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« Interview in El Reg | Main | Climategate book reviews »
Monday
Feb082010

Council of Science Editors

The Council of Science Editors, a body that, in its own words, is a leader in promoting ethical practices in science publishing, is going to take the theme The Changing Climate of Scientific Publishing-The Heat Is On for its annual conference.

It reflects a program that addresses both global climate change (and the role science editors have in communicating relevant research on the topic) and the rapidly changing nature of the workplace and technology in the 21st century.

This sounded pretty interesting. There are some huge lessons to be learned by scholarly publishers from the sorry story of the Hockey Stick and Climategate. Materials availability, gatekeeping at journals is just the start of it. In fact I wondered why nobody had contacted me to speak on the subject. ;-)

Here's the reason: the Council is only interested in the role editors can play in promoting global warming scaremongering. Here's the notes on the keynote address:

It is striking that on climate change, the overwhelming majority of climate scientists (and the
scientific literature) are in consensus concerning climate change; yet a cloud (pun intended) of doubt and distractions like the recent “Climate Gate” email scandal continues to exist. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the climate change picture is clear to climate scientists even with a few missing pieces. This talk will examine the current and best science thinking on climate change and objectively discuss what “we know, don’t know, or need to know.”

So a body that exists to promotes ethical practices in publishing, when presented with evidence of unethical practices, gets in a speaker who is going to write them off as "a distraction".

Oh dear.

 

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Reader Comments (38)

They should not be surprised when interested people, lay and scientific, go to the more immediate and accessible weblogs when they want to be up to date in the climate debates.

I think they have not grasped that the tide has turned in the media. They've been cuckolded, but they are, as usual, the last to know.

Feb 8, 2010 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered Commentermarchesarosa

Comrade Joe would be proud of them.

Feb 8, 2010 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

You're probably right. But the views of the keynote speaker do not necessarily reflect those of the Council. After all, the second paragraph of the Welcome page says this:

The causes and implications of global climate change are open to debate, but few would argue the pertinence of the issue. Part of the 2010 meeting program will provide a forum for constructive discussion of climate change from the perspective of our responsibility as science editors to effectively and objectively disseminate research findings.

That would seem to be an opening for a proper consideration of the issues. But, as I said, you're probably right. However, this is in the USA where the recent CRU and IPCC disclosures are only marginally in the public domain. I doubt if such an approach would be possible in the UK today.

Feb 8, 2010 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Guenier

Robin

There are other speakers on the same lines. Nobody actually seems to be addressing the major issues for scientific publishing.

Feb 8, 2010 at 12:14 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

It's not surprising that the overwhelming majority of climate scientists (and the
scientific literature) are in consensus concerning climate change when the governments only fund such research and when science editors only publish such papers. Catch 22.

Feb 8, 2010 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

See - just proves my Phil's a good boy. You stop bullyin' 'im, d'ye hear me? 'e never did nuffink wrong.

Feb 8, 2010 at 12:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterProf Jones's Mum

It is striking that on climate change, the overwhelming majority of climate scientists (and the scientific literature) are in consensus concerning climate change

They keep saying this but is it true? The IPCC have clearly had to be very particular and peculiar with some of the papers they have cited - from picking non-peer reviewed material to being extremely selective. We also know from the Met Office's 'list of names' that scientists sometimes feel obliged to put their name to something they have no understanding of.

Based on the empirical evidence before us the logical conclusion is that the 'consensus' is manufactured and without merit. Correlation is not causation - lots of experts may sign up to AGW (literally in the Met Office case) but that doesn't make it true. In addition to this some of the contentious claims for AGW have been proven to also be without merit. If scientific literature has to be put through the ringer to make such a case your argument is no longer based on the science but the mangle you put it through.

Feb 8, 2010 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

That is just so Orwellian, it is scary!

I guess Steve, you didn't realise that modern science doesn't 'need to know' when an argument is statistically invalid!

It makes you wonder why they bother doing research at all. Perhaps if governments saved money by stopping all climate research on the grounds that the answer was clear, we would suddenly start to hear the truth!

Feb 8, 2010 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Bailey

Slightly off at a tangent - I am about 300 pages in on your book. It is an excellent read, even for me who claims no scientific or statistical abilities. Thank you for making the effort to set out this story. An even bigger thank you is owed to the McIntyre/McKintrick duo who had and have the persistence to keep on swimming against the tide. Maybe the tide will turn.

Some observations so far:
(1) Cherrypicking the data seems to have been the order of the day. I find this astonishing. I think you contrast the ways in which the GlaxoSmithKlines of this world have to justify their products before they are released to the world.
(2) Failure to release the underlying data. Perhaps the Council of Science Editors will have something to say about that.
(3) Weakness of the underlying data. To a layman, it looks like a house of cards built on sand in an earthquake zone.
(4) Significance of public review vs peer to peer review. This should worry the Science Editors; maybe they should release everything for public review when they publish - that should concentrate a few minds and help restore some integrity to the scientific process.
(5) Reputational loss of the science community. Lord Krebs writes about this today in the Times here:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article7018438.ece
quoting the Royal Society`s motto "Nullius in verba" ("Take nobody`s word for it"). What Lord Krebs may not appreciate is that the science community is now in serious danger of falling into the same black pit that engulfs the present House of Commons or "the |Rotten Parliament" as some are now calling it. This leads me to my next observation.
(6) The political process. It is clear that the present government is up to its eyeballs in its belief in AGW; as far as I can tell the official Conservative party view is the same. This has arisen, in part it seems to me because of
(a) effective lobbying by single issue pressure groups - notably the various arms of the green movement
(b) adoption and application of the precautionary principle - now formally embodied in UN thinking and also in the recently ratified Lisbon Treaty.
(7) It will be difficult to turn this political tide. The precautionary principle needs to include an explicit cost/benefit assessment of scientific solutions to scientific problems where they impinge on the rest of us. At the moment we are presented with and told that only extreme solutions are the answer - witness the provisions of the Copenhagen Treaty. That supine thinking has the end. More and more people are becoming fed up with the multiple scare stories that emerge from the science community. Trust will easily be lost - as it already has been lost by the politicians.

Feb 8, 2010 at 12:34 PM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

Two straws in the wind concerning the tenor of the warmist fight-back: the argument is taking the form of asserting (1) that climate science is, despite the recent regrettable lapses, settled and (2) how ethical those involved in climate science really are - they are scientists after all. The straws are:

1. a talk from Lisa Jardine on BBC Radio 4's "A Point of View" on 7 February
( http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qng8 ) in which she advised scientists how careful they must be to be certain that what they say is true. She coupled this with quoting Ed Miliband approvingly (or merely asserting on her own authority – the language is slightly unclear) to the effect that, despite the recent regrettable lapses, the science bolstering AGW is incontrovertible.

2. an article in today's Times by John Krebs ( http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article7018438.ece ) writing that all us real scientists are sceptics but, despite recent regrettable lapses - particularly concerning melting glaciers - "it [the glacier lie] does not undermine the core conclusions about man-made global warming". Krebs claims that the glacier lie was uncovered from within the climate science fraternity and, therefore, is an indication that scepticism is alive and well within the discipline. He forgets to mention, for instance, that as far back as 2006 a sceptical and lonely Steve McIntyre was asking questions ( http://climateaudit.org/2006/08/09/ipcc-and-glaciers/ ) about the IPCC treatment of glacier data.

Feb 8, 2010 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterUmbongo

Nixon moment coming for them.

It's not the crime, it's the cover-up that will eventually get them.

Feb 8, 2010 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterAC1

At least there are talking about this scandal. It's not going to be swept under the rug. Hopefully, you'll make it onto a few panels in time...

Feb 8, 2010 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

In the obvious & continuouis MSM censorship over "catastrophic warming" British journalists have proven that the ethical standards they aim at have nothing to do with honesty. 99% of traditionjal "journalists" have shown themselves to be nothing but whores compared to the blogsphere.

Feb 8, 2010 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Craig

The BBC have further "proof" of global warming!

Galapagos sea lions head for warm Peru waters
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8503397.stm

Feb 8, 2010 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterAJC

follow the money. many thousands of scientists and hundreds of research centres have hitched their load to the alarmist wagon train.

on an individual as well as a collective level, most stand to lose out, some considerably, if the AGW grand narrative falters.

perhaps AGW hysteria is really just a symptom of the 'comercialisation' of science.

Feb 8, 2010 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterdread0

As an aside if you have a free hour tomorrow (Tuesday) Call you and yours on radio four is dedicated to climate change. However it appears that our side of the argument is given by Richard D. North as opposed to Richard North from the euref blog.

Feb 8, 2010 at 2:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

First, the "Council of Science Editors" consists mainly of the editors of scientific journals, and not the science editors of newpapers and popular magazines, i.e., CSE does not represent "the media."

Second, the CSE has on its web site a lengthy "White Paper on Promoting Integrity in Scientific Journal Publications," which includes the following list of "ethical improprieties," most of which are directly pertinent to the rogues gallery of Climategate warmists including Mann and Jones:

2.3.3 Examples of Reviewer Impropriety
* Misrepresenting facts in a review
* Unreasonably delaying the review process
* Unfairly criticizing a competitor's work
* Breaching the confidentiality of the review
* Proposing changes that appear to merely support the reviewer's own work or hypotheses
* Making use of confidential information to achieve personal or professional gain
* Using ideas or text from a manuscript under review
* Including personal or ad hominem criticism of the author(s)
* Failing to disclose a conflict of interest that would have excluded the reviewer from the process

http://www.councilscienceeditors.org/editorial_policies/whitepaper/2-3_reviewer.cfm#2.3.2

Feb 8, 2010 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterGarry

Paul

Thanks for that. I've dropped them a line.

Feb 8, 2010 at 2:46 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Garry

Did someone not understand what CSE is?

Either way, the fact that climategate is not on the agenda, while several sessions appear to be about promoting AGW seems to me to smack of negligence. There are important lessons to be learned from climategate.

Feb 8, 2010 at 2:52 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

BH:

As I said, you're probably right. And, if so, the self-righteous second paragraph of the Welcome page (see my earlier post) only makes things worse.

BTW - I finished your book yesterday. A compelling and entertaining read: thank you and congratulations. I was particularly taken by Chapter 15, "The Meaning of the Hockey Stick". I've been following the story (on Climate Audit) for some time and somehow felt that perhaps too much was being made of it. After all, even if current warming is unprecedented in recent times, that doesn't mean that mankind is responsible. Surely, I thought, we should be concentrating on the lack of empirical evidence supporting the dangerous AGW hypothesis? You elegantly convinced me, however, that the Hockey Stick story matters a lot.

Feb 8, 2010 at 2:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Guenier

Thanks Robin

Feb 8, 2010 at 3:07 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Andrew -- Just thought I would clarify the minor point about CSE since many (like me) have also had acquaintance with - or have actually been - "science editors" and "technical editors" with the popular media (10 years in my own case).

Feb 8, 2010 at 3:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterGarry

@Umbongo
"Krebs claims that the glacier lie was uncovered from within the climate science fraternity and, therefore, is an indication that scepticism is alive and well within the discipline."

The glacier lie was exposed from within the scientific community 3 years BEFORE AR4, and 2 years BEFORE AR4 in the peer-reviewed literature on the Himalayas. What went into AR4 was thus a known lie, as the authors have since confirmed. This doesn't sound like scepticism alive and well to me.

http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2010/01/26/un-ipcc-rotting-from-the-head-down/

Feb 8, 2010 at 3:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth

ScientistForTruth

Thanks for that - not pursuing that particular trail was down to my having to pay attention to my day job!

If Krebs fails to tell all the truth (except for the bit that supports his view of the world) then he is committing the very crime against science which his article is purportedly written to condemn.

Feb 8, 2010 at 3:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterUmbongo

There is a MASSIVE conflict of interest. If you knew that your pension was being invested in enterprises that would be practically worthless if the AGW scam was exposed, do you think you would be willing to run news or articles that would expose the scam? And what if running news and articles that pumped up the value of your pension investments - would they get an airing?

The £8billion BBC Pension Trust, the Environment Agency Pension Fund and the Universities Superannuation Scheme are members of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC). Media, Government and Universities! It's almost unbelievable.

IIGCC for its part is bankrolled and controlled by The Climate Group, a very powerful – perhaps the most powerful – lobby group for the Green agenda. The Annual report 2005/6 of The Climate Group declares in the notes to the accounts:

"IIGCC: Funding to manage and facilitate the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, a network of pension funds and asset managers seeking to be active on climate change."

And also

"In addition to these programmes, The Climate Group is supporting…the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), a network of 26 pension funds and asset managers focused on addressing climate risk. The membership of IIGCC voted unanimously to transfer the management of the group to The Climate Group in late 2005."

The Climate group says of itself:

"we’ve created a coalition of governments and the world’s most influential businesses…Through this coalition, we’re helping to set the targets, create the policies, build the confidence, and generate the political willpower needed to make the changes the world requires…"

But it also extends down to the humble consumer:

"Together is The Climate Group’s consumer engagement campaign. First launched in the UK in April 2007, the campaign is the country’s leading climate change campaign."

The Climate Group has the following principles:

"We believe…climate change is an urgent problem that requires an internationally coordinated, collaborative response directed at substantially reducing global GHG emissions…We will therefore strive…To achieve significant reductions in GHG emissions…exploring mechanisms such as emissions trading, policies and laws to facilitate this."

There's more here about the web that Robert Napier has spun (formerly of WWF, now head of the Met Office).

http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/eco-imperialism-every-environmentalists-dream/

In this post I asked the question why there hadn't been a fuss kicked up about what Napier and his cronies have been up to. Now perhaps we know why - because peoples' pensions rely on the myth of AGW being sustained. This state of affairs hasn't just come about by chance. There can be no question that governments, the UN, and advocacy groups such as WWF have conspired to bring about this dreadful state of affairs.

Feb 8, 2010 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth

ScientistForTruth, After reading your post, I had a good laugh! In the PR piece, rules of the game...
It says: "Attracting direct attention to an issue can change attitudes, but
peripheral messages can be just as effective: a tabloid snapshot
of Gwyneth Paltrow at a bus stop can help change attitudes to public transport." I think she, allgore, Kevin Bacon et al:); and many other green folks, took a financial hit soon after the FOIA file were released to the public. Perhaps this was someone poping another speculitive bubble? Take the money of those he/they had used to help him/her move AGW forward? If, Truth be told; "They(Stakeholders)", did not want the rules and regulations... they are indusrialists after all(?); this was just the next step in their con... If this is the case, they are very, very smooth.

Feb 8, 2010 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterTom

Further to my earlier post, here is a link to a piece of blatant advocacy work to EU Heads of State.

http://www.iigcc.org/docs/PDF/Public/IIGCConEUEnergyandClimateChangepackage.pdf

There is a single signatory:

Peter Dunscombe
Chairman, IIGCC
Head of Pensions - Investments, BBC Pension Trust Ltd

I rest my case.

Feb 8, 2010 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth

A bit OT, but it appears that things are heating up on this side of the pond. Have a look at

http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/02/05/penn-state-probe-michael-mann-total-whitewash/


"On Friday, Rep. Darrell Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Investigations Committee, charged that the Penn State's failure to settle all the charges and called into question professor Mann's work. He is demanding that all grants to the noted scientist be frozen."

Feb 8, 2010 at 6:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

@AJC

The BBC have further "proof" of global warming!

Galapagos sea lions head for warm Peru waters
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8503397.stm

Thank you for the laugh. The BEEB couldn't get their "facts" right if they were written out for them.

Yeap -- the seals are going to Peru, just like they have been for the last couple thousand years every four to 20 years when there is a serious El Niño. They are going to Peru to have a nice feed, because the changes in the ocean current pack the oceans off Peru with sardines.

El Niño is also responsible for the weather we are having in California and most of the US.

Read about it here.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Ni%C3%B1o-Southern_Oscillation

Feb 8, 2010 at 7:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Re BBC and sealions, the item now has a few corrections. The last is:

'The earlier version had a reference to the temperature rise being caused by climate change. This has been removed as the relevant research is still in its early stages.'

Feb 8, 2010 at 7:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeterB

@Don - thanks for the heads-up to this story - and your kind words a few days ago

@PeterB - interesting that the BBC now admit to changing pieces and also they've backtracked on their earlier version blaming "climate change".

The whole subject is fraught with weird and often circular thinking. The original story blamed the change of climate on "climate change". Elsewhere I have seen raised temperatures blamed on "global warming".

A few weeks ago the BBC reported some Scottish research that was going to blame the decline in worm numbers on global warming. This contained many problems - for a start the research had not started so they had no idea if the worms had in fact declined or thrived or just stayed the same. And the worms are not affected by global anything - they live in their own little holes in their corner of the field - they don't even know what is going on in the next field. They certainly don't know or care about the North Pole or the Amazon Rainforest.

Feb 8, 2010 at 8:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

Jack, many thanks for the note on the worms. Just recently there have been some painful moments and I am glad of the laugh.

In the morning I will go out in the back garden and reassure my worms they are not going to fry. I suspect, though that when John Brignell of Numberwatch fells better, they are going on the List.

Feb 8, 2010 at 8:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Wood

Or, even, when John "feels" better. I hate it when I contribute to Internet English.

Feb 8, 2010 at 8:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Wood

yet a cloud (pun intended) of doubt and distractions like the recent “Climate Gate” email scandal continues to exist.

Pun? Do these people even know what humour is? Oh, wait, perhaps the pun relates in-joke-ishly to the lack of understanding (doubt?) about cloud formation, and incorrect assumptions in the forcings attributed to them in all the GCM's used by the IPCC to increase projected future warming.

A ha ha ha, a ha ha ha ha, a ha ha. That's funny. I just love those guys.
And I bet that topic's not on the agenda either.

Feb 8, 2010 at 10:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Dunford

Re BBC and sealions, the item now has a few corrections. The last is:

'The earlier version had a reference to the temperature rise being caused by climate change. This has been removed as the relevant research is still in its early stages.'

Peter, you don't suppose that the BBC reads this blog on the sly. Sure looks like it. :)

The 'relevant research' is very much advanced and well understood for probably 50 years. It is El Niño who did it, in the oceans, with a cyclic change in ocean currents. The seals and birds love it. The fish love it. The fishermen love it. The poor sods stuck in the rain and mud hate it.

Feb 9, 2010 at 12:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Perhaps some of these science editor people should get cameo roles in the new film "Alice In Wonderland".

Feb 9, 2010 at 5:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterTW in the USA

Those of us unfairly labelled 'Climate Change Deniers' by the quasi-religious believers in Anththropic Global Warming, could retaliate by labelling them 'Green Meanies'.
Climate change and the Seasons, like the weather, will continue irrespective of what politicians and government-funded experts think or do, and we certainly do not deny that fact. What we do deny however, is that human activity is main cause of 'Global Warming'.

According to Milankovitch, (one of the giants listed, upon whose shoulders we are supposed to be standing), Earth reached the Perihelion some 10 - 11years ago, and in approximately 12,500 years time will reach the Aphelion in the middle of the next Ice Age. Earth is therefore in the first phase of cooling; consequently, it would be reasonable to expect that the continued effects of perceived warming are the results of Residual Heat gained as she approached the perihelion.

This appears to have been ignored during the one-sided debate which has been hijacked by unscrupulous politicians and Meanies with the object of parting the general public from their cash.

Dave Griffiths
South Devon. uk.

Feb 9, 2010 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Griffiths

The BBC are at it again. Renewed efforts to justify 'the climate consensus' with a news item this morning claiming that 'spring is getting earlier' and intimating that early flowering plants will not be pollinated by bees this year because the bees are still warmly esconced in their hives!. Later this morning this report was modified to say that the records upon which it was made refer to 'average warming' over 'the last thirty years'. This means that most of the data was gathered before the perihelion and should not be interpreted as continued man-made global warming climate change. IMHO, effects of the precession of the equinoxes will self-evidently indicate the slow return to overall global cooling.

Feb 10, 2010 at 6:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Griffiths

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