Suddenly, Skepticism of Peer-Reviewed Science is OK

Cross-posted at Coyote Blog

Wow, suddenly skepticism, and even outright harsh criticism, of peer-reviewed work is OK, as long as it is not in climate I suppose.

On Thursday, Dec. 2, Rosie Redfield sat down to read a new paper called “A Bacterium That Can Grow by Using Arsenic Instead of Phosphorus.” Despite its innocuous title, the paper had great ambitions. Every living thing that scientists have ever studied uses phosphorus to build the backbone of its DNA. In the new paper, NASA-funded scientists described a microbe that could use arsenic instead. If the authors of the paper were right, we would have to expand our….

As soon Redfield started to read the paper, she was shocked. “I was outraged at how bad the science was,” she told me.

Redfield blogged a scathing attack on Saturday. Over the weekend, a few other scientists took to the Internet as well. Was this merely a case of a few isolated cranks? To find out, I reached out to a dozen experts on Monday. Almost unanimously, they think the NASA scientists have failed to make their case. “It would be really cool if such a bug existed,” said San Diego State University’s Forest Rohwer, a microbiologist who looks for new species of bacteria and viruses in coral reefs. But, he added, “none of the arguments are very convincing on their own.” That was about as positive as the critics could get. “This paper should not have been published,” said Shelley Copley of the University of Colorado.

The article goes on to describe many potential failures in the methodology.  None of this should be surprising — I have written for years that peer-review is by no means proof against bad science or incorrect findings.  It is more of an  extended editorial process.  The real test of published science comes later, when the broader community attempts to replicate results.

The problem in climate science has been that its proponents want to claim that having research performed by a small group of scientists that is peer-reviewed by the same small group is sufficient to making the results “settled science.”  Once published, they argue, no one (certainly not laymen on blogs) has the right to criticize it, and the researchers don’t (as revealed in the Climategate emails) have any obligations to release their data or code to allow replication.   This is just fresh proof that this position is nuts.

The broken climate science process is especially troubling given the budgetary and reputational incentives to come out with the most dramatic possible results, something NASA’s James Hansen has been accused of doing by many climate skeptics.  To this end, consider this from the bacteria brouhaha.  First, we see the same resistance to criticism, trying to deflect any critiques outside of peer-reviewed journals

“Any discourse will have to be peer-reviewed in the same manner as our paper was, and go through a vetting process so that all discussion is properly moderated,” wrote Felisa Wolfe-Simon of the NASA Astrobiology Institute. “The items you are presenting do not represent the proper way to engage in a scientific discourse and we will not respond in this manner.”

WTF?  How, then, did we ever have scientific process before peer-reviewed journals appeared on the scene?

But Jonathan Eisen of UC-Davis doesn’t let the scientists off so easily. “If they say they will not address the responses except in journals, that is absurd,” he said. “They carried out science by press release and press conference. Whether they were right or not in their claims, they are now hypocritical if they say that the only response should be in the scientific literature.”

Wow, that could be verbatim from a climate skeptic in the climate debate.

And finally, this on incentives and scientific process:

Some scientists are left wondering why NASA made such a big deal over a paper with so many flaws. “I suspect that NASA may be so desperate for a positive story that they didn’t look for any serious advice from DNA or even microbiology people,” says John Rothof UC-Davis.

  • Waldo Phosphorus

    Without meaning to. Mr. Meyer has just presented evidence that the peer-review process works — bad science is called out. It’s so incredibly ironic that he does not see this. I gotta laugh.

    What the blogs do not do is offer a viable alternative, mainly because most skeptic bloggers are so clearly politically and ideologically motivated.

    And, once again, Mr. Meyer posts on something completely unrelated to climate science which he then tries to manipulate into some sort of commentary.

  • stan

    Waldo,

    NASA as nothing to do with climate science?!

    And the critic who blew the whistle was a blogger. The problems weren’t caught by peer review. You should try reading before you make comments.

  • Ben D.

    I think Waldo is arguing for what Mr. Meyer wrote here. Either that or he is confused. Either way, it was a great article that showed the general issues with peer-review and the fact that even a peer-reviewed article is not ironclad and perfect. Of course, this is one example, but in the end I think we all have to realize that science is not about consensus and written publications but about correctness.

  • Wally

    Waldo,

    So, the bad science is called out by bloggers and scientists from a variety of fields in a non-peer review forum and you say “peer-review process works?” This is completely antithetical to any criticisms to climate sciences you see here and then ask for us to publish them in peer-review.

    How many times do we have to tell you criticisms of bad journal articles rarely go through peer-review. If those criticisms are valid the scientific community just comes to understand that and move on by publishing new work pushing a different theory. See, peer review journals don’t care much for people proving other people wrong (unless it is a very fundamental change), but they want people proving new things right. Negative results are just not sexy.

  • George

    I think all of you folks place entirely too much emphasis on the peer-review process. Many of my publications have been peer-reviewed, and I have reviewed many papers by others (or declined to do so when I felt my knowledge of the subject matter was not adequate). Generally speaking, the process helps to ensure a minimum level of grammar, and that the math more or less adds up. I never had a paper really attacked on a fundamental level, but often received questions by reviewers outside my field seeking clarity or a definition of a term. (Why they were assigned to review a paper on a subject they did not comprehend was never explained to me by an editor.)

    Having your paper reviewed by a peer does not make your work correct. Who ever said it did?

  • John A

    NASA – note, NOT the GISS – and NOAA with new climate-model debunking info?

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/12/08/new_model_doubled_co2_sub_2_degrees_warming/
    “According to Lahouari Bounoua of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and other scientists from NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)…

    … model a world where CO2 levels have doubled to 780 parts per million (ppm) compared to today’s 390-odd.They say that world would actually warm up by just 1.64°C overall, and the vegetation-cooling effect would be stronger over land to boot – thus temperatures on land would would be a further 0.3°C cooler compared to the present sims.”

  • Shills

    Not sure if Meyer is being fair here:

    He says: ‘The problem in climate science has been that its proponents want to claim that having research performed by a small group of scientists that is peer-reviewed by the same small group is sufficient to making the results “settled science.”’

    The IPCC is not a small group of scientists.

    He says: ‘First, we see the same resistance to criticism, trying to deflect any critiques outside of peer-reviewed journals’

    Climate scientists will discuss honest criticisms outside of peer-review. Look at realclimate, media debates, etc. But also don’t forget that the large amount of flak and abuse that climate science gets (which certainly cannot be described as constructive criticism from experts) complicates things. The only reason peer-review has become such a talking point in the climate debate is that so much of the enduring criticism comes from journo’s, politicians and, opinionated bloggers. That is not to say that the debate should always be limited to peer-review. But when things get out of hand with vocal nutcases creating confusion (maybe some denialists share this with creationists?), how would you keep the debate orderly?

  • FDUK

    Since when has peer review been the deciding factor for whether a theory is accepted or not. Peer review is only ever meant to offer a certain level of scrutiny of a paper, ensuring that accepted standards are maintained. It is not intended to mean that a paper is accepted as settled.

    According to Richard Horton of the Lancet, “The mistake, of course, is to have thought that peer review was any more than a crude means of discovering the acceptability — not the validity — of a new finding.”

    The whole point if science is to get findings out there to the wider world, whether they will either survive the criticism of others or die.

    Anyone who disagrees with climate science is able to get a peer reviewed article into the literature. Whether their theory will last is another thing.

    That papers receive criticism is not news. I’m really disappointed that this is thought worthy of a blog post. I expect better.

  • Wally

    Shills,

    The 2001 IPCC reports had 2 co-ordinating authors, 18 lead authors and about 35 other contributing authors. That’s a pretty small group, only about 50 authors.

    I could reference single journals articles from my field with many more than that. For example, the dog genome release: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v438/n7069/edsumm/e051208-01.html

    By my estimate, that paper has 225 authors, give or take maybe 25.

    You need to understand the relative size of climate science field when compared to something with a little more history and relevance to human life, like biology. We’re talking orders of magnitude here Shills. I’m sure other’s could speak up in similar ways for something like engineering.

    As far as climate science goes, we have maybe a few hundred scientists leading the way. For something like biology we have more like hundreds of thousands, if not millions (just think about the relative size of biology departments at your local universities, then think about the size of the private industry and companies such as Roche, Amgen, pfizer). To get another sense of this, look at the last few years of journals coming out of nature or science. Occasionally, they run a few articles on climate science, which is certainly helped by the amount of public attention “global warming” gets and nature’s and science’s desire to be “trendy”. But in every issue you have several articles in biology, even several in sub-divisions of biology, like say molecular biology, or even further divisions like genetics.

    Climate science is a tiny field turned hugely political, and the IPCC is above all else a political entity that represents a small subdivision of this tiny field.

    “That is not to say that the debate should always be limited to peer-review. But when things get out of hand with vocal nutcases creating confusion (maybe some denialists share this with creationists?), how would you keep the debate orderly?”

    I don’t see any problems keeping the scientific “debate” regarding evolution orderly. Do you? Further, what do you even define as an “orderly debate,” why are “orderly debates” as you would define them necessary to thresh out the truth and validity in a scientific theory, and in what ways are the current debates over creationism/evolution, or (non)-CAGW not meeting this standard and being hindered accordingly? I don’t think you’ve really thought through this idea here Shills. Maybe, just to keep this particular debate orderly, you better peer-review this argument you have in some appropriate logic/debate/ethics type journal. Then, maybe we’ll be sure to know your thoughts meet some minimal level of coherence and are supported by sufficient data, before giving you the time of day.

  • Shills

    Wally says: ‘The 2001 IPCC reports had 2 co-ordinating authors, 18 lead authors and about 35 other contributing authors. That’s a pretty small group, only about 50 authors.’

    Yeah you might wanna double check that…

    Wally says: ‘You need to understand the relative size of climate science field when compared to something with a little more history and relevance to human life, like biology.’

    Why compare it to such a broad umbrella term like biology?? Wouldn’t the equivalent to biology be geosciences or earth sciences?

    Of course I’m willing to concede that biology will probably always have far more numbers–biology is so much cooler–but you haven’t shown that the numbers in climate science are inadequate, if that is what you are tying to do.

    Wally says: ‘Climate science is a tiny field turned hugely political, and the IPCC is above all else a political entity that represents a small subdivision of this tiny field.

    No. You are gonna have to back this up, and show that it is meaningful. The IPCC is scientific enough that most major science orgs support its findings. In addition the statements of the IPCC have not diverged from the science and observations, actually they have sometimes being less severe. So if the IPCC is political, in what way does it matter for the science?

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/ipcc-scientific-consensus-intermediate.htm

    Wally says: ‘I don’t see any problems keeping the scientific “debate” regarding evolution orderly. Do you?

    I am referring to the problems in US public education re. the teaching of creationism and freedom of speech which resulted in a number of court cases. I’m sure you are familiar with it all. The way creationists have tried to inject their beliefs into science has been unscientific and hence not orderly for a scientific context.

    Wally says: ‘Further, what do you even define as an “orderly debate’

    By orderly I mean restricted to the facts, without the propaganda, spin, and ideology etc. You welcome to suggest a better word.

    Wally says: ‘ why are “orderly debates” as you would define them necessary to thresh out the truth and validity in a scientific theory…:

    Because they stick to the facts (and theories)

    Wally says: ..’.and in what ways are the current debates over creationism/evolution, or (non)-CAGW not meeting this standard and being hindered accordingly”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creation–evolution_controversy#Public_policy_issues

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_controversy

    Wally says: ‘Maybe, just to keep this particular debate orderly, you better peer-review this argument you have in some appropriate logic/debate/ethics type journal. Then, maybe we’ll be sure to know your thoughts meet some minimal level of coherence and are supported by sufficient data, before giving you the time of day.’

    Hey, Be my guest. I’d be happy for you to disregard what I say outside of peer-review. But I have a little hunch that even though you would disregard my ideas, you will lap up Meyer, Watts and others outside of peer-review.

  • Shills

    Wally says: ‘The 2001 IPCC reports had 2 co-ordinating authors, 18 lead authors and about 35 other contributing authors. That’s a pretty small group, only about 50 authors.’

    Yeah you might wanna double check that…

    Wally says: ‘You need to understand the relative size of climate science field when compared to something with a little more history and relevance to human life, like biology.’

    Why compare it to such a broad umbrella term like biology?? Wouldn’t the equivalent to biology be geosciences or earth sciences?

    Of course I’m willing to concede that biology will probably always have far more numbers–biology is so much cooler–but you haven’t shown that the numbers in climate science are inadequate, if that is what you are tying to do.

    Wally says: ‘Climate science is a tiny field turned hugely political, and the IPCC is above all else a political entity that represents a small subdivision of this tiny field.

    No. You are gonna have to back this up, and show that it is meaningful. The IPCC is scientific enough that most major science orgs support its findings. In addition the statements of the IPCC have not diverged from the science and observations, actually they have sometimes being less severe. So if the IPCC is political, in what way does it matter for the science?

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/ipcc-scientific-consensus-intermediate.htm

    Wally says: ‘I don’t see any problems keeping the scientific “debate” regarding evolution orderly. Do you?

    I am referring to the problems in US public education re. the teaching of creationism and freedom of speech which resulted in a number of court cases. I’m sure you are familiar with it all. The way creationists have tried to inject their beliefs into science has been unscientific and hence not orderly for a scientific context.

    Wally says: ‘Further, what do you even define as an “orderly debate’:

    By orderly I mean restricted to the facts, without the propaganda, spin, and ideology etc.

    Wally says: ‘ why are “orderly debates” as you would define them necessary to thresh out the truth and validity in a scientific theory…:

    Because they stick to the facts.

    Wally says: ..’.and in what ways are the current debates over creationism/evolution, or (non)-CAGW not meeting this standard and being hindered accordingly”: See links below \/ \/

  • Shills
  • Shills
  • Wally

    Shills,

    “Yeah you might wanna double check that…”

    You’re right I was looking at one chapter. For the most recent report I see about 600 authors. Still 2.75x that of a single genome effort in genetics. I’m less than impressed by the “size” of this effort, given what kinds of political messages it is trying to send.

    “Why compare it to such a broad umbrella term like biology?? Wouldn’t the equivalent to biology be geosciences or earth sciences?”

    Ok, be my guest, see how that shakes out too… How about genetics to climate change?

    “Of course I’m willing to concede that biology will probably always have far more numbers–biology is so much cooler–but you haven’t shown that the numbers in climate science are inadequate, if that is what you are tying to do.”

    Nope, trying to show simple size. Don’t change the subject.

    “The IPCC is scientific enough that most major science orgs support its findings.”

    My response to this might as well be the sentence you had right before: “You are gonna have to back this up, and show that it is meaningful.”

    “In addition the statements of the IPCC have not diverged from the science and observations, actually they have sometimes being less severe. So if the IPCC is political, in what way does it matter for the science?”

    “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.

    Because of its scientific and intergovernmental nature, the IPCC embodies a unique opportunity to provide rigorous and balanced scientific information to decision makers. By endorsing the IPCC reports, governments acknowledge the authority of their scientific content. The work of the organization is therefore policy-relevant and yet policy-neutral, never policy-prescriptive.”

    That is they statement of objective page. They basically self-admit they are a group of international scientists that lobby governments regarding the importance of their work… Its political Shills. If it were truly scientific the IPCC would be writing review papers and sending them to peer reviewed journals. Instead they basically write propaganda to send to congress. Just because some group is made up of scientists, don’t assume their motivation is to deal with only the science.

    And shills, what real debate is there with evolution? Outside a few religious fanatics, there is none. And out side a few counties/states with high populations of avid christians, and christian judges, the education issue is a total non-starter. Similarly, any parallel you’d like to draw between evolution/creationism and (non)-CAGW is also a non-starter. One has to be completely ignorant of the scientific process to begin to think a parallel exists here.

  • Shills

    Wally says: ‘I’m less than impressed by the “size” of this effort, given what kinds of political messages it is trying to send.’

    So how big does it have to be until it justifies the kinds of political messages it is trying to send??

    Wally says: ‘Nope, trying to show simple size. Don’t change the subject.’

    Well then what is your point of doing that? I merely assumed your argument was similar to Meyers on this subject.

    Wally says: ‘My response to this might as well be the sentence you had right before: “You are gonna have to back this up, and show that it is meaningful.”’

    The org. statements along with the scientific observations show that the IPCC is not off the mark (at least towards alarmism) due to any political biasing. The Scientific orgs don’t have to support the IPCC and AGW theory but they do. That no org has a dissenting opinion says something too.

    http://www.post-carbon-living.com/TTHW/Documents/Climate_Change_Consensus.pdf

    Wally says: ‘Its political Shills.’

    The IPCC is political in the sense that it is trying to influence govt, true. But you need to prove that this is done with ‘propaganda’ and questionable motives that make em a bad example of a large group of scientists that have formed a legit scientific consensus.

    If you don’t like the IPCC as an example then fine leave it and focus on the field it self. The important point I’m making is that Meyer and you(??) haven’t shown that the size of this group, and the manner they act in, contributes to bad science.

    Wally says: ‘And shills, what real debate is there with evolution? ‘

    The creationist debate may only exist in an isolated state, but the point is that it is not scientifically orderly.

    Wally says: ‘One has to be completely ignorant of the scientific process to begin to think a parallel exists here.’

    So how does me drawing a parallel between creationists who follow pseudo-scientists’ opinions through selected media, and denialists following pseudo-scientists’ opinions through selected media make me totally ignorant of the scientific process??

  • ADiff

    “Wikipedia”? Given how pervasive has been the ideological censorship and filtering by Wikipedia of discussion and content about anything to do with ‘Climate Science’, I surprised anyone would actually cite it without some kind of qualification or caveat… In this arena, at least, Wikipedia’s more like a Chinese Official News Agency than an open venue for discussion. Citing it in this subject area’s like citing ‘the Party Line’.

    It’s fine for an introduction to non-contentious subjects. But for anything even remotely controversial it’s more like a partisan blog aggregator than anything else.

    The IPCC is clearly a Political Entity before all else. How could it be otherwise? It’s a U.N. group. It couldn’t possibly be anything else, no matter what its pretense or intent.

  • Wally

    Shills,

    “So how big does it have to be until it justifies the kinds of political messages it is trying to send??”

    Since the IPCC’s main goal has been to convince politicials that CAGW is a certainty, 100% of climate science community would be a start.

    600 some scientists and only a small handful of lead scientists on each chapter, yeah, not close.

    “Well then what is your point of doing that? I merely assumed your argument was similar to Meyers on this subject.”

    Well, best not to make assumption, huh Shills? The claim in dispute is your “IPCC is not a small group.” That statement cares exactly zero meaning for a number of reasons. First and foremost is that the word “small” is a relative term that could mean anything. You could say it isn’t small because it has 10 people in, and I could say it is small because it has 1000 people in. If you want to drag in the reasoning, I’d love to see your argument. But in that argument, you will somehow have to prove to me how this mear 600 people, most of which have small contributions, are ceratin to be correct.

    “The org. statements along with the scientific observations show that the IPCC is not off the mark (at least towards alarmism) due to any political biasing. The Scientific orgs don’t have to support the IPCC and AGW theory but they do. That no org has a dissenting opinion says something too.”

    Shills, so what? You don’t think we could find orginizations and prominate climate scientists that dispute the IPCC’s claims? You have to do a LOT better here.

    “The IPCC is political in the sense that it is trying to influence govt, true.”

    Right, its a lobbyist group. Just like I said. Thank you.

    “But you need to prove that this is done with ‘propaganda’ and questionable motives that make em a bad example of a large group of scientists that have formed a legit scientific consensus. ”

    One can’t prove motives, Shills, and further I don’t need to, in order to make the case that they are political group, and thus their intentions are to pass a political agenda. Their motives might be quite admirable. They might truly believe in CAGW and immedate, unilateral action required right now by all the world. Second, it is not up to me to prove they are wrong. They need to prove they are right. This is the way things work. The IPCC doesn’t get to claim the flying speghetti monster is going to kill everyone on earth in 2052, and leave up to everyone else to prove them wrong. Ultimately, the argument you’re advancing is a game of he said, she said. You say, look the IPCC which is made up of 600 scientists say that CAGW is a concesus and we need to act now. The natural responce is simply, who cares about concensus? I care about correctness. Further, the “concensus” can be easly disputed by simply pointing to any number of prominate climate scientists that don’t subscribe to the same theory.

    “The important point I’m making is that Meyer and you(??) haven’t shown that the size of this group, and the manner they act in, contributes to bad science.”

    You’re building a strawman. It isn’t necissary bad science. It is simply incorrect to think that because some politically motivated group of scientists say something that they are right. The burden of proof is on them, and now you who are parroting their claims, to prove they are correct. Standing back and shouting “we have a concensus” when you’re talking about as little as 600 scientists as your evidence for correctness is weak, at best, but completely invalid in truth.

    “The creationist debate may only exist in an isolated state, but the point is that it is not scientifically orderly.”

    Which matters how? Lots of issues aren’t “scientificly orderly” (which I put in quotes because we have yet to define what that actually means) in some specific region on this planet, that doesn’t mean heads or tails about this particular debate in general.

    “So how does me drawing a parallel between creationists who follow pseudo-scientists’ opinions through selected media, and denialists following pseudo-scientists’ opinions through selected media make me totally ignorant of the scientific process??”

    The shear fact that you can’t figure this out for youself is quite a clear testimate to your ignorance. But I will try to explain:

    Creationist take not only a skeptical stance on evolution, but they push their own theory as if it were science, without ANY scientific evidence advancing their claims. It is perfectly fine to attempt to bring up inconsistancies with the evidence for evolution in search of alternative hypotheses that fit the evidence more completely. That is what science is all about, and that is what the term “skeptics” of anything do. Instead, they pushing their own political and religous aggenda, disguised as if it where somehow its own scientific theory.

    This analogy you’re attempting to use just does not fit, not for either side. The IPCC may be political, but they do at least attempt to rely on real science, even if their claims of “consensus” are misplaced and irrelevent, but they aren’t acting like creationist. Similarly, CAGW skeptics aren’t either.

    So, going back, the fact that you can’t differentiate good skeptical stand points or arguments from those pushing a religous belief as science, shows you’re quite ignorant of the scientific process, and the differences between conjecture, hypothesis, theory and blind blief.

  • Shills

    Wally says: ‘Since the IPCC’s main goal has been to convince politicials that CAGW is a certainty, 100% of climate science community would be a start.’

    When has the IPCC said CAGW is a ‘certainty’? And why is it 100% of the community?? Why does this number appeal to you?

    Wally says: ‘Well, best not to make assumption, huh Shills? The claim in dispute is your “IPCC is not a small group. That statement cares exactly zero meaning for a number of reasons. ” ‘

    No, the claim in dispute is Meyer’s, that climate science is just a small group of scientists peer-reviewing their own science, and calling it settled science. I get that the measure of ‘small’ is meaningless and that is partly why I am making the point: Why is it too small?

    Wally says: ‘Shills, so what? You don’t think we could find orginizations and prominate climate scientists that dispute the IPCC’s claims? You have to do a LOT better here.’

    and:

    ‘The natural responce is simply, who cares about concensus? I care about correctness.’

    Well here we are, Wally, the same place so many of our arguments end up; you say that consensus doesn’t mean squat (convenient seeing as you hold a minority opinion) and/or dispute its existence, and that the evidence just isn’t there for CAGW. What to do, what to do…

    Anyhoo, you seem to believe that the IPCC’s science is flawed partly (and self-evidently?) as a result of its political nature, you have yet to give any reason for this, yet I have given examples of observational data that suggest otherwise. Where is your evidence apart from merely flaunting your ‘skepticism’. Why not show me the propaganda?

    wally says: ‘Which matters how? Lots of issues aren’t “scientificly orderly” (which I put in quotes because we have yet to define what that actually means) in some specific region on this planet, that doesn’t mean heads or tails about this particular debate in general.’

    I have defined it. If you didn’t find that definition satisfactory then tell me why. And how does it matter?– well read my original post for that point. You query the existence, and then the size of the controversy, and now we are back at the start. Nice one.

    Wally says: ‘So, going back, the fact that you can’t differentiate good skeptical stand points or arguments from those pushing a religous belief as science, shows you’re quite ignorant of the scientific process, and the differences between conjecture, hypothesis, theory and blind blief.’

    Firstly, pretty much all skeptical groups would contest your claiming to being a good skeptic on the issue of CC (I know, I know, you don’t care what everyone else thinks but geez, Wally, you is in the minority). Secondly that whole line of yours is a strawman (did you read what I said??). I am not drawing a general parallel between people who are genuinely(??) skeptical, and religo’s pushing belief on science, I am saying that both climate skeptics and creationists ‘follow pseudo-scientists’ opinions through selected media other than peer-review. The key point being both groups are distrustful of the mainstream scientific community to the extent that pseudo (you’ll contest that), non-peer-review, and blog science gets far more credit than it should.

    Wally says: ‘Similarly, CAGW skeptics aren’t either.’

    Yeah, you might think that the climate skeptics are doing good science but there is a lot of confusion and dispute regarding that. And this is my central point, due to all the doubt, suspicion and ‘disorder’, we might benefit from the argument being generally focused to peer-review.

  • Ceri Reid

    It’s a huge, huge mistake to assume that scientists have any appreciation for how science works. There’s no particular reason that they should – in general, people with science or engineering degrees don’t get courses on the philosophy of science or the history of science and technology. So Mann, Hansen et al. may honestly believe that they have created ‘settled science’. Whether it is pardonable to remain so ignorant of the process of science when publicly challenged is another matter. That does seem a bit arrogant…

  • I don´t think they have published something that won´t be able to prove without some reasonable facts. The science should discover findings and share the results with rest of the world. If somebody can deny (or prove) the facts he or she should come up with it without hesitation…

  • Wally

    Shills,

    “When has the IPCC said CAGW is a ‘certainty’? And why is it 100% of the community?? Why does this number appeal to you?”

    Didn’t say they said that, I said their goal is to have the politicos believe that though. Second, because that would at least begin to imply certainty. Remember, I don’t really care about consensus, I care about something being right, or the likelihood of something being true. And as I see it, 99 people could believe something, but if one guy can make a factual and rational argument of why not to believe that, then the theory has much less than a 99% chance of being right. So, if you’re going to argue using “we have CONSENSUS,” you better make sure you actually have every warm body.

    Also, you need to remember the context, which is often lost in dealing with you; If your position is that 600 some scientists is a lot, and a lot of scientists are likely to be right, mine is that 600 is actually not very many, and further this group of 600 sending some message, may simply be a product of sample bias and not representative of the climate science community as a whole. Thus making any argument about their consensus unconvincing.

    “I get that the measure of ‘small’ is meaningless and that is partly why I am making the point: Why is it too small?”

    What do you mean TOO small? Too small to generate good science? Too small to generate a meaningful “consensus.” You’re getting hung up on this word, and losing Meyer’s argument. The point is that passing peer review doesn’t make one correct. It generally only means some standard for data presentation and quality are met. Think of everything that comes out in peer review as a work in progress and a simple publishing of findings to date. And when that field is small it means knowledge of that field likely progresses slowly and research into a variety of hypothesis is likely to be limited.

    “Anyhoo, you seem to believe that the IPCC’s science is flawed partly (and self-evidently?) as a result of its political nature, you have yet to give any reason for this, yet I have given examples of observational data that suggest otherwise. Where is your evidence apart from merely flaunting your ‘skepticism’. Why not show me the propaganda?”

    And you’ve ended up in your natural equalibrium, running off blathing rather incoherently. You were trying to tell us that because some unknown groups of something all back the IPCC, as well as some mythical “scientific observations,” which you never cite, at which point I basically called bullshit and irrelevance. Then you want to attempt to cast the burden of proof on me?

    You’re the one arguing that the IPCC’s findings are valid, you have to prove it.

    Thus far, the only thing I’ve claimed is that what a group of 600 non-randomly selected scientists say about something or other is weak evidence for a scientific theory and that the IPCC is political entity. I am not, in this space anyway, judging everything they’ve ever said to be right or wrong.

    “I have defined it. If you didn’t find that definition satisfactory then tell me why. And how does it matter?”

    Again I call bullshit. Shills, you never defined “scientifically orderly” at all. And no, again, you want us to care about YOUR definition of “scientifically orderly,” then YOU need to convince me why it matters. We don’t live in a world where what ever Shills says, or thinks he said, is right until someone else proves him wrong….sorry.

    Here is your only statements on the matter before your most recent post: “The creationist debate may only exist in an isolated state, but the point is that it is not scientifically orderly.” That is most certainly is not a definition. Maybe its just me, but when you go from saying defining A, and then you scientifically A, you should probably clue in the guy you’re trying to get some message across to how you’re now using this new term. For example, the words “significant” and “statistically significant” convey two very different meanings.

    “Firstly, pretty much all skeptical groups would contest your claiming to being a good skeptic on the issue of CC (I know, I know, you don’t care what everyone else thinks but geez, Wally, you is in the minority).”

    Right, because what other people say on unrelated issues proves…what? And the more someone needs to point out that their opinion is in the majority in order to prove their case, the less likely I am to believe them. So, if you don’t want me to believe you, you doing well.

    “Secondly that whole line of yours is a strawman (did you read what I said??). I am not drawing a general parallel between people who are genuinely(??) skeptical, and religo’s pushing belief on science, I am saying that both climate skeptics and creationists ‘follow pseudo-scientists’ opinions through selected media other than peer-review. ”

    What? You didn’t understand I thing I said. We were talking about your ignorance of the scientific process illustrated by not being able to tell the difference between something we might call “scientific skepticism” and “religious rejection of science.” I went on to explain what they were and how they applied here. Now you want draw up more BS parallels between climate skeptics (oh yes, this special brand of skeptics) and creationists regarding blogs or media.

    Then you try to tell us that both groups are “distrustful of the mainstream scientific community.” That’s almost the point exactly. Good scientists are distrustful. The null hypothesis is always that of non-belief. Do you not know what the word trust means? It means to place confidence in someone/thing absent data to prove they are right. Ie. I trust that Shills actually did his homework; There is no need to check if he did. Or: I trust my wife doesn’t cheat on me, thus I don’t follow her around all day to actually prove it.

    So, the issue here is not that I do or do not trust the scientific community to give me the right answer. The issue is that I do not find the CAGW argument convincing. It isn’t because I don’t like or trust Mann or Jones or whoever (I’m sure I could trust them to dog-sit or to make their appointment with their proctologist). It is because I find their data, analysis and logic supporting their theory are lacking. Now, that “belief” might be a minority opinion, but that does not mean it is invalid or based on ignorance. I could point to many journal articles supporting my stance, or climate scientists that share my opinion, or give you any number of criticisms of pro-CAGW arguments that you could then weigh yourself for validity (not that you’ve proven able or willing to do so, leading me to “trust” you wouldn’t want to do that here).

    And again, the fact that you think this issue can be boiled down to trusting the scientific community only further proves your ignorance in the scientific process. Trust simply has no place in science (imagine if the FDA simply approved drugs because it trusted Pfizer). So, if you can’t understand the difference between trust, or the lack there of, and skepticism, then you obviously can’t make an argument by analogy regarding what climate skeptics are or are not like.

    “Yeah, you might think that the climate skeptics are doing good science but there is a lot of confusion and dispute regarding that. And this is my central point, due to all the doubt, suspicion and ‘disorder’, we might benefit from the argument being generally focused to peer-review.”

    Sure, peer-review the findings or data. But the broader interpretation is usually outside the realm of peer-review and is up to the individual readers of the literature to determine. Further, any paper’s ultimate relevance to the field in general will simply not be known for possibly decades. And with climate science, and the need to basically wait 100 years to prove a hypothesis, it might take centuries.

  • Shills

    Wally says: ‘Didn’t say they said that, I said their goal is to have the politicos believe that though.

    Well, give some evidence for that then.

    Wally says: ‘And when that field is small it means knowledge of that field likely progresses slowly and research into a variety of hypothesis is likely to be limited.’

    …yes. And so with that possibly the case, it might be premature to call certain hypotheses ‘settled science’, I get it and have not lost sense of his argument. But what Meyer has not shown is that climate science is an example of this. He has not shown examples of hypotheses that are prematurely claimed as ‘settled science’ beyond criticism. And he has not simply shown why the community is of such a size that it is susceptible to making premature claims of settled science.

    Wally says: ‘You were trying to tell us that because some unknown groups of something all back the IPCC, as well as some mythical “scientific observations,” which you never cite, at which point I basically called bullshit and irrelevance. Then you want to attempt to cast the burden of proof on me?’

    Links to both the ‘unknown groups’ and ‘mythical observations’ were given in my prev. posts. Sharpen up Wally. Now give me some evidence for the mythical IPCC propaganda.

    Wally says: ‘Again I call bullshit. Shills, you never defined “scientifically orderly” at all.

    Ease up. It’s the same def. I gave for ‘orderly’. I have been using them interchangeably. You felt the need to write a whole paragraph snidely describing the discrepancy of ‘A’, and ‘scientifically A’, when all you had to ask was: ‘Is A the same as scientifically A?

    Wally says: ‘And no, again, you want us to care about YOUR definition of “scientifically orderly,” then YOU need to convince me why it matters. We don’t live in a world where what ever Shills says, or thinks he said, is right until someone else proves him wrong….sorry.’

    Wally, I already said I am fine for you to question my definition. I never asked you to ‘care’ about my definition. Why do you feel the need to write so denigratory?

    Wally says: ‘We were talking about your ignorance of the scientific process illustrated by not being able to tell the difference between something we might call “scientific skepticism” and “religious rejection of science.”

    No. I’d prefer not to frame the issue the way that suits you, and just stick to my original points, namely, that a certain parallel possibly exists between creationists and climate skeptics.

    Wally says: ‘Now you want draw up more BS parallels between climate skeptics (oh yes, this special brand of skeptics) and creationists regarding blogs or media.’

    What new parallels did I bring up?? I did not bring up any new ‘BS’. It is the same and hasn’t changed.

    Wally says: ‘Then you try to tell us that both groups are “distrustful of the mainstream scientific community.’

    ‘….to the extent that pseudo, non-peer-review, and blog science gets far more credit than it should.’ –Did you miss that part or just like cherry-picking to suit your argument? Of course I don’t advocate blind trust in science. The point is that the the level of doubt and suspicion is unwarranted and biased towards pseudo-science. You seem to imply that climate skeptics only have issue with the strength of clim. sci. arguments, but if that were the case, then what is with all the crying of suppression of dissent, data manipulation… etc?? That is not a simple issue with the arguments.

    Wally says: But the broader interpretation is usually outside the realm of peer-review and is up to the individual readers of the literature to determine. ‘

    What do you mean by ‘usually outside the realm of peer-review’? And those readers are generally scientists who would subject their ‘broader interpretations’ to peer-review, unlike pseudo-scientists who can say what they want no matter how unscientific.

  • epobirs

    It is SNOWING right now in Castaic, CA. This has happened approximately NEVER before in my lifetime.

    I’m turning up the heat to get busy on expanding my carbon footprint.

  • Shills

    Epobirs,

    Increased regional snowfall is not inconsistent with AGW, even though it seems counter-intuitive. So let’s keep that carbon footprint to a minimum yo.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Record-snowfall-disproves-global-warming.htm

  • epobirs

    Dude, going from 0% to 100% is more than an increase. It last happened in 1949 and a minuscule amount by comparison.

    The problem with the nonsensical AGW claims is ANYTHING is treated as being consistent with the belief system. That is a faith, not a science.

  • Shills

    Epobirs says: ‘Dude, going from 0% to 100% is more than an increase. It last happened in 1949 and a minuscule amount by comparison.’

    Fair enough, I know nothing of the USA, let alone your neck of the woods. The problem is that you are talking about regional weather rather than climate. AGW impacts on the former are not well understood. No one can say if the freak weather you experienced was related to AGW or otherwise. That is why talking about weather is generally pointless for either side of the debate.

    Epobirs says: ‘The problem with the nonsensical AGW claims is ANYTHING is treated as being consistent with the belief system.’

    This comments seems to boil down to the old climate science is fake science argument, no?. Well, what is it that you know that has lead you to that conclusion?

  • Sllihsr

    Good article.
    Excellent analogy.
    CAGW defenders may claim “settled science!!” or “peer reviewed!!” but as long as the political / economic aspects of CAGW dogma can be stalled and held back, it actually doesn’t matter.
    Climate “science” is indeed fake science.

  • It used to work

    The only way to give credibility to anything masquerading as Science is for there to exist verifiable predictions, and these must be carried out by independent experimenters. It makes no difference how many prizes, awards, degrees, peer compliments, publications, patents one has. In real Science Nature is the arbiter of Truth.

    That is why making a prediction of what is going to happen 100 years from now, or something which is so vague that it is not obvious it has occurred like “climate Change” are not acceptable in Science as they can not be verified. By the way, my extensive calculations show that Earth will collide with Pluto in 2347. Send money so I can find how to prevent this.

  • It used to work

    By the way, were Richard Feynman around today he would have humiliated the current crop of junk scientists so badly that they would have to find honest work

  • Shills

    It used to work,

    you say ‘By the way, were Richard Feynman around today he would have humiliated the current crop of junk scientists so badly that they would have to find honest work’

    What was so unique about him? You don’t think peeps like him exist today? They are out there but they aren’t humiliating anyone in the climate science.

    You say: ‘The only way to give credibility to anything masquerading as Science is for there to exist verifiable predictions, and these must be carried out by independent experimenters.’

    Climate science predicts many things. And they are carried out by independent researchers, although I don’t know why you make that distinction. Why does it matter?

  • It used to work

    My friend, Climate Science is not a science since it has no precise numerical variables, no laws, and statistics are not applicable because there is no physically meaningful time intervals over which to take averages and no periodicity The system is not stationary–meaning that the earth and its atmosphere and the sun, and the molten interior and the cosmic radiation present a constantly changing environment far beyond the capabilities of prediction. The applicable laws are precisely those of physics (my field) and climatologists don’t even know what the applicable laws of physics are. Feynman has no peers today, and any climate hustler who was dumb enough to engage him in debate would soon be an alcoholic as his pride would be damaged beyond repair. Climatology really is a junk science like social science, political science, economics or Christan Science, requiring True Believers with no objectiviity left.

    It took the bravery of people like Galileo to remove us from the Dark Ages for three hundred years, and now the greedy generation of tax-grabbing junk scientists/con artists have led us back into the Dark Ages. Good work kid. Your life will be better if you earn an honest living.

  • It used to work

    The only meaningful interval for taking averages of the earth crust and climate subsystem starts when the planets were formed. It was very warm then and the long-term trend since has shown massive cooling with the atmospheric water vapor condensing into oceans and many other dramatic changes. But if we start taking our averages from the end of the last ice age their has been a warming trend. But if we start taking our averages ten years ago there has been a cooling trend. Oh, by the way, the concept of the temperature of the earth has an uncertainty, depending on the sample points, of around +or_ 5 degrees F. And like all numerical measurement the uncertainty is a matter of taste, when you get too fussy. So looking for a change of 2 degrees is meaningless. And the distinction between weather and climate is bogus–simply provides another uncertain averaging interval for an escape hatch when the wrong predictions become too embarrassing. And by the way, the earths crust moves up and down, in some places many feet, in response to the massive, hot, dense, convection currents that provide the heat transfer between the intensely hot core and the heat escaping into the atmosphere. This is the cause of those obscure islands sinking due to “rising sea levels”. The climate hustlers there saw a chance to loot a few books by blaming this on global warming. What a pathetic bunch of cons led by the Goracle.The Farmers Almanac and Piers Morgan have humiliated all the “scientists” in this dark field. Look, academia is full of junk fields like modern mathematics (not the math developed by primarily by physicists before that distinction existed), history which is simply indoctrination, business being taught by professors for have never started a profitable business, literature, anthropology, and the list goes on and on. It is time to recognize this fraud and demand professors prove themselves in the real world before teaching young, gullible minds.

  • Shills

    numerical variables?? how ’bout degrees C? PPM?

    Laws?? They use physical laws as you stated.

    And what do you mean by the stats lacking physically meaningful time intervals?

  • It used to work

    One can make averages and trends vary dramaticlly by choosing the sample over which averages are taken. For example, the average height of a person on an NBA court is dramatically different than the average height of those residing in that portion of Africa where the pygmies live. There has to be a compelling reason for choosing the sample and in the case of the earth’s climate a random sample is not possible since we have very limited data and there is no periodic pattern either. So there is no meaning to the averages since they use arbitrary samples. I don’t use the MKS system since it was designed for academic problem solving and has a fatal flaw: It is based on powers of the base of our number system and ten is too large for anybody to intuitively comprehend. In the real world we can grasp up to around three or four without thinking, and this is why the English system has so many units. If we are going to reform the world then start with the real problem first which is the base of the number system needsto be changed to 2. Then you get for virtually nothing the bases of 4,8, 16 which are useful, while 100, 1000 etc are useless. Next you make English spelling phonetic which saves billions of hours of needless teaching–and might avoid our having to learn Chinese as China will soon be at the top of the world order. These are real things academics could do which would have benefit instead of attempting another “sky-is-falling” scam.

  • It used to work

    Shills,For whatever reason, you picked a bogus field populated by con artists. Those emails were about as incriminating as it gets, particularly the one about the word “trick” and the subsequent attempt to explain it as a common usage of the word in science. In science the word “trick” means a clever way to get to the truth which is much easier than the standard way, like using logs to multiply high-precision numbers. The way it was actually used by the Penn State con artist was intended to create a misleading graph, but with a defensible, if strained, argument to defend it in case the cat got out of the bag, which it did. Penn State, like East Anglican, are no longer respected universities for allowing this junk science to go unpunished. Fifty years ago Columbia University fired a professor for misleading a TV audience into thinking he was very smart on the $64K Question while in reality he was being fed the answers. Columbia fired him immediately even though this had nothing to do with his university work. Today, they would cheer him on. Science has gone the way of politics–slimy people trying to capitalize on others ignorance. Get out of this field while you can!

  • It used to work

    Nearly all working physicists feel like the below quote illustrates. But the physics bureaucrats like those in The Union of Concerned Scientists, or the National Academy of Science often don’t because no working scientists has time for such meaningless, but prestigous sounding, organizations. Those who can, do.

    “Professor Emiritus Hal Lewis as he Resigns from American Physical Society:
    It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist.”