Bad Science

VV has a thoughtful post about the value of peer review, looked at mostly through the lens of a couple of recent poor papers. Peer review (or whatever system you choose for choosing which papers will see the light) has to balance weeding out dross with not suppressing the unusual but good. It is primarily intended to do this for scientists; its not so great at handling the recent (?) phenomenon of septics deliberately gaming journals in order to publish their drivel. But I think I care about that less than I used to. Probably the greatest problem it faces is the vast mass of publish-or-perish "meh" papers that are neither dross nor good, just mediocre. But until academics get judged by competent people based on quality not paper count, that won't go away.

Sirocko et al.:Solar influence on winter severity in central Europe

Most of what you want to know about that is at Claim of solar influence is on thin ice: are 11-year cycle solar minima associated with severe winters in Europe? Although the idea itself isn't totally wacky; Are cold winters in Europe associated with low solar activity? by Lockwood et al. comes to similar conclusions to Sirocko. Andy Extance (who he? I'm sure I know the name) doesn't like it either.

[Update: Richard Telford; part of a series.]

GMO labelling

I liked KK channelling Ramez Naam on Why GMO Supporters Should Embrace Labels.

Climate and conflict

I've largely ignored this area. Perhaps What is the debate over climate and conflict about? is a good intro.

Climate sensitivity

Seems to becoming interesting again. JA has a post on a recent multi-author study that finds lower values that those from the good olde dayes when I paid attention. SS didn't much like Lewis's J. Clim. paper but those I've asked think it sane, and Lewis. Though it would be nice if he learnt not to associate too closely with the non-sane.

[Update: Da Plot Thickens. Such fun!


Pols in Dixie seem even more dysfunctional that anywhere else. BB senses some signs of hope in National Journal: The Coming GOP Civil War Over Climate Change; but from a very low base.


Last month's thrill was Marcott et al.; but a question I alluded to briefly was: "is he notable"? The answer is No or in more detail:

2013-05-16T00:16:42 Legoktm (talk | contribs) deleted page Shaun Marcott (Expired PROD, concern was: he is only postdoc with a nature publication)

which seems fair enough.


Blacklight retribution, rowing, work and the garden all mean I'm fairly busy now.


* Political failure modes and the beige dictatorship. Its not quite right, but I struggle to say what I mean in that area.
* Don’t make fun of renowned Dan Brown.
* mt also likes VV and adds a couple of nice extra points.
* Agnotology: learning from mistakes - Benestad et al..

More like this

\/\/ writes:
> an ‘unholy alliance’ of scientists helped make
> sure the issue was made public.

I just want to say that in \/\/'s original, linking "unholy alliance" [of scientists] to a Wikipedia reference unrelated to the scientists or what they did -- is clever.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 19 May 2013 #permalink

> he is only postdoc with a nature publication

Izzat the one and only postdoc ever to publish in Nature?
Or izzat merely a postdoc despite having a Nature publication?

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 20 May 2013 #permalink

Speaking about bad science, there's a nice paper by Benestad, etal in open comment here.. It examines the errors in a set of peer-viewed, but bad papers, and looks for commonalities.

[Wrong link? That's Muller -W]

By John Mashey (not verified) on 20 May 2013 #permalink

Re the Nature Geo article - this raises again the question of effective vs equilibrium climate sensitivity. Equation 1 in the letter is actually describing effective sensitivity, as defined by the IPCC, of which equilibrium CS is only a special case:

My question is still whether we can rule out that their calculations are significantly different from a true equilibrium measurement using truly equilibrium temperature, heat, and forcing numbers. I don't have a view either way, but I've not seen a clear response, and ultimately the onus is on the authors to rule it out.

Sorry, thanks for that.

not suppressing the unusual but good

try not suppressing the unusual but interesting (and wrong). Sometimes those are the important ones.

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 20 May 2013 #permalink

Well, regarding climate sensitivity, what is your take on the new research published by Julie Brigham-Grette, showing that a few million years ago, temperatures were much higher at current levels of CO2 than today, indicating a very high climate sensitivity?
Link is , or here… .

Some comments on that? Sounds quite worrying to me

> \/\/
My mistake, I wasn't referring to "Victor Venema"
-- I was referring to a reference I saw at Russell's "\/\/attsup" blog, and must've pasted to the wrong window.

You found the source he was referring to -- Andy Extance's writing. Thank you.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 27 May 2013 #permalink

[This one got held in moderation, and I didn't notice. Its junk, though. See the "visiting physicist" comments at The idealised greenhouse effect model and its enemies for more of the same -W]

You are believing in "bad science" if you believe that planetary surface temperatures are all to do with radiative forcing rather than non-radiative heat transfers, then you are implicitly agreeing with IPCC authors (and Dr Roy Spencer) that a column of air in the troposphere would have been isothermal but for the assumed greenhouse effect. You are believing this because you are believing the 19th century simplification of the Second Law of Thermodynamics which said heat only transfers from hot to cold - a "law" which is indeed true for all radiation, but only strictly true in a horizontal plane for non-radiative heat transfer by conduction.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics in its modern form explains a process in which thermodynamic equilibrium "spontaneously evolves" and that thermodynamic equilibrium will be the state of greatest accessible entropy.

Now, thermodynamic equilibrium is not just about temperature, which is determined by the mean kinetic energy of molecules, and nothing else. Pressure, for example, does not control temperature. Thermodynamic equilibrium is a state in which total accessible energy (including potential energy) is homogeneous, because if it were not homogeneous, then work could be done and so entropy could still increase.

When such a state of thermodynamic equilibrium evolves in a vertical plane in any solid, liquid or gas, molecules at the top of a column will have more gravitational potential energy (PE), and so they must have less kinetic energy (KE), and so a lower temperature, than molecules at the bottom of the column. This state evolves spontaneously as molecules interchange PE and KE in free flight between collisions, and then share the adjusted KE during the next collision.

This postulate was put forward by the brilliant physicist Loschmidt in the 19th century, but has been swept under the carpet by those advocating that radiative forcing is necessary to explain the observed surface temperatures. Radiative forcing could never explain the mean temperature of the Venus surface, or that at the base of the troposphere of Uranus - or that at the surface of Earth.

The gravitationally induced temperature gradient in every planetary troposphere is fully sufficient to explain all planetary surface temperatures. All the weak attempts to disprove it, such as a thought experiment with a wire outside a cylinder of gas, are flawed, simply because they neglect the temperature gradient in the wire itself, or other similar oversights.

The gravity effect is a reality and the dispute is not an acceptable disagreement.

The issue is easy to resolve with a straight forward, correct understanding of the implications of the spontaneous process described in statements of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Hence radiative forcing is not what causes the warming, and so carbon dioxide has nothing to do with what is just natural climate change.

By Climate_Scienc… (not verified) on 30 May 2013 #permalink