Study: Bad science is survival of the fittest

Cut-throat academia leads to ‘natural selection of bad science’, claims study

Ralph Westfal submits this story Via the Guardian

Scientists incentivised to publish surprising results frequently in major journals, despite risk that such findings are likely to be wrong, suggests research.

Getting stuff right is normally regarded as science’s central aim. But a new analysis has raised the existential spectre that universities, laboratory chiefs and academic journals are contributing to the “natural selection of bad science”.

To thrive in the cut-throat world of academia, scientists are incentivised to publish surprising findings frequently, the study suggests – despite the risk that such findings are “most likely to be wrong”.

Paul Smaldino, a cognitive scientist who led the work at the University of California, Merced, said: “As long as the incentives are in place that reward publishing novel, surprising results, often and in high-visibility journals above other, more nuanced aspects of science, shoddy practices that maximise one’s ability to do so will run rampant.”

The paper comes as psychologists and biomedical scientists are grappling with an apparent replication crisis, in which many high profile results have been shown to be unreliable. Observations that striking a power pose will make you feel bolder, smiling makes you feel happy or that placing a pair of “big brother” eyes on the wall will protect against theft have all failed to stand up to replication.

Sociology, economics, climate science and ecology are other areas likley to be vulnerable to the propagation of bad practice, according to Smaldino.

Smaldino cites an experiment by the American psychologist Daryl Bem, who purported to show that undergraduates could predict the future and published the result in a prestigious journal.

“What he found was the equivalent of flipping a bunch of pennies, nickels, and quarters, asking students to guess heads or tails each time, and then reporting that psychic abilities exist for pennies, but not nickels and quarters, because the students were right 53% of the time for the pennies, rather than the expected 50%. It’s insane,” said Smaldino. “Bem used exactly the same standards of evidence that all social psychologists were using to evaluate their findings. And if those standards allowed this ridiculous a hypothesis to make the cut, imagine what else was getting through.”

Yes, imagine. Full story at the Guardian

In a paper published earlier this year, Smaldino sums up the problem:

Scientists often learn more from studies that fail. But failed studies can mean career death. So instead, they’re incentivized to generate positive results they can publish. And the phrase “publish or perish” hangs over nearly every decision. It’s a nagging whisper, like a Jedi’s path to the dark side.

“Over time the most successful people will be those who can best exploit the system,” Paul Smaldino, a cognitive science professor at University of California Merced, says. To Smaldino, the selection pressures in science have favored less-thanideal research: “As long as things like publication quantity, and publishing flashy results in fancy journals are incentivized, and people who can do that are rewarded … they’ll be successful, and pass on their successful methods to others.”

Many scientists have had enough. They want to break this cycle of perverse incentives and rewards.



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September 21, 2016 2:05 am

This is going on my list!

Reply to  daveburton
September 21, 2016 3:46 am

daveburton…..the link (my list) = Oops! That page can’t be found.

Reply to  kokoda
September 21, 2016 9:17 am

Um. Try this one (had to adjust the modification that WordPress put on Dave’s original)
I hope WP doesn’t scrounge this one.

Reply to  kokoda
September 21, 2016 9:39 am

Thank you, kokoda and OldUnixHead. I botched the link, it wasn’t WP’s fault. Sorry!
[Reply: Fixed it for you. Was missing the http:// part. -ModE ]

Reply to  daveburton
September 21, 2016 1:15 pm

Thank you, how refreshing to see this publication. Real science exposing pseudo-science AND openly discussing the perverse society that academia has become.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  RWturner
September 21, 2016 4:32 pm

Don’t get too excited. It’s the Guardian! Worst eco- Commie rag on the planet outside of Russia or China! Notice they totally fail to make the link to the garbage that gets published as climate science. Every one of those bogus studies with outrageous claims gets prominent play in the Guardian. No wonder their circulation and finances are on the rocks!

george e. smith
Reply to  daveburton
September 21, 2016 2:28 pm

“””””….. Paul Smaldino, a cognitive scientist who led the work at the University of California, …..”””””
So are they saying that cognition is a science, or are they just saying this guy is “cognitive” as in “Awake ” ??

September 21, 2016 2:09 am

But but but climate scientists are dispassionate, incorruptible gods of truth!
At least that’s the impression I get from all the millennials who shriek ‘CO2!’ at me.

Harry Passfield
Reply to  ClimateOtter
September 21, 2016 2:14 am

And, of course, all their studies/papers are capable of replication. /s

Reply to  Harry Passfield
September 21, 2016 4:40 am

Climate scientists have “devoted their lives” to it so we should believe them.

Reply to  Harry Passfield
September 21, 2016 6:06 am

And, of course, all their studies/papers are capable of replication. /s

No need for sarcasm, in climate related sciences like paleoconstructions even methodologically flawed papers are reproduced with independent methods. Any critics are automatically considered to be crackpots or misinformers paid by Big Oil. Sea level rise, ocean alkalinity neutralization, same thing.
Like the MBH hockey stick is nicely reproduced by Marcott & al. The science is settled. Connolley spells it on Wikipedia quoting the authorities.
‘We’ believe in Hansen since we believe in authority. There is no need for real replication, and there is no room for doubt since it dilutes the message. Remember the fine balance between honest and effective!

Bloke down the pub
Reply to  ClimateOtter
September 21, 2016 5:38 am

Perhaps Prof Brian Cox should take this onboard before he spouts off next time about people not trusting what ‘the science’ tells them.

Reply to  Bloke down the pub
September 21, 2016 6:50 am

Him, and a couple dozen trolls.

George Tetley
September 21, 2016 2:23 am

All wrong !
Human nature is the problem, ( the bigger the lie, the better ) just look at the worlds politicians and you find that the idiotic humans are all, repeat all, on the band wagon !

Alan the Brit
Reply to  George Tetley
September 21, 2016 2:48 am

Was it not one A. Hitler who said, “The mass of the people are far more likely to believe a really big lie than a small one!”?

Reply to  Alan the Brit
September 21, 2016 6:52 am

And what lie can be bigger than that the source of carbon to carbon based life is inimical to that life .

Reply to  George Tetley
September 21, 2016 3:38 am

Science establishes a set of objective rules that are a check on our animal instincts. Human nature corrupts academia.

September 21, 2016 2:32 am

“Cut-throat academia leads to ‘natural selection of bad science’, claims study”
Interesting idea. In economics, Gresham’s Law states that bad money drives out good money, presumably because, if somebody was willing to accept paper money, people woild hold onto their gold an silver.
However, in science we have President Eisenhower stating the problem better.
“In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
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 scientifictechnological elite.
It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system — ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.”

Poor Richard
September 21, 2016 2:59 am

The Spanish have a phrase for this: el sucko baddo.
Given the spate of irreproducible results in pharmacological research, the documented ability to get nonsense papers published in “juried” journals, and total inability of climate models to predict “dique” (as they say in French), you would think the good guys and gals in science would be warming up their torches and pitchforks and demanding an end to this nonsense.
A thought: most of the denizens here have heard of CAD (computer aided design) and CAM (computer aided manufacturing). In that spirit I would like to suggest a new category for the current state-of-the-art in climate modeling: CAG (computer aided guessing)

Reply to  Poor Richard
September 21, 2016 5:19 am

I suggest a different term: CAPR (computer aided predetermined results).

Reply to  alexwade
September 21, 2016 5:47 am

I suggest a different term: CAPR (computer aided predetermined results).

Rather: Computer Results Are Preprogrammed.

Reply to  alexwade
September 21, 2016 7:07 am

RACookPE1978 September 21, 2016 at 5:47 am
I like it! An acronym that accurately predicts the output.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Poor Richard
September 21, 2016 4:35 pm

How about GAG? Guessing at Garbage!

September 21, 2016 3:32 am

Scientists often learn more from studies that fail.

That is a large part of the problem, presenting a negative result as a “failure”. Establishing a negative result is SUCESSFUL result.
The 53% is a failure despite being a positive result.

Reply to  Greg
September 21, 2016 6:55 am

There are a couple of good Edison quotes:
“I can never find the things that work best until I know the things that don’t work.”
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Reply to  Greg
September 21, 2016 7:02 am

I suggest that 53% is, at the most generous, neutral as it within the normal margin of error.

george e. smith
Reply to  Greg
September 21, 2016 2:34 pm

“””””….. Scientists often learn more from studies that fail. …..”””””
I see a typo crept in there.
“””””….. Scientists often earn more from studies that fail. …..”””””
There; fixed that !!

September 21, 2016 3:43 am

People, scientists included, are motivated by incentives.
According to a Dec 13, 2010 New Yorker article, once there is a predominant opinion in a field of science, the published literature, the funding, the studies conducted, the individual decision to publish or not and the likelihood of getting published all become skewed in favor of it.
The name of the article is “The Truth Wears Off – Is there something wrong with the scientific method?”
archived here:
I won’t bother to go into the details because it may sway some from actually reading the article which makes a far stronger case than I could here, with numerous examples. It never mentions climate science, but it is obvious that the same problems exposed in it apply to climate science as well.
Here are the first two paragraphs:
“On September 18, 2007, a few dozen neuroscientists, psychiatrists, and drug-company executives gathered in a hotel conference room in Brussels to hear some startling news. It had to do with a class of drugs known as atypical or second-generation antipsychotics, which came on the market in the early nineties. The drugs, sold under brand names such as Abilify, Seroquel, and Zyprexa, had been tested on schizophrenics in several large clinical trials, all of which had demonstrated a dramatic decrease in the subjects’ psychiatric symptoms. As a result, second-generation antipsychotics had become one of the fastest-growing and most profitable pharmaceutical classes. By 2001, Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa was generating more revenue than Prozac. It remains the company’s top-selling drug.
But the data presented at the Brussels meeting made it clear that something strange was happening: the therapeutic power of the drugs appeared to be steadily waning. A recent study showed an effect that was less than half of that documented in the first trials, in the early nineteen-nineties. Many researchers began to argue that the expensive pharmaceuticals weren’t any better than first-generation antipsychotics, which have been in use since the fifties. “In fact, sometimes they now look even worse,” John Davis, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told me”

September 21, 2016 3:44 am

“Sociology, economics, climate science and ecology are other areas likely to be vulnerable to the propagation of bad practice”. None of the subjects is a science. The title should be changed.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
September 21, 2016 8:45 am

Economics is – it is the dismal science.

Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
September 21, 2016 9:19 am

“Any science with an adjective in front of it isn’t Science.
“History is the most ‘dismal science.'”

September 21, 2016 3:44 am
September 21, 2016 3:52 am

Eisenhower warned about this. Obama and Clinton exploited it.

M Seward
September 21, 2016 3:55 am

What is really being said here is that now science is captive to the trivialities of the world of marketing as if it were just another consumer product for the supermarket shelves, more content for the media to puff out with advertising and more huff and puff from politicians and activists pushing their own barrow. We have moved into a floating world of hyperchoice and the marketing industry is pushing the boundaries further and further to grab our attention.
Actual intellectual progress taking time to confirm, more time to move to a safe product just does ‘cut it’ anymore, it has to be a marketing bliss bomb to get attention these days, it has to jump off the tiny screen of a ‘smart’ phone into the tiny mind of the e-consumer who then struts around as if they know everything that’s trending and therefore that matters.
The reality is that it is all just a big empty barrel rolling down at hill to a ditch at the bottom.

DC Cowboy
September 21, 2016 4:29 am

‘Publish or perish’ also leads to ‘Pal review’ in smaller fields (perhaps in the larger ones as well), like AGW as scientists ‘scratch each others backs’ to get published.

September 21, 2016 4:34 am

Let me tell you how it works Mr. Smaldino.
As Saul Alinsky asserted, keep em guessing, keep em worried, rules for radicals states:
“Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty.”
The politicians and Internationalist ‘liberal’ cultural Marxist college and the establishment thought that their hegemony was threatened and powerful, assertive nations states in the west were leaving the undeveloped world behind and nigh a man of these ‘limousine liberals’ deemed that, the west must be made to atone for the sins of their fathers. Sins? our forebears who actually did quite well for us – yer know the industrial revolution and cheap power for hospitals, schools, and homes – all that rot.
Post WWII, things were going along quite nicely….too nicely.
Until, the chumps [club] of Rome and the Malthusians like Paul Ehrlich commenced the doom and the related litany of immiseration prophesies.
The proles were too uppity deemed our masters and a new way to cow, to browbeat the people was needed, after dabbling with cooling [it is]. During the Eighties, the politicians alighted on a new ‘threat’ and man made global warming was supposed/hypothesized to be the great new chimera evil and by God – it was all our [you, yes YOU!]……fault!
It plays well to the ingrained western psyche – the original sin and “it’s all going to well!”…..the west’s unnatural urge to apologize for being successful, hard though that is to fathom.
The politicians had their myth to beat a gullible but sadly ignorant public up with, the investment banks lapped it up, the corporate elites loved it and Goldman Sucks made a killing! what was not to like about globull warming?!!
Funds were pumped into climate change labs [and teaching kids about Keynes-ian economics and the printing press is our saviour!] and all sorts of other cow droppings.
Cr*p hypotheses demand cr*p papers……………………
After 50 years of education dumbing down, these days no one knows any better and crikey publish that paper BUT no need/ don’t publish your data – it’s so easy ain’t it – Mike?
They call it “progressive thinking”, it’s anything but.

DC Cowboy
Reply to  Athelstan.
September 21, 2016 4:36 am

Well, why should they give you their data when all you want to do is prove them wrong? 🙂

Reply to  DC Cowboy
September 21, 2016 6:08 am

Xist, yes, that is one thing, but knowing to be wrong and not just being ignorant and incompetent is another thing.

Reply to  DC Cowboy
September 21, 2016 12:23 pm

Hmm, a good point Bill;-)
Though, what ever happened to publicly sharing your results and wanting to be proven correct [incorrect]. To being robust enough to be confident in your own abilities, methodology and your evident expertise, not least in recording your data sets and its consequent computer statistical analysis?
Or, you might just be a snake oil pedlar and or, a spiv selling poorly crafted goods, a charlatan if you like.
Over to you, Mike.

DC Cowboy
September 21, 2016 4:35 am

I believe the thrust of this article is true. Especially with the more prominent journals in various fields. My daughter is an Infectious disease Doctor currently engaged in AIDS research (specifically in seeking a cure for infants born with it). She has been published, but, often her work, which is incremental in nature, is rejected because, while accurate, ‘isn’t significant enough’ to publish in Journal ‘A’. They suggest she submit it to another, less prominent journal.

Reply to  DC Cowboy
September 21, 2016 12:36 pm

You make a valid point, though imho – we must make a distinction between pure, medical science and climatology quackers.
Indeed, all valuable medical research effected by qualified, competent and diligent medical researches be it investigation of Aids, and indeed all pathologies physicians, should, must endeavour to have their work published. Because, from small intensive studies, seeds grow into great advances, collaboration is as vital as it also, shines a light on your daughters’ dedicated expertise.

September 21, 2016 4:55 am

The original Guardian article refers to small sample sizes. The classic is a study that purported to find health benefits of eating chocolate.
It was a real study. It gathered real data. The problem was a small sample size and a large number of parameters. It is likely that if you examine enough parameters you will find some apparent correlations. It’s like flipping coins. Eventually you will flip five heads in a row. It doesn’t mean anything.
The trouble is that journals will publish results that are not statistically robust, and journalists will gleefully spread them to the public. link

Reply to  commieBob
September 21, 2016 6:17 am

results that are not statistically robust,

Thinking about Dixon and Jones working with Lew paper… shudder.

September 21, 2016 5:17 am

I noticed this was an article in the Guardian. Meanwhile, they also publish this:
Either the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing or the Guardian is so blind they don’t see the irony is decrying the publish-or-perish system while endorsing something that is still alive because of publish-or-perish is allowed.

M Seward
Reply to  alexwade
September 21, 2016 10:33 am

The Guardian is not real big on noticing irony. Heck, the name “Guardian” itself is pure irony to start with – it is a mouthpiece for the barbarians at the gates of civilisation. Those cretins think that Pontius Pilate was the true messiah and that hand wringing and washing will get them to green left heaven.

Smart Rock
September 21, 2016 5:44 am

Ironic that this surfaces in the Guardian. They should know. They publish enough articles about climate “Science” that is contrary to common sense, let alone reproducible, and often based on models without feeding in a single piece of real-world data..In that fantasy world, model results are considered to be “data”, and are used as the basis for further modelling.

Reply to  Smart Rock
September 21, 2016 5:59 am

The Guardian has the extraordinary talent of backing the wrong horse every single time.

Bruce Cobb
September 21, 2016 5:47 am

Climate “science” gets a free ride, because saving the planet.

September 21, 2016 5:54 am

Publishing results based on skimpy or tortured evidence is bad enough, but the crucial flaw in the system is peer-review gate-keeping that gives bad research cover by discouraging challenges from other researchers. When small groups dominate specialized area of inquiry and when science-by-press-release overwhelms careful sifting of findings, the errors don’t get corrected quickly or appropriately.

Bill Hunter
Reply to  Gary
September 21, 2016 8:16 am

Yes with most of the money going to institutions, peer conspiracy and networking becomes the way to game the system. So you get “pal review” with trickle down effects for the pals.

September 21, 2016 6:05 am

Bingo! This is a keeper.

September 21, 2016 6:11 am

The world is a little brighter today with the problem identified. Thanks.
Is it a double negative in the case of climate sociology?

September 21, 2016 6:14 am

Bad science has gone much further down the road with this administration’s reward system to meet advocacy targets. It’s comparable to courtroom attorneys paying extra to biased expert witnesses for their performance, and at the expense of the truth.

Reply to  Resourceguy
September 21, 2016 12:50 pm

Even if, like VW, you have to fudge the data to meet some useless EPA regulation.

Dr. Dave
September 21, 2016 6:36 am

“The paper comes as psychologists and biomedical scientists are grappling with an apparent replication crisis”. Psychologists eh? I’m thinking John Cook and his mentor, Lew, would have more than just a little trouble having their work replicated.

Reply to  Dr. Dave
September 21, 2016 7:52 am

Dr. Dave wrote in part:

I’m thinking John Cook and his mentor, Lew, would have more than just a little trouble having their work replicated.

Give me enough money and I’ll replicate their work. (Didn’t say my work would validate their findings; just replicate them. Also didn’t claim my work would be valid.)

Reply to  Dr. Dave
September 21, 2016 6:41 pm

I posted this in Tips and Notes, but I’ll repeat it here.
Here’s another story about fashionable science.

September 21, 2016 8:17 am

“Publish or perish” is simply another flawed job performance metric.
The recent scandal involving Wells Fargo Bank, the firing of 5300 employees (!) over the creation of 2 million phony accounts using stolen customer identities, stealing over $200 million from their customers, and the assessing of $185 million in fines (prison terms yet to be determined) was all the result of a flawed job performance metric, left in place over several years.
Employees were rewarded based on the number of new accounts they established.
What science lacks presently is an oversight mechanism that can identify fraud and effectively punish misbehavior.

Reply to  tadchem
September 21, 2016 8:30 am

Well, Wells fargo might feel they “bought” immunity from the current administration, and from the next administration as well. Many “small donations” by credit card via Wells Fargo to the Hillary campaign were double and triple billed (more money was sent to the campaign than was promised by the donor’s phone call), and – unless the donor complained – the extra money was kept by the campaign to justify “matching donations” from the federal government! Now, many thousands DID complain, so many that the corrections were made automatic. IF a call was made. Probably fewer than 4 in 50 noticed the multiple billings, got mad about it, and actually followed through to the Wells Fargo collection agencies and call centers in protest.
Reply to  RACookPE1978
September 21, 2016 8:51 am

Where on earth did you get such a fabricated story?

Reply to  RACookPE1978
September 21, 2016 10:00 am

In 2008 and 2012, the Obama campaign turned off address checking for credit card donations to their web site. This allowed people with foreign cards to donate to his campaign.
They also allowed donations from gift cards, which would allow individuals to donate as much as they wanted, under as many names as they wanted, without any ability on the part of the campaign to determine that they were doing it. Great way to get around donation limits.
I wonder I Hillary is using any of these lessons learned.
Reply to  RACookPE1978
September 21, 2016 10:06 am

Thank you Jeff F, I’ll know never to go to that site for credible info

Reply to  RACookPE1978
September 21, 2016 12:42 pm

Richard – just because it is not what you wanted to hear doesn’t mean it is not credible. The Observer link provided included documentary evidence, ie a bank statement. You on the other hand have provided no countering evidence.

Reply to  RACookPE1978
September 21, 2016 1:06 pm

I’m not sure it matters or if it’s even true but from the link:
Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.”

Reply to  RACookPE1978
September 21, 2016 1:55 pm

A conflict of interest it may be but the evidence still stands. Unless, you think the father in law is not telling the full story?

George Steiner
September 21, 2016 9:22 am

Why the surprise? Since the turn of the century tens of thousands of Phd’s have been produced per year like sausages from a factory. A doctorate today is a debased currency. But I will tell you about two that in spite if their doctorate were not debased.
The first one had a doctorate in radio astronomy. When I asked what he was doing in our group writing code for a process control computer? He said “there are much brighter people in the field than I so to make a mark is very difficult”
The second was working with me checking out a control panel of instruments. He had a doctorate in chemical engineering. I asked the same question, what was he doing in the instrument department? He said ” I like to get my hand dirty doing practical things.
Unfortunately there are not many like them among the sausages.
September 21, 2016 10:05 am

Romney did the same thing, and I’m sure Trump is doing so also
[Note: The mods STRONGLY recommend users do NOT use their email addresses in public as a login_id or name. .mod]

Reply to
September 21, 2016 1:46 pm
Romney did the same thing, and I’m sure Trump is doing so also

There is no such evidence of any comparable practice in either the Trump nor the Romney campaign.
Further, the Oboma campaign specifically and deliberately recommended its anonymous donors do NOT exceed the minimum donation level that triggers the “identified contribution limit”, and they specifically wrote their web-site to allow multiple contributions from the same donor with NO identification codes for each credit card nor a “live signature” verification process nor an address/zip code verification of the credit card billing address.
So, is this evidence that Oboma’s 2008 and 2012 campaign was encouraging donation fraud of illegal overseas political donations?
Was the Oboma administration sending government-funded advisors and election officials to Israel to interfere in that country’s election cycle against Israel’s conservative government?
Were the 400 million in foreign oil-country government/oil sheik “contributions” to Hillary’s “charitable” fund intended to influence her energy and global actions as Secretary of State and as a probable/promised future president?
Reply to  RACookPE1978
September 21, 2016 2:10 pm

Rumors and innuendo that you’ve read regarding credit cards and political donations are laughable.

For example, many banks issuing credit cards don’t support AVS.

Please cite your sources for your “accusations”

Richard Baguley
Reply to  RACookPE1978
September 21, 2016 2:39 pm

Mods, is this better?
[Highly recommended. Though it may close the barn door after the horses have been stolen, should we delete the earlier email address-ed ID’s? .mod]

Reply to
September 21, 2016 3:06 pm

Do you have any evidence to back this claim? Or are you just desperate to protect Hillary regardless of the cost to your integrity?

September 21, 2016 10:08 am

This is amusing, in a sad way.
The Guardian article had a “teaser” link on the left to a previous Guardian article, with the provocative (though inaccurate) title, Science that isn’t transparent isn’t science.”
That article says:
“…Together with 37 colleagues we have published the Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) Guidelines, a set of criteria that scientific journals can adopt to enhance the transparency of the research they publish.”
That sounds wonderful! The link goes to this paper, which was published in Science magazine, in June, 2015:
It is entitled, “Promoting an open research culture.” But to read it, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) demands a paywall ransom. That’s despite the fact that the article is 15 months old, and they promise free access after one year. Here’s an annotated screenshot:
Way to promote an “open research culture,” AAAS!
I wrote to the AAAS this morning, complaining:

Dear AAAS,
I understand the need to keep the lights on, but if you’re going to claim that access will be free with registration “one year” after publication, you should not be demanding a paywall ransom 15 months out. It is particularly ironic that you are doing so for an article entitled, “Promoting an Open Research Culture.”
Disappointedly yours,
Dave Burton

No reply so far, but it’s only been six hours.

Reply to  daveburton
September 21, 2016 1:57 pm

Probably in bed still

Reply to  daveburton
September 21, 2016 2:55 pm

Well, the AAAS / Science hasn’t replied, so, in the interest of promoting an open research culture, and because the “Promoting an open research culture” paper is supposed to be available for free, here’s a SciHub link to the article, which is usable from the Tor Browser:
If that doesn’t take you straight to the article, the paste the article’s DOI into the SciHub search box:
Then click the big “Open” button,
Then click the “ сохранить статью” button on the left.

Reply to  daveburton
October 2, 2016 2:57 am

Well, they replied.

From: Media
To: David Burton
Subject: FW: AAAS — Promoting Open Science, with paywalls?
Date: Fri, 30 Sep 2016 17:58:14 +0000
Dear David,
Thank you for reaching out to us. We greatly appreciate the feedback. We are taking a look at the form that you and other free registrants fill out to ensure is lays out the rules as clearly as possible. I am sorry but only content labeled as “Research Articles” are available for free one year after their publication to free registrants.
The “policy forum” piece you were seeking is not content that is available to registrants for free. Policy forums are not “research articles.”
I hope this helps.

September 21, 2016 11:46 am

Perhaps it’s time to get rid of the elite journals. Open online sites where anyone with minimal qualifications can publish their research. Allow anyone to comment on the published papers, using their real name or a pseudonym. This becomes the “peer review.” Moderators can only reject comments on the basis of rudeness, profanity, or ad hom attacks. Genuine scientists would flourish, the hacks would get booed off the stage. Hmm…. sounds like WUWT.

September 21, 2016 12:19 pm

Walter’s Universal Theorem of the Evils of Performance Quotas/Targets
Perfomance/results quotas are evil because the fear of getting fired for missing performance/results quotas will make many people bend the rules, lie, cheat, commit outright fraud, and do other evil stuff in order to meet their quotas/targets
What you see here is *NOT* restricted to one area of human activity. The theorem applies in all areas of human endeavour…
1) You’ve probably heard about the (in)famous 18-minute call when someone wanted to cancel their Comcast cable service. Virtually all public-facing employees of Comcast have sales quotas, even if they’re nominally "help-desk" or "tech-support" At the end of the month, employee sales are counted up. Any cancellation is a negative against their monthly quota. Miss your quota often enough, and you get fired.
And it wasn’t just difficult cancellations. When the 18-minute-call story hit the web, many people had stories of being lied to by reps who claimed to have cancelled their service. But the bills kept coming and people ended up being hounded by collection agencies for continuing cable service, at a previous residence.
2) Wells Fargo set sales quotas for employees to upsell current customers. When customers didn’t buy enough additional services to meet quotas, many employees fraudulently created new accounts in the customers’ names
3) This doesn’t apply to just Comcast and Wells Fargo, it applies to businesses in general.
"Indiscriminate goal-setting" can lead to increased unethical behavior, "distorted risk preferences," and "corrosion of organizational culture," the authors of a Harvard Business School paper, "Goals Gone Wild: The Systematic Side Effects of Overprescribing Goal-Setting," have argued.
What they say is true, but it doesn’t go far enough. "Goals Gone Wild" can be a problem in any human activity.
4) When a cable rep or bank rep hits your credit card, it can damage your credit rating, and possibly even your employment prospects. Police have the ability to totally destroy a person’s future. You’ll never get a police officer to publically admit that they have a traffic-ticket quota, let alone a felony-conviction quota. But even where there isn’t an explicit quota, there is still intense pressure to “close cases”. To do this, they need a conviction of somebody… anybody. The result is bending of the rules, pressure by police for witnesses to change their stories, etc. The waste of several years of Guty Paul Morin’s life is a prime example.
Police are extremely adept at bending the rules to get people to incriminate themselves. See the classic "Don’t Talk to Cops", Part 1 and Part 2 The details vary from country to country, but the general principle is the same. They want you to speak to them, before speaking to a lawyer, in the hope that you’ll convict yourself.
5) And finally we get to the current article. "Meet you quota or get fired" is translated as "Publish or Perish" The same rewards for producing exist, and the same consequences for failure exist. This is not specific to academia, but is similar to how people react to quotas in all areas of human endeavour.

September 21, 2016 12:51 pm

Welcome to the Conman Theory of Human Evolution. The cold hard reality of evolution is that any strategy which produces more viable offspring is successful. Some altruistic behaviours do that but a lot of destructive behaviours do as well. When the first conman shook a rattle to make it rain, the die was cast. If it rained he was rewarded, if it didn’t, they burned some poor old women at the stake until if did rain. Then “Doctors” figured out the same scam. People often get better on their own so all “doctors” had to do was figure out how to take credit for healing. This fundamental con perpetuates its way into modern times where medical studies still refuse to look at healing as a normal body function but rather attribute it to the placebo effect. That is, “My medicine may not have cured you but my powerful persona did”. The original studies on placebo effect were all flawed by ignoring natural remission. After Doctors got in on the scam, so did priests and kings and salesmen. The whole history of humankind is one of perpetual fraud. And it is that way because fraud works at an evolutionary level. At least it works until the burden of fraud becomes so great that societies collapse and have to start again.
Science was a better way to make a living than digging ditches and so naturally it attracted conmen. The hubris of the scientific community was that somehow scientists had magical powers to spot fraud (See the Amazing Randi for many examples). The arrogance is so high that people entering fields of science are not even properly trained on how to keep bias and cognitive dissonance out of research. We are taught some moronically simplistic tools like control, replication and double blind, but these only cover off the tip of the iceberg. Statistics provide a million ways to self delude. The peer review process does not include the rigorous review of data and laboratories needed to detect charlatans. There was perhaps a brief period when science had a lower than normal number of conmen but initiatives like the money laden Global Warming Scam quickly made up for that. Now science is no better than medicine, cosmetics, vitamins, patent medicines, politics, sporting goods, and so on and so on, in the number of unsupportable claims. Science is dead. Long live the few remaining true scientists.

September 21, 2016 6:39 pm

America’s Ruling Class — And the Perils of Revolution
American Spectator
“…[T]he ruling class is united and adamant about nothing so much as its right to pronounce definitive, ‘scientific’ judgment on whatever it chooses. When the government declares, and its associated press echoes that ‘scientists say’ this or that, ordinary people — or for that matter scientists who ‘don’t say,’ or are not part of the ruling class — lose any right to see the information that went into what ‘scientists say.’ Thus when Virginia’s attorney general subpoenaed the data by which Professor Michael Mann had concluded, while paid by the state of Virginia, that the earth’s temperatures are rising ‘like a hockey stick’ from millennial stability — a conclusion on which billions of dollars’ worth of decisions were made — to investigate the possibility of fraud, the University of Virginia’s faculty senate condemned any inquiry into ‘scientific endeavor that has satisfied peer review standards’ claiming that demands for data ‘send a chilling message to scientists…and indeed scholars in any discipline.’ The Washington Post editorialized that the attorney general’s demands for data amounted to “an assault on reason.” The fact that the ‘hockey stick’ conclusion stands discredited and Mann and associates are on record manipulating peer review, the fact that science-by-secret-data is an oxymoron, the very distinction between truth and error, all matter far less to the ruling class than the distinction between itself and those they rule.
“By identifying science and reason with themselves, our rulers delegitimize opposition…”

September 21, 2016 6:43 pm

Real scientists are still out here, from the air conditioner engineer to the aviation engineer to the IT engineer,
everyone who studies not ”some” part of GHE ”theory” finds it utterly false, but all of it.
It’s believers can’t tell you what direction a thermometer will go if you prompt them ahead of time with the answers.
If you ask them what happens when less light hits a thermometer, their answer is that more light comes out of it.
If you ask them why their ”GHE” disappears when the temperature of the atmosphere is calculated using the same equations as those used to derive the international Standard Atmosphere, they have no excuse. It just so happens that the compression warming of the atmosphere is identical to their GHE.
It just so happens that there’s no field of endeavor on earth that uses the same kind of mathematics to ”just happen” to get a magical ”effect” that also ”just happens” to
match the compression warming of the atmosphere.
Everyone can see the transparent physical and mathematical fraud that has come from the invaders of science who believed there is a GHE.
If there was one, far smarter men than these incompetent oafs would have discovered it.

Reply to  Mark
September 22, 2016 1:45 am

Mark wrote, “It just so happens that the compression warming of the atmosphere is identical to their GHE.”
That’s nonsense. In fact, it’s gibberish.

Reply to  daveburton
September 25, 2016 12:56 am

I’m the lifetime atmospheric chemist and atmospheric radiation professional,
you’re the computer programmer blogger who never measured anything related to atmospheric chemistry or radiation, for money, in your entire life.

Reply to  daveburton
September 25, 2016 2:08 am

I don’t know who you are, “Mark,” but saying “the compression warming of the atmosphere is identical to [the supposed greenhouse effect]” is saying gibberish.
It is, however, quantitative gibberish. You’ve claimed that two quantities are identical. So, you are claiming to have compared the numbers.
I challenge you: show us. Give us the numbers. Show your work.
Here’s something to start with. It’s MODTRAN’s calculated greenhouse effect from various levels of CO2 in a tropical atmosphere, with & without clouds, and with & without water vapor amplification, but with no other feedbacks:
For instance, taking the simplest case, MODTRAN calculates that for a clear sky and constant water vapor pressure (i.e., no water vapor amplification), 392 ppmv CO2 yields 7.47 °C of “greenhouse warming” at the surface, compared to an otherwise identical atmosphere with no CO2 at all, or 0.34 °C of warming compared to an otherwise identical atmosphere with just 300 ppmv of CO2.
Now, please show us how that compares to “compression warming.”

Gary Palmgren
September 21, 2016 7:16 pm

I do hope people see that science does work in industrial research and development. This is especially true for companies selling to other companies. One cannot sell non-working microprocessors no matter how many peer reviews have approved a paper on semi-conductor research. Nobody in business buys essential materials without testing them. I’ve work in industrial R&D for about 39 years and I estimate that fraudsters have about a 18 month half-life inside a company.
One guy did not report some bad experimental results and his project actually blew up in front of a bunch of prospective clients. A sudden short circuit in a high voltage high power circuit makes a big badda boom. When you tell the boss that you have only good results they want to start selling the product to said clients. That was the end of that project (and that guy). (His job, not him physically. There was no danger of anyone getting hurt.)

September 22, 2016 1:40 am

Most folks here realize that climatology has been overwhelmingly politicized and massively corrupted, to the point that much of the “science” published in the field is really political propaganda masquerading as science. But It’s not just climatology which is so afflicted, it’s a great portion of the broader field of environmental sciences. For example, here’s an article from the USGS, from earlier this year:
USGS: Comprehensive Study finds Widespread Mercury Contamination Across Western North America
The USGS devoted 2500 words and eight lovely color photos to this article. (Your tax dollars at work!) That would appear to be quite an in-depth story, right?
The word “levels” occurs 14 times, and the word “concentration” or “concentrations” occurs 9 times, in sentences like this:
“Soil mercury concentrations in these forests are on average 2.5 times higher than those in dry semi-arid environments.”
But what, exactly, are those “contamination” levels?
Somehow the USGS did not get around to mentioning any actual levels, anywhere in the entire story.
That’s actually a rather impressive feat of avoidance. It’s not it could be accidental. I would find it a challenge to write an article which discusses contamination levels for 2500 words without ever mentioning what those contamination levels are.
Take a guess: why do you suppose they avoided mentioning any actual mercury levels, in that article?
I can think of three possible reasons:
1. Perhaps it is because the levels are so very, very low?
2. Or perhaps it is because they want you to pay Elsevier a whopping US$41.95 for each of the 17 papers in the series?
3. Or both?
BTW, the Russian SciHub “pirate science” site & Tor can probably retrieve most of those papers for free. You’d need to examine the information about all the articles, and find the DOI references. Then for each article run the Tor browser, go to the SciHub site, and search for the DOI reference.

September 22, 2016 11:57 am

Particularly amused by this quote
“Once we think we know in advance which effects are real and which are illusory, true scientific objectivity flies out of the window.”
Seems the Grauniad doesn’t read their own paper…

September 22, 2016 5:47 pm

Re: Study: Bad science is survival of the fittest
Whoa! Not even evolution is survival of the fittest, but that’s for another thread. (Hint: fittest is a deified, subjective notion, supernatural selection. Natural selection is survival of the (net) most prolific, the Crowding Principle.)
From time to time these conjectures arise about what academia is doing or not doing in the name of science, and from time to time the reasons get posted, so far always to be ignored. Nothing converges in blogger space.
The problem is that there are two kinds of science practiced in the world today, one in academia and its handmaiden, the professional journals, and the other in industry, where products demonstrate ever-increasing reach and performance, tested by market forces. The latter is Modern Science, originated by Francis Bacon in 1620. The former is Post Modern Science created by Karl Popper in the decades of the ‘30s and ‘40s. PMS is what philosophers call a deconstruction of MS.
In the early ‘90s, the US Supreme Court undertook the task to determine what science was in order to set guidelines for expert testimony in US courts. Dauber v. Merrell Dow, ’93, 509 US 579. With the advice of a superabundance of academic friends of the court, the Court discovered and set forth for all of us five tenets, unwittingly of PMS, not MS. The High Court accepted four, and explicitly rejected the fifth. The Court attributed one of the five tenets to Karl Popper, never discovering that each of the five was his creation.
Because the tenets of PMS are important to understand as a set, here are the five, assembled as Popper codified them:
1) A scientific proposition must have a falsification clause;
A scientific proposition is valid provided it is passes three intersubjectivity tests:
2) A scientific proposition must pass review by a (certified) group of peers;
3) A scientific proposition must be published in a (certified) professional journal; and
4) A scientific proposition must be supported by a consensus of (certified) practitioners; and
5) The conclusion of a scientific proposition must be ethical with respect to its effect on the public.
Some observations: (1) No scientific proposition is known that has a falsification clause. The sole use of this tenet is to provide justification for debunking non-conforming propositions: failure to sport a falsification clause. Popper derived this tenet from his (shared) erroneous view that scientific propositions were universal generalizations (UGs), which could be affirmed only by the infinite regression of induction, an impossibility, but could be disproved by a single experiment. In fact, scientific propositions are not truth valued, but are mappings of existing facts onto future facts by experiment. Modern Science predicts not by induction to UGs but by Bacon’s “real induction”, in today’s language, deduction.
(2) Modern science validates its models by showing experimentally that their predictions are statistically correct. Popper dismissed all vestiges of pragmatism, replacing that criterion of Modern Science with his three-pronged social interaction of the society of scientists.
(3) The Fifth tenet is tantamount to saying that scientific conclusions must be politically correct. That was dismissed in Daubert, not because the Court suffered any discomfort with political correctness, but because determining how science influences the facts of a case is an irrevocable duty of the trier of fact, and that touched home. So Tenet 1 is a misfit, and Tenet 5 is out of scope, so PMS effectively has just three tenets.
(4) With the five tenets, Popper’s model of science eliminated all vestiges of the original requirement of Modern Science that scientific models actually work. Saying that studies fail is to hold them to an alien standrd, an MS criterion. They don’t fail because they are sufficient, conforming to the dogma of the day, tested by passing peer review, publication, and the bar of the consensus, all within the hierarchical community.
(5) The five tenets are perfect for academia. Not only do models no longer have to work, but intersubjective testing is perfect for control of the science by the power structure of academia. Rather than academic science being a cut-throat practice, it is an elementary belief system with all the trappings of a formal religion, from the flock to the ministers, from the nonbelievers and sinners to the evangelists, from the apostles to the papal council, and complete with a path for advancement. And don’t overlook the Earthly rewards of government grants and tenure, and the professional honors of authoring scripture under the shield of academic freedom.
The bottom line, clear from the cherished tenets, is just this: Publish or Perish. Keep score by counting: load each paper with authors, and cite everything, especially all the keepers of the faith.

September 23, 2016 12:17 am

By Charles Darwin, M.A.,
Fellow Of The Royal, Geological, Linnaean, Etc., Societies;
This idea that the cleverest elites create myth in order to control the commoners, and that a superior caste orders society and culture by force and to their own liking is written into countless articles and history books.
Social Darwinism is an ugly historical paradigm, but it is so pervasive and so universal that I think everyone is blind to it in the history books and in press releases. It is being played out in the realm of science. Scientism is the equivalent of a superior caste that cannot resist telling everyone else the origin of the universe, and loves the power it wields, because ultimately science answers questions about what is and is not possible.

September 23, 2016 12:42 am

Getting stuff right is normally regarded as science’s central aim. But a new analysis has raised the existential spectre that universities, laboratory chiefs and academic journals are contributing to the “natural selection of bad science”.

No, “getting stuff right” is not the aim of science in a Kuhnsian paradigm shift. Science only moves away from some previous paradigm.
And once these science practitioners decide the duck is really a rabbit, then the history books get rewritten according to the new scientific paradigm. Climate science is only one example of what a scientific paradigm shift really looks like. Kuhn was very influential with the Boomers.
ref:comment image

Reply to  Zeke
September 27, 2016 3:23 am

Ha! I just noticed what that drawing does, Zeke. Nice!

Reply to  daveburton
September 30, 2016 10:28 am

HI Daveburton,
I was away at Hell’s Canyon checking out the whole dam operation, and just saw your remark.
Yes the Duck Rabbit diagram really convinced a lot of people.
Personally I think people should be more careful what they smoke! (:

September 24, 2016 9:30 pm

It is the old problem with natural selection, it selects what works at the time, it doesn’t necessarily select what works over the longer term, or what might be best overall, or in a social context, what is necessarily true. It sometimes produces some monstrous, cobbled-together works.
Charles Darwin :
“What a book a devil’s chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering, low, and horribly cruel work of nature!

September 26, 2016 2:17 am

[SNIP, fake name, newly created fake email, address, comment submitted by proxy server to hide location, rantings about planetary gas compression. Likely to be the forever banned but still trying Doug Cotton – Anthony Watts]

Reply to  Mark
September 26, 2016 6:03 am

1. If, in the future, you use the “reply” link at the end of the comment to which you’re replying, your reply will be shown where it belongs, beneath the comment to which you replied.
2. Your claimed credentials are unpersuasive as long as you hide behind an anonymous handle. Who are you?
3. You wrote,
Clicking that link yields: “ – this shortlink has been disabled. It was found to be violating our Terms of Service.”
4. I wrote, “…For instance, taking the simplest case, MODTRAN [tropical atmosphere] calculates that for a clear sky and constant water vapor pressure (i.e., no water vapor amplification), 392 ppmv CO2 yields 7.47 °C of “greenhouse warming” at the surface, compared to an otherwise identical atmosphere with no CO2 at all, or 0.34 °C of warming compared to an otherwise identical atmosphere with just 300 ppmv of CO2. Now, please show us how that compares to ‘compression warming.'”
You replied, “You’re past redeeming your intellectual reputation. You’re busted not having the first clue what you’re talking about. Your church teaches there is a 33 degree GHE. The fact you don’t know what your church teaches is your problem. You’re done with the ankle bite attacks…”
First, you mistake my religion. I am a follower of Christ. My allegiance is to Truth.
Second, do you really not realize that “the simplest case” of tropical atmosphere, clear sky, and no feedbacks is not equivalent to the actual, globally averaged greenhouse effect of 400 ppmv CO2?
5. You wrote, “the compression warming of the atmosphere is identical to [the supposed greenhouse effect],” which is nonsense.
I challenged you to “show us. Give us the numbers. Show your work.”
You replied, “33.”
Is that what you call showing your work? Really?
No wonder you don’t want to admit your identity.

Reply to  Mark
September 27, 2016 3:14 am

“Mark,” are you Doug Cotton?

Reply to  Mark
September 27, 2016 3:17 am

Mark, is that really your name, or is your real name Doug?
And is your surname Cotton?

September 27, 2016 11:59 am

The main thing is whether gas law calculations predict the earth’s temperature properly and accurately.
They do. The proper calculations for standard gas chemistry d o in fact cover precisely 33 degrees of planetary temperature.
There is a thread about this here on wuwt.
the author is named Steve Goddard and the thread is named ‘hyperventilating on venus’ with a following thread named ‘venus envy’.
Im on my phone or id provide links but anyone can look those threads up.

September 28, 2016 1:11 pm

My name is not Doug Cotton I’ve seen that name but I don’t know who that is. The link is simply the return on search for ”33 DEGREES GREENHOUSE EFFECT”.
Mark is my anonymous blog handle it’s not connected to me. GHG nuts’ reputation for stalking is legendary. It is one of the major revelations about Climategare: character assination instead of quality science.

October 2, 2016 3:08 am

Maybe I missed it, but I don’t see the link to the actual study paper. So here it is:
There’s also a preprint on Arxiv:

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