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Scholarly reference below! (and it’s from the American Enterprise Institute, so as to keep skiphil happy!)

        It appears that few Climate Etc readers have much knowledge of who Diogenes was, or what he taught!

        \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

  46. Geoff Sherrington

    The thought bubbles of Arthur Kantrowitz in the 1960s and 1970s were picked up by the Ehrlichs and John Holdren in their 1977 book [Ecoscience] –
    [One suggestion for opening up the process of ethical decision-making in science has been put forward by physicist Arthur Kantrowitz. He proposed that in science policy disputes . . . the technical aspects of the cases be, in essence, tried in a scientific court.
    [The first step would be to separate the scientific from the moral and political questions. . . . Once the separation had been accomplished, then advocates of the different scientific points of view would “try” them before scientific judges… .
    [In many cases today, disputes concern the negative direct or indirect effects of technology on humanity or on the ecosphere. The split within the scientific community on this is deep and bitter, and finding judges satisfactory to both technologists and environmentalists (for want of better terms) might often prove exceedingly difficult.
    In spite of the difficulties, we support Kantrowitz’s proposal for the test establishment of an institution for making scientific judgments as described above. The present methods of making such judgments are so bad that any promising alternative or modification deserves a chance.]

    Commentary was made by Edith Efron in her book [The Apocalyptics] 1984.
    [As these statements clearly reveal, the central problem for the layman, as
    well as for the scientist, was not the question of which ideological faction to
    support, but rather the fact that there was no longer a way to differentiate between ideology and science. Clearly, in a situation where the President of the National Academy of Sciences on the one hand and ecologist Paul Ehrlich on the other were frequently unable to tell where science left off and politics began, the layman was totally helpless.]

    My personal position on the Science Court is similar to Efron’s. She wrote before global warming loomed large. Her comments pertained more to the regulation of science. In the now time, one should recognise the enormous harms done to science and the global economy by the Ehrlichs and Holdrens of this world. If they favour a proposal, it should be examined through a suspicion filter because we now know of their agenda, one heavy on control and regulation, as Efron foresaw.
    ……………………….
    Dr Curry, the lead-in you have chosen for this thread has these words from Justin Biddle–
    [The primary benefit of this system is its ability to institutionalize dissent, thereby ensuring that one set of interests does not dominate all others.]
    An experienced, neutral realist would reword this to –
    [The primary benefit of this system is its ability to institutionalize dissent, thereby ensuring that any dissenting set of interests is dominated by the Establishment through regulation.]
    …………………………..
    Advocates of global warming remain must explain their science in the form of a paper that is accepted, quantitative, confirmed by observation and that gives a useful mathematical relation between air temperatures and the concentrations of GHG in them. The absence of such a definitive paper causes concern that GHG hypotheses are flawed. It is required of GHG advocates that such a paper be produced as a primary way to minimise dissent. It is not the place of a Court to insist on this.
    Science evolves through its advocates convincing other scientists that their proposals are worthy to move from hypotheses to theories and, if important enough, to laws.

  47. As someone who has worked in pharma research and development for over 20 years, I suspect that Justin Biddle has absolutely no idea how pharma research is conducted and he has never worked in the industry or for FDA.
    I agree with what GaryM and Bob have written above and as usual, Doc has great real life experience to share.

    First of all, in my experience the toxicology researchers I have worked with are fiercely independent, their job is to find all potential problems with a drug and to kill off potential problem drugs sooner rather than later. There are many layers of internal and external oversite to the studies they conduct . The oversite is to protect and use the animals in a safe and human way and to ensure that all adverse events are reported accurately and completely. All animal studies require that protocols are established prior to the study and checks must be in place throughout the study to ensure that everything is done properly. Failure to do so could result in conviction of individuals or sanctions of company by regulatory agencies.

    The same is true for human clinical trials, there are many layers of independent internal and external oversite. The FDA reviews and approves all protocols. All data must be reported. Failure to follow these rules can result in termination internally and criminal prosecution externally.

    I’m not saying that there isn’t bias in pharmaceuticals or problems in the industry, but it is nothing like Biddle describes.

  48. I agree that the Science Court ia not likely to work well in practice. That is because it is unlikely to escape the prejudices of the funder, To establish dissent, you need to do scientific work, not just sit on a bench and hear evidence.

    The committee of APS members seems to be a better idea if they can come to some agreed position. Let us wait and see. It may be too much for individuals and may require the construction of a mathematical model which would require funding support.,

  49. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    climatereason/tonyb says “Fan, you have surpassed yourself with putting forward as candidates [for honest critics] those long dead.”

    Ouch! Have Climate Etc readers forgotten the life-and-lessons of Diogenes of Synope? Here is a remedy:

    “Looking for an Honest Man”
    Reflections of an Unlicensed Humanist

    Leon R. Kass / Jefferson Lecture
    American Enterprise Institute

    Everyone has heard the story of Diogenes the Cynic who went around the sunlit streets of Athens, lantern in hand, looking for an honest man. This same Diogenes, when he heard Plato being praised for defining man as “an animal, biped and featherless,” threw a plucked chicken into the Academy, saying, “Here is Platonic man!”

    These tales display Diogenes’ cynicism as both ethical and philosophical: he is remembered for mocking the possibility of finding human virtue and for mocking the possibility of knowing human nature.

    Question  Are we “plucked chickens”, to abandon human morality to the soul-less machinations of market fundamentalism’s willful ignorance and moral blindness?

    Kudos for history-of-science scholars like Naomi Oreskes, for so diligently shining the lantern of scientific inquiry upon the cognitive origins, economic consequences, and moral implications of market failure, in her great lecture Scientific Consensus and the Role and Character of Scientific Dissent

    Conclusion  Summon your intellectual and moral fortitude, and take a lesson from Diogenes’ and Oreskes’ search, oh Judith Curry and Climate Etc readers!

    \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • Fan

      Skiphill gives a less savoury reference to the antics of Diogenes

      http://judithcurry.com/2014/08/19/institutionalizing-dissent/#comment-619570

      However I prefer your excerpt. But was I supposed to rearrange the letters into ‘Hansen’ as you still haven’t mentioned him?

      tonyb

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        TonyB notes [dryly] “Skiphill gives a less savoury reference [to Diogenes]”

        Your understated humor is appreciated by many folks here on Climate Etc (including me) TonyB!

        As it turns out, there a substantial scientific literature relating to the primate predilection for the scatological modes of expression that denialist rhetoric commonly exhibits.

        Mark Steyn’s essays in particular share with skiphil’s Climate Etc comments a marked predilection for scatological metaphors.

        Postulate  Perhaps climate-change denialists are seeking to institutionalize, not dissent, but dysentery?

        Conversely, it is indeed fascinating that James Hansen, Naomi Oreskes, and Pope France (to name three) very seldom — if ever — resort to scatological demagoguery.

        Whence this contrast? The world wonders!

        \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • FOMBS says:

        As it turns out, there a substantial scientific literature relating to the primate predilection for the scatological modes of expression that denialist rhetoric commonly exhibits.

        Yes, indeed. The more friendly less unfriendly Bonobo has been reported to do it in the wild:

        But when these bonobos awaken, their signature behavior is nowhere in evidence. Instead, dung splatters the forest floor, flung at us by the alpha male. “He’s angry we’re here,” Leonard says softly. The male screams a warning to the other bonobos, and they respond with shrill cries. Through binoculars, I see many dark eyes peering down at me. A youngster shakes his fist at us. Moments later, the bonobos are gone, swinging and leaping from branch to branch, led across the rain forest canopy by the big male.

        Note the clear semantic content of the thrown material. Just like Steyn, etcThere’s even evidence that throwing may be related to the evolution of language:

        After making their discovery regarding the parts of the brain that appear to be involved in better throwing in chimps, the team tested the chimps and found that those that could throw better also appeared to be better communicators within their group, giving credence to their idea that speech and throwing are related. Interestingly, they also found that the better throwing chimps didn’t appear to posses any more physical prowess than other chimps, which the researchers suggest means that throwing didn’t develop as a means of hunting, but as a form of communication within groups, i.e. throwing stuff at someone else became a form of self expression, which is clearly evident to anyone who has ever been targeted by a chimp locked up in a zoo.

  50. lawrence Cornell

    Steven Mosher | August 19, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
    she was a fake basically a front for an older guy

    Matthew R Marler | August 19, 2014 at 3:34 pm |
    steven mosher: she was a fake basically a front for an older guy
    Details please. According to the news items about her, she was a high school student who wrote a paper as an assignment.

    Steven Mosher | August 19, 2014 at 8:17 pm |
    Capt. It was probably a bit of both..
    He outed himself accidentally..
    There was some big family drama..
    ——————————————————————————————————
    … and a day later another successful character assassination goes unreferenced, unsourced and unnecessary.

    • All he said is that it really was an anonymous older guy that was responsible for exposing the Left’s AGW-spokesarse, Al Gore as just one more of Lenin’s Useful Idiots.

      • lawrence Cornell

        *sigh* Pondering how to respond Wagathon. Usually it’s the Warministas that tell me that the reality in front of me, in this case recorded written words, is not what I see.
        But here I’m pretty sure I see the words “fake”, “front”, “some big family drama…” written about a teenage scientist without the expected accompanying references or sources to justify such characterizations, I also remember seeing a request for said references/sources go unanswered.
        Am I imagining that ?
        If so I appreciate the heads up as I should make some adjustments in my daily perceptions and corresponding interpretations thereof.
        If I am not imagining what I imagine I think I saw then I have to admit I really don’t know what it is you are saying or why.
        If I missed some sort of sarcasm or wit I apologize ahead of time. It’s been a long day.

      • As of November 7, 2000 it was certain that George Bush had defeated Al Gore (the EU and UN presidential choice) and the war against reason went mainstream. It has of course been a cat fight ever since then and especially after Al Gore’s May 26, 2006 fictive docudrama, An Inconvenient Truth, premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. While Kristen Byrnes (Ponder the Maunder) — a 15-year old high school genius researcher and writer of a school essay — was easily able to see through all of Gore’s superstition, inaccuracies, and misinformation, Western academia at that time remained silent, even in the face of all the feckless toadies of the establishment consensus who marginalized the young Byrnes’ iniative and scholarship with a misogynistic glee that was not seen again until Governor Sarah Palin was selected to be John McCain’s VP running mate in the 2008 presidential election.

      • I don’t know why anyone expects Mosher to provide any cites or other references to support his calling a 16 year old high school girl a fake. It’s not like he said it about Michael Mann or anything.

  51. Wikipedia uses the 97% Consensus as an example of propaganda. (How long that stays there is an open question.)

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2014/08/wikipedia-page-on-propaganda-techniques-uses-97-meme/

    Many people would not welcome organized scepticism, or disorganized scepticism, or intemperate musings.

  52. There is a red team, it is the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) composed of distinguished independent scientists. Its last two publications, on the physical science (2013) and on biological impacts (2014) directly counter the IPCC. Based on thousands of laboratory and field experiments increasing CO2 is not causing a climate problem and is a great benefit to agriculture, the environment, and humanity.

    http://www.nipccreport.org/reports/ccr2a/ccr2physicalscience.html

    http://nipccreport.org/reports/ccr2b/ccr2biologicalimpacts.html

    Ken Haapala, SEPP

  53. Just wanted to get my two cents worth in on this important topic.

    “It might be tempting to explain these failures by appealing to the greed of individuals. A better explanation, however, appeals to the broader institutional environment in which individual scientists operate.”

    Very true and key to the whole problem not just in pharmaceuticals but in all areas of human endeavor, like the study of climate.

    “In addition, the fact that mixed decisions must be made quickly, typically before a consensus is formed within the scientific community, makes it even more likely that such biases will affect individual scientists.”

    Not true in the sense that there are any decisions that have to be made quickly.

    “As argued, privatization is impeding the ability of communities to instantiate the norm of organized skepticism. “

    What does this mean???? How is privatization (whatever he means by that word) impeding anything?

    “Yet, as should be clear from the discussion of Kantrowitz’s proposal, one of the primary epistemic benefits of an adversarial system is the way in which it institutionalizes dissent. “

    And one of the leading problems with institutionalizing dissent outside of simple liberty is that it creates an institution that is easily captured, a problem that all monopolistic/government institutions face.

    “Given this, it is plausible to think that an adversarial system could help to alleviate some of the problems that privatization is causing. In particular, an adversarial system could help to expose the kinds of bias that are so often found in current pharmaceutical research, such as bias in the choice of hypotheses, bias in the interpretation of results, and bias in experimental design.”

    This just seems completely balmy to me when a system like pharmaceuticals is looked at without the recognition of how deeply the federal government is involved in regulating the industry. Adding another layer of bureaucracy on top of one that is already weighted down so heavily that only the largest companies can operate in it is not going to do anyone any good. And the same with the heavy involvement of the government in funding climate research. As the saying goes, “He who pays the piper calls the tune.”

    “In particular, an adversarial system could help to expose the kinds of bias that are so often found in current pharmaceutical research, such as bias in the choice of hypotheses, bias in the interpretation of results, and bias in experimental design.”

    True enough but at what cost with what unintended consequences of the type of official institution that is created. Freedom is enough to prevent the kind of thing that goes on in the industry and tort law is more than capable of dealing with it. In Climate Science Eisenhower warned against what he saw as the capture of pols by science or science by pols, which has happened and this proposition will do nothing to alleviate that problem but may make it worse.
    The equivalent of a Good Housekeeping seal of approval would could do a tremendous amount to clean up the shoddy research in Medicine with a tort law that awards compensation with a multiplier for those companies that don’t seek out such rigorous debate of their procedures and not from just one institution but from many that establish a record and build trust based on what they actually do. What the answer is for too much gov’t funding is more difficult to discern.

    “I have argued that there are serious problems with the way in which pharmaceutical research is currently done – epistemic, moral, and social-economic problems – and that an important cause of these problems is inadequate dissent. As a means of improving this situation, I have proposed that an adversarial system of pharmaceutical research, APEP, be instituted within a regulatory agency such as the FDA. The adversarial nature of APEP represents an acknowledgment that pharmaceutical companies, and the scientists that they sponsor, should not be viewed as disinterested arbiters of research but, rather, as advocates for particular hypotheses. APEP, in other words, is an institution that acknowledges that interests play an inevitable role in the evaluation of pharmaceutical research, and it ensures that the interests of pharmaceutical companies are not allowed free-reign but rather are checked by interests that are diametrically opposed to them. In this way, it enforces organized skepticism.”

    Any analysis of the way pharmaceutical research is carried out without addressing the role of the FDA is superficial and incomplete. Same for heavy gov’t funding in climate research.
    Why is there inadequate dissent in the industry? That question needs to be answered. And the investigation needs a wider net than simply referring to the self-interest of those scientists and companies that do the research. Any endeavor down these paths that doesn’t deal with the distortions caused by organized, institutionalized dissent, already playing a large role in the industry is inadequate to the task.

    One way to accomplish what Biddle is arguing for is through an infusion of freedom and the adherence to tort law. Think of the service consumer union plays in providing information about products to the consumer. What medicine (and the pharmaceutical industry) need is to be reinvigorated by the demands of the consumer, the ultimate consumer of medical practice and drugs. Many consumer unions reviewing research, competing for the attention of consumers, using and protecting their reputations to award a gold star to a drug or a medical practice would do more to shape the behavior of the industry than another bureaucratic institution piled on top of the FDA and all of its bureaucratic byzantine operations. Getting rid of the FDA would be a good start, not creating yet another institutions to primp and pander for ego and glory.
    Deep changes in the way climate research (or any research) is funded need to be made which probably means a radical restructuring of government/science which would be dead by the weight of scientists before you could utter the words.

    JUDITH
    “One of the norms of science is organized skepticism. Those working at the climate science – policy interface (including the IPCC) have worked hard to kill organized skepticism by manufacturing a consensus on climate change. The idea of a climate red team has been put forward by John Christy. Kantrowitz and Biddle have thought through how institutionalizing dissent might actually work. Particularly for climate science, implementing something like this wouldn’t be simple, and actually achieving the desired objectives would be quite difficult.”

    I thought it was unorganized skepticism. I didn’t think there was an official skeptical body or position. Just independent scientists agreeing or disagreeing which seems to work fine until you stumble into an area fraught with political significance for increasing the power of the state…THEN, like gluttons at the dinner table some of the participants find difficulty in controlling themselves and their true political nature comes to the fore and they tend to separate along lines of being prone to value freedom and independence or authority and conformity. Many people get caught up in the swirling stream and want to go along to get along but it shakes out who the real authoritarians are, in any case. Even if the science one day concludes that AGW will cause a 1 or 2 or 3 degree rise in temperature there are ways to deal with that that don’t require self-destructive stupid behavior, that don’t require a leviathan state, that don’t require the third world be locked in poverty or that we destroy western civilization. The problem with the science of AGW isn’t the science, as has been obvious for at least a decade. When people greet good news as though it’s the end of the world they show an investment in authoritarianism and the solutions it provides that goes way beyond anything the science of ice cores or the statistics of trends can answer.

  54. Institutionalized dissent would be a step toward some kind of quality control process. Science has no quality control.

  55. The problem in pharmaceuticals is that the companies sponsoring the research have a vested interest in a particular consensus finding – ie that the drugs are good, regardless of whether this is true or not

    Exactly the same problem effects climate science, just with orders of magnitude more vested interest. The state funds almost all (97%?) of climate science, and stands to make spectacular inroads on society if a finding of CAGW consensus results, regardless of whether it is true or not.

    In both cases, what is needed is some organised skeptcism; crucially,>/b> funded from somewhere other than the vested interest consensus in question. The problem in climate science, is that the state dwarfs everyone else put together by orders of magnitude, so we will only ever get the current vested-interest consensus. In time, incipient skeptics and independent thinkers will be rooted out long before long before they become established as Curry or Christy et al now have, and the government kool-aid will be the only drink available.

  56. In the US, perhaps the states could play a role. Something like, “Any federal program requiring more than X dollars investment in the state or mandate costing the state’s consumers more than Y dollars or regulation with more than Z dollars in impact within the state must be subjected to adversarial analysis, funded by the state.”?

    Adversarial analysis by 50 states should be a pretty thorough check. States could even incentivize the adversarial researchers with extra rewards for finding material problems in federally funded science.

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  58. Alexander Biggs

    As Judith points out. the emphasis has not been on predicting absolute regional or global temperature, but rather the human-caused component of that. So the science haas turned into a blame game. As scientists are also citizens, this also raises their heckles. contributing to poor science. The forcing function has been the UNFCCC: the ‘science is settled’.

    However I put my faith in the APS panel’s ability to deal with this. I think we just have to be patient and await their report

    • Alexander, the heckles are mainly from sceptics, which probably further raises scientists’ hackles. :-)

      Fingers crossed for the APS.

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