William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Government Funding Is A Conflict Of Interest: Cowardly Calls For Climate Scientist’s Firing. Update

willie

The Beast

What entity pours by far the most money into scientific research? I’ll give you a hint. It’s the same entity that has been growing without bound, mercilessly muscling aside all competitors who would encroach into its space. It’s an entity which has a keen and abiding interest in the research it funds. An entity with desires. This entity cares results from its funded research turns out this way and not that.

No, not an oil company. Nay, not Apple corporation. Not even a pharmaceutical. It’s Uncle Sam!

Did you not know the scientists who receive Uncle’s lusciously large lasting grants are the same scientists who sit on the committees which award the grants? Conflict? It’s true the various wealthy agencies have a permanent and ever-burgeoning staff (see Parkinson’s Law and this) which shuffles the booty to and fro, but they’re advised by transient academics who today are at their home institutions standing erect with their hands out, and tomorrow are on the Metro to the NIH to sit (erect) in judgment of their peers.

Yes, the same people who award the grants are those that receive them.

Didn’t you know this? It’s true a man can’t award himself a grant, but he can give one to his pal and neighbor, and when its his pal and neighbor’s turn to sit on the review committee, he can and does return the favor.

But aren’t grants anonymous? Sure, some of them are. In the same way you think your online presence is anonymous. It takes almost a full minute of scrutiny in most cases to discover the name of the pleader. And many times there is no pretense of anonymity. This makes it easy to punish your enemies and boost your buddies.

What about the nature of the grants?

If the EPA solicits applications for the grant “Find something wrong with this power plant” do you think their pleadings will go in vain? No, sir, they will not. Dozens upon dozens of imploring missives will arrive at headquarters, all promising to finger the culprit. And do you think the investigations of the winner (and now richer researcher) will disappoint? No, sir, these investigations will not. Besides the ordinary willingness to please found in cooperative well-fed persons, there is also the promise of future monies for a job well done.

Not only will the researcher gladly suck at the government teat, strengthening his own bank account, but the researcher’s boss will benefit, too. For in each government gift is attached the miracle of overhead. This amounts to an additional 50% (more or less) of the grant’s value, a sum which goes to the researcher’s boss to spend as he pleases.

As he pleases, I say.

Overhead can be, and has been, spent on all nature of things. New offices and furnishings. Wintertime junkets to sunny uplands. Hiring of nephews and nieces. This overhead is very pleasing to the researcher’s Dean and the Dean’s guard of deanlettes. The Dean encourages grants for this reason, making sure to hire just those folks who are likely to bring in more government overhead.

The system feeds on itself.

For these and for many more similar reasons, the biggest conflict of interest in scientific research is government grants. It is an open scandal of monstrous proportions that scientists who receive government money do not declare that they might have been influenced, that they never admit their interest (beyond saying, “This grant was funded by grant xxx-yyy”).

Climate chaos

And so we come to one of the most cowardly unethical asinine foolhardy pig-ignorant acts we have witnessed in the thing we used to call Science.

You can see the picture above. It’s being passed around by the juvenile simpleton—this is an provable accusation, not meaningless abuse—named Greg Laden. He would like to see Willie Soon fired from his job, because why? Because, and I quote the ass,

Apparently, his research is paid by the fossil fuel industry.

The research in question is the paper “Why models run hot: results from an irreducibly simple climate model” written by Lord Monckton, Wille Soon, David Legates, and Yours Truly. See Climate Paper Causes Chaos, Angst, Anger, Apoplexy! (Hacking?) for more details.

Not one penny, not one iota of consideration of any kind, was received from any source for the writing of this paper. It was a labor of love, done on personal time (of which, for my heresies, I have mountains). We wrote and re-wrote, and re-wrote some more, then decided which journal might enjoy seeing the paper. We knew (see Climategate) our names alone would cause its rejection from the usual “Consensus” sources. So we went where we were not known, figuring the work would be judged on its merits and not its politics. It was.

We submitted. Then we endured a grueling peer-review process (your proctologist was not as thorough). Our paper was accepted. And that’s it.

That makes Laden’s insinuation a lie. No fossil fuel industry funding was received. And even if it was, the details I gave you about the true source of tainting money in research also proves that there is nothing special about oil money. Indeed, oil money is less influential because (1) there’s much, much less of it, and (2) there is not the habit of the same people who receive the grants also awarding them.

The believers in science-is-politics who have organized the petition have attracted “21,263 signers so far“. This is a crowd that wouldn’t be able to define convection. This is a crowd that knows nothing about global warming, but they sure as heck believe in its solution.

Idiots.

Update

Laden is still deleting my comments from his site. He can dish it out (albeit weakly) but he can’t take it. My latest asks him whether he curls up at night in the dark wondering if he will be sued. Here’s what Laden tweeted.

If you can’t read it, it says, “That Briggs guy is some sort of nut job, isn’t he? Hadn’t heard of him before.” Laden still blocks me from reading his direct tweets (I can read this because it has my handle in it).

And the amusing thing about this is that it caught the interest of the smug maniac (and academic philosopher) Lawrence Torcello, who said “misinformation” (defined by him, a man almost completely ignorant of physics) about the climate “criminally negligent”. We met him before here. About this article this fallacy propagator tweeted (among others):

Torcello calls this post the result of some sort of “conspiracy ideation” and says “Mere ideation need not be in error. It’s my duty as a philosopher to be precise. :)” He said before that (in the article linked) “Deniers” are “criminally negligent in their willful disregard for human life.” This is a philosopher being precise.

Torcello, the precise academic philosopher, also says this:

Which reads, “Why is it that every time students protest a campus speaker someone accuses them of wanting to squelch free speech? Students have it too.”

These are the people in charge of the academy, folks.

Update Torcello the academic philosopher responded to me on Twitter. This brief exchange ought to tell you everything you should know about our enemies.

After pointing out Torcello was a maniac for calling for the arrest of his enemies, he tweeted:

Which reads “Are we playing make believe argument? Then Briggs is that maniac who calls for the breeding of dogs with oranges.” Huh? I responded:

Which reads, “So, Torcello, learn any physics yet? Like models which cannot make skillful forecasts should be abandoned?” He answered with this non sequitur:

Which reads, “I’ve learned that people who promote conspiratorial nonsense shouldn’t be indulged.” My last response was:

Which reads, “Tell me. Do you try to educate yourself in physics or do you seek those who tell you you don’t have to?”

He answered this not at all.

27 Comments

  1. Briggs

    January 31, 2015 at 10:30 am

    All,

    I just posted the following on Laden’s site. Let’s see if he has the guts to leave it.

    This is one of the most cowardly, unethical, foolish, dumbest things I have ever seen. To call for, and to encourage the call for, the firing of a man whose scientific writing you don’t like (or possibly can’t understand) is the stuff of playgrounds, not the actions of a man.

    This is a despicable deed, Laden, the work of a snot-nosed juvenile whose knows only one response to bad news: to cry and kick his feet.

    Yet your writing is an admission that climatology is yet another branch of politics. To even let yourself imagine that a public petition, filled with signatures of people utterly ignorant of, say, cloud parameterizations in climate models, has any bearing to the debate on global warming is to admit that scientific truth can be had by vote. Ludicrous.

    What a sad creature you are to participate in this. This is a man’s livelihood you are attacking, you would-be bully.

    Let’s see how accurate my charges of coward are.

    Update For about 5 minutes, my comment was listed as “awaiting moderation.” It has since disappeared.

    Update 11:19 AM. Looks like he deleted the comment. So I wrote another:

    So I was right. You are a coward.

    You know it, and I know it.

    Update Noon. Brave boy deleted that comment, too.

  2. ExxonMobil and Chevron were sponsors of the AGU 2014 Fall Meetings.
    http://fallmeeting.agu.org/2014/general-information/thank-you-to-our-sponsors/
    So I guess all the “scientists” who presented there should be fired from their jobs too.

  3. Old saying, he who pays the piper calls the tune. If you take the government grant you better provide the desired results if you want more money.

  4. To echo Gary, ExxonMobil made a $2M contribution to the “America on the Move” exhibit at the Smithsonian in 2003 (http://americanhistory.si.edu/press/releases/%E2%80%9Camerica-move%E2%80%9D-exhibition-opens-nov-22-national-museum-american-history).

    If companies are banned from engaging in PR and other efforts of corporate social responsibility, then where will we be? The government will have to pick up the slack.

  5. I’m curious why the DNC, you know, the guys that hate oil and gas because it’s killing the planet, merrily took over $2 million dollars for the DNC convention in Colorado in 2012. If oil money is so wrong, why did they accept? Wouldn’t this taint Obama? What about Al Gore—Mr. I Made Millions Off Oil and I am KEEPING it? No influence there? So oil and gas only affects people who disagree with AGW? I’d like to the physics on that one, please.

    There’s an incredible amount of “I got mine so I will now keep you from getting anything” in this entire political arena. Warmists beat up anyone that gets in their way. It’s all about keeping anyone from succeeding and maybe threatening their little kingdom. It will be interesting/terrifying if they succeed and then find out what a population drained of hope can actually do to those who took their hope. Denial is such a problematic coping mechanism, you know.

    Ever notice AGW calls for the firing of skeptics but never for the terrorist making money off oil in the middle east? Cowards, all of them. I suppose knowing that in the end, they will be devoured by those they tried to appease is some consolation, but it would be great if just once we could avoid all the insanity and grow up before we getted slapped down by reality.

  6. This sort of behavior is not new. The Climategate email excerpts show how the warmists tried to get the skeptic Chris DeFreitas fired from his academic job in New Zealand.
    The worst thing the warmists have done is to entwine politics and science. I talk about this in my post: “Scientific Integrity: Lessons from Climategate.”
    (That may have been one of the deleted posts in the Great Hack).
    http://rationalcatholic.blogspot.com/2015/01/scientific-integrity-lessons-from.html

  7. http://freebeacon.com/issues/foreign-firm-funding-u-s-green-groups-tied-to-state-owned-russian-oil-company/

    I’m sure it’s not true because those environmentalists are such pure, caring human beings. However, I thought it important to present it for consideration.
    (Yep, that’s sarcasm.)

  8. Another interesting exception to the “oil money taints you” mantra—two Wyoming professors wrote for the IPCC documents in 2007 and were pro-warming. In reality, they are paid by oil and gas through the minerals tax that in Wyoming substitutes for an income tax. Anyone living in Wyoming in one way or another benefits from or are paid by oil and gas. Yet there are both skeptics and believers in this state. I’m seeing this is really about going against the PC mantra.

  9. Briggs,

    You don’t understand, money only taints the skeptics. True believers are never swayed by anything as petty as money.

    /sarc

  10. We need to get used to the fact that science is just another special interest. It is no different than unions, gays, feminists, tort lawyers, big banks, etc. And like these special interests, the mandarins who lead them will lie, cajole, cheat, … do whatever they need to do to keep their funding and their influence intact. The Ladens, Gleicks, Oreskes, and the like are just simply the most obviously vile, but there are armies of the mediocre that stand by, support, and participate in what has happened, and profit from it. There is nothing quite like the sight of 2000 “scientists” rising to give Al Gore a thunderous ovation at a AAAS meeting to recalibrate one’s brain as to what science has become.

    I would not look for any redemption anytime soon. It needs to get much worse before there is chance of meaningful reform. Meanwhile real science will pass to other hands.

  11. I once read a tedious scientific assessment report on the heath dangers of global warming. (I am too lazy to try to find the link again, but if sufficiently pushed I will.) It became clear from reading the report that the brief (and associated funding) was “why is a warmer climate bad for your health” or some such. No fun in giving researchers the easier brief, “why warmer or colder temperatures are bad for your health”, apparently.

    The challenge with the second brief, meant of course to produce a predetermined outcome, was the absence of any evidence that a warmer climate was bad for one’s health in the published academic literature. (This doesn’t of course stop the IPCC which references magazine articles, pamphlets produced by special interest groups, etc., but such a tactic is far too risky if someone points this out to a small team rather than an enormous group. As any gazelle will tell you, there is safety in numbers.)

    There were wonderful throwaways in the report, along the lines of (I paraphrase), “While it is well established that hospital mortality rates increase during the coldest months of the year…” — the absence of any evidence to the contrary was the challenge. Of course, since these researchers had been paid to produce the report, they rose to the challenge, and created their very own *cardiovascular heat stress model.* Why not? If you can’t find anything in the published research why indulge in a bit of speculative sciency sounding modelling? After all, I assume the authors all had bills to pay of their own.

    Note, the report didn’t calculate =

    (reduced deaths due to warming)

    (increased deaths due to heat stress)
    =

    Because that wasn’t the brief! Was the report misleading? Of course, but that wasn’t their problem. They were just following orders.

  12. Perhaps you have heard of the classification of ‘Almost Psychopath’ which is being debated by psychologists these days, I believe. There is a book by Silver and Schouten. with that title. I seem to remember that these psychopathic types thrive on opposition.
    They become more and more bullying in their attitudes.
    Ignoring such foolishness as we get from them may be one way of tackling the problem on line. Even if we write “Well, he would say that ,wouldn’t he” it feeds the self esteem of the bully.

  13. You can view his tweets, just paste his address into a browser you’re not logged into twitter on. Close the screen that asks you to login or join Twitter.

  14. Was the photo chosen to invoke Rodney (I get no respect) Dangerfield?

  15. @Bob,

    “The worst thing the warmists have done is to entwine politics and science.”

    This has been going on for many decades now. The ‘warmists’ didn’t start this. I suspect if you look at any small specialised research field*, you’ll find gatekeepers who will do their best to block papers that challenge their own work.

    *Even climate science with all its new funding, still has a relatively small number of players and gate keepers in it. If you follow this field for any length of time you’ll see the same small number of names pop up over and over again.

  16. In December 2002, four sponsors – ExxonMobil, GE, Schlumberger, and Toyota – helped launch ???? with plans to invest $225 million over a decade or more. These four global companies have collectively committed over $150 million towards ???? so far (2013). In September 2011, DuPont joined the Project as its newest corporate sponsor.

    In addition to significant financial support, the sponsors provide technical expertise and insights concerning eventual deployment of energy technologies. As ???? continues to build its portfolio of potentially game-changing innovations, it foresees other leading companies coming on board.

    ExxonMobil: The world’s leading publicly traded petroleum and petrochemical company, plans to invest up to $100 million.

    Schlumberger: The world’s leading oilfield services technology company , plans to invest up to $25 million.

    Gee, I wonder who was the lucky denier think tank that received the above, “$150 million so far in 2013” funding was?

    a) The Heartland Foundation?
    b) The NIPCC?
    c) The GWPF?
    d) WUWT?
    e) Willie Soon?
    or
    f) None of the above

    The answer of course is…….F, none of the above.

    The entity that is expected to receive up to $100 million from ExxonMobile and up to $50 million from Schlumberger (or $225 million in total funds) is the GCEP, otherwise known as The Global Climate and Energy Project at Stanford University.

    http://gcep.stanford.edu/about/sponsors.html

    http://web.archive.org/web/20060210141109/http://gcep.stanford.edu/about/sponsors.html

    http://web.archive.org/web/20130403132841/http://gcep.stanford.edu/about/sponsors.html

    According to Greg Laden and Brad Johnson, campaign manager of Forecast the Facts, all of the scientists doing research at the GCEP should all be sacked, fired.

    HYPOCRITES!

  17. Briggs

    February 2, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    All,

    A reminder from a friend. Eisenhower warned, in his farewell address:

    “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocation, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded. Yet in holding scientific discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

  18. Briggs

    February 4, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    All,

    A friend pointed me to these interesting posts from a couple of years ago. About the cowardly Greg Laden.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rockbeyondbelief/2012/07/01/the-pits/
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rockbeyondbelief/2012/07/04/greg-ladens-sometimes-the-bad-guys-win/

  19. There was a comment by one “Realist” which was scurrilous and a fine example of ad hominem…I saw it in my email but I guess it’s been deleted in case the pseudo-savant who posted it looks at this set of comments I thought a definition of “ad hominem” might be in order:
    “Translated from Latin to English, ‘Ad Hominem’ means ‘against the man’ or ‘against the person.’
    An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument. Typically, this fallacy involves two steps. First, an attack against the character of person making the claim, her circumstances, or her actions is made (or the character, circumstances, or actions of the person reporting the claim). Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim or argument the person in question is making (or presenting). This type of “argument” has the following form:
    1. Person A makes claim X.
    2. Person B makes an attack on person A.
    3. Therefore A’s claim is false.
    The reason why an Ad Hominem (of any kind) is a fallacy is that the character, circumstances, or actions of a person do not (in most cases) have a bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim being made (or the quality of the argument being made).”
    (From the Niskor project, http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/ad-hominem.html, a project, appropriately enough, “to teach about the Holocaust and to battle hatred”.)

  20. The ad hominem logical fallacy – Briggsy does a fine job of committing it over and over again on this issue. It’s all plain to see from him on this topic.
    And thanks for the further post deletion – wouldn’t want Briggsy’s hypocrisy highlighted….

  21. Briggs

    February 15, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    “Realist”,

    You are a bore and are using the demonstrably incorrect definition of ad hom. But if you say you have spotted an instance where I have used it—-which shouldn’t be hard since you say I use it “over and over”—then point it out specifically and show, again specifically, how it fits the fallacy.

  22. Realist, you are very slow to grasp the principles of rational discourse.
    First, if one person commits an error in such, that does not justify you to do so also.
    Second, if you read the definition given above, you should have noticed the qualifier “in most cases”. That means, to give an explanation for the dense, that if someone does something morally reprehensible–such as attempting to get someone fired because of his political, religious or scientific beliefs–then you have a right, nay an obligation to call him/her out on it.

    Also, I noticed that you attacked Briggs because of his belief in God, or as you put it so quaintly “The sky fairy”. There are lots of minds much deeper and more intelligent than mine (and certainly yours) that believe in God. See, for example the list of great scientists, including Nobel Prize winners, who are theists.
    http://www.catholicstand.com/great-scientists-atheists/

    Finally, it’s a shame Briggs cut your comment. If he had let it stand it would have shown the world your lack of thinking skills and your spiteful nature.

  23. And that last sir, was indeed an “ad hominem” comment.

  24. One more comment, realist, which I meant to add:
    I will pray for your conversion.

  25. Thank you for pointing out the petition demanding the firing of Willie Soon. I have signed it and forwarded it to all my friends. Dishonest corporate mouthpieces have no place in a scientific discussion. I do hope the Science Bulletin realises its mistake and retracts the article.

  26. I left a couple of missives with Greg , this quote is printable
    “Homer: See, Lisa, looks like tomorrow I’ll be shoveling ten feet of global warming.
    Lisa: Global warming can cause weather at both extremes, hot and cold.
    Homer: I see, so you’re saying warming makes it colder. Well aren’t you the queen of crazy land. Everything the’s opposite of everything.”
    On the other my Tourettes fffffffkicked in and and I rather lost it with the ffffffff
    ccccccccccdah!clown

  27. clarissa overstreet

    September 5, 2015 at 2:31 am

    Helpful blog post – I was fascinated by the information ! Does someone know if I would be able to locate a blank 2010 DD 2945 version to fill in ?

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