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Sliding science

Matt Ridley has one of those pieces in the Times that is just going to get Bob Ward's blood boiling. He covers the scandal over the neonicotinoid "research", the Met Office's claims about record temperatures and the revelations over the Sheep Mountain data, wrapping them all up in a sorry tale of scientists dropping their standards in the endless search for money and relevance.

The overwhelming majority of scientists do excellent, objective work, following the evidence wherever it leads. Science remains (in my view) our most treasured cultural achievement, bar none. Most of its astonishing insights into life, the universe and everything are beyond reproach and beyond compare. All the more reason to be less tolerant of those who let their motivated reasoning distort data or the presentation of data. It’s hard for champions of science, like me, to make our case against creationists, homeopaths and other merchants of mysticism if some of those within science also practise pseudoscience.

In all the millions of scientific careers in Britain over the past few decades, outside medical science there has never been a case of a scientist convicted of malpractice. Not one. Maybe that is because – unlike the police, the church and politics – scientists are all pure as the driven snow. Or maybe it is because science as an institution, like so many other institutions, does not police itself properly.

It's paywalled, but well worth it if you have access.

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Reader Comments (58)

The corruption of science is the real shame in all of this. Objective science dragged the human race out of the dark ages and on the road to comfortable and safe lives. There seem to be many who either do not appreciate that fact or are happy to disregard it. Environmentalism, as practiced by the likes of FoE, Greenpeace etc is a resurgence of the religious fanaticism that originally sought to stop scientific progress.

Dec 8, 2014 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

The green blob hates science because it shows that everything they say is false.

Dec 8, 2014 at 10:13 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Bob Ward's blood will indeed be boiling and his fingers will be a blur over the keyboard as he cobbles together his reply as I write.

No, scrub that, he will probably already have seen the article prior to publication so that he could submit his response for tomorrows Times. The copy is probably already in !

Dec 8, 2014 at 10:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterJazznick

In my junior years, when I made a mistake, my chief scientist would "kick me up the Kyber".

If I had fiddled the data, he would have kicked me out the door, with no discussion.
Fiddling data just WAS NOT THOUGHT OF.

But, that was the 1960s.

Dec 8, 2014 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered Commentertoorightmate

Ridley mentions the Rutherglen episode. It would be fair to mention the BOM eventually tracked down hand-drawn sketches that appeared to document the measurement site moves for the station. What came of the whole thing though is lost on me.

Dec 8, 2014 at 10:32 AM | Registered Commentershub

I find that we have developed this perverse narrative on "Science", permeated by media and the natural desire of everyone to be famous and relevant (I call it the Brian Cox effect).

Like any course of human endeavour or pursuit, the dedicated population will, in terms of achievement, form a pyramid. The top echelon of those that do something with very high impact (the Darwins, the Einsteins etc.) will be 1%, or less. 90% or more will be the drones, busying away at their work, playing their role, but never producing anything personally that will have a measurable imapct on our knowledge or existance.

But according to the common narative, simply being a "scientist" makes you the greatest of the great. You opinion is more important, your work is more valuable. The tolerance for bad science and bad scientific practice and even tolerance to fraud and dishonesty has, in my mind, been fomented by these self delusions. Michael Mann may well be the poster boy for this cul de sac science finds itself in, but others like Brian Cox are a symptom as well.

Dec 8, 2014 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

To be fair, the only corruption I see going on is in the "environmental" sciences (however broadly defined).
Leave the rest of us out of this!

Dec 8, 2014 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterLevelGaze

I challenge anyone to spell "neonicotinoids", after a few noggins over the festive period. I think the prevarications over the last days on the + or - 0.1 degrees record temperatures sums up where we are on this one. The MSM is a largely dumbed down place largely staffed by interns or "ology", graduates and is hardly worth reading, listening or watching. Thank God for Matt Ridley, Andrew Neil and a few other brave if ageing members of the Establishment for reacting to this foolishness.

Dec 8, 2014 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterTrefor Jones

More of that Ridley article is visible at at GWPF.

Trefor, please don't exaggerate, it's not 0.1 degrees, it's 0.01!

Dec 8, 2014 at 11:05 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

When they said they wanted to "hide the decline" - what we didn't realise at the time was that the "decline" was a general decline in the standard of science. In effect the climategate inquiries were an opportunity for academics called themselves "scientists" to decide whether the standards seen in the Climategate emails were acceptable in consensus-science.

They had a choice: reject poor quality work as seen in the Climategate emails, or say "that kind of behaviour is typical of modern "science".

As we all know now, they chose to reject the higher standards demanded by sceptics and to redefine "acceptable" behaviour" to include overt manipulation of data.

It's a bit like a judges & politicians ruling that bribing judges & politicians is acceptable. That might redefine the law, but it doesn't make their behaviour any more acceptable.

Dec 8, 2014 at 11:17 AM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler


...In my junior years, when I made a mistake, my chief scientist would "kick me up the Kyber".
If I had fiddled the data, he would have kicked me out the door, with no discussion.

Nowadays, your chief scientist (who probably spends a lot of his time defending the budget) would go to the junior staff and say: "These figures aren't really what the client wants to hear - perhaps you could leave out this table and add a paragraph stating that of course this finding does not contradict basic climate change theory..."

Dec 8, 2014 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered Commenterdodgy geezer

Matt Ridley appears to be delusionally optimistic. Scientists are human and therefore flawed. The most 'pure' of the sciences are the engineering branches; not because engineers are so morally upright, but because the strictly empirical nature of their work limits opportunities for bullshit. (It's not easy to put a positive spin on "The bridge fell down.") Those sciences dominated by theory, with limited opportunities (or inclinations) for experimental testing, are dominated by senior figures who brook no deviation from received wisdom -- rather like a religion.

Just to put the cat among the pigeons, I would say that the following fields are in significant trouble: cosmology; geophysics; theoretical physics; medicine; biological sciences; paleontology. This list is not exhaustive and I'm betting that a few of the more intimately involved contributors here could tell some illustrative war-stories.

Climatology is now receiving a lot of largely justified negative publicity, but other sciences would look just as bad under serious examination. By all means, apply the blowtorch to climatology -- but don't kid yourselves that it's just 'the one bad apple'.

Dec 8, 2014 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterSceptical lefty

I had a read about the neonics brouhaha on a few other sites (Forbes being one). I was reading the comments on one called Genetic Literacy Project and came across some comment by "justaguy" seemingly trying to justify the approach taken. Even though the note provided shows a clear bias. It's highlighted in the note.
What struck me though was that the fuel tank analogy sounded a lot like EM. It's been used on BH before.

Here's the link -

The actual memo is here. Though toxic poisoning of bees is not something to be laughed at it seems that a clear bias to this being the singular biggest reason for population decline is being pushed. Also one of the bullet points uses that great phrase "growing body of evidence"

Have a read if you want. Make up your own mind.

Dec 8, 2014 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterMicky H Corbett

The first one to type Ward's reply here wins a bag of coal.

Dec 8, 2014 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie Flindt

ScepticalLefty, It's BECAUSE humans are flawed that we need to hold scientists accountable and carefully scrutinise and quaint their data, assumptions and conclusions. Even within my work, I refuse to delete inconvenient data, but declare when a data point is an outlier and not included in any aggregation. Deletion or 'adjustment' is simply not an option to those who are honest.

Dec 8, 2014 at 1:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterIlma

“When the search for truth is confused with political advocacy, the pursuit of knowledge is reduced to the quest for power.”
-Alston Chase

Dec 8, 2014 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

Let's not forget the EU's determination that water does not prevent dehydration. Apparently it is considered mandatory to write papers for publication in such a way that up means down, or maybe sideways, and every other standard meaning is rendered ambiguous.

Following an application from Prof. Dr. Moritz Hagenmeyer and Prof. Dr. Andreas Hahn, submitted pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 via the Competent Authority of Germany, the Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies was asked to deliver an opinion on the scientific substantiation of a health claim related to water and reduced risk of development of dehydration and of concomitant decrease of performance. The scope of the application was proposed to fall under a health claim referring to disease risk reduction. The food, water, which is the subject of the health claim, is sufficiently characterised. The claimed effect is “regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration and of concomitant decrease of performance”. The target population is assumed to be the general population. The Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 defines reduction of disease risk claims as claims which state that the consumption of a food “significantly reduces a risk factor in the development of a human disease”. Thus, for reduction of disease risk claims, the beneficial physiological effect results from the reduction of a risk factor for the development of a human disease. The Panel notes that dehydration was identified as the disease by the applicant. Dehydration is a condition of body water depletion. The Panel notes that the proposed risk factors, “water loss in tissues” or “reduced water content in tissues”, are measures of water depletion and thus are measures of the disease. The Panel considers that the proposed claim does not comply with the requirements for a disease risk reduction claim pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006.

Dec 8, 2014 at 1:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterRedbone

My missus (who I have to say is a lovely lass) buys what I think is known as a 'printed newspaper' once a week out of the allowance I give her - cash only - credit cards are the devil's folly. Saturday just gone she came home with the Times. Being of an inquisitive bent I perused said publication noting on the front page a cover price of £1.50. As I read I evaluated the content in terms of the coin of the realm. By the time I got to the last page my evaluation had reached the staggering sum of 10p, almost entirely based on a small piece in the business section. As a result I have reduced wifey's allowance by £1.40 and formally forbidden her to buy another copy of the Times during my lifetime (which may not be as draconian as it sounds).

The point being I am not going to pay to read Matt's article on line, although I confess to having read a précis of it earlier today on the GWPF site for free. Very often, after the alarmists have fired their salvo of unsubstantiated excoriations, the piece is reproduced elsewhere on a site that does not require a payment to enter its portals. If Matt is passing by (and gets this far) perhaps he will let us know if that is the case.

Dec 8, 2014 at 1:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterH2O: the miracle molecule

For H2O's benefit (and perhaps protections of his better-half's 10p allowance) this is the last para. of Ridley's piece:

"In all the millions of scientific careers in Britain over the past few decades, outside medical science there has never been a case of a scientist convicted of malpractice. Not one. Maybe that is because — unlike the police, the church and politics — scientists are all pure as the driven snow. Or maybe it is because science as an institution, like so many other institutions, does not police itself properly. "

A bit of in-house policing wouldn't be a bad idea. So would a bit of MSM media attention (no hope of the BBC, of course) - see my reference to Clive James saying much the same thing in that recent thread that went on forever. The climate 'science' people are really giving science a bad name.

Dec 8, 2014 at 3:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Thanks for that Capell

On Twitter, Doug McNeal thinks Matt's piece is silly

but it is the nature of Twitter that that is all you get

of course, having not read the whole thing I can only assume that at some point Matt starts to claim that climate scientists are devil worshipers

only time will tell

Dec 8, 2014 at 4:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterH2O: the miracle molecule

"The overwhelming majority of scientists do excellent, objective work, following the evidence wherever it leads."

How does he know?

Dec 8, 2014 at 4:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

Sorry Paul Matthews -0.01degrees.

Dec 8, 2014 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered Commentertrefjon

"A bit of in-house policing wouldn't be a bad idea." Aha, a new role for the Royal Society. That'll let us all sleep safe in our beds.

Dec 8, 2014 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

Doug McNeal always thinks Ridley's pieces are silly, as far as I can tell.
For all he pops up here now and again with some moderately friendly comment, I'm afraid his head is so far in the sand that some of his tenderer parts are becoming dangerously exposed.
I bet he hasn't specified just which of Ridley's quoted examples are silly but that's the beauty (if that's the word) of Twitter; it favours drivel over thought.

Dec 8, 2014 at 4:22 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Wait a minute. You're all lauding the views of Matt Ridley? Northern Rock Matt Ridley?

Any port in a storm I guess.....

Dec 8, 2014 at 4:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterOnbyaccident

Northern Rock Ridley failed in his due diligence of the bank because he foolishly believed the outputs from those totally reliable predictive mathematical models used at the time by financial wizards. Once bitten twice shy as they say.

Dec 8, 2014 at 5:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

What doesn't get widely publicised in the MSM, is that a competent scientist knows there is a lot of peer reviewed crap in their own field. It is mostly policed by being ignored.

Peer review is a very coarse sieve. Much is either not new, irrelevant, insignificant, or unreproducible. A competent scientist is trained to distinguish between the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Important claims will be checked but the self-correcting mechanism of experimental reality works on different time-scales. The retraction of the recent stem cell paper in Nature took about 6 months. Cold fusion lasted a similar amount of time, maybe a year or so.

Cli-sci is asking us to accept many models that are making claims decades to centuries in the future.

Dec 8, 2014 at 5:38 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

. Deletion or 'adjustment' is simply not an option to those who are honest.

Dec 8, 2014 at 1:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterIlma

I have been screaming this for as long as I can remember. I believe I called Betts fraudulent or something like that because he supported the concept of data "adjustment".

I have pointed out many times, a good scientist does his experiment, collects his data, plots his data (raw), makes his analysis, draws his conclusions and publishes his data, method and conclusions.

He doesn't then decide that he didn't like his analysis and so changes the data to provide the new conclusion. The one he decided he wanted after the experiment.

The manipulation of data, particularly past data, is a crime IMHO and should be punished severely. But, heyhoe, it OK because it's climate science and the government knows we do it, so it's OK.

It amazes me that no matter who or how many so called climate related papers we read, and no matter how many of get torn to ribbons by climate skeptic bloggers they still we don't understand and that's is real science.


Dec 8, 2014 at 5:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Michael hart

One of the perplexing things I've found about climate science is that there aren't many well known repetitions of basic CO2 experiments. And following on from this more intricate characterisation of thermalisation properties in large scale lab experiments. It's almost a given that it's not needed. Often I hear the excuse that it's too hard to simulate the atmosphere yet Al Gore can certainly trot out some school set up.

Think how many experiments on Co2 properties with regards to possible atmospheric behaviours could be done with the £97 million that's being given for a super computer. This knowledge needs to be updated regularly if it is going to be applied to people's taxes.

Dec 8, 2014 at 6:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMicky H Corbett

We do try our best on here to avoid ad hominem attacks and the ones on Matt Ridley really are starting to get particularly boring.
If all you want to do is to demonstrate how little you know about how public companies are run, please go and do it somewhere else. If you've anything constructive to contribute, of course, you are more than welcome.

Dec 8, 2014 at 6:06 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Former EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard let the policy cat out of the bag last year:

"Let's say that science, some decades from now, said 'we were wrong, it was not about climate', would it not in any case have been good to do many of things you have to do in order to combat climate change?."

Although is is important to use sci-ency talk to sound authoritative, reality is immaterial.

Dec 8, 2014 at 6:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterbetapug

By the time I got to the last page my evaluation had reached the staggering sum of 10p,
Dec 8, 2014 at 1:51 PM H2O: the miracle molecule

H2O - I think you have grossly undervalued the Times. It has the following valuable uses and I am sure there will be others:

1. Screwing up into balls and using to light a wood fire.
2. Spreading out on the kitchen table prior to overhauling a carburetter.
3. Stuffing up your jumper before going for a ride on a motor bike in cold weather.
4. Wrapping up fragile items for posting.
5. Stuffing into wet shoes so that they don't dry out curled up.
6. Standing wet/muddy boots on as they drain and dry out.
7. Rolled up, it can be used to swat flies, wasps or hornets.

These uses alone justify a much higher valuation than 10p.

28p at least.

Dec 8, 2014 at 6:12 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Mike Jackson re Doug McNeal:

I'm afraid his head is so far in the sand
Funny place to keep sand....

Dec 8, 2014 at 6:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

@Stephen Richards
"Manipulation of past data" is hard work, what with all the hiding and adjusting of other existing records.

Manipulation of "future data" on the other hand, is Greenfield, much easier and profitable. (It is spelled "Hayhoe" not "heyhoe" by the way)

"How hot is it going get in the future? Will there be lots of flooding? Is drought going to affect me? Such projects are cost-efficient and can be completed within a timeframe of a few weeks."

Katharine Hayhoe's Atmos Research & Consulting Co. prospectus.

The task is also much easier if you are simultaneously in the Dept of Political Science and at least three activist groups while being the Director of the Climate Science Center.

Dec 8, 2014 at 7:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterbetapug

Wait a minute. You're all lauding the views of Matt Ridley? Northern Rock Matt Ridley?

Any port in a storm I guess.....
Dec 8, 2014 at 4:38 PM | Onbyaccident

Good grief, not this old chestnut! I have no desire or competence to speak personally for Matt Ridley, but does it never occur to you that intelligent people are capable of learning from their mistakes? No, I thought not.

Dec 8, 2014 at 7:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterAllan M

There is precedent for squabbling among scientists when money is at stake as described for example by Dava Sobel in "Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time". The problem was measuring longitude, the money was a prize posted by the Parliament of England in 1714 and the conflict was between John Harrison and the "Scientific establishment". Only posthumously was Harrison given the award for the construction of a chronometer and successfully determining longitude.
A difference between then and now is that now money is more commonly available to scientists in the form of grants but the motives and actions of scientists are similar.
Another difference is the development of post-modern philosophy wherein everything is relative and stems from our senses so there is no such thing as truth. This has been followed by post-normal science which justifies, on social grounds, seeking selected data to prove an hypothesis rather than developing the hypothesis from data and then testing the hypothesis.
Distorted science is not limited to climatology but is also seen in the misuse of models in the financial world and distortion of results and conclusions in medicine. Scientists (of which I was one) need to try to do proper science rather than seek only to publicize particular results.

Dec 8, 2014 at 7:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterMorley Sutter

Here is an article from the exciting world of Scottish wildcats that sounds more like a crime thriller than science.

SNH have announced that 6 months of research across six areas of the Highlands revealed no wildcats, leading to them naming those six areas priorities for wildcat conservation. Much of this research was based on a genetics test from RZSS. RZSS have been criticised for knowingly breeding and marketing fake, hybridised, wildcats as the real thing only to neuter them a short while later, and defended their actions based on the same genetics test.

Now, we have a scientist coming forward from the SNH Action Plan stating; "How can they designate an area for wildcat preservation that doesn't actually have traces of any wildcats? How can they claim it is a national survey when vast tracts of the western Highlands were not included? SNH are hiding behind genetics tests which I believe not to be valid as they are based on a small population of European wildcats in Switzerland and none are from pure Scottish wildcats. They have knowingly been breeding a lot of hybrids and then neutering them."

Dec 8, 2014 at 7:48 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

LevelGaze: To be fair, the only corruption I see going on is in the "environmental" sciences (however broadly defined).

Then you are not looking.

The worst excesses are in the "social" sciences, many of which are rotten through and through. Education research, to give a particularly egregious example, is a prime case of researchers always managing to find what they wanted at the start.

However I would suggest any object of study with policy ramifications will have the same traits.

And there are also those that Sceptical Lefty lists which gate keep thoroughly to exclude inappropriate theories gaining traction. The current lack of progress in theoretical physics is not due to a shortage of clever people doing it.

Dec 8, 2014 at 7:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterMooloo

Martin A

being a 'child' of the digital age such practical uses obviously did not occur to me but I am most grateful to you for you input. However, in order to extract further value from the Newspaper along the lines you suggested, I made enquiry of her-in-doors only to be told that, piqued by my outburst (why have you bought that useless rag?) she had fired up what she lovingly calls her puddle jumper ( see to get the flavour, and driven the 40 mile round trip to the local recycling centre. As a result I can confidently predict:

1. some lucky person will soon be reading a rehash of Saturday's Times

2. global surface temperatures will have been irreversibly increased by 0.01C

3. His Grace will be threatening me with a spell on the naughty step for OTT comments

Dec 8, 2014 at 8:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterH2O: the miracle molecule

All of Ridley's Times articles show up on his blog days later.

Dec 8, 2014 at 8:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterEric Gisin

@Arthur Dent: Northern Rock did not trade in anything especially complicated that required especially difficult modelling. Their risk management failed because of the way they funded their expansion - it had nothing to do with the more complex distress that Lehmans, Bear Sterns, Goldmans, AIG, RBS etc got into in the derivatives market. So not sure that he would have been exposed to mathematical models.

@Micheal Jackson: this site is full of ad hominem attacks. In my short time on here it seems to be what it does best. I don't recall seeing many on here (including I suspect yourself) leap to the defence recently of say Roger Harrabin, Michael Mann or any other "warmists" when they are similarly lampooned. "The ones on MR..." - there have been more?

@Allan M: no I make that two mistakes. Bit part in the credit crisis and now denialism....

Dec 8, 2014 at 9:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterOnbyaccident

"To be fair, the only corruption I see going on is in the "environmental" sciences (however broadly defined)."

Nope. It's rampant everywhere. The reason why it's rampant is because there is no policing mechanism, although it's not obvious to me either how policing might work, or might not make things worse. A police action, at best, might consist of not getting many citations, not being invited to the next conference, or maybe having some trouble getting your paper published. That's about it, assuming that even happens.

My partner was recently given three different treatment options. All quite expensive. The one that was relatively non-invasive involved stem cells. I researched the treatment and the evidence for efficacy was effectively... nil. (Anecdotal stories about outcomes from someone with a vested financial interest is *not* evidence.)

I only mention this because it's a constant theme throughout my life when dealing with the medical profession. Hence the "evidence based medicine" movement, which obviously implies that much medicine is not based on evidence, but authority, tradition and other things of that nature. The doctor who recommended the treatment option claimed a 70% success rate, but had no evidence to back that up, short of unverifiable personal experience.

Dec 9, 2014 at 12:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterWill Nitschke

Arthur the companies act [snip]

Dec 9, 2014 at 12:51 AM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Will Nitschke

This is a massive scam causing huge suffering.

Antidepressant drugs don't work – official study

They are among the biggest-selling drugs of all time, the "happiness pills" that supposedly lift the moods of those who suffer depression and are taken by millions of people in the UK every year.But one of the largest studies of modern antidepressant drugs has found that they have no clinically significant effect. In other words, they don't work.The finding will send shock waves through the medical profession and patients and raises serious questions about the regulation of the multinational pharmaceutical industry, which was accused yesterday of withholding data on the drugs.

Dec 9, 2014 at 12:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterE. Smiff

The Bish could do worse than to review the timeline of BSE in UK (and European) cattle, the emergence of new variant CJD, the horror stories spread by prion researchers, the way John Gummer, Douglas Hogg and Keith Meldurm were treated in the year 2000 report.
An examination of the incidence of CJD since 1990 can be found here:-

those with a statistical bent may suspect that number for Sporadic cases have a strange, unexplained, drop during the 1998-2006 period, when vCJD cases were highest.
Moreover, the recent massive and eye-wateringly expensive examination of 32,441 appendix samples found;-

Of the 32 441 appendix samples 16 were positive for abnormal PrP, indicating an overall prevalence of 493 per million population (95% confidence interval 282 to 801 per million). The prevalence in those born in 1941-60 (733 per million, 269 to 1596 per million) did not differ significantly from those born between 1961 and 1985 (412 per million, 198 to 758 per million) and was similar in both sexes and across the three broad geographical areas sampled. Genetic testing of the positive specimens for the genotype at PRNP codon 129 revealed a high proportion that were valine homozygous compared with the frequency in the normal population, and in stark contrast with confirmed clinical cases of vCJD, all of which were methionine homozygous at PRNP codon 129.

which in simple language means that the vCJD epidemic is an illusion.

I shared a building, including the stainless steel lifts, with researchers from the UK's leading prion unit during the late 90's and early 00's. One thing was very odd; none of the researchers were afraid of their samples. Anyone who works with human tissue or body fluids has a certain amount of respect, because of HIV/Hep C and other nasties. Like the warmists, these researchers were not changing their life styles due to the fear of vCJD.

I have thought for more than a decade that the BSE/vCJD epidemic, throw money at us briefings on the Radio 4 news, was almost exactly what the cAGW scientists did very soon afterward.

The Bish could do much good by having a chat with the Conservative ministers about how they, and their advisers, were treated with contempt by previous investigations, and see if we could have a new public review of the 'science' and the 'media' during the whole waste of money and the destruction of many UK blood-based pharmaceutical industries.

Dec 9, 2014 at 2:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterDocMartyn

"The finding will send shock waves through the medical profession and patients and raises serious questions about the regulation of the multinational pharmaceutical industry"

No it won't. The study will, at best, raise a few eyebrows. But doctors will keep prescribing these drugs because they can appeal to various authorities when justifying their use.This is common. That's why I laughed when someone wrote that "only" the climate science fraternity engaged in dubious practices. The scientific fields that have a large junk science component -

Social sciences (anthropology, archaeology, communication, criminology, economics - or at least political economics, education, political science, psychology, sociology and so on)

Ecological sciences. (Climate science being one branch of that.)

Medical sciences (officially endorsed "alternative" treatment systems, ineffectual treatments of various types)

These get a pass mark: geology, chemistry, mathematics, etc.

But even here, there are regular exceptions. I just glanced over a mathematical paper written by two professors of computer science claiming to have created an algorithm that can predict the future, and not just the degree of variability in any natural system, but it nails the timing too. Why, they have formalised magic! The sheer stupidity of the claim in mind boggling, yet the paper gets published.

Dec 9, 2014 at 5:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterWill Nitschke


Thank goodness you turned up in time. I have to admit I very nearly fell for it. I almost judged what Matt Ridley had to say on it's merit alone, forgetting that he once made some big mistakes whilst in charge of a bank and that therefore his opinion on anything at all ever again was totally and utterly worthless. Phew! That was a close run thing. And he's into “denialism” too, eh? Sneaky bastard.

I've wasted eight years or more on this subject. Read hundreds of science papers, hundreds of reports, hundreds, even thousands of blog posts and thousands of the comments beneath them. Not to mention the other stuff that's led on from it that I've wasted more time on, like fracking,oil & gas, renewable techs, etc. All in an effort to understand what's going on with both the science and the policy and figure out whether or not I should worry about it. I've often thought to myself “Wouldn't it be nice if someone came along who understood all this so much better than me? Who could just tell me what's what and save me all this bother and effort.”

And lo, here you are. Like an angel from God. I noticed you the other day on the “Benny at the Senate” thread. I knew straight away you were “the one”. I mean, it wasn't what you said – every troll that's ever visited here reads from exactly the same script whilst seemingly thinking that what they're saying is somehow new and fresh and original – no definitely not what you said. More, I think, the way in which you were saying it. The confident, authoritative, yet light-hearted manner of delivery. I know some would just call you an arrogant prat with a hugely inflated and completely unwarranted overestimation of your own understanding and abilities, but not me. Oh no, I know that's not true. I see on that thread you're even giving Paul Dennis instruction on the CO2/temperature relationship now. I know he'll be ever so grateful.

So Onbyaccident, once again, many thanks from the bottom of my heart for coming here and saving us from ourselves. Please promise that you'll stay and give us the guidance we so badly need.

Dec 9, 2014 at 6:13 AM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

Onlybyaccident this site is full of ad hominem attacks. In my short time on here it seems to be what it does best. I don't recall seeing many on here (including I suspect yourself) leap to the defence recently of say Roger Harrabin, Michael Mann or any other "warmists" when they are similarly lampooned.

It's full of ad hominen to you because you clearly do not know what ad hominen means. It's not an attack on someone, however savage, or even a "lampoon".

Ad hominen is when irrelevant and personal material is brought into an argument to impugn a character, and by association an argument. It's an attack on the person himself unrelated to the matter in hand. In this case Matt Ridley's mistakes in running a company are unlikely to have anything to say about his knowledge of science and are only produced because the attacker has no better weapon.

If we were to suggest that Roger Harrabin was not to be believed because he formerly ran his building firm badly you would have a point. If however we say he's a bedwetter who enjoys something to be scared of, then we might be impolite but it doesn't make it ad hominen because his worrywart nature is part of his politics and his journalism.

Dec 9, 2014 at 8:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterMooloo

Amazing how there is always a village idiot available to mention Northern Rock in relation to Matt Ridley. Try commenting on what the man has actually written. Your silly tactic might work in the 6th Form Common Room debate when you are all cheering for Russell Brand but not here.

Dec 9, 2014 at 9:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

Doc, I don't know that there is a drop in sporadic CJD during the so-called BSE epidemic period; on the other hand the case numbers from 2009-2014 definitely look higher compared to 1990-1995.

W.r.t the appendix study, the prion protein reaches lymphoid tissues in a matter of weeks throughout the body and gut lymphoid tissues presumably much faster, following consumption of prion-'infected' meat. The study only examined appendices removed between 2000 and 2012, from all age groups. You would have to examine appendices taken out before any BSE epidemic was noticed in cows, which the authors - eye-wateringly - plan to do next. That will tell conclusively whether there was a true vCJD transmission episode concurrent to the BSE epidemic.

Dec 9, 2014 at 10:26 AM | Registered Commentershub

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