Limiting scientific debate: A change in the AGU policy on Presenting Alternative Scientific Viewpoints

AGU_logoGuest essay by Roger A. Pielke Sr.

In the August 20 2013 issue of EOS both the AGU Statement on Climate Change [ ] and my comment on the Statement [ ] were published. However, I was not permitted to publish my Minority Statement in EOS, but only refer to its URL on another website.

In this post, I want to share with you the policy announced by the AGU President, Carol Finn, in two e-mails to me. I extracted the text on this subject from her e-mails to me (which were also copied to others at the AGU, so that these e-mails should be considered open communications).

First, I want to reiterate the supposed AGU policy on Forum articles in EOS from their website link I have highlighted a specific sentence.

Forum contains thought-provoking contributions expected to stimulate further discussion, within the newspaper or as part of Eos Online Discussions. Appropriate Forum topics include current or proposed science policy, discussion related to current research in the disciplines covered by AGU (especially scientific controversies), the relationship of our science to society, or practices that affect our fields, science in general, or AGU as an organization. Commentary solely on the science reported in research journals is not appropriate.

Maximum length: 1500 words; usually figures are not included, but when they are, each counts as 400 word equivalents.

My minority statement certainly fits within this Forum framework.

However, a (new) AGU Policy that, in my view, limits scientific debate within the AGU was announced by the AGU President.

Following are the relevant extracts of e-mail text from Dr. Finn’s communication to me:

As you know, Eos is the official transactions of AGU. Your draft alternative to AGU’s climate position statement falls outside of an official transaction of AGU, and therefore cannot be published in Eos.

Forum articles cannot be extended commentary on a previously published Eos article, such as the report on the new climate change position statement.

Quite frankly, I am disappointed that as prestigious a professional society as the AGU, of which I have always been proud of my association, has now decided to limit the exchange of scientific perspectives within the primary medium of communication within our society (EOS).

This AGU venue of publication has now become more of an advocate for particular perspectives than a venue to advance our knowledge of science issues. While in this case, it is dealing with climate science, the issue actually goes to the core of any controversy within any subject areas that are represented by the American Geophysical Union.

111 thoughts on “Limiting scientific debate: A change in the AGU policy on Presenting Alternative Scientific Viewpoints

  1. Seems the AGU thinks politics trumps science now. We need a debate, they don’t want one because they are afraid of the outcome.

  2. Thou shall not notice the mann behind the current.
    This is typical academia, dissent is evil and shall be forbidden.
    Policy? Policy is for the wee people.
    Me thinks your institution is dead on its stump.
    Thankfully Anthony has been demonstrating the future of scientific discussion here at WUWT with great success and charm.

  3. Dr. Finn appears to believe she is preserving the credibility of the AGU, but the opposite seems to be true.

  4. It sounds like they’ve moved policy closer to intent but no closer to need. Score one for the gatekeepers. Twitter has more freedoms.

  5. Since Peter Gleick was welcomed back to its meetings I have never understood why anyone with any integrity is involved with the American Geophysical Union.
    The AGU has no integrity. So why be associated with them?

  6. Most consensuses are not based on science. All
    cults are a consensus. But few cults are based
    on science. Some cults are based on avoiding
    science. Global warming is just that, a cult
    based on avoiding science. But it even goes a
    step further, global warming is a cult that
    avoids science and camouflages this avoidance
    by fraudulently representing itself as science.
    solvingtornadoes dot org

  7. Why is it that the well connected elites have such a fondness for railroads, particularly big, fast, expensive railroads that take you where they want to go and you can only get onto this railroad with their permission (peer review). I wonder if Dr. Finn realizes how superfluous her railroad is in the age of an information superhighway where everyone has an on-ramp and can select their own destination?

  8. Science by decree, policy or position paper is not science. but one of religion where members who wish to express alternative points of view about the official dogma are excommunicated.

  9. Carol Finn’s statement is just a convenient pretext. Opportunistic pretext is widespread among climate science officials as a preferred means to shut out critical debate. Pretext provides the internal dissimulatory latitude that allows them to get their way without confronting their own dishonesty.
    In the first quote above, Carol’s personal latitude turns upon the subtle re-definition of “official transaction” in her two uses of it. The first time around, it means publication in an official AGU magazine. The second time around it means official position of the AGU organizational management. But as Carol has used the same phrase twice, she can pretend it means the same thing in both instances. Thus: latitude to avoid confronting her dishonesty.
    The second paragraph is untrue, as EOS has traditionally published the give-and-take of critical commentary. For example. The description of EOS Forum on the EOS site itself contradicts Carol: “Forum contains thought-provoking contributions expected to stimulate further discussion, within the newspaper or as part of Eos Online Discussions. (my bold)”
    Carol just renames critical response to be “extended commentary,” and decides that disallowing the latter is OK because the words are different even though the contextual meaning is the same. Thus: latitude to avoid confronting her dishonesty.
    So there we have it. In the first instance, Carol utilizes the same phrase but opportunistically applies different meanings, while in the second she utilizes different phrases but opportunistically applies the same meaning. All done as a pretext to suppress debate, while maintaining the internal fiction of integrity.
    Red Queenitis, internalized, in action, and in view before us all.

  10. So EOS joins Scientific American and National Geographic, far removed even from my canary’s cage? So much to read, so little time. Thanks for the warning note.
    About “Red Queenitis”; Humpty Dumpty said it well, “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less. The question is, which is to be master—that’s all.”

  11. Carol got the job to do this one single job exclusively. The only rational response is to continue arguing for what you consider to be correct.

  12. Limiting scientific debate: A change in the AGU policy…
    I called up this article after seeing the title, thought it was an accidental reposting of an old story, seemed very familiar.
    But why should it matter if AGU limits debate? They’ve embraced Post Modern Science (PMS). They have all the facts they need or want. The time to debate is over, now it’s time to get on with the advocacy!

  13. Matt says at August 23, 2013 at 1:39 pm …
    No, it is not gender related.
    This is corruption stemming from a disregard for the truth.
    They had Peter Gleick (male) as their ethics expert. And they weren’t ashamed when he was exposed.
    Walk away from them and shake the dust from your shoes

  14. Reblogged this on Power To The People and commented:
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