William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Coming Clean On My Global Warming Funding

This is everything.

This is everything.

Since the “Why models run hot” flap started a witch hunt in Congress, I thought I’d give the complete story of my funding for any work of any kind done on climatology since after I graduated Cornell. When I was a student I made about $13,000 a year.

I have received $110 in direct cash payments from donors (for which I am immensely and most sincerely grateful). That’s one hundred ten. United States dollars. This all came within the last three months. So I’m gathering up speed.

A generous reader sent me to the Heartland Conference last year, picking up the tickets, registration, and hotel bill (was it one night or two?). This ran to, say, six or seven hundred. I didn’t speak (wasn’t invited) but I did blog about the event, as regular readers will remember.

When I was a professor at the Cornell Medical School, they sent me to three or four AMS meetings and the like. Call it $3,000.

And one I nearly forgot. I was at the first Heartland Conference many years ago. I got some kind of honorarium for a talk on hurricanes (and boy was I boring: this was before I learned what I now know about statistics), the exact same talk I had given to the AMS annual conference a couple of months before that. This was around $1,000. I did the work on the hurricane papers on my own (I don’t recommend reading them).

Round it up to, say, $5,000. Spread over more than a decade. Because you’re my friends, I can tell you I blew that $110 all on whiskey and cigars.

How much did I get for “Why models run hot”? Nothing.

Of course, you have to balance that hefty five grand by the amount I’ve lost. For instance, I was being groomed to take over a spot at Lawrence Livermore lab a few years back (Ben Santer’s playground). And then, one day, the powers-that-were there suddenly forgot who I was. Emails and phone calls were never returned. Right, Bill?

I had another job lined up with a firm whose purpose was to expose bad science. But they backed off and said they didn’t want themselves to become known as working with a “denier.” I’d tell you who they were, but I signed a non-disclosure. They weren’t the first or last.

An interview I had with a small teaching college (“our students come first” kind of place) is typical. I did so well that I was brought into the office of the chair and shown just where to buy houses (there is obviously more to this story than I’m telling here). But later a department member found my website. This kind of thing has happened more than once.

Although, to be fair, this particular incident was exacerbated because I admitted that I would not write any government grants. I might have been forgiven for being a “denier”. But to refuse to bring in government money? Never. That’s academic freedom for you. It also hasn’t helped me that I don’t want to teach frequentist statistics to impressionable kids and fill their skulls with fallacies. Academic freedom insists you teach what you’re told. Of course, my stance that Diversity equates Mandated Uniformity is somewhat of a taint. Academic freedom again.

Understand I’m not complaining: it’s these schools’ money and they’re free to spend it any way they wish. Until the government makes it spend it the way they insist. I just don’t think the term “academic freedom” has any meaning.

That new CATO group was going to hire me on, at least to write some pieces for them. But I got a call that said one of the VPs there couldn’t work with me because of my stance on gay so-called marriage. Guess I’m a “denier” on that one, too.

And this is why I say on my “Who’s WMB” page that except for two weeks a year I am “completely independent”, a pleasant enough euphemism. At least it’s giving me time to finish this damned book about a better way to think about and do probability and statistics (almost there; stay tuned).

That’s about it. I do not jest when I say I’m thisclose to using what I learned by working with my father and setting up as a handyman.

Fair’s fair. Now let’s hear from the other side. If they have the guts.

22 Comments

  1. I wonder how much of this type of behaviour is hidden by non-disclosure agreements.

    Go ahead, set up a handyman business! People who can fix things are always in demand. You can’t fudge when building and repairing as a handyman and a guy with ethics that doesn’t take your money, fails to fix the problem and then disappears is very much appreciated. It’s an honorable way to make a living where accuracy and honesty are appreciated.

  2. As a supporter of the site, It makes me very happy that you’re putting the money to good use! What are your libations of choice?

  3. My father was one of the handiest people I knew.

    My older brothers got that gene as well.

    Me? I can’t pound a nail to save my life.

    So I have to cave in when it’s required.

  4. What does it profit a man that he should gain a tenured teaching position but forfeit his soul?

  5. Well, I suppose it’s good to know you’re pro-pollution just because you really like pollution.

    JMJ

  6. To be a “denier” does not mean that one is “pro-pollution.”

  7. And the unable to think on his own JMJ returns with his usual strawman argument. Really, JMJ, you are nothing but boring with this. Try some original thought and maybe someone would find you interesting. Otherwise, we type a response, toss your “enlightened opinion” in the troll bin and move on. If you repeat it long enough, it still won’t be believed by those who actually think. Maybe find a different blog that does not encourage any thinking and you might sell better.

  8. Briggs:

    Give it up, man

    Drop the Blog

    And become a Government Statistician!

    You could easily come up with stuff like this:

    Secretary of State John Kerry said despite the threats and advances of terrorism groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda, “We are actually living in the least loss of life, violent period in our history.”

    http://www.breitbart.com/video/2015/02/24/kerry-downplays-terror-threat-least-violent-period-in-our-history/

    I can just hear Darth Vader: “The Statistics is strong in you! Give in to your hatred! Come to the DARK SIDE!”

  9. Briggs, I once worked on the vaunted and hallowed ground of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. In fact, I was a “full-time” or FTE as they used to say, and did that for eight years after a one year contract stint. At the Radiator Lab I performed many strange and incomprehensible duties, at least that was how outside industry described my responsibilities from their view point of accountability to shareholders, after I left and joined the “private sector.” Being at the Lab was like being trapped in amber, watching the world briskly move on as we constantly reinvented things that had already existed, but in new, unexciting and low performing ways. I never regretted for one second the decision to release myself from that stasis, which freed me professionally, and made some of them feel better about themselves. As places go, it is not bad for certain professions. Physics come to mind. For example, the big ICF project is called the National Ignition Facility, but they only achieved breakeven. The National Breakeven Facility then! It’s missing a vowel though, so it does not sound as good. I have wandered…

    My point is this; you are probably too good for them.

  10. Hatred for Statistical abuse, that is.

  11. You better give up on writing true confessions. Yours are boring. I thought we would be regaled with stories of how the Koch brothers had paid you thousands of dollars to deny climate, like Peter denying Jesus.

    One of my good friends worked for a university laboratory and he was continually writing new proposals to bring in more government money. He was always pitching the government bureaucrats for more work. What a lot of drudgery.

  12. $110? I am definitely going into blogging post haste. I had no idea it was so lucrative. You must be making on the order of 10 nanocents per word.

    I guess this is the dark side of the Internet being the great equalizer and allowing all views to be exposed. A great boon to freedom of expression….not.

    The retro-analysis of anything someone has every said to determine if it meets today’s politically correct standard is a bit tough. It is particularly disheartening to find that it is the academic community that is now trafficking in this type of witch hunt and demanded conformity. These are dark days in academia as the secret thought police exert their power.

  13. Because, in theory, all academics are equal, the way to rise above the waves is to gather prestige among peers. Holding contrarian views in many disciplines can be extremely risky. Holding politically incorrect or unpopular views, fatal.

  14. Political correctness isn’t funny anymore.: http://reason.com/archives/2015/02/12/political-correctness
    if it ever was.
    And it’s just come to light that the same thing has happened in Oxford with the same ethnic minority involved.
    A quotation from one of the people involved in Oxford, “if you think it’s not happening in your town you haven’t looked hard enough.”
    I think it’s time to stop laughing.

  15. Of course the funding issue is a red herring. Research and opinions that support AGW/climate change are defensible however funded. Any research that doesn’t support the mob’s consensus is by definition indefensible, unscientific, dishonest, and immoral, and the researcher(s) are corrupt and dangerous. This is the way the left rolls.

  16. Robbie, you nailed it.

  17. Thanks Briggs, for the transparency on this matter. Now let’s see David Appell do the same thing. I’m extremely confident it’s just not going to happen.

    The truth is that the CAGW crowd (especially their attack dogs such as Appell, Laden, Sou from HotWhopper, and so on) rely on the mistaken assumption that any scientist, writer or blogger who doesn’t fully buy into the CAGW dogma MUST BE FUNDED by some evil oil or right wing entity. They just cannot comprehend that anyone could possibly think for themselves and challenge the conventional wisdom.

    But assumptions seem to be very prevalent in the CAGW crowd, whether it be in their statistical models, their scientific processes, or in their assessments of folks who are the slightest bit in disagreement with their way of thinking. One of the best management seminars I ever took taught me that the biggest roadblock towards productive discourse lies in the assumptions that we all bring with us to such interactions. Testing/validating those assumptions are a big part of getting past such roadblocks. I don’t think it’s ever going to happen with those on the other side of this debate.

  18. Kent Gatewood

    March 5, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    Dr. Briggs, if they don’t give you compensation how do they enforce a non-disclosure agreement?

    Thank you

  19. Briggs

    March 5, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    Kent,

    I don’t understand your question. Who are “they”? If nobody gives you money, you have nothing to disclose, n’est-ce pas?

  20. “if they don’t give you compensation how do they enforce a non-disclosure agreement?”

    A thought by someone who knows nothing about non-disclosure agreements, or life in general, by the sound of things. I’ve signed many, and I’ve asked a few to sign a few. Never was money involved.

  21. Progressivism is a religion, and you’re a heretic. You would have a greater chance of getting a job at some Medieval University while publicly denying Trinity and Divinity of Christ, then you would at today’s University while publicly denying one of the dogmas of Progressivism… that’s free-thought and “question everything” for you.

  22. Anyone who has signed the Official Secrets Act, or US equivallent, will know that this non disclosure agreement is certainly enforcable.

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