Spanking the Public Mind: Professional Associations’ Position Statements

Guest Opinion by Kip Hansen


featured_imageThe internet information pipe is gushing out information faster than most people can handle.  It is increasingly difficult to sort and strain that information flow to find the bits that are important for one’s work.  One of my many filters is the continuing series of blog posts by Judith Curry, titled “Week in review – science edition”, in which Dr. Curry lists science articles, studies, blog posts and the like that “caught her eye” in the preceding week(s).  She not only lists pieces that have added to our knowledge base and represent “a lot of progress in climate science” but she includes interesting bits that relate often to the philosophy and practice of science in general.  Her suggestions lead to her readers pulling the threads and offering follow-up sources of ideas.  One of those follow-ups, offered to us by Climate Etc. reader “Faustino” led me to an article on (“a platform for free thought”) titled “Motivated Reasoning Is Disfiguring Social Science” written by Chris Ferguson.

Chris Ferguson is a psychologist who serves on the Council of Representatives of the American Psychological Association (APA).  This council, he tells us:

“…voted for a resolution opposing parental spanking…. The resolution statement presented spanking research as if data conclusively links spanking to negative outcomes in children such as aggression or reduced intellectual development. I happen to do some research on spanking’s effects on children. Although I am by no means a spanking advocate, I was alarmed by the way an inconsistent, correlational, and methodologically weak research field that routinely produces weak effect sizes was mischaracterized as consistent and strong. Unfortunately, this resolution is part of a larger bias among professional guilds such as the APA, wherein messy science is laundered for public consumption, presenting it as more impressive than it actually is.

Ferguson is talking about the issuance of Resolution Statements, Policy Statements, Position Statements which are regularly being issued by councils or leadership of professional associations, most often without being voted upon by members and sometimes without member input.

“The bottom line is that professional guilds such as the APA and AAP have a demonstrable track record of unreliability when speaking on matters of science. This means that parents, the general public, and policy makers may base decisions on erroneous pseudo-scientific claims that can’t be backed by good data. Perhaps the most egregious issue is when such bodies simply pretend no controversy exists in fields that are, in fact, highly controversial. This behavior, known as “citation bias,” has been described by some scholars as one of the seven deadly sins of research scholarship. ….. And yet professional guilds engage in such behavior on a fairly regular basis,…”

Ferguson’s original piece (repeating the link), quite a long and detailed monologue, is well worth reading, even for those of us not actively engaged in the world of psychology.  Ferguson offers his thoughts on why learned societies, professional associations or guilds, promulgate these type of statements, whether they be called Position Statements, Policy Statements or other kinds of official statements.

Ferguson and his committee members (the APA’s The News Media, Public Education and Public Policy Committee)  examined various policy statements on the effects of media  in a new paper: “Do Policy Statements on Media Effects Faithfully Represent the Science?”.

Their findings have broad implications:

It was found that current policy statements tend to be more definitive than is warranted by the underlying science, and often ignore conflicting research results. These findings have broad implications for policy statements more generally, outside the field of media effects. In general, the committee suggests that professional organizations run the risk of misinforming the public when they release policy statements that do not acknowledge debates and inconsistencies in a field, or limitations of methodology. In formulating policy statements, advocacy organizations may wish to focus less on claiming consensus and more on acknowledging areas of agreement, areas of disagreement, and limitations.

Ferguson lays out three possible reasons why associations might issue such poorly crafted and ill-considered public statements:

1)  The councils of these associations have a decided lack of intellectual diversity.  The members of these councils tend to share common liberal and progressive social advocacy positions.

2)  The culture of institutions which tend to function on a corporate structure — they increasingly behave like businesses rather than academic centers.   As such, they do not appear to foster an appropriate level of critical thinking, skepticism, caution, or solicitation of opposing views,  thus their Position Statements resemble advertising meant to improve their reputation in the public view.

3) When issuing Position or Policy Statements, the review processes these resolution statements undergo is obviously failing. (Read on for an example.)

Over the last decade, various professional associations have been tripping over one another to get out strongly worded statements on the topic of climate change.  Oddly, it is the U.S.’s  National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) that offers a web page of Statements on Climate Change, titled “Scientific consensus: Earth’s climate is warming”.

As an aside, someone there at NASA still has enough scientific integrity to add this footnote at the bottom of that page (quoted verbatim):

*Technically, a “consensus” is a general agreement of opinion, but the scientific method steers us away from this to an objective framework. In science, facts or observations are explained by a hypothesis (a statement of a possible explanation for some natural phenomenon), which can then be tested and retested until it is refuted (or disproved).

As scientists gather more observations, they will build off one explanation and add details to complete the picture. Eventually, a group of hypotheses might be integrated and generalized into a scientific theory, a scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena.

The list includes quips from each Statement from the following:

Statement on climate change from 18 scientific associations (2009)

Letter on climate change from 18 scientific associations

AAAS Board Statement on Climate Change (2006)

ACS Public Policy Statement: Climate Change (2010-2013)

Human‐Induced Climate Change Requires Urgent Action (2013)

Global Climate Change and Human Health (2013)

Climate Change: An Information Statement of the American Meteorological Society (2012)

APS National Policy 07.1 Climate Change (2007)

GSA Position Statement on Climate Change (2015)

Joint science academies’ statement: Global response to climate change (2005)

Understanding and Responding to Climate Change (2005)

Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States (2009)

IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, Summary for Policymakers (2014)

A quick sampling of these statements confirms Ferguson’s fears that policy statements tend to be more definitive than is warranted by the underlying science, and often ignore conflicting research results.”:

From the American Physical Society:

“The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.” (2007)

 This statement from the professional association representing physicists created quite  stir which was covered in Scientific American magazine and was followed in detail on Judith Curry’s blog, Climate Etc.  In fact, it was so controversial, all on its own, that Steven Koonin, who led one effort to correct the statement, wrote an editorial for the Wall Street Journal in September 2014, provocatively titled “Climate Science is Not Settled (pdf)”.  Naturally, the Climate Team responded, two weeks later, with a salvo written by Raymond T. Pierrehumbert  proclaiming “Climate Science Is Settled Enough“ published online on

The Position Statements on Climate Change from various professional associations vary in their details, but all commit this error:  they rely on inconsistent, correlational, and methodologically weak research  which is mischaracterized as consistent and strong thus, overall they “tend to be more definitive than is warranted by the underlying science, and….ignore conflicting research results.”  Thus, by “releas[ing] policy statements that do not acknowledge debates and inconsistencies in a field, or limitations of methodologyinstead of increasing public knowledge and confidence in climate science, they not only “run the risk of misinforming the public”, they erode the public’s confidence in the enterprise of science as a whole.  When the public is faced with the spectacle of world class scientists from outside the IPCC climate science bubble pointing out the obvious deficiencies of the proffered evidence and calmly punching Mack-truck sized holes in their flawed logic, these hubristic Position Statements backfire and harm not only their issuers, but the greater scientific effort.

[World class scientists from outside the IPCC climate science bubble:  Will Happer, Richard Lindzen, Judith Curry, Nils-Axel Morner, Lennart O. Bengtsson, John R. Christy, Freeman Dyson, Bjorn Lomborg, Myron Ebell, Ivar Giaever, Ian Plimer, the late Michael Crichton, Alan Carlin,  Patrick Michaels — just to name a quick few who come to mind.]

More obvious to the general public than tiny, often imperceptible, changes in climate are the disconnects between the claims made in these learned pronouncements, on the one hand, and on the other, the evidence of history, the evidence of their own experience and the rational counter-evidence from other experts.

Hans Rosling, author of the book Factfulness, accurately stated “Exaggeration once discovered makes people tune out altogether.”  And when that exaggeration is combined with rhetoric meant to instill fear and urgency among policy makers, it can lead to “stupid, drastic decisions with unpredictable side effects.”

Do you see this in your nation’s politics?  UK?  Germany? Australia?  France? Poland?  I see it here in the United States, with radically misinformed and inexperienced young politicians , informed only by hysterical statements based on intentionally exaggerated Climate Change Positions Statements,  attempting to lead the country’s policy makers off a dangerous cliff like proverbial lemmings.

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Author’s Comment Policy:

 In this essay most of the Position and Policy statements are from U.S. science associations — and I am unfamiliar with the international situation, other than the IPCC,  in regards to other country’s national scientific professional associations issuing these types of statements.  Maybe things are better outside of the United States.  Please let me know in comments what you think.

The title is a play on Ferguson’s article which focuses on the APA’s Position Statement on the “parental spanking” issue.

In a way, these Climate Change statements represent a type of a [mis]Information Cascade, in which the weak science  in a policy statement from one association cascades into seeming universal “the science is settled” consensus statements from others.

Addressing  your comment to “Kip…” will help me notice if you want a response.

# # # # #

Who is Dr. Steven E. Koonin?:

“Dr. Koonin was undersecretary for science in the Energy Department during President Barack Obama’s first term and is currently director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University.  His previous positions include professor of theoretical physics and provost at Caltech, as well as chief scientist of BP, where his work focused on renewable and low-carbon technologies.”  [ source ]

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March 1, 2019 10:14 am

Fantastic article. Very well done.

Big T
Reply to  Robert
March 1, 2019 11:04 am

90% of people I am around daily were “spanked” when kids and it may be hard to believe, they all seem to be quite normal. I would hazard a guess that if more were spanked today we would be better off.

Reply to  Big T
March 1, 2019 1:43 pm

One must not conflate spanking administered to a young child too young to understand much else to the proverbial ‘beating’ that we sometimes hear of. Administrative punishment given without anger, simply as a consequence of bad behavior, and only when the child is too young to understand much else, is an essential tool for good parenting.
We used spanking all of maybe 4 times. It worked in each case – the behavior never returned.

Reply to  JonasM
March 1, 2019 3:17 pm

My first year of teaching a member of the football team decided that he wished to be the first student that I paddled. He was all smiles as he and another teacher and I walked out into the hallway. After I explained to him that rather than having to wait until after class for his friends to find out what it was like to receive a paddling from me I was going to make sure that one look at him as he walked back into the classroom would be all that it took for them to understand that they did not wish to be there second student that I paddled. I also explained to him that being forced to paddle a student was very upsetting to me. During the remainder of my time at that school I was forced to paddle only one other student.

Eric Stevens
Reply to  JonasM
March 1, 2019 3:37 pm

I was pleased to note that you used the word ‘consequence’. For at least the last 50 years we have been increasingly bringing up our children without acquainting them with the idea that there may be bad consequences to the choices that they make and that the bad consequences are not confined to a mere spanking. Now a significant proportion of those children have grown to adults and believe that they they can say or do what they like without any real anticipation of the harm that they may do.

Reply to  Eric Stevens
March 1, 2019 3:51 pm

Yes, my wife and I explicitly decided to use ‘consequence’ instead of ‘punishment’ since the very beginning. With our now 16 year old, the word ‘consequence’ has a more complex meaning – ask her why she hasn’t had use of her iPhone for the past week.
She’s an exceptionally good kid (IMO), but lapses happen. Now other consequences are more effective and appropriate.

Federico Bär
Reply to  JonasM
March 2, 2019 8:21 am

—Punishment without anger, simply as a consequence of bad behavior—. Nicely worded, JonasM! I can clearly recall, and appreciate, the dark looks but calm gestures of my parents when they punished me. As far as I can tell, it hasn’t made me aggressive nor has it “reduced my intellectual development”‘. But that might happen later in life, I’m only 87 now?

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Big T
March 1, 2019 2:29 pm

What spanking taught us was to consider the consequences of our action before we take that action.

Way back when, Red Skelton had a character he called The Mean Widdle Kid who was famous for saying “If I dood it I gonna get a whippin …………. (after a moment of thought) I dood it!”

John in Oz
Reply to  Big T
March 1, 2019 3:20 pm

My son, when around 2 years old, was playing with a power outlet and a fork.
While I did not spank him physically, I certainly put the fear of (a) god in him, a verbal ‘spanking’.
He did not play with power outlets again (to my knowledge).

Children cannot rationalise their actions due to inexperience and are inquisitive, sometimes to their detriment. How else, other than either a physical or verbal ‘spanking’ are they to learn enough to get through those developmental years and go on to raise their own children.

I’m sure Ug and Og (gender non-specific Neanderthals) made sure their offspring did not pet the sabre-tooth ‘pussy cat’ using physical means.

Reply to  John in Oz
March 1, 2019 10:47 pm

My daughter plugged my car keys into the outlet. When it let out a spark, she let out a scream. And in a sobbing voice said “THERE’S FIRE IN THERE!” … pointing at the newly scorched outlet.

March 1, 2019 10:22 am

Kip, I too rely on Judy Curry for climate and science information. Articulate and dispassionate is she.

Robert W Turner
March 1, 2019 10:25 am

Nice article, but Michael Crichton was an author, not a scientist, though he seemed much more a scientist than anyone in the climate cult.

Ari Okkonen
Reply to  Robert W Turner
March 1, 2019 10:42 am

“Michael Crichton graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1964 and received his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1969. ”

Bill Powers
Reply to  Ari Okkonen
March 1, 2019 11:04 am

Thank you Ari, but next expect some troll to articulate that a medical degree from Harvard does not qualify as a scientific mind.

Of course those same trolls will try to convince us that a climate science degree is the only qualified speaker on the topic of Global Warming when Climate Science wasn’t even a legitimate degree field when last I check over a decade ago. I inquired through google, where one could go to school to get a degree in climate science since theirs was, in trollese, the only valid degrees to comment on Man Made Global Warming. Turns out Google couldn’t point me to any colleges that offered such a degree.

Reply to  Bill Powers
March 1, 2019 3:11 pm

Bill: look under environmental science or studies. It should be listed under social sciences or with political science or a policy unit/sarc. Universities are not what they used to be. Years ago weather/climate were taught in physical geography, and still are in many places. I studied undergrad in a combined physical geography/geology program (could have been an earth science program). Best now to look up the training of those who claim to be climate scientists to see where they come from.

nw sage
Reply to  R2DToo
March 1, 2019 7:06 pm

Climate Studies and other ‘worthwhile’ subjects are now taught in the school of psychology in all the ‘better’ universities.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Ari Okkonen
March 1, 2019 11:50 am

Crichton never practiced medicine beyond Med School rotations. He never obtained a license to practice medicine, devoting himself to his writing career instead. He was making too much money as writer, and his clinical rotations turned him off as he saw doctors more concerned about their reputations than their patients. But right after Harvard Med School, he undertook a post-doctoral fellowship study at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, from 1969 to 1970. At the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, he researched public policy and medical advances with Jacob Bronowski. He taught courses in anthropology at Cambridge University and writing at MIT.

Crichton was very much a scientist. By that I mean: he knew, understood, work in, taught, and dealt with the scientific method for inquiry of nature. You cannot say that about many of today’s climate scientists. For most climate scientists today, the scientific method has been replaced with New Age Scientism where being in and of, and maintaining consensus is all that matters.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 1, 2019 3:47 pm

I agree Joel, a scientist is someone who uses the scientific method. Having a degree in a scientific discipline is no guarantee that the holder practices science. In fact, a degree seems to be a poor indicator of adherence to the scientific method. It is still a useful union card, though.

Reply to  Ari Okkonen
March 2, 2019 7:14 am

A 1969 degree from Harvard qualifies quite nicely as a scientific degree. A 2009 degree from Harvard, not so much. Some recent students(not necessarily the “brightest” ones) will qualify as excellent scientists. Many of the others, not so much.

Mickey Reno
Reply to  Ari Okkonen
March 2, 2019 12:39 pm

Michael Crichton was part of a winning team in an IQ Squared debate over the question “Global warming is not a crisis” with Richard Lindzen and Phillip Stott, handily defeating Gavin Schmidt, Brenda Ekwurzel and Richard Somerville. I’m pretty sure this intellectual spanking is why Gavin will no longer even appear with people who disagree with him, as demonstrated one day on John Stossel’s show, on which the far more realistic Dr. Roy Spencer also appeared.

Wayne Raymond
Reply to  Robert W Turner
March 1, 2019 10:52 am

Crichton has an M.D., surely a qualification as a scientist.

Reply to  Wayne Raymond
March 1, 2019 11:25 am

His specialty was medical research.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Wayne Raymond
March 1, 2019 12:04 pm

No, not in itself, not by a long shot. 4 years of intensive book and clinical study, rote memorization, and learning bedside manners on long days seeing patients under the supervision of other senior teaching doctors does not qualify someone as a scientist.
Medical students are expected to assist in diagnose and treat patients, not pursue elements of intellectual curiosity at that stage. That some go on to train to become a scientist-MD is a different matter.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 1, 2019 1:13 pm

sci·en·tist /ˈsīəntəst/ noun

a person who is studying or has expert knowledge of one or more of the natural or physical sciences.

Pat Frank
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 1, 2019 5:04 pm

I’ve known grad students in Chemistry who, after a PhD, went off to medical school. I asked two of them which was harder. They both said the PhD.

Reply to  Pat Frank
March 1, 2019 5:34 pm

As is typical, Pat Frank asks the wrong question. Getting an M.D. is the easy part. Getting thru residency/internship is the hard part.

Reply to  Robert W Turner
March 1, 2019 11:12 am

Robert ==> He was an outstanding author, but “…he obtained his bachelor’s degree in biological anthropology summa cum laude in 1964 and was initiated into the Phi Beta Kappa Society. He received a Henry Russell Shaw Traveling Fellowship from 1964 to 1965 and was a visiting lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom in 1965. … He graduated from Harvard, obtaining an MD in 1969. ” [ Wiki ]

Reply to  Robert W Turner
March 1, 2019 12:02 pm

Chrichton was a postdoc for some time at the Salk Institute in La Jolla (CA). I visited several times afterwards in the early 1990s when I was at UCSD and they told me stories about him, as they were naturally proud that one of their postdocs had reached such a fame. By reading the Andromeda Strain, and Jurassic Park it is clear that had learned what was going on in biological research at the time.

In my book he counts as a scientist has he received formal scientific training.

Reply to  Javier
March 1, 2019 11:36 pm

A scientist is someone who uses the scientific method to try to understand nature. Nothing more, nothing less. A PhD or other degree is just a credential: it says nothing about what the holder may or may not do to advance our understanding of the natural world.

I think Crichton understood and used the scientific method when he addressed problems in real life. In his novels maybe not so much, but possibly one reason why his characters tended to be less easy to identify with than those in most novels is that he was at heart objective, analytical and scientific. I read them all with interest, if not always approbation, but as he cited one of my books in the footnotes in one of his later novels (one without any character I could identify with), I am obviously biased. Clearly, he was a genius.

Reply to  DaveW
March 3, 2019 8:17 am

Crichton certainly had a deep appreciation of Science, with a capital S. He also had an understanding of how Science since the 1960s has been thoroughly corrupted by politics. Dr. Roy Spencer recently republished Crichton’s 2003 Caltech Michelin Lecture “Aliens Cause Global Warming” over at his blog. It is worth every minute of the 15 or so that it will take you to read.

March 1, 2019 10:32 am

‘Oddly, it is the U.S.’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) that offers a web page of Statements on Climate Change, titled “Scientific consensus: Earth’s climate is warming”.’

You’d think that NASA knows that the earth doesn’t have a climate (‘Earth’s climate’). It has many climates. Earth does not have a singular climate that could be warming or cooling.

‘climate is warming’ and ‘global mean temperature is rising’ are not the same thing.

If they want to talk about GMT, they should say GMT. ‘Climate,’ as they use it, is bogus. Climate is the generalized weather of an area or region over time. The ‘Earth’s climate’ is nonsense.

Reply to  Gamecock
March 1, 2019 11:17 am

Gamecock ==> I am not sure what NASA is doing with a climate change section on their website at all…”Climate” itself is not in their purview. They do send up and manage quite a few satellites that are used, and giving us their measurements is surely theirs, but promoting AGW is not their job.

Martin Cropp
Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 1, 2019 12:32 pm

NASA ( are the home of the ozone hole. They provide advice to the Montreal protocol and their scientists and affiliates write papers / articles about the subject to continue and perpetuate the myth of CFC causation.

Joel O’Bryan
March 1, 2019 10:34 am

Kip wrote,
I see it here in the United States, with radically misinformed and inexperienced young politicians , informed only by hysterical statements based on intentionally exaggerated Climate Change Positions Statements, attempting to lead the country’s policy makers off a dangerous cliff like proverbial lemmings.“

It is not just young politicians. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee just announced his campaign for 2020 Dem nomination for President. He is a self-admitted climate crusader. He’s woefully misinformed on climate and he is 68 yo.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
March 1, 2019 11:20 am

Joel ==> It is de rigueur for aspiring Democratic politicians to “me too” the Green New Deal and proclaim how they are against nasty catastrophic global warming.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 1, 2019 12:16 pm

I would guess Jay Inslee is truly a brainwashed, fully indoctrinated into the climate propaganda politician. He isn’t smart enough to recognize when he’s being lied to by ideologically aligned “scientists.” He has consumed far too much for far too long the Klimate Koolaid to turn back to rational thought on the subject, if he ever had any.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
March 1, 2019 1:12 pm

I’ve met Jay Inslee. He was my Congressman. His office helped me solve an IRS issue. Thanks. I never voted for the guy. He’s a careerist non-entity as as far from a leader as it’s possible to get. He’s a hack folks.

HD Hoese
March 1, 2019 10:40 am

I objected to this, no response. Members must listen to them, now affiliated with AAAS in their battle.

Explanation? “We know that many Sigma Xi members were impacted by the recent shutdown. At least five percent of Sigma Xi members work directly in government agencies and the vast majority of Sigma Xi members rely on government funding and services to conduct their research.”

Reply to  HD Hoese
March 1, 2019 11:24 am

HD Hoese ==> Yes, a very good example of the [mis]Information Cascade that accompanies today’s Climate Science.

Tom Halla
March 1, 2019 10:46 am

Dumbing down position statements by professional organizations seems to reflect a low opinion of the intended audience for the statement. They seem to think that admitting any of the complexity of the issues somehow weakens the statement, rather than giving the actual science accurately.
There appears to be the presumption that persons not in their guild could possibly understand the complexities, so talking down to the hoi polloi is standard.

HD Hoese
Reply to  Tom Halla
March 1, 2019 10:57 am

“All scientists are equal, but some are more equal than others.” Apologies to Pigs and Animal Farm.

Reply to  Tom Halla
March 1, 2019 5:51 pm

Some “professional” societies are advocates/lobbyists for their members. As such they will jump on any bandwagon that has research funding control.

March 1, 2019 10:56 am

The APS statement says “The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.” (2007)

Newtons laws of gravitation are also incontrovertible (except at the extremes.) I doubt there is a single physicist in the world who would say that a cannonball and a feather in a vacuum “are likely” to accelerate in a gravity field at the same rate.

Hmm. If the evidence for global warming is truly incontrovertible, then why are the “significant disruptions” only likely to occur. It seems to me as though the statement should say that the disruptions will occur.

Could it be that those drafting the statement do not truly think the evidence is incontrovertible?

Reply to  DHR
March 1, 2019 11:30 am

DHR==> The APS was forced by membership to amend the 2007 statement, but the replacement wasn’t much better. See the links to the coverage in Scientific American and coverage over time at Climate Etc..

David Chappell
Reply to  DHR
March 1, 2019 11:38 am

I suspect that it is more a case of a lack of joined-up thinking ability. They are unable to recognise internal inconsistencies in what they write.

Jim M
March 1, 2019 11:01 am

Great article. Sad, but great.

Follow the money.

Reply to  Jim M
March 1, 2019 11:33 am

Jim ==> Thanks — but it is not just money. There is a great deal of virtue signalling and the appeal of being “in” when a field shifts from the scientific method to group-think.

Joel Snider
March 1, 2019 11:11 am

The gist of this article is simply the repetition rule again – ol Joseph certainly is a model these guys have based their life-philosophies on – keep repeating the talking point until it becomes commonly-accepted fact – charging right past any actual scrutiny of the basic presumption – or that the presumption IS, in fact, a ‘persumption’.

It also helps to have a monopoly on media outlets.

March 1, 2019 11:18 am

The AAPG is the only major scientific society with a dissenting position statement…

Climate Change


In the last century, growth in human population has increased energy use. This has contributed additional carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases to the atmosphere. Although the AAPG membership is divided on the degree of influence that anthropogenic CO2 has on recent and potential global temperature increases, AAPG believes that expansion of scientific climate research into the basic controls on climate is important.


Geologists study the history of the earth and realize climate has changed often in the past due to natural causes. The earth’s climate naturally varies continually, in both directions, at varying rates, and on many scales. In recent decades global temperatures have risen. However, our planet has been far warmer and cooler today than many times in the geologic past, even within the past 10,000 years.


  • AAPG supports expanding scientific climate research into the basic controls on climate specifically including the geological, solar, and astronomic aspects of climate change. Research should include understanding causes of past climate change and the potential effects of both increasing and decreasing temperatures in the future. This research should be undertaken by appropriate agencies involved in climate research and their associated grant and contract programs.
  • Certain climate simulation models predict that the warming trend will continue, as reported through National Academy of Sciences, American Geophysical Union, American Academy for the Advancement of Science, and American Meteorological Society. AAPG respects these scientific opinions but wants to add that the current climate warming projections could fall within well-documented natural variations in past climate and observed temperature data. These data do not necessarily support the maximum-case scenarios forecast in some models.
  • AAPG supports research to narrow probability ranges on the effect of anthropogenic CO2 on global climate.
  • AAPG supports reducing emissions from fossil fuel use as a worthy goal. (However, emission reduction has an economic cost, which must be compared to the potential environmental gain.)
  • AAPG supports the premise that economies must retain their vitality if they are to be able to invest in alternative energy sources as fossil fuels become more expensive.
  • AAPG supports the pursuit of economically viable technology to sequester carbon dioxide emissions and emissions of other gases in a continuing effort to improve our environment and enhance energy recovery.
  • AAPG supports measures to conserve energy.

Learn more:

Read AAPG’s publication that further discusses worldwide climate. The first chapter of Geological Perspectives of Global Climate Change is provided here as a PDF. You may order this book, ST47 – Geological Perspectives of Global Climate Change, SB edited by Lee Gerhard, William Harrison, and Bernold Hanson through the AAPG Store.


Reply to  David Middleton
March 1, 2019 11:39 am

David ==> Bully for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, their full pdf on Climate Change is here.

Climate Pragmatists will want to download and read the pdf.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 1, 2019 12:26 pm

Even though it’s almost 20 years old, AAPG’s Geological Perspectives of Global Climate Change is still an excellent reference book… almost as good as my 1975 physical geography textbook, edited by Reid Bryson… 😉

Jeff L
Reply to  David Middleton
March 1, 2019 12:00 pm

Thanks for posting!
As a fellow AAPG member, I was scanning the comments to see if anyone had posted yet …. and you had.

Of course, the alarmists will say we have bias …. and of course they don’t ( just ask them).

The reality is geoscientists are probably the most qualified group to have the long term perspective of climate & climate change. This is a rational & well thought out statement.

Reply to  Jeff L
March 1, 2019 12:23 pm

AAPG is currently in the process of updating the position statement. Let’s hope that they continue to maintain scientifically sound position statement.

Reply to  David Middleton
March 1, 2019 1:26 pm

However, our planet has been far warmer and cooler today than many times in the geologic past, even within the past 10,000 years.

This sounds like an alarmist position. Did they get their “todays” and “pasts” mixed up, or do they really mean what they are saying?


Reply to  Jim Masterson
March 1, 2019 1:31 pm

i think it’s a typo.

Reply to  Jim Masterson
March 1, 2019 3:13 pm

“However, our planet has been far warmer and cooler today many times in the geologic past, even within the past 10,000 years.”

“than” is in the wrong spot…simples….. : )

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Jim Masterson
March 1, 2019 5:18 pm

However, our planet has been far warmer and cooler today than many times in the geologic past, even within the past 10,000 years.

Typo or not – as long as there's time and as long there's change

as long there's live and new "records" in every aspect.

Bruce Cobb
March 1, 2019 11:19 am

Stephen Scneider said:
“…we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This “double ethical bind” we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”
The Climate Industry realized early on that this was a battle about swaying the public in order to change policy, which was the ultimate goal. They didn’t give a hoot about truth or science, and had the attitude that the ends justify the means, so therefore, just lie through your teeth.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
March 1, 2019 11:44 am

Bruce ==> The problem with Schneider is that he too easily slipped from that fuzzy morality position into criminal activity when he committed Federal crimes by impersonating as a Board member of the Heartland Institute.

One can not be a SCIENTIST and hold to his false value set — a scientist must be honest (with himself and others) or he is not a scientist. If he seeks only to “be effective” in advocacy, then he is no longer a scientist, but a propagandist.

Roy Martin
Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 1, 2019 12:19 pm

Kip, I believe that was Peter Gleick. Did Schneider do something similar?

Reply to  Roy Martin
March 1, 2019 12:45 pm

Roy Martin ==> By golly, I think you’re right. My well-matured brain sometimes plays tricks on me. One version of the story here.

March 1, 2019 11:25 am

The problem is that the public demands simple, clear, succinct answers. The media supplies them with talking head experts and sound bites. (That kind of expert knows a lot about their subject. There’s another kind of expert who can unerringly reproduce a practiced routine, like a surgeon for example.)

Anyone past a certain age will notice that the pronouncements of the talking heads (almost all hedgehogs) are wrong more often than right. The trouble is that the more considered responses of other experts (foxes) are only somewhat more accurate. Hedgehogs vs. Foxes

The people, citizens, everyone, the public, each and every one of us, must come to terms with the fact that prediction is difficult, especially about the future. We must learn to be wary of people with simple answers. If an expert can’t predict the outcome of her prescription, then the prescription is bunk. The overwhelming evidence is that expert predictions are no more accurate than those generated by a dart-throwing chimp. Therefore most expert prescriptions are bunk. (That doesn’t include your doctor. She’s not that kind of expert. She’s more like the pianist who can unerringly reproduce a performance night after night.)

Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong. H.L. Mencken

So, how do you cope with such chaos? Jordan Peterson points out that, in evolutionary terms, there are many many mutations. Most of them will die. A very few mutations will succeed and survive. Those ones have, by sheer chance, solved an evolutionary problem.

In economic terms, capitalism allows the generation of many enterprises. Some of those survive and have thereby solved an economic problem.

We need mutations, and speculative enterprises. It’s the only way we can continue to cope with chaos. If someone is able to insist that their way is the only way, like in Communism for instance, society is doomed to succumb to chaos.

Reply to  commieBob
March 1, 2019 11:49 am

commie ==> An interesting take — IPCC Climate Bubble scientists are very often Isaiah Berlin’s “hedgehogs” — trying to make one answer fit all questions.

John in Oz
Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 1, 2019 3:42 pm

From what I have read, many of the IPCC scientists are at odds with the output from the IPCC.

We should not lump all of the contributing scientists together as a cohesive ‘IPCC Bubble’ group as there are many stories of IPCC output (e.g. Summary for Policy Makers) not conforming to the Working Group outputs.

I will be sending a link to this WUWT item to my local and Federal members as they have drunk the Kool Aid and often use argument from authority as final, accurate and unassailable as reason for more wind generators, batteries and solar systems.

March 1, 2019 11:32 am

One other major scientist outside the bubble:
the late Reid Bryson, the brightest meteorologist of the WW2 generation,
and one of the founders of Climate Science in 1948 and satellite meteorology.
He thought global warming was “junk science.”

Reply to  TDBraun
March 1, 2019 11:52 am

TD ==> Thanks for reminding us of Reid Bryson….one of the giants of meteorology.

Mumbles McGuirck
Reply to  TDBraun
March 1, 2019 12:41 pm

It should be noted that Dr. Bryson was out front on the Global Cooling Scare of the early 1970s.
What I think happened was “once burnt, twice shy”. After the Cooling Scare collapsed he was chary about signing on to another Scare.

March 1, 2019 12:03 pm

Also follow the Rockefeller Foundation money wherever it leads.

John Garrett
Reply to  ResourceGuy
March 1, 2019 12:27 pm

The Rockefeller heirs (succumbing to their Rasputin, Bill McKibben) are anxiety-disordered and guilt-ridden. In their desperate efforts to do penance for the sin of being born into privilege and without the need to work for a living, they view their lives as a redemptive mission to save the world.

March 1, 2019 12:04 pm

Soon science will be in such disrepute that people will just laugh at whatever they say, if they even bother to read it or listen. Then, something serious will happen and no one will be ready. Only other scientists can save science from self destruction. They don’t much seem to care.
Physicists like Brian Cox and Neil DeGrasse Tyson and so entrenched in their comfort zones that they just parrot the party line on climate change without ever actually examining it.

Chris Hanley
March 1, 2019 12:29 pm

In any expert field there are people following a vocation i.e. “a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation” and there are careerists “concerned mainly with advancement in one’s profession”, it is usually the latter category who pursue office in professional organisations.

Reply to  Chris Hanley
March 1, 2019 2:03 pm

The way it works is that the leftists in a field covertly work together to take over the leadership of these associations. Many of the real scientists in those fields are so busy doing real work that they don’t notice the takeover. Or if they do notice it, they don’t have the time and energy to fight it, or they don’t want get the grief that will come to those who do push back.

Mumbles McGurick
March 1, 2019 12:50 pm

Recently, the American Meteorological Society released a draft of its new Climate Policy Statement for comments from the membership. I never got passed the opening statement, it was so full of pregnant assumptions that the global warning hypothesis was true and irrefutable that I couldn’t begin to write any objections. Where to start?

It will be issued despite whatever objections the members make, and it will not be put to a vote by the members. We can like it or lump it.

Reply to  Mumbles McGurick
March 1, 2019 12:53 pm

Mumbles ==> Thanks for sharing the scoop on the American Meteorological Society’s Climate Statement.

You are an AMS member?

Gary Ashe
March 1, 2019 12:52 pm

I call it polishing the turds.

This is exactly what the cultural Marxists do, they always project the politically correct mission statements as endorsed by 1000s of their members, then it becomes 97% of scientists etc, and all their associations agree etc etc, its just away of avoiding any meaningful exchange.

They just fall back on all their post modern polished turd’s of expertise.

March 1, 2019 12:57 pm

Great read and an important topic Kip.

As the political type defunding of fees, trips to conventions, etc… seem to be the answer. The resulting “attack on science” outcry should produce lots of opportunities to skewer the propagandists in a public forum.

Alan D. McIntire
March 1, 2019 1:00 pm

I remember Chapter 5 of “Freakonomics” by Steven Levett and Stephen Dubner on the raising of children. It was titled “What Makes a Perfect Parent” Studies showed there was zero correlation between whether a child was spanked, and how well they did in school. The conclusion was, childrens’ success was determined by who we are, NOT what we do.

Reply to  Alan D. McIntire
March 1, 2019 2:00 pm

Alan ==> Yes, I think the overriding fact is: It Isn’t That Simple. (That’s true for most things in today’s world.) I raised four kids, and spanking was a very minor discipline — used for its humiliation-factor — when childish rebellion made them deserving to be spanked like a naughty little kid. Not sure all four were even spanked once….

Ferguson, who objected to the APA’s statement on parental spanking, which he does not advocate, was mostly upset that the APA statement misrepresented the science and downplayed the counter-findings.

March 1, 2019 1:04 pm

These organizations are the gatekeepers for their professions. They determine who gets in, who gets money and status, and the products (reports, standards, and position papers) of the profession that are translated and incorporated into laws and regulations. They license the professionals who testify in court and who educate the judges and juries that decide matters that have specialized technical components. We depend on them to ensure that the technical bases for our society are founded on science.

Unfortunately, science is being hijacked for political ends, and much “research ” cannot be reproduced or is not falsifiable, and the rot is spreading from the soft sciences to the hard ones. People are already dying (the bridge failure in Florida is a good example).

Reply to  Rxc
March 1, 2019 2:02 pm

Rxc ==> Well, you got this bit right: “the rot is spreading from the soft sciences to the hard ones”.

Martin Cropp
March 1, 2019 1:18 pm

It is all about opinion or theory momentum and that momentum now covers all generations. Converting the young maintains the momentum beyond our lifetimes. Latent energy of unfounded opinion.

Computing power has been both good and bad for atmospheric science. In the past 30 years results from computers have spourned an increasing use of words such as may, could, should, possibly etc. A vagueness of outcome.

One must also ask the question – would we have ever heard the names of the scientists proclaiming and supporting CAGW if they had not aligned themselves to it. From what I see Mann had reservations about his hockey stick conclusions but was swept onwards by others. This is a sacrificial industry.

The IPCC provides an umbrella similar to a circus tent, to some degree distances itself with disclaimers and encourages the mediocre to excel in the name of fame, income and good intentions. Consensus provides membership, I am not alone, I am rewarded for supporting the party line.

Climate etc, is a bright light during a dark period. Judith has that unique ability to say we don’t know what is causing it. The TC articles are a good example. The same applies to WUWT – thanks.

Reply to  Martin Cropp
March 1, 2019 2:16 pm

Martin ==> It is a hard era for scientists — especially those in fields where the prevailing bias is subject to controversy: climate science, evolutionary biology, all the social sciences.

In biology, if one hints that some characteristic is not the result of Darwinian evolution, your career may be over. Two Chinese scientists were sacrificed to the God of Darwin several years ago for using the word “designed” in reference to the evolution of the human hand — it was a simply error in translation into an unfamiliar language.

Physics is fighting back against a tsunami of wacky theories.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 1, 2019 11:40 pm

The social sciences are not science. They never were.
And by definition of what science is, they never will be.

Curious George
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 2, 2019 6:10 pm

As the “climate science” relies on consensus, it is a social science.

William Astley
March 1, 2019 2:28 pm

Rather than talk about generalities, we can talk about something real, something that has legs.

If we want breakthroughs we need to start the process of truth and reconciliation. The problem is not that we do not have a breakthrough.

The problem is it is politically incorrect in each institution to talk about our failures. We have breakthroughs because we are institutionally politically correct.

Our institutions are stupid inefficient. They are hiding breakthroughs.

Nuclear Engineering is the perfect example.

Energy is the base of civilization.

It should not be possible that there is jump up and down super better, cheap as coal, does not have catastrophic failure modes, walk away safe, fission reactor design that was built and successfully tested 50 years and then we failed to document the test.

A NASA engineer while looking for a new reactor design for the moon found that there was no official documentation for the molten salt reactor. He found and met with the original engineers and scientists who work on the test. He then found in a library the test results which he sent to every regulator and nuclear company and DOE. No response. 15 year later there is now a company that is developing the new design, that has reached Canadian regulatory phase 2 approval and that work in the US to get approval.

If the public and congress understood how different this new design is from the current design, we would be building hundreds of nuclear reactors that produces heat as cheap as coal, with zero emissions and none of the safety problems of the pressure water, fuel rod reactors.

Rather than fund the building, of the super safe, super-efficient, thermal reactor which is the theoretically most efficient thermal reactor design possible and the only thermal reactor design that can also be used for breeding (producing other fissionable material which greatly increases the fuel efficiency of the reactor.) we spent 50 years adding safety systems and regulations to make the pressure water, fuel rod reactors less dangerous.

The new design operates at atmospheric pressure rather than 150 atmospheres.

The new design is the most efficient thermal reactor possible. It is six times more fuel efficient than a pressure water, fuel rod reactor. It produces 1/9 the amount of long lived radioactive waste.

The new design does not have fuel rods and hence cannot have a fuel melt down.

The new design is walk away safe. It has no modes overpressure failure, no endothermic reactions, no phase changes of coolant, that could result in the failure and release of the material in the reactor.

The ‘new’ fission reactor is 1/9th the cost of the old pressure water reactors, it six times more fuel efficient, it produces 1/9 th amount of long lived radioactive waste and it can be mass produced.

The new reactor system is sealed so it possible to have very near zero radioactive material release under any imaginable normal or accident scenario.

The new reactor design is something that everyone would rather have near them as opposed to a coal fired power station, natural gas power plant, or a hundred wind turbines.

The new reactor produces heat at 600C which enables it be used for all of industrial production. The pressure water reactor produces heat at 315C.

William Astley
Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 1, 2019 5:31 pm

Hi Kip, I will.

This is an interesting story with interesting characters.

The advantage of having no fuel rods and no water in the reactor is basic engineering and basic engineering failure analysis which is outlined in the standard nuclear engineering textbooks and discussions of the reactor failures.

Reply to  William Astley
March 4, 2019 8:13 am

William ==> See this article in DISCOVER for some possible graphics. — kh

Tom Abbott
March 1, 2019 3:41 pm

From the article: “From the American Physical Society:

“The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur.”

The claim that CAGW is incontrovertible is a blatant lie.

The American Physical Society is lying to the American people and to the world.

If you want to prove they are lying ask them to provide this incontrovertible proof they claim to have. Of course, they can’t provide anything, and that will be your proof they are lying.

The Leftwing News Media blatantly lies to the American people about CAGW and now we have the Professional Associations doing the same thing, for the same reason, to promote a CAGW narrative.

The leaders of society are all off the rails over CO2. Except for Trump.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 1, 2019 4:14 pm

Tom ==> The statement was changed after a lot of members of the APS objected and raised a fuss. The story in linked in Scientific American and at Judith Curry’s blog.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 1, 2019 6:00 pm

“If you want to prove they are lying”

The defendant never has to prove anything. It’s on the accuser to prove his accusations.

Michael in Dublin
March 1, 2019 4:02 pm

Language has been disingenuously twisted by psychologists, politicians, activists and the media in their assault on the firm discipline of children. In doing this they ignore the nuances of words to further their own agenda.

They do not speak of a parent giving a smack but a slap.
They do not speak of spanking but of striking or beating .
They do not speak of smacking a young child on the bottom with a bare hand but of hitting with a strap or stick on the hands or head or legs.
They do not speak of hitting the bottom of an older child with a thin rod or bamboo cane but of a leather strap, big stick, sharp ruler or some other rigid object.
They mischaracterize loving parental disciple as violence.
They want parents to talk their children out of bad behaviour with no serious consequences if they misbehave.

As long as most politicians make such a mess in their task of governance, why should they be trusted when telling caring parents how to disciple their children? As long as so many politicians are poor role models of faithful, lifelong marriages and strong families, how can they be morally up to the task of prescribing to loving parents?

Reply to  Michael in Dublin
March 1, 2019 4:20 pm

Michael in Dublin ==> If you are interested in that topic, follow the links in Ferguson’s article.

As I have opined above, “It’s Not That Simple!”

Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 1, 2019 4:43 pm

“ The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.”

George Orwell

Reply to  Michael in Dublin
March 2, 2019 12:39 am

Many of the current problems are caused by the lack of connection between actions and consequences.
It is a given when training dogs that immediate consequences are the only things that work. Punishing or praising a dog long after the event is not understood.
I had a Labrador that would keep going near the cooker until eventually she touched it with her nose when it was hot, uncomfortable but not dangerous. I immediately said ‘HOT’ and from then on all I had to say was hot, and she would stop doing what she was doing. Very useful when near traffic or livestock.
Consequences need to be tailored to the age and circumstances of the person. A spank for a very young child who continually bites their siblings may be appropriate, whereas the example given of removing a smartphone from a 16 year old is most effective.
It would be interesting to decide what consequence to give a crooked billionaire hedge-fund manager, a prison term or a billion dollar fine? If prison, then they come out with wealth intact.

Pat Frank
March 1, 2019 4:59 pm

possible reasons why associations might issue such poorly crafted and ill-considered public statements:

1) … The members of these councils tend to share common liberal and progressive social advocacy positions.

More simply: they’re not above lying for political effect.

After long experience in the climate wars, I’ve come up with a general principle: if one has to lie to make the case, one doesn’t have a case.

Reply to  Pat Frank
March 1, 2019 5:06 pm


The lop-sided appointments by the previous EPA for its Clean Air Committees: The Scientific Advisory Committee Particulate Matter Review Panel where 24 of the 26 members received over $190 million in direct or indirect grants and the the Scientific Advisory Committee Ozone Panel 17 of the 20 members received over $192 million.

March 1, 2019 11:58 pm

Thanks for another interesting post. I’m still digesting this post and its links so I’ve made only a couple of en passant comments, but I find it worrying that so many commenters seem to confuse having a credential like a PhD in a ‘scientific’ discipline with being a scientist. The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is just a credential awarded by a university (university = community of scholars, not something more universal). One would hope that a PhD in a study generally considered a ‘science’ would assure that the owner was a practitioner of science, but this is not true (i.e. the hypothesis has been falsified over and over again). Science can be considered a body of knowledge, but only if that knowledge was accumulated using the scientific method as a test of what was real and what not. ‘Science is a way of knowing’ – I’ve no idea who first arrived at this formulation, but it is the most succinct.

Reply to  DaveW
March 2, 2019 6:52 am

DaveW ==> I appreciate serious readers and those who interact with me as an author.

The word Science comes from Latin ( no surprise there ):

sciō (present infinitive scīre, perfect active scīvī, supine scītum); fourth conjugation
I can, know, understand, have knowledge.
Scisne ubi habitemus?
Do you know where we live?

So Science is about coming to know — finding out things. And in modern times, has come to be aligned with what we call The Scientific Method.

The National Academies published a little booklet years ago, and has kept it updated titled: On Being a Scientist, a copy sits on my bookshelf and I actually read it every couple of years. It is available at the link as a pdf (in exchange for your email address) or can be read online free.

The study of science itself , as a subject and a practice, is fascinating.

March 2, 2019 3:38 pm


An interesting array of comments and insights. Thanks to all who joined the conversation.

One reader reminded us of the 2007 Intelligence Squared U.S. debate about Global Warming featuring Michael Crichton, Richard S. Lindzen and Philip Stott speaking FOR the proposition: Global warming is not a crisis. Presenting AGAINST that proposition were Brenda Ekwurzel (Union of Concerned Scientists), Gavin Schmidt (NASA GISS NY) and Richard C.J. Somerville (Scripps Institute). The full video presentation (1 hr 40 minutes) and a full transcript are available on the web.

That “debate” is what is called the traditional Oxford-style debate format, in which the audience is polled on the Proposition (for, against and undecided), each presenter makes a timed presentation (Opening Arguments), there is a period of audience Q&A, each presenter then makes a 2 minute Closing Argument and the audience is polled again and the “winner” is declared.

In this case: “After our debaters did their best to sway you…you went from, 30% for the motion that “Global warming is not a crisis”, from 30% to 46%.” . . . “Against the motion, went from 57% to 42%.”
“And ‘undecided’ went from 13% to 12%.”

I may take a look at national polls on the issue of Climate Change and see how things stand now, a decade later.

Thanks for reading!

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