Corruption Of Academic Journals For Profit and Climate Change Propaganda

Opinion by Dr. Tim Ball

Everything you read in newspapers is absolutely true, except for the rare story of which you happen to have first-hand knowledge. – Erwin Knoll

The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers. – Thomas Jefferson

CRU and Academic Publishing

Recent revelation of extensive corruption of the peer review process, by a group of academics, is another blow to academic credibility. Commendable in the tawdry story was the reaction of the publisher of the Journal of Vibration and Control (JVC); they immediately withdrew 60 articles. But what happens when the publisher is part of the schemes to pervert the proper scientific checks and balances? How many other corrupted publishing stories are there? How many with or without knowledge of the publisher? Probably many, as the iceberg analogy almost always applies.

For example, a story of control of the peer review process was reported recently by Nature News. It’s ironic because Nature, the International weekly journal of science, has a troubling involvement in the false narrative and controlled message of global warming science.

Some media agencies are openly selective, which is more frightening, because they apparently believe it is reasonable. Indeed, their pronouncements indicate they believe it is their duty to protect people from what they consider harmful. In doing so the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) actively pursues political bias and censorship with a policy banning skeptics and their views. It is totally unacceptable and contradictory because the BBC is taxpayer funded and presents itself as a source of diverse views. It fulfills the old joke that, come the revolution you will do what you are told.

The role of some academic journals in the spread of misinformation about global warming and climate change is important and disturbing. We learned much about their role from the leaked Climatic Research Unit (CRU) emails and the behavior of some editors. CRU activities involved control of information, especially through academic journals. This was made necessary by their chosen focus on “peer-review” in a deliberate, but oblique, appeal to authority. It was made easier for them by arranging peer review of each other’s articles, as the Wegman Report identified. They attacked editors who published material they didn’t like, including getting one fired. It is a litany of corruption of the peer-review process, including getting priorities for publications to meet deadlines for inclusion in IPCC Reports. According to Donna Laframboise, they even controlled editorial positions at the Journal of Climate.

A few so-called skeptics got a peer-reviewed paper published in a journal. Michael Mann apparently believed they did it by taking control of the editor and the editorial board, a tactic familiar to CRU people. On 11 March 2003 he wrote to Phil Jones,

The Soon & Baliunas paper (see my article on John Holdren’s role in this paper) couldn’t have cleared a ‘legitimate’ peer review process anywhere. That leaves only one possibility–that the peer-review process at Climate Research has been hijacked by a few skeptics on the editorial board.

He added,

This was the danger of always criticizing the skeptics for not publishing in the peer-reviewed literature.

An important question is why were some journals, especially supposedly prestigious ones like Nature, vulnerable to coercion and manipulation? When added to the bias and selectivity of the mainstream media (msm), it created a singular, unbalanced and unscientific picture for the public.

Journalists and Journalism

Most journalists have two natural biases that influence and limit their work; no science training, and a determination to push their institutional and personal bias on society. Stories about climate, and they are mostly stories, devolve to sensationalism. Balance and objectivity are virtually gone in the media. Fox News’ slogan “fair and balanced” should be a redundancy, but became a proud and almost unique claim, albeit tokenism. Nowadays, news reporting is almost always an opinion or an editorial.

I noticed, over time, a general sequence to interviews. It usually started with a question about my opinion regarding an event. When that wasn’t sensational or controversial, the tactic switched to confrontation. The question preface usually became, “Well, so and so says…” If I said I agree with that person, the story, or at least my commentary, never appeared. That sensationalism and confrontation sells, is no revelation, but why was “selling” an academic journal, allowed to supersede accuracy, integrity, probity and avoidance of bias?

A reporter, with no science training, yet writing articles mostly related to environment and climate, told me a major source of topics was Articles or Letters published in Nature. He looked for sensational titles and then put a journalistic spin on the story. It worked because he knew the headline was everything. It attracted attention and later was all the public remembered. Headlines are active voice, present tense, and definitive. The story invariably includes all the limitations and conditional phrases of the original article, but those are overlooked or quickly forgotten. Global warming alarmists exploit this situation by publishing articles simply to create a headline. Headlines are a form of literary sound bites. They are even more important now “keywords” are central to Internet searches.

Changing Dynamics of Professional Journals

Professional, especially academic, journals are esoteric and mostly only read by a few people. University presses usually published them, with some journals requiring payment to publish an article. This changed for several reasons, but primarily because of increasing specialization and costs. More specialization meant more specialized journals and fewer people contributing or buying them. Subscription costs were high because the taxpayer, not the academic, paid through various agencies.

This practice increased as university funding became a major concern in the 1980s. Universities realized they could take a higher percentage from the research funds brought in by each faculty member. Journals could increase fees by providing a much higher rate for institutions; they became commercially attractive to publishers.

The late John Daly noticed that the bias in publishing global warming articles was already apparent in 1997 when he wrote,

The de la Mare paper, fully peer reviewed and published in `Nature’ is a classic example of how questionable science easily slips through the current mindset created by the global warming hysteria where normal scientific standards are readily compromised provided the orthodoxy of global warming is reinforced. It also represents yet another failure on the part of the much-vaunted peer review process.

In one article he sarcastically commented, A magazine named Nature is said to be a “journal of science”. It got worse, as the leaked Climatic Research Unit (CRU) emails revealed. Nature’s problems as a business, besides editorial bias, was that the public did not read their journal and many, who might, balk at the price.

Transition From Specialized Academic Publications to The Newsstand

Nature Publishing Group (NPG) offset the cost and narrowness of the flagship journal in two ways. They increasingly shifted focus in Nature to sensational topics, particularly global warming. They became involved in popular publications beginning in June 2007 with publication of Nature Reports Climate Change, which became Nature Climate Change after May 2010. Sensationalism was used to increase circulation and improve “the bottom line”, which is commendable, but the price was lost accuracy, balance, objectivity and openness.


Scientific American (SA) used to produce informative articles about scientific research. They helped the public get a general understanding, however, they were simplistic if you knew the subject. Apparently, as sales declined, articles changed from interesting and challenging to sensational and one-sided about controversies. (There are five articles by Michael Mann since 2010.) In 2008, apparently, in conjunction with attempts to appeal to a wider audience, SA was put under the control of NPG. They expanded their propaganda role in October 2012, as science reporting became increasingly political and sensational.

Nature and Scientific American teamed up to produce the first State of the Worlds Science report in October 2012. Set to be an annual publication from Scientific American, this report explores the idea that the pursuit of knowledge is a global enterprise, and how globalization is changing the way science is done and how it informs the world.

Welcome To The World Of (Political) Science

Ideally, science is apolitical and amoral. The more it compromises those ideals, the greater the loss of credibility and integrity. Global warming deception succeeded because a few scientists and academic journals became political. The scientists participated for a variety of reasons including, funding, career opportunities, and political leanings. The journals were involved, because prestigious scientific publishers apparently chose sensationalism and political bias over balance and objectivity. The transition was gradual, so few realized what was going on.

Fortunately, there were a few people and publications with integrity, not least Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen and the journal Energy and Environment (E and E). They published McIntyre and McKitrick’s analysis of the now infamous hockey stick thus incurring the wrath of the CRU gang, who were supported by most academic journals.

Unpleasant as it is, few greater tributes can accrue than to be the target of attacks. Wartime pilots knew you were over the target if the flak was heavy. Paul Thacker cynically in 1995 wrote, If the manuscripts of climate change skeptics are rejected by peer-reviewed science journals, they can always send their studies to Energy and Environment. He further quotes Sonia Boehmer-Christiansen saying It’s only we climate skeptics who have to look for little journals and little publishers like mine to even get published. The sad story is, too many mainstream academic publishers, like Nature, appeared to lack such integrity.

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July 12, 2014 7:49 pm

Reblogged this on Tamar Conversations and commented:
Can you trust “peer reviewed” as a stamp of quality?

July 12, 2014 8:01 pm

Must say, “nothing new here, move along”. Back in the ’80’s and ’90’s Nature and Science and “UnScientific Chicken Poop Scared America” would publish almost any piece of clap trap, as long as it “supported” the “Nuclear (Weapons) Freeze” or was ANTI-Nuclear power. The sad part of this whole story is the high percentage of people who have a RELIGIOUS ADHERANCE to these sources as having “credibility”. Alas, the High Priests of the Inquisition are not dead, only wearing mortar boards and desiring to be called “Doktor” in reverential tones.

July 12, 2014 8:10 pm

The problem is that the MSN believe what they see as hypothesis or theory by the so called experts, and ignore everyone else who can offer a contradictory report. I sometimes believe sensational is preferred to the truth.

Mark Luhman
July 12, 2014 8:13 pm

We expect far to much from Journalist after all the only have second or third rate minds, most are average or below average intelligence, I expect more from a plumber than a journalist, after all a bad plumber’s work show rather quickly by the fetal mater on the floor, a journalist bad work can go unnoticed for years. We use to have editors who kept the BS and opinion out of the articles and proof readers who corrected the English mistakes, today we have neither.

Michael 2
July 12, 2014 8:36 pm

The hard left turn of Scientific American makes me sad. It had been one of my favorites.

July 12, 2014 8:51 pm

The continual bias of the Media in favour of CAGW Alarmist pronouncements explains why the public is only so slowly accepting that the whole theory is a farce and a scam. If there was miore genuine investigation by the Media the slow change would become an avalanche and the whole sorry story would be at an end.

Leo Geiger
July 12, 2014 8:52 pm

If peer reviewed journals have problems, just think of how shoddy the material appearing in things like blogs can be.

July 12, 2014 8:54 pm

Michael 2
Total agreement. For light scientific info and timely articles, it was very good. But even before the stand they made in the 1980’s against anything in America’s strategic interests (as Max H observed, above), they were devolving into psycho-babble and PC science.
Sad. But it took them decades. Pop-science “Discover” collapsed into nonsense in just a few years.

July 12, 2014 9:00 pm

Leo Geiger says:
July 12, 2014 at 8:52 pm
If peer reviewed journals have problems, just think of how shoddy the material appearing in things like blogs can be.
ROFL Leo – oh the irony!

Olaf Koenders
July 12, 2014 9:19 pm

Was this article peer reviewed?
This comment ® ™ (C) ∞ über alles ¯\ (ツ) /¯

July 12, 2014 9:20 pm

“We expect far to much from Journalist”
This has been my experience. The successful ones are either pit-bulls or the rare exceptions, the polymaths. Donna Laframbroise comes to mind. Others: James Delingpole, Christopher Booker, Charles Krauthammer, George Will.
Although I am not a conservative and do not always agree with these journalists, I respect their intelligence and efforts to inform. These conservative commentators actually dig to discover the facts and strive to analyse the events they report about.

July 12, 2014 9:26 pm

To paraphrase General Sherman:
“When a man is too lazy to work and too cowardly to steal, he becomes a [journalist]”

July 12, 2014 9:28 pm

This is what happens when there is nothing of value to report on. There is no space race today. So as a substitute, AGW will do just fine.
It’s an inevitable product of a decadent, indulgent middle class that is desperate to find a cause. Any cause will do.

July 12, 2014 9:30 pm

Nature and Science are like People’s Magazine. They publish whatever they think the public will buy.

July 12, 2014 9:50 pm

It’s important to know who these Journals and people are. But History will judge them.

July 12, 2014 10:11 pm

What a hell of a situation, but then “sensationalism” sells publications, which boosts profits, making shareholders happy and keeping Journalists in a job.
Who cares that the mouse is dead, but how it died can make the front page if it can be seen to be sensational. Especially if the scientific world agrees with the underlying “facts” of the cause of death.
Peer Review ?! Well it could be worse. How about political review of scientific scenarios??
That’s the problem climate scientists around the world are confronting. Ref Cartoon on topic . . . .

Jeff L
July 12, 2014 10:37 pm

I like the quote by Jefferson at the start of the post – it shows the corruption we see in journals / journalism is nothing new but is more likely a fundamental human flaw.

July 12, 2014 11:00 pm

I worked for a regional tabloid. 60% of the paper was for advertising. If it fell short of that less news. The circulation numbers were important to advertisers obviously and they paid more per page if it had a huge circulation. But the big tabloid or broadsheets, depend on advertising as selling a paper brings in little to cover the printing costs alone. But nowadays ‘newsie’ is what sells the papers, be it truthful or not. Or they don’t bother to publish alternative political or scientific alternatives. All they want is to print something the average reader can digest. And keep the number of words to 9 – 12 sentences. If they are too long most people will skim the article. Yet Nature and scientific mags should be more selective in what the publish. Just a mention, if you read an article about Quantum physics with say 40 to 65 word sentences, most people’s comprehension does stop as their concentration on long or wordy sentences defeats them. If I was asked to you believe in climate change, I would answer yes. But if I was asked was AGW causing climate change, well I would say No.

bill hunter
July 12, 2014 11:18 pm

so in the name of academic freedom academia resists accountability to the body politic. Yet there is no academic freedom as clearly academic powers are enforcing accountability to their own interests. There is no clearer statement that academia could make that academic freedom is a sham.
Could there possibly be a stronger statement for the need of academic accountability than effectively such a statement from academia itself?
If academia values its academic freedom it must demonstrate show by immediately and mercilessly expelling the forces against academic freedom within its own ranks. Short of that the body politic should step in and show them how its done.

July 12, 2014 11:31 pm

I had a subject about Thunderbolt that I researched and came up with research that refuted a senior lecturer and adjunct lecturers and I could not get a supervisor to supervise me. In fact I was smartly put off as they reckoned their joint research was the best and didn’t want me putting the cat in with pigeons. Talk about freedom of academic studies and articles. No such thing.

July 13, 2014 12:02 am

strictly speaking, I don’t consider climate science as a “science” neither do I consider climate scientists as “scientists” LOL

July 13, 2014 12:21 am

This looks pretty clear cut criminal activity anyone care to comment?

July 13, 2014 12:27 am

Reblogged this on ScottishSceptic and commented:
A long time ago, I recognised that the climate signal was far too short a time period to be able to say anything at all about it – and so it was fraudulent to say much at all.
But academics don’t get grants for saying “we don’t know”.So a whole academic industry has been born to fabricate “understanding” about the climate where there is none.
And now it appears that much of what the public call “science” is very much the same: fraud!

July 13, 2014 12:29 am

Eliza, well you are right. It’s a new discipline without any parameters. I mean to say if they were so good predicting the climate or weather, they could make a fortune. Oh, they have? LOL.
Humans have tried for decades to influence the weather. And if we go back far enough there are the rain dancers, human sacrifices and feeding chemicals onto clouds to make rain. So all we can do is adapt between ice ages and interglacials. Oh, what a tangled we weave when trying to deceive. Oh well going to watch the weather forecast on TV.

July 13, 2014 12:49 am

“The dangers are clear. As PR becomes ascendant, private and government interests become more able to generate, filter, distort, and dominate the public debate, and to do so without the public knowing it.”
(Professor McChesney, a communications professor at the University of Illinois).

Joe Public
July 13, 2014 1:41 am

“… It is totally unacceptable and contradictory because the BBC is taxpayer funded …. ”
No. The BBC is funded by Licence payers, who MUST pay them £145.50 per year, for the priveledge of being allowed to watch broadcast TV from any station, even if they watch no BBC whatsoever.

July 13, 2014 1:47 am

“There are five articles by Michael Mann since 2010.” [in SciAm]
… and there are five reasons I have not renewed what was a long
standing subscription.

Steve Taylor
July 13, 2014 1:55 am

We’re emigrating from the UK to the USA in couple of weeks. So far we have packed 1.5 tons of books. My dad’s sci-am collection 1958-1976 has been packed, mine, 1986-1995, junked.

July 13, 2014 2:00 am
A Harley biker is visiting Taronga Park Zoo, Sydney, when he sees a little girl leaning into the lions’ cage.
Suddenly, a lion grabs her by the jacket and tries to pull her inside, in full view of her terrified, screaming parents.
The biker jumps off his Harley, runs to the cage and hits the lion square on the nose with a powerful punch.
Whimpering, the lion releases the girl and recoils, and the biker returns her to her terrified parents who thank him again and again.
A reporter has watched the whole event. Addressing the Harley rider, he says: “Sir, that was the bravest thing I’ve seen a man do in all my life.”
The Harley rider replies, “Why, it was nothing, really. The lion was behind bars. I just saw this little kid in danger and did the right thing.”
The reporter says, “Well, I’ll make sure it won’t go unnoticed. I’m a journalist, and tomorrow’s paper will have this story on the front page. So, what do you do for a living and what political affiliation do you have?”
The biker replies, “I’m an SAS soldier just returned from Afghanistan and I’m against the political global warming nonsense.”
The journalist takes his leave.
The following morning the biker buys the paper to see news of his actions, and reads on the front page:
SAS soldier assaults African immigrant and steals his lunch

Rhys Jaggar
July 13, 2014 3:14 am

There is another, more insidious aspect to this, as follows:
When academics/those seeking tenure track/tenure are evaluated, it is quite significanlty based on ‘impact factors’ for JOURNALS, not the impact of their paper. Yes, impacts of individual papers are measured by citation numbers, but that is like saying that the Daily Mail gets cited more often than the Spectator, because its circulation is far higher. Stories in the Mail are more often than not about celebrities with the current ‘News’ being ‘Footballer goes on holiday with wife and kids’. Do bears shit in the woods or what??
So, if the highest impact journals (which undoubtedly include Nature and Science) are biased in favour of global warming and those which are open to more skeptical viewpoints are more ‘low impact’, guess whose ‘impact ratings’ are higher before the Tenure committee?? You got it, the warming zealots.
The other well known truism about science publishing is ‘it’s who you know, not what you know’, all other things being equal. If your boss is an editor of a major journal, you’ll have a 10 times higher chance of publishing there than an equally worthy scientist two labs down the corridor, whose boss doesn’t have such clout. The impact of this is that you get an ‘old boys’ club’ of networked labs who get to publish in ‘high impact journals’ and also you get those people supported by their bosses in seeking Tenure Track. The overall outcome of this is that you fill the posts across academia with the people whose views you approve of.
Now why did Nature and/or Science have such a high readership amongst life scientists back in the 1990s?? Mostly, because all the decent jobs in academic research were advertised there. All the major conferences were advertised there. Sure, you read the papers too, but actually, in terms of papers, you were reading all the other journals as much, often more so, because your research field was published more in, say, the Journal of Virology than in Nature.
Both those two facts are far less true now in the days of the internet, though and aren’t true at all in the field of climate science.

July 13, 2014 4:04 am

The sad story is, too many mainstream academic publishers, like Nature, appeared to lack such integrity.

Dr. Ball, I agree 100% with that statement. Where we disagree is the part of your essay about it used to be different. I think that the academic journals always enforced orthodoxy. I’ll give you that it is worse than ever now, but I maintain it was always like this.
We need open publishing without gatekeepers. Given the net and what seems to be almost infinite, cheap storage these days, there is no reason that papers are not out in the open where I can read them easily and for free. Science is about debate and transmittal of ideas —- NOT about gatekeepers telling us what is “good science”.

July 13, 2014 4:08 am

Reblogged this on CraigM350 and commented:
Journalists have a third bias – writing to please their employer, which helps their career prospects no end, whereas writing something which doesn’t please your employer, like saying cagw is a massive fraud. could well mean a change of career.

Stephen Skinner
July 13, 2014 4:14 am

And this also reported on the BBC related to stem cell research.
Japanese stem-cell ‘breakthrough’ findings retracted
“Research into one of the biggest recent stem-cell “breakthroughs” has been withdrawn because of “critical errors”.
Scientists in Japan had claimed stem cells could be made cheaply, quickly and ethically just by dipping blood cells into acid.
They have now written a retraction that apologises for “multiple errors” in their report.
Nature, the journal that published the findings, is reviewing how it checks scientific papers.,,”
“…errors were rapidly discovered, parts were lifted from early work and presented as though it was new research, and leading scientists have been unable to produce stem cells using acid in their own laboratories.
An investigation by the Riken research institute in Japan found that scientist Dr Haruko Obokata had fabricated her work in an intentionally misleading fashion…”

July 13, 2014 4:25 am

On climate change propaganda:
10 years ago we measured the temperature of the earth. Everyone said we knew the temperature of the earth. Now we have changed some of those records therefore when we thought we were measuring the temperature of the earth we were not.
I contend based on what I can see of the science that we don’t actually know the temperature of the earth until long past the time the information is useful.
I doubt everything in the field of climate science.

July 13, 2014 4:37 am

‘An important question is why were some journals, especially supposedly prestigious ones like Nature, vulnerable to coercion and manipulation’
Its Natures case that is an easy answer , its editor is a full on ‘think of the children’ alarmists . Has, with the MET this situation will not change until their is change in leadership, and has with the MET given the leaderships publicly stated views on this subject everything that comes out of them on the subject needs to be accompanied by a side order of salt.

July 13, 2014 4:54 am

““The Soon & Baliunas paper (see my article on John Holdren’s role in this paper) couldn’t have cleared a ‘legitimate’ peer review process anywhere. That leaves only one possibility–that the peer-review process at Climate Research has been hijacked by a few skeptics on the editorial board.”
So the very few skeptics in the world happened to be at Climate Research? After all 97% agree skepticism on climate is flat-earth stuff.

July 13, 2014 5:33 am

kcrucible says:
July 13, 2014 at 4:54 am
“So the very few skeptics in the world happened to be at Climate Research? After all 97% agree skepticism on climate is flat-earth stuff.”
Is that sarcasm or do you actually believe John Cook’s crackpot stats? Or are you a leftist who finds it useful to pretend to believe in John Cook’s crackpot stats?

July 13, 2014 5:42 am

This trait of publishing poor quality work is, of course, not limited to climate and associated sciences. Medical journals are stuffed with dodgy research, despite, I would suggest, one of the more rigorous peer-review processes. I recently heard the editor of the esteemed BMJ argue the indefensible on Radio 4 relating to a published article on the risks of statins when she had the opportunity to ‘fess up and acknowledge they don’t always get it right. That alone will have knocked off more than a few credibility points around the world and chances are the BMJ will also eventually come to be regarded as a magazine in due course. The MSM’s continued search for sensationalism over evidence give it and other journals a hard push in that direction.

July 13, 2014 6:02 am

Leo Geiger says:
July 12, 2014 at 8:52 pm
If peer reviewed journals have problems, just think of how shoddy the material appearing in things like blogs can be.
Ah, but blogs, like this one, state that they are opinion or commentary and while “peer review” isn’t required, it does sometimes effectively happen. If one has high expectations about a blog, perhaps the fault lies with the blog reader. As Christopher Monckton of Brenchley said in another thread, if it is a matter of fact that can be verified, then do so.
The MSM should separate the news section from the opinion section as best as they can. Much of the MSM doesn’t even try.

Bruce Cobb
July 13, 2014 6:25 am

bushbunny says:
July 12, 2014 at 11:00 pm
If I was asked to you believe in climate change, I would answer yes. But if I was asked was AGW causing climate change, well I would say No.
For skeptics, the correct answer to the former question is “no”, the reason being that only the mythical manmade climate change is a belief. Therefore, the questioner is really asking “do you believe in manmade climate change”? In fact, I would say that any question regarding the existence or non-existence of climate change is suspect. It’s like asking if you think gravity exists.
Often, the question reveals more about the questioner than the answer does about the answerer.

July 13, 2014 6:38 am

Mark Luhman says:
July 12, 2014 at 8:13 pm
I dare say, if you have fetal matter on the floor, you weren’t dealing with a plumber.

Ursa Felidae
July 13, 2014 6:39 am

Leo Geiger says:
If blogs have problems, just think of how shoddy the material appearing in things like peer-reviewed journals can be….

July 13, 2014 7:18 am

The peer reviewed paper is the modern-day holy scripture. White robes replace black robes as authority shifts from the sectarian to the secular. The outcome is the same – persecution of the unbeliever.

July 13, 2014 7:28 am

Scientific American was political by at least the early 1970’s. Their hate object then was anything involving nuclear weapons or missile defense.

Tanya Aardman
July 13, 2014 7:59 am

Nature willprobably start publishing page 3 girls soon – by that I mean extreme weather pics – that’s teir idea of porn

Jim G
July 13, 2014 9:14 am

I am particularly fond of (not) the manner in which many publications report theory as if it were fact. If someone can come up with some math, or more often a model, to support the theory, it is often reported as fact. In astronomy these “facts” are time and again disproven when ever a more accurate observation is made, particularly by close up satellite instruments. But the beat just keeps on going on. One of my absolute favorites was the report of “dark matter observed”, with photos of the unexplained gravitational effects of what is theorized to be caused by dark matter. Big difference!

James Gibbons
July 13, 2014 9:18 am

When I went to the University of Oregon in the 70’s, about 50% of every federal grant dollar went to overhead. I don’t know what it is now, but can guess it has only increased. At that time there was little political support for either U of O or Oregon State University. OSU got better general support from state funds but didn’t have as many federal grants as our Physics department had.
Now that situation has reversed. OSU has lots of money from the feds for climate and energy research. This change was mostly politically driven. There was also recently a political blowup in the nuclear research area when some professors decided to go commercial with their reactor design leaving Art Robinson’s son stranded in a PhD program with a new hostile advisor.
I was so lucky I didn’t follow the academic path after getting a BSc degree because I’m sure I would have had difficulties with the political climate in graduate school. Nixon actually did me a favor by cutting our grant and eliminating my research assistant job. It pushed me out of the nest and allowed my talents to develop into more useful commercial projects (not to say that the basic research we did wasn’t valuable). Rather than protest the cutting of trees, I now make sure that computer vision systems cut them with the least possible waste.

Jim G
July 13, 2014 9:26 am

“The years passed, mankind became stupider at a frightening rate. Some had high hopes the genetic engineering would correct this trend in evolution, but sadly the greatest minds and resources where focused on conquering hair loss and prolonging erections.” The Movie “Idiocracy”

July 13, 2014 10:14 am

I gave up on “Scientific American” when Martin Gardner, who I used to respect, showed, in deriding the Laffer Curve, that he had absolutely no knowledge of economics, and was happy to prove it.
You may remember his alleged “Laffer curve”, just a tangle of lines. Sheer nonsense, and the SA should have picked it up and got an economist to write on the Laffer Curve instead, or not bothered. After all, it was supposed to be a “Scientific” monthly.

Jeff Alberts
July 13, 2014 11:01 am

bushbunny says:
July 12, 2014 at 11:00 pm
I worked for a regional tabloid. 60% of the paper was for advertising. If it fell short of that less news. The circulation numbers were important to advertisers obviously and they paid more per page if it had a huge circulation.

I can only guess that you weren’t actually involved in writing anything.

July 13, 2014 11:21 am

Don’t know where to put this,so i’ll put it here.Feel free to move it to a more relevant place.
The Neuroscientists seem to understand the DANGER of computer models…

Paul Coppin
July 13, 2014 11:25 am

ChrisMarlowe says:
“…dig to discover the facts and strive to analyse the events they report about.”
I don’t want a journalist to analyse, ever. I only want them ascertain the facts, report them in the proper context with the proper balance. Speculate if they wish, but please, no “analysis”. Very few journalists have the necessary intellectual capacity, experience’ or knowledge to analyse what they report on. Analysis will be my job. I don’t need their advocacy, their confirmation bias, their bigotry, their racism, their bosse’s viewpoint, done up in tidy little prose trying to tell me what I should think about something. If they want to be advocates, rather than journalists, and pump their advocacy, that’s fine, just get it out in the open and on the table and declared. Otherwise, most of them should just STFU.

July 13, 2014 11:40 am

A few months ago I said in connection with another matter that “peer review” were the weasliest of weasel words. I stick to this view.

July 13, 2014 11:40 am

Thank you Dr. Tim Ball for a fine summary of the “scientific method” being claimed – but not used (not rigorous and rational enough). I will definitely refer to this post and am glad it is here.
Scientists are humans with frailties and faults, and live in a society in which they make choices for social reasons. The scientific method, though, is still sound and the best hope for our species long term future. Like Evolution, Plate Tectonics, and Copernican Theory, though, the scientific method will gradually win out in some future time on CAGW … as more and more evidence accrues and new generations of scientists grow up. Unfortunately, it is these recent climate scientists, who want to claim to be among the most objective and rigorous ones(i.e., scientists) in our societies, that are most at fault. The “buck” should have stopped with them long ago …. and they pis_ me off to no end!!

Richard Keen
July 13, 2014 11:43 am

Jeff L says: I like the quote by Jefferson at the start of the post …
Jefferson also said:
“It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.” –Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia, 1782
Which goes hand-in-hand with Ike’s warning about the spawning of a “a scientific-technological elite” for whom “a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity” leading to the “domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money…”
What Jefferson said 230+ years ago, and Ike 53 years ago, has clearly come to pass. Control of the “scientific” and popular media is a skin rash that is one sympton of the systemic disease.

James Strom
July 13, 2014 11:48 am

Dudley Horscroft says:
July 13, 2014 at 10:14 am
Hah! I’m pretty sure my disaffection with Scientific American dates to the same silly article by Gardiner. That opened my eyes to the shortcuts and obsessions which were dominating the magazine.

Richard Keen
July 13, 2014 11:53 am

Actually, DUE to the “domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money…”
Let me reverse the transitivity of the verb for proper cause-effect.
Jefferson and Eisenhower both engaged in government funded science (Lewsi & Clark, the IGY, NASA), so they’re not entirely innocent, either. But they warned us of the potential consequences which should be, in Ike’s words, “gravely to be regarded”.

July 13, 2014 12:40 pm

Dr. Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen testified on the politicization of the peer-review process at the Heartland Conference on Climate Change ( – Panel 17). She said, “Research Enterprise is Big Business.” It is “dependent on delivering ‘right’ results for ‘users’.”

July 13, 2014 12:56 pm

Scientific American always had a pronounced political bias, but at least they used to make an attempt at balance. I stopped reading them about four years ago as they dove in whole hog into the climate change hysteria.

July 13, 2014 2:27 pm

I like blogs. I especially like the comments. I probably learn more — no, I DO learn more — from being able to read other people’s assessments, than I do from any one article. I have my preferred ways of thinking, my preferred analytical modes. Reading other people’s views — especially when you take the time to explain yourselves — allows me to access modes of thinking I wouldn’t ordinarily get into. Whether I actually get around to contributing more, or not, I am certainly a much bigger person for having read and at least attempted to understand you all, than I would have been if all I could do was listen to the TV talking head or read the approved OpEd in the paper.z
Thank you all, guys.

July 13, 2014 3:21 pm

“The hard left turn of Scientific American makes me sad. It had been one of my favorites.”
The left turn occurred when Nature Inc. bought it. Almost every bogus claim ever published was published in Nature.

July 13, 2014 3:57 pm

Well said Dr. Ball.
Journals, MSM, politicians, and the public at large are missing out on arguably the greatest story of the late 20th and early 21st centuries; the hijacking and perversion of atmospheric science by an assortment of small-scale interest groups – well connected; but actually a tiny number of people, not even necessarily expert in the field. From B-Team academics to the likes of opportunist buffoons like Al Gore and Cook et al, to kooks and crackpots like Hansen and McKibben.
Well funded, well heeled, hobnobbing around the world; all on the taxpayers dime, ironically serving no public good at all, because if Man-Made CO2 is no crises, of what possible good are they up to? Crises? What crises? Temperatures are flat and anyhow slightly warmer weather is good for everybody and everything living. If only Mankind was causing it!
This small group, working through Journals, amplified by MSM, exercising power through various political connections, have taken over the narrative. They own the entire playing field. I only found out about the foolishness after Climategate 1.0. I kept reading and researching until I found out the real story; followed by personal research into the actual climate data. It took me awhile; a couple of years in fact. And I am an Engineer by profession, so can evaluate data. But I’m no earth scientist so it took me some time before it all started sinking in. This just isn’t my field. A generally trusting, non-technically savvy public will turn our way, the way of truth, only very slowly – but slowly and surely they are waking up – due in large part to leaders in the field such as you.
So it will take the public some time to catch up. But for a few outstanding organizations, MSM is doing a pathetic job of informing the public. They are more culpable, in my view, than the opportunists and politicians. Look, clever charlatans have always been with us – cheats, frauds and liars – I doubt we will ever entirely be rid of them. And politicians? They generally don’t care much at all; just want to get elected, be in charge, talk a lot, have their library built, so forth. They will increasing come to our side as the public clues in and becomes passionate.
Not much we can do but keep speaking truth to power; stay honest and keep up the fight. On the bright side, just look at the numbers of people interested in Climate Realist blogs. And keeping telling the story – I have your latest book, thanks for making the effort and taking time to write it. Eventually the truth will out; and when that happens there will be a tremendous backlash.

Kevin Kilty
July 13, 2014 4:22 pm

The demise of Scientific American was evident when fewer scientists wrote articles and the magazine began to use its in-house science writers.
The shortcomings of peer review were apparent decades ago when one would often get a review in which the reviewer would suggest that his/her very important work should be cited. Or reviewers seemed willing to go to any illogical extreme to keep certain papers from being published. The process suffered obvious corruption and editors did not punish the perpetrators.
The process of making “scientists” was corrupted long ago when graduate students could become professional scientists by fabricating data and elluding detection, and could as professionals advance their careers similarly. The committee process is as flawed as peer-review.
We might also remember that Newton engaged in outright fudging to make observations agree with his theoretical mechanics. Kelvin did so as well–and Kelvin also used his authority viciously against his better thinking opponents. Nonetheless can anyone deny either Newton or Kelvin being among the finest physicists who ever lived?
There is only one strategy against the problems that self-interest and ideology create for the scientific process, and that is to practice “nullius in verba”.

Kevin Kilty
July 13, 2014 4:36 pm

Dudley Horscroft says:
July 13, 2014 at 10:14 am
I gave up on “Scientific American” when Martin Gardner, who I used to respect, showed, in deriding the Laffer Curve, that he had absolutely no knowledge of economics, and was happy to prove it….

I recall that episode. Gardner was a communist and let his politics infect his thinking from time to time. He needed a tough editor to slap him upon occasion and SA had no such person. The same could be said of Steven Jay Gould, who I found to be a pompous bore, but I thought I was all alone in my assessment. Then in one of Steven Pinker’s books I read that Gould’s pronouncements on how Marxism could inform biology was simply “embarrassing.”

July 13, 2014 4:40 pm

Dudley Horscroft says: “Martin Gardner, who I used to respect, showed, in deriding the Laffer Curve, that he had absolutely no knowledge of economics, and was happy to prove it.
You may remember his alleged ‘Laffer curve’, just a tangle of lines. ”
How very odd. I rather respected Gardner for the exact same point, and would extend his reasoning to the CAGW argument.
Gardner wasn’t disputing, (as far as I recall) the Laffer model. But he argued that the effect of one change in one tax (say the rate paid by the top income bracket in the US income tax) would be difficult if not impossible to measure given all the other curves for other income brackets, not to mention the step-curves produced for ideas like the US “Alternative Minimum Tax”; the nearly flat rate paid into the US “FICA” or retirement system tax, the every-city-is-different rates charged for US “Sales” tax, (with distortions by exempted products — pay tax on Sermon collections but not Bibles, on cakes but not bread, etc) And so on for the curve of all other fees and fines and premiums and mandatory exchange-traded commodity credits…
And I would suggest that the Anthropogenic Forcings on climate are similar. One change to one factor (CO2) is actually pretty hard to model with a curve, a computer program, or any method — given we also graze goats to make forests into deserts, de-forest whole river systems to plant grains, re-route rivers to supply drinking water to movie stars and gamblers, fill the air with smoke and cover the icecaps with soot… all at changing rates and in changing directions over different regions and national regimes. What Steve McIntyre calls “spaghetti graphs” — but tracking all the predicted consequence from each shift in each forcing. ]
Yeah, hold all else stable — the fabulous “Ceteris Paribus” and an X percent change in THIS direction will, up to some point, result in a linear shift of some Y percent of consequence. But at some other point the linear model will break down, and at NO point is all the Cetera actually holding Paribus — in fact efforts to pin down X will by the laws of economics force decison and policy makers into more drastic changes in all the other Ceteris sooner than otherwise.
That was Gardner’s take on Laffer, I think, and I don’t think he was mistaken.

July 13, 2014 4:42 pm

Don’t forget Millikan’s oil drop fudging.
The problem is, most scientists are not Newtons or Millikans. The difference is that the greats have the ability to patiently see if their fudges prove out…or not. In addition, there was at the time no political motivation to publish skewed results. (There are times, we know, when fudged ideas are “shopped” for reasons of funding with the hope the problems can be “fixed.” Can you say “cold fusion?”)
Science is not a faith which grants adherent infallibility. It is rather an architecture, and as such is no stronger than its footings and no more sustainable than one whose contractors cheat on the quality of the rebar, bricks, or grout.

July 13, 2014 4:45 pm

“The huge and winning advantage the science blogosphere has over those dinosaur science journals is money. They can make it, we can’t, and paradoxically, that’s precisely what is killing them.”

July 13, 2014 4:52 pm

Kevin Kilty says: “Steven Jay Gould I found to be a pompous bore …”
Gould lost me when he attempted to refute the concept of “Intelligent Design” by analogy, debunking the legend that Abner Doubleday had invented Baseball. “How could such a complicated game as Baseball arise, without a designer?” Gould sneered. And proceded to provide evidence about “Base Ball” before Doubleday.
All fine and well — but then how do we account for the complicated game of BASKETBALL – without invoking the intelligent design of James Naismith? (whom I claim for Kansas, his Canadian roots notwithstanding)
There may or may not be good arguments about complexity and intelligence of design, but Gould isn’t (wasn’t) the person to make them.
Again returning to the topic of CAGW, Gould himself tells the story of geologists in the 19th century who were so confident of their theory that, eventually, they refused to look at data, or even the hard evidence of fossils in the stratums of newly dug rocks — the sequences worked out HAD to be correct, and the data/evidence HAD to be wrong. Gould claims the confidence of the elder scientists was a strength of the discipline; but it seemed arrogant to me, and a choice that postponed the synthetic resolution of thesis and anti-thesis that even hard core progressives (claiming to be dialecticians ) claim to be progressing toward. Nowadayws we have climate scientists who do not refuse to look at other researcher’s data, but who instead refuse to allow other researchers to look at their OWN data. Just as arrogant and just as reactionary and anti-diacritical. Marx and Hegel would be embarrassed by fellow travelers like Michael Mann.

Greg Munger
July 13, 2014 5:06 pm

Wow, I’m amazed no one has even mentioned National Geographic. Once a pillar of objective scientific inquiry. Now just another alarmist shill, wh****g itself for the dollar.

Alan McIntire
July 14, 2014 6:13 am

“Michael 2 says:
July 12, 2014 at 8:36 pm
The hard left turn of Scientific American makes me sad. It had been one of my favorites.”
My favorite sections, many years ago, were Martin Gardner’s mathematical column, and
“The Amateur Scientist”. If the current publication were anything like that, they’d be publishing articles on how to measure changes in humidity, downwelling infrared radiation, etc. instead
of fascist propaganda, urging the restriction of private, personal energy use “for the good of the state”.

Hank Bradley
July 14, 2014 9:05 am

The hard left turn of Scientific American makes me sad. It had been one of my favorites.
They tipped their hand long ago, fawning over the superior urban planning of Pyongyang. Seems that one appeared in the 20th century, but I’m not a good enough Google-driver to succeed in finding it mentioned.

July 14, 2014 9:37 am

“TIME magazine probably publishes many facts… but since it’s founding in the early 20s I have been on the spot eight or nine times when something that wound up as a news story in TIME happened. Not once—not once—did the TIME magazine story match what I saw and heard.”
-Robert A. Heinlein

July 14, 2014 10:04 am

Interesting analysis, Prof. Ball!

July 14, 2014 11:38 am

Thanks. I was unaware of that quotation.
I was on hand at a flurry of border violence in West Africa in the 1970’s. The Newsweek article got the bare-bones right, but everything else was incorrect filler, dismayingly ill-reported or fabricated.

Farmer Ted.
July 14, 2014 3:53 pm

I remind you again that in December 1986 the Hawke (Labor) government in Australia put its “social scientist” mates in charge of the real scientists at the CSIRO.
Note the spelling of Labor. When the Australian Labor Party was established in 1890, the Americans were the heroes and the Brits the villains. Hence the American spelling.

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