From #AAAS Why Some (Many?) Scientists Tend to Hype their Findings

Guest essay By Indur M. Goklany

In case there was any doubt that many scientists are like the rest of humanity, not to mention Brian Williams, the Pew Research Center , based on a survey of 3,748 American-based scientists connected with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), finds that:

A sizable share of scientists believe careers can be advanced by media coverage of their work and social media use: 43% of AAAS scientists say it is important or very important for scientists in their specialty to get coverage of their work in news media, up from 37% who said that in a 2009 survey. Some 22% described it as either “very important” (4%) or “important” (18%) for career advancement in their discipline to promote their findings on social media such as Facebook or Twitter.

This, despite the fact that a large majority (79%) believe it is a major problem for science that news reports don’t distinguish between well-founded and not well-founded scientific findings. In addition, 52% of scientists say that simplification of scientific findings is a major problem for science in general.

Scientists — no fools they — also must realize that hyping the social, environmental and economic consequences of their research — or failure to research — increases the likelihood of media coverage, and the amount of funding that their field can expect to garner.

Given this, it’s surprising that the Number Watch list isn’t longer.

Here is the press release:

American scientists believe they face a challenging environment and the vast majority of them support the idea that participation in policy debates and engagement with citizens and journalists is necessary to further their work and careers.

A survey of 3,748 American-based scientists connected with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) finds that 87% agree with the statement “Scientists should take an active role in public policy debates about issues related to science and technology.” Just 13% of these scientists back the opposite statement: “Scientists should focus on establishing sound scientific facts and stay out of public policy debates.”

This widely held view among scientists about active engagement combines with scientists’ perspectives on the relationship between science and society today in several ways:

These findings come at a time when science topics are increasingly part of the public debate. Pew Research findings from this survey reported last month showed an overall drop among AAAS scientists in how they rate the state of science in general and their particular scientific field. Scientists also express concerns about the precarious state of research funding, some of the influences on how funding is allocated, and difficulties they feel hinder the capacity of science disciplines to attract the best talent to the field.

How scientists are engaging: Half talk to reporters and 47% use social media.

Nearly All Scientists Talk with the Public; A Sizable Share Use Social Media, BlogsNearly all the AAAS scientists (98%) say they have some level of interaction with citizens at least from time to time, and 51% have at least some contact with reporters about research findings.

In addition, nearly half of AAAS scientists – 47% – use social media to talk about science or read about scientific developments at least some of the time. Some 24% of these AAAS scientists blog about science and research.

The scientists who are most likely to be involved in public activities show distinct patterns by age, by the level of public debate and public interest they perceive in their specialty, and by discipline. Virtually all scientists engage with citizens. Mid-career and older scientists are especially likely to speak to reporters. Younger scientists are more likely to use social media. And blogging is something that equally spans the generations under age 65.

There is also evidence in the survey that the most engaged often use multiple methods and platforms to connect with the public. In other words, those who want to engage tend to do so in multiple ways.

41%	of AAAS scientists often  or occasionally engage with the public in at least two waysSome 41% of AAAS scientists report that they “often” or “occasionally” do at least two of these four activities: 1) talk with non-experts about science topics, 2) talk with the media, 3) use social media or 4) blog. Nearly half, 48%, do one of these four activities either often or occasionally, and 11% do none of these on an “often” or “occasional” basis. Those who are more engaged by this metric are slightly younger; 46% of those ages 18 to 49 and 44% of those ages 50 to 64 are more engaged, compared with 33% among those ages 65 and older. A somewhat larger share of women (44%) than men (39%) report doing at least two of these activities on a more frequent basis.

Scientists include digital communication tools as they try to stay up-to-date in their work

Both Traditional and Digital Tools Help Scientists Stay Up-to-Date Traditional information and peer networking activities are the most common ways scientists stay up-to-date. However, digital methods are now a common part of the learning toolkit for many scientists.

Fully 84% of AAAS scientists read journal articles outside of their primary fields or scientific discipline. In addition, 79% say they attend professional meetings, workshops and lectures.

At the same time, digital communications are also a common part of the learning activities of scientists as they connect with peers: 58% get email alerts from journals in their specialty; 56% get emails from general science journals; 32% belong to email listservs; 19% follow blogs by experts their fields; and 12% follow tweets or other postings in social media by experts in their field.

About this report

This report is based on a survey of American scientists who are connected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). It explores the ways in which scientists interact with citizens and journalists and their reasons for doing so.

This is the second of several reports analyzing the data from two surveys: this canvassing of AAAS scientists and a companion survey of U.S. adults. The first report was released last month and it focused on a comparison of the general public and AAAS scientists as a whole. Follow-up reports planned for later this year will analyze views of the general public in more detail, especially by political, religious and demographic groups. The connection between people’s science knowledge and their views will also be explored.

The fieldwork for both surveys was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Contact with AAAS members invited to participate in the survey was managed by AAAS staff with the help of Princeton Survey Research Associates International; AAAS also covered part of the costs associated with mailing members. All other costs of conducting the pair of surveys were covered by the Pew Research Center. Pew Research bears all responsibility for the content, design and analysis of both the AAAS member survey and the survey of the general public.

About this survey

The survey of scientists was conducted online with a random sample of 3,748 U.S.-based members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) from Sept. 11 to Oct. 13, 2014. AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society, and includes members from all scientific fields. Founded in 1848, AAAS publishes Science, one of the most widely circulated peer-reviewed scientific journals in the world. Membership in AAAS is open to all. The survey was conducted under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Further details on the methodology are in Appendix A at the end of this report.

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February 16, 2015 11:05 am

yep….we’re all going to die….world destroyed at 10
…film at 11

Reply to  Latitude
February 16, 2015 11:48 am

Women and minorities hardest hit.

Reply to  Latitude
February 17, 2015 2:18 am

I cannot follow the trend because you forgot the hashtag.

george e. smith
Reply to  Latitude
February 17, 2015 11:59 am

So I am a recovering ex-member of that AAAS, and I am glad to be rid of the majority (at least 87%) of those scoundrels.
I found much interesting information by reading SCIENCE, but I can’t abide people who act like the witch doctors of long ago, who cowered the people, by having figured out that the moon was about to swallow the sun, just in time to save the hapless captive from having his still beating heart cut from his chest, before his separated head and torso, were sent hurtling down the pyramid steps for the crowd to play with, and appease the gods to get a good harvest.
And for those allergic to commas; just don’t read them and it will all make sense to you.
All the tripe that passed for news coverage in the Bay area with this AAAS “burning man” exposition last week, was enough for me to clear out of town; so I went 200 miles away for the good of my sanity.

February 16, 2015 11:08 am

American scientists believe they face a challenging environment and the vast majority of them support the idea that participation in policy debates and engagement with citizens and journalists is necessary to further their work and careers.

Or, as they put it in The Right Stuff (1983), “No bucks, no Buck Rogers.”
Thus do we see the grant-sucking scientists playing up to the media, “them root weevils that crawl around popping off cameras in your face”

Reply to  Tucci78
February 16, 2015 12:55 pm

AAAS has been politicizing science for grantmaking purposes for more than 25 years.
Endorsing and advocating for the math and science programs that ignited the math and science wars. Now those really are huge grants especially since there’s no need for a lab, equipment, or number-crunching on a computer. It’s just advocacy in the K-12 schools and the curriculum and instructional practices.

Reply to  Robin
February 16, 2015 6:17 pm

We were warned. Money corrupts, and lots of grant money corrupts absolutely. It’s worse than we thought!

Eisenhower’s Farewell Address to the Nation – January 17, 1961
The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.
Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite. ….

Reply to  Robin
February 16, 2015 6:18 pm

comment image

george e. smith
Reply to  Robin
February 17, 2015 12:03 pm

Ya’ left out what the DOD spends on glowbull warmongering. After all they claim it is a National Defence issue.

February 16, 2015 11:12 am

So the News is a less talented Jon Steward show, and climate science is Godzilla horror flicks.
And all of which is rather boring, so few watch it.
Next, will be topless news reporting.

Reply to  gbaikie
February 16, 2015 11:16 am

Next, will be topless news reporting.

And when that happens, an excited titter will run through the room.

Reply to  gbaikie
February 16, 2015 11:19 am

It’ll allow you to get abreast of the subject !!

Reply to  gbaikie
February 16, 2015 11:57 am

Topless new reporting? Old hat.
Even that’s old…

Reply to  Neil
February 16, 2015 5:28 pm
Reply to  gbaikie
February 16, 2015 12:37 pm

Bad idea – there are already too many boobs in the MSM.

jon sutton
Reply to  JohnWho
February 16, 2015 3:23 pm

There is some evidence that climate change is affecting the density and volume of mammary tissue worldwide. Funding for further research is currently being sought and prospective sponsors may contact me through this website

george e. smith
Reply to  gbaikie
February 17, 2015 12:14 pm

Can’t you just imagine, a curved desk with five has been “environmentsl scientists” sitting there in suits and ties, trying to tell people how they should think about climate science research, boring as hell, instead of actually showing some folks in the trenches like Prof Christy and Dr. Roy actually doing their thing.
Some people spent two full weeks watching those retired once greats yak endlessly about a “super bowl” of football and half time grandeur; I know I got stuck looking at their grey hair or lack of it, while trying to find some actual sports to watch during the week.
When the gong finally sounded for the main event,I was fast asleep and caught nowt about it, including missing al the half time wonderment, and of course I missed all those mega million $$$ ads that were supposed to be earth shattering.
So glad you had your séance AAAS; why not get back to reporting some real science.

February 16, 2015 11:17 am

Of course they blog. That is how the scientific debate takes place. By instant communication of ideas online.
Universities are effectively redundant now that their monopoly on technical libraries is gone.
They’ll work it out eventually.
The French Academy of Art had the same problem at the end of the 19th Century. But the public eventually got the Impression they were fossils.

Reg Nelson
Reply to  MCourtney
February 16, 2015 2:34 pm

Unfortunately, the blogging on this topic is too often one sided — shutting out any attempt at debate. SKS, RealClimate, etc, seek to squash debate rather than encourage it.
Sadly, the scientific icons in this field are the most corrupt and despicable the world of Science has ever seen: Jones, Hansen, Mann and now Schmidt.
To them, the science is settled even though it couldn’t be further from the truth.
The great thing about this website\blog is that Anthony encourages an open debate, not a suppression of the truth.

Reply to  MCourtney
February 16, 2015 6:29 pm

What I find funny is that they told us repeatedly that if you want to challenge anything it should be done in the peer review. When they want to promote something they do it by Twitter et al. I thought this was the field of bloggers and their field was Climastrology ‘gold’ standard. Heh, heh.

Reply to  MCourtney
February 17, 2015 6:53 pm

No need to have a private library. They’ll get around to burning them eventually. Unless it’s novels a plenty. That freaks me out when I go to a public library. Rows and rows of novels, and way in the back are a couple of shelves with books that mean something. Basic chemistry, one book. Calculus 2 or 3 poorly written. No advanced books on any issue. No books on geometry or trig. (they weren’t out, they didn’t have them)

Reply to  rishrac
February 18, 2015 1:02 am

In response to the comment of MCourtney at 11:17 AM on 16 February to the effect that:

Universities are effectively redundant now that their monopoly on technical libraries is gone

at 6:53 PM on 17 February, rishrac writes:

…when I go to a public library. Rows and rows of novels, and way in the back are a couple of shelves with books that mean something. Basic chemistry, one book. Calculus 2 or 3 poorly written. No advanced books on any issue.

Of course, public libraries serve a decidedly different customer base than do university libraries, chiefly that of people seeking diversion and other forms of entertainment, and budget their material (and human) resources accordingly.
How many universities hold “story hour” readings for small children?
Okay, no snide comments about affirmative action admissions engaging the functionally illiterate as matriculants….

Reply to  Tucci78
February 18, 2015 7:47 am

Try getting into a university library without being a student or facility member. Additionally, even the material there is lacking. Universities should hold story hour readings for the students.. I suspect many of them can’t read.

Reply to  rishrac
February 18, 2015 8:38 am

Regarding the difference between university libraries and public libraries, at 7:47 AM on 18 February, rishrac comments:

Try getting into a university library without being a student or [faculty] member. Additionally, even the material there is lacking. Universities should hold story hour readings for the students.. I suspect many of them can’t read.

In my experience, university libraries will charge a non-matriculant (or non-faculty member) a fee for access. I’ve used the libraries at various universities in Philadelphia under such an arrangement, both as an undergraduate at a small college on the Main Line and in the decades since. A friend of mine – an expert in archeoastronomy with no academic relationship to Obozo’s alma mater – had made use of the Widener Library on the Harvard campus for many years before he’d retired to sunnier climes.
Though, of course, the intellectually bottom-dwelling “Studies” majors and instructors don’t make use of the highly technical specialty libraries that serve engineering schools, medical schools, law schools, and postgraduate physics, chemistry, and biology programs.
Ever take classes with Education majors?
Gad. Reminds me of that saying about orthopedic surgeons: “Smarter than a rock, but dumber than a tree.”

Gary Pearse
February 16, 2015 11:22 am

Gee, scientists have morphed into social scientists. Who’da thunk? Only 87% – it’s 97% in the cooking science.

February 16, 2015 11:43 am

WHOA Nelly!
Under the 2nd graph in fine print: “Those not selecting each item or giving no answer are not shown.”
What? So…if the respondent read through the list of options and ONLY responded to the “items” they actually use…instead of responding to every option on the list…their answers were not shown. How many of the surveyed “scientists” did not select each item?
So then “Cook et al” methodologies? Meaning that INSTEAD of reading the chart to say that “84% of the scientists questioned…(84% of 3,748 people surveyed would be 3,148 people) Read journal articles outside of their primary field” IT MUST BE READ AS- “84% of the respondents who “selected each item” Read journal articles outside of their primary field”.

Reply to  Aphan
February 16, 2015 12:23 pm

Kinda like principal components.

Reply to  Aphan
February 16, 2015 12:25 pm

good catch

Reply to  Aphan
February 16, 2015 12:39 pm

Hmm… maybe surveying scientists is only a good idea
if the survey is done scientifically?

February 16, 2015 12:04 pm

I think social media includes things like Research Gate, which is useful. I don’t think most
people post on FB about their scientific papers.

Reply to  Bill_W
February 16, 2015 1:14 pm

I got banned by Mickey Mann (or one of his minions) for commenting on facebook on a post thread about the libel suit with Steyn; so that’s sort of dancing around the edges.

February 16, 2015 12:09 pm

Forty year ago most scientists had low opinions of those who popularized science. Jacques Cousteau, for example, although he did some scientific research, was looked down upon. Carl Sagan changed all that with his Cosmos series and appearances on the Tonight Show.

Reply to  Gary
February 16, 2015 1:59 pm

But Sagan was presenting Astronomy and Cosmology, thes were areas of little importance other than the sheer joy of the search for knowledge; Climatology on the other hand involves life and death issues. If the Warmists are correct we’ll need to reallocate considerable resources to avoid thermogeddon and people will starve, if thermogeddon is really some Machiavellian plot for wealth redistribution, those people will starve in vain.

Reply to  Paul Jackson
February 16, 2015 4:08 pm

Paul, If you read his stuff, you’ll find many more facets in his grasp of the science realm. I can’t help but wonder, if Carl Sagan was still alive, what stand he would take on AGCC? I would like to think he would be blogging here as a leader of the questioners and the open minded.

Bill Parsons
Reply to  Paul Jackson
February 17, 2015 9:00 am

if Carl Sagan was still alive, what stand he would take on AGCC? I would like to think he would be blogging here as a leader of the questioners and the open minded.

Unless Sagan had undergone a conversion since 1990 (Episode four of Cosmos), he would have disappointed us wrt this hope:

This would make him, unfortunately, one of the original alarmists. I still enjoyed his 12-part series enough to record and re-watch his entire “Gee whizz!” series, and appreciated his efforts to present science to the public. Don’t know who his sponsors were, but cynic that I am, consider this a question worth asking.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Gary
February 16, 2015 2:00 pm

and now there is the guy with three names

Jim Francisco
Reply to  Doug Huffman
February 17, 2015 10:12 am

The Carl Sagan take on CAGW has caused me to have a little doubt about my disbelief of CAGW for quite a while. I wish I could get over it. I loved his book about the Demon Haunted World. This CAGW demon just haunts me.

george e. smith
Reply to  Gary
February 17, 2015 3:59 pm

Well Jack Cousteau made the mistake of describing “sport fishermen” (who practice catch and release fishing), were the lowest form of animal life and crawled on their bellies like the snakes. They just enjoyed torturing those fishes, for fun.
Well practically nobody besides Jackie, ever killed as many harmless fish to use to tease sharks into a feeding frenzy for him and his scuba buddies to get off on, just so he could make some film footage of that completely non natural shark behavior, to show to American sucker audiences to get donations to put diesel fuel in his play ship.
What do you know; he found out that those scum off the bottom feeders sport fishermen had been his most lucrative supporters, thinking that he was all about improving fish conservation.
So they cut him off at the knees, and let him find some other dopes to feed his fetish.
Sport fishermen and gals, are among the most conservation conscious folks who ever get near the water. They know what is at stake if bad fisheries practice (like the Omega 3 / 6 rape) are continued without concern for the consequences, of cutting out the middle of the ocean food chain.

February 16, 2015 12:13 pm

At least scientists are not getting involved in pubic debates. Or at least not publicly.

Reply to  Alx
February 16, 2015 12:40 pm

All public scientific debates are being conducted privately.

February 16, 2015 12:28 pm
Reply to  Bubba Cow
February 16, 2015 12:31 pm

have trouble with keyboards, sorry – discipline

Dr. Richard Rounds
Reply to  Bubba Cow
February 16, 2015 12:48 pm

I want to know how AAAS helped in the selection process. If they supplied a complete list of members – and that is all- and if PEW used random numbers applied to that list for selection, I am happy. Nothing else would allow the use of “random” in the sample.

Bloke down the pub
February 16, 2015 12:32 pm

It would be interesting to know how many scientists agreed with what was reported by the msm about their area of speciality.

February 16, 2015 12:41 pm

I just read that climate change is causing more disease outbreaks. It was my understanding that serious disease outbreaks were one of natures population control mechanisms; but I’m not trying to get funded.

February 16, 2015 1:49 pm

Membership in AAAS is open to all individuals who support the goals and objectives of the Association and are willing to contribute to the achievement of those goals and objectives.
Not sure how member in AAAS = “scientist”

Bryan A
Reply to  Jimmy
February 17, 2015 12:24 pm

Isn’t Kenji a member???

February 16, 2015 1:56 pm

It is a very competitive world to get the research funding and science today needs large sum of money controlled by politicians who have lost their political sense of history. If the politicians were good politicians they should have hedged their decisions. Pres Bush did not believe in AGW and having save hundreds of billions for mitigation he could have concentrated the few billions on scientific research on AGW. His critics will be silenced as they are getting the research gravy. If in the future AGW is correct, history will be kind to him. He was making a decision under uncertainty. His research focus on AGW was a milestone in removing the uncertainty. Now that Pres Obama has supported AGW or rather climate change and spending hundreds of billions on mitigation and adaptation, he should shift the research focus to skeptics. After all if AGW debate is settled to the alarmists, then they should not be receiving a cent of research grant money to further prove what they claimed is already settled. On the other hand, there is need to look at the details and issues raised by the skeptics. If in the future, AGW is nonsense, history will be kinder on Pres Obama as he is responsible for financing the skeptical side of the debate. This is standard horn of dilemma in logic.

Arno Arrak
February 16, 2015 1:57 pm

I agree with MCourtney, February 16, 2015 at 11:17 am, who writes:
“Of course they blog. That is how the scientific debate takes place. By instant communication of ideas online.Universities are effectively redundant now that their monopoly on technical libraries is gone.”
Very true. Internet makes scientific information available to anyone who needs it. Formerly you had to have a connection to a large research university or corporation and attend conferences in your field to even get started. And forget about getting reprints by email. The publisher gave you fifty reprints if they accepted your publication. Those who wanted a copy sent you a postcard and you mailed a copy to them. Universities and corporate labs had these reprint requests printed out for use by their personnel. They make an interesting relic of a time before the Internet. Without Internet I as a retired person would not have been able to do any climate science that I have published.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Arno Arrak
February 17, 2015 8:14 am

A long time ago, long before the Internet, a friend told me it was easy to become “noted” as an expert in the eyes of the public, peers and/or potential employers simply by writing a very short book, booklet, paper or article on one (1) or more “subjects” of your choice …… and then buy a “copying” machine and make a dozen or so “photocopies” of your document(s), … stapling each one of said copies together in “book” form with “cover” and ”title” page …….and then distributing them “free-of-charge” to various schools, libraries, etc. ……. and then you can add to your resume as being “a Published author of/on said subject matter” …… which will automatically garner you “expertise” status in the eyes and minds of those who never bother to verify the credibility of your claim. And iffen one questions you claim you can cite the schools and libraries that have “copies” of your Published works.

February 16, 2015 2:37 pm

Nowhere in the Pew survey is “hype” or “embellish” (to draw from the reference to Brian Williams) used. It seems Dr. Goklany is the one hyping things up here.

more soylent green!
February 16, 2015 3:41 pm

The career consultants tell almost everybody that the way to a better job, a promotion or raise is to promote yourself. This includes blogging and posting social media such as Twitter or LinkedIn.
However, most of us don’t depend upon the largess of the American taxpayers for our paychecks. We’re trying to get people to voluntarily give us more by making ourselves more valuable. Many of these scientists depend upon leeching more money out of politicians (it’s not their money, after all) by creating a public perception of a crisis.

February 16, 2015 3:56 pm

We rarely see engineers, those guys and gals who actually make things work and work reliably, out there in the public media touting for their pet projects and lots more money while smarmily self advertising as so many climate scientists seem to do.
We don’t see self promoting seismologists on the media every day touting for more funding because their “models most likely predict” that a scale six earthquake “may occur” in the next century and wreak disaster upon the nation so we “must do something”.
We don’t see cabinet makers and carpenters in the public media every day because they have calculated they “will most likely” might run out of wood sometime in the next century so “we must do something”
Each of these professions plus all the other professions that are an essential part and parcel of our civilisation have skills and problems and public flow-ons in their specialized field equal to and just as high as any individuals or groups of scientists.
But unlike science they certainly don’t have the luxury of the very generous tax paying public’s funding that is an expected and demanded of the public by scientists in support of science but have to earn and pay their own way through life.
The past very respected profession of science and it’s scientists has sometime in the not very distant past decided to go down the road of a high profile, media promotion advocacy and open public promotion of it’s / their own particular brand of belief and ideology regardless of the possible severe consequences that their advocated politically based policies would impose on large parts of humanity.
This humanity destroying attribute is one of the most notable characteristics of climate alarmist science advocacy.
Politicians have traditionally filled that role as they seek policies acceptable to the voting public.
In doing so politicians since the dawn of human history have aroused great passions both for and against the policies and course of action they are advocating and promoting with often serious conflicts emerging between the various factions if there is not a large measure of flexibility and compromise inherent within the various specific policy advocating or policy counter groups.
Unlike open media promoted advocacy science by scientists, politicians are also entirely reliant on the will of the public if they are too remain in power.
So unlike public climate advocacy science and it’s often arrogant self promoting science policy advocacy promoters who appear to be responsible to no one and act and sound like it, politicians are very sensitive to the mood of the voters and citizens and react accordingly when they become convinced their policies won’t wash with most of the public.
Invariably politicians with their inherent politically inspired policy advocation have come to be regarded as shifty, unreliable, wrong, insensitive, arrogant, simplistic and etc by large sections of the public who don’t agree with the politician’s advocated policies or who hold a different view on the course of society.
Science and many scientists in their little tin gods arrogance have enthusiastically entered the political advocacy and policy role without ever thinking through the consequences of the longer term public reaction.
Consequently the public are increasingly perceiving much of science and many so called self promoting scientists as little more than just another very dubious untrustworthy self promoting politician using a thin veneer of another more respected profession, science in this case, to arrogantly advocate and promote some policy that an ever increasing proportion of the public is coming to believe that the high profile policy advocating scientist / s and / or their associates will invariably derive very large benefits from, all at the public’s very considerable and ultimate expense.

Jim Francisco
Reply to  ROM
February 17, 2015 11:19 am

Well ROM, it appears to me that there really is an over population problem. The world is over populated with scientist, politicians and journalist seeking to save the world and gaining fame and fortune for saving the world. I have wondered how much fun it would be to profit from those gullible folks of the CAGW crowd. Sort of like the Film Flam Man movie.

February 16, 2015 3:58 pm

Nowhere can I find Dr. Goklany quoting or stating that the Pew survey used the words “hype” or “embellish”. You seem to be conflating things….like Brian Williams apparently does. Although, your snark caused me to read the survey more deeply and find this little gem:
“Only 31% of those working in science and engineering occupations hold a relevant degree above the bachelor’s level although, a doctorate degree is the norm among those working in post-secondary education. Science and Engineering Indicators 2014, Chapter 3 page 14.”
So….70% of scientists working in science and engineering occupations hold a degree RELEVANT to their occupation, above a bachelor’s degree!!! Gotta love it!

Reply to  Aphan
February 16, 2015 3:58 pm

That reply was to Barry.

Reply to  Aphan
February 16, 2015 4:00 pm

sigh…wish there was an edit feature…70% of scientists working in science and engineering occupations DO NOT hold a degree RELEVANT to their occupation that is above a bachelor’s degree!!!

George Devries Klein,PhD, PG, PGSA
February 16, 2015 5:59 pm

Overlooked in this study is the role of scholarly/professional societies in hyping articles published in their journals. Th Geological Society of America ( has a staff member who does nothing but issue press releases about articles published in its journals and provides author information for media follow-up. On their website and their monthly newsletter, they proudly announce which of their scientific papers articles received attention and follow-up in the media, and how often.
The role of professional/scholarly societies in obtaining scientific media coverage needs to be assessed.

February 16, 2015 7:51 pm

“71% of AAAS scientists believe the public has either some or a lot of interest in their specialty area.”
Yes, the public is clamouring for more information about mites who are parasitic on dung beetles and the way the molecular structure of water varies with temperature. First thing they look for when they open a newspaper.

February 16, 2015 8:05 pm

“79% of scientists believe it is a major problem for science that news reports don’t distinguish between well-founded and not well-founded scientific findings.”
So essentially, 21% of scientists prefer (if not welcome) misreporting as their entire argument would fall to pieces and their agenda would be exposed for all to see if the media actually did their job. Sadly, in 2015 journalism is in a far worse state than science.

February 16, 2015 11:47 pm

Sadly the likes of Brahe, Copernicus, Galileo,Feynman and Einstein are long gone, “science” is now about whoever pays the piper calls the tune. Whether it is research into road accidents, alcohol or tobacco consumption, climate, diet,obesity; it is always about producing the results that those who provide the funding want to hear. This makes for bad science; the results are always skewed so that more funding becomes available and the “I told you so” brigade are kept happy but the taxpayer has yet more freedoms withdrawn..
Peer review is meaningless because it involves approval by like-minded individuals, which is of course inevitable. The only solution I can think of to this problem is that governments act as a “buffer” for all research money and the source of the money is not revealed to the researchers.

Reply to  andrewmharding
February 17, 2015 5:28 am

At 11:47 PM on 16 February, andrewmharding had proposed:

The only solution I can think of to this problem is that governments act as a “buffer” for all research money and the source of the money is not revealed to the researchers.

Which nonetheless puts the distribution of funding in the hands of popularity-contest winners (i.e., successful politicians) and career goons on the government payroll (bureaucrats), who have proven themselves reliably to be venal, grafting, and unspeakably corrupt.
Not to mention willfully ignorant, achingly stupid, and arguably insane.
Some “buffer.”

February 17, 2015 12:27 am

My experience over 20 years with working with professional scientists up to senior professorial level is that there is a wide divergence in ability to communicate with- and comfort in communicating with journalists and the general public. Some after all, went into science precisely because it was broadly out of the limelight where they could do research quietly and in peace, which suited their shy temperaments. Others are more sociable and communicative.
The biggest divide comes in the ability to communicate in jargon-free language without distorting the nature of the message. As a 22 year old PhD student, I partook in my cancer research institute’s ‘open evening for donors’ and saw widely differing abilities to tap into how donors felt, how much they understood and what the key issues were in a particular field of research. I found out that I could do it pretty easily, which was a welcome distraction from my challenges at the bench…..
The problem with the media is that it doesn’t see a particular field of science as like a child growing up. If you watch parents with young children, you see them getting excited about the most trivial things, because in their children’s lives, those things are exciting, new and not trivial. Scientists are a bit like that with their research. The media and the general public maybe less so.
How many times have the general public read in the mainstream media (or heard an anchor say): ‘Most of our temperature records prior to 1950 are of questionable reliability. It’s only really since 1980 that we have had multiple mechanisms to measure temperature accurately on the earth’s surface, so we’re really at a pretty early stage in collecting accurate data records in the field of climate science.’ Would that be zero?? It’s pretty darn important that the public understands that, isn’t it??
How about this one: ‘It’s only in the past 10 years that we are getting to a stage of even understanding all the factors which impinge on evolution of climate. We now know that there are influences which operate on the level of 5 – 7 years, others on the 10 – 20 year timescale, yet others on the 50 – 70 year timescale and others on timescales of greater than 100 years. We are not yet very close to being able to integrate all those signals into meaningful predictions of what’s going to happen, even on a seasonal basis, unless one or two factors are so strong as to over-ride all the others, although we are beginning to understand how each input factor varies through time.’ Zero again?? How important is that??
How about this one: ‘Governments have hundreds of different groups all yelling at them for money. They tend to respond to those who scream the loudest, so climate scientists have learned how to yell with the best of them.’ Can’t imagine the media saying that too often, can you?
How about this one: ‘The global media obsesses about the fastest, the hottest, the driest, the wettest, the MOST GODDAM VISUALLY MEANINGFUL!! It relies on the fact that most people don’t know whether they’re talking out of their ass or not, so the whole population tends to get their brains addled with misleading guff without even realising what’s happening.’ Absolutely no chance of the media saying that, is there??
Now go ask yourself what would happen to a scientist’s media portrayal if they said those four things. Controversies, egos of media anchors sullied, politicians threatened etc etc. A little smear campaign perhaps??
Now how many scientists are sufficiently skilled to manage smear campaigns without losing their reputations, their funding and their tenure?? Not all of them, that’s for sure.
So if you had two kids, a mortgage and a tenured position to uphold, would you put it all on the line in pursuit of communicational purity, or would you play the game to keep paying the bills??
I suspect that enough folks will choose the pragmatic course for it to dominate.
So then you get to ask the question: how does the media operate?? And you come to the same conclusion. The media anchors have to play their games too or face career sidings.
Same with the politicians. A game on Capitol Hill, at the State Legislature etc.
So you get everybody doing right by their families by bending the truth a little to stay in the game.
Thing is, with climate science, that’s brought us down a road of falsehood over a period of 25 years.
At that point, you ask: ‘who can provide the leadership to rectify the course?” And the only answer seems to be: ‘those who don’t get paid a dime for what they do……which is trying, slowly but surely, to educate Joe Schmo as to the truth of climate science and climate change……’
Take a bow, WUWT and several others……….

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  rtj1211
February 17, 2015 8:28 am

I concur with and enjoyed reading the above. Thank you for posting it.

Reply to  rtj1211
February 17, 2015 8:34 am

Thank you for your observations, your comments above.

Jim Francisco
Reply to  rtj1211
February 17, 2015 11:41 am

Very good. I hope we hear much more from rtj1211.

February 17, 2015 12:53 am

Pew research is correct. People are increasingly ignoring scientists because they see their hysterical claims in the media as ridiculous and self-serving political posturing. The first question asked by the public is not how scientific claims affect peoples’ lives but who is funding the scientists and why. The corruption of science affects all disciplines not just climate. For example, news releases about food health are regularly greeted by widespread ridicule and abuse by the disbelieving public.
Perhaps if science still was the pursuit of scientific truth, it might still be respectable. But in many quarters it has morphed into a pseudo-religion called “Scientism” which demands not skepticism and investigation, but worship and sacrifices. As more and more scientific declarations demand sacrifices from the public, so it resembles a religious cult rather than science.
Politicians do not help. They ignore public concerns and lavish obscene amounts of money on pet projects. Most American taxpayers do not believe the man-made global warming hysteria about carbon dioxide, but in the 8 years 2003-2011 the US government spent $47 billion on this non-existent problem, using junk science to justify it.

Mark from the Midwest
February 17, 2015 6:11 am

This, just reported on MSNBC:
According to Fredrik Hazzmet, Senior Professor of Earth Based Life Narratives at the University of North Staten Island: “Climate change could create conditions where dinosaurs could thrive.” His prescription is for all human kind to “immediately, and for a prolonged period, hold your breath, so you are not exhaling any CO2” lest we all fall prey to a giant meat-eating tyrannosaurs.

Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
February 17, 2015 4:00 pm

So Hazzmet says it would create a warm humid world with huge biodiversity? Hmm… shouldn’t Greens like that? Oh I forget they can’t think logically.

February 17, 2015 6:49 am

“We have a vested interest in creating panic, because then money will flow to climate science.”
John Christy

Coach Springer
February 17, 2015 10:31 am

Scientific studies could be improved greatly if they were required to be exhaustive and detailed in describing the limitations to their “findings.” One example would be a study mentioned on a blog with the blogger’s observation that he would never take Benadryl again for fear of increased risk of dementia. Reading the findings, they did not contain misrepresentations, but they essentially omitted all pertinent restrictions on findings and therefore appeared to justify the blogger’s own conclusion. The study could only conclude relative risk within a population that was already at risk – those over 65 and those whose dosages were numerous over long periods of time and for a wide variety of clinical drugs, many of which were stronger than Benadryl, which might have been the least prescribed drug for this group although you the study gave no indication one way or the other. In fact. occasional dosages over 10 years produced an indicaton of decreased risk of dementia and the study was designed to see of there was a risk for cumulative effect. But none of the study would indicate much of anything for the general population and a single dose or occasional doses.
Kind of robs the study of its hype when you have to be that comprehensive and specific about what the study does not say and where it does not apply. I’m willing to bet improvements in this regard can be made for every climatological study ever made – starting long before hockey sticks and never ending after they’ve been retired.

February 17, 2015 9:06 pm

If the same rules that apply to the boards of directors of corporations were also to apply to the scientific community, over engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct, the jails would soon be full of scientists… particularly those scientists promoting the IPCC’s catastrophic man-made global warming supposition.

February 18, 2015 6:28 am

The NSF now requires a statement of “broader impact” for grant applications & reports. So we choose from the following (the more the better): cure cancer, solve climate crises, produce unlimited energy, end poverty, & produce children that are all above average. Preferably all of the above. Good science is no longer enough.

Old Man of the Forest
February 18, 2015 9:09 am

“At the same time, most scientists believe that science news coverage can pose problems for science: 79% of scientists believe it is a major problem for science that news reports don’t distinguish between well-founded and not well-founded scientific findings.”
Where are these 79%? in their ivory towers eschewing the filthy media. It seems to me that 0% are heard when their research was hyped to sell papers.

Rui Sousa
February 21, 2015 3:32 am

If you replace “scientist” with any other profession it will still make sense.
Everyone uses social media for self promotion, using it as a vehicle to communicate their ideas. It is like writing an article about scientists using cars and showing aggressive behaviour while in traffic. Social media is there to be used, as cars, and some individuals will use it in selfish ways, as with cars.
I think this post is on a border between pointing out bias on some individuals and blame and shame taticts. It seems pointless and it just puts me off.

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