The Bias of Science

by Judith Curry

Alarming cracks are starting to penetrate deep into the scientific edifice. They threaten the status of science and its value to society. And they cannot be blamed on the usual suspects — inadequate funding, misconduct, political interference, an illiterate public. Their cause is bias, and the threat they pose goes to the heart of research.

Dan Sarewitz has a column in Nature entitled Beware the creeping cracks of bias, with subtitle Evidence is mounting that research is riddled with systematic errors. Left unchecked, this could erode public trust .   Some excerpts:

Bias is an inescapable element of research, especially in fields such as biomedicine that strive to isolate cause–effect relations in complex systems in which relevant variables and phenomena can never be fully identified or characterized. Yet if biases were random, then multiple studies ought to converge on truth. Evidence is mounting that biases are not random.

Early signs of trouble were appearing by the mid-1990s, when researchers began to document systematic positive bias in clinical trials funded by the pharmaceutical industry. Initially these biases seemed easy to address, and in some ways they offered psychological comfort. The problem, after all, was not with science, but with the poison of the profit motive. It could be countered with strict requirements to disclose conflicts of interest and to report all clinical trials.

Yet closer examination showed that the trouble ran deeper. Science’s internal controls on bias were failing, and bias and error were trending in the same direction — towards the pervasive over-selection and over-reporting of false positive results.

How can we explain such pervasive bias? Like a magnetic field that pulls iron filings into alignment, a powerful cultural belief is aligning multiple sources of scientific bias in the same direction. The belief is that progress in science means the continual production of positive findings. All involved benefit from positive results, and from the appearance of progress. Scientists are rewarded both intellectually and professionally, science administrators are empowered and the public desire for a better world is answered. The lack of incentives to report negative results, replicate experiments or recognize inconsistencies, ambiguities and uncertainties is widely appreciated — but the necessary cultural change is incredibly difficult to achieve.

Researchers seek to reduce bias through tightly controlled experimental investigations. In doing so, however, they are also moving farther away from the real-world complexity in which scientific results must be applied to solve problems.

Scientists rightly extol the capacity of research to self-correct. But the lesson coming from biomedicine is that this self-correction depends not just on competition between researchers, but also on the close ties between science and its application that allow society to push back against biased and useless results.

It would therefore be naive to believe that systematic error is a problem for biomedicine alone. It is likely to be prevalent in any field that seeks to predict the behaviour of complex systems — economics, ecology, environmental science, epidemiology and so on. The cracks will be there, they are just harder to spot because it is harder to test research results through direct technological applications (such as drugs) and straightforward indicators of desired outcomes (such as reduced morbidity and mortality).

Nothing will corrode public trust more than a creeping awareness that scientists are unable to live up to the standards that they have set for themselves. Useful steps to deal with this threat may range from reducing the hype from universities and journals about specific projects, to strengthening collaborations between those involved in fundamental research and those who will put the results to use in the real world. There are no easy solutions. The first step is to face up to the problem — before the cracks undermine the very foundations of science.

Brian Martin’s book

Brian Martin has an online book entitled The bias of science (published in 1979).  From the jacket blurb:

How do values enter into science? And what values are they? In The bias of science, applied mathematician Brian Martin traces the issues involved in these questions from the details of scientific research work to the structure of the scientific community and of scientific knowledge. The bias of science starts out as a case study of two scientific research papers, which are about the pollution of the upper atmosphere by Concorde-type aircraft. The writers of these papers are shown to ‘push their arguments’ in various ways, such as through their technical assumptions. Dr Martin argues that the particular orientations of the authors of the papers can best be explained in terms of ‘presuppositions’ about what the scientists are trying to prove. Evidence that the existence of such presuppositions is a common and expected feature of science leads to analyses of other scientific papers, to surveys of the sociology and epistemology of science and the psychology of scientists, and to a comparison of communication of scientific ideas in scientific papers and newspapers.

The idea of presuppositions is then used in a more general sense to look at the structural biases underlying science in general – scientific research, the scientific community, and scientific knowledge. Martin looks critically at political and economic influences on scientific research, at the selective usefulness of scientific work to different groups in society, at the use of science to justify political decisions, and at the fundamental biases in scientific knowledge itself.

Finally, to highlight both the presuppositions underlying current science and the values of the author, the case for self-managed science – a science participated in by all the community in a self-managed, non-hierarchical society – is argued.

The bias of science is unique in basing a critique of science on a detailed analysis of a particular research area in the physical sciences. Its aim is to show how an analysis of science can be followed through, rather than authoritatively preach. The bias of science is also one of the very few comprehensive critiques of science by a young practising research scientist.

I’ve skimmed this book, there is some very provocative and insightful material here.  In purusing Martin’s other publications, I have flagged some for future posts.

JC comments:  recognition of bias and its sources is the first step.  As Sarewitz states, “A biased scientific result is no different from a useless one.”

252 responses to “The Bias of Science

  1. Excellent post. There were authors of great credibility in the 1970’s who wrote books warning against what we are experiencing now. some of those books are difficult to find these days. I would offer a book to add to your list by Sir John Maddox, “The Doomsday Syndrome” which talks about the implications of science bias and dramatic claims.
    Here is a good review of “The Doomsday Syndrome”:

    • Thank you, Hunter.

      Talented, honorable scientists like Sir John Maddox and Philip Ableson encouraged me to publish experimental observations that would later help unravel the lock-step “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” responses of world leaders, editors, publishers and leaders of the scientific community after Climategate documents and emails were released in the fall of 2009:

      With kind regards,
      Oliver K. Manuel
      Former NASA Principal
      Investigator for Apollo

      • My belated discovery that President Eisenhower had specifically warned of the danger of a “scientific-technological elite” taking control of government policy in January of 1961 was the most amazing part of the Climategate drama:

      • Paul Vaughan
        [ data = ]

        Oliver, it’s a hard landing for white coats coming down off magnehelic high. I advise care-free summer fun:

        “We don’t need a cure
        for the weight of the world
        cuz it’s floatin’ ’round
        in the universe.

        Just swing it like it’s tied
        by a string that you hold
        AND LET IT GO.”

        — Dragonette – LET IT GO

      • Thanks, Paul. You are absolutely right!

        1. On the one hand, leaders of the world’s shadow government are as powerless as everyone else over the forces of nature, living as a natural parasite in the stream of energy that flows outward from the Sun’s pulsar core to interstellar space.

        2. On the other hand, it really annoyed me – a flaming liberal, supporter of the the UN, ACLU, environmentalist, etc. – to belatedly realize that the destruction of Hiroshima, the establishment of the UN, and the change in scientific dogma on the composition of the Sun all occurred in late 1945-46, but textbooks were changed to make it appear that the Hydrogen-filled Sun had been decided in the 1920’s.

    • I’m not going to bother linking the video for the three dozenth time, but this was what Feynman was taking direct aim at when he talked about “cargo cult science”.

      • Life is a natural process, like the downhill flow of water or the burning of fuel, in the stream of energy (light, particles, fields) flowing outward from pulsar cores of stars to interstellar space.

        Einstein explained the source of energy in 1905: E = mc^2

        The “cult of cargo science” came from mismanagement of science, as a “weed patch” comes from poor gardening. The “cult of cargo science” is a management problem.

        Science is a highly disciplined way for naked apes to take advantage of their natural inquisitiveness and creativity. It is one of our most powerful tools for advancement. Science arises from human creativity, as plants spring forth from seeds.

        The “cult of cargo science” that surfaced as Climategate emails and documents in November 2009:

        a.) Began with fear of “nuclear fires” in August of 1945;

        b.) Led to “United Nations” formation in October 1945;

        c.) >UK’s PRAS published stellar physics U-turns in 1946;

        d.) >US NSF initiated anonymous peer-reviews in 1951;

        e.) Successfully blocked, discredited, hid, manipulated or obscured all observations and experimental data from 1945 to 2012 of the source of energy that initiates “nuclear fires.”; and

        f.) Stopped the advancement of mankind by blocking information on the source of energy that creates elements, sustains life and Earth’s changing climate.

        The “cult of cargo science” is a management problem.

        The problem will be solved by angry naked apes, who feel betrayed by politicians, if leaders of the UK’s Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences continue to ignore this problem.

        With kind regards,
        Oliver K. Manuel
        Former NASA Principal
        Investigator for Apollo

    • A terrific, if dense, exploration of “regulatory science” and its in-built bias in the context of cancer research is the late Edith Efron’s The Apocalyptics. Bruce Ames’s book review of it was something of a watershed in the discussion of environmental carcinogens.

      Efron documented many of the pathologies we saw in Climategate in the context of the environmental carcinogenesis scare–insiders saying one thing about the weaknesses of their research to one other while presenting a confident united front in addressing the public, for example. My favorite bit was scientists privately complaining about improvements in precision analytical instruments that enabled the detection of ever-smaller amounts of trace chemicals. They fantasized about destroying these instruments because of the unwelcome implications of detecting carcinogens at some miniscule level in every single thing in our environment.

  2. Not a mention of the editorial practices of journals; it is the editors who decide if a paper is worthy of inclusion or not. Explaining that people have been observing an artifact or have misused common algorithm is almost impossible to get published.
    Many referees demand far too much evidence for a contra-observation; one can state that using two measurement techniques one gets a positive result and with the third a negative, indicating that methodology may be somewhat suspect. Do this and you can get a four page set of suggestions as to how you screwed up the referees favorite assay.

    Things are getting worse with the large scale introduction of kits. People spend $300 on a 96 well kit, follow the instructions, get the result and publish. They do this without understanding the assay, not knowing what the potential artifacts are.
    Some of you may have nitrated aromatics during junior chemistry; take nitric and sulfuric acid, or strong acid + nitrite (and also nitrate to a lesser extent), and wait. Very simple.
    I have seen people measuring nitro-tyrosine levels after acid precipitation in the presence of nitrate/nitrite. Bruce Ames pointed out that acid precipitation of cells artificially generates nitro-tyrosine back in 1997. Acid precipitation as a step in measuring nitro-tyrosine is still being used by some groups. It is used because people find it gives them a positive result, they like positive results.
    I think the lack of experimental design, so as to include internal and external controls, is due to lax teaching at undergraduate level and lack of mentoring at Ph.D. and Post-Doc levels.
    Undergraduates not longer have courses on the philosophy of science, nor applied statistics.
    Some Ph.D. students and Post-Docs never see the boss and are effectively supervised by who happens to be around at the time.

    • Editorial practices changed after honorable scientists like John Maddox at Nature and Philip Ableson at Science allowed us to publish the first irrefutable evidence in 1972 that meteorites formed directly from fresh supernova and in 1977 that our elements came from a supernova explosion of the Sun.

      O. K. Manuel, E. W. Hennecke and D. D. Sabu, “Xenon in carbonaceous
      chondrites,” Nature 240 (1972) 99-101

      O. K. Manuel and D. D. Sabu, “Strange xenon, extinct super-heavy elementsand the solar neutrino puzzle,” Science 195 (1977) 208-209.

  3. J. Seifert

    Is the bias only a bias with still high moral ground or has this
    bias found in climate science nowadays already entered low
    moral ground?
    The more and more is being revealed in …..gates, Gleicks and
    in the missing warming since 2000, the more I tend to be convinced
    that the villains have taken over…..
    Bias sounds too belittling of the real situation, as Shakespeare
    said: There is a BIAS (?) over in Denmark….

  4. Norm Kalmanovitch

    Dan Sarewitz has a column in Nature entitled Beware the creeping cracks of bias, with subtitle Evidence is mounting that research is riddled with systematic errors. Left unchecked, this could erode public trust .
    SCIENCE 28 August 1981, Volume 213, Number 4511
    Climate Impact of Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide
    J. Hansen, D. Johnson, A. Lacis, S. Lebedeff P. Lee, D. Rind, G. Russell

    Carbon dioxide absorbs in the atmospheric “window” from 7 to 14 micrometers which transmits thermal radiation emitted by the earth’s surface and lower atmosphere.

    Carbon dioxide only has an effect on the atmospheric window centred on 14.77microns and ranges from about 13 to 17 microns and not from 7 to 14 as stated by Hansen
    How did the peer review miss this obvious error!
    This and several other errors and scientifically unsubstantiated claims in this paper have contaminated the peer reviewd literature and provide a faulty scientific reference for the future research which has resulted in the mountain of defedtivet research that supports the fraudulent contention od CAGW.
    Left unchecked, this has eroded public trust .

  5. There have been techniques developed to address bias in science such as double blind experiments. And the sharing of data and description of analysis in sufficient detail to allow replication of experiments as a part of the scientific method should take care of bias over time. I think this post misses the problem facing science these days. It isn’t bias. It is corruption. Scientist are like other people — no more or less moral. The problem arises when out institutions’ procedures recognize the various possibilities for corruption and establish policies to fight it,

    Some possible anti-corruption policies: Require papers to disclose data needed to replicate analyses; require programs used in the analysis be disclosed; do not permit statistical analyses to be published without disclosing errors “limits” (to include errors in converting data from one type, say tree ring width, to another, say temperature). Require theoretical techniques (such as averaging model) be justified explicitly before accepted for publication by the author of a paper (by reference if it has been justified before in peer reviewed literature).

    If I thought this were a topic that would produce reform, I’d be happy to suggest more steps.

    • Require journals to publish/pay for 50% as many articles refuting previous papers as they do for positive results. Given the high % of findings which (much) later turn out to be flawed or faked, this 1:2 ratio is the least that would be justified.

  6. Reblogged this on Climate Ponderings.

    • Adam Gallon

      Would you be classified as a plagiarist, if your blog was in paper form?

      • John Kannarr

        Gosh. Providing a referenced excerpt and a link to another site is now plagiarism?

  7. Bias is a step away from the core issue. Bias is a manifestation of broken ethics. There are ethical breakdowns in all fields.

    For example, we generally like to think that the current journalistic style of POV perspective in news reporting as being new, but it’s been around since there’s been a free press. William Randolph Hearst was famous for this but he was only more accomplished at executing a style that had been in play here since the American Revolution. If one assumes that news reporting should be objective, this represents a systemic, cultural ethical flaw that has been in play in journalism as long as there has been a media to perpetuate the break. If there’s a difference in the current day, it’s a matter of intensity not kind.

    Another example: Clearly and quite sadly, even our clergy is prone to substantial ethical breakdown.

    The only mystery is why scientists seem to resist accepting their own human fallacies so strongly, while attempting to wrap themselves in cloaks of “scientific method” or other veils of pretended objectivity. (These are seen as “virtue” in the scientific community.) Of course the question is rhetorical and the answer self evident. Coloring or even intentional slanted editing of data occurs because scientists subjugate the ethics of their profession to what the individual regards as a higher ethical ideal. Unless the scientific community wants to lay claim to higher moral ground than the ground achieved by faith-based communities, ethical failure should be expected in science and indeed, in any human enterprise.

    Interestingly (to me at least) this blog is about the only place I am aware of where a scientific issue is considered in light of raw observational data as well as the perspective(s) of those producing the data. The degree to which this blog is unique is another manifestation of the ethical breakdown that causes scientific observation to be colored by personal perspective derived from a subjective POV approach to ethics.

    • At 4:23 PM on 11 May, jbmckim had asserted:

      Bias is a step away from the core issue. Bias is a manifestation of broken ethics. There are ethical breakdowns in all fields.

      That’s way too simplistic. While ethical failings – the purposeful imposition of particular prejudices on methods, analyses, and conclusions for purposes pecuniary, political, and/or religious – can’t be denied, it has to be remembered that bias in the sciences is almost invariably (heck, inescapably) imposed by investigators’ habits of thought and knowledge base.

      It’s honest bias, without anything of “broken ethics” about it.

      I wish that we were dealing with nothing except merely ethical failings. What we’ve actually got, it seems, is something deeper and far more intransigent.

      In clinical medicine, I was taught that stubbornly obtuse resistance to developments in diagnosis and treatment is so pervasive that “…for any genuine advancement in the profession to take place, a whole generation of doctors must die.”

      (Every time I go to a medical staff meeting, I take particular note of those colleagues I’m pretty sure could benefit mankind chiefly by way of permanent removal.)

      Honest bias on their parts, most of it. But bias nonetheless.

      • Fair enough, but there’s still the ethical question of hypocrisy, specifically that of asserting adherence to objective findings while aggressively rejecting or suppressing them. That’s hard to rationalize as honest bias.

      • At 12:03 AM on 12 May, Bart R had complained:

        I’m skeptical of the claims of ‘conservatives’, up to and including their skepticism and their conservatism. To claim one is a skeptic while easily accepting unproven and unprovable assertions boggles with hypocrisy. To claim one is conservative while upholding foreign adventure, big government spending, duplicity in budgets and in policy, smacks of usurpation.

        Actually, it “smacks of” being a Republican. What the heck gives anybody to confuse the Red Faction with genuine – fiscal or social – conservatism? They never have been, not from they day they quit calling themselves “Whigs.”

        A few years ago, history professor Clyde Wilson published a brief essay titled “The Republican Charade: Lincoln and His Party” in which he accurately observed:

        Apparently millions continue to harbor the strange delusion that the Republican party is the party of free enterprise, and, at least since the New Deal, the party of conservatism. In fact, the party is and always has been the party of state capitalism. That, along with the powers and perks it provides its leaders, is the whole reason for its creation and continued existence. By state capitalism I mean a regime of highly concentrated private ownership, subsidized and protected by government. The Republican party has never, ever opposed any government interference in the free market or any government expenditure except those that might favour labour unions or threaten Big Business.

        The truth of that assertion is found throughout the history of the Republican Party – not American political conservatism in actuality, but among the adherents to Henry Clay’s “American System” of unalloyed “screw the consumer” protectionism, “bridge to nowhere” pork projects, and deliberate debauchment of the circulating media of exchange.

        The way it was put in Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) by way of our American Lenin‘s quoted stump speech went:

        My politics are short and sweet, like the old woman’s dance. I am in favor of a national bank . . . in favor of the internal improvements system and a high protective tariff.

        In the run-up to the 1860, he was sold to the northern political interests as “a good Clay Whig,” and indeed his career since that speech was first given in 1832 had been wholly adherent to banksterism, taxpayer-funded graft, and the tariffs that precipitated the bombardment of a customs post in Charleston Harbor to initiate hostilities in the War of Northern Aggression.

        Inasmuch as the apparatchiki of the Grand (yeah, right…) Old Party claim to be “conservatives,” it might be pardonable for the average yutz to confuse Republican Party objectives, machinations, and usurpations with the American strain of political conservatism – the rule-of-law constraint of civil government bound “….down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution,” but it doesn’t take training in any scientific discipline to pull up a search engine and do the online digging required to learn the truth of the matter.

      • Judging by the incoherence of this purported rant on conservatives, I am guessing we have another rabid liberaltarian in our midst. Comparing Lincoln to Lenin – this is the kind of historical revisionism that would make even outright progressives blush.

      • Paul Vaughan

        Tucci78 | May 11, 2012 at 5:01 pm | wrote:
        “In clinical medicine, I was taught that stubbornly obtuse resistance to developments in diagnosis and treatment is so pervasive that “…for any genuine advancement in the profession to take place, a whole generation of doctors must die.” “

        An accurate diagnosis (applies by analogy to climate).

        Ability to learn is but one determinant of who becomes a doctor (including doctors of philosophy). Ability to conform to elaborate ADMINISTRATIVE structures is another inflexible determinant of admission.

        There’s no guarantee that the bright conformists admitted will be efficient explorers of unknown territory.

        Landmark change can take generations. I’ve been wondering if we can speed that up by leveraging netscapability, but a limiting factor appears to be voluminous infiltration that waters down content.

        Educators: I propose the introduction of a CORE compulsory course for ALL students: Paradox 101.

      • It is simplistic as it is a starting point, not a thesis. I would respond that there is no such thing as “honest bias,” Bias is necessarily and inherently dishonest as regards the reporting of empiric information or mathematic proof. The Joe Friday doctrine applies: “Just the facts ma’am.”

        I don’t think the distinction of “honest bias” is particularly helpful. Writ large to demonstrate the argument’s flaw, that would extend to “He’s a well intended liar,” or put more gently “She means well but you can’t trust what she says.” This would perhaps be “ethical” if it were the only possibility, although there is always the binary formulation of “I choose to do a thing or I don’t.” (The Nuremberg Trials are the source of thousands of pages on this part of the argument alone.) In any case, even a successful justification of a state of error (i.e. accidental homicide) still leaves the error (i.e. the victim is still dead, regardless of intent).

        As pertains to science however, I believe I’m correct in asserting that the core value of scientific method and discipline is represented at least in part by a ruthless pursuit and reporting of fact. Further, it can be assumed given the above that if one aspires to be a scientist, one should have been taught that it is unethical to let your personal biases color either your results or the interpretation thereof. You might in the course of pursuing this profession ethically, have to write/reveal something that you find personally distasteful. You might even have to publicly change your mind. This would be forced on you by your ethical commitment you accepted when you donned the mantle of “scientist.” In sum, my objection to “honest bias” is that it’s unethical (irresponsible is the specific flavor of ethic) for you (speaking of the generic scientist, not you personally) to not know better.

      • Tucci78 “In clinical medicine, I was taught that stubbornly obtuse resistance to developments in diagnosis and treatment is so pervasive that “…for any genuine advancement in the profession to take place, a whole generation of doctors must die.” ”

        This has been a fact of scientific progress since it began. It took years after the death of Socrates for his opponents to die off and his ideas to take hold. It took years for the objectors to calculus to die off and the ideas of Newton and Leibniz to reach fruition. All the static geologists had to die and a physical mechanism get developed for Wegener’s plate techtonics to be accepted. And who knows(with apologies to O. Emanuel) maybe we’ll agree with the “iron sun”.

        One thing we have to face: the educational system does not seek to nurture out-of-the-box creativity. Most schools are content to just turn out students with some basic grounding in math and science that will get them productive jobs to pay off their student loans. Even the study of creativity is stratified and stiff-necked because creativity is the last thing most bosses want. It takes too much energy to deal wtih.

      • At 3:42 PM on 15 May, in response to my retailing of the medical commonplace about how “…for any genuine advancement in the profession to take place, a whole generation of doctors must die,” Phil C responded:

        This has been a fact of scientific progress since it began….

        One thing we have to face: the educational system does not seek to nurture out-of-the-box creativity. Most schools are content to just turn out students with some basic grounding in math and science that will get them productive jobs to pay off their student loans. Even the study of creativity is stratified and stiff-necked because creativity is the last thing most bosses want. It takes too much energy to deal with.

        Anent educators, I’m perforce mindful of comments made by H.L. Mencken, who put so damned much so damned well:

        The average American college fails…to achieve its ostensible ends. One failure…of the colleges lies in their apparent incompetence to select and train a sufficient body of intelligent teachers. Their choice is commonly limited to second-raters, for a man who really knows a subject is seldom content to spend his lifetime teaching it: he wants to function in a more active and satisfying way, as all other living organisms want to function. There are, of course, occasional exceptions to this rule, but they are very rare, and none of them are to be found in the average college. The pedagogues there incarcerated are all inferior men — men who really know very little about the things they pretend to teach, and are too stupid or too indolent to acquire more. Being taught by them is roughly like being dosed in illness by third-year medical students.

        The truth is that the average schoolmaster, on all the lower levels, is and always must be…next door to an idiot, for how can one imagine an intelligent man engaging in so puerile a vocation?

        New York Evening Mail, 23 Jan. 1918.

        As for employers…. I was some months ago made aware of the fact that employers are reluctant to hire people who have gained a G.E.D. certificate rather than completing the full course of stultification required by a credentialed high school to award a diploma, and I immediately wondered why.

        Then I thought upon it, and came to the conclusion that what bosses really wanted of employees with high school educations is not fund of knowledge (of which the modern high school diploma in no way providesany goddam surety whatsoever) or learning skills (ditto) but rather proof of obedience, some solid manifest of the matriculant’s willingness to put up with shovelfuls of sh-t arbitrarily thrown at him by ex-Education majors with government-approved teaching certificates, day after day, month after month, semester after semester, for four solid years of boredom, bureaucracy, degradation, and officiousness unalloyed.

        The young person who withdraws from high school and instead sidesteps all this crap by taking a G.E.D. course and proving competence by way of straightforward testing is, ipso facto, not a compliant drone with a demonstrated capacity for shutting up and doing everything he’s told without so much as the ghost of a hint of a shadow of critical thought flickering even for an instant over the soggy oatmeal between his ears.

        Creativity can be inculcated. Schools – particularly the government gulags masquerading as “public schools” in these United States – are by their nature even less interested in fostering creativity than they are in turning out citizens prepared to assess matters of public concern with scrupulously reasoned critical consideration.

        Why should we expect outcomes at variance with these priorities?

  8. “this could erode public trust”

    Could? Too late Nature. You did it. You are biased and not to be trusted.

    • sunshine, you left off the rest of the list. Start with The Royal Society, The American Physical Society, The American Chemicla Society, The World Meteorological Organization, and the list goes on and on and on.

      • Unfortunately, you are both correct.

        As the climate scandal unfolds, I encourage everyone to remember that our most powerful leaders are probably no more and no less flawed than anyone else.

        We desperately need to work together to end society’s despair and get new policies adopted to ensure the continued advancement of mankind.

  9. Seems to me, not being transparent about your work while being beholden to the government for your money inevitably lead to trouble. Easier to stay on the “prescribed” path and not make waves lest your funding dry up, particularly if you are a committed ideologue to start with.

  10. Keith Joseph

    The field of biomedicine is fraught with bias and probably corruption. I became much more interested in the arguments of climate sceptics after I began studying claims by mainstream biomedicine.

    I quickly learned that most mainstream claims about health and nutrition are radically mistaken and based on biased or unscientific research. In a complex system like the human body it is very hard to control variables and establish causality. But that obvious difficulty doesn’t stop the field from making all sorts of causative claims.

    Elevated cholesterol levels, for example, are not even correlated with cardiovascular disease, and there is certainly no study that controls its variables showing a causative relationship between elevated cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease. Similarly the claims linking saturated fat to disease are radically biased. The recent “Harvard Meat Study” is a great example. Here is a link to Gary Taubes’ critique:

    I concluded that if causality is difficult to establish in the human body it must be even more difficult to establish with any certainty in a system like the Earth’s climate.

    One reason that the field of biomedicine is coming under more scrutiny is that practitioners, whether they are medical doctors or people just trying to optimize their health with nutrition and exercise, are increasingly challenging this claims.

    • “Elevated cholesterol levels, for example, are not even correlated with cardiovascular disease”
      Depends on the HDL-C:LDH-C ratio.
      See references herein

      Pretty much cut and dried. Smoke and you have higher risk of lots of diseases, but you may be shot at 97 years old by your mistresses husband.
      The top/bottom members of the study should wear T-Shirts that state
      “Part of the small minority who ruin it for the rest”.
      Some people die from a nose bleed and some people can walk on top of a nuclear reactor spewing plutonium and live to old age. Biological statistics are very hard and data is very soft. You should take it all with a pinch of salt, if your quack allows you salt.

      BTW Nutritionists are not biomedicals, actuaries aren’t either, but they should be. Cut down on fat, salt and sugar, do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day, drink less than 3 units per day, stop smoking.

    • David Bailey

      I think these problems have got steadily worse over time. Back in 1975, I left a post doc position and went into software development. A big part of that decision was that I had gone with a more senior colleague to see the head of department to point out that there were two distinct severe faults in the apparatus that essentially invalidated any results.

      We were told to wait for a period of months (at least) while two postgraduates finished collecting data for their PhD theses!

  11. The climate that we experience results both from ordered forcing [nominally, it’s the Sun, stupid]<em? and chaotic behaviour [shit happens—e.g., if Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull blows its top or when the phenomenon of collective synchronization of coupled oscillators as described by Nikola Scafetta drops Maxwell’s Silver Hammer comes down on our collective heads], the result of a system with characteristics of each [Bang! Bang!]. In forecasting prospective climate changes for the next century, the focus has been on the ordered system’s responses to anthropogenic forcing. The chaotic component may be much harder to predict, but at this point it is not known how important it will be. (Rind, D. 1999 “Complexity and Climate”. Science, 284, 105-107)

  12. “The climate that we experience results both from ordered forcing [nominally, it’s the Sun, stupid] and chaotic behaviour [**it happens—e.g., if Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull blows its top or when the phenomenon of collective synchronization of coupled oscillators as described by Nikola Scafetta drops Maxwell’s Silver Hammer comes down on our collective heads], the result of a system with characteristics of each [Bang! Bang!]. In forecasting prospective climate changes for the next century, the focus has been on the ordered system’s responses to anthropogenic forcing. The chaotic component may be much harder to predict, but at this point it is not known how important it will be.” (Rind, D. 1999 “Complexity and Climate”. Science, 284, 105-107)

  13. “A biased scientific result is no different from a useless one.”

    Except that this is not quite right. Biased results can cause quite a bit of harm.

    • A biased scientific result is not nearly as valuable as a useless one. (?)

  14. You can bias even if you are pure as the driven snow; human being have in built biases that they are completely unaware of.
    Place a novice at a microscope and have them pick a visual field, 9 times out of 10 they pick a field that contains a rare event, like a dying cell or dividing cells. They cannot help it, they ignore all the boring normal stuff and are drawn to a discontinuity. You learn not to do that by using field selection that is uninformative to the operator at the time of selection.
    People discard ‘bad’ datasets, coming up with all sorts of justifications for why it didn’t work, so a true n=9 becomes a true n=5. Seen it attempted by someone who ‘knew’ the right result.
    How about trying different statistical tests until p<0.05 or discarding one point so p<0.01?
    Done by people who think it is perfectly justified; "the cells were funny that day".

    • All well-taken. My big fear is the pressure to publish positive findings, combined with the fact (I think it is a fact) that the numbers game (lines on the vita) keeps inflating as time goes on. The pressure on my junior colleagues to produce lines on the vita is tremendous. While they MIGHT respond to that with overtly unethical behavior (falsifying data), I don’t think that’s the real problem. Instead, the system gives them an incentive to divide their research support dollars amongst ever more experiments K with ever smaller sample sizes per treatment n. This raises the expected number of false positives, and hence the expected number of publications. But no one needs to actually THINK that. Selection pressure is powerful in the Academy, so the young researchers who behave that way (large K small n) are just more likely to survive the tenure struggle than those who don’t. This is social evolution under the selection pressure of lines on the vita–not a morality play. I have some ideas for reform, but I am not very certain about them: Mostly, they involve changing the institutional selection pressures rather than trying to reform the hearts of young scientists–which I think is mostly beside the point.

  15. No argument Doc. Then of course there’s the “accidentally on purpose” kind of bias which has been elevated to a fine art by the likes of Michael Mann.

  16. David Springer

    It’s probably safe to say most of us understand bias. What we wonder is if you and your peers understand the difference between bias and dishonesty.

    Mike’s Nature trick to hide the decline is not bias. It’s a deliberate lie of omission.

    • At one (brief) time I might have disagreed with you, arguing that the apparent dishonesty was likely a consequent result of “noble cause corruption” derived from an honest belief in a greater good. However it is no longer possible to view the construct of the hockey stick and the years and years of its increasingly irrational defence as anything but a deliberate and weasely lie.

    • thisisnotgoodtogo

      Whereas Phil Jones’s WMO graph was lie of substitution :)

  17. I’m just in the middle of reading “The Black Swan” right now, and the issue of bias in all fields of human endeavor including science is front and center. I’ll be interested in looking at Martin’s book once I finish “The Black Swan”.

  18. There’s more to it than bias. The use of the analogy of a greenhouse came from belief in the beginning that something of a similar sort was going on in nature. That is a type of blissful iignorance that even trumps systemic bias.

    • Yes, compelling analogies and “memes” almost dictate biases at every turn. Compounding the problem is the need to justify past assertions and at all costs avoid “having been wrong”.

      Cultivating a Feynman-ish delight in discovering one’s own error is very hard to cultivate, in self or others.

      • Correcting my redundant sentence above:
        A Feynman-ish delight in discovering one’s own error is very hard to cultivate, in self or others.

    • peterdavies252

      Thanks for the link Edim, I enjoyed it too. Evolution is certainly not a settled science either – what true science ever is?

    • thisisnotgoodtogo


      “The intervening years since Darwin have seen an astonishing retreat from his individual-centered stand, a lapse into sloppily unconscious group-selectionism We painfully struggled back, harassed by sniping from a Jesuitically sophisticated and dedicated neo-group-selectionist rearguard, until we finally regained Darwins ground, the position that I am characterizing..”

      more Dawkins zealotry

      • You cannot criticize Dawkins on the basis of what you think he is stating, our on the basis of what other people think he means.
        Read the damn books, he deals with cooperation between genes, cooperation between species and within species in great detail. Many of his predictions have been found to be true.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Doc, I forgive your untrue insinuation. You’ll be forced to agree shortly that I know much more about this than you do.

        The key to understanding Dawkins tricks is noting his continual employ of word usage error in order to convince.

        Here are two examples also of his trickery in defining items.

        From his “The Dubliner” article

        “The word atheism sounds negative; let me call it rationalism. It is a rational view of the world where you stand up proudly, in your humanity, you look life straight in the face, you look the universe straight in the face, you do your level best to understand it, to understand why you exist, what the universe is about, you recognise that when you die that’s it, and therefore life is very, very precious and you devote your life to making the world a better place, to leading a good life so when you die you can say to yourself I have led a good life. Now, that seems to me to be a worthwhile goal to put in place of the medieval superstition which is religion. ”

        Even IF it were true that atheists have that goal in life, “rationalism” is just not synonymous with rationalism.

        Here’s another
        ““I said that I preferred to think of the gene as the fundamental unit of natural selection, and therefore the fundamental unit of self-interest. What I have now done is to define the gene in such a way that I cannot really help being right! “

        Now on to his work The Selfish Gene.

        Doc, observe the trick Dawkins employs in arguing for a Selfish Nature and not an Altruistic Nature. First Dawkins enjoins us to admit that selfishness exists as per our commonly understood usage of the term. then he next implores us to agree that altruism is not altruism at all, but selfishness.

        Game Over. We’ve agreed at the start that there is selfishness by common understanding, and yet he immediately and very ungraciously demands we NOT be allowed the commonly held understanding of the term “altruism”.

        Dawkins pleads his Selfishness premise by examples found in Nature.

        On pg 5 he says
        “Perhaps we can sympathize more directly with the reported cowardly behavior of emporer penguins in the Antarctic. They have been seen standing on the brink of the water, hesitating before diving in, because of the danger of being eaten by seals. If only one of them would dive in, the rest would know whether there was a seal there or not. Naturally nobody wants to be the guinea pig, so they wait, and sometimes even try to push each other in.’

        Dr Polly Penhale of NASA, Antarctic Biology Projects Manager answers questions ,

        QUESTION: Do penguins find out about danger by pushing one of
        their own into the water?

        ANSWER: On January 14, 1995, Polly Penhale answered:
        It is hard to find an objective answer for this question because
        scientists cannot set up experiments to find out the answer. The idea of
        penguins “testing the water” by pushing in others was based on
        observations. When penguins are near the ice edge and in a position to
        go into the water, they are often in a large groups of 100 to 1000 birds.
        The birds are very active and are always milling around, and the birds
        in the back can’t see what’s going on in the front. So, I believe that this
        situation of crowding and moving and pushing causes the front birds
        on occasion to be accidentally pushed into the water.

        So give it up, Doc. you know zip about this.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Atheism” is just not synonymous with “rationalism”.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        “Many of his predictions have been found to be true.”

        Many of my Granny’s predictions have come true !

        Why don’t you tell us, say, ten of the many ?

  19. We all have a chance to work on something important here. We how gleefully the scientific method was so eagerly kicked to curb by those who should have had the greatest reverence.

    We need to recognize that nothing will be the same.

    Future decision-making must reckon with what we now know will be our future. We must face facts:

    The methodology we must employ in the future to make rational choices among various alternatives demands that we must expect natural and rational ignorance, biased expectations, mistakes, unpleasant surprises — even a level self-imposed pain from systematically making bad choices based on a sort of societal masochism — such that we gird ourselves and demand that we all must purposefully limit the scope of all of our collective actions in full knowledge that in acting together the simple fact that our collective reasoning simply can no longer be trusted.

    Or, we can go back to the basic principles of respecting individual liberty and demanding personal responsibility.

  20. IPCC Bias for Reporting Exaggerated Warming Rate by Including the Warming Rate due to Cyclic Component of the Global Mean Temperature.

    IPCC =>

    The IPCC graph interpret the data for the Global Mean Temperature (GMT) as “accelerated warming” as follows:

    1856-2005 => 0.05 deg C per decade
    1906-2005 => 0.07 deg C per decade
    1956-2005 => 0.13 deg C per decade
    1981-2005 => 0.18 deg C per decade

    Natural systems that have maintained life for millions of years do not suddenly change within about a century as listed above. Instead they change only slightly as shows in the following graph, where the trend for the Secular GMT varied only slightly.

    This result decomposes the observed GMT as follows

    Observed GMT = Random GMT + Smoothed GMT

    Where Smoothed GMT = Cyclic GMT + Secular GMT

    The Random GMT oscillates within about a decade relative to the smoothed GMT curve.

    The Cyclic GMT oscillates in about 60 years relative to the Secular GMT curve.

    The secular GMT curve is the actual global warming curve (climate change) that has only slightly increased since 1895 as follows:

    1895-1925 (from V1 to P1) => 0.05 deg C per decade
    1925-1955 (from P1 to V2) => 0.06 deg C per decade
    1955-1985 (from V2 to P2) => 0.07 deg C per decade
    1985-2015 (from P2 to V3) => 0.08 deg C per decade

    There is a difference by a factor of 2.25 (=0.18/0.08) for the estimate of the current global warming rate between the IPCC and my estimate. The major mistake by the IPCC is that it includes the global warming rate due to the cyclic GMT in its trend calculations. As the trend due to the cyclic GMT is not permanent, it should not be included in trend calculation for the climate.

    • J. Seifert

      Girma: The temp increase for the century 1900-2000 is given
      as 0.74 C…. now the BEST-values are out, CRUTEM4 is out, going
      back to 1800. What is the official centennial temp increase
      for 1800 – 1900, which we then should compare to the biased
      hockey stick? Thanks for your figure… JS

  21. Scientists, being human beings, are prone to all the foibles of human beings. The only ones shocked by this are those who attempt to use the label of “IT’S SCIENCE!!!” to stifle debate. As in “Decarbonization isn’t about the politics of our proposed socialist solutions, it’s about the science of ‘climate change.'”.

    “Science” hasn’t been compromised by the mendacity and venality of scientists, any more than medicine, mathematics of engineering could be discredited by vain, dishonest, greedy and/or incompetent practitioners of those disciplines. Science is a method, not a church.

    Conservatives have always been skeptical about the claims of “science,’ “medicine,” and “sociology” etc., because they really are nothing more than claims by scientists, doctors and sociologists. You know, people. You won’t find us being “shocked, shocked” that pristine, objective science is neither pristine nor objective.

    The only way to get bias and dishonesty out of “science” is to get people out of science. And I’ve seen The Terminator and Wargames, so no thanks.

    • “Conservatives have always been skeptical about the claims of “science,’ “medicine,” and “sociology” etc., because they really are nothing more than claims by scientists, doctors and sociologists.”

      In my experience, when someone invokes the authority of “science” it’s usually not a scientist, but a social/political activist. And when it is a scientist doing that, it’s usually someone who is also a social/political activist. The invocation of the authority of “science” started with Marx, and has been a hallmark of Marxist activists ever since. Non-Marxist scientists? Not so much.

      To claim “science” as an authority is to misunderstand what science is.

      • “Science” has been invoked by those seeking to enhance their authority (read power) since long before Marx. The “science” of astrology was used to wield influence as early as Babylonian times.

        There is nothing new in the climate debate.

      • Agree.

      • This notion of “science” supporting an agenda is related to the notion of the inevitability of history. It’s intuitive, and wrong, to think that history is attracted to any particular outcome, just as it’s intuitive and wrong to think that evolution has a purpose. This is on another subject, but I think you can see how it ties in to this question of there being a scientific right answer to an ideological question:

      • I’m skeptical of the claims of ‘conservatives’, up to and including their skepticism and their conservatism. To claim one is a skeptic while easily accepting unproven and unprovable assertions boggles with hypocrisy. To claim one is conservative while upholding foreign adventure, big government spending, duplicity in budgets and in policy, smacks of usurpation.

        The most conservative act one can take is to be devoted to sound reasoning and applied logic, to hear out all sides so far as practical and confirm all observations so far as testable, and to practice science in one’s mind foremost. Until you know where you stand and why, how can you uphold conservative values upon that stance?

        To claim any authority matters before science is to misunderstand authority.

      • Stick to the science Bart, when you go beyond it, you get incoherent.

        “…practice science in one’s foremost mind.”

        You try so hard to be clever, you forget to be intelligible.

        If you want to criticize what I write, great, that’s what a blog is for. But try to criticize what I actually write, rather than whatever confused, self-contradictory ideas you have in your own fevered mind about what constitutes conservatism.

      • GaryM | May 12, 2012 at 10:54 am |

        Good points. I’ll try to keep them in mind.

        Much of what you write, I agree with to a point in the way it sounds.

        But sound isn’t reason, and (to become unintelligible through hard cleverness), much of your reason isn’t sound, too.

        If Conservatives cannot ever distinguish personalities from topics, and must only think of medicine in terms of the medics, science in terms of the scientists and logic in terms of the logicians, then they always will be inept at logic and science, and suspect in matters of medicine. Real conservatives understand their sciences before they even look at the scientists, and the first scientist they must question the bias and competence and personality of is themself, if they wish to further their understanding.

      • To criticize what I write, it might help if you first understand it. But I don’t think you even understand what you write.

        “If Conservatives cannot ever distinguish personalities from topics….”

        Gibberish. More to the point, my comment was precisely that conservatives DO distinguish between personalities and their topics. CAGW is not science, it is a political claim by “scientists.” Drowning polar bears, disappearing glaciers, desertification of the Amazon, collapse of the Greenland ice sheet, these too are not science. They are merely claims by those purporting to represent “climate science.”

        It is those who rely on appeals to authority, like yourself, who cannot distinguish between the two.

      • Right, because we list errors (you have four like-minded examples from like sources, all of which based on factual observation, and though dubious in some ways, hardly yet shown statistically to have no chance of being true.. meanwhile there are countless other claims that can be rejected such as the Skydragon Slayers, the Excess Winter Deaths due price of fuel, the Global Cooling of the late 20th century…) by those who made them, and skip the ones from those we side with, if we’re ‘conservatives’, and we call that distinguishing the idea from the personality. Because ‘conservatives’ are good with redefining words on the fly. If they weren’t, then they couldn’t have redefined ‘conservative’ to mean ‘weasel’.

    • Getting b&d (bias and dishonesty) out on a general basis is unattainable. But the basic requirement is that it be acknowledged as endemic, and reverse its effects wherever possible. An on-going process and never-ending effort.

      One might say that the meta-H0 (Null Meta-Hypothesis) should always be that if a result or hypothesis or prediction supports the existing paradigm or the political program of the day, it is likely contaminated by b&d, quite possibly fatally. So the more expectable and pro-consensus a paper or outcome is, the tougher the statistical tests it must meet, and the more skepticism must be directed at it. Funding for challenges must be liberal and string-free.

  22. Beth Cooper

    Gary M

  23. The issue is competence. With competence, bias can be quickly overcome; without it, bias inevitably becomes hardened, unquestioned dogma.

    When I compared the temperatures in the atmospheres of Venus and Earth, I very simply–and as it turned out, naively– used the Stefan-Boltzmann equation as applied beyond the atmosphere, without consideration of the difference in albedo for the two planet-plus-atmosphere systems. I did not consciously assume the planet-plus-atmosphere system was a blackbody, however (I just used the easiest model that occurred to me, to investigate the expected temperature ratio–the simple approach I learned from my earliest physics education, starting in high school and continuing throughout college), and when I discovered, quite directly by my simple approach, that the actual Venus/Earth temperature ratio was a constant that in fact depended only upon the ratio of the two planets’ distances from the Sun–thus definitively disproving the “greenhouse effect” hypothesis, of increasing global mean temperature with increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, as well as disproving the need for any correction due to the large difference in albedo–I was able to immediately interpret this, with correct physical intuition, as being necessarily due to both atmospheres directly absorbing, and being fundamentally warmed only by, the same physical fraction of the incident solar power. In a March 2012 update to my original “Venus: No Greenhouse Effect” post, I provided the proper Stefan-Boltzmann equations for the temperature in each troposphere, assuming both tropospheres are warmed by the same fraction of incident solar power, and showed that their temperature ratio at any given pressure is indeed independent of the fraction of solar power absorbed, and is just dependent upon the ratio of their solar distances. This of course confirms my original, insightful interpretation of my Venus/Earth comparison.

    So my basic scientific competence and physical insight overcame the naivety (a form of bias, one might say) of my overly-simple approach; I in fact made the correct physical interpretation, and I have correctly stood by it ever after (see here for example. Not so for all of those (including Judith Curry), who have dismissed my findings when informed of them, generally with the flat–and in fact wrong–statement that my comparison was worthless because I had not “corrected for the difference in albedo” in the two planets, and also no doubt because no one was willing to seriously consider that these two atmospheres were both warmed by direct absorption of incident solar power, rather than from the surface (which was and continues to be the consensus belief–that is, the consensus bias). As a competent physicist, I knew, and know, my original interpretation was correct, and I maintained that any competent physicist must come to the same conclusion as I did, from the observed constant Venus/Earth temperature ratio, but it has done no good, from November 2010 to now. Even after posting those equations that starkly PROVE my original interpretation was good, there has been no sign of any growing acceptance, on either side of the climate debate, of my Venus/Earth comparison as a definitive correction to the patently incorrect consensus beliefs of climate scientists.

    So the basic INcompetence of all of the defenders of the climate consensus has so far kept them from overcoming their bias against my definitive disproof of the “greenhouse effect”, which continues to be promulgated to the public, falsely and incompetently, as unarguable fact.

    • When people agree that patterns and relationships between things are not well understood no one surprised that events are unpredictable. When we run into problems is when people like — for example, Al Gore a seminary school dropoutl, Leftist, lifetime politician coming from a background of entitlement and privilege — is allowed to make the case (for political and ideological purposes) that everything is very well understood and anyone who cannot appreciate that fact is an idiot. That is when everything becomes Oh so predictable. And, that is what as lead to sacrifice of individual liberty on the altar of self-interested government action. That is what liberal fascism is all about.

    • Harry Huffman, the Watts/m^2 at the TOA coming from the sun across all the wavelengths has been measured very accurately as has the same measurement been made at sea level under clear sky conditions. We know exactly what gases absorb the energy in between, and which ones (i.e. the greenhouse gases) absorb and reemit the LW coming back from the ground. Your disproof of the greenhouse effect would take a complete disproof of basic radiative theory and all calibration and physics behind the instruments measuring the spectrums of electromagnetic radiation coming and going from earth. No disrespect to you sir, for you seem a person of high intelligence, but have you ever considered that your obsession with trying disprove the greenhouse effect is your own personal bias?

      • It is not true that absolute radiative flux is known to any reasonable precision. Relative change is known to a greater accuracy.

        Gatesy – I don’t want to defend anything but you need to rethink the basics before spreading disinformation. On the other hand – perhaps that is what you’re into.

      • Chief,

        Perhaps we are talking about different things here. The total solar irradiance at the top of the atmosphere has been measured for quite some time by satellite, to within a pretty high degree of precision:

        And we know the wavelengths this energy is broken down into as well from the basic black body curve, with relative energies for different wavelengths given. For more see:

        Thus, Harry Huffman’s notion that the greenhouse effect does not exist can be proven as wrong quite directly by measurement to high degree of accuracy. We know how much energy is striking the top of the atmosphere and we know how much reaches the ground and we know exactly which gases abosrb which part of the energy coming in and the energy being radiated back up.

        I will take no offense to your suggestion that I might be “into’ spreading disinformation. Quite the opposite.

  24. “Left unchecked, this could erode public trust .”

    One obvious sign of bias is that you care about public trust. It means you are concerned with managing the message as well as the problem. That becomes tricky when the problem itself is that people are managing the message.

    • Paul Vaughan

      In sharp contrast with comical widespread romantic illusions, “science” is an unwieldy, stagnant, sterile ADMINISTRATIVE enterprise, devoid of the freedom, vitality, & mobility needed to explore & recombine efficiently. Administrators senselessly build elaborate structures of toxic red tape, clarifying their mindless need to base expanding power on unyielding ignorance.

      • Nicely said. The first step is to recognise this, then it can be improved (uncorrupted).

      • “Administrators senselessly build elaborate structures of toxic red tape, clarifying their mindless need to base expanding power on unyielding ignorance.”

        It is all done with a purpose, administrators used to call this ’empire building’, as they need to justify more staff so that their GS level will go up. I would be surprised if things have changed.

  25. Beth Cooper

    …and in art:

    ‘All Nature faithfully’ – But by what feint
    Can Nature be subdued to art’s constraint?
    Her smallest fragrant is still infinite!
    And so he paints but what he likes in it.
    What does he like? He likes what he can paint!


  26. I am now convinced that AGW is extremely exaggerated beyond what the data says.

    Look at my interpretation ( ) of the 20th century climate pattern compared to the IPCC’s (

    I will write a detail article and guest post it here if JC allows me as soon as I finish it.

    I think we skeptics are winning the climate war as the data is on our side, and it is IPCC’s interpretation (deliberate or unintentional) that is wrong.

    • In my figure above, if you look at the Secular GMT, its trend has not changed much since 1895!

      • Girma is typical of the skeptics who when they actually look at the data find that they find the trends toward AGW objective and free of bias.
        This is Girma’s model equation, plotted to the year 2200, showing a 3 C temperature increase.

      • IPCC=>
        The multi-model mean SAT warming and associated uncertainty ranges for 2090 to 2099 relative to 1980 to 1999 are B1: +1.8°C (1.1°C to 2.9°C), B2: +2.4°C (1.4°C to 3.8°C), A1B: +2.8°C (1.7°C to 4.4°C), A1T: 2.4°C (1.4°C to 3.8°C), A2: +3.4°C (2.0°C to 5.4°C) and A1FI: +4.0°C (2.4°C to 6.4°C)

        Web, why don’t you plot my model until 2100 so that we are not comparing apples and organs with the IPCC?

        It is also important to note the current climate pattern may not be applicable in 150 years times; otherwise, we would still be in the Little Ice Age.

        My major point is the climate pattern of the 20th century does not show any significant acceleration of global mean temperature trend as the IPCC claimed. That is my main point. My other point is we must remove the Random & Cyclic GMT when calculating climate trends.

      • “Web, why don’t you plot my model until 2100 so that we are not comparing apples and organs with the IPCC?”

        I guess that would be showing a bias. You were the one that developed the model after all, and being unbiased myself, I just plot what you present for a model.

        “It is also important to note the current climate pattern may not be applicable in 150 years times; otherwise, we would still be in the Little Ice Age.”

        I guess your “secular” model goes into a hiatus. Girma decides when the hiatus occurs, thus demonstrating absolutely no bias. Yea, for sure.

      • You were the one that developed the model after all

        I modelled it to describe the climate pattern of the 20th century, you applied it for the climate of the next 200 years, for an invalid purpose. It is invalid because extrapolation does usually work for empirical models.

      • “It is invalid because extrapolation does usually work for empirical models.”

        You said it, extrapolation works for many an empirical model. I have an empirical model for predicting sunrise and sunset and it works very well for predictions. I am setting my alarm clock to it for tomorrow morning, as it is fishing opener and I want to make sure I wake up before sunrise. I sure hope my empirical model works!

      • > comparing apples and organs

        Let’s get biblical, biblical,
        I wanna get biblical, let’s get into biblical
        Let me hear your soul silence.
        Your soul silence, let me hear your soul silence.

      • willard, Fruits and nuts now…

        for the power impaired. Do you see the pattern yet? Most do.

      • From fruits and nuts to nuts and bolts:

        > Two things place this among the most significant cultural phenomena of the decade. The first is its sense of purpose. The outrageous installations of Claremont Road were manifestly functional. The tyre and washing machine sculptures at the ends of the street held back the bulldozers while people consolidated their defences. The cars full of scaffolding proved to be excellent tank traps. The bits of metal nailed to the trunks of the trees had to be painstakingly extracted before the chainsaws could start work, while the amputated limbs were waiting to be dropped as memento mori at the bailiffs’ feet whenever they became over-enthusiastic with the chainsaws or bolt cutters.

        War of art.

      • I guess your “secular” model goes into a hiatus.

        Don’t you think it can reverse?

  27. Jim Cripwell

    Where are you?

    With this figure (, we will thump CAGW advocates until they submit.

    • You may ask, how did they fool as so far with accelerating warming?

      This is because they included warming Noise GMT and warming Cyclic GMT in their trend calculation.

      • “You may ask, how did they fool as so far with accelerating warming?”

        Girma, representing the typical skeptic, asks this question. But Girma also happened to fit a model to the global temperature data and finds an accelerating warming term as well.

        I think Girma knew that this acceleration appeared in the Girma model, but Girma must have temporarily fooled Girma into thinking that accelerated warming did not exist. That can happen to the best of the skeptics, of whom Girma is clearly near the top in skills.

      • I have not projected my empirical model until 2200. You cannot do that. My model applies only for the 20th century. If you assume the climate pattern does not change in 150 years, we would still have been in the little ice age.

        You are criticizing a claim I have not made.

        My model is an excellent description of the climate pattern of the 20th century. I have not seen a better model so far.

      • “I have not projected my empirical model until 2200. You cannot do that. My model applies only for the 20th century. ”

        A great example of bias, that statement. Girma decides when his model is applicable, based on the numbering of centuries. Wow, that is some neat science!

      • If you assume the climate pattern does not change in 150 years, we would still have been in the little ice age.

      • peterdavies252

        Based on the long term information that is available for the past thousand years or so I am of the belief that the LIA is still around but that it is affecting some regions more than the others and that the NH is cooling more than the SH. Short term trends such as what you are suggesting are meaningless.

      • Peterdavies,

        The effects of the LIA lasted no longer than around 1900 at the very latest, but more like around 1850 or so. I strongly suggest you have a look at this research, will a close inspection of the excellent charts included:

      • peterdavies252

        Thanks for the link R. Gates. The article was most interesting and the predictions in sea level rise has been one of your concerns that I can see from your posts. I wasn’t able to clear up where the extra water is going to come from but note that AGW has been fingered as the main culprit.

        My take on sea level rises is that it seems affected more by plate tectonics at the ocean floor and seasonal global axis tilting, than by land ice melt which seems to advance and recede quite regularly, possibily due to hydrology and ocean-current changes.

        Since the SH has most of the oceans located there it seems to me that NH glaciation effects would be lagged to the extent that cause and effect on sea levels would be problematic. The northern polar ice cap changes would obviously have little effect since it already comprises the Arctic Ocean and given that the water in ice is already expanded by around 10% it seems that any ice melt there will even cause sea levels to fall slightly!

        This link puts my viewpoint over more compellingly I think.

      • From the paper:

        “Since 1850 sea level rise and its dramatic acceleration is
        associated with the rapid increase of CO2 and other greenhouse

        1850? This is in dissonance with this:

      • Or this:

        If all you know is GHGs, everything looks like AGW.

      • peterdavies252

        I agree Edim. The paper was certainly written by an AGW advocate. I was more interested in the sea level change projections that R. Gates is obviously concerned about.

        My point is that even an AGW paper poses some doubts about sudden calamitous sea level effects. It ain’t goin to happen and if and when it does, populations will have plenty of time to adapt.

      • Web

        The problem with empirical models is you can not use them for projection far from their range. Web, it is only a description of the climate pattern of the 20th century. May be It could be valid for the next 20 to 30 years, but no way for 200 years.

      • “Web, it is only a description of the climate pattern of the 20th century. “

        Oh I see. Your model is just a description of everything that happened in the past. That is the best skeptical climate model I have seen yet, all based on historical data and curve fitting heuristics. The input is the historical data and the output is the same historical data with a line drawn through it, stopping before it extrapolates into the future.. Breathtaking in its simplicity, and impossible to second guess!

      • Girma | May 12, 2012 at 2:08 am |

        Mr. Orssengo, do you understand the technique used to determine what your usage of “far from their range” is?

        Or that there are such techniques?

        How do you qualify how “far from” the range of your ’empirical model’ (actually, it fails to qualify for the term empirical model, being only a fitted curve to a smoothed proxy of a set of adjusted averaged anomalies) you can meaningfully project?

        What’s the calculation?

        You say axe-grindingly you will thump someone with your incomplete, inept squiggles when you can’t even say what the limits on your predictions are.

        That seems to be extraordinarily overconfident, and fails to recognize uncertainty entirely.

        Tell me, what is the probability your projection will hold for one more year into the future — actually, as it hasn’t held for the majority of the years in the past unless you compress to exactly one particular month at a rate of 12:1, you can’t really give a meaningful answer, so don’t.

        Instead, answer what so obsesses you with your foregone conclusion that you must bend every iota of information and torment every methodology to manufacture conclusions so far outside the bounds of ordinary logic?

        There are good and honest methods to raise questions about the statistics used. Emulate those if you must. (eg: Then people can have rational conversations. But this immensity of bias you bring to the table makes it impossible to find a common ground, and the closed mind about things that simply are not yet knowable you proclaim, it is utterly unscientific.


      • Bart, That econometrics paper is interesting but of course it misses completely an actual physics model that one can apply. I added my comments to the link.

      • WebHubTelescope | May 12, 2012 at 12:20 pm |

        Of course the econometrics paper is wrong. But it’s not fantasy. It’s possible to logically discuss it, and compare what’s being said on each side rationally, dispassionately, and with mathematical rigor.

  28. ferd berple

    JC comments: recognition of bias and its sources is the first step. As Sarewitz states, “A biased scientific result is no different from a useless one.”
    I would argue against that.

    For example, say a biased report said the cure for cancer was in fact not a cure. Compare this with a useless result that said the cure for cancer may or may not be the cure.

    If you accept a biased result as fact, it is much more dangerous than a useless result. At least with the useless result you recognize that you should not invest the future in the useless result. However, with a biased result, you can end up doing great harm.

  29. I read an interesting call (don’t have the source handy) for social scientists – among whom replication is particularly rare – to do more work on replication attempts and the publication of failures. One of the proposals (given that everyone wants to do original work) was to put grad students to work attempting to replicate published findings.
    I think in many cases this is difficult or impossible given the resources and tacit knowledge involved for replication, but it’s an interesting thought if we are to improve on peer review as a fact-checker, and could also be a good teaching opportunity.

  30. Doug Badgero

    “A biased scientific result is no different from a useless one.”

    A biased result is worse than useless. It leads people, collectively and individually, to waste time and resources pursuing the wrong solutions to the wrong problems.

  31. We should look into the bias of business, while we’re at it.

    10,708 miles of pipeline, 100 foot right of way, 3.13 million barrels a day at peak falling to an average of 2.16 million barrels/day over the lifetime of the pipeline, giving about 10 kWh/m^2/day, less roughly 25% loss refining bituminous tar to usable oil, less roughly 65% burning oil for energy in transportation or electric generation, gets us to perhaps 2.5 kWh/m^2/day if there are no significant leaks, losses, outages, breakdowns or Canada doesn’t turn off the taps in some dispute.

    Compare with CSP, at minimum 6 kWh/m^2/day rising over time as high as a third better than that due tecnology improvement, in scrub desert, none of it needing expropriation, some of it beneficial dual use. Why should America give up three times as much land (handed over to foreign interests 40% owned by China) for oil as for sunlight?

    And the price? Pretend $100/barrel is even plausible as a long term average price for tar. $38.446 Billion just to build the thing plus $313 million/day for the tar? (40% or more of that money going to China; how much ending up in US pockets? Not yours, of course.) That’s on the order of $5.75 trillion in 50 years. How much solar could that much money buy on US soil?

    Clearly, anyone making a business decision to back tar over sun is biased.

    • Energy density Bart, energy density.
      Energy density Bart, energy density.

      • DocMartyn | May 11, 2012 at 11:38 pm |

        The energy density argument is just so much weak thinking. Energy density might matter were vehicles built to maximize performance for distance between stops.. but they certainly are not.

        Daniel Nocera of MIT proposes H2 for short term storage and ammonia for medium term; others go further with carbamide for the long term. All of these have decent enough energy density, and are cheaper now than gasoline per energy produced by a healthy margin where the source is tarsands. And with vehicles built to maximize efficiency, certainly a tank of carbamide will carry a family of four farther than a tank of gasoline, and for lower cost.

      • “Daniel Nocera of MIT proposes H2 for short term storage and ammonia for medium term; others go further with carbamide for the long term”

        O.K. lets replace all gasoline with H2, NH3 and Carbamine.
        1) What is the effect of adding 0.01% of the total usage of the first two gasses on the atmosphere?
        Well molecular hydrogen is going to deplete ozone in the upper atmosphere 2) Burning ammonia in an internal combustion engine will generate hydroxylamines, not nice, but OK. However, I am going to increase the steady state ammonia levels in ground water and run of (getting nitrogen fertilization blloms) and going to increase the steady state levels of N2O, via microbial digestion. N2O eats ozone!

        Panacea solutions tend to only appeal to those how have no understanding of technological history.

      • DocMartyn | May 12, 2012 at 9:02 am |

        Interesting considerations. However, for that much H2 to make it to the upper atmosphere, it’d have to survive the trip from the lower atmosphere intact. Which just isn’t what goes on in the atmosphere when you’re an H2 atom. And if you do the math, oil refineries and petroleum fumes overwhelm the components you claim are going to go into the air in your catastrophic photovoltaic scenarios. As for nitrogen blooms.. compared to the fertilizer dumped now and anticipated to be dumped in future for farming? Not even close to a rounding error.

        Handwaved objections only appeal to kneejerk reactionaries.

        Show me the math that establishes your claims.

      • H2 and O2 happily co exist at room temperature and pressure; the reaction rate is zero.
        The reaction rate between H2 and O3 is very fast indeed

        k=(1.33±0.32)x10^−10 exp(−449±58/T) cm3 molecule−1 s−1

        For comparison the rate that nitric oxide reacts with O3 is
        k=2.34±0.23)x10^-12 exp(-1450±50/T) cm3 molecule-1 s-1

        Luckily, NO levels in the upper atmosphere are very low as it reacts with O2 on the way up. H2 goes up until it reacts with a radical or O3, or achieves escape velocity.

        Putting large amounts of H2 in the atmosphere is a very bad idea. Just apply the precautionary principle.

      • H2 is expensive and difficult. Makes no sense at this point.

      • Edim | May 12, 2012 at 4:57 pm |

        H2 is cheaper than gasoline from tar, and easy. If it makes no sense at this point, then certainly tarsand makes less.

        DocMartyn | May 12, 2012 at 7:12 pm |

        Were we comparing H2 to nothing, your point would be partly valid, especially if we knew nothing of Paschen’s Law or the properties of H2 at low partial pressure. But we’re comparing H2 fugitive emissions (which we know a great deal about) to petroleum industry fugitive emissions (which we know a fair bit about). So the precautionary principle doesn’t apply so much, as we know H2 is so much less hazardous in so many regards than octane.

        Am I promoting irresponsible and ill-advised options? Not at all. If people pursue the best of the storage methods available, they certainly can’t do worse than what petrochemicals pump into the atmosphere. By the way, guess what’s in asphalt?

    • Yes, the bias of hyper-expectations is the worst. We will watch a gold-rush-style, boom-bust cycle play out soon with the Bakken formation.

      I finished this blog post earlier today:

      I also found out today that the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources wants people to pay $50 to have access to a complete set of data for all the Bakken fields. Can you believe that? What are they trying to hide? That’s easy, obviously they are trying to “hide the decline” of oil reserves. $50 gets one the privilege of viewing this yourself, free of bias.

  32. Provoked scientists try to explain lag in global warming

    “If you look at the last decade of global temperature, it’s not increasing,” Barnes said. “There’s a lot of scatter to it. But the [climate] models go up. And that has to be explained. Why didn’t we warm up?”

    The question itself, while simple sounding, is loaded. By any measure, the decade from 2000 to 2010 was the warmest in modern history. However, 1998 remains the single warmest year on record, though by some accounts last year tied its heat. Temperatures following 1998 stayed relatively flat for 10 years, with the heat in 2008 about equaling temperatures at the decade’s start. The warming, as scientists say, went on “hiatus.”

    The hiatus was not unexpected. Variability in the climate can suppress rising temperatures temporarily, though before this decade scientists were uncertain how long such pauses could last. In any case, one decade is not long enough to say anything about human effects on climate; as one forthcoming paper lays out, 17 years is required.

    For some scientists, chalking the hiatus up to the planet’s natural variability was enough. Temperatures would soon rise again, driven up inexorably by the ever-thickening blanket thrown on the atmosphere by greenhouse gases. People would forget about it.

    But for others, this simple answer was a failure. If scientists were going to attribute the stall to natural variability, they faced a burden to explain, in a precise way, how this variation worked. Without evidence, their statements were no better than the unsubstantiated theories circulated by climate skeptics on the Internet.

    “It has always bothered me,” said Kevin Trenberth, head of the climate analysis section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “Natural variability is not a cause. One has to say what aspect of natural variability.”

    Trenberth’s search has focused on what he calls “missing energy,” which can be thought of as missing heat. The heat arriving and leaving the planet can be measured, if crudely, creating a “budget” of the Earth’s energy. While this budget is typically imbalanced — the cause of global warming — scientists could account for where the heat was going: into warming oceans or air, or melting ice. In effect, the stall in temperatures meant that climatologists no longer knew where the heat was going. It was missing.

    The hunt for this missing energy, and the search for the mechanisms, both natural and artificial, that caused the temperature hiatus are, in many ways, a window into climate science itself. Beneath the sheen of consensus stating that human emissions are forcing warmer temperatures — a notion no scientist interviewed for this story doubts — there are deep uncertainties of how quickly this rise will occur, and how much air pollution has so far prevented this warming. Many question whether energy is missing at all.

    For answers, researchers across the United States are wrestling with a surge of data from recent science missions. They are flying high, sampling the thin clouds crowning the atmosphere. Their probes are diving into deep waters, giving unprecedented, sustained measures of the oceans’ dark places. And their satellites are parsing the planet’s energy, sampling how much of the sun’s heat has arrived, and how much has stayed.

    Barnes, right, with the laser at the heart of his aerosol monitoring; in the room next door, three mirrors, exposed at night through a creaking, skyward-facing hatch, collect wisps of the laser’s reflections. Photo courtesy of Bess Dopkeen.
    “What’s really been exciting to me about this last 10-year period is that it has made people think about decadal variability much more carefully than they probably have before,” said Susan Solomon, an atmospheric chemist and former lead author of the United Nations’ climate change report, during a recent visit to MIT. “And that’s all good. There is no silver bullet. In this case, it’s four pieces or five pieces of silver buckshot.”

    This buckshot has included some familiar suspects, like the Pacific’s oscillation between La Niña and El Niño, along with a host of smaller influences, such as midsize volcanic eruptions once thought unable to cool the climate. The sun’s cycles are proving more important than expected. And there are suspicions that the vast uptick in Chinese coal pollution has played a role in reflecting sunlight back into space, much as U.S. and European pollution did decades ago.

    These revelations are prompting the science’s biggest names to change their views.

    Indeed, the most important outcome from the energy hunt may be that researchers are chronically underestimating air pollution’s reflective effect, said NASA’s James Hansen, head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

    Recent data has forced him to revise his views on how much of the sun’s energy is stored in the oceans, committing the planet to warming. Instead, he says, air pollution from fossil fuel burning, directly and indirectly, has been masking greenhouse warming more than anyone knew.

    My answer for the hiatus based on the observed data is the start of the cooling phase of the Cyclic GMT as shown =>

    • Mr. Orssengo, have you really been working on your answer since October of 2011, when the item you link to was first posted?

      And why do you insist on repeating claims that have been shown to be numerically false?

      • Yes. I did not have the answer then. I have now. No doubt about that despite your objections. As an engineer, I accept the conclusions of the data. IPCC’s major mistake is not removing the Random GMT and the Cyclic GMT in its trend calculations. When you do that, you can elegantly explain the current “hiatus” =>

      • Girma | May 12, 2012 at 12:39 am |

        Mr. Orssengo, the answer you provide is deficient. That you have no doubts is only further sign of bias of the worst sort. As an engineer, you should be challenged for your professional competency if you produce this sort of work for your clients. The conclusions you represent without doubt would require at least a hundred times more or more precise data than HadCRUT3 or GIS possess as a property to rise to even 95% confidence of claims such as yours.

        To attempt to remove a cyclic GMT trend from the dataset would require knowing what the trend is; you use the worst sort of fitting to a smoothed curve that wouldn’t make it out of high school to derive your claimed cycles, and then remove that at full weight. Every form of validation that can be applied shows this produces meaningless outcomes. You even accidentally provide the evidence of how wrong your claims are with your other claims, and seem not to understand that.

        Calling what you’ve done ‘elegant’ is perhaps the worst abuse of the word I’ve ever seen. Where’s your ANOVA? What’s your proposed mechanical explanation? How do you explain that there are several known incidents that have extremely good correlation on the record, such as volcanic eruptions, that when removed make your illusion of a cyclic curve vanish?

        Are you suggesting that volcanoes happen to regulate the GMT so it remains on the cyclic curve?

        Because that stretches credulity much, much too far.

        Stop wasting our time with this childish and fraudulent misdirection, please.

    • Arno Arrak

      Girma – you reproduced almost a third of Voosen’s article on provoked scientists trying to explain the lag in global warming and then trotted out the same HadCRUT3 graph I analyzed for you before. It does not explain any hiatus and neither do any of the scientists referred to in the article. Underlying their attempts to explain the warming hiatus is the belief that carbon dioxide is warming the climate and there is no warming now only because various nefarious natural processes are preventing it from doing its job. But once these interlopers step aside they are sure that carbon dioxide will be released from bondage and we can be assured that warming will return. One of these guys even hedges his bets by saying that it is not enough to wait ten years, wait seventeen years before you can say that you can’t see any warming. I don’t know why that dope thinks seventeen means anything but I suspect he does not have much hope for what the others have suggested. Looking through the suggestions in the article some are obviously wrong on the face of it. That includes any suggestion that volcanic eruptions, large or small, can cause any global cooling, especially cooling that lasts ten or more years. Hot volcanic aerosols always ascend into the stratosphere which warms at first but in a couple of years this warming turns into cooling. But that cooling never reaches the troposphere because the stratosphere and the troposphere are thermally decoupled. See pages 17 to 21 in my book. Their next problem is not understanding the El Nino and La Nina phenomena. In my previous post I explained it to you but here they go, claiming that the years stacked near the end of the hiatus period saw an unusual number of La Ninas. They can’t get it into their thick heads that El Nino and La Nina alternate. And then they trot out the old air pollution myth. There was no warming in the fifties, sixties and seventies so they invented an aerosol blanket that supposedly kept the increasing carbon dioxide from doing its job for thirty years. But then Hansen introduced a new GISS method for measuring global temperature rise, the aerosol blanket miraculously disappeared, and temperature in the eighties and nineties rose. Unfortunately that temperature rise was bogus – see figures 24 and 27 in my book. I was able to determine that thanks to the existence of satellite temperature records. And another quixotic quest they have taken up is searching for that missing energy. It all started when Trenberth and Fasullo published an article in Science in 2010 about the global energy budget. They showed a graph where all was well until 2004 when energy started to disappear. By 2008 eighty percent of it was missing. The graph was entitled “Where does the energy go?” I looked at it and then read from the text that: “Since 2004, ~3000 Argo floats have provided regular temperature soundings of the upper 2000 m of of the ocean, giving new confidence in the ocean heat content assessment –” Now what do you know, new equipment goes on line and energy does a disappearing act! If I had been the reviewer I would have sent him back checking those floats until the problem was resolved. But that was not done and now we keep hearing about these mysterious energy losses. All in all, that article by Paul Voosen you chose to cast upon us has no worthwhile science in it.

    • BaitedBreath

      Isn’t the official story now that that global warming is happening in the oceans? Somehow or other the increasing CO2 in the atmosphere is warming the oceans, without first warming the atmosphere itself.

  33. thisisnotgoodtogo

    Some activist evolutionary biologists when in full zealotry mode behave much as Climate scientists have.

    Here’s Dawkins declaring his science unfalsifiable through his cunning manipulation through word usage errors

    “I said that I preferred to think of the gene as the fundamental unit of natural selection, and therefore the fundamental unit of self-interest. What I have now done is to define the gene in such a way that I cannot really help being right! “.

    Global Warming is manifested by less/more/less of this and that.

  34. As Sarewitz states, “A biased scientific result is no different from a useless one.”

    I don’t agree with this statement. A biased scientific result also may be worse than useless or better than useless.

    ferd berple gave an example of worse than useless biased result “say a biased report said the cure for cancer was in fact not a cure.”

    But say a biased report said a cure for cancer was better than it actually is, but as it turned out still better than anything else being used.

    And what about bias in motives? If a researcher wants a promising treatment to cure cancer, hopes it will cure cancer, and is excited over the prospect it will cure cancer, is he biased? I think so, and I believe that’s good.

  35. A scientific result ought be testable, and treated with due skepticism regardless of source, affirmation, reference to authority or bandwagon, anecdote or personality. I’m not overly concerned about biases — though I prefer people with enough self-knowledge to set theirs out clearly in their papers — because accepting results doesn’t come easy to me. Accepting claims of refutations, likewise, takes me some time.

    It’s not the bias of those other people that most concerns me, whether they admit them or no. For me, the biases I myself have — especially the ones I’m less aware of — are the ones that hold up the advance of science.

    After all, if I don’t accept it yet, how is it advancement to me?

  36. The most obvious biases are when Lindzen says we don’t know the effect of aerosols, so we can assume it is zero, or when Spencer implies that El Ninos may be responses to cloud-albedo reductions rather than being responsible for them in his argument with Dessler. These assertions both show a bias against accepting a positive feedback to GHG forcing that in each case leads to a poor argument.

    • Jim D

      The climate system ALWYS shows negative feedback.

      Let us discuss this feedback using the following figure =>

      In this figure, we have the relationship

      Observed GMT = Random GMT + Smoothed GMT.

      This figure also shows the observed GMT oscillates within a uniform GMT band relative to the Smoothed GMT curve since 1895.

      If you look at the Random GMT, whenever it approaches the upper GMT band, the climate system pulls it down towards the Smoothed GMT curve, which shows a climate system with a negative feedback.

      Again, if you look at the Random GMT, whenever it approaches the lower GMT band the climate system pulls it up towards the Smoothed GMT curve, which again shows a climate system with a negative feedback.

      This demonstrates, based on observation, the feed back of the climate system is negative always trying to keep the GMT along the smoothed GMT curve.

      • You have assumed the forcing doesn’t change, which is wrong because at least CO2 and a few other forcings are changing. Increasing CO2 alone can cause the mean temperature to rise steadily. The equilibrium point changes with the forcing, otherwise how do you explain warm paleoclimates?

      • This is Girma’s model curve extended to the year 2200.
        Notice the overall 3 C temperature rise from where the Girma model starts.

      • WHT

        Maybe I missed something (or maybe you did?), but I can’t recall Girma making a claim that the observed model curve would apply over the next 188 years – did you?

        If not, your extrapolation to year 2200 is pure rubbish.


      • “If not, your extrapolation to year 2200 is pure rubbish.


        By extrapolation Girma’s model is pure rubbish. Heck, all I ever do is repeat the skeptic’s nonsense. The bias is that when it comes from my keyboard it gets tagged as rubbish, yet when Girma states it and says that the trend is accelerating, yet will go into hiatus according to the numbering of centuries, it gets pegged as genius. That is the bias that keeps popping up, over and over again. I should refer to this acceptance of drivel as IOKIYAS “It’s OK if you’re a skeptic”.

        Actually, I don’t think this is even bias, it’s just doctrinaire clown school.

      • Girma – looked at your figure of HadCRUT3. Those red sawteeth are all part of a continuous ENSO oscillation. The peaks are all El Ninos and valleys between them are La Ninas. There are quite a few irregularities because of other things that are happening in the ocean as well but when it is over they always return with the same frequency which is about five years. And as the two limits you drew on the graph show the amplitude also tends to stay within limits. ENSO is an actual physical oscillation of ocean water from side to side in the equatorial Pacific. The two equatorial currents, the trade winds, and the equatorial countercurrent are all involved and are required for it to work. It has existed as long as this current system has existed which means since the Isthmus of Panama rose from the sea. I have a section about this in my book “What Warming?” The trade winds push warm water west where it piles up in front of the Philippines and New Guinea. When enough has piled up a reverse flow begins via the equatorial countercurrent. This El Nino wave in transit can be observed from satellites. The Nino 3.4 observation post sits squarely in the middle of the equatorial countercurrent and watches the El Nino waves go by. It catches the wave before it has reached South America which explains why its phase is ahead of the actual warming. When that El Nino wave reaches South America it runs ashore, spreads out in both directions, warms the air, and we notice an El Nino. Warm air rises, interferes with trade winds, mixes with prevailing westerlies, and raises global temperature. That is why these peaks are in your temperature graph. But any wave that runs ashore must also fall back As the El Nino wave retreats water level behind it drops by half a meter, cold water from below wells up, and we get a cool La Nina period starting. Now there are thousands of observations and measurements of all aspects of the El Nino phenomenon. But for reasons unknown none of these people actually understand what they are doing. My book has been out since 2010 but they are either too stupid or too superior to bother reading it. Let’s see if I got somebody interested in basics with this post.

      • Arno said:

        “I have a section about this in my book “What Warming?””

        Interesting title for a book. Obviously it is talking about something other than the Earth over the past century. But what is more interesting is how does your notion of the ENSO cycle fit in with the fact that 2011 was the warmest La Nina year ever recorded? The oceans have been accumulating energy for at least 40+ years. Of course, during El Ninos, the atmosphere warms as all that heat is being released by the ocean, but we’ve seen more net heat gained than released by the oceans as the ENSO cycle has been riding on top of a continual uptrend in ocean heat content. The latest 3 month period (Jan-March 2012) saw the highest heat content on instrument record down to 2000m. How does the notion of “What Warming?” fit into the fact that we are seeing continued warming in the largest non-tectonic heat reservoir of the planet…i.e. the ocean, which hold thousands of times more heat and has much more thermal inertia than the atmosphere.

      • BaitedBreath

        R.Gates – if the oceans are warming but the atmosphere is not, the source of the ocean warming must be something other than the co2 in the atmosphere.

  37. Alex Heyworth

    I would take anything Brian Martin writes with a large grain of salt. While he writes about bias, he seems to be pushing a pretty large ideological barrow himself.

    Your own bias is always the hardest to spot.

  38. Bias is the symptom, not the disease. Have you noticed that many of the best CAGW skeptics are engineers and not scientists? I will be provocative and say that engineering training teaches something important that science training often misses. We commonly think of engineering as a pragmatic field and science as a theoretical field. That is wrong, science should also be pragmatic. The theory side of science seems to be getting progressively more speculative. That is not the kind of progress we want. As much energy should be devoted to shooting down wild speculations as is devoted to creating them. “Likely” is not solid science. This is key: “pervasive over-selection and over-reporting of false positive results” — the bias follows from the valuation of new discoveries higher than the weeding out of poor studies. If the needed checks don’t come naturally, a body of scientists should be established specifically for this purpose, like a patent review board. Peer review is not enough. And don’t get me started on the quality of the statistics…

    • peterdavies252

      Mainstream climate science is supported by non falsifiable hypotheses that were specifically designed to fit certain overdramatised theories whereas normal science develops hypotheses around the data and the theories follow when a good fit occurs with the hypotheses and the data.

      This is a classic case of the cart proceeding before the horse and where bias has permeated everything from the start. Any conclusions from such studies having been reached well before any work has ever been done and there has been a serious lack of any effective peer review process.

  39. Paul Vaughan

    Productive exploration needn’t be science and exploration doesn’t need more wasteful admin. The online climate discussion has attracted far too many admin types and there exists a severe shortage of productive explorers. Note to the capable few: Let’s get on with freedom & exploration, unconcerned with “science” and the red tape fantasies of administrators looking to further consolidate their stranglehold.

  40. Web

    I have a brilliant application that GISS and CRU can use from your graph (not mine) that goes until 2200.

    They plot the observed GMT on your chart. If the temperature data lies with in the GMT band, then they conclude there is no climate change. If the temperature data lies above the GMT band, then they conclude there is global warming. If the temperature data lies below the GMT band, then they conclude there is global cooling.

    Don’t you think YOUR graph is mush superior for this application instead of the horizontal reference line “w.r.t. 1961-1990” that CRU uses to monitor climate change?

    Why do they choose a horizontal line to monitor climate change? We know the globe was warming ( ) before mid-20th century before the “evil fossil fuels” at the same rate as after it.

    I will tell you why they choose a horizontal line to monitor climate change. It is to say this decade is the warmest decade of the century. In a warming world ( ), is this surprising?

    It is like asking me to tell who is the tallest among my neighbor’s kids looking at my back garden over the fence by just looking at their height relative to the horizontal ground (w.r.t. 1961-1990). I would say, I cannot say who is tallest before I see the number of bricks in a stack that each kid is standing on.

    GISS and CRU, please start measuring your GMT anomaly from the ramp (, not your “w.r.t 1961-1990”

    • Girma | May 12, 2012 at 3:23 am |

      Mr. Orssengo, this ramp you imagine you see.. what causes it?

      Why is it there?

      How did it come about?

      What component of it is due the sun directly, cosmic rays, ocean circulation, Industrial age emissions from 1750?

      Because I’ve got 170 years with a rising trend of 0.45 C/century (indistinguishable from zero) over land, followed by a 40 year trend with a rise of 2.64 C/century over land, and my elegant lines are not so dubious in origin as your twisty little corkscrew.

      So I can propose (and test) mechanisms for my 170 years, and my 40 years. You can’t even make your ’empirical’ fingerpainting explain the data before 1900, or fit it to the monthly anomaly directly without fudging.


      Smoothed land-only range, showing 170 years of 0.45C/century rise (not statistically significant given the huge error range 200 years ago) followed by 40 years of 2.64 C/century, with only one much shorter and much less impressive rise (1.38 C/century for 30 years) in the middle of the last century to suggest the current trend is not unusual.

      Cyclic trends? Not so much. The strongest cycle is discovered by the method of isolates, corresponding to the sunspot cycle, and ceasing over 50 years ago. While there are ocean circulations, and clearly they play a role in natural variability, they do not amount to a challenge to the clear evidence of rising trend since whatever has squelched the solar influence apparently took over.

      This is the dataset that provides us barely enough granularity to perform such numerical analyses with any confidence. Sure, it’s land only, but try picking up just one end of that stick, and you’ll find the oceans rise too.

  41. Reblogged this on pindanpost.

  42. ” As Sarewitz states, “A biased scientific result is no different from a useless one.”

    No, it’s worse because you may believe it and act upon it.

  43. Yes, and as either one of these authors will tell you, this is not a rejection of a more openly activist direction in science: instead it is a continuation of the dialogue that emerged from the critique of positivism in science.

    Mainstream scientists have perhaps forgotten now that questions about what ‘should’ occur, who ‘should’ be included, etc., are questions they need to ask. Obviously with this type of approach, it becomes very important to openly discuss not only theoretical but political bias and to be capable of an analysis of a complex world, which is in fact what most people with this approach are capable of doing; and the audience is a socially conscious general public.

    Unfortunately, academe does not traditionally reward this approach to research. :-(

    But it is the approach that has in fact been part of overcoming past nonconsultation, denial and inaction, especially by governments, regarding climate change.

    Perhaps a number of bloggers and activists previously criticized by Curry who approach and practice science in precisely the way(s) discussed by these two authors can now be properly understood.

    • Paul Vaughan

      “The central question is, how and why was Cauchy able to put the calculus on a rigorous basis, when his predecessors were not? The answers to this historical question cannot be found by reflecting on the logical relations between the concepts, but by looking in detail at the past and seeing how the existing state of affairs in fact developed from that past. Thus we will examine the mathematical situation in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—the background against which we can appreciate Cauchy’s innovation.”

      “All that was needed was a sufficiently great genius to build the new foundation.”

      “But it was Cauchy who gave rigorous definitions and proofs for all the basic concepts; it was he who realized the far-reaching power of the inequality-based limit concept; and it was he who gave us—except for a few implicit assumptions about uniformity and about completeness—the modern rigorous approach to calculus.”

      “Mathematicians are used to taking the rigorous foundations of the calculus as a completed whole. What I have tried to do as a historian is to reveal what went into making up that great achievement. This needs to be done, because completed wholes by their nature do not reveal the separate strands that go into weaving them—especially when the strands have been considerably transformed.”

      Grabiner, Judith V. (1983). Who gave you the epsilon? Cauchy and the origins of rigorous calculus. The American Mathematical Monthly 90(3), 185-194.

    • John Carpenter

      Martha, I am having a hard time understanding what your point is here. Are you saying scientists should be presenting work as ‘what should occur’ rather than ‘what might occur’? Scientists should be advocating ‘who should be included’ with, presumably, policymaking instead of just providing information for policy to be based on? Can you clear that up for me because I find your comment confusing.

    • willard, here is a Bible study for our understanding about things that are important.

      Luk 10:40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.

      Luk 10:41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:

      Luk 10:42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

      Hope this helps.

      • With the sports commentary:

        A good sermon is not the worse for being preached in a house; and the visits of our friends should be so managed, as to make them turn to the good of their souls. Sitting at Christ’s feet, signifies readiness to receive his word, and submission to the guidance of it. Martha was providing for the entertainment of Christ, and those that came with him. Here were respect to our Lord Jesus and right care of her household affairs. But there was something to be blamed. She was for much serving; plenty, variety, and exactness. Worldly business is a snare to us, when it hinders us from serving God, and getting good to our souls. What needless time is wasted, and expense often laid out, even in entertaining professors of the gospel! Though Martha was on this occasion faulty, yet she was a true believer, and in her general conduct did not neglect the one thing needful. The favour of God is needful to our happiness; the salvation of Christ is needful to our safety. Where this is attended to, all other things will be rightly pursued. Christ declared, Mary hath chosen the good part. For one thing is needful, this one thing that she has done, to give up herself to the guidance of Christ. The things of this life will be taken away from us, at the furthest, when we shall be taken away from them; but nothing shall separate from the love of Christ, and a part in that love. Men and devils cannot take it away from us, and God and Christ will not. Let us mind the one thing needful more diligently.

        Our exegetical emphasis.

      • Very good. Thank you, willard.

      • You’re most welcome, Tom, as He was in Bethany.

      • Think how Lazarus must have felt, too.

  44. The tiff between Spencer/Christy and the authors of the recent paper claiming UAH sat is mis-calibrated is interesting, but even if they are correct concerning the one satellite, there are still serious discrepancies between RSS and UAH. After the 2000 step change, if one compares the linear trend between the two, RSS shows 5x more warming than UAH.

  45. America owes ‘denier’ William Gray and Kyoto-fighter George Bush so many kudos. Both Gray and Bush stood tall against the nihilism of the Left’s Doomsday Machine when it was the hardest for anyone to do that.

    • Is that the WMD George Bush?

      The absolutely certain William Gray?

      You can cast any opinion you like by irrelevant political or philosophical constructs with your disjointed rhetorical devices, but really, you choose your heroes poorly if you uphold men like these as examples of standing tall when it was hard to do. The Dixie Chicks are a better example. And go ahead, call them leftist doomsday nihilists.

      • Follow the money. The howling of the insult commie Bush-bashing propagadists couldn’t hide the truth about what’s happening, now that the AGW hoax bubble has been busted.

      • Wagathon | May 12, 2012 at 1:02 pm |

        And what money is that? The Chinese money invested in the tarsands and Al Gore, or the Saudi money propping up Bush and Bin Laden at the same time?

        Paranoid conspiracy theory is not skepticism.

    • George Bush is many things…including torturer, liar, and unnecessary war monger. But hero is not among them. If he got AGW right, and I agree he did, it was purely by accident. ANd even if it wasn’t, it doesn’t begin to make up for the other stuff…

      • Anyone who actually has researched the matter is not unaware that Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick is scientific fraud. The ‘hockey stick’ was a hoax; and, Al Gore’s use of it as a scare tactic is what changes the fraud and hoax to propaganda. Without George Bush Gore’s propaganda would be Official Science according to Gore. Global Warming Propaganda Busted

      • As with Inhofe, the Bush basket of bread turned into roses. Dubya is held in high regard by the military, as does he hold them.

      • Wow pokerguy, we agree on something…only I’m not sure Bush is smart enough to have a valid personal opinion about AGW one way or another. No matter what came out of his mouth regarding the issue, it would programming from higher authorities.

  46. David Wojick

    Just over 100 comments to go to pass 200,000. Today?

  47. In the language of religion, we have a term for this — “eisegesis.” This means that the reader “reads into” the text the meaning that they want to see. A popular slang expression is “you can read anything into the Bible that you want”. Commonly, it is attributable to the human condition, or as Christian theologians call it, “original sin.”

    Whatever the metaphor to describe it, it certainly seems to be one more example of where science is much more like religion than many scientists would like to admit.

  48. Science got a Strong’s, concordance?

    Wonder why?

  49. Other than the excessive dogma aspect, science is more like crowd sourcing. Compare the history of the Santa Claus story. The story as we know it did not appear fully formed, it grew over time as people took parts they liked and expanded on them or added new bits, from little drummer boys to red-nosed reindeer, to Santa’s little helpers, and so on. Since this is a story, it’s all in good fun. Building up the CAGW story is too similar, speculations based on speculations.

  50. … financial pressures are key to distorting the debate about climate. The problem for many climatologists is that they cannot come out and say that global warming isn’t a problem anymore because so much of their funding depends upon it. This is also one of the problems that the IPCC has: the very people who can answer the question on the future direction of climate also depend on the answer to that being that `yes, it’s a problem’ to continue receiving funding. It is a difficult problem, and it is one that you get when you have government-funded science… ~A.W. Montford on Spiked

    • Judith Curry

      Excellent article by Benny Peiser. Thanks for link.


      • peterdavies252

        Its interesting that there is a link to Judith’s blog post on bias directly at the foot of this article, which, incidentially, is an excellent overview of the whole problem of science communication.

    • Earle Williams

      An easy read and well articulated position. One thing stood out though…

      “sink, line, and hooker”

      That’s a new one on me. :-)


      “Must read”?

      Because we need another example of what bias looked like five years ago?

      Peiser seems obsessed with reading apocalyptism into everything, and calling doomcaster at every bit of analysis under the sun, in a “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” sort of way. It’s a bit of “if it weighs the same as a duck” absurdity seen in the cold light of day. Though Orrell is actually interesting, reading Orrell third-hand is just plain silly.

      Is there editorial bias? Well, as Peiser’s an editor himself, I’ll happily take his word for it; on the one hand, if there is.. he’s right; if there isn’t except for him, then his biased view itself proves him at least partly right too.

      Is there a mechanism that turns editorial bias into confirmation bias? That applauds editors with altogether too much power. I’ve met enough scientists to understand that one of the things they love best is to overrule any uppity editor who they feel has gotten too big for his own britches. Just watch what happens when an editor or editorial board begins to suppress too much an idea — even an only moderately plausible idea — and the community gets a whiff of that.

      Especially now, five years on, with the changes online and in science publishing, Peiser’s views come across as detached from reality, admirable though some of his sentiment may be.

      And really, there is a case to be made for the argument Peiser so alarmingly seeks to shut down and silence using every weapon in his arsenal. and the commentary on it turn Peiser’s alarmism over warnings about risk on its head.

      It’s time to call out who the real catastrophists, like Peiser and the gwpf con-artists, are. The people like Lawson who exploit white-man’s-burden logic and the plight of lesser developed nations as twisted and irrational foundations for morally bankrupt economic hypotheses arguing that if we don’t build pipelines as fast as we can, then we’ll starve someone who can’t afford to pay for cheap oil. This sort of transparent sham is not “must read”. It’s “must call it for what it is”.

      It’s trash. And it’s old trash rehashed with no more merit now than then.

      • Albert Stienstra

        Methinks thou does protest too much.

      • Is that thinks, or kneejerks?

      • Albert Stienstra

        If you really do not know, ask Queen Gertrude

      • Albert Stienstra | May 19, 2012 at 6:21 pm |

        Gertrude said it differently, most say better, and in the deepest Shakespearean irony, given her own much more shocking actions compared to the tame portrayal by the players.

        If you’re saying now you were speaking ironically, I can accept that.

      • Albert Stienstra

        Quote: The phrase’s actual meaning implies the increasing likelihood of suppressed feelings for the contrary of that which is being argued. I.e., the more passionate and fervent the argument, the greater likelihood the cause is a suppression of belief for the contrary argument, and the subsequent confirmation that it is the (actual) truer statement. Unquote What about that…

      • Arno Arrak

        Bart R. – You start your comment by referring us to desmogblog. First, it is a blacklisting site that attempts to find all the derogatory information about opponents or perceived opponents of the global warming myth that they can. Secondly, I consider their victims people who had the courage to voice their opinions despite the pressure brought on them by these IPCC “consensusists” and biased media. Did you know, by the way, that there has not been any warming of any kind since the beginning of this century? According to the IPCC we should be getting greenhouse warming (more accurately, enhanced greenhouse warming) whenever the amount of carbon dioxide in the air increases.Well, carbon dioxide did increase but there was no warming and still isn’t. In science, if a prediction from theory fails the theory is considered false. In this particular instance, the prediction from theory given by AR4 was that global temperature in the twenty-first century will rise at the rate of 0.2 degrees per decade. That prediction is false because there has been no warming at all during this century. Based on this null result we must declare the theory of global warming by the enhanced greenhouse effect false. Ferenc Miskolczi tells us why. Using NOAA database of weather balloon observations that goes back to 1948 he demonstrated that the transparency of the atmosphere in the infrared where carbon dioxide absorbs has been constant for 61 years. At the same time carbon dioxide in the air increased by 21.6 percent. This means that the addition of all that carbon dioxide to the atmosphere had no effect whatsoever on the absorption of IR by the atmosphere. And no absorption means no enhanced greenhouse effect, case closed. This is an empirical observation and overrides any calculations from theory that do not agree with it. Specifically, it overrides the IPCC prediction that warming should take place at the rate of 0.2 degrees per decade. As I pointed out to you, there is no warming now, in accord with the requirements of Miskolczi theory. Another fact to note is that according to Miskolczi’s results carbon dioxide will not cause any warming even if you double it. Hence, the vaunted sensitivity of climate to doubling of carbon dioxide is exactly zero.

      • J. Seifert

        Arno, very good explanation to Bart…..but he is obstinate, does
        not want to learn…..hopeless case, write him off… he is farmer or
        hair cutter….too bad…

      • J. Seifert | May 16, 2012 at 9:09 pm |

        Obstinate says the man who has plugged away at his zodiacal theory without support from data or measurement of any sort for so many years?

        Yes, clearly I’m the hopeless case to be written off.

        And what do you have against farmers and barbers? Did you get a bad haircut once? A spotty apple? A rotten cabbage?

        Rather an honest barber or a skeptical farmer willing to hear out all sides than a credulous fanatic.

      • Arno Arrak | May 16, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
        On noes desmogblog is used by blacklisters? Boo-frigging-hoo. It’s also a resource for finding starting points to look into where people are coming from. If they’re coming from, or through, the gwpf, then I have absolutely no qualms about seeking any source of information as anodyne for gwpf’s openly and blatantly fraudulent practices.
        If you tell me you’ve never looked up Hansen, Jones or Mann at a site hostile to their points of view, what am I to think of that? After all, I have.
        Do you consider Mann or Jones or Hansen more courageous because I’ve found mountains of derogatory and defamatory remarks about them compared to the little Peiser molehill?
        You consider the media biased? I consider it incompetent and biased too, but I suspect we see the bias in sharply contrasting ways. You, because you share a bias with one side, and I because I look for bias of any sort, including in myself.
        Did I know there was no global warming since the beginning of this century?
        No, and neither do you. We know there have been significant cooling influences, like aerosols from dust storms, large forest fires, coal burning, and ocean circulations like La Nina for example, but given the probable rise in global temperatures since the start of the millennium, and that all of these influences is temporary while CO2 rise keeps going up, only a blinkered, narrow-minded irrational could claim CO2 level is not a concern.
        Could you cite for me where exactly the IPCC says “According to the IPCC we should be getting greenhouse warming (more accurately, enhanced greenhouse warming) whenever the amount of carbon dioxide in the air increases”? They’ve been spectacularly stupid in the past, but far more often they’re taken out of context or have words put in their mouth, so you understand why I ask, I’m sure.
        You say, “In science, if a prediction from theory fails the theory is considered false.”
        I’ve been around scientists a lot, and I’ve heard various forms of that. Usually, they add words like “properly conducted experiment,” and “correctly validated”.
        Personally, I take the Bayesian approach to claims of this sort. What are the odds given an observation that a prior belief is incorrect? Looking at past slowly rising or negative trends comparable to the most recent decade or two, we see they’re not only commonplace but generally stronger in the past, even on longer periods we know to have risen sharply.
        So, your claim of a failed theory holds no water at all, and further tends to demonstrate bias. If critics can’t even get Bayes Theorem right, then they simply demonstrate something is clouding their reason on this issue.
        I understand, you really want to be loyal to your side. There’s all sorts of peer pressure in terms of how what you read gets filtered, and you can’t resist the feeling that the other side is out to get you. It’s hard when your mind is ruled by these concerns to see straight. But do try harder to recognize you’re only fooling yourself.

      • As a politically-motivated, pre-committed, militant and blinkered alarmist, it’s hardly surprising that Bart R dismisses the patently obvious truths of Peiser’s piece. The only people who still deny mainstream climate ‘science’ isn’t 95% politics, are the people very happy with that arrangement.

      • There are also naive and ignorant, but they’re also happy with the arrangement (in their mind).

      • Eroica | May 19, 2012 at 4:12 am |

        What an interesting comment, from someone who apparently knows nor understands anything about my politics or attitudes.

        I’m a member of no political party, I’m militant about logic, reason, objective measurements and no more, and I have zero concern one way or the other about who is or isn’t alarmed by anything. Your alarm is your own business, and no one else’s.

        Let me list the obvious truths of Peiser’s piece, as I see them. You’ve had five years to confirm them, if you would be so kind to point out where I miss the obvious:
        1. It has an obvious bias of its own, ulterior to what it purports to say;
        2. Peiser loves to focus on alarm and cataclysm sensationally, often with little or no basis in fact;
        3. Peiser does not leaven or balance his embarrassingly overblown adjectives in the least: everything is doom-laden and relentless, absolutely all editors are in on the conspiracy, the elites and power brokers are all colluding (doesn’t that sound absurd to you?);
        4. Mr. Peiser is not familiar with the actual definitions of the words illogical or futile, albeit he does provide excellent unintentional examples in his writing;
        5. He’s right: there is “a serious political predicament for many governments, most of which find themselves unable to control let alone reduce CO2 emissions that are rising almost everywhere.” That is a patent truth, and ought concern anyone with an interest in policy, economics, law, environment, industry, agriculture, climate, or any field touching the composition of the atmosphere and its indirect effects.
        6. Every prediction implicit in Mr. Peiser’s 2007 article has failed to materialize; the opposite effects of the implications of his article are multiplying globally: intensification of fossil fuel use and extraction by dirtier techniques, riskier pipeline projects through more densely-populated and less appropriate corridors, political interference as a result of unelected lobbyists weakening environmental efforts.. Peiser isn’t the lone skeptic in the wilderness drawing our attention toward something wrong in the world: he’s the mouthpiece for the same old people who have always been free riding and inverting democracy.

        Did I miss anything obvious?

      • Fear not, your politics-masquerading-as-science is obvious enough through your militancy, poor manners and shameless self-glorification. Your tireless defense of science fraud done in support of alarmism gives it away too.
        As regards Peiser, he merely documents the bias you seek to hide. Hence your dislike of him.

      • Eroica | May 19, 2012 at 8:54 am |

        Dislike him? I’m a huge fan. I like apocalypticist-watchers like Peiser.

        Someone has to keep an eye out for the millennialist 2012ist latter dayist nutters.

        In that regard, Peiser’s field is quite useful. Where he calls people on apocalyptic language and logic, good on him.

        He’s just not terribly good at it, then, is he?

        His predictions are wrong. Objectively, his count of alarmist content is wrong. He reads things into passages that just aren’t there. His obsession has gotten the better of him in this case. Why? Well, clearly he has an ulterior motive, a bias he brings to his analysis, a point of view that clouds his objectivity and unbalances his judgement.

        And I don’t claim to do science. I claim to think about it. As for poor manners.. I’m deeply hurt that you’ve so chosen to denigrate this thread with ad hom and baseless accusations of this sort, but you’ll notice I haven’t risen to the bait by being patronizing, demeaning or abusive in response to your obvious and canted attacks on me here.

        Does this sort of stuff fly for you when you do it to people face-to face? Who raises people to behave like this?

      • Yeah yeah. We all know from your endless comments that what you dislike is his attack on the corruption in science that you so much want to protect from criticism.

      • Eroica | May 19, 2012 at 10:53 am |

        I’d be delighted to get corruption out of science. See my remarks about HI, JASTP, the track record of the US Congress on matters of science fact and practice, the monumentally deranged behavior of George W. Bush and his regime in office toward all fields of science — the man who claimed Kyoto would, if he didn’t keep it out of America, get this: ruin the US economy — all the while dragging the USA and its willing patsy’s into nonsensical wars and irrational financial policies. Though that last part has nothing to do with science, really, except to point out that those who can’t do logic can’t do science.

      • “I’d be delighted to get corruption out of science”.
        Your deafening silence on the dishonesty that underpins much climate alarmism, and the vested interest of the political funding that drives this, says otherwise. Likewise the exception you take to anyone pointing this out.

      • Heh, Dubya. That was the good old days, wasn’t it?

      • Eroica | May 20, 2012 at 12:34 am |

        I’d be delighted to get corruption out of science.

        Your deafening silence on the dishonesty..


        What, that Al Gore was judged by the British to have had a handful of untruths in his Inconvenient Truth (taking up less than 5% of its screen time) that required a note identifying as false when shown in the British school system?

        That Climategate harbored many sentiments not in the spirit of science?

        That some dufus transposed a pair of digits in a century date and instead of the editors catching it they propagated it idiotically in an IPCC report?

        That against all better warnings, IPCC spokespeople did the one thing with computer model runs they were told could not work and was not right, and used them for predictions?

        Huh. Molehills turned into mountains by people too intellectually lazy to do the work of science for themselves, but prefer to sit back and throw spitballs off the mark and with no more regard for honesty themselves than a roomful of politicians caught with their pants down.

        The corruption in science is far more treacherous, older, and more invidious than what you burble about short-sightedly.

        Why do scientists keep their data horded up, sometimes for decades, slicing baloney off a bit at a time in the hopes of being published for their original research?

        Because the inverted system of rewards that encourages shoddy research to protect institutions and their funding demands it.

        You want to fix climate science, first you have to fix all science.

        Make all data and all work visible from cradle to grave, in the cloud, with access to all.

        Spell out standards for documentation and metadata, and reject anything that doesn’t allow confirmation and validation and verification as unreliable.

        Fund research that advances us, not redoing of the same thing (which happens in most fields at least 25% of the time).

        Study the endeavor of study, with an eye toward making it better.

        Learn from examples like Udacity, that produces a thousand times the education for a fraction of the cost.

        that underpins much climate alarmism,

        All alarm is in the eye of the beholder. If you don’t fuss about the alarm, and stick to the hard facts and hard numbers — not some made-up pulled out Jo Nova’s elbow fictions — you make the best of the situation; and you call that a win.

        and the vested interest of the political funding that drives this, says otherwise.

        Which vested interest is that? I see fossil industries booming more now than at any time in history, and receiving more subsidies now too. I see America about to plow up 10,000 miles by 100 ft wide corridors of tar-carrying pipe, some of it through the biggest earthquake hazard zones on the Ring of Fire, some of it through the drinking water supplies of millions, for three times the cost of solar, ready to ship 40% of the income of that fiasco straight to Chinese opportunists.

        The idea that science is one percent as twisty as that logic boggles me.

        Likewise the exception you take to anyone pointing this out.

        I take exception to repetition of errors, mistakes and lies. Maybe if you did it less, you’d see I’m not what you say I am.

      • No Bart, you take absolutely no exception to the endemic dishonesty in the climate establishment (eg Climategate & the coverups), since it pushes the alarmism that suits your political purposes. Your comment “Dishonesty?” says it all, and your numerous blogs here confirm you are are exactly what I said you are.

        Sure, above you mouth, on cue, adherence to some principles of sound science. Two cheers for that. But whenever the politically-funded establishment is criticized for being biased towards results favorable to political expansionism – an ideology you largely share – you swiftly circle the wagons and throw those idly mouthed principles of convenience to the wolves.

        It would be great though if your obvious energy, spare time and knowledge could be redirected to the pursuit of enlightenment, wherever that leads, rather than to reinforcing your obviously precommitted stance.

  51. > Alarming cracks are starting to penetrate deep into the scientific edifice.

    Alarmism (?).

  52. AGW is a symptom of underlying dysfunction, in other words.

  53. GISS and CRU, please start measuring your GMT anomaly from the ramp (, not your “w.r.t 1961-1990”

  54. David Young

    This is an excellent post and I give kudos to Science for publishing Sarewitz’s editorial. My brother relates a fine example of this bias in favor of positive results. It is vertebraeplasty. This is a proceedure for lower back pain that basically involves injuecting “superglue” into vertebrael cracks.
    For years, the reports were glowing. Patients seemed to get better, orthopaedists were making lots of money. The retrospective studies looked great. But they were not double blind. There were ongoing doubts because there was not a plausible mechanism for why this worked. Finally, 2 double blind studies were done. The control group were hospitalized, wheeled into the operating room and given anethesia, a small incision and given all the follow up that the real surgery group got. The results showed no statistically significant difference in outcomes. All the earlier work had been documenting a placebo effect.

    This bias toward finding and publishing positive results is a big problem in my field. Published negative results have in the last 10 years become somewhat more common, but still are very rare. The assumption is that “something was not done correctly” if the answers are wrong and those wrong answers are never mentioned again.

    It even affects businesses where big new technology projects seem to always way over budget and behind schedule.

    I don’t have any answers except that we all need to become more skeptical and cautious about hidden conflicts of interest. Thanks for a great post.

  55. It’s clear there is a problem, sometimes egregious. We have a list of causes. The next question is what are we going to do about it. Few individuals will take on this problem, whether through apathy or being overly polite. The professional associations aren’t doing it; they are part of the problem. The other institutions aren’t any better.

    • J. Seifert

      To Diag: Quote:”…..what are we going to do about is?”
      …… Time will help! ! Because (1) The bias will be more and more recognized as a CAGW fraud, since global temps cannot rise any
      further, and (2) the appropriate theory for explaining global warming/
      climate change will come out in short – with physical explanation and
      without curve fitting and reckoning that only CO2 is the cu[prit….
      Just wait, the CAGW time is nearing its close….
      Cheers JS

  56. The case for the existance for sources of bias is a fine argument against the use of Post-Normal Science.

    The justification of Post-Normal Science is that there are times when the stakes are so high that society cannot wait for the results of “Normal Science”. Yet the thesis that bias is persuasive in today’s science seems to me to strongly argue that we need to double-down on Normal Science to first eliminate potential for bias. Exercises in Post-Normal Science merely paves the way for biases to be accepted as valid science.

  57. Beth Cooper

    ‘Thought for Today.’
    Bias is pervasive, There are so few of us who are free of it.

    • Beth Cooper | May 14, 2012 at 3:28 am |

      Better to say there are none of us free of it, than say few; we can believe it’s not bias to expect exactly those who least ought think they are among the few to put themselves Dunning-Krugerly in that very rare number.

      Preconception is a necessary part of mentation; how we deal with prejudices separates those who overcome bias from those who cling to bigotry.

      I deal with mine by loathing everything I see, hear or think as likely false, faulty or failed at first, and then working hard to look for the positive and true in each notion. Well, sometimes I don’t work that hard.

  58. Beth Cooper

    You didn’t get the joke, Bart, lighten was irony, fer god’sake! I was implying that I was one of the select few and laughing at myself, Bart. And while I’m talking to you, a query. As a very dedicater poster at Climate Etc, do you ocasionally wake up in the morning with the ‘Enter’ key imprinted on your forehead? Jest asking :-)

    • Generally, ‘lighten up’ means loath something in a more amusing way, with me. :D

      And no, I don’t waffleface. Thanks for the concern.

      However, as I’ve caught you in a very good mood, I’ll ask for even a little insight into your views on Cervantes, off topic though it is to do so.

  59. Beth Cooper

    Bart, I’m off to a meeting so I will respond later. I did laugh at the Cervantes cartoon you posted, and lots of the others. There was one that reminded me of my nephew,( and myself at nineteen,) the student’s panic response in the lecture theatre at the announcement of a deadline date, OMG, I didn’t know I had to do that!! At the end of Term i j finds he’s been attending 3rd year Philosophy classes when he thought he’d enrolled in Phil 1.

    • 3rd year Philosophy is the right place to start. You skip over half of the nonsense to get to the much better quality nonsense so much sooner. :)

  60. How can we explain such pervasive bias?

    Obvious vested interest of the single funder – government – in the case of climate science.

    • As David Wojick wrote to the Chicago Tribune, on May 03, 2005:

      > The U.S. has spent about $20 billion on climate change research to date. Globally, the figure is twice that. After this staggering spending we still do not know if the Earth is warming or not, or, if it is, whether humans have anything to do with it. Some parts of the Arctic are warming, others cooling, just like the rest of the world. We are gearing up to deploy a billion-dollar global observing system to get a better handle on this.

      • willard | May 14, 2012 at 10:28 am |

        What a nicely subtle way to demonstrate Greybeard’s point, though I suspect not in the way intended. HI’s rent-seeking, biased claims do qualify for ‘vested interest of the single funder — government’ in some ways. When David Wojick claims $20 billion on climate change research, he doesn’t provide much of a breakdown on who gets what money for what exact activity. One suspects the avid and thorough reader could puncture David’s point easily by looking at the line item expenses, just as one would have to wonder what could possibly be meant by the ludicrous claim that parts of the Arctic are cooling. While it may be technically true in some sense, the Arctic’s trend toward losing summer ice tells us one of two things: the Arctic is warming rapidly, or David thinks ice melts when it gets colder.

    • BartR rather breathtakingly off-beam in this instance I’m afraid.
      The biased, vested interest in question is – obviously – that of government, the funder of 99.999 % of climate science, and the self-same institution that stands to vastly expand its empire on the strength of the alarmism its employees are pushing. Coincidence ? I think not.

      • Greybeard | May 14, 2012 at 10:59 am |

        *sigh* I should’ve realized it was just another one of the conspiracy crowd.

        Look, I’m a strict minarchist who would love nothing more than to see the world evolve to the point the only government were the common courtesy of persons to persons and the self-control of individuals with the principle and personal decency to leave the world better than they came into it, and I still don’t see the point of people crediting government with supernatural omniscient omnipotent supercompetency. I’ve met the people who make up government, and it just ain’t so. Al Gore cannot read minds. Mitt Romney does not have X-ray eyes. Obama cannot teleport back and forth between the future and the present.

        Which would be necessary to foresee the outcome of research by so many unruly and authority-resisting researchers, regardless of what people say is the natural outcome of being the source of funds. These are a bunch that applaud themselves and each other for nothing so much as biting the hand that feeds them.

        Deal with the science, facts, observations, valid methods of analysis, properties of data, processes and hypotheses. “Coincidence? I think not.” only tells me you don’t think much or very well.

      • BartR : Oh, so when an organisation selects projects and people to promote its own interests, that’s a “conspiracy” now ?

        Don’t be ridiculous. Government has an obvious vested interest in promoting alarmism, and also funds virtually all climate science, which is producing the alarmism. Now if government science did NOT promote alarmism, THAT would be evidence of a conspiracy.

  61. I think Dan Sarewitz is too polite when he speaks of mere “bias.” It is plain that if you are an experimenter and you can see a positive outcome from tweaking your results when nobody is looking people will take advantage of it. And if it is not stopped it becomes looked upon as normal and you begin to think nothing of it. Next, you look around and find out from colleagues what kinds of papers are being published in your field. And once you know that you realize that you could advance your career by tweaking or interpreting your results in just the right way. Imanishi-Kari got caught doing that but how many others have gotten away with it? Another way is to just lie about what your discovery means, my next example. In 2009 Kaufman et al. published a paper “Recent Warming Reverses Long-Term Arctic Cooling” in Science. What they found was that the Arctic had been slowly and linearly cooling for two thousand years when suddenly, at the turn of the twentieth century, it started to warm. The warming paused in mid-century for thirty years as I later discovered, then resumed, and is still going strong. What was striking about it was that the curve looked like a hockey stick, even more perfect than the original Mann-made hockey stick. I assume that this is why Caspar Ammann, Raymond Bradley, Keith Briffa, and Jonathan Overpeck all signed on as co-authors. Further, Joe Romm posted it as an example of a real hockey stick from nature, not of Yamal parentage. Kaufman described their discovery thusly: “…An Arctic summer temperature of -0.5 C might have been expected by mid-twentieth century… Instead, our reconstruction indicates that temperatures increased to +0.2 C by 1950. This shift correlates with the rise in global average temperature which coincided with the onset of major anthropogenic changes in global atmospheric composition ….. warming in the Arctic was enhanced relative to global average, likely reflecting a combination of natural variability and positive feedbacks that amplified the radiative forcing.” A wonderful concatenation of global warming mantras, all wrong. If you start checking you find what problems have been glossed over. For one thing, the century opened with a ten year period of cooling, not warming which came later. And then fudge things with that talk of “anthropogenic changes in global atmospheric composition.” That is much too vague to call it science. You have to know what carbon dioxide was actually doing.When you check that you find that it was slowly increasing but paid no attention to century change, the time when the warming started. If this is sudden greenhouse warming as their vague phrase implies laws of physics require that there has to be a a parallel, sudden increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide. This certainly did not happen and hence greenhouse warming as a cause is ruled out. The only other way to create sudden warming is by a sudden change of ocean currents. I was pretty sure that this is what happened and told Kaufman so but he simply ignored me. To make a long story short, I put my own explanation into my book “What Warming?” Unfortunately, just after it went to press direct water temperature measurements by Spielhagen et al. came out verifying the currents hypothesis. I was not going to rewrite the book but simply expanded that chapter into a full length article which was then peer reviewed and published. You can download it from here:

    • Arno Arrak

      Your point is well taken that “fudging” the data to achieve the desired result (in order to support the prevailing paradigm) becomes habitual.

      After a while, you don’t even see data points that lie outside the box (Thomas Kuhn).

      “Not getting caught” can actually be quite easy, especially when everyone around you is also convinced of the prevailing paradigm you are “fudging” the data to support.


  62. Beth Cooper

    Response re yesterday’s ‘thought for today’ on bias.
    Bart @ 14/5 3.47am:
    …’how we deal with prejudice-I deal with mine by loathing everything I see, hear, or think is likely false, faulty…working hard to look for the positive or true…’

    Say Bart, let me pontificate :) Fergit ‘loathing,’ – humans are flawed but that’s the human condition, you and me…We ‘know’ nothing except that we can ‘know’ nothing …I’d say laughing at our human frailty is a better response than loathing.

    You asked my thoughts on Cervantes. Bart, I wasn’t actually writing a critical response to ‘Don Quixote’ but a research essay on wind turbine technology. I’d read a few papers on renewable energy when i came across an internet essay competition and thought I’d like to experiment with form and weave a Don Quixote narrative with a critical argument. Hence my response to your cartoon. Nevertheless I’ll make some comments on Cervantes study of projection and delusion which I think fits this thread.

    Cervantes’ declared intention in ‘Don Quixote’ is to ridicule the fabulous adventures of knight errantry, but he goes far beyond this. His novel explores the complexities of human perception, how human imagination and literary influences interplay with the real world in such subtle ways that we have difficulty in distinguishing our invented fictions from reality. The delusional adventures of a fictional gentleman, his reason overturned from reading too many books on knight errantry, is presented as a ‘history’ of a ‘real’ character transposed by Cervantes from an account by Cid Hamet Bengalis, another invented character. We’re in a world of shifting perspectives in which even the preface sets up a game of jolting readers’ expectations. Cervantes depicts himself in the process of writing the preface, but we’re already reading it complete..huh? And in the final part of the novel, Don Quixote, not always delusional, discusses another version of his life and meets the author, who is also confused to meet a second knight and squire quite unlike the ones he wrote about in his imitation of Cervantes’ novel.

    Pontification Part 2: Cervantes .depicts our human propensity for projection and illusion. Humans are frail but we’re also wonderful, Cervantes for instance. Well there’s no such thing as the innocent eye and passive observer but there’s another side to projection, as Ernst Gombrich argues in ‘Meditations on a Hobby Horse:’
    ‘The possibility of metaphor springs from the infinite elasticity of the human mind; it testifies to its capacity to perceive and assimilate new experience as modification of earlier ones, of finding equivalences in the most disperate phenomena and substituting one for another.’ P14, 1983.

    And if symbolism is taken in a wide sense, then civilization can be seem as an unending replacement of one idea or tendency with another, from primitive to complex, including human development of critical language and science methodology. This allows us to examine and test out theories for truth to data and confirmation bias. Humans are wonderful, Bart. )

    • Beth

      That was a very nice summary of the fundamental and eternal truths of that excellent book. I think many of our politicians could do with reading the book, especially those involved with creating that great folly-the euro-they are truly delusional and fail to separate fiction from their desired version of facts.
      tonybuero- and

    • Beth


      I don’t really have the option to forget loathing. It is as basic an element of my reaction to everything not immediately delightful as is the action of refusing to inhale noxious gases in place of good air. What makes one immediately gag takes work and thought and method to learn to accept.

      I’m surprised you don’t have the same mechanism.

      But it isn’t about people. I don’t loathe any one; which I suspect is why I miss so much of what people say; it appears you and I lack their mechanism.

      Will you share your more of your essay?

  63. Beth Cooper

    Than you Tony, yes, delusion is rife but you and I will not journey into the valley of despondency. ) Your turn to do ‘thought for today,’

  64. Judith Curry

    Excellent post. Thanks for bringing everyone’s attention to these comments.

    Brian Martin’s The Bias of Science hits the nail on the head with his “presupposition about what the scientists are trying to prove”.

    And the quote from Dan Sarewitz’s Creeping Crack of Bias: “a biased scientific result is no different from a useless one”, tells it all.

    In the case of climate science today, I believe the root cause for the dysfunction is the IPCC, which – by its very charter – “had to prove” from the beginning that AGW was a potential serious problem for mankind. This led to the corrupt “consensus process” and to the problem we have today.


  65. Stunning clarity from SciAm. Switch the topic to climate change and reread.

  66. ferd berple

    I tried posting to RC in reply to their editorial. Instant Borehole! Judge for yourself if their actions indicate bias.

    Here is my post:
    ferd berple says:
    15 May 2012 at 8:04 PM

    People generally try something, find something wrong, try something else, fix one problem, test something else, deal with whatever comes up next, examine the sensitivities, compare with other methods etc. etc.
    There is a basic rule in statistics that you never do this. You choose your method ahead of time, otherwise the temptation is to simply cherry-pick the methodology until you get the answer you are looking for. No matter how unbiased the researcher, our subconscious directs us to obtain the results we expect, unless we are very careful in the design of our analysis.

  67. Totally OT question for all you stat-heads out there. Although a beta distribution sometimes has only two boundary fixed points (0 and 1), for some beta c.d.f.s B(x|a,b), there is an interior fixed point, an interior solution for x to the equation x = B(x|a,b). I have searched in vain for a closed form expression for this fixed point (when it exists) in terms of a and b, or even in terms of a and b and various well-known and related functions (gamma and beta functions and so on).

    Anyone have a clue on this? Sorry about the OT.

  68. David Bailey

    Take any old set of noisy data, contaminated in a whole variety of ways, and ask someone to take on the task of determining if there is a tiny trend buried inside.

    Ten people may say, “that isn’t possible, and anyway the job sounds impossibly boring!”, but then the eleventh says “Yes”, and after much computer time, obviously confirms that there is a trend – and a very serious one, at that!

    Science badly needs a way for people to say “Impossible!”, and be heard! Some evaluation of whether a research project makes sense before it is allowed to start!

  69. Dr. Robert Lackey: Is Science Biased Toward Natural?

    Dr. Robert Lackey’s AFS Plenary Address: Science – Beacon of Reality
    “I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy.” – Richard Feynman
    Science: Beacon of Reality

  70. Bias is only a problem for those who fail to see that the most important issue is always politics, and that hence science and art must first and foremost be the servant of politics. Science must whenever possible support politicization of social institutions, and art must wherever possible subtly inject correct political mores into storylines and themes.
    This is the only route to global contentment. The problem is not bias, it is the tragic misfits who complain about it.

  71. Beth Cooper

    I think the most important issue(s) are truth and freedom. Eroica, I cannot agree that art should subtly inject ‘correct’ political mores into storylines and themes. Art is often subversive, challenging mores, life enhancing, its about love, laughter, freedom, human frailty and failure, duende, human mortality and other things as well. :-).

  72. Beth Cooper

    Bart, re sharing my essay, I’m tempted to paraphrase a Climategate email… why should i send it to him (SM) wnen he only wants to.find something wrong with it? ) but that’s not the reason. Bart, I’m not posting it because I’ve submitted it and I think I just can’t shouldn’t post it elsewhere.(Thank you for asking.)

    • I can accept your second reason, though of course you know I have to disparage your first no less for you than for the source of your citation. (Read that as very disparaged.)

      Link to the contest? Hints? An expiry date on your withholding your submission? Selective exerpts? You are a bright, talented, interesting writer with views I find challenging and stimulating. Naturally leaving us wanting more leaves us wanting more. :)

  73. Beth Cooper

    Artful, I guess :-)

  74. Michael Hart

    The commonest serious bias I am accustomed to seeing in the scientific circles I have moved in, is that of “self-selecting data”. There is no scientist [that I have ever personally met] who I can recall as being suspected of fraud.

  75. Beth Cooper

    ‘The Australian Newspaper’, 19/05/12, p3, criticizes the accuracy of ABC reporting on claims of death threats against climate scientists. A climate change blogger has uncovered documents through FOI that questioned the ABC Report of death threats against climate scientists at the Australian National University. The ABC neglected to include the fact that there was no evidence in the emails of death threats, contrary to their sensational claims. Sigh.