Climate science’s ‘masking bias’ problem

Reposted from Dr. Judith Curry’s Climate Etc.

Posted on June 21, 2019 by curryja |

by Judith Curry

How valid conclusions often lay hidden within research reports, masked by plausible but unjustified conclusions reached in those reports.  And how the IPCC institutionalizes such masking errors in climate science.

In the previous post, we discussed the motivated biases of individual climate researchers, stimulated by the paper by Lee Jussim, Joe Duarte and others entitled Interpretations and methods: Towards a more self-correcting social psychology

The Jussim et al. paper provides additional insights that are relevant to the motivated biases in climate change, which become particularly serious and problematic once these biases are institutionalized. Here are additional excerpts from Jussim et al. for the topic I would like to discuss in this post:

<begin quotes>

“In this paper, we consider how valid conclusions often lay hidden within research reports, masked by plausible but unjustified conclusions reached in those reports. These conclusions do not necessarily involve the use of questionable research practices. Invalid conclusions may be reached based, not on failing to report dropped conditions, failed studies, or nonsignificant analyses, but on selective interpretations of data that highlight researchers’ preferred conclusions while masking more valid ones.”

JC comment: This is basically the problem that I have with the IPCC assessment reports. Deep in the chapters, there is much good information that is reliable, although the reports relatively ignore some topics. The problem is with the conclusions that are reached (particularly in the Summary for Policy Makers), and inflated levels of confidence that are ascribed to these conclusions.

“We characterize situations in which the data justify a different conclusion than reached in a published report as situations in which that different conclusion is “masked.” Masked phenomena may constitute alternative explanations for a pattern of results, reasons to believe the published interpretations are true but exaggerated, or reasons to believe the published interpretation is simply incorrect. These conclusions are typically masked because the original report does not even consider or acknowledge them, and because the data that are presented usually create the superficial appearance of support for the presented conclusions.”

JC comment:  I touched on a related issue in my paper Reasoning About Climate Uncertainty, in context of the ‘framing error.’  In my recent reports and congressional testimony, I typically quote the IPCC chapters extensively, in context of different arguments or confidence levels than those reached by the IPCC.

“Phenomena may often be masked because researchers failed to include procedures that could reveal them. Researchers’ data may be clean (obtained without any questionable practices) and analyses performed statistically appropriately, and their conclusion may still be wrong.”

JC comment: The whole IPCC effort, under the mandate from the UNFCCC, has been framed in terms of assessing ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.’ This results in systematic masking of natural internal variability and ignoring other processes (e.g. solar indirect effects).

“Confirmation bias leaves other, often more viable, interpretations masked by virtue of being neither tested nor mentioned in the scientific articles. Confirmation biases (seeking information interpretable as evidence of motivational influences on perception, but not seeking to disconfirm such influences) has led to many unjustified or inadequately justified conclusions.”

JC comment: Bernie Lewin’s book on the IPCC  outlines the politics surrounding the manufacture of the IPCC consensus during the period of Second Assessment Report. Failure to identify a ‘discernible’ anthropogenic warming and dangers associated with the warming not only would have reduced the influence of the IPCC in climate policy deliberations, but in the early years would have justified its disbanding by the UNEP.

“Scientists should not be in the business of simply ignoring literature that they do not like because it contests their view. Nonetheless, our view is that overlooking a large body of research that appears to directly conflict with one’s conclusions is a problematic practice whenever it occurs. And the solution is simple — cite it, grapple with it, and, if one is claiming one effect is stronger than another, report effect sizes for both.” “We recognize that it is not possible for every researcher to be aware of every study that has ever been published in their field.” “[But] true sciences do not act as if data that conflicts with a preferred narrative simply do not exist.”

JC comment: Without endorsing the NIPCC in any way [see this previous post],  if you compare the bibliography/references for the IPCC versus the NIPCC assessment reports for comparable topics, you will find relatively little overlap in the list of papers in the bibliography. I understand that that some selection is appropriate, but the published literature is sufficiently broad to support multiple, different arguments and narratives.

Another point.  The scientist activists (Lewandowsky, Hayhoe et al) think that this paper debunks all of the skeptical papers (the so called 3%) Those 3% of scientific papers that deny climate change?  A review found them all flawed.  I have no idea how this twaddle gets published.

Each week (or every 2-3 weeks), most of the science papers (top third) in my Week in Review posts fit in with a narrative (at least in my own head) that challenges some aspect of the so-called ‘consensus.’  I wish I had time to write all this up.

“The incentives that reward the telling of compelling narratives in scholarship encourage cherrypicking. To some extent, the practice of cherrypicking presents a classic social dilemma: whereas it is in most individual scientists’ self-interest to tell compelling stories (facilitated by cherrypicking), it is clearly not in the interest of the scientific field as it undermines the field’s validity and credibility.”

JC comment: Scientists claim to have a privileged ‘seat at the table’ owing to their alleged higher levels of rationality that is associated with the scientific method. Cherry picking and other shenanigans negate that privilege, and activist scientists become no better than lobbyists.

“We anticipate several rewards for telling far less compelling narratives based on messy and contradictory data. First, we maintain our own scientific integrity. Second, we maintain the integrity of our field. Third, acknowledgement of conflicting results and messy data provides an opportunity for theoretical advance and new empirical research to resolve those conflicts, either by showing that one set of results are irreplicable, or by identifying conditions under which both sets of conflicting findings can be consistently obtained. Thus, the more traditional rewards may then become available to the researcher capable of resolving such conflicts.”

JC comment: Brilliantly stated. But all of this seems irrelevant to activist scientists who think they are saving the planet, or are addicted to careerist and financial rewards for sounding the alarm and ignoring (or worse) any science or scientist that doesn’t fit the narrative.

“We are merely arguing for a process that acknowledges and wrestles with data that does not comport with one’s preferred narrative.”

“The nature of scientific progress is that we will get many things wrong. A healthy science, however, will: 1. keep such errors to a minimum; and 2. quickly self-correct when errors have been made. Limiting its practices that camouflage true phenomena in the name of promoting Wow Effects and preferred narratives is one way to accomplish these goals.”

“These errors occurred, not because questionable research practices, but because of unjustified interpretations.”

JC summary: The masking bias and cherry picking isn’t research misconduct, but it misleads the science and policy makers alike. The IPCC, through its focus on ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system’ has institutionalized the masking bias in climate science, with trickle down effects to the national funding agencies and what gets funded, how grant proposals and journal publications are framed, and what gets taught in university classrooms.

Viewpoint diversity and identification of alternative explanations and hypotheses

“When in doubt, we can seek out colleagues with very different views than our own. We do not have to agree with them or be persuaded by their arguments. But those who disagree with us will probably have very different blind spots than we have, and will usually be quite happy to point ours out. Of course, just because a colleague claims we have missed something important does not mean we actually have. The point is to reveal masked findings, studies, and explanations that our own blind spots have led us to miss. Once unmasked, nothing prevents us from critically evaluating them, too — we still can conclude that they are not as important as our critics presume. But at least we will have an opportunity to address them, rather than marching on as if they did not exist..”

“Ideally, when alternative explanations exist for a phenomenon, researchers will develop methodologies that pit alternative hypotheses against one another. The point is not to demonstrate that one is “true” and the other “false.” Indeed, some influential social psychological scholarship has advanced the position that most hypotheses are true under some conditions. If one subscribes to this view, it is downright silly to try to “disprove” any theory. Even if one holds this view, our perspective is that it is still invaluable to pit alternative perspectives against one an- other in particular research contexts. If everything is true under some conditions, then any particular hypothesis is probably not true under all conditions. To find out which conditions Hypothesis X accounts for all or most of the data, and under which conditions the alternative, Hypothesis Y does, we need to test both.

“This is why adversarial collaborations have considerable potential to advance the field. No matter how prone we are to confirmation bias, and how difficult it may be to be completely objective in our interpretations, we often have colleagues who are ready, willing, and able to tell us how wrong we are. To address these issues, then, we suggest social psychol- ogists play to one of their strengths. The field has long embraced diversity, in part on the grounds that people from diverse backgrounds bring different experiences to bear on psychological problems. In short, diverse people have diverse ideas, thereby enriching the “marketplace” of ideas.”

“Such collaborations are probably quite difficult, because those on opposing “sides” of some debate — whether theoretical or political — often hold considerable hostility for one another. Nonetheless, one of the few known solutions to confirmation bias is to adopt an alternative desired conclusion. It may not be easy, but our prediction is that it will usually be worth it.”

“And what about failed attempts at such collaborations? One criticism often leveled at adversarial collaborations is that they often do not work, because the adversaries are sufficiently hostile to one another, or one another’s views, that they cannot work together. This, we would argue, is a testament to just how powerful researcher confirmation biases can be. The lie is put to the ideal image of objective scientists reaching conclusions entirely on the basis of logic, method, statistics, and data by all such failures. Both sides may be equally culpable, or, perhaps, one side is biased and the other is not. Regardless, such failures are a strong signal that something other than the objective and dispassion- ate pursuit of truth is going on.”

“A recent article in astronomy (Loeb, 2014) has made important points about diversity of ideas.. Loeb (2014) highlighted example after example where prestigious astronomers “believed” something to be true on the basis of little or no evidence, obstructed the ability of younger scientists and others with new ideas to make progress on that problem because the alternatives were perceived as outlandish. In each case, many years later, it was ultimately discovered that the “outlandish” claim turned out to be true. In our terminology, unjustified but confidently-held conclusions masked the evidence, and sometimes even the search for evidence, of more valid ones. “Uniformity of opinions is sterile; the co-existence of multiple ideas cultivates com- petition and progress.”

“Of course, it is difficult to know in advance which exploratory path will bear fruit, and the back yard of astronomy is full of novel ideas that were proven wrong. But to make the discovery process more efficient … funding agencies should dedicate a fixed fraction of their resources (say 10–20%) to risky explorations. This can be regarded as affirmative action to promote a diversity of ideas….”

JC comment: Jussim et al.’s suggestion of collaborating teams of scientists with different perspectives simply won’t work for climate science. Activist scientists won’t debate climate scientists with different perspectives and even block them on twitter. If a non-activist scientist engages too enthusiastically with someone such as moi, Christy, Pielkes and the like, the activist scientists ‘pressure’ them into submission.

Gatekeeping and masking by journals

There have been many many instances of this recounted over the years, both in climate science and more broadly in academia.

I have a new anecdote to report that is relevant to this post, from reviews on a paper I recently submitted to a journal.   Without getting overly specific about the paper in question or any specific criticisms (I am still trying to figure out what to do with this paper), a few statements from reviewers and editor give the game away:

“Overall, there is the danger that the paper is used by unscrupulous people to create confusion or to discredit climate science. Hence, I suggest that the author reconsiders the essence of its contribution to the scientific debate on climate science.”

A further gem from Reviewer #1:

“Finally, it includes some errors such as: “Known neglecteds in 21st century global climate change scenarios include: solar variability and solar indirect effects, volcanic eruptions, natural internal variability of the large-scale ocean circulations, geothermal heat sources and other geologic processes.”: this statement provided without justification and obviously wrong since this is evaluated in e.g. CMIP5 model experiments.”

Bazinga!  Masking is fully successful; climate scientists now think that all this natural variability stuff (including geologic processes, volcanic eruptions and solar variability) are evaluated in the CMIP5 model experiments. (JC’s head explodes).

Based on these brilliant and hard hitting reviews, the Editor concludes:

“We regret that we cannot accept your manuscript for publication and will not consider it further.”

Even assuming that there are severe flaws in the paper (there aren’t; at least nothing approaching the misconceptions of the reviewers), explicitly stating that they would not even consider a resubmission is something I have never seen from an editor.

I need to find a journal with triple blind review system (which includes the editor).

Steve Koonin and red teaming

Hence the idea of ‘red teams’ and other similar methods to bring alternative perspectives into more prominence. See these previous posts for background.

Steve Koonin has been the most visible and prominent proponent of red teaming. Koonin recently gave a presentation on this at Purdue University.

Gavin Schmidt wrote a post at RealClimate on Koonin’s presentation .   To put it politely, Gavin’s post is highly dismissive of what Koonin has to say.

Since the Steve Koonin that I know is very intelligent and insightful, I suspected that Gavin’s post was way off the mark. Then I spotted a post by Koonin at WUWT that clarifies what he actually said in his presentation, and how this was misrepresented and misinterpreted by Gavin.

I think Koonin’s overall concern with the climate science assessments relates to this idea of ‘masking bias.’ Framing the issue in this way may help with the justification of the various red teaming efforts under consideration in the U.S.

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63 thoughts on “Climate science’s ‘masking bias’ problem

  1. Big question: What is a “climate scientist?”
    Answer: Answer a meteorologist with a political agenda.

    Next question: What is that agenda?
    Answer in two parts: 1. To dismantle key modern industries. 2. Institute world government to tame the new serfs.

      • I only know what is a climate scientist – someone who practices a settled science. Is a settled science an ongoing quest for truth?

      • Clues abound.

        In the fields of observation chance favours only the prepared mind. Louis Pasteur

        You have to be in a condition where you recognize the clues. Most of us go through life without recognizing any of the world shattering clues which we stumble across. Picking up just one clue can lead to the Nobel Prize.

        JC points out the hazards of all kinds of mental blindness. Learning to overcome that blindness enables us to perhaps see some of the glaringly obvious clues that everyone else is too blind to notice.

    • I see that Irelands government is pushing for implementation of a primary component of Agenda 21 (outlawing personal vehicles for the general public) by 2030. I almost wish they would do it now so that we would have a test case that the populations of the rest of the developed nations could evaluate to see just how bad it is going to be. My dark side says do it and do it now, after all the Irish are just getting what the majority voted for. But my humanitarian side overrides my desire for vindication because of the effects such implementation would have.

      • The Irish are indeed an emigma. They battled with the Bitish ferociously for 500yrs or so to achieve independence for their strong cultural identity.

        Admirable and lofty considering the unequal contest, and yet, within only a couple decades they have surrendered it all and more to the ugly forces of “progressiveness”. They have opened their doors to total cultural destruction, both by globalist totalitarian progressives, who themselves in turn will self destruct in a few decades as their immigrant newcomers become the religious and cultural majority.

        “There will always be an Ireland” but it will be grossly different than most Irish think.

        • I’m not sure about their strong cultural identity. Ireland is a mixture of Celts, Vikings, Normans, Scots (who were originally Gaels from Irealnd who invaded Scoltand…), Angles, Saxons, English…Much like the UK basically, but with perhaps a bit more Celt and no Roman. The celts were not the original inhabitants probably either.

          And by the beginning of the 20th Century, Ireland was part of the UK, not a colony or a dominion as Canada or Australia was, but an equal part sending MPs to Westminster as Scotland and Wales did.

    • Some appropriate quotes:

      “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?” Maurice Strong May 1990

      We are setting out to intentionally change the economic model that has been reigning since the Industrial Revolution. – – – – Christiana Figueres; UN Official

      “We’ve got to go straight to the heart of capitalism and overthrow it. George Monbiot April 12, 2019

      “We’ve got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing.…” Senator Tim Wirth 1993

      Two more quotes that recognize is issue:

      The domination of scholars by the power of money is gravely to be regarded. Public policy could become the captive of a scientific-technological elite. PresidentEisenhower 1961

      The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. H. L. Mencken

      • I think you could also add:

        “one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy….This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore.”

        — IPCC official Ottmar Edenhofer

  2. Dr Curry is right in the desire of writers on climate subjects to try to fit their results into the favored narrative leading to more of advocacy rather than science per se. If one is not trying to disprove one’s pet model, one is not doing science.

  3. Tom Gelsthorpe June 22, 2019 at 6:46 am
    … Next question: What is that agenda?
    Answer in two parts: 1. To dismantle key modern industries. 2. Institute world government to tame the new serfs.
    ————————–
    As you are so certain of this agenda, you must have proof that this is the reality. Would you care to share this proof?

    • Yes, easy! The New Green Deal when “released” used CAGW as the excuse, some say as a Trojan Horse, for dramatically expanding or correcting several welfare programs, ending several prominent industries, and basically ending capitalism and free enterprise in the USA. The Democrats, the Left especially talk about the need for international cooperation but seldom say anything, at least that gets published, about China and India. The Left claims that if we just lead the others will follow, what folly.

    • Would you care to share this proof?

      So glad you asked.
      Proof of point 1, dismantling industries:
      1) The state of New York and their “Green New deal”, as regards electricity generation –
      a) Coal is banned.
      b) Nuclear is in the process of getting shut down.
      c) Fracking is banned.
      d) All new NG pipelines have been blocked for years and this policy continues.
      e) Carbon dioxide emissions, called “carbon pollution”, are drastically reduced on a schedule.
      There are no even remotely plausible alternatives for electricity generation on the horizon. Electricity production will collapse as generation facilities are taken off line and destroyed. The only way demand can then be brought into balance with supply is for demand to collapse as well.

      2) England – went strong on “renewable energy”
      Resulting high prices famously caused the collapse of their steel industry. This is, of course, a vital national security related industry in any analysis.

      3) Australia – Huge investments in “renewables”, same as above.
      High electric prices and intermittent supply caused the shutdown of most of the aluminum industry. Another strategic asset gone.

      Proof of point 2, institute world government:
      In Their Own Words:
      Maurice Strong: Creator and head of the UNEP, the United Nations Environmental Program.

      It is simply not feasible for sovereignty to be exercised unilaterally by individual nation-states, however powerful. It is a principle which will yield only slowly and reluctantly to the imperatives of global environmental cooperation.

      Christiana Figueres: Executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

      This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution.

      Glad to help!

      • Yes but according to the true believers you are just cherry picking evidence that shows that the true intent of this movement is deindustrialization of the west. According to them – the idea that people would work together to create a financial collapse in order to institute centralized control is a conspiracy theory. It does not matter to them that EVERY COMMUNIST COUNTRY starts off this same way.

    • Refer to Steve Case above, you might learn something, then again you personally might not!

      The useless mass murdering UN (Malaria, Aids, etc) have already admitted that AGW has nothing to do with saving the planet, it’s about creating the circumstances for creating in turn a Global Socialist Guvment!!! Gengis Khan, Hitler, Pol-Pot, had nothing on the UN!

  4. That’s all fine, but these are all what scholarship used to recognize as Logical Errors, like appeal to authority. May have to recognize new ones. We got a rejection from a first class non-climate related journal that I had published in twice, first saying that we should have done something different. We responded that it was not a review of what we did. We got a terse statement from the editor that authorities in field X agreed that it should be rejected. It was not PC, but they did not say that. We published it elsewhere. Still not PC.

  5. This is not and has never been about science, to view it so misses the issue.
    Rather you need to think in terms of religion or politics or even fanatical sports fans. Where the strength of belief means others who hold different views are not merely wrong but evil, and where any action you take is justified in supporting what you know to be right. You cannot beat them on the science battlefield because the figth is not there to win.

  6. Many thanks to Judith for bringing these issues to a wider audience.

    My take can be summarized as: (1) If it isn’t honest, it isn’t science. (2) If the public have paid for science, and what they get for it isn’t science, that’s fraud.

  7. I for one am extremely grateful for CIMP5 having successfully modeled volcanic eruptions. Think of all the lives saved now that we know when and where every major eruption will occur from now until 2100.

    • Spotted one error in your conclusions:

      “c) We might also understand now, why there is this huge contradiction within the “official” positions on clouds forcing. You can tell the truth, or you can tell the GHE, but you can tell both.”

      cannot tell both?

  8. “Overall, there is the danger that the paper is used by unscrupulous people to create confusion or to discredit climate science. …” WOW! They must really now be running scared.

  9. “Finally, it includes some errors such as: “Known neglecteds in 21st century global climate change scenarios include: solar variability and solar indirect effects, volcanic eruptions, natural internal variability of the large-scale ocean circulations, geothermal heat sources and other geologic processes.”: this statement provided without justification and obviously wrong since this is evaluated in e.g. CMIP5 model experiments.”

    This statement from the reviewer has nothing to do with science.

    This is climate fanaticism at its worst where contrarian scientists are judged as being heretics.

    • … include: solar variability and solar indirect effects, volcanic eruptions, natural internal variability of the large-scale ocean circulations, geothermal heat sources and other geologic processes.

      _________________________________________

      This statement provided without justification and obviously wrong since this is evaluated in e.g. CMIP5 model experiments

      that “solar variability and solar indirect effects, volcanic eruptions, natural internal variability of the large-scale ocean circulations, geothermal heat sources and other geologic processes”

      are something COMPLETLY DIFFERENT so

      CMIP5 model experiments have nothing to do with!

  10. Masking bias is at work all the time, in science, and in politics … and it is often intentional, though sometimes it might be unintentional.

    The notion of seeking and seriously evaluating alternative explanations of the same factual data is of course abhorrent to the True Believers, and we all know that most of the people currently making a living in “climate science” are by definition True Believers and not skeptics .. which of course puts the lie to the entire claim of scientific rationality.

    I will provide here another example of masking bias at work in geopolitics, not science, that has been hot on everyone’s minds the past week.

    In the Gulf of Oman, two tankers, one owned by a Japanese firm and another owned by a Norwegian entity, suffered explosions and resulting fires as they were underway. Various stories and explanations and “eyewitness reports” suggested a shelling of the ships, while others said torpedo attacks were the cause of the explosions, while still others suggested limpet mines. Both tankers were abandoned by their crews, and left at anchor in the Gulf with the nearest land shore being in Iran.

    Many hours after the crews were taken off the tankers, a US naval helicopter filmed an IRGC small boat arriving at one of the tankers, wherein the crew had witnessed and reported over the radio net, which both Americans and Iranians were monitoring, that there was an unexploded limpet mine attached to the side of the vessel. The Iranian crews was many hours later filmed removing the limpet mine from the side of the ship.

    Now, the official American explanation of that act – the act itself which is established as scientific fact, saved on tape – was that the Iranians must have planted that IED, and removed it only to conceal that it was an Iranian sourced mine, and therefore is “proof” that the Iranians planted the mines. Trump and his political supporters and the US military and US Dept. of State and the National Security Advisor – all advocates of attacking Iran to “teach them a lesson” agreed that that was the “smoking gun.”

    Yet, our allies disagreed with that explanation, and even the nations that owned the two tankers that were attacked, both US allies, disagreed that the US video tape proved what the Americans claimed.

    An alternate explanation of the Iranians removing the limpet mine is postulated – I postulated it on several national defense oriented websites, for which I was mercilessly attacked by the Trumpkins, is as follows:

    1) The Iranians heard about the unexploded mine attached to the tanker anchored just off their own shore on the radio net, just as did the US Navy operators in the area. We know that for a fact, as VHF radio communications were established between the two tanker crews and the US Navy and with the Iranian authorities.

    2) The Iranians would logically NOT want to see a mine detonation that could very plausibly cause a massive loss of oil from the tanker that would naturally impact Iranian waters and coastline- the nearest land, just a few miles away.

    3) The Americans claim that “the Iranians knew exactly how to remove the magnetically attached limpet mines” and so must have planted them.

    4) However, it was also admitted by naval officials that their own Explosive Ordinance Disposal specialists also know exactly how to remove such mines, because, well, that’s a common way to attach IEDs to vessels, and that’s what EOD teams do for a living. It is a common skill set amongst naval and coast guard forces around the world.

    The alternative explanation is perfectly plausible, and makes total sense.

    If such a stricken, abandoned ship were anchored a few miles off the US coastline on the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, or Pacific with a known IED attached to the vessel exterior, threatening to unleash a massive oil spill, as happened with the Exxon Valdez, OF COURSE WE WOULD SEND US COAST GUARD OR US NAVY EOD TEAMS TO REMOVE THE IED FROM THE ANCHORED SHIP.

    The alternative explanation does not “prove” the Iranians didn’t mine the ships, just as the American explanation that fingers the Iranians does not prove the Iranians did mine the ships. To date our allies including the actual victims of the attack are not buying the American claims, and even Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe released an explicit media statement saying that the American claims were not persuasive that Iran did it.

    Same exact set of facts, or “data”. Both explanations are in fact totally plausible, either could be true, but at most, only one of the explanations for the IRGC removing the mines is true and correct … or possibly neither of the explanations are correct.

    But of course biases intervene. People from one side of a geopolitical argument glommed on to one explanation as the only possible explanation, but the facts say otherwise, i.e., that there is at least one other plausible alternative explanation, enough to sow doubt about Iranian culpability. Of course, those who WANT to blame Iran will continue to blame Iran, and those who do NOT want to blame Iran will continue to not blame Iran. Minds tend to harden instantaneously whenever the subject is politics or geopolitics.

    In matters of war and peace, it is really really important to NOT get the explanation wrong. More than one major bloody war started as a result of a misunderstanding and a false explanation of a given set of facts, because the participants were already predisposed to want to go to war. World War One, for example … along with the Spanish American War, which was justified by the US government as a Spanish mine attack, while most naval experts later concluded that the sinking of the USS Maine was NOT a mine but a simple coal dust explosion in one of its fuel bunkers, which was a very common result in coal fired ships of the era.

    In matters of the massive social dislocation advocated by the climate alarmists, it is equally important to not get the explanations wrong, even when we can all agree to the underlying facts.

    Human nature at work.

    • Actually, I believe your theory has a massive hole. The US would work with the countries where the ships were registered, as well as the owners, and request permission to board, or at least keep them informed if it were an exigent emergency. Then we would videotape the removal and dismantling of the device, possibly in the presence of witnesses from the parties involved, and invite other coutries (allies) to examine the findings.

      Iran did none of that.

    • Thanks, Duane, for your analysis. It is pretty much spot on. It would also be close to the lead-up to the second war in Iraq, 2003, now in hindsight viewed as a disaster by observers on the left and the right, but at the time a solid “consensus.” Two who were still unrepentant boosters of that war are principal advisers supporting the blame-Iran story now.
      The consensus view of the “reality” of “climate change” (a term that has no coherent meaning on its own) is equally pervasive, impervious to scientific facts or reasoning.
      It is a blight on the Democratic Party of which I have been a life-long member and booster. It is a pernicious virus that has infected the party, and it will take years to push back and get it out of our system. It is virulently anti-progressive and anti-human, being rooted in Malthus and his modern champions, Paul Ehrlich and his side-kick, John Holdren (Pres Obama’s Rasputin.) The much-touted “carbon” tax is a naked tax on the unwitting poor. The few on the left who realize this, like myself, are being cast aside and silenced. Of course there should be a red team, at the very least, to expose this fraud, but the odious Trump is too dumb to realize that he has a winning issue here.

      • “It would also be close to the lead-up to the second war in Iraq, 2003, now in hindsight viewed as a disaster by observers on the left and the right”

        I think this mischaracterizes the Iraq war. The Iraq war was in three parts. The first part was the successful takedown of Saddam Insane and his regime in record time, by George W. Bush, and then the successful surge which tamed the Saddam loyalists and Islamic terrorists who were fighting a guerrilla war after Saddam’s defeat. There were a lot of smiling Iraqis after Bush finally brought order to Iraq by suppressing the Saddam loyalists and terrorists.

        The second part of the Iraq war began when Barack Obama took over. Obama promptly set about undoing all the good Bush had done in Iraq and Obama sat and did nothing while the Islamic terrorists ran wild across Syria and Iraq killing and displacing millions of innocent people.

        The thiird part is when Trump took over. He has blunted the influence of Iran in Iraq, which Obama turned a blind eye to, and Trump wiped out the Islamic Califphate and has pretty much stablized the area, at least temporarily.

        The appeasers on the Left and the pacifist on the right only want to point to the Obama era in Iraq as being representative of what happens when the U.S. goes to war in the Middle East. They ignore the fact that had Barack Obama been a competent leader, Iraq would be sitting pretty right now.

        The fault is not that the U.S. went into Iraq and ousted Saddam. The fault is we put an incompetent and/or dishonest president in charge of it. I say dishonest because I think there is a distinct possiblity that Obama’s actions in Iraq and Syria were done to favor the Mad Mullahs of Iran so his incompetence may be deliberate. Can’t prove it, but that’s my opinion. I think that had something to do with Obama allowing the Islamic Caliphate to run wild. It seems to me he has a soft spot in his heart for radical Islam. His actions tell me he does.

        • You are ignoring massive parts of the Iraq War story, to wit:

          1) The justification for invading was a flat out lie – there were no “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq. Indeed the very term “weapons of mass destruction” was a made up term by the Bushies intended to confuse and conflate chemical weapons, which are clearly NOT “weapons of mass destruction” because they destroy at a vastly lower rate than even conventional weapons, let alone nuclear weapons. In WW One, the first war in which chem weap were deployed they killed only a few tens of thousands … vs. tens of millions killed by conventional guns and bombs.

          2) By taking out Saddam Hussein, who was Iran’s greatest existential enemy, Bush massively emplowered Iran in the middle east. And Iran took full advantage of that, moving into Iraq and they have literally taken over the government of Iraq, because of their influence of the Shia Iraqis who comprise a majority of the population of Iraq’s largest cities including Baghdad. So it is literally Bush’s fault that we are dealing with a powerful Iran today.

          • Duane, you are using pure spin on Iraq and WMDs. Hussein feigned having war gasses, in an attempt to deter the US and Iran. There was in fact some gas shells available, but just not in the quantities expected.
            The New York Times, in fact, ran an indignant series about how the evil Bush administration was covering up injuries to US troops dealing with the caches of war gasses.

  11. An important paper “slipped” through our editorial process and was sent directly to a federal agency for publication in one of their journals. It really didn’t slip past us but on the promoting of federal agency the author sent the paper directly to them by passing our editorial process. I was called or email by every reviewer, who were “shocked we let such a poorly edited paper out of our shop and was sure I hadn’t seen it.” One of the reviewers detailed the problems, some as simple as math errors, others far worse. When the author was called by our office he went berserk on the phone. He stated “well, the federal agency’s review and editorial process is far, far better than yours! And I have a PhD and you don’t, so leave me alone.” The reviewers comments were all ignored because the paper got published as sent. I was even more amazed that federal agency at least didn’t do a better job of editing the paper at least for typos and math errors. The author now works for that federal agency.

  12. The bias is far worse than Judith suggests. First there is a funding bias which only funds research that is likely top support the climate cult, then there is a bias which means that only those who believe in the climate cult get on in academia, then there is a publishing bias which massively favours those who believe in the climate cult, then there is a individual conclusion bias of each paper … which ensures that only those conclusions that favour the climate cult are reached.

    Then after all these cumulative biases are added together … they further get biased by the IPCC
    And then the totally biased IPCC report gets further biased by the “summary for policy makers”.

    This biased conclusion then further justifies bias in what funding there is, which creates even more biased IPCC reports … which in turn means there is even more built in bias at the next report.

    And the result, is that even those who think they are “impartial” and really expressing very biased views.

    • That sums up the situation quite well. I’m again working at a scientific institution that supports this agenda and I have to bite my lip most every day, otherwise it’s out the door.

      • And yet people slam Tony Heller for going by the alias Steve Goddard when blogging while working for a Federal Government agency.

    • Mike Haseler:

      Yes indeed. This is a political engine running without a governor. What happens when it explodes Heaven Knows. Doesn’t bare thinking about.

  13. Any assertion made needs to be supported by data and clear, repeatable analysis.

    We’ve forgotten this fundamental principle of science, as we replace mages and witch doctors with credentialed opinion, neglecting the truth that no one is unbiased.

  14. I’m curious as to how many people here are familiar with William Briggs’ site
    https://wmbriggs.com/post/27431/
    Briggs is a statistician, and pundit, and writes frequently about how statistics are frequently misused, especially “P values”. In the cited article, he points out how easy it is to go wrong in drawing conclusions from massive studies that rely almost solely on statistical analysis to infer correlations.

    “Indeed, some influential social psychological scholarship has advanced the position that most hypotheses are true under some conditions. If one subscribes to this view, it is downright silly to try to “disprove” any theory. ”
    Which is silly. A theory is a model of reality that allows one to predict, to some extent, future data. Either it works or it doesn’t. If it succeeds, it is proven until contradictory data comes along, at which point it needs revising (usually) or replacing (seldom). The classical case being Newton’s laws of motion, which work perfectly well until you encounter velocities approaching that of light, in which case Einstein’s modifications enter the picture. If two competing hypotheses work equally well, one must keep accumulating data that pushes the differences between the two until one (or both) breaks.

    As an aside, I find it interesting how many studies insist on finding a single cause for a phenomena. As any insurance adjuster can tell you, any event relies upon multiple conditions to happen, all of which must line up. Break an “accident chain” anywhere, and the accident doesn’t happen. You can be drunk and arrive home alive; you can narrowly miss an idiot running a light while sober, and you can drive in the rain safely drunk or sober. Combine all three and you get a wreck. We blame the alcohol because that’s the most easy to control, but it is not the sole cause.

    Likewise, Anthropogenic CO2 may be a contributing cause to global warming (see above article on “P values), but it almost certainly is not the only such, or even a major one.

    • Very good catch Paul. The quote about “most hypotheses are true under some conditions” betrays a gross misunderstanding of what an hypothesis is. An hypothesis attempts to explain why a certain data set occurs. If another hypothesis attempts to explain the same data and does so, the whole process for the two hypotheses is questionable.

      It is very similar to the IPCC climate models. They are all different and attempt to explain a certain dataset(hindcast) and then are used beyond their tested range to make useless predictions. That is also another pet peeve of William Briggs as is averaging the results of different models.

      Climate models have been one gigantic fudge since Edward Lorenz developed the first one.

  15. Judith Curry has done a great job of articulating a problem in scientific research that I learned about early in my career. I was a statistical programmer for a policy research firm. We spent two years conducting a highly detailed and rigorous project funded by the department of education. Our goal? To assess whether magnet schools were more effective than forced busing as a means of de-segregating schools. After two years of work, the conclusion supported overwhelmingly by the data was that forced busing was by far the most effective way to achieve that goal. When the DOE saw the draft report, they froze our funding and hired a special consultant who took our data, disappeared for a month, and produced a new draft that somehow concluded that magnet schools were overwhelmingly effective at de-segregation. One of the senior researchers, whose career had been damaged by being associated with the project, took me out for beers one evening and told me that in research, if your bills were being paid by policymakers, you were free to tell them what the data supported or you could tell them what they want to hear. If you did the latter, you made much more money. If you did the former, you got the cubicle in the basement if you were lucky. And he concluded by telling me something about policy research that I’d never forget. “This is why most researchers become whores.” That’s when I dropped out of my public policy program and pursued a business degree instead.

  16. ““Overall, there is the danger that the paper is used by unscrupulous people to create confusion or to discredit climate science.”

    That statement give away the game more than anything.That kind of logic leads to all sorts of disastrous outcomes in the real world.
    Examples:
    – Let’s eliminate fossil fuel use and deny ourselves (and the 3rd World) of it benefits to prevent a possilbe 3 degree rise in global temps in 100 years.
    – Let’s not let Detroit build and sell private cars and other useful transportation devices because a few individuals might abuse them and run someone over intentionally.

    Those kind of things happening in climate science is why Dr Richard Lindzen is correct in calling for > 90% reduction in federal grants for climate research, both extramural (NSF mainly) and intramural (DOE, NASA, NOAA).

    Put them all out of business except for just a few. Make them go find real jobs in industry or academia outside climate research and learn that dishonesty like they practice isn’t tolerated by other disciplines.

  17. JC comment: “This is basically the problem that I have with the IPCC assessment reports. Deep in the chapters, there is much good information that is reliable, although the reports relatively ignore some topics. The problem is with the conclusions that are reached (particularly in the Summary for Policy Makers), and inflated levels of confidence that are ascribed to these conclusions. ”
    In other words the conclusions are opinions, and opinions in regular science is air.

  18. This study of premature death due to increases in ground level ozone is a prime example of confirmation bias and ignoring data.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3546819/

    The correlation of increase premature death due to increase in summer temperature is near 100% where as the correlation due to increase in ground level ozone is only 60%, yet ozone is treated as the sole factor.

  19. Der Klima-Schwindel / RTL Doku • VIDEO •

    Im Jahr 2011 brachte RTL eine Doku in Sachen Klima-Schwindel. Namhafte Wissenschaftler kamen zu Wort. Es war wohl das letzte Mal, dass in deutschen Medien eine Gegenposition zum CO2-Wahn gesendet wurde.
    » » » https://tagebuch-ht.weebly.com/v–k.html

    [In 2011, RTL brought a documentary on climate dizziness. Well-known scientists spoke. It was probably the last time that a counter position to the CO2 delusion was sent in German media. Via Google-Translate. .mod]

  20. “These errors occurred, not because questionable research practices, but because of unjustified interpretations.”

    I don’t think that statement can support such absolutes. It is very clear that at least some scientists engaged in questionable research practices. Such as: Overweighting certain data so that it completely overwhelms most of the other data. That can’t happen by accident, or by “unjustified interpretations”. It had to be intentional.

  21. The US granting system is essentially contracting to do a body of work based on a particular hypothesis. If you have a dozen post docs working in a big lab and the hypothesis is proved wrong early in the course of work, you are still contracted to carry out the program. To switch horses in midstream will mean that you will have to go into the new grants stream rather than a renewal – this risks the whole operation collapsing. In neuroscience at any rate, this explanation seems to me to explain the resistance to paradigm shifts in research directions.

  22. I know disrupting the climate consensus on the basis of it’s framing issues is a way to go for actual scientists who must keep their jobs, but I still prefer to attack it on its core ideas. Namely (1) the greenhouse gas effect itself, (2) the 100% man-made claim, (3) that solar-driven climate change is climate denial.

    I think we should stop telling people its anything to do with religion. It’s politics: scientists doing what politicians tell them to. If any disbelieve that, please read Bernie Lewin’s book, suggested by Judith. Alarmist/consensus politics are driven by means-ends rationality. Although science seems to be driven by a similar rationality, it isn’t only. Science has principles which almost transcend any specific science. I’m thinking Feynman here. These principles are diametrically opposed to climate alarmism.

  23. “Overall, there is the danger that the paper is used by unscrupulous people to create confusion or to discredit climate science. Hence, I suggest that the author reconsiders the essence of its contribution to the scientific debate on climate science.”

    Classic “Argumentum Ad Verecundiam”, ‘argument from appeal to authority’.
    Another protective fallacy where only approved scientists with approved climate claims are allowed.

    “Of course, it is difficult to know in advance which exploratory path will bear fruit, and the back yard of astronomy is full of novel ideas that were proven wrong. But to make the discovery process more efficient … funding agencies should dedicate a fixed fraction of their resources (say 10–20%) to risky explorations.”

    Utter nonsense statements.
    Government funding risky explorations is rewarding incompetence, in advance.

    What is missing in this discussion is an agreement that the scientific process must be followed explicitly and religiously.
    * All data must be archived.
    * All computers runs must be available for review.
    * All formula, calculations and results must be published.
    * All program code must be available for review.

    All of these are required to fulfill independent replication, which is a cornerstone to successful scientific advance.

    “JC summary: The masking bias and cherry picking isn’t research misconduct, but it misleads the science and policy makers alike.”

    Sadly, Dr. Curry’s very general statement absolves everyone in science; including those who purposely cherry pick, run repeated data analyses searching for a certain level of correlation, or dismiss all findings that are not within the researcher’s personal masking bias. As the author, “I have a new anecdote to report that is relevant to this post, from reviews on a paper I recently submitted to a journal.”, experienced.

    Included in this list of misconduct acts are those alleged researchers who declare conclusions, yet fail to demonstrate any rationale for their gross assumption turned into conclusions.

    The whole peer review process is broken.
    One can not mandate alleged science to written up for review where publishers are reliant upon the research papers for funds where higher education organizations and research teams must operate under a “publish or perish” mantra.
    Which is a complex description for an easily corrupted perpetual motion machine that does little to promote serious science.

    • ATheoK,
      Add to your remedial list –
      “Proper and mandatory reporting of error analysis by prescribed procedures.”
      Geoff

  24. Judith Curry indicates that hidden in the IPCC Reports are some facts.
    True. As Steve McIntyre found when he was an expert reviewer a few reports ago, the lead writers ignore reviews they do not like, make comments that you have to push to see and the Summary for Policymakers is written BEFORE the scientific assessments are completed, so the science is then changed to agree with the Summary for Policymakers. In addition when he asked for more information on a paper he was told by Susan Solomon not to ask or he would be removed from the panel.

  25. “We are merely arguing for a process that acknowledges and wrestles with data that does not comport with one’s preferred narrative.” –>

    We are merely arguing for a process that acknowledges and wrestles with data that does not [comfort / correspond] with one’s preferred narrative.

    / ?

  26. Es geht nicht darum Recht zu haben. Es geht darum Recht zu kriegen.

    Das Wort “kriegen” beinhaltet das Wort “Krieg”.

    Zu recht.

    Wie “kriegt” man “Recht” wenn keiner mitgeht – weil das KRIEG bedeutet:

    Man sagt “ich hole mein Recht” von den Dieben und Räubern im Nachbardorf und wer mit Sensen und Heugabeln mitgeht kann ebenfalls Kühe und Kälber und Käse rauben denn das ist unser Recht!

  27. Es geht nicht darum Recht zu haben. Es geht darum Recht zu kriegen.

    Das Wort “kriegen” beinhaltet das Wort “Krieg”.

    Zu recht.

    Wie “kriegt” man “Recht” wenn keiner mitgeht – weil das KRIEG bedeutet:

    Man sagt “ich hole mein Recht” von den Dieben und Räubern im Nachbardorf und wer mit Sensen und Heugabeln mitgeht kann ebenfalls Kühe und Kälber und Käse rauben denn das ist unser Recht!
    ___________________________________________

    It’s not about being right. It’s about getting right.

    The word “to get” sometimes has to include the word “war”.

    Right.

    How to “get” “right” if no one goes along –
    WAR means:

    Says “I’ll get my right” from the thieves and robbers in the neighboring village and who follows with scythes and pitchforks can also rob cows and calves and cheese from that thieves and robbers because:

    that’s our right!

  28. “failing to report dropped conditions”

    Yep, cherry picking. No matter how much activists pretend that highlighting one experimental result that proves them wrong is the deplorable act of cherry picking, ignoring it is the fault.

  29. “The scientist activists (Lewandowsky, Hayhoe et al)”….

    Mr Lewandowsky has a range of qualifications in psychology but can those be regarded as scientific qualifications ? Psychologists would like to think so but I’m among the sceptics.
    If a chemist adds compound A to compound B and compound C is the result, that will happen every time if the conditions remain the same.
    If a psychologist nudges person A with stimulus B the result could be response C.
    Nudge person D with the same stimulus and the response might be totally different depending on their upbringing, education, religion,nationality, the football team they support and a range of other factors.

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/theory-knowledge/201601/the-is-psychology-science-deb

    Ironically the Benestad and others paper [including Lewandowsky] summarizes the failings of most of the warmista arguments.

  30. The problem is not at the scientist level. We know from every other science that fraud, error, bias and everything else happens – indeed, it is more common than not probably.

    But in most other sciences, there is a vigorous checking procedure (albeit one that has declined in recent years) based on other scientists on the same field be unwilling to just accept the conclusions of their colleagues and rivals. So, like capitalism, the scientific method harnesses the petty jealousies, greed, desire for fame and other bad traits of humans and turns them to good, by rewarding only that which can eventually be proven – Nobels get given years after a discovery is first published for example.

    But Climate Science has no internal checks, because it has corrupted itself. It has driven out contrary views, made peer review a joke and opted out of reproducibility. Instead of competition it has adopted adopted coercive conformity, which kills any notion of real science. Anybody who finds errors (upside down proxies say) is vilified and shut out of the debate.

    It is incorrect to blame individual scientists because what they do is no different for what happens in other areas of science. It is the system that allows these behaviors to go unchecked and unpunished that is the problem.

  31. You call this a “framing error”, but it’s really a complete failure of scientific reasoning…

    The basic question “Does CO2 in the atmosphere control temperature, or does temperature control the level of CO2 in the atmosphere” has never been answered. Without a solid answer to this simple question, none of the other studies on man-induced climate change really matter.

    Then, there is the expanded question of “What activities of man contribute to climate change and by how much?” Again, without knowing these answers, any attempt to change future climate change is potentially a complete waste of time.

    My personal opinions are that man does contribute to an ongoing mostly natural climate change process. I believe several activities of man do contribute slightly, but really do not understand how much each is implicated. Land change and dark soot emission seem most likely to me. CO2 – ? – I have trouble seeing how we control the amount in the atmosphere when there is such a huge natural system recycling it – I think the level is more likely to be controlled by temperature and natural emissions.

    For reasons which can only be described as politically motivated, we skipped the basic questions and jumped right into trying to model the unknown effects of CO2 – so a computer game modeling a guess where it had to produce the already known answer. What a waste of computers.

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