Putting Headlines Ahead of Science

On Dec. 10, Randy Schekman, a UC Berkeley professor, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The day before, he published an op-ed in London’s Guardian, titled “How journals like Nature, Cell, and Science are damaging science,” in which he announced that he will henceforth refuse to send manuscripts for peer-reviewed consideration to these prestigious science journals.

Schekman’s accusation is that these journals are distorting science by being biased towards the “flashiest” research, i.e. papers that generate headlines such as “Global Warming Will Kill Billions, Scientist Finds,” rather than the best research.

This matters more than one might think, because governments and universities disproportionately make their award and funding decisions based on the research published in the prestige journals. 

So, if Science and Nature differentially publish flashy research, and publishing there will deliver funding and tenure, scientists are naturally going to gravitate toward trendy topics and produce flashy research. It’s a cycle that perpetuates Armageddon-style headlines that compel politicians to disburse more money, for more research, ultimately buying a beach house for the doom-saying scientists.

This leads to the question: do the journals’ propensity for flashy research result in biased research?

Unfortunately, yes; especially when it comes to climate science.

Just take a look at Science’s “Perspectives” pieces, which are really opinion pieces posing as literature reviews. Despite the fact that global warming has been prominent for about 25 years now, Science has yet to publish one Perspectives piece summarizing the body of refereed science indicating that far too much warming may have been predicted.

That should not be the case, because every new forecast of climate change should have an equal probability of producing a more or less dire result. That’s what happens with weather forecast models as new information comes in. Once it has been established that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide should raise surface temperature a certain amount, each new piece of information should either raise or lower the forecast.

But scientists aren’t incentivized to look under the less-flashy rock. In fact, they threaten their own well-being if they do.

If scientists aren’t doing their due diligence, is Schekman right that the journals aren’t doing theirs either? It’s easy to find out. I reviewed 13 months of both Science and Nature, and sorted every article or story about climate change or its impact into three piles: worse, better, or neutral compared with previous studies.

Of the 115 entries, 23 made the “neutral” pile, 83 were in the “worse” stack, and nine were in the “better.” The probability of the journals not having a bias is as likely as a coin being flipped 92 times and showing heads or tails fewer than nine times.

The number is: 100,000,000,000,000,000.

You can look this up in a binomial probability table, which shows the average number of times you have to flip a coin 92 times to get this result.

The obvious “publication bias” by these two journals is very troubling, because the resultant public funding and tenure could have some pretty nasty consequences.

This creates horrific effects, especially when the issues are policy-related. Summaries of the scientific literature are used to guide policymakers, but if the published research is biased, then so must be the summaries; leaving policymakers no option — not being scientists themselves — but to embrace what is inevitably touted as “the best science.”

Recently, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its fifth “Scientific Assessment” of climate change, which is, in effect, a massive literature review. Since the most prestigious journals carry the most weight, the literature that is reviewed is itself biased. The result? Even the most accurate and comprehensive review must create a biased picture.

The result is very bad policy: cap-and-trade schemes, carbon taxes, and ugly windmill and solar arrays that produce little power but appeal to the politician’s need to “do something.” All ultimately driven by scientists behaving rationally, but badly.

###

Patrick J. Michaels is the director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute.
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74 thoughts on “Putting Headlines Ahead of Science

  1. “… because every new forecast of climate change should have an equal probability of producing a more or less dire result.”

    This strikes me as not-necessarily-so:

    1. IF the initial forecast is essentially correct, AND the new forecasts are essentially done the same way with similar data, then the “problem” left is precision or just the normal variability, the chaotic part. Then the new forecasts should bounce around the initial forecast, some higher, some lower. (Even this assumes that the errors are unimodal and symmetical around the centre.)

    BUT

    2. IF the original forecast is based on different data or assumptions/models, then the new forecasts can go either way without a trend.

    3. IF the original forecasts are based on assumptions that are fundamentally incorrect in some key fashion, and new forecasts are more correct, then the new forecasts can go either way also.

    4. IF the original forecasts are based on assumptions that are fundamentally incorrect in some key fashion, BUT new forecasts simply tweak those assumptions in a similar direction each time, then the new forecasts will be progressive, headed in a similar way but again, in either direction.

    There are many reasons why additional studies can be more alarming as time goes on. The fact that they do does not mean anything necessarily about their correctness or bias in assumptions.

  2. @Doug Proctor
    …“… because every new forecast of climate change should have an equal probability of producing a more or less dire result.”.. This strikes me as not-necessarily-so:

    Indeed.
    In fact, I think there’s a simpler reason for the ‘bias’ – it’s probably that the numbers of papers submitted claiming that things were getting worse were 90%, and those claiming things were not so bad were 10%.

    Under those circumstances it would be quite reasonable for a magazine to publish reflecting this number.

    of course, it may be that equal numbers of equal quality are being submitted, and the magazine is only choosing the ‘worse’ ones. That would be bias. But you can’t tell that from the data you have. What is quite probable is that some crowd following is going on, and people are realising that if you submit ‘worse’ ones you are more likely to get published – so that’s what they submit. It would be very hard to establish bias unless you had full unfettered access to the paper’s publishing policy.

  3. “All ultimately driven by scientists behaving rationally, but badly.”
    Well said, sad as it is.

  4. @John Gardner says “Worrying indeed, Patrick, but what the hell can we (sceptics) do about this?”

    Answer: Just keep chipping away. The cracks in the Great Scam structure are widening at speed.

  5. As someone from Berkeley (1960s era) that is the last place I expected to see someone take an honorable position on climate matters. Well done, and highly appropriate. Fan boys don’t belong in science and that is the culture those publishers attract.

  6. B Darren Hillicoss says:
    January 7, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    and this will change when the money dries up

    And the money will dry up. They can’t keep this ponzi scheme going on for another two decades, voters are bored, surface mean temps have stalled, winters are back with a vengeance, Antarctica is hanging cool, the Arctic is unsure, polar bears are thriving, penguins are still around in their millions, the US is freezing right now (snowfalls thing of the past), there is no trend in extreme weather allegedly caused by man…………..

    I’m growing increasingly bored too, but I cannot stop now until the end of the game.

    We are currently here:

    The New Yorker – December 13, 2010
    The Truth Wears Off
    Is there something wrong with the scientific method?
    by Jonah Lehrer

    Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the effect,” he said. “But the worst part was that when I submitted these null results I had difficulty getting them published. The journals only wanted confirming data. It was too exciting an idea to disprove, at least back then.” For Simmons, the steep rise and slow fall of fluctuating asymmetry is a clear example of a scientific paradigm, one of those intellectual fads that both guide and constrain research: after a new paradigm is proposed, the peer-review process is tilted toward positive results. But then, after a few years, the academic incentives shift—the paradigm has become entrenched—so that the most notable results are now those that disprove the theory….”
    [Page 3]

    “…The problem of selective reporting is rooted in a fundamental cognitive flaw, which is that we like proving ourselves right and hate being wrong. “It feels good to validate a hypothesis,” Ioannidis said. “It feels even better when you’ve got a financial interest in the idea or your career depends upon it….”
    [Page 4]

    “…Even the law of gravity hasn’t always been perfect at predicting real-world phenomena. (In one test, physicists measuring gravity by means of deep boreholes in the Nevada desert found a two-and-a-half-per-cent discrepancy between the theoretical predictions and the actual data.)….Just because an idea is true doesn’t mean it can be proved. And just because an idea can be proved doesn’t mean it’s true.”
    [Page 5]

  7. It is a No Brainer; these magazines are abusing the reputation of science.

    That so many scientists sit on the sidelines, ignoring the bad apples in their ranks, shows a lack of commitment and passion to their careers and beliefs. Thank heavens for Randy Schenkman and other scientists who show they do care and do speak out.

  8. Hi Patrick, great article.

    If both within academia (via grant awards / status) and without, climate narratives are rewarded more for their ability to prosper (‘flashiness’ as you describe) than for their verifiability (factual content), then due to differential selection over the long-term, sensational / alarmist narrative aliances will form the kind of well characterised cultural entity that we now actually see with CAGW. I.e. consensus culture, ‘believers’, altered perceptions of reality (in this case corrupting proper science), mobilisation of society and infra-structure to ‘the cause’, and so on. Darwinian views of cultural evolution lend insight into this process, especially memetics. See:

    http://wearenarrative.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/the-cagw-memeplex-a-cultural-creature/

  9. I reviewed 13 months of both Science and Nature . . . .

    For the record, what was the date-span?

  10. Just to play devil’s advocate here. 83 studies showed it was worse because that is what their data show? I think you need to look farther than just plain numbers and conclusions. Perhaps most were in error? Who knows.

    PS. I think Dr Libby will have her work from the 1970s shown to be correct and lord help us all in that case.

  11. Schekman’s accusation is that these journals are distorting science by being biased towards the “flashiest” research . . . .

    Flash, meet pan.

  12. Not a scientist but have some expeirence with politics. AGW fits nicely into the old miltary industrial complex model. So nicely that it sprouted from the same labs. It is not a coincidence that nuclear science funding was drying up just as climate science funding was gearing up. The funding is the thing as you write.

  13. “If scientists aren’t doing their due diligence, is Schekman right that the journals aren’t doing theirs either? It’s easy to find out. I reviewed 13 months of both Science and Nature, and sorted every article or story about climate change or its impact into three piles: worse, better, or neutral compared with previous studies.”

    Um, a few details here would go a long way in convincing me you have any idea what you talking about. If you are doing citation analysis, older papers always do better than recent papers. But then, I am ony guessing what you did.

    Schekman has his point in his rarified world, but he got _his_ nobel on his Nature and Cell papers, so easy for him to say. Most granting agencies accept papers in the secondary “specialized” journals as equal scientifically, and that all Schekman is suggesting I guess, but most people are still tempted to submit to S&N to get the holy grail on their CV. From what I have seen, people do their science and then submit, not decide where they are going to submit and then do the work, so maybe this changes the way articles are written not how the science was done.

    Nature and Science have always been a litle bit more than about the science, and I think we do need some journals like that. Otherwise scientists are just gifted technicians.

  14. Pipped Kool. You mis-spelled your handle in your rush to be knowledgey. You are lazy in your haste.

  15. “””””…..Of the 115 entries, 23 made the “neutral” pile, 83 were in the “worse” stack, and nine were in the “better.” The probability of the journals not having a bias is as likely as a coin being flipped 92 times and showing heads or tails fewer than nine times……””””””

    So does that mean that about 83 times out of 92, it lands on edge ??

  16. Mike Bromley the Kurd “Pipped Kool. You mis-spelled your handle in your rush to be knowledgey. You are lazy in your haste”

    Cellphones and autocorrect…

  17. Statistics is ALWAYS done on sets of numbers that are known. There are no x, y, z unknowns in such data sets,

    The statistics describes properties of that completely known set of numbers. It gives ZERO information about what the NEXT number will be. Can’t even tell you whether the next number will be higher than the last number, or whether it will be lower; tells nada. No predictive properties whatsoever.

  18. Pipped Kool says:
    January 7, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    “Nature and Science have always been a litle bit more than about the science, and I think we do need some journals like that. Otherwise scientists are just gifted technicians.”

    Well, that set off some memories…….

    I was in Geology 101 lab my freshman year ( I was initially a Chem major), working off an “other science” requirement of my undergrad degree, when the head of the Geo department sidled up to me. To this day I cannot conjure up what it was I asked him, but his answer is still crystal clear after 4 decades plus now:

    “We basically have two kinds of people that go through here. Splitters and Lumpers. Splitters are those that aspire to seeing things right down to the gnat’s arse. Lumpers are Big Picture, rapid-arm movement types. But every once in a while someone comes through here that can see things right down to the gnat’s arse and immediately recognize how that just fundamentally changed the Big Picture. You know what we call them?” he asked.

    I did not.

    He said “We call them geologists………”

    The problem here, of course, is following Obi-Wan on some damn fool mission………

  19. Nice write up.

    Unfortunately, too accurate.

    The digital world nowadays provides a much smaller funnel for information for most folks. Hence the opportunity exists, in a much easier manor, for dis-information to become systemic.

    Now why does my handle continually change capitalization priorities between devices, Dog Gone it!

    Another example of the unexpected results from the digitization of a species :-)

  20. “Mimicry occurs when a group of organisms,[3] the mimics, evolve to share common perceived characteristics with another group, the models.[4][bold] The evolution is driven by the selective action of a signal-receiver or dupe[/bold]…”

    When the most trusted ‘class’ of individuals has stereotypes, then frauds will mimic them because it pays. Trade a cassock for a labcoat and walla- you’re off and duping like a boss!

    “As an interaction, mimicry is in most cases advantageous to the mimic and harmful to the receiver”
    and that is the hidden cost of faith.

    It’s nature’s way of depleting the resources of the stupid and rewarding those who hasten their extinction. There is no woulda shoulda – the subjunctive tense is especially for describing ‘that which is not’. Is it not common to selectively reject reality when our metaphysical model doesn’t match it? (That happens to be the definition of insanity.)

    In the end, you are responsible for what you believe- not a preacher nor a labcoated mimic,

    “In the past, animal cannibalism was considered accidental or pathological: … Now scientists realize that cannibalism can sometimes make good evolutionary sense”

    Any day now, we might see the WBC picketing H&R Block with signs that say: “God Hates Taxpayers”. And who can fault them for pure empiricism?

    So blame away as long as you pay so it comes ’round to bite you every single day. Hell, you already fed it your kids.

    `I speak severely to my boy,
    I beat him when he sneezes;
    For he can thoroughly enjoy
    The pepper when he pleases!’

  21. Thanks Patrick, very good article,
    “The obvious “publication bias” by these two journals is very troubling, because the resultant public funding and tenure could have some pretty nasty consequences.”
    I would have said “have had some nasty consequences”.

  22. William McClenney

    Good story. But if I retell it the punchline will be “We call them molecular biologists………”

  23. Pippen Kool says:
    January 7, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    William McClenney

    “Good story. But if I retell it the punchline will be “We call them molecular biologists………””

    No worries mate :-)

  24. Mike Bromley the Kurd says on January 7, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    “Pipped Kool…. .” To date “Pippen Kool” has appeared on WUWT as:

    Pippen, Poppen, and Pipped, Kool. Pip, ol’ boy, if you have a mind, make it up.

    @Bromley — take care, over there. You are being prayed for.

  25. By the way, Randy was the Editor at PNAS that gave Lindzen a massively hard time over a paper that I think was finally rejected. I remember reading the manuscript at the time (on WUWT, I believe) and thinking it was quite a shoddy piece of work for a final, submitted draft, so I think he was right on that too.

    I had the pleasure of interacting with him a lot in the eighties. He was a brilliant mentor.

  26. @ Steven Mosher-An element has been left out of Michaels’ argument that he usually includes. Namely, the amicus curae brief of Battisti et al. 2006 to the Supreme Court in Mass v. EPA-these were the climate scientists themselves, the experts, the representatives of the consensus:

    “EPA also ignored the two-sidedness of scientific uncertainty. Outcomes may turn out better than our best current predictions, but it is just as possible that environmental and health damages will be more severe than the best prediction.”

    *Just as possible*. Meaning the prevailing view of the consensus scientists is that it is *equally probable* that we have overestimated the problem as underestimated, and it is *equally probable* that new findings will go in the direction of “it’s worse than we thought” as “it’s not as bad as we thought.”

    But I kind of think you haven’t got a damn clue what publication bias is. Or you wouldn’t have resorted to the typical single line never reply to rebuttals trolling you seem to do here because apparently you get your jollies and applaud yourself for earning the ire of anyone on WUWT.

    This would be *more* than enough evidence to establish publication bias in any other context.

  27. @ philincalifornia- With regard to the quality of the paper in question, I’m quite sure you don’t know what you are talking about, and in any case I am quite sure that the quality of the paper had nothing to do with the rejection thereof. Like most of the critics thereof I get the feeling you utter fail to understand it.

  28. “Of the 115 entries, 23 made the “neutral” pile, 83 were in the “worse” stack, and nine were in the “better.”

    I think there is one clear scientific conclusion that can be drawn from this data – If an article is published in Science or Nature, the odds are heavily in favor of it being total crap.

  29. Same in my field. If you want to get a paper published in N/S, it has to claim that a certain galaxy/supernova/blackhole/quasar is bigger/faster/more powerful than all the others or of what was even thought possible. If another team re-examines the same object later, and finds that it is not so bigger or special, N/S will never publish the alternative conclusions, by editorial choice, because it is not a “new, groundbreaking” result but “simply” a re-examination or correction of a previous result. So, the revised results will be published in other technical journals (Monthly Notices, or Astrophysical Journal). For most N/S paper claiming some exceptional results and getting media publicity, you’ll find months/years later several other more respectable papers in technical journals slowly scaling down or dismantling those initial speculative claims with more rigorous analysis (or when more data have become available). Of course those other papers never get the same publicity and citations, and the amateur public is left with the impression that black holes and jets have been getting bigger, scarier and more powerful year after year.

  30. I think this kind of science and publishing is having a very harmful effect here in Canada. Harper’s Conservatives have been slashing science programs, particularly environmental science programs, in recent months. I think it is because environmentalists have been so blatantly ideological and activist with no regard for Canadian national interests. Harper has little trust in the science, as a result. Unfortunately, some of the environmental science being slashed, such as marine ecotoxicology, has been very helpful in identifying and isolating local problems eg in aquaculture, which generates toxic wastes – and hence helping scientists identify solutions as these problems are elucidated. It’s a huge shame.

  31. The Economist has published a set of good articles on the current problems in science.

    “How science goes wrong”

    http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21588069-scientific-research-has-changed-world-now-it-needs-change-itself-how-science-goes-wrong

    “Trouble at the lab”

    http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21588057-scientists-think-science-self-correcting-alarming-degree-it-not-trouble

    “A few years ago scientists at Amgen, an American drug company, tried to replicate 53 studies that they considered landmarks in the basic science of cancer, often co-operating closely with the original researchers to ensure that their experimental technique matched the one used first time round. According to a piece they wrote last year in Nature, a leading scientific journal, they were able to reproduce the original results in just six. Months earlier Florian Prinz and his colleagues at Bayer HealthCare, a German pharmaceutical giant, reported in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, a sister journal, that they had successfully reproduced the published results in just a quarter of 67 seminal studies.”

  32. The essay by Mr Michaels is also biased. It uses the reasons that Dr Schekman refuses to submit his articles to those journals to justify skepticism of any articles published by these journals which are in support of AGW. If you wish to compare Dr. Schekman’s original letter to Mr. Michaels’ essay it is here: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/09/how-journals-nature-science-cell-damage-science

    Bias within any publication of any type is inevitable and unavoidable – that is why all information should be viewed with a critical eye.

  33. Thanks all for the very thoughtful comments.

    I published the findings in Sonja’s Energy & Environment in 2008, about the only place that would take it at that time. If you google Michaels Publication Bias you will find the article which details the timeframe, methods, etc…it was a pretty straightforward analysis.

    What I did then is now becoming more respectable, appearing in more mainstream journals, which leads me to the 2012 work of Daniele Fanelli of University of Edinburgh. Ever heard of him? Probably not. But he has done much more than I did, looking at over 4600 papers across the spectrum of disciplines and he clearly shows that the rot that is in climate science is pretty much everywhere. The paper’s title indicates that negative results are disappearing WORLDWIDE AND IN ALL FIELDS. Google Fanelli Negative Findings.

    In case you are wondering why Cato has a new Center for the Study of Science, this is why. Our first new contractors are Dick Lindzen, Ed Calabrese (regulatory science) and Terence Kealey (world’s authority on the economics of science funding).

    Finally, to the argument that zero-bias is not likely. First, I do cite the Battisti et al. Amicus Brief in the E and E paper, and I have done so regularly. My profession indeed believes that the better or worse nature of succeeding results is equiprobable. Further, any unbiased model in fact should behave the same with new data. Machine-produced weather forecasts are zero-biased because they retain the old MOS regression base, which is adjusted to force zero bias. Climate models may not be zero-biased (because they are juiced with downers like “sulfates” to make them work) but they are “supposed” to be, according to the community that produces them. That would, in fact, be Battisti et al.

  34. timetochooseagain says:
    January 7, 2014 at 7:14 pm
    ——————

    How many papers do you have in PNAS ? I have 15.

    I’ve reviewed many papers for PNAS.

  35. @ timetochooseagain says: January 7, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    There’s the danger you always face when trying to buffalo someone on Watts’ site.

    Because the deck is stacked in favor of them not just knowing more than you, but chances are they even practice general application of the stuff you don’t know.

  36. agggh!!
    Mods: sorry, the browser hid the top of my copy operation, and I duped the whole page!! PLEASE DELETE the above!!

    [Reply: Done. -ModE ]

  37. Here’s all I meant to post:

    vigilantfish says:
    January 7, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    I think this kind of science and publishing is having a very harmful effect here in Canada. Harper’s Conservatives have been slashing science programs, particularly environmental science programs, in recent months. I think it is because environmentalists have been so blatantly ideological and activist with no regard for Canadian national interests. Harper has little trust in the science, as a result. Unfortunately, some of the environmental science being slashed, such as marine ecotoxicology, has been very helpful in identifying and isolating local problems eg in aquaculture, which generates toxic wastes – and hence helping scientists identify solutions as these problems are elucidated. It’s a huge shame.

    Yes, it is. But it’s at the feet of the climatology system gamers. And it was warned about long ago: discredit the field, and the subsequent desanguination is likely to be rather indiscriminate. Especially since the ones supposedly ensuring quality control are the very ones playing the system the hardest.

  38. Political ‘usefulness ‘ and were the money can be found , is as much a driver of what journals publish as what is good science, that has been true for a long time. AGW has merely taken it to a new level as we have seen the journal editors sign up to ‘the cause ‘ as unquestionable good even if the actual science is bad.

  39. Patrick,
    first of all I am with you on the concern for bias in publishing. But I believe the method you use is close to the methods used for the “97%” claim on the warmist side. If you want to establish bias you really would need to know how many “worse”, “neutral” and “better” were published as compared to the same number submitted. And maybe the bias is from the funding side, I know that in Norway there has for several years been difficult to get funding within several fields unless the application was somehow linked to AGW.
    Basically, the numbers you show are interesting but take care in using them for a biased conclusion.

  40. The only reason the climate change mythology exists, (which started with “global warming” hysteria) is because academia’s progressive needy cannot survive in the real world without the grants that pay their bills. Academics need a version of man-made climate change to exist whether it actually exists or not.

  41. A Warning

    There has been much talk on this and other websites about the demise of the global warming cadre as a result of their arrogance, poor science, bad models and complete lack of recognition of their failure to get absolutely anything right, but I strike a warning to all you good folk who are fighting for quality science and common sense in this matter….

    There will be many false dawns before mankind can move on from this madness so I suggest that those who resolutely continue this battle against the Ego-beast ( yes, I meant Ego-beast not Eco-beast) that is the warmest movement, be prepared for a long battle still ahead.

    Remember you are not only combatting the pseudoscientists but a far more intransigent, self serving and egotistical cabal of politicians. So if you think these people are going to back down, no matter how stupid and untenable their position becomes, then I fear you may be mistaken.

    Here is how I see it playing out. It will take a game changing development or invention totally outside the current sphere of battle that will allow these people to save face and redirect the attention away from themselves. Previous examples, not necessarily good ones, that come to mind are the A Bomb, which allowed the Japanese to surrender and save a little face on the basis of a devastating new technology that was unexplainable to the people but had obvious effects. If this had not happened the Japanese propaganda machine would have continued until it would have been the last man standing.

    Another example might be the race to the moon which changed the mood of the entire globe and took the heat out of the cold war and refocused it whilst having the added benefit of advancing mankind’s understanding of countless aspects of this beautiful blue sphere which we all inhabit. It also gave us many of the personal advantages and tools we enjoy today that would otherwise not necessarily be yet available to common men such as myself.

    So what might be the game changer? I challenge those who read this to come up with suggestions and the reasoning behind your thoughts.

    I will start by suggesting a look at this video from Charles Chase at the Skunkworks.

    http://www.dvice.com/2013-2-22/lockheeds-skunk-works-promises-fusion-power-four-years

    This kind of development/paradigm shift will allow all these warmest zealots and their funders to collectively draw everybody’s attention to the horizon whilst they quietly exit stage left.

    Charles Lindberg’s quote will then quickly make sense. ” Life is like a landscape, we live in the midst of it , but can only view it from the vantage point of distance” and the war will have been won by the good guys.

  42. TRM says: @ January 7, 2014 at 5:25 pm
    ….PS. I think Dr Libby will have her work from the 1970s shown to be correct and lord help us all in that case.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    In doing a quick search for Dr. Libby I cam across this website The Green Revolution: Are we witnessing the start of a global green revolution?

    The comments are an interesting read. As Jimbo said “voters are bored’ and are getting sick of the politicians hands in their pockets.

    [ Reply: Your link was empty. Care to try again? -ModE ]

  43. Brian Cox made a recent BBC program about British science. It was good until he interviewed the editor of Nature. It was almost literally stomach-churning when they discussed climate change.
    I hope this was a result of Cox’s ignorance about climate change. On the other hand, he does work for the BBC…

    Still, in his Wonders of the Solar System series, he did commit a climate heresy by describing how solar variability can have a dramatic effect on the Earth’s climate, and he gave an example of how solar variability dramatically effected the flow of a large South American river.

    But after seeing him being taken for a ride by the editor of Nature, my respect for Brian Cox has definitely fallen a few notches.
    Chris

  44. A different way of assessing the journal articles would be to ask: How many of them are entirely climate model based prognostications of the future?
    As we know that past papers of this kind all failed to predict the future, we would expect the current publications to do exactly the same; namely, fail – assuming that the scientists did what they did in the past – set up a model watch it, write a paper with descriptions of the squiggles the models make.

    Ergo, the journals publish desinformation devoid of any meaning.

  45. @ garymount says:
    January 7, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    I can’t argue with much of what that article says as conservatives are demonized in my country by intellectual elites, and this shows one way in which it is done. However, Harper or his policy minions have done something that really hurts my own work, closing down libraries in scientific institutions – notably marine science institutions – and simply dumping into landfills irreplaceable scientific literature.

    See

    http://boingboing.net/2014/01/04/canadian-libraricide-tories-t.html

    I know from experience that the marine science grey literature has not all been digitized, contrary to the claims of bureaucrats. And fisheries science is like climate science – it depends on the accumulation of long-term data to be able to investigate changing conditions so as to determine how current conditions in fish stocks etc came to be.

    It is incredible that any scientific organization is expected to function without a library and archives of past research. St. Andrews Biological Station scientists are now expected to go to the Bedford Institute of Oceanography if they need to consult non-digitized past research, or even use monographs vs journals. And I don’t know about your experience, but in my own, e-books are a real pain when one is doing research – the e-interface is much clumsier than picking up a physical book and turning to the index to locate information needed in the text.

  46. While it’s hard to pinpoint the locus of bias (“everywhere” is my guess), it’s not hard to see the driving factor. The mainstream media will give larger play to hype. Play in the media is what drives sales, makes names, and heavily influences funding priorities (we spend our money to combat what scares us most).

    Everybody wants fame and fortune. We generate more of what we reward. We reward hype.

  47. @philincalifornia- I don’t care if you’re the bloody queen of england, I know you didn’t understand the paper, or you wouldn’t make glib, stupid comments congratulating yourself for your career in pal reviewing.

  48. Janice Moore says:

    January 7, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    ———————–

    Janice, I figured that many folks may have signed up for the alerts from here on such space weather events.

    https://pss.swpc.noaa.gov/LoginWebForm.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fproductsubscriptionservice%2f

    Make sure you filter the alerts to only the most relevant/significant or you will fill your inbox quickly. I suspect that someone has done so since the post appeared fairly soon after the alerts were distributed. I believe this is the 7th or 8th such X level event since the end of October. I dont recall having so many is such a short time frame. Perhaps Leif or Vulc could elaborate. This is probably not the thread to ask though………

    Oh well. Make it a great day folks!

  49. Jimbo says:
    January 7, 2014 at 5:01 pm
    “”I’m growing increasingly bored too, but I cannot stop now until the end of the game.””

    Hang in there Jimbo.
    Your collection of data and reports is impressive.
    You have all the links
    WUWT needs you.
    It’s people like you who will likely save Western prosperity.
    That’s a big deal Jimbo
    You’re a big deal Jimbo.
    Thanks for all you do. It is appreciated.
    Sincerely,
    RP

  50. To quote a Microsoft website when looking up a bug in how they handled Default Gateways:

    “This behavior is by design.”

    It is an intentional “fire for effect” behavior, not an accidental bias…

  51. Rob Roy said on January 8, 2014, at 8:41 am:

    {If I may, RP, I’d like to amend and heartily second your GREAT AFFIRMATION below}

    {Re:} Jimbo says: January 7, 2014 at 5:01 pm, “”I’m growing increasingly bored too, but I cannot stop now until the end of the game.””

    Hang in there Jimbo {and Gail}.
    Your collections of data and reports is impressive.
    You have all the links.
    WUWT needs you.
    {The free world needs you.}
    It’s people like you who will likely save Western prosperity.
    That’s a big deal, Jimbo {and Gail}.
    You are big deals, Jimbo {and Gail}.
    Thanks for all you do. It is {much} appreciated.
    Keep going — don’t give up. We’re in the final quarter!

    Sincerely {and with deep gratitude},

    RP {and JM}

    YOU GO, GAIL AND JIMBO!

  52. I had a personal experience with Discover magazine during one of their “Technology of the year” contests. My entry from my work at NASA was a technique to show the shock wave pattern around supersonic aircraft in flight. I was very successful, but the limited funding I had limited the early equipment and support so that the technique gave limited quality pictures. More work later improved this, but the initial results were not as attractive looking as later ones. My work made me a finalist in the contest for the aerospace category. However, in the end I was not the winner in that group. I asked the person that was head of the Discover magazine contest what was the deciding basis for selecting the winner. He stated that sizzle and cosmetic appeal predominated over technical value. That better looking pictures and supporting information was critical. Since all entries were of some value, that is not totally unreasonable, and it may take a while to actually sort out the long term value of some contributions. However, it still bothered me that a scientific magazine would use sizzle rather that deeper value as basis for selection.

    Since sales of copies of magazines depend on attracting buyers, and since most buyers are attracted to the sizzle, this may be unavoidable. For this reason, I see the need for a different mode of basis for publishing in top level publications than present, but do not off hand know how to overcome this.

  53. Old Farmer says:
    January 8, 2014 at 2:06 am
    A Warning

    There has been much talk on this and other websites about the demise of the global warming cadre as a result of their arrogance, poor science, bad models and complete lack of recognition of their failure to get absolutely anything right, but I strike a warning to all you good folk who are fighting for quality science and common sense in this matter….

    There will be many false dawns before mankind can move on from this madness so I suggest that those who resolutely continue this battle against the Ego-beast ( yes, I meant Ego-beast not Eco-beast) that is the warmest movement, be prepared for a long battle still ahead.

    Remember you are not only combatting the pseudoscientists but a far more intransigent, self serving and egotistical cabal of politicians. So if you think these people are going to back down, no matter how stupid and untenable their position becomes, then I fear you may be mistaken.

    Here is how I see it playing out. It will take a game changing development or invention totally outside the current sphere of battle that will allow these people to save face and redirect the attention away from themselves.

    Maybe “cold fusion” or the Papp engine will come to the rescue. (They’ve been waiting in the wings for decades, though.)

    But I think that the current drip-drip-drip erosion of the warmist position has a good chance of turning the tide. For instance:

    • Continuation of The Plateau. (Five more years of it would be near-fatal to warmism.)

    • Severe cold snaps in the West.

    • Increasing awareness of climatology’s walkback on the climate sensitivity figure.

    • Climategate 3.0.

    • Greater awareness of the failure of Obama’s renewable energy projects. (“60 Minutes” did an expose of some of them a few days ago.)

    • Failure of the Tesla to live up to its hype.

    • Greater awareness of the ineffectiveness and high cost of renewable energy electricity in Europe and here, and of its overly hyped projections and assumptions. (A power failure due to grid instability would bring this to public attention.)

    • Continued technical progress in fracking, keeping costs low, expanding recoverable reserves, and lowering the rate of accidental leakage.

    • Continued growth in CO2 emissions in Asia, and continued lack of any real plan there to reduce them. (E.g., China has just recently cut back its support for many of its smaller green energy companies.)

    • Resumption of the Great Recession / Financial Crisis / Euro Crisis.

    • Republican gains in the 2014 elections.

    • UKIP gains in UK elections.

    • Populist party gains in European elections.

  54. rogerknights says:
    But I think that the current drip-drip-drip erosion of the warmist position has a good chance of turning the tide. For instance:

    From where I sit, looking at the average person (as opposed to the average WUWT reader), none of this matters as long as the universities and media continue touting “climate change”. The average joe on the street continues to believe that we have been warming steadily, and dismisses you as ‘ignorant’ or as a d—-r if you point out facts to the contrary. Most people simply believe what they’re told in the media and don’t bother to do any research – and see those who DO research things as defective.

    Until the media changes their tune, nothing will change. The ‘evidence’ you cite has little to do with climate issues and much more to do with economic issues. While it may render the climate arguments moot (for the time, at least), it doesn’t change them.

    I fear only glaciation will turn the tide.

  55. Tony, don’t despair, I saw an Op-Ed piece in the Washington Times that called the warmists the real deniers, of reality! That was a first and a great idea.

  56. Knowing what happens with climate science makes me wonder whether that is the only field where this happens. Some other weird things have happened including cold fusion that strangely have found their way into literature.

  57. vigilantfish says: @ January 8, 2014 at 5:24 am

    …., Harper or his policy minions have done something that really hurts my own work, closing down libraries in scientific institutions – notably marine science institutions – and simply dumping into landfills irreplaceable scientific literature…..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    That is truly horrifying. I won’t even toss out a paperback novel.

  58. vigilantfish says: January 8, 2014 at 5:24 am
    See

    http://boingboing.net/2014/01/04/canadian-libraricide-tories-t.html

    – – –
    That article contains some ridiculous statements. It also contains statements by David Schindler who just makes up stuff, such as declaring Frankenfish caused by the oil sands.
    To claim that the prime minister of Canada is afraid of science is something the left wants people to believe, yet I just pointed out that he himself is scientifically trained. I highly doubt the story of just throwing out valuable documents, but come on, because they are afraid of science as the reason?
    I have heard nothing about the events of the libraries, I will have to wait until Peter Foster or some other credible journalist writes about it in the National Post. Note, I don’t read National Post articles written by Jonathan Kay, Andrew Coine as I can already predict what they will write, and Kay called be a crank just because I didn’t believe in Catastrophic Anthropological Global Warming, and that there were 18 investigations into climate gate and all found nothing wrong.
    – – –
    As for e-books, yeah I have the same problem somewhat mitigated with newer devices such as my Surface Pro multi-touch tablet that allows multiple instances and side by side by side windows of the same book, as well as my e-ink eBook reader that holds hundreds of PDF documents.
    I too save all my documents, I have print outs still of my Fortran code from the early 80’s, a booklet created by my class mates from 1967 when my family was leaving Lethbridge Alberta for warmer climes, the first and second issue of an Apple Corporation magazine… and on and on.
    End Rant.

  59. TonyG says:
    January 8, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    rogerknights says:
    But I think that the current drip-drip-drip erosion of the warmist position has a good chance of turning the tide. For instance:

    From where I sit, looking at the average person (as opposed to the average WUWT reader), none of this matters as long as the universities and media continue touting “climate change”. The average joe on the street continues to believe that we have been warming steadily, and dismisses you as ‘ignorant’ or as a d—-r if you point out facts to the contrary. Most people simply believe what they’re told in the media and don’t bother to do any research – and see those who DO research things as defective.

    Until the media changes their tune, nothing will change. The ‘evidence’ you cite has little to do with climate issues and much more to do with economic issues. While it may render the climate arguments moot (for the time, at least), it doesn’t change them.

    I fear only glaciation will turn the tide.

    Well, there’s an upside to that, if it happens. The longer the warmists, the MSM, and the left-wing parties persist in their current warmist position and policies, in the face of accumulating evidence that contradicts their claims, the worse it will be for them when the tide turns. They will have no excuse — and the damage they will have done by then will be greater. They could wind up being discredited politically and socially for many decades.

  60. roger;
    Ask a media-believer if they’ve ever seen or read an MSM report about an event they have first-hand knowledge about. One or two such experiences is generally enough to cure anyone of MSM-reliance.

  61. Good article Patrick. And Jimbo, very excellent link to that New Yorker article on problems with replicability.

  62. @ garymount:

    I agree with you re Andrew Coyne and Jonathan Kay. But please see the article by Margaret Munro in the Phoenix Star . Some of that information comes from me. Margaret, by the way, also dismissed the boing.boing article as a credible source and queried the whole Challenger Expedition reports claim. I am trying to follow that one up with someone from inside the DFO. Unfortunately, the DFO has dumped shelves of grey literature, and I know from personal experience in trying to access some of this material in the past 8 months that not all of it has been digitized. I cannot understand why, for the sake of saving 1/2 million dollars, the DFO would destroy libraries, when it would be sufficient to simply retire the librarians and let the collections rest where they were. A huge library at the St. Andrews Biological Station has been emptied. This is first hand information from a current scientist there who was the director of the Station for 10 years! As a conservative I am dismayed by the image of conservatives that is being created by these actions, and hugely disappointed in Stephen Harper.

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