A standard for policy-relevant science

by Judith Curry

In Nature, Ian Boyd calls for an auditing process to help policy-makers to navigate research bias.

Echoes of McSteve, coming from a very big chamber.

Ian Boyd is the science advisor to DEFRA, the UK government department for environment, food and rural affairs.  His commentary entitled A standard for policy-relevant science is published in the latest issue of Nature.   Read the whole thing, its available online.  Here are a few excerpts:

To counsel politicians, I must recognize systematic bias in research. Bias is cryptic enough in individual studies, let alone in whole bodies of literature that contain important inaccuracies.

These problems are amplified in complex issues such as the environmental effects of GM organisms or chemical pollutants, including pesticides and endocrine disrupters. The problem is amplified further when statistical inference is used.

Systematic bias across whole fields of science is even more cryptic and therefore more problematic. It could stem from the combined effects of how science is commissioned, conducted, reported and used, and also from how scientists themselves are incentivized to conduct certain research. Such bias results from actively searching for a particular outcome, rather than performing balanced hypothesis testing. For example, in 2006, researchers in the United Kingdom and in the Netherlands found that the number of insect pollinators might have declined. A consequent call for proposals contained the underlying assumption that there was a decline, rather than conveying a need to establish whether current information about declines was robust.

JC comment:  This issue regarding call for proposals is rampant in climate change research. Even if there is not bias in reviewing a proposal that challenges the AGW assumption, there are relatively few opportunties for such proposals since so many calls for proposals contain this underlying assumption.

Another problem is the tendency to treat different studies as statistically independent, even when they have emerged from connected commissioning processes and could therefore amount to multiple testing of the same hypothesis, meaning that every extra study must overcome an increasingly rigorous statistical hurdle to demonstrate efficacy. In combination, these kinds of bias can make individual or groups of studies that report certain effects seem more important than they really are.

JC message to the IPCC:  pls pay attention to this when assessing confidence in your collection of climate models.

A common reaction to such controversy is to commission subject reviews or meta-analyses that assess the weight of evidence for certain effects across many individual studies.  But reviews also contain pitfalls. First, they risk amplifying rather than eliminating systematic bias — which could be more common in some subjects than others.

JC comment:  Here is how the IPCC assesses confidence (text pulled from the leaked final draft of AR5 summary for policy makers):   Confidence in the validity of a finding is based on the type,  amount, quality, and consistency of evidence (e.g., mechanistic understanding, theory, data, models, expert  judgment) and the degree of agreement.

We need an international audited standard that grades studies, or perhaps journals. It would evaluate how research was commissioned, designed, conducted and reported. This audit procedure would assess many of the fundamental components of scientific studies, such as appropriate statistical power; precision and accuracy of measurements; and validation data for assays and models. It would also consider conflicts of interest, actual or implied, and more challenging issues about the extent to which the conclusions follow from the data. Any research paper or journal that does not present all the information needed for audit would automatically attract a low grade.

JC comment:  Absolutely eloquent description of the bias problem.  I am not so sure about his proposed solution.  Something for us to discuss:  how to implement wholesale auditing for climate research.

JC request of the IPCC:  Please replace Rachendra Pachauri with Ian Boyd.

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300 responses to “A standard for policy-relevant science

  1. Tome22 – Checklist for bias:
    http://www.tome22.info/Top/Principles.html#id1-2

    And much more …

  2. Politicians should take wide soundings on scientific advice, from well regarded non-specialists in the field.
    Biased individuals capture a subject and one of the signs is that the individuals involved regard themselves as being the arbiters of scientific excellence. This leads to bias spreading throughout science. The political reactions to the IPPC is a prime example as shown here.

    Sensible politicians should take wide advice – the certainty with which opinions are stated does not mean that they are correct.

    • Yea. I love that. British diplomacy at its very best!! :)

    • In a second hand bookshop coupla days ago I came across
      Madeleine Albright’s ‘Memo to the President'(2008) Not far
      inter the book but already I’m hooked. On advice to a yet
      unknown incoming president of the US:

      Good decisions in the oval office process begin with good
      information. So how ter get good information. ‘You can help
      yourself by insisting that you be given information as free
      from political and other prejudice as possible.’ but that
      doesn’t ensure you get it. Certain habits of enquiry help
      here fer the commandant post. ‘A deliberate reaching down
      for the details, hard questionning of the alternatives …There
      is a tendency within agencies to preserve their prerogatives
      by refusing to acknowledge problems … Every decision
      making process should begin with a skeptical review of the
      premises supporting the recommended policy.’

      A point to remember is ‘that an argument can sound compelling
      and still be wrong because facts not in evidence at the time – or
      at least not brought to your attention – may be wrong,’

      Hmm … Makes yer reflect on what’s wrong with the decision
      process of the IPCC starting out with a firm position on the
      science re climate change.
      A serf.

    • Ha watch Farage holding up those two pictures at 3:25 as if they prove humans aren’t warming the climate.

      Is that the kind of climate “skepticism” you associate yourselves with?

      • lolwot, the pictures were used in a debate not as scientific
        proof of a theory but as a reminder that nature rules and
        this years’ ice extent in the Arctic is *visually* more extensive
        than last years, despite rising levels of CO2 (Which don’t
        happen ter correlate with global temperature rates anyway,
        of which, lolwot, you are probably aware.)
        bts

      • You are wrong, CO2 does correlate well with global temperature:

        And your claim that each year should have less ice than the last is a strawman and cuts to the heart of why Farage’s use of those pictures was misleading.

        The fact is we don’t expect each year to have less ice than the last. The record shows a sharp decline in arctic sea ice, along the way some years have more than last, but the trend is down.

        Like Farage you are abusing a single datapoint to call into question a trend and even misleading with some BS idea that it shows “nature rules” when of course it doesn’t.

      • No,
        The response of Barosso was the interesting part.

      • lolwot,
        I don’t know how good this info is but according to this guy:

        “At this scale, there is really no apparent correlation between carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures. What’s more, there have been ice ages when CO2 has been as much as 10 to 15 times higher than modern levels (for example the end-Ordovician Ice Age). There have also been times when temperature was increasing but CO2 was decreasing and times when CO2 was increasing but temperatures decreasing (during the Silurian and Devonian and during the Triassic and Jurassic, respectively).”

        Complete with charts:
        http://theresilientearth.com/?q=content/grand-view-4-billion-years-climate-change

      • lolwot, do you know where the earlier part of the CO2 concentration comes from on your link? The Mauna Loa CO2 record only started around 1958.

      • Ninety-Nine Per Cent! The wave gathers, nemesis mind the reef.
        =================

      • lolwot, how yer made me lol when yer said that
        nature does not rule…

        This image comes ter mind. A kinda King Lear cartoon
        with a small figure dwarfed in the landscape amid a
        raging tempest, heaped swirling clouds, streaks of
        lightnin.’ The rain drenched figure, mebbe you lolwot,
        jumpin’up ‘n down, hurling defiant threats at the storm,
        yer words lost amid deafenin’ claps of thunder.

        A serf who understands about life on the littoral.

      • Represent an Inconvenient Truth.

    • Dam, wrong one. try again:

    • The video at 8:29 is the one I meant to show. I don’t understand why it showed the wrong picture and started the wrong video. I tried again and again the wrong video, but then the first attempt showed the correct video. Sorry to Judith a readers for this off topic nonsense. Judith, feel free to delete this and the previous comment, or all four comments

    • Un-elected silk-shirted
      coteries with presumptions
      of ( though un-elected)
      un-qualified superiority,

      ‘We will tell yer what
      Yer need ter know,
      Listen and obey.’

      • The Old Gold advert is from 1931.
        Richard Doll started working on environmental stressors and lung cancer in 1950, published the first linkage in 1950.
        The British Doctors Study,a prospective cohort study was started in 1951 and by 1954 a strong statistical link between smoking levels and lung cancer was demonstrated.

        The advert predates data by 23 years. Doll has publicly stated that he was shocked by the result, he had thought it was petroleum products, like Tarmac.

        He never had to fiddle with his data to give him the result he was biased towards.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        RICO Convictions of Major Tobacco Companies Affirmed

        In a punishing affirmance, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a 92-page per curiam opinion upholding the judgment issued by D.C. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler in August 2006, in which she found eleven of America’s major Tobacco Companies and related entities guilty of nearly 150 counts of mail and wire fraud in a continuing “pattern of racketeering activity” with the “specific intent to defraud” under the Racketeer Influence Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

        The panel consisted of two Republicans, Chief Judge David B. Sentelle, of the tobacco state of North Carolina, a Reagan appointee, and Janice R. Brown, a George W. Bush appointee, together with David S. Tatel, appointed by President Clinton.

        The familiar names include Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson, Lorillard, Liggett, British American, and the Tobacco Institute.

        After a review of all the evidence the Trial Court concluded that the Tobacco Companies had engaged in a decades-long scheme to defraud actual and potential smokers by falsely denying the adverse health effects of smoking; that nicotine and smoking are addictive; that the Companies had manipulated cigarette design and composition so as to assure nicotine delivery levels that create and sustain addiction; had falsely represented that light and low tar cigarettes deliver less nicotine and tar and therefore present fewer health risks than full flavor cigarettes; engaged in an invidious marketing campaign to youth; had falsely denied that secondhand smoke causes disease; and throughout it all had suppressed and destroyed documents, information, and research to prevent the public from learning the truth about these subjects and to avoid or limit liability in litigation.

        Tobacco? RICO? Ouch.

        By what perversions of unregulated markets, cherry-picked faux-science, and lying public discourse did these things happen, DocMartyn?

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      • Chief Hydrologist

        ‘Finally, the presence of vigorous climate variability presents significant challenges to near-term climate prediction (25, 26), leaving open the possibility of steady or even declining global mean surface temperatures over the next several decades that could present a significant empirical obstacle to the implementation of policies directed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions (27). However, global warming could likewise suddenly and without any ostensive cause accelerate due to internal variability. To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, the climate system appears wild, and may continue to hold many surprises if pressed.’ Long-term natural variability and 20th century climate change, Kyle L. Swanson, George Sugihara, and Anastasios A. Tsonis, 2009

        So what is this odd paradigm of a wild climate? What has it to with laizzez faire captitalism? Or tobacco?

        But wtf – I am sure that most of us have never heard the tobacco argument before.

        Is there a rational policy here that doesn’t involve the overthrow of capitalism and democracy? If not – might I suggest.

        http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/27939/1/HartwellPaper_English_version.pdf
        http://thebreakthrough.org/blog/Climate_Pragmatism_web.pdf
        http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/
        http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/
        http://www.fao.org/ag/ca/

      • Yes Chief. Clifford Geertz gives an enlightening example of
        the ethnographer probing man’s actions in relation to a
        situation, a context study he calls ‘thick description’ in the
        concluding chapter of his book, Interpretation of Culture.’
        ‘Notes on the Balinese Cockfight,’ re its symbolic import.

        Many of us here, reading the comments, blocking behaviour
        and fervent attacks on capitalism and the free market by
        the hockey team, Hansen and Schneider et al, that reveal
        some of the underlying turtles, the ‘what are they doing
        when they’re doing ….?’ It’s not jest about global warming.
        bts

      • Like I say, would you be happy if Doll had fiddled his analysis to ‘prove’ Tarmac caused cancer?

      • yes and your hero Wendell Berry was so proud of his family’s tobacco farm….. it’s fine when the evil weed is grown by folksy agrarian populists who want evil corporations to help them sell it…..

      • At this point in the march of civilization, a growing sector of mankind has managed to attain a degree of mastery over the whims of fate that would otherwise limit our future. At the same time, from the relative safety and security that such mastery affords many in the group, a smaller group of global warming fear mongers essentially point to their comfort as proof that man is destroying itself as it destroys the Earth and wants to limit our future.

      • We know what to do. But, the institutional will is to ignore what we should do.

        Accordingly, a further examination of what we should do is a big waste of time. Rather, we need to accept that we are lying to ourselves; and, we must figure out how we get out of this situation where the liars are calling the shots to pick our pockets.

        “It is important to note the isolation of the paleoclimate community; even though they rely heavily on statistical methods they do not seem to be interacting with the statistical community. Additionally, we judge that the sharing of research materials, data and results was haphazardly and grudgingly done. In this case we judge that there was too much reliance on peer review, which was not necessarily independent. Moreover, the work has been sufficiently politicized that this community can hardly reassess their public positions without losing credibility. Overall, our committee believes that Mann’s assessments that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade of the millennium and that 1998 was the hottest year of the millennium cannot be supported by his analysis.”

        _____________
        See, “Findings,” Executive Summary, Ad Hoc Committee Report On The ‘Hockey Stick’ Global Climate Reconstruction (a committee, composed of Edward J. Wegman (George Mason University), David W. Scott (Rice University), and Yasmin H. Said (The Johns Hopkins University). Note: this Ad Hoc Committee has worked pro bono, has received no compensation, and has no financial interest in the outcome of the report.

      • Thank you Wagathon. You learn more here by accident than at other places by design.

        “Moreover, the work has been sufficiently politicized that this community can hardly reassess their public positions without losing credibility.” – Edward J. Wegman, David W. Scott, and Yasmin H. Said.

        Politics hinders Science. Positions are hardened. Each hardened position or step may be built upon and that could compound any prior errors. There’s strength in flexibility.

        To be able to cycle through various scenarios or explanations searching for when it all makes sense seems superior to having lists of things that are or are not true (hardened positions). Unalterable facts while simplifying things also cut off wide ranges of explanations, one of them which might be the one we are looking for.

        Things may be turned on their head if protecting the hardened positions now becomes the point of research. Adopting a defensive approach versus a free thinking one.

      • Recommendations

        Recommendation 1. Especially when massive amounts of public monies and human lives are at stake, academic work should have a more intense level of scrutiny and review. It is especially the case that authors of policy-related documents like the IPCC report, Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, should not be the same people as those that constructed the academic papers.

        Recommendation 2. We believe that federally funded research agencies should develop a more comprehensive and concise policy on disclosure. All of us writing this report have been federally funded. Our experience with funding agencies has been that they do not in general articulate clear guidelines to the investigators as to what must be disclosed. Federally funded work including code should be made available to other researchers upon reasonable request, especially if the intellectual property has no commercial value. Some consideration should be granted to data collectors to have exclusive use of their data for one or two years, prior to publication. But data collected under federal support should be made publicly available. (As federal agencies such as NASA do routinely.)

        Recommendation 3. With clinical trials for drugs and devices to be approved for human use by the FDA, review and consultation with statisticians is expected. Indeed, it is standard practice to include statisticians in the application-for-approval process. We judge this to be a good policy when public health and also when substantial amounts of monies are involved, for example, when there are major policy decisions to be made based on statistical assessments. In such cases, evaluation by statisticians should be standard practice. This evaluation phase should be a mandatory part of all grant applications and funded accordingly.

        Recommendation 4. Emphasis should be placed on the Federal funding of research related to fundamental understanding of the mechanisms of climate change. Funding should focus on interdisciplinary teams and avoid narrowly focused discipline research.

        (Ibid.)

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Energy and Commerce Hearing & plagiarism allegations

        A committee [of George Mason University scholars] unanimously found “that plagiarism occurred in contextual sections of [Wegman’s CSDA] article, as a result of poor judgment for which Professor Wegman, as team leader, must bear responsibility.”

        George Mason University provost Peter Stearns announced that Wegman was to receive an “official letter of reprimand”.

        Standards? Wegman? Ouch.

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      • Typical Leftist attack dog ad hominem response, proving of course that AGW has never been about the science.

      • Fan > Standards? Wegman? Ouch.

        He didn’t spot that a student omitted one low-level, uncontroversial citation.

        “Ouch”? A sign of your desperation I guess.

        Wegman received a reprimand for this. But, needless to say, out-and-out frauds like Mann and Jones have not.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Read further BFJ. Wegman … yikes!.

        Meanwhile, outside the “bubble of denialism”, the strongest artists are taking up the strongest science, and the kids are heeding that combined message

        That’s obvious to everyone, eh BFJ?

        Everyone outside “the bubble of climate-change denialism”: that is!

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      • Yes, obvious to everyone that picadillos by any skeptic get disciplined, while wholesale fraud by alarmists gets a pat on the back. Yikes.

        And yes, inside the bubble of groundless alarmism, kids and political-correctness artists are being duped using tax money. Yikes. Expect more more back-pats.

      • SO, kids and artists are buying into cagw says Fan.
        Phew, what more solid evidence can there be?

      • McShane and Wyner put forward 2010 research in 2010 that unlike the work of UN-approved science authoritarians can be duplicated by others to verify their conclusions.

        There is no question: MBH98/99/08 (the ‘hockey stick’ graph) is scientific fraud and not just because lack of ‘backcasting’ ability is demonstrated — that had been proven before. M&S showed that the data upon which the GCMs are founded contain absolutely no global warming ‘signal’ whatsoever.

      • And of course everyone knows what Wegman’s *real* crime is : having the temerity to expose the fraudulent diy stats on which the Hockey Stick rests.

    • History has repeated itself.

      I was in NYC in late August early September of 2000. I picked up a NYT and saw that (OMG) the north pole was melting. Then a few days or weeks later stories about corrections started popping up:

      Ideas & Trends: Global Waffling; When Will We Be Sure?
      http://www.nytimes.com/2000/09/10/weekinreview/ideas-trends-global-waffling-when-will-we-be-sure.html

      http://www.sepp.org/twtwfiles/2000/Sept2.htm

      “MELTING AT NORTH POLE NO CAUSE FOR ALARM
      A recent New York Times story related that “leads” of open water in ice fields near the North Pole filled cruise passengers on a Russian icebreaker with a “sense of alarm.” Proponents of the theory of man-made global warming grasped at the story to vindicate their warnings.
      But climate experts report that open water at the North Pole is nothing new.
      They say that after a long summer of 24-hour days it is not unusual to find open leads just about everywhere — especially after strong winds break up the winter ice.
      Indeed, a 1969 Dutch atlas contains the following passage: “The North Pole Ice Sea is never completely frozen; 3- to 30-meter-thick ice floes continue moving slowly around the pole. At the North Pole the winter temperature is never lower than -35 degrees Celsius.”
      The atlas goes on to report that summer temperatures can rise to 10 to 12 degrees Celsius — which is well above freezing.
      Actual observations and data from meteorological instruments such as weather satellites and weather balloons confirm that polar regions have not warmed appreciably in recent decades.
      Scientists report that the Earth did warm between 1900 and 1940, with the climate recovering from a previous cold period known as the Little Ice Age. As a result of these changes — which have nothing to do with human influences — it is warmer now than it was 100 years ago.
      Source: S. Fred Singer (University of Virginia), “Sure, the North Pole Is Melting. So What?” Wall Street Journal, August 28, 
2000.
      
AND A NYT CORRECTION: North Pole not as wet as reported
      NEW YORK (AP, Aug. 29) – Citing a report in The New York Times, The Associated Press erroneously reported Aug. 19 that open water had been spotted on the North Pole for the first time in 50 million years, a possible sign of global warming.
      In a correction Tuesday, the Times said it had misstated the normal conditions of sea ice at the pole. It said open water probably has occurred there before because the Arctic Ocean is about 10 percent ice-free during a typical summer.
      The Times also said the lack of ice at the North Pole is not necessarily a result of global warming.
      Our Comment: Evidently, the editors of the NYT read theWall Street Journal”

      Now this year “The Lake” was reported. Once again Revkin to the rescue:
      http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/30/polar-researchers-explain-north-pole-lake/?_r=0
      However from the perspective of a news consumer I must say the 2012 vs 2013 visuals for TV and the 60% vs Zero for radio listeners seems to be wide spread and effective (at least to the choir). In fact I’d say this is the most effect PR since Gore’s movie.

      • Can’t tell the difference between melt ponds and huge leads of open water.
        There is open water all the way to the Cryosphere Today’s blind spot around the north pole.
        That at least get’s a somewhat unusual mark.
        Singer and Revkin are up to their usual tricks, nothing new there.
        Another song and dance about the recovery from the little ice age.
        Fitting though in a post about the arctic circle.

      • Singer and Revkin, HUH??

      • billc, was responding to the video just referencing the propaganda we the public are subjected to from both sides.

  3. “Systematic bias across whole fields of science is even more cryptic and therefore more problematic. It could stem from the combined effects of how science is commissioned, conducted, reported and used, and also from how scientists themselves are incentivized to conduct certain research. Such bias results from actively searching for a particular outcome, rather than performing balanced hypothesis testing.”
    And in a nutshell you have it all.

  4. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  5. The dual assumptions of AGW and CAGW certainly pervade the climate literature and are driven by the RFPs. But this is because the people who write and fund those RFPs firmly believe these things. If the auditors also believe them then nothing will change. I see little alternative to replacing the people, which is very dificult and will be seen as an attack on science. The weaker alternative would be to add skeptics to the mix but this requires making it much bigger. Same for the IPCC.

  6. “Research Bias” – now there’s a topic worth a book or twenty.

    Whenever this is raised here, though, the knees of the bias-deniers (aka the establishment / ‘consensus’) are jerked, with a resulting cry of “conspiracy theory”.

    The truth is of course quite the opposite. It is actually those willfully blind to the vested interests of the research-funder who are implicitly guilty of conspiracy theorizing – maintaining as they do that some secret force within government climate ‘science’ is inducing integrity and an attempt to discover the truth, rather than advance the obvious interests of its paymaster (by lavishly egging the pudding with alarm).

  7. Employed teachers are willing to work for a bonus. Today’s PNS incentives, productivity because of their humanity.

    Sigh of the times.

  8. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Climate Etc readers should be aware of lessons-learned from mathematics:

    • Arthur Jaffe and Frank Quinn argued plausibly (and vehemently!) for more-strict more-uniform peer-review standards in mathematics: Theoretical mathematics: Toward a cultural synthesis of mathematics and theoretical physics (arXiv:math/9307227, cited by 193)

    • William Thurston argued plausibly (and politely!) against too-strict too-uniform peer-review standards: On proof and progress in mathematics (arXiv:math/9404236, cited by 423)

    These two articles are among the most-cited and most-discussed in the history of mathematics. Both are well-worth reading.

    The Verdict of Mathematical History  Jaffe and Quinn’s “more-strictness” views have proved to be wrong for mathematics and Thurston’s “more-diversity” views have proved to be right.

    Lessons-Learned for Climate Science  Ian Boyd’s “more-strictness” views are wrong for climate science, for the same reasons that Jaffe and Quinn’s views were wrong for mathematics.

    Another Lesson  Bill Thurston’s reasoned, foresighted, scrupulously polite, and student-centric response proved (in the long run) to be *FAR* more effective and respected than Jaffe and Quinn’s vehement, brittle, excessively rigid, and even abusive argumentation style (which included direct attacks on Bill Thurston’s work).

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    • Wow Fan,

      A post I think I agree with. Have not had time to read the two links yet but I will bookmark them.

      A common complaint of “climate skeptics” has been that some journals have not been inclusive enough or presented a diversity of views. That there has been a built-in bias by members of the team during review, in addition to other problems of bias highlighted by Boyd.

      At first glance, providing a greater diversity of views, seems to fall in Thurston’s camp.

      Boyd’s idea of auditing or grading journals is not one that I (nor Judith) like at first reading. The obvious question is who would do the grading (and how would they be chosen)?

      • Grading journals – no.

        But objective criteria on how to do a systematic review, accepted methods for assessing the quality of studies, and an agreed format for the write-up, gives ‘consumers’ some bench marks for assessing their quality – yes.

        It’s not a matter of who does this, anyone can, it’s simply who wants to, and having some rigor in the process.

      • Journals are so eighteenth century.

    • Thx Fan, i have a draft article on peer review, will add these links

      • If journals implemented their own, existing, policy of archiving data and code, for published articles, it would be a good step forward.
        So journals need an auditor just to enforce existing policies…

    • I’ve made this point many times, but people keep making the same incorrect inferences here.

      The Thurston-FOMD position works great under the conditions Polanyi described in “The Republic of Science” and David Hull described in Science as a Process, where a) we are dealing with pure science and b) access to funding is not a binding constraint. In that condition, individual incentives of researchers about biasing their results, reporting data, applying subjective judgment to datasets, etc. are almost perfectly aligned with the collective pursuit of scientific discovery. Basically, individual researchers “win” by making discoveries and by attracting the citations of other researchers who decide what to believe based on how likely it is to help THEM make a discovery. (Or in Hull’s evolutionary analysis, they also win by forcing even their opponents to cite them in order to refute them.) With those two conditions operating, we have an Adam Smith-like process–as if by an invisible hand, researchers are led to act in a way that maximizes the rate of discovery.

      But if either condition fails, then the incentive alignment can break down. Now researchers have other non-researcher constituencies who can provide important rewards, including money, power, status, fame, etc. for reasons only loosely correlated with the scientific merit of the researcher’s work. That’s why (violation of a and b)) the FDA doesn’t treat drug trials with the cavalier, let-a-hundred-flowers-bloom Thurstonian approach. That’s why (violation of a)) former CEA chair Christina Romer ignored her own more-speculative academic research and stuck to standard macroeconomic models when she evaluated President Obama’s stimulus options (personally, I would have preferred her to take more liberties, but she had good reason not to do so). That’s why (violation of b)) LIGO scientists have been ultra-conservative in reporting possible detection of gravitational waves, according to Harry Collins’s multi-decade deep participant-observer study of this community.

      The standards of “classic” pure science–the Polanyi-Thurston etc. norms–are simply not workable when policy and funder incentives to tilt findings dominate researcher curiosity and researcher peer citations. The incentives simply don’t align.

      • Two additional issues are:

        Who chooses the questions that the research tries to answer?

        What kind of selective processes determine the scientists that do the research?

        When all fields covered by IPCC are considered these two issues are much more important in areas covered by WG2 and WG3. The same factors that increase the share of non peer reviewed publications affect also the above two issues. In these areas only a small fraction of all possible questions are answered by any research, thus the selective processes influence crucially the outcome. It appears plausible that biasing processes influence also the decisions to enter in research that may end up in WG2 and WG3 reports.

        The Washington Post article of David Michaels that Steve Mosher linked to in a message below discusses the problem of choosing the questions in medical research.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        stevepostrel observes (correctly) “People keep making the same incorrect inferences here.”

        That is a good point, so please consider the following inferences, stevepostrel!

        • Thurston-Polanyi methods indeed are optimally responsive to “the invisible hand” that (in the long run) governs “the marketplace of ideas

        • However that “invisible hand of science” operates very slowly … not on annual timescales … not even on decadal timescales … but on generational timescales.

        • That is why mediocre-to-poor (or impatient) scientists/skeptics generically seek to bypass the marketplace of ideas, by resorting to cherry-picking and/or cycle-science (or even slogan-shouting and/or outright demagoguery). These activities are futile in the long run, yet they create the short-term illusion of efficacy.

        • Whereas “the best available climate-change scientists” seek to engage the broadest possible cohort of collaborators, of all ages and all nations, particularly emphasizing young and/or female collaborators. The pay-out comes slowly, but the aggregate pay-out is huge in the long run!

        • According to straightforward head-count of co-authors, since 1981 James Hansen has patiently established a collaborative cohort that exceeds by one-hundred-fold the collaborative cohort of any climate-change skeptic.

        Conclusion  Year-by-year political fluctuations can make it appear that climate-change skepticism is winning … and demagogic forums like WUWT/Monckton skillfully exploit this statistical illusion. Yet generation-by-generation, Thurston-Polanyi recruitment unassailably dominates all other scientific strategies, and James Hansen indisputably leads all other climate-change scientists *and* skeptics in respect to Thurston-Polanyi recruitment

        Prediction  James Hansen’s foresighted, universally acknowledged, and outstandingly effective commitment to Thurston-Polanyi scientific recruitment (sustained over many decades) is the single most important attribute that makes him a solid bet for a Nobel (in physics or possibly chemistry) within the next five years. And Hansen will deserve it!

        `Cuz over the long haul, Thurston-Polanyi recruitment is how “the marketplace of scientific ideas” works, isn’t it stevepostrel? And to a greater degree (by far!) than any other climate-change scientist or skeptic, James Hansen has demonstrated a sustained and outstandingly successful commitment to Thurston-Polanyi scientific recruitment!

        The above are plain common-sense inferences, eh stevepostrel?

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      • Fan,

        You keep failing to address the real practical problem.

        The real practical problem, managing and mitigating the funding effect, entails consciously spending money on ‘not hansen’ .

        for that you need a ‘research hedge manager’.

      • Shorter Stevepostrel

        People tend to do what they expect to be paid for.

        Hardly a revelation..- it was known to the Romans….but perhaps a new insight to the academic community?

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Latimer Alder observes (correctly) “People tend to do what they expect to be paid for.”

        Latimer Alder, thank you for your vivid definition of “mediocrity.”

        History teaches us that top-rank creative individuals like Steve Jobs (business), Steven King (writing), Stevie Wonder (music), Jane Goodall (primatology), Wendell Berry (farming), and Bill Thurston (mathematics) … to name just a few among innumerably many … and James Hansen too! … *never* retire.

        As comedian George Burns famously said “At my age I don’t even buy green bananas.” And yet he kept performing.

        For this there can be *no* economic explanation, eh Latimer Alder?

        Conclusion  Economic considerations govern mediocre creative talents; top-rank talents precisely the opposite!

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      • I would respectfully disagree. I suspect that reviewers, of papers and of grants, are the biggest problem.
        Reviewers should not attempt to decide if the authors of a manuscript, their job is to decide if it reasonable. I have accepted papers, with a couple of of recommendations of emphasis in language, where he authors come to conclusions quite different to my bias.
        How data is interpreted is up to the individual and we should allow the people who do the data collection and analysis to have first shot.

      • I’m kind of used to FOMD avoiding the issue, but here he walks up to it and waves at it and looks like he’s about to touch it, but then he goes back into his defensive crouch.

        1. Maybe Hansen wins the generational battle a la Polanyi and Hull, but there is no way you could extrapolate that from the short-term data we have, even if one accepted FOMD’s data selection, etc. It’s like trying to unravel long-term climate with this month’s Arctic ice data–don’t like that sort of thing, do you Fan?

        2. The policy being proposed–Urgent Mitigation–is “urgent” and not based on waiting the generations to see who wins out scientifically. This is precisely an example of how we have departed from the Republic of Science model. Policy concerns and the desire to promote a particular policy answer has pushed the normal process of scientific development into a “managed” or “mercantilist” direction that bears no resemblance to the invisible hand. NASA wants climate-danger research, they call for it in their proposals, and that’s what they get. No waiting! It’s Jiffy-Pop science.

        3. Latimer Adler puts it a bit too crudely, if one interprets “payment” as purely monetary. In the Hull and Polanyi models, researchers are mostly competing for stature or significance (and perhaps enjoying the beauty of nature and the thrill of understanding along the way). Remember that the earliest versions of this pure-science model in 17th century England mostly involved landed men of leisure (e.g. Boyle) who really didn’t have to worry too much about a salary. (Guys like Hooke needed patronage but mostly got it by being seen as good discoverers by their peers, so that mostly worked out, although Hooke showed the dangers of not knowing how to play the game in the way he treated Huygens.) Of course, as the cost of research rose, getting access to funding already became an issue, but most of the early funders also got glory from discoveries made by those they patronized, so again, incentives were pretty well aligned.

        4. FOMD neatly avoids every specific example I cite to show that when policy or funding issues get into play, the “invisible hand” gets slapped out of the way in favor of a very visible regulatory hand. It has to be that way. (I should point out that as a policy matter I am not necessarily thrilled with how policy is carried out in the examples I used.)

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Ronald Reagan’s wise “fluorocarbon pause” (of the Montreal Protocol) and Ronald Reagan’s wise “H-bomb pause” (of the START accords) embody the wise “carbon pause” of today’s science-respecting Republican conservatives.

        Ain’t that plain-as-day, science-respectin’, planet-preservin’, Reagan-style & Hanson-compatible, popular-with-the-people, 21st century progressively conservative wisdom, stevepostrel?

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      • Steve and Pekka, well said.

      • OK, I’ll bite. This:

        > Now researchers have other non-researcher constituencies who can provide important rewards, including money, power, status, fame, etc. for reasons only loosely correlated with the scientific merit of the researcher’s work.

        works like magic to me.

        I’d like to see how we could falsify such claim.

      • More diversionary tactics from Fan. Not answering the basic point–you can’t use pure-science norms if you’re going to push Urgent Mitigation. You have to do something else, and we are. We’re paying for alarmism, baking it right into the calls for proposals. The only problem is that that is almost certainly the wrong “something else.” Some sort of systematic, audited, suspicious use of studies is what we should be doing if we actually want honest science input or a policy based on that input.

        BTW, just as a matter of Cold War history, START was Reagan’s companion to SDI and was vilified on the left as a ploy to put off Carter’s (disastrous) SALT II agreement. Instead of SALT II, which would have locked us into perpetual Soviet first-strike superiority on the grounds that only Mutually Assured Destruction mattered, Reagan opted for a risky high-tech proposal (“protected build-down”) that only a few science mavericks supported, among them the bellicose Teller and the very-pacific Dyson (read his Weapons and Hope for his much less robust missile defense and warhead cut proposal). Reagan went against the “scientific” consensus that MAD was the only thing that mattered, much as today we need to consider skeptically the “consensus” that only CO2 matters.

      • Wiilard: Claims of the form “there exists X” cannot be falsified because you never know if you’ve looked thoroughly enough if you haven’t found it yet. But they can be confirmed or even verified. (Philosophy 101 critique of naive falsificationism.)

      • And if I may be so blunt, this:

        > Policy concerns and the desire to promote a particular policy answer has pushed the normal process of scientific development into a “managed” or “mercantilist” direction that bears no resemblance to the invisible hand.

        tries to have one’s cake and eat it too. To wait until nature tells us AGW leads to dire consequences has nothing to do with invisible hands, since Nature plays with no hands whatsoever. Smith’s markets may be a simile of a natural process, but it always is social. When push comes to shove, it is humans that assign values to the commodities, be they from an allegedly open markets of ideas or else. Which means invisible hands can still be imagined at work in the most post-modern universe one can imagine, i.e. without any Mother Nature to back us up.

        One does not simply wait until the invisible hand gets you to Mordor.

        ***

        In other words, what we have here is a tentative to wedge capitalism lingo into the Denizens’ assumed favorite epistomology.

        If “NASA wants climate-danger research, they call for it in their proposals, and that’s what they get” is Jiffy-Pop science, I wonder how to interpret that Denizens scream for inactivist research programmes and get reactionary analysis along those lines at Judy’s every two days since the beginning of this summer.

      • Steve,

        Pure science or not, one can always find incentives.

        Either you have evidence that shows that the incentives are as you describe in both models, or you’re just making things up.

        I don’t see any evidence on the table. More than that, I don’t even see a way by which you could set up conditions to get this evidence.

        Is that clearer?

        ***

        Oh, and BTW, this:

        > Policy concerns and the desire to promote a particular policy answer has pushed the normal process of scientific development into a “managed” or “mercantilist” direction that bears no resemblance to the invisible hand.

        is not an existential claim: I’ve emphasized the bit where there’s a causal mecahnism at work.

        Nice try.

      • Willard: I used the “invisible hand” language because it captures the nature of the argument for pure science’s self-correcting aspect. Neither Hull (who uses evolutionary language) nor Polanyi (who uses political language) can be charged with crypto-capitalist meme-mongering in their analyses. Nor can Fan or his favorite guy Thurston. Everybody actually agrees here–unusual on this blog–that pure science works this way and that it gets to the better answers but only after “generations” as FOMD pointed out.

        Of course, you are correct that if the UMers are right, we have to ACT NOW to REDUCE CO2 EMISSIONS. That’s the definition of Urgent Mitigationism. But now the question is getting begged, because some of us out here think we’re getting stampeded into doing something stupid and counterproductive and motivated by a hostile ideology and some rent seekers. So pure science, the only kind we have warrant to believe will eventually maximize the rate discovery, is too slow and too imprecise for the policy purposes to which it is being put. We need a different, more audited type of science that may not be the best way to make discoveries and breakthroughs but is the best way to decide policy questions.

        We aren’t doing that. We’re letting policymakers elected and unelected, along with their ideological and rent-seeking fellow travelers, go through the forms of pure science while biasing the process massively. So if you want to get quick action, you’re going to have to do the science differently, in a more audited mode.

        I don’t really believe you’re blind to the funding bias issue in climate science. It certainly isn’t unique to that realm. The problem is pretty simple. If policy makers don’t want to legalize marijuana and don’t want anyone finding out the exact degree of danger marijuana represents, they make it damned near impossible to do research on the plant. Look it up for yourself–it’s almost comical. Same logic when the shoe is on the other foot. I a pharmaceutical company wants to get a government stamp of approval on its drug, the government quite rightly takes account of the incentives of the company and subjects its studies to a much higher level of scrutiny and suspicion than one usually finds in academic pure science.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Gosh stevepostrel, can’t we rip the Earth to pieces later, if we decide (against all common sense and “best available science” and neighborly decency!) that it’s a good idea?

        That’s conservative common-sense and ordinary neighborliness too, eh stevepostrel?

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      • > So pure science, the only kind we have warrant to believe will eventually maximize the rate discovery, is too slow and too imprecise for the policy purposes to which it is being put. We need a different, more audited type of science that may not be the best way to make discoveries and breakthroughs but is the best way to decide policy questions.

        That I can agree with. My point is that pure science carries its set of incentives, which may or may not maximize discovery. Go make some anthropology among mathematicians to see for yourself. Being right forever and ever is so big an incentive as to provide a taste of eternity. This entices the best and the worse out of very extraordinary minds. There’s a fierce race going on to have one’s name under the title of a paper in which there may or may not be revealed an important result. So even there, the model you criticize is quasi-absent.

        To maximize discovery, we could abstract all this and posit anonymous computers that generate result after result. In a purely disinterested science, names do not matter. You formalize your field of knowledge and let the engines let loose. Not unlike algorithmic trading.

        Such model might not carry the name “Thurstonian”: it’s just a nameless yet ordered construction, which we may call the Babelian ring for the sake of a pun.

        ***

        Since I’ve regained some composure, I’ll make some mediation efforts, and not just criticize what I don’t like. To emphasize as you do on the fact that we just can’t wait until the jury’s out to act is a very important aspect. I could throw the idea that the main difference between our predicament and the model you wish to criticize may be captured in your endogeneous/exogeneous distinction. Mathematicians don’t publish for others: they publish for themselves. My point above was that to truly maximize discovery, we might consider the possibility to publish for no one, just like the engines that crush me do not even know they play chess. Your last comment makes me feel this is what you wish to capture with your idea of an invisible hand.

        So what I think is important in what you say is this: the results of climate science matter to us all. Everyone has a dog in that fight, willingly or not. And we have to do something sooner than we’d wish. I agree with you that this has some impact in the way science ought to get practiced. This goes beyond what the FDA had to deal with. As an extension propriety rights, we ought to build environmental rights, which would organize health, energy, and security issues.

        That environmental rights are extensions of proprietary rights is why the metaphor of an audit is so powerful. Just like we need to make sure that the engines that produce property is legid through accounting verification, we need to make sure that the engines that are on the verge of producing environmental rights are legid too. Since these rights are more general than property rights, the metaphor of audit will have to lead to something like we’ve never seen before in the human production of knowledge.

        But let’s not kid ourselves, it’s just a metaphor, right? Are we truly willing to go as far as to legalize the whole scientific edifice? This is where this leads, and if people are afraid of Big Brothers, they have seen nothing yet if we start to legalize temperature measures.

        ***

        AGW debates may be the best way to show how the old models of economy are inadequate: this is truly the biggest, baddest, and most brutal problem humans will ever have to face, for there’s no crisis to speak of. Since we almost only function under crisis, that ought to get everyone worried.

        I’m not even talking about the threat of dumping CO2 like there’s no tomorrow right now. I’m talking about the need to organize ourselves amidst and in spite of all the interests that chain us and in the end amounts to mere vanity.

        If we can’t save ourselves, our invisible hands won’t.

      • Good comments and links FOMD (for a change ;) )

      • @A fan of *MORE* discourse
        +(-1)^0.5

      • Steve P,

        I liked the comment about fan engaging rather than his usual antics and at the last minute reverting to form. He started off as a serious contributor to the conversation, but I guess he can’t help himself.

        Kudos to Michael for also being serious. I will admit to surprise at seeing back to back comments from him and fan worth paying attention to. Willard, your turn.

      • Willard @9.48, I generally find a lot of good sense in Steve Postrel’s posts, including the one @8.55 to which you reply.

        You wrote: “So what I think is important in what you say is this: the results of climate science matter to us all. Everyone has a dog in that fight, willingly or not. And we have to do something sooner than we’d wish.”

        What matters “to us all” is “the results of climate science” only if that science gives us a sufficient basis for assessing risk, costs and benefits and determining whether or not some response is needed. As you are probably aware, I am not convinced that a case for short-term, costly, damaging action has been made, although policy-makers have taken such actions over the last 15-20 years. So we have done something sooner than I wish, and I think that we should scale back and defer further action until a more compelling case has been made (which may be never). I think that if the resources committed to anti-CAGW policies over the last 15 years had been committed to resolving immediate, known, problems, then we would both now and in the future be in much better shape to address whatever befalls, climatically and otherwise.

      • Faustino said:

        I am not convinced that a case for short-term, costly, damaging action has been made, although policy-makers have taken such actions over the last 15-20 years.

        I agree. If Willard and others want to understand why many people think this way, this provides an good explanation (it’s well worth watching if you are genuinely interested in trying to understand what is causing the resistance):
        http://topher.com.au/50-to-1-video-project/#prettyPhoto/9/

        And also here:
        http://jennifermarohasy.com/2013/08/why-the-ets-will-not-succeed-peter-lang/

      • “That is why mediocre-to-poor (or impatient) scientists/skeptics generically seek to bypass the marketplace of ideas, by resorting to cherry-picking and/or cycle-science (or even slogan-shouting and/or outright demagoguery). These activities are futile in the long run, yet they create the short-term illusion of efficacy.”

        Fan has here described the manufactured consensus to a T.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse | September 12, 2013

        Ronald Reagan’s wise “fluorocarbon pause” (of the Montreal Protocol) and Ronald Reagan’s wise “H-bomb pause” (of the START accords) embody the wise “carbon pause” of today’s science-respecting Republican conservatives.

        How cunning of Fan to compare two initiatives based on secure science, with another increasingly mired in uncertainty and funder vested-interest. I guess it’s that very deviousness that marks him as a ‘progressive’.

      • willard (@nevaudit) | September 12, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
        Pure science or not, one can always find incentives. []
        I don’t see any evidence on the table. More than that, I don’t even see a way by which you could set up conditions to get this evidence.
        Is that clearer?

        The intitution of government – the state – stands to gain handsomely from the alarmism its science shills peddle.

        Can it be any clearer?

      • Willard: You say, “Being right forever and ever is so big an incentive as to provide a taste of eternity. This entices the best and the worse out of very extraordinary minds. There’s a fierce race going on to have one’s name under the title of a paper in which there may or may not be revealed an important result. So even there, the model you criticize is quasi-absent.”

        Invisible hands aren’t about objectivity on the part of the agents; they’re about harnessing the subjective desires and perceptions of agents in ways that get them to produce a collective good. That’s exactly the point of the Hull evolutionary analysis. Hull shows some amazingly, entertainingly crass behavior in the community of taxonomists he studied. Yet it is precisely those egotistical, self-serving, self-promoting behaviors that observably led to progress in the field. Hull goes so far as to argue that certain types of jerkiness promote progress better than gentlemanly behavior because of the way they stir the pot and get the word out about key issues.

        That’s the whole idea of the invisible hand in economics, science, or anything else. When the incentives and feedbacks are right, the structure of incentives for fame and success actually gets people to do stuff that helps other people prosper or make discoveries, because helping other people do that stuff is how you get fame and success. “It’s not through the benevolence of the butcher or baker” etc. that we get meat and bread. Same for mathematicians, taxonomists, climate scientists, and everybody else.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Pekka Pirilä poses two additional issues:

        • “Who chooses the questions that the research tries to answer?”

        • “What kind of selective processes determine the scientists that do the research?”

        The answers are (1) scientists choose the questions, and (2) those same scientists find the answers.

        The process is market-driven, slow, risky, arduous, and yet surprisingly reliable in the long run:

        • Scientist Alice reads the requests for proposals from various sources of support (public, private, corporate, philanthropic, journals).

        • Alice is disappointed that none of these requests are asking the questions that *she* thinks are most important.

        • She contacts the program managers, who discourage her from even submitting a research proposal for her “outside the box” ideas.

        • Alice then submits five research proposals *anyway*, to five different programs. Each proposal emphasizes how well Alice’s research question meshes with the existing five programs.

        • The cohort of proposal reviewers and program managers are impressed with Alice’s ideas — and with her preliminary research — and yet (regretfully) they turn down *all* of Alice’s proposals, mainly for the administrative reason that Alice’s ideas don’t match existing programs.

        • But the *next* batch of requests for proposals comes out, Alice’s question is included! Because, program managers and reviewers have a high regard for Alice’s now-carefully-reviewed questions, and they (correctly!) perceive that Alice’s questions are attractive to top-ranking scientific talent.

        • Now Alice’s research gets funded easily and naturally. In fact, Alice gains a reputation as a leading innovative researcher! She begins to recruit-and-train collaborators (especially young collaborators) in the scientific field that *she* pioneered.

        And that is how Alice’s radically innovative scientific ideas become (slowly) mainstream ideas. The process is driven mainly by … Alice herself!

        Summary Alice succeeds in science (creatively yet respectfully) by going *against* the scientific review system in the short run … thereby helping the scientific review system work better in the long run!

        It’s not complicated, Pekka Pirilä … but it *IS* a whole lot of work (coupled to a considerable element of risk and uncertainty).

        Aren’t *all* creative enterprises pretty similar, in regard to work, risk, and uncertainty?

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      • I like Fan’s just-so story about Alice. It probably happens that way sometimes. Of course, if the cycle lasts more than a couple of years Alice is probably screwed for getting tenure at her institution but, hey, that’s what Ryder moving vans are for. (I’ll ignore the routine issues about people trying to delay rivals, etc.–those are part of the human condition and more or less unavoidable frictions in any peer-review system.)

        The key point in the delightful process Fan described is this one: “But the *next* batch of requests for proposals comes out, Alice’s question is included! Because, program managers and reviewers have a high regard for Alice’s now-carefully-reviewed questions, and they (correctly!) perceive that Alice’s questions are attractive to top-ranking scientific talent.”

        In order for this to happen, the program managers and reviewers have to be MOTIVATED and/or INCENTIVIZED to place “high regard” on things that are “attractive to top-ranking scientific talent” AND they have to find these things “attractive” for non-ideological reasons. From what I can tell, this does often work because a lot of, say, NSF program managers really do get their rewards (psychic as well as career) from fomenting discoveries.

        But there is no reason to believe that climate science works that way. Everybody’s antenna is up about staying onside with the Urgent Mitigation policy agenda, NASA has a lot of budget riding on the alarmist side, the White House and the chief science adviser are hell-bent on UM, etc. Everybody knows that if you don’t pay lip service at least to UM you will be smeared, blackballed, Rommed, Gliecked, Schmidtted, etc. Plus you have the usual (pure, uncorrupted science) generation-long problem that a bunch of “leaders” in the field have staked their reputations on the idea that we can understand the climate as a simple response to the sum of radiative forcings.

        So that key step in Fan’s story is unlikely to play out very quickly in climate science. OTOH, the pause is apparently having a salutary effect of at least getting people to look at alternative conceptions of climate.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        stevepostrel loves phrases like “everybody’s antenna is up …” and “everybody knows that …”

        Stevepostrel, you are right that “everybody knows” the scientific consensus will affirm that global warming is real for precisely so long as the Earth’s radiative energy imbalance is sustained such that the seas rise relentlessly.

        That is an entirely reasonable consensus, eh stevepostrel?

        The rest is largely quibbling-and-denial, isn’t it?

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      • Steve Postrel,

        I would tend to agree with this reading of and by Hull. I just don’t think you need to have a theory of how the fact that being policy- relevant creates a bias among scientists. Hull could even be invoked to defend the Team.

        All you need to argue is that for so crucial questions, scientists will sooner or later have to face the same kind of inquiry that prevails in health, security, or energy matters. One could even surmise that what we need has not been invented yet, as there might be international law novelties to consider.

        My point regarding the invisible hand was to set up some room for more objective means of verification. Think about checksums. If there is a problem with having everyone snoop around in your code or data, there could be ways to validate it through semi automatic means, which in turn are overseen by dedicated authorities.

      • Faustino,

        I think this captures the crux of the problem:

        > I think that we should scale back and defer further action until a more compelling case has been made (which may be never).

        It’s a matter of time, isn’t it? The time to make a decision based on quality standards that have not been spelled out yet.

        Just imagine if I allowed myself to judge the invisible hand that is now pushing in your discourse for an ad hoc criteria that produces inactivism.

      • It is the resurrection, not the cross… willard.

      • The intitution of government – the state – stands to gain handsomely from the alarmism its science shills peddle.

        Can it be any clearer?

        No, it couldn’t be any clearer. It’s still nonsense though.

      • > willard
        I just don’t think you need to have a theory of how the fact that being policy- relevant creates a bias among scientists.

        Yes it is pretty obvious. Far more importantly though, is a case like cagw where the only real funder has an overwhelming vested interest in a given policy outcome.

      • >> The intitution of government – the state – stands to gain handsomely from the alarmism its science shills peddle.
        Can it be any clearer?

        Andrew Adams > No, it couldn’t be any clearer. It’s still nonsense though.

        Since you advance no argument against what seems blindingly obvious, your bald claim of “nonsense” is the only nonsense here.

      • > Far more importantly though, is a case like cagw where the only real funder has an overwhelming vested interest in a given policy outcome.

        Does it mean the brand new black helicopters come with brand new bullet-proof vests?

      • I provided as much evidence for my assertion as you did. Just saying something is blindingly obvious is not an argument, especially if this perception depends on holding a particular political viewpoint which others in the discussion do not necessarily share. For example it assumes that all governments in all places of all political colours are essentially the same. It seems blindingly obvious to me that this is not true.

      • OK, let’s review the bidding.

        1. Some of us agree that pure science in its classic form tends to get better answers over time and does so better than any regulated or audited or otherwise procedurally encumbered process would.

        2. Some of us agree that when extrinsic concerns intrude pure science in its classic form is a) too slow and b) too untrustworthy to be relied upon. In critical policy contexts we have to sacrifice some of the advantages of freewheeling autonomous discovery-seeking in order to get trustworthy and actionable results.

        3. There is significant disagreement about what we have actually observed with modern climate science. We have different views of the field:

        a) One view is that it has been classic pure science all the way so far and its results are mature enough to justify UM. (Some in this group might reject point 2 above). Maybe Fan?

        b) Another view is that it has been classic pure science all the way so far but the results are not mature enough to justify UM. Part of that classic process is the internal devotion to one’s own ideas, denigration of rival ideas, etc. tied up in confirmation bias and the desire for glory. The problem for the public is the aggressive PR effort and overstating of what the science says. Maybe Judy?

        c) Still another view is that much (but by no means all) of it has been biased, conclusion-driven science corrupted by ideological, material, and political incentives to overstate the dangers of anthropogenic CO2. These biases may be attributed to multiple points of the process–calls for proposals, what data to report, journal reviewing and editing, selection of personnel for expert panels, etc. Climategate’s peek behind the curtain encouraged holders of this view, especially those emails where explicit decisions were made to hide doubts or conflicting data from the public in order not to give ammo to the “other side.”
        Maybe most of the anti-UM commenters on this site?

        Then each of the positions above has a set of different remedies or courses of action it entertains to try to make things work better. Many of us aren’t sure what the right tack would be. The following list doesn’t try to assign people to the diagnoses above, but gives examples of where we are.

        -Mosher thinks open-sourcing everything is the fulcrum for moving the world.

        -Judy is obviously trying on a lot of different ideas for size at this blog (mediation, Italian flags, auditing, etc.) I’m still waiting for her to rediscover Arthur Kantrowitz’s “science court” idea–it would fit right into this stream.

        -McIntyre and many of our engineering friends have argued for heavy procedural safeguards such as auditing, running all studies past expert statisticians, careful software verification, treating climate data more the way we do economic data, and generally holding the science behind climate policy to a level commensurate with what we already do in much lower-stakes situations such as nuclear power safety estimates or mining prospectuses or drug approvals. I lean in this direction, but the political problems are massive.

        -Willard and Pekka aren’t sure exactly what to do, but can see that the UM side is losing by default (if you define “losing” as “not reducing CO2 emissions significantly below where they would go anyway” rather than “getting lots of subsidies for ethanol and windmills”) because of the failure of climate science to close the deal. So they are looking for proposals that do not hard-wire DELAY into the reform–delay may be precisely the thing that brings on the problems (or disasters, or catastrophes) we are interested in dealing with.

        -GaryM and Wagathon see the solutions, if any, as fundamentally political. Throw the bastards out, somehow, is the necessary and sufficient condition for fixing the problem. (Of course, you can go to conservative and libertarian and Tea Party blogs and see raging debates over just how to do that or whether it is even possible; I’ve been reading debates like that since pre-Internet days.)

        I invite anyone whose name I’ve taken in vain to correct me. We could use some zero-order agreement about what we’re arguing about.

      • Steve,

        A couple of points.

        I don’t see how, if “pure science in its classic form tends to get better answers over time” it is therefore “too untrustworthy to be relied upon”.

        Secondly, I would agree that we haven’t seen the kind of urgent policy responses that some of us believe to be necessary (although I certainly wouldn’t define these responses as ““getting lots of subsidies for ethanol and windmills”). I would dispute that this is because of “the failure of climate science to close the deal”. It’s largely a failure of politics – climate science has done as much as it can, the politicians (mostly) say they are convinced but can’t agree on meaningful action. Incidentally this would tend to give lie to the notion that AGW is a plot by politicians to impose heavy taxes, burdensome regulation, world government etc.

      • @andrew adams
        Just saying something is blindingly obvious is not an argument, especially if this perception depends on holding a particular political viewpoint which others in the discussion do not necessarily share.
        For example it assumes that all governments in all places of all political colours are essentially the same. It seems blindingly obvious to me that this is not true.

        The realization that the institution of government has a vested interest in fomenting climate alarm, does not depend on having any particular political outlook; it is simply an objective fact. Different political opinions may though either welcome or resent this simple fact.

        And all governments everywhere do indeed have something in common – the monopoly of legal violence – that is precisely what makes them government in the first place.

        However this does not imply that all governments of whatever colour ab/use their monopoly of legal violence to do essentially the same things; that is just your strawman talking. Some (most?) governments today may choice to foment and fund climate alarm for their own gain (appealing to leftist/totalirian sentiment) , others may take a more honest and scientific approach (appealing to classical liberal sentiment).

      • @andrew adams
        we haven’t seen the kind of urgent policy responses that some of us believe to be necessary …
        I would dispute that this is because of “the failure of climate science to close the deal”. It’s largely a failure of politics – climate science has done as much as it can, the politicians (mostly) say they are convinced but can’t agree on meaningful action. Incidentally this would tend to give lie to the notion that AGW is a plot by politicians to impose heavy taxes, burdensome regulation, world government etc.

        It does no such thing. Firstly you don’t need a “plot” for government to look for more reasons to tax and control. That is just their routine self-interest at work, exactly as you’d expect; politics is inherently dirty. There would need some sort of plot for this to not happen.

        Secondly. Politicians control the public purse strings, and have in the main elected to fund alarmism rather than genuine, open science (Climategate clearly showed this, as did the ensuing deafening silence from the bulk of the profession). That their corrupt climate science lackeys have failed to convince the public enough for politicians to feel they can make a move, just means they have failed in that objective, not that that they don’t harbour that objective.

      • Gina,

        The realization that the institution of government has a vested interest in fomenting climate alarm, does not depend on having any particular political outlook; it is simply an objective fact.

        No, until you actually provide some evidence to back up this claim it’s just an assertion. But even if we accept for arguments sake that it’s true…

        However this does not imply that all governments of whatever colour ab/use their monopoly of legal violence to do essentially the same things; that is just your strawman talking. Some (most?) governments today may choice to foment and fund climate alarm for their own gain (appealing to leftist/totalirian sentiment) , others may take a more honest and scientific approach (appealing to classical liberal sentiment).

        But leaving aside the silly characterisation of the different choices that governments make that’s my point – in practice governments behave in different ways and are influenced by the political outlook of the people who form the government and make policy more than the supposed interests of the “institution of government”.

        It does no such thing. Firstly you don’t need a “plot” for government to look for more reasons to tax and control. That is just their routine self-interest at work, exactly as you’d expect; politics is inherently dirty. There would need some sort of plot for this to not happen.

        You do need a plot to get thousands of scientists all over the world, every national science academy (and many other scientific institutions), all the major scientific journals etc. to come up with the kind of broad, coherent, scientific consensus which we have on climate change just to please politicians. The alternative is that our current understanding is where scientific investigation has naturally lead us.

        Secondly. Politicians control the public purse strings, and have in the main elected to fund alarmism rather than genuine, open science

        That really isn’t how it works. Governments really don’t dictate to scientists, either explicitly or implicitly, what conclusions they have to reach.

      • @andrew adams
        G > The realization that the institution of government has a vested interest in fomenting climate alarm, does not depend on having any particular political outlook; it is simply an objective fact.

        AA> No, until you actually provide some evidence to back up this
        claim it’s just an assertion.

        Oh come come. You’ve seen the evidence often enough, you just won’t take it on board. Government obviously stands to handsomely expand its revenues and reach if cagw gains enough traction. And government is of course the funder behind cagw thought. See the connection now?

        You proceed from the standpoint of flat ignoring this, to maintain that, unlike any other institution, the institution of government has no self-interest. (Even though, as the wielder of the monopoly of legal violence, it is a spectacularly and uniquely privileged institution in society, with all the self-important arrogance that goes with it).

        You produce no evidence for this alleged angelic, non-human nature of government.

        G > you don’t need a “plot” for government to look for more reasons to tax and control. That is just their routine self-interest at work, exactly as you’d expect.

        AA> You do need a plot to get thousands of scientists all over the world [to agree on cagw]

        You don’t. You just hire and fund the appropriate people. Just follow the money. The funding effect on research applies at least as much to government as it does to private parties like drug companies.

      • Ahhhhh ………… the “plot/conspiracy” strawman *still* dies hard with the alarmist hardcore I see. Just can’t bear the commonsense explanation of self-interest at work. Or, more likely, want to obscure it.

      • Andrew A: I’m not going to try, in this thread, to convince you of the (I think compelling) evidence about the politicized fomenting of alarmism on the climate issue. That’s a big task involving lots of interpretive matters and gestalt worldviews, and it isn’t necessary to the point about science that I’m making. I think the point I’m trying to make is one that people on multiple sides of the discussion might find useful.

        But you do ask a very germane question when you ask how, if pure, unregulated science is the best way on average to make discoveries, that it might not be appropriate for doing consequential policy work. I thought I had made that clear upthread in the initial comment and sequelae, but to recapitulate:

        In policy work, maximizing the rate of discovery is not the objective function. Getting reliable, trustworthy, actionable information is the goal. We are willing to sacrifice some of the creative power of letting each scientist decide for himself how much to disclose, how much to archive, and whether to try new methods, in order to get greater confidence in the results at each interim step. In the long run, if each scientist were purely motivated to make discoveries (and get credit for them) this tradeoff would be counterproductive. But we neither have a long run in which to work nor can we count on those pure discovery motives predominating.

        Those same conditions–inability to wait and non-discovery motives–explain why the FDA is pretty prescriptive about what has to go into the design of a drug trial, the FAA is picky about studies of aircraft safety, and even the CBO, God bless its efforts, sticks to “standard” macroeconomic models and uses well-audited standard data sources in forecasting budget and economic matters. Software for simulating nuclear reactors is subjected to mind-numbing checks and accountability standards before it is allowed to be used for anything safety-sensitive.

        Contrast that with the–shall we say liberal–standards for academic papers in climate science, where, say, ex-physicists make up their own ad hoc statistical methods, using roll-their-own software to analyze paleoclimate proxies of dubious reliability with which they have no direct experience. If this were a purely academic exercise, letting this stuff get sorted out in the literature over time by other researchers putting forth their own, putatively superior work, would be the best way forward. That’s exactly the response that most scientists made to McIntyre’s and others’ initial audits–don’t try to replicate our work exactly to see if we’ve done our sums right, go do your own independent research, because that’s how science is done. Only in this case we can’t wait for the literature to correct mistakes and we can’t trust that research calling Urgent Mitigation into question would ever be contemplated, let alone funded or published, by members of the scientific community or the science bureaucrats.

        If I were a UMer, I’d be pushing pretty hard for the rapid adoption of valid, verified, methods and data along with aggressive efforts to address the main areas of doubt about sensitivity and negative cloud feedbacks, even though from a pure-science perspective all of that effort might seem like a waste of time and a distraction from coming up with better and more clever models and theories of the climate. There is no way to get to a policy discussion as long as trust in the reliability of the science is (IMO justifiably) so low. And there are many, many politicians and, more importantly, voting citizens who are quite skeptical of the science behind the UM narrative.

        As an Optimistic Fatalist, I’m not as stirred up about the need for this because I think a) CO2 will go up no matter what due to economic pressures in the developing world and b) we’ll probably be able to adapt to any impacts without a huge dislocation. But I’d still like to see the policy-relevant science split off from the pure science using BLS-level data collection and management, careful auditing of methods, and targeted, systematic research into areas of doubt about CAGW. And I think that would actually be the faster route to getting mitigation in place if that turned out to be the best policy.

  9. Boyd is just providing a summary of a systematic review.

    But, yes.

  10. “. Even if there is not bias in reviewing a proposal that challenges the AGW assumption, there are relatively few opportunties for such proposals since so many calls for proposals contain this underlying assumption.”

    Including the call for the UN to set up a body to investigate global warming.Remember the call was not to do scientific research: the science was ‘settleld’ and the IPCC and its controlling body proceeded on that assumption.

    It is doubtful that any auditing process could have stopped this. The mistake was for the founders to think that the UN could do such a job. It takes years of careful nurturing to build a sciebtific research institution. The process can only be speeded up by finding an outstanding leader.

    • As you say, Alexander Biggs, the call was not to do
      scientific research, the science was settled. Durned
      if I know why the IPCC was needed in the first place
      seein’ as the science was settled. Durned if I know
      why we need it now. And it’s durned expensive.
      Beth the serf.

      • IPCC: “It does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters.”

        The blind lead the blind.

        Stop the joke, Dr. Curry.

        Andrew

    • The IPCC’s agenda is to promote AGW, until it stops promoting that theory nothing will change. So how do you sway a group whose outcomes are already desired?

      • You make this point the point of focus for all papers – that the consensus was changed to fit the political agenda:

        http://www.amlibpub.com/essays/ipcc-global-warming-report.html

        Until and unless “climate scientists” can show the original conclusion wrong then any paper taking the fraudulently inserted conclusion as their premise should have no standing at all in the science community.

        Ditto all the models based on this fraud.

        A clean sweep is required to end this fiasco.

    • Including the call for the UN to set up a body to investigate global warming.Remember the call was not to do scientific research: the science was ‘settleld’ and the IPCC and its controlling body proceeded on that assumption.

      Quite so. But reading the “entrails” of the UN Climate Change secretariat (which houses the UN-ocrats behind the UNFCCC)’s latest “initiative” (well, actually a resuscitation of a somewhat dormant 2 year old “initiative”), Momentum for Change, suggests that may they know they could well be in big trouble! See:

      Hiding the decline (of the IPCC/UNFCCC)?

  11. Merely opening up the publication process would go a long way to removing bias. Crowd-source criticism via the internet rather than secretive peer/pal review. Messy? Of course, but the objective is photo-realism, not impressionism, when the picture is painted.

  12. They left out the bit about assessing all the stuff you haven’t got a clue about which would be crucial even to a rudimentary grasp of climate. You know, the bit where current climate science would be lucky to be at the level of medicine pre-Semmelweis. They left out that bit.

    • Things are always goin’ missin’ in climate sci, moso.
      bts

      • Never mind, they’ll soldier on without, fill in the blanks…that sort of thing. Don’t need to know much about oceans to know they’re a good hidey-hole for missing heat. It’s obvious! And all that hot, squishy stuff that makes up most of the planet? Out of sight, out of mind!

        As for history – talk to the hand, tonyb!

  13. Ian Boyd is on the right track. In corporate America, I was subjected to financial audits, safety audits, and compliance audits. I thought my preparation beforehand was “bulletproof”. But in all cases, the auditors found deficiencies and the plans of action made my operation much better.
    I also worked at two universities and the adherance to standards was non-existent. Also there was no accountability for petty fraud, sloppy analysis, or dereliction of basic due dilligence.
    I would look to the private sector for guidance on the construction of an audit process. Keep academics out of it (with all due respect to our hostess).

    • I would look to the private sector for guidance on the construction of an audit process

      I seriously love the selective thinking behind private sector fetishism.

      Do you have any idea of the amount of fraud and waste per year in the private sector in the U.S. per year?

      And out of curiosity – which “authorities” would you suggest to conduct the audits?

      • Which authorities should conduct the audit is an interesting and important question. I don’t have the answer. Who would you suggest?

      • Looking to the private sector for guidance joshua does not entail repeating the errors and shortcomings of the private sector
        again u let ur bias govern ur reading

        would u suggest ignoring lessons and guidance from the private sector

      • Josh,

        Do you have any idea of the amount of fraud and waste in the private sector? In any sector?

        How are you going to get the Judgeship if you violate one of the basic tenets of trial attorneys?

    • Joshua’s public sector fetishism
      blithley overlooks that whereas competitive forces in the private sector inherently work against fraudulent and wasteful operators, there is nothing at all to stem waste in the public sector, since there is and can by definition only ever be one public sector; it is a legislated monopoly – a law unto itself.

      • blithley overlooks that whereas competitive forces in the private sector inherently work against fraudulent and wasteful operators,

        Binary thinking.

        Just because I point out private sector fetishism where it crops up (i.e., up and down these threads and throughout the “skept-o-sphere” doesn’t mean that I have a simplistic view of the private sector.

        Yes, there are competitive forces that work to minimize fraud and waste.

        And there are also forces in the private sector that seek to exploit opportunities for fraud and to, essentially, rely on consumers to subsidize waste rather than work efficiently to eliminate waste.

      • Speaking of fetishism…

        http://www.christiantoday.com/article/dawkins.says.atheists.are.winning.the.war.against.religion/33945.htm

        ever wonder what he will have to say one day? On another field.

      • Josh, as there is no conclusive evidence of voter fraud, I take it you don’t think that potential voters should provide photo ID and the rolls need not be periodically purged.

      • Josh, as there is no conclusive evidence of voter fraud, I take it you don’t think that potential voters should provide photo ID and the rolls need not be periodically purged

        As with many issues, Doc, the scientific approach is one of a cost/benefit analysis. What would the costs, financial and otherwise, be to instituting such a program, and what would the benefits be. I try to avoid such simplistic ways of looking at issues, as was suggested by your description.

        Of course, since you have explained that you are a scientist, you already knew that – but you were just funning with us by pretending to take a simplistic approach.

      • > competitive forces in the private sector inherently work against fraudulent and wasteful operators

        Define “inherently”.

        But metaphysics.

        And Patchy.

      • Rockefeller, Kennedy, Ford, Gates, stuff like this?

      • Now all the smart folks are going to tell us how to save our 1st…

        http://twitchy.com/2013/09/13/fascist-matt-drudge-blasts-dianne-feinstein-for-trying-to-define-who-is-and-isnt-a-real-reporter/

        what do you think about ‘freedom’ now, willard? Which side of the fence do you support?

      • >> competitive forces in the private sector inherently work against fraudulent and wasteful operators

        > Define “inherently”.

        Fraud and waste make a company less competitive, thereby inviting in more competition than before.

        > But metaphysics.
        > And Patchy.

        The words look like English, but no meaning can I detect. Pachauri ?

    • See my comment in the above thread. Academic “sloppiness” is probably optimal for doing pure science with no/few policy implications, especially if it is “small” science in a field where funding is relatively abundant. Applying engineering standards or fiduciary accounting standards to that kind of work would probably slow down the rate of discovery.

      Big science and policy-dominated science on the other hand, need different rules. Economic data, drug-trial data, weapons-testing data, mining-claims data all need to be double-checked for bias and inaccuracy. Studies based on these data need to be assessed with a gimlet eye for bias. Just in terms of data standards, you’d want something as good as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (and yes, I’d vote to spend the money) gathering, formatting, and archiving climate data. Stuff like that can’t and shouldn’t be done out of some pile of folders piled up on the chair of professor’s office.

      • While I see no reason to presume optimal sloppiness, I would welcome double checking, as long as we accept that:

        – it will cost money
        – it will create more policing
        – it will enforce a conservative bias
        – it will not slow down Climateballers

        The net effect will be that more resources will get into science. This will attract more brain power or bigger players.

      • willard, plays @ FEMA camp.

    • @joshua

      ‘Do you have any idea of the amount of fraud and waste per year in the private sector in the U.S. per year?’

      Irrelevant to the proposition.

      For the construction of an audit process, would it not be wise to look to people who have had some real-world experience of doing so? Their results may be less than perfect, but they are nonetheless considerably better than those from the public sector – to whom the very concept is alien and unwelcome.

      • Latimer –

        Their results may be less than perfect, but they are nonetheless considerably better than those from the public sector – to whom the very concept is alien and unwelcome.

        We have rather concrete measures of the financial cost of the failure to eliminate fraud in the private sector, although measuring the cost of consumers subsidizing waste in the private sector I would imagine would be pretty hard to evaluate.

        So then we have a starting point for a basis of comparison.

        How would you go about measuring the cost of waste and fraud in the public sector?

        Obviously, you must have some well quantified and validated basis of comparison, otherwise you wouldn’t have made such a statement with complete certainty. And once you’ve explained that, after you’ve shown your evidence for how much greater the costs of waste and fraud in the public sector are than in the private sector, could you go on to support your assertion that “auditing” for waste and fraud is “alien and unwelcome” in the public sector as you are stated (as a categorical statement)?

        Because, you know, only “skeptics” would make assertions such as yours without lock-tight evidence derived from exhaustive and comprehensive due diligence.

        And we well-know that you are certainly not a “skeptic,” but a shining example of the most noble of skeptics.

      • Since, unlike with the private sector, there is no way to measure fraud and waste in the public sector, we can only assume these practices go unchecked in the public sector. The only available recourse is privatization.

      • > there is no way to measure fraud and waste in the public sector.

        BFJ, meet the General Auditor of Canada:

        http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/english/admin_e_41.html

      • > there is no way to measure fraud and waste in the public sector.

        Willard > BFJ, meet the General Auditor of Canada:
        http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/english/admin_e_41.html

        So the state is audited by …. a state employee…. state corruption investigated by the state.
        No conflict of interest there then.

        (Amazing how many people are duped by fancy job titles).

    • zentgraf2
      “But in all cases, the auditors found deficiencies and the plans of action made my operation much better.”

      Good and important point I think. What auditors may do is train their clients so that the auditors job becomes easier over time. One example is the idea of internal controls, which might be generalized as stopping people who work for the company from stealing from it. Everyone benefits. An auditor may look for weak points. Say one mid level person can transfer large amounts of cash without oversight. The first thing the auditor is going to say is, you need at least one high level person to authorize such transfers. Another way the situation can be helped is improving the entire accounting system a company uses. That it’s efficient, reliable and accurate. So the point is, there can be benefits along with the problems of auditing.

  14. “For example, in 2006, researchers in the United Kingdom and in the Netherlands found that the number of insect pollinators might have declined. A consequent call for proposals contained the underlying assumption that there was a decline, rather than conveying a need to establish whether current information about declines was robust.”

    And they were right – subsequent research confirmed that pollinator numbers were decreasng.

    • Michael

      The researchers of insect pollination were not advocating that all of society had to make immediate and hugely expensive changes to their economies were they??? Not similar at all really.

      • Ringo, Who is saying that?

        The purpose of the Climate Etc site these days is to educate the denier commenters into understanding fundamental physical principles such as that infrared radiation can heat water.

        If they can’t even get the science right, why let the deniers stray into policy?

      • WHUT, it’s the warmists who need to be educated. If If they can’t even get the science right, such as multimodal heat transfer, why let them make the policy?

      • “If they can’t even get the science right, why let the deniers stray into policy?”

        Right Web, oh arrogant keeper of the way, the truth, and the light, though curiously you don’t seem to win many arguments. I say we throw ’em all in re-education camps. If that doesn’t take, we can just toss them off a cliff. Make a nifty sacrifice to gaia as a nice little side benefit.

        Question: do you ever listen to yourself?

      • Oh then there is the argument that fossil fuel combustion, BY ITSELF, causes global warming.

        Re-educate yourself.

      • Oh, and then there is the argument that simply PRESSURE is what causes global warming.

        Please re-educate yourself.

      • Don’t forget the one guy who was convinced that the rotation of the earth and how the speed slowed with latitude was the key to global warming.

      • And let’s not forget the nutcase Edim who believes that ALL the excess atmospheric CO2 since post-industrial times is due to the ocean warming.

        The ones that get off scott-free are the pokerguys who just sit back and judge other people’s grammar because they consider themselves hot-shot writers.

      • To engage with 90% of the commenters on this site, you have to face the fact that you will be arguing with people that (1) likely flunked out of a scitech discipline (2) are losing track of their faculties (3) are delusional (4) enjoy being contrarians (5) miss their high school debating days (6) have some political axe to grind (7) are rednecks (8) like to pull pranks (9) are stubbornly misguided (10) have problems with authority, especially the scientific kind (11) shills for some industry that is on its death-throes anyways (12) like to take on authoritarian titles like Chief and Captain and boss people around like they were a former Marine.

        That covers a few of the cases. Now go get yourself a mirror.
        And these are the people that you would listen to for policy suggestions?

        As John McEnroe would say …

      • WebHub:
        “To engage with 90% of the commenters on this site, you have to face the fact that you will be arguing with people that…..”

        I’m just curious; then why do you comment here?

      • That is quite the serial tantrum, webby. Maybe you would be happier spending your precious time haunting some other climate blog. Take little joshie with you.

      • Hey Don,

        Welcome back! Where ya’ been, bro? Missed ya.’

        A quick question. Have you ever stopped to consider the % of your comments where you mention me or are responding to my comments?

        Seems rather high to me – almost as if you have some kind of obsession, or something.

        Whadya think, big fella’? What’s up with that?

      • I noticed you made gratuitous unflattering mention of myself in one of your dumb comments recently, joshie. Why you do that? Do I bother you? You putz.

        I pick on you, because you are the most smarmy and loathsome of the little Judith haters, who feel compelled to incessantly yap at the heels of our gracious and distinguished hostess. Is it just plain jealousy, or some deeper problem with females?

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Webby is a card carrying member of the Borg collective cult of AGW groupthink space cadets.

        CO2 doesn’t warm up in the atmosphere it cools down.

        IR doesn’t warm oceans. At most it slows down the losses from the oceans. If the atmosphere is
        not warming this is obviously not a factor.

        Climate shifts are something he misses entirely – can’t even imagine it. The big picture he misses entirely and simply whines about deniers.

      • Thank you WebHubTelescope. I turned your remarks into a self assessment test. Quite enjoyable.

        (1) likely flunked out of a scitech discipline
        Never passed calculus
        (2) are losing track of their faculties
        True
        (3) are delusional
        How would I know?
        (4) enjoy being contrarians
        True, but a We are the World approach sometimes gets better results
        (5) miss their high school debating days
        I miss being on the track team
        (6) have some political ax to grind
        I’ve mostly bailed on that one, life is too short
        (7) are rednecks
        I am a rock picker yes. The farmland is forever
        (8) like to pull pranks
        I don’t think so
        (9) are stubbornly misguided
        Stubbornly trying to figure it out
        (10) have problems with authority, especially the scientific kind
        You can’t fight city hall, you can try to change it though
        (11) shills for some industry that is on its death-throes anyways
        Death and taxes, that’s job security
        (12) like to take on authoritarian titles like —- and —- and boss people around like they were a former Marine.
        My handle was taken from a pirate. It’s a also a Viking name. I want to farm in Greenland again as my ancestors did

      • Chief Hydrologist

        My handle comes from Cecil Terwilliger – as webby well knows.

        ‘Robert styles himself in the blogosphere as a Chief Hydrologist. ‘Cecil Terwilliger (brother to Sideshow Bob) was Springfield’s Chief Hydrological and Hydrodynamical Engineer. He opined that this was a sacred vocation in some cultures. The more I thought about this the more it resonated with me. I am an hydrologist by training, profession and (much more) through a deep fascination with water in all its power and beauty. Given the importance of water to us practically and symbolically, there is more than an element of the sacred.’ https://judithcurry.com/2011/02/09/decadal-variability-of-clouds/

        Webby includes me on his list of ‘climate clowns’ – not sure if he understands the irony of calling someone a clown who has self identified with a clown.

        ‘An Australian civil engineer who invokes chaos and complexity theory at every turn. This makes him one of those null climate modelers who suggest that nothing can be done to predict future AGW. He says he chose his screen handle based on a Simpson’s character who transformed from a hydrologist into a criminal mastermind (and is fittingly the brother of Sideshow Bob). He claims omniscient powers:

        “I can look at sea level pressure at the poles and predict winter storms, I can look at sea surface temperature in the Indian Ocean and predict seasonal rainfall in Australia and Africa, I can look at sea level pressures in the Pacific and predict seasonal to decadal influences in rainfall over much of the world. What can you do? Absolutely nothing at all because you understand nothing at all – you apply a method to data that you don’t understand. It is about as dumb as a computer. You are a lard arse know nothing loser. ”

        Yes I am a hydrologist and an environmental scientist. Here’s a decadal prognostication for the US.

        http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/USdrought_zps2629bb8c.jpg.html?sort=3&o=49

        ‘14.2.2 Predictability in a Chaotic System

        The climate system is particularly challenging since it is known that components in the system are inherently chaotic; there are feedbacks that could potentially switch sign, and there are central processes that affect the system in a complicated, non-linear manner. These complex, chaotic, non-linear dynamics are an inherent aspect of the climate system…

        14.2.2.2 Balancing the need for finer scales and the need for ensembles

        In sum, a strategy must recognise what is possible. In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible. The most we can expect to achieve is the prediction of the probability distribution of the system’s future possible states by the generation of ensembles of model solutions. This reduces climate change to the discernment of significant differences in the statistics of such ensembles. The generation of such model ensembles will require the dedication of greatly increased computer resources and the application of new methods of model diagnosis. Addressing adequately the statistical nature of climate is computationally intensive, but such statistical information is essential.’

        TAR – WG1

        Here they are talking about perturbed model ensembles which are still not an operational reality.

        Webster is truly an idiot of monumental proportions.

      • I hadn’t read that one Chief.

        Quotes are from: https://judithcurry.com/2011/02/09/decadal-variability-of-clouds/

        “…shows that ENSO is part of a global and chaotic system… …However, given the dramatic changes in upwelling of cold water on interannular to decadal and millennial timescales in the eastern Pacific – this is what drives most of the changes in global average surface temperature,  hydrology and marine biology.”

        The one that varies the most is most likely the one in charge. Chaos leading non-chaos.

        “Sea surface temperature is negatively correlated to marine stratiform cloud.” 

        Referring to Pacific Ocean states. SST decreases, SW upwelling increases. Positive feedback. Amplifying a region’s influence.

        This is getting scary, I just learned another thing with the clouds feeding back.

      • blueice2hotsea

        WHT-Oh then there is the argument that fossil fuel combustion, BY ITSELF, causes global warming.

        CH & manacker, etc. have been a little slow to see it, but, hey, they’ll come around.

        BTW, I think this started when someone plugged annual heat into a HVAC equation which actually requires hourly heat. I discovered that HVAC people commonly use BTU instead of BTU/hr to represent power. So there you go, an easy mistake to make, but apparently hard to undo.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        No one ever argued that any factor in the global energy budget was independent. That’s simply a misrepresentation.

        And you blue ice in your typically simplisitic understanding repeat it.

        CO2 doesn’t warm in the atmosphere – it cools. If you are idiotic enough not to understand that it is utterly useless to bother further.

      • R. Gates the Skeptical Warmist

        Chief Hydro amazingly said:

        “CO2 doesn’t warm in the atmosphere – it cools.”

        ____
        Vous êtes juste statuant crazy d’attirer l’attention.

      • R. Gates the Skeptical Warmist

        Chief Hyrdo said:

        “Webby includes me on his list of ‘climate clowns’…”
        ____
        À juste titre, pour vous êtes le chef Clown.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        No one uses BTU – it is obsolete. The energy added to the planet by fossil fuel combustion each year is 0.1E+22 J. There is about the same from radioactive decay in he mantle. The energy added to oceans in ARGO is 0.3E+22 J per year on average. None of the latter was the result of a temperature increase in the atmosphere resulting in less energy losses from the oceans.

        Looking at the energy budget is scientific – misunderstanding it without numbers is space cadet science.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        gatesy –

        Vous êtes un fou belette.

        Anthropogenic CO2 is derived from burning of fossil fuels. The flame temperature is hundreds to thousands of degrees C. How can it not cool down in the atmosphere? I can’t believe how insane this is.

      • R. Gates the Skeptical Warmist

        Chief Hydro NOW says:

        “The energy added to oceans in ARGO is 0.3E+22 J per year on average.”

        _____
        But that can’t be right…since you said ocean heat content peaked in 1998.

        Un chef crazy cela modifie son esprit sur les faits, hein?

      • blueice2hotsea

        Hi Chief,

        As I recall, you disagreed with both Haddad’s and myself, but did not rebut with numbers or calculations nor provided any quantitative support for claims of global temp rise due to anthro waste heat.

        Regardless, the waste heat power intensity is much higher in in cities than when it is averaged globally and by my rough calculations ought to contribute to a measurable increase in urban heat island temps. I checked and wikipedia agrees. Have you run any numbers on this??

        Finally I agree with kim that you ought to team up with someone to compliment your skillset, like WHT or Carrick. There are times when math is preferable to a basket of rotten tomatoes.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Gatesy,

        Drop the French – it is just a bit silly. Vous êtes un peu fou mentir belette.

        Does ocean warming proceed smoothly?

        ‘One important result presented here is that each major ocean basin has warmed at nearly all latitudes. A net warming has occurred despite interannual to decadal variability of the ocean associated with phenomenon such as the
        El Niño-Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and the North Atlantic Oscillation as well as other such phenomenon.’ Levitus 2012

        Energy input seems to have peaked late last century – Willis er al (2004) shows a 1998 peak associated with net toa flux – Lyman and Johnson (2013) show a 2003 peak with a slow increase in ARGO after that. Ocean data before ARGO is not very good – and starts with very poor coverage around 1960. ARGO is interesting but full coverage starts in 2005.

        See for instance – https://judithcurry.com/2013/09/11/responsible-conduct-in-the-global-research-enterprise/#comment-378852

        Your point seems to be merely space cadet science. Now stop being a total knob and just go away.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        ‘As I recall, you disagreed…’

        No I don’t recall – I don’t generally read your comment as they are too lacking in any sophistication to be worthwhile.

        I think Carrick told me to grow up – I told him he could sit on it and spin. Other than that I really don’t know who he is.

        I sure Kim was joking – webby’s math is incompetent and the physics fantasy.

        I just provided numbers – they are simple enough to work out even for a poor, innumerate engineer. I have provided numbers again and again – what I get in return is stupid little narrative based space cadet science.

      • Blueice2hotsea, “There are times when math is preferable to a basket of rotten tomatoes.”

        Nah, produce and eggs are where it is at. The poor and false assumptions that caused the problems are more a logic/common sense issue than math. Take the energy entering the oceans. Liquid oceans extend from roughly 60N to 60S so the average energy entering the oceans would not be based on TSI/4 but the actual energy incident on the high heat capacity-low albedo, closest thing to an black body the Earth has. The average latent cooling of the ocean surface is ~125Wm-2 and sensible cooling on the order of 35Wm-2 +/- a good bit since precipitation on land varies along with the average altitude. If you mention a realistic starting budget for the math, the geniuses whip out some nonsense or the other with an archaic reference to some study using novel methods from erroneous initial conditions estimated in the 70s.

        Best to just let them fail spectacularly. Nothing quite like watching a good scientific train wreck.

      • R. Gates the Skeptical Warmist

        Chief Hydro,

        All you have to do is simply be honorable and admit that you misspoke when you suggested ocean heat content peaked in 1998 and that the most current data suggests that year was not the peak, but rather it is more likely that it has gone higher since then and is likely higher now than in 1998. Very simple thing for you, but:

        Votre fierté et l’entêtement vous empêche de jamais admettre que vous avez eu tort, parce que vous êtes le chef !

      • blueice2hotsea

        CH – The energy added to the planet by fossil fuel combustion each year is 0.1E+22 J

        Wiki says 0.04E+22 J in 2008. Wonder why the big discrepancy. Can you provide a source?

        BTW, Chief Hydrologist ‘s mother on The Simpson’s is Dame Judith. And CH is jealous of his smarter older brother. If only WHT’s name was Bob, then life imitating cartoon. ha

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Energy from combustion enters the climate system at rate of 0.026683347 W/m^2. The rate of increase in CO2 forcing is:

        f = 5.35 ln(402/400) W/m^2 = 0.026705882 W/m^2

        Discussing the components of the energy budget is obviously a denialist crime.

        Palle and Laken shows energy inputs peaking late in the last century.

        http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/cloud_palleandlaken2013_zps3c92a9fc.png.html?sort=3&o=23

        Willis shows a peak in ocean heat content in 1998 – along with the peak in net flux at toa.

        http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/Wong2006figure7.gif.html?sort=3&o=136

        Lyman and Johnson show ocean heat peaking in 2003 – with a slow uptick since. Seems reasonably consistent.

        http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/oceanheat_zps2cb4a7a1.png.html?sort=3&o=1

        The increase in ARGO is all short wave – the axis is in W/m^2 and the change in SW is larger than any mooted increase in CO2 forcing.

        http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/CERES-BAMS-2008-with-trend-lines1.gif.html?sort=3&o=125

        So we have blue ice trivialities – that I will continue to ignore – and gatesy’s mad weasel Borg collective cult of AGW groupthink space cadet narrative?

        A fantastic standard of scientific discourse we have on display here.

      • blueice2hotsea

        CH
        Energy from combustion enters the climate system at rate of 0.026683347 W/m^2. The rate of increase in CO2 forcing is:

        f = 5.35 ln(402/400) W/m^2 = 0.026705882 W/m^2

        The numbers are similar, but are not directly comparable. CO2 molecules accumulate while combustion heat radiates to space.

        CO2 forcing over the last 40 yrs has increased BY 1.2 W/m^2. Over the same period, combustion heat forcing has increased TO 0.027 W/m^2.

        Thanks for helping clarify this issue.

      • blueice2hotsea

        More like 25% in 50 yrs.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        I am bust cooking – duck in a Vietnamese spiced orange sauce.

        So I won’t bother finding the definition of forcing again. It is the theoretical difference in toa forcing on dding a slug of CO2 and keeping the surface temperature constant.

        What’s wrong with that picture?

      • R. Gates
        Chief Hydro, All you have to do is simply be honorable and admit that you misspoke when you suggested ocean heat content peaked in 1998 and that the most current data suggests that year was not the peak, but rather it is more likely that it has gone higher since then and is likely higher now than in 1998.

        The honorable thing for R Gates to do, would be to stop pretending that we actually know for a fact that OHC has increased since 1998.

      • WebHubTelescope
        To engage with 90% of the commenters on this site …

        Just Web ad-hominizing away his lack of any real answers, and trying to cover up his general alarmist credulousness.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        So dinner is cooking – the kitchen is clean again and Daisy has Stargate Atlantis on the DVD. I am not really sure about the spiced orange sauce.

        No clue blue ice.

        Let’s get back to the forcing concept again. The definition again is the forcing calculated keeping the tropospheric temperature constant. Unless I very much mistaken the whole point is supposed to be that the troposphere warms. In fact the whole world is supposed to warm such that the emissions again increase towards equilibrium. The atmosphere accommodates almost immediately. There is a certain amount of extra energy that the atmosphere can hold and this is largely determined by the greenhouse gas content. It can’t as a statistical whole either warm or cool much beyond that point. La Nina of course cool the atmosphere and the planet doesn’t lose as much energy and El Nino warms shedding energy – and don’t assume that these zero out on even centennial timescales. The land likewise accommodates quickly – where is the energy going?

        The ocean presumably takes some time to accommodate. The extra heat in the atmosphere reduces heat losses from the oceans. Let’s assume as much as 10 years before the oceans equilibriate. We presumably have a forcing of 0.26 W/m^2 on some sort of ongoing basis increasing energy in the oceans. This is theoretical and pretty much lost in the large ‘noise’ of toa variability. Ocean heat content seems to follow net TOA radiant flux.

        http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/Wong2006figure7.gif.html?sort=3&o=136

  15. “JC comment: This issue regarding call for proposals is rampant in climate change research. Even if there is not bias in reviewing a proposal that challenges the AGW assumption, there are relatively few opportunties for such proposals since so many calls for proposals contain this underlying assumption.”

    Exactly! Climate science is the only ‘axiomatic science’. The pointy end of the climate science pyramid has established AS AN UNCHALLENGEABLE AXIOM that atmospheric CO2 is the ‘knob’ that controls the ‘Temperature of the Earth (TOE), that the TOE is rising at an unprecedented rate, that the rise is being driven by anthropogenic CO2 being introduced into the atmosphere as a byproduct of our technological civilization, that the consequences of this temperature rise are almost universally negative, varying from mildly annoying to catastrophic, and that our only possible salvation is for governments worldwide to take absolute control of all activities involving either the production or consumption of energy, with the ultimate aim of drastically reducing or eliminating anthropogenic CO2.

    If you are in the scientist business and do not believe that climate science is axiomatic rather than data driven, try making a living by getting government grants for research which challenges any aspect of the above ‘Climate Science Axiom’. And good luck on your food stamp, medicaid, and Section 8 Housing applications.

    By the way, if you have already collected data and written papers which suggest that CO2 has little or no effect on the TOE, that climate changes observed over the last 50-100 years are well within the bounds of natural historical variations and no cause for alarm, that something OTHER than CO2 is the primary driver of climate, or that controlling anthropogenic CO2 would have no significant effect on the TOE, enjoy your shunning and experiencing ‘Rules 5 and 13’, up close and personal.

    Bob Ludwick

  16. David L. Hagen

    Forecasting Audits
    “We need an international audited standard that grades studies, or perhaps journals”. Ian Boyd provides a brilliant perspective on the need for scientific audits. Climate science is foundationally concerned with forecasting and public policy. Auditing principles have been established for forecasting.

    J. Scott Armstrong compiled “Principles of Forecasting Handbook with well established methods for Auditing the Forecasting Procedure. See the web site Forecasting Principles and the Principles Checklist
    See the Methodology Tree and the  Public Policy Speciality Group. See also the Journal of Forecasting, the International Journal of Forecasting, the International Symposium on Forecasting.

    ”Blind spot bias” against Scientific Forecasting
    Symptomatic of climate science is the “blind spot” of ignorance of the entire established field of “scientific forecasting”. The IPCC is based on forecasting future climate, yet it appears to ignore the established expertise of scientific forecasting above. The IPCC seriously flunked. See Green & Armstrong (2007) Global warming (Energy & Environment ). See further articles by Kesten Green

    Foundational Bias
    The IPCC was founded by the UNFCCC with an explicit linguistic bias that “climate change” was REDEFINED as anthropogenic.

    Term definition:
    1. “Climate change” means a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods

    Almost completely ignored is UNFCCCs the distinction:

    The UNFCCC thus makes a distinction between “climate change” attributable to human activities altering the atmospheric composition, and “climate variability” attributable to natural causes

    This must be redressed by the explicit repeated distinction between ANTHROPOGENIC climate change and NATURAL climate change.

    • David L. Hagen

      Steve McIntyre reviews IPCC temperature proxies and identifies bias issues:

      I have been very critical of the repeated use in IPCC studies of proxies with known attributes (e.g. Graybill’s bristlecone chronologies and Briffa’s Yamal). Such “data snooping” – a term used in wider statistical literature – poisons standard statistical tests. In my opinion, real progress in the field will only come when performance and consistency can be demonstrated with out-of-sample proxies of the same “type”.
      Conversely, I see little purpose whatever in the application of increasingly complicated and increasingly poorly understood multivariate methods to snooped datasets (e.g. ones with Graybill bristlecones and/or Briffa Yamal). Nor to datasets with gross contamination, such as the Tiljander or Igaliku lake sediments. Nor do I see much chance of progress when specialists are unable to specify the orientation of a proxy ex ante. Or when they use multivariate methods that permit ex post flipping or screening.

      He also higlights IPCC’s systemic bias of appointing Tom Osborn of Climategate “fame” to Lead Author on recent paleoclimatology.

  17. The problem is us: we are paying the government to lie to our children.

  18. The Left adores the likes of Mao, Castro, Chavez, Gore and the liberal media so much more than they adore George Washington, George Bush, businessmen or Jesus Christ. Everyone will lose if we keep going down the road of the “blue cities” cash for clunkers economy. The American dream is being crushed as we eliminate the pledge of allegiance in classrooms and the Ten Commandments in courthouses.

    • Times change and so do peoples values. Even the pledge changed over time. Who is to say it shouldn’t change? Under god was added after

      • The Utopia of secular, socialist academia has become the silent scream of self-realization denied. A crumbling of human values has lead to the most ignoble end of all: an inexorable collapse of identity and culture. “Take Al Gore, who is sort of the chief propagandist. I think for him it really is a religion. He has this unshakable belief that it’s his mission to spread the gospel of global warming according to Al. So there’s nothing I can do about that. His film is a brilliant piece of work. It looks wonderful when you see it. The fact is of course that the pictures don’t actually prove what he’s saying is true.” ~Freeman Dyson

      • A good question, the beliefs of Al Gore, Divinity School drop-out. He’d progressed up to primitive religions use of fear and guilt, and sacrifices of the abundance, or dearth, of the Earth, including bits of birth.

        No question his interest was piqued at the God Mammon.
        =======================

      • “Times change and so do peoples values.”

        True, people’s individual values change, any time they want them to. But the core values, do not. Thou shalt not kill, steal, bear false witness, commit adultery, have all gone in and out of fashion repeatedly over the millenia. (A fact of which the self absorbed secular humanists are blissfully unaware.) But the society always returns to them as it learns there are serious consequences to conflating license with freedom.

        kim,

        Gore was a member of a dying breed, a relatively conservative Democrat. His entire world view changed when the Clintons took him in, and showed him how much power and wealth can be accumulated if you are willing to ignore principle.

      • Just imagine: if not for Bush the Great, Gore would have been president.

  19. “Something for us to discuss: how to implement wholesale auditing for climate research.”

    The IPCC is somewhat akin to the FDA. Unfortunately, it sometimes seems the IPCC is an advocacy center, in this case advocating those papers that support a conclusion. As such, I don’t see how this can be left to the IPCC.

    At the bottom of the drug system, you have the legal system catching and punishing drug companies for imperfect drugs. While there are plenty of problems with that, it prevents the big pharmaceuticals from pushing out random drugs that cause major harm on account of potential consequences.

    Nation sponsors ought to insist that any study upon which the IPCC relies for its assessment report produces all of the underlying data, methods, etc. as a part of the submission to the point that the studies are replicable.

    Nation sponsors also ought to be interested in getting the best science possible. They ought to set up some organization that rewards findings of bad science, bad data-sets, etc. Make a market for it.

    • What’s the opposite of doubt?

      Ask Thomas.

    • It’s double funny that the organization he cites as a model for improvement – the Health Effects Institute – has an almost David Wojick-like stance on ambient air pollution (diesel particulates bad, other stuff not so much). Last I looked.

    • The funding effect on science.

      – drug companies produce studies showing how their own fortunes and those of the broader public are one and there same. What else do you expect drug company shills to do for heaven’s sake?
      – similarly with governments and global warming studies. What else do you expect government shills to do for heaven’s sake?

      Not a difficult concept really.

      In such cases, bias need not come from what they DO say and study, but from what they DON’T – the latter approach being far harder to detect, and so also more effective.

  20. It seems to me that the IPCC has done a great job in overcoming any bias in climate science. The solution for other areas discussed in the article is to adopt the IPCC model

  21. > Ian Boyd is the science advisor to DEFRA, the UK government department for environment, food and rural affairs.

    Indeed. Seems that he succeeded Bob Watson, who held the position for five years.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-chief-scientist-appointed

    Small world.

    But Patchy.

    • @willard

      Dear Bob. How we miss him. Always one to bring a lighter moment to matters of serious discussion. What a wag!

      Surely his finest moment was to appear on the expert panel at the Guardian’s Climategate debate in London, and then to proudly state that he hadn’t read any of the documents concerned. A heckler loudly asked ‘do you usually forget to do your homework?’. Huge audience laughter, which may have helped to drive Bob’s last tatter of credibility from the hall.

      The new(ish) guy seems at least to be able to stand back a little from day-to-day affairs to contemplate the bigger picture

      • Should we call reading sheets of paper during a debate the Romney technique, Latimer?

        Douglas Keenan truly stole the show with his contemplation of the biggest picture, at 91:30:

        > I’d like to read a quote from Linus Thorvalds [the creator of Linux].

        http://www.theguardian.com/environment/audio/2010/jul/15/guardian-climategate-hacked-emails-debate

        Then follows a very bad misrepresentation of the micro-kernel c. monolithic debate. Since you’re a computer guy, Latimer, you might appreciate where Linus stands on that debate:

        Most older operating systems are monolithic, that is, the whole operating system is a single a.out file that runs in ‘kernel mode.’ This binary contains the process management, memory management, file system and the rest. Examples of such systems are UNIX, MS-DOS, VMS, MVS, OS/360, MULTICS, and many more.

        The alternative is a microkernel-based system, in which most of the OS runs as separate processes, mostly outside the kernel. They communicate by message passing. The kernel’s job is to handle the message passing, interrupt handling, low-level process management, and possibly the I/O. Examples of this design are the RC4000, Amoeba, Chorus, Mach, and the not-yet-released Windows/NT.

        While I could go into a long story here about the relative merits of the two designs, suffice it to say that among the people who actually design operating systems, the debate is essentially over. Microkernels have won. The only real argument for monolithic systems was performance, and there is now enough evidence showing that microkernel systems can be just as fast as monolithic systems (e.g., Rick Rashid has published papers comparing Mach 3.0 to monolithic systems) that it is now all over but the shoutin’.

        MINIX is a microkernel-based system. The file system and memory management are separate processes, running outside the kernel. The I/O drivers are also separate processes (in the kernel, but only because the brain-dead nature of the Intel CPUs makes that difficult to do otherwise). LINUX is a monolithic style system. This is a giant step back into the 1970s. That is like taking an existing, working C program and rewriting it in BASIC. To me, writing a monolithic system in 1991 is a truly poor idea.

        http://oreilly.com/catalog/opensources/book/appa.html

        Douglas Keenan might have kept to his specialty, which Richard Muller characterizes as statistical pedantry:

        http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/11763136868

        ***

        Some eminent scientists might also deplore the censoring of the transcripts from this alleged “debate”:

        > Some parts of the debate have been edited out for legal reasons.

        http://www.theguardian.com/environment/audio/2010/jul/15/guardian-climategate-hacked-emails-debate

      • I was there myself and I would say that many people there did not necessarily share Latimer’s view of the respective credibility of Bob and the other panelists.

        Oh and I’m guessing the bits edited out were Keenan’s libellous accusations against Phil Jones.

      • Thanks, Andrew

        Perhaps are you referring to this:

        I have alleged that Phil Jones committed fraud in his work on the 2007 IPCC Report. My allegation was published in a peer-reviewed journal. It was also widely publicized, including in a front-page story in The Guardian. Yet neither the Russell Review nor the Oxburgh Review considered any of the evidence for the allegation.

        http://www.informath.org/media/a4040/b100714.pdf

      • Willard,

        Yes, that’s precisely it.

        I hadn’t actually heard of Keenan before the above event but he came across as arrogant and unpleasant and nothing I’ve read by or about him since has persuaded me that my initial judgement was mistaken.

  22. Matthew R Marler

    In Nature, Ian Boyd calls for an auditing process to help policy-makers to navigate research bias.

    Wasn’t that one of the original purposes of the IPCC? And of the peer-review system of publications and grants?

    I think in the end the policy-makers (e.g. members of majority and minority parties in Congress) have to be their own auditors.

  23. Matthew R Marler

    Echoes of McSteve, coming from a very big chamber.

    In the end, democracy depends on enough citizens initiating their own auditing processes. The best that government can do is insist that all its funded research results be made fully available to the public.

  24. Isn’t “auditing” the purpose of the peer review and the replication process? Who would be doing this “auditing?” Wouldn’t these be the same researchers who are involved in the peer review? How could outsiders with little knowledge of the field do an adequate job of reviewing the literature.

    • @jospeh

      Do not be misled that peer review and auditing have any real relationship. It is an idea that people will frequently try to seduce you into believing. But it ain’t so. Peer review performs no such function.

      Here’s Climategate Phil – author of 200+ ‘peer-reviewed’ paper testifying to Parliament

      ‘The most startling observation came when he was asked how often scientists reviewing his papers for probity before publication asked to see details of his raw data, methodology and computer codes. “They’ve never asked,” he said.

      As reported by Fred Pearce at

      http://www.theguardian.com/environment/cif-green/2010/mar/01/phil-jones-commons-emails-inquiry

      • Here’s Climategate Phil – author of 200+ ‘peer-reviewed’ paper testifying to Parliament

        ‘The most startling observation came when he was asked how often scientists reviewing his papers for probity before publication asked to see details of his raw data, methodology and computer codes. “They’ve never asked,” he said.
        ——–

        And the ones that DID ask, he told to F off,
        for fear they might not agree with his conclusions.

  25. From Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s latest …

    The chances of informed action and prediction can be seriously increased if we better comprehend the multiple causes of ignorance. The study of ignorance, then, is of supreme importance in our individual and social lives, from health and safety measures to politics and gambling (Rescher 2009). But how are we to act in the face of all the uncertainty that remains after we have become aware of our ignorance? The idea of skin in the game
    when involving others in tail risk exposures is crucial for the well-functioning of a complex world. In an opaque system fraught with unpredictability, there is, alas, an incentive and easy opportunity for operators to hide risk: to benefit from the upside when things go well without ever paying for the downside when one’s luck runs out.

    Academics as a group have little skin in the prediction game.

  26. How can the general public (like myself) trust anything we read? I’m even uncertain about uncertainty. I’m wondering if the relaunch of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory next year will help? If they find out how the sinks work will enough be known to help alleviate the controversy or will we just have more data wars?

  27. Steve Fitzpatrick

    Judith,
    “how to implement wholesale auditing for climate research”
    Clone 20 Steve McIntyres, then fund them to do the audits. ;-)

    But seriously, auditing of research is unlikely going to be welcomed in any field, and certainly not a politicized one like climate science (or GMO’s, or pesticides, or endocrine analogs, etc.). Nobody will ever even agree on who the auditors should be; the various “investigations” following the release of the UEA emails give some hint of how impossible a task trying to audit climate science would be. Climate science is politically charged because many people enter the discussion with a set of values which pretty much determine, absent overwhelming and irrefutable evidence, how they will weigh (or audit) the validity/credibility of research. Since different people hold different values they automatically reach very different conclusions on the credibility of the same research.

    For example, if someone is adamantly opposed to GMO’s, and considers ANY development or use of GMO’s to be both dangerous and utterly immoral, then that person is very unlikely to ever accept research indicating the risk of GMO’s is negligible, no matter how convincing the data and analysis, and no matter the findings of an auditor…… the immorality remains, and even an infinitesimal risk is too much, so they will never budge. The same thing holds for climate science; if you think that any change in Earth’s climate due to human activity is morally wrong and dangerous, then no amount of contrary evidence will likely change your mind. If you think that ‘excessive’ material wealth is also immoral, and adds to climate change, then you will want to reduce material wealth concurrently with greatly reduced fossil fuel use. If you think that excessive public control of private activities is morally wrong and economically damaging, then you are unlikely to ever accept science which is used to justify publicly mandated draconian changes in ‘how people live their lives’. The conflict between ‘progressive’, Malthusian, and green values, on one side and conservative/libertarian, cornucopian, and individualist values on the other makes climate science politically important. This is not going to change.

    Climate science is a field where the ballot box is going to audit the science, even if the ballot box is, at least in theory, not the most technically sophisticated way to do it. People who are fundamentally at odds in their values understand this…. and IMO is why ‘progressives’, greens, climate scientists (at least many well known ones), conservatives, and libertarians have all chosen to take the ‘technical debate’ to the public. It is not really an argument about the quality of science at all, it is about differences in values and a vision for the future. You need look no further than the regular sniping that takes place on this blog (and others) to see how little many people, on both sides, care about ‘the science’ and how much they care about moving humanity’s future in a specific (desired) political direction.

  28. Judith, a really interesting proposal. Implementation would be a bit difficult in the publish or perish academic environment. Plainly journal editorial and peer review processes have failed at quality control in a number of disciplines including medicine and climate. I suspect overwhelmed as well as ‘consensus biased’. All an audit would do is prove the fact to people who already seem not to care very much. My documented written complaints to Science about Marcott and Nature Climate Change about O’Leary never even received the courtesy of a reply, let alone appropriate correction. And both those cases are borderline academic misconduct exacerbated by MSM.
    Perhaps some on line central repository of documented problems or misinterpretation would suffice, at least for shaming and reference purposes. The Internet makes that easy, and some of the professional societies might be hosts. Or government agencies that sponsor research. NIH for medicine, NOAA for climate?

  29. Audit, I got it. See climateaudit.org for Stevie Mac’s review of the IPCC and temperature reconstructions.
    ===========

  30. > The problem is amplified further when statistical inference is used.

    When is statistical inference not being used?

    • How about something like this?

      “This is not an ordinary day. It is not an ordinary disaster,” Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said, describing walls of water as high as 20 feet that tore down mountainsides and canyons already scarred and denuded from wildfires.

      “All the preparation in the world … can’t put people up those canyons while these walls of water are coming down,” he said.

  31. It has been widely reported that the IPCC will say that it is now 95% certain that man has caused some degree of global warming. It remains to be seen if this will be qualified when the report is finally published.

    I think that this will be a hugely important step, if the reports are true. This is a precise quantitative statement and, as such, it can be audited. I preseume that somewhere this statement will be justified and makes the IPCC vulnerable to proper scientific criticism.

    As there is an emerging political groundswell that climate policies are leading to high energy costs rather than utopia, many politicians may take this as a statement to be picked over, scrutinised and, if not properly supported, will damage the IPCC further.

    I posted a video of Farge vs Barosso in the EU “Parliament”. What was interesting was B’s response that 99% of scientists say that climate change is real, dangerous and calls for extreme green measures. If the IPCC makes a statement that many scientists can refute on the basis of proper statistics and logic, the political situation may change.

    ps: If the IPCC were to say, for example, that 30% of recent warming was due due to anthropogenic causes, I would be comfortable with such a conclusion. However, if it were to say that 90% was due to anthropengic causes, I expect that there would be a wide range of informed criticism.

    • stevefitzpatrick

      I think it unlikely that the IPCC will make many disprovable statements.

    • They’ve already claimed 90% in AR4. This isn’t qualitatively different from what they’ve done before. In that case, they made no bones about the fact that it wasn’t calculated from anything.

    • ““It is extremely likely that human influence on climate caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010,” the draft report says. “There is high confidence that this has warmed the ocean, melted snow and ice, raised global mean sea level and changed some climate extremes in the second half of the 20th century.”

      Per the NYT. So they have about a 95% confident that man has cause about 0.3C of warming or more if you use GISS. Kinda hard to shoot that down.

  32. Maybe science needs auditing, but the IPCC, a political body, is surely NOT the one fit to do the auditing, no matter who it’s head is.

    • jacobress | September 12, 2013 at 3:31 pm
      Maybe science needs auditing, but the IPCC, a political body, is surely NOT the one fit to do the auditing, no matter who it’s head is.

      It’s the IPCC more than anyone else that auditing is needed for in the first place. And they can hardly audit themselves of course.

  33. Here’s a quick overview of auditing:

    http://www.davehancox.com/siena/overview-of-auditing

    One of the points:

    “Independence and objectivity are necessary to satisfy the user”

    The auditor is supposed to be knowledgeable, not over their head. The most logical place to find Science auditors is from the Science fields.

    About auditor loyalties.

    1. The CPA profession
    2. The users, examples are shareholders, the board of directors, the SEC, the IRS
    3. Management

    The above is my opinion only. One possible conflict an auditor may face is being paid by management but having a higher loyalty to the users.

    Auditing is often about what happened? In numbers. Management provides the numbers from their own accountants, and the auditor is asked, is this what happened? There are further obligations on the auditor though, more than I am going to list here.

    When I write about about being loyal to the SEC and IRS it might seem my priorities a bit off. Our government works with both of them, to try to tell us what the laws are? I would pick the law over my client. I’d still attempt to maximize my client’s position within the law though.

  34. Judith, I think what we are looking at is a problem with implementation wrt policy in an uncertain wicked problem.

    There are several good comments about how well, but long, science can work in the free market science approach. There are several good comments as to why in medicine and engineering that auditing, government oversight and a formal, even rigid, approach are needed. The difference is in the costs of failure and more often than not a moral backing or at least legal agreement to a moral value/cost ratio. Building codes come to mind as do wastewater permits.

    We do not have that moral backing agreement or the moral/cost ratio. At one end of the IPCC range is CO2 should stop and the other we should encouraged. This skews the approach that is typically used to resolve issues. Consider that at this point if we started mitigation, even if we had a carbon cost, we would not know if we were geniuses or fools. The measurement of effectiveness is as uncertain as the science.

  35. As of when I pressed the enter key to post, there had been no mention here of Kuhn and his ideas, although they represent important ideas in respect to the subject(s) here.

    I’ll grant that Kuhn’s ideas were probably as primitive compared to a mature field as Darwin’s were, but just as the fundamental ideas embodied in Darwin’s ideas should not be discarded just because he was wrong in so many details, the fundamental ideas Kuhn developed/discovered should not be discarded just because some people have problems with some of the details, much less because people with vested interests in the established paradigm(s) don’t like to think outside the box.

    Kuhn tried to divide “Science” into normal vs. revolutionary, a binary distinction that should probably be enhanced to a spectrum with at least one full dimension. I should also note that he explicitly excluded research funded or otherwise strongly influenced by either corporate or government interests. Technically, this would exclude the Plate Tectonics Revolution of the ’70’s, as much of the research was funded by oil companies, or governments for the International Geophysical Year.

    One mental model I like is of a house of cards, with each card representing a specific statement of theory, e.g. the precise definition of “mass” in Newtonian physics. When research calls such a statement of theory into question, this threatens all the cards above it in the cardhouse. When the “cards” being questioned are close to the top, it would fit Kuhn’s definition of “normal science”. As they get deeper into the structure, where more “cards” above them are threatened, they become more like what Kuhn considered “revolutionary”.

    Any particular program of research, in this model, would operate at a specific level of the cardhouse, questioning/refining the status of cards at “shoulder height”. Participants in such a program would have an incentive to oppose research that questions cards at their “foot level”, because it threatens the fundamental value of the program.

    Opposition to such research can take a variety of forms generally considered inappropriate in “normal science”. The opposition by many (most?) climate scientists to paradigm challenges seems IMO very similar to that in other fields, such as brouhaha surrounding the discovery of Homo floresiensis, which arguably has little or no implication for major economic/political decisions.

    So what does this have to do with the subject of this post? Simply that the nature of the auditing process, and its value for political decision makers, very much should take into account the nature of the research: “normal science” vs. more or less “revolutionary science”.

    How? Well, that’s a larger subject for discussion.

    P.S. I was going to include links to Wiki or something, but I found this document, which may be more valuable for those already familiar with Kuhn’s work.

    • If you haven’t already, you might want to look at Lakatos’s Methodology of Scientific Research Programs, which tried to modify Kuhn’s ideas along lines similar to what you suggest. He sees competing SRPs each with its own Hard Core (not to be questioned) and then a Protective Belt (sort of auxiliary hypotheses), etc. Then he says you can assess SRPs by whether they are “progressing” (closing old questions and finding new ones) or “degenerating”.

      Like most such attempts, I think the philosophical verdict here was “nice try, but you haven’t really cracked it.” Still kind of interesting, though.

  36. “It could stem from the combined effects of how science is commissioned, conducted, reported and used, and also from how scientists themselves are incentivized to conduct certain research. Such bias results from actively searching for a particular outcome, rather than performing balanced hypothesis testing.”

    and

    “We need an international audited standard that grades studies, or perhaps journals.”

    Who will set the standard, who will interpret it, who will enforce it, and how? Oh, don’t worry, the point is to sound concerned without actually dealing with the rotten core that everyone knows exists.

    Progressive politicians control the western governments (well, less Australia, for now) leading the CAGW rush to centralize control of the energy economy, they control the UN, they control the IPCC, they control the funding for virtually all “climate science,” they control the implementation of statutes and regulations to implement their agenda, they are the source of most of the funding to the NGOs.

    They are getting exactly what they are spending our money for. And the starry eyed moderates, independents and lukewarmers who vote consistently for those progressives on other issues (where the progressives are just as dishonest and power hungry), think they can somehow gain control over this one issue,

    Mediators, ethics codes, licensing, and now “an international audited standard,” are all useless ideas in this context. They just a way to make themselves feel better about their own constant support FOR THE VERY PEOPLE WHO CAUSED THIS MESS.

    There is really, really nothing new in the climate debate.

  37. This is what happens when someone tries to undermine the drive for centralization that has already advanced so far in Europe, with Obama trying desperately to catch up.

    “So, we now know: Silvio Berlusconi seriously floated plans to pull Italy out of the euro in October/November 2011, precipitating his immediate removal from office and decapitation by EMU policy gendarmes.

    Ex-ECB insider Lorenzo Bini-Smaghi has quietly dropped a few bombshells in his new book Morire di Austerita (Dying of Austerity), worth a read if you know Italian.

    Mr Bini-Smaghi – until recently on the ECB’s six-man executive council, and for many years Italy’s man in Frankfurt – states that Silvio Berlusconi was toppled as Italian premier in November 2011 as soon as he began to rattle the EMU cage in earnest.”

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ambroseevans-pritchard/100025507/italy-floated-plans-to-leave-euro-in-2011-says-ecb-insider/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    Nice democracy ya got there. Be a shame anything happened to it.

    Good luck with those international science mediators and licensing and auditors.

  38. The problem with any external auditing process is to find the right person or team to do it. The depth of understanding of the research audited has to be of similar quality as the researcher. If people of that quality exist, what are they doing auditing other people when they could be doing the research themselves? That question exposes the difficulty of finding a suitable auditor, irrespective of his or her terms of reference,

    Even the best research laboratories have had some bad apples in their past so the quality of ttheir people is jealously guarded.. Their quality deoends not on bricks and mortar but on their culture. and that gets back yo their leadership.

    That is why I say the UN should have called tenders for its research.

  39. Hmmmm … I hope these guys implement quality control for whatever they produce. Smart people come to dumb conclusions. It happens way too often.

    “Intelligent technology: A network of computers could develop a mind of its own. Machines could direct resources towards their own goals at the expense of human needs such as food and threaten mankind.
    Cyber attacks: Power grids, air traffic control, banking and communications rely on interconnected computer systems. If these networks collapse due to action by enemy nations or terrorists, the paralysis could result in society breaking down.
    Engineered infection:A man-made super virus or bacteria with no antidote escapes the lab or is released by terrorists. Millions die.
    Food supply sabotage:Efficient distribution networks mean many Western nations have only 48 hours worth of food stockpiled. Any disruption would result in panic buying and riots.
    Extreme weather: As the Earth continues to warm a tipping point is reached and the process snowballs, resulting in irreversible and worsening natural disasters.
    Fast-spreading pandemic: International travel means a new killer virus, mutated from animals, could travel the globe in days, wiping out millions before a vaccine can be developed.
    War:Growing populations put a strain on water and food resources. Nations will go to war to protect or capture these precious supplies.
    Nuclear apocalypse: Nations with atom bombs launch targeted strikes leading to all-out warfare and global loss of life. Also fears nuclear warheads could fall into terrorist hands.
    Asteroid impact: A giant asteroid is believed to have killed off the dinosaurs. Some fear a similar impact could do the same for mankind.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2418990/Science-superheroes-famous-thinkers-form-doomsday-society-save-humanity-asteroids-pandemics–itself.html

  40. ”systematic bias” is only in climatology, not in other fields

  41. Dr. Curry,

    [also on last Open thread]
    I can not get to this beyond abstract, but hope you might post something on it.
    (AAAS Science News item on DOE proposal for new climate model)
    Researchers Wary as DOE Bids to Build Sixth U.S. Climate Model
    Eli Kintisch

    The United States currently funds five major climate modeling efforts. But scientists and policymakers are eager to have even better models, and the U.S. Department of Energy is considering a plan to build a new, higher resolution model that could take into account features, such as ocean eddies or storms, that cover less than 100 square kilometers. Many researchers are excited about the nascent project, but others worry it could divert resources from existing collaborations.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/341/6151/1160.short

  42. Judith,

    Working templates already exist in other fields – ie The Cochrane Collaboration.

    Why not ditch this mad-house of cranks and food-fighters and do something productive?

    You could start the Curry Climate Collaboration.

  43. Recommendation 5. Please replace Rachendra Pachauri with me. I need the money.

  44. The quality of science just doesn’t matter to some people. They just take the lefty position, close their eyes, and go for it.


    Take Action: Senate Threatens Climate Change Progress

    The progress we have made in the fight against climate change this year with the President’s announcement of a comprehensive carbon control plan is now being threatened in the Senate. Today, S. 1392, an energy efficiency bill, was be brought to the floor, and a last minute push to add amendments that would undermine that progress is being made. We cannot let these amendments move forward; please take action now. Tell your Senators to reject bad environmental amendments that will put the health and safety of our children and our future at risk.

    During floor debate on this legislation, amendments will be offered that turn a blind eye to the devastating impacts of climate change–including proposals to undo President Obama’s plan to cut carbon pollution, approve the Keystone XL pipeline and cut vehicle emissions standards.

    Tell your Senators to reject bad environmental amendments that could destroy our climate and harm public health. Tell your Senators to put people before polluters by protecting our environment, fighting climate change and saying no to the Keystone XL Pipeline.

    **If you are asked to identify an issue on the following page please select one of the following options: Environment or Climate Change. If these are unavailable please use your best judgment when selecting an issue. **

    In order to address your message to the appropriate recipient, we need to identify where you are.
    Please look up and use your full nine-digit zip for the best results.
    Please enter your zip/postal code: ”

    http://participate.lwv.org/c/10065/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=8555

  45. Judith Curry

    I have my concerns regarding an audit committee that more likely than not would be co-opted by a political group, in this case the advocates of CAGW whose members have already disallowed dissent. The outcome of such an agenda then stifles all contrary or unpopular publications. The current crop of publishing climate change cadre have no integrity and are not above doing anything and everything to move forward their agenda. Their ideology is that strong.

    One way for an ordinary reader of science literature to get a sense that the publication is skewed, might be to insist as an opening statement, disclose the RFP and its mandate in every abstract and every Introduction. “Our research is in respond to RFP ……. which seeks further evidence in …… Our research assumes these 3 items to be true: 1)…..2)……3)…..

    The second component to assess the veracity of a publication, enclosing the reviewers critiques (no names needed initially) in the appendix. Card blanche acceptance by reviewers will signal a white wash.

    If the disclosures are for the ordinary reader, the reader more involved in the details of the research should be able to address the specific issues and controversies in the article’s more public critique.

    Sentinel policy guiding research papers would publish the names of the editor and person’s critiquing the paper. Pal review for so called policy defining research would more likely than not would see overall fewer such papers and lend themselves to more public scrutiny. Names would not have to be revealed initially. Only until such a paper. when seen as foundational to policy decision making, would everything get out in the open. Any reviewer that doesn’t want to be seen as less than scrupulous and rigorous in their review would stick to pointing out typos and grammar. Editors take note. The uncertainty of whether one’s review has one’s name associated with that review may reduce those reviews that are the most cavalier. If we knew that only team members reviewed the “southern hemisphere hockey stick” paper, maybe they would be just as publicly castigated as the original author when it was quietly brought back for more work and eventually buried.

    The above; too much detail I agree. Just that the peer review process has to have names associated with their reviews if the paper is foundational: accountability, less sniping, more thought put into the review.

    If peer review cannot be resuscitated, then the blogosphere becomes the critiquing venue until a better one comes along.

    • Ambrose Evans Pritchard has a knack for punchy titles:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/

      Here are the last ten:

      Eurozone industrial slump dashes recovery hopes
      Romantic Germany risks economic decline as green dream spoils
      China to dictate tough terms on BRICS fund
      Europe fears ‘uncontrolled protectionism’
      The PM’s fairly honourable defeat
      India pushes ‘shock and awe’ currency plan
      Libya and Syria heighten risk of an oil supply shock
      Emerging market rout is too big for the Fed to ignore
      Britain to be roped into Greek aid
      Estonia becomes self-sufficient on shale gas

      Slump. Spoil. Dictage. Fear. Uncontrolled protectionnist. Defeat. Shock and awe. Risk. Shock. Rout. Roped.

      Well, there’s self-sufficient too.

      • I have read many articles of Evans Pritchard over years, and I must say that there are not many commentators that I trust less. He’s far too selective on his sources and seems to have many that provide support for any extreme view of his liking.

        On the plus side, he is sometimes quite entertaining.

    • Faustino,

      Thank you. Interesting. I’ve actually been following all this for some time.

      Of course, Australia was heading the same way under the Labor government. Thankfully, they’ve been dumped and now we have to begin the process of unwinding the mess they’ve created. It will take time. This diagram showing the complexity of departments and agencies set up to solve the climate problem shows what an enormous and costly bureaucracy is in place and that has to be unwound: http://resources.news.com.au/files/2013/09/10/1226716/439140-130911-climate.pdf

      I disagree with this sentence in the article: “The great prize of market-based solar is within grasp.“. The cost of electricity from large scale solar power stations is still six times the cost of electricity from conventional baseload power stations; e.g. the three new solar power stations recently contracted to be built in Canberra (by our far left Labor-Green Australian Capital territory government) have won reverse auctions to provide electricity at $178 and $186/MWh. http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/act-solar-auction-won-by-elementus-zhenfa-solar-67633. There is no storage, so they supply power when convenient to do so.

  46. Public employee molests 14 year old boy. What is the response of his fellow public employees?

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/09/12/michigan-school-district-sees-student-exodus-after-teachers-defend-convicted/

    Maybe we should pass an international code of ethics that says teachers shouldn’t molest their 14 year old students. Or maybe get a mediator to sit down with NAMBLA and the PTA to work out a joint paper. Anything but recognize that the abandoning of morality by society in general is the core of the problem.

  47. As noted earlier I think by David Springer:

    The Charney Report 1979:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/nrc-report-on-ocean-heat.html

    “However, the study group points out that the ocean, the great and ponderous flywheel of the global climate system, may be expected to slow the course of observable climatic change.”

    “It seems to us quite possible that the capacity of the deeper oceans to absorb heat has been seriously underestimated, especially that of the intermediate waters of the subtropical gyres lying below the mixed layer and above the main thermo­cline. If this is so, warming will proceed at a slower rate until these inter­mediate waters are brought to a temperature at which they can no longer absorb heat.”

    Everything old is new again.

    Sure SkS showed some bias, but you can skip that and see what was said by Charney.

    “…the great and ponderous flywheel of the global climate system…”

    I am really liking this idea, with the Antarctic circumpolar current being a flywheel that connects with the three Southern Oceans as at the link:

    The 2nd paragraph quoted can be read with the idea in mind, that if they can suck up heat, the reverse can also happen, has happened.

    Snark on: When was the moment when they realized it was time to look in the Oceans?
    Sorry.

  48. DocMartyn | September 12, 2013 at 4:52 pm |

    I would respectfully disagree. I suspect that reviewers, of papers and of grants, are the biggest problem.
    Reviewers should not attempt to decide if the authors of a manuscript, their job is to decide if it reasonable. I have accepted papers, with a couple of of recommendations of emphasis in language, where he authors come to conclusions quite different to my bias.
    How data is interpreted is up to the individual and we should allow the people who do the data collection and analysis to have first shot.

    I figure whoever pays for the data collection gets to decide its fate. If Joe Q. Public paid for it then Joe Q. Public’s duly elected representatives make the call.

  49. A good post on Drake’s passage:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/drakes-passage/

    I ended up at the above post as I was wondering if Drake’s Passage was a choke point for the Antarctic circumpolar current, and also did it have a Venturi effect? Can it effect La Nina’s? If the Antarctic circumpolar current changes volume, speed, and/or degree of meandering then what?

    A Venturi tube:

    Another Venturi tube:

    Venturi effect of not, what if the current just walls up at the passage entrance to a greater extent then is normal?

    • Chief Hydrologist

      You’re progress is impressive. Drakes Passage formed 34 million years ago when South America finally separated from Antarctica. Antarctica has been gripped by ice ever since.

      There is a pressure system called SAM – the southern annular mode. When pressure is high over the pole – it pushes storms spinning off the polar cyclone further into lower latitudes. When pressure is lower – the storm tracks are restricted to further south and more water flows through Drakes Passage.

      This changes the southern Pacific gyre through influences on currents flowing in the Peruvian Current. The Peruvian Current is central to ENSO dynamics.

      • Thanks both of you. It’s a bit like being in College again. Lol.

        “When pressure is high over the pole – it pushes storms spinning off the polar cyclone further into lower latitudes. When pressure is lower – the storm tracks are restricted to further south and more water flows through Drakes Passage.”

        Winds flow out of a High pushing over the top of the Ocean and muddling its circular flow, slowing it down. A Low straightens the current out, speeding it up.

        I’ll be looking at SAM now. To be honest I am looking for a switching effect with Drake’s passage and the nearby Peruvian current. You said that the passage brought ice to Antarctica, that was a regime change. The massiveness of that change to me points to its current importance, if it restricts flow.

        When I look at the 5 major ocean gyres plus the Antarctic current I see these exchange areas, where they are talking to each other. Transferring heat energy, balancing things, sharing, changing each other. The Pacific talks to the Indian and Atlantic Oceans using the Antarctic current, and at least 3 other ways, granted.

    • I agree with Chief that you have been doing good research and what’s more, asking good questions with no apparent agenda on your part. I will continue to follow your comments with interest.

      • Yup, one of the more thought provoking here. Also, I’d like to correct a misperception running loose on one of these threads. I do not support the idea of a collaboration between the Chief and Web. The world gets more than enough of that already.

        On the other hand, Carrick and Robert would make a great team. Carrick hangs out with the Echo Chamber Orchestra at lucia’s Blackboard with the most convincing lukewarmers, most of whom also fear anthro effect enough to want to do something about it. All in all, an extremely clean and informative technical site. You should read some of the recipes in her cookbook, Chef.
        ==============

  50. I will admit to bias when I say l like what Ian Boyd is saying.

    But I have always been bias towards good sense and well reasoned thinking.

  51. Dr. Strangelove

    No use reforming IPCC. Just abolish it. Any organization promoting pseudoscience and alarm must be abolished.

    “we need to get some broad-based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of the doubts we might have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”

    Stephen Schneider
    Lead Author of IPCC Reports

    Lies! Damn lies and IPCC!

  52. WHT’s long list of attributes of deniers on this blog leads me to suggest the following link as required reading for everyone who would prefer to have their comments treated seriously.

    http://scitechframework.wordpress.com/author/scitechframework/

    I recommend that the earlier posts be examined as well as there are 7 principles of good scientific practice have been put forward for discussion. It is pretty basic stuff but nonetheless pertinent to all levels of good science practice as I understand this to be.

    Judith may wish to have a new head post on these topics.

    I had originally posted this comment and link in the wrong thread.

  53. Yes, for auditing to be effective, it is absolutely vital that those being audited have absolutely no control whatsoever over

    – who audits them
    – what the auditors have access to

    In climate science, there is no reason the broader public whose taxes fund climate science, should not have access to all work-related emails and other work documents. Only then can we and our policy-makers rationally determine how much trust to place in tax-funded climate science, and determine whether or not they have cleaned up their act since Climategate.

  54. This discussion is long overdue.

    This is the first time I’ve posted on a climate blog, but I’ve been following the debates for years out of scientific curiosity. The reason i’m posting now on this particular topic is that I saw a comment on RC a few years ago that implied that the raw data that feeds into the models wasn’t being quality checked at source. Having worked in R&D in the pharma industry for 25 years, i was astounded by reading this.

    Everything that is done in the pharma industry, particularly for patient safety, is governed by SOPs. These are themselves compliant with standards set out in Good Clinical Practice, Good Laboratory Practice and Good Manufacturing Practice guidelines that are international in scope and acceptance, by both industry and regulating bodies. Health authorities from any country can invite themselves to inspect procedures and practices any time they want to insure compliance. Failure of compliance is a serious matter and the company is obliged to institute remedies.

    In my department, we actually had two quality groups inspecting our work, one to check against the source (quality control) and one to check that the checking was done effectively (quality assurance).

    Perhaps it is time to consider Good Climate Research practices.

    • marlowe,

      In pharma, the private sector does the work and is regulated by the public sector.

      But in climate, the public sector itself does the work, which is in effect unregulated, since the public sector obviously cannot regulate itself in any real sense.

      What we need is some outside – ie private – regulating of the public sector. Some sort of crowd-sourcing perhaps, where all work the public sector does is by law made open to the public, and anyone and everyone can audit it.

  55. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    A Standard For Policy-Relevant Research

    Research Standard #1  Think generationally    Take account of The Ship Breakers who will work in The Drowned Cities (two fore-sighted science-respecting works that have received 20,000+ ratings and 3000+ reviews from the next generation of voters)

    Because …  Climate-change skepticism that does not look ahead generationally and humanely is (rightly) doomed to cultural, political, economic, and scientific irrelevance.

    Because the best science and the best art *both* stand now — as they have stood for centuries — against willful ignorance and selfish short-sightedness.

    Nowadays that’s obvious … to everyone who stands outside the ever-shrinking, too-timid, willfully ignorant, “bubble of denialism”, eh Climate Etc readers?

    Summary  Pope Francis and James Hansen both appreciate that policy-relevant, politics-relevant, economics-relevant, and (especially) art-relevant science, all look generations ahead.

    Whereas denialists just don’t “get it”, do they?

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    • So in Fan’s mad mad world, the people who think ‘generationally’ are those who advance a totalitarian-inspired political agenda dressed up in a corrupt and increasingly uncertain ‘science’ , bought and paid for by the very same political ‘inspiration’.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Scientists do not require you to speak for them BFJ!

      Galileo and the Fireflies

      The contrarians argue: don’t worry about the mess we are leaving for young people, they will be so wealthy, they will be able to clean it up in a wink. Uh, maybe.

      I would actually feel very comfortable about my children’s future, if we would just begin to put an honest rising price on carbon emissions — that would spur the economy, encourage conservation, efficiency and clean-energy innovations.

      There is still a chance that our children can live in an improving situation, unless we let the fossil fuel industry continue to dominate our governments.

      Gosh, scientists like James Hansen sure sound like a plain-as-day, science-respectin’, planet-preservin’, Reagan-style 21st century progressive/conservatives, eh BFJ?

      Aye Climate Etc lassies and laddies … the progressive science of James Hansen allied with the pragmatic conservatism of Ronald Reagan. Now *THAT’S* a sensible 21st century coalition for yah!

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

    • Impressive references, Fan.
      A ‘progressive’ science student I knows needs some showing that water naturally flows uphill. Just up your street, eh? Can you help?

    • Fan, I’m reluctant to engage with you, but you’ve sucked me in with the statement that “policy-relevant, politics-relevant, economics-relevant, and (especially) art-relevant science, all look generations ahead.”

      It’s been demonstrated time and again that attempts to define or describe the world generations ahead are futile, it has always, and we have every reason to believe, will always change in ways which we could never anticipate. Anyone attempting to base policy on far-ahead projections is wasting their time (and often our money). What we can do is adopt policies, regulations, systems, mechanisms, infrastructure with built-in flexibility so as to be able to best respond to whatever befalls.

      No correspondence will be entered into on this matter.

    • “Thinking generations ahead” is more often than not just spin to lend a false air of grandeur or superiority, when rational argument is not equal to the task.
      Textbook FOMBS stuff.

  56. I think again the intractable problem is who should be a part of the committee to “audit” the research in a given field. As well who makes the decision about who will be included in the committee.

    • @Joseph
      I think again the intractable problem is who should be a part of the committee to “audit” the research in a given field. As well who makes the decision about who will be included in the committee.

      No committee will ever work here; it will sooner or later be captured and neutered by the present powers-that-be. Effective auditing can only come from outside the ‘consensus’, outside the profession, outside government.

      What is needed is much better FOI laws. Make all publicly funded climate science work available to the public, with prison sentences for those who stonewall. Then let the many and varied members of the public make of it what they will. Crowd-sourcing.

  57. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup | Watts Up With That?

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