Chocolate covered science: The terrible state of scientific publishing

A scientist / journalist shares his story of a sting operation on the scientific publishing process with frightening results.

chocolate-scienceHoward Booth writes:

An interesting sting was done on scientific publishing to show how remarkably easy it is to get published despite doing a poor research project (in this case on purpose).  John Bohannon, a PhD chemist and science journalist, was contracted to do a documentary for German television on the poor research in nutrition that produces outlandish claims about diet and dietary supplements.  They conspired to create a research study intended to produce fantastic results, and see how often their poor research would get called out through the entire publishing process.

The study had a terrible sample size, poor quality control, and zero peer review.  They managed to produce factually correct results that made an outlandish claim, write it up, get it published (with their choice of venues as many offered to pick it up), and get it splashed into the media with virtually no challenge to their methodology.  It was picked up by several noteworthy outlets and on track to get picked up by Men’s Health magazine, but no doubt John’s confession of the sting will forestall that.

I know that WUWT is primarily concerned with CAGW, but I thought this was an interesting peek into the terrible state of the scientific publishing process, and the media’s inability to hold scientists accountable.

The full article can be read over at io9


153 thoughts on “Chocolate covered science: The terrible state of scientific publishing

    • From the article,
      We needed to get our study published pronto, but since it was such bad science, we needed to skip peer review altogether. Conveniently, there are lists of fake journal publishers.

      So who publishes articles about climate change in “fake” journals? The accredited Ph.Ds who are actively studying the science of climate change and are part of the 97% consensus, or the other 3% who don’t???

      • “97% consensus”. Anyone who writes those words seriously has immediately put a dunce cap on his own head.

      • what is supposed to be climate change?
        some change in patterns of climate ( a everchanging thing) or something like an increase in total energy of climate system?

        100% of people think humans can cause a change in climate , l…… the point is how much and how to be sure of that?

      • Yes – yes- yes! The general public accepts the 97% consensus as the absolute answer to global warming (yes, I know the activists have now changed it to climate change). Comes down to – fiction well-served trumps truth every time.
        Actually, I do not accept the 97% – I think it is a completely erroneous figure. I personally know at last 100 scientists and engineers who make up that so-called 3%. There must be thousands more.

      • the 97% consensus
        I’m surprised that only 97% of scientists believe in climate change. what the heck were the ice ages if not climate change?

        I find it amazing that 3% of scientists don’t believe that climate changes. More than likely they didn’t understand the survey.

      • Here ya go, Jai Mitchell, two MORE of the papers we discussed during the month and a half you were sitting on the beach instead of in class last quarter …




        Cliff’s Notes Version: There is no “97% consensus.”

      • Okay, Jai. Please encourage them to get on with it. Good things take time, and in 10 years they will be enlightened, if not before.

      • Jai Mitchell: Here’s how the 97% was derived.
        In January 2009, Peter T. Doran and Maggie Kendall Zimmerman of the University of Illinois at Chicago published a research paper entitled ‘Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change’. This can be accessed via the internet.
        Comments in quotation marks are verbatim from the paper.
        Survey questionnaires were sent to ‘10,257 Earth scientists’.
        The paper explains that ‘This brief report addresses the two primary questions of the survey’.
        These were:
        1) ‘When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained generally constant?’
        2) ‘Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?’
        The survey was ‘designed to take less than 2mins to complete’ and was administered online.
        Firstly, note that of the 10,257 to whom the questionnaire was sent, only 3,146 individuals bothered to complete and return the survey – i.e. just short of 31%.
        ‘Approximately 5% of the respondents were climate scientists’ – as opposed to for example oceanographers and palaeontologists. That’s 157 individuals out of the 3,146.
        Of these 157, 79 scientists had published more than 50% of their recent research papers on the subject, and so were deemed by the authors to be ‘the most specialised and knowledgeable respondents’.
        In other words, of the total of 10,257 considered knowledgeable enough to have their opinion sought at the outset of the study, only 79 individuals were by now considered to the most knowledgeable.
        Of these 79, 76 (96.2%) answered ‘risen’ to question 1, and – wait for it – 75 out of 77 (97.4%) answered ‘yes’ to question 2.
        So there we are – job done – 97.4% of scientists agree that humans are warming the planet significantly – or do they?
        Let’s see now: 75 out of the 10,257 polled. I make that 0.73%.

        [The 77 were chosen (after ranking by number of papers written) accepting ONLY those who were in government-paid positions. NO private employed or retired scientists were allowed. .mod]

    • jai mitchell,

      What are you, warrenlb 2.0? The only ‘authority’ that getting published in a journal shows is that the reviewer found no glaring errors in it.

      But here’s a glaring error that you never acknowledge: global warming stopped almost twenty years ago. How do you explain that?

      An honest scientist would just admit that his original premise was wrong: CO2 does not cause the predicted global warming. Wouldn’t you agree?

      • Global warming only stopped if you decide to focus on only 5% of the planet that has had temporary fluctuations for a very specific period of time. Even posters on WUWT concede that the oceans are gaining massive amounts of heat during the last 20 years.

        This outdated image from bob tisdale does not account for the massive surge in warming that has been measured these last 2 years.

      • The chart Jai Mitchell shows is another warmist obfuscation….
        I believe we recently saw all those joules he points out causing a 0.2 degree C/ was it century?
        If you believe the oceans are warming at the rate of something like 8deg C/ century you’ve got to be kidding…..

      • Jai Michell,

        Or in other words, global warming has only stopped if you focus on temperature.

        ARGO floats are few (relative to the size of the ocean) and measure the ocean irregularly. Why is it that these graphs and similar graphs NEVER show measurement uncertainty? It’s pretty obvious why. Because uncertainty is from floor to ceiling!

        This graph also does not show percentage difference of energy or temperature, but chooses to show absolute difference in energy with an unknown ‘base’. Why? Why not show temperature instead which everyone understands? Because temperature difference is so small (about 0.03 C I think) that it would be obvious to anyone looking at it that there is no way it could possibly be statistically significant. There is no way in hell the ARGO floats can measure the entire ocean to a depth of 2000m with 0.03C precision!

      • jai mitchell says:

        Global warming only stopped if you decide to focus on only 5% of the planet…&etc.

        Wrong, as usual. Satellite data covers almost the entire planet. Both global temperature satellites show that global warming stopped many years ago, and thousands of balloon radiosondes show the same thing.

      • The “Science of Climate Change” is like the Peoples Democratic Republic. If you need to use “science” in the name you can be sure it isn’t.

        A graph showing increase in anything is MEANINGLESS unless put into context. If I said profits were up 1 million dollars is this a good thing or a bad thing? You cannot tell unless you know the size of the company, what last years profits were, how much was due Enron style to accounting practices and whether the results had been audited by someone not in bed with the company..

      • @Jai Mitchell,

        Even posters on WUWT concede that the oceans are gaining massive amounts of heat during the last 20 years.

        No, they wouldn’t. Because the scientifically-trained posters here know how to do calculations, and reserve hyperbole for events that warrant it.

        I could send you to a lot of conversion sites, but you wouldn’t bother. So this is for the casual reader who might think you have a point about massive changes, and massive surges.

        A change in 24*10^22–get that? a change in 24*10^22, but you’re only showing around 4*10^22–would equal 0.09 C from 1955 to 2010 in the world ocean’s ocean heat content.

        For the casual reader, please go to Tables S1 and S2, pages 17and 18 (not the virtual page numbers) in the Supplemental Tables of this Levitus, et al, paper here. Most of the et al‘s are from the National Oceanographic Data Center, NOAA, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA.

        Note the HChange and TChange definitions and numbers. You will see that Jai Mitchell is hyperventilating over his own ignorance.

      • If the warming shown in this graphic was instead applied to the earth’s atmosphere it would raise the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere by over 30 degrees F. The amount of heat energy being absorbed by the earth’s oceans is truly massive.

        The warming rates shown here (it has been much more these last 2 years!) is equal to over 20,000 full-sized nuclear power plants operating at 100% full power for the entire time. (1,250 MW nuclear power plant reactor)

        This is the actual heat that is being absorbed by the earth. This isn’t fake, it is real and it is observed and even published here on WUWT. So don’t tell me it isn’t warming, this planet is gaining a whole hell of a lot of heat energy,

      • This is the actual heat that is being absorbed by the earth.

        Land and ocean are different.

      • If the warming shown in this graphic was instead applied to the earth’s atmosphere it would raise the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere by over 30 degrees F.

        The warming shown in this graph is under 1 degree C. You don’t have any clue what you are talking about. You think that because joules are expressed in 10^22 that this is a powerful number, and we should all be intimidated. You’re uneducated. One joule = 0.000526565076466 celsius heat unit. Look it up.

        Bob Tisdale did a youtube about this, but I know you won’t even bother to take the time, preferring instead to run around the room like Chicken Little.

      • @jai mitchell,
        You wrote:
        “If the warming shown in this graphic was instead applied to the earth’s atmosphere it would raise the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere by over 30 degrees F. The amount of heat energy being absorbed by the earth’s oceans is truly massive.”

        What medium does that massive energy travel through first in order to be absorbed by the oceans?

      • Everybody else beat me to it, but what the heck.

        If the warming shown in this graphic was instead applied to the earth’s atmosphere it would raise the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere by over 30 degrees F.

        And if it were applied to a 1970 AMC Gremlin, it would achieve fusion.

        And if it were applied to the entire volume of the Earth equally, there would be no measurable difference at all.

      • Jai MItchell

        It is fair for me to point out that the GCM’s are not heat content analyses, they yield global temperature forecasts. In other words they are temperature predictions, not heat content predictions. They are also manifestly unskilled at making such temperature predictions, as we all know. Are they better at predicting ocean heat content?

        The IPCC has not bothered with telling the world how the increase in enthalpy of the planet is going to affect us, they have focussed on the average global surface temperature, claiming that the cause of all future disasters is an increase in that temperature – simple as that. Nothing about ‘heat content of oceans’ which are on average about 4 degrees C.

        Now, you are talking about ocean heat content which is only poorly known and there are no models that I am aware of that couple ocean heat content to global temperature forecasts. It would be very difficult because for one thing we don’t know what the ocean heat content is, nor its trend, accurately enough to even tell if the deep oceans are warming. Anyone who claims otherwise is talking through their error bars. The claim is not based on measurements, it is based on ‘missing heat’ that should be there, assuming all the corrections for the difference between incoming and outgoing measurements are correct. (The measured gap is far larger than the claim for missing heat.)

        The ‘rapid increase’ you speak of is unprovable, and if it exists it will have no meaningful effect at all on the claimed coming ‘jump’ in atmospheric temperatures – not for multiple centuries. Suppose all the missing heat was being stored in the deep oceans. So what? When will the 4.1 degree average oceans start to warm the 14 degree average atmosphere? If the heat needed to raise the atmosphere 1 degree per century were invested instead in the oceans, they would warm 1 degree per 10,000 years. As the oceans used to be 20 degrees warmer and there was no ‘thermal runaway’ I think we are pretty safe.

      • If the warming shown in this graphic was instead applied to the earth’s atmosphere it would raise the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere by over 30 degrees F. The amount of heat energy being absorbed by the earth’s oceans is truly massive.

        Hmmm, lots of numbers and claims being made. On the one hand, Jai is correct, it is a massive amount of energy. The earth receives each day about 1.5 x 10^22 Joules in solar energy. Ocean warming of 5 x 10^22 is over 3 solar days worth.

        On the other hand, ferdberple is right that context matters. If Microsoft were to announce only 1M in profits, it would be a disaster.

        If the increase in energy were all somehow applied to the atmosphere, it would result in temperature increase of 10 C (18F). [I’m showing my work so that possible mistakes will be caught and corrected]

        atmospheric mass = 5.1480×10 ^18 kg, Cp ~= 1000 J/kg/K, T = 10K , E = 5.15 x 10^22 J

        However, that really can’t happen. This energy would be quickly (compared to air) conducted away, because water is a good heat conductor. What would that much energy do to the oceans? Per ferdberple, what is the context of that energy?

        Ocean mass = 1.4×10 ^21 kg, Cp ~= 4185 J/kg/K, T = 273K (assuming 90% of total volume is below thermocline), E = 1.6 x 10^27 J.

        So, that huge amount of energy represents an increase of .003125 % to the oceans. What temperature increase would that be?

        T = E / (M*Cp) = 5.15 x 10^22 J / 1.4×10 ^21 kg / 4185 J/kg/K = .0087 deg C.

        MRW is right that it’s a small number. (MRW’s number is 10x my number, so either I made a mistake, or he did).

        As anyone with knowledge of thermodynamics knows, only delta T can cause heat flow. Once the oceans have absorbed that energy and spread it around, it can only heat the atmosphere by .0087 degrees. (on average)

        The second question is whether this is normal or not. A normal solar max will add about 2.75 x 10^22 Joules. So, we should not be surprised to see a +/- 2.7 swing in ocean energy. The graph shown is only for about 10 years.

        However, the UCSD Argo site shows 16 x 10^22 J since 1961. That does seem extraordinary. That would correspond to a temperature increase of .027 deg C. I personally think it would be adequately explained by the above average strength of solar cycles since the 50s, including 18, 19, 21, and 22.

      • @Jai Mitchell,

        Actually this is addressed to the casual reader who might still be convinced that Jai Mitchell knows what he is talking about, or that he is even the least bit interested in accuracy. He is not.

        The casual reader, who is vaguely concerned, should watch the last 12 minutes of Pt. 2 of Bob Tisdale’s 2012 video on the global warming of the oceans. But I would suggest you watch the entire 38 minutes and then make your own determination. The truth matters, and Mr. Mitchell is not telling you the truth.

      • Jai Mitchel: right take a graph of Tisdale and put it out of context :) good way to go (is that why in the warmist camps the graph for arctic ice stops in 2012 the one for the hurricanes in 2005,… to hide the “halt”?)

        if you read the full article he is mentioning that the rise of the last 2 years does not fit the models thus the rise has another cause yet to be discovered (like the one in 1975-76) thus this rise can’t be blamed on anthropogenic causes.

        big difference so next time when using his graphs be sure you read the full article and looked at his other graphs that do follow up.

        but yes i presume for you CO2 is the “magic molecule that does it all”

      • I have read through all of your responses and will just post this late reply, I understand that this thread is quite buried.

        MWR: No, the point I was making is that the oceans are absorbing massive amounts of heat. This heat continues to grow in the rate of absorption, even though we are currently operating at the lowest solar radiation levels in over 100 years.

        absorption data is here, showing that the amount absorbed in the last 9 years is about 10X10^22 joules of energy.

        James and Crispin

        the point of the post is to show that the amount of heat that the earth is absorbing is truly massive, and increasing. If all of the additional heat that the earth absorbed tomorrow was 10,000 times the heat it absorbed today but ALL of that heat went into the ocean and the atmosphere stayed the same temperature, would the earth be warming???

        The energy balance equations between the earth and sky are very complicated. However, even a small shift in where the heat goes, even if it is temporary, will produce MASSIVE swings in atmospheric temperatures (and humidity!)


        I was working on the decadal value in the graphic, I use 5.27 X 10^18 Kg for mass and 1010 K/J/Kg for Cp

        using 10X10^22 joules I get 18.8K or 33F of warming equivalent to the atmosphere, The argo buoy network has measured this amount over the last 10 years:

      • Jai Mitchell

        The energy balance equations between the earth and sky are very complicated. However, even a small shift in where the heat goes, even if it is temporary, will produce MASSIVE swings in atmospheric temperatures (and humidity!)

        No, it cannot. If the oceans increase their net average surface AND subsurface temperature by 1/20 of one degree, then the MOST that the atmosphere can subsequently heat up is by 1/20 of one degree.

        No body can heat another body’s mass by more – much less exchange 10,000 times as much heat energy as you so ridiculously require – than the original difference in temperature between the two.

      • @Jai M.

        Don’t forget that most of the volcanoes of the world are under the ocean, along with a few 10s of thousands of miles of mid ocean ridges with hot smokers at over 600 degrees water temps. Also add the heat flow from a molten rock layer under thin bottom crust between them. While this is generally absorbed into the near static 3 C or so freezing cold deep without a surface ripple, it is not always so.

        Hyperventilate all you want about air heat hiding in the water, but it just doesn’t happen. The top few molecules evaporate leaving the surface cooler. Only solar energy penetrates to warm. That is why the top layer cools at night, overturns, and oxygen gets to the fishes… On windy days, that helps too.

        Spend some time swimming and you can feel it yourself. Step out into the air and your warm body suddenly cools. The hot summer air can’t warm the water. But lay in the sun or dry off, then you can warm.

        There is no heat hiding in the ocean. Just passing through from deeper to evaporation. We had a high UV solar stage and that put UV deep. Now the sun has gone to low UV and it is leaving via evaporating. It is a natural cycle with nothing to do with CO2 and certainly nothing to do with air heating oceans. BTW, here in California we have ocean temps of about 45 F and air temps up to 105 F or so. Never does warm the ocean… And you certainly can’t get 47 F water to warm even 50 F air…

      • Jai,

        Ok, with those numbers, the calculation of 18 C is valid. However, there is no mechanism for that to be applied to the atmosphere.

        What’s this about 10,000 times? Did you understand that what you are calling a lot of energy isn’t so much to the oceans? It’s only .003125 %. That’s not even including the land. These components cannot be separated, because they are part of one thermodynamic system.

        At this rate, it will take 574 decades to get to +5C.

      • RACook, E.M. and Viking

        The energy balance is not static, it changes. If it all goes into the ocean then it won’t be a problem for a long time.However, if 1/100th of the ocean’s 1/20th of a degree F warming were to go instead into the atmosphere beginning tomorrow, (say during an El Nino year when surface conditions change) then the earth’s atmosphere would rise by almost 1/2 of a full degree. The amount of available heat currently being absorbed by the earth is very VERY large.

        Also the amount of measured heat being absorbed is growing at a very rapid pace right now. This energy has been verified by satellite and surface measurement as being the exact wavelength of IR radiation associated with the absorption bands of CO2 and it varies on an annual basis according to the seasonal variation of CO2 in the atmosphere.

        The whole point is that there is a HUGE amount of additional heat being added to the earth, the ‘Heat bank account” is paying massive dividends and most is going into the oceans right now.

      • jai mitchell,

        I feel bad for you, you’re getting killed here with facts.

        Your responses are off-target. You seem to be very impressed with big numbers, and your analogies are silly because the earth is far bigger than your examples:

        The warming rates shown here (it has been much more these last 2 years!) [no, it hasn’t] is equal to over 20,000 full-sized nuclear power plants operating at 100% full power…&etc.

        Ooh. Scary… NOT.

        You also write:

        If the warming shown in this graphic was instead applied to the earth’s atmosphere it would raise the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere by over 30 degrees F.

        And if pigs could fly we could herd them with drones.

        jai, you are arguing entirely from emotion. There’s nothing unusual happening. Certainly there’s nothing unprecedented happening. Any warming from human emissions is simply too small to measure — that’s why there are no measurements quantifying AGW.

        You look at the glass as half empty. But the true picture is this: the planet has rarely been as temperate as it is right now. The global temperature is benign, and throughout geologic history there has rarely been a century like the past hundred years, when global temperatures flutuated by such a minuscule amount. For all practical purposes, global T is flat:

        Relax, jai. There are real things to worry about. Dangerous man-made global warming isn’t one of them.

    • I can’t tell you the number of so called scientists who have told me that being published in prestigious journals is the gold standard of science.
      That if you haven’t been published in such journals, then you just aren’t worth talking to.

  1. The correlation with “Diet Science” and CAGW is highly appropriate.. Although at least in diet quackery you get to see some before and of cute chicks

    • BTW I didn’t mean Oprah and her diet cherry bombs (Accia? sorry forgot ) – now that was not a good “Proof of Concept” offering.

    • Not true: there is an inverse correlation with CO2 and bikini size.

      It is for this reason I have bought an SUV.

    • Yes, cnxtim, the analogy to AGW is precise and accurate, indeed:

      … what are the climate models other than the embodiment of the peer reviewed science?

      Is there a single model cited by the IPCC that claims to not be based on peer reviewed science? Of course there isn’t. Yet simple observation shows that the models, and hence the peer reviewed literature upon which they are based, are wrong. We have none other than the IPCC themselves to thank … .”

      Source: David M. Hoffer in:

    • It’s not just “diet” science that’s bad – nearly every bit of conventional wisdom regarding diet for the past 50 has been wrong. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the group that provides recommendations for government nutritional guidelines. They meet every 5 years and update their recommendations. In this past meeting they basically admitted they’ve been wrong for 50 years on cholesterol, saturated fat and salt intake.

      “the Academy supports the DGAC in its decision to drop dietary cholesterol from the nutrients of concern list and recommends it deemphasize saturated fat from nutrients of concern, given the lack of evidence connecting it with cardiovascular disease.”


      “There is a distinct and growing lack of scientific consensus on making a single sodium consumption recommendation for all Americans, owing to a growing body of research suggesting that the low sodium intake levels recommended by the DGAC are actually associated with increased mortality for healthy individuals”

      Climate science has followed the exact path of nutritional/medical science. Both are dominated by money from goverment and special interests (think food industry and pharmaceutical companies), both are controlled by dominating personalities and both are rampant with observational evidence rather than randomized controlled trials (which is actually impossible with CAGW – there’s only one earth we can study and can’t control all the variables).

      • I heard that only 96% of all dietary scientists agreed cholesterol was bad for you :-)

      • Between Bob and mpcraig, it’s worth noting that you’ll often get a full throated defense of science — and the correctness of placing faith in it — because it’s so often wrong. Well, and that we find out about it.

        I expect CAGW to be utilized as a textbook example of why we can and should have unquestioned faith in science. 50 years from now.

      • I agree with you Bob, there are a lot of parallels in the bad science of both AGW and diet. I started to read the papers that backed up a low fat diets about 7 years ago. Because of that and understanding the real facts I now eat a high fat low carb diet and dropped 30lbs and have keep it off since then and have never been healthier. Then about 5 years ago I started to looking in to AGW and now am very much a skeptic of CAGW.

      • Agree completely regarding comparison of the quality of the “science” in nutrition and climate. Now they’re explicitly linked.

        First a point of clarification: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) recently submitted and published their comments in response to the Scientific Report by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC). AND does not formulate the Dietary Guidelines (DG) for the United States, the United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) does. The DGAC’s task is to consider all of the relevant science regarding critical questions and submit their report. USDA and HHS (with HHS the lead this time) will then produce the final guidelines (due later this year, and to remain in effect until 2020).

        The DGAC did state that they would drop cholesterol as a nutrient of concern, but they in no way backed off their long-maintained restrictions on total fat, saturated fat, or salt. The AND, however, recommend that in addition to dietary cholesterol, saturated fat and salt should no longer be nutrients of concern. We’ll see what ultimately comes out in the final DG …

        Here’s the explicit linkage I mentioned: The DGAC is faced with the reality that nutrition research does not support that vegetarian diets are healthier than animal based diets. Rather than accept this and admit their horrendous mistake, they are reaching for the mantra of “sustainability” as the reason to continue their advocacy of plant-based diets. Thus, the DGAC stated in their last public meeting that even lean meat didn’t belong in a healthy diet.

        My background is in forage production and utilization by ruminant animals. The principal products of this agriculture are butter, meat and cheese. In the 1980, the “consensus” was that these products were a health hazard, despite a complete lack of supporting evidence. Sound familiar? Today we have vast industries and bureaucracies built on this myth. Sound familiar? And now that sufficient data has accumulated to force all but the most dedicated lipophobes to reconsider, the true believers justify their position not on the original hypothesis (health and nutrition) but one completely outside their area of expertise – sustainability. Sound familiar?

        So I’ve been forced, as I advocate for ruminant agriculture and the importance of animal products in the human diet, to learn about weather vs. climate, sustainability vs. “sustainababble,” etc. Thank you to all who contribute here! Anyone who’d care to join me, I can use the help!


      • CNC – you and I followed the same path. Much to my chagrin I never used to question the things I heard about nutrition (gotta avoid fat and eat those “healthy whole grains”) or CAGW. As a result, I was fat, unhealthy and had a brain filled with nonsense. My ideas changed on diet first and after going to a high fat, low carb diet I lost the weight and regained my health (asthma disappeared). A little bit later it dawned on me that if the experts had been so wrong on nutrition, why couldn’t they be wrong about other things. I got curious about CAGW and when I discovered Anthony’s Surfacestation review, I knew we were being fed a lot of BS. Reading The Hockey Stick Illusion confirmed it. Since then I’ve become totally immersed in bad science – I’m totally amazed at how many people trip up on basics like never confusing correlation with causation. A review of concepts like confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance makes me believe that bad science is the norm and not the exception.

      • Read Gary Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories to see exactly how deep that rabbit hole goes. Horrendous. We’re paying the price now as an unprecedented world diabetes epidemic looms.

      • As a point of order, always remove everything in the link after the .html or .htm, including the “?”. Everything after the .html or .htm is tracking.

  2. But the msm will look at this and say ‘how stupid could they be?’ with no recognition that they are as much at fault.

  3. “fee-charging open access journals”

    I recall a story about global warming causing earthquakes published in one of those that was picked up by

  4. As he said
    “We needed to get our study published pronto, but since it was such bad science, we needed to skip peer review altogether. Conveniently, there are lists of fake journal publishers. “

    And he found one. But whose responsibility is it that fake journals exist? And what should be done about it?

    Were any scientists involved in this story at all?

    • What he correctly pointed out is that quite a few icons of publishing were quite willing to take this story and run with it without bothering to double check a rather outlandish claim.

      What is your point?

      • The headline refers to “the terrible state of scientific publishing”. But what he describes is an article that he deliberately placed in a “fake journal”, with no peer review. Then it got a run in the press.

        So the press was gullible. But where does “scientific publishing” come in?

      • Nick Stokes,

        If you’d read the article and then noticed that it wasn’t the first time he’d done such a thing you would have found that he attempted to publish an earlier spoof paper in2013:

        The paper was accepted by journals hosted by industry titans Sage and Elsevier. The paper was accepted by journals published by prestigious academic institutions such as Kobe University in Japan. It was accepted by scholarly society journals. It was even accepted by journals for which the paper’s topic was utterly inappropriate, such as the Journal of Experimental & Clinical Assisted Reproduction.

        Read the whole sorry story in:

        The title of the piece is Who’s Afraid of Peer Review’

        I thought read ‘Science’?

    • Settled science. 97% of all “scientists” are whores sucking at the public tit, all of you. No wonder the public ignores you…

    • Nick Stokes, it’s not the first time this has happened. Two scientific journals accepted a paper written by Margaret (Maggie) Simpson*, Edna Krabappel, and Kim Jong Fun. (* Maggie Simpson also claimed she was from Belford University….there is no such institution).

      The paper is still available at one of the journals;

      • Bruce,
        “Two scientific journals accepted a paper…”
        Same thing. From your source:
        “These outlets both belong to a world of predatory journals that spam thousands of scientists, offering to publish their work — whatever it is — for a fee, without actually conducting peer review.”

        OK, we know these vanity publishers exist, and for money will publish anything. That’s business. What does that have to do with he “state of scientific publishing”?

      • Nick, because the difference between these two and the rest is one of degree and not kind?

  5. To be fair such awful research practices are not only accepted but an honoured part of climate ‘science , therefore this type of story would have no impact .

  6. Thanks for the heads up. Expect a cake of bitter chocolate to feature prominently on the cover of the next IPCC report.

  7. Oh, I’ll just bet their lawyer put in a fudge factor.

    (Like: Results not guaranteed. Failure to follow precisely all 35 steps on page 91 (Appendix II) of “Directions for Use” render all implied or express warranties null and void.)

    BEFORE — no make-up; depressed facial expression; dumb hairdo; standing face on to camera; harsh lighting

    AFTER — MAKE-UP (big time); BIG SMILE; great hair; 3/4 to camera; flattering lighting

    Oh — brother! Who — believes — these — ads — anyway??

      • (Note to self: don’t spell out fr@ud (shoot I HAD note…))

        Note: the above comment re: actual attempts at diet product fr@ud.

  8. The fact is that journalism deals with the regularization of gossip.

    The fact is that a news report that includes details about the methodology of a scientific/academic study will not lead readers to a magical understanding of the assumptions and limitations at play in a given field of inquiry. This understanding can only be achieved by systematic study over many years and, even then, it will still prove elusive for many.

    The fact is that journalists often pimp their offerings with hysterical attention grabbers and, consequently, the readership gradually becomes unresponsive.

    It is often said (around here) that the “liberals” control education and the media. If this is so, it only demonstrates their utter failure at indoctrination. The electorate keeps showing time and again that their understanding of current events is not securely bound by these alleged gatekeepers. For instance, there is no guarantee whatsoever that the Democrats will win the next US presidential election.

  9. Stephen McIntyre has commented on the nonsense in reports of medical research.

    I see over-hyping and extrapolation, some of by scare-mongers (especially environmentalists) and some of it by persons promoting their own product. I’ve seen what I suspect are malicious attacks – e.g. by an olive oil nut against Canola oil, a much lower priced alternative.

    Some of you may have read me telling of the idiot cousin who claimed that Canola oil is toxic because:
    – a grandfather used it to kill aphids (likely it smothered them)
    – Canola is in the mustard family and mustard gas was used as poison in WWI. (The idiot or his source he didn’t question failed to understand that “mustard gas” meant smell and colour of a manufactured chemical. He didn’t think that mustard condiment is in the mustard family, let alone that people he knew well ate many turnips when he was a child.)

    Scary thing is such people have a vote.

    • Even if it’s not toxic, it’s rapeseed oil. Rape-anything is doubleplus ungood these days.

    • I am less worried about ill-educated people voting as I am about ill-educated people holding political office. How do we keep politicians out of office who say things like:

      • The thing to ask is not so much about poor education of politicians but the rampant corruption of them. That’s the way guys like that get to and stay in office! Of course, no big time reporter would sit down and have a serious talk with Obama just how is it his political career experienced a meteoric rise by anybody’s standard in what is well known to be one of the most corrupt and tarnished political machines is the country.

    • Yes indeed, the children aren’t going to know what chocolate is.

      Yes, but that’s not AGW, that’s the takeover of Cadbury Bournville by a US purveyor of flavoured sugar.

    • And don’t forget the maple syrup that will become an historical footnote. By the way, I have about 3.5 gallons of it now, if any forward thinking museum wants to secure a specimen of this threatened treat. Maybe they can get a grant to buy a gallon off of me for say $1,000,000.00

  10. With 85.2% of the rated capacity of Germany’s 25,000 bird blenders doing nada the entire year, it is nothing short of extraordinary that these exceptional scientists were able to pull off their fine research. And in only a couple of weeks. Truly, there are no barriers to the rigorous expansion of human knowledge. /chocolate

    • Jo Nova only accepts donations in the form of chocolate.
      I’m sure there is some kind of diabolical plan involved, it needs a study.

  11. But the research showing red wine is good for you is solid, untouchable, settled science.
    And don’t try telling me otherwise.

  12. We are paying a very high price for the inability of the media to report on science. Or anything else that is a tad complicated. The Fourth Estate is profoundly broken.

  13. The problem is with (i) predatory open access journals, (ii) scientifically illiterate journalists and public, and (iii) the corporate media echo chamber.

  14. My aunt used to tell my mother back when I was a little one, “Leave him with me, Margaret, and I’ll fatten him up.” Alas, my mother never did.

    I have a real soft spot for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. And, I’ll swear on a stack of Bibles that the following is true. My gastroenterologist told me just the other day, “As your doctor I advise you to eat Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.” Life has mysteries science can’t answer.

  15. But… But… this is happening in SCIENCE!

    And it always has. Humans are involved, human behavior and failure apply.

    This is why skepticism is such a good idea.

    • Skepticism provides the “checks and balances” on science. Science, like human government, requires a certain amount of overlapping jurisdiction and control to keep some aspect of it from going out of control.

      I suppose that explains why so many believers in global warming have a soft spot for dictatorial control and find representative government repulsive.

  16. There was one glint of hope in this tragicomedy. While the reporters just regurgitated our “findings,” many readers were thoughtful and skeptical. In the online comments, they posed questions that the reporters should have asked.


  17. Love chocolate. Too bad all the chocolate trees are melting due to global warming. :)

    • St Arnold urged people to drink beer rather than water, because, he said, the beer was safer. He was right too. The beer was made from boiled water and included alcohol, both of which killed off a lot of the pathogens you find in water.

      • Ancient Egyptian beer – thick and glutinous – was a major part of the diet. Good, rich, heavy, dark English, Irish, and Belgian beer is very nourishing. (Almost certainly not true about the watery Pepsi-substitute the big American Brewers produce. Probably not true of most of our light-weight Australian beers.)

        Not all that long ago doctors used ro recommend Guiness or other stout, in large quantities, for amputation patients and women who had just given birth. It allegedly contains lots of iron for replenishing the blood. Don’t know if it actually worked, but the patients didn’t complain.

        You can’t get it on the National Health, though.

      • In the 1980’s those of us with osteo problems that had been operated on in the military hospital were issued a bottle of Keo beer per day by the consultant. It sure made me feel a it better :)

    • Supplies B vitamins especially if bottle finished with yeast, lowers blood pressure, hops are mild antibiotic (ancient Egyptian beer had tetracycline from bacteria and was very medicinal), and has been shown to have heart attack benefits. The B vitamins also ought to prevent spinabifida given latest showing maternal B shortage is causal. Theres more if you look…

  18. This just shows that it is important to check the sources of your information. Unfortunately, many news sources are eager to just copy/paste and publish, because the speed with which the news is brought has become very important. Also there are journals that are happy to make a quick buck and not care about a decent peer-review process. Looks as though at the moment a lot of the media are not very well-equipped to report on scientific issues, which basically means misinformation of the public.

  19. What’s missing from the summary here is that they also set up an activist organization to promote the idea and feed talking points to media types. And *that* is what really closes the circle on it with respect to the IPCC.

    But given that, I’m not at all certain how much weight we can place on fraudulent papers and/or fraudulent journals. Given that a whole activist org was constructed for the sake of duping people long term.

  20. Just discovered a promising new word in the comments thread – ‘scientician’. A great descriptor for Michael Mann etc. I think the commenter was using it in the sense of diet scientists being more like dieticians, but to me it immediately the abuse of climate ‘science’ by politicians, climate “scientists”‘ political opportunism.

    • eek – immediately ‘brought to mind’ the abuse of climate ‘science’ etc.

  21. The really sad part is mainstream journal editors at Science and Nature are fully in on the pseudoscience of today’s climate science, at least where anything related to the CMIP 3/5 climate models outputs are concerned.

  22. “and on track to get picked up by Men’s Health magazine”

    I am pretty sure that if the figures have numbers, that magazine would publish it. What an amazing “sting”.

  23. Howard Booth said: “I know that WUWT is primarily concerned with CAGW, but I thought this was an interesting peek into the terrible state of the scientific publishing process, and the media’s inability to hold scientists accountable.”

    Howard calls it the scientific publishing process, yet the sites included “the Daily Star, the Irish Examiner, Cosmopolitan’s German website, the Times of India, both the German and Indian site of the Huffington Post, and even television news in Texas and an Australian morning talk show.” I don’t see a single scientific journal in that list, just general news sites.

    The very process – scientific peer review – which is decried by many WUWT commmenters as being riigged or exclusionary, is the only way to keep the quality of research papers high. It’s not perfect, but does someone have a better suggestion?

    • In the case of the chocolate paper, the folks who asked pertinent questions were online commenters. The effect is similar to something Eric Raymond said:

      given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow

      He’s referring to the way software is written but it applies equally to science. ‘Open science’ may be the cure for the abuses of the conventional peer review process.

    • The issues is that in public all those ‘peer review ‘ problems are kept of the radar while want is sold to the public is the ‘perfection of peer review’
      To be fair that true is of all acedmic areas but climate ‘science’ is special so it has it own little issues , like the leaders in the filed trying to ring the system so only supporting papers are published, by such approaches has bullying journal editors and calling for them to be sacked if they fail to compile.

      It is almost a given now that those who are brave enough to challenge ‘the cause ‘ by publishing research that fails to follow the consensus, have also to make some form of public admission of their ‘sins ‘ and are required to confirm that ‘faith ‘ in the cause . That is not a sign of healthy process in action, as the paper should stand on its own merits .

    • Chris,

      You seem to have missed the fact that the research was published in a scientific journal:

      Our paper was accepted for publication by multiple journals within 24 hours. Needless to say, we faced no peer review at all. The eager suitor we ultimately chose was the the International Archives of Medicine. It used to be run by the giant publisher BioMedCentral, but recently changed hands. The new publisher’s CEO, Carlos Vasquez, emailed Johannes to let him know that we had produced an “outstanding manuscript,” and that for just 600 Euros it “could be accepted directly in our premier journal.”

      Although the Archives’ editor claims that “all articles submitted to the journal are reviewed in a rigorous way,” our paper was published less than 2 weeks after Onneken’s credit card was charged. Not a single word was changed.

      The newspapers etc were responding to the press release announcing the publication of the paper.

      It helps if you read the story to which the post refers.

      • Billy, I did read the story – but thanks for checking. I don’t consider online “pay for posting” sites to be scientific journals. That may meet your standard of quality, but not mine. Anyone remotely familiar with the trend in online publishing knows that there are now a myriad of sites that will take paid articles and papers, analagous to the advertorials published in commercial print magazines in the past.

    • In response to Chris:

      Be sure to read the article for the details. Before going to media outlets, they first sought to get published in scientific journals. They submitted to 20 different applications, were picked up within 24 hours by several with offers, and chose the one that fitted their needs to give it enough authenticity before going to the media:

      “Our paper was accepted for publication by multiple journals within 24 hours. Needless to say, we faced no peer review at all. The eager suitor we ultimately chose was the the International Archives of Medicine.”

      The fact that the media didn’t bother to check the reputation of these journals or do any direct fact checking of the actual study shows just how easy it is to make headlines across the world with fantastic “science”. The only thing that stopped this train was the fact that the Bohannan didn’t want it to get too far and pulled the plug. My guess is that once it gets to something like Men’s Health, the Today Show and who knows the Nightly News could have been next.

  24. I wonder if there’s data on the number of papers whose conclusions differ from those they set out to show? Not many I’d wager.

    Most of the science news in the media looks like agenda science, across the board.

  25. […] Most scientists are honest and do it unconsciously. They get negative results, convince themselves they goofed, and repeat the experiment until it “works.” Or they drop “outlier” data points.

    […]The key is to exploit journalists’ incredible laziness. If you lay out the information just right, you can shape the story that emerges in the media almost like you were writing those stories yourself. In fact, that’s literally what you’re doing, since many reporters just copied and pasted our text.

    All sounds a little too familiar.

    • Don’t forget to give them the PowerPoint so they can pitch the story to their editor

  26. Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:

    So, did you see the study that said you should eat chocolate to lose weight? Well, it was fake.

    That is, a group set out to see if they could scam the science and nutrition publishers. They did.

    Quoting Howard Booth, “They managed to produce factually correct results that made an outlandish claim, write it up, get it published”. In other words, they lied without really telling any lies, and nobody caught it.

    It is tempting to think science for profit is to blame, but this still goes to the government. Sure, the profit motive blinded the publications and those involved, but the blame for the mindset and culture of publishing drivel lies squarely at the governments that fund so much of the related research that provides the grist for these publishing mills.

    Governments should protect our property. Nothing more. When they try to help us, they always do more harm than good.

    is the same reference given in the main post at WUWT.

  27. I love dark chocolate. I bought it, dark chocolate that is. Now I try to reproduce the results with chocolate covered strawberries. So far, the results are inconclusive. More research is needed.

  28. “The study had a terrible sample size, poor quality control, and zero peer review.”

    Sounds like most sceptic paopers to me

    • ‘paopers’ ?, basic trolling is much improved if you spell correctly , otherwise you make your self look like a fool , HTH .

  29. Sometimes I’ll eat an entire 100g bar of 80/90% dark chocolate because its pure fat goodness. I’ve upped my saturated fat and cholesterol intake considerably while avoiding any grains and never looked of felt better.

  30. Hey Jai,
    Thanks for pointing out another example of surface warming without tropospheric warming! I don’t understand why you folks keep citing evidence that proves that your CO2 greenhouse theory is wrong? It might be about time for you to start looking for another explanation for the multitude of ‘evidence’ of surface warming that you are so obsessed with. Here’s a hint. It ain’t man made!

  31. This is great news. If I eat more chocolate I will lose more weight.

    Sorry, didn’t read past the Express headline.

    Actually, I did, but even if the reporter did the actual leg work and got the story correct, the healine writer could blow it all away for a large percentage of the population.

  32. Julian Simon, writing in his response to critics, which i think is pertinent to this discussion;

    “Famous science writer Isaac Asimov expressed the bewilderment of a person who at least faced up to this intellectual predicament, as Ehrlich et. al. do not. Asimov read about the resources bet and then wrote:

    Naturally, I was all on the side of the pessimist and judge my surprise when it turned out he had lost the bet; that the prices of the metals had indeed fallen; that grain was cheaper; that oil…was cheaper; and so on.
    I was thunderstruck. Was it possible, I thought, that something that seemed so obvious to me – that a steadily rising population is deadly – can be wrong?

    Yes, it could be. I am frequently wrong.

    Asimov permitted himself to be bewildered. “I don’t understand this,” he wrote. And he says about economics in general: “I cannot understand it, and I cannot believe that anyone else understands it, either. People may say they understand it…but I think it is all a fake.”

    Unlike Asimov, the doomsayers refuse to allow themselves to be bewildered by the facts. Instead, they simply reject the facts and deride anyone who presents the facts. Garrett Hardin writes:

    To really get to the heart of the matter [population growth], we must ignore statistical arguments and opt for the common sense approach.
    As the logician…Quine has said, ‘Science itself is a continuation of common sense. Therefore, this essay will avoid statistics. The opaqueness of statistical arguments makes it easy for analysts to “get away with murder”. Though often wonderfully useful, statistics can also serve as a substitute for thought…empirical studies …can be so selected and arranged as to seem to support faith in perpetual growth, the religion of the most powerful actors in a commercial society…

    …On the one hand, a legion of economists say, “Why worry? An increase in people doesn’t matter…On the other hand, a brigade of environmentalists assert that shortages are real and ultimately decisive”.

    In a debate with Dennis Meadows, every time someone asked him how he squared his Malthusian theory with the data I showed, he answered: “Simon looks at the past; I look at the future”. Scientific data, of course, necessarily refer to past.

    In an article on the bet, columnist Jessica Mathews said that my views on “finiteness” are “palpable nonsense.” The word “palpable” means felt. No doubt Mathews feels that what I have to say is nonsense; it is indeed not common sense. But feeling is not a scientific argument. And assertions and policy conclusions drawn from feeling – as is often the case in these matters – are likely to mislead us when they run counter to the scientific evidence.

    (Typically, Mathews attempts to marginalize me by referring to my ideas as “extreme”. She notes that Ehrlich lost the bet, I won, and then she asserts that the truth apparently is somewhere in between these extremes. Because she derided the bet as being on the wrong matters, I wrote to her: “Would you like to bet on any of these matters? If you can propose a measure or measures for worldwide pollution…I would probably be happy to wager on that one, also.” But she prudently did not respond.)”

    Sound familiar to anyone?

    • “Asimov permitted himself to be bewildered…”I don’t understand this'”

      Poor Asimov became “bewildered” because he confined himself to gazing at his own Navel. You’d think that these Great Seers would have recognized this pit-fall.

    • The mistake is simple. Asimov accepted the premise of Malthus that human beings are in general a net loss on the productivity ledger. In fact, they are in statist / socialist regimes such as the soviet union. However, in free societies, human beings are in general net profitable. By this I mean, that they produce more than they consume. Therefore, having more of them helps rather than hurts.

  33. Probably there will be a defense of this chocolate paper in the MSM now that it has made the rounds. Once in print it is irradicable. Incidentally, not only is bad science published and echoed and re-issued endlessly but good scientific articles that go against the meme are not only ignored, but search engines like Yahoo lose them for you. I recalled a report by Dr. Adussamatov of the Russian Academy of Sciences from some years ago that noted that Mars’s ice caps were shrinking at the same time as those of earth!! This killer of CAGW got the Alinsky treatment. I tried to find it using Yahoo and got stuff on seasonal changes etc. I had to go to DuckDuckGo to get the link!! So not only does the MSM not report “contentious” issues on the subject, but bloody search engines do the same thing!!!!

    “NASA’s findings in space come as no surprise to Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov at Saint Petersburg’s Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory….

    Dr. Abdussamatov, one of the world’s chief critics of the theory that man-made carbon dioxide emissions create a greenhouse effect, leading to global warming.

    “Mars has global warming, but without a greenhouse and without the participation of Martians,” he told me. “These parallel global warmings — observed simultaneously on Mars and on Earth — can only be a straightline consequence of the effect of the one same factor: a long-time change in solar irradiance.”

    Please tell me why we are not interested in this?

    • I think that it was brought up several times on CA. It contradicts even what the luke-warmers say, sot it’s usually ignored and/or shouted down. Mention that the sun is not that constant and Leif will come out of the woodwork to assure everyone that it certainly is.

    • Interestingly I originally stumbled across this article in Yahoo, who had it splashed on their “current and trending” crawl on their main page.

  34. Anthony Watts. Astounding. What makes You ticking. Great.

    Regards – Hans

  35. Well CO2AGW itself proves that the entire world of peer reviewed journals can easily be captured by a gang of organized scoundrels.
    “….and if I have to redefine what peer-reviewed literature is…” (*)

    (*) from a climategate e mail of an unknown warmunist

  36. cnxtim
    May 30, 2015 at 2:30 pm
    The correlation with “Diet Science” and CAGW is highly appropriate.


    Diabetes harms body and brain.

    CAGW alarmism harms bodies and brains, U2.


    Appropriate, thanks for reminding. Hans

  37. “They conspired to create a research study intended to produce fantastic results, and see how often their poor research would get called out through the entire publishing process.”

    Psychiatry regularly engages in the advertising of new disorders, for the purpose of selling psych meds. Before my beautiful daughter installed the stupendous, lovely ADBLOCKER on my computer, I actually saw the psych med industry advertising Binge Eating Disorder.

    The new DSM for psychiatrists lists even shopping- and internet- addiction as symptoms of disorders, which can be diagnosed and treated with psychotropic drugs. Get up to “speed” on the subject of psychiatric medications here:

    How about this:

    Psychiatrists hate her!
    [picture of really contented endorphin spiking woman eating chocolate here]

  38. The difficult issue to deal with is not the bad science per se; it is the fact that scientists (at least the majority of them) give a tacit endorsement to a lousy peer-review process because advertisement-type science is useful for fund raising and visibility. We live in a media-controlled society and science is not an exception.
    Nobody is giving you money for rigorous but poorly “vendible” (or difficult to communicate to large public) research. This tragedy is happening from the small, University-level grants, to the Nobel prize selection.

  39. I, for one, believe in Scients and it’s degreed hierophants. If a sciency article says dark chocolate is good for you, whom am I to disargue? Its probly true, and I shall continue to consume chocolate in mass quantities, irregardless. The paper was “robust” and stuff. I laughed so hard at this post that I peed. Thus it can be considered pee-er reviewed. Journalism? It’s stinky dead.

  40. Very funny remark on the web at the moment. El Nino is lowering sea levels. Really? Never heard that one before, maybe someone has removed the plug at the bottom of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. I thought sea levels are never constant all through this last warm interglacial. Other than when there is a full moon and tides are effected, ie.Ebb and Spring tides. I can’t remember the exact cause but I think it is about the amount of ice, glaciers and land and sea ice has something to do with it. Being winter now in Oz, it is also winter in Antarctica.

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