Is federal funding biasing climate research?

by Judith Curry

Does biased funding skew research in a preferred direction, one that supports an agency mission, policy or paradigm?

There is much angst in the scientific and policy communities over Congressional Republicans’ efforts to cut NASA’s Earth Science Budget, and also the NSF Geosciences budget.  Marshall Shepherd has a WaPo editorial defending the NASA Earth Science Budget.

Congressional Republicans are being decried as ‘anti-science’.  However, since they are targeting Earth Science budgets and reallocating the funds to other areas of science, anti-science does not seem to be an apt description.  I suspect that an element contributing to these cuts is Congressional concern about political bias being interjected in the the NASA and NSF geosciences and social science research programs, notably related to climate change.

There is much discussion and angst over industrial funding of climate research (see my post on the Grijalva inquisition), but there seems to have been little investigation of the potential for federal research funding to bias climate research – a source of funding that is many orders of magnitude larger than industrial funding of climate research.

 New report from CATO

CATO has published a very  interesting analysis by David Wojick and Pat Michaels entitled Is the Government Buying Science or Support? A Framework Analysis of Federal Funding-induced Biases.   This report is a framework for future research on funding-induced bias, so the reports make no  specific allegations. The report includes a taxonomy of 15 kinds of bias,
with a focus on federal funding and examples from climate change science.

From the Executive Summary:

 Science is a complex social system and funding is a major driver. In order to facilitate research into Federal funding and bias it is necessary to isolate specific kinds of bias. Thus the framework presented here is a taxonomy of funding-induced bias.

Whatever the reason for the present bias research focus on commercial funding, the fact remains that the Federal Government funds a lot of research, most of it directly related to agency missions, programs and paradigms. In some areas, especially regulatory science, Federal funding is by far the dominant source.

Clearly the potential for funding-induced bias exists in these cases. It should be noted that we make no specific allegations of Federal funding induced bias. We do, however, point to allegations made by others, in order to provide examples. Our goal here is simply to provide a conceptual framework for future research into scientific biases that may be induced by Federal funding.

Here is an example of how [cascading amplification of funding bias]   might work.

  1. An agency receives biased funding for research from Congress.
  2.  They issue multiple biased Requests for Proposals (RFPs), and
  3. Multiple biased projects are selected for each RFP.
  4. Many projects produce multiple biased articles, press releases, etc,
  5. Many of these articles and releases generate multiple biased news stories, and
  6. The resulting amplified bias is communicated to the public on a large scale.

In the climate change debate there have been allegations of bias at each of the stages described above. Taken together this suggests the possibility that just such a large scale amplifying cascade has occurred or is occurring. Systematic research is needed to determine if this is actually the case.

The notion of cascading systemic bias, induced by government funding, does not appear to have been studied much. This may be a big gap in research on science. Moreover, if this sort of bias is indeed widespread then there are serious implications for new policies, both at the Federal level and within the scientific community itself.

Potential Practices of Funding-Induced Bias

1. Funding agency programs that have a biased focus. In some cases Congress funds research programs that may be biased in their very structure. For example, by ignoring certain scientific questions that are claimed to be important, or by supporting specific hypotheses, especially those favorable to the agency’s mission or policies.

2. Agency Strategic Plans, RFPs, etc., with an agenda, not asking the right questions.  Research proposals may be shaped by agency Strategic Plans and Requests for Proposals (RFP’s), also called Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA’s). These documents often specify those scientific questions that the agency deems important, hence worthy of funding. Thus the resulting research proposals may be biased, speaking to what the agency claims is important rather than what the researcher thinks.

3. Biased peer review of research proposals. This bias may involve rejecting ideas that appear to conflict with the established paradigm, funding agency mission, or other funding interest. See also Bias #6: Biased peer review of journal articles and conference presentations.

4. Biased selection of research proposals by the agency program. The selection of proposals is ultimately up to the agency program officers. As with the selection of peer reviewers, there is some concern that some funding agencies may be selecting research proposals specifically to further the agency’s policy agenda.

5. Preference for modeling using biased assumptions.  The use of computer modeling is now widespread in all of the sciences. There is a concern that some funding agencies may be funding the development of models that are biased in favor of outcomes that further the agency’s policy agenda.

6. Biased peer review of journal articles and conference presentations. This issue is analogous to the potential bias in peer review of proposals, as discussed above. As in that case, this bias may involve rejecting ideas that conflict with the established paradigm, agency mission, or other funding interests.

7. Biased meta-analysis of the scientific literature. Meta-analysis refers to studies that purport to summarize a number of research studies that are all related to the same research question. For example, meta-analysis is quite common in medical research, such as where the results of a number of clinical trials for the same drug are examined.

8. Failure to report negative results. This topic has become the subject of considerable public debate, especially within the scientific community. Failure to report negative results can bias science by supporting researcher that perpetuates questionable hypotheses.

9. Manipulation of data to bias results.  Raw data often undergoes considerable adjustment before it is presented as the result of research. There is a concern that these adjustments may bias the results in ways that favor the researcher or the agency funding the research.

10. Refusing to share data with potential critics.  A researcher or their funding agency may balk at sharing data with known critics or skeptics.

11. Asserting conjectures as facts. It can be in a researcher’s, as well as their funding agency’s, interest to exaggerate their results, especially when these results support an agency policy or paradigm. One way of doing this is to assert as an established fact what is actually merely a conjecture.

12. False confidence in tentative findings.  Another way for researchers, as well as their funding agencies to exaggerate results is top claim that they have answered an important question when the results merely suggest a possible answer. This often means giving false confidence to tentative findings.

13. Exaggeration of the importance of findings by researchers and agencies.  Researcher and agency press releases sometimes claim that results are very important when they merely suggest an important possibility, which may actually turn out to be a dead end. Such claims may tend to bias the science in question, including future funding decisions.

14. Amplification of exaggeration by the press.  The bias due to exaggeration in press releases and related documents described above is sometimes, perhaps often, amplified by overly enthusiastic press reports and headlines.

15. More funding with an agenda, building on the above, so the cycle repeats and builds. The biased practices listed above all tend to promote more incorrect science, with the result that research continues in the same misguided direction. Errors become systemic by virtue of a biased positive feedback process. The bias is systematically driven by what sells, and critical portions of the scientific method may be lost in the gold rush.

For each of these 15, the report includes:

  • Concept analysis
  • Literature snapshot
  • Research directions and prospects for quantification
  • Climate debate examples

Based on my own experience and analysis, I find the following of these to be potentially most important:  1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 13, 15

Turning the tables

Christopher Monckton has sent a letter to Harvard, details at WUWT.  Excerpt:

Two of the co-authors of the commentary, Buonocore and Schwartz, are researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Your press release quotes Buonocore thus: “If EPA sets strong carbon standards, we can expect large public health benefits from cleaner air almost immediately after the standards are implemented.” Indeed, the commentary and the press release constitute little more than thinly-disguised partisan political advocacy for costly proposed EPA regulations supported by the “Democrat” administration but opposed by the Republicans. Harvard has apparently elected to adopt a narrowly partisan, anti-scientific stance.

The commentary concludes with the words “Competing financial interests: The authors declare no competing financial interests”. Yet its co-authors have received these grants from the EPA: Driscoll $3,654,609; Levy $9,514,391; Burtraw $1,991,346; and Schwartz (Harvard) $31,176,575. The total is not far shy of $50 million.

Would the School please explain why its press release described the commentary in Nature Climate Change by co-authors including these lavishly-funded four as “the first independent, peer-reviewed paper of its kind”?

Would the School please explain why Mr Schwartz, a participant in projects grant-funded by the EPA in excess of $31 million, failed to disclose this material financial conflict of interest in the commentary?

Would the School please explain the double standard by which Harvard institutions have joined a chorus of public condemnation of Dr Soon, a climate skeptic, for having failed to disclose a conflict of interest that he did not in fact possess, while not only indulging Mr Schwartz, a climate-extremist, when he fails to declare a direct and substantial conflict of interest but also stating that the commentary he co-authored was “independent”?

Well this is an interesting case, is it hard to understand why Schwartz has received a lot of EPA funding?. Can you imagine EPA funding Willie Soon to do any kind of research?  Or me, for that matter?  (Apart from the issue that I have no interest in replying to EPA’s requests for proposals).  Seems like a pretty clear example of conflict of interest, that fits in very well with the Wojick/Michaels analysis.  And the $50M from EPA makes the $1.2M that Soon received over a decade seem like pocket change.  And finally, while Schwartz has made public statements in support of EPA policies, I don’t recall Soon making public statements supporting Southern Company’s policies?

JC reflections

In my recent essay Conflicts of interest in climate science, I completely missed this issue related to federal funding, but now this seems so obvious and resonates very much with my own experiences and observations.  Wojick and Michaels have opened up what I hope will be a very fruitful and illuminating line of inquiry.

The challenge for the federal funding agencies is this – how to fund mission relevant  ‘use inspired research’ (e.g. Pasteur’s quadrant) without biasing the research outcomes.

Here is how $$ motivates what is going on.  ‘Success’ to individual researchers, particularly at the large state universities, pretty much equates to research dollars – big lab spaces, high salaries, institutional prestige, and career advancement (note, this is not so true at the most prestigious universities, where peer recognition is the biggest deal).  At the Program Manager level within a funding agency, ‘success’ is reflected in growing the size of your program (e.g. more $$) and having some high profile results (e.g. press releases).  At the agency level, ‘success’ is reflected in growing, or at least preserving, your budget.  Aligning yourself, your program, your agency with the political imperatives du jour is a key to ‘success’.

Perhaps the Republican distrust of the geosciences and social sciences can be repaired if the agencies, programs and scientists work to demonstrate that they are NOT biased, by funding a broader spectrum of research that challenges the politically preferred outcomes.

207 responses to “Is federal funding biasing climate research?

  1. We surely don’t want biased climate research!

    • It is the responsibility of the National Academy of Sciences to prevent such bias.

      • David Wojick

        NAS just does studies, so they could at least flag the problem, but not prevent it. One of our findings is that there is actually a lot of research into several of our bias types and we provide pointers to that research. But it is mostly in the biomedical sciences and directed toward commercial funding, such as for drug research. Bias induced by government funding is almost a blank slate. Ironically this means that the bias research is itself biased.

        There are some exceptions, such as NIH and NSF funded studies of potential bias in their grant programs. But these mostly focus on biases like age and gender discrimination, not paradigm protection, which is the issue in biased climate research.

      • omanuel, 5/6/2014 @10:34 am, wrote,

        It is the responsibility of the National Academy of Sciences to prevent such bias.

        In 2014, NAS released its position paper, Climate Change: Evidence & Causes. The first lines of the forward read,

        CLIMATE CHANGE IS ONE OF THE DEFINING ISSUES OF OUR TIME. It is now more certain than ever, based on many lines of evidence, that humans are changing Earth’s climate. … The evidence is clear.

        What follows from NAS is pure IPCC. Specifics repeated on request. NAS is no more able to recognize bias than is Al Gore or some of the famous skeptics testifying these days in Washington. The models based on the AGW conjecture are in chronic failure, rendering both the models and the conjecture scientifically invalid.

        And by what mechanism or authority was NAS appointed watchdog over anything?

      • David Wojick

        Actually the NAS is a watchdog of sorts, Jeff, because it (actually the NRC) frequently evaluates federal research programs, sometimes at the explicit request of Congress. See
        In fact it is standard practice when an agency is trying to launch a new research program to try to get NAS to endorse it. Of course their dogmatic position on climate change is unfortunate, but it could change.

      • The watchdog arm of the NAS is COSEPUP (in a broad sense anyways)

      • Re: Judith Curry, COSEPUP watching over NSA, 5/6/2015 @ 2:43 pm

        COSEPUP posts a list of its publications online, going back to 1982. I counted 51. The word climate is missing. In the early 90s, COSEPUP collaborated with the Office of Technology Assessment, leading to the report Preparing for an Uncertain Climate — Vol. II, October, 1993. COSEPUP, like NSA, responds to requests for assistance, and none seem to have been forthcoming to either the watchdog or the watchdog’s watchdog while the bubble of AGW inflated and burst.

      • Other government institutions have clearly shown bias. The National Science Foundation funded $700k for the play “The Great Immensity” that dealt with global warming. So our tax dollars don’t only go towards biased science, but as an extension to the arts as well in order to promote change.

    • In theory government funded science is supposed to be the least biased. The way it’s supposed to work, is that honest gatekeepers are installed in committees that manage where the funds flow. They are appointed by publicly elected officials, in who’s interest it is to keep their constituents happy. It is the responsibility of their constituents to hold them accountable for fund allocations, and that the public is getting something of value in return for the funds. Sounds great! So what is going wrong here? I think it comes down partially to a voting public asleep at the wheel. A voting public largely dependent on government assistance and paying little in taxes tends to do that. I think the other part of it is opportunists seeing the potential gravy train, that just happens to align with their ideology and preconceived biases, leading to noble cause corruption and abuses of the public system. The pendulum always swings to far in these cases, and it is about to swing the other way. I am so angered by this abuse of public funds by supporters of climate science, I am ready to vote to shut it down completely. The amounts we are talking about are staggering. Tens of billions of dollars! Here is the view from my perspective. Staggering amounts of my tax dollars spent on this research. And I have a hard time coming up with anything of value to me that has resulted from it. We have models that are useless. Mountains of data not much good for anything. And worst of all, it has spawned a new fanatical religion. The USA was built on separation of church and state. Now we have the official state sponsored religion!
      Here is a thought experiment. Imagine what the world would be like had climate science never received government funding. We wouldn’t have the extreme polarization that now exists. We would have far more money to spend on other things. We wouldn’t have spent countless hours fighting climate wars. The credibility of science would still be intact. Honestly, I can think of many negatives, but struggle to come up with positives. Our tax dollars may have been better spent employing workers to dig holes with spoons then fill them back in again. What a shame! People like myself are angry beyond words at what has happened. This will lead to broad funding reductions to science across the board as normally democratic voters now side with republicans. I hope something good can come from all of this. The credibility of our highest scientific institutions has been compromised. Shame on the gate keepers who allowed this to happen on their watch.

    • Judith raises a very important question here that gets little attention in the media (they should be asking this question loudly); unfortunately funding is closely aligned to politics on the climate change issue more than any other science. The question is much broader than federal funding of course because of the global juggernaut behind climate change and the U.S. government being involved in negotiations for global treaties that would bind our nation if we sign them. The financial consequences are massive.

      Here’s just one example of government funded bias that doesn’t hide its intent; while doing some fact checking recently I came across the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Its mission statement is to address crucial scientific questions in the fields of global change, climate impacts and sustainable development. Their main methodologies are systems and scenario analysis, modeling, computer simulation, and data integration. These scientists work together to generate interdisciplinary insights and to provide society with sound information for decision making. Now; does this sound like an unbiased institution? It looks to be funded by the German government, but a myriad other sources and it has connections with most of the governing bodies behind climate change, IPCC et al. This may be a fine institution, but obviously their bias is without question. I wonder how much critical research is done there since their charter is a closed book? Is this what science is supposed to be? I don’t think so.

      I discovered the before mentioned institute while researching the paleo record for CO2 concentrations, in particular the Ordovician ice age which I find fascinating because supposedly CO2 concentrations were at around 4500 ppm during this ice age. The legacy argument deals with low solar radiation allowing for high CO2 concentrations, which makes sense. But my understanding is that the earth is at a peak in the Milankovitch cycle, and that the earth too is near a Grand Minimum per S. Duhau’s., and C. de Jager’s work, so are we heading into a low solar radiation cycle? This investigation led me to the Potsdam Institute and one of their scientists work on solar science whose work published within the last few years refutes Jager’s work for a solar cooling phase; I also discovered a couple other papers that I’ve become convinced are funded by other biased institutions solely for the purpose of closing loopholes that provide arguments against AGW that cover a couple other topics beyond solar cycles (these not published by the Postdam Institute).

      All this new research I found appears to have been published within the last 10 years when the AGW argument reached peak levels. Coincidence? Maybe. But my instincts are something is rotten in Denmark, ur, Potsdam. I fully believe that global government funding towards climate research has led to a massively biased industry of climate research at best; at worst it has become so biased that evidence that refutes the sciences is either swept aside, or papers are fudged to fit the narrative. I’m saddened that I’ve become such a cynic towards climate science, but I have.

  2. Is federal funding biasing climate research?


    • Well, sure it is because radical environmentalism requires bigger more powerful government and bureaucrats like being bigger and more powerful.

      The solution is balance – a cabinet level department whose sole mission is to counter radical environmentalism. If the NSF and EPA get $2.5 billion to fund Greenpeace and WWF propaganda, the RRE (Refute Radical Environmentalism) would also $2.5 billion to fund anti-Greenpeace and anti-WWF propaganda. They would research the benefits of more CO2 and more warmth and assign accurate annual benefit numbers. They would fund research to document the minimal (if any) impact of CO2 forcing. They would funding research to estimate accurately the maximum CO2 level (just how far under 500 PPM the max really is). They would fund studies to prove that the MWP was significantly warmer than today and show the acidification of the oceans from CO2 emissions is too small to measure.

      • So you want research published that proves the MWP was significantly warmer than today and show ocean acidification is too small to measure?

        I’ll google “scientists for sale” and get back to you.

        I’ll give you props for using the term acidification properly.

      • bobdroege | May 6, 2015 at 2:43 pm |
        So you want research published that proves the MWP was significantly warmer than today and show ocean acidification is too small to measure?

        I’ll google “scientists for sale” and get back to you.

        I’ll give you props for using the term acidification properly.

        The unethical dishonest pro-environmental governmental bias can’t overcome per se. You just have to fund honest science as a separate activity independent of the NSF and EPA.

      • I get it, it’s only honest and ethical if it refutes Greenpeace, WWF and radical environmentalism.

        You see, that’s the point, if you dictate the results before funding, then it’s biased.

        You seem to be in favor of that, I am not.

        We seem to be having some occurrences of premature fossil fuel combustion resulting in death and pollution.

        As a somewhat radical environmentalist, I am somewhat against that.

      • bobdroege | May 7, 2015 at 1:36 pm |
        I get it, it’s only honest and ethical if it refutes Greenpeace, WWF and radical environmentalism…

        Well, since Greenpeace, WWF and radical environmentalists are dishonest and unethical, any study results that undermine their viewpoint are more likely to be correct than study results that support them.

        However, just because study results refute known liars (like Greenpeace, the WWF and radical environmentalists) does not mean the study results are correct.

      • rogerknights

        There’s nothing wrong with funding a “red team.”

  3. “…by funding a broader spectrum of research that challenges the politically preferred outcomes.”
    Are you familiar with the term fat chance?
    I’m sure you must have come across that term somewhere in your travels.

  4. Another question, same answer, Does federal funding bias energy research?

    • This is a good question, does any federal agency other than DOE fund energy research? Here is a 2012 presentation from DOE Basic Energy Sciences, what do you think?

      To me, this looks better than the situation for climate research funding, but this is far from my expertise

      • David Wojick

        There is certainly some climate based bias in DOE’s energy research budget. The two billion dollar Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program is funding new renewable technologies, but the billion dollar Fossil Energy program is funding climate stuff like carbon storage and sequestration, not power generation. Their Nuclear Energy program would also be worth a look. As for Basic Energy Sciences that would take some careful analysis. I suspect it is tilted toward renewables as well.

      • Yes, other agencies fund energy research. I’m no expert, but I’d wonder which agencies do not. In some cases while funding/financing is available for both conventional and clean technologies the practice prohibits funds going for ‘Non-clean” resources. Partial list

        The Department of Agriculture. (older link – don’t know if new ones are not googleable.)



        Department of the Interior

        Besides research they also impact resource selections as well:
        The Rural Utilities Services (Formerly REA) used to fund coal and gas plants but now I believe they only have generation money for “clean” technologies.
        The Department of Defense has committed to meet 25% of its energy needs with renewable energy by 2025

      • David Wojick

        Every agency now has a green energy program by Executive Order, but as research these efforts are miniscule compared to DOE’s 11 billion dollar annual research budget.

      • Peter Lang

        NREL is a renewable energy advocacy agency

        NRC is called the “Nuclear Rejection Commission” – they have made nuclear power uncompetitive world wide.

      • David Wojick

        Technically NREL is a laboratory, not an agency. It may even be contractor operated. But it does indeed do a lot of what they call outreach, which is Government speak for advocacy.

    • Another question, same answer, Does federal funding bias energy research?

      I’d agree. Of course, IMO any sort of funding biases any sort of research.

      So does the lack of funding. For, say, the requisite R&D for Space Solar Power. Of course, a lot of the necessary technology is being pursued for other reasons.

      • David Wojick

        All research has to be funded. Funding and bias are two different things. Funding per se is not biased, just selective.

      • Funding and bias are two different things. Funding per se is not biased, just selective.

        A contradiciton in terms.

    • Having been personally involved in energy (storage) research, some general info.
      The other big gov funder of energy research is DARPA (DoD). The Pentagon tends to focus on ‘practical’ next gen stuff like hybrid vehicles to reduce fuel logistics (e.g. Oshkosh ProPulse), or better batteries for tactical field comm (my team received a $3 million grant to attempt a hybric solution to increase lithium air power density). (In Afganistan, patrols would go out knowingly short rations in order to carry enough comm batteries. Better hungry than unable to call in air support.)
      DoE does tend to be biased IMO. Way too much on ‘advanced’ solar with no hope of cost effectiveness. NREL has a big budget but has (to the best of my knowledge) never come up with anything useful. Way too little on next gen nuclear. Both clearly influenced by administration preferences.

      • Peter Lang

        I agree.

        DoD also funding research to produce hydrocarbon transport fuels from seawater using nuclear power.

    • “Does federal funding bias energy research?”

      Of course. The government itself is a political animal, so anything that passes through it is subject to political patronage. Does anyone really believe that Elon Musk is successful in his current ventures because he is a brilliant EE? If so, they are fools. He is on top of the dung heap because he knows how to pull the levers of the political machinery. The whole thing is so obvious, so transparent …

      And then there are all the useful id eee oughts…


    • Huh?

      Well, let’s look at the DOE. They used to do nuclear research for better reactors and weapons. We could use a LFTR reactor (they pioneered the field). Are they working on a LFTR prototype? Nope.

      But they still have a lot of personnel, detection equipment, and radiation sources… They can get funding for solar energy, using radiation for remote imaging, tracking carbon (CDIAC and United States Carbon Cycle Science Program), and similar items. What are they working on? Solar energy, using radiation for remote imaging, tracking carbon (CDIAC and United States Carbon Cycle Science Program), and similar items.

      Asking if Federal funding biases research is like asking if the sun shines or grass grows. The DOE has to pretend to believe in CAGW to get funding to feed the staff.

      The other thing is the Federal government has mandatory training. If someone doesn’t believe in global warming when they enter the Federal government, after years of mandatory brain washing, they will.

    • dougbadgero

      How much more advancement would have been possible if the word “nuclear” had not become political poison 40 years ago?

      • Peter Lang

        Answer, nuclear would be much cheaper, rollout would have continued to accelerate as it was doing during the 1970s, designs would be more advanced by now, global GHG emissions would be about 10% lower than they are and the world would be on an accelerating fast track to replace fossil fuels world wide – result we’d have much lower GHG emissions at any date in the future. W’ed not be wasting massive amounts of money subsidising and mandating useless technologies like wind and solar.

    • Another question, same answer, Does federal funding bias energy research?

      Given the federal government’s vested interest in fostering global warming alarm, you’d need to be seriously delusional to believe this does NOT bias it.

  5. Federally-funded global warming research has so far been the best propaganda for bigger government that money can buy.

    • +1

      Blindingly obvious, except to those who are blind. But, then again, that is built into the very nature of bias, by definition.

      • David Wojick

        The question is why there are no studies demonstrating this “blindingly obvious” situation. Saying it and proving it are two different things.

    • The burden of proof is on those who maintain that government climate research is NOT biased to favour government.

      • David Wojick

        This is clearly not the way the scientific community sees it. Of the thousands of studies published on bias in science there are few if any on bias induced by government funding in favor of that government. That is our principal finding.

      • Would the scientific community of today argue that Pharaohs’ scientists ever published even a single study that was not biased?

      • Government climate scientists don’t admit to being biased. What a surprise.
        Does anyone actually NEED studies to show that vested interest cannot but corrupt? Of course not – which means the burden of proof is on those who maintain that government climate research is NOT biased in favour of government.

  6. “In my recent essay Conflicts of interest in climate science, I completely missed this issue related to federal funding, but now this seems so obvious and resonates very much with my own experiences and observations.”

    Ho Hum. BAU. The key person one wants to button hole: Program Manager. Questions you want to ask: who proposed the question? Who reviewed the question and at what level in the agency? Who selects the reviewers for the incoming RFP. Does the agency have a set of priorities such as: funding so many young investigators, track record of investigator, etc.? At what review level (priority score) will there be funding?

    Program Managers can give answers to many of the above queries and one can write your proposal, including data that you have already accumulated on a previous grant, with an eye as to who are the reviewers and what are the agency’s priorities. Information largely available.

    Where the sausage making takes place is in the composition of the grant reviewers and the ultimate priority score. For climate science, is Willie Soon a member of the grant review committee or are the gentlemen named by Christopher Monckton? Enquiring minds would like to know.

    • David Wojick

      No program manager is going to say their program is biased. The point of our report is that there are scientific methods for spotting bias. These are actively applied in some scientific communities, but certainly not in climate science. Saying it and proving it are two very different things.

  7. Federal funding is the point of climate science, on either side.

    Otherwise nobody would be pretending it’s a scientific field rather than just a collection of stuff that you might be interested in one thing at a time, or not.

  8. Peer review is corruption disguised.

    • David Wojick

      Interestingly peer review is the subject of a considerable amount of research. Here is a bit on that from our report:
      “A Google Scholar search on articles published 2010-2014 with “peer review” in the title gives about 3000 hits, which suggests a great deal of research. To be sure, some of these hits are false in the sense of not being analyses of peer review, but bias is mentioned frequently in the snippets so a lot of the research is focused on that topic. It appears that most of this research is focused on publications, not proposals.

      Much of the research into biased peer review occurs within the biomedical community. In part this is probably because issues affecting health and medicine can be quite serious. In addition, biomedicine is a very large research area, compared to the other specialties within science. For example, the US Federal basic research budget for NIH is larger than the combined budgets for all other forms of basic research.

      The biomedical community even has a regular gathering on the issue of peer review and publication. This is the “International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication” which is held every five years. The Seventh Congress was held in 2013, with 47 presentations and 63 posters.”

    • More like corruption institutionalized.

  9. Stan Szpak of US navy spawar puts it : “scientists will believe whatever you pay them to believe”

    Biased funding is also a key tool for mutual assured delusion.

  10. It is blindingly obvious that funding bias will be with us until it is recognized by all. Until then, we will get the best catastrophic climate science that money can buy. This will continue until a glacier pushes down the Valley of the Hudson and crushes the GISS offices. Even if The Pause continues for 30 years, the research will continue to show that catastrophic “climate change” is “just around the next corner” or hiding under some random rock. But don’t let my pessimism slow you down.

    • David Wojick

      One way to get it recognized is to expose it, along the lines we describe, but that takes work.

  11. “Perhaps the Republican distrust of the geosciences and social sciences can be repaired if the agencies, programs and scientists work to demonstrate that they are NOT biased, by funding a broader spectrum of research that challenges the politically preferred outcomes.” – JC

    Well, the ‘politically preferred outcomes’ seems to be to do as little as possible, so it would be interesting to see that challenged.

    But it’s just more lazy, sloppy thinking. What’s being suggested here is even more biased and politicised science. Scientists are being burdened with the responsibility of assessing the political impact of suggested research and then proceeding, or not,based on that political assessment.

    What a toxic and tragic situation that would be.

    I guess we must be grateful that this is just an inane thought bubble.

    • Indeed, this suggestion would seem to be guaranteeing a political influence, rather than reducing it

      funding a broader spectrum of research that challenges the politically preferred outcomes.

      • David Wojick

        It is hard to see how funding a broader spectrum of research increases political influence.

      • It is hard to see how funding a broader spectrum of research increases political influence.

        It doesn’t necessarily, but if the breadth is defined by the some apparent political significance of the research, it’s hard to see how it wouldn’t introduce a political element to the decision process.

      • When I see publicly funded climate research go to zero, i.e. back to better times when weather was the topic, only then will I regain some trust of publicly funded research. Weather research provides something of value, where results are readily measurable. Predictions of the coming week are compared to actual data. Every day we get another data point to measure performance. Climate research has no easily measurable prediction performance metrics. Instead of one day it’s more like 10 yrs to get a single performance data point. This is an ideal environment for corruption to flourish. Thank you Dr. Curry for your integrity.

    • Republicans actually tried to reform the system years ago by successfully pushing to “contract out” many government functions — ostensibly to foster efficiencies driven by private market competition. In my (perhaps cynical) view, the result was simply another layer of budget bloat with each agency being partially driven by the expanding needs of its private contractors’ profit-driven balance sheets. Billions of dollars in annual funding (much of it for “research” and “analysis” formerly conducted inside the agencies) now flow to the private entities affectionately known as “Beltway Bandits.”

      Of course, none of this is new to anyone who studied the Iron Triangle concept of politics in college.

    • Michael –

      You clearly don’t understand. The way that we’ll know that the results of scientific study aren’t biased is when scientists involved deliberately set out to produce findings that are in agreement with our opinions.

  12. Pingback: Is federal funding biasing climate research? | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  13. WUWT and Monckton…..say no more.

    • Gee Michael, we wish you would…say no more, as you have so little of substance to say anyway.

      • If you insist…..

        It’s bad enough that the serial fool Monctkon was written more gibberish…..but highly unfortunate that Judith chooses to promote this here.

        Maybe Judith isn’t aware that the main target of Monckton’s attack is an epidemiologist who played a significant role in the removal of lead from gasoline.

        Integrity (TM) might suggest removing this screed from here and let it fester in the WUWT gutter where it belongs.

        I won’t hold my breath.

      • David Wojick

        But here we have scientists who have received many millions of dollars from EPA making research findings and public statements supporting that agency without disclosing their financial interests. If they did this for an oil or coal company people would be screaming. Look at Willie Soon. There is no difference.

  14. As I wrote in a previous post, climate science is one election away from a funding crisis. All those “researchers” better have a plan B.

  15. michaelspj

    Beg to differ. When Bush II came in he had control of both Houses of Congress. Some of us communicated that they needed to look into this and what happened? Nothing.

    • That was then, this now. Many people are starting to notice that the emperor has no clothes, but a big closet and a large wardrobe budget.

    • David Wojick

      Indeed Michaelspj, that was very disturbing. Bush II had no interest in the climate issue so he left many Gore appointees in place. They still run the USGCRP.

    • These are different times. Not only to previous supporters now see the emperor has no clothes, we would also like to see him drawn and quartered for the huge wardrobe budget completely wasted.

  16. The money will always be there so I doubt there’s any connection.Bias prolly exists for other reasons.

    • David Wojick

      Actually, most specific programs have relatively short half lives, often just a single RFP cycle.

  17. A measure to ameliorate the threats of 3 and 8, I think Congress should require that: (a) all funded grant proposals should be posted online for the public to read; and (b) that all raw data be made publicly available (unless credibly related to national security that they be kept secret.)

    a. does not by itself prevent bias in the rewarding of research dollars, or reveal bias in the process, but the large body of research proposals presents a better summary of the state of knowledge than does the IPCC review. Some granting agencies already require full disclosure of the publicly financed raw data, and some journals require publication of the data used in the preparation of published papers, but I think that these should be universal when the research has been publicly funded.

    • Hmmmm. Good idea. That should be covered by the FOI act, one would think.

      • David Wojick

        On the contrary, data is often considered to be the intellectual property of the researcher or their institution.

      • David Wojick | May 6, 2015 at 1:20 pm |
        On the contrary, data is often considered to be the intellectual property of the researcher or their institution.

        Fine, make it mandatory language in the grant agreement.

        The researchers can get government grant money, or they can horde their data. Failure to disclose data should result in permanent debarment. It is the researcher’s call.

        They do have the option of getting some of the billions in greenie funding and working out a different agreement with them

      • David Wojick

        PA, there are several initiatives going on in this data disclosure neighborhood, including the new agency public access plans (I publish a subscription newsletter on these at as well as the so-called Secret Science bill now in Congress. Neither however does what you want and it would probably take major legislation to do it. You are talking about the government taking property that presently belongs to someone else. That is never easy and seldom desirable. But just as with bias research, opening up data is already a big issue. Have at it.

  18. blueice2hotsea

    Here’s an old Discover Magazine interview with Bill Gray (who “pioneered the science of hurricane forecasting”. ) discussing his funding problems:

    I had NOAA money for 30 some years, and then when the Clinton administration came in and Gore started directing some of the environmental stuff, I was cut off. I couldn’t get any NOAA money. They turned down 13 straight proposals from me.

    Gray’s theory of hurricanes differed from Gore’s. Rumor is that Gray’s opinions/spittle-flecked rants regarding Gore science factored into climate science funding decisions, all of which were personally authorized by the V.P., himself.

  19. Climate piety has made its way into every institution and undertaking. It would be hard to open a new urinal or launch a brand of underwear or jellybeans without having a declaration or policy to do with “tackling climate change” or “caring for the planet”. It’s gone so far that we are numb to the silliness of it all.

    You’d need a Hoover Dam of skepticism to stop the money gushing to the klimatariat now. Can’t fight gravity.

    • Mosomoso

      By replying on my tablet using a blue tooth keyboard rather than my planet destroying laptop I have managed to save three grams of dangerous co2 .

      You will be greatful for the selfless work of climate warriors such as me when we help prevent the earths temperature reaching such dangerous heights that it would melt jellybeans and crack urinals.


    • David Wojick

      In fact the latest appropriations bills are cutting climate research funding, or trying to. Congress controls the money.

  20. From the paper: In the climate change debate there have been allegations of bias for each of the stages described above. Taken together this suggests the possibility that just such a large scale amplifying cascade has occurred or is occurring. But systematic research might be needed to determine if this is actually the case.

    I’d say “is needed” for “might be needed”, but it is a thoughtful paper. My thanks to the authors, David Wojick and Pat Michaels.


    It’s interesting to see a think tank like Cato go on and on about bias.. There some saying that I can’t remember about getting poked in the eye.

    • right.. from Matthew 7:5

      You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

    • David Wojick

      However we make no allegations of bias. We merely discuss how to find it scientifically. How is that biased? Poke not.

      • > However we make no allegations of bias.

        Is there a need to make allegations, when all one needs to do is to dog whistle, using rhetorical questions or not, backed up by plausible deniability or not?

      • Ok so what good is a framework if no one is there use it? Are you suggesting it needs to be done because there is no problem? Or do you think this will prove there is no problem?

      • should read “because there is a problem”

      • Don Monfort

        Very profound commenting, willy and joey. Especially joey’s corrigen. One star, to split between youse.

      • David Wojick

        I certainly think there is a deep bias problem in climate science. The government is paying for scares in order to support its climate policies. But that belief is not a bias on my part, unless you think that all belief is biased, which makes the concept of bias useless. More to the point we do not make that allegation. As far as I am concerned we are daring the skeptics to prove their claims of bias.

      • Don Monfort

        should read “corregindumby”

      • David Wojick

        By the way, the framework is for bias research in the whole of science, not just the climate science cases, which are just examples we use because we both know the field well. As we point out, there is a lot of bias research going on, but I find it conceptually confused, hence the need for a taxonomy. Conceptual confusion (aka analytic philosophy) is my Ph.D. field. I even have a taxonomy of 126 kinds of confusion. See

      • I certainly think there is a deep bias problem in climate science. The government is paying for scares in order to support its climate policies.

        Of course you believe that or else this paper wouldn’t have been written. And if no one takes you up on your proffer at least you have continued to sow doubt in the minds of those don’t trust the science.

      • David Wojick

        I do not know what “don’t trust the science” means, because some of the science is trustworthy and some is not. No one should trust the climate models or 300 year economic damage projections, for example. The question is why these things are being heavily funded by governments?

  22. Of course it does. It encloses the experts to NEVER BE WRONG. As they can’t be challenged to new science or technologies that are currently or in the future.
    Is gravity a theory?
    Of course it is.
    Is temperatures a theory?
    Yes, they too are man-made concepts and ignores what creates them.
    Is Man-made global warming a theory?
    A bad one generated to push bad technologies.
    We tend to ignore our planets history and that shows warming generated by more and more land mass appearance.
    Cause, water loss to space which has changed our balance and generated a wobble.
    The solar system loves symmetry… Orbs
    We currently are in a huge balance reshifting…takes millions of years
    Man-made global warming in our short lifespans to the planets billions of years?
    Can we say JOKE!

  23. Was that a rhetorical question?

  24. Is climate changing?

    • No, it is doing what it has for billions of years.
      Slowly warming as more land mass is exposed.
      Is it man made and whatever we do, will it change what is happening?
      Barring getting wacked by a monster hunk of ice from space, we are doing that slowing dry like Mars.

      • Back in 2010 Kevin Trenberth says that it was a ‘travesty’ that the lack of global warming cannot be accounted for. Why is this an ominous assertion? Because, we are being Warned!

        The Warning is simple. We have a government science authoritarian (e.g., he heads the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s Climate Analysis Section and is an IPCC lead author) who is telling all of us what we MUST find.

        In doing so, he refuses to acknowledge or consider that AGW theory does not conform to reality. Ostensibly, Trenberth is threatening everyone — especially those in the Education Industrial Complex — who question whether the warming is even there to find.

        This is what Galileo faced. Legitimate skepticism is viewed as a THREAT to the secular, socialist Big government bureaucracy. And, this is the mindset that underlies the liberal fascism of AGW True Believers.

  25. Null Reversal: When does big money NOT bias research?


    • David Wojick

      I think a lot of research programs, government and commercial, work hard to actually advance the science, hence they are not biased in the way we are using that term. If you want people to make discoveries you do not pick the answers you like.

      • “I think a lot of research programs, government and commercial, work hard to actually advance the science, hence they are not biased in the way we are using that term.”

        David, this is a generalization. Care to get more specific?


      • But us warmunists don’t like the answers either.

        If it’s some liberal one world government plot, I’ll join the revolution.

      • David Wojick

        It is not a plot Bob, just a dangerous social movement. No one is in charge.

      • Oh lawdy, a social movement that just so happens to trust the science. Damn them.. What has the world come to..

      • And to back up a little. If only we could sow some doubt in the science maybe some people won’t be so trusting.. Sounds like a plan..

      • You mean digging up every scrap of fossil fuel and burning it.

        You are right, it is a dangerous social movement.

        Actually, one world government looks better.

      • David Wojick

        Unfortunately they are trusting the bad science, Joseph. That is precisely the problem. They are buying the scares that governments are producing.

  26. David Wojick

    Speaking of DOE research and cutting climate funding, this just in from AAAS;

    “Energy Appropriations Approved by House. Last week, the House of Representatives approved the FY 2016 Energy & Water Appropriations bill (H.R. 2808) by a 240-177 vote. During the floor proceedings, only a handful of R&D-relevant amendments were approved. Notably, an amendment offered by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) blocks any funding for the Administration’s new Climate Model Development and Validation program within the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science; these climate-related research activities were previously cut by the Appropriations Committee. Hydropower, freight-hauling efficiency, and select National Nuclear Security Administration R&D programs received modest boosts. The overall bill increases DOE R&D by 0.9 percent from FY 2015 levels to almost $11.9 billion in FY 2016, according to current AAAS estimates. The bill awaits Senate action, though the White House has already threatened to veto the bill (see below).

    White House, Democrats Threaten to Block Appropriations Bills. The White House has threatened to veto appropriations bills funding military construction and veterans’ benefits, as well as energy and water development at levels below the President’s request. Meanwhile, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has also threatened to block funding bills unless Republicans increase spending for both defense and non-defense programs. ”

    • Actually, as far as climate modeling efforts go, the DOE proposal was a cut above since it focused on verification, validation and uncertainty quantification.

      • David Wojick

        Did it include invalidation or falsification as possible outcomes? Probably not.

  27. Much of this (of course not all), could be fixed with a simple repeal of the Bayh-Dole act of 1980. I grew up in the days when, if Federal funding touches a program at all, it’s owned 100% by the public. Of course Universities would have to go back to learning how to make an honest living.

    Secret Science-fixed
    FOI and disclosure-fixed
    Bias-the two above would help dilute bias dramatically.

    Dr. Curry, as you have a clear communication channel to multiple legislators, you might consider pushing a reconsideration of Bayh-Dohl.

    Of course the rent seekers will go apoplectic about how this will end all productive research into medicine, etc. But the US seemed to be quite innovative and functional without it before 1980. I’m sure it could continue to be innovative without the rent seekers.

    Remember when NASA used to brag about “spinoffs” from the space program? Federally funded research should never be patented or held as Intellectual property.

  28. stevefitzpatrick

    I can’t see how anyone can be surprised by Republican members of Congress wanting to change spending priorities, any more than by Democrats in Congress routinely doing the same. The issue is a disagreement about goals, beliefs, and priorities…. that is, it is mainly about politics. That the most politically active field of science (lead mainly by ‘sciency’ green activists) runs into political opposition is a ‘dog bites man’ story, noteworthy only for the pitch of the squeals coming from those activists who’s funding and policy goals are at risk. When you live by the sword, you inevitably face the sword. As Lucia is fond of saying, they need to pull on their big boy pants. Or stop being political advocates.

  29. It’s been another 5 years since the author below made simple and correct observations about what was going on. All of the What ‘Ifs'” have finally come home to roost. The schizophrenia of the global warming movement now makes the Saganesque alarmists look like they’re taking scientific pratfalls.

    All of the alarmists’ smarter peers of the global warming alarmists abandoned the sinking ship of AGW years ago and especially after CRUgate revelations of corruption and fraud. So, what if all of the climate disruption doomsday prognostications turn out to be false, you ask?

    What happens after decades of deliberately confusing debate by cherry-picking and manipulating the data, spin-doctoring conclusions, making a mockery of the scientific method and scaremongering an ignorant public, as we know the UN-approved science authoritarians and the mainstream media have done? What if Europe now admits it was all just one big joke on America?

    Their massive campaign to overstate the threat of man-made warming has left its imprint on public opinion. But the tide seems to be turning… the Climategate scandal and stabilization of worldwide temperatures since 1995 have given rise to growing doubts about the putative threat of ‘dangerous global warming’ or ‘global climate disruption.’ Indeed, even Phil Jones, director of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit and one of the main players in Climategate, now acknowledges that there has been no measurable warming since 1995 despite steadily rising atmospheric carbon dioxide… The authoritative International Energy Agency does not foresee any substantial scarcity of oil and gas in the near to medium future, and coal reserves remain sufficient for centuries to come. As for global warming, there has been no statistically significant rise in average worldwide temperatures since 1995. Meanwhile, recent peer-reviewed studies indicate that increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere (natural or man-made) have minimal effects on climate change – and on balance, this plant-fertilizing gas is beneficial, rather than harmful, for mankind and the biosphere. All this argues for a closer look at the cost/benefit relationship of investing in renewable-energy projects, to prevent a massive waste of resources in uncompetitive and thus wasteful forms of energy. Because every cloud has a silver lining, the ongoing economic crisis might give extra impetus toward that end. ~Hans Labohm (Washington Times, 5-Nov-2010)

  30. Pooh, Dixie

    I am pleased to see David Wojick and Pat Michaels mention “cascade” through press publicity of the fruits of funding. Perhaps “Availability Cascade” is what they had in mind.

    • Pooh, Dixie

      Sunstein, Cass, and Timur Kuran. “Availability Cascades and Risk Regulation.” Research. Social Science Research Network, October 7, 2007.
      “An availability cascade is a self-reinforcing process of collective belief formation by which an expressed perception triggers a chain reaction that gives the perception of increasing plausibility through its rising availability in public discourse. The driving mechanism involves a combination of informational and reputational motives: Individuals endorse the perception partly by learning from the apparent beliefs of others and partly by distorting their public responses in the interest of maintaining social acceptance. Availability entrepreneurs – activists who manipulate the content of public discourse – strive to trigger availability cascades likely to advance their agendas. Their availability campaigns may yield social benefits, but sometimes they bring harm, which suggests a need for safeguards. Focusing on the role of mass pressures in the regulation of risks associated with production, consumption, and the environment, Professor Timur Kuran and Cass R. Sunstein analyze availability cascades and suggest reforms to alleviate their potential hazards. Their proposals include new governmental structures designed to give civil servants better insulation against mass demands for regulatory change and an easily accessible scientific database to reduce people’s dependence on popular (mis)perceptions.”

    • Pooh, Dixie

      Once the public is convinced of the “Threat” of Anthropogenic Global Warming, we can may propose Governmental actions justified by the “Precautionary Principle”:

      Ravetz, Ph.D., Jerome. “The Post-Normal Science of Precaution.” Futures 36, no. 3 (2004): 347–57
      “Science now finds itself in a new and troubled situation. The traditional optimistic picture is problematic and compromised at every turn. The scientific system now faces a crisis of confidence, of legitimacy and ultimately of power. We can usefully distinguish two sorts of science. The ‘mainstream’ is reductionist in style, and increasingly linked to industry. By contrast, the ‘post-normal’ approach embodies the precautionary principle. It depends on public debate, and involves an essential role for the ‘extended peer community’. It is based on the recent recognition of the influence of values on all research, even including the basic statistical tests of significance. It is the appropriate methodology when either systems uncertainties or decision stakes are high; under those conditions the puzzle-solving approach of ‘normal science’ is obsolete. This is a drastic cultural change for science, which many scientists will difficult to accept. But there is no turning back; we can understand post-normal science as the extension of democracy appropriate to the conditions of our age.”

    • David Wojick

      A funding-induced cascade is different from an availability cascade (or an informational cascade, etc.) but the two are certainly closely related.

  31. When it comes to federal funding, bias is in the eye of the beholder. We may all “know” that the results are defective but demonstrating that subjective self-interest of particular parties distorted a specific research project is a difficult task and may be limited to ClimateGate-type revelations.

    To a certain extent, the CATO study seems to presume the very thing it seeks to prove (bias results from slanted funding).

    Our working definition of “funding-induced bias” is any scientific activity where the prospect of funding influences the result in a way that benefits the funder.

    Yet reading the Federal Register, for example, would lead one to conclude that every effort has been made to avoid such an outcome. I can’t recall seeing a grant proposal that openly encouraged a recipient to bias the outcome. Quite the opposite, the RFPs and program requirements are written with objectively defensible goals and typically subjected to an expert panel review.

    I realize that the CATO working paper is a first step in a longer research project but it read to me more like a preliminary RFP from an agency than a finished research product.

    • David Wojick

      It is certainly preliminary in that we are just getting started and hope others will follow. Of course no RFP openly encourages bias is those specific terms, but they frequently create bias by their terms. Detecting bias is not a trivial scientific exercise, quite the contrary, it is a major research challenge. For example, in order to spot the bias of paradigm protection one must understand the fundamental debates within the community. That ain’t easy.

  32. i don’t know about government, but I’ve participated in corporate and joint industry technical committees, and sometimes I had to vote on research programs, yearly budgets, and hiring decisions. The bias is expected, there is intense lobbying, maneuvering, and backstabbing.

    My sister was involved in biomed research, and she told me horror stories. The main emphasis seems to be the likelyhood of getting something published in Nature, Science, or an equivalent journal. And getting citations.

    Researchers seem to build citation networks, and the peer reviews can turn into hatchet jobs. Come on, government agency bias is a given. This is why like to suggest additional budgets for more data acquisition and overhaul of tools used for reanalysis. Those are harder to distort.

  33. Brian G Valentine

    Thank you Madam for imploring Government to search for truth by funding that search.

    I have worked for the Fed government for a long time, as any minimal searching of my background would reveal. I have witnessed the evolution of RFP from proposal evaluation based on accuracy and innovation to the exclusive support of pre-determined outcomes.

    That is the methodology of regimes and not democracies

  34. This is an interesting time in the history of Western civilization, a time when the misfits of a free enterprise capitalistic system of efficiently allocating scarce resources are the stars of too-big-to-fail government-funded academia.

  35. Funding for climate change research is about $2.7 billion. Total “research” by government is in the order of $23 billion per year. How much would this be if it weren’t kept at crisis level and how much of the money goes to “deniers”?

    The academic research career is based on funding. You have to chase grant money. My son-in-law is a very successful research scientist in another field. He seems to spend an inordinate amount of time writing grant proposals. I’d bet lesser-knowns have a great deal more trouble than he does.
    I’d be more inclined to think that the research is being conducted independently and without out an eye to the wants of the government patron, but then I read wild and unsupported claims on climate in otherwise good papers that make it through peer review. Seems like a case of follow the money.

    • Brian G Valentine

      ” … how much of the money goes to “deniers”? ”

      My salary, = 0.0000001% of it.

      To Senator Inhofe for making my continued existence possible – all thanks.

    • “Follow the Money” is always good advice. A money trail doesn’t de facto indicate any impropriety, but it will always tell a story.

    • Bob Greene: ……”then I read wild and unsupported claims on climate in otherwise good papers that make it through peer review.”

      I agree Bob, the narratives are often only loosely co-related to the science.

  36. Steven Mosher

    I dont think there is skeptic on this page who could write a decent RPF that would address the issue they claim to have with climate science.

    I mean a specific RFP and a decent estimate of how much they think needs to be spent.

    1. Skeptics think that climate science, observational science, is not really science.
    2. For the most part they argue that climate is unknowable and unpredictable. they have zero curiosity.
    3. They tend to favor observational work, but what the point of observing something that is unknowable and unpredictable.
    4. They actually dont want any science done in the field because answers are possibly damaging to their economic self interest.

    • Brian G Valentine

      “I dont think there is skeptic on this page who could write a decent RPF that would address the issue they claim to have with climate science.”

      [audible coughing}

    • One of your more absurd comments, amongst many.

    • Don Monfort

      $1 billion dollars to Boeing and $1 billion to the Lockheed skunkworks to review the climate science. Report back in 2 years, period.

    • I could not write a decent RFP for a study of climate change because I don’t have any money to fund it. I wouldn’t write an RFP to spend other people’s money to research something that I have an interest in, because I don’t have a claim to anyone else’s money.
      I also don’t think the government is wiser about how people should spend their own money, than they are. I don’t think people are too stupid or short-sighted to fund important research. Government-funded scientific research is based on disrespect – the government knows best – for the people from whom tax dollars were taken. I don’t think politicians should decide what science gets funded. I don’t think some people are so important or so wise that they should be able to decide what research the public must fund.

      I wouldn’t write an RFP for any scientific study to be funded by the government, because I don’t think government and science are a good mix – unless you want to develop a weapon or something similar.
      Governments are well suited to initiate force and to threaten and invoke violent actions, in defense of individual rights, and that is their monopoly, and only conceivable legitimate function.
      If I had the money to fund scientific research, I wouldn’t fund climate change research, not because I don’t find it an interesting topic, but because I have other areas in which I am more interested.
      If you seek high quality scientific research, hire scientists with integrity. To find them, start with scientists who respect the sources who fund their research, not with scientists who act as though they have a right to be funded, and not with scientists who are happy to rely on money stolen from taxpayers.

    • Mike Flynn

      Steven Mosher,

      You wrote “I don’t think . . . “.

      At the risk of being deemed uncivil, at last there is something on which we agree.

    • Mosher. Go to bed. Get some sleep. I can’t remember seeing this much bilge from you in a long while

    • Steven Mosher

      The other thing to consider is the null hypothesis.
      The skeptics null is that every thing is naturally caused
      So all funding should go to disprove that null.

      • Another soldier in the Mosher Straw Man Army.

        Cows around the world are going hungry tonight.

      • Just cut funding for everything except data gathering. Cut funding for green energy. That would work.

    • “1. Skeptics think that climate science, observational science, is not really science.
      2. For the most part they argue that climate is unknowable and unpredictable. they have zero curiosity.
      3. They tend to favor observational work, but what the point of observing something that is unknowable and unpredictable.
      4. They actually dont want any science done in the field because answers are possibly damaging to their economic self interest.”

      I suppose it would be asking to much for a single link to a single quote from any skeptic of note (hell, or otherwise) that matches this ridiculous list of what skeptics supposedly think. But this is par for the course for progressives who pretend to be independents/lukewarmers.

      I think we should have a fake war between China’s Terracotta Army and Mosher’s army of straw men.

    • SM, you are not up to speed. Up thread I already posted about having done so and won. Now granted, a measely $3 mil. Spent it all on the matsci, took not a penny myself. Your assertion is factually wrong and personally offensive.

      • > Up thread I already posted about having done so and won. Now granted, a measely $3 mil.


        The Pentagon tends to focus on ‘practical’ next gen stuff like hybrid vehicles to reduce fuel logistics (e.g. Oshkosh ProPulse), or better batteries for tactical field comm (my team received a $3 million grant to attempt a hybric solution to increase lithium air power density).

        Moshpit’s request was not about an RFP for an hybrid solution to increase lithium air power density, but about “a decent RPF that would address the issue they claim to have with climate science” or more precisely “a specific RFP and a decent estimate of how much they think needs to be spent.”

        Another gun by Sir Rud.

        Still no bullet.

    • dougbadgero

      Nonsense, chaos does not imply nothing CAN be known. There are system dynamics that define the shape of the response surface. What has been done to describe the shape of the attractor either globally or regionally?Stadium Wave and the recent paper on albedo are valuable first steps, but there is much more that could be done with proper funding.

    • Steven, You are just out to lunch here and totally wrong. There is a clear work statement that needs attention and its obvious.

      1. Better data on the planetary energy flows
      2. Better understanding of the tropics, convection and the tropopause
      3. Improved simple models for climate.

      You are just generalizing about skeptics as a group and falling into sloppy habits of thought.

      • Who would be the leading scientists you would fund in each of these areas? What would they be doing that many are not already doing in these areas? The topics listed are active areas. We see new work on all of these every year. What would be different, or more specifically, who?

    • David L. Hagen

      Mosher – Stawman argument. Try addressing the perspective of real scientists like Christy, Spencer and Curry.

      • If the Republicans get their way with NASA, Christy and Spencer will lose out because they are using satellites to look at earth, while the Republicans specifically don’t want NASA to do that. People clamoring for better energy budgets would also lose out. Do skeptics favor the looking away approach?

      • David L. Hagen

        Jim D
        Christy & Spencer will continue to get funding as their temperature measurements are vital to understanding climate. The problem is with IPCC’s models that predicted 200% higher from 1990 to present of the actual temperature rise. NASA has an excellent verification and validation group that should have been brought to bear decades ago but was not – to allow the gravy train to continue.

    • “1. Skeptics think that climate science, observational science, is not really science.”

      It is more like skeptics thinks some aspects of climate science isn’t very good science. Inverted reconstructions and tree rings skipping years comes to mind.

      “2. For the most part they argue that climate is unknowable and unpredictable. they have zero curiosity.”

      More like there are limits to how well climate is knowable. With the uncertainty in the TOA imbalance being 2/3rds the value of the imbalance estimate, that should be obvious.
      “3. They tend to favor observational work, but what the point of observing something that is unknowable and unpredictable.”

      With enough observations the unknowable/unpredictable become less vague and you can estimate a degree of uncertainty that becomes more reliable. Natural variablity limited to +/-0.1 C and “zeroing out” in three decades was a pretty over-confident SWAG.

      “4. They actually dont want any science done in the field because answers are possibly damaging to their economic self interest..”

      If “CLIMATE SCIENCE” started focusing on aspects of climate instead of the current vague term “CLIMATE CHANGE” would be taken more seriously. as it is, your penis shrank by a nanometer while you drank your possibly last cup of coffee which is bad for your pre-traumatic stress syndrome, at least according to “CLIMATE SCIENCE”.

    • David Wojick

      Any list of what skeptics believe will be wrong because different skeptics believe different things. Skepticism means just that, which in this case is not accepting some aspect of the complex argument for CAGW. I am sure that some skeptics could write an RFP for research into specific skeptical aspects of the scientific debate that are presently underfunded. In fact NASA tried to launch a sun-climate research program awhile back but it did not fly. Nor is all the present research pro-CAGW, just a lot of it.

    • “1. Skeptics think that climate science, observational science, is not really science.”

      Presenting squiggly line drawings that represent abstract averages is observational science?


      • David Wojick

        Indeed these are not observations. BEST is an extreme case of data manipulation because they take the meager station and SST data and then create a continuous temperature field covering the earth. There are lots of ways to do this so many assumptions are required. The result is far from observational.

  37. Craig Loehle

    The title for many FRPs give a hint about the proper answer. It is for a study of climate change due to CO2, not a study of earth climate. A study of “impact of X” rather than basic processes. Try getting funding to show the benefits or rising CO2, though many studies trying to show impact end up showing benefits anyway since integrity has not vanished from the Earth among scientists.

  38. Answer to question: Ofcourse it does, particularly at EPA, NSA, and NOAA.

    George Devries Klein, PhD, PG, FGSA

  39. Hi Judy – You asked

    Is federal funding biasing climate research?

    As just one example with respect to my experiences, below is listed one of my weblog posts in 2011 titled

    “My Experiences With A Lack Of Proper Diligence And Bias In The NSF Review Process For Climate Proposals.

    In a summary of my post, this is what I concluded:

    “NSF does not retain a record of e-mail communications

    NSF is cavalier in terms of the length of time proposals are under review.

    NSF has decided to emphasize climate modeling and of funding multi-decadal climate predictions, at the expense of research which can be tested against real-world observations.

    NSF penalizes scientists who criticize their performance.

    My recommendations include:

    Guarantee that the review process be completed within 6 months [my most recent land use and climate proposal was not even sent out for review until 10 months after its receipt!)

    Retain all e-mail communications indefinitely (NSF staff can routinely delete e-mails, such that there is no record to check their accountability)

    Require external independent assessments, by a subset of scientists who are outside of the NSF, of the reviews and manager decisions, including names of referees. This review should be on all accepted and rejected proposals ( as documented in the NSF letter at the end of this post, since they were so late sending out for review, they simply relied on referees of an earlier (rejected) proposal; this is laziness at best).”

    Thus the answer to your question is clear. Federal research funding on climate issues is biased and penalizes those who do not follow their specified research pathway.

    Roger Sr.

    • Mike Flynn

      There is nothing surprising, really. He who pays the piper, calls the tune.

      Alternatively, remember the Golden Rule – He who has the gold, makes the rules.

      Seriously, it has alway amazed me that credence is given to assessors and referees who demonstrate their lack of original thought by using their time to pass judgement on the future of others, if you see what I mean.

      Innovation, scientific or otherwise, cannot be ordered or commanded at will. Original thought creates an idea. Research may enhance the form or function of the resultant widget, but it is stupid to spend vast amounts of money in the faint hope that a particular person will invent whatever it is you want.

      Such is the seduction of power inherent in the administration of funds.

      Keep in mind Archimedes, Pythagoras, Newton, Tyndall, Marconi and all the rest. Think of how much US Government funding went into creating the thermometer, the barometer, the watt, ohm, angstrom, and so on.

      Wealth, position, education, or general acclamation don’t seem to have any impact on intelligence, but are often treated as if they make the recipient very smart indeed.

      • The government funding model served us well when directed at National Defense. Radar, Sonar, the Bomb, missiles, aeronautics, launching satellites etc. The military was the customer, knew what they needed and scientists and engineers were funded to give it to them. The same model applied to climate science and CAGW is an unmitigated disaster.

      • Don Monfort

        It’s not really the same model, Mark. Generally speaking the government hired profit making businesses that competed to design and build specified defense systems. Those companies had to make things that actually worked to get more contracts to stay in business. That’s why I say we give a few billion dollars to companies like Boeing and Lockheed to audit the work of the tenured ivory tower types, who have been using our money to manufacture a largely political consensus.

      • Mike Flynn

        Mark Silbert,

        The U.S. Government funding was devoted to making better widgets, by and large.

        For example – Radar – German invention. Sonar – British/German. Atom bomb – German. Missiles – Chinese (or German for modern missiles such as the V2). Aeronautics – modern(ish) – British. Space travel – USSR.

        However, Edison, Land (Polaroid), Eastman (Kodak) and many others were prolific inventors and innovators, without Government funding.

        Maybe invention can occur by direction. I just haven’t seen any evidence of it yet.

      • Don and Mike, you both make excellent points. Frankly I don’t think it would take any where near a few billion $ for Boeing and/or Lockheed to do a Red Team analysis of the tenured ivory tower types and wade through the pile of dung that has been created around CAGW.

    • rpielke | May 6, 2015 at 6:48 pm | Reply

      “My Experiences With A Lack Of Proper Diligence And Bias In The NSF Review Process For Climate Proposals.

      A cautionary tale that is an accurate reflection of government bureaucrats.

      Government bureaucrats are famous for their rigid and limited patterns of thought.

      The NSF should have it’s climate funding responsibilities stripped from it and the oversight turned over to some objective independent outside group such the GWPF or the George Marshall Institute that wishes to assume them..

  40. It’s all so corrupt it’s beyond the pale. Almost all of government is like this now and little can be done about it. It’s the old SNAFU situation normal all foulded up. Occassionally little peices of corruption get exposed but it just takes the spotlight off the real bigger areas of corruption.

    • That isn’t true.

      Everyone in DC should be subject to term limits. After 10-12 years they should duck-walk the bureaucrats, congressional aides, and lobbyists out of town.

      Failing that we can just downsize the Federal government and return its stolen powers to the states.

      Besides, if the government isn’t going to handle science funding objectively and ethically the government shouldn’t be funding science at all. If there is a need for research the grant oversight can be outsourced.

      • “Failing that we can just downsize the Federal government and return its stolen powers to the states.”

        “How to make a million dollars: First, get a million dollars.”
        — Steve Martin

  41. Prof Curry have you seen this in Nature – seems to be closely connected to your query here and in other blog posts about climate science integrity.

    Ad it’s in Nature!

    • “Scientific advisers must resist pressures that undermine the integrity of climate science.”

      That ship has not only sailed,it is now a rusting old hulk on the bottom of the sea. The HMS Climate Science Integrity ran into the ice berg of reality, with the usual result.

      • And another quote from that Nature piece, Gary:

        “Scientific advisers should resist the temptation to be political entrepreneurs, peddling their advice by exaggerating how easy it is to transform the economy or deploy renewable technologies, for instance. Their task is to analyse critically the risks and benefits of political efforts and contribute empirically sound — and sometimes unwelcome — perspectives to the global climate-policy discourse.”

        I’d say Prof Curry’s recent responses to the Follow Up Questions to House Testimony do exactly that.

        So maybe things aren’t quite as lousy as you’re suggesting… ;)

    • thx, i follow oliver geden on twitter, he is excellent.

    • Policy: Climate advisers must maintain integrity

      That is funny. You can’t maintain something you didn’t have to begin with.

      The article endorses a 2°C target that was just invented nonsense to begin with.

      The global warming community is so dishonest it is just breathtaking.

      The worst GHG warming on the horizon is 0.24°C. Talking about 8.3 times that as a potential problem that needs immediate action is just crazy.

  42. Curious George

    “The authors declare no competing financial interests”. Why would a paltry $31,000,000.00 be considered a financial interest? The Big Oil surely spends much, much more on studies of Sun’s influence on the climate.

    A usual consensus way of looking at things.

  43. No surprises here and neither are there in the comments from both sides of the great divide. BAU so move along folks.

    • David Wojick

      Sorry you are not surprised by our research results, as I was. I had no idea there was this much research into bias in science. Mind you this was not about climate science.

      • Judith said this in her reflections above: ….”but now this seems so obvious and resonates very much with my own experiences and observations”…. Intuitively, David, wouldn’t you expect that research funding sources would tend to fund research that supports their POV? Government bodies would seem to have their biases as well.

  44. “Is federal funding biasing climate research?”

    I put the difficulty of this question right up there with – Is water wet?

  45. David L. Hagen

    See US Federal R&D distribution trends.
    Energy is < 10% of health and < 1/3 of Space.

    EIA reports the US Energy is 8.3% of GDP in 2010.
    Non energy/weapon related Energy R&D is only ~ 5%.

    Transport fuel costs drive unemployment up/down. Yet receive very little funding.
    CO2 which has very little impact on GPD receives far more.

  46. Spending in context. The US spends $2.5 billion on climate science, and $8 billion on clean energy. The cost per person of climate science is a couple of latte grandes per year.

    • Don Monfort

      That is a pretty pathetic accounting, jimmy. Where did you study finance and economics?

    • Mike Flynn

      Jim D,

      A few billion here, a few billion there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

  47. Peter Lang

    Wojick and Michaels have opened up what I hope will be a very fruitful and illuminating line of inquiry.

    I agree. This is interesting.

    Thanks David Wojick and Pat Michaels

  48. Judith,

    The Hardwig essay on the Ethics of Climate Expertise is very relevant here.

  49. Well, this certainly has some britches in a knot.

    Unfortunately, they will first cut something useful and popular so they can blame it on the Republicans.

    That is how the game is played,

    • Reading comments over at the huff post article you link makes me nauseous. I used to wonder why sunnis and shiites would prefer to engage in war with each other rather than just co-exist peacefully. Sadly I now understand those feelings. In the usa we have normal people and eco loons.

  50. I just thought of more evidence for bias in government-funded research.

    Has anyone else noticed that there is a gross imbalance in medical research examining the causality between HIV and AIDS? How many papers can you think of that show a different causal mechanism? Not many ,right?

    What else could explain that disparity other than bias caused by funding?

    • Joshua
      If and when you can show how the funders of medical research into HIV and Aids have a vested interest in biasing that research, you will have the beginnings of a point.
      But until then you have no point at all.

  51. Since the federal govenment stands to hugely enrich and empower itself from biasing its climate research, it would be a absolute miracle if this was NOT happening.

    The onus of proof is thus on those who think it is NOT biased – those who think there is some conspiracy of honesty and integrity at work here, whose conspirators are pursuing the truth in defiance of their duty to advance the paymasters’s interests, and who manage to hide their science honesty from the funding agenceis and bureaucrats.

    Especially in the light of all the official Climategate coverups, and the ongoing deafening silence from the Climagate cr00ks’ colleagues, whose silence suggests that alarmist bias is par for the course, and hence hardly worth a mention.

  52. Speaking of interesting ways that to obtain funding-
    …..This past week, Southern California Edison filed documents with the Public Utilities Commission detailing how Peevey tried to persuade Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric to donate $25 million to fund the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA. If I didn’t know better, I could have concluded Peevey was a bully, maybe even an extortionist.

    …..”None of this is to suggest the California Public Utilities Commission under Peevey was part of a sleazy kleptocracy in which officials demanded tribute in exchange for favorable action. Far from it. Clearly, Peevey thought the strong-arm means were justified by the purest of environmentalist ends. It doesn’t make it right.”

  53. you know what they say you get what you pay for. so the saying goes.

  54. David Wojick

    Here is a good example of the ongoing discussion of bias in peer review, especially the question of who is responsible for controlling it.

  55. Government funding, and the bias(es) it brings, is indeed one very worthwhile subject of investigation. The point is not just that people somewhere on the left tend to be in favour of government spending, and if spending on research is included, that is considered a good thing; whereas people on the right want to reduce government spending (they probably won’t admit they’re anti-science). The point is that “big government”–the welfare state–has a history. It is intended to be a counterweight to big business and to some extent (back in the day) big labour. Since government is relatively free from the transparent biases of big business, it is often assumed to be free from bias, benevolent, thinking only of the public good. This is extremely naive. Even if government always means well–which is incredible–it surely doesn’t always do well. Public servants in general are much more committed to the climate orthodoxy than politicians in general, and the latter are probably more committed than the public. Dollars flow accordingly.

    The other story having to do with big money and who gets it has to do with foundations. Benefactors are able to some extent to hide their contributions to foundations with pleasant-sounding names, and foundations in turn are giving billions to support the climate orthodoxy. By comparison, as Judith has often suggested, climate skeptics are panhandling for small change in front of a train station.

    One small example. “Everyone knows” farmed salmon suffer from sea lice more than wild salmon do; the domestic fish may be less healthy for humans in various ways; and they spread sea lice to their wild kin, thus harming the environment. Is any of this true? It is largely the work of one researcher, who seems to be obsessed with this topic, supported by a handful of benefactors. The actual evidence is extremely thin.

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  58. Good article.

    May I suggest this is a very important issue that has been virtually overlooked in the 20th century, and will receive considerable debate and interest throughout the 21st century. .

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