Secret Science Under Attack — Part 1

By Kip Hansen — 22 January 2020

 

featured_imageOn the 11th of November 2019, the NY Times published an article by journalist Lisa Friedman in the Climate Section titled: ”E.P.A. to Limit Science Used to Write Public Health Rules”.

[ Why does an article about the EPA and Health Rules appear in the Climate section of the NY Times?  Who knows? ]

The article is a long series of accusations that the current administration’s EPA is trying to weaken the science used to make public policy.  It includes the following:

A new draft of the Environmental Protection Agency proposal, titled Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science, would require that scientists disclose all of their raw data, including confidential medical records, before the agency could consider an academic study’s conclusions. “

 “The measure would make it more difficult to enact new clean air and water rules because many studies detailing the links between pollution and disease rely on personal health information gathered under confidentiality agreements. And, unlike a version of the proposal that surfaced in early 2018, this one could apply retroactively to public health regulations already in place.”

The change is part of a broader administration effort to weaken the scientific underpinnings of policymaking.”

The previous version of the regulation would have applied only to a certain type of research, “dose-response” studies in which levels of toxicity are studied in animals or humans. The new proposal would require access to the raw data for virtually every study that the E.P.A. considers.  E.P.A. is proposing a broader applicability,” the new regulation states, saying that open data should not be limited to certain types of studies.”   Most significantly, the new proposal would apply retroactively. A separate internal E.P.A. memo viewed by The New York Times shows that the agency had considered, but ultimately rejected, an option that might have allowed foundational studies like Harvard’s Six Cities study to continue to be used.”

“The new version does not appear to have taken any of the opposition into consideration.”

Revealingly, the Times’ Lisa Friedman, writes “The Six Cities study and a 1995 American Cancer Society analysis of 1.2 million people that confirmed the Harvard findings appear to be the inspiration of the regulation.

The E.P.A. issued a Press release the next day, 12 November 2019, titled “The New York Times’ Several Glaring Inaccuracies “That’s Fit To Print””,  rebutting the Friedman story using the following language: (all segments are direct quotes and were bolded in the original press release)

“How the New York Times got it wrong:

….  This is completely false…. 

……which is completely false…. 

….  This is not true. …. 

….  The story continues with more false information. …. 

….  This is just wrong. …. 

….  Science transparency does not weaken science, quite the contrary. ….

….  This is just bad reporting. It is completely misleading, and lacks the understanding of the rule making process. …. 

….  This is completely false.   ….

….  the reporter confuses the situation by using “raw data,” which is clarified in the supplemental.   ….

….  This is not a new rule.   ….”

How did the NY Times cover this press release?   Did the NY Times print a correction to the Friedman article?  No, it didn’t print a single word about it…not one mention … not even a little postscript added to the bottom of the original article.  Despite the E.P.A.’s  unusual official public statement intended to correct errors and mis-statements in the Friedman article, there has been no mention in the NY Times of the E.P.A. press release — not then, and not to date, two months later.

The Times did print a letter from a reader castigating the EPA, based on the (mis-)information in the Friedman article  — but not the E.P.A.’s response.  In the past, a loud cry would have gone up from the Times’ readership to its Public Editor, demanding that she look into the Friedman reporting and how the editors at the Climate Desk not only muffed the verification of facts in the original Friedman piece, but also questioning why the Climate Desk chief did not follow up with coverage of the damning E.P.A. response.   Alas, at the NY Times, that oh-so-necessary position has been eliminated

Is the New York Times the only detractor of the proposed E.P.A. “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” (STIRS) rule?

Not at all, in fact, the Times is just one single voice in a cacophonic outcry from the mass media, non-profit health organizations and even scientific journal editorial boards condemning the proposed rule.  Using a Google internet search for the topic “EPA Secret Science Rule”  throws over 3 million results…..almost entirely consisting of articles attacking the EPA’s proposed rule.

What is all this furor all about?

The E.P.A.  explains  the purpose of the proposed rule, in plain language,  in a recent press release:

“EPA should ensure that the data and models underlying scientific studies that are pivotal to the regulatory action are available for review and reanalysis. The “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” rulemaking is designed to increase transparency in the preparation, identification and use of science in rulemaking. When final, this action will ensure that the regulatory science underlying EPA’s actions are made available in a manner sufficient for independent validation.“ …. “…the science transparency rule will ensure that all important studies underlying significant regulatory actions at the EPA, regardless of their source, are subject to a transparent review by qualified scientists.

Exactly how a rule that fulfills those stated purposes could be perceived as a “threat to science” and an attempt to “suppress science” seems a mystery.  Hasn’t it always been true that scientific research should be transparent, that the results, especially those used to formulate public policy and governmental regulations,  should be able to be validated by other groups of scientists?  — scientists not involved or vested in the original research?   Isn’t this process what we know as “replication of scientific results”?   The United Kingdom’s Royal Society, originally known as ‘The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge”, has to this day the motto ‘Nullius in verba’  which “is taken to mean ‘take nobody’s word for it’. It is an expression of the determination of Fellows to withstand the domination of authority and to verify all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment.”  Not just accepting any and all experimental results claimed by a single source, but results and findings replicated and checked and repeatedly, verified by independent researchers.

As in many areas of governmental regulation and rulemaking, and in the writing of laws, the devil is nearly always in the details.  The hundreds of media articles and journal papers contain complaints less often about the overall purpose of the proposed rule, though there is some of that, but mostly focus on real and, more often,  imagined possible problems.

What are the problems that the detractors raise?

  1. The “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” (STIRS) rule might increase the risk that confidential health data could be linked back to patients.”  [ source ]
  2. Detractors fears that STIRS “would be used as a mechanism for suppressing the use of relevant scientific evidence in policy-making, including public health regulations.” [ source ]
  3. Many fear that “foundational science from years past—research on air quality and asthma, for example, or water quality and human health—could be deemed by the EPA to be insufficient for informing our most significant public health issues. That would be a catastrophe.” [ source ]
  4. “… they fear agency officials will use it to rule out epidemiological studies that include confidential patient data that are difficult to make public. Such studies have often underpinned tougher air and water pollution regulations.” [ source ]
  5. Restricting the application of established science when crafting new E.P.A. rules could make it easier to weaken or repeal existing health regulations…” [ source ]
  6. Opponents of the proposed E.P.A. policy say the effort all comes back to the fossil fuel industry’s decades-long frustration over the Six Cities study and a related one sponsored by the American Cancer Society.” [ source ]

This six-item list summarizes hundreds of articles, essays, opinion columns and mass media pieces attacking the STIRS rule.  Common to almost all of them is expressed concern about one specific item:  EPA air pollution studies — two of them actually:  the Harvard Six Cities study [ doi: 10.1056/NEJM199312093292401 ]  and various studies based on the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study II [ doi: 10.1289/EHP1249 ].

What are these studies? 

These are the primary studies that underpin almost all of today’s air pollution regulations in the United States.  Lisa Friedman of the NY Times, among many others,  claims that:

“Those studies, which have been independently evaluated and have had their findings confirmed, underpinned the first Clean Air Act regulations on fine particulate matter. Based on the research, the E.P.A. in 1997 estimated the rule would prevent 15,000 premature deaths annually and hundreds of thousands of cases of asthma and bronchitis.”

If these two studies and their findings have already been independently evaluated and have had their findings confirmed,  why is there any concern among the EPA-STIRS rule detractors and protesters that somehow new evaluations and re-analyses will fail to do the same?

[ For the answer to that question, continue reading in Secret Science Under Attack — Part 2 — coming tomorrow. ]

# # # # #

Author’s Comment:

This s a hot topic — with loads of media coverage, almost all from a single viewpoint.  As is normal in today’s highly politicized world, the facts are generally far different than what the media presents.

This piece is a straight essay, presenting the ongoing story of the opposition to the E.P.A.’s proposed “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” (STIRS) rule.

Tomorrow, I will post an Opinion piece on what I think about  why that opposition exists.

Featured Image Credit:  h/t to http://www.users.totalise.co.uk/~darkhorse459/secret.html  — once associated with the University of Brighton and which seems to be defunct in the present.

As usual, please address your comments to “Kip…” if speaking to me.

# # # # #

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stinkerp
January 22, 2020 6:20 pm

Leftists don’t like science they can’t manipulate.

Bryan A
Reply to  stinkerp
January 23, 2020 10:18 am

Mann-ipulated
Karl-ized
Fully Cook-ed

January 22, 2020 6:28 pm

Secret Science is what got us to the pretty pass at present with the Global Warming-Climate Change boondoggle. Secret Science enabled such propaganda elements like the ‘Hockey Stick’ and the ‘97% of scientist believe’ to emerge from under their rocks.

Walter Sobchak
January 22, 2020 6:40 pm

There is a crisis in modern science: “The Irreproducibility Crisis of Modern Science: Causes, Consequences, and the Road to Reform”
https://www.nas.org/reports/the-irreproducibility-crisis-of-modern-science

John Ioannidis is a physician-scientist and writer who has shown that much of the published research does not meet good scientific standards of evidence. His 2005 paper “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False” was the initial that brought this crisis to light.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ioannidis

The EPA rule is just one of many we need to clean up this mess

Reply to  Walter Sobchak
January 22, 2020 9:26 pm

Good comment Walter.

I wrote this post 8 years ago and it is still true today.

Let’s immodestly call it “MacRae’s version of the Null Hypothesis”. 🙂

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/02/16/quote-of-the-week-andrew-bolt-nails-fakegate/#comment-770951
[excerpt]

You can save yourselves a lot of time, and generally be correct, by simply assuming that EVERY SCARY PREDICTION the global warming alarmists express is FALSE.

The warming alarmists have a near-perfect negative predictive track record – every one of their scary predictions has failed to materialize.

Reply to  Walter Sobchak
January 22, 2020 9:35 pm

It is entirely correct that President Trump has called out the doomsters for their failed predictions of disaster. Every one of the global warming/climate change extremists’ very-scary predictions has FAILED TO HAPPEN! Nobody should believe them.
______________________________

“This is not a time for pessimism, this is a time for optimism. Fear and doubt is not a good thought process because this is a time for tremendous hope, and joy and optimism and action.

BUT TO EMBRACE THE POSSIBILITIES OF TOMORROW, WE MUST REJECT THE PERENNIAL PROPHETS OF DOOM AND THEIR PREDICTIONS OF THE APOCALYPSE.

THEY ARE THE HEIRS OF YESTERDAY’S FOOLISH FORTUNE TELLERS, AND I HAVE THEM, AND YOU HAVE THEM AND WE ALL HAVE THEM AND THEY WANT TO SEE US DO BADLY BUT WE WON’T LET THAT HAPPEN. THEY PREDICTED AN OVERPOPULATION CRISIS IN THE 1960S, MASS STARVATION IN THE 70S, AND AN END OF OIL IN THE 1990S.

THESE ALARMISTS ALWAYS DEMAND THE SAME THING: ABSOLUTE POWER TO DOMINATE, TRANSFORM AND CONTROL EVERY ASPECT OF OUR LIVES.”

– Donald Trump in Davos Switzerland, January 2020

Chris Wright
Reply to  ALLAN MACRAE
January 23, 2020 3:23 am

At least as far as climate is concerned, President Trump was probably the only sane person at Davos.
We owe a great debt to him.
I passionately hope that he will do even more in his second term.

Yes, there is a climate emergency. But it’s not caused by the climate, which has been changing for countless thousands of years. The modern global warming is not a problem, it’s a huge benefit. If it had not been for that warming we would still be in the depths of the Little Ice Age. That really would be a catastrophe.

For the believers, the real climate emergency is that the world – or at least, most of it – is refusing to give up its future prosperity for green fantasy.
It’s also obvious why the believers hate these new EPA rules. The last thing they want is science that is transparent and science that can be replicated!
Chris
Chris

Michael Keal
Reply to  Chris Wright
January 23, 2020 12:58 pm

“It’s also obvious why the believers hate these new EPA rules.”
Thieves, corrupt scientists and others of their ilk are like cockroaches and vampires. They abhor the light.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  ALLAN MACRAE
January 23, 2020 5:14 am

Ya gotta love, Trump! He would fit right in here on the comment board at WUWT. 🙂

commieBob
January 22, 2020 6:41 pm

Is the New York Times the only detractor …

… the Times is just one single voice in a cacophonic outcry … Using a Google internet search for the topic “EPA Secret Science Rule” throws over 3 million results…..almost entirely consisting of articles attacking the EPA’s proposed rule.

I’m not sure if this is a new propaganda technique or just something that happens. I noticed the same thing when I was looking for something by Jordan Peterson. I had trouble finding what I was looking for because it was buried under a zillion ill informed and outright stupid attempted rebuttals of Peterson’s work.

At least this time when I googled epa secret science rebuttal, the EPA’s rebuttal appeared on the first page of the search results. link

John Endicott
Reply to  commieBob
January 23, 2020 6:23 am

Shhh, once google learns that is the case, they’ll “adjust” their algorithms to push it back to page 20+

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  commieBob
January 23, 2020 8:41 am

Solution: Stop using Google.

Reply to  commieBob
January 25, 2020 9:39 am

Thank you Bob for your post on another thread:

Transcript of President Donald Trump’s speech at the World Economic Forum,
Davos, Switzerland, 21 January 2020

Part 1: https://thebfd.co.nz/2020/01/transcript-trumps-davos-speech-part-one/
Part 2: https://thebfd.co.nz/2020/01/transcript-trumps-davos-speech-part-two/
Part 3: https://thebfd.co.nz/2020/01/transcript-trumps-davos-speech-part-three/
Part 4: https://thebfd.co.nz/2020/01/transcript-trumps-davos-speech-part-four/

Excerpt:

“Fear and doubt is not a good thought process because this is a time for tremendous hope and joy and optimism and action. But to embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse. They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune-tellers — and I have them and you have them, and we all have them, and they want to see us do badly, but we don’t let that happen.
They predicted an overpopulation crisis in the 1960s, mass starvation in the ’70s, and an end of oil in the 1990s. These alarmists always demand the same thing: absolute power to dominate, transform, and control every aspect of our lives. We will never let radical socialists destroy our economy, wreck our country, or eradicate our liberty.”

I believe this quote will define the Trump Presidency, in much the same way that Franklin Roosevelt trumpeted “A day of infamy” and Winston Churchill extolled “Our finest hour”.

Because we are at war, as surely as Britain was in 1939 and the USA was in 1941. And this war is for our democracies and our freedoms. It is abundantly clear that the global warming/climate change scam was never about the climate – it was always a smokescreen, a false front for a radical socialist takeover of our democracies – the end of freedom.

David L Hagen
January 22, 2020 6:50 pm

John Ioannidis shook up the medical research world with:
Ioannidis, J.P., 2005. Why most published research findings are false. PLos med, 2(8), p.e124.
That resulted in:
Moher, D., Liberati, A., Tetzlaff, J. and Altman, D.G., 2009. Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement. Annals of internal medicine, 151(4), pp.264-269.
https://annals.org/acp/content_public/journal/aim/20188/0000605-200908180-00008.pdf

He continues:
Ioannidis, J.P., 2016. Why most clinical research is not useful. PLoS medicine, 13(6), p.e1002049.

So Ioannidis provides very strong reasons to examine the statistics behind such claims, especially when the studies demand they be kept “secret”.

Hal Dall MD
January 22, 2020 6:56 pm

“Confidential patient records” are not found in studies except maybe in anecdotal data and case reports. I hope such “studies” are not the basis for regulatory schemes.

MarkW
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 23, 2020 7:56 am

Anonymizing data so that it can no longer be traced back to an individual has been standard practice for decades. I work with medical data. We have multiple data bases, some of them have actual patient data, and they are tightly controlled. We have other data bases where the data has been anonymized and is freely available.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 23, 2020 11:56 am

Hanson:
Is it still true that you criticize the New York Times while simultaneously rewarding them with your money, used to purchase a subscription?

If that is still true, it is evidence that you have a problem.

Also, any organization that declares the staff of life on this planet, carbon dioxide, is a pollutant, is NOT a scientific organization.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 23, 2020 1:31 pm

Richard ==> If one only exposes oneself to ideas with which one agrees, one has blindered themselves and will suffer from echo-chamber effect.

“blindered” ?

Did you mean “Venetian blindered” ?

What a pile of political platitudes, and steaming farm animal digestive waste products, that you have responded with, Hanson !

This has nothing to do with “ideas”.

Climate science is about theories that are supported by data, and logic.

You don’t “agree” or “disagree” with a theory — in fact, you have to assume it will eventually be proven wrong — anywhere from slightly wrong, to completely wrong.

Such is the history of science.

You try to determine how well the data / math support the theory, whether the theory has predictive value, whether the experiment has been replicated, and whether the data and/or conclusions have SURVIVED a thorough “attack” by skeptics (real peer review — not pal review).

The New York Times strongly favors wild guess, always wrong, “consensus” predictions of a coming climate catastrophe.

Could you imagine the Times printing an article saying that the current climate is wonderful, even though it is, compared with the past 1,000 years !

They are not interested in climate reality, just climate fantasy.

The Times is a good source of junk science, and wild guess predictions — no one is going to become more knowledgeable about climate science from reading it.

However, it is a very good bird cage liner.

I have to conclude that you subscribe to the New York Times either because you have more money than you know what to do with … or so you can get material to write nasty articles about the newspaper, which you do well.

Philo
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 23, 2020 2:47 pm

Richard G- “blindered” as in horses fitted with blinders to keep them from reacting suddenly to non-problems. They are often used at races, or were uses all the time back when horses were used in cities.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 24, 2020 6:35 pm

“What a pile of political platitudes, and steaming farm animal digestive waste products, that you have responded with, Hanson !”

His name is Hansen. It’s spelled multiple times right in front of you, yet you still can’t get it right, multiple times.

David Chappell
Reply to  Richard Greene
January 23, 2020 5:54 pm

R Greene, you say: “They are not interested in climate reality, just climate fantasy.
The Times is a good source of junk science, and wild guess predictions — no one is going to become more knowledgeable about climate science from reading it.”

Which is why its falsehoods need to be exposed and you should be congratulating Mr Hansen (note the spelling Mr Greene) for doing so and not casigating him.

PS: How do you know it is only fit for lining bird cages if you don’t read it?

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Hal Dall MD
January 22, 2020 7:07 pm

Not to mention, anonymizing patient data is a very common thing these days.

Gary
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
January 22, 2020 8:01 pm

And required by the ethical practices of human subject research. I have to take a 10-hour course to get recertified every two years just to analyze survey results from college students.

Latitude
January 22, 2020 6:57 pm

speaking of science transparency….what ever happened with this?

by law NASA had until last Nov …and they had to reply to it

CEI Files Formal Complaint Regarding NASA’s Claim of 97% Climate Scientist Agreement on Global Warming

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) petitioned NASA to remove from its website the claim that 97 percent of climate scientists agree humans are responsible for global warming. The petition, filed under the Information Quality Act (IQA), points out the major flaws in the studies cited by NASA to substantiate its claim. It requests the agency remove the claim from its website and stop circulating it in agency materials.

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/07/13/cei-files-formal-complaint-regarding-nasas-claim-of-97-climate-scientist-agreement-on-global-warming/

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Latitude
January 22, 2020 7:39 pm

I’m curious too. Can’t find anything on CEI’s site about it except the same link you posted.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
January 23, 2020 5:21 am

Maybe someone from CEI could weigh in on that for us here.

This is a very important issue. NASA is wrong and NASA should acknowledge it is wrong, and NASA has an obligation to address this issue. NASA’s “97% Lie” is misleading the public and scaring school children.

commieBob
January 22, 2020 7:01 pm

re. patient confidentiality

There is about zero chance of linking study information back to individual patients. These days, it is darn hard in some fields to do research because ethics reviews are necessary. link The rules are daunting. The linked page is a guideline for deciding whether an ethics review is necessary. If the review is necessary, things get real Byzantine real fast.

When I was a pup, we derided fields like Psychology as being pretty Mickey Mouse. Things have changed. Those folks have to jump through hoops that I couldn’t have imagined in my worst nightmares.

Izaak Walton
Reply to  commieBob
January 22, 2020 8:28 pm

Actually most research shows that it is fairly easy to recover personal information from
anonymised data. See
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/jul/23/anonymised-data-never-be-anonymous-enough-study-finds
for example.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Izaak Walton
January 22, 2020 8:33 pm

Nonsense

Izaak Walton
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
January 22, 2020 9:11 pm

Hi Jeff,
Do you have any actual evidence to rebut peer reviewed research:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-10933-3

I am not expert but there have been lots of examples of researchers
identifying individuals from supposedly anonymised data. There is even
a wikipedia page on data re-identification. You are much better off
assuming that clever people can identify you in a data set than assuming the
opposite.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Izaak Walton
January 22, 2020 11:20 pm

Skimming through that paper, it doesn’t look like the data they worked with was anonymized very well. Having a date of birth, and location, yeah you could probably find someone (their probability was 58% with sex, race, date of birth, and location).

I’m also not impressed with scientists who don’t know the difference between gender and sex.

Izaak Walton
Reply to  Izaak Walton
January 23, 2020 12:58 am

Jeff,
the point is that most data is not well anonymised. And usually there is a trade off
between how well anonymised it is and how useful it is.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Izaak Walton
January 23, 2020 5:30 am

“I am not expert but there have been lots of examples of researchers
identifying individuals from supposedly anonymised data.”

Why would they want to do that? What would they gain even if they could identify an individual?

Instead of arguing against transparency, why not argue for better security within the transparency? Scientific studies that cannot be replicated are worthless, plain and simple.

MarkW
Reply to  Izaak Walton
January 23, 2020 8:01 am

If it contains the actual date of birth, then it hasn’t been randomized very well. Everything I’ve worked with slots individuals based on the decade in which they were born.
The only portion of the address remaining is sometimes the zip code, sometimes the city and state.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Izaak Walton
January 23, 2020 8:47 am

“the point is that most data is not well anonymised. And usually there is a trade off
between how well anonymised it is and how useful it is.”

You’ve nullified your point, since you assumed the data was well anonymized. It wasn’t.

Another case from the guardian article, addresses of taxi drivers: Apparently the route data included the start and endpoints for the day. If they’re the same, then you know where the taxi was garaged (could a home, could be the taxi barn). So, that data should have been excluded as obviously identifiable. But, all you’d really need to do is drive around and see where taxis are parked in a driveway or something, and you have your answer. So I don’t see how that’s very sensitive info.

chaamjamal
January 22, 2020 7:01 pm

” Science Under Attack ”

Yes sir.
That’s what the Union of Concerned Scientists are Concerned about.
That and your donations of course.

https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/01/20/8265/

chaamjamal
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 22, 2020 7:25 pm

thank you, sir.

Editor
January 22, 2020 7:03 pm

Thank you, Kip. Looking forward to part2 tomorrow.

Regards,
Bob

January 22, 2020 7:06 pm

This has always bothered me.

The fact that the Six City Study data has not been made available for independent review and analysis is one of the bigger all-time coverups in the environmental world. See Steve Miloy “Scare Pollution Why and How to Fix the EPA” for his take on the claim that they been “independently evaluated and had their findings confirmed”.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 23, 2020 5:37 am

Kip ==> Well put

Mr.
January 22, 2020 7:08 pm

I wonder what would happen if a motion were put to all sovereign nations requiring them to enshrine in law that no regulations would be introduced that had not been transparently subjected to the full process of the classic scientific method, and independently certified as such.

For example, who would then rely on any of Kevin Tremberth’s research, after he insisted that the null hypothesis could be discarded when it comes to the AGW hypothesis?

waza
January 22, 2020 7:25 pm

The Harvard Six Cities study has 33% to 40% smokers. Nowadays only 15% Americans smoke. This key factor would surely make this study now redundant .

Pat Frank
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 22, 2020 10:26 pm

Kip, I don’t know if you’ve seen these, but Stanley Young and his collaborators have published a couple of papers showing that PM 2.5 has had zero impact on mortality in California.

Stan told me about his work when I met him at the 2015 DDP conference. I looked out for the published papers.

Here are the titles and links. If you’d like the papers themselves, let me know. CtM has my email address.

“Air quality and acute deaths in California, 2000-2012”
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yrtph.2017.06.003

“PM2.5 and ozone, indicators of air quality, and acute deaths in California, 2004–2007
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yrtph.2018.05.012

Here’s the abstract of the 2018 paper (my bold):

Since the London Great Smog of 1952 was estimated to have killed over 4000 people, scientists have studied the relationship between air quality and acute mortality. Currently, the association between air quality and acute deaths is usually taken as evidence for causality. As air quality has markedly improved since 1952, do contemporary data sets support this view? We use a large data set, eight air basins in California for the years 2004–2007, to examine the possible association of ozone and PM2.5 with acute deaths after statistically removing seasonal and weather effects. Our analysis data set is available on request. We conducted a regression-corrected, case-crossover analysis for all non-accidental deaths age 75 and older. We used stepwise regression to examine three causes of death. After seasonal and weather adjustments, there was essentially no predictive power of ozone or PM2.5 for acute deaths. The case-crossover analysis produced odds ratio very close to 1.000 (no effect). The very narrow confidence limits indicated good statistical power. We study recent air quality in both time stratified, symmetric, bidirectional case-crossover and time series regression and both give consistent results. There is no statistically significant association between either ozone or PM2.5 and acute human mortality. In the absence of an association, causality is in question.

If there was ever a confirmation of your support for transparency of data on which policy is based, Kip, the Young, et al., results represent it.

Clyde Spencer
January 22, 2020 7:42 pm

Kip
“… original known as ‘The Royal Society …”

Chris Hanley
January 22, 2020 7:57 pm

The NYT ‘climate change’ reporter’s apparent concern over the confidentiality of subjects in epidemiological studies is just a shallow pretext for a much wider worry in the CC industry that is obvious from its history as in: “We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it”:
https://climateaudit.org/2005/03/05/top-eleven-reasons-for-withholding-data-or-code/

Waza
January 22, 2020 8:05 pm

Does anyone know why the are hiding the results.
Is it a maths problem?
Is it a cooked the book problem?
Or is it a ok study but not conclusive but we’ll run with it anyway?

DMA
Reply to  Waza
January 22, 2020 8:42 pm

WAZA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8j3a4MBUU40
Is an explanation of the problems with the CPSII study. I think the answers to your questions are yes, yes, and irrelevant based on 1&2.

Mike Dubrasich
January 22, 2020 8:53 pm

Dear Waza,

The Harvard Six Cities study alleged to have found a “causal link” between fine particulates (<2.5 microns) and "excess mortality". From the abstract:

Although the effects of other, unmeasured risk factors cannot be excluded with certainty, these results suggest that fine-particulate air pollution, or a more complex pollution mixture associated with fine particulate matter, contributes to excess mortality in certain U.S. cities.

The EPA has used the study to promulgate a vast body of regulations of so-called PM2.5 air pollution. These regulations impact nearly every business, industry, city, and county in the USA.

The PM2.5 findings, however, have been thoroughly debunked. See:

https://junkscience.com/2016/09/fact-sheet-particulate-matter-in-outdoor-air-does-not-cause-death/

I’m pretty sure that Mr. Hansen will elucidate all this in Part 2.

gringojay
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
January 22, 2020 11:25 pm

Hi Mike Dubrasich, – Statements about “excess mortality” is an unfortunate phrasing. I find the contemporary published PM 2.5 research is more specific in phrasing the issue as “premature mortality”. Look at it the same way unsanitary water affect humans – that can shave 0.57 years of the lifespan.

In other words the relevance to “mortality” is in regards to impact on average life expectancy not to high PM 2.5 actively killing people. A recent estimate for global average is 1.03 years premature mortality (with Bangladesh higher at 1.87 years); for the USA an estimate is of an average 0.38 years premature mortality.

Waza
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
January 23, 2020 3:53 am

Mike and DMA
Thanks for the info – very interesting. But what is actually wrong?
I get that the correlation is very small 1.02 but I still don’t get what’s wrong. Need data!!
My guess now seems more like a tree health only being related to temperature type issue.
Another guess is that smoking drowns out all other causes in the study.
I am an engineer not a scientist so I don’t get all the official jargon but I am confident a 2% likelihood without actual medical studies is meaningless.

On a personal note my father was a welder/boiler maker who applied asbestos lagging to steam pipes. He also drove trucks And was a heavy smoker. He died very young from throat cancer.
It was not possible then and imo not even now that any medical study can determine % breakdown of the cause of my father,s death or anyone else with multiple health issues.

Simple things the study will not pick up ( maybe -we don’t have data) participants from lower social economic groups more likely to smoke, work outdoors, live near industrial areas, take care of their health less , than higher social economic participants. Did they ask income in study.

Crispin in Waterloo
January 22, 2020 8:57 pm

The Harvard Six Cities?? That is well known to be deeply flawed and the basis of numerous suspect regulations and pontifications.

“The measure would make it more difficult to enact new clean air and water rules because many studies detailing the links between pollution and disease rely on personal health information gathered under confidentiality agreements…”

Confidentiality agreements with whom? The holders of the info or people involved? Be specific because I smell a con.

Most links between pollution levels and health are estimated, not based on studies of people. The GBD exercise makes attributions, not evaluations of illness and death based on what individuals died from. There is a huge difference between public health policy and medicine.

Links between pollution and specific diseases are frequently attributed, not the result of “links” from studies. Obviously there are such studies, but don’t get the impression that most “links” are from medical studies. They are from allocations of multiple causes to population cohorts.

For example, the equitoxicity ruling by the EPA (that all particulate matter is equally toxic no matter the source or content) is paired with “exposure”. People’s exposure is attributed based on geography, not actual exposure. And there is no duration factor in that exposure, just the fact of it regardless of duration. It is silly, actually, that public health regulations are based on so much guesswork and “expert assessment”. Medical studies as we all know, are more than 50% irreproducible, right. What was the exact number?

The situation is much worse than many would be willing to believe. Hokum is peddled up and down the country. So is snake oil in various forms. Some things never change.

When Harvard’s six cities is exposed for the shoddy work it contains, many dominoes will fall – watch for it. It has been a good run for a generation of estimators but the sham has to end at some point. The connections between “pollution” and health are incredibly complex and largely unknown. There simply isn’t enough data to make most of the estimated judgments. Fine, what to do in the meantime? We do the best we can by estimating. But estimates are not facts. PM is not all equally toxic. Coal plant emissions do not “kill thousands each year”. Chronic under-heating literally kills tens of thousands each year because energy is expensive. That is a medical diagnosis, not an attribution. That’s real and continues even this very day.

Waza asks, “Or is it a ok study but not conclusive but we’ll run with it anyway?”

Yup, that is exactly how it works. We will err on the side not of caution, but of income. At each decision tree, take the branch marked “More”.

Patrick MJD
January 22, 2020 8:59 pm

Off topic however, Price Charles is at it again;

https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/prince-charles-pleads-for-sweeping-new-economic-model-to-avert-climate-catastrophe-20200123-p53tw9.html

My! It’s only 11 years of so that he said we had only 100 months to save the planet.

Mike Dubrasich
January 22, 2020 9:29 pm

One impact of the EPA PM2.5 regs is that almost every attempt to do prescribed burning on Fed lands (USFS, BLM, NPS) is hamstrung by NEPA lawsuits brought by enviro-litigious groups based on PM2.5 from smoke.

The resulting dearth of prescribed burning has led to catastrophic fuel accumulations and mega-fires (>100,000 acres) that destroy entire watersheds, landscapes, and adjacent towns, and kill numerous people.

In response to the endless lawsuits, Fed landowning agencies have adopted Let-It-Burn policies whereby they no longer fight lightning fires, in the hopes that burning without preparing the forest to receive fires will accomplish the same goal of fuel reduction as prescribed fires.

Let-It Burn fires do NOT achieve those goals but instead actualize the hazard and lead to even more mega-fires.

Thus our forest fire crisis can be attributed directly to the PM2.5 regulations. Howzat for crappy gummit? The Deep State blames “climate change” for a problem of their own making. There are consequences to agenda-driven junk science that more folks ought to be aware of.

Independent
January 22, 2020 9:47 pm

The New York Times is propaganda. If you read everything they publish through that lens, it all makes sense.

Jeff Mitchell
January 22, 2020 10:14 pm

If they won’t let anyone check their work, it isn’t science. Reproduction of results is an extremely important part of the process. Without reproduction, all they are doing is hand waving.

gringojay
Reply to  Jeff Mitchell
January 22, 2020 10:42 pm

Or, to paraphrase American Senator T. Cruz’s take on law: If you have the facts, you bang the facts. If you have the data, you bang the data. If you don’t have either, you bang the table!

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  gringojay
January 22, 2020 11:21 pm

I think that saying is a lot older than Ted Cruz.

jmorpuss
January 22, 2020 10:42 pm

STIRS rule = STIRS control

rule
/ruːl/
Learn to pronounce
noun
1.
one of a set of explicit or understood regulations or principles governing conduct or procedure within a particular area of activity.
“the rules of cricket”
Similar:
regulation
ruling
directive
order
court order
act
law
by-law
statute
edict
canon
ordinance
pronouncement
mandate
command
dictate
dictum
decree
fiat
proclamation
injunction
commandment
prescription
stipulation
requirement
precept
guideline
direction
ukase
pronunciamento
2.
control of or dominion over an area or people.
“the revolution brought an end to British rule”
Similar:
control
jurisdiction
command
power
sway
dominion
government
administration
sovereignty
leadership
ascendancy
supremacy
authority
direction
mastery
hegemony
regime
influence
raj
regiment
verb
1.
exercise ultimate power or authority over (an area and its people).
“Latin America today is ruled by elected politicians”
Similar:
govern
preside over
control
have control of
be in control of
lead
be the leader of
dominate
run
head
direct
administer
manage
regulate
sway
be in power
be in control
hold sway
be in authority
be in command
be in charge
be at the helm
reign
sit on the throne
wear the crown
wield the sceptre
be monarch
be sovereign
2.
pronounce authoritatively and legally to be the case.
“an industrial tribunal ruled that he was unfairly dismissed from his job”
Similar:
decree
order
direct
pronounce
make a judgement
judge
adjudge
adjudicate
lay down
ordain
decide
find
determine
resolve
settle
establish
hold
asseverate

I wonder how many people will loose their jobs when your boss or future boss can view your medical records.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7908761/Hospitals-granted-Microsoft-Amazon-IBM-access-medical-records.html

ozspeaksup
Reply to  jmorpuss
January 23, 2020 4:04 am

re the corps granted access
yup
thats why most Gps and public in Aus wont sign onto the e health crap
and yes its already been hacked twice I think
for paltry1.5bil setup I think I read..
not sure if KRudd or juLiar were the ones that set that in motion?

Petit_Barde
January 22, 2020 10:45 pm

Those sharticle’s authors are shamelessly supporting such indecent behavior :

– from a Great Climate Pseudo-scientist : “Why should I make the data available to you when your aim is to try and find something wrong ?”

StephenP
January 22, 2020 11:48 pm

This reminds me of the arguments about fat and carbohydrates in diets.
As far as I remember the original report on fats excluded some of the results that didn’t fit the narrative.
Would the NYT argue that we shouldn’t revisit the original research because of problems with confidentiality?

JEHILL
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 23, 2020 10:35 am

The FDA has one of the most arrogant statements on the planet. They require this to be placed on a myriad of items. The FDA is not the end all be all in of human health. Nor does the FDA per the suggestion of that statement, conduct any studies. They contract those out to the CDC, NIH, or other 3rd parties.

Their most important function is the monitoring and enforcement of the manufacturing process protocols of pharmaceuticals, GMP. Still they are largely a parasitical bureaucratic organization. Although it does occur to me that all the other government agencies conducting scientific studies for the people should be required to also follow GMP.

StephenP
January 22, 2020 11:50 pm

This reminds me of the arguments about fat and carbohydrates in diets.
As far as I remember the original report on fats excluded some of the results that didn’t fit the narrative.
Would the NYT argue that we shouldn’t revisit the original research because of problems with confidentiality or that the science was settled?

Bill Parsons
January 22, 2020 11:51 pm

The National Center for Science Education said ruling out studies that do not use open data “would send a deeply misleading message, ignoring the thoughtful processes that scientists use to ensure that all relevant evidence is considered.”

Because, my children, Ignorance is Strengh.

Sara
January 23, 2020 4:09 am

I did not know that anyone with a working brain cell really reads the NYT any more. Isn’t that so-called newspaper slipping into oblivion, or something? Obviously, you have to read drivel at its source to understand the real issue, which is that the media in general have let the cheese slide off their crackers and are sinking into a pit of their own making.

It’s a pity they have to end up that way, but sometimes, you have to break something down in order to fix it. Strange that I am seeing this in my lifetime.

Sara
Reply to  Sara
January 23, 2020 10:21 am

Kip, you must have the patience of a saint to push back. I salute you! But I doubt that they’ll change until or unless their daydreams are despoiled by a harsh reality check.

Carl Friis-Hansen
January 23, 2020 5:25 am

secretum scientia neglegenda (Disregard secret science) 🙂

Tom Abbott
January 23, 2020 6:22 am

From the article: “EPA should ensure that the data and models underlying scientific studies that are pivotal to the regulatory action are available for review and reanalysis. The “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” rulemaking is designed to increase transparency in the preparation, identification and use of science in rulemaking. When final, this action will ensure that the regulatory science underlying EPA’s actions are made available in a manner sufficient for independent validation.“ …. “…the science transparency rule will ensure that all important studies underlying significant regulatory actions at the EPA, regardless of their source, are subject to a transparent review by qualified scientists.”

NASA Climate and NOAA should have similar rules established for their climate data. It is scandulous that this information is not available considering that TRILLIONS of dollars of spending are being planned based on the climate studies done by NASA Climate and NOAA.

This is data paid for by American taxpayers, and government scientists have no right to withhold this information from the American public. In fact, they have a duty to science and to the public to “show their work”.

jtom
January 23, 2020 7:07 am

If Andrew Wakefield’s data had not been obtainable, the FDA could be banning vaccines using the EPA’s methodology.

That’s rather scary.

MarkW
January 23, 2020 8:10 am

Does the 6-city study look at people by neighborhood, or merely by city?
Even in polluted cities, actual pollution levels can vary quite a bit from one place to another.

MarkW
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 23, 2020 3:41 pm

Having one more reason to pile on never hurts.

Robert of Texas
January 23, 2020 9:44 am

This proposal makes the use of propaganda to underpin rules and regulations much more difficult, and therefore MUST be rejected. How else are we to force economic control down people’s throats when so many actually have enough intelligence to ask for scientific evidence and data backing a new regulation?

We (the liberals) just do not have time for this nonsense, we have people’s lives to run, social justice to enforce, and wealth distribution to manage.

(Yes, this is sarcasm…at least I hope it is)

Steve Z
January 23, 2020 11:36 am

If the EPA’s new “transparency in science” requirement that all data be reviewable makes it harder for Mann, Trenberth, et al. to “hide the decline”, I’m all for it.

Mark Twain once wrote that there are “lies, damned lies, and statistics”. We should add to his list “scientific studies not independently reviewed”.

Somehow the New York Slimes gets away with portraying the Trump Administration as anti-scientific. But allowing people to review data and question hypotheses and conclusions is how true science advances. If a scientist’s theory doesn’t match reality, the theory needs to be changed.

January 23, 2020 12:48 pm

I was not surprised to see a reference to the American Cancer Society CPS-II dataset. It is only accessible to the Society and its “approved” collaborators, who have used it extensively for many years to drive federal government actions. For example, it’s the origin of the CDC’s estimate of 480,000 smoking-attributable deaths each year, which has justified almost unlimited punitive policies aimed at the people who use tobacco and at the companies who provide it. As a university-based tobacco researcher for 25 years, I tried to get access, but was denied: https://rodutobaccotruth.blogspot.com/2011/04/american-cancer-society-withholds.html

It’s time to start giving teeth to NIH data sharing and accessibility in all fields: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/11/08/2019-24529/request-for-public-comments-on-a-draft-nih-policy-for-data-management-and-sharing-and-supplemental

Brad Rodu
Professor

William Astley
January 23, 2020 1:31 pm

This Fake news is unbelievable.

The entire NYT article has a series of lies concerning the EPA change ….

….

William: The NYT Reporter is not a ‘reporter’… who does not know how to do their job.

This is the new normal for the Fake News.

The NYT fake Reporter appears to be absolutely ignorant concerning the actual EPA change, its expected effect, the scientific community’s support of the change, and so on,

Fake news reporters do not do real investigative reporting (where bad ideas and bad policies are found and criticized by patriotic young reporters) because knowing the truth….

…would make it harder to find the over the top adjectives and lies that are required to create the propaganda that pushes a political agenda.

The NYT article was 100% made up and incorrect… to push the propaganda idea that data and methods sharing is anti science.

From the EPA’s response to NYT Propaganda Piece…

“The article continues with more misleading and false information.

The reporter writes: “The change is part of a broader administration effort to weaken the scientific underpinnings of policymaking.”

Science transparency does not weaken science, quite the contrary. By requiring transparency, scientists will be required to publish hypothesis and experimental data for other scientists to review and discuss, requiring the science to withstand skepticism and peer review.”

Johann Wundersamer
February 3, 2020 8:59 am

NY Times published an article by journalist Lisa Friedman in the Climate Section titled: ”E.P.A. to Limit Science Used to Write Public Health Rules”.

____________________________________

[ Why does an article about the EPA and Health Rules appear in the Climate section of the NY Times? Who knows? ]

____________________________________

And why writes NY Times journalist Lisa Friedman EPA separated by dots as E.P.A. .

Is this the new internal NYT redaction rule.

– sure insiders only –

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