William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Goon Squad Fails To Distract Public From Fact That Climate Models Stink: Update 3

The New York Times's Science Squad. Notice the superior rival paper, which is undoubtedly used as a crib.

The New York Times’s Science Squad. Notice the superior rival paper, which is undoubtedly used as a crib.

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Our continuing walk through Summa Contra Gentiles is postponed until next week. Feel free to pass this around, but only in its entirety and with a link back to the original.

All my efforts to educate reporters were in vain. It turns out they’d rather remain wallowing in their muck than learn about the subjects on which they write. The worst examples are Justin Gillis and associate at the far left New York Times.

So I failed. I was a fool to try. I let myself forget that I was dealing with a class of people where the gap between actual and perceived ability is not only wide, but is a gaping chasm. To expect mainstream science reporters to understand science is like asking an environmentalist to be reasonable. I should have remembered most journalists suffer from reporteritis, the degrading ailment whereby because reporters cover important people and events they come believe they are important, too. Sadly, there is no known cure.

Here’s the story. Lord Christopher Monckton, Willie Soon, David Legates, and I wrote a paper called “Why models hot” which offers an explanation on why climate models are so awful. Which they are: awful. We received no money for the work, nor was any offered. We did the work entirely on our own time. Unlike journalists who have to conform to their employers’ ideological and political convictions and scientists who accept government grants in hopes of receiving more in the future, we were beholden to no one.

Listen: there has to be some reason for the repeated dismal embarrassing failure of climate models to conform to reality. We might be wrong about why they stink, but then again we might be right. Wouldn’t it be marvelous if we are? No more having to fret and whine and worry about the sky falling! Something to celebrate, no?

No. Not if your existence depends on selling doom and scaring the wits out of the gullible. The cult-like Greenpeace and other True Believers understood that our paper cast serious doubt on the silly hypothesis that man-made global warming will soon kill us all—unless government expands by leaps and bounds. They freaked.

Greenpeace and like-minded zealots knew that there was no answer to “Why models run hot” except to admit climate models were a failure (but see this attempt at an answer by a real scientist). So they did what came naturally to the morally decrepit: they tried to change the subject. And the best way to do that, they thought, was to discredit the authors of the paper. That this kind of unethical ignoble oafish behavior has no place in science is nothing. Rank degeneracy comes naturally to activists and their puppy journalistic followers.

Now Lord Monckton has no regular position, and neither do I (not that I don’t want one). So True Believers had no traction with us (though I was hacked). Legates and Soon have jobs. The coward Greg Laden touted a petition to have Soon fired. The troubled David Appell tried FOIA-ing Legate’s employers, but it turned out that because none of us received any money for our work, there was nothing to see, and Legates’s employers turned him down.

But Soon’s employers were more generous and shared with Greenpeace Soon’s correspondence. But poor Greenpeace came away disappointed. We claimed we got no money—no nothing—from nobody. We claimed it because it was true. I tried telling reporters this until my fingers were sore (here and here), but none of them ever seemed to hear it. It’s as if they didn’t want to.

Well, Soon, like most other scientists in research positions, has at times accepted grants from sources other than our most beneficent Government. Greenpeace, for instance, often hands these kinds of things out (ask reporters why any scientist receiving Greenpeace money doesn’t forever after admit a conflict of interest). Since Greenpeace couldn’t discover what wasn’t there, they sent their ill-gotten goods to some folks in the press with no honor hoping merely by making an accusation they could cause a stink. A sort of variant of the “Hey Gillis, are you still sleeping with goats?” trick.

Any honest man would have thrown the emails back in Greenpeace’s face, as it were. But we’re dealing with mainstream reporters, not men. Somehow they convinced themselves that they were involved in a higher calling, that to cast wrongful aspersions on an innocent man was okay as long as it was for a good cause. Besides, they were only doing their job. There were “allegations”. They were just following orders.

Soon is an honest man and my friend. Not only has he done nothing wrong, he has done everything right. Like what, for instance?

Like co-authoring the paper “Why models run hot.” Were you aware, dear reader, that climate models have been promising gold but have been delivering low-grade manure for decades? Repeated extended horrifying terrible shockingly awful predictions have been passed off as sound immaculate don’t-you-dare-doubt-it SCIENCE for years and years and years and even more years despite their awful stench. How did this happen?

One theory is that the human race is insane. Another is that politicians, reporters, activists, and scientists anxious to improve their circumstance glommed on to what they saw as a good thing merely to enhance their own personal status, riches, and power. This is why actual performance doesn’t matter. This is why actual science is meaningless. This is a left-wing propaganda sheet sent a walking sausage to disparage a good man.

Nobody wants to see the end of the gravy train. Reality cannot be borne, not where there are offices to be secured, awards to be won, grants to be had. Those in power will do anything to hold off the inevitable.

Friends, don’t buy into their nonsense. Refuse to discuss their preposterous “allegations”—such a serious word! If you do, you grant victory to these malevolent beasts. Their intent was to distract and to have you talk about anything except the truth that climate models cannot be trusted. Don’t fall for it!

Let’s only talk about real science. Not one word about “conflicts of interest” except to ask journalists how they dare report on subjects in which they are so manifestly ignorant.

Use this anemic yet opprobrious goon squad attack to good purpose. Every time some citizen says, “Didn’t that scientist fill out a form incorrectly?” remind them that it didn’t matter if that scientist was as dishonest and reprehensible as Al Gore himself, what counts is whether his charge that climate models have been over-promising more insistently than a used car salesman who has fallen behind in his gambling debts is true or not. And it’s true.

Remind everybody that true theories make good forecasts and that false theories make bad ones. And since climate models make bad forecasts, they must be based on false theories.

Update On Twitter I put the question to Gillis whether he had received money from Greenpeace or other like entity. I followed up here and by email (below), but Gillis never answered, though he bravely blocked me on Twitter.

Gillis’s refusal to answer may raise suspicions in some minds.

Here is my email to Gillis:

Gillis,

I’m following up on this story. Have you ever received consideration of any kind (money, food, tickets, anything) from Greenpeace or any like organization concerned primarily with the environment? Same question but about contacts with progressive or “left wing” groups? Have you ever met with any individuals with ties to any environmental organization? Were all of these meetings in conjunction with your job, or were any on personal time?

I’ve tried reaching you by email and Twitter but have yet received no response.

My deadline is 8 am Sunday. I’d appreciate an answer by then.

Briggs

Update Turns out that several progressive sheets all released the nonsense about Soon at the same time. Isn’t that a curious coincidence. Almost like these “news” organizations were more interested in advocacy than in reporting.

Update Say, maybe I was wrong and those who deny real science are more articulate and thoughtful than I at first supposed. Consider this email (which I edited only with asterisks):

From: Nick Meixler <meixler17@gmail.com>
Subject: your awful
Date: Feb 22, 2015 2:51 PM
Dear A**hole,
You are exactly what is wrong in science today. No wonder you deny climate change after being subsidized by the Koch brothers. Go f**k yourself a**hole. You are a shame to scientists everywhere and an idiot too. Who would have thought there would be an idiot astrophysicist, but you have proven it.
Go f**k yourself,
Nick

Nick, “your awful”.

Update I was on Breitbart radio Sunday night. Here’s a summary.

94 Comments

  1. …newly released documents show the extent to which Dr. Soon’s work has been tied to funding he received from corporate interests…
    …He has accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers. At least 11 papers he has published since 2008 omitted such a disclosure, and in at least eight of those cases, he appears to have violated ethical guidelines of the journals that published his work.
    Though often described on conservative news programs as a “Harvard astrophysicist,” Dr. Soon is not an astrophysicist and has never been employed by Harvard. He is a part-time employee of the Smithsonian Institution with a doctoral degree in aerospace engineering. He has received little federal research money over the past decade and is thus responsible for bringing in his own funds, including his salary.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/22/us/ties-to-corporate-cash-for-climate-change-researcher-Wei-Hock-Soon.html?_r=1

  2. Realist: Did you read the original post, where this article was linked?

    Points though for the clever attempt to change the subject from a discussion about the science to something else.

  3. Why does accepting money from a “fossil-fuel” company imply a conflict of interest and accepting money from an environmental NGO or the government not?
    And why do you call yourself ‘The Realist’? From this post I would suggest ‘The Fantasist’ might be more appropriate.
    Has it ever occurred to you to try concentrating on the science instead of the ad hominem attacks on the scientists? Probably not, but for sure the end result is that you are going to look ridiculous when Soon et al is proved correct. Which it is.

  4. Sander van der Wal

    February 22, 2015 at 9:04 am

    There are plenty of signatures of people representing the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in that linked paper. One can only assume these people were legally capable of signing the contracts. Which makes it reasonable to assume that the SAO has no problems with their employees researching that particular topic and obtaining funds for that research. They signee the effing contracts, after all.

    It is also quite reasonable to assume that parties who are hoping for a particular outcome will pay for research, if it furthers their business of political interests. The scientific method exists to find objective truths. If you don’t like the facts then you are free to ignore them, and at some point stop paying for more research. if you do like the facts, surely you will flaunt your scientific take on the matter, as if gives you political bonus points.

    That goes for all parties nowadays in a political dispute. The science is part of the debate. Not the referee. Sciene will tell you what will happen if the theories are correct. Whether you take that advice is entierly up to you.

    Anyway, why is the complaint that some research was funded by Big Oil and that some papers did not acknowledge that fact? The complaint should be that specific papers A, b and C did not acknowledge the fact that specific corporations funded the research the paper was based on.

  5. I don’t know why “Big-Oil” money would necessarily be bad, in and of itself, to pay for any research?

    Doesn’t “Big-Oil” bosses have families, don’t they have children, don’t they have back yards? Would they actually be invested in clean air, healthy nature, efficient lighting, and a non-melting world?

    Why is there an assumption these “Big-Oil” ‘tycoons’ actually want to falsify science with the knowing intention of facilitating results they know would cause the death of their own legacies and progeny?

    Wasn’t it the “Big-Oil” and “GASP-Coal” industries which voluntarily developed new technologies making their exhaust and by-products clean and “un-smoggy” when it actually became a problem?

    I’m having a hard time reconciling the “Big-Oil” of the likes of the New York Times, a former newspaper; to that of the actual “Big-Oil” people.

  6. Does not well-known tycoon, Carlos Slim, have a stake in the NYTimes? Is he not poised to make another bundle on the opening of Mexico’s energy sector to private investment (hello, oil and gas)? Is he not friendly with and an investment buddy of Dick Cheney?

    There is a lot there that a Times reporter might find unsettling.

  7. Matt,
    Justin Gillis is close to completely nuts. He’s too far out there to be believed. The fellow who preceded him, whose name escapes me, at least had some scientific integrity. Compared to Gillis he was a “denier.” Gillis is the worst. He’s everywhere, talking, getting awards. And he doesn’t have a clue. He’s close to a moron on issues scientific. He will never change his mind, no matter what happens. If years down the road, even Schmidt, Trenberth, Mann & Hansen admit they were wrong, Gillis will go down with the ship, wondering why everyone else on the planet just doesn’t get it. Of all the clowns writing on climate change, and this would include the insipid Joe Romm, Gillis is the absolute worst. You would get a better response from talking to a wall. I actually dislike him. He really has made climate change (stupid term) “personal.”

  8. Gillis’ major award is the Oakes award from Columbia.

    “Established in 1993 by John B. Oakes’s family and friends, the award was previously housed at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a leading environment and conservation advocacy organization for which Oakes served as a founding trustee.”

    http://www.columbia.edu/cu/news/05/08/jschool_oakes_award.html

    One of the current judges is Bill McKibben

    http://www.journalism.columbia.edu/page/194-oakes-award-board-of-judges/195

    I wonder whether he was a judge when Gillis won the award. Maybe a good question for Gillis is “what are your current communications with Bill McKibben, and how much were you in contact with him before you won that award?”

    Since Gillis’ career has presumably benefited substantially financially from the award, and would benefit more from additional awards, a logical question would be how beholden is he to the environmental groups that sponser such awards?

  9. So Gillis is a founding trustee of thie organization giving the Oakes award, and then he receives the Oaks award.

    Anyone else catch that whiff?

    Abe

  10. Abe,

    I think you misread my comment.

    By the way, anyone get the dead tree version of the NYT?

    I’m wondering what page they put this on.

    http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/02/22/world/asia/ap-as-india-climate-panels-chief.html?_r=0

  11. OK. I see that Oakes was a founding trustee and not Gillis. My appologies to all for my misreading of the facts.

  12. I have noted that “news” organizations often use the exact same terminology and release virtually identical stories all at once. These organizations used as subjects would make a useful study in group-think and herd behaviour.

    This going after Soon and funding is not new. Maybe the asking he be fired, but in 2011 Greenpeace went after him, in 2013 the Boston Globe did, in 2011 it was the Guardian. In all cases there is an attempt to show improper funding. So for three years these people have been yelling “fire” and still they have failed to get everyone to leave the building. Maybe everyone has noticed there’s no smoke and no flame?

    Accepting money from a fossil fuel company does NOT count as a conflict of interest unless you disagree with global warming “science”. It’s not the funding, it’s the position taken by the recipient.

    John M: Good questions all. Too bad Gillis would never answer them.

  13. The sheer viciousness of the NY Times attack on Willie Soon can be seen as a racial slur and close to the Hate Crimes arena. I hope there is a good lawyer out there who can go after Gillis and Schwartz and their employer.

  14. William E Heritage

    February 22, 2015 at 11:59 am

    By all accounts many would argue that $100,000 a year is a modest salary.

  15. One of the things I’m giving up for Lent is responding to individual comments, so I won’t bring up the bit about ad hominem arguments again for the commentators who justify attacks against Soon–I wonder whether they have the ethical or intellectual beliefs to understand what “ad hominem” is all about. (Someone might well ask, and I’ll consider it, why not give up commenting also?)
    I would like to make a general statement. The warmist academics (I refuse to call them scientists) and their pimps in the MSM have done an evil thing to science by making fudging data legitimate (and attempting to justify it with “peer review”) and by perverting the peer review process.
    The beginnings of this loss of integrity in science is documented by links in my post “Scientific Integrity: lessons from Climategate”
    http://rationalcatholic.blogspot.com/2015/01/scientific-integrity-lessons-from.html
    and continues, as shown by the recent posts in this blog, and by the revealed fudging of data from Paraguayan weather stations.

  16. William,
    You might try sending the request (to Gillis) that you included in this post to the NYT Public Editor. In theory it is her job to represent the public on such things as conflicts of interest that NYT reporters might have. Who know what will come of it but it could be an interesting experiment.

  17. That reported for Nature has now published his piece:

    Nature: Documents spur investigation of climate sceptic

    http://www.nature.com/news/documents-spur-investigation-of-climate-sceptic-1.16972?WT.mc_id=FBK_NatureNews

  18. The advantage of them all conveniently releasing their attacks at the same time is that I can conveniently ignore them all at the same time.

    Mind you, I asked to be unsubscribed from the NYT email list a while ago, but they haven’t done so.

  19. all:
    There’s an interesting article on the American Thinker : “Studies in Comparative Theology–The Hidden Imam versus Hidden Heat”
    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2015/02/studies_in_comparative_theology_hidden_imam_versus_hidden_heat.html
    Let’s pray for the conversion of Islamic terrorists, evangelical greens and warmists, and evangelical atheists.

  20. I admit I enjoy following the CAGW debate, I find it interesting in a variety of ways. I admit that the majority of the time I invest in the topic is spent reading stuff written by “skeptics”, because the signal-to-noise ratio is higher and the presentation less insulting (i.e., I learn more).

    I admit that I don’t feel very invested in the eventual outcome of the debate. About the only aspect I am absolutely certain of is that future CO2 levels in the atmosphere will be unaffected no matter what paths are followed. (Read Thomas Sowell for details.)

    I admit that at times I feel guilty about my attitude. For example, much of the actions proposed by the CAGW crowd will cause death and suffering in the developing world. I attempt to assuage my guilt by using my vote responsibly, but I admit I could do more.

    I admit I can’t seem to work up any outrage at Justin Gillis – he is who is, and the NYT is what it is. Thoughtful people are not convinced by such reasoning (indeed, thoughtful people are sorely tempted to view bad argument as counter-argument). And thoughtful people tend to avoid reading the NYT any more.

    So, what ends up getting my goat? This, from the Gillis article:


    Charles R. Alcock, director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center, acknowledged on Friday that Dr. Soon had violated the disclosure standards of some journals.

    “I think that’s inappropriate behavior,” Dr. Alcock said. “This frankly becomes a personnel matter, which we have to handle with Dr. Soon internally.”

    I know that Professor Briggs deplores the practice of trying to get people fired, but this Alcock guy really needs to go, for incompetence. He is not just not doing his job, he is doing the exact opposite of his job, which is to promote science. And slandering one of his employees in the process is unforgivable.

    If anyone knows how find out who this *ssh*le reports to, I’m interested.

    Ok, ok, caveat: Assuming the quote is accurate. There’s a link to his email in the article – I suppose I should ask him if he really said that, and give him a chance to defend his words.

  21. I am getting really really tired of the “HE took OIL money” smear.

    If you bother to look you find Shell Oil’s finger prints all over CAGW.
    Take a look at the Shell Board of Directors for example.
    http://www.shell.com/global/aboutshell/who-we-are/leadership/the-board.html

    The Washington Times article SOON AND BRIGGS: Global-warming fanatics take note states:

    ….Earlier last month, professor Richard Muller of the University of California-Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project announced that in the project’s newly constructed global land temperature record, “no component that matches solar activity” was related to temperature. Instead, Mr. Muller said carbon dioxide controlled temperature…. (wwwDOT)washingtontimes.com/news/2012/sep/6/global-warming-fanatics-take-note/

    So what about Richard Muller?

    A Shell Oil President, Marlan Downey, “Former President of the international subsidiary of Shell Oil, founder of Roxanna Oil; former President of Arco International” is on the Advisory Board of Muller’s consulting firm, Muller & Assoc.

    You have a Guardian UK article from last spring:

    ….Unilever, Shell, BT, and EDF Energy are among 70 leading companies today calling on governments across the globe to step up efforts to tackle climate change….
    (wwwDOT)theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/08/bt-shell-corporates-trillion-tonnes-carbon

    Ged Davis is the Shell Oil VP who wrote the Sustainability Scenarios for the IPCC. This e-mail shows Shell Oil’s vested interest in the “Sustainable Development (B1)”

    “Draft Paper for the IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios” by Ged Davis

    To quote from the Sustainable Development (B1) section:

    …The impact of environmental concerns is a significant factor in the planning for new energy systems. Two alternative energy systems, leading to two sub-scenarios, are considered to provide this energy:

    1. Widespread expansion of natural gas, with a growing role for renewable energy (scenario B1N). Oil and coal are of lesser importance, especially post-2050. This transition is faster in the developed than in the developing countries…

    THis is nicely explained by Chris Horner in his article Enron, joined by BP, invented the global warming industry.” I know because I was in the room. The idea was to buy up wind, solar and gas companies cheap and then make a killing shafting the consumers.” dailycaller(DOT)com/2010/12/15/lessons-from-the-global-warming-industry/

    Back to Shell Oil:
    Another Shell Oil exec Doug McKay was at the IPCC scenario meetings. McKay was also Senior Financial Analyst with the World Bank. Robert Watson worked for the World Bank while Chair of the IPCC.

    David Hone is not only SHELL OIL’S Senior Climate Change Adviser he is also Chairman of the International Emissions Trading Association.

    John H. Loudon, better known as “the Grand Old Man of Shell” headed Royal Dutch Shell from 1951 to 1965…. He was President of WWF from 1976 to 1981… Yes this is the SAME WWF who Donna found contributed a major portion of the IPCCs “science” (gray literature)

    Last you have Shell Oil, BP and a Rockefeller Foundation funding the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia. .- WIKI

    Bio Note:

    Ged Davis is co-president of the Global Energy Assessment. Previously he was managing director of the World Economic Forum, responsible for global research, scenario projects, and the design of the annual Forum meeting at Davos, which brings together 2,400 corporate, government, and non-profit leaders to shape the global agenda. …
    Ged is a member of the InterAcademy Council Panel on Transitions to Sustainable Energy, a director of Low Carbon Accelerator Limited, a governor of the International Development Research Centre in Ottawa and a member of the INDEX Design Awards Jury. He was the director of the UNAIDS “AIDS in Africa” scenario project from 2002 to 2003. Ged has led a large number of scenario projects during his career, including the multi-year, multi-stakeholder scenarios on the future of sustainability for the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and was facilitator of the last IPCC emissions scenarios. Ged first graduated with a degree in Mining Engineering from Imperial, College London. He holds postgraduate degrees in Economics and Engineering from the London School of Economics and Stanford University
    gbn(DOT)com/people/peopledetail.php?id=18

  22. Do you know why I come to this blog?

    To assure myself that some people in the world are sane.

  23. Gail,

    Yep. I do wonder how many sane folks there are left though.

  24. Time to bring in Charles Mackay:

    “Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.” (Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, 1841).

    Some of the comments on the recent “news” stories following up on the publication of Models-run-hot paper give me a small degree of hope that not everyone has gone off the cliff. There aren’t very many, but “one by one” sums it up.

  25. Well Mr Briggs et al., formalized in the peer review literature that climate models were not fit for purpose as forecasting/prediction tools as promoted by the IPCC. Now that’s never been a secret. Even the IPCC gave up on the climate models in their last assessment report and switched to “expert assessment”. (The technical term for speculations/opinions.)

    Various attempts at testing models have been going on informally on blogs for years. The crime was to formalize the critique. Since Mr Brigg’s et al., are going for the jugular of a multi-billion dollar Establishment, they could hardly expect anything but vicious counter attacks. But if the counter attacks remain of the conspiracy theory style, and don’t address the technical meat within the paper, then this critical point can certainly be flung back in the faces of the attackers.

  26. Every green org has received oil money. The Union of Concerned scientists don’t seem concerned about the oil money they receive. Then there was the 100 million given to Stanford, by Exxon. NYT is negilent in not reporting on this. The only tactic they have left is use Big Oil as a boogie man to discredit, which they hope stops people from reading or taking the paper seriously. Their worse nightmare is people actually reading the skeptical papers or visit skeptic blogs. There is a lot of us that did and quickly realized the truth.

  27. Briggs,

    You don’ seem to be addressing the part of the NYT (etc) article bothers me: Soon apparently didn’t properly disclose his funding, as required by many journals to avoid the appearance of COI.

    Mind, I write as one sympathetic to Soon (and co-authors). His employers seem unhappy.

  28. And Briggsy, using your words (unless misquoted), Chinese Science Bulletin is not the equivalent of ‘Nature’ or ‘Science’. Not even close. Committing the logical fallacy of ‘false equivalence’.

  29. Briggs

    February 22, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Tilman,

    Not so. I’ve said repeatedly that we, and especially Willie, did everything right. There was never any conflict of interest. Is that clear enough?

    (This isn’t so much to Tilman, as to others who nod their heads reading his comment.) Have you ever submitted a paper to a journal? Do you think scientists must disclose, not only funding for the work at hand, but all previous funding ever in their lifetime? If so, does that mean anybody who ever got government money and later served as a reviewer should withdraw all their papers? Or is receiving money from Greenpeace a permanent taint?

    And did you know climate models stink and that there is something very wrong with them? Why are you trying to change the subject? Can you see that this thread is about people who try and change the subject?

    “Realist”,

    You missed the point where I said it doesn’t matter if it were a Chinese fortune cookie. The results are what matter. Climate models are fundamentally broken. Let’s see why.

  30. I just catalyzed a Twitter exchange between Forbes’ Matt Herper and our esteemed host which surprisingly (to me) took a bad turn south. Herper is (usually) one of the better science writers out there (my expertise is in the same areas his are). But Briggs’ points went over his head faster than an Air Force flyover. It was quite disappointing; the Climate Borg is strong in that one.

    It seems once scientific study is deemed relevant to a shibboleth of the American Left, the process gets contaminated beyond repair. (Not that they’re no quacks in the Right, only that they don’t muck up the whole system for some reason…there is a dissertation waiting…) This is actually a nonpartisan shame, the opportunity to understand some important things, even to fix dangerous misconceptions, is being hindered significantly. This goes way beyond the scope of this particular issue…imagine the ideologically driven bunk a parent with a child with gender dysphoria has to wade through when all they do is want to make their child better.

    The sad thing is for these and similar issues it will take many decades for things to settle down enough so that the truly understood science and its open questions can be articulated in a coherent way without having one’s career or even life threatened by simply articulating them. In the meantime huge but preventable harm might be done (phrenology anyone? And yes the jury is still out on climate…). That is what is truly sad about illiberalism…idolatry of the intellect is the surest road to venomous anti-intellectualism.

  31. “Chinese Science Bulletin is not the equivalent of ‘Nature’ or ‘Science’. Not even close. Committing the logical fallacy of ‘false equivalence’.”

    Prestigious journals print bad papers. More obscure journals print ground breaking papers. In 2013, Nature retracted six papers. In 2014 they retracted even more. That’s a horrible horrible track record. Their excuse is that it’s not because they are accepting more and more junk, but because the junk is being more closely scrutinized. (Or in other words, they have always printed junk but thanks to the internet more people are catching it.)

    Of course, all sides in a scientific debate like to play the ‘my journal is better than your journal game’ for rhetorical reasons.

  32. Briggs, c’mon man. Ethics don’t live under a rock. The popular narrative is what it is. If you act as though in a vacuum, and you’re not in a vacuum, you’re just going to look bad. One of the main complaints people like myself – ordinary interested citizens who try to keep an open mind about these things – have with the anti-greenhouse professionals is that almost universally they are personally gaining from their position, or at least answering to funding from sources with very pointed and vested positions on the issue. It just looks bad. There’s no reason you can’t address that without calling critics “goons.” That sort of reactionary defensiveness really just makes it look worse.

    JMJ

  33. “…have with the anti-greenhouse professionals is that almost universally they are personally gaining from their position, or at least answering to funding from sources with very pointed and vested positions on the issue.”

    Firstly, you misrepresent the issue because critics of the climate models are not “anti-greenhouse”. Bad start if your argument begins with an intentional misrepresentation. This also immediately destroys the pretense that you’re a neutral by stander in the debate.

    As for the conspiracy theory that critics of a particular scientific theory must financially benefit, what was the sum total of the evidence for that? Is there any? There must be something. At least a small list somewhere? Last controversy of this type I recall was when the Heartland Institute had documents stolen and the documents were so uninteresting that Peter Gleick had to tamper with them to make them sound more sinister. And then after he outed himself, he was awarded by The Establishment. He was appointed to the AGU Task Force on Scientific Ethics.

    So the Establishment is painted as pure as fresh snow, and Anti-Establishment critics are painted as monsters. A strange reversal from the usual way such narratives go.

    Regarding the list of paid shills of the fossil fuel industry; please, a list from a credible source compiled by a credible investigator. Not a conspiracy theory list knocked together by Greenpeace, the Sierra Club or the Union of Progressive Scientists. Or in other words, from some group that isn’t completely bonkers would be a great start.

  34. Jersey,

    How about the reverse—

    One of the main complaints people like myself – ordinary interested citizens who try to keep an open mind about these things – have with the PRO-AGW professionals is that almost universally they are personally gaining from their position, or at least answering to funding from sources with very pointed and vested positions on the issue.

    …Or isn’t this a problem for you?

    As stated, there was no conflict with Dr. Soon. As for use of language, how would you describe people who seem to be hellbent on destroying a man’s livelihood?

  35. When questioning integrity is the game, play it with gusto. Yes, you should present the real science to honestly questioning citizens, but with these J-school geniuses you should never stray from turning the tables on them. Don’t defend your work; attack their ethics. Remember, you’re dealing with children. Use your adult wisdom. It may be mind-numbingly frustrating, but such is your burden. Embrace it.

  36. “Oakes conceived the modern op-ed page and turned those pages into a forum for debating previously neglected subjects.”

    They have certainly taken the axe to the debating part of his wishes.

  37. JMJ: Look worse than those who are incapable of understanding that not everything is based on money, personal gain and live in a conspiracy world were every dollar is tied to some nefarious outcome, unless of course, it’s the left getting the money, in which case they are as pure as the driven snow and would never, ever be bought? The reality is there are indeed a lot of people out there who are totally incapable of rational, logical thought and see the world through class envy and leftist dogma. Dealing with them is impossible by definition–you can’t deal with someone who makes no sense and sees conspiracies and malfeasance everywhere they look. It’s a waste of time. One writes for those who can actually think, not the blind and deaf who will not leave the comfort of their little cloud castles…..In other words, the reality is it’s a waste of time to consider the Left in your actions as they will never veer from the prescribed course and never let reality cloud their agenda.

  38. I can see the headline now, “Embattled NYT Journo Justin Gillis Fails To Deny Greenpeace Funding Controversy”.

  39. Okay, the problem these pro-pollution people have is that they are getting paid by companies who make big money spewing a lot of pollution. Is that clear enough for you people?

    JMJ

  40. “Okay, the problem these pro-pollution people have is that they are getting paid by companies who make big money spewing a lot of pollution.”

    Yes, I think everyone is familiar with the conspiracy theory. Just wondering about the factual basis. My understanding is that the US government faked the moon landings because they wanted to give the finger to the Russians.

    More seriously, though, what is the evidence to date? Environmentalism is a billion dollar ‘business’. I realise it may not be an easy thing to prove, but there must be some individuals or groups who got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. What’s the current state of the list? Where do I find it? Someone must have done an expose or two… Something along the lines of an Andrew Wakefield, who got caught out by an investigative journalist.

    There surely has to be more to this claim than mass hysteria.

  41. ” Environmentalism is a billion dollar ‘business’. ” If it was, it would still be a drop in the bucket compared to the interests against it.

    But, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Do your own homework. It takes about five seconds to type “climate change deniers paid.” Scientific American is a good source. And you want to talk about conspiracy theory? What kind of idiot would think the vast majority of related scientists are in on one, or have been mass-brainwashed? Nice try. But the sleazier your arguments, the more I think you guys are simply up to no good.

    JMJ

  42. I assume you have no evidence whatsoever because you just got angry when I asked a simple question.

    I did a bit of goggling to see what the claims are all about after writing my last comment. A good place to start for activist talk is Wikipedia. Wasn’t much there, though. Nearly all the claims came from the Guardian newspaper, a far left paper. So already there is a credibility problem if they are focused on attacking their ideological enemies…

    Anyway, I needed to start somewhere, so I dug a little deeper into one of their claims about $10,000 payments to fund “climate denialism”. What the fuss seems to be about is that various think tanks pay researchers to write articles on topics of interest to the think tank. Not especially unusual. There are left wing think tanks and conservative think tanks that do this from time to time. But my understanding of the process is that they don’t ‘corrupt’ scientists. They go looking for researchers who already have a particular point of view. A left wing think tank might notice a paper by, say Hansen, that is predicting the end of the world. They would be interested in Hansen fleshing that scenario out further, so might toss some bucks his way. Or a conservative think tank might pick up on an article by a researcher who is focusing on climate modelling problems. They might make the same request to that individual. If that’s what the denialism industry is all about then I can’t see why money taints one side of the debate and not the other. I suppose the assumption is one side is morally good and the other morally evil and it’s as simple as that. It’s all pretty childish if it comes down to that. That’s why I asked if you knew about any scandals. Since you’re telling everyone that this all common knowledge, and you can’t think of any scandals yourself, I suppose you’ve never been asked where you got your information from and never bothered to do any research yourself either.

  43. While I agree that the argument regarding the paper should be strictly about the content and its accuracy and don’t care where Dr. Soon got his funding (though there are plenty of examples of results of studies be slanted to favor the funder, see pharmaceuticals for plenty of such) and I deplore ignoring the paper on the basis that Soon got such funding (though I’ll stipulate not for this particular paper), nevertheless, as I understand it the issue isn’t whether Soon was conflicted or engaged in deception. The issue is that he was supposed to have disclosed and he did not. Yes, moving from there to “you can’t trust anything Soon writes because he was funded by xxx” is wrong headed.

    Monckton, of course, is a known prevaricator and pretty much of a nut case (having found the miracle cure for almost anything among other triumphs), albeit by no means a stupid fellow. I’ll not be surprised should he threaten to sue me for this paragraph, it’s certainly his modus operandi. I’ll also concede that His Faux Lordship knows a lot of words and ain’t afraid to use ’em.

    All that said this certainly makes me think “golly, these here skeptics (as they call themselves) sure do hate it when the weapons used by their ilk get turned on them.”

    Finally, there are multiple where the paper itself is criticized (and I use the term in the sense that a film critic would evaluate a film, not necessarily with a negative connotation). Surely Briggs, et al are well aware of such sites. I’ve not seen the paper defended by its authors at any of the ones I’ve perused, though Monckton did respond to Perlwitz and others at Climate Depot. Why he chose that venue is baffling to me, the critics he addresses aren’t likely to read there. And, to an extent, Monckton engaged in some back and forth (though not with a lot of substance at Perlwitz’ blog. Nevertheless, if debate on the merits is what you seek Dr. Briggs, there are venues aplenty. I look forward to seeing you at one or more of them.

    Ps: I’d inserted a few inline links but the comment was rejected as spam, so those interested will need to seek them out. It’s not hard though.

  44. “though there are plenty of examples of results of studies be slanted to favor the funder, see pharmaceuticals for plenty of such”

    Drug companies fund their own drug trials. They have no choice. Following that logic to its extreme, all new drugs may not work because the research is tainted or could be dangerous.

    Now look closely at the actual drug related scandals of recent times. Avandia and Vioxx both spring to mind. In both cases the major complaint has been that the FDA (a government agency) did not act appropriately although given warning of the side effects. The plot thickens. Avandia is quite a dangerous drug with severe potential side effects such as heart attack. Certain members of the FDA are trying to get that drug back on the market. A very deplorable turn of events. Is government colluding with industry? I have no evidence of that, but the situation remains deplorable.

  45. re: Vioxx
    http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/2005%20August.htm#Vioxx
    http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/2005%20September.htm
    Merck unfortunately chose a numerically challenged defense team.

    One can only wonder if Avandia suffered a similar fate. Lately, I’m disinclined to give much credence to statistical claims coming from the health field.

  46. Rob Ryan, the world does not exist to please you. Given your Uriah Heapish post does not say much about the sites you would like people to post responses.

    Asserting Monckton is a nut is juvenile.

  47. StumpfeggerGift: You asked “if someone, for instance, said that you were an emotionally stunted, corrupt little pillow-biter, would THAT be an ad hominem attack, or a statement about you?” That is an insult. Read my previous comment differentiating between ad hominem and other statements. Name-calling is an insult. As for what historic figure you think he resembles, I really don’t care.

    JMJ: We are very clear on your left-wind, class-envy, rich hating philosophy. Are you clear that said companies are why people have jobs, you have a place to live (yes, even if you live on the street) and they are why America is not a third world country. Try living in the communist utopia of China with it’s black skies and then get back to me on how awful those rich capitalists are. Better yet, try North Korea. No pollution that we know of, no lights, no greedy corporations. A true utopia.
    As Will noted, environmentalism is a HUGE business. Greenpeace employees make more than the average working stiff and those conferences on global warming cost more than the GDP of a small country and cause more pollution than several small countries combined. So why aren’t you complaining about the graft and waste in those organizations?
    Typing “science deniers paid” is clever. You try looking up the salaries for Greenpeace and the budgets of the TAX-FREE 501-3c’s that are the environmental organizations. Then get back to us with the details. Otherwise, we will assume you are not interested in the truth and we have no reason to trust anything you say. Look them up.

    Rob Ryan: It doesn’t matter if Willie Soon robbed a bank and is in jail. That has nothing to do with the accuracy of the paper. That is the issue at hand. Not whether he checked a box or whatever. I notice you did not mention the global warming advocates who refuse to release data even after FOIA’s are filed, who “lose” data constantly, etc. I am guessing you reject Mann and all others then who do not behave properly, lest your objection not be equally applied.
    As for Soon, if the question was “Did anyone who might have a conflict of interest in this paper pay for this research”, then the answer is “no”. As previously noted, it seems unlikely every researcher writing a paper has to declare every single dime they ever received from a “conflict of interest”. Considering “Big Oil” donates to global warming projects and research, I see a whole bunch of papers tainted and researchers in need of punishment. After all, it seems “Big Oil” is both for and against global warming research, so both sides have to disclose this funding.

  48. In a competitive enviornment any tactic is used to sell your product. The oil and gas sector is involved in demonizing coal so it can replace that cheaper form of energy. From the, Desmogblog. Com. ( Tide turning against global coal industry). A good reason for supporting ” global warming”.

  49. Sheri: ” It doesn’t matter if Willie Soon robbed a bank and is in jail. That has nothing to do with the accuracy of the paper. That is the issue at hand.” Yes, that’s what I said. I’m not arguing at all about that and, in fact, I agree. I’m correcting the contention that the issue is whether he had a conflict or potential conflict. The issue is whether he disclosed as required. I don’t pretend to know the answer and, frankly, don’t care (because of, you know, my agreement with the quote from you above) but at least the correct question should be what’s under discussion vis a vis Soon’s situation.

    With respect to the paper itself, I’ve read it in relatively cursory fashion. However, “reading” a paper of that nature does not suffice to form an opinion of it. The process of absorbing such a paper for a non-specialist such as myself is quite time consuming and I have a job, a family, and am in graduate school. Nevertheless, I expect to spend enough time with it to opine on its accuracy and its importance. How long that will take is anyone’s guess, I just started on it this past weekend.

    Deebee: “Asserting Monckton is a nut is juvenile.” Maybe so, maybe not. But, regardless of the assertion’s alleged juvenile nature, Monckton IS a nut and a liar as well. And, on the topic of addressing the merits vs. the person, Monckton wrote a post regarding Dr. John Abraham, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota (which Monckton disparagingly referred to as a “Bible College”), who’d posted a lengthy piece on Monckton’s misquotes, misinterpretations, and misrepresentations of various scientists’ work in a presentation Monckton had made. In his oh so factual response His Faux Lordship stated, inter alia, “at least we are spared his face, he looks like an overcooked prawn.” I guess he regarded that as a fact and pertinent.

  50. Rob Ryan: I understand that you agree that what Willie Soon did or did not do does not change the accuracy of the paper. I also understand that what the media thinks is the question is “did Soon receive money and not disclose it”. The media is not interested in whether or not Soon received money–a huge number of scientists receive money from all kinds of sources. The media is set on smearing Soon to “prove” the paper is wrong. So as far as I can see, the correct question is whether or not the paper is right/accurate/valid. In a separate discussion, Soon and all scientist’s funding can be explored. That prevents the media and anyone else from using funding as a way to dismiss a paper or a scientist. Funding sources, other beliefs, etc should never be discussed in the same article or blog entry as the original paper or the questions become hopelessly entwined, resulting in a logical fallacy being sold to the readers.

  51. Environmentalism is a religion and Dr. Briggs has attacked peoples religion. You have to expect an outraged reaction from the true believers.
    http://www.pe.tamu.edu/DL_Program/graduate_seminar_series/Documents/MichaelCrichton_evironmentalism.pdf

  52. When can we expect photographic proof that Dr. Soon once wore mis-matched socks?
    Then we can get to the bottom of this “looks bad” theme… (And even Briggs might have to agree, mismatched socks do look bad! Excepting, perhaps, Pippi Longstocking.) It seems that the only acceptable circumstance for a self-respecting scientist is that of government employ…

    That’ll work out well.

  53. Sheri: Again, I agree that the discussion should be about its accuracy. If evidence of conflict were to arise, it’s a separate issue. Nevertheless, THIS post and its comment stream have devolved into a conversation about what Soon did or did not do and what people have and have not claimed he did or did not do. The theme is that he’s allegedly under fire for conflict of interest. I merely pointed out that, as far as I know, the only people with influence over Soon’s career trajectory believe it to be about whether or not he disclosed in accordance with job requirements. But again, I have no opinion on whether or not he failed to disclose. I don’t know and don’t care. But for those here who decry what’s transpired, the should decry what actually transpired, not what has not.

    There’s no question that a large part of the community that accepts most of the IPCC’s conclusions believe that Soon engages in deception. I would make no such accusation without personally evaluating alleged instances, and I have no time to do so. I couldn’t care less who’s paid him. I’m only taking the time to thoroughly evaluate “Why Models Run Hot…” because: it’s engendered a significant kerfuffle; because I frequent this blog; and because I don’t have to learn the entire edifice of radiation physics and ocean/atmosphere/land geophysics starting with the Peano axioms to grasp it.

  54. By the way, I don’t recall similar indignation in these parts over Ken Cuccinelli’s ludicrous attempt at a fishing expedition in an effort to discredit Michael Mann.

  55. Cuccinelli demanded the emails of Michael Mann from the University of Virginia, a state university. The UVA fought the demand by hiring outside lawyers and claiming “academic freedom” among other things. However, the UVA readily provided the e-mails of Professor Pat Michaels when Greenpeace asked for them in December 2009. It makes the UVA look hypocritical. The UVA response depends on weather you are an AGW zealot or skeptic.

  56. Here’s the deal: It doesn’t matter if or where Dr. Soon gets his cash. Consider this:

    1) Anyone can be biased out of personal conviction, not just money. In other words, lack of funding does not guarantee impartiality. This point is actually meaningless because of the next point. The left is diverting us from the fact that this is probably good science (LOOK, SQUIRREL!!!).

    2) Let’s not forget he does SCIENCE. This means that the work can be challenged like anything in science. As a matter of fact, all science should ALWAYS be challenged. That’s what peer reviewed is supposed to be about. If there’s personal bias (a.k.a. shoddy scientific method) a good peer will find it.

  57. Krillin Namek: Agreed (what squirrel??).

    Rob Ryan: There’s a difference between Cuccinelli, as attorney general, looking at possible fraud at a state university and the media demanding someone employed at a university be fired because they don’t like the conclusions of a paper he wrote. Had the media been out demanding Mann be fired because they did not like his ideas, there should have been an outcry here. Can’t say for sure if there would have been, but personally, I would have written about why that’s improper and should not be done. Now, if the attorney general or the university had started an investigation based on evidence that Soon may have falsified data and/or Soon was hiding information, that would be different. Cuccinelli was not questioning Mann’s funding.

  58. @Rob Ryan

    “Maybe so, maybe not. But, regardless of the assertion’s alleged juvenile nature, Monckton IS a nut and a liar as well. And, on the topic of addressing the merits vs. the person, Monckton wrote a post regarding Dr. John Abraham, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota (which Monckton disparagingly referred to as a “Bible College”), who’d posted a lengthy piece on Monckton’s misquotes, misinterpretations, and misrepresentations of various scientists’ work in a presentation Monckton had made…”

    The main flaw in asserting that Monckton is a “nut” and a “liar” is that I’ve read some of the writings of John Abraham. I would certainly characterize that fellow as — a goof, to put it mildly. This was going back a while, but Abraham’s was authoritatively promoting either debunked or highly controversial global warming claims, and as a mechanical engineer, was speaking completely outside his areas of expertise (irrespective of his own claims to the contrary). One of my engineers is a mechanical engineer and sorry, while they are useful at doing things like designing car parts, I wouldn’t go to him for information on global warming theory on that basis alone. If my memory is correct, Abraham’s gave Monckton a whack, and Monckton gave Abraham’s a much harder whack back. That doesn’t mean I agree with all of Monckton’s views. I once listened to one of Monckton’s climate lectures with the specific purpose of making a list of things I thought were misrepresentations or errors, and I was able to come up with a small list. However, his views are certainly far more reasonable than, say, Mann or Hansen, or some of the other leading lights of the global warming environmental industrial complex–who do make genuinely crazy claims. If you’ve got one side claiming the planet is doomed based on various theories, and the other side arguing that it isn’t, be careful if you characterise the world-is-not-about-to-end side as “liars” or “nuts”. That doesn’t do wonders for impressions of your critical thinking skills, Ryan.

  59. I think of Monckton as the skeptic’s Al Gore. He’s bombastic and loud and attracts attention. He appears to be somewhat more scientific than Gore, though I suppose he could do as Gore does and claim he’s just following the skeptic science and presenting it, thus absolving himself of the need for a science degree. Both sides of the climate debate tend to have spokespersons who are not scientists, perhaps because someone with a media or theology degree makes a much better spokesperson. Sadly, this is about selling science, not about educating the public in many, many cases. This is not to insult the salespersons—they are an unfortunate necessity in today’s uneducated world where authorities are the ones running our lives and people live in the dark, happily uninformed and thus not responsible for anything they believe or do.

    I don’t know what Monckton’s contribution to the paper was—whether it was technical knowledge or not. I would hope with three additional authors, any errors would be caught and corrected, irregardless of who made them.

  60. @DAV

    “One can only wonder if Avandia suffered a similar fate.”

    One of the great flaws of amateur skepticism is that it’s done by amateurs. A skeptic can be just as wrong as anyone else and quite frequently is. My father started taking Avandia, developed a heart condition, my doctor immediately took him off Avandia (curious, that, eh?) and then later while undergoing testing prior to his surgery — scheduled that morning–was sent home because his doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with him.

    You may say, hah! That’s only an anecdotal story! And that would be a fair call. But as far as anecdotal stories go, it’s about as causal as you’re ever going to get. And it’s part of recurring pattern of medical problems based on thousands of similar case studies. Now a skeptic’s defense might be, “But the clinical trial showed the drug was safe!”

    Indeed, in cases such as these, one has to start asking the question: where did the clinical trial go wrong? Instead of adopting the religious belief that clinical trials are always infallible.

  61. Rob Ryan: “Oh Look, a Squirrel”

  62. Will: It may not be so much that the trials “go wrong”, but rather the trials cannot mirror the real world. There is no way to know how individuals will react to drugs (I’m a one-person menu for drug reactions—none of which could possibly have been forseen in any clinical trial). There is also no way to test combinations of medications. Many people are on multiple medications. No clinical trial can possibly find even a small percentage of these multiple drug reactions. Clinical trials just tell you the really serious, commonly seen reactions in a small group of individuals. It’s not the clinical trials that are the problem. It’s people’s lack of knowledge of what clinical trials can and cannot do and what is realistically possibly when it comes to medications. I had an elderly friend who seriously could not understand why we could not just make medications without side effects. Yes, medications can have very serious side effects. Taking any drug comes with risks—I definately understand that. I also know there is no realistic way to avoid this and we just have to deal with it.

  63. In your previous post, you (rightly) said – I paraphrase – that the purpose of science is to make verifiable predictions: and that a theory which doesn’t live up to the predictions it makes is just plain wrong.

    You find it very difficult to understand why this very simple, and wholly uncontroversial (since the enlightenment) fact, has somehow been forgotten by so many people. Actually, not “forgotten”: if it had been forgotten, the response to somebody reminding them would have been gratitude, not fury.

    Strangely, there is a non-academic, non-scientific book, written over 60 years ago, which predicted modern society – and the modern attitudes which so baffle you – almost perfectly: and, indeed, explained how and why they were to arise.

    Moreover, the fact that admitting having read this is the equivalent (or worse – in some circles) of admitting a desire for underaged sex, suggests that these people recognise themselves within its pages.

    I speak, of course, of Atlas Shrugged.

  64. Sheri,

    “Will: It may not be so much that the trials “go wrong”,”

    Of course. Of course. The world is a complicated place. You can’t just look at the numbers in a drug trial and because you don’t see the problem there, declare the problem is imaginary and assert foul play. The amateur web site DAV linked to fumed that it was all about greedy solicitors. Never as simple as that.

    (A reminder. The reason why we’re discussing this relates back to the claim that money taints, but apparently there are two types of money, one morally virtuous the other not so.)

  65. Damn. The A$$holes came out in force for this thread. Seems like a mass banning is in order, they are just to Damned stupid to get the point!

  66. Will,

    It’s a far cry from “my dad had problems when taking X” to “X is a dangerous thing and should not be marketed”. It’s like the person who gets sick one day after eating at some restaurant then claiming it was food poisoning and demanding the restaurant be closed. All you can really say then is “maybe” but it IS human nature to immediately jump to cause and effect, hence “lucky charms”, etc.

    I do note that many of the supposed risks where determined through meta-analyses which results in an inherent confirmation bias. Furthermore, An FDA study which prompted a CYA alert in 2007 and it was later by a couple of months determined by it advisory committee that while there seemed to be more risk to Type 2 patients than a placebo the risk was no higher than those with other Type 2 drugs such as say, metformin. So now, your dad seems to have a problem so the first warning was correct and the second malfeasance. Guess they should have consulted with you, eh?

    For Type 1 users, the major problem seems to be water retention leading to heart failure which is the same problem associated with salt. My view is maybe for some but hardly for all.

    There are few statistical procedures employed in the health fields that avoid meta-analyses and worse, resist the worship of model parameters and p-values. Until these are relegated to the rare study, I’m going to “Yeah, sure!” to most of them. In other words, skepticism. This is “amateurish” to you?

    More on topic, the warnings on Avandia have been widely distributed particularly by the media but the later findings of the Advisory Board not so much. The reports may be exaggerated — maybe even biased — but, in their favor, at least they aren’t ad hominem attacks.

  67. Rob Ryan said:

    While I agree that the argument regarding the paper should be strictly about the content and its accuracy and don’t care where Dr. Soon got his funding (though there are plenty of examples of results of studies be slanted to favor the funder, see pharmaceuticals for plenty of such) and I deplore ignoring the paper on the basis that Soon got such funding (though I’ll stipulate not for this particular paper), nevertheless, as I understand it the issue isn’t whether Soon was conflicted or engaged in deception. The issue is that he was supposed to have disclosed and he did not. Yes, moving from there to “you can’t trust anything Soon writes because he was funded by xxx” is wrong headed.

    I think you have misunderstood. Soon correctly disclosed his funding sources for the paper under question, and no other disclosure was requested or required. This is not under dispute.

    What Briggs is reacting to is the media’s effort to smear Soon based on his funding for unrelated efforts. It’s a complete non-sequitur from discussing the paper Why models run hot: results from an irreducibly simple climate model.

  68. Briggs

    February 23, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    John Dietl,

    Amen, brother; just so.

  69. I note no journalist has taken up William’s challenge to share when they have performed similar due diligence, in regards to funding, just before they did the perfunctory ‘Ctrl+V’ on a press release.

    The only checks they bother with are just in case they offend an advertiser.

  70. DAV,

    The point I was making which you may have missed, is that you can’t just ignore the case study data because you’re not seeing a problem in the clinical trial data. There are lots of reasons for that, all perfectly reasonable, and Sheri touched on a few.

  71. Long List Of Warmist Organizations, Scientists Haul In Huge Money From BIG OIL And Heavy Industry!
    http://notrickszone.com/#sthash.gPge2EW8.dpuf

  72. Will,

    Ignoring data? No. Ignoring conclusion based on faulty methods. Yes. Repeating questionable conclusions? Well …. It would seem that is the issue here.

  73. DAV,

    Are you agreeing or disagreeing? Can you work on your basic communication skills please?

    Let’s assume you’re disagreeing otherwise we have nothing to chat about. Let’s say a clinical trial runs for a year and doesn’t show up any problems. Let’s say people on the treatment start reporting serious medical problems after 12 months. Let’s say the animal studies point to the same types of problems. Let’s say there is now a fairly substantial set of case studies all pointing to issues that are highly problematical. What are you suggesting? All of this additional data should be ignored because the original clinical trial wasn’t able to detect these problems? I’m assuming you’re not that foolish but if you are, that would be good to know now, so I can ignore your posts in the future.

  74. Here ya go then, straight from the mouth of the EXPERTS, but thanks for defending science!

    Christine Stewart, former Canadian Minister of the Environment:
    “No matter if the science of global warming is all phony…climate change provides the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world.”

    Timothy Wirth, U.S./UN functionary, former elected Colorado Democrat Senator:
    “We’ve got to ride the global-warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.”

    Ottmar Edenhoffer, high level UN-IPCC official:
    “We redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy. . .Basically it’s a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization…One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore.”

    Club of Rome:
    “In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill….All these dangers are caused by human intervention….and thus the “real enemy, then, is humanity itself….believe humanity requires a common motivation, namely a common adversary in order to realize world government. It does not matter if this common enemy is “a real one or. . ..one invented for the purpose.”

  75. Will,
    Are you agreeing or disagreeing?

    Not sure what you think I should be agreeing with. I’m apparently not the only one with deficient communication skills. You made the rather bold statement Avandia is quite a dangerous drug with severe potential side effects such as heart attack and also implied the Vioxx case was similar. You gave no reason for saying these but later related one case involving Avandia (your father) which may or may not be relevant. I too had a different and far more minor reaction to Avandia (Avandamet, actually) however when my doctor changed my prescription he changed everything instead of merely prescribing a replacement for the Advandia. Changing four things is not the best way to uncover problem sources.

    Prior to that, I merely pointed out that the evidence presented to the Vioxx jury was, in at least one respect, highly misleading and wondered if the evidence against Avandia wasn’t equally misleading. What that has to do with “ignoring clinical trial data” is beyond me.

    As for FDA action, they issued a warning however further study suggested the warning was perhaps unnecessary.

    I also note that the methods often used in assessing clinical trials involve questionable statistical methods in reaching conclusions. Just as with climate models, the models of clinical trials may not be as useful as touted.The use of those questionable methods is rife in the industry. It’s not at all hard to find examples of them. NumberWatch alone has documented many of them. Some of it appears here.

    So what is it you’re not sure about? I stated “Ignoring data? No.” and “Ignoring conclusion based on faulty methods. Yes. ” Why do you find it confusing? I certainly am not for getting the right answer for all the wrong reasons which is what you seem to be getting at. That’s not the same as ignoring the data. If the methods are wrong how do you know the answer is right?

  76. DAV,

    I didn’t realise you were basing the entire case against Avandia on the basis of a few comments I wrote here, as opposed to carefully evaluating all the information out there ( if you were that interested). You linked to an amateur skeptics blog who only looked at the clinical study numbers and concluded that criticism of Avandia was all part of a scam run by greedy solicitors. Given the fact that his analysis was ludicrous, I was not sure why you bothered to throw up such a link here.

  77. You linked to an amateur skeptics blog

    You of course are a professional skeptic. You should check out John’s credentials. It is you who is the amateur here. As for Advandia, I think I know more about it than you. I research every drug prescribed to me. Stop with the snotty arrogance already.

  78. Complete analysis of the many flaws in Lord Monckton’s article:
    http://arthur.shumwaysmith.com/life/content/the_monckton_equation

  79. In attacking Dr. Soon, green journalists display a quite stunning world view. Behind their writings you can see their logic:

    Climate scientists are paid to publish results supporting Global Warming.
    Dr. Soon’s results don’t support Global Warming.
    QED Dr. Soon is paid by those against Global Warming.

    Seeing all the fame and fortune going to true believers, they can not imagine a scientist motivated by his own integrity. After all, in their view, all published results are bought and paid for.

    Green journalists attacking Dr. Soon reveal their operating assumption: Climate science is totally corrupt. . .well, 97% corrupt.

  80. BerkelyMan: A quick reading shows the same arguments warmists have against everything they disagree with–“you used the wrong time scale, the wrong period, the wrong graph” which translate to “do it OUR way or it’s wrong”. I see nothing new or unique in this write-up, though I will bravely wade through the usual mantras and see if anything new jumps out. It amazes me that the argument from warmists is “Our way or the highway, Our conclusion or you cherry-picked, used the wrong years, the wrong stats, etc.” It would be so much more honest if they just said they are gods and no disagreement is allowed. Yes, I will come back and note if my assessment turns out to be wrong on further reading and I’ll even explain what I found, which is more than you get from the “expert scientists”.

    DAV/Will: In discussing how the science works at the FDA, I believe that people miss the part where negative reactions are to be reported to the FDA and the FDA will further analyze the reactions. It’s an extension of the original studies, based on the reality of the incomplete nature of clinical testing. It’s actually a pretty good scientific way of handling limited testing. As for court cases, these have absolutely nothing to do with science, clinical trials or anything other than the personal injury lawyer making a lot of money if he can convince jurors drug companies are evil and need their money taken. (I’m doing an honest assessment–courts have nothing to do with science. You don’t get a scientific assessment from a judge or a jury of 12 randomly picked people.)

  81. Sheri,

    Wasn’t suggesting court cases settle science. It’s my understanding that Merck voluntarily pulled Vioxx after losing the lawsuit where some really bad science was presented because they didn’t think it worth risking another suit. The suspicion that Vioxx is nasty lingers. Note the comment by Will.

    As an aside and considering the topic of the blog post, it’s ironic that Will engaged in ad hominem attack on NumberWatch instead of defending his apparent position on Vioxx.

    Further reporting sounds good but can’t really replace experimental trials. Like when I had a mild reaction to Avandamet the doctor changed ALL of my prescriptions so it’s really hard to tell if Advandemet was a problem or if it was mere coincidence which is quite likely. Bet my “problem” wasn’t reported to anyone, My doctor was keen on relegating paperwork to his staff and, unless he made a point of it, my encounter fell though the cracks. If not, it’s not clear what the FDA would do with another click in the “upset stomach” column.

  82. Prof. Briggs, I enjoyed your Breitbart article and have been reading this post, and comments, all of which confirm my conclusions about leftists of all stripes, particularly journalists. Perhaps, though, you’d be willing to entertain a slightly off-topic question:

    Based on the evidence that we currently have available, is there any reason to be concerned that human activities are causing a significant deviation in the earth’s climate from what it normally would be without human activities? To me, this is the question that counts. Even even though I believe that the current climate alarmism is politically motivated and a money/power grubbing hoax, this does not mean that the conclusion is entirely wrong.

    So, is there any evidence that human activity is affecting the earth’s climate now, or any evidence that it will begin to affect the climate in the near future (say, the next few decades)?

  83. DAV: It is just impossible for any clinical trial to find all possible outcomes. We would never have any new drugs (personally, I’m not sure why we do. I’d have just closed the factory due to people not understanding risk). The FDA has a site where you can report adverse reactions. That’s on the documentation that people don’t read and then end up suing and getting money because they didn’t bother to read the documentation. Not all reactions need to be reported–my list of drug reactions is huge. It’s probably not relevant to anyone else. I have reported some reactions. Again, it’s up to the patient to read the documentation, ask questions, etc. Everyone wants that fantasy world where science answers all questions in full. Life’s risky, bad things happen and that’s just how it is.

    Jan P: Yes, I am saying funding sources do not need to be reported. If a scientist is bought, then they are bought. I certainly care about the integrity of science–though I do severely and angrily HATE the term “cherry-picking” which is code-speak for “I don’t like your answer so I’ll accuse you of cherry-picking.” No one ever uses all of the data. Everyone makes choices. To accuse someone of cherry picking is to say “I know nothing of the scientific method”. (Yes, even when skeptics do it.)

    Actually, I do really hope that. Briggs may claim corrupt scientists publish AGW rhetoric, but I do not. I claim the science has problems and state why. I do say the behaviour of scientists in AGW is often problematic–refusing to release information, name calling, attacking the speaker and not the science, etc. Whether or not they are corrupt, stupid, incompetent, really believe what they did, made an honest mistake, fear competition–who knows? The problem is the behaviour makes the scientists look bad. AGW recognizes that or they would not do studies on how to sell the science.

    I made clear my position on Monckton, here and elsewhere. Check comments in the last couple of posts.

    I totally agree with your last statement–the paper is all that matters and whether or not it does what it is claimed to do.

    Doug Lee: I have an answer to your question. We don’t know, we can’t know. How would we know what the “normal climate” would be without humans? There is no way to separate that unless we fully understood every single part of the climate system, could make perfect predictions and thus could model what would happen with the human component taken out–maybe. In reality, we don’t know and we can’t know. We do affect the climate, we have no idea how much or to what end. (Actually, we could know perhaps if 99.999% of humans were wiped out. Not sure we want to know that badly…..)

    JMJ: You can’t have credibility if you have government funding and want pollution regulation, either. The government has a vested interest in regulating industry and using pollution abatement to do it. Which does in every public university out there. No more research funded by the government. Actually, I’m okay with that.

  84. Okay, my comments are getting mixed up on threads. I moved those parts of the above comment to the “Today’s Posts are at” thread where they belong. I will try to keep up inthe future, or feel free to note that I am in the wrong thread and severely chastize me.

  85. It is just impossible for any clinical trial to find all possible outcomes.

    No but the only real reason for self reported anecdotes can only be a solution if it leads to more clinical trials. It’ no different than anywhere else. Report a bug and hopefully someone investigates. BTW: Is there really only ONE clinical trial?

    As for self-reporting, in my rather varied career, I once delivered Chinese food. There were sometimes people claiming food poisoning but surprisingly never more than one at any given time. People aren’t very good at cause and effect. Likewise, in the software field, users very often misidentify problems. A followup study should be in order. Hopefully, the FDA does or orders one.

  86. Okay, my comments are getting mixed up on threads.

    There is a surprising similarity between the two blog posts so quite understandable.


    My dratted phone keeps bugging me to explore all of the wonderful features associated with the latest download. I did so but it still won’t stop nagging. When I got it I didn’t think of it as a marriage.

  87. DAV:
    “Phase 1 studies are usually conducted in healthy volunteers. The goal here is to determine what the drug’s most frequent side effects are and, often, how the drug is metabolized and excreted. The number of subjects typically ranges from 20 to 80.
    Phase 2 studies begin if Phase 1 studies don’t reveal unacceptable toxicity. While the emphasis in Phase 1 is on safety, the emphasis in Phase 2 is on effectiveness.
    Typically, the number of subjects in Phase 2 studies ranges from a few dozen to about 300.
    Phase 3 studies begin if evidence of effectiveness is shown in Phase 2. These studies gather more information about safety and effectiveness, studying different populations and different dosages and using the drug in combination with other drugs. The number of subjects usually ranges from several hundred to about 3,000 people.”
    (From http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm143534.htm)

    Phase four is post-marketing studies.
    These studies are no where nearly as large or plentiful as people think. I read somewhere it only takes two studies that show the drug works to get approval. The number of failed studies is irrelevant.

  88. Sheri,

    I’ve observed DAV has the habit of claiming anyone who disagrees with him is using an ad hominem, but hypocritically indulges in them. I noted that the link DAV tossed out was a ludicrous assessment and explained why the assessment was ludicrous, which was also consistent with your own explanations.

    For DAV’s benefit, an ad hominem is when you do no more than call someone a name. You can identify someone as an “idiot” and that is not an ad hominem, if you provide reasons for why that person should be labelled an “idiot”, e.g., by describing that person’s unreasonable behaviour. That doesn’t make the argument necessarily correct (someone might disagree that the behaviour was unreasoned), but it still doesn’t make it an ad hominen.

  89. Jan P: I notice you have a screen shot of being blocked by Breitbart on your blog. I shall have to see if I can manage to get blocked and for what.

  90. FWIW from Wiki:
    argumentum ad hominem, means responding to arguments by attacking a person’s character, rather than to the content of their arguments. When used inappropriately, it is a fallacy in which a claim or argument is dismissed on the basis of some irrelevant fact

    Childishly dismissing NumberWatch was precisely that. It’s not the name calling — it’s the dismissal of argument.

  91. John Of Cloverdale WA, Australia

    February 26, 2015 at 12:39 am

    For those ignorant lemmings (followers of the Church of Gore) out there who blindly believe and know nothing about science. I quote one of the most brilliant of American Scientists.
    “Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts”
    “Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.”
    “If you thought that science was certain – well, that is just an error on your part.”
    ? Richard P. Feynman.
    (PS I am a geophysicist, who thanks my science teachers at university (University of Sydney) about questioning dogma in science). Question and challenge, they said).

  92. Jules Marasciullo

    March 12, 2015 at 11:54 pm

    “wallowing in their muck” – sure got that right – but when you wrestle with a pig you both wallow – only the pig likes it = so true – so sorry your erudition was overshadowed by political and journalistic MUCK – but my favorite hero warned us all about casting pearls before SWINE!!! This sure fits the parable.

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