Epidemic of false claims

by Judith Curry

False positives and exaggerated results in peer-reviewed scientific studies have reached epidemic proportions in recent years. – John Ioannidis

Triggered by a comment from Bill regarding the work of  John Ioannidis, I dug through my file of draft posts and found this article by Ioannidis in the Scientific American, about a year ago, entitled An Epidemic of False Claims.  Subtitle: Competition and conflicts of interest distort too many medical findings


False positives and exaggerated results in peer-reviewed scientific studies have reached epidemic proportions in recent years. The problem is rampant in economics, the social sciences and even the natural sciences, but it is particularly egregious in biomedicine. Many studies that claim some drug or treatment is beneficial have turned out not to be true. Even when effects are genuine, their true magnitude is often smaller than originally claimed.

The problem begins with the public’s rising expectations of science. Being human, scientists are tempted to show that they know more than they do. Research is fragmented, competition is fierce and emphasis is often given to single studies instead of the big picture.

Much research is conducted for reasons other than the pursuit of truth. Conflicts of interest abound, and they influence outcomes. Even for academics, success often hinges on publishing positive findings. The oligopoly of high-impact journals also has a distorting effect on funding, academic careers and market shares. Industry tailors research agendas to suit its needs, which also shapes academic priorities, journal revenue and even public funding.

The crisis should not shake confidence in the scientific method.But scientists need to improve the way they do their research and how they disseminate evidence.

The best way to ensure that test results are verified would be for scientists to register their detailed experimental protocols before starting their research and disclose full results and data when the research is done. At the moment, results are often selectively reported, emphasizing the most exciting among them, and outsiders frequently do not have access to what they need to replicate studies. Journals and funding agencies should strongly encourage full public availability of all data and analytical methods for each published paper. It would help, too, if scientists stated up front the limitations of their data or inherent flaws in their study designs. Likewise, scientists and sponsors should be thorough in disclosing all potential conflicts of interest.

Eventually findings that bear on treatment decisions and policies should come with a disclosure of any uncertainty that surrounds them. It is fully acceptable for patients and physicians to follow a treatment based on information that has, say, only a 1 percent chance of being correct. But we must be realistic about the odds.

Some excerpts from the comments at the Sci Am website:

The second real problem here is the almost complete breakdown in the peer review system. Papers with unfounded claims and unsubstantiated positive results are being passed routinely for publication. The bar has been lowered continuously over the last 25 years and the criteria for publication has been diluted.

Ultimately the peer review system as it stands is on it’s last legs anyway. The future of published science has to be on the web, in a fully open and democratic forum. Critical review has to be opened up to the public and all other scientists, with full data disclosure, instead of the present system where only the well off can afford to buy scientific publications. Publishing was supposed to be the making available of Scientific work to the wider public ! Instead it has become a closed, narrow dissemination of Science to a tiny group of people.

Quality work will stand up to criticism. Shoddy work will quickly flounder. The elitist attitude of the establishment toward such democratising of Science must be jettisoned.

It would also help if reputable non-specialist science publications took a more skeptical attitude towards research. There have been numerous instances in recent years in which the substance of the research did not match the headline statement.

This is barely forgiveable in mass media. In “scientific” publications it should simply not occur. “Some slight evidence that X influences Y” may not grab the attention of “X causes Y” but standards demand truth in headlining!

This is why a Med School professor told my freshman class 50 some years ago: Remember, for every pearl on the ocean floor, there is one ton of whale manure. Way too much of the latter makes it into print.

This issue is also discussed in an earlier article by Ioannidis (h/t Bill):  Why most published research findings are false.   While the focus is on medical science, there are some deep insights for any ‘hot topic’ field of science:

[C]orollaries about the probability that a research finding is indeed true.

Corollary 1: The smaller the studies conducted in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true. Small sample size means smaller power and, for all functions above, the positive predictive value (PPV) for a true research finding decreases as power decreases towards 1 − β = 0.05 (where  β is the type II error rate). Thus, other factors being equal, research findings are more likely true in scientific fields that undertake large studies, such as randomized controlled trials in cardiology  than in scientific fields with small studies, such as most research of molecular predictors.

Corollary 2: The smaller the effect sizes in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true. Power is also related to the effect size. Thus research findings are more likely true in scientific fields with large effects, such as the impact of smoking on cancer or cardiovascular disease (relative risks 3–20), than in scientific fields where postulated effects are small, such as genetic risk factors for multigenetic diseases (relative risks 1.1–1.5). Modern epidemiology is increasingly obliged to target smaller effect sizes. Consequently, the proportion of true research findings is expected to decrease. In the same line of thinking, if the true effect sizes are very small in a scientific field, this field is likely to be plagued by almost ubiquitous false positive claims.

Corollary 3: The greater the number and the lesser the selection of tested relationships in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true. As shown above, the post-study probability that a finding is true (PPV) depends a lot on the pre-study odds (R). Thus, research findings are more likely true in confirmatory designs, such as large phase III randomized controlled trials, or meta-analyses thereof, than in hypothesis-generating experiments.

Corollary 4: The greater the flexibility in designs, definitions, outcomes, and analytical modes in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true. Flexibility increases the potential for transforming what would be “negative” results into “positive” results, i.e., bias,u. For several research designs, e.g., randomized controlled trials or meta-analyses, there have been efforts to standardize their conduct and reporting. Adherence to common standards is likely to increase the proportion of true findings. The same applies to outcomes. True findings may be more common when outcomes are unequivocal and universally agreed (e.g., death) rather than when multifarious outcomes are devised (e.g., scales for schizophrenia outcomes). Similarly, fields that use commonly agreed, stereotyped analytical methods (e.g., Kaplan-Meier plots and the log-rank test) may yield a larger proportion of true findings than fields where analytical methods are still under experimentation (e.g., artificial intelligence methods) and only “best” results are reported. Regardless, even in the most stringent research designs, bias seems to be a major problem. For example, there is strong evidence that selective outcome reporting, with manipulation of the outcomes and analyses reported, is a common problem even for randomized trails. Simply abolishing selective publication would not make this problem go away.

Corollary 5: The greater the financial and other interests and prejudices in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true. Conflicts of interest and prejudice may increase bias, u. Conflicts of interest are very common in biomedical research, and typically they are inadequately and sparsely reported. Prejudice may not necessarily have financial roots. Scientists in a given field may be prejudiced purely because of their belief in a scientific theory or commitment to their own findings. Many otherwise seemingly independent, university-based studies may be conducted for no other reason than to give physicians and researchers qualifications for promotion or tenure. Such nonfinancial conflicts may also lead to distorted reported results and interpretations. Prestigious investigators may suppress via the peer review process the appearance and dissemination of findings that refute their findings, thus condemning their field to perpetuate false dogma. Empirical evidence on expert opinion shows that it is extremely unreliable.

Corollary 6: The hotter a scientific field (with more scientific teams involved), the less likely the research findings are to be true. This seemingly paradoxical corollary follows because, as stated above, the PPV of isolated findings decreases when many teams of investigators are involved in the same field. This may explain why we occasionally see major excitement followed rapidly by severe disappointments in fields that draw wide attention. With many teams working on the same field and with massive experimental data being produced, timing is of the essence in beating competition. Thus, each team may prioritize on pursuing and disseminating its most impressive “positive” results. “Negative” results may become attractive for dissemination only if some other team has found a “positive” association on the same question. In that case, it may be attractive to refute a claim made in some prestigious journal. The term Proteus phenomenon has been coined to describe this phenomenon of rapidly alternating extreme research claims and extremely opposite refutations.

These corollaries consider each factor separately, but these factors often influence each other. Or prejudice may prevail in a hot scientific field, further undermining the predictive value of its research findings. Highly prejudiced stakeholders may even create a barrier that aborts efforts at obtaining and disseminating opposing results. Conversely, the fact that a field is hot or has strong invested interests may sometimes promote larger studies and improved standards of research, enhancing the predictive value of its research findings. Or massive discovery-oriented testing may result in such a large yield of significant relationships that investigators have enough to report and search further and thus refrain from data dredging and manipulation.

JC comment:  I was struck by a number of things here.

First, the Proteus effect (new terminology for me).  We see this a lot in climate science, and I personally experienced this ca. 2005-2007 in the hurricane wars.  It seemed like every two weeks a new paper came out, refuting the previous paper, with a back and forth effect that Revkin termed the windshield wiper effect.  Each investigator was personally motivated to tout their own latest findings, and each scientist and journalist provided little context for their specific finding re previous findings.  Journalists attempted to do this by interviewing people that were likely to be critical of the paper, giving rise to charges of ‘false balance.’

Assessments like the IPCC would seem to be the answer to sorting this all out.  But depending on which group of scientists do the assessment, you can get a different result.  I discussed this previously on my original hurricane post, in context of the different assessments produced by the IPCC, the WMO group of experts, and the U.S. CCSP that drew different conclusions regarding the past and future impact of global warming on tropical cyclones.

Further, groups such as the IPCC that are conducting assessments are subject to the same issues raised by the 6 corollaries.

So what to do about this situation?  There are no simple solutions, but the recommendations made by Ioannidis in the Scientific American article are a good start.

162 responses to “Epidemic of false claims

  1. Here is a list of suggestions for dealing with the problem (see False Positive Psychology) via Steve McIntyre

    Table 2. Simple Solution to the Problem of False-Positive Publications
    Requirements for authors
    1. Authors must decide the rule for terminating data collection before data collection begins and report this rule in the article.
    2. Authors must collect at least 20 observations per cell or else provide a compelling cost-of-data-collection justification.
    3. Authors must list all variables collected in a study.
    4. Authors must report all experimental conditions, including failed manipulations.
    5. If observations are eliminated, authors must also report what the statistical results are if those observations are included.
    6. If an analysis includes a covariate, authors must report the statistical results of the analysis without the covariate.
    Guidelines for reviewers
    1. Reviewers should ensure that authors follow the requirements.
    2. Reviewers should be more tolerant of imperfections in results.
    3. Reviewers should require authors to demonstrate that their results do not hinge on arbitrary analytic decisions.
    4. If justifications of data collection or analysis are not compelling, reviewers should require the authors to conduct an exact replication.

    • Most scientists are highly skeptical of the papers they read for all these reasons. Most papers are poor, but good ones stand out, typically because they have positive and negative controls.
      Fads come and go, the huge number of false positives that come from data mining is being recognized and the people who generally ignored the miners exploits are glad they did.
      New technology, and new techniques, bring with them new ways to inform and misinform. The models used by the climate modellers will be the new N-Rays. People genuinely believe the data outputs from machines they have programed.

      • Skepticism of peer-reviewed papers naturally increased after leaders of the scientific community – including the US NAS, the UK’s RS, the UN’s IPCC – and editors of once reputable research journals – Nature, Science, PNAS, MNRS, etc. – refused to condemn the manipulation of global temperature data in Nov 2009 Climategate documents and emails.

        Increased sensitivity to false claims after 2009 likely contributed to the illusion of “An Epidemic of False Claims.”

        1. False government information is basic to tyrannical governments, as George Orwell noted in the futuristic novel he wrote in 1948 and titled, “1984”.


        2. Reliable information is fundamental to the principle of self-governance described in the US Declaration of Independence two hundred and thirty six years ago (2012 – 1776 = 236 yrs).


        3. The strange responses of world leaders and leaders of the news media, research journals and scientific organizations to Climategate emails and documents helped pin-point an abrupt change in the veracity of government science after 1945.


        4. If verified, the faith-based principles of the 1776 Declaration of Independence lasted only one-hundred and seventy years (1946-1776 = 170 yrs) before being replaced by fear-based deceit about energy (E) stored in the cores of heavy nuclei, stars, galaxies and perhaps some planets.

        5. The inability of world leaders to solve the impending sense of doom in society may reflect the lack of humility and faith of our founding fathers, that was celebrated in the Centennial Fourth of July in 1876.


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

    • David L. Hagen

      Forecasting the magnitude of anthropogenic global warming is central to Climate Science. J. Scott Armstrong addresses failures in scientific forecasting including the deception and fraud noted above. He quantified guidelines necessary to uphold the scientific method in Principles of Forecasting , summarized in Standards and Practices for Forecasting.

      One hundred and thirty-nine principles are used to summarize knowledge about forecasting. They cover formulating a problem, obtaining information about it, selecting and applying methods, evaluating methods, and using forecasts. Each principle is described along with its purpose, the conditions under which it is relevant, and the strength and sources of evidence. A checklist of principles is provided to assist in auditing the forecasting process. An audit can help one to find ways to improve the forecasting process and to avoid legal liability for poor forecasting.

      The site Forecasting Principles includes a Principles Checklist and Links to software.

      To apply the principles see: Special Interest Group on Public Policy. e.g.,
      Kesten Green & J. Scott Armstrong Global Warming: Forecasts by Scientists versus Scientific Forecasts Energy & Environment Vol. 18 No. 7+8 2007 pp 997-1021.

      We found no references in the 1056-page (IPCC WG1) Report to the primary sources of information on forecasting methods despite the fact these are conveniently available in books, articles, and websites. We audited the forecasting processes described in Chapter 8 of the IPCC’s WG1 Report to assess the extent to which they complied with forecasting principles. We found enough information to make judgments on 89 out of a total of 140 forecasting principles. The forecasting procedures that were described violated 72 principles. Many of the violations were, by themselves, critical. . . .
      To provide forecasts of climate change that are useful for policy-making, one would need to prepare forecasts of (1) temperature changes, (2) the effects of any temperature changes, and (3) the effects of feasible proposed policy changes. To justify policy changes based on climate change, policy makers need scientific forecasts for all three forecasting problems. If governments implement policy changes without such justification, they are likely to cause harm.
      We have shown that failure occurs with the first forecasting problem: predicting temperature over the long term. Specifically, we have been unable to find a scientific forecast to support the currently widespread belief in “global warming.” Climate is complex and there is much uncertainty about causal relationships and data. Prior research on forecasting suggests that in such situations a naïve (no change) forecast would be superior to current predictions. . . .

      (WG1 only violated 80% of the audited principles!)
      Global Warming Analogies Forecasting Project
      “Bad environmental and resource scares.”
      Polar bear populations: Armstrong, Green & Soon (Interfaces 2008)
      Green & Armstrong (2008) Uncertainty, the Precautionary Principle, and Climate Change
      Emre Soyer and Robin M. Hogarth, “The illusion of predictability: How regression statistics mislead experts”

    • @@Alice Finkel | July 1, 2012 at 1:23 pm

      Even better proposition: if the author tells three (3) lies; not to be allowed on a taxpayer’s paid job, for next 15years.

  2. In addition to the Proteus phenomenon we might add the site-selection phenomenon which leads to the UHI effect, the airport/ asphalt tarmac effects, the Illinois politics/ hanging chad effects, the Bush derangement effect, the tax is not a tax effect and the weather is not climate except if it is wierd effect.

  3. The problem begins with the public’s rising expectations of science.

    This may seem like a fine point, but I think this actually has more to do with people’s unrealistic expectations of technology (see: Moore’s Law) than unrealistic exceptions from science. One, because they don’t know the difference between technology and science, and two, because they don’t know the difference between technology and magic.

    Science has become a victim of spectacular success in a few very narrow areas of technology. And if technology is indistinguishable from magic, what better area to have magical expectations than in biomed?

  4. Too bad the AGW folks don’t make falsifiable predictions.

    • Don, it looks like they do make falsifiable assumptions.

    • how do people claim AGW has been falsified then?

      • lolwot

        “AGW” itself has not been “falsified” (impossible to do), but “CAGW” pretty much has (no globally and annually averaged land and sea surface warming over past 15 years despite CO2 reaching record levels).

        And “CAGW” is what we are all debating about here, lolwot.

        The much ballyhooed “widely acknowledged climate shift” of 1976 (Trenberth, 1990) when “global mean temperatures began a discernible upward trend that has been at least partly attributed to increases in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere” (according to IPCC, AR4 WG1, Ch.3) has apparently ended.

        Trenberth calls it a “travesty”, Santer tells us it will take 17 years to become statistically significant. Others are scrambling to find rationalizations or simply sticking their heads in the sand in denial that global warming has stopped.

        But it is starting to look very bad for the “CAGW” premise.

        Will it be falsified?

        Stay tuned.


    • So we’ve now had 15 years of no real increase, and Santer says 17 years are needed for trends to be regarded as significant. So Santa has two years to bring Santer what he and the other faithful desperately pray for.
      But will he, I wonder … ?

      • As I recall it was Gavin (or Mann?) at RC said that 15 years without significant warming would be enough to disprove AGW. After 15 years, Santer changed this to 17. Stand by, in two more years I predict the goal post will be moved once again.

        No amount of time without warming can ever disprove AGW, because if the temperature stops climbing that in itself is proof of climate change. It isn’t climbing any more, thus it has changed.

      • This is nonsense. Gavin said what he said in the last few years, not 15 years before Santer published the deal about 17 years, which in no way changes what GS said – has no bearing on it.

      • About five years ago, Gavin said that another five years of non-warming would make him sit up and have a rethink.
        (But it’s probably like the old “free beer tomorrow” sign).

  5. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Judith, in my opinion you should clarify your initial paragraph so that readers of Climate Etc. appreciate that John Ioannidis’ essay is in no sense a scientific article:

    (1) the essay contains neither theory, nor experiment, nor data,
    (2) the essay references no prior literature, and
    (3) the essay is not peer-reviewed.

    Do peer-reviewed articles that discuss these issues exist?

    Definitely yes. Particularly commended is Emerson, Warme, Wolf, Heckman, Brand, and Leopold “Testing for the Presence of Positive-Outcome Bias in Peer Review: a Randomized Controlled Trial” (Archives of Internal Medicine, 2010).

    This outstanding study affirmed that biases of the type that Ioannidis’ essay discusses *do* exist, and *are* significant … however their magnitude is not as overwhelming as Ioannidis’ overwrought prose would suggest.

    Did any of the authors suffer adverse consequences for bringing these phenomena into the light? Indeed they did: author Seth Leopold has now been appointed editor-in-chief of the prestigious journal Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research.

    That’s how scientific research really works: if you point out a problem, and analyze it in-depth, and thoroughly explain how it works, then your “reward” (or perhaps it is a punishment) is that you are made responsible for fixing it. Dang!   :)   :) &bbsp; :)

    • A *FAN* of *ON TOPIC* discourse

      Amazing. A comment that’s actually on topic. :)

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse | July 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm |

      To distinguish John Ioannidis’ essay vs. Emerson, Warme, Wolf, Heckman, Brand, and Leopold “Testing for the Presence of Positive-Outcome Bias in Peer Review: a Randomized Controlled Trial” (Archives of Internal Medicine, 2010) from the Proteus Effect.

      1. Ioannidis’ essay doesn’t meet fan’s criteria for science: observations, method, review; other papers do.
      2. The timeframe does not lend itself to charges of windshield-wiper effects in frequency or alternation.
      3. The papers largely agree with each other in direction and scope of the issue.
      4. The amplitude is shown to be smaller than implied by Ioannidis.

      Epidemic? Really? While I entirely agree with (and would go further) Ioannidis’ solutions to the epidemic, it’s not for this epidemic that the solutions are beneficial, but for the combination of quality improvement, betterment of communication of science, increasing confidence where warranted, allowing comparison on rational bases of data, methods and results, and so much more.

      Jumping up and down and claiming the problems with the science are worse than they really are does us no more good than jumping up and down and falsely constructing contrary sciencey-sounding findings. I’m looking at you, Mr. Orssengo.

      • Steven Mosher

        I suppose one could add that jumping up and down about the climate being worst, does more harm as well.

      • Steve, about a third of the cell lines used by people aren’t the cell lines that the researchers think they are. The ATCC has just been warning people (again) that a third of the cell lines sent to them for archiving are not what the scientists state they are.
        On group has been using a uterine cell line for close on 20 years, a sample sent to someone else turned out to be melanoma.
        Rat gliomas have been studied instead of human ones.
        I was told of a Ph.D. student who had been using HeLa cells for a number of years and about 6 months before his submission was due found his cells had Y-Chromosomes.
        You can order a couple of hundred kits, in 96-well format, order cells from the ATCC; generate data and still not know what the hell you are doing. Indeed, the creep effect of kits is quite worrying. People actually read the two page pdf, do an ‘experiment’, tabulate, test and submit.
        Climate Science stands out in the size of its claims and the speed at which it has risen to be a 25 billion dollar a year business.
        This meteoric rise means that there are no older hands, no institutional wisdom and definitely no slave holding the laurels whispering “Thou art mortal”.

      • Steven Mosher | July 1, 2012 at 4:25 pm |

        Well, do you think Al Gore has done more harm, or more good?

        Science is what Science is; an enterprise of making the best that can out of imperfect senses by imperfect people. Newton’s reasoning, that the hypothesis best supported by current observation and induction be treated as true or very nearly true until new observation and logic replace it, therefore is held understanding implicitly that we don’t stop doing Science just because the current best hypothesis is AGW as put forward by the IPCC.

        Politics, business and human behavior being what they are, we have plentiful enough cause to improve on the institutions involved as is.

        While I _think_ Science is getting pretty bad outcomes due publish-or-perishist entrenched habits of data secrecy and empire building in the results of Science itself, I _know_ Science is contributing to problems with politics, business and other avenues of human organization by failing to be aggressively open and transparent.

        Which gets us to the paradoxes that aggressive communication of AGW is the thing being attacked by many with the strongest opinions about climate science, where that communication isn’t what they like to hear, and that some of the most forward communicators of their findings are at the same time notable for instances of their own data hiding. Would be a much better outcome were the most forward communicators of Science all open from the start, and the most strongly-felt criticisms were (like yours generally are) of poor transparency and poor communication.

      • Steven Mosher

        I cannot be fair in my assessment of Gore.
        When skeptics spent more energy on openness and honest questioning I had more tolerance of them. Now the Girma’s (fake skeptics )dominate the skeptical side of things and I see a second wave of players ( betts, tamsin, etc ) from the
        AGW side that is much more in line with the principle I identify with.
        Give me Palmer instead of hansen
        Alley instead of Mann
        Betts, Tamsin, Held in place of Santer.

        Hindsight of course. But I like todays line up much better than the one in 2007. at least for the AGW side.

      • Well, do you think Al Gore has done more harm, or more good?

        In either case, he has certainly done well (increased his personal portfolio by $100 million or so).

        Pretty good for someone who did not create a single useful product or service – just hot air.


      • Steven Mosher | July 2, 2012 at 2:16 am |

        The new ‘AGW line-up’ seem to be more devoted to scientific skepticism, open data, questioning of their own first principles; but too, they’re less pressed by the fear they’ll be dismissed utterly as quacks and lunatics, which they owe to the groundbreakers who first took that beach head position. This doesn’t excuse the ‘cowboy climatologists’ their rough-hewn ways and disreputable habits, but if I’m being evenhanded, I have to expect and hope for a new line-up opposed AGW that have made equal strides in first principles, openness and scientific spirit.

        I see Curry (possibly, I’m never sure I understand her position on AGW as something so simple as pro- or anti-, which I imagine is because it isn’t so simple), yourself, and.. well.. A lot of people so set in their ways as to resemble museum pieces more than participants.

        I do see a more involved middle-ground (where I’d have set our host, in any event, were it an option), participatory and tending to generally elevate the discourse, and a maturing of the topics to appreciate Economics and policy, complexity and chaos, statistics and the limits of technology more, which is only to the good.

      • Steven Mosher

        following principles ( open science) is a manner of being set in ones
        way. So, too is following the law of gravity.

        You could call it being a museum piece. I could call the alternative a side show filled with freaks. But thems metaphors. I like metaphor wars.
        wonder why?

      • Steven Mosher | July 2, 2012 at 2:18 pm |

        My apologies. I worded what I said badly.

        There’s those like yourself and Dr. Curry, who have laudable affinity for open and transparent conduct of Science, at the one extreme, and at the other extreme there’s museum pieces who haven’t changed their minds in decades, so far as can be discerned.

        I meant to demonstrate by opposition of two distinct ways of carrying on Science my opinion of which was the more useful. (That’d be yours, in this case.)

    • Hank Zentgraf

      Dr Curry and Dr Roger Pielkie Sr have been serious in-depth critics of the IPCC for many years. When should we expect their “reward” to be made responsible for “fixing it”?

      • I like this idea. Unfortunately a quick glance at the GISS temperature anomalies for Hell indicate it isn’t likely to freeze over any time soon.

    • The second article cited is in a peer reviewed open access journal.

  6. There appear to be two separable problems:

    1) Integrity: hallmarked by transparency and accountability.

    2) Academic “progress:” sine qua non, publish or perish.

    Solution to: 1) archiving data, providing source code, blogosphere/web review.

    2) Few tenured positions all predicated upon research withstanding the test of time. Hence, most tenured positions awarded posthumously .

    Research Universities: elevate provosts (concerned with research and academic standing) above presidents (concerned with state and national politics, fundraising, college athletics and alumni.

    • RiHo08 | July 1, 2012 at 3:04 pm |

      I’m always suspicious when I read sentiments I agree with so completely.

      Were I more cynical, I would merely conclude that people want to be lied to, so long as they can be sure they’re lied to by someone on their own side.

      Which would be what presidents are for, and why publishing is constructed to encourage fictionalization.

  7. I’ve been thinking for the last years that there needs to be a good online format for scientific discussions like a live wikipedia for tracking the evolution of knowledge rather than just the current state of it. Just very roughly (in no paticular order – I really should sit down and flesh this out at some point):
    – all users need to login and have human mappable ids
    – all claims are specifically defined and bounded. These claims can be amended as people point things out, or evidence overturns them.
    – all claims have evidence links that are in the form on papers/data/code
    – disagreements also require evidence.
    – claims should try to be testable, or predictive (even like, if X happens then we should see Y over here within Z amount of time)
    – all claims can be broken into sub claims, so we don’t end up discussing thermometer accuracy when talking about gridding the values (the values may be inaccurate, but that doesn’t affect the gridding conversation, other than they need to take into account accuracy)
    – all evidence is weighted on reproducability, accuracy, completeness, skill etc.
    – claimants always specify certainly, and the group bubbles up their own based on evidence. Claimants lose status if they over claim certainty.
    – no one can override basic math or physics (without *really* good evidence). Eg. things with high certainty take a lot to overturn.
    – all comments are weighted by other on value and relevance (eg – I disagree with person X’s politics is not a valid reason to rate down, and a users score is affected by that).
    – special markers can be used to select passages or adjectives in a comment or claim and mark them as inflamitory, ad homenim, OT, lacking evidence, political etc etc These can be adjusted by the creator or challenged.
    – special view mode that strips out all adjectives, or claim can be rewritten by group to remove hyperbole etc.
    – a person can amend comments to remove a bad ranking (a forgiving system).
    – it should be mostly algorithmic and self policing where it can be, but users rank give them authority in arbitration (but not to override rules).
    – nothing is off topic, but things can be out of place (so fake moon landing talk is fine in the fake moon landing area).
    – papers should have an overview of what they show and how in plain language without formulas (specifics in links).
    – people who make claims, or counter claims can set up a sort of ‘double blind’ test in other areas. Eg and argument about statisitcal methods in dendrology can set up a ‘question’ for the stats area about say cherry picking. Boths sides subit neutral data and say, if you do this, can you claim that? Ideally proof is eventually reutrned in a demonstration on said data.
    – ideally it produces knowledge trees in subject areas, where if you disagree, you plug down to the level or item you disagree with and present your case.
    – ideally it gives one vote to one knowledge unit, rather than one person (or like the current system of one vote per dollar, or only one ‘team’ that votes)

  8. Note that this discussion parallels a current one at Climate Audit,

  9. Science Suffers From an Excess of Significance
    Want to win a political argument? Want to get your spouse to change a health habit? Want to get your story on page one? Flash a scientific study

    brent comment:
    The above statement, exemplifies the fundamental problem.
    Viz: a perception of “science” as a source of authority, rather than simply an investigative tool.
    Why pray tell do we hear constant plaintive cries that” science” is under attack? What is it that supposed scientists fear that they are being attacked by ? What is it they think they are in competition for or with ?
    The problem IMO is that certain elements in science want to be a new “Priesthood” (and I do mean that literally).
    As someone who’s education is in an Applied Science discipline, and who is very scientifically oriented ( science to me is merely an investigative tool, not a religion eg Scientism, Gaianism etc), I cringe every day at the highfalutin, overblown , overconfident claims which are not only misleading, but intended IMO to exalt science and scientists as the new source of authority, the new “Priesthood”


    DailyKos Essay: Weinberg, Dawkins, Tyson, Porco, Sloan, and Harris – Idiots of Science on Parade
    This is about the idiocy and the idiots at the La Jolla meeting, “Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival.” The idiots of science were in attendance: Steven Weinberg, Richard Dawkins, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Carolyn Porco, Richard P. Sloan, and Sam Harris. I thought some of them were intelligent, until now.
    Science is the best hammer in humanity’s toolkit. It is the most useful tool we have.
    Because a few religious extremists have irritated the grand idiots of science, they propose to set up science as a religion. This is the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. It’s like a guy who has mice in his house. Instead of setting a few traps for them, he blows up the house.
    Please note the names of the idiots of science. If you run into them on the street, be sure to explain how their attempt to “save” science could destroy science.

    Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions

    Briggs Dissects Sam Harris:

    Can fMRI Predict Who Believes In Santa Claus? Or God? Part I

    Did you know that “regions” of your brain light up when you think about Santa Claus or God? And that these “regions” are thought to be “associated” with various behaviors like excess emotion, schizophrenia, and other, gentler forms of nuttiness?
    It’s all true. Scientists regularly stick people’s heads inside machines, ask the people to think of this or that, and then watch as the machines show “regions” of the brain glowing orange. The scientists then employ statistical methods guaranteed to generate over-confidence, but which allow the scientists to write papers which contain broad, even bracing, claims about all of humanity and of how everybody’s brain functions.
    This sort of thing is all the rage, so much so that hardly a week passes without new headlines about what secrets the Whitecoat Brigade have uncovered in the brain (this week: Study shows how scientists can now ‘read your mind’).
    It is therefore of great interest to us to examine this phenomena and see what it means. I have chosen one paper which I believe is representative of the worst excesses of the field. My goal is to show you that the conclusion, as stated by the authors, and one the authors believe they have proved, is actually far from proved, is in fact scarcely more likely to be true given the experiment than it was before the experiment, and that what was actually proved was how likely scientist’s are to find in their data their own preconceptions.
    Warning: I mean this critique to be exhaustive, at least in major theme, so while I run the risk of exhausting your patience, my excuse is that the length of this piece is necessary to do a full job (it will be spread across Parts, and not all on one day). I especially want to hear from those who support the paper’s position, and who claim that the criticisms I advance are not as damning as I believe they are.

    fMRIs and God

    The paper is “The neural correlates of religious and nonreligious belief,” published in PLoS One by Sam Harris and others in association with UCLA’s Staglin Center for Cognitive Neuroscience.

    Seven part Series:

    WRAP UP: Can fMRI Predict Who Believes In Santa Claus? Or God? Part VII
    There are a number of serious difficulties with this study. The experimental protocol is unusual; the “stimuli” used were gathered form a dubious source and were not as simply interpretable as Harris believed they were, nor were they always relevant; Harris’s definition of Christian is extraordinarily narrow; results that were not desired were removed after the experiment ended, yet we never learn how many or what effect this removal had; i.e., would leaving these data in change the results?
    The answers to stimuli were averaged within people, a dubious statistical procedure that is nowhere justified; we never learn how many questions each person received, nor how many questions from each person were tossed, nor did (apparently) every person get the same questions. The student volunteers were first subjected to some kind of purity test, yet the details of this were never explained: only 15 “committed” Christians were used and only 15 non-Christians mistakenly called “nonbelievers”, presumably non-committed. There is good evidence the selection of these students and the kind of “stimuli” used introduced a bias in the direction of the results Harris expected; i.e. the suspicion of confirmation bias is strong.
    The raw fMRI data was first statistically manipulated before being subjected to further analysis; the fMRI pictures were all ad hoc comparisons, with loose, just-so stories of what this or that region of the brain does; none of the regions that glowed orange1 were noted beforehand, but those areas that did glow were given a story after the fact. (See dead salmon fMRI study.)
    The paper is sloppy and disorganized. It passed “peer review”, but we know how weak a filter for truth this is. It is telling that the paper was not only published, but enthusiastically cited by other authors. Well, scientists often don’t have time to read anything but abstracts of papers. Worst of all, no other group could take this paper and re-produce the experiment: there are simply too many unknowns.


  10. This “epidemic” appears to have adversely affected the “grand-daddy” of polar bear studies, Ian Stirling, as Dr. Susan Crockford observes in a guest post on my blog, in which she reviews Stirling’s Polar Bears: The Natural History of a Threatened Species

    Crockford concludes (emphases mine -hro):

    If the case for progressively reduced Arctic sea ice due to “climate warming” over the last 35 years is so strong, why are these contortions of fact necessary? In my opinion, the phenomenal scientific information Stirling conveys on the life history of the polar bear and his balanced account of the history of its conservation is irrevocably marred by these examples of biased presentation of events and data. With this book, Ian Stirling has broken my trust in him as a scientist. What could have been an outstanding reference book capable of wowing readers for generations with spectacular photographs and informative anecdotes is spoiled by Stirling’s willingness to leave out critical facts to make his advocacy statement appear better supported. Stirling’s attempt to dupe naive readers is contemptible and makes this book a shameful example of what the fear of global warming has done to science.

    Of polar bears, polemics and … “climate warming”

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Hro001, in a normal year, Canada’s Beaufort Sea is still frozen — and this early-summer ice provides prime seal-hunting ground for a mother polar bear and her cubs.

      But as anyone can verify that in this high-melt year the sea ice of Canada’s Beaufort Sea is presently 170 nm off-shore, along a 500-nm stretch of Canadian coast.

      Ma bear is in for hard times. And her cubs will not gain sufficient body mass to survive the coming winter.

      Bottom line Ian Stirling is right, and hro001 is wrong.

      • Fan

        Ma bear is in for hard times. And her cubs will not gain sufficient body mass to survive the coming winter.

        You have no earthly notion what fate awaits “Ma Bear and her cubs” – why pretend that you do?


      • You have no earthly notion what fate awaits “Ma Bear and her cubs” – why pretend that you do?

        Indeed he doesn’t. Which, of course, is why great pretenders such as the fan and the little wotbot are lamely attempting to distract from the validity of Crockford’s observations about Stirling‘s choices.

        These great pretenders are so desperate that I see they’ve now resorted to dragging in utter irrelevancies from the smoggies’ and Greenpeace’s smear campaign that Peter Gleick so obligingly facilitated for them, with his highly unethical, dishonest and disgraceful February Follies and Fabrications.

      • Because fan has this irresistable urge to provide expert comment on subjects he doesn’t have a clue about. A couple of weeks ago it was about military policy. This week it’s polar bears.

      • Well, let’s see … whose word shall I trust? That of someone who hides behind a nym and provides no citation for his/her claims? Or that of a real scientist who does?

        Tough choice, eh?! I’ll have to give it some thought and get back to you!

      • Is this the same Dr Susan Crockford who was paid by the Heartland Institute?

      • If so, seldom a more appropriate last name.

      • Is this the same Dr Susan Crockford who was paid by the Heartland Institute?

        If so, I’m sure it’s just a coincidence. :roll: ;)

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        LOL … who yah gonna believe, hr001? The Heartland Institute or your own lyin’ eyes?   :)   :)   :)

        Why not have a soothing cigarette, while yah think about it!   :)   :)   :)

      • fan,

        You know, fan, Polar Bears don’t seem to be the only species threatened by Arctic sea-loss ice.

        I mean, like, a couple of months ago, when Arctic sea-ice had recovered to the 1979-2000 extent, climate blogs of the greenshirt persuasion saw an unprecedented explosion in the cricket population.

        But now that Arctic sea-ice is at a low, that same cricket population has gone vitually extinct, only to be replaced by a cockroach plague.

        All that sudden, disastrous bio-diversity loss in just a couple of months!–poor crickets, lucky cockroaches.

      • hro001 | July 2, 2012 at 9:46 pm |

        I don’t mean to address Dr. Crockford’s criticisms at all here. I was addressing your criticisms, by pointing out the hypocrisy of your denigrating some as know-nothings for criticising Crockford, who has an interest in bears and lives in the same country as polar bears, which more than qualifies her in your experience as an expert able to take on people who live and work among polar bears as their major academic and professional focus.

        See, I don’t think her silly or backwards at all. Much. But you, you’re just being absurd. I mean, I’m interested in dogs, and have petted hundreds of them. How many polar bears has Susan Crockford petted? But do you see me imposing myself as an authoritative critic of Crockfords’ work on canines? Not so much, no.

        Doesn’t mean if I had an opinion on her work, it’d be invalid for me to speak up. Just as it’s quite valid for her to offer her well-meaning semi-qualified opinion of the works of actual specialists in the field with real first hand knowledge. Just as it’s valid for fan or whoever else wants to voice an opinion.

        But putting Crockford on a pedestal while dismissing fan? That’s just silly.

        How much time have you spent north of 70, yourself?

      • Dr. Crockford’s dogging of Dr. Stirling seems academically at odds with your placement of trust. Dr. Stirling lives and works among polar bears and marine arctic wildlife a substantial portion of each year, and has dedicated a lifetime of work to the specialty. Dr. Crockford — leaving aside the ugly accusations that she’s on the Heartland Institute’s payroll, which is I’m sure irrelevant — is a specialist in canines.

        I can see the similarities and crossover in the two fields, however looking closely at the two scientists’ own work and ideas, I find suspiciously many cases where Dr. Crockford does or appears to do things she finds fault with in Dr. Stirling’s work. And Dr Hailer et al’s work.. And Dr. Amstr… Wow. Dr. Crockford gets around.

        One wonders how she has time to feed her dogs.

      • What about the ugly accusation that Dr Stirling is on the state’s payroll?

      • Bart … setting aside your abysmally bad puns and needless repetition of what you acknowledge to be an irrelevant and baseless smear, what is it about: “Polar bear evolution is one of Dr. Crockford’s professional interests, which she discusses in her book, […]” that you are having such difficulty understanding?

        Or did you not bother to actually read the full post and review to which I had linked?

        Kindly explain how your hand-waving and customary mealy-mouthed meandering invalidates Dr. Crockford’s primary criticism – which was not of Stirling’s “balanced account of the history of [polar bear] conservation”.

        Perhaps you also (conveniently) missed her further description: “What could have been an outstanding reference book capable of wowing readers for generations with spectacular photographs and informative anecdotes”.

        “Climate warming” [as Stirling the enviro-advocate, rather than Stirling the scientist, chooses to dub “climate change” aka “global warming”] is not his area of expertise.

        Yet – like so many before him – he has jumped on the advocacy bandwagon, dutifully repeating the customary litany; and he has done so in a manner that has now become all too familiar to many: “leav[ing] out critical facts to make his advocacy statement appear better supported.”

        It was these shameless choices that Crockford was criticizing (and for which she had provided …. wait for it … evidence), quite justifiably, IMHO.

        But, as usual, I suppose one can count on you to not let the facts get in the way of your marching in step with the pseudonymous trolls whose mission in virtual life seems to be firing blanks at the messengers they don’t like!

      • Bart R | July 2, 2012 at 10:07 pm |

        hro001 | July 2, 2012 at 9:46 pm |

        I don’t mean to address Dr. Crockford’s criticisms at all here. I was addressing your criticisms, by pointing out the hypocrisy of your denigrating some as know-nothings for criticising Crockford, […]

        Really?! If so, your comment of July 2, 2012 at 8:48 pm – to which I was responding at 9:46 p.m. – certainly had me fooled! Whatever you thought you might have been “addressing”, your words definitely indicated otherwise.

        If you consider it “denigrating” and “hypocritical” to defer a decision on the choice one must make between trusting the words of “[…] someone who hides behind a nym and provides no citation for his/her claims? Or that of a real scientist who does?”, I strongly suspect this may be your problem, not mine.

        But thanks for proving the concluding point in my earlier comment that:

        one can count on you to not let the facts get in the way of your marching in step with the pseudonymous trolls whose mission in virtual life seems to be firing blanks at the messengers they don’t like!

        P.S. Bart, It really wasn’t very nice of you to call the fan and the wotbot “know-nothings”.

        They may, in fact, know something(s)l but – for reasons perhaps best known only to themselves – at least on this blog, they have a history of keeping such knowledge very well-hidden … perhaps behind the blanks they prefer to fire – and which you appear to sometimes echo and sometimes admire!

      • ‘A pattern of high pressure over the Beaufort Sea and low pressure over the Laptev Sea has been present for the past few weeks. This pattern is favorable for summer ice loss, by advecting warm winds from the south (in eastern Asia) to melt the ice and transport it away from the coastlines in Siberia and Alaska. The high pressure over the Beaufort leads to generally clear skies, and temperatures are now above freezing over much of the Arctic pack. Snow cover in the far north is nearly gone, earlier than normal, allowing the coastal land to warm faster.

        Early melt onset, and clear skies near the solstice are favorable conditions for more rapid melting, and warming of the ocean in open-water areas. The persistence of this type of pressure pattern throughout summer 2007 was a major factor toward causing the record low September extent that year. Conversely, in 2010, the patterns were not as favorable for loss of ice and the seasonal decline slowed later in the summer, and the extent did not approach the record low levels of 2007.

        While these patterns and conditions have looked similar to 2007, over the last couple days the high pressure pattern over the Beaufort Sea has broken down. And while the extent is at a record low for the date, it is still early in the melt season. Changing weather patterns throughout the summer will affect the exact trajectory of the sea ice extent through the rest of the melt season.’


        ‘One such smaller gyre is the Beaufort gyre found in the Arctic Ocean. The Beaufort gyre is a huge vortex of water being driven by strong winds that force currents in a clockwise direction. This gyre is full of relatively fresh water as Siberian and Canadian rivers drain into the Beaufort gyre. Scientists have been keeping a close eye on the Beaufort gyre because of the relatively fresh water it holds. When winds slack off and the gyre weakens, fresh water leaks out of the gyre and into the North Atlantic Ocean. The addition of fresh water from the Beaufort gyre along with fresh water from melting sea ice could be contributing to the disruption of the global ocean current system known as the ocean conveyor. This slowing or halting of the ocean conveyor system will have impacts on the climate in the North Atlantic and surrounding areas.’ http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/Water/ocean_gyres.html

        I have little more time to waste. The systems are complex and non-linear. Understanding of these – such as it is – evolves with reseach and reflection and not with schoolgirl debating points.

      • Dave Springer

        If that’s true then the seal population will benefit at the bear’s expense causing an excess of seals next year which will make up for the dearth this year.

        Note I’m not one to play favorites. I don’t value polar bears either more or less than seals.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Dave, your love of Nature is touching.

        Definition of a Denialist Nature Preserve:
        “A golf course with an eagle in a cage.”

          :)   :)   :)

    • Crockford: “The climate warming chapter is as eye-catching in its own way as the rest of the book: who could miss the enormous, scary-looking graph predicting summer sea ice declining to zero within the next 90 years”

      Crockford: “the dire predictions on the future of Arctic sea ice made by researchers in other fields”

      What’s interesting is that Crockford describes the graph as “scary-looking” and a “dire prediction”, but appears non-plussed about the whole thing, almost as if she thinks the graph and predictions are absurd…. The graph talked about is this one:

      She should perhaps take the “dire predictions” of summer sea ice declining to zero within the next 90 years more seriously. I can’t fathom a reason why she would be so dismissive of them, if anything the 90 year predictions are looking a little on the conservative side. In the graph she’s looking at observations end in 2006. We all know what happened in summer 2007.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Hro001, it appears that Susan Crockford’s Heartland-funded review is startlingly badly timed. Because in this week’s Barents Observer (the Arctic’s main news journal) we read:

      NO ICE — NO CUBS
      Climate changes shake the Arctic.
      Only five hibernating polar bears counted this winter
      at Kongsøya on the Svalbard archipelago.

      Researchers from the Norwegian Polar Institute have been counting polar bears hibernate on Kongsøya over the last 32 years. The island in the eastern part of Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic has always been important for hibernating polar bears. In 1980 they counted 50 hibernates. In 2009 there were 25, while this year only five were counted.

      Arctic sea ice has dramatically been shrinking the last few years, including the areas around Svalbard and further east towards Russia’s Siberian coast. Arctic scientists agree that climate change is the single biggest threat facing polar bears. Today’s polar bears are facing rapid loss of the sea ice where they hunt, breed, and, in some cases, den. Changes in their distribution or numbers affect the entire arctic ecosystem.

      Hro001, if what Heartland practices isn’t “denialism” then what is it?

  11. Quoting Ioannidis

    for every pearl on the ocean floor, there is one ton of whale manure

    Does this apply for IPCC’s AR4 report?

  12. tempterrain

    Yes I can understand the temptation to come up with a false positive. I know that it can be argued to the contrary on a purely scientific basis, but a set of results , or written paper, suggesting no statistical significance between an investigated possible cause and an observed effect must be a bit of a disappointment to all concerned.

    So maybe the so-called skeptics on this blog should be campaigning to reverse the definition of ‘positive’ on the climate question. Instead of it being considered a link between rising GH gas concentrations and temperature it could considered to be a safety issue.

    The question would then be ‘is it safe to allow atmospheric CO2, and other GH gases, to increase as they have done in recent decades?’

    That way you’d get the benefit of the effect to which you are now objecting?

    What do you think?

    • tempterrain

      Your suggestion has merit, but let’s reword and expand it slightly to add a bit of logic:

      The question would then be ‘is it safe fairly certain to constitute a serious potential danger to allow atmospheric CO2, and other GH gases, to increase as they have done in recent decades?’

      Followed by:

      and if the above premise can be shown, based on the scientific method, to be correct, what specific actions should be undertaken by whom, what specific benefits do we expect from each of these actions, what costs will they entail and what unintended negative consequences could they possibly have?

      That way you’d avoid rushing headlong into a dead end (or simply jumping from the frying pan into the fire).

      Make sense to you?


      • tempterrain

        “make sense…?” Maybe

        It depends on how do you define “serious potential danger” when heading into the unknown.

        I don’t know about you, but I’m swimming at the beach it only takes someone to even think they may have seen a shark and I’d think I was in a “serious potential danger”. I’d be back on land quick smart – even if I was skeptical on the accuracy of the information.

      • tempterrain

        How ’bout if you were planning to go boating on Loch Ness and local pub denizens warned you of the “monster” – would you cancel your boat trip?


      • lolwot

        you sure it was a shark?

        Naw, lolwot, just like “AIT”. it wasn’t real; it was just a scary movie.


      • tempterrain

        Nessie? No I’ve just looked her up in the sceptics dictionary and she doesn’t exist.

        But according to them AGW does and CC deniers exist too!

      • tempterrain

        “Even if there IS a shark, is mitigating the problem by closing the beach really the correct solution? Can’t bathers just adapt to a killer shark?”

        Yes that’s very good!

      • I’d advise staying out of the water altogether, it that’s your policy.

        As someone who every summer spent their vacation on the DelMarVa beaches, the fact that sharks were occasionally sited never stopped me from swimming in the ocean. I even remember dragging a dead (and rotting) shark carcus back to my parents. I thought it was cool. They were not quite of the same opinion.

        temp, your assume it must be bad or harmful until we know absolutely that it isn’t is the type of mind set that would have kept Columbus at home in Italy, Cook a farmer and man from ever venturing into space.

  13. The back and forth of the papers are what makes science interesting. They never state their conclusions as certain and leave open aspects that they haven’t studied in depth, as no one paper can be a full compendium of a topic. This is seen in the long debate about whether global warming causes more frequent hurricanes, which evolved into it possibly cause more intense hurricanes, but not more frequent, and this is still an open question with more papers coming out in support or refuting these aspects based on independent and new evidence. Because the science is not certain, more is the reason to have papers out on different aspects of the complex questions. If the science was certain, papers would just be confirmatory and rather hard to publish unless they found a new way to confirm something. In climate science, the claims are speculative and dependent on the methods chosen in the study, which would be repeatable. In drug testing it is different because those tests on population samples can’t always be repeated independently on a different population, only checked, and sometimes the newer study doesn’t agree with the older one. In writing this, it occurs to me that paleoclimate studies such as those with tree rings are similar to drug-testing because they are sampling a population. This makes those studies more falsifiable if they have overstated their certainty, which is something to avoid for sure.

    • And they have been falsified. The foi2009 CRUgate disclosures showed that the hockey stick team did the equivalent of testing the new drug on a single rat — and switched to a new rat just before the first rat died — and at the conclusion of the experiment extraplolated the results as representative of results across humanity.

      • You are complaining to the wrong person. The skeptics have a lot more interest in tree ring data than I do. They work hard on it, though, to their credit.

      • Using the methods that the schoolteachers of Climatism use to support their claims of human O2-caused global warming would put the drug tester in prison.

      • @@ Wagathon | July 1, 2012 at 8:19 pm winged: ”Using the methods that the schoolteachers of Climatism use to support their claims of human O2-caused global warming would put the drug tester in prison”.

        Wagathon, Same goes for the B/S Merchants that promote the phony ”proxy GLOBAL warmings”, against their own interest. I have put 3 comments below, for you, Vukcevic and Tony Brown. Plenty more of those proofs on my website. Most honest schoolteachers would have being embarrassed to tell bullshine that you 3 and few others are addicted to. Please don’t put all teachers in the same basket; where the Warmist & Fakes belong.

      • @@ Wagathon | July 1, 2012 at 7:09 pm admitted”
        And they have been falsified”

        Yes Wagathon, everything the Fakes promote, is a falsified doo-doo. (only 3 samples below) There is a post on my website about it

  14. Michael Hart

    Corollary 7: The longer it takes to perform an experiment/research project, the less likely it is to be repeated and falsified.

    For example: Many chemistry experiments can still be repeated in a day, and easily duplicated in other laboratories. Not so in climatology.

  15. ”FALSE BALANCE” Is the most appropriate definition

    THE ORIGINAL SINNERS, WERE / ARE, ‘’THE LEADING FAKE SKEPTICS’’ They ”pretend” to be Warmist opposition…?! The only way sceptical people can get on the front foot, and win; is to expose their own leaders, they are still promoting the original misleadings; which was the Genesis /had given inspiration to the Warmist. Warmist are 100% wrong; therefore, the sceptical people are correct; but cannot win, by using lies from the ”pretend Skeptics” which are bigger Warmist trash, than the official Warmist.

    Past localized warmings / coolings; were presented by them as, GLOBAL. Warmist are exploiting the leading Skeptic’s misleading as shield – are keeping those leading Skeptics in ‘’check mate’’ position. If the leading ‘’Skeptics’’ admit that the past warmings / ice ages were localized = Warmist castle will collapse. But that would be admission that Skeptic’s Fairy-tales were the foundation for the Warmist lies – simultaneously exposing the leading Fake Skeptic’s smelly skeletons in their closed. Well lets expose some of those lies / smelly skeletons:::

  16. Mythology#1: Little Ice Age is, LIAR’s Lie / Fake’s Flagship, ‘’Smoking Cannon’’

    Their proof is: river Thames was freezing in winter; they have paintings of people skating on the river – that is a proof of the phony GLOBAL cooling for 150y. wow, WOW!!! River Thames frozen for few days = the WHOLE planet turned for them into an ‘’Ice Age, for hundreds of years’’ We are lucky that they don’t judge by Australian rivers. Most get dry for few months in the year = they would have declared that ‘’planet earth doesn’t have a drop of water for the last 1000 years’’

    Few months ago; 1000km south of river Thames – river Danube has frozen in Serbia and Romania – 15 times bigger river than Thames. They didn’t declare that as ‘’Midi Ice Age for 150years’’ why?! The original Sinners lie about the past – believing that: you cannot travel back and see that they are lying. Yes you can; the laws of physics were same then, as today. If the laws of physics don’t approve of something = MUST be wrong. Previous 3 years in January, was extreme blizzards in USA /Europe – people were freezing to death. Was it GLOBAL Ice Age? ( on those SAME days when people were freezing to death in Europe (2-3 weeks after the Copenhagen flop) because of EXTREME heat, 170 people burned in Australia; in intensive bushfires !

    Truth: when in the past Thames had frozen for few days, people remembered, were talking about it, even made paintings – the rest of the 11months, when was normal weather… is boring; nobody records boring things. Actually, there are paintings of Thames ‘’without ice’’ but the truth didn’t get on the way of a good story / spin to the Original Sinners as Tony Brown, Plimer &Co. Leading Warmist know that LIA is a lie; but some of the Plimer’s Galahs, still daydream that: their lies will win. In reality, the Warmist declared that ‘’the science is settled’’ because of the Skeptics promoting more phony GLOBAL warmings, that would embarrass not just any honest person; but even Warmist Swindlers are ashamed of how low their ‘’opponents’’’ get. Plus, because the Fakes LIE that is going to be GLOBAL warming by 0,5C , V Warmist 1,5C – 5C warming. Well, the Warmist are prepared to wait 100y and see who is correct. They continue with their rip-off = everybody is a loser, thanks to both camps, promoting same lies. Some “Skeptics” even say: need to prepare only for ‘’smaller global warming’’. Same as kids demanding parents to build smaller chimney for Santa’s arrival – because Santa will go to Jenny Craig…?! Top stupidity!

    Warmist are disowning “LIA” as GLOBAL cooling – that makes them a bit more honest; than people as Plimer, Tony Brown, Vukcevic, and few others. Because of them, Warmist are still prospering, and will run all over the sceptical people; until the ‘’original’’ scam is exposed.

  17. Mithilogy#2: VINEYARDS IN ENGLAND, in medieval ages; their proof of former Global Warming “on the whole planet”.

    In reality, as it was getting colder for their mini ice age on the northern hemisphere, nature made another confusion for the Skeptic scientists; Fakes to have another phony proof… please join the circus. 1] They were growing vineyards in southern England. It was warmer climate than today – without factories and cars. The truth: you can grow vineyards today in the same place and will grow perfectly. But you will not get much crops for vino out of it. Vineyards don’t like damp soil and the worst is: the grapes don’t like rain, when ripening. First shower splits the grapes, the second makes them to rot, instead of ripening. 70km south, cross the channel in France are the best vineyards. They have dryer climate,
    nothing to do in 70km difference in Fake’s global warming without CO2. So, they were growing in England vineyards, not to buy vino from “the enemy” France. They had some grapes to eat; when they realized that is uneconomical, they gave up. The land was better to be used for what is economical. English started getting much better and chipper wine from Rhodesia and South Africa* Same as: Australia was producing lots of tobacco – for the last 3-4 years, not a single twig of tobacco; because they can get it much cheaper from Indonesia, Philippines. That should be declared by the ‘’English Vineyards, Conmen’’ as ‘’GLOBAL cooling’’ WOW. That tells about their integrity and fertile imagination; not about the global temperature. (Reason they are obsessed with silencing me) you can’t silence the truth guys!

    B]If there is 50y war between England against France and Spain, English will start growing vineyards again. Not to bring on horseback grapes and vino from Italy. (That was before the steamships). Especially after Britain colonized lots of warm countries with cheap labor – they were not stupid to have vineyards in England. But for the shonky experts, in 12century the Poms produced wine = must have being warmer planet – because in the 18-19 sentry didn’t produce = must have being colder the WHOLE planet. What kind of science is that? They were not producing it, because was coming from Rhodesia and south Africa for half price +much better wine. In Australia we didn’t stop producing shirts and socks, because of the phony global warming; but because is cheaper to be produced in Fiji and China. (previous sentence should stay as record – in 500y some shonky scientists not to use it as: in 2010 Australians stopped producing socks and shirts =proof of global cooling / or: Australian aboriginal people started to use socks for the first time = must be the biggest GLOBAL Ice Age ever). In Cornwall, Devon (England) the climate is on average a degree or two warmer/ milder than in Paris! In Austrian Alps is colder than in southern England – Austrians have perfect vineyards. Grapevine is very versatile, can grow in the tropics (if is not too wet) can also grow in very cold climate. Poms as experiment should plant some vineyard on some undulating area with good drainage, will grow better than in Italy (they will not have much to harvest, but rotting grapes – because of too wet climate, is bad for that fruit)

    The truth: because was less ice covering the arctic’s water = colder water was going from there to Mexican Gulf and then to Baltic Sea = less humidity = England had less rain = better/ “dryer” climate for vineyards. Climate is controlled by H2O / water- regarding global temperature – is controlled by oxygen + nitrogen – shrinking / expanding in change of temperature. There is no ‘’unknown unknowns’’ What kind of twisted mind will declare ‘’the WHOLE planet warmer, because of few Vineyards in England?! (if the leading Swindlers are allowed to continue to demolish the ice on the polar caps*** – will be better for vineyards in England – but disaster for most other things.) As long as they keep the propaganda on the front pages = taxpayer’s money will be wasted on shonky researches for no stone unturned! Crimes shouldn’t pay!!!

  18. Fake’s mythology #7:VIKINGS ON GREENLAND
    (Warmist & fake Skeptics, peer reviewing each other; is same as two mafia gangs policing each other (thief’s honor”)

    Vikings were going to Greenland; but they were calling ‘’Green-land’’ the southern patch of ground on the biggest white island on the planet, NOT the whole island. The ‘’bull’’ fertile imagination of the Shonky ‘’researchers’’; declared that: ‘’big part’’ of the island was green, because of its name, and the WHOLE planet warmer… ? WOW! It was a bit LESS ice then, because was ‘’colder’’ not warmer area (definitely nothing to do with the WHOLE planet!). Arctic ocean had less ice at that time – currents were taking ‘’COLDER’’ water into Atlantic – > therefore, it was LESS evaporation = therefore was ‘’less raw material’’ to replenish the ice deficit on Greenland. (ice on Greenland (Tera Firma) is melting constantly; summer and winter; from below, by the geothermal heat)

    Therefore, the amount of ice depends on the availability of raw material, for replenishing the ice. That ‘’raw material’’ ‘’water vapour’’ is declared as BAD FOR THE CLIMATE, by both camps. None of them can notice that: where is now 1km thick ice on Greenland – on SAME latitude in Norway, Finland is forest – further east on SAME latitude in Siberia is Permafrost (permafrost is desert in a cold country)

    Because Greenland is wedged between Atlantic and Arctic oceans – ‘’water vapour from Atlantic going north, is intercepted by Greenland. Norway is far away from Atlantic – Siberia even further away. So, on places where lots of ice is accumulating in winter, that ice, keeps more coldness than air can – protects itself in summer. Reason you put in your cool box ‘’cold ice’’, instead of ‘’cold air’’ Is it starting to make sense? In your cool box 2-3kg of ice, keeps cold for 2 days. On Greenland is much more than 4kg of ice / on Antarctic is much more than 8kg of ice; to keep it frozen; if for few days in a year the temp gets over zero C (melting point).

    B] the ‘’researchers’’ found that: Viking’s artifacts are getting exposed by the melting ice on Greenland = that’s their proof that: at that time, the WHOLE PLANET was WARMER, Crap!!!

    C] let me tell you something: during WW2, number of US aircrafts, on the way to Europe, had fallen on Greenland. Those planes are now 178m below the surface of the ice. In another few hundred years, they will be on the solid bottom, by a 1km thick ice, on the top of them. Magic for the ignorant, which believe the shonky ‘’researchers’’. Time to start believing in Stefan’s theory, that: the ice on Greenland, Antarctic is melted from below; by the geothermal heat / day and night, summer and winter. The deficit must be replaced by freeze-drying the moisture from the air. When no deficit replaced, because of no sufficient ‘water vapour’’ in the air = Warmist go in overdrive: look, look global warming, because is less ice.

    B] when more moisture comes to there = more fresh ice created = the Fake zombies, as the dumbest of the dumb; go into overdrive; look, look, more ice, must be GLOBAL cooling! (the truth: up to 2m of ice is melted every year by the geothermal heat / similar amount is created by freeze-drying the moisture from the air. Same way as the old freezers were creating ice, with ZERO snow / rain in the kitchen – from the humid air, when often the fridge door is opened -> ‘’water vapour’’ gets on a cold place = ice. Greenland, Antarctic don’t have doors!!! For the Swindlers from both camps; water vapour is bad…? Vikings were not dumb, as the contemporary ‘’researchers’’

    Instead, the con Artists, made it into ‘’GLOBAL warming’’ because of the adventures Vikings. That was long before the thermometer was invented. B]Vikings were going from Scandinavia south to Sicily at that SAME time; that should be for them as equal proof of GLOBAL cooling?! Even today doesn’t exist long enough thermometer, to monitor the temperature in Oceania, Antarctic ocean, from Greenland; did the Vikings really monitored the temperature in Australia, Patagonia, from Greenland; for the contemporary Evil Cults?! People believing that: because of more / less ice on Greenland; is a proof of ‘’GLOBAL’’ warmings / coolings – should take the leading con Artists from both camps, in a class action; for ‘’Brains Degradation’’ That makes con artists like Tony Brown, Plimer, Vukcevic and similar; bigger liars than Hansen, Mann, Gore. They use Greenland’s ice / Viking’s settlements; as a phony ‘’GLOBAL warming’’ against IPCC…?!

    Truth: availability of raw material for replenishing the ice; dictates the amount of ice on the polar caps! Lack of normal science in the Fakes, makes them to shoot themselves in the foot, by a machine-gun, instead of pistol; on the honest people’s expense. Instead of admitting that: warmings / Ice Ages are NEVER GLOBAL. The Fakes are prepared to die in the trenches, to support the Warmist lies that: even though warmings are never GLOBAL, will keep presenting them as global. Because; if the truth is known that: ‘’OVERALL’’ temp on the WHOLE planet is always the same = Warmist lies will collapse instantly. Who’s more guilty?

  19. Greg House

    by Judith Curry
    Further, groups such as the IPCC that are conducting assessments are subject to the same issues raised by the 6 corollaries.
    So what to do about this situation? There are no simple solutions, …
    The best and simple solution is to close climate science for the next 70 years.

    • Greg House

      The best and simple solution is to close climate science for the next 70 years.

      That’s a bit drastic.

      But how about if we start by shutting down all world-wide funding for IPCC?


  20. OK – Let’s get this post into the proper thread:

    Yes. Conflicts of interests can corrupt.

    I have two questions and one possible answer:

    The first question is why “skeptics” think that there something new about that realization?

    The second question is why “skeptics” seem to think that there’s something selective about that reality, and they seem to think that “skeptics” are not susceptible to the very same phenomenon?

    I would propose one answer to both of those questions. Simply said, the answer is “motivated reasoning.”



    • The social movement of AGW is part of a general societal dysfunction that has allowed a great number of things, not just climate science and climate issues, It leads true believers like Joshua to think motivated thinking is only a problem for skeptics, among many other ironic fallacies.

    • @Joshua
      Yes. Conflicts of interests can corrupt.
      … why [do] “skeptics” think that there something new about that realization?

      They obviously don’t. So the question is, why do truebelievers like Joshua try and suggest otherwise?

      The simple reality is that skeptics keep bringing it up, only because truebelievers keep trying to overlook it (ie the obvious corrupting conflict of interest in the government financing of climate “scientists”, who then just happen to “conclude” that what is needed is an expansion of government).

    • I would suggest that they are wearing ‘The Wrong Trousers’.

      ‘Although it has failed to produce its intended impact nevertheless the Kyoto Protocol has performed an important role. That role has been allegorical. Kyoto has permitted different groups to tell different stories about themselves to themselves and to others, often in superficially scientific language. But, as we are increasingly coming to understand, it is often not questions about science that are at stake in these discussions. The culturally potent idiom of the dispassionate scientific narrative is being employed to fight culture wars over competing social and ethical values.49 Nor is that to be seen as a defect. Of course choices between competing values are not made by relying upon scientific knowledge alone. What is wrong is to pretend that they are.’ http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/24569/

      I am in the position of knowing one thing – echoing the sceptical debates of the 18th Century – and that is that climate is both complex in the dictionary sense of the word and dynanically complex in the sense of theoretical physics. Models themselves are dynamically complex – diverging from a stable solution within the bounds of a range of plausible inputs. ‘Sensitive dependence and structural instability are humbling twin properties for chaotic dynamical systems, indicating limits about which kinds of questions are theoretically answerable’ http://www.pnas.org/content/104/21/8709.full

      The data that we gather is uncertain, the models in which we use the data is uncertain and the evolution of climate, technology and societies is uncertain. ‘Fundamentally, therefore, we should think of weather and climate prediction in terms of equations whose basic prognostic variables are probability densities ρ(X, t), where X denotes some climatic variable and t denotes time. In this way, ρ(X, t)dV represents the probability that, at time t, the true value of X lies in some small volume dV of state space.’ Palmer and Hagedorn eds 2006) Clear as mud? Climate is predictable only as probabilities.

      Both kinds of complexity lead inexorably to uncertainty. Yet we see here the spectacle of space cadets from both sides of the climate war telling stories to themselves and each other seemingly with great certitude and hubris. Not to mention the plethora of schoolgirl debating points. But if I am right about the one thing I do know (dynamical complexity) – and I could bring a hundred references to bear – then both sides of the climate war and 99.99% of anything that has ever been written and spoken about climate is just wrong. It starts from false assumptions. ‘Thinking is centered around slow changes to our climate and how they will affect humans and the habitability of our planet. Yet this thinking is flawed: It ignores the well-established fact that Earth’s climate has changed rapidly in the past and could change rapidly in the future.’ http://www.whoi.edu/main/topic/abrupt-climate-change We are arguing not about whether the planet will warm but by how much? A pox on both your armies.

      And as interesting as the science is – it gives no clue as to what to do with 30Gt and growing carbon emissions. We get to values. Personally I value pragmatism and effectiveness tempered with a sound regard for liberal enlightenment values. Taxes, caps and subsidies fail on all these criteria. My favourite at the moment is conservation farming on grazing land. Farmers worldwide are increasing food production by 100% and sequestering 500GT carbon over time by increasing soil organic content. It illustrates the principle of pragmatic, multi-objective action. Development and growth orientated – but hell why not kill two birds. But this comes up against the values of limits to growth, economic degrowth, depopulation and deindustrialisation. Tough.

      • “Not to mention the plethora of schoolgirl debating points”

        Cap’n, my son and daughters were high school debaters, and IMHO some of the schoolgirls made very valid and soundly based debating points. Perhaps another term of derision is required.

      • It is a very Australian insult. If you show emotion, weakness, cry – you’re such a girl. It is used by men and women – to men and women. I will try to be more culturally sensitive to schoolgirl debaters.

      • Which helps explain why Australia is such a great place for American’s (particularly men) to visit.

        Everyone I know who has visited talks about how Australian men are very welcoming and friendly. They get treated like life long mates.

        Additionally, because of how they treat Australian women, American men are generally seen as attractive by Australian women. Now this is all basically hearsay in that it is just the opinions of a few individuals relayed back to me. But the experience appears to be consistent.

        My question is why is the beer so expensive. $18 – 20 dollars for a 6-pack?

      • Oh and how do you feel about the debating points around here?

    • The problems that Ioannidis point to are well known, even if he does (rather ironically) exaggerate a bit.

      The whole idea of the peer review system is to try to minimise them, which it does fairly successfully, but there is always room for improvement.

      Though it is hilarious to see this earnest disussion here in climate blog -land, where the problems of lack of rigour, exaggerated claims and bias are many many many magnitudes of order more severe than anything in the scientific literature.

      • Steven Mosher

        Having had the opportunity now to experience peer review
        And to review papers that have been peer reviewed, the process has
        Nothing whatsoever to do with minimizing errors.

        Reviewers assume the work is done correctly.

        1. they dont check the data
        2.they dont ckeck the math or code

      • Steven Mosher | July 2, 2012 at 2:10 pm |

        Do they at least check the spelling and grammar?

        Sounds to me more like you’ve run into peer-opinion, than peer-review.

      • AndrewSanDiego

        Phil Jones to Michael Mann, July, 2004: “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is !”

      • One of the problems with peer-review is that it’s free!!

        You get what you pay for…….the reality is that there is some variability in the quality of reviewers, just as there is in the quality of papers, not to mention how different reviewers approach the task. Some popel just look for outrageously wrong stuff and others go through with a fine tooth comb.

      • Seconded.

    • mistakes were made, but not by me

  21. Avoiding meta studies solves the post study probability problem. If there were dozens of studies each starting from the premise of ignorance there would be faster rate of accurate conclusions. Good research and development requires funding the search for answers, not the answers themselves.

  22. “Corollary 5: The greater the financial and other interests and prejudices in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true.”

    Close to 100% of climate science is government-funded.
    Close to 100% of climate science argues for more more government.

  23. “We’ve learned from experience that the truth will come out. Other experimenters will repeat your experiment and find out whether you were wrong or right. Nature’s phenomena will agree or they’ll disagree with your theory. And, although you may gain some temporary fame and excitement, you will not gain a good reputation as a scientist if you haven’t tried to be very careful in this kind of work. And it’s this type of integrity, this kind of care not to fool yourself, that is missing to a large extent in much of the research in cargo cult science.”


    The great Richard Feynman

    • John Kannarr

      That’s why there’s all this urgency to rush into massive government interventions into human activities, overriding people’s voluntary choices and imposing numerous controls right now, before the ultimate truth, whatever it really is, comes out. That’s why we hear the greenies say that even if it turns out that CAGW was never real, then they will have still achieved many of their goals by that time.

  24. In that case, it may be attractive to refute a claim made in some prestigious journal. The term Proteus phenomenon has been coined to describe this phenomenon of rapidly alternating extreme research claims and extremely opposite refutations.

    Evidently it is not attractive enough to publish papers which refute other papers. In addition to awarding degrees to those who find new things no matter how trivial, we should try to also train those whose main goal is to bust the false positive myths. Gardening is not just growing, it is also weeding.

    • Another Chauncey Gardner imitation, much favored by skeptics.
      Start weeding out the 20+ alternative theories that get mentioned in the comments.

      • “Another Chauncey Gardner imitation, much favored by skeptics.
        Start weeding out the 20+ alternative theories that get mentioned in the comments.”

        Someone should make a list of them. Not sure I can think 20.

        It seems the most common is basically AGW, but not CAGW.
        Or there isn’t a runaway affect, Earth doesn’t become like Venus.
        That doubling of CO2 gives 1 to 2 C increase in average temperature.

        Next variant is that the increase of CO2 [or doubling] doesn’t cause any measurable warming or less than 1 C. That other factors more dominate.
        And this include perhaps the idea that water vapor is much stronger greenhouse effect..

        Third variant all greenhouse gas have little affect upon temperature, that radiant properties of gases are insignificant. Instead earth is heated and remains warm due to the heat capacity of ocean, air, etc. These are the main causes of “greenhouse effects”.

        Another common theory is the Sun is the main driver in terms of changing conditions. An aspect of this is that changing magnet conditions of the sun affect cloud formation. That weather is affected
        high energy particles from exploded and exploding supernoves and changing strengths of the Sun’s magnetic field affect the amount high energy particles hitting earth’s atmosphere.

        Related to this is idea the Earth strong negative feedback from cloud formation. Tropics warms, creates clouds, resulting in cooling.

        Another one is that climate is dominated cycles of varying time periods, one obviously have El Nino, but many others.

        And have the “theoretical work of Hans Jelbring, and also Nikolov and Zeller, who have proposed hypotheses to explain the thermal gradient found in the atmosphere causing the near surface air to be warm relative to higher altitudes.”

        And Herman A. (Alex) Pope’s:
        Which based arctic polar ice melts and affect how much humidity
        generated which causes increased snowfall in northern hemisphere.

        Anyways couldn’t get 20 of them. A lot of them variants rather different theories. But none support CAGW.
        But recently I thought of CAGW type idea, and that is roughly we already have had runaway effect. That ice ages are known to be drier, and now it’s wetter. I haven’t given it much thought. And obviously the runaway stops. Or the interglacial period is a manifestation of CAGW.
        So this theory would falsified if tropics not have significantly lower water vapor during glacial periods. Instead 3%, they less than 1%. So one could have double or tripling of average humidity in the tropics, which basically CAGW. I suppose a disaster if you overly fond of ice.
        But as said, not fond of idea.

  25. The title “epidemic of false claims” tells it all.

    It applies directly to the 1000+ page IPCC AR4 WG1 report (as well as the WG2/WG3 addenda). The reasons and backgrounds are listed fairly succinctly in the post. Additional specific ingormation is available here:

    The key questions now are: Will it also apply to the new AR5 report?
    And if not, why not?


  26. Ian Blanchard

    One of the issues with environmental science in general is that it naturally attracts students and researchers of an ‘environmentalist’ mindset, so has a self selecting bias towards the conclusion that the Earth is in trouble. All research conclusions have to be filtered through this, especially when the ‘results’ are from a statistics / data analysis type of study (therefore not easy to replicate without a full description of the input data and statistical methodology.

    It’s not alone in this type of self-selection, as clearly most people who go into banking are money-motivated (and look where that is getting us – for those not in the UK, we seem to be getting at least 1 story per week of bankers breaking the rules and often the law in attempts to improve profits for themselves and their company).

    • I think this bias of incoming students in climate and other environmental fields explains a lot of the sloppy work we see in those fields.

      • OK, then why don’t you do a statistically-sound scientific study to show how many ‘environmentalists’ have entered the earth sciences disciplines and what their impact has been. We will be waiting for your results.

      • Well, we know that’s the case with Hansen – he’s definitely an environmental activist. His bias may have come into play when he “predicited” Manhattan would be well on its way to being underwater by now.

      • Web, statistically sound or physically correct? There is a difference. You have done a statistically sound study of the rate of diffusion into the deep oceans. However, if your assumption of equilibrium or initial conditions are incorrect, your statistically sound study is physically incorrect. That is the point of the epidemic of false claims post, assumptions have to not only be valid but verifiable.

      • @@ WebHubTelescope | July 2, 2012 at 8:22 am

        Webhub, I made a study: Earth Science used to be agronomists, forestry, the most beneficial for humanity. Now it turned into a brainwashing laundromat for environmental deviates. Climatologist, ecologist are multiplying faster than the Queensland’s cane-toads. But they don’t learn even the most basic, that water H2O controls the climate, not the Warmist & Fake’s lies, not the stupid sunspots and galactic dust; but if is enough permanent moisture inland; to attract extra clouds from the sea.

        The Dung-beetles in the blogosphere are scared from the truth, same as you. They are addicted to Hansen’s & Plimer’s bullshine; desperately waiting for new supply. Addiction is debilitating… You as a bullshine retailer, must be familiar with the addiction in bull, and honesty famine.Keep up the good work – get more avalanches of bull, and rivers of bullshine, down the Alps

    • Tom Choularton

      Just not the case, the vast marority of those working on the science of climate change are physicists or chemists.

      • How does being a chemist or physicist prevent one from being also an environmental activist???

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        It doesn’t at all jim2. You have a right (and I would even say a responsibility) to being active and living what you believe. Hence, I have no quibble with what Hansen does. He honestly believes his grandchildren’s futures are at risk by what humans are doing to the planet. The issue becomes one of making sure that your activism doesn’t interfere with your objectivity as a scientist in terms of research (if you are doing research). The more you believe something to be likely, the more you need to make an extra effort to focus on finding the data that might disprove your belief…i.e. the stronger a belief, the greater the likelihood of confirmation bias.

      • He has the right to tell his views and he has the right to try to influence political decision making. He has that right as a private citizen and in that he has fair amount of freedom of telling only one side of the knowledge that he has.

        As a scientist he has the duty to act as a scientist telling also those parts of his results and knowledge that may influence the decision makers to do decisions he does not prefer.

        In his job at NASA he is also subject to obvious requirements of honesty and quest for objectivity.

        Being strongly both an activist and a scientist leads unavoidably to contradictions. The credibility as a scientist is almost certain to suffer, and what is worse the credibility of other scientists and the science itself may suffer as well.

      • An activist has already made up his mind.
        A scientist needs an open mind.
        Camels passing through the eyes of needles springs to mind.

      • @@ Tomcat | July 2, 2012 at 9:39 pm said: ”A scientist needs an open mind”

        Tomcat, blame the Transport Department; for issuing flying permits to pigs

      • More a question of being an activist stopping or inhibiting your ability to be a proper scientist, favoring ‘motivated reasoning’ over proper reasoning.

    • That’s actually something Lindzen’s noticed and commented about. What he said was that atmospheric sciences were a small, esoteric field before AGW came into fashion. Subsequently, the number of people in the field has grown by an order of magnitude, and has attracted a lot of activist types.

      Last year some time, there was a thread here about Jungian analysis of climate scientists, and the rather striking result was that climate scientists are of a very different personality type than other physical scientists. They were more like liberal arts people,

      This all makes perfect sense, if you think about it. The field attracted people who didn’t have a scientist’s temperament, and went into the field with their minds already made up as to what the “science” will find. It also explains why older climate scientists, pre AGW craze, like Lindzen, tend to be skeptics.

      • PE – I’ve been wondering about this lately. I think natural scientists as a whole are probably more inclined to accept inductive reasoning than engineers. I think this underlies the differences between climate scientists and people who stayed in lab physics, let’s say, but doesn’t explain it. I don’t know that older scientists “tend” to be skeptics, but I would guess that a higher % of them are than are younger scientists, and that your reason is one of several as to why…

    • Agreed. The environmental prefix prefixes.

    • Ian,

      I think you need to be more specific. Sure there are courses of study with an environmental focus, but they cover a wide range of fields. Those more oriented to science and engineering do not attract wide-eyed, tree hugging, saviour of Mother Earth.

  27. “False positives and exaggerated results in peer-reviewed scientific studies have reached epidemic proportions in recent years. ”

    And the evidence presented for this claim?………nil.

    Physician, heal thy self?

    • is ioannidis a denier?

      • “Denier” ??

        Did you even read the article? Ioannidis was primarily talking about;
        “economics, the social sciences and even the natural sciences, but it is particularly egregious in biomedicine.”

        But surely skeptics would have immediately noticed a strong claim, backed by zero evidence….or even a reference to the existence of evidence for the claim.

        Deniers on the other hand…….they just pile on, ditto-head style.

      • unfortunately usually I assume there is evidence. then I look for it. having read this piece by ioannidis closer to when it came out, i kind of remember that there was some evidence to back it up…like the article in the link right below the quoted piece.

      • the problem is that this is nothing new.

        An epidemic is a sudden increase in the incidence of a disease.

        Were is the evidence that we’ve had a rush of bad papers??

      • Michael

        You’re probably right. Rather than a sudden “epidemic” (of false claims), let’s say that “false claims have been endemic to climate science”, at least since the foundation of IPCC.

        Probably a more accurate descriotion.


      • @@Michael | July 2, 2012 at 10:30 am

        Michael, lets see if you can get it right: ”Deniers” are a ”GLOBAL warming deniers”!!! We are NOT ”climate change deniers” Only the Fake Skeptics believe that human cannot deteriorate / improve the climate. They work on a model that they have being instructed; they don’t have their own intelligence for reasoning / common sense.

        So, lets repeat after me, Michael: ”GLOBAL WARMING IS ZERO; .climatic changes have nothing to do with the Warmist & Fakes phony GLOBAL warmings and phony GLOBAL Ice Ages. Climatic changes are constant; some places for worse, other places for better.

        The therm: ”Climate Change Denier” is concocted by the leading Warmist, for misleading; to confuse the Fakes of the lower genera and IQ.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Ioannidis might more properly have said “endemic” rather than “epidemic.” Because all of the phenomena that Ioannidis describes have been part of science for the past 227 years and more:

      The Herschel Partnership, as Viewed by Caroline

      William Hershel writes in 1785 to King George III: “In a letter which Sir J. Banks laid before his Majesty, I have mentioned that it would require 12 or 15 hundred pounds to construct a 40-ft telescope, and that moreover the annual expenses attending the same instrument would amount to 150 or 200 pounds.

      As it was impossible to say exactly what some might be sufficient to finish so grand a work, I now find that many of the parts take up so much more time and labour of workmen, and more materials than I apprehended they would have taken, and that consequently my first estimate of the total expence will fall short of the real amount.”

      Author M. Hoskin comments: “Not for the last time in the history of astronomy, an astronomer seeking support had been modest in his initial demands, knowing that the funding body, confronted later with a choice between writing off all the money spent so far or coughing up more, would cough up.”

      Shades of the Webb Space Telescope!   :)   :)   :)

      • As it was impossible to say exactly what some might be sufficient to finish so grand a work,


      • Odd. I italicized “some”, and it vanished. Let’s see if C,E eats italics: some

      • I see what happened. the italics got lost in the blockquote. WP fail.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        P.E. you might want to consult page 559 of Volume 4 of Robert Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson, titled Passage of Power.

        Caro vividly describes how Johnson used James Webb (then director of NASA) as Johnson’s “lever of power” to coerce the southern Republican senators into (very unwillingly!) passing the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.

        Johnson’s none-too-subtle arm-twisting technique was to make all NASA contracts renewable on a one-year-basis. Senators that gave Johnson trouble would mysteriously encounter delays in NASA contract renewals.

        All this arm-twisting took place fifty years ago and more … the point being, the unsaintly behaviors that Ioannidis’ essay deplores have been part-and-parcel of science from the beginning.

        Bottom Line: Folks who hope that future politicians and scientists will be significantly more saintly than past politicians and scientists, are likely to find these hopes only partially fulfilled.

      • A *FAN* of *ON TOPIC* discourse

        And this has exactly what to do with the price of peanuts in Trinidad?

      • A *FAN* of *ON TOPIC* discourse

        Still wondering what that has to do with the Ethiopian tiddly-winks finals.

      • A *FAN* of *ON TOPIC* discourse | July 2, 2012 at 1:16 pm |

        What an annoying troll this sockpuppet of yours is.

        Hrm. Not sure I have the word order of that quite right.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        LOL   … as more-and-more folks evaluate Chris Monckton’s hilarious essays and videos by the detailed, common-sense standards of Trish Roberts-Miller’s essay Characteristics of Demagoguery …

        … the result is that more-and-more folks are skilled at distinguishing rational skepticism from demagogic denialism.

        Which is good, eh?   :)   :)   :)

    • And the evidence presented for this claim?
      The studies that showed false positives were themselves false positives. Thus there are no false positives.

    • even in my relatively tiny field, i come across papers, daily, that should never have been published.

      It’s an open secret in many fields that peer review is a joke.

  28. Being human, scientists are tempted to show that they know more than they do.
    Because experts, having read all there is to read on a subject assume that they know all there is to know.

    Human beings, and experts especially, underestimate the size of the unknown. Which is why experts has such a poor track record at predicting the future.

    The man in street has a better record because he at least has the common sense to realize he doesn’t know the answer. The expert truly believes he knows the answer, which is wherein lies the danger.

    A lie told by someone that believes the lie, is indistinguishable from someone telling the truth.

  29. Britain’s most expensive myth
    Everyone knows that the claimed link between BSE and the singularly unpleasant disease “new variant CJD” set off the greatest and most expensive food scare in history. In the days that followed the health minister Stephen Dorrell’s fateful announcement in March 1996, predictions of deaths from eating beef ranged from 500,000 by the government’s chief BSE scientist, John Patteson, to many millions (The Observer).
    With very few exceptions (this column being one), the media unquestioningly accepted that there was such a link. As one result, #3 billion of public money was spent on incinerating elderly cows. The costs to industry and the UK economy, not least from a consequent thicket of further regulations, have been many times that, and are still continuing.
    The chief reason for doubting a link between beef and CJD lay in the epidemiological evidence, which even in 1996 suggested that the promised epidemic was a fantasy. Over the past seven years, as the incidence curve has begun a steady fall, that has seemed ever more certain. Now, after reviewing the evidence, Professor Roy Anderson and his Imperial College team have published a revised estimate of the total number of victims likely to die of vCJD in the future (link available through http://www.warmwell.com). Their figure? Not 400,000, or 40,000, just 40.
    As Britain’s farming and food industry grapples with the latest regulatory insanity inspired by the BSE scare, the EU Animal By-Products Regulation that is predicted to drain billions more pounds from the UK economy, it is clearer than ever that Mr Dorrell’s monumentally foolish statement in 1996 was the most costly blunder ever perpetrated by a British minister.

    Scientists predict swift end to vCJD epidemic
    19 May 2003
    Updated projections of future vCJD deaths in the UK
    Azra C Ghani, Christl A Donnelly, Neil M Ferguson and Roy M Anderson
    BMC Infectious Diseases 2003 3:4 (published 27 April 2003)

    May 20, 2003:
    The World Reference Laboratory confirms the cow had BSE. Within hours, the US announces a ban on all imports of Canadian beef. In Canada, federal and provincial agriculture ministers take to the airwaves to reassure the public that the diseased cow didn’t go into the food system and that the animal’s home ranch is quarantined

    Despite the admission in the UK that their late 90’s estimates of vCJD cases were wrong, when a few weeks later Canada had their first case of BSE, Canada and US acted as if the 90’s UK scare was valid, even though it was already known that this wasn’t the case. To put issues in perspective, the actual incidence of BSE in UK was very severe, over 90k cases the last time I looked which was a long time ago.

    UK FMD Epidemic 2001

    Roger Windsor’s talk, read on his behalf, to the Central Veterinary Society

    Predictive models and FMD: the emperor’s new clothes?
    R.P. Kitching
    National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease, 1015 Arlington Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3E 3M4
    So how could the control policy for a major disease outbreak be based on models which had never been validated? If the predictions for the number of new variant Creutzfeld–Jacob disease (vCJD) cases in the UK made in the late 1990s had not been sufficient to undermine the credibility of the predictive modellers, surely the FMD experience should have made the modellers appreciate the limitations of their science and accept at least some responsibility for the misery and expense that their models initiated. Predictive modelling has become fashionable but, often without much evidence that it serves any useful purpose, is the science based too much on reputation?

    Carnage from a computer
    WE ARE USED to politicians suppressing the truth. When scientists do it as well, we are in trouble. Not one of the Government’s senior advisers, from Sir David King, the chief scientist, downwards, has yet dared to confirm in public what most experts in private now accept, that the mass slaughter of farm animals in the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak was not only unnecessary and inhumane, but was also based on false statistics, bad science and wrong deductions.
    The mistakes that were made in attempting to control the outbreak are laid bare in a devastating paper recently compiled by Paul Kitching, one of the world’s leading veterinary experts, and published by the World Organisation for Animal Health. It finds that, of the ten million animals slaughtered, more than a third were perfectly healthy; out of the 10,000 or so farms where sheep were killed, only 1,300 were infected with the disease; scientists were wrong to claim that the FMD virus was being spread through airborne infection; the epidemic had reached its peak before the culling began; the infamous 3km killing zone was without justification; estimates of infected premises were little better than guesswork.
    The language used in Dr Kitching’s report has a controlled anger about it. He talks of “a culling policy driven by unvalidated predictive models”, mentions the “public disgust with the magnitude of the slaughter” and concludes: “The UK experience provides a salutary warning of how models [statistics used to predict the course of an epidemic] can be abused in the interests of scientific opportunism.

    Use and abuse of mathematical models:
    an illustration from the 2001 foot and mouth
    disease epidemic in the United Kingdom
    R.P. Kitching (1), M.V. Thrusfield (2) & N.M. Taylor
    Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a major threat, not only to countries whose economies rely on agricultural exports, but also to industrialised countries that maintain a healthy domestic livestock industry by eliminating major infectious diseases from their livestock populations. Traditional methods of controlling diseases such as FMD require the rapid detection and slaughter of infected animals, and any susceptible animals with which they may have been in contact, either directly or indirectly. During the 2001 epidemic of FMD in the United Kingdom (UK), this approach was supplemented by a culling policy driven by unvalidated predictive models. The epidemic and its control resulted in the death of approximately ten million animals, public disgust with the magnitude of the slaughter, and political resolve to adopt alternative options, notably including vaccination, to control any future epidemics. The UK experience provides a salutary warning of how models can be abused in the interests of scientific opportunism.

    Following the outbreak of SARS, one thing was certain: Professor Roy Anderson of Imperial College would soon be hitting the headines.

    Latest flu outbreak is shaping up as fourth pandemic dud in the past six years
    Jul 22, 2009 04:30 AM
    H1N1’s oink is proving to be far worse than its bite
    Toronto is gripped in a frenzy of worry about the dreaded “second wave” of H1N1 now scheduled for this fall. A severe “second wave” of H1N1 is possible, in the same sense that it’s possible the Blue Jays will win the World Series this year. Science and public policy need to look beyond possibilities and also consider probabilities. Our appreciation of probabilities should be based on evidence, not speculation.
    The evidence strongly suggests that a severe “second wave” of H1N1 is very unlikely. It will almost certainly be merely the latest instalment in a growing list of pandemic false alarms.
    Let’s begin by putting this warning in some context. This is the fourth pandemic alarm in the past six years. The first three have been wrong.
    I’ll end with a challenge to the media. The media love this story and accept the pundits’ gloomy predictions uncritically. If this turns out to be the fourth pandemic false alarm in six years, as I think it will, it will be time to start asking some probing questions.Dr. Richard Schabas was Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health from 1987-97

    How scared should we be?
    So how scared should we be of this looming storm?
    Really not very much, say some experts like former Ontario chief medical officer of health Dr. Richard Schabas. Despite spreading to more than 160 countries on all continents, the virus has only caused mild flu from which most people have recovered, Schabas says .

    The hype and hysteria around the H1N1 pandemic, the millions of dollars spent so far on responding to it, and the dire warnings about it are all unwarranted, according to Schabas — who even questions the pandemic label.
    He spreads the blame among public health officials, governments and the media. The World Health Organization is jokingly referred to as the World Hysteria Organization, he said, and it set a tone in the spring with its messaging that was adopted around the globe

    Summary (Carnage caused by Unvalidated Models)

    UK vCJD claims in 90s… not even remotely realistic
    UK FMD 2001…. Unvalidated models lead to mass slaughter of healthy animals
    SARS, Avian Flu, Swine Flu waves I and II… All Unvalidated Models

  30. Can we really trust chief scientific officers?

    There was a time when, if you read a scientific scare story, you tended to put it down to the over-active imagination of a redtop journalist. No longer: nowadays it is outwardly sober government scientists who spin the biggest scares. They know they can get away with it because laymen have an irrational respect for words uttered by scientists.

    That much was proved by the 1963 Milgram experiment in which the Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram persuaded volunteers to administer a – simulated – potentially fatal electric shock to another human being when instructed to do so by a man in a white lab coat.

    It will be a good 50 years before anyone can make a definitive judgment on the biggest scientific scare of our times: climate change. But I can’t read the latest prediction for man-made flood and tempest without thinking of all those millions who have failed to die from swine flu and the other grim fates predicted by government scientists.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      brent, I wouldn’t take Milgram’s findings as showing anything special about how scientists are viewed. It was just a matter of authority figures in general. Scientists happen to fill that role, but they’re just one of many groups who do.

      • @ Brandon
        Agree wrt obedience to authority figures.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Cheers, indeed!

      • Hi Brandon,
        I agree that Milgram’s study was about obedience to authority.
        Point of the article however is that appointed officials, Chief Medical Officers and Chief Scientists (Eg David King, Beddington etc) are not giving sober measured advice but are acting increasingly as activists, and scaremongering. At least that is Ross Clark’s the authors premise and I tend to agree with that. . Milgram’s.obedience to authority is an explanation of why they can tend to get away with this if one gives them deference as an authority in the first place.
        Personally, I’m more than sick of this and am so fed up with deeply flawed advice that I don’t acknowledge them as an authority and question everything. If you check my posts upthread, you will understand why.
        all the best

  31. The scientific search for an honest – ah – person – continues. No – nothing but narrative sometimes superficially in the objective idiom of science but most often just silly gotchas.

    Take the obamacare quiz to see how you score at the peoples blog.


  32. I am still putting together information from post-Climategate 2009 events and posting the conclusions here http://omanuel.wordpress.com/

    So far, I am confident that:

    1. Distorted information on energy was promoted after the United Nations was established on 24 Oct 1945 out of fear of the “nuclear fires” that consumed Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 Aug 1945 and 9 Aug 1945, respectively.

    Then world leaders began giving research grants to confirm government approved models of Reality, rather than to make unbiased observations of Reality.

    2. Mankind will return to the energy (E) stored as mass (m) in the cores of heavy atoms, . . .

    . . . because that is where energy is stored.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Emeritus Professor of
    Nuclear/Space Science

  33. Dealing with the issue is actually very easy- it’s just that no one actually wants to do it.

    -Publish all data (including negative data or data suspected to be wrong)
    -Publish all methods (including analyses)
    -Get reviewers names on the papers they publish.

    Problem solved.

    Incidentally, a trick i’ve started using is to ask researchers to give me 2 things that could disprove their work, one from their own data.

    It can be very enlightening!

    • Labmunkey

      Incidentally, a trick i’ve started using is to ask researchers to give me 2 things that could disprove their work, one from their own data.

      An excellent idea, i.e. “tell me how this could be falsified”.

      Should work for “science”. Problem is, you’ll never get a “believer” in a “dogma” to fall for it. (Try it with a strict Biblical creationist, for example.)

      Because “dogma”, by definition, cannot be “falsified”.


  34. Dr. Curry, The question of false positives is tremendously pertinent to Climate Science, as you know. It seems that almost none of the remedies available are used as a matter of course in studies, at least not in those I have read. It is disturbing to me that the field itself — responsible members of academia, journal editors, university department heads, research directors — either don’t see it or see it and think it will resolve itself.

    It won’t, of course, solve itself. There are major studies still quoted and cited that are known to be so bad that in any responsible field, they would be retracted. Many of these faulty erroneous studies are known by at least one of their own authors to be require retraction, but none speak up.

    I know your personal feelings about naming names and calling out work so poorly done it amounts to misconduct. I know your reluctance to judge from afar. But, you see, that’s part of the problem. Decent responsible scientists are reluctant to chasten their colleagues — and the indecent and/or irresponsible don’t care as long as the bad work supports ‘the cause’ or cites their work in a positive way.

    The question is — who will do it? If not the decent and responsible? It really can’t wait ten or fifteen more years — the new younger climate
    scientists are being brought up in the climate of research where ‘anything goes’ and research grants are given to find predetermined findings.

    As you know, to the majority of the general public, at least in the US, the field of Climate Science is already considered an oxymoron — and Climate Scientists are assumed to be fudging their data to find alarming results (which the majority laugh off over dinner).

    Were I the Climate Science ‘Master-at-Arms’, in charge of ethical matters in the field, there would be a lot of mighty swift and loud and deep public investigations and heads on pikes. Retractions would be rife. I’d find a Dick Feyman to head up a whole-field review, toss out the crap, and make up a ‘what we really know about the climate’ list, so real responsible CliSci people do the research necessary to add what’s missing and re-answer the mis-answered questions.

    I can’t do it, but how ’bout you? Want a job?

    • Michael Hart

      I have a hunch that insisting the models must run on an Intel 386 processor will concentrate the mind wonderfully on what is important, and quite possibly improve predictions.

  35. False claims, Eli has a few of those, and Steve Mosher has hooked another.

  36. I needed to thank you for this very good read!!
    I absolutely loved every bit of it. I hve you saved
    as a favorite to look at new stuff you post…