William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Climatology Isn’t The Only Thing Killing Science

Readers write.

Readers write.

I received this interesting email from reader Mike Nash that I thought would be of interest to all. Nash saw my piece in the Federalist yesterday and commented.

Sorry but I would argue the demise of science began long before the climate brouhaha began. I ascribe it mainly to two sources, the handing out of really big grants by the federal government, and the phenomenon of “networking”.

Got my B.S. degree in the 60s and was taught science by, well, scientists. Back then grants were rarely handed out, and research generally broke down as applied research performed in commercial labs, and “basic” research, mainly conducted at colleges and universities. Worked as an undergrad for a biostatistician who would toss in the trash requests from the fed to apply for $5000 grants (his annual salary then was $7000). Was not having the gov. direct his research, and that pretty much was a widespread attitude in academia. Then Nixon opened the floodgates with agencies like EPA and that damnable War on Cancer, that never saved a single life that I heard of but blew millions upon millions on some really bad research. Today the ability to obtain grant funding (primarily from the fed) has become a prerequisite for employment in academia in my field.

Then there is the networking phenomenon. Think it was around even before the big grants made the scene, but not so influential . These networks establish whose papers are published and where, who gets hired, who gets tenure, and who gets the grants. True science requires the harsh light of critical review and that is precisely what these networks are adamantly opposed to. The climate crowd and its response to you “deniers” offers a perfect example of what I mean. Their punitive behavior is not restricted just to them but others in the biological-medical fields that I am familiar with and probably others as well.

Regarding the climate business, I would add that Howard Temin should stand as a glaring example of why the “consensus science” argument should be avoided at all cost. Every molecular biologist in the world stood by the “central dogma of molecular biology”, to wit, DNA makes RNA that makes protein–period. Temin came along claiming evidence that RNA could back-transcribe to make DNA and underwent about a decade of horrible treatment from his peers until all the experiments that were performed to prove him wrong, ultimately proved him right. Finally got (and unfairly had to share) the Nobel prize. So to hell with consensus science.

But that is the only comment I have to make about that excellent article in The Federalist. Keep up the fight though I am afraid the troglodytes have a strong upper hand today.

Micheal (Mike) Nash, Ph. D.

Here’s Wikiwiki on Howard Temin.

And just so you don’t think I’m letting these minors successes (being on the radio etc.) are going to my head, I also received from somebody calling himself “Bruce” this email in response to my article:

You are a complete idiot when it comes to climate change.

What say you?

Update I met with a group of citizens last night, on all sides of the question, gave them a speech and had an extended Q&A session. It went great. Most (all?) had never heard of how poorly models perform. I’ll write more about this later.

Update More feedback from the Federalist piece. “Here’s Why The Faithful Have To Believe In Global Warming” at Investors Business Daily. Snippet:

Why must those who keep telling us that man is overheating his planet due to his carbon dioxide emissions have to believe? Why are they so deeply invested in their faith? What pushes them so close to the edge that they have convince others that they are right? Why have they resorted to mocking those who don’t agree with them?

One sharp fellow over at The Federalist has it figured out. It’s “because they desperately desire the proposed solutions — even in the absence of a problem,” writes William M. Briggs.

For any folks surfing over from there, you may enjoy these classic posts:

Natural Variations In Weather DO NOT Explain The ‘Pause’: Update, With Letter to Nature

Don’t Say “Natural Variability”

Don’t Say “Hiatus”

21 Comments

  1. “Bruce” couldn’t come up with anything better than that? Sounds like projection to me.

  2. Ye Olde Statistician

    July 18, 2015 at 9:58 am

    I dunno. Bruce makes a persuasive argument, although his major and minor premises may be hard to discern in all that logical reasoning.

  3. Hi Matt,
    Nash’s observations fall in line nicely with Eisenhower’s warning about the coming scientific-technological elite, to which we are now fully captive. Add this to other modern trends such as post-modern science and the denial of objective truth, and it is no wonder that the entire scientific disciplines become corrupt and untrustworthy.

  4. If you were a complete idiot, you wouldn’t have the intellectual capability to write so I’d say Bruce’s claim is false. You do write effectively and truthfully about climate change.

  5. I was in the biochemistry field and I would say Mike Nash is right on. Shortly after going to my first scientific conference I soon learned/saw that to get anywhere you had to get the attention of the ‘big fish in the pond’ so to speak so that you would get published. That is what it was all about. In other words networking. Same thing for getting a job at a major university, networking was and is the ticket. Obviously, you can’t be a total ignoramus, but you can come close and still get a prized position with networking.

    I was quite a bit older than your average graduate student and thus I think I could see more clearly what was going on. I believe most scientists think that is just the way it is and there is nothing wrong with that.

    Some of your readers are physicists (I think) and this is also a major problem in certain areas of theoretical physics. Peter Woit has a blog devoted to examining these issues, his blog is called “Not Even Wrong.”

    Anyway, I am sure this a problem in most fields.

  6. Federal funding has brought mixed blessings. i think I can go back further than almost anyone else reading this blog, so let me recount my experiences. I entered grad school in the early 50’s and did my research in microwave spectroscopy. Our research director had done work in operations research for the Navy and had a minuscule ONR grant (not to support his salary or that of grad students, but for post-docs and equipment). I recall having to build an electrodeless discharge, so I went down to the local (Cambridge) equivalent of Radio Shack to purchase (with my own money) a transformer for the discharge setup. Later on getting research funds became more and more important in establishing academic credentials for tenure, so if you only had a piddling 50k/year, you were pretty low-down on the academic totem pole. I’m not sure that networking was all that important in my field–let’s put it this way: a sufficient, but not a necessary condition. In any case I got out of the academic rat-race in ’85 and found an eden for 10 years. at a tertiary care hospital, setting up their MRI and doing medical physics research.
    Peter Woit hit the nail on the head with his book about string theory, “Not Even Wrong”. That’s one situation where fashionable non-science (it’s mathematical metaphysics, since it can’t be tested empirically) has gotten attention and funds.

  7. Bob is correct, there is a book by Peter Woit called Not Even Wrong and he also has a blog (by the same name) where he continues to talk about these physics issues. The book was published in 2006. Another book for interested readers (regarding physics) is The Trouble With Physics by Lee Smolin.

    Sorry, I’m on different computers, the Hackb posting should have the same name as Hack.

  8. Basic science research is necessary, and there needs to be a training ground for young scientists. However, there needs to be some rethinking not only about how science is funded, but also which science should be funded.

    There are too many Ph.D.s being graduated who will move on to be endless post-docs, and will never be in a position to hustle a piece of the NIH or NSF pie as PI’s.

    As for federal funding, the raw numbers are eye-popping, but show me an institution that gets grants—and even with indirects—which isn’t underwriting the conduct research in some form. The grant & contract people are on payroll, IRB folks are on payroll, back-end fiscal people are on payroll, as well as having to pay for other admin support who are tangential to the work of the grant. Because universities are such huge money machines the true cost (and value) of nearly everything never comes to the surface.

  9. I have noticed that when you challenge a typical leftist’s beliefs the response is to change the subject, whack a straw man and call you names. They don’t refute what you say.

  10. Katie, the reason there are too many Ph.D.’s is to do research on grants, so that more grant support can be acquired, and to give a good supply of postdocs’s to do pretty much the same. So the root cause is indeed government funding of research, both biomedical and other.

  11. No, you’re definitely not a complete idiot. Bruce (Caitlyn?) is prone to exaggeration.

  12. I call it a leveling of temperature anomalies. That implies neither up nor down nor any change whatsoever in the future.

    Grants and publishing have been a problem for a long time. I remember my college professors complaining about this. This was before the 1980’s.

  13. Why do so few PhDs get the central dogma of biochemistry wrong?

    … once (sequential) information has passed into protein it cannot get out again (F.H.C. Crick, 1958)

    The central dogma of molecular biology deals with the detailed residue-by-residue transfer of sequential information. It states that such information cannot be transferred from protein to either protein or nucleic acid. (F.H.C. Crick, 1970)

    More details here.
    http://sandwalk.blogspot.ca/2007/01/central-dogma-of-molecular-biology.html?m=1

  14. From the ORIGINAL CO2 MOLESTER, Prof. Hubert Lamb; who was promoting ”Big Ice Age for year 2000, because of CO2 DIMMING EFFECT”

    MOST of the ”ICE AGE for year 200 Predictors” are now in the Warmist Cult:

    Here’s a list of articles from the 70’s predicting the next ice age along with a link to the website that listed them.
    1970 – Colder Winters Held Dawn of New Ice Age – Scientists See Ice Age In the Future (The Washington Post, January 11, 1970)
    1970 – Is Mankind Manufacturing a New Ice Age for Itself? (L.A. Times, January 15, 1970)
    1970 – New Ice Age May Descend On Man (Sumter Daily Item, January 26, 1970)
    1970 – Pollution Prospect A Chilling One (The Argus-Press, January 26, 1970)
    1970 – Pollution’s 2-way ‘Freeze’ On Society (Middlesboro Daily News, January 28, 1970)
    1970 – Cold Facts About Pollution (The Southeast Missourian, January 29, 1970)
    1970 – Pollution Could Cause Ice Age, Agency Reports (St. Petersburg Times, March 4, 1970)
    1970 – Scientist predicts a new ice age by 21st century (The Boston Globe, April 16, 1970)
    1970 – Pollution Called Ice Age Threat (St. Petersburg Times, June 26, 1970)
    1970 – U.S. and Soviet Press Studies of a Colder Arctic (The New York Times, July 18, 1970)
    1970 – Dirt Will Bring New Ice Age (The Sydney Morning Herald, October 19, 1970)
    1971 – Ice Age Refugee Dies Underground (Montreal Gazette, Febuary 17, 1971)
    1971 – Pollution Might Lead To Another Ice Age (The Schenectady Gazette, March 22, 1971)
    1971 – Pollution May Bring Ice Age – Scientist Rites Risk (The Windsor Star, March 23, 1971)
    1971 – U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming (The Washington Post, July 9, 1971)
    1971 – Ice Age Around the Corner (Chicago Tribune, July 10, 1971)
    1971 – New Ice Age Coming – It’s Already Getting Colder (L.A. Times, October 24, 1971)
    1971 – Another Ice Age? Pollution Blocking Sunlight (The Day, November 1, 1971)
    1971 – Air Pollution Could Bring An Ice Age (Harlan Daily Enterprise, November 4, 1971)
    1972 – Air pollution may cause ice age (Free-Lance Star, February 3, 1972)
    1972 – Scientist Says New ice Age Coming (The Ledger, February 13, 1972)
    1972 – Ice Age Cometh For Dicey Times (The Sun, May 29, 1972)
    1972 – Ice Age Coming (Deseret News, September 8, 1972)
    1972 – There’s a new Ice Age coming! (The Windsor Star, September 9, 1972)
    1972 – Scientist predicts new ice age (Free-Lance Star, September 11, 1972)
    1972 – British Expert on Climate Change Says New Ice Age Creeping Over Northern Hemisphere (Lewiston Evening Journal, September 11, 1972)
    1972 – Climate Seen Cooling For Return Of Ice Age (The Portsmouth Times, ?September 11, 1972?)
    1972 – New Ice Age Slipping Over North (The Press-Courier, September 11, 1972)
    1972 – Beginning of new ice age (The Canberra Times, September 12, 1972)
    1972 – Ice Age Begins A New Assault In North (The Age, September 12, 1972)
    1972 – Weather To Get Colder (Montreal Gazette, ?September 12, 1972?)
    1972 – British climate expert predicts new Ice Age (The Christian Science Monitor, September 23, 1972)
    1972 – Scientist Sees Chilling Signs of New Ice Age (L.A. Times, September 24, 1972)
    1972 – Science: Another Ice Age? (Time Magazine, November 13, 1972)
    1972 – Geologist at Case Traces Long Winters – Sees Ice Age in 20 Years (Youngstown Vindicator, December 13, 1972)
    1972 – Ice Age On Its Way, Scientist Says (Toledo Blade, December 13, 1972)
    1972 – Ice Age Predicted In About 200 Years (The Portsmouth Times, December 14, 1972)
    1973 – New Ice Age coming? (Popular Science, January 1973)
    1973 – The Ice Age Cometh (The Saturday Review, March 24, 1973)
    1973 – Believe new ice age is coming (The Bryan Times, March 31, 1973)
    1973 – ‘Man-made Ice Age’ Worries Scientists (The Free Lance-Star, June 22, 1973)
    1973 – Fear Of Man-made Ice Age (The Spartanburg Herald, June 28, 1973)
    1973 – Possibility Of Ice Age Worries The Scientists (The Argus-Press, November 12, 1973)
    1973 – Weather-watchers think another ice age may be on the way (The Christian Science Monitor, December 11, 1973)
    1974 – Ominous Changes in the World’s Weather (PDF) (Fortune Magazine, February 1974)
    1974 – Atmospheric Dirt: Ice Age Coming?? (Pittsburgh Press, February 28, 1974)
    1974 – Support for theory of a cooling world (The Canberra Times, May 16, 1974)
    1974 – New evidence indicates ice age here (Eugene Register-Guard, May 29, 1974)
    1974 – Another Ice Age? (Time Magazine, June 24, 1974)
    1974 – 2 Scientists Think ‘Little’ Ice Age Near (Hartford Courant, August 11, 1974)
    1974 – Ice Age, worse food crisis seen (Chicago Tribune, October 30, 1974)
    1974 – Imminent Arrival of the Ice (Radio Times, November 14, 1974)
    1974 – Making a BBC Science Special [The Weather Machine] (New Scientist, November 14, 1974)
    1974 – The Weather Machine (BBC, November 20, 1974)
    1974 – New ice age ‘could be in our lifetime’ (The Canberra Times, November 22, 1974)
    1974 – Believes Pollution Could Bring On Ice Age (Ludington Daily News, December 4, 1974)
    1974 – Pollution Could Spur Ice Age, Nasa Says (Beaver Country Times, ?December 4, 1974?)
    1974 – Air Pollution May Trigger Ice Age, Scientists Feel (The Telegraph, ?December 5, 1974?)
    1974 – More Air Pollution Could Trigger Ice Age Disaster (Daily Sentinel, ?December 5, 1974?)
    1974 – Scientists Fear Smog Could Cause Ice Age (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 5, 1974)
    1975 – Climate Changes Called Ominous (The New York Times, January 19, 1975)
    1975 – Climate Change: Chilling Possibilities (Science News, March 1, 1975)
    1975 – B-r-r-r-r: New Ice Age on way soon? (Chicago Tribune, March 2, 1975)
    1975 – Cooling Trends Arouse Fear That New Ice Age Coming (Eugene Register-Guard, ?March 2, 1975?)
    1975 – Is Another Ice Age Due? Arctic Ice Expands In Last Decade (Youngstown Vindicator, ?March 2, 1975?)
    1975 – Is Earth Headed For Another Ice Age? (Reading Eagle, March 2, 1975)
    1975 – New Ice Age Dawning? Significant Shift In Climate Seen (Times Daily, ?March 2, 1975?)
    1975 – There’s Troublesome Weather Ahead (Tri City Herald, ?March 2, 1975?)
    1975 – Is Earth Doomed To Live Through Another Ice Age? (The Robesonian, ?March 3, 1975?)
    1975 – The Ice Age cometh: the system that controls our climate (Chicago Tribune, April 13, 1975)
    1975 – The Cooling World (Newsweek, April 28, 1975)
    1975 – Cooling trend may signal coming of another Ice Age (The Sun, May 16, 1975)
    1975 – Scientists Ask Why World Climate Is Changing; Major Cooling May Be Ahead (PDF) (The New York Times, May 21, 1975)
    1975 – Summer of A New Ice Age (The Age, June 5, 1975)
    1975 – In the Grip of a New Ice Age? (International Wildlife, July-August, 1975)
    1975 – Experts ponder another ice age (The Spokesman-Review, September 8, 1975)
    1975 – Oil Spill Could Cause New Ice Age (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 11, 1975)
    1976 – Deadly Harvest [Film] (Starring: Kim Cattrall, Clint Walker, 1976)
    1976 – The Cooling: Has the Next Ice Age Already Begun? [Book] (Lowell Ponte, 1976)
    1976 – Ice Age Predicted (Reading Eagle, January 22, 1976)
    1976 – Ice Age Predicted In Century (Bangor Daily News, January 22, 1976)
    1976 – It’s Going To Get Chilly About 125 Years From Now (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, January 23, 1976)
    1976 – Worrisome CIA Report; Even U.S. Farms May be Hit by Cooling Trend (U.S. News & World Report, May 31, 1976)
    1977 – Blizzard – What Happens if it Doesn’t Stop? [Book] (George Stone, 1977)
    1977 – The Weather Conspiracy: The Coming of the New Ice Age [Book] (The Impact Team, 1977)
    1977 – The Ice Age Cometh… (New York Magazine, January 31, 1977)
    1977 – The Big Freeze (Time Magazine, January 31, 1977)
    1977 – Has The Ice Age Cometh Again? (Calgary Herald, February 1, 1977)
    1977 – Space Mirrors Proposed To Prevent Crop Freezes (Bangor Daily News, February 7, 1977)
    1977 – We Will Freeze in the Dark (Capital Cities Communications Documentary, Host: Nancy Dickerson, April 12, 1977)
    1978 – Ice! [Book] (Arnold Federbush, 1978)
    1978 – The New Ice Age [Book] (Henry Gilfond, 1978)
    1978 – Winter May Be Colder Than In Last Ice Age (Deseret News, January 2, 1978)
    1978 – Current Winters Seen Colder Than In Ice Age? (The Telegraph, January 3, 1978)
    1978 – Winter Temperatures Colder Than Last Ice Age (Eugene Register-Guard, Eugene Register-Guard, January 3, 1978)
    1978 – International Team of Specialists Finds No End in Sight to 30-Year Cooling Trend in Northern Hemisphere (The New York Times, January 5, 1978)
    1978 – Little Ice Age: Severe winters and cool summers ahead (Calgary Herald, January 10, 1978)
    1978 – Winters Will Get Colder, ‘we’re Entering Little Ice Age’ (Daily Record, January 10, 1978)
    1978 – Geologist Says Winters Getting Colder (Middlesboro Daily News, January 16, 1978)
    1978 – It’s Going To Get Colder (Boca Raton News, ?January 17, 1978?)
    1978 – Another Ice Age? (Kentucky New Era, February 12, 1978)
    1978 – Another Ice Age? (Reading Eagle, ?February 13, 1978?)
    1978 – The Coming Ice Age (In Search Of TV Show, Season 2, Episode 23, Host: Leonard Nimoy, May 1978)
    1978 – An Ice Age Is Coming Weather Expert Fears (Milwaukee Sentinel, November 17, 1978)
    1979 – A Choice of Catastrophes – The Disasters That Threaten Our World [Book] (Isaac Asimov, 1979)
    1979 – The Sixth Winter [Book] (John R. Gribbin, 1979)
    1979 – The New Ice Age Cometh (The Age, January 16, 1979)
    1979 – Ice Age Building Up (Daily Record, June 5, 1979)
    1979 – Large Glacial Buildup Could Mean Ice Age (Daily Chronicle, June 5, 1979)
    1979 – Ice Age On Its Way (Lewiston Morning Tribune, June 7, 1979)
    1979 – Get Ready to Freeze (Daily Chronicle, October 12, 1979)
    1979 – New ice age almost upon us? (The Christian Science Monitor, November 14, 1979)
    * Note: A couple of the news stories are duplicates in different papers with slightly different titles, this is intentional to show that these types of stories were not isolated to a certain regional paper.
    http://www.populartechnology.net/2013/02/the-1970s-global-cooling-alarmism.html

  15. stephanthedenier: I love these two—
    Oil Spill Could Cause New Ice Age
    Space Mirrors Proposed To Prevent Crop Freeze

    Oil spills increase warmth by absorbing more sunlight. How that leads to cooling I don’t know. And an oil spill big enough to change the temperature of the planet would mean we have far more serious problems than global warming or cooling.

    The mirrors have been proposed for Global Warming. I guess you get hot or cold, depending on how you position the mirrors?

  16. Jules Marasciullo

    July 19, 2015 at 12:42 am

    ad-hominem the logic that is the watermark of all “TRUE” Scientists 😉
    Because it is so much easier to provide probative CONVINCING evidence to win the hearts and minds of great thinkers, than it is to do the HARD FOUGHT and profoundly strident DEEP thinking effort – required for ad-hominem!

  17. Larry Sheldon

    July 19, 2015 at 4:25 am

    By George, think he (Mr. Nash) is on to something!

  18. Identifying the causes of the many problems in academic research is not simple to do. However, once identified, even more difficult, is the task of trying to work out viable solutions.

  19. Jules Marasciullo

    July 21, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Bernie1815
    You are onto something with an inspirational root cause explanation for this -The father of lies, the father of death, deceit, and destruction, (the lord of the flies – BEELZEBUB), with the power to deceive even the very elect (MT 24:24) – who was CAST DOWN as a consequence of his own selfish pride (IS 14:9-15) – whose power stems from fear and death (as opposed to respect, as opposed to the God of love, the Father of life), is prevailing over the minds of those who are motivated by his power (HEB 2:14) – the power of threats, and hate, and the fear of the consequences – of the consequences of a cataclysmic problem conjured up by his machinations – a non existent /non problem, that he has subtly established in the possessed minds of his followers, to help bring about his destruction of freedom, and thereby the destruction of love, life, and truth! But as long as there are those that are true followers (JN 4:23) left on Earth, his perverted dominion is retarded!!! Ultimately he WILL be vanquished, and eternally bound – (HEB 2:14, REV 20:10)! ******REV 21:3-4)*******
    Is there an AMEN here? I suspect so.

  20. Thank you very much. I am a phd student in neuroscience and I have a very hard time because unfortunately my experiment did not show what it was supposed to show. But then, what can I do about it? And another issue is that some of the data (not all) are just very uninformative because of an underpowered design so that I can’t draw any honest conclusions of them at all. But that seems to be more the rule than the exception in neuroscience, yet things get published if just the result is nice… It seems to be a big disadvantage to really care about what is and is not in the data.

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