Global warming skeptics: Punk’d!


Even though I risk bringing back some of the anthropogenic global warming “skeptics” (in reality pseudoskeptics) here, this is too rich not to mention, because it reminds me of how advocates of all stripes of pseudoscience react, particularly advocates of alternative medicine, most of whom wouldn’t recognize a well-designed study if it bit them on the behind. Apparently, Rush Limbaugh and the usual suspects fell for a rather obvious hoax in the form of an online journal article:

Daniel A Klein*, Mandeep J Gupta*, Philip Cooper**, Arne FR Jansson**. Carbon dioxide production by benthic bacteria: the death of manmade global warming theory? Journal of Geoclimatic Studies (2007) 13:3. 223-231.

The article is now gone, as is the website, but the article remains in the Google cache (sans several figures) for the moment, as does the accompanying “editorial.” The hilarious thing is that even I, who haven’t taken calculus in over 20 years, can recognize the equations as total gibberish. Even Ronald Baily at Reason fell for it hook, line, and sinker. What to me is most hilarious is the conclusion:

It was not our intention in researching this issue to disprove manmade global warming theory. We have received no funds, directly or indirectly, from fossil fuel companies and have no personal interest in the outcome of the debate. We simply noticed an anomaly in the figures used by those who accept the “consensus” position on climate change and sought to investigate it. But the findings presented in this paper could not be more damaging to manmade global warming theory or to the thousands of climate scientists who have overlooked – sometimes, we fear, deliberately – the anomaly. We have found a near-perfect match between the levels of carbon dioxide produced by benthic eubacteria and recent global temperature records. By contrast we note what must be obvious to all those who have studied the figures with an open mind: a very poor match between carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels and recent global temperature records.

Moreover we note that there is no possible mechanism by which industrial emissions could have caused the recent temperature increase, as they are two orders of magnitude too small to have exerted an effect of this size. We have no choice but to conclude that the recent increase in global temperatures, which has caused so much disquiet among policy makers, bears no relation to industrial emissions, but is in fact a natural phenomenom.

These findings place us in a difficult position. We feel an obligation to publish, both in the cause of scientific objectivity and to prevent a terrible mistake – with extremely costly implications – from being made by the world’s governments. But we recognise that in doing so, we lay our careers on the line. As we have found in seeking to broach this issue gently with colleagues, and in attempting to publish these findings in other peer-reviewed journals, the “consensus” on climate change is enforced not by fact but by fear. We have been warned, collectively and individually, that in bringing our findings to public attention we are not only likely to be deprived of all future sources of funding, but that we also jeopardise the funding of the departments for which we work.

We believe that academic intimidation of this kind contradicts the spirit of open enquiry in which scientific investigations should be conducted. We deplore the aggressive responses we encountered before our findings were published, and fear the reaction this paper might provoke. But dangerous as these findings are, we feel we have no choice but to publish.

The whole bit about the “consensus” being “enforced by fear, not fact” is a dead giveaway. That’s text right out of the anti-AGW playbook. No reputable journal would allow such prose in the conclusion of an allegedly scientific manuscript.

But if that’s not enough, the accompanying “editorial” has more obvious clues that this is a hoax:

Science, we are led to believe, proceeds by means of open-minded enquiry, motivated by the quest for truth. Any scientific theory is valid only for as long as it resists disproof. Such disproofs, far from being discouraged or resisted, are to be welcomed as the means by which knowledge advances.

This, anyhow, is the story we tell ourselves, at every level of every scientific discipline. Sadly, however, it no longer seems to apply in the field of climate science. It is impossible to overstate the importance of the lead paper published in this edition of our journal. It threatens to overturn the theory to which almost all climate scientists subscribe: that positive radiative forcing (global warming) is largely driven by emissions of carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuels. The paper, by Daniel Klein and colleagues, appears to demonstrate that this is not the case: the process causing global warming is in fact a natural one, which is likely to peak – returning average temperatures to background levels – by the middle of this century.

In any other field a revelation of this importance would be greeted with tremendous interest by scientific colleagues. If corroborated by further investigation it is likely to have been rewarded with the highest scientific honours: it is no exaggeration to state that this is Nobel Prize material. Instead, attempts to publish this paper have been met with fear, hostility and a closing of ranks. Before approaching this journal, Daniel Klein and colleagues sent their paper to 43 peer-reviewed learned publications. All 43 rejected it. In no case could they provide a scientific justification for their decision. The editor of one very eminent journal told Klein and his colleagues that they were “criminally irresponsible” in seeking to have this material published. This is not, we believe, language appropriate to the advance of scientific understanding.

Much as we would like to exaggerate the significance of our own journal, we cannot claim that it ranks alongside the great names that rejected this paper. Though we have always strived to maintain the most rigorous scientific standards, we recognise that Klein and colleagues came to us when better options had failed. Delighted as we are to provide a home for it, we deeply regret that they were unable to publish their paper in a better-known journal.

Suffice it to say that no “real” journal would ever say that a manuscript they publish is “Nobel Prize” material. For one thing, it’s rare to be able to tell at the time of a discovery that it’s Nobel material. For another, scientific decorum and culture preclude it. Even if a person lacks the training in mathematics to recognize the equations in the manuscript as gibberish, the editorial alone gives off more than enough clues to let anyone with a modicum of skepticism in on the joke. As PZ, Russell Seitz, and Kevin Grandia describe, though, many anti-AGW pundits, led by Rush Limbaugh, fell for it hook, line, and sinker.

The Great Beyond at Nature now has a summary and an interview with the still anonymous hoaxster.

Meanwhile at least one of the creduloids taken in by the hoax is whining that the whole incident proves him right all along:

I’ll conclude with this, however. The heart of my previous post dealt with the hostile environment surrounding the global warming debate. Despite the the fact that the paper I used as the lead-in was false, it remains true that global warming advocates have a religious zeal about defending their beliefs on the subject and those who dare disagree are scorned (though, certainly, I or anyone else publishing made up research on purpose or accident should be scorned!). As I’ve stated in the past, I claim no expertise on the science behind the debate, but when the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation announces, just a few months back, that livestock flatulence accounts for close to one-fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions, I suggest there is room for doubt that we’ve got it all figured out.

I’ve left the original post below, feel free to read it for a laugh at my expense!

Will do. I will, however, give him credit for not just deleting his post, as some have done.

The only bad thing about this is that the hoax was revealed a little too soon. It would have been more amusing to see more pundits fall for it. Maybe the equations in the paper should have been a little less gibberish and that a certain other AGW “skeptic” never saw it. Maybe it’ll turn up in his act.

ADDENDUM: At least one of the hoaxsters has apparently revealed himself.


  1. #1 Hank Roberts
    November 11, 2007

    I wish the main site had stayed up. I’d started noting how long it took between posts repeating the story and followups retracting it, which I thought would’ve been most interesting.

    Since the mysterious disappearance of any and all records proving the existence of the paper, its authors, the journal, the references cited, and even the web page, no one will ever know if it was true or not, eh?

  2. #2 Shiritai
    November 11, 2007

    Wow. That’s rich. The level of BS in that hoax is amazing, and made me laugh heartily. My favorite line has got to be: Where δ is bacterial mass, Λ is substrate volume,ญ is the square root of the constant Ψ and Њyt is the polychromatic “coffeeground” Schumann factor for semi-particulate distribution.

  3. #3 Mike M.
    November 11, 2007

    I follow this subject closely. None of the biggest skeptic sites bought this fraud. Rush is the only one who got it wrong because he misread Roy Spencer’s email giving him a heads up to what was happening.
    This is what the Alarmists are reduced to, feeble attempts at disinformation. Considering how weak your argument for man-made global warming is we certainly can’t expect to see any further studies coming out supporting it.
    The game is over anyway. Your precious global warming won’t make it past this…

  4. #4 Robster, FCD
    November 11, 2007

    Mike, Not likely.

  5. #5 Orac
    November 11, 2007

    Yeah, I was amazed that Mike would post something that easily shot down.

    Or maybe I wasn’t.

  6. #6 Bing McGhandi
    November 11, 2007

    This was sweet. Ah, it’s like the Sokal Hoax!

    Yay! Yippie!

    Last week the students in my critical thinking and writing course (theme: “Hoaxes, Frauds and Confidence Men”) designed their own hoaxes. My favorite was the formation of “The Committee to Stop Medical Experimentation on the Homeless,” but this one takes the cake.


  7. #7 TexasSkeptic
    November 11, 2007

    Uh, did anyone else catch this howler?

    “The relationship with algal blooms, whose breakdown product (difluoroethylene sulfate) is toxic to the primary eubacterial predators-Tetrarhynchia brachiopods-is well known…”

    A fluorocarbon as a–no, as THE–breakdown product of natural algae blooms. And a “well known” breakdown product at that! Had the hoax lasted a bit longer, would the hoaxed have blamed CFC-based depletion of the ozone layer on said algae blooms?

    Looks like these jokers had two hooks on the line, but their joke got uncovered before anyone took a bite of Hook Number Two.

    Too bad it didn’t last a little longer. A double deception would’ve doubled the fun.

  8. #8 Tim Slagle
    November 11, 2007

    I knew it was a hoax.

    I heard Rush read it, and right away jumped over to Deltoid, then Real Climate.


    Had it been a legitimate scientific study, the usual suspects would have been all over it, claiming it was flawed, and pointing out the scientists links to the oil industry and various think tanks.

    Since nobody bothered, it had to be fake.

  9. #9 jre
    November 11, 2007

    Ah, I see how it works in Slagleworld.
    If I have read Tim’s comment correctly, his standard procedure in evaluating the credibility of a purportedly scientific paper is to look for comments from “the usual suspects”, then believe the opposite of whatever they say.

    Actually, um, reading the paper, and determining for oneself whether it makes sense, does not appear to enter into Tim’s plans.

    Comrades: let me add an item to the agenda for the next envirosocialist underground steering committee meeting. Slagle has outwitted us this time. However, if we instigate a wave of feigned outrage from our fellow travelers after the release of our next enviro-disinformation paper, we will punk them all! The only way they could uncover our scheme would be to read the paper and try to understand it!

  10. #10 ks
    November 11, 2007

    My favorite part was “of the constant Δ”

  11. #11 Tim Slagle
    November 11, 2007

    jre writes: “believe the opposite of whatever they say”

    I didn’t say that.

    I said I was looking for a rebuttal. After listening to both sides, I will believe the most credible. I try to look at every argument that way. The lack of a contrary opinion on this item was suspicious, so I knew it was probably bogus

    I’m nowhere near as closed-minded as some suspect. It often takes the sunlight of a contrary opinion to see the flaws in an argument. It’s why I listen to NPR as well as Rush. I believe the truth lives near the equator of those poles.

    I wouldn’t be subjecting myself to ridicule here, if I didn’t see some benefit in hearing the other side.

  12. #12 Orac
    November 11, 2007

    I’d be more willing to accept your self-characterization if you hadn’t shown up not too long ago making a comment about how AGW is “faith” not science.

    Really, you sounded like a creationist in that comment. It’s exactly the sort of things they say. And, no, I’m not calling you a creationist; I’m merely pointing out that you’re using the same rhetoric, just over AGW instead of evolution.

    Very disappointing, especially since you still seem to be doing it.

  13. #13 ks
    November 11, 2007

    I’m not saying it is perfectly centered, but NPR sure isn’t a “pole”

  14. #14 jre
    November 11, 2007

    OK, I stand corrected. Tim does not automatically reject the views of one group to adopt the opposite position. He performs a careful interpolation between one point of view and another. This is, of course, a much more efficient route to the truth than the difficult, painful and time-consuming path of understanding the science.

  15. #15 DLC
    November 11, 2007

    Proof positive that you need to read carefully and allow time to digest the material before coming to a conclusion.

    Anyone here read the “Dangers of Di hydro-monoxide ” ?

  16. #16 Joseph Hertzlinger
    November 11, 2007

    The hilarious thing is that even I, who haven’t taken calculus in over 20 years, can recognize the equations as total gibberish.

    I happen to be an expert on gibberish equations. Those formulas looked like they might have been the result of careless editing in TeX. For example, if somebody who doesn’t know what he’s doing is told to make sure the first character in the formula $A = {xyz \over 42}$ is in a calligraphic font, he might turn the formula into $\cal A = {xyz \over 42}$ which will resemble the formulas in the spoof article.

  17. #17 Andrew Dodds
    November 12, 2007

    DLC –

    Yes, but luckily DHMO poisoning can be reversed with a simple bath in dehydrated hydrogen sulphate – which always prevents death from DHMO overdose.

  18. #18 Paul
    November 12, 2007

    Your post is great, except that nobody fell for the hoax.

  19. #19 MartinM
    November 12, 2007

    Apart from the people who did, that is.

  20. #20 Badger3k
    November 12, 2007

    This is it? Maybe you need to insult the denialists, like PZ – the “Stan Palmer” thread is still going over 1000 posts, and now the denialists have brought out a PZ=Hitler and denilaists=Jews bit (shoot, should have saved the post # – something in the 1000-1100 range, sorry). A bit small for the Hitler-Zombie, but, just wanted to pass it on.

  21. #21 Tim Slagle
    November 13, 2007

    Orac writes: ” if you hadn’t shown up not too long ago making a comment about how AGW is “faith” not science.”

    I did not say AGW is “faith.”

    I said “when Scientists cannot even offer a guess as to when the oceans are going to rise twenty feet, or the probability of it happening in our lifetimes, it is not Science. It is Faith”

    Pardon me for being vague. I didn’t mean to say that the IPCC report was based on Faith; I meant to say, believing that the oceans will rise 20 feet, when there is no scientific consensus on the matter, is Faith.

    The consensus stops at 23 inches.

  22. #22 daedalus2u
    November 13, 2007

    Huh? An unwillingness to guess is how you define “faith”?

    I think the term you are looking for is “truthiness”, not “scientific consensus”.

    The IPCC politically driven truthy “consensus” may stop at 23 inches. As king Canute demonstrated, the rising sea will not.

  23. #23 Orac
    November 14, 2007

    I did not say AGW is “faith.”

    I don’t buy it, but if I take you at your word, then please tell us: What, in your opinion, is AGW based on? You obviously don’t think it’s based on science.

    Pardon me for being vague. I didn’t mean to say that the IPCC report was based on Faith; I meant to say, believing that the oceans will rise 20 feet, when there is no scientific consensus on the matter, is Faith.

    The consensus stops at 23 inches.

    No, it doesn’t, as has been pointed out to you ad nauseum in multiple different comment threads. Simply repeating the “23 inch” canard again and again does not make it any less of a distortion of what the consensus says.

    You know, you seem to be showing a lot of concrete thinking these days. You see the term “23 inches” in the report and ignore the context and the qualifications, along with the discussion of how under certain likely circumstances it could be much more than that.

  24. #24 Tim Slagle
    November 14, 2007

    I don’t know why you continually insist on debating AGW.

    Don’t you know the debate is over? AGW is real, it is happening, and it is no longer a scientific issue, it is a MORAL issue.

    Since those are the current talking points, I see no reason to discuss my personal belief any further. I’ll agree with the consensus. (However, if you’re willing to give me the 9 to 1 odds published by the IPCC, I’ll bet you a thousand bucks that it’s all a load of Hooey. What dy’a say, you got nine grand to lose?)

    As for the 20 ft canard that YOU insist is accurate, repeating that incessantly doesn’t create a consensus either.

    I’m not buying that words like “might” and “could” are valid scientific quantities either. Now I’m no scientist, but I’m fairly certain that to call it science, you need to have a number with one of those “%” thingys after it, to give people an idea of how strong your “could” really is.

    I mean come on, there “could” be a creator, (couldn’t there)?

  25. #25 Orac
    November 15, 2007

    I don’t know why you continually insist on debating AGW.

    Now that‘s really funny.

    As is this tidbit that you pointed me to.

    However, I’ll agree; debating you, if you can call it that, about AGW does seem to have become rather pointless and tedious. You clearly don’t understand how science works, as evidenced by your posts and comments (including your most recent one), and have fixated on basically a single line by Al Gore and the IPCC report as “evidence” that there is no consensus for a sea level rise greater than 23 inches.

    That in and of itself might not be all that bad, but what is bad is that you obstinately refuse to try to learn. I’ve started perusing anti-AGW sites to see if they post any compelling evidence. I haven’t found any yet that isn’t nibbling at the edges at best. You’ve been pointed in the direction of explanations (here’s another one) about why that’s a typical anti-AGW canard, and still tap dance around them. For some reason this isn’t like the secondhand smoke issue, where you at least seem to have come to accept that science does indicate there to be a risk from SHS but simply question whether smoking bans are justified on a cost-benefit basis, something reasonable people can discuss and disagree over. In contrast, the whole AGW thing seems to have led you to shut your usually sharp mind off. I don’t know if it’s your extreme dislike of Al Gore (I’m not, by the way, a big fan of his either, although I don’t loathe him either) or your Libertarian politics, but that’s the way it seems to me.

    As for the “bet,” given that we’re both likely to be either really, really old or (far more likely) long dead by the time the answer would be known definitively, I see no point in such an exercise, other than as a rhetorical device.

  26. #26 Andrew Dodds
    November 15, 2007

    Tim –

    Interesting bet idea. What would be the criteria for you paying out?

  27. #27 Tim Slagle
    November 16, 2007

    Andrew Dodds writes: “What would be the criteria for you paying out?”

    You put up nine grand, and we pick an agreeable benchmark for 2018. We’ll buy a $10,000 bond, and the closest prediction keeps it.

    And unlike Orac, I see a value in the exercise far beyond a rhetorical device. It’s very easy to say you agree with the consensus, when there is no loss for being wrong. And since going against the consensus comes with a cost to your credibility, agreeing with it, is the easier choice. Putting an actual price on your opinion would force you to admit how much you agree with the IPCC report.

    Further, most believers will say that it is better to try and stop AGW and be wrong, than it is to do nothing and be right, even if there is a negative economic impact. That’s very easy to say, when it is someone else’s economy. Entering into a wager like this, would put that impact on your own wallet.

    Still interested?

  28. #28 Andrew Dodds
    November 19, 2007

    Tim –

    I don’t have 9 grand to spare for 10 years right now.. especially given the pretty minor payoff; I would do much better in any case just taking it off of my mortgage.

    Of course, selection of a benchmark is interesting; if you don’t thinkl that there is a CO2-climate connection, then you would be betting that temperatures will fall significantly over the next decade- is this what you had in mind?

    Going against the consensus does not cost credability. Being repeatedly wrong in the face of evidence does that.

    As far as economic impacts go, on the medium to long timescale, fossil fuel prices will only ever go up, being constrained by scarcity; in contrast, generation from nuclear and some renewables can only go down in cost as these are essentially technology constrained; fossil fuels are only cheap in the short term. You have to remember that it is *you* who are arguing for less economic activity and growth.

  29. #29 Tim Slagle
    November 19, 2007

    “I don’t have 9 grand to spare for 10 years right now.. especially given the pretty minor payoff””

    I figured as much.

    It’s not a minor payoff either. 11% in addition to the rate of the bond. If you REALLY believe in the consensus, it’s as good as FDIC insured. Not a bad place to divert some of your retirement savings.

    “Going against the consensus does not cost credability. Being repeatedly wrong in the face of evidence does that.”

    That really hasn’t been the case with Steve McIntyre, has it?

    finally: ” it is *you* who are arguing for less economic activity and growth.”

    Are you pulling out that tired “Renewable Fuels are GOOD for the economy” chestnut again?

    It’s been totally debunked.

  30. #30 Robster, FCD
    November 20, 2007

    Tim, Efficiency and conservation are good for business. Developing and marketing clean energy technologies will be good for the economy. Cutting the foreign oil and gas strings that hamper our economy can only be a good thing. Also, simply because you disbelieve something does not mean that it has been debunked.

    Your bet is an attempt to misdirect attention from the issue at hand. Not to mention that with your history of denying evidence and repeating untruths, why should we expect you to do anything but deny that the data costing you your vig and investment is incorrect. You just don’t strike me as honest enough to follow through on your end.

  31. #31 Robster, FCD
    November 20, 2007

    Sorry, that should read as “… vig and investment is correct.”

  32. #32 Andrew Dodds
    November 20, 2007

    It’s not a minor payoff either. 11% in addition to the rate of the bond. If you REALLY believe in the consensus, it’s as good as FDIC insured. Not a bad place to divert some of your retirement savings

    Apart from the fact that I’m not allowed to use retirement savings in that way, being British, you are asking me to lock up pretty much my entire cash reserve.. in dollars(!).

    But anyway, you didn’t mention what the criteria would be. That would make it extremely unwise for me to commit. Shall we make it ‘The radiative properties of CO2 will remain the same in 10 year’s time’?

    That really hasn’t been the case with Steve McIntyre, has it?

    What – he has been repeatedly wrong, and certainly guilty of overstating his case. And considering his entire case seems to be exaggerating minor errors in the surface temperature record (as opposed to offering an alternative explanation for current observations), I’m not sure he counts as a skeptic..

    Are you pulling out that tired “Renewable Fuels are GOOD for the economy” chestnut again?

    No. Go learn some energy economics. Going from a scarcity-led model of pricing to a technology-led model gives significant and ongoing future savings.

  33. #33 TTT
    November 25, 2007

    While he’s learning economics, he should learn to stop believing Chicken-Little economic alarmist doomsayers. They’re sure the Kyoto Accords, or really any anti-GW law, would bankrupt America and force us back into the caves. They were equally sure that would be the effect of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Superfund, and Montreal Accords. They’re always wrong, you see.

    As for betting on environmental futures, the notion tends to have been popularized by magic-thinking cornucopian Julian Simon, who famously won against Paul Ehrlich about metals prices, and has acquired an enduring personality cult on the anti-science far right as a result. Yet even Simon refused to bet against Ehrlich about this precise issue–global average temperatures–and then went on to lose to David South about timber prices. Of course, those incidents are far less prominent in the legend of the man.

  34. #34 Tim Slagle
    November 25, 2007

    Speaking of Chicken Little, has anyone seen this:

    Natural disasters have quadrupled in two decades: study

    It hasn’t been published in a peer reviewed journal, and the data sets are highly questionable. In short, the science behind this headline is just slightly better than the famous hoax that started this thread.

    And the silence is the same. Real Climate, Tim Lambert, and of course Orac have all but ignored this bogus research, that will make the news cycle for at least the next couple days. Had it been another error discovered by Steve McIntyre, or a press release from William Gray, the usual suspects would have been tearing it apart flaw by flaw already.

    Yet you all let this stand, as if it were legitimate science.

    And you wonder why the opposition thinks you’re all biased.

  35. #35 Orac
    November 25, 2007

    Tim, Tim, Tim…

    You’re just being silly now. After fixing the malformed link in your comment so that it is now actually clickable, the better to allow all my readers to see what you were actually talking about (do use the “Preview” button next time to make sure your link shows up correctly), I note from the story to which you linked that the “study” was only just released on…Sunday! In other words, today. I have not as yet been able even to find a link to it on the Oxfam website.

    I never saw it; I doubt Tim Lambert or any of the crew at Real Climate have seen it yet. Heck, I don’t even see anything about it at Climate Audit yet. Moreover, it’s released by a charity. Personally, I’d want to do what I do with medical studies whenever possible, be they peer-reviewed or not, and read the actual paper. Press releases or news reports are usually not a good way to judge the worth of a study, as I’ve found time and time again.

    Of course, the irony of your comment about bias has likely escaped you, given how often you ignore or downplay much better studies that do support the AGW hypothesis. In any case, if you want to see my “bias” on another topic, perhaps you’d like to read this post on secondhand smoke.

  36. #36 Tim Slagle
    November 25, 2007

    RE SHS:

    I read it already.

    Got a really big kick out of how you were ready to dismiss Michael Siegel as a crank, just because he used a term you didn’t like. For a Scientist, you often display a rationality that is less than Vulcan; more than once, I’ve seen you let emotions cloud your better judgement.

    And perhaps the usual suspects WILL attack this AGW report for being unscientific, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Finally, there is no irony in my accusation of bias, since I have never claimed not to hold one. it is those who claim to only hold bias in the name of Science who are being unintentionally ironic here.

  37. #37 Orac
    November 25, 2007

    For a Scientist, you often display a rationality that is less than Vulcan; more than once, I’ve seen you let emotions cloud your better judgement.

    Now you’re getting funnier, even starting to make me laugh. After all, I never claimed to be “Vulcan-like,” nor would I consider it desirable. And, heck, if you know anything about Orac the computer character in the old low budget BBC SF series, you’d know that he finds analyzing humor and limericks to be of great interest and that he has taken on the sarcastic personality of his creator. You don’t think I chose that pseudonym at random, do you? No, I think my self-knowledge, at least when it comes to my own quirks and biases, is pretty good, at least in this respect.

    Oh, wait. I get it. Maybe you really do believe scientists are all like Mr. Spock…

    Your comment about your bias also once again suggests that you really don’t understand science. The reason the scientific method exists is because people are biased and prone to fooling themselves. Indeed, the scientific method assumes that very thing as its basis and is a system within which such normal human biases and capacities for self-deception are systematically minimized as much as possible. That’s why controls are so important. It’s also why, in clinical trials, double-blinding and placebo controls are so important whenever they can be ethically done. That’s also why replication, peer review, and wide dissemination of scientific results are important, to allow flaws in experiments and studies to be identified. Other scientists, wanting to build on previous results, must first replicate the results that they want to build on, and that’s where flaws are often identified.

    As for “dismissing Mike Siegel as a crank,” come on now. You’re being disingenuous; nothing could be further from the truth. The whole point of my post is how I think he risks interfering with his message by using crank-like language and rhetoric, particularly the whole “junk science” cudgel so beloved of real cranks like Steve Milloy and Michael Fumento, among others. Go back and look at the comments after my post. Dr. Siegel himself appeared, and you’ll see that he conceded that I have a point while going on to try to justify his use of the term and the other thing I criticized him for: Promoting an unpublished study by two smokers’ rights activists on his blog while criticizing “science by press release” in many other posts on his blog.

  38. #38 Tim Lambert
    November 25, 2007

    As far as I can tell, the report has not been released yet, but Slagle is somehow certain that it is unscientific. It kind of sums up his approach to science — conclusions first, evidence later.

  39. #39 Tim Slagle
    November 26, 2007

    Tim Lambert writes: “the report has not been released yet”

    You be sure and let me know how Scientific you think it is.

  40. #40 Tim Lambert
    November 28, 2007

    OK, Mr Slagle, have you read the report? Why do you think it is unscientific?

  41. #41 Tim Slagle
    November 28, 2007

    The report itself never purported to be scientific. It’s more of a policy paper, than a scientific report. However, it was covered in the media as if it were scientific, and that is my beef.

    It read in the news as if scientists have discovered that there are four time as many catastrophic events today than there was four years ago, because of Global Warming. (Incidentally, I would suggest that a LOT more people read an article based on this study, than read that obscure editorial by Christopher Booker.) Yet no “legitimate” scientist has bothered to point out that this was not a scientific paper, nor was the “Quadruple Disaters” a scientific number.

    The number was based on a completely different study from June, where declared emergencies were tabulated. Since whether an emergency is declared a disaster is a political decision, it has no bearing on science.

    Since the advent of the 24 hour news cycle, people focus on disasters to a much greater extent. What was a couple column inches, twenty years ago, is now shown in full color in your living room on an endless loop for weeks. Since politicans always want to get in front of a camera, they tend to declare disasters far more readilly than they did in the early days.

    Here in the US, we noticed a jump between the first Bush administration and the first Clinton administration. Bill Clinton set a national record, by declaring almost a disaster a week; which was easily surpassed by the second Bush administration.

  42. #42 tim slagle
    December 11, 2007


  43. #43 clone3g
    December 11, 2007


    Not a welcome sound, for a comedian.

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.